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Timeline Event

Gandalf and Thorin's company visit Bilbo in the Shire

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Date: April 27, 2941


An event in the Quest of Erebor; see that entry for more information:
As is told in The Hobbit, there came one day to Bilbo's door the great Wizard, Gandalf the Grey, and thirteen dwarves with him: none other, indeed, than Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of kings, and his twelve companions in exile.

The Lord of the Rings, Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

[Bilbo] did not remember things very well, unless he put them down on his Engagement Tablet: like this: Gandalf Tea Wednesday.... Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and then he remembered! He rushed and put on the kettle, and put out another cup and saucer and an extra cake or two, and ran to the door.

'I am so sorry to keep you waiting!' he was going to say, when he saw that it was not Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his dark-green hood. As soon a the door was opened, he pushed inside, just as if he had been expected.

He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and 'Dwalin at your service!' he said with a low bow.

'Bilbo Baggins at yours!' said the hobbit, too surprised to ask any questions for the moment. When the silence that followed had become uncomfortable, he added: 'I am just about to take tea; pray come and have some with me.'....

They had not been at table long,... when there came another even louder ring at the bell....

But it was not Gandalf. Instead there was a very old-looking dwarf on the step with a white beard and a scarlet hood; and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open, just as if he had been invited.

'I see they have begun to arrive already,' he said when he caught sight of Dwalin's green hood hanging up. He hung his red one next to it, and 'Balin at your service!' he said with his hand on his breast.

'Thank you!' said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct thing to say, but they have begun to arrive had flustered him badly. He liked visitors, but he liked to know them before they arrived, and he preferred to ask them himself....

When he got back Balin and Dwalin were talking at the table like old friends (as a matter of fact they were brothers). Bilbo plumped down the beer and the cake in front of them, when loud came a ring at the bell again, and then another ring....

It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade....

'Kili at your service!' said the one. 'And Fili!' added the other; and they both swept off their blue hoods and bowed.

'At yours and your family's!' replied Bilbo, remembering his manners this time.

'Dwalin and Balin here already, I see,' said Kili. 'Let us join the throng!'

'Throng!' thought Mr. Baggins. 'I don't like the sound of that.'.... He had only just had a sip — in the corner, while the four dwarves sat around the table, and talked about mines and gold and troubles with the goblins, and the depredations of dragons, and lots of other things which he did not understand... when... his bell rang again....

'Someone at the door!' he said, blinking.

'Some four, I should say...,' said Fili....

Then the bell rang again.... It was not four after all, it was FIVE.... He had hardly turned the knob, before they were all inside, bowing and saying 'at your service' one after another. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were their names; and very soon two purple hoods, a grey hood, a brown hood, and a white hood were hanging on the pegs, and off they marched with their broad hands stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others....

A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth... when there came — a loud knock....

More dwarves, four more! And there was Gandalf behind.... He had made quite a dent on the beautiful door; he had also, by the way, knocked out the secret mark that he had put there the morning before.

'Carefully!'... he said.... 'Let me introduce Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and especially Thorin!'

'At your service!' said Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur standing in a row. Then they hung up two yellow hoods and a pale green one; and also a sky-blue one with a long silver tassel. This last belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the great Thorin Oakenshield himself.... Thorin indeed was very haughty, and said nothing about service; but poor Mr. Baggins said he was sorry so many times, that at last he... stopped frowning.

'Now we are all here!' said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods — the best detachable party hoods — and his own hat hanging on the pegs. 'Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink!'....

Gandalf sat at the head of the party with the thirteen, dwarves all round: and Bilbo sat on a stool at the fireside... trying to look as if this was all perfectly ordinary and not in the least an adventure. The dwarves ate and... talked, and time got on. At last they pushed their chairs back....

'I suppose you will all stay to supper?' he said in his politest unpressing tones.

'Of course!' said Thorin. 'And after. We shan't get through the business till late....

Thereupon the twelve dwarves — not Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to Gandalf — jumped to their feet....

... everything was cleaned and put away safe as quick as lightning....

'Now for some music!' said Thorin....

[Thorin's] was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill....

As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up — probably somebody lighting a wood-fire — and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.

He got up trembling. He had... more than half a mind to... go and hide behind the beer barrels in the cellar, and not come out again until all the dwarves had gone away. Suddenly he found that... they were all looking at him with eyes shining in the dark.

'Where are you going?' said Thorin, in a tone that seemed to show that he guessed both halves of the hobbit's mind.

'What about a little light?' said Bilbo apologetically.

'We like the dark,' said the dwarves. 'Dark for dark business!'....

'Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are met together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit....' He paused for breath and for a polite remark from the hobbit, but the compliments were quite lost on poor Bilbo Baggins, who was wagging his mouth in protest at being called audacious and worst of all fellow conspirator, though no noise came out, he was so flummoxed. So Thorin went on:

'We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices. We shall soon before the break of day start on our long journey, a journey from which some of us, or perhaps all of us (except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may never return....'

This was Thorin's style. He was an important dwarf. If he had been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this.... But he was rudely interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn't bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out.... All the dwarves sprang up.... Gandalf struck a blue light on the end of his magic staff, and in its firework glare the poor little hobbit could be seen kneeling on the hearth-rug, shaking like a jelly.... So they took him and laid him out of the way on the drawing-room sofa... and they went back to their dark business.

'Excitable little fellow,' said Gandalf, as they sat down again. 'Gets funny queer fits, but he is one of the best, one of the best — as fierce as a dragon in a pinch.'

If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit....

After a while and a drink [Bilbo] crept nervously to the door of the parlour. This is what he heard, Gloin speaking: 'Humph!'.... 'Will he do, do you think? It is all very well for Gandalf to talk about this hobbit being fierce, but one shriek like that in a moment of excitement would be enough to wake the dragon and all his relatives, and kill the lot of us. I think it sounded more like fright than excitement!.... As soon as I clapped eyes on the little fellow... I had my doubts. He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!'

Then Mr. Baggins turned the handle and went in. The Took side had won. He suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce....

'Pardon me,' he said, 'if I have overheard words that you were saying. I don't pretend to understand what you are talking about, or your reference to burglars, but I think I am right in believing... that you think I am no good. I will show you. I have no signs on my door... and I am quite sure you have come to the wrong house.... But treat it as the right one. Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East....'....

[Said Gloin,]... 'I assure you there is a mark on this door.... Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like.... Gandalf told us that there was a man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once, and that he had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday tea-time.'

'Of course there is a mark,' said Gandalf. 'I put it there myself. For very good reasons. You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal.'

He scowled so angrily at Gloin that the dwarf huddled back in his chair; and when Bilbo tried to open his mouth to ask a question, he turned and frowned at him and stuck out his bushy eyebrows, till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. 'That's right,' said Gandalf. 'Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.'

The Hobbit, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party

The date of this event was calculated as follows (the Thrain quote is not included in this entry):

The statement that Thrain "went away on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday" provides one of the few firm dates within The Hobbit for the chronology of the story. From what Bilbo should have put down in his Engagement Tablet, Gandalf and the dwarves came to tea on a Wednesday.... Thus, if the previous Thursday was April 21, Wednesday would be April 27. (However, in "The Quest of Erebor," which was originally written to be part of an appendix to The Lord of the Rings and which tells Gandalf's account of how he came to arrange Bilbo's journey, the date of Thorin and his companions arriving at Bag End is given precisely as Wednesday, April 26, with Gandalf's visit of the previous day specified to be Tuesday, April 25. These dates cannot be reconciled with the text as given in The Hobbit....)

The Annotated Hobbit, Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party, Note 50

Elena Tiriel 25Sep05

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