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Chapter 19: The Last Stage
On their journey back to Hobbiton, Gandalf and Bilbo spend some time at Rivendell with Elrond. Here Bilbo learns why Gandalf had to leave them. He had to attend a council of wizards and help to drive the Necromancer from his stronghold in the south of Mirkwood.
After a week at Rivendell, Bilbo, with Gandalf at his side, journeys on and comes across the trolls' gold, which they had buried the previous year. As he approaches the final hill before his home, Bilbo bursts into a spontaneous song on the pleasures of returning to Hobbiton after a great adventure. Gandalf, pleased with the change in his friend, remarks that he is "not the hobbit" that he was. As they approach his home, Bilbo is surprised to find his house is full of people. Since he has been presumed dead, his home and belongings are in the process of being auctioned off. He uses part of his treasure to buy back his own things and sets up his home once again.
Bilbo is never again considered to be a properly respectable hobbit in the community, but he does not care. The reader is told by Tolkien that Bilbo lived happily for many long years. He wrote poetry (which marked him as quite odd in the eyes of the hobbits) and a memoir, entitled "There and Back Again, a Hobbit's Holiday." The other grown hobbits never quite believed Bilbo's tales of adventure; but he was a special favorite of his nieces and nephews on the Took side of the family.
Many years later Bilbo is visited once again by Gandalf and Balin, one of the dwarves. Balin tells him that Dain is a wise king, and that Dale has been rebuilt by Bard and his men. The old Master of Lake-town came to a bad end, running off with the gold Bard had sent him and perishing in the wilderness. Lake-town, however, is flourishing under its new, wiser Master; there is also peace in the region with a friendship established between elves, dwarves, and men.
Prosperity has again settled over the Lake-town region, and all ends well in the novel.
The final chapter winds up the tale in a circular fashion. The adventure, which started at Bilbo's home, ends there as well. A general air of peace and well being reigns supreme at the end of the book. Bilbo, though he returns home and settles down, seems peculiar to his neighbors, especially since he spends his time wiring his memoirs and poetry. It is, indeed, true that Bilbo is not the hobbit he was at the first of the book.
The report that Baling brings about the region around the Lonely Mountain is very positive; the people, the dwarves, and the elves are happy and prosperous; the new King under the Mountain is wise and the new Master of Lake-town is fair and encouraging; peace reigns supreme.
In this last chapter, there is a reference to the Necromancer, which points forward to the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings; but, other than that, when The Hobbit ends, all is well with middle-earth.