22. Act IV, Scene IV.i
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
--Truth, bereft of mask and veil,
doth not ever show most fair; to eyes
deceivéd, or by darkness or disguise
rare, when concealments doth fail
the unhid that which is well may seem
as must be, would be, but troubling dream--
[Finarfin enters and leans heavily against the arch of the door, covering his face with his hands. Beren notices and gets up from the game quickly without saying anything, before any of the others can ask him why, and hurries over to him -- two of the Ten rise and follow him at a cautious distance]
Sir…don't blame yourself, it really doesn't help--
[Finarfin turns, startled, and sees him, just as Beren is about to try to take him by shoulder]
Oh! I thought! -- I mistook you for him -- I don't see very well here--
[the Noldor Elf stares at him, at first bewildered, then taking in the differences, and making the deductive leap]
--Thou? -- it is -- needs must be--
[Beren drops instantly to one knee, bowing his head]
Beren: [stammering worse]
My lord -- I--
So thou also art of the party that refuses to acknowledge, and yet proffers respect -- and mockery -- in one.
[Beren looks up, confused]
[Finarfin recognizes his complete ignorance of the situation]
No matter. I comprehend
it better now -- to my bitterest regret.
I'm sorry, Sir, but -- I don't understand.
Finarfin: [as if talking to himself as much as Beren]
When word came that my eldest sibling was slain, it did come so close upon all the other ills of the time, that it seemed but part of the same, and fitting end to such meteoric journey. And when our middle brother perished, and my sons were slain in that great War of theirs, the horror of it and the grief was made a little less impossible to bear, for the glory of Fingolfin's deed, and the great valour of their defense -- they to stand by their adopted people, him -- to strike at the Dark King himself and wound him with his own hand no less, though but an Elf, as though he might have been a lesser Power, and the gods themselves did him honour for his deed, that weighed against the wrongs of his working.
[he shakes his head]
And then it came but a short whiles after, the news of mine eldest's fall, or that which I believed to be the whole and sum of it, and it seemed but pitiable and grotesque by compare, to be taken and slain but by a lesser Power, and in confusion and stealth, as a prisoner, not in open battle nor for his own name's sake -- a foolish end to a path of folly. --Thou dost look froward at my words.
I would have died if not for him.
And yet thou art dead nonetheless, and what in end achieved? One year or one yen, what is either set against my son's life?
[Beren says nothing]
Thou wert with him for the whiles.
Beren: [in a whisper]
Yes, my lord.
Thy lady -- Stand up and let me see thee plain.
[Beren obeys -- Finarfin shakes his head]
Thy lady --
[he breaks off again]
--Where is my son, since by thy words I guess he is not here?
No idea, sir.
I would both converse with him, and would not ken the least what word should say to him.
--Thy lady spake at no small length concerning his ordeal, and theirs, and thine.
Tinuviel -- found us. It wasn't easy for her.
--Dost say she overshoots, and thus doth miss the mark of truth?
[awkward silence -- into which a snatch of a rather inappropriate mortal song and laughter is heard from the vicinity of the fountain:
". . . all over the town--
Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown--
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree…"]
And hence this dull and gloomsome place doth seem small burden -- mad though that seemeth to all else -- after what hath passed, to them.
Thou wouldst still claim place with my son?
Would or wouldn't, doesn't matter. We were there.
And hence -- ye -- will not forsake him. That much now I do comprehend.
[shaking his head]
That such things be done -- be thought of --! I had not dreamt -- that his death should be of such a fashion as to make that which transpired at the Havens seem nigh civilized, nay, --glorious--
[his lip curls at the word]
--never that it was not quick, nor of the least dignified…
Beren: [most definitely not conciliatory tone]
Why did you think it was? Because things like that just don't happen to good folks? --Or people you know? You think there's some kind of rule that no one you care about can get killed and eaten by monsters? --Or because you'd rather not think about those kind of things?
[Finarfin clenches his hand, giving Beren a ferocious glare -- Beren gives it right back to him.]
And to my lasting shame -- I had in my grief yet some satisfaction, that being flouted and set down by him in sight of all our people, I should be proven right in end, and have some vindication, in the fulfillment of the words of Doom.
[his control breaks and he breaks down for a moment, leaning back against the pillar, sobbing, before pulling himself together a little and wiping his eyes on his hand. Beren's expression changes to reluctant sympathy.]
--How couldst mistake me for him? Is flesh so light a thing, that mattereth not to thee?
Beren: [very different tone again]
Because what I see -- is mostly light, from a distance. Close to -- yeah. And you -- have a shadow.
[Finarfin wipes his eyes again, forcibly getting control over his emotions]
Sir -- would you care to -- that fountain, it's real, not just an illusion, you -- you could wash up, have a drink there -- if you wanted--
Finarfin: [changing the subject]
How is it that we are comprehensible to one another? For I think your people would not have the same speech as ours.
Uh -- because of thoughts? Partly? Because we did speak Elvish, only it wasn't the way you speak it here. Only some of the words were close. That's what he told me.
Beren: [giving up]
The King would be able to explain it better.
Which king? Four kings of the Eldar are in this place.
I meant -- your son, Sir.
I have four sons, three of whom are here.
--Finrod, my lord.
Thou dost babble like to an infant scarce past walking.
I'm not always this bad at it. --Sometimes worse.
How old art thou?
Somewhere going on thirty. Ah, years -- the ones with four seasons, not the ones that are twelve-twelvemonths -- I don't know how long I've been dead now -- or does that even count…?
And yet thou'dst think to counsel my eldest child, whose years thou hast not one twenty-fourth part yet seen -- wherefore?
Because he's my friend.
Thou deemst self worthy to name thyself friend to my son?
I don't -- but he does. And if he calls me that, how can I not call him the same back? Wouldn't make sense.
[pause. Finarfin just looks at him, bleakly]
Are -- are you sure -- you wouldn't like to -- the water, over there?
Such a multitude is more than my spirit can bear at this hour.
[looks away -- sudden inspiration]
The little hill over there, -- that's real, and we didn't make it, a goddess did -- if you wanted some privacy -- the roses are getting a little out of control, but that's only on the one side--
And dost thou own this place, to deal as thou wert host here, and never guest uninvited?
She offered us -- Tinuviel and me -- the use of it -- Nessa, it was -- so I'm sure it's all right if I offered you my place -- unless you know she would mind you doing that for some other reason--
[he fumbles to a stop while Finarfin just looks at him again. A longish pause]
I shall do that, then, and sit upon the grass, and think -- upon the deaths of kings…
Sir -- what did you mean, four kings? I only know -- there's Finrod, and the High King, his uncle, -- uh, your brother -- I'm sorry about that -- and… Oh. Your father.
That's still three.
In the outside world, among the living, the three tribes of the Eldar also hath each their king. There is Ingwe, who is lord over the Vanyar, and High King of us all in holy Valmar. There is Olwe, that is -- thy -- wife's -- uncle, and ruleth over the Teleri in Alqualonde. And of the Noldor, the headship hath fallen by default upon -- myself.
[Beren drops to one knee again.]
Do not mock me, Aftercomer.
Beren: [getting more and more tongue-tied]
S--Sire, why -- would I mock you? I -- never got -- to go to court, and learn the -- the ways of the High Elven court, but -- I was too young, and the Battle, and the invasion and you don't want to hear about that -- I always -- we always, it wasn't like it was me, on my own -- honored you.
Before we met, at the least.
Beren: [shaking his head]
--You understand about that.
[Finarfin nods, reluctantly]
It meant a tremendous deal to Da that the ring had belonged to you as well as the Ki-- Finrod. You were one of the good guys in our stories. We were proud to be fighting for the House of Finarfin.
--My ring? Stories?
Your son gave my father his ring. To us. Our House. --And the stories. But those were earlier. A lot.
Thy thought is as the several links of a broken chain, mortal -- both disordered and impaired it seemeth.
I'm sorry, sir.
What doth he see in thee, or in thy folk?
Beren: [shaking his head]
I don't know.
I spake not to thee.
It's hard to hide the truth here, Sir. --I know you'd like to hit me -- and I understand why.
Thou didst speak of my signet. Hast it, then?
[Beren reflexively moves as if to take it off, remembers, laughs bitterly and holds up his hand for the other's inspection. Finarfin in turn reflexively reaches forward to touch it, but their hands pass through each other as though neither had substance. The Elf-king stifles a sob.]
You loved him best…
Finarfin: [shaking his head]
I ever strove -- not to remake my own father's error -- and in the Song I truly believe that I neither set one child above the rest, nor each at rivalry to another…
[looking off in a reverie]
…yet did their mother from the first declare…that surely I gave equal of strength and spirit to his forging, no less than she…for ever our thought and heart were as one, so that he might finish whate'er I did begin, of hand's work or of speech, and his joy was ever my healing, when the strife of my elders was a weariness and a chill upon my soul…and never were we wroth with one another…saving once only. --And now the hand I did close in mine to teach the shaping stroke of burin, and laughed to see grown to match mine own, is cold as the clay that devours it -- but no colder than his soul to me -- aye, as the winds off Helcaraxe…and that is hardest hurt of all, and all of my doing, and naught of thine.
Sir, he spoke to me of that -- to regret that parting -- and to claim part of the responsibility--
[Finarfin turns a quelling stare on him and he is silent]
Not merely to counsel, but
to console, thou didst endeavor -- because he is thy friend.
[Beren nods, mutely]
--Would there were one that might serve me in such wise--!
[he walks off towards the hill; Beren rises and turns back towards the falls. His two watchers move to meet him and put their arms over his shoulders as all three return to the group.]
What was that about?
He didn't know. Or -- he didn't understand.
Youngest Ranger: [fiercely]
I think he knows that now…
[Returning to the chess-game, he still gives a worried look over to where Finarfin is seated with his chin resting on his forearms, staring into the middle distance.]
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