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Nov 1 2012, 9:48am
Today in Middle-earth.
November 1, 2941 (S.R. 1341)
1. An angered Smaug searches the mountain.
(from Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth)
..."Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after long possession; and Smaug was no exception. He had passed from an uneasy dream (in which a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage, figured most unpleasantly)... ...to wide waking. There was a breath of strange air in his cave. Could there be a draught from that little hole..? ….He stirred and stretched forth his neck to sniff. Then he missed the cup!
...Thieves! Fire! Murder! Such a thing had not happened since first he came to the Mountain! His rage passes description... ...He thrust his head in vain at the little hole, and then coiling his length together, roaring like thunder underground, he sped from his deep lair through its great door, out into the huge passages of the mountains-palace and up towards the Front Gate.
...To hunt the whole mountain till he had caught the thief and had torn and trampled him was his one thought. He issued from the Gate... ...and up he soared blazing into the air and settled on the mountain-top in a spout of green and scarlet flame. The dwarves heard the awful rumour of his flight, and they crouched against the walls of the grassy terrace cringing under boulders, hoping somehow to escape the frightful eyes of the hunting dragon.
...There they would have all been killed, if it had not been for Bilbo once again. "Quick! Quick!" he gasped. "The door! The tunnel! It's no good here."
...Roused by these words they were just about to creep inside the tunnel when Bifur gave a cry: "My cousins! Bombur and Bofur—we have forgotten them, they are down in the valley!"
..."They will be slain, and all our ponies too..." moaned the others. "We can do nothing."
..."Nonsense!" said Thorin, recovering his dignity. "We cannot leave them. Get inside Mr. Baggins and Balin, and you two Fili and Kili—the dragon shan't have all of us. Now you others, where are the ropes? Be quick!"
......Up came Bofur, and still all was safe. Up came Bombur, puffing and blowing while the ropes creaked, and still all was safe. Up came some tools and bundles of stores, and then danger was upon them.
A whirring nose was heard. A red light touched the points of standing rocks....
......They had barely time to fly back to the tunnel… …when Smaug came hurtling from the North, licking the mountain-sides with flame, beating his great wings with a noise like a roaring wind. His hot breath shrivelled the grass before the door, and drove in through the crack they had left and scorched them as they lay hid. Flickering fires leaped up and black rock-shadows danced. Then darkness fell as he passed again...."
2. Bilbo returns to Smaug's chamber in the afternoon.
(from Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth)
..."Smaug certainly looked fast asleep… …when Bilbo peeped once more from the entrance. He was just about to step out on to the floor when he caught a sudden thin and piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug's left eye. He was only pretending to sleep…! ...Hurriedly Bilbo stepped back and blessed the luck of his ring. Then Smaug spoke.
..."Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!"
...But Bilbo was not quite so unlearned in dragon-lore as all that, and if Smaug hoped to get him to come nearer so easily he was disappointed. "No thank you, O Smaug the Tremendous!" he replied. "I did not come for presents. I only wished to have a look at you and see if you were truly as great as tales say…"
..."…Do you now?" said the dragon somewhat flattered, even though he did not believe a word of it.
..."Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of the reality, O Smaug the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities," replied Bilbo.
..."You have nice manners for a thief and a liar… …You seem familiar with my name, but I don't seem to remember smelling you before. Who are you and where do you come from, may I ask?"
..."You may indeed! I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air, I am he that walks unseen."
..."So I can well believe… …but that is hardly your usual name."
..."I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number."
..."Lovely titles!" sneered the dragon…
..."…I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me."
..."These don't sound so creditable," scoffed Smaug.
..."I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider," went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling.
..."That's better!" said Smaug. "But don't let your imagination run away with you!"
...This of course is the way to talk to dragons, if you don't want to reveal your proper name… …and don't want to infuriate them by a flat refusal… …No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it. There was a lot here which Smaug did not understand at all… …but he thought he understood enough…
..."…he smiled to himself. "Lake-men, some nasty scheme of those miserable tub-trading Lake-men, or I'm a lizard. I haven't been down that way for an age and an age; but I will soon alter that…!"
......Bilbo was now beginning to feel really uncomfortable. Whenever Smaug's roving eye… …flashed across him, he trembled, and an unaccountable desire seized hold of him to rush out and reveal himself and tell all the truth to Smaug. In fact he was in grievous danger of coming under the dragon-spell....
..."...My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, and the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my winds a hurricane, and my breath death!"
..."I have always understood," said Bilbo in a frightened squeak, "that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the region of the—er—chest; but doubtless one so fortified has thought of that."
...The dragon stopped short in his boasting. "Your information is antiquated… …I am armoured above and below with iron scales and hard gems. No blade can pierce me."
..."I might have guessed it," said Bilbo. "Truly there can nowhere be found the equal of Lord Smaug the Impenetrable. What magnificence to possess a waistcoat of fine diamonds!"
..."Yes, it is rare and wonderful, indeed," said Smaug absurdly pleased. He did not know that the hobbit had already caught a glimpse of his peculiar under-covering on his previous visit, and was itching for a closer view for reasons of his own....
......the dragon spouted terrific flames after him… …the nostrils sent forth fire and vapour to pursue him, and he was nearly overcome, and stumbled blindly on in great pain and fear. He had been feeling rather pleased with the cleverness of his conversation with Smaug, but his mistake at the end shook him into better sense.
..."Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb....
......[The dwarves] had difficulty in getting anything out of him… …he was now regretting some of the things he had said to the dragon, and was not eager to repeat them. The old thrush was sitting on a rock near by with his head cocked on one side, listening to all that was said. It shows what an ill temper Bilbo was in: he picked up a stone and threw it at the thrush, which merely fluttered aside and came back.
..."Drat the bird… …I believe he is listening, and I don't like the look of him."
..."Leave him alone!" said Thorin. "The thrushes are good and friendly---this is a very old bird indeed, and is maybe the last left of the ancient breed… …tame to the hands of my father and grandfather. They were a long-lived and magical race, and this might even be one of those that were alive then, a couple of hundreds of years or more ago. The Men of Dale used to have the trick of understanding their language, and used them for messengers to fly to the Men of the Lake and elsewhere...."
..."Well, he'll have news to take to Lake-town all right..," said Bilbo; "…though I don't suppose there are any people left there that trouble with thrush-language."
...'Why what has happened?" cried the dwarves. "Do get on with your tale!"
...So Bilbo told them all he could remember…
......All the while they talked the thrush listened, till at last when the stars began to peep forth, it silently spread it wings and flew away....
3. Smaug attacks Lake-town.
(determined from text)
..."'...suddenly a great light appeared in the low place in the hills and the northern end of the lake turned golden. "The King beneath the Mountain!" they shouted. "His wealth is like the Sun, his silver like a fountain, his rivers golden run...!
...There was once more a tremendous excitement and enthusiasm. But the grim-voiced fellow ran hotfoot to the Master. "The dragon is coming or I am a fool... ...Cut the bridges! To arms! To arms!"
...Then warning trumpets were suddenly sounded, and echoed along the rocky shores. The cheering stopped and the joy was turned to dread. So it was that the dragon did not find them quite unprepared.
...Before long, so great was his speed, they could see him as a spark of fire rushing towards them and growing ever huger and more bright... ... Still they had a little time. Every vessel in the town was filled with water, every warrior was armed, every arrow and dart was ready, and the bridge to the land was thrown down and destroyed before the roar of Smaug's terrible approach grew loud, and the lake rippled red as fire beneath the awful beating of his wings....
......Roaring he swept back over the town. A hail of dark arrows leaped up and snapped and rattled on his scales and jewels, and their shafts fell back kindled by his breath burning and hissing into the lake.... ...At the twanging of the bows and the shrilling of the trumpets the dragon's wrath blazed to its height, till he was blind and mad with it. No one had dared to give battle to him for many an age; nor would they have dared now, if it had not been for the grim-voiced man (Bard was his name), who ran to and fro cheering on the archers and urging the Master to order them to fight to the last arrow.
...Fire leaped from the dragon's jaws. He circled for a while high in the air above them lighting all the lake... ...Then down he swooped straight through the arrow-storm, reckless in his rage, taking no heed to turn his scaly sides towards his foes, seeking only to set their town ablaze....
......But there was still a company of archers that held their ground among the burning houses. Their captain was Bard, grim-voiced and grim-faced... ...he shot with a great yew bow, till all his arrows but one were spent. The flames were near him. His companions were leaving him. He bent his bow for the last time.
...Suddenly out of the dark something fluttered to his shoulder. He started—but it was only an old thrush. Unafraid it perched by his ear and it brought him news. Marvelling he found he could understand its tongue, for he was of the race of Dale.
..."Wait! Wait..! ...The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!" And while Bard paused in wonder it told him of tidings up in the Mountain and of all that it had heard.
...Then Bard drew his bow-string to his ear. The dragon was circling back, flying low, and as he came the moon rose above the eastern shore and silvered his great wings...
..."...Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!"
...The dragon swooped once more... ...and as he turned and dived down his belly glittered white with sparkling fires of gems in the moon—but not in one place. The great bow twanged. The black arrow sped straight from the string, straight for the hollow by the left breast where the foreleg was flung wide. In it smote and vanished, barb, shaft and feather, so fierce was its flight. With a shriek that deafened men, felled trees and split stone, Smaug shot spouting into the air, turned over and crashed down from on high in ruin.
...Full on the town he fell. His last throes splintered it to sparks and gledes... ...A vast steam leaped up, white in the sudden dark under the moon. There was a hiss, a gushing whirl, and then silence. And that was the end of Smaug and Esgaroth, but not of Bard."
4. Lake-town in the aftermath.
(determined from text)
......down the wind came the voices of the people of Esgaroth lamenting their lost town and goods and ruined houses. But they had really much to be thankful for... ...though it could hardly be expected that they should just then: three quarters of the people of the town had at least escaped alive; their woods and fields and pastures and cattle and most of their boats remained undamaged; and the dragon was dead. What that meant they had not yet realized.
...They gathered in mournful crowds upon the western shores, shivering in the cold wind, and their first complaints and anger were against the Master, who had left the town so soon, while some were still willing to defend it... ... they praised the courage of Bard and his last mighty shot. "If only he had not been killed," they all said, "we would make him a king. Bard the Dragon-shooter of the line of Girion! Alas that he is lost!"
...And in the very midst of their talk, a tall figure stepped from the shadows. He was drenched with water, his black hair hung wet over his face and shoulders, and a fierce light was in his eyes.
..."Bard is not lost!" he cried. "He dived from Esgaroth when the enemy was slain. I am Bard, of the line of Girion; I am the slayer of the dragon!"
... "King Bard! King Bard!" they shouted; but the Master ground his chattering teeth...."
November 1, 3018 (S.R. 1418)
1. The hobbits rest in Rivendell as scouts search the lands for news of the enemy.
(not in the appendices-no text)
November 1, 3019 (S.R. 1419)
1. They are arrested at Frogmorton.
(from the appendices)
..."As they came to the east end of the village they met a barrier with a large board saying NO ROAD; and behind it stood a large band of Shirriffs with staves in their hands and feathers in their caps, looking both important and rather scared.
...'What's all this?' said Frodo, feeling inclined to laugh.
...'This is what it is, Mr. Baggins,' said the leader of the Shirriffs, a two-feather hobbit: 'You're arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food…'
...'…I can add some more, if you'd like it,' said Sam. 'Calling your Chief Names, Wishing to punch his Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a lot of Tom-fools.'
...'There now, Mister, that'll do. It's the Chief's orders that you're to come along quiet. We're going to take you to Bywater and hand you over to the Chief's Men… …To the discomfiture of the Shirriffs Frodo and his companions all roared with laughter. 'Don't be absurd!' said Frodo. 'I am going where I please, and in my own time. I happen to be going to Bag End on business, but if you insist on going too, well that is your affair.'
...'Very well, Mr. Baggins… …But don't forget I've arrested you.'
...'I won't,' said Frodo. 'Never. But I may forgive you. Now I am not going any further today, so if you'll kindly escort me to the Floating Log, I'll be obliged… …Go on and we'll follow.'
...Sam had been looking the Shirriffs up and down and had spotted one that he knew. 'Hey, come here Robin Smallburrow!' he called. 'I want a word with you....'
...'...You should be ashamed of yourself having anything to do with such nonsense,' said Sam. 'You used to like the inside of an inn better than the outside yourself. You were always poppin in, on duty or off.'
...'And so I would be still, Sam, if I could… …You know how I went for a Shirriff… …Gave me a chance of walking round the country and seeing folk, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was. But now it's different.'
...'But you can give it up, stop Shirriffing, if it has stopped being a respectable job,' said Sam.
...'We're not allowed to,' said Robin.
...'If I hear NOT ALLOWED much oftener,' said Sam, 'I'm going to get angry....'"
I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.
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