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Tell This Mortal
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Tell This Mortal

Well, I am on the ship. We are two days out. They have found me and I have told Legolas what I needed to say about my past, and the possibility of hope for his future. I told him of my letter and of Stitch’s journey to Thranduil.

“You can let it take you now,” I said. “You need never dread the sea-longing again.” I wish you could have seen the look on his face.

But he said, “Aerlinn, I cannot let you do this.”

“It is my choice,” I said.

“And it is mine to turn the ship around,” he replied.

See, that is why he was able to heal. He does not argue with others’ choices or lay blame; he merely makes his own choices and moves on.

The ship was big enough to have a steering wheel, a half-circle really, that is attached to the starboard rudder by the usual assembly. Legolas took hold of the wheel and tugged. It did not budge.

“Wherever this ship is going, it is locked on course,” I said.

“You know where it is going,” said Gimli.

“And you cannot go, Aerlinn. Gimli has special leave to go. You do not.”

“I do not wish to live forever, Legolas,” I told him, smiling a little. “It is the fulfillment of my Mortal being, to leave the world after the briefest of stays.”

Then the immortal Elf knelt before me on both knees and bowed his golden head. I felt his tears falling on my bare feet. My own fell on his bare head. After a moment I reached out and tugged his hair gently, as his big sister might have done long ago.

“Come, Legolas,” I said. “Great heroes do not weep so easily, nor great ladies either.”

“I will never forget the sail maker of Sea Fair,” said he.

Then he got up. We embraced, and after that we had peace with our choices. Gimli spent the rest of the time watching me with an open mouth. I think I finally impressed him.

“When the time comes, both of you grasp my hands tightly,” said Legolas. “Then we will see what we will see.”


Dawn on the third day. We are standing on the deck. Wind fills the sails and we are skimming. None of us has slept. We are waiting.

We are waiting and something is happening to the ship. It seems to be rising from the sea, and yet that cannot be because waves still lap the hull as before. But stay! – those waves are light, transparent, as if made of air not water.

“What is it?” I gasp.

“Take my hands!” he shouts, and Gimli and I grasp his hands so hard it makes a sound. Slap!

Suddenly it is my own flesh that is transparent. I can see through my arms and legs and indeed through the wooden hull of the ship itself, all the way down to the cold waves of the Sundering Seas. Far below,they wait to hold me. But up here, I am turning into air, into nothing –

“Hold tight!” yells Legolas, and then the light is there, the calad is about him, and Gimli too. My hands are popping at the knuckles. The light nearly blinds me but I can still see Legolas and on his face there is a look of surpassing joy; of deliverance; of wonder beyond words to tell.

“O, Gimli! Aerlinn! I see it! I see it!”

I shriek, “What do you see? Legolas! Tell this Mortal what you see!”

My hands are slipping, I am falling, but Legolas lets me see.

“The Straight Way West! O Elbereth, the light, the light, the light!...”

*** Trenoren ***

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying

… Excerpted from Sea-Fever by John Masefield


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