hobbit chapter 30


The Return Journey

When Bilbo opened his eyes, he was lying on the flat stones of Ravenhill, and no one was near. It was a cloudless but cold day. He was shaking, and his head burned with fire.

He sat up painfully. Looking into the valley he could see no living goblins. «Victory after all, I suppose!» he said, feeling his aching head.

Suddenly he was aware of a man climbing up and coming towards him.

«Hullo there!» he called with a trembling voice. «Hullo there! What’s the news?»

«What voice is it that speaks among the stones?» said the man.

Then Bilbo remembered his ring!

«It’s me, Bilbo Baggins, companion of Thorin!» he cried, hurriedly taking off the ring.

«It is good that I have found you!» said the man. «You are needed and we have looked for you long. We thought you were dead. How are you?»

«I feel sick and my legs are like straws,» said Bilbo.

«I will carry you down to the camp in the valley,» said the man, and picked him lightly up.

The man was swift, and soon Bilbo was before a tent in Dale; and there stood Gandalf, with his arm in a sling. Even the wizard had not escaped without a wound.

When Gandalf saw Bilbo, he was delighted. «Baggins!» he exclaimed. «You are alive after all — I am glad! Come!» he said. «You are needed,» he added and took the hobbit within the tent.

«Hail! Thorin,» Gandalf said as he entered. «I have brought him.» There lay Thorin Oakenshield, wounded with many wounds. He looked up as Bilbo came beside him.

«Farewell, good thief,» he said. «I go now to my fathers. I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would like to take back my words and deeds at the Gate.»

«Farewell, King under the Mountain!» answered Bilbo. «This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so. Yet I am glad that I have been with you.»

«There is more in you of good than you know, child of the West. You have courage and wisdom. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!»

Then Bilbo turned away, and he went by himself, and sat alone wrapped in a blanket, and wept until his eyes were red. He was a kind little soul. «I am glad that we parted in kindness,» he said at last to himself. «You are a fool, Bilbo Baggins, and you made a great mess of that business with the stone; and there was a battle, in spite of all your efforts to buy peace and quiet.»

Now I will tell you what happened after the Eagles had come. They drove the goblins away from the mountain-slopes. And then Beorn himself appeared — no one knew how or from where. He came alone, and in bear’s shape. The roar of his voice was like drums; and he threw wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers. Then Beorn lifted Thorin, who had fallen pierced with spears, and carried him out of the battle. Swiftly he returned and pulled down Bolg himself and crushed him. So the goblins ran away in all directions.

«Where are the Eagles?» Bilbo asked Gandalf that evening, as he lay wrapped in many warm blankets.

«They departed with the first light of morning. Dain has crowned their chief with gold, and sworn friendship with them for ever,» said the wizard.

«I would like to see them again,» said Bilbo sleepily; «perhaps I will see them on the way home. I suppose I will go home soon.»

«As soon as you like,» said the wizard.

Then they buried Thorin deep beneath the Mountain, and Bard put the Arkenstone on his breast.

«There it will lie till the Mountain falls!» he said. Upon his tomb the Elvenking then put Orcrist, the elvish sword that had been taken from Thorin in captivity. Dain son of Nain became King under the Mountain. Of the twelve companions of Thorin, ten remained. Fili and Kili had died defending him with shield and body, because he was their mother’s elder brother. The others remained with Dain. A fourteenth share of all the silver and gold was given to Bard.

Even a fourteenth share was a great wealth. From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and he rewarded his followers and friends generously. To the Elvenking he gave the emeralds of Girion. To Bilbo he said: «This treasure is as much yours as it is mine; I would like to reward you most richly of all.»

«That’s very kind of you,» said Bilbo. «But really it is better in your hands.» In the end he agreed to take two small chests, one filled with silver, and the other with gold, such as one strong pony could carry.

At last the time came for him to say good-bye to his friends. «Farewell, Balin!» he said; «and farewell, Dwalin; and farewell Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur!» And turning towards the Mountain he added: «Farewell Thorin Oakenshield! And Fili and Kili!»

Then the dwarves bowed low before their Gate. «Good-bye and good luck, Bilbo!» said Balin. «If ever you visit us again, when our halls are beautiful once more, then the feast will be splendid!»

«If ever you are passing my way,» said Bilbo, «don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!»

Then he turned away.

The elves were on the march. Gandalf and Bilbo rode behind the Elvenking, and beside them was Beorn, once again in man’s shape. So they went on until they approached the borders of Mirkwood, to the north of the place where the Forest River ran out.

Then they stopped. The wizard and Bilbo intended to go along the edge of the forest. It was a long and cheerless road, but now that the goblins were crushed, it seemed safer to them than the dreadful pathways under the trees. Moreover Beorn was going that way too.

«Farewell! O Elvenking!» said Gandalf. «Merry be the greenwood! And merry be all your folk!»

«Farewell! O Gandalf!» said the king. «May you ever appear where you are most needed and least expected! I will be happy to see you in my halls!»

«Please,» said Bilbo, «accept this gift!» and he brought out a necklace of silver and pearls that Dain had given him at their parting.

«How have I earned such a gift?» said the king.

«Well,» said Bilbo rather confused, «some little return should be made for your hospitality. I mean even a burglar has his feelings. I have drunk much of your wine and eaten much of your bread.»

«I will take your gift, O Bilbo the Magnificent!» said the king seriously. «And I name you elf-friend and blessed. Farewell!»

Then the elves turned towards the Forest, and Bilbo started on his long road home.

It was spring when Bilbo and Gandalf left Beorn. At last they reached the very pass where the goblins had captured them before. Behind there was Mirkwood, blue in the distance. And far away there was the Lonely Mountain. On its highest peak snow was gleaming pale. «So comes snow after fire and even dragons have their ending!» said Bilbo. «I wish now only to be in my own arm-chair!» he said.


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