Challenge: Write from the point of view of someone you never write write for:
It doesn’t get any further than Lothíriel!
Written for the GFIC Group's August 2008 POV Challenge.
The color blue
The number one hundred
Author's Chapter Notes:
Pippin’s songs are - Bed In Summer
Written By: Robert Louis Stevenson
Hush! The Waves Are Rolling In- Traditional Gaelic Song, with one word changed, ‘dew’.
Perspicacious - adj. - Having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted.
Of all the children on our little voyage the only one who is completely without complaint is the son of the Ernil i Phriannath. Well, there is Elboron as well, but that is only because the child seems to be the cause of it so easily.
I cannot but heave a sigh at this last thought, even as poor …owyn heaves something a bit more substantial than a sigh over a leeward rail. No stomach has she for even the smallest and sweetest of shoals, I fear, much less the open sea, though little help is Elboron to his mother.
“Poor Mother,” he says sadly as she heaves yet again. “See that, Faro? And she did not even have any greens today! Do you know why they call this the poop deck? You do? I remember this one time that I used it… Why, you could still see my carrots in it as it washed out to sea. When they came out they looked just like they did when they went in, one could not even tell I had chewed them! Also, there was the time I ate too many pears and I did not have time—”
“Elboron!” My tone is rather harsh, but poor …owyn has renewed her heaving with enough vigor to turn her inside out, poor thing. In truth, Elboron has been visiting every little imp within him upon her this month of Urimë. The Tookling takes Elboron by the elbow and leads him a bit away, pointing to a school of fish leaping from wave to wave in an effort to distract him from any further observations. Though the young halfling is smaller, he is older than either Elboron or Elfwine, and somehow closer to the earth and perhaps more straightforward for it. This trait he shares with the son of Master Holdwine, the lad whom the young Took calls by the name of ‘Theo’. There are other halfling youngsters here as well. The son of Samwise Gamgee, named after the Ringbearer is in attendance as well as his older sister Elanor, as lovely a little thing as the most perfect seedling pearl.
“Come, Elboron, Elfwine,” says Faro, “Theo and I have never been on such a wonderful voyage. You must tell us all about the parts of the ship. And what kinds of birds are those? And why are those fish flying through the air from wave to wave? And why does some of the deck-hands wear eye-patches and then switch them to the other eye when they go below-decks?”
My Elfwine helps lead little Elboron to the starboard bow. Now I can go to …owyn and help her to a bench. I send one of our ladies to the galley after a bowl of water and a cooling cloth to clean her up, poor thing, for she is yet whiter than her normal pale color. Elboron is a bit much for her today. Unfortunately Elboron seems to actually draw strength from the sea as much as the sea saps strength from his mother. And his friends being with him sometimes do not bring out the best in him. He forgets himself. He forgets that he cannot just be a little boy, but must behave as befits a young prince. …owyn has been ill all morning, and Lord Faramir has taken ship to meet with the King and my …omer, riding to meet us from beyond Umbar.
Years have passed since the end of the Ring War, yet many are the enemies of the King. Well do I know how Faramir chafes to fight beside …omer and his King, yet he must remain at home along with my father to keep safe our lands while my King and my Lord are away. Certain I am that some of Elboron’s behavior stems from this. He is a Húrin, after all, and it rankles his very blood, I am sure. He knows his father wants to fight for the King with a knowing he was somehow born with. Such is the burden of his blood, I fear. Yet my poor Elfwine would do anything to stand in his shoes, he misses his father so. One little one misses his father, the other stings because his father cannot go to war. Ah, me! Thus it is, and thus it shall always be and so I must advise poor …owyn. I take the bowl of cool water from the young lady as she comes from the galley. Sitting beside …owyn, I wring the cloth and dab at …owyn’s temples, then lay the cool cloth along her slim neck to soothe her sickness.
“Oh, why must he be so difficult sometimes,” …owyn moans.
“He is only excited that his ‘knights’ are here, and that he is taking them on their first sea-voyage. And you know what the sea does to him.”
“Sometimes I simply do not know what to say to the boy,” she says. “Even with …omer, I had at least some control! After all, I slew the Witch King! I am a Queen, commanding Hall and Home! Yet Elboron can sometimes get me into such a state!”
I can only pull her close and let her rest her head on my shoulder. “I know,” I say.
“Well, yes,” I say softly. “He is very like his father and his uncle, you know. They were much the same, until Finduilas died. It’s the Húrin blood, you know. Also, you must remember, they have elven blood on their mother’s side as well, and have passed it on to Elboron. Sometimes such ones are born filled with a kind of fire. It is not all bad! Remember well how the horses heed Elboron’s bidding? And how the men already adore him? And how he loves his little wooden sword King Elessar gave him? And how even at his age, he has an understanding of duty? But in many ways he really is no different than any other little one, …owyn. Has he had a nap today?”
“Well, no, he has not,” she says and sighs, as though she is in need of a nap herself. “How do Merry and Pippin do it? How do they and their wives produce such well-behaved little ones?”
“I’m sure I don’t know how to take that,” says a familiar voice. I look up and see it is Merry and Pippin themselves. “Do you mean our children are well behaved?” Pippin asks. “Or just not caught at anything yet? Or perhaps trying too hard?”
…owyn laughs now in spite of everything. Glad I am that the older halfings chose to remain behind instead of sailing forth with Faramir in the larger ship, which is the very twin of this small one. They were at first ill at ease with the sailing of this lesser ship, but soon enough they have grown to appreciate it, if not to love it. This I can understand. These are folk of the earth and not of the sea.
Little Frodo has come with them and seeks the other youngsters, while the pretty Elanor decides to sit with …owyn. Tales I have heard told of this one, that she has been especially blessed, and by her looks one might find this easy to believe. She gazes calmly up at …owyn, boldly touching …owyn’s mantle of pale blue. The little one smiles at …owyn and wins a smile in return: such are the charms of this child of the Shire, this one known as Elanor the Fair, for fair she is. Now my friend seems calmer. She has lost her sickly pallor and seems much improved. Perhaps this Elanor is indeed a charmed one!
But they are all charming, whether charmed or no, each and every one of these offspring, including my own, and for them was this small ship especially built. Well, for them in some respects, and I am reminded of this by my Elfwine as he tugs at my sleeve, having slipped away from his companions. I lean down so that he might whisper in my ear.
“Elboron and I want to know when it will be time,” he says, barely able to suppress his excitement.
“Just as soon as we dock at Tol Anfalas,” I whisper back. “Your father and the King will join us there along with Lord Faramir. Watch for the sea-birds! They shall hail our arrival, as well you know! It shan’t be long now.”
“Thank you,” Elfwine says with a quick embrace, wary of being caught at it by his friends. “Are we having the prawns with dragon’s breath sauce for luncheon?”
“We are,” I reassure him.
“Good!” Elwine gives me a large grin. “Elboron is boasting he can eat at least a hundred!”
Merry and Pippin at table are always a sight to behold, but never before have I beheld such wonders as hungry halfling youngsters! Where do they put it? And I had worried about the dragon’s breath sauce being too hot for them, but I worried for nothing. They have taken to it like mother’s milk!
Elboron is doing his best to make good his boast of eating a hundred prawns, and the sauce has dripped down his chin and onto his fine linen shirt, staining the front in a fiery red near-perfect triangle. “I do wish Eldarion could have come,” he says. “But he could not, nor could his mother the Queen. We mustn’t have too many crowns in one basket, isn’t that right, sir Peregrin?”
“Very wise, my Lord,” answers Pippin. “Tell me, where did you learn that bit of wisdom?”
“Why, from Master Meriadoc!”
“I shouldn’t wonder,” Pippin says. “Too many crowns in one basket indeed!”
“But that is the truth of it, isn’t it? Like the time I tried to carry too many puppies in one basket and I dropped some of them and they had to go to the stables, where the puppies have a house of healing all their own.”
“Poor puppies!” Elanor cries.
“Poor puppies! Indeed, and my poor bum! And I could not play with the puppies again until they were three months old!”
“Elboron, you shouldn’t say bum in front of lasses!” Theo hisses.
“You are a fine hobbit lass,” Elboron, turning to Elanor, pronounces. “Shall you have an arranged marriage? May I arrange it? If I may, you shall marry Faro!”
“Why, I have never heard of anything so perspicacious in all my life!” Elanor says.
“Elboron!” this time it …owyn.
And …owyn is laughing—laughing until tears run down her cheeks. How good it is to see her laughing so. But what surprises me more than anything is when, just after a particularly amusing tale jointly told by Merry and Pippin regarding the humorous uses of soot, …owyn leans close to tell me she has never, ever! seen me laugh so much in all the time she has known me. And I must admit to myself that she is absolutely correct. Glancing at my Elfwine, I can see that he, too, has noticed it. He is happy to see his mother laugh so much.
“It is the halflings,” he says, “Elboron says when he is crowned he shall pass a law stating that halflings shall have holiday homes built in Minas Tirith and in Rohan as well as Ithilien, to encourage visitations. Shall we build them some on Dol Amroth, Mother?”
“I think it is a splendid idea,” I say, laughing.
“Look, sea-birds!” Elboron shouts! “Soon we shall see Tol Anfalas!”
“And Father!” shouts Elfwine.
“But not before everyone has a nice nap,” Pippin says. “I’m stuffed! And being stuffed makes me sleepy. Besides, Elanor, I’m sure Elboron didn’t mean anything by suggesting that you marry Faro.”
“Never, Lady Elanor! I would not shame you!”
“And Elanor, do you even know what perspicacious means?” Merry says, trying hard not to burst into laughter.
“No, but I heard Auntie Diamond say to Nunky Pippin how very perspicacious of you and from the way she said it I could tell it was not a compliment.”
“And Elboron,” Pippin says, “I thank you kindly, but I think Faro will find his own bride, though your grace does us great favor in his consideration.”
“And if you please, let Goldilocks hear nothing of this or Elanor shan’t escape a scratching, I fear,” Faro says under his breath.
“Truly?” Theo says, wide-eyed.” Faro nods grimly.
“At any rate, we shall all soon see the Kings Elessar and …omer, and all should be fresh from a nap!” Merry declares.
“Our recent behavior gives us away in this regard, I fear!” Pippin says, “Why when I need a nap, I could bite the head off a troll!”
“Well, I am not sleepy, I am not sleepy one bit,” Elboron says around a huge yawn.
“Sir Peregrin is right,” …owyn says, “Why, I feel even I could have a nap. Why not lie upon the deck and let the waves sing you to sleep for a while!”
“Elboron, darling, Mother does not want a fuss,” …owyn says.
“What if my Papa sings us a song?” Faro suggests.
“Yes,” Merry agrees, “Pippin has quite a good voice, Elboron! Your father and your Nunky Boromir used to love to hear him sing!”
“Is that really true?” Now Elboron actually looks as though he may be persuaded without too much trouble.
“Well, yes, I suppose it is,” says Pippin, smiling shyly.
“It shall not be some silly infant song, shall it?” Elboron says. His brows draw down, and for a moment he looks a caricature of his uncle, so much so I cannot help but laugh all the more.
“No, no, nor shall it be some stuffy tale full of bothersome lessons,” Pippin says. “I say let us have something light of heart for heavy eyelids.”
“Very well, then, I shall let you sing a song for me, then.” Elboron says imperiously. Pippin hides a grin behind a hand while Merry has to turn around so he can have a quiet laugh at our little Lord Elboron, who offers his arm in a childishly awkward but regal manner to his “knight’s” sire.
I watch them settle down on a blanket spread on the deck. The children all lie down around Pippin like tired puppies. Elboron actually cuddles close to Pippin with a great yawn. Pippin begins his song.
In winter I get up at night,
And dress by yellow candle light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day,
To go to bed by day,
To go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown up people's feet
Still going past me in the street,
Past me in the street,
Past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
To go to bed by day?
To go to bed by day?
Before he has finished the last line the children are all sleeping soundly. I watch him slip quietly up and tiptoe over to where we adults are sitting. The boat rocks them gently, and their little chests rise and fall smoothly.
Pippin takes out his pipe and carefully packs his precious pipe-weed into the bowl. From a deep pocket Merry pulls out a twig kept for just this purpose, dips the end into his own pipe to set it glowing, then hands it to Pippin, and I watch the hobbit puff until he has a fine smoke blowing away in the sea-breeze. All of this is done with the seriousness of some dire ceremony none dare defile.
“Wish Sam hadn’t stayed behind with the Queen,” Merry says.
“Aye,” Pippin nods, “Still, you know Sam and boats. The wives, too.”
“Elfwine and Theo get along very well,” Merry says.
“Aye, and Faro with Elboron.” Pippin regards …owyn with eyes so open and frank that were she any other Lady she would look away. The halflings are odd ones, no doubt, unlike any great lords or ladies or even any commoners I have ever known. One wonders how to take them. Yet …owyn seems to know exactly how to take them. “The boy,” —Pippin nods in Elboron’s direction— “He is a blessing to my Lord Faramir, is he not?”
“He is, even if he is a bit much for his mother betimes!” she laughs.
“Ah, yes! And no doubt my Lord finds endless delight in this?”
“I am afraid so, though he does his best to make the little one behave.”
“Well, Lady, let him have his little fiery one while he may,” Pippin says. “The sons of great ones must all too soon wear a tight rein, and learn to bow and bite the tongue, to dance with the daughters of people whom they despise. He will chafe at his bit, as well you know! He springs from two proud houses, and I need not remind you how hard it can be—to be both young and royal.”
“I know, Pippin. And yes, he does see his brother there sometimes.” …owyn smiles and lays a hand softly on Pippin’s shoulder. “I know you see him there, too.”
Suddenly Pippin leaps up and takes …owyn’s hand, pulling her up to dance with him and sing again in his fair and sweet voice:
Hush! The waves are rolling in,
White with foam, white with foam;
Father toils amid the dew; but baby sleeps at home.
Hush! the winds roar hoarse and deep-On they come, on they come !
Brother seeks the wandering sheep; but baby sleeps at home.
Hush! the rain sweeps o'er the knowes, Where they roam, where they roam!
Sister goes to seek the cows; but baby sleeps at home.
“See now!” He says, and sits her down again, and she laughing like a small girl. “My Lord told me that should you grow sad of eye that I should get you up and jig you about and sing that song to you, which he taught to me especially to cheer you up!”
“Faramir never taught you such a song!” …owyn laughs. “That was a halfling song, or I never heard one!”
“It was my idea, Lady, don’t blame my fool of a cousin,” Merry says.
“My point, Lady, in all my tom-foolery, is that in these young ones we may celebrate even that which is lost, or thought lost to us.” Pippin says.
Merry, smiling, gestures to the sleeping little ones. “See in Elboron and Elfwine, the very shadows of their forebears? Why, when Elfwine laughs sometimes, I see good old Théoden King there in his eyes!”
So these are halflings. I have heard many words from the wise and from the fool, but few have I heard that caused me to think on the sons of our great ones with such brightness and merriment. On this little ship are the sons of kings and princes, of lords and ladies and mighty warriors, but also the sons of the farmer, the sons of the country hall, the sons of the hills as well as the sons of the seas. For these two halflings were once young ones, as was my Lord, and my King, and Lord Faramir, and all of them, even poor Denethor. Even my father. All were little boys once.
I look at these halflings heroes, Merry and Pippin, these Knights of their Realms, and it is not so hard to see them as little children. And so it is so much easier now to see in Elfwine what my …omer was as a child. King and Husband he may be to me now, but once he was only a little boy that skinned his knees and pulled his sister’s hair and said things he shouldn’t say in front the very people he should not say them in front of. How imperfect, and how precious they are, each and every one, boy and man. Or lad and halfling, as the case may be. I cannot but smile to myself and give my friend a little nudge. …owyn looks at the halflings knights a little more closely. The rocking of the ship has sent them off to dreaming.
Docked now at Tol Anfalas and reunited at last with my husband, I am so filled with joy I can scarce think. The great Hosting House near the quays is quiet now, but for a while all was a-bustle with everyone readying themselves to see those they had been parted from whether for a year or a month or a fortnight or a week. Elboron actually behaves himself, and worries over Elfwine looking his grandest. “I am sorry your father has to be away so much while mine does not,” he says at last. “Sometimes I am a very selfish boy, Elfwine. Can you forgive me?”
“Did I say I sometimes do not know what to say to the boy?” …owyn says. She pulls her son to her for a brief embrace. “Proud has my son made me this day, Elboron,” she says. “Now, Lothíriel, Elfwine, there is …omer! Let us go and give him welcome!”
“And there is Father and the King!” Elboron shouts and hops about. “Come, Mother! Soon it shall be time!”
What a day it has been! Such a welcome did we give them, and how happy everyone is! But now it is time to let the King have his fun. The King wishes to see our little ship, he says, giving Faramir a knowing wink, and so we all trail back to where she is docked. There the King points out to the halflings that there are craftsmen carving a name for the little ship into her timbers: the Pheriannath.
And now it is our great delight to see the realization dawn on the face of every halfling: a half-sized ship made especially for them. The honor is not lost on these small ones. They know the building of a ship, even a small one, is no mean feat. There is a great deal of oh, but you shouldn’t have and whatever gave you the idea and such like when suddenly from the rear I hear it.
“And I say that if you try to fight a dragon with a sword at the end of the day you shall only have a bent sword, a toasted knight and a dragon full of pish and vinegar!”
“Elboron!” Faramir it is, this time. “And where did you hear that from?”
“I know of only one person he could have gotten that from,” Merry says grimly.