The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Good vs. Evil Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"I beg of you," said Bilbo stammering and standing on one foot, "to accept this gift!" and he brought out a necklace of silver and pearls that Dain had given him at their parting.
"In what way have I earned such a gift, O hobbit?" said the king.
"Well, er, I thought, don't you know," said Bilbo rather confused, "that, er, some little return should be made for your, er, hospitality. I mean even a burglar has his feelings. I have drunk much of your wine and eaten much of your bread."
"I will take your gift, O Bilbo the Magnificent," said the king gravely. (18.46-9)
Bilbo's moral code is incredibly rigid when it comes to payment: if he has received a service or profited off somebody, he has to pay for it. It's not just the Elvenking; he also leaves the stolen keys with the drunken guard in the Elvenking's dungeons so the poor guy doesn't come in for too much criticism. Perhaps this strong moral understanding of the importance of payment is why Bilbo is so reluctant to accept much treasure?