Gandalf Visits Bombadil
So we fled. But we were lost, and so we fled
from nowhere to nowhere. Long days passed, and longer nights. Oft would
she stop and listen. “Hark!” she would whisper. “Hark! Dost thou not
hear them? The footsteps……”
There came a day when we could run no more.
My poor sister would have kept on, crawling, for terror lent her
strength, but I could scarce put one foot before the other, and
determined that we would stand and face that which pursued us.
Both Minenil and I bore knives, and we both
had been taught some blade exercise. I thought that we could perhaps
give a good account of ourselves, if we were pursued by only one. And
she told of only one. That was the thing, she would go on and on, until
I confess I was weary of it, and bade her be still. “I know,” I said to
her, “that we are being pursued! What boots it for thee to harp
constantly on it? Save thy breath to defend thyself, sister. Come, draw
thy knife and we will set ourselves here near this rock. Thus we need
not fear that he will come upon us from the back..”
She looked away from me, and said, “I have lost my knife, sister.”
Then was I angry in earnest. “Lost thy knife! How couldst thou be so careless, and us fleeing for our lives!”
She turned to me, and said, “Let be, Lorinil!
Hast thou never been careless? Why must I submit myself to thy
correction?” Then she began to weep again. “I am sorry, sister. But why
must thou shout at me so? Thy anger frightens me.”
I took her by the shoulders and shook her.
Maybe I was wrong to do it, but betwixt fear and anger I was not
myself. “My anger frightens thee? Do not be such a fool, sister! Ever
has it been so, that I must think for two, and take care of thee, and
now thou canst not even keep thy knife in the scabbard!”
I pushed her away from me and she fell
weeping to the ground and my heart was moved by love and remorse, that
I had been so severe with her. For she was my little sister, and not as
strong as I.
But then, all such thoughts were driven away.
For not one set of footsteps did I hear, but many, and suddenly a party
of hunters came upon us.
They were of Elven kind, but not like any I
had seen. They were clad all in rusty black, and wore masks over their
eyes. Five of them there were, and all armed, all with drawn swords.
“What have we here?” the leader said. He came
near, and stared at me, and at Minenil, who was now on her feet and
clinging to me. “Not a Hart, nor a Roe Deer, but maidens, and lovely
maidens, too.” He looked about. “All alone, art thou?”
“Hasten from us,” I said, as boldly as I
might. “For should our father and brothers return to find thee annoying
us, they wilt slay thee in their wrath.”
The leader laughed. “Thy father and brothers?
But, lady, we have been at thy heels for days and have seen naught of
any father or brothers.”
“I thought that it was Deer thou sought,” I answered. “If so, why hast thou pursued us?”
“These are perilous woods, lady,” he said.
“Two maidens wandering about might come to great harm.” Then he spoke
to the others. “Leave us. I would speak to these maidens in private.”
The others withdrew. Turning to us he pulled
off the mask that he wore. He was fair, and his countenance noble.
“Lady,” he said to me, “we are Wardens of these woods, and truly we
mean thee no harm. But harm has come to someone, for we found the body
of an Elf some way from here. I know that he was your companion, for we
had news of your party as soon as you passed our sentinels. Indeed,
this Elf was known to us, he was Aellin, and kin to a great house of
Nargothrond. How came it about that thou wert in his company? And how
did he meet his death?”
“He was our uncle, and was taking us from our
home in Doriath to our mother’s people in Nargothrond for the Summer
festival,” I answered him. “But he was set upon and slain, and we fled
in terror. My poor sister saw him slain, and she has been overset
since, ill with fear and grief.”
“Set upon? By whom?” he asked, his bright
eyes on Minenil’s pale face. “Didst thou see this deed, didst thou see
the villain that slew thy uncle?”
She trembled and looked away.
“Answer me, lady,” he urged. “Such a foul
murder must not go unpunished! Do not fear to name him, if his name be
known to thee. We have his knife, at least, and by its markings we see
that he came from the Kingdom of Doriath. Maybe he followed thee hence?
Here, this is the weapon.”
He held out the knife and I saw that it was Minenil’s blade.
His eyes met mine, and I saw that in his that
made my heart sink. Fair he was, and noble of aspect, but stern withal.
He would deal out justice, but no mercy.
“It is my sister’s knife,” I said. “She lost it, and we were speaking of it just now!”
He touched her arm. “Lady,” he said, his
voice very gentle and soft, “Lady. It is my duty to learn what I may of
this matter. Be sure that it is a sorrow to me, to have to speak so to
thee when I can see that thou art ill, and heartsore. Is this thy knife
She looked at it, trembling, then nodded.
“And is it true, lady, that thou hath lost this knife?” he asked.
She looked away, and spoke not.
He sighed. “Lady,” he said to me. “This is the blade that killed thy uncle Aellin.”
“I do not doubt it,” I answered, making my
voice calm. “It is as I said, my sister lost her knife. It was found,
and the finder murdered my uncle.”
“I must tell thee, Lady,” he said, “that we
found no sign of anyone other than thee and thy sister. We are skilled
trackers, know thou, and would have seen the marks of other feet.”
“Maybe,” I said, “maybe the murderer was of
unnatural kind, and came upon my uncle by means of magical stealth. For
are not many servants of the Enemy about in the land, in these days?”
“That thought was in my mind, too,” he said,
“but the servants of the Enemy ever despoil their victims, and hew the
bodies, so as to cause as much horror and grief as they may. Thy uncle
was murdered, yes, he was stabbed more than once, but then he was left,
dead but untouched otherwise.”
“Yes,” I answered shortly. “I saw him.” I
considered what was best next to say. I saw where this Warden’s
thoughts were taking him. “But can we be sure that the servants of the
Enemy will always act by rule? Maybe this is yet another vileness on
His part, to create doubt and malice in our people?”
He was quiet for some moments. “It may be as
thou sayest, Lady. For who can say for certain what the Enemy and his
minions might or might not do? Be that as it may, I must take thee and
thy sister now in charge. Thou canst not wander where thou wilt in
these parts for it is as I said, a perilous place. And our law forbids
“Take us in charge? Surely thou wilt merely escort us to our home?”
“It is not quite that simple, Lady. I have my
duty, and my duty requires that thou be brought first to my Captain.”
He beckoned to his companions, and they came forward.
“We must lie here tonight,” he said to one of them. “Let a shelter be made for these maidens, and a goodly fire.”
In a short space of time there was a sort of
hut made for our use. The wardens brought soft boughs to make us a bed,
and they were generous with their food and drink. Yet I saw that
Minenil ate naught, nor did she drink. She sat silent, and her eyes
held that unseeing look that at once moved me to compassion and to
anger. “You must eat,” I insisted. “We shall need all our strength to
face what might come on the morrow.”
Still she did not answer me, but only closed her eyes and bit her lip.
“Minenil! You must tell this warden all that
you saw! I know, my darling, that thou wouldst as soon ban all this
horror from thy mind, but thou must speak! Canst thou not see that he
thinks it was thy hand that felled our uncle? His death is to be laid
against thee! And here we are, who knows how far from our father, and
from our King who might defend us?”
“There is naught to defend you against,” she whispered at last. “Thou art not guilty.”
“Minenil! Minenil, sister!” My blood ran
thick with dread, and I sat by her and took her cold hands in mine. “My
darling. What is it that thou wouldst say? Please, please, do not tell
She forestalled me, putting her fingers
against my lips. “It was I, Lorinil. It was I who slew Aellin.” Then
she went on to say that which truly froze me with terror. “It is he, it
is he who pursues us! O, sister, can you not hear his footsteps?”………