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14
Tree and Star

Before the Sun, before the Moon, during the Time of the Stars and the Light of the Two Trees, the People of the Stars first awoke beside the Waters of Awakening.

There they awoke beneath the bright stars. They had no language, at first, but were swift to invent both speech and song. Some then wished for speech with all living things they met: with the shy deer, with the swift eagle, and the other creatures of the mountain and forest.

That was during the time when Oromė came to them upon his white horse, and they sang beside the running waters of their first home. One of the women bent her thought not on the animals, but on the trees, for she loved them all; therefore was she named Elentaulė.

Elentaulė walked under the forest canopy and in the meadows, singing and talking to the mighty oak, the little crab, the rosy briar. Aye, she spoke and sang, but never did they answer. She wept with sorrow, for the trees heeded her not, though her fellows had speech with Fox and Bear and Raven. Even she planted seedlings and reared them to tall trees, but got no reply.

She dwelt hard by a rushing stream that fed into the Helcar, and when she lay down, the music of the water filled her sleep. One time, the noise of the water grew louder in her dreams, and came to sound like speech, saying, "Get up, Daughter of the Stars". She arose, and went to the water's edge. There she saw something she had seen but once--the face of a stranger. Before her, whether dream or flesh she knew not, stood a woman like her own people but mightier.

Her nut-brown hair streamed down her back, and the garment she wore rippled like young leaves in the wind. Her eyes were brown, shot with a green light.

"Follow me," said the woman. Elentaulė followed without question. Across the stream and up the hill they went. There under the bright stars, even brighter now, stood two trees. Side by side grew Oak and Apple. A golden sheen of tiny flowers covered the Oak; the Apple bore clouds of pale blossom.

Beneath the trees Elentaulė and the woman danced. They twined about the tree trunks and caressed the branches. They sang to the trees together. Together they spoke to the trees with love and yearning. It seemed the trees swayed in time to the music; Elentaulė heard words without understanding in the wind soughing through the leaves. At last she fell down in sleep between the trees. Over her the branches of Oak and Apple mingled in gold and silver flower. "Tarry here until I come again," came the memory of the last thing the green-clad woman had said.

When she awoke, the woman was gone, the trees moved in the breeze, the whisper of speech without words she knew drifted down from the leaves. She stirred, and great drifts of golden flowers of Oak and silvery flowers of Apple fell away from where they had covered her while she slept.

And so there she tarried, singing and talking to the Oak and Apple. Many times climbed Menelmacar up the sky, and just as many he strode down again, while she waited there on the hillside.

The sky had wheeled over her many twelves of twelves when Elentaulė again lay beside the stream and again came the vision of the woman. She was now clad in deep fir-green, but her eyes were the same, sparkling like stars shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake.

"Come," she said, "let us dance and sing." There by the water they danced and sang together, now tripping through the stream, now swaying on the bank. Elentaulė lay back on the grass and watched the woman running her hands through the water. It seemed silvery fishes flowed from her hands, but when she turned to Elentaulė, naught but water fell from her cupped hands onto her companion.

Elentaulė fell swiftly into sleep without dream or vision, and awoke again alone on the stream bank. On her breast, where the woman had spilled the shining water, she found an acorn and an apple seed.

She made haste to plant them on the hillside hard by the Oak and the Apple trees. Ever she brought to them water from the stream in the palms of her hands, unless the sweet rain fell from the star-silvered clouds.

Again she waited while the stars passed above. It seemed they spread a special radiance over the hill where she toiled.

The seeds sprouted. The saplings grew. The stars paced on their rounds across the sky, now brighter, now paler. Ever Elentaulė sang and spoke to the young trees, dancing round them and stroking their leaves as they grew.

A third time came the waking vision of the woman, the stranger, no stranger now. She wore a garment the reddish gold of ripe grain. She took Elentaulė's hand and led her again in the dance, slower and slower till they hardly moved.

The woman stepped up the hillside and turned back toward Elentaulė and the two trees. Taller now than any woman of the People, taller than the young trees, taller than the Oak and the Apple she stood over Elentaulė. She reached down her mighty hands toward the Young Oak and the Young Apple. Up stretched the branches. The new trees laid their hands in the hands of the woman. They flexed their roots and took their first steps.

They opened their eyes. They turned their green-shot brown eyes not upward to the woman but out, down toward Elentaulė. Their slow, deep voices sang together in thanks to the woman and to Elentaulė. Elentaulė reached her hands up to theirs.

It seemed in Elentaulė's vision the woman grew larger but fainter. She released the trees, spread wide her arms, and as she did so, vanished from sight, leaving Elentaulė fully wakened, handfast with the firstborn of the Onyaliė.

~~~

In TT, Treebeard, Treebeard says, "Elves began it, of course, waking trees up and teaching them to speak and learning their tree-talk. They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did."

Embedded quotes also from TT, Treebeard

Elentaulė: elen taulė: StarTree

Onyaliė: speculative Quenya equivalent of Sindarin Onodrim (Ents)


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