Gandalf Visits Bombadil
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?”
That was an awful night. Minenil fell at last into a restless sleep,
but I lay long awake. There was no course before us that did not lead
to greater grief and shame, and turn and turn and turn it about in my
mind as I did, I could not see any way out of this trouble.
I did not allow my thoughts to dwell upon what Minenil had told me. She
would say no more than she had, and I did not press her. I feared for
her, that she might fall indeed into madness and never be her merry
self again. I believed what she had said, that Aellin had been slain by
her hand. Why? There could be but one reason, and I flinched away even
in my thoughts from making that reason plain. The slaying of Aellin was
not murder then. Had she not slain him, it would have fallen to my
father, or his brothers, to do the deed.
Once it came to me that if such a things must needs happen, it were
better that it happened where Minenil was a stranger, and her shame not
known over all Doriath. But it was not, seest thou, that I was myself
ashamed of my sister.
I lay awake and could hear the wardens moving about the camp, and their
low deep voices speaking quietly. Through the opening that was the door
of our shelter I saw their bright fire and the sparks that flew into
the night. Then I slept, to be wakened some time later by the warden
Mablung, who called to us to arise.
Minenil was somewhat better in the morning, and she took some
breakfast. She would not speak, however, and kept her eyes turned to
the ground. We were treated with courtesy and kindness, yet I wished
heartily that we were anywhere but there. Still, we had no choice but
to go whither we were taken, and it was not long after breakfast that
we set out.
I could see that they kept to a pace that they believed suited Minenil
and me. She and I walked hand in hand and I could feel that her hand
was very cold, and trembled in mine. Now and again she would look at me
and my heart was wrung with pity at the look in her sweet eyes, for she
was frightened, both of what was to come, and of the phantom that
followed her. I did my best to encourage her, and to give her what
strength I could by means of heartening words. “Do not fear,” I said.
“All will be plain enough, and these, I deem, are honourable folk who
will be sure to deal fairly with thee. Come, sister. I am with thee,
and will do all I can to defend thee.”
After a time I began to take notice of the woods we walked through.
These were ancient trees, and the forest was dark and the path not easy
to walk. Great roots impeded our steps at times, and many times we had
to be helped over these obstacles. I felt that we were being watched,
and I saw that Minenil’s despair became worse from the same cause. She,
poor thing, believed that it was our dead uncle who spied upon us, and
she shivered and pressed close to me and whispered that she wished she
was dead, that she might be free of his eyes upon her.
The warden Mablung walked with us when the path permitted. “Surely thy
sister and thee can see that these woods are no fit place for any to
walk unwary? Can you not hear the trees speaking, each to the other?
Wert thou alone now, they would seize upon thee, and thou wouldst never
leave the forest. They hate us, we who go about on two legs.”
“Are they then servants of the Enemy?” I asked.
“No. They are older than that, lady. They were here before we Quendi
awoke, I believe. There are tales that there is a guardian in this
forest, a being known as Iarwain Ben-adar, who is known to be Eldest,
and if it should happen that he comes upon one who is in peril of the
trees he wilt save that one, but then, he cannot be everywhere at once,
and these woods are vast.”
“I do not understand,” I said. “How can the trees be a danger to us,
who walk upon our legs while they are held fast by their roots?”
“They sing one into being still, and then one is caught, seest thou?”
I confess I did not then believe all that the warden Mablung said, yet
I could feel, certainly, the menace of the watchful trees. As for poor
Minenil, it really mattered not, whether ‘twas the trees or our dead
uncle, she was so worn with fear and worry that it seemed more than she
could do, just to walk.
At last we came to where was stationed the Captain of the Wardens. This
was more than a sentinel outpost, but was a proper dwelling place of
these folk, and was not in the forest itself, but rather built upon the
rocky slopes beneath Ered Wethrin. Learning this, I understood how far
we had come from our intended path in our flight after Aellin was
Upon our arrival in that place we were given rooms in a guesthouse.
Mablung left us there in the charge of his wardens while he went to
consult with his Captain. I tended to Minenil, saw that she was able to
bathe and dress her hair and put on a clean gown, and did the same for
myself. The keeper of the guesthouse brought food and drink to us where
we sat upon a porch overlooking pleasure gardens, and they were indeed
lovely gardens full of flowers and singing birds.
Then came Mablung with his Captain.
Ages have passed since I first saw Thalion, and O, I can see him yet as
he walked up the porch steps beside Mablung. Tall he was, and fair as
are all our people. Why it was he and no other who awoke my heart, who
can say? Yes, he was beautiful, with his silver-gold hair and eyes as
green as the leaves in Spring. Yes, his lithe body moved gracefully,
his step light and firm. His voice, when he spoke, was like music in my
ears, but do not all our people speak with voices that ring with beauty
like silver bells? His expression was grave and calm, and he greeted me
courteously in the manner of the folk of those regions, putting out
both his hands and clasping mine…..
Here did the Lady Lorinil pause, and Gandalf waited for her to go on.
She held out her hands and looked at them with her head to the side,
then she shook her head slightly and went on speaking.
…..I do recall that I answered him with the same courtesy while it
seemed that some kind of fire flowed from his hands into my very being.
It seemed that I could have stood so until the end of Time, my hands
clasped in his, my eyes upon his beautiful face. He smiled slightly,
and bowed his head and spoke to me.
“Lady Lorinil? I am Thalion, Captain of the Wardens of Eastern Beleriand. I greet thee, lady.”
I must have said somewhat, although I do not remember what. He loosed my hands and turned to Minenil.
She stood, and I could see that she trembled grievously. Yet she looked up at him.
“Lady Minenil? I am Thalion, Captain of Wardens. My lady,” he said
gently, “I must take speech with thee regarding the death of thine
uncle Aellin. Be sure that I am not here to torment thee, but only to
learn what I might of that matter.”
He took her hands briefly, and bowed his head to her.
His manner was such that my poor sister was able to be a little calm,
and to seat herself again and look at him as he spoke to her. I stood
at the railing and took no part in their conversation. It was enough,
somehow, to simply be where he was. Though my heart had pulsed scarce
ten score times since he held my hands, I knew that I would wish ever
to be near him.
He said to her, “Lady, the warden Mablung has given me this knife. Is it thy knife?”
She nodded, her eyes never leaving his.
“Thou knowest that the hand that slew thy uncle wielded this knife?”
Again she nodded, her haunted dark eyes never leaving his.
“And thou doth understand that I must ask thee: didst thou see this deed?”
Again she nodded, and now there were tears on her face, and the expression in her eyes must have wrung pity from a stone.
“Doth thou know the name of the one who slew thy uncle?” he asked, and
his voice was softer and more gentle than it had yet been.
And again she nodded. Her breath was coming quick, and she shook sorely, and clasped her hands hard together.
He looked up, and his eyes met mine. Oddly enough, his expression was a
plea. It was as if he was asking me if he needed to go on, if he needed
to keep questioning Minenil.
But he did. “Was it thee, lady?” he asked.
She sobbed, and raised her hands and then, rising to her feet, she shrieked, “Yes! Yes, it was I who killed him!”
She crumpled to the floor and Thalion knelt by her and drew her up,
lifting her. “Show me to her chamber, lady,” he said to me. “For this
poor maiden has borne enough for today, I deem.”
A healer was sent for, and she came quickly, bearing in her hands a
bowl of herbs. She called for hot water, and more blankets, as she bent
and chafed Minenil’s hands and stroked her pale face. “This child has
suffered much,” she murmured. She held Minenil’s wrist and counted her
racing pulse. “What she chiefly needs is rest. Art thou her sister?”
I said that I was. “She is so pale,” I said. “And her heart beats so! See, it shakes her, poor Minenil.”
“Though she seems very ill to thee,” the healer said, “her body is
strong, and will heal, given rest. But I hear her thoughts, and her
dreams, there is great pain there though I cannot read it clearly, and
it is there that the danger lies. Still, be comforted. I have great
skill in these matters, and will care for thy sister very tenderly. For
now, I will give her a sleeping draught, and that will let her body
I withdrew from the bedchamber and went out into the garden. For some
time I wandered hither and thither, unthinking, only whispering
Minenil’s name over and over, and wiping the tears from my face. Poor
little sister! Thalion had lifted her as easily as if she had been a
little child, and she had lain in his arms as if she were already dead.
Then he was before me on the path. “Is she better?” he asked.
“Somewhat. The healer thinks it best if she sleeps for a time. Surely thou art not here to speak to her again!”
“No, no, lady,” he said. “I deem I have learned nearly all I need to
know.” He hesitated. “Did she say aught to thee of why she did it?”
“No,” I answered.
“I see,” he said gravely. “I do not know how to speak of this matter,
lady. Thou must forgive me, if I cause thee pain. But it is my duty.”
I looked up at his stern face, but though it was stern there was pity
in his eyes, and I knew that Minenil need not fear him, nor his law. I
bethought me of what was best to do. Who knew how long it would be
before Minenil could speak for herself again?
“Though she did not tell me,” I said, “ I think I can guess.” I thought
of going on, of maybe saying, after all, that she had told me. But I
“There can be no guessing, lady, in this matter. I deem that thou doth
understand that thy sister might not be guilty of murder, though she
did kill him?”
“Yes,” I said.
“The question must be asked, Lady Lorinil. But it need not be asked
today,” he said. “I have taken thought, lady. Shall I send messages to
thy folk, that thy mother and father might know of what has befallen?”
I considered. “I do not know,” I said. “Were it only for my comfort, I
would say yes. But I do not know what Minenil would want.”
“Surely she would want thy mother?” he asked.
I did not say that I thought it was best that those at home know as
little as might be of what had gone forth, at least for now. What? Send
a message to my mother and father saying that their daughter was ill
and in danger of her life because she had murdered her uncle, and that
I shook my head. “I think we shall wait, sir,” I said. Somehow I could
not say what I thought to this stern young Captain, although in my
heart I was sure I was right.
I wished most heartily that he and I were conversing for some other
cause! Even as it was I could not help but be conscious of his
nearness. I longed to touch him, and so walked closer that my gown
might brush against him. I saw that he looked at me with kindness.
“Thy sister and thou were traveling to Nargothrond for the Summer Festival?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “She and I are Minstrels, and we were going there to take part in the singing.”
“I can readily believe,” he said, sighing, “that such a sweet voiced maiden must sing like a nightingale….”