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74
Waves


Dear Sam,

Well, thanks to little Lúthien, Fairwind, Embergold, Moonrise, and Ebbtide, with their mates and offspring, will be staying a few days longer than planned, and I’ve taken a short holiday from work to relax and enjoy their company while I still may. We were all guests at the Palace for a couple days, and there was an atmosphere of such joy permeating the entire place, I can scarcely describe it.

Fairwind doesn’t fancy Guilin after all; she was only sad because she would be going away soon. And also, she whispered to me, because Guilin reminded her of Darkfin somehow--yes, I remember Northlight saying he did. Strange to think they can accept him as their brother even so.

Perion told us of something that happened to him shortly before the play. He had been staying at home for a few days, and some of his sweethearts heard of it. Well, as you may suppose, they had been less than pleased at his juggling so many at one time, and so they all came in a body, six or seven of them, to his mother’s house, demanding he come out instantly. His sisters, Gildorien and Curíleth, came to the fore, the younger one, Curíleth, in the upper storey, with a barrel of walnuts—there is a grove of them all about the house, and the whole family is very fond of them, and his mother sells them also. As the offended lasses shouted him out, Curíleth began pelting them with walnuts from the window above the front-door, pulling horrible faces at them, and yelling at them to go away before she set their dog on them (said creature being actually very small and old, nearly toothless, but they didn’t know that). One or two of them took cover behind a tree, but it was not until Gildorien appeared in the doorway with a shield and spear which had belonged to their late father, threatening to skewer and roast the girls like quails that they ran off squealing! I laughed and told Perion that there was safety in numbers, but not when it came to sweethearts. He replied with a wink, “There is in sisters and walnuts, though!”

I think he may be just a bit disgruntled that Dínlad has become so popular with lasses all of a sudden! Dínlad says he certainly didn’t ask to be, and wishes they’d let him alone. They send him love-notes and sweets and such, and follow him about with moony eyes, and naturally everyone else teases him, until Perion offered him a bucket of walnuts and his dad’s spear.

“This is ALL YOUR FAULT!” Dínlad raged at me. “I’ll NEVER be able to hold my head up again! Next time you want somebody to play you, DO IT YOURSELF!”

“Some chaps don’t know when they have it good,” Perion said shaking his head, as the younger lad stormed from the room.

“Maybe Northlight could play you,” Marílen spoke up. “His eyes are like yours, and he could wear a wig. I think he looks like he could be your son. But who would play Gollum?”

Well, I sincerely hope no one will be playing me or Gollum ever again…at least not in my lifetime!

This morning Moonrise and Ebbtide and the bigger boys, Crystal and Piper, slipped away after breakfast without telling anyone where they were going or what they were about. The rest of us, after a minor grumble, went about washing up and putting the house to rights, the two little girls helping out—Summershine standing in a chair wiping the cups as Sandrose showed her how. She’d give the cup a tiny rub with the towel, then show us the dry spot, while everyone exclaimed with delight at how lovely she’d made it look, then she’d giggle and hand it to her mummy, who secretly wiped it the rest of the way dry with her apron. Onyx helped me and Northlight with the weeding of the garden. He talks to the weeds as he pulls them up, saying, “Sorry, weed, but you have to go. I think your mum wants you home,” or, “Poo, get away, you ugly old thing. Orc-flowers aren’t wanted here!”

Guilin came down the road just then, as you may well suppose, in a most merry mood. Raven rushed to him and he caught her up and swung her around as if she were Summershine’s age, and tossed Sandrose and Onyx up into the air. He kissed me and Anemone both on the tops of our heads, and might have done the same to Northlight if he hadn’t laughingly dodged him, saying, “Oh no you don’t!” We were each of us no doubt about to make some teasing remark, when we saw Moonrise and Ebbtide coming up the way…carrying a small chest between them.

I came near getting stampeded once more. They set the chest down before the terrace steps, and made a big production of asking us not to crowd around too close.

“We were going to wait until we left to present you and Nana and the rest with this as a farewell gift,” Moonrise said. “But you know Ebbtide, he gets impatient, and he nagged me into bringing it up. We took it from a pirate-vessel some time ago and hid it in the cavern under the waterfalls until the time came to leave. We wish all of you to divide it among yourselves as you see fit.”

The twins looked to each other, then to me and Anemone, then back to their brothers. I could only feel a little sadness, thinking I’d much rather have the lads and their sisters and children here than any old treasure, and it’s my guess that Anemone felt exactly the same. Raven looked dubious, glancing at her brother, then me, then Northlight, and I hoped she was not reminded of the pirate she and Guilin had fleeced so long ago.

Ebbtide grinned a little, sadly I thought too, then slowly, dramatically, they raised the lid.

There were two burlap bags within, one containing coins, the other jewels and some small daggers. A collective gasp went around as the bags were opened and the contents spilt on the ground before us.

“Ada,” Moonrise said, “you may see to the distribution. I know you probably don’t need much, but you never know when some of it may come in handy. It’s as much as we can do for you, the way you’ve taken care of our mother and brought her such joy. And certainly it’s a small reward for your deeds in bringing about peace to your own native land. So we would like you to accept this small boon from us as a token of our esteem and gratitude.”

“Thank you, my dear lads,” I said, with a tightness in my throat. “While I have already all the reward I could ever wish for myself, I am grateful that you think enough of me to present me with this bounty. I hope you don’t mind if I use my share to endow the Orphan’s Home with some much-needed facilities.”

“Not at all,” Moonrise said. “In truth, I had a feeling you would do just that.”

“Well then,” I said, “the rest of you may choose what you wish. My Love, you first?”

“I have all the jewels I would ever want,” Anemone said, “but I would like to have some of these coins. They are very interesting. They must be from several different nations. I would like one of each.”

“Take whatever you wish, then, my dearest,” I said smiling. “Raven?”

She was fingering the jewels already. I thought she was a bit young to wear any yet—they looked rich and valuable indeed, and must have belonged to a queen. I had to wonder at myself allowing her to take something that was stolen property, and I rather wished our boys had let the chest be. Still, our Raven does love gems. Maybe it would do her heart good to own something very beautiful and precious…not that it had ever done Sméagol any good.

“I choose this,” she said finally, lifting up a gold chain with a pear-shaped pendant, in which was set a large and very beautiful white stone full of subtle lights and colors, surrounded by tiny diamonds and pearls and exquisite filigree work. “But I don’t want it for myself. I would give it to Lady Elwing, for she was so good to me when I was in the Palace.”

My eyebrows must have nearly touched my hairline. Everyone else looked at her in wonder. Then Anemone smiled saying, “Take it then, sweet one, and we will go and present it to her. But do you wish naught for yourself?”

Raven picked up a small fire-opal ring. “I love this,” she said slipping it onto her finger and holding it up for our admiration, and I smiled my approval. Then she looked to the twins.

They took their time, then said they didn’t know which to choose, since there were no two things alike there, except ear-rings, they fretted, and surely they would look silly going about each with one ring in one ear. Finally they asked Raven to choose for them, they being “too ridiculous” to do so. Giggling, Raven picked up a string of pearls and jade set in silver for Nightingale, and a necklace of sapphires for Gloryfall. She picked lovely necklaces for Fairwind and Embergold as well, saying they could wear them when they came to visit. And bracelets for the little girls.

Guilin chose a gorgeously gemmed dagger, along with a small pearl brooch for his lady—just the thing to clasp her fine new cloak, he said. Northlight took a mithril ring with a little eagle on it and a clear blue-green stone, although Guilin warned him not to go about calling it his precious and talking to it. I frowned to myself but said only that I thought the ring suited him well, and so it did.

Just to make the girls happy, I did end up choosing a little ruby pin for my cravat, and they said it looked “just like me,” whatever that meant. After luncheon, I asked Guilin to take the rest of the treasure to the Orphanage, and he looked touched that I would trust him to do so, and told me he would get it there safely and quickly. Raven asked if she might go along, and I said yes, if it were all right with Guilin, and he said it was.

The rest of us spent the afternoon on the beach, playing in the surf, which was high that day. I have always enjoyed watching the waves when they are high, crashing against the grey and white cliffs, taking on shades of blue and green and silver as they spread out urgently on the white sand, and sometimes idly wondering what it would be like to take a small boat and ride atop of a wave.

Today as I sat with Anemone and Northlight, watching the little ones playing, along with their mothers and daddies and aunties and uncles, I found myself expressing this thought aloud.

“Perhaps you could,” Northlight said. “If you were to take a board of teak, or something light-weight like that, and...”

“But how would I get myself out there?” I said. “I doubt I could swim out with the sea being as rough as it is, too much so for boating. I--”

“Perhaps if you ran out, then lay down on the board and pushed with your arms...” Northlight ventured.

“I doubt I would have the strength,” I hedged, almost sorry I had brought up the subject.

“I could help you,” he said. “I could get us out there, and help you to stand, and...yes, I think we could do it! What think you, Nana?”

“It would be most interesting,” Anemone said, “and far safer than riding on a dolphin, I should think,” she winked at me. I laughed.

“So where will we find this...board?” I asked.

~*~*~

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll ever forgive Galendur or Leandros for getting up this contraption for me, or Northlight for going to them about it, or myself for getting the whole idea in the first place. But here I am with it, whether I like it or not.

It’s simple enough: a long plank of wood, rounded in the front, smoothed down on top. Leandros said he had read in a book of people native to islands far away, riding the waves on boards, and there were some drawings in it, and so he had modeled my board on these illustrations. He had lost the book, more’s the pity, so he’d had to rely on memory. He said, with twinkling eyes, that in the pictures, as far as he could recall, people didn’t wear any clothes, at least naught more than a strap or flap over their nether regions. I said I thought I’d wear a bit more, and he laughed. I had a feeling he’d have far more to laugh about once I made my first attempt at using his board!

So there we were: myself and my family, along with Galendur and Leandros and their families, at my cove, and I hoping hard that it would rain, or the sea would be calm and flat, but no such good fortune was to be mine that day. The waves were quite exuberant, in fact.

Northlight said he’d try out the board first. Dínlad, Marílen, Lyrien, Sandrose, Crystal, Piper, and Onyx watched with great interest, while little Summershine kept close to her mum and Raven and Little Iorhael. The boys wore old breeches, the girls in the little bathing-costumes designed for them by Anemone, consisting of a knee-length pair of drawers and a very short dress of the same material, in bright colors so as to be visible in the water, in case of accident. For grown ladies the costume was similar, except the drawers came to below the knee, the skirt just short of it. There were no sleeves, and I had my doubts about my ladies and lasses appearing so exposed in public, but as long as they wore the suits only among family and friends, I would resign myself.

Naturally Northlight got the board out easily enough. He took it under one arm and plunged into the water, and I could see nothing of him for a moment, then the wave rose, hugely, and there he was, lying full length on his belly, smiling and waving to us…and then, unbelievably, he suddenly sprang to his feet, and stood atop of the board, arms stretched out to his sides! He did not stand straight up, to be sure, but stooped a bit, his backside sticking out and his head forward as though about to take a dive, and Leandros said that yes, that was the way he remembered the men doing in the drawings, making for good balance. The children cheered and jumped about, and Anemone watched in proud delight, and I had to grin. I’d no notion of standing on the board myself, but of lying or sitting only. Would they expect me to stand also?

Then Moonrise and Ebbtide must try it, and Ebbtide had to show off, wiggling his rump then standing on one foot and waving his arms about, and he fell right into the surf, and had a time retrieving the board. The twins had their turn, and they would both go and share the board, and one hopped onto the back of the other, straddling her waist and waving her arms. They received considerable praise by all. Even Fairwind went and tried it, and did the best of any after Northlight, I thought.

And then I had my turn.

Northlight told me not to worry, he would tow me out, since he didn’t fancy the thought of me getting swallowed up by a huge wave. He bade me straddle his waist, as he held to the board with one arm, and he dived right in, and I found myself riding along on his back as though he were a dolphin although I could see him, vaguely, beneath the water, in his own shape. We went a good distance thus, and then he instructed me to lie full length on the board and paddle with my arms, and he would tell me when to catch the wave, and if I should fall in he would fetch me right up. He told me not to try to stand, just lie on my belly and hold to the board…not that it was necessary for him to tell me this. I’m not sure how it happened—I think Northlight helped in some mysterious way—but in a moment I found myself on top of the swell, shooting along at a most incredible speed, holding on for dear life, flying headlong, my wet hair standing straight out, most likely, and I started to get to my knees, but thought better of it, remaining as I was with my backside sticking up like a cow starting to rise. Then I felt a sharp slap on my rear and I flattened myself out once more, until the wave bore me in and broke, and I quit the board and let the surf bear me along until I was in the shallow, skidding along the soft sand--well for me that I was a good swimmer--whereupon I looked behind me for the board and saw it sliding along and stick in the sand. And I stood up, amid the cheering, and lifted my arms into the air saying, “I did it!” feeling pretty proud of myself...until I realized, and very quickly, that I had a crab down my breeches..........

Well, I shouldn’t wonder if word of this new activity gets around very fast on the Island and it catches on…but don’t worry, my Sam—you will NOT be expected to try it!

~*~*~

Dear Sam,

Well...I went back to work today. Nessima was singing as she came in. I scarcely knew her for herself. She says she will go to the dance-theater with Guilin day after tomorrow. I gave her a big impish grin and told her she looked lovely in stars. Her cheeks grew very pink indeed!

Barathon met me at the Flamingo’s Roost at lunch. Of all the actors in the Company, he counts as my favorite. There’s a modesty about him that most of the others are just a bit shy of, and although his sense of humor does verge on the coarse at times, it is never malicious or out of control, and his laughter is as apt to be directed at himself as at others.

He offered to buy lunch for me, along with the ale, and I decided to let him. I had a strong feeling as to what he was going to ask of me.

“Fairwind is a most lovely girl,” he said as the maid whisked off with our order. “To get straight to the point…well, to be truthful…I mean, she is most lovely, and…”

“Yes?” I grinned over my ale mug.

“Well, not to beat around the bush or anything, and perhaps I shouldn’t be so bold seeing as how I don’t really know her so well yet, but still…” He paused, clearing his throat. “Well, why fudge around? Better to just have it out once and for all, get down to brass tacks and not waste time with all the why’s and wherefore’s and what have you’s. So, I’ll just out with it, and save us both the trouble, and have done. The truth is…to put it plainly…I’m dead gone on her.”

I smiled. Then remembered she would be leaving in a day or two, and the smile faded. Barathon set down his mug. He is not especially tall for an Elf, but he is muscular and strongly built, and while he dresses tastefully he can scarcely be described as a dandy. His eyes are a soft grey flecked with hazel, a humorous and kindly twinkle in them always, his cheekbones broad and tanned, his jaw and chin square and firm, and his chestnut hair blazes quite red in strong sunlight. Altogether he appears manly and robust, and from what I hear, such make the best husbands.

“I know we are a bit mismatched,” he said, “but…well, I’ve been watching her for some time. One day we were speaking of Inzilbêth, and Fairwind said she didn’t wish to speak harshly of her, because you wouldn’t like it. And--”

“Yes, I heard,” I said. “I was coming out of the hall at that moment.”

“Did you now? Well, I thought she was pretty special even before, but I think that’s what pushed me over the edge. A lady who won’t speak ill of another is hard to find. My mother could take a lesson or two from her. Not that Nana’s so bad as all that, but she does like gossip. To be sure, she’s more apt to criticize ladies’ gowns than their characters, and if it must be one or the other, I’d prefer she’d go for the clothing. She’s widowed, you know, and lives with me now. I also have my little nephew with me. He lives at the Orphanage, but comes to stay with me on weekends. He’s a very nice and smart little lad and I dote on him. Perhaps you know him, Emerion is his name? About this high, dark hair and eyes, likes to keep his nose in a book but quick with a smile?”

“Of course I know him,” I beamed. “A boy after my own heart, in truth. But why does he live at the Orphanage?”

“Well, he’s an orphan,” Barathon explained, leaning back in his chair, “and so he feels more comfortable going to school at the Home than elsewhere, not having parents like the others. And he’s a sociable little chap, and likes to be around others of his age—it’s like having a good many brothers, he says. He’s an odd little lad in some ways. Sometimes I think he’s trying to make up for not having any brothers or sisters of his own by staying there. But here’s what: I offered to visit him during the week, but he says no, because he doesn’t wish to make the others feel badly about not having anyone to come see them. Because few of them do, you know. How’s that for a little fellow? But he comes home with me on the weekends, and we go out fishing, or boating, or watching a game or something. Sometimes I slip over there and watch him play on the grounds, from a distance. So if you ever catch me lurking about, you’ll know I’m not up to no good, just watching my nephew. I’m not sure how Fairwind would feel about the whole business, however. Perhaps if she were to accept me, and she was all right with it, he could come home to stay with us. That’s why I came to you. And, well, I know she’s a princess and all that. I’ve a bit of noble blood, and…”

“I don’t mind if you’re not a prince,” I said chuckling a bit. “I was made one, I wasn’t born one, remember. And I’d likely forget that I was, if people didn’t constantly remind me. I would be pleased to have you as a son-in-law if Fairwind is agreeable to it, noble blood or no. But the thing is, I think she is going away soon. I…”

I was uncertain just how much to tell him. Perhaps I should leave it to her.

“Also, she may not be able to have children,” I added. “She is fond of them, and I think she would love Emerion. Maybe she would even be willing to adopt others. You may speak your mind to her if you like, but I must warn you not to get your hopes up. And if you can persuade her to stay, I would be most grateful. You may see her in Temple tomorrow.”

“I’m most obliged,” he said, his face softening into a golden beauty that made me smile before I knew what I was about. “I’m not such a serious actor as the others, I should tell you. Perhaps that’s because I’m really not so good as all that. I’m the owner of a sugar-plantation, and that’s what I do between plays. I’ve a nice house by the sea-side, not far from here. She’d have a nice life of it, not too soft, but she wouldn’t have to work her fingers to the bone either. There’s work to do, but she’d have help. And if she still wanted to act, why, that would be fine with me. If you ever want to come and see the place, just say the word. Bring the whole family if you like, there’s plenty of room.”

“I’d like to see it,” I said as the maid brought our orders. He told me more about himself during the meal, how his brother and sister-in-law were killed by marauders when Emerion was but a tiny tyke, and he himself did his share of fighting. He had a fine horse, and he liked to ride, along with acting, and growing things, and yes, it was true that he had some rough edges, but surely they could smooth out under the influence of such as Fairwind, he said. I found myself hoping they wouldn’t smooth out too much. I thought him a bit of all right just as he was.

My spirits were high as I went back to the orphanage. They lasted well into the afternoon, although I did manage to keep my mind on what I was doing for the most part.

Then a white dove lit on the window-sill in my office, and fluttered and paced, seeming very agitated…not very dove-like I thought, and I tried to concentrate on the boy I was counseling, wishing the bird to go away. Fortunately our time was nearly at an end, so I sent my lad off with a strawberry-tart and words of encouragement. And as he went out the door, I turned my eyes to the dove again, and suddenly there was Fairwind standing before the window, the bird gone.

“Ada,” she said raking a distraught hand through her hair, “please come home right away. We need you.”

“What is it, dear one? Is someone hurt?” I felt a rising of panic.

“It’s—it’s Nana. She knows--about Darkfin. She heard Ebbtide and Jasmine talking of him. I was with her, and I told her all. Please come home now!”

~*~*~*~*~

A/N: "But a diversion the most common is upon the Water, where there is a very great Sea, and surf breaking on the Shore. The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plan[k] about their Size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their Arms are us'd to guide the plank, they wait the time of the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plan[k] so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direct. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much prais'd. On first seeing this very dangerous diversion I did not conceive it possible but that some of them must be dashed to mummy against the sharp rocks, but jus[t] before they reach the shore, if they are very near, they quit their plank, & dive under till the Surf is broke, when the piece of plank is sent many yards by the force of the Surf from the beach. The greatest number are generally overtaken by the break of the swell, the force of which they avoid, diving and swimming under the water out of its impulse. By such like excercises, these men may be said to be almost amphibious. The Women could swim off to the Ship, & continue half a day in the Water, & afterwards return. The above diversion is only intended as an amusement, not a tryal of skill, & in a gentle swell that sets on must I conceive be very pleasant, at least they seem to feel a great pleasure in the motion which this Exercise gives."

Thus, Lieutenant James King, commander of the Discovery, 1779, recorded in the ship's log the first written description of Hawaiian surfing by a European.

From http://www.surfingforlife.com/history.html



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