Jasmine is back! Where and how they found her, I am not sure, for in all the hubbub I could hardly make out what anyone was saying. Ebbtide is happy now, and that’s what matters. I privately told the others we must take Jasmine as she was, rather than as we would have her, and through love and example we might sow beautiful things in her so she will grow inside. Raven immediately gave her all the little gem-stones she had picked up for herself, and Jasmine looked touched, and leaned over shyly to kiss her cheek. How did I ever come up with such sweet children?
Fairwind has accepted Barathon as her bridegroom. Emerion will come live with them after the wedding, and Fairwind has spoken of adopting him as their son. I’ve asked her to wait at least six months before marrying, to get to know her future husband really well. There is quite a flurry going on now, what with designing the bridal gown, who will be in the wedding, and all the rest of it. What with all the excitement, Anemone seems to have enough to keep her mind off Darkfin.
Now Moonrise and Sweetfern wish to have a Wedding also, as do Ebbtide and Jasmine. After seeing Fairwind’s delight over being the second of her kind to have one, Sweetfern said she would be willing to wait until after Fairwind’s to have hers. Fairwind looked touched, and told Sweetfern to go ahead and be wed whenever she wished; she would not mind being the third or even the fourth. I hinted strongly that I thought it would be more fitting, if they would live on the Island, to be married. And so it looks as though I may be performing a double wedding soon! They are having houses built here in the cove, which is large enough to accommodate a small village.
The twins had found a nice place in the water to make their home, but seeing as how so many of their siblings are living “in the air,” they have decided they want to also. They are the sort of girls who like being around lots of people, and the place in the water is “too pokey” for them any more. They now share the guest-room, to Raven’s delight, but they talk of having a house of their own.
Embergold has become concerned with the plight of widows on the Island. Of course they are much better off here than they would be in Middle-earth, but many of those without children have a hard and lonely time of it still. She proposed setting up a communal home, where they could all live together and be company and support for one another, and Anemone said she should propose this idea to the Queen, and so they did. And what do you think? Gandalf offered his own house, saying it was too big for him and Ríannor and Dûndeloth, there were so many rooms and it was a great bother keeping them all up. The widows could double up perhaps, the bedrooms being fairly large, and they could use the chamber Bilbo and I once shared as a work-room, receive visitors in the salon, take counseling in the library, and rotate kitchen, cleaning, and gardening duties. Gandalf and Ríannor went to live at the Palace, for the time being; I think they are planning to build a home out in the country where they can raise horses. Dûndeloth took a flat near the College. And there is a gardener’s cottage out back where Embergold and the children can live. Fairwind will stay with her until her wedding, which will make it much handier for her to study healing with Lady Elwing. One of the widows is studying with her also. They all have taken strongly to Fairwind; one of them calls her “the gentlest soul she ever saw.” So it looks as though she will have no shortage of friends in the City.
And Embergold takes the running of the Widows’ Home very seriously. She conducts poetry-readings and singings there once a week, and holds Philosophical Discussions and group-counselings in the library, and the ladies get into it all with a good deal of enthusiasm. I could hardly help but notice how much happier they seem than when the home was first set up just a few weeks ago.
I do hope Guilin isn’t getting dismayed at the idea of marriage! He talks of it still, but says he’s not sure what he and Nessima intend to do yet. She does not want to leave her post, and he does not want work that will necessitate his staying in one place all the time. But surely it made her uneasy knowing his route took him into contact with lovely ladies all day! Even if most of them did have husbands.
And so I asked Talmar’s second-eldest son, Túlian, if he might like to buy the rights to my frozen-cream confection. He is in partnership with his brother, who runs a bakery, but has been talking of branching off on his own (I got the distinct impression that the brothers do not agree on a good many things, and that Túlian and his sister-in-law are not on the best of terms) if he could come up with a good business idea. Túlian is sweet on Haldan the confectioner’s eldest daughter Almárëa, but must get established before he can speak for her, and I thought perhaps Guilin, with his head for business, could help him get started. Well, it turns out that Guilin is even more clever than I supposed, and had all kinds of ideas, and had been turning them over in his mind ever since he first tasted my concoction, and now he and Túlian are partners, and Túlian and Almárëa are officially betrothed. And Guilin came up with the idea of making a kind of sweet flat-bread cone in which to pour the frozen cream, and sprinkle bits of chocolate and chopped nuts on top. They turned the sweet-shop into a small café specializing in all manner of frozen confections. The ice-house is in back, and Guilin got the idea to put a block in his wagon and make up a bunch of the cream-filled cones, which he inserted into racks full of round holes set over the ice, and sell them all around the edge of town to the youngsters. He had to rig up a canvas covering for the wagon to keep the sun from melting his wares too quickly, and he had it made in bright colors with gay streamers fluttering from it, and a contraption of wind-chimes and bells hung in the back to get the children’s attention. Of course they anxiously await his coming once a week, even make up songs about it!
So who is peddling the hair-formula now? Ebbtide! Jasmine goes with him. Somehow I don’t think they bring in as much money from it as Guilin used to, but it’s a start for them. Moonrise helps Northlight to maintain the grounds, so that he has more time to devote to his studies. Northlight has decided he wants to become a professor of Marine Sciences. There is no such course at the college now, but the Dean likes the idea of having one, and who better to teach it than Northlight? Save perhaps Anemone, and teaching the little ones seems more her calling.
Well, it looks as though little Lúthien has a champion already. This morning her parents brought her into the Temple to be dedicated, and as they carried her to the rostrum, wrapped in white lace, Little Iorhael cried out “LU!” and jumped up before his mummy and daddy could get their wits about them, scrambled over the laps of the startled temple-goers, then ran up the aisle on his chubby little legs shouting, “Lu! Lu! LUUUUU!!” at the top of his voice. Lady C. turned with a delighted smile and began carrying the baby to him, and bent down so that Little Iorhael could see her, and he looked upon her with the most sweet, blissful smile, whispering “Luuuu” and touching her soft pink cheek with a reverent fingertip. I heard Lyrien whisper to her parents, “Did you ever see ANYTHING so sweet?” which provoked soft laughter all around, and Little Lúthien smiled ever so slightly. I think she is already starting to resemble Lady Galadriel!
Moonrise has finished carving the stone for little Bud. He used pure white marble this time, and has set it across from the larger stone. It has lily-flowers carved all about the name.
In Memory of
A cruel Frost seized her
before she had a Chance
to peep through the morning Mist
and unfold her first Petal
yet the brief Bud
of her appearing
was sweet beyond Measure
and ever will she bloom
in the Hearts of those who loved her.
Rest gently, little Sister
where the Blossoms never wither
and wait for me in gladness
till the Music calls my name.
Last night was our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated our love in our favorite place, in the little cave, and it was wonderful beyond all imagining. And in the morning we saw that the tide had finally washed away my words on the beach. They have served their purpose. The little stones remained, however, and we took them to Embergold to help her with the Widow’s Home.
Now we sit on the beach in the late afternoon, watching the children play in the water and sand. Onyx is making crab houses for Summershine, who softly sings a little song I taught her as she watches. Crystal, Piper, and Emerion are building a truly complicated castle, Sandrose standing by making criticisms and suggestions from time to time, then running out to see what the little ones are doing. She seems a bit dismayed that her little cousin has usurped her place in her granddad’s lap; she says nothing but looks dolefully at us as I hold Onyx and Summershine, which is a great reproach to me. I think I need a bigger lap!
Barathon takes a stick and writes something in the sand. Fairwind looks down at it and giggles, and the boys come running to inspect, then shrug and go back to their castle with baffled expressions. I chuckle. Moonrise, Sweetfern, Ebbtide, and Jasmine are wave-riding, while the twins and Raven try out a few dance steps to Northlight’s flute—trying to remember the hornpipe, I think, as Embergold sits beside her brother and watches with a wistful half-smile. I’m hoping she, too, will find a mate, but she says she doesn’t want one, she is content with the children and her work with the widows. I look to Anemone from time to time, who watches all with an expression of serenity and happiness, drumming her fingers in time to the music, and I think of the dream I had of Sméagol and Darkfin. Sam, please keep an ear peeled for any mention of someone by the name of Greenjade—I’m sure you’ll never see him in the Shire, since he is of the Big Folk now, but perhaps you may hear of him elsewhere!
And I look out and wonder how it was that my lady who had turned out all these miraculous, lovable beings could also have produced such a one…but life is full of mysteries we will never fully discern. Where the lights are brightest, the shadows are deepest, after all....And now I can see the Beacon’s first glimmer, and I remember the first time I saw it glow was exactly five years ago this very night. And I can hear Guilin’s wagon with its tinkly chimes rattling up the road, and the children make a mad rabbit dash, all but Summershine, who stumbles into Anemone's arms, and we look down at the precious, sleepy toddler and then at each other, as Guilin pretends to run out of the cones, then remembers that he might have one or two left…no, wait, there are three…why, look here’s another, and another, and…
Sam, I know you can’t come for a very long time yet, but I miss you, and so wish you could be here now. You, and all the others. Both our families all together and blessed in the Light, in the silver air of the West.
I love you, Sam...........
A/N: And here, alas, it ends...but wait! There are two sequels: "Journey out of Darkness" being the story of Greenjade and Sméagol, and "West of the Moon, East of the Sun", which is of the long-awaited reunion of Frodo and Sam. They can be read in either order, but I'd recommend "West of the Moon" first.