Aragorn turned the pages one by one, savoring the delights within. Beautifully recopied in Bilbo's spidery hand with gold and silver embellishments, the book had been lavishly illustrated in inks of many colors. It would be a magnificent first volume in the Archives of the House of Telcontar.
He stopped when he came to the story of Tuor. Aragorn wondered how he would choose if offered such a dilemma: Love, Power or Wisdom. For many years it had seemed he was to have none of them. Now Love and Power were his. As for Wisdom, well, perhaps.
He turned the page. There in the glade within the Girdle of Melian, Lúthien and Beren lay in each other's arms. Yavanna, in the raiment of Love, looked over them. Inscribed on the facing page were the verses Bilbo had carefully extracted from The Lay of Lúthien. The old Hobbit had done a remarkable job of capturing the beauty of the original Elvish. Smiling, Aragorn murmured the words, the lilting rhythm of the union of man and woman firing his blood for the coming night with his lady.
The Judgment of Tuor
Valinor grew in bliss, until at last a quarrel marred its joy. It so happened that the goddesses vied to be named most fair, and the choice came down to these three greatest: Varda, Star-Kindler and Queen, Nienna of the Sorrows, and Yavanna, who brings love to all hearts. And when they beseeched Manwë to make his choice, he denied them. "For how can I choose when one is my wife? Would I ever know peace in my bed if I were to choose another? And if I were to choose her, would not all of the Ainur say that love blinded my choice?"
The Ainur allowed that this was so. And Manwë said, "Let us look to Middle-earth for a judge. Indeed, let us choose among the Second-born. For their eyes have not seen the Light of the Trees and will look upon all three as marvels."
"You speak wisely, Lord," said Mandos. "There is one whose knowledge stands out among mortals. Tuor the valiant lives in exile as an outlaw in the Wild, and the beasts are his only friends. He does not eat their flesh, but lives on the fruits and roots of the land, and the milk that his goats give. Thus he has come to a deep wisdom, drawn from the land itself."
Amazed indeed was Tuor that day when in splendor and beauty the three goddesses appeared before him.
Netted stars shone in Varda's black hair, her skin was of translucent alabaster, and the light of the Telperion fell upon him from her glorious eyes. And she said, "Mortal, name me the most beautiful of all, and I will make you king over all the lands of your kind."
Nienna's silvery hair floated around her like the soft rains of the Blessed Land, her neck was graceful as a swan's, and her eyes gazed upon him with mercy and kindness. "Mortal, name me the most beautiful of all, and I will grant you knowledge beyond the measure of even the wisest Elven king."
Lush tresses the color of ripe wheat cascaded over the hills and valleys of Yavanna's form, her breasts were as the swelling rosebuds of May, her mouth like juicy peaches. "Mortal, name me the most beautiful of all, and the fairest of all Elf-maidens will be yours." And she placed the image of Idril daughter of Turgon in Tuor's heart.
Then Tuor could see only Idril's beauty, her luxuriant golden hair, her inviting white arms, and the promise of sons. For his choice, the wrath of Varda and Nienna ever after pursued him where he fled. But Yavanna arrayed Tuor in Elven mail, and one of her maidens in the form of a deer showed him the secret way to the Hidden City. Then she put love for Tuor in the heart of Idril, the fairest daughter of Elvendom and heir to its greatest King, and Idril turned from her lord and husband, Maeglin, and beseeched her father to grant her the choice of another.
So the seed of the downfall of Gondolin was planted, and grew to the treachery of Maeglin in league with Morgoth, the Great Enemy.