Bilbo jumped up, and rushed into the dining-room. There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large breakfast. There were huge piles of unwashed pots in the kitchen. But he was really relieved after all to think that they had all gone without him, though he felt a little disappointed. The feeling surprised him.
Bilbo washed up and had a nice little breakfast in the kitchen. By that time the sun was shining and Bilbo began to forget about the night before when Gandalf walked in.
«My dear fellow,» said he, «when are you going to come? What about an early start? — And here you are at half past ten! They left you the message, because they could not wait.»
«What message?» said poor Mr Baggins.
«It’s on the mantelpiece, just under the clock,» said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note.
This is what he read:
«Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!
Thanks for your hospitality and for your offer of professional help. The terms are: cash on delivery; all traveling expenses guaranteed; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives.
We didn’t want to disturb you, so we left early to make necessary preparations, and will wait for you at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at 11 a.m.
Thorin and Co.»
«So, you will have to run,» said Gandalf.
«But-» said Bilbo.
«No time for it,» said the wizard, «go!»
So Bilbo gave his keys to Gandalf and ran as fast as he could. He got to Bywater on time!
«Bravo!» said Balin who was standing at the inn door. Just then all the others came on ponies, and each pony carried all kinds of bags and parcels. There was a very small pony, for Bilbo.
«Let’s go!» said Thorin.
«I’m awfully sorry,» said Bilbo, «but I have come without my hat.»
«Don’t worry,» said Dwalin, «I have got a spare hood and cloak in my baggage.»
That’s how they all started their journey one fine morning just before May; and Bilbo was wearing a dark-green hood and a dark-green cloak. They were too large for him, and he looked rather comic.
Soon Gandalf came on a white horse. He had brought Bilbo’s pipe and tobacco. So after that they told stories or sang songs as they rode forward all day. At first they had passed through hobbit-lands, with good roads. Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely. Then they had gone on far into the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, and the roads got worse. They saw dark hills. Everything seemed gloomy. It was cold and wet. In the Lone-lands they had to camp when they could. It was after tea-time; it was raining heavily. Soon it was nearly dark, and the moon appeared above the hills. And then they noticed that Gandalf was missing. So far he had come all the way with them. But now he simply was not there at all! Finally they decided to camp but the dwarves could not make a fire that night. Then one of the ponies suddenly felt frightened and got into the river, and all the baggage that he carried was washed away off him. Of course it was mostly food, and there was little left for supper, and less for breakfast. There all of them were sitting gloomy and wet, when Balin said: «There’s a light over there!» And they went in the direction of the light. So they came to the hill and were soon in the wood.
Suddenly the red light shone very brightly through the trees not far ahead. «Now it is the burglar’s turn,» they said.
«Bilbo, you must go and find out all about that light, and what it is for,» said Thorin to the hobbit. «Now go, and come back quickly, if all is well. If not, come back if you can! It you can’t, hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl, and we will do what we can.»
So Bilbo had to go off, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any kind of owl. But hobbits can move absolutely quietly in woods. And he came up to the fire without disturbing anyone. There he saw three very large trolls sitting round a very large fire. They were roasting mutton on long spits of wood. There was a barrel of good drink nearby, and they were drinking out of jugs.
«Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and mutton again tomorrow, Tom» said one of the trolls.
«Yes, Bert. We haven’t had a bit of manflesh for ages,» said another troll. «Why did William bring us here?» he said.
«Shut your mouth!» answered William, the troll, sitting next to them. Bilbo was standing in the shadows. He had heard that stealing things from the trolls’ pockets was really easy, so he crept behind a tree just behind William.
Bert and Tom went off to the barrel. William was having another drink. Then Bilbo put his little hand in William’s huge pocket. There was a purse in it. He lifted it carefully out. But suddenly the purse said, «Hey, who are you?» and William turned round at once and grabbed Bilbo by the neck.
«Bert, look what I’ve caught!» said William.
«What is it?» said the others coming up.
«I don’t know! Who are you?»
«Bilbo Baggins, a bur- a hobbit,» said poor Bilbo.
«A burrahobbit?» said they.
«What was a burrahobbit doing in my pocket?» said William.