38. Scene XXIX
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
--Her simple efforts foiled to fly,
the Princess-prisoner turns to guile;
Simplicity she feigns, maintains, sly
allowing all to judge her fool this while . . .
[In the antechamber. Luthien is seated at the table, with Celegorm across from her. Huan is drowsing beside his master's chair, his head on his outstretched forelegs. Luthien wears an expression of somewhat strained politeness, but she would be polite to Morgoth himself if it might get her out of here. Not knowing her moods, perhaps, Celegorm does not seem to notice the strained atmosphere at first.]
So we thought to find wolves on that day as well, but instead we found something amazing. --Guess what it was.
[Celegorm shakes his head]
[Celegorm again shakes head in negative]
A wild ox?
[Again the negative response. He is smiling guilelessly.]
I give up.
But aren't there many deer hereabouts? Why is that amazing?
It was a white one. Don't see too many of those -- wolves get 'em all first, because they show up like a star in the dark woods.
And did you catch the white hart?
Doe. It was a 'white doe, white as snow, shining bright as she did go--'
[as if to say: See? I can give you poetry too...]
Led our hounds and horses a merry dance, she did.
Luthien: [not liking where this seems to be going.]
[deciding to play along for the sake of information/confirmation]
Did you catch her?
Mm . . . not yet. She still is wild for to hold, though I think she could be tamed.
What will you do when you catch her?
Why eat her, of course! --Only joking, dear lady, I would never harm such a rare and lovely beast, but keep her safe in a walled garden filled with every manner of flower and tree she could long for, where no wild animals could ever come near to injure her.
But she is a wild creature too, is she not?
Only because she hasn't met a worthy master. Her nature is far too gentle for the wolf-haunted wilderness and the harsh winters of the world beyond.
Luthien: [frowning decidedly]
I don't think that wild animals should be trapped and held. My mother's nightingales are never caged.
Celegorm: [looking at her with sad eyes]
You don't seem to be amused by my company. I am crushed, positively crushed.
My lord, the hour grows late, and I grow weary -- of waiting.
[before he can make too much of her last words, she adds in a piqued tone, and much lighter:]
--Besides, you laughed at me about that -- that bug, the other night.
Celegorm: [smiling indulgently at her]
Oh, but you've got to admit it was funny.
It was in my clothes, and it was not funny at all.
Well, at least I killed it for you.
I didn't want it killed, I just wanted it off me.
I don't see how you can be so scared of a little beetle -- well, all right, not so little -- but still, there have to have been beetles in Doriath. Whatever did you do, traveling through the forest? Trees are full of 'em, don't you know?
I'm not scared of them, I just don't like their claws and feet and the pointy armor on them and the oily way they move. They make me think of how I imagine Glaurung, or those monsters that roamed around in the Outer Darkness before the Sun. And I'm always afraid their legs will pull off when I try to get them loose. Anyway, I expect them outside -- not indoors, in a place supposed to be impenetrable by invasion!
Beren never makes fun of me about beetles. He just moves them someplace else, usually before I notice them. --At least that's what he thinks, and I let him go on thinking that I haven't noticed. He's very kind.
Celegorm: [his smile unchanging, and his voice still pleasant]
You know, I don't really want to hear about Barahirion any more.
Luthien: [in the same manner]
You know, I'd rather gathered that.
So where does that leave us?
With nothing more to talk about, my lord.
Oh, I'm sure we can find something. Your eyes -- your lips -- your hair --
[He reaches out and takes her hand as he speaks. He does not hurt her, but his grip is fast.]
My hand, my lord--
[lifts and kisses her fingers]
Luthien: [pulling back to no avail]
Let me first convince you that you deserve no less than the best, and will be satisfied with no inferior thing, by disclosing to you the currents of my heart--
--Lord Celegorm, let go of me!
Celegorm: [smiling widely]
Luthien: [through her teeth]
Celegorm: [pulls her closer, so that she must rise from her seat and lean towards him]
You don't really want that, you know you don't --
[Luthien braces her left hand on the table edge, puts her foot on the arm of his chair and kicks hard, sending him over backwards with a crash. When he involuntarily lets go of her in reaction she flings herself spinning across the table with the momentum and braces herself to fling that over at him too. She may not be a match for a warrior who spends his free time hunting big game, but her arboreal upbringing and art haven't left her a lightweight either.]
Celegorm: [panting, grinning, a mad light in his eyes]
--Not a shy nightingale at all, but a falcon she is! Foot me, will you? You'll pay for that strike, milady, with a softer touch. Ah, but you'll fly to my hand soon enough --
[He moves toward her, and she moves sideways along the table, keeping maximum distance between them]
[A huge grey wave crashes between him and the table, knocking him backwards.
Huan half-turns, blocking all access to Luthien, his fangs bared.
Huan: [loud snarling growl]
! ! !
[series of short, imperative barks]
Down, I say! Down!!!
[drawn-out growl, ending in a sharp, reproachful bark]
[He continues to block his master's efforts to flank him. It is a standoff, as Celegorm is unwilling to go hand-to-teeth with a dog the size of a horse.]
Luthien: [her voice a bit ragged, but cold and tearless]
Lord Celegorm, you will leave now, and not return until you have learned better than to assail a guest in her own chambers.
[Celegorm stands still, his face growing ashen, his breathing growing unsteady with something like fear now.]
Celegorm: [shaken at his own bad behavior and loss of control]
Y-your Highness, please underst--
[There is no relenting or uncertainty in her expression. The Noldor lord accepts his dismissal, turning his anger on his dog instead of himself.]
[Huan drops down to an alert crouch between Luthien and Celegorm. He is clearly not going anywhere just now -- but just as clearly able to go anywhere fast if he needs to]
You treacherous Hound!
You'll follow anyone who gives you sweetmeats, you wolf-at-heart!
Please. Leave. Now.
[Celegorm cannot think of anything else to say. As he stalks out, Huan rises and trots over to push the door all the way shut with his nose. Safely shielded behind it, Luthien at last dares to give in to stress and sinks down to the tiles, shaking. Huan returns and sits beside her, and she hugs him, leaning against the Hound's massive shoulder, crying into his coat.]
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