The Hobbit 19 | The Last Stage

by Glenn on November 25, 2019

On May 1, Bilbo and Gandalf arrived at the valley of Rivendell. Where before the company (which of course included the dwarves) was taunted by elves in the trees, this time the elves sang a song about the death of the dragon and welcomed the two weary travelers. When they met with Elrond, Gandalf did most of the talking about what they had experienced. Something merely referenced here I can imagine might be a major feature of the film trilogy:

“It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood.”

Gandalf spoke of how things should improve in Mirkwood. Elrond was more pessimistic about things. (More good material for The Hobbit prequel.) The storytelling continued and Bilbo fell asleep, waking up in a bed where, outside, elves playfully sang. After teasing each other, Bilbo went back to sleep.

After a week of rest, Bilbo said goodbye to Elrond. Bilbo and Gandalf continued on their way. Bilbo was excited to be nearing home which prompted Gandalf to say, “There is a long road yet,” to which Bilbo responded, “But it is the last road.” It had been a year since he had traveled in the other direction and everywhere they went Bilbo contemplated what had transpired. When they arrived at the frozen trolls, they found gold they had buried and split it between themselves. Gandalf apparently has financial needs, although he gives every indication of being above those concerns. The ponies were not too happy about the added weight. Finally they arrived at the Shire and Bilbo found himself full of poetry:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have done
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

Gandalf was astonished.

“My dear Bilbo!” he said. “Something is the matter with you! You are no the hobbit that you were.”

When they arrived at Bilbo’s home, there was a commotion. Bilbo had been gone so long, his relatives were having an estate sale and planning to move in. He was “Presumed Dead” and the worst part is that “not everybody that said so was sorry to find the presumption wrong.” Getting his furniture back was an ordeal. In some cases, it was easier to purchase it back.

As a result, one of the ways of looking at this adventure is that it was a loss for him. But loss is a kind of gain, too. The narrator tells us

“Bilbo found he had lost more than spoons—he has lost his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way, but he was no longer quite respectable.”

Years later, Balin and Gandalf came visiting and Bilbo learned of how Bard had rebuilt the town of Dale and how Lake-Town had a new start and a new level of prosperity. One problem: things didn’t end well for the Master of Lake-Town. When he possessed a lot of gold, then the gold possessed him. We are told he took most of the gold, ended up by himself, and starved in the desert. But a new Master had come along who was “of wiser kind.”

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