Barrels Out of Bond
Barrels Out of Bond is the 9th chapter of The Hobbit. Thorin Oakenshield and the Dwarves are captured by the king of the wood-elves, Thranduil, father of Legolas. They are all imprisoned, Thorin in the deepest, darkest dungeon. Bilbo, with the help of his magic ring, conveys messages between them. The gates to the caves are sealed by magic. Sometimes he is able to slip out with hunting parties but he spends a miserable life in the deepest, darkest corners of the palace One day, while wandering about Bilbo discovers that the gates are not the only way out of the caves. A stream flowed through the lowest regions of the palace, but the exit was blocked with a portcullis. Since there were no vines in Mirkwood, the elves drank wines that "were brought from far away, from their kinsfolk in the South, or from the vineyards of Men in distant lands." The empty wine barrels were floated down the stream to Laketown, where the wine came from. Laketown was close to Lonely Mountain. One night Galion, the butler, and the Chief Guard sneak downstairs to the wine cellars to drink of the wine. They get drunk, and fall asleep. Bilbo, still invisible, steals the keys and sets the Dwarves free. He stuffs them into empty barrels and pads them with straw, and drills air holes in the barrels. The plan came close to ruin when some elves almost open the barrels because they are so heavy. The elves float the barrels down the river, and they escape.
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