She rode as usual with her husband and son as far as the archway, then hopped lightly down from the cart after kissing them both. She stood and watched until it rounded the bend in the road, waving to them as they turned back to look at her, then turned smiling back to the house, when something on the beach caught her eye.
She smiled all the more warmly as she read the words. But what was this? Obviously he had stood with his back to the sea while writing in the sand--unless he had written them upside down, which was extremely unlikely. And yet the sand was wet, indicating that the tide had indeed come in, but the words were still there, and he had not gone out to the beach that morning. She’d had one eye cocked toward him always, not because she didn’t trust him but merely because she liked to look at him. And he had not gone out of the house; she would have noticed his absence.
And there were no footprints about the letters.
Now why would he take such care to erase his footprints…why erase them at all?
Her heart thumped in her bosom, swelling, fluttering with the wonder of it all. She bent to touch one of the letters, then with her finger she drew a double-heart next to the words on the left, and another on the right. Then she turned and looked out to the waters.
Thank you, she called to the waves, as the breeze blew her tawny locks back from her face and ruffled her skirt around her legs, her sleeves from her outstretched arms. It has been far too long since I have thanked the Sea-Lord, she thought, but he will forgive me, surely. I believe he has already, the sea-breeze is fragrant with the odor of forgiving and renewal.
She turned and glanced back, shading her eyes with one hand, and saw Sandrose with with her cousins in the garden, teaching them the delights of dancing on the edge of the fountain and falling in. I suppose I should go and get ready, she thought. Not that I’ve so much to do in the play, but I should go help the others….
And she turned for a final look at the letters, noting the tiny colored stones scattered amongst them. Gem-stones. It seems they are gifts from the sea. There are pearls, to be sure. Half a dozen of them, real pearls, round and perfect, various sizes. Why should they have come to me? As if someone were thanking me…for what? Sapphires, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, topazes, amethysts, aquamarines, garnets, opals, beryls, peridots, tourmalines, moonstones, scattered like painted stars on a white dawn. She recalled one of the first lines of poetry he had written for her. A sapphire mated an amethyst and bore twins, which became your eyes. Very silly, yes, but what other sea-maid ever had poems written for and about her?
She bent to pick up the stones, then stopped. They looked just fine where they were. It was as if the letters were leaves of graceful grass, spangled with rainbow dewdrops in the salty sunshine. Where would they look better? And she knelt on the sand, bowing her head, catching her hair at the back of her neck and holding it there.
Thank you once more, my Lord.
I am sorry, my Daughter, that some things must be as they are.
As am I. But that is how it has always been, and ever will be.
You are the Ring-bearer’s bride, his true Gem. You share his light, you are his glory and completeness and reward. You became small that he might become large, learned to die that he might learn to live. And learned to suffer that he might find his truest bliss.
I have come to find that when I suffer, he puts it aright, and gives me joy tenfold.
And he will do so yet again, Daughter. Trust him for it.
I will, and I will trust you also, my Lord.
And finally she rose and turned back toward the house where her real jewels were, their laughter echoing from the cliffs where the waterfalls poured out their endless bounty in the morning light.
Dear, dear Sam…..
AT LAST it is over!!! I feel as though I had completed a second Quest…this one being far easier and more fun than the first, of course…but yes, it’s all over, and now I can breathe freely again. And never again will I have to be reminded of those dreadful scenes….
But at the same time, I’m also sorry. I shall greatly miss the players. Even the ones I didn’t like so much. I shall miss the flurry, the merriment, the laughter as some fluffed their lines in rehearsal or sat about in their costumes and made good and bad jokes and told stories about plays they had been in before this…the going out and celebrating after a particularly successful rehearsal…the respect and affection showed to me and my family members by all…the feeling of true fellowship shared by every one of us. Yes, I’m more than a bit sorry. What to do now?
Things were a bit hectic in the morning, as you may imagine, what with our new guests and everything. I wished I’d known in advance they were coming, but I hadn’t, and everyone was in a flutter, what with Crystal and Piper firing questions at me: Why are there sails in the windows? Why does everyone wear clothes on their feet but you? Why does the little room in back have a bowl of water in the chair? Why does everyone keep putting their lips on Summershine? Does she taste good? And Sweetfern and Jasmine wishing to know what to wear, how to conduct themselves, and so on. Then there was the sticky problem of who would see to our visitors during the play, seeing as how everyone else was in it one way or another. Anemone said she would ask Tilwen. But finally I did manage to get away, and Anemone rode as far as the archway with me and Northlight, as usual, and told us not to worry about a thing, she would see to all, didn’t she always? And Guilin would come and pick up the others later on….
And when I glanced back at her, I saw her looking at what I had written on the beach, and I smiled to myself. It was nature’s call that had awakened me before everyone else, but after it was answered, on a thought I had run down to the beach to restore the words I had written the previous night, only to find that they were still there, although my foot-prints and all other prints about them were gone, the sand all around as smooth as mother-of-pearl. And the tiny gem-stones scattered all about the letters. If this were not a sign from the Sea-Lord, what was? Clearly he was looking after his own.
And now the play is all done with. Fairwind was brilliant. In fact, I’ll wager that, after Dínlad and Perion, she was the best one. Her scene with the Witch-King was truly terrifying and thrilling also. And her scenes with Guilin…well, they were so convincing, I began to worry for both of them.
Northlight was so believable as Gollum, when he fell into the fire it made my blood run cold, could this really be my Northlight? I’m truly thankful he’ll never have to play that role again. I’ll dream of it from time to time. But now he can settle down and go back to being just Northlight. Although Selin is asking me if he might offer him an acting contract. I’m not sure what I think about it myself…my son as an actor? Well, there are worse things he could be, I suppose….Selin also spoke of offering a contract to Fairwind. I told him I didn’t think she would be around much longer, but if he wished to speak of it to her, he might. I suppose it is selfish of me to hope she would take it…but I really do!
And Anemone as Rosie…I just wish you could have seen her, Sam! A very small part, yes. But it was one of those Touches, one of those details that somehow set off a great masterpiece by their delicate and unobtrusive perfection and make it what it truly is. The twins had a wonderful time in their curls, and one of the actors told me that they seemed to have an uncanny capacity for enjoyment that was enviable indeed. I can only hope they keep it for all time.
Raven added a touch I would never have expected…she played a street-urchin of Minas Tirith who was trying hard to see the Ring-bearers during the rejoicing, and no one would let her get near them…so she slipped up behind a street-vendor and stole something from his stall, darted through the crowd and handed her pelf to a guard, pleading with her eyes for him to give it to the hobbits, watching anxiously until he did so, then smiling with mute joy and executing a little dance-step. I just have to wonder whose idea that was….
I’m guessing that some of the audience were not too pleased at Guilin’s replacing Dûndeloth in the role, but there were others who seemed taken with him…among the ladies, I’m sure. I was not too hopeful of his performance at first, but all in all, he did very well with what he was given. I was reminded of his recovery in the Palace, wondering if he would pull through, and then…when Fairwind accepted his proposal he gave her that gentle little smile of his, and that did the trick. I smiled to myself in vast relief.
Thalimorgûl had a very slight limp throughout, but no one seemed to notice, and he did splendidly in the main. Moonrise and Ebbtide did reasonably well, but I doubt acting will prove to be their true calling. In the Dimholt Vale, they created some misty effects that were a little frightening. I wasn’t exactly expecting that, either….
[Frodo goes on to give an exhaustively detailed description of the rest of the play, evaluating the performances of the principal actors, the costumes, the sets, small accidents, and effects used overall.]
But I must say that Dínlad and Perion were the very best of all. They were the heart and soul of the whole production. And in the dreaded scenes…I found myself thinking only of the astounding love that had born me from them, risking all to snatch me body and soul from a fate too horrible to imagine. The love of the true Hero of the entire undertaking, the closest thing to the Divine I will ever know upon this earth, even where I am now….
And now your winged heart
will bear me aloft
above the foul clouds
of poison and loss
the shadows unspeakable
now are dissolved
such love astounding
I have not deserved
yet still you give it...
The tears that gathered and overflowed this time were not of self-pity over the memory of torture, terror, starvation, thirst, exhaustion, failure, and degradation, but of overwhelming gratitude and awe and adoration and joy at having a Friend of Friends who never forsook me, who had kept me warm, protected me from my enemies, given me the last drop of his water, born me on his back when my own legs could go no more, hauled me away from the Fire at the very last. Who has ever had such? My dearest Sam, may you be as blessed as I for all time, now and forever, and have all the joy your heart can hold and then some….
And I can never forget the reaction of the audience, how they stood and their cries rang out in a seemingly endless roar all around, as each principle cast member came to take his or her bow, then finally Dínlad and Perion, who I’m sure must have been overwhelmed by the deafening adulation, particularly when Thali and Barathon came up behind them and lifted the boys to their shoulders; the people shouted themselves hoarse. Then Rûdharanion and Dûndeloth came to take their bows, but they kept looking to me, and Guilin whispered, “What are you waiting for? They want you with them!” and gave me a push that nearly sent me sprawling, and the authors caught me and lifted me high between them, and the audience truly went wild. They would be hoarse, if not speechless, in the morning. And then the two elves finally set me down, but kept hold of me between them, and three ladies brought bouquets of roses, which they presented to us. And I managed to smile and bow again and again. And then there was a group bow, and more flowers were presented, including a large bunch of white roses for Fairwind and a smaller one for Anemone, who glanced at the small note that came with hers, and mouthed what looked like “Inzilbêth” to me. I looked out in the crowd for Inzilbêth but could not pick her out, but then the audience was so vast. And I turned to Anemone, and I do not know what came over me, I just grabbed her suddenly and planted a huge kiss on her lips, which went down wonderfully with the audience. And she didn’t seem to mind a bit!
And then I saw Nessima. Guilin was leading her up onto the stage. She looked bewildered and a little reluctant, but not wishing to make a scene by resisting, so she allowed him to assist her up the steps, as he carried a bag under one arm…ah, at last, The Gift!
I could not hear what he was saying to her over the roar of the crowd; evidently he told her to close her eyes because she did so. And he opened the bag and took out something of a shimmering midnight blue, with a glitter about it, and shook it out, and laid it dramatically yet carefully over the lady’s shoulders…a long velvet cloak embroidered with silver and gold stars all around the edges…yes, indeed a cloak of stars, that seemed to glimmer and twinkle on their own, and as she opened her eyes, and gasped, along with the audience, I glanced aside and saw Fairwind looking on with tears in her eyes, unaware of Barathon gazing tenderly at her from behind….
No…she has not fallen in love with Guilin; that was not supposed to happen! I started to go to her, when Anemone clutched at my arm and pointed up toward the box where Lord Elrond and his Ladies sat, along with Gandalf and Ríannor, and I saw Lady Celebrían grimacing and clutching at her swollen belly, Lord Elrond’s arm all around her….
And the play and the cloak vanished from my mind like a dream upon awakening.
Would you please to inform the King and Queen that they have a baby sister? Her name is Lúthien, and it’s my hunch that she will be every bit as beautiful as her namesake ancestress. Certainly she has very lovely manners already, to wait until the play was over to decide to be born…and her mother is doing fine indeed, and her father wears happiness as a starry crown. And of course the grandmothers are ecstatic. Here’s hoping that the Royal Family will continue to grow!