hobbit chapter 8


Over Hill and Under Hill

The way was long and dangerous. Once there was a terrible thunderstorm, and the dwarves found a dry cave to spend there some time.

It seemed not too large and mysterious. At one end there was room for the ponies. Oin and Gloin wanted to light a fire at the door to dry their clothes, but Gandalf didn’t let them do it. So they put their wet things on the floor, and took dry ones out of their bags; then they made their blankets comfortable, got out their pipes and blew smoke rings. They talked and talked, and forgot about the storm, and discussed what each would do with his share of the treasure; and so they fell asleep one by one. But Bilbo could not go to sleep for a long while; and when he fell asleep, he had very nasty dreams. Suddenly he woke up and saw that a crack had opened at the back of the cave, and was already a wide passage. He was just in time to see the ponies’ tails disappearing into it. Of course he gave a very loud scream.

Out jumped the goblins, great ugly-looking goblins, lots of goblins. There were six to each dwarf, at least, and two even for Bilbo; and they were all grabbed and carried through the crack. But not Gandalf. Bilbo’s scream had wakened him up at once, and when goblins came to grab him, there was a terrible flash like lightning in the cave, and several of them fell dead.

The crack closed, and Bilbo and the dwarves were on the wrong side of it! Where was Gandalf? It was very dark. The passages there were crossed in all directions, but the goblins knew their way. The goblins were very rude, and laughed in their horrible voices.

Now there came a red light before them. The goblins took out whips and whipped the dwarves and Bilbo and forced them to run. Soon they came into a big cavern. There was a great red fire in the middle, and there were torches along the walls, and it was full of goblins. They all laughed and clapped their hands, when they saw the dwarves and little Bilbo. The ponies were already there; and all the packages were broken open.

That was the last time they saw their little ponies, because goblins eat horses and ponies and donkeys, and they are always hungry. Now the goblins chained the prisoners’ hands and linked them all together in a line and dragged them to the far end of the cavern.

There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him.

«Who are these miserable persons?» said the Great Goblin.

«Dwarves and this!» said one of the drivers, pulling at Bilbo’s chain so that he fell forward onto his knees.

«We found them in our Front Porch.»

«What did you do there?!» said the Great Goblin turning to Thorin. «What can you say?»

«Thorin the dwarf at your service!» he replied — it was just a polite nothing. «We sheltered from a storm in a cave that seemed unused.»

«But what were you doing up in the mountains at all, and where were you coming from, and where were you going to? Tell me the truth, or I will prepare something really uncomfortable for you!»

«We are on a journey to visit our distant relatives who live on the East side of these mountains,» said Thorin.

«He is a liar!» said one of the drivers. «Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave and died. Also he has not explained this!» He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, the sword which came from the Trolls’ place.

The Great Goblin gave an awful cry of rage when he looked at it. The goblins knew the sword at once. It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills. They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter. They hated it.

«Murderers and friends of elves!» the Great Goblin shouted. «Beat them! Bite them! Take them away to dark holes full of snakes!» He jumped off his seat and himself rushed at Thorin with his mouth open. Just at that moment all the lights in the cavern went out, and the great fire turned into a tower of blue smoke. The sparks were burning holes in the goblins. Soon they were falling over one another and rolling on the floor, biting and kicking.

Suddenly a sword flashed. Bilbo saw it go right through the Great Goblin and he fell dead. Then the sword went back into its sheath.

«Follow me quickly!» said a voice. Dori made Bilbo climb on his shoulders and then they all rushed down dark passages. A pale light was leading them.

Of course it was Gandalf; but just then they were too busy to ask how he got there. He took out his sword again, and again it flashed in the dark. This sword’s name was Glamdring the Foe-hammer. The goblins just called it Beater, and hated it worse than Biter. Orcrist, too, had been saved because Gandalf had taken it from one of the frightened guards.

«Are we all here?» said he, handing his sword back to Thorin with a bow. «Let me see: yes, thirteen dwarves and Mr Baggins! Well, well! But we have no ponies, and no food, and we don’t know where we are, and angry goblins are just behind! Go!»

Still goblins go faster than dwarves, and these goblins knew the way better, and were madly angry. So soon the dwarves could hear the goblins.

At this point Gandalf fell behind, and Thorin with him. They turned a sharp corner.

«Draw your sword, Thorin!» Gandalf shouted. There was nothing else to be done; and the goblins did not like it. They came round the corner, and found Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer shining bright. «Biter and Beater!» they shrieked; and soon they were all in confusion, and most of them were running back.

By that time the dwarves had gone on again, a long, long, way on into the dark tunnels of the goblins’ realm. When the goblins discovered that, they chose their quickest runners with the sharpest ears and eyes. These ran forward silently. That is why neither Bilbo, nor the dwarves, nor even Gandalf heard them coming. They didn’t see them, either. But the goblins saw them.

Quite suddenly Dori, carrying Bilbo, was grabbed from behind in the dark. He shouted and fell; and the hobbit rolled off his shoulders into the blackness, bumped his head on hard rock, and remembered nothing more.


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