Sailing to Elvenesse
It is cold here, on the deck. Gandalf has taken Bilbo below; he is far
too old to be comfortable in this biting wind. For myself, I care not.
I have felt much, much worse...
The railing beneath my hands is smooth, as is the deck below my feet.
The shipwright had to have spent many years -- more years than I have
been alive, perhaps -- sanding and stroking the timbers, to make them
so rich and soft. It is a pleasure to touch them. And here, along the
kerb and rail, are tiny but magnificent carvings of animals, birds and
trees... an oliphant, no bigger than my thumbnail! Sam would love it...
The sea does not relinquish my gaze for long, calling my attention back
to the endless whispering waves. I am not sure what I had expected to
see, coming down past the Elf-towers to glimpse the Havens through the
green hills. Yet that was merely the harbour, and she was tame and
smooth there, just like I had dreamed in Bombadill's house; only the
hungry tide showed restlessness, foam writhing sensuously upon the
Here the waves ripple but do not break. They appear to rise and dip as
we remain steady -- an illusion I am sure. Even the wake of our passage
leaves no disturbance behind us; our tracks upon the water are erased
instantly. And here the sky seems further away that I have ever seen.
I wonder, when night comes on the sea, will I be able to see the stars?
Or do they hide their faces from the deep terror of the sea? I feel no
terror now; just remembering. I cannot feel anything, anymore...
An Elf somewhere begins to sing, and for a time I am transported by the melody. The words seem to come out from inside myself:
I am done
Leaving this place
Middle earth, once my home
Over this sea, they are calling me
In the woods of Lórien I shall walk forever
In Bliss, in Elvenhome
And never look behind
Shadows drown in the steel-coloured water
Follow me no more
Look ahead, there! look ahead!
A star shines through the cleft!
I am come home at last...
My eyes can not see the far shore of which my Elf sings, and the stars
are not yet unveiled. With fingers stiff and white, I reach inside my
tunic and touch the faceted crystal. Neither warm nor cold, but it is
Lord Elrond comes up to stand beside me. He is dressed in a rich warm
cloak, and in his hands he holds a length of midnight-coloured fur. He
does not bid me go below or stand down from the bow, nor does he thrust
the garment upon me. He merely waits, smiling gently, for me to choose
to accept it from him.
Choices are my own to make, now. Yes, I have done rightly, coming this way.
Looking up at him, I say what I have often wanted to say -- for his
kindnesses, and his healing touch, and his wisdom gently given, and for
his caring for Bilbo all these years; I can only think of simple words,
robbed of my eloquence as I have been of my other treasures...
I know how I look to him, to the others whom I left in tears. I am
hard, frozen by more than the wind. I try to smile, as I did when I
said goodbye, but it seems superficial, now; not enough to express all
my graditude and love.
He answers my clumsiness with another smile, and lays the fur across my shoulders.
Is that warmth I feel? Yes, I am remembering it now...