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40
Letters, the White Tree, & Plans

Dalf:

At the House, we all went into the library, where Silma opened the pouch and emptied its contents on the desk: three necklaces, several bracelets, two brooches, and a pair of earrings. She separated out the brooches; one was a spray of delicate white jade flowers on a slender gold stem with green leaves, while the other was an equally delicate circle of similar white flowers interspersed with leaves. “I always admired these,” she admitted.

“They are exquisitely done,” I agreed. “Elvish work, probably from Eregion.”

Callina looked awed. “Grandda saved a Elf an’ a Ranger from the North from bein’ ‘urt by some orcs oncet, right afore ‘im an’ Gran wed,” she said. “Gran said as ‘ow these things come a month later, in this pouch, with a real nice note.”

“A note?” Silma repeated. “I heard the story several times, of course, but I never knew about a note.” She felt the pouch, and we all heard a crackle of paper. She opened it as wide as the drawstrings would allow and drew out a much-creased slip of parchment, carefully trimmed down from a larger size, and unfolded it. A slip of parchment with a wax seal fell out.

“A star and a G,” she noted, before reading aloud:

To Jehan Son of Jehan Son of Jecais
Fox Run Farm
The Pelennor
Gondor

Greetings!

My son and Lord Elrohir have told me that your warning as well as your
aid helped to save both their lives against a troop of orcs. Both marveled at
your prowess with bow and staff and at your bravery.

You mentioned to them that you were on your way home from a fruitless
attempt to find a bridal token for the woman who is soon to be your wife. May
I offer these few things for her? Lord Elrond, Elladan Elrohir and Estel’s
father,likewise hopes that you will find the bow and quiver of arrows a suitable
substitute for the ones damaged in the fight. You cannot know how very
important your intervention has been nor how great the debt that we owe
you. That is not yet fully repaid, but should you need aid, then please send to Lord
Elrond at Imladris, which some call Rivendell, and it shall not go unanswered.

--G.


“Sweet Valar and Eru too!” she gasped.

“We never knowed ‘oo this G was,” Calina said. “Grandda said as ‘ow ‘twas the finest bow he ever drawed. I don’t know what ‘appened to it.”

“I do,” said Kenndahl unexpectedly. “Since Jehan couldn’t use it, Grandda Jehan ‘id it with me a-‘elpin’ afore ‘e died. ‘E was feart ‘at Eban’d break or sell it, an’ ‘e didn’t want that t’ ‘appen.”

“Do you know what you have here?” Silma asked weakly. “This is a letter from the Lady Gilraen, the King’s late mother! Your grandda saved the lives of the King and his brother, Lord Elrohir!”

“Merciful Valar!” I breathed. “Think how differently things would have turned out if he had not!”

“Are the earrings from the Elves too?” Callina asked, indicating them, perfect tiny green jade ovals set in gold.

“Surely,” I agreed.

“Oh, I cannot accept these now! Callina, they should remain in the family, with you,” said Silma.

Callina gently pushed the earrings over to the brooches. “Pardon, my lady, but ‘twas what Gran wanted, wot the King said, and ‘oo I—we—” she amended after an exchange of glances with her husband and a slight nod from him “—want. They be yourn. If so be’s you someday think my Almiry or Liek’s wife when he weds worthy o’ ‘em, then I shan’t say nay. But right now, they be yours.”

“Then the other items must remain with you,” she declared.

“I think you should keep the pouch an’ letter, too,” Callina said. “They all go together, like.”

“Thank you. Have I your permission to show them to the King?”

“Iffen you think he’d be int’rested,” she said shyly.

“My lady, ‘scuse me, but I don’t rightly understand,” Kenndahl said. “’Oo was this Estel ‘at was so important? I ‘eared of this Lord Elrond, but if so be ‘e’s Elvish, ‘ow can ‘e be the King’s father?”

“Lady Gilraen was Lord Aragorn’s mother. He’s taken the name of Elessar as his name to
rule under, but he was born Aragorn son of Arathorn,” I explained. “When his father was killed, Lady Gilraen begged Lord Elrond for help. The Enemy hoped to kill all of his family, and she clearly saw her danger and that of her infant son’s. So, their deaths from a fever were faked, and he sheltered them both at Rivendell. Only he, his sons Elladan and Elrohir, his daughter Arwen, and Gilraen knew who they truly were. The boy was given the use-name Estel by his mother, which means hope, and his true parentage and destiny were not revealed to him until he grew up, reared until then as Lord Elrond’s foster son. ‘Tis why he calls Lords Elladan and Elrohir his brothers.”

“Ooooh,” breathed Almirwen, her face rapt. “’Magine growin’ up with Elves!”

“Almiry loves anythin’ ‘bout the Elves,” Kenndahl smiled fondly at her. “This ‘ere’s ‘er favorite tale ‘bout her Great-Grandda.”

“’Tis a worthy tale of which to be proud,” I told them.

Meanwhile, Silma had opened a drawer of her desk and taken out a tiny Dwarven-made box I had not seen before, holding it out. “Will this do for the other jewelry?” she asked, adding another pouch made of blue velvet to put the box in.

“It truly will. Thank you, Aunt S—my lady,” said Calina, and presently had it all tucked away down her bodice out of sight.

They dined with us, painfully aware of their table manners, and then were whisked off to bed by the maids. Silma soon followed, wearied by all the stress of the events.

Silma:

Retiring to my own room, I felt at last free to open the missive given to me by Master Palanthrar. I had been greatly astonished by his revelations, and deeply moved by Jehan’s care of me. How like him! How blessed I had been by his love!

As to his sister’s behavior and the events of the trial—I knew that I would need time to assimilate all that had happened there.

The letter was addressed in Jehan’s neat script, sealed with his plain J. I carefully opened it and read:

To My Wife Lindisilma Kuranya Clerk
Minas Tirith
Gondor

Dearest Honey-wife,

Master Palanthrar will tell you the details of what I have devised for you.
Please forgive me this deception, especially as you have struggled for so long
and so devotedly with and for me. I know that you have often fretted about the
necessary funds for my care, but I could not rest easily leaving no provision
for you.

I know your generous and caring nature, but I do not want you to go against
my wishes in having Palanthrar invoke the clause in Father’s will evicting
Josia and her brood (with the possible exception of Callina, Kenndahl and
Amirwen, Liek and Jonnat) from the farm, should I die before I make my
desires known myself.

I am sorry that you will have to deal with her at my death, but I doubt very
much that we shall ever reconcile in my lifetime. I have the right to be buried
in the family plot, I wish to be buried there, and Palanthrar has the monies
to convey my body there in its coffin (if he is out of the city, bespeak his clerk,
who will be informed of my wishes as well) and will arrange the stone and feast
here. I do want the feast here in the city, for most of my life has been spent here,
and most of my friends are here; some could not afford to travel to the farm,
and I will not have her being rude to them there. If she wishes to have a
memorial feast at the farm for the neighbors, she can—but she will have to
pay for it herself. I doubt that there will be one. Mayhap here, in less
familiar surroundings, she will be politer—although I don’t expect it.

Should I die during the War, or right after it, then I don’t desire the feast.
Prices will likely be higher, and folk dealing with their own griefs and losses.
If for some reason, such as a siege or the Pelennor being overrun with the
Enemy’s forces, that I cannot be conveyed there, don’t distress yourself. The
important things to me are how I have spent my life and my hope is in meeting
you in Nando’s (1) Halls afterwards, not what becomes of my outward seeming.

Use what I have left as best you can, my dearest. You have never complained
as to how little that has been, and I have tried not to worry overmuch as to your
future. You may laugh, my honey, as to what I write now, for you know that I
have ever prided myself on my rational outlook. I cannot understand your
ability to See; it baffles me.

I write this after you have gone out, and after I woke from a dream like no
other I have ever had. I dreamed that our city was under siege, that the Great
Gates were being battered by some huge force, and that you had gotten me
into the cart drawn by our dear Rimbor, and were leading him up through the
city to the Houses. Missiles were being launched over the walls, probably by a
trebuchet or catapult, and rained down around us—and they were the severed
heads of our soldiers. I saw one hit the pavement, and roll right out of his helm,
poor fellow, and another almost trip you. A sliver of stone from a damaged
building struck poor Rimbor down, and you dragged him to one side after
unhitching him, then hitched yourself to the harness and began to drag me
upwards. I longed to cry out to you to stop, but (you know how it is in
nightmares) could not. I felt something trickling down my face, and saw blood
dripping onto my sleeve, but felt no pain. You were laboring up the slope from
one Circle to another, determinedly going onward, propelled by your will and
heart.

A Dwarf appeared, and spoke to us, before gently putting you aside and taking
your place. I envied his strength while being grateful for his kindness to us. He
took us to a small shed, after a Healer refused to tend me at the Houses, and I
knew I was dying. But the Valar granted me something else in my dream: I saw
that the Dwarf, whose name I wish I knew, looked upon you with love, and I
knew that he was a good and worthy being.

You have ever laughed when I have told you my belief that you will remarry
once I am gone, until it was a joke between us. But it is not a jape, Silma! You
do not see your own worth. It sets my mind and heart at ease, my beloved wife,
to know that you will not be alone, and if he can give you children, I will rejoice.
If this is a true Foretelling, and if you feel love for him, I pray that you will not
turn aside from it through any thought of my displeasure—or Josia’s.

Indeed, I dreamed that I saw you both pledging to each other in a grove of
wondrous trees, near a lake, surrounded by a fine company that included
Dwarves, Elves, and many handsome Men and Women, among them Lady
Silwen and Palanthrar. The sight filled me with joy! And I bethought me that
I was flying, as you know I have often longed to do, over the Sea that I have
never seen, until I came to a beautiful, shining land, and then I woke with tears
of happiness upon my face.

I do not know if this is a true Dream or merely the result of my own worries,
but I choose to believe that it is True. I pray that it is.

Dearest Honey-wife Silma, you are the greatest blessing of my life, and I have
not begrudged one pang, one pain, that enabled me to stay with you. It has ever
amazed me that Eru graced me with your love.

Live in joy is the eternal prayer of

Your (current) husband,

Jehan Clerk,
Son of Jehan Farmer


I wept for a long time, tears that eased my heart.

Dalf:

The next day, Silma went with Rhûk to visit Akesh at the Houses of Healing, before bringing him back with her for the noon morsel. Kenndahl, Callina, Amirwen all looked tense at first, although I also realized that all of them were quietly watching and copying our table manners—as Rhûk was. His Westron had much improved, and so, Silma reported, had Akesh’s. The Healers intended to release him the following day.

The meal was almost ended when Fiy came in.

“You be late, lass. Make your ‘scuses to Lady Silma,” said Callina.

She bobbed an awkward curtsey in Silma’s direction and said, “Sorry, m’lady. I ain’t eatin’ ‘ere.”

“Why not?” asked Kenndahl.

“’Cos I jus’ come t’ tell you I ain’t a-goin’ back t’ the farm,” she said.

Calina was plainly speechless; Kenndahl said, “Now, just a minute, lass!”

“I be a Woman growed,” she said with the first spark of spirit I had ever seen in her. “I be a-goin’ t’ wed Liek whenever ‘e’s ‘lowed, an’ I ain’t a-goin’ t’ wait far off whiles ‘e’s ‘ere wi’ all these city wenches ‘round ‘im. I got me a position an’ a place t’ bide as the Fallen Dragon’s kitchen-maid, may’ap be one o’ the chamber-maids later, an’ at a good wage. I’ll be earnin’ ten bronze a week, plus m’ room an’ board,” she added proudly.

It was almost comic to witness the changes of expression on those good folk’s faces; clearly none of them had ever expected such enterprise from the shy, almost mute young Woman who had so clung to their son.

“The Fallen Dragon is a good inn,” I said. “I stayed there myself when I first came here.”

“So Mistress Rhylla telled me, my lord,” she said with a nod.

“If you have difficulties, you will let me know?” Silma asked.

“Aye, m’ lady. An’ I’ll write oncet a month t’ let you know ‘ow Liek does, do I see him.”

Callina sighed and embraced her. “Then stay with all good luck, Fiy.”

Kenndahl contented himself with a nod. “Iff’n you decide you don’t like the city, you be welcome at the farm,” he said gruffly.

Amirwen looked briefly envious but sighed and smiled and embraced her as well. Farewells said, Fiy hurried out.


After the meal, all of us except for Rhûk, who went with Gimli and the other Dwarves up to the Citadel to meet with Faramir, and Lady Silwen, who went out to visit friends, adjourned to the library.

“As the one who has the latest news, Tuor, can you tell us the state of the farm?” Silma asked.

“Aye, my lady, I can. I rode out to see it for myself. Master Kenndahl, Mistress Callina, I can tell you that the house and barn are intact, although the goods within were rummaged, fouled, smashed or stolen, and they are unroofed. The shed built over the springhouse was collapsed, but I think the spring within may be unharmed, only blocked by the wreckage. All stock was driven off, all crops trampled, all trees and bushes destroyed.”

“Even the Furry Oak(1)?” asked Amirwen, tears filling her eyes.

“It was pulled over, Mistress Amirwen. I am sorry; it looked a noble tree.”

“Da’s seven times’ great-grandsire brung it from the Ephel Dúath,” whispered Callina, as stricken as her daughter.

“And the orchard?” Silma asked. “The fruit and nut trees? The gardens?”

He shook his head. “All gone, my lady. Many of the neighbors suffered likewise, but this farm seemed one of the hardest hit. The buildings being stone fared better than those of wood, which are entirely gone.”

“’Cos we r’sisted ‘stead o’ fleein’ like the rest,” said Kenndahl bitterly. “A wonder we wasn’t all kilt dead afore the battle moved closer to the city.” Squaring his shoulders, he took his wife and daughter’s hands and said, “Jus’s good t’ know where we stand. I thank you, Master Tuor, for the knowin’. Couldn’t a’ been easy t’ tell us.”

Tuor looked surprised by the comment. For the first time, his dry tone held a tinge of emotion. “It could not be easy to hear this of your home, Master Kenndahl.”

“Do you still wish to return?” I asked.

All of them—including Silma—looked at me as if I was demented, but I thought it a fair question. If all seams of ore and gem-stones are mined, we Dweorg seek a new home.

“Best we start ‘ome t’morrow, so’s t’ get started on r’buildin’,” declared Kenndahl. “Master Tuor, c’n you tell us, please, wot aid might the King be a-offerin’ t' the Pelennor folks? Will there be forms an’ such-like t’ fill out? C’n we have an extry copy t’ take with us, so’s we c’n show our neighbors wot they’ll need t’ ‘ave, an’ where t’ get it?”

“Your neighbors?” repeated Tuor.

“A lot o’ ‘em be kin t’ us through Gran and Grandda’s sibs,” Callina explained. “We’ll ‘elp each other. Lucky ‘tis spring yet; may’ap we c’n get in a garden at least, an’ may’ap some ‘ay, ‘f we can find a plow-beast t’ draw a plow, ‘f any’s left in the area.”

Amirwen said matter-of-factly, “Didn’t Gran tell us ‘er great-grandda ‘itched ‘isself to the plow one year, an’ ‘is son druv ‘im, when their ‘orses ot et by wolves?”

“Aye,” said Callina. “’Twas the year o’ the murrain as wiped out the ‘erd. We was mostly dairy farmers, y’ see,” she explained to Tuor and me. “’Ad one o’ the finest farms in the Pelennor, an’ one o’ the finest ‘erds. Our bull was a Kingstead(2), crossed with a Longhorn(3). Da’s cattle in Belfalas’re for eatin’, not for milk an’ cream an’ cheese an’ butter like ourn. We prided ourselves on our dairy, see, afore that an’ oncet it got built back up. We was only down to three cows when the War started, but ‘tis sad t’ think o’ ‘em inside an orc’s belly, or a troll’s.”

Good cows, all three,” said Kenndahl mournfully, and the two Women nodded sadly. “Dunno as you can understand that, my lord,” he added, glancing at me.

“I’ve never had aught to do with cows, Master Kenndahl,” I told him, “but I did become somewhat fond of a team of mules I once spent a great deal of time driving.”

“I thought Dwarves stayed in their caves, a-makin’ things out o’ metal an’ jewels an’ ‘at,” said Almirwen artlessly.

“Some of us do,” I replied. “Some of us are warriors, to protect our folk. Some of us have to travel, to sell our goods.”

“But he also makes beautiful, beautiful things,” Silma said with such pride I almost blushed. “He was called Master Redglass, before his father became King Under the Lonely Mountain.”

“’Cos you only made things out o’ red glass?” Callina asked.

“Nay, Mistress Callina, because I invented a new method of coloring blown glass and a new tint of red.”

“Ain’t red red?” asked Kehdahl and as one, the Women said, “Nay!”

“Men!” sighed Callina.

Kenndahl looked baffled but rallied. “No offense, Lord Dalfinor, but c’n we talk more ‘bout the farm?”

“Of course, although I would be happy to show you the Helídain (4) guildhall and shop, the Glassworks, on the Fourth Circle some time. They do wonderful glass using many Númenórean techniques, although they don’t do as much blown glass as I expected,” I said. “But it is the largest of its kind in Gondor, if not all Endor.”

“Mayhap,” suggested Tuor, “you might want to make a list of the things you think you will most need to begin.”

The ensuing discussion was lengthy; I had had no idea that so many different tools were used on a farm, with specific names and uses, although Kenndahl was confident that if he had the metal parts, woodworking tools and wood for handles, he could make many of them himself. Callina suggested a few he had overlooked, while she and Amirwen rapidly listed more domestic items, from bedding to cookware (“Even if the pots was dented, we c’n still use ‘em, ‘though we’ll need quantities o’ soap an’ rags,” sighed Callina.) Amirwen mentioned a churn, although her mother said firmly, “We c’n beat any extra cream into butter in a jar; time to look for a churn when we ‘as a cow gives ‘nough milk t’ need one, lass,” and sighed herself as she said firmly that they needed only one set of sheets each for three beds, although they planned to use their bedrolls until after the first harvest, if they had one. I realized that they intended to seek only the barest of necessities, and their chief worry was for stock and seed. But they also composed (by dictation) a list of other tools and items for later, and a third list of things certain of their neighbors might require for more specialized pursuits, such as thatching—although Kenndahl had included some thatching tools in the first list, so they could get a roof over their heads.

At last we finished, and I suggested that they walk with me down to the Fourth Circle, to see the Glassworks. Silma and Tuor excused themselves, and I accompanied the others. They were awed by the size of the guildhall, and I obtained permission of the guildmaster to have one of the journeymen show us the works.

In the blowing chamber, Master Edwy, a Rohir whose family had transplanted to the city long before Denethor became Steward, greeted me jovially. “Master Redglass—I mean Prince Dalfinor—” he corrected himself hastily.

“Well met,” I said gladly. “Nay, here I am merely Dalf, a fellow in the craft. Allow me to present some of Lady Cormallen’s kinfolk: her niece Mistress Callina, her husband Kenndahl of Pelargir, and their daughter Amirwen. They are visiting from Fox Run Farm in the Pelennor.”

He bowed to each in turn. “At your service. I am heartily glad to wish you joy, Master Dalf! Lady Silma’s as fine a Woman as ever stepped, pure as the best crystal!”

“D’ you know m’ aunt?” gasped Callina.

“Aye, I do. Your uncle helped me by designing a special hasp I needed, a simple little clip—but nobody ever thought to make it afore he did, and ‘twas just exactly what was needed—and Lady Silma, Lady Cormallen I mean, nursed my Edmer after he was wounded in the siege. Three Healers said as how he was gone, but she wouldn’t give him up, and sat all night at his side, and do you know—” he fairly glowed with joy “—him and his wife are a-going to have our first grandchild in six months’ time!”

We congratulated him, and he leaned in closer. “I have something new to tell you of! One of the other masters, he’s gone about the city collectin’ the ash from Mount Doom, thinkin’ he can use it in the glass. Can you imagine? Ash to glass!”

“I see no reason why not,” I told him. “In fact, my own master, Estrin, has wrought some, from volcanic ash collected in the Waste, and some collected in the South. He says that where you collect it causes differences in the hue, of course.”

Edwy nodded.

I continued, “He is here in the city, helping Lord Gimli with the Great Gates. I will ask him to come and talk with you and your colleague.”

“Now that’s right kind, if Lord Gimli Elf-friend can spare him,” Edwy declared. “My thanks! And I’m bold enough to ask another favour. Could I persuade you to take a pipe and show some of these oafs—” with a wide gesture at several grinning apprentices “–how to spin something?”

“Gladly,” I agreed. After all, I had longed to do that for some time!

I borrowed a short apprentice’s leather apron, selected a pipe, got some of the raw glass on the end, heated it, added some of the ground minerals from one of the pouches I carried in my belt-pouch, and in a few moments I had a red fox, poised to run, about the size of my two hands together, which I set aside to cool.

“’At ‘ere’s a right marvel!” exclaimed Kenndahl. “Just like life!”

“’Tis only sand and a few other things, and heat, and breath,” I said, although their awed praise pleased me. Master Edwy and I engaged in a brief, technical discussion, with Kenndahl and Jonnat listening with uncomprehending interest, while the Women looked at some of the displays before it was time to walk back up to the House.

They excused themselves after the day-meal, to go in search of the Fallen Dragon and see if they could visit with Fiy, promising to return shortly. “Twill be a long journey tomorrow, so best’s we get an early start,” Kenndahl said, and the others agreed.

Silma:

Everyone was up early the next day, before dawn. I gave Callina a good-sized purse, promised her I’d send a messenger often to learn of their progress, and Silwen, Rhylla, and I walked down through the city with them. They would have gone directly out the opening for the Great Gates had I not turned towards the stable. “Best we says farewell here,” said Kenndahl. “We got a long walk a’ead o’ us.”

I turned to look at them. “You’re walking?”

“O’course, my lady.”

“’Tis a fine day for a walk,” said Callina, ignoring the dark clouds building up over the mountains, sure sign of a coming storm.

“Oh, well, if you insist,” I said. “I suppose you’re going to carry the wagon, Callina, and Kenndahl the plow, and Amirwen the cow?”

“Wot?” asked Callina.

Rhylla laughed outright, as I gestured over my shoulder at the good-sized canopied wagon with its team of two horses, a cow tied on behind, that stood nearby. A crate of squawking chickens was tied on one side, and another crate with two honking geese on the other, with a sort of sling underneath holding a small sow and her litter, next to some slats of wood. A few rabbits rode in a basket tied on next to the chickens. Oiled cloaks were neatly folded upon the seat.

“’At’s never for us!” gasped Kenndahl.

“Do you know anyone else going to Fox Run Farm?” asked Silwen drolly.

“I think they’d rather walk,” said Rhylla. “You know, farmers’re only happy with dirt on their feet!”

“Well, if you’d prefer to carry all this—” I began, and then the three of us dissolved into laughter at the stunned expressions on their faces.

Amirwen recovered first. “C’n—c’n I look inside?”

“Surely,” I said, and she lifted the canvas side to look within almost before I finished speaking.

Most of the wagon-bed was taken up with the plow and some “starter” vegetables and herbs in shallow trays of earth, balanced atop crates of tools, kitchenware and trunks of bedding, clothing, etc. A large hamper from Mistress Samno rested under the wagon-seat, along with a box of dried herbs and spices, next to a large stone jar of milk, along with a small crock of butter and a wheel of cheese, set inside a lidded box stuffed with hay to keep them cold. I had added a small Healer’s kit with basic remedies, some books, and a small lap-desk inside.

Amirwen cried out from the other side, “There’s a churn!”

“I thought you might be able to use one,” said Silwen with a smile.

Callina curtseyed deeply to her. “Th-thank you, my lady,” she almost whispered. “I don’t know why you bothered; ‘tis right kind o’ you.”

“Silma is still my daughter-in-love, my only living kin,” Silwen answered. “That makes you all my kinfolk too, if you don’t mind. And if you are going to be leaders in your community, you need the proper tools with which to do it.”

“Leaders? Us?” repeated Kenndahl.

“My understanding is that that is part of the heritage of Fox Run Farm,” she said serenely. “Your willingness to help your neighbors help themselves will make you so, and we will assist you in your plans. Prince Faramir agrees, which is why he will be sending you young fruit trees, bees and other things as soon as he can. Carefully tended, they will flourish in time. Besides, I am hoping you will furnish us with some produce this summer. Nothing is better than fresh fruit, poultry and other farm crops!”

“Wait!” called a voice, and Caic came running up to us. He bowed hurriedly. “Pardon, ladies, Master Kendhahl, Master Jonnat, but Lord Dalf is a-comin’, and bids you please wait ‘til he arrives. ‘Tis ‘mportant, he says.”

A moment later, Dalf came striding briskly up to us, carrying something under one arm, followed by two familiar Elves carefully carrying something wrapped in burlap.

“Ah, good, Caic, you caught them,” he said cheerfully. “May I present Lords Elrohir and Elladan Peredhil of Rivendell, Lord Elrond’s sons and the King’s brothers?”

There was an interchange of bows and curtseys, and the Elf in the green tunic on the left said, “I am honoured to meet you and your family, Mistress Callina. Your grandsire saved my life and Estel’s years ago, and I never felt I had repaid the debt.”

“Lady Gilraen give ‘im the jewelry for our gran,” Callina said faintly.

“An’ that fine bow from Lord Elrond,” Kenndahl added.

“Those were their gifts, but we have been remiss. My twin and I decided that we should discharge the debt by assisting you, so we shall bring you some game over the next few weeks, as well as this small thing.”

“Wot is it?” Amirwen asked, overcome by curiosity.

“I remember your grandsire’s pride in a tree that stood outside your home,” Elrohir told them. “That was part of what we liked about him, that he so loved trees. It saddened us to hear in the court that you had suffered such loss. Nothing can replace a beloved tree, but at least in time this should serve as did the other.”

Kenndahl crouched by the object, lifting aside a corner of the burlap. “But Furry Oaks only grow in the Mountains of Shadow!” he exclaimed.

“Well, we have talked to Treebeard the Ent of Fangorn about that. He too wishes to encourage love of trees, and Freshleaf encouraged this one to grace your home, but you must plant it as soon as you arrive, in the right manner. As your grandsire said to us, among other virtues, not only is the shade cooling in summer, the shape of the leaves pleasing, and the strength of the wood a lesson in endurance, but so long as a Man has one, his children will not starve. Share the acorns with your neighbors.”

“We shall, my lords!”

“I cannot let my brother best me in gift-giving,” said Elladan with a smile, and at a gesture, a stableman led out a second, smaller wagon, drawn by a single horse, on which they arranged and tied down the tree, along with a few more barrels and boxes—and a few saplings, their root-balls well-wrapped in burlap: apple, pear, peach and cherry.

“Oh, and there’s this, too,” Dalf said; I could tell that he was restraining a grin with difficulty as he handed the box he carried to Callina.

She sat down on the mounting-block while she carefully untied the string and opened the box, lifting aside wadded lengths of cloth (“For curtains,” Dalf said, pleased he had thought of them. “I know that no Woman wants to go without something at her windows.”) and at last held up a red fox in a running pose, on a polished slab of green stone. From his black nose to the white tip of his luxuriant tail, he was made of glass, and we all marveled at the deep red of his coat, white tail-tip and belly, and the fineness of detail in his expressive dark eyes and pose, as if he’d been frozen in mid-stride.

Callina handed it to Kenndahl, and hugged my Dwarf, saying with a sob, “’Tis perfect!”

“What else should be at Fox Run farm?” he asked, smiling.

Kenndahl put it in Amirwen’s arms and pumped Dalf’s hand wordlessly, tears in his own eyes.

Amirwen looked completely overcome when the Elves helped her swathe it in the silk and return it to the box.

Callina scrambled up into the wagon-seat, and Kenndahl handed her the box, which she held tightly. “I bain’t a-lettin’ go o’ this ‘ere box ‘til we get there an’ find a safe place for it,” she vowed.

Jonnat handed Amirwen up into the other wagon-seat as Kenndahl joined his wife, and then the younger man cllinbed up to drive the second wagon, after I embraced all of them, and we waved them off. (6)

~~~

1) Nandos – the Vala, older brother of Nienna and Irmo, the three are the Spirit-Masters; he is the one in charge of spirits passing after death. Two of his names among Common Men are the Just and the Judge, for he is the one who states one’s Fate. The dead among Men wait for those they love in his Halls in Valinor.
2) Furry Oak – a kind of Oak tree, found in dediuous/mixed forest, mild temperate climes, mainly in Ephel Dúath, southern Mirkwood (Rhosgobel), North Ithilien. Especially valued in the Pelennor (mostly from acorns from this tree). The acorns are as big as plums; 10 = a nutritious meal, and also can be ground for meal in baking. The leaves, red in autumn, make good bedding for stock. The bark will yield a red dye, and the wood is as durable as other varieties of oak.
3) Kingstead cattle -- A kind of Tamed Auroch, found in the Kingstead area of Rohan. Lassëmatyar (Q. “Leaf-eaters”), Rasser (Q. “Bovids”), Mundar (Q. “Kine, cattle”), Aurochs, Tamed Aurochs. Note: The information about classifications by Dúnadan scholars of various “Onnatar” (creatures) I found on http://merp.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Lassanakuni.
4) A kind of Tamed Auroch, with very long horns. Lassëmatyar (Q. “Leaf-eaters”), Rasser (Q. “Bovids”), Mundar (Q. “Kine, cattle”), Aurochs, Tamed Aurochs.
5) Helídain – the Glassblowers’ guild in Minas Tirith. Note: Most of the information I have about guilds and craft fellowships in Middle-earth, I gleaned from ICE modules and merp.wikia.com/Guild.
6) Kenndahl, Callina, Amirwen and Jonnat’s adventures in re-establishing their farm will be recounted in Fox Run Farm: Rebuilding the Pelennor,, which I hope to begin posting soon.


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