hobbit chapter 22


«Do you now?» said the dragon a bit flattered.

«Yes, I do,» replied Bilbo.

«So who are you and where do you come from?» asked the dragon.

«I come from under the hill. And I am unseen. I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. »

«Lovely titles!» said the dragon.

«I am the guest of eagles. I am Ring-winner and Luck- wearer; and I am Barrel-rider,» went on Bilbo.

«That’s better!» said Smaug.

Smaug did not understand everything, but he thought that he understood enough. «So it’s about Lake-men! They have a lot of barrels,» he thought.

«Very well, O Barrel-rider!» he said aloud. «Let me tell you I ate six ponies last night and I will catch and eat all the others before long. In return for the excellent meal I will give you one piece of advice: don’t have business with dwarves!»

«Dwarves!» said Bilbo in pretended surprise.

«Don’t talk to me!» said Smaug. «I ate the ponies and I smelt the dwarves. Did you get a good price for that cup last night?» he went on. «You got nothing at all! Well, you see! Don’t believe them!» Bilbo was now beginning to feel really uncomfortable, but he spoke again.

«You don’t know everything, O Smaug the Mighty,» said he. «Not gold alone brought us here.»

«What is it then?»

«Revenge,» Bilbo said.

Then Smaug laughed: «Revenge! My armour is like shields, my teeth are swords, my claws are spears, and my breath is death!»

«I have always understood,» said Bilbo, «that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the chest.»

The dragon stopped boasting. «Your information is out of date,» he said. «I am protected above and below with iron scales and hard gems. No blade can pierce me.»

«Let me see your wonderful waistcoat of fine diamonds!»

«Yes, it is rare and wonderful, indeed,» said Smaug. The dragon rolled over. «Look!» he said. «What do you say to that?»

«Marvelous! Perfect! Flawless!» exclaimed Bilbo aloud, but he thought: «Old fool! There is a large hole on the left!» After that Mr Baggins decided to get away.

«Well, I really must not detain Your Magnificence any longer,» he said and ran up the tunnel.

It was evening when he came out. The dwarves wanted to hear his story. But the hobbit was worried and uncomfortable. The old thrush was sitting on a rock, listening to all that was said.

«I believe he is listening, and I don’t like the look of him,» said Bilbo crossly.

«Leave him alone!» said Thorin. «The thrushes are good and friendly. They were a magical race, and maybe this is one of those that were alive a couple of hundreds years or more ago. The Men of Dale used to understand their language, and used them for messengers to fly to the Men of the Lake.»

«Well, he’ll have news to take to Lake-town then,» said Bilbo; «but I don’t think there are any people left there that understand thrush-language.»

«Tell us what has happened!» cried the dwarves.

So Bilbo told them all he could remember.

«I am sure he knows that we came from Lake-town and had help from there,» added Bilbo.

Then the talk turned to the treasures of the dwarves. The most beautiful of all was the great white gem, which the dwarves had found beneath the roots of the Mountain, the Heart of the Mountain, the Arkenstone of Thrain. «The Arkenstone! The Arkenstone!» murmured Thorin in the dark. «It shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars!»

But Bilbo was only half listening to them.

«Shut the door!» he begged the dwarves. «Shut the door before it is too late!» Something in his voice gave the dwarves an uncomfortable feeling. Slowly Thorin kicked away the stone that blocked the door. Then it closed with a snap. No trace of a keyhole was left on the inside. They were shut in the Mountain!

Just then they heard a blow. The rock boomed, the walls cracked and stones fell from the roof on their heads. They ran down the tunnel, while behind them outside they heard the roar and rumble of Smaug’s fury. He was breaking rocks to pieces, smashing wall and cliff. In this way he felt better.

Then Smaug went away towards the Running River.


next page