“The Hobbit” isn’t a very long book. It runs a mere 250 pages or so. For most of us, that’s easy. But not if you’re Bilbo Baggins. He’s not used to ten pages of adventures, much less 250.
Just look what he’s been through so far: He had to entertain a bunch of unappreciative dwarves without any notice. He had to leave home! He barely escaped being Troll Chow. He had to exchange riddles with one of the creepiest characters in all of literature. And let’s not forget the goblins, wargs, a werebear, giant spiders, a devious dragon and those most dangerous of all creatures, men.
So as you might imagine, our Mr. Baggins is getting a bit weary about now. Here he is, besieged in the Mountain with a bunch of grouchy dwarves and no end to the situation in sight. He just wants to go home. Unless he does something himself he’s likely to be stuck where he is for a very long time. That just won’t do.
Fortunately, Bilbo had the great foresight to burgle the one thing in the whole Mountain that Thorin wants more than anything else: the Arkenstone of Thrain. So, taking advantage of poor Bombur, Bilbo slips off to meet with the Elvenking and Bard. He tells them flat-out, “Personally I am tired of the whole affair. I wish I was back in the West in my own home, where folk are more reasonable.” And he offers them the Arkenstone.
Well, after Bard and the Elvenking pick their jaws up off the ground, they see what Bilbo has given them: the solution. With new respect, the Elvenking says to Bilbo, “Bilbo Baggins! You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it.” To which Bilbo replies, “Thank you very much I am sure.” What he actually means is, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Just end this thing, will you?!”
I have felt for awhile that the Arkenstone is a type of the Pearl of Great Price from Jesus’ parable. You know the one. A man would go and sell everything he owns to possess it. Well, Bilbo used the Arkenstone to purchase what for him was the Pearl of Great Price. Home. It’s hard to argue with his wisdom.
Having struck the deal, Bilbo anxiously heads back to the mountain when who should appear from out of the blue? Why Gandalf, of course! His timing is impeccable as future tales will bear out.
As usual, Gandalf brings glad tidings: “There is an unpleasant time just in front of you; but keep your heart up! You may come through all right.”
Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.