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The encounter with the trolls happens quite early in The Hobbit, as part of its second chapter. By this point in their travels, the company has moved into more dangerous, largely uninhabited terrain, where they make camp for the night, only for one of their ponies to startle. The pony runs towards the river (and Tolkien writes here that "Fili and Kili were nearly drowned"), and in the process they loose much of their supplies, and are left little to eat in the near future.

The company is now in a miserable mood, when light is spied in the distance. Not knowing whether this is friend or foe, they send Bilbo to scout. Thus, Bilbo finds the three trolls, and he then makes an attempt at pick-pocketing. In the process, he's caught by the troll he's trying to rob.

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During a strong rain storm, the group loses a large amount of food, and a pony gets frightened and jumps into the water.  Bilbo is sent to investigate a light on the side of the road, and he finds three trolls sitting by a fire. Bilbo is caught trying to pick one of their pockets, but later escapes into the woods when the trolls begin to argue. The rest of the dwarves are captured as they approach the fire. Gandalf uses magic to get the trolls to argue with one another. They are so lost in their argument, that they don't realize when it is daylight, and they eventually turn into stone. 

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