Chapter 1 to Chapter 4

Chapter 1 Summary

The novel opens with a description of Bilbo’s hobbit-hole: a warm, dry, spacious home built into the side of a hill. Bilbo Baggins, we are told, is a wealthy hobbit, and is very well respected in the neighborhood of Hobbiton. Bilbo is enjoying his pipe on a fine spring morning outside his front door when the wizard Gandalf comes along. Although he doesn’t recognize the wizard at first, Bilbo knows of Gandalf because he was involved in some adventures with Bilbo’s grandfather. Gandalf says he’s looking for a hobbit to sign up for an adventure that he is arranging, but Bilbo says he’s not interested. Not wanting to appear rude, however, Bilbo encourages Gandalf to come back the next afternoon for tea. After Bilbo scurries back inside, Gandalf scratches a sign into the paint of Bilbo’s front door with the end of his staff.

The next afternoon, Bilbo has all but forgotten about the disturbing incident of the day before. When there is a knock on the door, he remembers that he had invited Gandalf for tea, and he hurries to put the kettle on. Instead of Gandalf, Bilbo finds a dwarf on his doorstep, who introduces himself as Dwalin and then comes inside and sits down to eat. Bilbo is flustered but hospitable. As the afternoon goes by, Dwalin is followed by more dwarves, who arrive in groups of two and three, until Bilbo is quite overrun with bringing food and drink of various kinds to his guests. Finally, Gandalf appears with Thorin, the 13th dwarf and in fact their leader. Bilbo can tell that Thorin is an important person, and he treats him respectfully. They all keep Bilbo running back and forth from the pantry until he is exhausted, and very confused, before they finally address the purpose of their visit.

Gandalf has informed the dwarves that Bilbo is a burglar and that they knew his hobbit-hole by the mark Gandalf scratched on his door. They are in need of a burglar to assist in their quest to reclaim their lost treasure from the dragon Smaug, who dwells far away in the Lonely Mountain....

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