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6
Missing


Dear Sam,

Did I mention Rûdharanion has disappeared?

It was about 3 weeks ago or more. But this morning Tilwen burst in seeming quite upset as she brought me and Bilbo our breakfast on the terrace.

“I did something really stupid yesterday,” she sighed. “Have either of you seen Galendur today?”

We shook our heads. “What’s he gone and done this time?” Bilbo asked.

“Well…I was at Lalaith’s yesterday, with Niniel—she brought Lyrien over to play with Marilen and Dínlad. Mother didn’t come with us, she was visiting some friends in town. Well, Niniel and Lalaith were telling some funny stories on their children, and I don’t have any yet, of course, so I was feeling just a tiny bit left out? And so—and so I told them what happened that night, with that Rûdharanion fellow. I thought they might find it amusing. Really, it’s just not so upsetting to me any more. I look back on it and laugh, especially when I remember his face when the two of you pitched into him! And when I think how kind and helpful Dûndeloth has been to me and everything. And Niniel did find it amusing. Lalaith liked it too, well, she didn’t laugh out loud, but you know how she is?”

Yes, I know well enough. Lalaith, although her name means “laughter” is not given much to it—she is a solemn sort, not gloomy exactly, just, well, solemn. Runs in her family, I suppose. She always gives me the impression she is about to pray, or make some profound philosophical utterance, when what comes out is “Supper is almost ready, go and wash up now” or “Dínlad, don’t let that dog in, I just mopped the floor!” Leandros, her husband, is of a cheerier nature. He likes to sing and fish and build furniture—for that’s what he is, a carpenter. And a very fine carpenter, too.

“Well,” Tilwen said, “I told them I didn’t want Galendur to know about it because he’d just make a horrid big to-do and go out and do something dreadfully foolish, and they agreed that it would not be a good idea to tell him. And Niniel said we’d better not let Mother know either—oh, she would turn him upside down and inside out…”

“Now THAT I would like to see!” Bilbo popped his palm with his fist. “She’d have made pudding out of him. You should have told her right away, my lass. A girl’s best friend is her mother, after all.”

“Bilbo,” I chided him, then laughed a little. “And Galendur heard about it?”

“That little stinker of a Dínlad heard everything!” exclaimed Tilwen, sitting down hard on a chair. “We were sitting out on the back porch watching the children and chatting and drinking tea…unaware that the little monster was hiding in the bushes nearby, listening! I suppose he was angry because his father and uncle went fishing yesterday and didn’t take him like they promised, because he’d been very naughty the day before and was being punished. The girls wouldn’t play with him either, because he ‘tried to boss them,’ they said. And he wasn’t allowed to go play with his friends. So there we were with an angry little boy with nothing better to do than skulk about spying on his elders. Galendur came over later in the evening to bring me home and Dínlad got to him first and told him all before we even knew he was here. Of course he had to be the first to relay the news—doesn’t he always? I hope Leandros takes a switch to that little monkey! Well, of course Galendur was furious, and I had to explain why I hadn’t told him and all that…and he demanded to know where Rûdharanion lived and I said I didn’t know, which is the truth, and he said he’d find out. And now he’s gone off looking for him, and NOW what am I going to do?”

“Why do anything?” Bilbo said. “Galendur will let him have it, and so he’ll get what’s coming to him and we’ll all live happily ever after. What’s the problem there? That fellow needs a good lesson or two, and Galendur is just the one to instruct him. I only wish I could be there to see it.”

“Oh but you don’t know his temper,” Tilwen sighed. “What if…what if he …you know? I mean—this isn’t Middle-earth, you know. There’s never been a murder on the Island. The consequences could be unthinkable. Iorhael, couldn’t you talk some sense into him? He really respects your opinion.”

“I would if I knew where he was,” I said.

“I don’t know where he is either,” Tilwen said, lowering her voice. “But I expect him to show up here sooner or later. I’d better go back into the house. He may be lurking about, waiting for me to go inside so he can try to get it out of you where Rûdharanion lives and all.”

“He won’t get much, for I haven’t the slightest idea myself,” I said. “But if he turns up, I’ll do the best I can.”

“I KNEW you’d come through for me—again,” she cried, springing to her feet and giving me and Bilbo both a peck on top of the head. “You have my eternal gratitude.”

I wondered if my expression looked as silly as Bilbo’s when we looked at each other as she skipped into the house.

“So he’s disappeared, has he?” Bilbo said. “Brave soul, what? Wonder where in blazes he could have got off to? Not very far, I should think.”

“I heard from Dûndeloth some time ago that he had disappeared,” I said thoughtfully. “But I would have thought he’d supposed himself out of danger by now and gone home. To be truthful, and I know how daft this must sound, I’m a little worried about him. He must think the whole Island has heard about the incident by now and hates him heartily. I hope he hasn’t done anything really…desperate.”

“Well, good riddance to him if he has,” Bilbo muttered.

“Uncle, you don’t really mean that,” I was shocked, I must admit. He shrugged without looking at me. We finished our breakfast and I gathered up the dishes and loaded them onto the tray and took it to the kitchen to save Tilwen a trip. Then I went into the library to do some studying for a while and wait for Dûndeloth.

He comes three times a week to give Tilwen and me our lessons. Sometimes Bilbo sits in on them, and seems very flattered when Dûndeloth asks for his opinion on something. We have them in the library mostly, but sometimes he takes us for a little walk or ride instead, pointing out ordinary objects and instructing us to write a verse about them. Or sometimes he will give us a word and have us write a short poem about it. Recently the word was “thirst” and as I thought of it, I suddenly broke into tears, much to my embarrassment. Til put her arms about me, which was very nice, but it was several minutes before I could stop. Dûndeloth asked if he should give a different word instead, but I murmured that I could use this one. Here is some of what I wrote—not one of my best, but I thought you might like to see it:

You gave the water to me
And within you grew a tree
Upon it no rain fell
And yet it blossomed still
And cradled me as a nest
Of sparrows that forgot the taste
Of hope, but of love never
That fruit your tree bore ever….

Dûndeloth approved highly of my use of water as a metaphor for hope. Tilwen’s went more like this:

I thirst for your love
let it fall
as rain from above
until I am all
as drenched as flowers
after a storm
of summer showers
gracious and warm

There is more, but I think I’d be too embarrassed to repeat it!

Dûndeloth wishes to give a reading soon, but to my vast relief, he does not expect us to read our poetry in front of the audience—he will do that. He has a wonderful speaking-voice, and I can hardly tell you how thrilling it is to think of him reading my work. He read the ones he chose to all in the house of Elrond the other night, as a trial. He read three of mine, with my approval—one of them being “The Sea-bell”, to my surprise. I was also surprised when he chose one of Tilwen’s that I didn’t even know she had written—she usually shows her poems to me first, asking for my opinion or suggestions. Hers are mostly about love, and her bridegroom figures in nearly all of them, but this particular one was a story in verse about how Lady Celebrian saved her mother’s life after a boating accident long ago, which was how Tilwen came to be her maid-servant. I already knew she had saved Donnoviel’s life, through her healing knowledge, courage, and quick thinking, but I was greatly surprised and touched that Til had written a poem about it. She said she didn’t show me because she wanted to save it as a surprise. She has come a long way in a short time—and I’d hardly call her work of no consequence!

Sam, this glass is glowing more brightly than usual—do I get a feeling you are proud of your Frodo just now?

After Dûndeloth came and gave us our lesson, during which Bilbo fell asleep, I laid a silky throw over my uncle and went back to the terrace with a book. Dûndeloth has us read a great deal of poetry, telling us to read both the authors we admire most and some of those we don’t. I started on some of the sort I don’t—guess whose among them?—and after a while dozed off only to be awakened by a raucous screech.

“Oh—bollocks!” I heard a voice say, and I chuckled to myself. Only one Elf I know uses that word. I jumped from my chair, retrieved my fallen book, and peered around the hedge to see said Elf on his backside in the garden trying to face down the peacock, who had hopped into a low tree and continued shrieking murderously at him.

“I say, Baggins, how about calling off your dog before he pecks my eyes out,” he called to me as he picked himself up gingerly from a flowering vine and brushed a leaf or two from his fair locks.

I laughed and ran into the garden and spoke soothing words to the bird, who affected an offended stance but ceased his clamoring. Galendur and I quickly repaired to the terrace, he glancing about in a manner that indicated he was trying not to be seen.

“He never did take to me, did he,” he said as we ducked behind a tall hedge.

“Well, if you’d come in through the front like a civilized person, instead of climbing the garden wall like a thief, he’d be far more cordial, I’m sure,” I said dryly. “If you’re trying to hide from Tilwen, I suggest we go elsewhere. She’ll be out with our luncheon sooner or later, judging from the sun’s position.”

“I just saw her go out front, and I think she’s going to market,” Galendur said. “She had a basket on her arm. So we’re all right. I suppose she’s told you about our little row last night?”

“She has,” I said, “and I can tell you right away, I have no idea where the fellow lives, and if I did know, I think I wouldn’t tell. You can ask Dûndeloth if you like, but I doubt he’d be any more forthcoming.”

“If you think I’m going to go roaring out there with my sword and hack him into giblets, that’s where you’re wrong, old chap,” said Galendur, settling himself in my long chair and stretching out his legs. “Tempting as it may be, he’s not worth the consequences, and I’m not as daft as you may think, my friend. There are other ways of dealing with the likes of him, that don’t all involve sharp pointy objects. Although even if he hadn’t insulted Til, I’d feel like taking a blade to him in payment for having had his stuff forced down my throat when I was a small, defenseless schoolboy. Bloody boring rot.”

I chuckled. “He is rather fond of certain metaphors, I must admit. Like ‘the Black Hand of Death.’ He uses that a great deal.”

“That’s the only part I liked,” Galendur said. “So you’d tell me nothing? You’ve no fear of me at all, not that I want you to, understand.”

“Ha! I have more fear of a bunny rabbit,” I laughed out loud. “You may swagger and bluster all you like, but deep down you’re a big softy, and we all know it. No, I promised Tilwen, and I intend to keep that promise.”

“Well, no matter, I can find him on my own, I’m sure. Then we’ll see who’s a bunny rabbit. Will you at least tell me where this Dûndeloth lives? You know that, don’t you?”

I gave him the directions to Dûndeloth’s house. “He’d be greatly pleased at a visit from you, I’m sure,” I said laughing, “after the way you've figured so prominently in Til's poems. But don’t expect him to be too cooperative.”

“I know where Rûdharanion is,” said a soft voice, and we both nearly jumped out of our clothes to see Lady Elwing standing in the library doorway.



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