Tolkien Gateway

Barrels Out of Bond

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The Hobbit chapters
  1. An Unexpected Party
  2. Roast Mutton
  3. A Short Rest
  4. Over Hill and Under Hill
  5. Riddles in the Dark
  6. Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
  7. Queer Lodgings
  8. Flies and Spiders
  9. Barrels Out of Bond
  10. A Warm Welcome
  11. On the Doorstep
  12. Inside Information
  13. Not at Home
  14. Fire and Water
  15. The Gathering of the Clouds
  16. A Thief in the Night
  17. The Clouds Burst
  18. The Return Journey
  19. The Last Stage

Barrels Out of Bond is the 9th chapter of The Hobbit.

Following their capture by the Wood-elves, Thorin Oakenshield and the Dwarves are imprisoned on the orders of the Elvenking (Thranduil, father of Legolas), with Thorin in the deepest, darkest dungeon. Bilbo - who uses his magic ring to escape capture - one again proves his usefulness by convey secret messages between the dwarves. 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 although the exit was blocked with a portcullis. As 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 back down the stream to Lake-town, from where the wine came.

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, spots his opportunity: he steals the keys and sets the Dwarves free.

Bilbo stuffs them into the empty wine barrels, padding them with straw and drilling air holes in the barrels. The elves float the barrels down the river; the plan came close to ruin when the elves almost open the barrels due to their weight, however, the dwarves successfully escape to Lake-town.