The Hobbit Chapter 10
The day grows warmer and the land clears near the river. In the distance, Bilbo can see the Lonely Mountain. He listens to the raftsmen talk about the ways in which the river has changed and how the land has been altered. The river remains the only safe way out of Mirkwood. All the paths and the old road have become overgrown or forgotten. In a way, Bilbo and his companions were fortunate to come out of the forest at all, but this does not comfort the hobbit. The river goes on and on and the mountain in the distance seems to frown down on him. Before long, the mountains recede from view as they travel south on the river. The river opens up into Long Lake, near the town of Esgaroth. Bilbo is amazed by the length of the lake; he cannot see its end. A calm bay forms in front of the lake town that is partially built over the water. Esgaroth is a bust wooden town that was once rich from the trade between Dale, a town up the lake near the mountain, and the wood-elves. Now, however, the town is making a subsistence living and most people have forgotten the good days. Some of the older people still sing songs of dragons and dwarves, but it has been many years since the townspeople have seen either. The boatmen tie up the raft for the night and leave. Bilbo cuts one barrel open and releases a very disgruntled Thorin. After a few moments, the dwarf clams down and they begin to release the rest of their group. They find everyone and Thorin speaks:
"'Well! Here we are!...And I suppose we ought to thank our stars and Mr. Baggins. I am sure he has a right to expect it, though I wish he could have arranged a more comfortable journey. Still- all very much at your service once more, Mr. Baggins. No doubt we shall feel properly grateful when we are fed and recovered.'" Chapter 10, pg. 193
They decide to go into the town in a small group first. Fili, Kili, Bilbo and Thorin go first. The towns' guards are sitting drinking and laughing at a fire, and are very surprised when Thorin steps into their building. He regally announces himself as the King under the Mountain and asks to be taken to the master of the town. They tell him that the master is at a feast, but Thorin demands to be taken anyway. Thorin adds that this will work out well because they are so utterly famished. The guards lead them into a great wooden hall, and without pause, Thorin re-introduces himself with the same flair. Many rise in surprise and the wood-elves present tell the master that Thorin was a prisoner of their King. When the master asks Thorin about this, the dwarf responds that not even the Elvenking can keep him from his destiny. He also asserts that he is free, since he has left the elves' realm. The master doubts their tale, but the rest of the people applaud and are ready to believe that a legend has come to life. The town is filled with song and households erupt with excitement. Old people of the community say that a new golden age will begin. The master pretends to believe Thorin to humor his people and he offers the four seats of honor. The other dwarves enter the town to the same excitement.
The party lingers in the town for a week and they begin to look healthier and stronger. With every day that passes, the dwarves feel warmer towards the hobbit. Bilbo, however, is suffering from a cold and can't seem to enjoy anything. The wood-elves return to the king and swear that the party will never pass back through Mirkwood. The Elvenking sends out spies to check on their progress.
Thorin begins to think of departure. He tells this to the master who is at once surprised and concerned. "He had never thought that the dwarves would actually dare to approach Smaug, but believed they were frauds who would sooner or later be discovered and be turned out." Chapter 10, pg. 199. The master is not exactly sorry to see them go. They climb into boats piloted by lake men and are rowed up the lake. When they get out of the boats two days later, they are met with ponies and supplies sent by the town.