Monthly Archives: November 2016

WRITING FOR A CHANGE 18

One more poem, then I think I’m at the end of my Tolkien tribute writings (was that a sigh of relief I heard?)

Winter river

Deep brown the river runs, under willows sweeping,
Bears the leaves and twiglets down, drowning out the weeping.

Silent lies the river-path, no-one now is walking
All along the forest ways, lily-flowers seeking.

Drowsing in the cooling air, ancient willows humming
Songs of vanished summer days, songs of winter coming.

Softly in the rustling reeds the autumn breeze is moaning;
Deep beneath the water brown, River-woman groaning,

Sorrows for her daughter fair, stolen from the river
Longs for gentle Spring’s return, longs to see her treasure

Dance again beside the stream, bathing in the water,
Then as in a golden dream she will behold her daughter.

Now as winter settles cold, river woman’s weeping
Fills the lonely valley air, while all things else are sleeping.

Cycle of seasons

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WRITING FOR A CHANGE 17

I think this is my favourite out of my attempts to honour Tolkien by taking literally this statement from from Letters #133; ‘I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend … which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. … I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. … leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.” ‘ I hope he would not mind some prose as well.

The Last Ringbearer

“Come away, Dad, do. There’s nothing more we can do here.” Robin Gamgee tugged anxiously at his father’s arm, but Sam remained still, silent, gazing down at the mound of fresh-heaped earth at his feet.
Robin looked up at his brothers and sisters standing round. Most were weeping, but Elanor stood dry-eyed, looking at her father. Her golden hair shone, reflecting the darts of sunlight that pierced intermittently the shadow of the Mallorn branches. Rose Gamgee had been laid to rest beneath that tree, the gift of Galadriel.
Elanor moved suddenly, and the group of mourners, who had seemed frozen in their places in sympathy with their father’s immobility, began to stir too. “Come along, Dad, come into the Hole, please,” begged Elanor. She looked around for her husband, and Fastred came to stand with her. Together they urged the older Hobbit away from Rosie’s grave. But a great sob burst from Sam, and he pulled free of their guiding hands.
“Rosie-lass, my Rosie!” he cried, and tears flowed freely down his lined face. “Oh Rosie, why have you gone without me?”
At last his family managed to guide him towards Bag End, and Elanor sent her daughters ahead to boil up the kettles and make tea. Sam stumbled between his helpers, as if blind and lame. He was muttering to himself now, and his grandson Elfstan let out a stifled exclamation that brought his mother’s eye on him.
“Sssh now, let your Granddad be.”
“But Mum – I mean Mother – I mean – did you hear what Granddad said?”
Elanor waved him off and would not listen to him until all the family – all who were there at the burial, that is – were inside, and her father was seated in his comfortable chair by the fire, a cup of tea at his elbow. While everyone applied themselves to toast and jam and cake, and several grandchildren tried to encourage Sam to taste some of his favourite dainties, Elanor led Elfstan aside.
“Now, son, what did you mean? I am sorry to shush you as I did, but I had no desire to see your Granddad further upset.”
Elfstan nodded, and tears sprang to his own eyes. “Poor Granddad! It seems dreadful without Granny, mother!”
“And so it is, dear.” Elanor wiped the youngster’s tears – he was still in his Tweens, after all – and urged him to speak up.
“Well – it is what I heard, mother, though I cannot believe it. Granddad said, soft and low but I heard him plain enough, he said, ‘The day is done, and farewell to the stars.’”
“Oh!” Elanor sat down on the nearest chair, and looked across the room to where Sam now sat, staring into the fire, a piece of untasted toast in his hand and a cooling cup of tea on his side-table. “Oh, Dad.”

The summer of the 61st year of the Fourth Age was heavy with unspent thunder and shadowed with unyielding clouds. The Fairbairns stayed for a couple of weeks at Bag End with Sam, but after that Elanor began to long for her own home, and for the sight of the Downs rearing up away beyond her window. She asked Sam to come with them, but could not persuade him.
“No, no, you be off my dear, I am happy enough here for a while.” He laid his hand on the volumes of the Red Book that stood in their accustomed place beside him, always within reach. “I have young Frodo here, and he shall have Bag End after I am gone” – he waved away the protesting noises this remark brought – “I shall be along to see you all one of these days soon, don’t you worry.”
Elanor was worried, none the less. Still she and Fastred and Elfstan and the other children packed up their bags and loaded their wagon and made themselves ready for home. Only Elfstan clung to his grandfather at parting, and wept. “Granddad, Granddad.”
“Don’t take on so, me dear,” said Sam, patting his curly head kindly. “Why, I have promised to come over there and see you all, have I not?”
Elfstan looked up then, his sobbing quieted, and he spoke low so that only Sam could hear him.
“But Granddad – is it really true that the day is done?”
Sam started, and clutched at the youngster’s arm. “Who’s said that to you?”
“You said it, Granddad, not to me but I couldn’t help hearing, and I remembered the Red Book stories, and it sounded – wrong, Granddad.”
Sam smiled, and drew his grandson into his arms. “Tis not done yet, my deary – but ’tis drawing near.”
He would say no more, and Elanor came to hug her father and to give instructions to Frodo Gardner, her brother, about how Dad would like things done, and to bundle the last-minute luggage and young hobbits into the wagon. Soon they were heading away over the Water, planning to pass Bywater and meet up with the East Road after a brief stop to see Cotton’s farm once more. Sam waved to them until they were out of sight, then turned to grin at his son Frodo.
“Well lad – now we shall have some peace for a bit.” They went into the garden together, and set to work.

Summer thickened slowly into autumn, bringing some breaks in the clouds over the Shire, and a few fair days. Winter was deep and bleak that year, and Sam spent many days indoors, reading in the Red Book. As the blue skies of spring opened up above the Shire, one by one the golden leaves of Mallorn fell to rest upon Rosie Gamgee’s grave-mound, and whatever wind or breeze came by, there they lay, a golden coverlet in honour of the hobbit-woman who slept beneath. Sam went twice daily, morning and evening, to stand beside his wife, hat in hand and his grey-curled head bowed in silence. For a while Frodo Gardner came too, but gradually began to excuse himself because of the many tasks that the new season brought – digging and planting, and hobbit-children to shoo away from Bag End’s new-seeded vegetable patches. Sam did not mind; he was proud of his strong son, who bore the name of his dear lost master and whose broad hands brought wealth from the rich soil of the Shire. He was happy standing alone beside his Rosie.
Then one night in mid-April the great storm that seemed to have been building all through the winter suddenly broke. Black clouds came up from the west, like fleets of Corsair ships, Sam thought. All across the Shire the hobbits battened themselves down in their holes and little houses. The beasts stood lowing and bleating unhappily in byre and field, as the clouds rumbled above them and the spears of lightening began to flash through the gloom. Then it came at last – the rain long-expected, like cataracts out of the sky. Sam and Frodo Gardner looked out the round windows of Bag End to watch the storm, and saw the paths and roadways of the Hill flowing like small rivers, on and on down into the Water and off to Bywater Pool.
“”Twill overflow, that Pool, Dad – we shall have floods for sure.”
Sam nodded. “You know, son, ‘tis just as Mr. Bilbo used to say about Roads. These little streams flowing into the Water, and the Water off away south, and all the rivers and streams into one another, Brandywine and Bruinen, Anduin and Greyflood – all flowing together into the Sea at last.”
Frodo looked sharply at his old Dad – there was that dreaminess in his voice again, that Old Granfer Gamgee used to tell his grandchildren about. “Always a dreamer, your Dad,” he used to say.
“Come on Dad – lets draw some beer and sit cosy by the fire,” said Frodo, shuttering the windows and drawing curtains over the shutters too. Sam came willingly enough, and they had a merry evening’s talk by the bright fire – the fire where Gandalf the Wizard had once tested the Ring, though Sam did not mention this to his son. They talked instead of the land, of Sam’s other children and his grandchildren, and of Frodo’s plans for the summer. They went peacefully to bed as the winds and rain and thunder began to die away.

The next morning Frodo Gardner woke early, but found that his father was up before him. Sam was finishing his breakfast in the parlour, and piled beside him were several bags and bundles.
“Dad! What are you doing? Don’t say you are going off, just like that with never a word!”
“Not without a word, my dear son. I have been up a while, Frodo, and been to visit your mother. Do you know, after all that storm the Golden Leaves are still there, covering her as soft as satin on a baby’s cradle. That’s the Lady, Frodo; she has done this for Rosie. I know I can leave her safely here with you, Son.”
Frodo sat down across the table and looked into his Dad’s face. There it was still, the dreaming look. “Where are you going, Dad? Will you – will you come back again?”
Sam reached across and took his son’s hand. “Well, me dear, first off I’m going to see Elanor – here in this bundle is some things for her to keep.”
Frodo looked about the room, and gasped. “Dad! The Red Books – you are never taking those away!”
“Well, yes Frodo me dear. Don’t be vexed, but they are better off with Elanor. You are a worker of the soil, first and foremost, you have your Granfer’s skills in that. And I leave Bag End safe with you, I know. Elanor, and young Elfstan – why, they will know just how to care for these books and add to them over the years too, no doubt.”
Frodo nodded. “That’s right Dad, they will. But you talk as if you are going away forever, not just for a visit to Undertowers.”
Sam leaned back and fiddled with the business of lighting a pipe of Longbottom leaf, saying nothing until it was sending up smoke at a good rate. “I had a dream last night, Son. I’m not much of a one for dreams, but I knew this one, because Master Frodo – well he had it too. He told me about it often enough those last years before he went away. There was rain in it, like we had last night, but when it drew away there was a wide fair land such as I have never seen in all my journeyings, Son. Green and silver and filled with music, and I knew they were there, Mr Frodo and old Mr. Bilbo, and the lady, Son, the lady standing bright and golden as a Mallorn herself.”
Silence fell in the old parlour, except for the ticking of the clock on the mantel.
“And that’s where you are going, Dad?”
Sam nodded.

At the door of Elanor’s house in Undertowers the whole household was gathered, and a noise arose such as could only be produced by a hobbit family in a confloption. Children and grandchildren were pressing gifts upon Sam, all of which he politely but firmly refused. Some were weeping and some were silent, some were shouting and others whispered. In the midst of it all Sam stood, steady as a rock, receiving and giving out hugs and kisses.
“Dad, Dad, won’t you change your mind and stay here with us? Why must you go off in this way?”
Sam held Elanor close, and said, “My dear, my dear, we had all this out last night, and believe me I know how it looks to you. But I’ve no more choice than Mr. Frodo had, bless him. I hear voices calling me, Elanor dear, and I have to answer them. You would not have me stay to dwindle away into misery, my dear?”
Elanor shook her head, tears trickling down her cheeks and off the end of her shapely nose. “No Dad – no.”
A little apart from all this welter of emotion stood two sturdy ponies, with young Elfstan holding them by the headstalls. The harness of each was polished to perfection, and over the shoulders of one a pair of fine saddlebags held the small amount of gear that Sam had been persuaded to take with him. Slowly the old hobbit managed to make his way in that direction, a tumble of children and others crowding after him. He nodded to Elfstan. “All ready, me dear?”
“Yes Granddad, just as you said. Here is Bill XI for you to ride, and my pony is called Fatty Lumpkin – we always have one called that, too.”
Sam patted the lad’s cheek, and swung himself up onto Bill without a trace of the hesitation he had felt in his youth. Elfstan was mounted too, and a sudden hush fell on the assembly. “Well, I’m off. Take care of yourselves, my dears, and never forget me. Have a care to those books, and see that the stories of what we saw and did, and what Mr. Bilbo learned from the elves, is never lost, do you hear?” Everyone nodded. “Goodbye then,” said Sam awkwardly, and wheeled his pony before anyone could stop him. Off along the road he galloped, and Elfstan had to spur Lumpkin to a heroic effort to catch up. Behind the travellers, the household stood gazing into the West long after the dust of the ponies’ hooves had settled.

Once out of sight of Undertowers, the riders slowed their pace to make their way though the Tower Hills. Elfstan gazed up at the Towers in wonder- they had dominated his childhood, but he never tired of hearing his Granddad speak of them, telling him bits of Lore that he had gleaned from ‘Old Mr. Bilbo’ when he had been a hobbit-lad. They did not speak only of elves and of ages past, but also of the quiet lands of the Shire, of family and friends, and Elfstan was so beguiled by his Grandfather’s silver tongue that the sound and scent of the sea came upon him as a sudden shock. Raising his eyes, he looked ahead and saw the Havens, the mighty mansions of the elves of old, grey as mountains and high as the sky. “Oh, Granddad! We are there!”
Sam said nothing, and the two urged their ponies forward until they were clopping over paving-stones that had been laid before the Shire was founded, along winding lanes and straight avenues, down, down to the quays. Here the grey sea lapped endlessly against the mighty stones, and the voices of elves long departed seemed to issue from the bills of the swooping gulls. The two hobbits dismounted and tied up the ponies, then moved to stand on the very brink of the quay.
“There’s no elves here, and no boats! You’d best come home with me, Granddad,” said Elfstan fearfully. For answer, Sam pointed downwards. There, riding up and down with the swell, a boat was tethered. Elfstan cried out, “Granddad! You can’t go across the sea in that!”
A small grey boat it was, light-built and flimsy looking. Sam smiled reminiscently and patted Elfstan’s shoulder. “It won’t sink, lad – I’ll come to no harm in that, for I have travelled in such before. She has sent it, the lady, and she won’t let me drown, not now. It is time for me to go, my dear.”
Elfstan wept bitterly in spite of Sam’s encouraging words, as they shared their last embrace. Then Sam scrambled down a rope ladder to the boat, and as soon as he was seated the vessel sped off down the Gulf of Lune towards the open sea. As it went, Elfstan heard his grandfather’s voice one last time, calling; “My day here is done lad – but don’t you never bid the stars farewell – you hear?”

Elfstan reached home the next day, after a lonely night’s camp near the Havens. They all came out to meet him, and eager hands led the ponies away to the stable. Elanor looked at her son.
“Well, he’s gone,” Elfstan said.

valinor

 

#RRBC #RRBCAspireToInspire – I’m guesting today!

Jan Hawke INKorporated

It’s not a huge secret that Aspire to Inspire is my favourite RRBC Rave Waves show! 😀 So, even though my voice is not my most reliable faculty, I was really chuffed (Brit vernacular for very pleased indeed) to be asked to come onto the show today. The subject is about our heroes and why we are drawn to them, be they mythic, historic or from the imagination – right up my street! 😉

No prizes to Tolkien/Peter Jackson aficianados for guessing who this hero of mine is…
gandalf2

… and, for those who still don’t have a clue that’s a photo-manipulation of Ian McKellern, as Gandalf, swatting away at the magnificent CGI Balrog from the start of The Two Towers.

Anyway – at this stage, I’m still 50 minutes away from ‘air-time’ so here’s

THE LINK

if you want to listen in live – I’ll change it to the…

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WRITING FOR A CHANGE 16

The cats continue to drowse contentedly on the carpet, so for now I shall go on inflicting my strange old writings upon you.

If ever I strongly disliked a book, that book is ‘Peter Pan.’ It sets my teeth on edge. So I boldly went where Tolkien had never been and manipulated the multiverse to allow Legolas to sort out the ending for me.

Strange paths of elvish dreams

Summer was fair in Ithilien in the sixty-third year of the reign of Elessar the King. Gladly through its glades and groves wandered Legolas Greenleaf, elven lord in that land of men, upon a fair morning. He had breakfasted at Henneth Annûn with Faramir his friend, Prince of Ithilien under the King. Along the banks of a stream he wandered, down toward Anduin for sheer delight in the journey through a land at peace. Yet there befell him that day one of the strangest adventures that ever came to elven-lord in Middle-earth.
Toward noon he came to a willow tree that bent low over the banks of the stream, just where it flowed into the mightier waters of Anduin. The sun was now at its zenith, and the air warm and heavy with the buzzing of insects and the rushing of the waters. Legolas ducked under the trailing canopy of the willow-fronds, and seated himself with his back against the aged trunk. For a long while he sat there, watching the river flow away to the distant sea. Almost in his mind it seemed that the plashing of the river-currents echoed the falling of the waves upon the shore; a sound he had never heard until the day he had followed the King to capture the ships of the Corsairs, long ago by mortal standards. The watery sounds lulled him, so that he closed his eyes and his head drooped upon his breast. Out along the pathways of elvish dreams he wandered, never quite slipping away into the blackness that is human sleep. Never that. Until … until…
Legolas woke with a start, to the sound of waves crashing onto sand. Before he could formulate the thought, I have been asleep, how is it that I have been asleep after the manner of mortals? he was on his feet, looking up in bewilderment into the crown of broad leaves that now shaded him. He was beneath a palm-tree; he knew it from his visits with King Elessar into Harad and beyond. His hand went to the hilt of his knife, for he carried no bow in these days of safety. Turning lightly about on the balls of his feet, he tried to understand where he was. Backing against the trunk of the palm, he looked uncomprehendingly across a stretch of golden sand, and saw gentle waves breaking within a lagoon, and a tossing sea beyond the reef.
Something buzzed rapidly past his face, and he instinctively struck out with his hand. The thing had gone. Then it buzzed by again, and this time he saw a flash of light. “What …?” he said aloud, and the light flickered back and hovered in front of his nose. A tiny being hung there, a small person of human or perhaps elven form, no longer than his hand. She was gowned in a garment fashioned of two leaves, and tiny wings beat rapidly to hold her in the air. Legolas stared, and the being stared back. A chiming of tiny bells began, and the elf-lord shook his head, sensing that within the sound lay meaning. Yes – it was speech! Using all the power of his elven hearing, he heard the little thing say, “And who are you, you great ugly thing? What do you mean by lying about on my beach, pray?”
“Ill speech for so exquisite a creature,” responded Legolas a little sharply. The minute mouth opened wide and the small one fell almost to the ground as her wings stopped beating. Quick as lightning the elf stooped and caught her on the palm of his hand. Carefully he raised her up to the level of his face again. She stood boldly enough on his hand, staring at him, then spoke again with the same tinkling tone.
“You can hear me!”
“Indeed I can, little one. I am Legolas, an elf of Ithilien in the fair land of Gondor. To whom have I the pleasure of speaking?”
“My name is Tinker Bell, and I’m a fairy of Neverland – and you needn’t come all that polite talk with me, Mr. Legless Elf, it isn’t what I’m used to and I won’t be having it, see!”
So saying, she flicked away into the air and began to circle about Legolas’s head. In spite of this, he tried to answer her politely. “Did you speak of Faery?” he inquired. “That is a mortal name for the Lands to the West – know you then the tales of Tol Eressea, and of Tirion the fair?”
“Can’t say as I do,” retorted the flyer, and abruptly shot away inland between the trees. Legolas saw that within a few hundred yards of the shore, the palm trees gave way to a denser forest, its trees reminiscent of those of his childhood home. He decided that it would be best to follow Tinker Bell, as there was no other recourse open to him. With his keen sight, he could easily keep track of the tiny light as it sped away from him deeper into the forest.
Soon Legolas was travelling once more among trees, but nothing else about his journey was familiar to him. Behind him he could hear the splashing of the waves on the shore, and the sighing of the deeper seas beyond the reef. Ahead of him darted the light that was Tinker Bell, and he held steadfastly to his resolve to follow her. However, after a while he became aware of another sound, louder and more insistent than the voice of the waves or of the wind that sang among the leaves above his head. It was coming from a dense thicket away to his left, and after a hesitant glance back in the direction of the capricious light, he turned away from his path to find the source of the sound. For, he thought, anyone who weeps so bitterly must be in need of succour and comfort.
Soon the elf came to a clearing among the trees, and saw there a strange sight. At the foot of one of the trees lay a mortal child, curled up into a ball and sobbing in a heartbroken way that touched Legolas’s pity. “What ails you, child of Men?” he asked kindly. At once the child leapt to its feet, proving to be a boy of some ten years, dressed in a jerkin and trousers constructed entirely of leaves. He flung himself upright, placed his back against the trunk of the tree and whipped from somewhere a wicked-looking sword, which he pointed at Legolas.
“Keep away, you – you grown-up!” Legolas, bemused, fell back a step or two and raised his hands in the air to show that they were empty.
“I mean you no harm, child. I am Legolas, and I come from a distant land – how distant I am not quite certain. I heard the sound of weeping, and hoped that I might be of assistance.” The boy dragged one leaf-wrapped arm across his eyes, and muttered something barely audible to the effect that he had not been snivelling, not he.
“What’s a leggylass, anyway?” he asked. “I’ve never seen one like it before. What’s wrong with your ears, and why have you got girl’s hair? Wendy used to tie her hair up in strings like that before bedtime. Pretty funny-looking you are, if you ask me.”
Legolas smiled. “I am sorry if my appearance displeases you. I have never seen a b – a young man quite like you before, either. Perhaps you might tell me your name, and then we might become friends, you know. I am certainly in need of a friend, for all here is strange to me and I have no doubt that you can help me a great deal.”
The boy drew himself up proudly, and said, “I’m Peter – Peter Pan. I am the Ruler of Neverland!” Legolas thought it prudent to bow a little at this announcement, which seemed to please Peter, as he put up his sword and came forward to shake the elf by the hand.
This ceremony accomplished, an awkward silence fell. Legolas was about to break it when the boy said, “Come along then!” and plunged into a thicket, so that Legolas had no choice but to follow. The growth of bushes was thick, and they seemed mostly to be of the unpleasantly over-thorned kind, but the elf pressed on, always keeping in sight the small figure ahead. At last they broke through into a clearing, where Legolas was glad to stand upright and ease the strain upon his back. He looked around slowly to see where Peter had brought him.
It was a moderately large clearing in the forest, with only two features of any interest. Almost directly before Legolas stood the crumbling ruin of a small house – so small as to be suitable only for one small person, the elf thought, a child perhaps or one of the Shirefolk, should one of those merry little people find their way to this place. It might once have been painted and adorned, but now stood empty, its door hanging off, its roof fallen in, and the grey tendrils of dead rose suckers clinging loosely to its walls. Legolas turned to Peter, who was regarding him anxiously.
“Is this where you live, Master Pan?” Legolas inquired politely. The boy shook his head.
“Shows how much you know!” he scoffed. “Why, that’s Wendy’s house, as plain as you can see!”
“And does – Wendy live there still?”
Peter turned his back on his visitor abruptly, but Legolas was certain that he had seen the beginnings of fresh tears. Discreetly, he began to explore the clearing, moving towards its other interesting feature, a stand of seven ancient-seeming trees that clustered together at some distance from the abandoned house. Legolas knew where he was with trees, and he became absorbed in the seven, laying his hand courteously upon their gnarled barks, listening to each in turn as the wind sang their tales to him. He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the tree that sang the most ancient song, and wished he were back in his familiar and dear Ithilien. When he opened his eyes again, Peter was standing staring up at him, his mouth agape, and Tinker Bell was perched on a low branch of the next tree, her tiny fierce gaze also fixed on the elf.
“What you doing, Leggylass?”
“I am listening to what these trees have to tell me, master Peter. They have stood here a long, long time, and are very wise old trees. They have told me tales of death and sorrow.”
Tinker Bell broke in, “Stuff and taradiddle, Mr Legless! You can’t be talking with trees!”
Legolas smiled, remembering the deep groves of Fangorn and the wisdom of the Ents, the song of summer leaves in Greenwood, the wide brakes of Ithilien. “I assure you, I can indeed,” he said softly.
“You are a funny one, and no mistake,” said Peter. “These is not magic trees, this is just where I live – where me and the boys and Wendy used to live – look!”
He showed Legolas the hole in the trunk of each tree, and how he and those others long ago had been able to drop down the trunks of the aged trees into their secret cave, “The snuggest home you could ever wish for,” the child declared. Legolas was too large to accept Peter’s invitation to visit this home; but he thrust his head as far as possible into the largest of the holes, and peered into the dark with his keen elvish eyes. He was glad to emerge from what smelt and looked to him to be no better than an orc-hole.
“Do you sleep there still?” he asked, and must have let some of his feeling show, for Peter blushed and looked down at his dirty feet.
“It’s very snug,” he insisted.
“Bah!” chimed Tinker Bell.
Legolas was becoming concerned. It seemed to him that he had come somehow to a nearly deserted land where a strange neglected child and a small being of a kind he had never heard of, eked out a miserable existence quite alone. He sat down upon the ground, sitting cross-legged and relaxed, and began to ask questions. At first Peter would not answer, but the elf was patient and gentle and at length the boy sat down and began to respond. Legolas learned that Neverland was an island, that “Me and Tink” lived there alone, but had not always been alone.
“Who once dwelt here with you?”
“The Lost Boys, and Wendy, and the Indians, and the Pirates, and the crocodile.”
“How long ago? Were you an infant when you were abandoned?”
“I ain’t abandoned! I just live here, I told you. I’ve lived here for years and years and years – well, hundreds of ‘em I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Hundreds? But – you are a boy, Master Peter, a mortal child of some ten summers, you seem to me.”
Peter clamped his lips together and refused to say any more. Tinker Bell startled Legolas by landing suddenly upon his right shoulder and beginning to tinkle into his ear.
“”Strue, you know – really and truly, hundreds of years. He forgot to tell you there was some other fairies too, but they all went away. Just the two of us now.”
“But this is dreadful – this is some evil enchantment – a mortal cannot remain a child for hundreds of years! Even we of elven-kind grow into maturity and fullness of life.” He turned to Peter again. “What do you eat, child? How do you keep yourself clean and clothed?”
No answer came, but Legolas could see for himself that the boy did none of these things very well. “Can you not escape the island? Is there no way you could fashion a boat and so come to other lands?”
Still a stubborn silence from Peter. Tinker Bell flew three times around Legolas’s head, buzzing angrily like a furious wasp. “Oh no, not he!” she tinkled. “Not his Lordship Lord Peter of Neverland. He won’t go nowhere, will you, you little silly?”
Legolas realised that Peter was crying again. “Hush, small one,” he said, “you are distressing the boy.” Tinker Bell subsided onto a log and folded her tiny arms. Legolas reached out a hand to the weeping child, and laid it gently on his shoulder. “What troubles you, Peter?”
After several more deep and shuddering sobs, the boy said, “I’m afraid to go – I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to.”
The elf shook his head. “There is nothing to fear. Once you are free from this enchantment, you may choose your own way of life.”
“But – but then you have to die! I don’t want to die.”
“In my land, we of elven-kind call death the Gift of Men.”
There was a snort from the irrepressible Tinker bell, but Peter looked silently up at Legolas with wonder in his eyes. “Do you? I wish I could go there. Don’t you, Tink? It would be a real adventure to go there!”
Legolas looked around at the clearing, listening again to the mournful song of the trees. Is this why I was brought here – to save this poor child? But how can we return to Ithilien? He sprang lightly to his feet, and held out a hand to Peter. The boy took it and stood, while the fairy shot into the air and began a dizzying dance around them both. “Lead me back, small one, to the tree where we first met, I beg of you.”
Without answering, she shot off across the clearing and Legolas followed, Peter still clutching his hand. Evening was falling, and it was dark under the trees, but the little spark of light led them on. As they went, Legolas could hear the song of the trees swelling behind them, deepening, growing triumphant and glad. At last an end to weeping, he heard them sing.
By the time the little party reached the shore, there were stars in the deepening blue of the sky. They gladdened the heart of Legolas, and as he stood beneath the tree he murmured the name of Elbereth.
“What do we do now,” asked the boy fearfully.
“We go home,” Legolas replied, with more certainty in his voice than in his heart. Then gazing out across the lagoon, he thought he saw a movement, as of some huge swimmer passing gracefully just below the surface. “Water –it is water!” cried the elf, “Lord Ulmo, mighty Ossë, I call upon you now.”
The three travellers stood now with their backs against the palm tree where Legolas had first awoken. Peter gripped the elf’s hand tightly, while Tink sat in the palm of his other hand. “Look, look,” cried Legolas, as a mighty head rose briefly above the waters of the lagoon, and smiling eyes encompassed them. The breath of Ossë swept over them like a mighty breeze, and they fell backward, back and back into darkness, until they landed in a tumbled heap beneath quite another tree.
Joy filled the heart of Legolas Greenleaf as he found himself again by the laughing stream of Ithilien, and amid its fair trees. He looked, and saw that he held the hands of two fair young people – an elven-maid, tall as he and dark of hair, clad in the garb of his own people, and a young man who wore the green of the Rangers of Ithilien. They laughed, sharing his delight, and asked him where they were.
“You are in Ithilien, in the land of Gondor, and here you may make your homes if you will. For there are many wide lands in Middle-Earth, where you may travel at will. Come, I will take you to your peoples, and they shall welcome you. Peter, your name shall now be Sarn, and you, fair maiden, shall be Nelladel. Welcome, thrice welcome, to this green and growing land.”
Together they wandered through the pleasant groves, coming at last to where Faramir the Prince dwelt, and meeting there many fair folk of elven and mortal kind. After an evening of feasting and song, at which Sarn distinguished himself by eating a mighty helping of every kind of food, Legolas came to him and asked what he thought of being grown to manhood.
“I think, Master Elf, that this will be an awfully big adventure!”legolas

WRITING FOR A CHANGE 15

More fanfic; this time complete with Frame, the setting being the Library of Imladris from my days as a virtual, RP librarian. (lotrplaza.com)

Tiny bit twee, but there you go;

I, Saranna of Imladris, transcribe here a tale that I found written, in an antique hand, upon several frail sheets of parchment of great age. They were lying amid other ancient scrolls and volumes in a dusty cupboard in a forgotten corner of the library of Elrond, where Serveanthesia and I went one day to clean and tidy.
We agreed that it should be shown to Master Elrond and Lord Glorfindel, who received us graciously and bade us rest while they studied our find. Honey-cakes and wine were brought to us, and we sat in silence, feeling a little self-conscious and very dusty, while the Waters of Bruinen roared outside the window and the two Lords pored seriously over the sheets, handling them with great care.
At last they looked up at us. “This is a find of great importance,” Master Elrond declared. “It confirms a rumour that I heard long ago, from Cirdan of the Havens, and so I have reason to believe the tale it recounts. Of your courtesy, Lady Saranna, do you make a fair copy on fresh new parchment, and then would you, Lady Serveanthesia, work at the restoring and preservation of these sheets; for this may be the only written record – written by I know not who – of the Last Two Istari.”
Serveanthesia and I curtsied, set down our goblets, received the sheets with care, and retreated. Now I have made my copy, and my dear colleague is working with all her skill on the preservation of the treasure. So now the tale may be seen by all here in the Library at Imladris. It is called

Better late

Cirdan the shipwright stood, tall and straight as a carven pillar in the halls of Manwe. His right hand was raised in farewell as he watched the traveller moving slowly away into the east, leaning upon a staff and picking his way cautiously like one who had never before trodden the green earth. As well he might, the elf-lord reflected, and so did his brethren before him. He counted them over once more, naming them in his mind as if sending after them a blessing and hope for their success. Curumo, Olorin, Aiwendel, Alatar, Pallando – five Istari from beyond the sea. Then something tugged at his memory. Five? But did not Lord Ossë speak to me – of seven?
The last Istar was out of sight now, and Cirdan turned back to his dwelling and his work. Not for many of the speeding years of Middle Earth did the matter came back to his mind. He thought often of the Istari, whom men now called Wizards, but his mind ran chiefly on the one called Olorin, the last-comer, he who bore now in secret the Ring Narya. Cirdan would shake his head as he thought of the troubles and sorrows that might lie before this great one.
After this long passage of time, when Middle Earth lay under an uneasy peace and the shadow had not yet reformed in Dol Guldur, Cirdan was seated at his ease one day upon the green slopes above the cliffs that framed the Havens. He gazed out toward the west, and took simple delight in the loveliness of sea and sky. His reverie was broken at length by the sound of a mighty cry.
“Master Elf! Cirdan!”
Master elf, indeed! Frowning, the ancient elf-lord arose, and peered over the edge of the cliff. There, seated upon a fair-sized island as comfortably as one of the Eldar might have rested upon a stool, was a familiar figure. Putting aside his resentment at being so casually named, Cirdan bowed respectfully, and said, “Welcome, thrice welcome, Lord Ossë” – for it was indeed the Maia. Vast and wild he was, shimmering blue and green as the seas he loved, and he smiled at Cirdan.
“Time and tides have brought me to you again, old friend. How goes the world with you? What news here on the shores of Middle Earth?”
Cirdan opened his mouth to answer, but from the recesses of his memory came other words, unbidden. “Master – what became of the last two Istari?”
The effect of his words was greater than he could have dreamed. Never did he expect to see, upon the face of one of the great ones, the servant of Ulmo, a look of stupefaction. “Oh!” said Ossë. “Oh.” And with a mighty flick and a huge splash, he was gone. It was long before Cirdan saw him again.

Along the strand of Ilmarin, two figures wandered. “Olgarnon,” said one, “how much longer do you suppose we must wait? Though Time passes not here, I sense that far across the seas, in mortal lands, there are great deeds awakening. When shall we be called to play our part?”
“I do not know, Panortir. But we must await the commands of our Lord Ossë”
The two meandered on, looking out across the sea to the lights that twinkled upon the Lonely Isle. They spoke of the long suffering of the Eldar, and touched yet again upon when they would be sent to play their part in the healing of Middle Earth. Suddenly their shared reverie was broken by a great wave that surged over the sparkling shore and washed about their feet. They retreated hastily up the beach, and not a moment too soon as it proved. With a great slither and shlurp, the normally imposing figure of Ossë came ploughing up out of the waters, to land in an undignified heap at the feet of his two servants.
“Oh – there you are – thank goodness. Quickly now, upon my back, or we shall be too late for the work you have to do.” Clumsily the two Istari scrabbled up and clung as best they might to the slippery back of their Lord. Back into the sea he sploshed, and headed East as if the Great Enemy himself were in pursuit.
Olgarnon struggled for a while to retain his elegant pointed hat, but lost it before they had passed Tol Errësea. He ventured to address Ossë. “My Lord, why such haste? We are glad (here Panortir nodded) that at last we may carry out our service; yet this tumultuous journey is not quite what we had expected.”
Ossë blushed a vivid deep aquamarine. Indeed, he mumbled, and the Istari had to ask him to repeat his words. “Time, Time,” he said, “Time may be the ruin of all. For it fleets and it flows in mortal lands, and oh, my brave ones, I fear too much of it may have passed before I bring you there!”

After a wet and uncomfortable journey –but they felt it would be rude to complain – Panortir and Olgarnon at last descried ahead a towering cliff, and could hear the cries of seabirds that swirled about them. “Are those the Grey Havens ahead, Lord?” asked Panortir. Ossë’s reply puzzled him.
“I do hope so – but who knows what may have happened by now? I fear we have gone adrift among the Enchanted Isles.”
At length they were passing up an inlet out of the open sea, between cliffs topped with rolling green hills. They looked about expectantly for elegant elven buildings, and were taken aback when Ossë emitted a great fishy groan. “Too late, too late,” he moaned, and flung them off his back onto a small stone jetty, not at all as elegant as they had expected. “We must decide quickly,” he said. “For I have delayed too long, and the world you were to serve has rolled away into the mists of history. Here, now, things are quite different.”
“But do Mortals and Elves still need our help, my Lord?” Olgarnon asked.
“Oh indeed – they always shall – but whether you will find any Elves now is another question. I must away before anyone sees me – so you will have to decide, quite without knowledge of the world I leave you in, whether it is your wish to stay. If I find my way back to where and when I should be, it will be beyond even my powers to come to you again.”
Panortir and Olgarnon looked at each other. Then they turned back to Ossë. “We will stay, my Lord,” said Panortir. “We will learn what needs this world has now, and walk among the people, and help them.”
“Well done,” said Ossë. “May the Valar protect you always.” And he was gone, leaving the last two Istari standing uncomprehendingly upon the shores of Cornwall in the 21st century of an age quite other than that they had expected.

The two friends turned away from the sea and began to walk along a track that led up over the green hills. As they went they passed one Mortal, but he cast only a cursory glance at them and did not speak. Panortir wondered greatly at the plugs that the mortal wore in his ears, and the strings that dangled from it and went into his pocket. “Did you hear a strange sound, as of dimly-heard song, coming from that person?” he asked Olgarnon. But they could make nothing of it. At length they came down the far side of the hill into a settlement, cottages and houses built along the side of a stream that flowed down to join the inlet of the sea. Upon some of the buildings words were written, and it was fortunate indeed that the Istari chosen to help with the troubles of Middle Earth, had been gifted with the knowledge of all tongues, and of all possible tongues. They read the writings aloud to each other, but could not be certain of their meaning. “Museum of Witchcraft”, “Home-made pasties”, “Fresh Cream Daily”, “Ye Olde Tea Shoppe”. At last came a word that they knew, inscribed upon the door of a tiny cottage – Rivendell. But it did not resemble the Last Homely House as it had been described to them. Olgarnon had noticed something else. Outside each house there stood a metal container of huge size, large enough to hold several persons – indeed, through the windows that lined the sides of each of them, he could descry seats. Each container sat upon four wheels constructed of a substance novel to him. And each stank hideously. “Are these objects the work of the Dark Lord?” he asked Panortir. But before the other Istar could answer, the door of the nearest dwelling opened, and the two shrank back into the shadow of the next building. They felt instinctively that they needed to know more before revealing themselves. A person came out of the door, and walked toward the metal container. Pointing one hand at it, she caused a bleeping sound and a simultaneous flashing of lights, lights of a deep amber colour, at the corners of the container. “Magic” hissed Panortir, but Olgarnon motioned him to silence. They watched in horror as the person opened a concealed entrance in the side of the container, and climbed in. After some moments, a noise like the yelling of an orc-horde arose from the container, and it began to move. It roared away from them along a smooth road, over a bridge and out of sight. “Angband work!” snarled Olgarnon, but received no answer. Turning, he saw that Panortir had swooned and was lying at full length upon the ground. As he wondered what to do, a voice came from above him, and he looked up to see a woman beaming kindly at him through an upper window.
“Need any help, me ‘ansum?” she enquired in an outlandish accent. Olgarnon nodded dumbly, and before he knew it she had emerged from her house, helped him to raise up the insensible Panortir, and led them both inside. The two Istari sat dumbly side by side on a comfortable couch, while their rescuer disappeared into a smaller chamber, muttering something about, “A nice cuppa and a slice or two o’ saffron cake and cream.” She reappeared in no time, bearing a huge tray, and the smells that came from that tray were a great improvement upon those that had issued from the metal container. The Wizards sat up and began to feel – – yes, this must be hunger, each realised simultaneously. Here in Middle Earth, they were subject to the needs of their mortal incarnations. They said very little to their hostess while they munched their way through several slices each of cream-slathered cake, and drank many cups of tea.
“Well, now, I do love to see folk enjoy their food,” beamed the lady. “I don’t recall to have seen you about here before, were you looking for the Folk Festival, for you’m certainly dressed for it me dears, ’tis over to Tintagel not here in Boscastle, do ‘ee see?”
Panortir was gazing in silent fascination as she talked – he had just realised that this was his first sight of someone old. Olgarnon endeavoured to take up the conversation, determining to feel his way until he could see what sort of world they had landed in. “Yes, that is it,” he said, “we took a wrong turning and found ourselves here in your charming village; and my friend was weary, and hungry, so I am indeed grateful for your kindness, madam, in succouring us.”
“How old-fashioned you do talk! Mind, I like that, and I daresay it fits in well with these folk and myth shenanigans over to Tintagel. If you would like, I can give you a lift there, ‘twould be no trouble.”
“A lift?” wondered Olgarnon.

Twenty minutes later the two Istari were clinging desperately to one another in the wide rear seat of one of the snorting wheeled containers. In the front seat, the lady wielded an incomprehensible array of implements that were somehow fastened into the inner surface of the device. Panortir was near-hysterical, and Olgarnon was beginning to wish they had taken up Ossë’s implied offer of a return to Aman. At last their well-meaning friend swung the circular device sharply round, and the container plunged into a wide green field, bordered with ancient hedges, and filled with a huge throng of people. “Yer ‘tiz!” she announced cheerfully. The Istari scrambled thankfully out of the box, and Olgarnon managed to remember his manners sufficiently to thank her. Then he leapt back in terror as the metal contraption began to move again, swung itself about in a series of leaps and jerks, and carried their benefactress away. Panortir grabbed Olgarnon’s arm, whispering, “Brother, brother, what dreadful place is this?”
The other Istar looked around. In truth, the surroundings looked less fearsome than he had expected. There was a loud and inexplicable noise filling the air, not unlike a greatly magnified version of the sound that had apparently emerged from their first Mortal that morning. Yet the booths that filled the field, draped in cloths and coverings of many hues, and the folk who moved about the place, seemed cheerful and welcoming enough. As the pair stood staring, one of the Mortals came up to them, a young woman dressed in a flowing green gown, who smiled at them. “Hey guys, how’s it going?”
Panortir looked over his shoulder in the direction taking by the roaring container. “It has gone,” he replied thankfully. But the young woman was now seizing each of them by the elbow, and dragging them further into the field. “You’ll be wanting the Wiccan stall, I can see. Cool costumes, fellas, anyone would think you were real wizards, ha, ha!” Panortir opened his mouth to reply, but a sharp look from Olgarnon made him close it again. He looked ahead and saw a large group of men and women, dressed in garments very similar to those he and his brother had acquired once designated Istari, who were all gathered in a circle and chanting.
“Hey, here’s two more for you – don’t conjure anything I wouldn’t!” and their guide was off and away at once. Kindly faces turned to the newcomers, and one large red-faced fellow came and embraced them both. He wore a tall pointed hat decorated with stars, and pinned to the front of his robe was a large shiny brooch proclaiming “Gandalf Lives!” Thank the Valar for that, at least, thought Olgarnon. Their new friends drew them into the circle and began the chant again. They also passed around large mugs of some foaming beverage, which the two wizards greatly enjoyed. After they had had several of these tankards, things began to seem hazy to them, and eventually they lost all track of what was going on. By the time the stars were opening in the darkening sky, both Istari were snoring gently on a heap of straw behind the stall. The Wiccan gathering kindly slipped away without disturbing them.

Olgarnon awoke with a dreadful pain in his head, and found Panortir still asleep beside him. It was morning, and the field was empty. White clouds scudded across a bright blue sky, but Olgarnon found it was rather unpleasant to look up into the brightness. Just as he discovered this, Panortir sat up suddenly beside him, and moaned. “Oh – oh my head! Brother, what is wrong with my head?”
“I do not know, Panortir, but I can assure you that something equally unpleasant is wrong with mine.”
“What shall we do, brother? Where are we to go? And whom are we to help?”
“Pssssst!” Both the wizards jumped at this sound. They looked around, but could not see where it came from. “Pssssst! Over here.”
Under the hedge that bordered the field, a diminutive figure crouched, and was urgently beckoning them to come over to it. They arose cautiously, and staggered to its side. It stood no more than 2 feet high, and was dressed in a rather brightly-green set of doublet and hose. Its elegant ears were delicately pointed and its hair plaited about its face.
“Who are you,” asked Panortir, “are you an Elf-child?”
The being snorted. When it spoke, its voice was a curious blend of the musical speech of the Eldar, and the cosy chat of the tea-and-cake lady. “Child, indeed. I be dwindled, b’ain’t I? Dwindled to a rustic folk, and never an Istar have I see these thousands of years, my masters. Be you come to take us oversea, back to Elvenhome as we still recalls?”
Olgarnon noted the wistful sound behind the surface bravado in the small being’s voice. He spoke gently.
“Master Elf, for so I deem you to be, I fear that it is not within our power to carry you hence. The Havens are no more, and we two are adrift in this land as are you. Did I hear you say ‘we’?”
The small Elf nodded. “There be some few of us still, a-hiding from the mortals who refuse to believe in us – and hence comes our littleness, so I do believe. If’n no-one never looks at you, you tends to become smaller.”
Upon hearing this sad notion, Panortir spoke up. “What can you mean, Master Elf? How can it matter who ‘believes in’ you? You are of the Eldar, though small in stature, and are due the honour and respect of mortals.”
The small one stared up at him for a moment, and his voice broke as he replied, “They calls us – us, that once walked with heroes and kings – they calls us “Piskeys”!”
The two Istari were deeply shocked. Neither could speak for a moment, but then Olgarnon asked, “What is your name, Sir Elf?”
“I am Garen, and I come of the house of Finrod, so I do, though none be left to believe it!”
“Then of your courtesy, Garen of the House of Finrod, do you lead us to the dwellings of your kind. For I think, once we have talked and learned from one another, that my Brother Istar and I may have found our calling.”

And so it came to pass that in the popular tourist site of Tintagel, a new emporium was shortly opened, run by two gentlemen of respectable appearance, whose garments tended towards the opulent but could never quite be called eccentric. Their establishment was called The true elf-lore – and many came to purchase their volumes of tales, elegant sculptures and models, and stunning pictures, all revealing the true glory and splendour of the lineage of the Eldar. And so as many years rolled by, it came to pass that more and more who learned of them would exclaim, “I believe it all, I know it is true!” And the hearts of the two respectable gentlemen were glad. Why, when Garen and his kin came to visit, they were so tall as to pass with ease along the streets of the mortal town, and all looked at them and greeted them pleasantly. And the blessing of their presence was felt again along the Western Shores of Middle Earth.

Here ends this strange, almost incomprehensible tale. It may be that the Lords of Imladris understand more of it than I – and of course they are right in their command that it be preserved for all to learn from it. But who wrote it down? And what does it mean? I, Saranna, cannot tell.

odin-the-wanderer-by-georg-von-rosen-1886

 

WRITING FOR A CHANGE 14

Still afflicted with snooziness, and having bloodtests on Monday.

So here’s another old bit of writing, in fact my first ever attempt at an aprés-Tolkien story.

One starry night in Gondor; a tale of Peregrin and Meriadoc

Two guards stood in the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree grew tall. Through the long evening they had been there, watching the passing of the King’s guests through the gate and across the Court as they came to attend the feast in honour of the Periannath. As darkness thickened and the night grew chill, they had not moved or spoken, apart from the steady flicker of their deep grey eyes about the paved and grassed areas, looking at the Tree, the Fountain, the walls, the door into the Tower that led to the Great Hall; always watchful even in this sixty-third year of the King’s peace.

The only reward for their vigilance on this evening of enjoyment had been the emergence from the Hall, some few moments before, of a small figure, no more than half the height of these tall Men of Gondor, and moreover stooped, with age it seemed. Nodding politely to the two Guards, this little figure had crossed the greensward and the paving until he came to the parapet that surrounded the court. Here he stopped, clambered up into an embrasure that gave him a view over the Pelennor and the gleaming Anduin below the stars, and sat down. Soon the two men saw a glimmer of red light and a faint trail of greyness that indicated the Lord Meriadoc of the North Kingdom had ignited his pipe-weed. Solemn as they were, the pair could not refrain from glancing swiftly at each other, faint smiles crossing their faces. Pipe-weed! Surely no King of Gondor before the great Lord Elessar had ever indulged in such strange pastimes – and he had learnt it from these little people.

Then for a long time could be heard nothing but the song of the fountain and the singing of the night-breeze in the branches of the trees. All was still except for the flicker of the torchlight about the court, the answering red gleams in the great mithril helms of the guards, and the drifting smoke from Meriadoc’s pipe. Unnoticed by all save the guards, the small figure remained there even when, with much laughter and merriment, the guests of the King departed. Ever courteous, the King and Queen came forth to the door of the tower to bid farewell to the guests, and by ones and twos and threes the great company set off down the winding ways of the city. Princes and elves, dwarves and noblemen, ladies and damsels all made their obeisances to the royal couple, and departed. Last of all came a second small figure, moving into the circle of lamplight where King Elessar and Queen Undomiel stood. His curly hair flashed silver in the flickering flame, and he spoke familiarly to the King.

“Well, Strider, you’ve done us proud again. If the greatness of your realm were to depend on the quality of the cooking in the Royal kitchen, then it would never be surpassed.”

Again a glance passed between the two guards, and something like a smile. Strider! In all of Middle-Earth, only these two old hobbits addressed the King with such familiarity. And his majesty appeared to enjoy it. Smiling at the speaker, he answered, “Pippin Took, you grow fonder of the pleasures of the table with every year that passes. Now that you are to make your home with us, we shall need to employ a whole army of cooks to ensure your continued satisfaction.”

Before Lord Peregrin could reply, the low sweet voice of the Queen broke in. “Nay, My Lord, it were better that we send at once to the Shire to recruit a dozen or so of Halfling cooks, for none else can hope to meet the fine requirements of our friends.” Then the three laughed together, while answering smiles wreathed the faces of the guards. Who could be solemn on such a night, when the King’s happiness at the coming of his two friends was so deep?

Now Lord Peregrin began to look about him, and spoke to the guards. “Have you seen anything of Merry – Lord Meriadoc, I should say? He left the feast long before any one else but no-one saw where he went.”

“Nay, my Lord, there is no need to fear – he is safe enough. We two have been watching over him; he is yonder on the battlements, enjoying the cool air and the stars of Gondor.”

With a bow to the King and Queen, who withdrew into the tower, and a nod to the guards, Peregrin set off across the court, enjoying the feel of the cool marble slabs and then the softness of the grass upon his bare hobbit toes. Simple pleasures were still the best, he reflected, however old one became. Reaching the battlements, he paused, and looked up at his old friend, who had not moved or shown any sign of noticing Peregrin’s approach. He stared out over the Pelennor, his back turned to the tower and the court, and Peregrin thought he heard a soft sigh escape Meriadoc’s lips.

”Merry old chap,” he said softly, “is there anything I can do?”

Meriadoc turned, and in the silver starlight Peregrin saw the trail of tears on his old friend’s face. “It was hard to say goodbye, Pippin, very hard.”

Peregrin clambered up to sit beside Meriadoc, and put one arm around his shoulders. They sat together for a while in silence. At last Peregrin said, “Sitting here under the stars it seems as if one can feel the world turning, Merry. And it turns on and on and leaves so much behind, all that we have seen, all those we have known, all the stories we have heard. And there will only be a few mores turns for us, old friend.”

“O, Pip! That is just what I was thinking. How can it be sixty years and three since I wept by Theoden’s mound? And now they have started a new line of mounds, and Eomer, Eomer who is in my mind ever young and strong and brave, lies beneath it! Where are all the years, Pippin?”

“The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”

Meriadoc sadly chanted his reply, and as he sang they both seemed to see before them the host of the Rohirrim, proud and strong in the morning of the King’s return. Across the court the guards heard the lament, and felt their hearts stir within them, remembering the dark years the world had passed through to come to these days of peace.

The two hobbits rose, a little stiffly, from their seats high above the plain, and turning away from the view across the lands, they came down into the court again. Hand in hand like two children they wandered over to the White Tree, where they stood looking up into its fair branches.

“When we were naughty little children, long ago in the quiet of the Shire, I never though there were places like this, or any places different from the Shire itself. I certainly never imagined, Merry, that we would travel the long roads we have travelled or sit among the company we have known. And in our wildest dreams, we would not have imagined we would end our days in the company of Kings.”

At this one of the guards spoke out boldly. “Dear Lords, do not speak words of ill-omen! Many years ye have before ye in the bliss of the King’s company, and in the care of the Queen.”

“Bergil!” both the hobbits cried out at once, and gladness was in their voices. “I did not recognise you there,” added Peregrin. The two crossed to Bergil’s side, and took him by the hand in turn. For a while the old friends spoke together of memories and of lost friends. Then at last Meriadoc and Peregrin turned towards the door into the tower.

“Goodnight, brave Bergil! May you and your comrade have a still watch for the rest of the night,” cried Merry. “We shall sleep the sounder for knowing you are guarding us,” Pippin laughed. “And however long or short our years now may be, we are glad to be passing them in Gondor, for of all the realms of Middle-Earth this is now the fairest to us, and the greater part of our friends and loved ones dwell here or may be found here at whiles. So peace to you both, good guards, and goodnight.”

They walked on together until they passed beyond the sight of the two guards; and still silence returned to the Court of the Fountain, save for the eternal voices of the falling waters, and the whispering leaves.

starry-night

(c) Jeff Bartlett

WHAT NEXT?

What to write about? It looks as if the cats won’t do anything interesting until the spring comes round, they are deeply dozing on the underfloor heating – and I must say I rather like it myself, this is the first house I’ve ever had it in.

As for writing, I’m not really. Reaching the end of The Dry Well seems to have left me more shattered than I had expected to be, and instead of looking up courses and trying to make sense of my possible plans for a possible PhD, I’m drifting. I’m reading a lot, which is always good, but at the drop of a sit-down I’m dropping off.

Is my system trying to tell me something? Maybe it’s time for a rest.

Maybe organising Christmas cards and presents counts as a rest? Or as an acceptable substitute for writing when the impetus runs down?

The other task I’m pootling through, the winter equivalent of my summer gardening, is paper-sorting and shredding. It’s not very restful though, since it consists largely of papers from Andrew’s long business career, and those from his almost equally long political career. It goes rather slowly since I keep reading things, remembering, and even hanging on to some items since they carry such welcome memories.

Does anyone else get that slowing-down feeling as the days shorten and the nights grow colder? I wonder if I have squirrel or hedgehog genes sometimes, I certainly feel the call to hibernate just now.

*Yawn* must pull myself together……..

hibernating

bookscatslifeissweet

REMEMBRANCE

This afternoon I’m going to a Remembrance Service – rather late in the day, you may think. It’s my annual choice, and is held in the parish Church of Sutton, part of Plymouth in Devon, UK.

http://www.sacredheartplymouth.co.uk/…

This is not a church I have ever regularly attended, but in researching the life of my Uncle Jim, I discovered that when his school, Sutton High School, was closed the Roll of Honour for old boys killed in wartime was moved to St. John’s. The Old Suttonians association holds this service every year in their memory.

https://www.academia.edu/5993182/Uncl…

http://www.oldsutts.co.uk/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_…

So I am now able to target, as it were, my Remembrance to a family member. Each year during the service the roll is read out in full. A very moving and fitting occasion.

jim-august-1942

CATALOGUE 86, FEATURING OLD POSSUM

Delighted to find Eliot’s cat poems online here;

http://www.moggies.co.uk/html/oldpssm…

I was contemplating whether I could match each of my cats to one of the Practical Cats, for example might Mystic match Growltiger or Felix be a Rum-Tum-Tugger? However, this would take closer reading than I have time for today, so I’ve just included The Ad-dressing of Cats for your pleasure. A very important topic; as you may remember, I changed Mystic’s name at an early stage, against my usual practice with rescue cats, as I had no intention of standing at the door calling ‘Dipstick!’

Felix and Fluff are OK names but lack imagination, and I think it’s too late to find near-approximations to change them to now. Well, I shortened Fluff-ball to Fluff, but then you would.

How do you Ad-dress your cats? And do they ever answer?

The Ad-dressing of Cats

You’ve read of several kinds of Cat,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse–
But all may be described in verse.
You’ve seen them both at work and games,
And learnt about their proper names,
Their habits and their habitat:
But how would you ad-dress a Cat?

So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.

And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste–
He’s sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he’s finished, licks his paws
So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)
A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his NAME.

So this is this, and that is that:
And there’s how you AD-DRESS A CAT.

practical-cats-1   rum-tum-tugger

NEITHER CATS NOR WRITING

Today it’s all about preparing documents for the accountant to submit the end-of-year statement for Eluth Publishing; a process I find so harassing that I can’t imagine how it happens on the giant scale of international companies.
I guess it’s very different, with armies of accountants and administrators and the latest technology.

Humble though Eluth may be, tis mine own and I’m proud of it!

accounting       accounting-2