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14
Parts of Speech


Dear Sam,

Bilbo’s Delight is the talk of the Island now! I told Bilbo if he weren’t careful he might be compelled to set up an establishment specializing in this dish. He replied that if he were younger, that might not be a bad idea.

I saw Rûdharanion in the Temple recently, and it seems he has met a lady. Said he owed it all to me. I think it has been about three or four months since we first confronted him in the tower.

“But for you,” he beamed, “I would be there still, brooding and writing drivel and staring gloomily out to sea and who knows what else. Certainly I would never have met my Aredhel, had you not forgiven me and pointed me the way to true enlightenment and purity and noble striving. Who would ever have supposed I could be such a fool? I shall be forever in your debt. I trust you have long consigned that piece of rubbish to the flames?”

“Well…at first I was going to,” I said, a bit abashed, wondering where this Aredhel was keeping herself. Then I saw Rûdharanion gazing dreamily at a dark-haired lady in white who was talking with another elleth who appeared to be her sister. I don’t think he was even paying attention to my reply. “But then I…is that she?”

“Aye,” he said with a deep, deep soulful sigh, without taking his eyes off the object of his adoration. “Have you ever seen anything so breathtaking? I write but for her now. I have composed reams of poems and songs in her praise, until I think she must laugh about them. I’ve scarcely looked at a lady since my last love spurned me for another so long ago, claiming that I loved my art more than I loved her. Which was absurd, for everything I wrote was for her, and her alone. Yet somehow I could never make her believe it. But now I must be grateful, for had she accepted me, I would never have met my Aredhel and never known bliss so complete, so utter, so all-encompassing....That is her great-grandmother with her.”

“She’s very lovely,” I said lamely. He looked vaguely disappointed, as though he expected me to say something much more poetic, but recovered quickly as he turned his gaze back to his lady-love. I suppose I should have been glad that he was happy now and gratified that I was in part responsible for it, but the truth was, I could not suppress a twinge of envy and dismay at the irony of it all--that because of me, he would have what I could not.

But then I glimpsed Lady Elwing talking with someone in the congregation, and I remembered what she had said about having my heart’s desire within two years’ time. I still can't imagine what that could be, and two years seems a long time just now. But I suppose I should wait and pray and trust, as she said, and it will come to me unbidden. Why should I not believe her?

“I am very glad for you,” I said stiffly to Rûdharanion, and hoped that by and by it would come to be true. I had a feeling he would not be writing his version of my story, at least not for a good long while now. Perhaps never. Maybe that is just as well. But…well, Sam, you will laugh at me I suppose, but I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit disappointed!

But enough about him. I am getting more and more anxious to move into my new home! I feel at times that I am little more than a lap-dog for Elves now, and would love to have my own home and work my own land, and be my own master once more. And I have visited the cottage several times, and fallen completely in love with the surroundings. And I think the house is livable now, but I must wait until I am completely cured before we can move in. Which is frustrating, because I feel fine now, most of the time. Yes, I do still tire rather easily, but I think I could manage well enough on my own. Ah, but one must not be impatient!

Dûndeloth has completed the first part of the epic—he told me perhaps it was best to write the story in three parts, it being so long and complicated, and he wishes to leave out nothing. Even though I suggested he might omit the part about the barrow-wight and Tom Bombadill, which was something that merely happened along our way and has no real bearing on the story. He did so, most reluctantly, in the final revision, conceding that I was right, after all. He decided to call Part One “The Fellowship,” and to publish it before continuing the next part. I thought that an odd idea, but I have given it my approval, and it is now being copied, and Rûdharanion has asked to be one of the copyists! I gave my consent on condition that he copy it exactly as written. When I thought of it later, I was touched that he wished to do it at all, when he now has his Aredhel to think and dream of and all. Why would he wish to be involved with this epic now? Perhaps he is taking it on in his eagerness to make himself worthy of his lady; who knows?

At least, now I can stop worrying about him. Meanwhile I have managed to make two sweet children happy.

I was at Lyrien’s one day and she and Marílen hauled me by the hand into her backyard, saying she wanted to show me something. She practically shoved me to my knees under the willow-tree, saying “LOOK!” And I looked, and saw what was, indeed, a hobbit-hole in a little mound at the foot of the tree, with a round green door and tiny round windows.

“Daddy and Uncle Galendur and Uncle Leandros made it for us,” Lyrien told me radiantly. “It’s Bag End, do you see?”

“I see,” I said, my throat tightening a little.

“We haven’t much furniture yet,” she said, “but Uncle Leandros will make us more. It’s for my Frodo-doll and Marílen’s Sam-doll, you know. We don’t play you so much any more ourselves, since we have a house for the dolls. Look inside!”

She opened the round door for me and I crouched down and peeked in. I could see there really was a room dug in there, and a tiny table and two chairs and a scrap of colorful cloth to serve as a rug. And even a little fireplace with a reed coming up as a chimney through the earth. A wooden bowl had been sawed in half and tucked up under to keep the mound from caving in, and a part of a stone tile had been put down for the floor.

“I know it’s not as big as Bag End,” Lyrien said modestly, “but it’s hard to make rooms down in the dirt. And we can’t really make a fire in the fire-place, Mummy won’t let us, and I don’t know how anyway. But it’s soooo jolly to have a hobbit-house!”

I had to smile. “It’s perfectly wonderful. But there should be a garden in front, and a fence. Perhaps I can make one.”

And I begged a few scraps of wood from Leandros, borrowed some tools, and using what few carpentry skills I had, contrived a tiny fence, painted it white, and set it up before the miniature Bag End, and made a little gate for it as well. Then Lyrien and I transplanted tiny flowers inside the fence, moss-roses and little daisies and bluets, setting pretty pebbles and wee shells here and there, and making a little path to the door. Then I set a twig atop the mound for a tree, tying scraps of green cloth to it as leaves.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my whole life,” Lyrien sighed as we viewed the completed project, her eyes misting up and looking even lovelier. “I don’t know how to thank you for it!”

I put an arm about her and kissed her cheek, and she threw both arms around me and hugged me hard. What other thanks did I need?

She and Marílen were here one morning, and I came up with a new word-game to amuse them. You might want to try it with your children when they get old enough, Sam. It’s easy and perhaps a way to teach them their parts of speech in a fun way. You take a little story or poem that is familiar to the children, then underline certain words and ask for a list of new ones (without telling them what poem or story you're going to use), then put the words they come up with in place of the underlined ones. For starters, I chose Bilbo’s old walking-song, which I had taught them long ago:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Here are the results. Lyrien’s version:

The Pearl squeaks brightly on and on
Down from the bunny where it tiptoed
Now far ahead the Pearl has baked
And I must wink, if I can
Kissing it with cosy squiggles
Until it wiggles some easier fiddle
Where many sisters and fire-flies bow.
And whither then? I cannot swim.

She and Marílen giggled long and hard when I read it to them, then said, “But it doesn’t exactly rhyme, does it, except for 'squiggles' and 'wiggles'? And it doesn’t make any sense either.”

“Even so, it sounds like poetry somehow,” I said solemnly, glancing up at Bilbo to see what he was making of all this. He had been shaking with silent laughter the whole time, I could see by the redness of his face. But he agreed that it sounded like poetry, without a doubt, and said to Lyrien, with a wink, that perhaps its meaning was hidden.

Here is Marílen’s version. She is an odd little thing, quiet and shy, with the most soulful and expressive dark eyes, limpid as a doe’s, and with the expression of one who knows what roses are thinking and can read the dreams of butterflies.

The Bracelet dives squirtingly on and on
Down from the earthquake where it swallowed
Now far ahead the Bracelet has fainted
And I must twinkle, if I can
Pinching it with snowy elbows
Until it chews some happier fire
Where many dreams and kittens itch.
And whither then? I cannot slide.

“That’s better than mine,” Lyrien giggled, “even though it doesn’t make any sense either.”

Marílen’s cheeks pinked very prettily. She and Lyrien were sitting on the terrace floor facing each other, matching the souls of their bare feet. Remember when we used to do that, and you said you couldn't wait until your feet were as big as mine?

“‘Squirtingly’?” Bilbo said. “Is that really a word, Poppet?”

“Well,” Marílen cast down her long eyelashes demurely, “what made me think of it is, my mum’s friend came over yesterday, and she has a baby-boy, and she had to change its nappy, and…”

Well, enough said, I should think!

Bilbo had to get in on it too. The girls heartily agreed, seeing as how he had written the song to begin with!

The Pigsty confusticates tartly on and on
Down from the oxcart where it haggled

Now far ahead the Pigsty has hiccuped
And I must parley, if I can
Repelling it with persnickety ear-lobes
Until it twitters some tricksier balrog
Where many blockheads and onions muddle.
And whither then? I cannot diversify.

“We should get Tilwen over,” he said, after I had to explain most of the new words to the girls, after which they laughed crazily and declared that his version was best of all. “She’s the one who knows all the best words, I should think.”

Now occasionally we play this game, among others, when we go over to Lyrien’s of an evening, and it’s my opinion that they enjoy playing games more than those profound discussions. Even Seragon gave in and made a version, although I'm guessing he hated himself for it in the morning. Donnoviel still turns up her nose at our silliness, but not quite so high as at the first, and I think one of these days we'll have her...I really do!



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