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Chapter 13: Not at Home
Sitting in the tunnel, the dwarves and Bilbo wait for some kind of sounds from below indicating the dragon's return. Escape through the secret door is no longer possible, so they wait in desperation for what seems like days. When they are unable to bear their predicament any longer, Bilbo suggests that they all go down the tunnel to the dragon's lair. The dwarves agree, and they venture down together. Bilbo slips ahead and in the pitch darkness falls headlong into the dragon's cave. After a while, he realizes that Smaug is not there and asks for a light. The dwarves pass him a flaming torch but will not join him in the cave, preferring to wait and see what happens. Bilbo goes through the treasure alone. He finds the Arkenstone and pockets it as part of his share of the treasure, though he feels perhaps the gem was not meant to be included in the divvying up of the spoils.
Bilbo, surprised by a bat, drops his torch and cries out for help. The dwarves come to his rescue, lighting torches and hurrying towards him. They are enthralled by what they see. Once assured that Bilbo is safe, they begin exploring the cave, awakening their love of gold and gems. They lift jewels, caress them, and show them to one another. Thorin searches for the Arkenstone, though he does not mention it to the others. They all put on suits of armor, even little Bilbo. Though the dwarves are bewitched by their find, Bilbo keeps his wits about him and convinces them that the dragon may return and that they should leave. Thorin leads them out of the Front Gate and on a long march to Ravenhill, an old lookout post. The chapter ends on an ambiguous note, as they see no sign of the dragon, but notice a large number of birds gathering to the south.
Tolkien makes the reader curious about where Smaug has gone and when he will return. Though the dwarves and Bilbo wander through the dragon's domain, the reader shares their fear that at any moment Smaug may come upon them and finish them off.
Bilbo retains his status as hero. He is now clearly the leader of the group, the one who makes plans and implements them. He is also seen as the one least affected by a lust for gold and jewels. He retains his common sense when all the dwarves have lost their wits over the sight of the treasure.
The theme of greed is foremost in the chapter, and the effect of the dragon's horde on the dwarves is spelled out in some detail. With the dragon absent, there is a lack of intense action in the chapter, and the mood is considerably lighter than in previous chapters. However, as the chapter closes, a foreshadowing of the dragon's destruction appears in the large flocks of birds gathering to the south.