The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
How we cite our quotes:
Now a nasty suspicion began to grow in his mind – had the dwarves forgotten this important point [about transportation of Bilbo's gold back to Bag-End] too, or were they laughing in their sleeves at him all the time? That is the effect that dragon-talk has on the inexperienced. Bilbo of course ought to have been on his guard; but Smaug had rather an overwhelming personality. (12.68)
One of the reasons that Bilbo tries not to give his name to Smaug is for fear that the dragon will then use Bilbo's true name to enchant him. But Smaug's words still seem to have a dangerous magical quality to make Bilbo doubt himself and his companions. How trustworthy are Thorin & Co.? Do we see any indications (besides the twisted words of Smaug) that Bilbo might be right to be concerned? What does it say about the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin that Bilbo is capable of entertaining "a nasty suspicion" against the dwarves this late in the novel?
So Bilbo told them all he could remember, and he confessed that he had a nasty feeling that the dragon guessed too much from his riddles added to the camps and the ponies. [...]
"Well, well! It cannot be helped and it is difficult not to slip in talking to a dragon, or so I have always heard," said Balin anxious to comfort him. "I think you did very well, if you ask me – you found out one very useful thing at any rate, and got home alive, and that is more than most can say who have had words with the likes of Smaug." (12.86-7)
In getting cocky and taunting Smaug, Bilbo told the dragon more than he meant to about where he comes from (e.g., "Barrel-Rider" = from Lake-town). But now that Bilbo has actually made a mistake, Balin is "anxious to comfort him." So Balin, at least, seems to be pulling real friend duty with Bilbo. His loyalty to Bilbo doesn't seem to be dutiful.
The Elvenking looked at Bilbo with a new wonder. "Bilbo Baggins!" he said. "You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it. But I wonder if Thorin Oakenshield will see it so. I have more knowledge of dwarves in general than you have perhaps. I advise you to remain with us, and here you shall be honoured and thrice welcome."
"Thank you very much I am sure," said Bilbo with a bow. "But I don't think I ought to leave my friends like this, after all we have gone through together. And I promised to wake old Bombur at midnight, too! Really, I must be going, and quickly." (16.41)
Bilbo decides to take the one thing that Thorin seems to love most in this world, the Arkenstone, to Thorin's enemies. How is Bilbo showing his loyalty to his dwarf friends with this move? How might he have tried to explain this to Thorin? What might have happened to Bilbo or to the dwarves if Bilbo had decided to accept the Elvenking's offer in this passage?