hobbit chapter 28


The Clouds Burst

Next day the trumpets rang early in the camp. Soon a single runner hurried along the narrow path. At a distance he stood and hailed them, asking Thorin to listen to another offer, because matters were changed.

«Tell them to come few in number and weaponless, and I will hear,» he called to the messenger. About midday a group of twenty men approached the Gate. The dwarves saw that among them were both Bard and the Elvenking, before whom an old man wrapped in cloak and hood carried a wooden box.

«Hail Thorin!» said Bard. «Are you still of the same mind?»

«Did you come to ask me idle questions? Still the elves have not gone!» answered Thorin.

«Is there then nothing for which you would give any of your gold?» asked Bard.

«Nothing that you or your friends have to offer,» said Thorin.

«What about the Arkenstone of Thrain?» said Bard, and at the same moment the old man opened the box and showed the jewel. The light leapt from his hand, bright and white in the morning.

Thorin was shocked. No one spoke for a long while. At last Thorin said: «That stone was my father’s, and is mine. Why should I purchase my own?» Then he added: «But how did you get it?»

«We are not thieves,» Bard answered. «Your own we will give back in return for our own.»

«How did you get it?» shouted Thorin in rage.

«I gave it them!» said Bilbo in a dreadful fright.

«You! You!» cried Thorin, turning upon him and grasping him with both hands. «You miserable hobbit!» he shouted, and he shook poor Bilbo like a rabbit.

«Where is Gandalf? He chose you! I will throw you to the rocks!» he cried and lifted Bilbo in his arms.

«Stay! Here is Gandalf!» said a voice. The old man with the box took off his hood and cloak. «If you don’t like my Burglar, please don’t damage him. Put him down, and listen first to him!»

So Thorin dropped Bilbo on the top of the wall.

«O!» said Bilbo. «I am sure this is all very uncomfortable. Please remember — you told me that I could choose my own fourteenth share. Perhaps I took it too literally. The time was when you thought that I had helped you. So I have disposed of my share as I wished!»

«So,» said Thorin gloomily, «I will let you go at that — and I hope not to meet you again!» Then he turned and spoke over the wall. «I am betrayed,» he said. «I will redeem the Arkenstone, the treasure of my house. For it I will give one fourteenth share of the treasure in silver and gold; but that will be the promised share of this traitor, and with that reward he will go away, and you can divide it. Take him, if you wish him to live.

«Get down now to your friends!» he said to Bilbo, «or I will throw you down.»

«What about the gold and silver?» asked Bilbo.

«That will follow after,» said he. «Get down!»

«Until then we keep the stone,» cried Bard.

«You don’t behave as King under the Mountain,» said Gandalf. «But things may change.»

«They may indeed,» said Thorin. He was already thinking of how to get the Arkenstone back and not to pay for it.

And so Bilbo was swung down from the wall, and left with nothing for all his trouble. The dwarves in their hearts felt shame and pity.

«Good-bye!» Bilbo cried to them. «We may meet again as friends.»

«Go away!» called Thorin.

«At noon we will return,» said Bard, «and see if you have brought the gold and silver for the stone. Good-bye!» With that they went back to the camp; but Thorin sent messengers by Rac telling Dain of what had happened, and asking him to hurry.

That day passed and the night. The next day the air was dark and gloomy. The morning was still early when Dain arrived.

The dwarves are really strong for their height, but most of these were strong even for dwarves. Their caps were of iron and they had iron shoes, and their faces were grim. Trumpets called men and elves to arms. Bard went out to meet the dwarves, and with him went Bilbo.

«We are sent from Dain son of Nain,» the dwarves said. «We are going to our relatives in the Mountain.»

Bard, of course, refused to allow the dwarves to go straight on to the Mountain. He was going to wait until Thorin had brought the gold and silver in exchange for the Arkenstone. The dwarves had brought with them a great store of supplies. So they could stand a siege for weeks.

This was, in fact, Thorin’s plan; but for the moment the way was blocked, so after angry words the dwarf-messengers retired. Bard then sent messengers at once to the Gate; but they found no gold or payment.

Suddenly darkness came! A black cloud hurried over the sky.

«Halt!» cried Gandalf, who appeared suddenly, and stood alone, with arms uplifted, between the advancing dwarves and the men and elves awaiting them. «Halt!» he called in a voice like thunder. «The Goblins are coming! Bolg of the North is coming. O Dain! You killed his father in Moria. Look! The bats are above his army like a black sea. They ride on wolves and Wargs are in their train!» Amazement and confusion fell upon them all. The darkness grew. The dwarves gazed at the sky. The elves cried.


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