The Hobbit Novel by J. R. R. Tolkien - chapter 2
Bilbo jumped up, and rushed into the dining-room. There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large breakfast. There were huge piles of unwashed pots in the kitchen. But he was really relieved after all to think that they had all gone without him, though he felt a little disappointed. The feeling surprised him.
Bilbo washed up and had a nice little breakfast in the kitchen. By that time the sun was shining and Bilbo began to forget about the night before when Gandalf walked in.
“My dear fellow,” said he, “when are you going to come? What about an early start? – And here you are at half past ten! They left you the message, because they could not wait.”
“What message?” said poor Mr Baggins.
“It’s on the mantelpiece, just under the clock,” said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note.
This is what he read:
“Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!
Thanks for your hospitality and for your offer of professional help. The terms are: cash on delivery; all traveling expenses guaranteed; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives.
We didn’t want to disturb you, so we left early to make necessary preparations, and will wait for you at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at 11 a.m.
Thorin and Co.”
“So, you will have to run,” said Gandalf.
“But-” said Bilbo.
“No time for it,” said the wizard, “go!”
So Bilbo gave his keys to Gandalf and ran as fast as he could. He got to Bywater on time!
“Bravo!” said Balin who was standing at the inn door. Just then all the others came on ponies, and each pony carried all kinds of bags and parcels. There was a very small pony, for Bilbo.
“Let’s go!” said Thorin.
“I’m awfully sorry,” said Bilbo, “but I have come without my hat.”
“Don’t worry,” said Dwalin, “I have got a spare hood and cloak in my baggage.”
That’s how they all started their journey one fine morning just before May; and Bilbo was wearing a dark-green hood and a dark-green cloak. They were too large for him, and he looked rather comic.
Soon Gandalf came on a white horse. He had brought Bilbo’s pipe and tobacco. So after that they told stories or sang songs as they rode forward all day. At first they had passed through hobbit-lands, with good roads. Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely. Then they had gone on far into the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, and the roads got worse. They saw dark hills. Everything seemed gloomy. It was cold and wet. In the Lone-lands they had to camp when they could. It was after tea-time; it was raining heavily. Soon it was nearly dark, and the moon appeared above the hills. And then they noticed that Gandalf was missing. So far he had come all the way with them. But now he simply was not there at all! Finally they decided to camp but the dwarves could not make a fire that night. Then one of the ponies suddenly felt frightened and got into the river, and all the baggage that he carried was washed away off him. Of course it was mostly food, and there was little left for supper, and less for breakfast. There all of them were sitting gloomy and wet, when Balin said: “There’s a light over there!” And they went in the direction of the light. So they came to the hill and were soon in the wood.
Suddenly the red light shone very brightly through the trees not far ahead. “Now it is the burglar’s turn,” they said.
“Bilbo, you must go and find out all about that light, and what it is for,” said Thorin to the hobbit. “Now go, and come back quickly, if all is well. If not, come back if you can! It you can’t, hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl, and we will do what we can.”
So Bilbo had to go off, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any kind of owl. But hobbits can move absolutely quietly in woods. And he came up to the fire without disturbing anyone. There he saw three very large trolls sitting round a very large fire. They were roasting mutton on long spits of wood. There was a barrel of good drink nearby, and they were drinking out of jugs.
“Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and mutton again tomorrow, Tom” said one of the trolls.
“Yes, Bert. We haven’t had a bit of manflesh for ages,” said another troll. “Why did William bring us here?” he said.
“Shut your mouth!” answered William, the troll, sitting next to them. Bilbo was standing in the shadows. He had heard that stealing things from the trolls’ pockets was really easy, so he crept behind a tree just behind William.
Bert and Tom went off to the barrel. William was having another drink. Then Bilbo put his little hand in William’s huge pocket. There was a purse in it. He lifted it carefully out. But suddenly the purse said, “Hey, who are you?” and William turned round at once and grabbed Bilbo by the neck.
“Bert, look what I’ve caught!” said William.
“What is it?” said the others coming up.
“I don’t know! Who are you?”
“Bilbo Baggins, a bur- a hobbit,” said poor Bilbo.
“A burrahobbit?” said they.
“What was a burrahobbit doing in my pocket?” said William.
“And can you cook them?” said Tom.
“You can try,” said Bert.
“But he is so small!” said William.
“Perhaps there are more like him nearby, and we can make a pie,” said Bert. “Are there any more of your sort in these woods?” said he looking at Bilbo.
“Yes, lots,” said Bilbo, before he remembered not to give his friends away. “No, none at all, not one,” he said at once.
“What do you mean?” said Bert.
“Please don’t cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself. I’ll cook beautifully for you, a perfectly beautiful breakfast for you, if only you won’t have me for supper.”
“Poor little thing! Let him go!” said William.
“But first let him explain ‘lots and none at all’,” said Tom. “I don’t want anyone cut my throat in my sleep. Hold his toes in the fire, till he talks!”
“No!” said William. “I caught him anyway.”
“You’re a fat fool, William,” said Bert, and the trolls started fighting.
Right in the middle of the fight Balin came up. The dwarves had heard noises from a distance, and after waiting for some time, they started to creep towards the light as quietly as they could. But as soon as Tom saw Balin, he gave an awful cry. Trolls simply hate dwarves (uncooked). Bert and Bill stopped fighting at once, and quickly put a sack over Balin’s head.
Soon other dwarves appeared and all of them got into sacks. Bilbo was lying under a bush, not moving.
Just then Gandalf came back. But no one saw him. The trolls had just decided to roast the dwarves now and eat them later.
“That’s not a good idea,” said a voice. Bert thought it was William’s.
“Don’t start the argument, Bill,” he said, “or it will take all night.”
“Who’s a-arguing?” said William, who thought it was Bert that had spoken.
“You are,” said Bert.
“You’re a liar,” said William; and so the argument started. Soon the trolls started fighting.
“Now stop it!” said Tom and Bert together. “The dawn comes early!”
“At dawn you will turn into stone!” said a voice that sounded like William’s. But it wasn’t. Just at that moment the light came over the hill. William never spoke because he stood turned to stone; and Bert and Tom also turned into stones as they looked at him. And there they stand to this day; for trolls, as you probably know, must be underground before dawn, or they turn into stone and never move again. That is what had happened to Bert and Tom and William.
“Excellent!” said Gandalf, as he stepped from behind a tree, and helped Bilbo up.
Then they untied the sacks and let out the dwarves.
“Don’t waste our time now. The trolls must have a cave or a hole somewhere nearby. We must look into it!”
They searched about, and soon found the marks of trolls’ stony boots going away through the trees. They followed the tracks up the hill, until they came on a big door of stone leading to a cave. But they could not open it, not though they all pushed while Gandalf tried various spells.
When they were getting tired and angry, Bilbo asked, “Will this key help? I found it on the ground where the trolls had their fight.” He showed a large key. Perhaps it had fallen out of William’s pocket, very luckily, before he turned into stone.
Gandalf grabbed the key and put it into the key-hole. Then the stone door opened, and they all went inside. There were bones on the floor and a horrible smell was in the air; but there was a lot of food on shelves and on the ground, and in the corner there were many pots full of gold coins. On the walls there were several swords of various shapes and sizes. Two of them were really beautiful. Gandalf and Thorin each took one of these; and Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath.
“Let’s get out of this horrible smell!” said Fili. So they carried out the pots of coins and the food, also one barrel of ale which was still full. Now they had bread and cheese, and plenty of ale, and bacon to toast. After that they slept, and they did nothing more till the afternoon. Then they brought up their ponies, and carried away the pots of gold, and buried them very secretly not far from the track by the river, putting very many spells over them, just in case they had the chance to come back and pick them up. When that was done, they all went on towards the East.