hobbit chapter 26


«Who are you and why have you come to the gates of Thorin son of Thrain, King under the Mountain?»

A tall man cried:

«Hail Thorin! We are not yet foes, and we are glad that you are alive. We have come to talk.»

«Who are you, and what would you like to talk about?»

«I am Bard, I killed the dragon and so you could get your treasures. I am by right descent the heir of Girion of Dale, and in your hall there is wealth which Smaug stole from the town. Is not that a matter of which we can talk? Also, in his last battle, Smaug destroyed the houses of the men of Esgaroth, and I am yet the servant of their Master. I would like to ask you for recompense.» It was true and fair. And Bilbo thought that Thorin would show generosity and help those in need. But Thorin didn’t want to think about poor people.

«You put your worst cause last and in the chief place,» Thorin answered. «To the treasure of my people no man has a claim, because Smaug who stole it from us also robbed us of life or home. The treasure was not his. The price of the goods and the assistance that we received of the Lake-men we will fairly pay. But we will give nothing under threat of force. While an army lies before our doors, we look on you as foes and thieves.»

«But still my other claims remain unanswered,» replied Bard.

«I will not discuss any questions, as I have said, with armed men at my gate. And if you would like to speak with me again, first send the elves away to the woods where they belong, and then return, laying down your arms before you approach the threshold.»

«The Elvenking is my friend, and he has helped the people of the Lake,» answered Bard. «We will give you time to change your mind. Gather your wisdom before we return!» Then he went back to the camp.

In a few hours the banner-bearers returned and cried:

«In the name of Esgaroth and the Forest, we speak to Thorin Thrain’s son Oakenshield, calling himself the King under the Mountain, and we ask him to consider well our claims, or be declared our foe. He should give one twelfth portion of the treasure to Bard, as the dragon-slayer, and as the heir of Girion. From that portion Bard will himself contribute to the aid of Esgaroth; but if Thorin would like to have the friendship and respect of the lands about, then he will give also some gold for the comfort of the men of the Lake.» Then Thorin shot an arrow at the speaker. It got into his shield.

«Since such is your answer,» the speaker called in return, «I declare the Mountain besieged. We will bear no weapons against you, but we leave you to your gold. You may eat that, if you want!»

So the dwarves were left to consider their situation. Most of them agreed with Thorin except perhaps old fat Bombur and Fili and Kili. Bilbo, of course, didn’t like what had happened.

«The whole place still stinks of dragon,» he said to himself, «and it makes me sick.»


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