As they float down the river, Bilbo sees the Lonely Mountain far off. From the raftmen's talk, he understands that the landscape had changed a lot since Gandalf last saw it, and that the dwarves had gotten out of Mirkwood the only way they could. Unknown to Bilbo, Gandalf has heard of his trouble and is on his way to help.
The barrels float to Lake-town, a town of Men that is also called Esgaroth, located on Long Lake. Bilbo helps the dwarves out of the barrels. Thorin, with Fili, Kili, and Bilbo, confronts the town guards and announces that he, the King under the Mountain, has returned and wishes to be taken to their Master. They discover the Master feasting with elves, who recognize their former prisoners. The Master of Lake-town does not want to oppose the elves, but the townspeople insist that Thorin be welcomed. After a couple of weeks, the dwarves know they must go on to the Mountain and they leave, well-provisioned. Bilbo is very unhappy about leaving Lake-town and heading to the Lonely Mountain.
Having exercised great bravery and cleverness in helping the dwarves escape from the Elvenking's prison, Bilbo now seems to revert to his milder hobbit nature in his unhappiness about going on to the Lonely Mountain and Smaug the dragon. His journey toward leadership and real personal development is not a straight line; he experiences set-backs on the way to his ultimate goal.
Thorin's confrontation with the Master of Esgaroth allows him to reassert some leadership of the group as he reclaims the title of King Under the Mountain that he inherited from his grandfather.
promontory a high point of land or rock projecting into water or over lowland.
graybeards old men.
gammers old women.
quays docks or landing places on a waterway.
fortnight a period of two weeks.