Gandalf Visits Bombadil

by Vison

“I can readily believe,” he said, sighing, “that such a sweet voiced maiden must sing like a nightingale….”

The night came, and I lay in the chamber next to Minenil’s. The moon, Isil, was at his full, and his cool light poured across the bed and I rose and went to the window. Somewhere was Thalion, maybe in the house across the garden, maybe in the Forest. My hands were still tingling from the clasp of his, it seemed, and I thought that surely, surely, such a flow of warmth could not go just one way. Had he not spoken of my sweet voice? Had he not looked at me with kindness? Could not kindness be more than mere courtesy, could it not be that he was awake now, too, in the moonlight, not able to sleep?

The next morning I could see that Minenil rested more easily, and that some colour had returned to her face. I took up her hand and it was warmer, and did not tremble. But the healer, Gilraen, thought it best that she sleep yet longer, for it seemed that her dreams were still troubled, and at times she would cry out.

Word was brought to Gilraen that a traveler, on his way from the North to the Summer Festival in Nargothrond, had heard somewhat of Minenil’s trouble and wished to do what he might for her. His fame as a healer was great, having reached even to this remote place. Elrond Halfelven it was, he of the highest and noblest kin that was in this world.

Later that day Elrond came to the guesthouse. I was in the porch to greet him, and he was most courteous, but rather high in his manner. I bethought me that even for a highborn Elf he was haughty, but no doubt his marriage into the family of Finwe had given him even more cause for pride. I wondered if he knew that we, ourselves, were of a high family. But then I thought that maybe I had best be still about our family, for now there was the matter of Minenil’s dishonour.

Yet later Gilraen was full of his praise. “So gentle, and courteous!” she said. “Never did he make me feel that he was Master of all, and most kindly did he discuss what might be best to be done. He spoke long to thy sister in her dreams, and set her poor heart at ease, I think.” Here she lowered her voice. “Thy sister, in her gentle soul, has much blamed herself, and has burned with shame for what has occurred. I think that Master Elrond showed her that she was nowise to blame, and that she is as she ever was.”

I said naught. How easy, after all, for Master Elrond to dismiss shame and dishonour! If it was his kin, maybe his wife, or his daughter, what would he say then?

That was a long day. The folk of the guesthouse were kind and hospitable, and I lacked for nothing. Yet I felt my heartbeat quicken with every passing sound, wondering if Thalion would come. He did not. Came another night, and this night I fell into sleep. My dreams, like Minenil’s, were troubled, but when I woke I could not quite remember why.

Gilraen smiled at me when I entered Minenil’s chamber the next morning. “She is much better, Lorinil,” she said. “Her pulse is slow and steady, and she slept restfully, scarcely disturbed by dreams. She woke a little time ago, and spoke a few words to me. She will wake again soon, and she will be hungry, methinks. I am going to see that they have some broth made hot, for she must not yet take much solid food.”

Thus we were alone when Minenil awoke. She saw me and smiled a tremulous smile. “Sister!” she whispered. “O, Lorinil, Lorinil!”

I sat by her and embraced her, caressing her hair. “Hush,” I said. “Do not fret thyself, my darling. I am here.”

After a time she withdrew from my arms, and lay back against the pillows. “Then it was not a dream?” she said. “No, no. I knew it was not, Lorinil, I knew it was not. Fear not, sister. I am myself again, and hear no ghostly footsteps.”

“My poor little one,” I said. “What thou hast suffered! ‘Tis no wonder thy strength gave way as it did.”

“While I was asleep, another than Gilraen came to care for me. I saw not his face, but he walked with me on those dark roads in my dream. O, sister, how he eased my spirit! Healing and comfort flowed from him, and I was able to put aside much of my pain. I would know him, and thank him.”

I told her of Elrond Halfelven, and that he had, after seeing her, resumed his journey. “Thou art fortunate indeed, Minenil,” I said. “For he is the greatest healer in this world, they say, all the powers of his kin are poured into him.”

“Elrond Halfelven!” she wondered. “Have I not been told that all of that family are haughty and cold, disdaining those below them? It is not so, I deem. For though I saw him only in my fevered dreams, I had from him kindness and compassion, and understanding of what tormented me!”

Then she went on. “I dreamed of him,” she said. “I dreamed of Aellin. At first, I was frightened. But then, I bethought me, I could not flee forever. So I bade him leave me be.” She looked at me now with an expression in her eyes I had never seen before, she seemed suddenly older, and there was a kind of hard decision in her face. “I bade him leave me be, for he had done me harm enough, knowest thou. Harm enough.”

“You need say no more,” I answered her.

“But I must, and I would do it now, before that lady comes back.” She put out her hand and took mine. “Hear me, sister. Do you remember that day? We quarreled, and I ran away from thee? And he followed?”

I nodded. “Minenil, my love,” I said. “You need not tell me……”

“Lorinil! I must, I must,” she said.

I gave way, wondering at her firmness, never before had she commanded me.

So she told me. I will not sadden thee with the sordid tale of how Aellin had most foully betrayed trust and kin. She told me in a clear, firm voice, and when she was done there was naught I could say.

“There,” she said. “I have told it once, so I can tell it again. When that Captain comes, Lorinil, do you send to me. I must tell him.”

Gilraen came in just then, and our private speech was at an end.

“I wonder,” Gilraen said to me, “if thou hast thought to send to thy mother and father? For surely they would come and take thee into their care?”

“No!” Minenil said. She looked at me. “Thou hast not sent to them, hast thou?”

“No,” I answered. “That Captain, Thalion, he wished to do so, but I said no.”

“Good,” she said. She looked into the distance. “This is a matter for me to decide, Lorinil.”

Again her manner, near to sterness, took me aback. But since her thoughts and mine agreed here, I did not dispute with her.

Thalion did not come that day, nor the next. That day, the warden Mablung brought word that his Captain would wait upon us on the morning following.

Minenil and I were to meet with Captain Thalion on the same porch as before. But I took it upon myself to go forth and meet him in the avenue.

“Is she well?” he asked eagerly. “Naught has happened? She will see me?”

“Yes,” I replied. “But I thought it best to meet thee in this way.”

“Why?” he asked. “Dost thou think she is not ready to speak? I would not press her, lady. There is no hurry.”

“No, it is not that,” I replied. I did not say that I simply wanted to see him as soon as may be. “I wished only to remind thee that she is still weak, and frail.”

He looked at me, and said, “I will bear it in mind, lady. I will be as careful with thy gentle little sister as even thou could be, and I know how tenderly thou hast cared for her.” His aspect was gravely courteous, but there was that in his eyes that told of more than courtesy only.

We walked along the path from the avenue to the gardens. “I wish I could walk in this garden with thy sister and with thee under different circumstances, lady Lorinil,” he said.

This was my very thought, and I answered, “So could I wish, sir. But my sister’s troubles are all consuming at this moment.”

“I do not doubt it, indeed, lady,” he answered. “Poor maiden!”

We came to the porch where Minenil waited. I saw how anxious she was, how her hands trembled on the arms of her chair. But she answered his courteous greeting calmly, and met his eyes without looking away.

Then she surprised me again. “I would ask thee, Lorinil, to leave us now,” she said.

I protested, but she insisted. I obeyed, although inwardly I was angry. It seemed ungrateful of her, somehow, to refuse my support at that moment, after all we had endured together. I would do anything for her, but the truth is, I was used to choosing what I might do, and when.

Not so very much time had passed after all when I saw Thalion coming toward me.

“I will take my leave of thee now,” he said. “Thy sister asked me to send thee to her.”

We turned and walked toward the house together. “I do not disguise from thee,” he said, “that I, too, think she is still very weak. For the ordeal of telling me…..what she told me…… was enough to overset her again.”

“Art thou satisfied with what she told thee?” I asked.

Now he looked very grave and stern. “I am. There is an end of that, as far as my duty goes. No doubt there will be more to it, when news of all this reaches thy family.”

I did not answer him, but said, “I thank thee, Captain, for thy kindness to my poor sister and me.”

“There is nothing to thank me for, lady,” he replied. “I would do more, if I could.” His voice was very gentle when he spoke. “That is, in part, why I wished to speak to thee, lady Lorinil. If it would aid thy sister, I would be glad to spend a part of each day here, and walk about with her, and do what I may for her. And for thee.”

My heart leaped. There could be nothing else I so wished for than to walk about the lovely gardens with Thalion, and I eagerly agreed to his suggestion. We parted at the gate, and I stood for some time and watched as he walked up the avenue to the Warden’s quarters. Such thoughtfulness on his part, I thought, to wish to lighten my burden of care.

Minenil was lying upon her bed when I went back into the guesthouse. She had been crying, I could see, but when I entered her room she sat up and said, with pathetic cheerfulness, “The worst is over now, Lorinil. Now I must begin to plan what I am to do next.”…………

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