The company, with Gandalf in the front, come to a clearing. After having been drenched with rain, riding horses all day, what they need is a place to rest, and by the looks of it, they have found it.
Thorin: “We’ll camp here for the night. Fili, Kili, look after the ponies. Make sure you stay with them.”
Gandalf: “A farmer and his family used to live here.”
Thorin: “Óin, Glóin. Get a fire going.”
Óin: “Aye. Right you are.”
The run down house they come across is the same one Gandalf already encountered once before. However, when he saw it then, the house was standing with all four walls and a roof. Now it is decrepit and almost non-existent. The family that lived there is gone as well. It is a development that immediately alerts Gandalf to the dangerousness of the apparent peaceful clearing. He does not feel comfortable staying here.
Thorin, on the other hand, takes the peacefulness of this site as a sight for sore eyes. Having cleared the forest, they finally came to a place where they could spread out, cook, and warm their bones against a fire. Óin and Glóin, the two firestarters, are there to help them.
Gandalf: “I think it would be wise to move on. We could make for the Hidden Valley.”
Thorin: “I have told you already I will not go near that place.”
Gandalf: “Why not? The Elves could help us. We could get food, rest, advice.”
Thorin: “I do not need their advice.”
What Gandalf proposes is very logical and sensible. If they stay here, they run into danger of ending up like the farmer and his family. Gandalf, of course, does not relay his concerns onto the company. It may invoke panic and arguments, so he simply suggests they go to visit the Elves in Rivendell. There they will be well taken care of, with food, water and rest. Additionally, the magic of the Elves that keeps the Valley hidden from the Enemy will protect them.
Thorin immediately dismisses Gandalf’s proposal. Whatever reasonable argument Gandalf presents Thorin with, Thorin negates its viability without any good reason to support his argument. He refuses to accept any form of help or advice from the only people who could provide such a commodity.
Gandalf: “We have a map that we cannot read. Lord Elrond could help us.”
Thorin: “Help? A dragon attacks Erebor. What help came from the Elves? Orcs plunder Moria, desecrate our sacred halls. The Elves looked on and did nothing. And you ask me to seek out the very people who betrayed my grandfather. Who betrayed my father.”
Help in connection with Elves seems to bring all the anger and betrayal Thorin has been carrying with him all these years. However, there is a distinction between the Wood Elves and the Elves of Rivendell, which Thorin does not take into account. Any kind of Elves are his enemies. He had decided long ago and so it stays. He carries the grudges Thrór and Thrain held when Smaug attacked Erebor. And because these particular Elves “betrayed” his father and grandfather, he remains angry at the people who technically owed him nothing.
Whatever the Elves’ geographical position in Middle-Earth, they owed the Dwarves nothing. To help the Dwarves would have been a rescue mission the Elves themselves would have to do out of the goodness of their hearts. Since they didn’t Thorin took it badly. Thorin expected the Elves to help them, always a terrible notion to have.
To expect something of someone is to mostly be left disappointed. This disappointment does not come from the unfulfilled expectation but the expectation itself. If there were a written agreement where both the Dwarves and the Elves agreed to help one another when in trouble, and the Elves not honoring this written agreement, then Thorin would legitimately have reason to be angry at them. As it is, he expected their help, taking it for granted, when there was no indication or proof that the Elves would have ever come to their rescue.
Moreover, the treatment the Elves got from Thrór left little in terms of cordiality, compassion, and pleasantry. Thrór humiliated Thranduil by baiting him with promised White Gems and unfulfilling his own duty. How could he expect of Thranduil to be there for him when the Dwarves did not have even a shred of respect for them? Why would Thranduil risk his own kin’s lives to save a people who made him feel small and inconsequential?
This is an argument that comes to be when egos bang their horns against one another. There is no space for compassion and sympathy when one’s pride and face is at stake. Sad, really.
Gandalf: “You are neither of them. I did not give you that map and key for you to hold onto the past.”
Thorin: “I did not know that they were yours to keep.”
Gandalf, obviously, wished the map and key would spark a will to leave the past to rest. However, what they did to Thorin is connect him even further with his forefathers, carrying their burden even more prominently and argumentatively. He sees it all as the only way to reclaim his family’s glory and respect. As soon as those two items were placed in his hand, the past came to haunt him even more than it did before.
He might have taken the quest into his own hands sometime in the future. But having the map and key means that his legacy is there for the taking, the heirloom of his forefathers is his. That motivated Thorin to identify himself with his father and grandfather more strongly than he already had.
Bilbo: “Everything all right? Gandalf, where are you going?”
Gandalf: “To seek the company of the only one around here who’s got any sense.”
Bilbo: “And who’s that?”
Gandalf: “Myself, Mr. Baggins. I’ve had enough of Dwarves for one day.”
Gandalf, as much as Thorin, had his own expectations. And as Thorin, he was disappointed. Surprisingly, he reacted the same way Thorin did, taking off in a huff. The instigator of the quest leaves his company to spend time with himself. After a disappointment one needs time to oneself to either calm down and view the situation from an objective perspective, or like Thorin, cultivate grudge and anger over many years.
Bilbo, seeing Gandalf leave expresses panic. Gandalf is almost the sole reason behind his decision to join the quest for Erebor and now he left. Bilbo is now alone amongst Dwarves who haven’t accepted him yet and with whom he doesn’t have the sense of comfort or safety. Gandalf was his safety net, his advisor and his comfort. For Bilbo to panic, therefore, is no wonder.
A quiet supper
Thorin: “Come on, Bombur, we’re hungry.”
Bilbo: “Is he coming back? He’s been a long time.”
Bofur: “He’s a Wizard. He does as he chooses. Here, do us a favor. Take this to the lads. Stop it you’ve had plenty.”
Glóin: “Aye, it’s not a bad stew, Bombur. I’ve had worse.”
Nori: “Dori could’ve cooked it.”
Thorin establishes command, speeding Bombur to cook for them. Bilbo, as opposed to the Dwarves who only have food on their minds, is still concerned about Gandalf’s absence. He has been hoping to see the Wizard join their company again, but until now, it still has not happened, giving him ample reason to worry. Bofur reminds Bilbo of the ways of a Wizard. It is no accident that he is known as the wandering Wizard. The Dwarves focus on the freshly made stew, finding a way to tease each other.
Bilbo: “What’s the matter?”
Kili: “We’re supposed to be looking after the ponies.”
Fili: “Only we’ve encountered a slight problem.”
Kili: “We had 16.”
Fili: “Now there’s 14.”
Kili: “Daisy and Bungo are missing.”
Bilbo: “Well, that’s not good. And that is not good at all. Shouldn’t we tell Thorin?”
Bilbo brings the two Dwarves their stew but encounters them standing, staring in front of themselves into the herd of ponies on which they were keeping an eye. They have concern imprinted on their faces with question marks hovering over their heads. They cannot understand how two ponies could be missing. Bilbo’s first thought is to tell this to their leader.
Bilbo the detective
Fili: “Uh, no. Let’s not worry him. As our official burglar, we thought you might like to look into it.”
Bilbo: “Well, uh. Look, something big uprooted these trees.”
Kili: “That was our thinking.”
Bilbo: “It’s something very big and possibly quite dangerous.”
It would seem that the duties of a burglar coincide with the duties of a detective. Bilbo takes to his new duties without second-guessing the two Dwarves. He interprets the destruction left behind as being done by something that is big and dangerous. He is afraid of what this creature might be, but still he follows the tracks left behind.
Fili: “Hey. There’s a light. Over here.”
Kili: “Stay down.”
Bilbo: “What is it?”
As soon as the creature is identified, Fili and Kili run forward toward the light. They seem to be angry at the culprit rather than afraid of it. Bilbo follows in their footsteps with their stew in his hands.
Heading into trouble
Bilbo: “He’s got Myrtle and Minty. I think they’re gonna eat them. We have to do something.”
Kili: “Yes, you should. Mountain Trolls are slow and stupid and you’re so small, they’ll never see you.”
Bilbo: “Me? No, no.”
Kili: “It’s perfectly safe. We’ll be right behind you.”
Fili: “If you run into trouble hoot twice like a barn owl and once like a brown owl.”
Bilbo: “Twice like a barn owl. No, twice like a brown…Once like a…Like a… Are you sure this is a good idea?”
Bilbo’s immediate jump to action relieves Fili and Kili. They would have had to do something to retrieve the ponies before Thorin noticed they were gone, otherwise they would have been reprimanded for doing a lousy job. Although angry at the Troll, there is fear in them as well, if not they would have sprung into action before Bilbo even came to bring them stew. They incur a false sense of security in Bilbo, assuring him they would be right behind him.
As they push Bilbo toward the light, pointing out the hoot signal of trouble, which confuses Bilbo, he turns around only to see that Fili and Kili have already left him alone. Now, Bilbo wants to do the right thing and rescue his pony as well as three others the Troll had taken with him. And even though he is obviously experiencing fear and anguish, he straightens up emanating false courage and treads forward.
Read on in my next post.