Bilbo explores the Great Hall of Thráin
Event Type: General
Age: 3rd Age - The Stewards
Date: November 3, 2941
An event in the Quest of Erebor; see that entry for an overview:
[Several] of the dwarves got up and groped back to where the door had been. But they found that the upper end of the tunnel had been shattered and blocked with broken rock. ...Notes
'We are trapped!' they groaned. ...
But ... just when the dwarves were most despairing, Bilbo felt a strange lightening of the heart....
'Come, come!' he said. ... I am going down the tunnel once again. I have been that way twice, when I knew there was a dragon at the other end, so I will risk a third visit when I am no longer sure. ... And I think this time you had better all come with me.'
In desperation they agreed, and Thorin was the first to go forward by Bilbo's side.
'Now do be careful!' whispered the hobbit, 'and quiet as you can be! There may be no Smaug at the bottom but then again there may be. Don't let us take any unnecessary risks!' ...
The dwarves ... made a deal of [noise]; but ... not a sound stirred below. Near the bottom..., Bilbo slipped on his ring and went ahead. But ... so black was it that the hobbit came to the opening unexpectedly..., stumbled forward, and rolled headlong into the hall!
There he lay face downwards on the floor and did not dare to get up.... But nothing moved. There was not a gleam of light - [except] a pale white glint, above him and far off in the gloom. But certainly it was not a spark of dragon-fire, though the wormstench was heavy in the place, and the taste of vapour was on his tongue.
At length Mr. Baggins could bear it no longer. 'Confound you, Smaug, you worm!' he squeaked aloud. 'Stop playing hide-and-seek!' ...
Faint echoes ran round the unseen hall, but there was no answer. Bilbo got up, and found that he did not know in what direction to turn.
'Now I wonder what on earth Smaug is playing at,' he said. 'He is not at home today ... [Perhaps] we can make a little light, and have a look round before the luck turns.'
'Light!' he cried. 'Can anybody make a light?'
The dwarves, of course, were very alarmed when Bilbo fell forward down the step with a bump into the hall, and they sat huddled just where he had left them at the end the tunnel.
'Sh! sh!' they hissed, when they heard his voice: and ... it was some time before he could get anything else out of them. But..., when Bilbo actually began to stamp on the floor, and screamed out 'light!'..., Thorin gave way, and Oin and Gloin were sent back to their bundles at the top of the tunnel. After a while a twinkling gleam showed them returning, Oin with a small pine-torch alight in his hand, and Gloin with a bundle of others.... Quickly Bilbo trotted to the door and took the torch; but he could not persuade the dwarves to ... join him yet. As Thorin carefully explained, Mr. Baggins was still officially their expert burglar and investigator. If he liked to risk a light, that was his affair. They would wait in the tunnel for his report. ...
They saw the little dark shape of the hobbit start across the floor holding his tiny light aloft. Every now and again, while he was still near enough, they caught a glint and a tinkle as he stumbled on some golden thing. The light grew smaller as he wandered away into the vast hall; then it began to rise dancing into the air. Bilbo was climbing the great mound of treasure. Soon he stood upon the top, and still went on. Then they saw him halt and stoop for a moment; but they did not know the reason.
It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain. ...
[Bilbo] lifted it, shut his eyes, and put it in his deepest pocket.
'Now I am a burglar indeed!' thought he. ... Down the other side of the great mound he climbed, and the spark of his torch vanished from the sight of the watching dwarves. But soon they saw it far away in the distance again. Bilbo was crossing the floor of the hall.
He went on, until he came to the great doors at the further side, and there a draught of air refreshed him.... He peeped timidly through and caught a glimpse of great passages and of the dim beginnings of wide stairs going up into the gloom. And still there was no sight nor sound of Smaug. He was just going to turn and go back, when a black shape swooped at him and brushed his face. He squeaked..., stumbled backwards and fell. His torch dropped head downwards and went out!
'Only a bat, I ... hope!' he said miserably. But now what am I to do? Which is East, South, North, or West?'
'Thorin! Balin! Oin! Gloin! Fili! Kili! he cried as loud he could - it seemed a thin little noise in the wide blackness. 'The light's gone out! Someone come and find me and help me!' For the moment his courage had failed altogether.
Faintly the dwarves heard his small cries, though the only word they could catch was 'help!'
The Hobbit, Ch 12, Not At Home
The year is canon, but the date is estimated, as follows:
Fonstadt estimates that Smaug smashes the door on the evening of November 1.
The Atlas of Middle-earth, Revised Edition, by Karen Wynn Fonstad, Section 5, The Hobbit: Introduction
As a matter of fact two nights and the day between had gone by ... since the dragon smashed the magic door....
The Hobbit, Ch 12, Not At Home
Elena Tiriel 4Jul06