The Hobbit: Chapter 15 Summary: The Gathering of the Clouds

In the morning after watching all night and seeing nothing, the party again notices the huge number of birds who seem to be gathering. And the old thrush reappears. Balin wishes the thrush was a raven for the dwarves understand the speech of ravens. The thrush then leaves and returns with a very old raven named Roäc, son of Carc. He tells them news of Smaug’s death and also the gathering of elves and men to get their share of the treasure. He also tells them of the demise of Lake-town and the death of many of its people. Roäc counsels Thorin to not listen to the Master of the town but to listen to Bard to achieve peace, even if it costs him much in gold. Thorin thanks him for the news, but claims that no one will get his gold and asks Roäc to send messengers to his people, especially Dain, to come to their aid. Then the dwarves return to the mountain (268–271).

The dwarves search the cave and find that the only entrance that Smaug had not blocked up is the front entrance, which they begin to fortify. The ravens bring news, and Fili and Kili go to retrieve three ponies the ravens tell them about as well as the rest of their stores. By much work, they manage to leave only a small path up the entrance which they block with a high wall. Only with ladders or ropes can one get in or out. (271–273).

Finally, the men and elves approach. Thorin addresses them and asks why they approach the gate as if armed for war. But the company turns back without saying anything. That day they hear music of the elves and Bilbo longs to escape the caves and join them in the mirth. The dwarves also retrieve instruments and sing, but the songs are not like elvish songs. The next morning a company of men and elves approach the gate again (273–275).

Bard answers Thorin’s summons and says that he is grateful in finding them alive, which they feared would not happen. He says it is time for parley and council. Bard says that he is the one who slew the dragon and delivered Thorin’s hoard. He says he is also a descendent of the people of Dale, whose treasure is also mingled with the hoard the dragon stole. Finally he mentions the ruin of the town and asks whether Thorin has concern for the people who are now destitute. Thorin answers that he will give nothing under threat of force. He then asks what part of the treasure they would have given to Thorin’s kin if they had all been found dead? Bard says that is a just question but still wants his questions answered. Thorin says he refuses to parley with an armed party. He says also that the elves need to be dismissed before any parleying will be done (275–277). 

Bard says the elves are his friends and helpers and hopes that Thorin will repent of his words before they return. Many hours pass before a company returns and announces that Thorin should consider their claims or be considered a foe. They demand one twelfth of the hoard to Bard as the dragon slayer. He will distribute from his share to the aid of Esgaroth. But they encourage Thorin to seek friendship with the people by giving more. Thorin answers with a bow shot. The messenger says Thorin should consider the mountain besieged. They will not attack, but they also won’t leave. Bilbo is simply sick of it all (277–278). 

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