When he heard that there was nothing to eat, he sat down and wept, for he felt very weak. «Why ever did I wake up!» he cried. «I was having such beautiful dreams. I dreamed I was walking in a forest rather like this one, only with torches on the trees; and there was a great feast going on.»
There was nothing now to be done but to tighten the belts round their empty stomachs, and go on. So they walked all that day very slowly.
Suddenly Balin, who was a little way ahead, called out: «What was that? I thought I saw a twinkle of light in the forest.» They all looked, and they saw a red twinkle in the dark. So they hurried along then. The light was in front of them and to the left of the path, and at last they saw torches and fires burning under the trees, but a good way off their track.
«It looks as if my dreams were coming true,» gasped Bombur. He wanted to rush into the wood after the lights. But the others remembered the warnings of the wizard and of Beorn.
«A feast will be no good, if we never get back alive from it,» said Thorin.
«But without a feast we won’t remain alive much longer anyway,» said Bombur, and Bilbo completely agreed with him. So they decided to leave the path and go into the forest together. They crawled quietly and peered round the trunks. They saw many people there, who looked like elves, all dressed in green and brown. The people were sitting in a great circle. There was a fire in the middle and there were torches fastened to some of the trees; but best sight of all: they were eating and drinking and laughing.
The smell of the meal was so delicious that all the dwarves got up and went into the ring to beg for some food. But as soon as the first stepped into the clearing, all the lights went out as if by magic.
They were lost in complete darkness and they could not even find one another. At last they managed to get together and count themselves by touch. They didn’t think of the food because they were really afraid to lose each other again. By that time they had forgotten where the path was.
Then Dori said in a loud whisper:
«I can see the lights are again over there.»
Up they all jumped. They heard the voices and the laughter quite clearly. When they got near the lights, Thorin said: «Don’t rush forward this time! I will send Mr Baggins alone first to talk to them. They won’t be frightened of him, and I hope they won’t do anything bad to him.» When they got to the edge of the circle of lights they pushed Bilbo suddenly from behind. Before he had time to slip on his ring, he stumbled forward into the full blaze of the fire and torches. It was no good. Out went all the lights again and complete darkness fell. But it was worse this time. They simply could not find the hobbit. They shouted and called: «Bilbo Baggins! Hobbit! Where are you?» but there was no answer.
Suddenly Dori stumbled across Bilbo. The hobbit was fast asleep. When he was awake he was not pleased at all.
«I was having such a lovely dream,» Bilbo grumbled, «about a most gorgeous dinner.»
«Good heavens! He is like Bombur now,» they said. «Don’t tell us about dreams.»
Soon Kili came and roused them all again, saying:
«There are hundreds of torches and many fires over there!»
Up they got again; it was the same again and this time the result was disastrous. Thorin stepped into the centre of the circle.
Out went all light. Bilbo was running round and round and calling:
«Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Bombur, Bifur, Bofur, Dwalin, Balin, Thorin Oakenshield.» Soon he was alone in complete silence and darkness. That was one of his most miserable moments. But he decided to sit down with his back to a tree and stay there until morning. Bilbo was dreaming about food when he felt something touch him. Something like a strong sticky string was against his left hand, and when he tried to move he found that his legs were already wrapped, so that when he got up he fell over.
Then the great spider came from behind him and attacked him. Bilbo had a desperate fight. He beat the creature off with his hands until he remembered his sword and drew it out. Bilbo cut the string around his legs and then he struck the spider with his sword and killed it.
The spider lay dead beside him. Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr Baggins. He felt a different person, and much bolder in spite of an empty stomach.
«I will give you a name,» he said to the sword, «and I will call you Sting.» After that he went to look around. The forest was gloomy and silent, but Bilbo had to look for his friends.