27. Scene IV.vi
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[A new individual arrives on scene -- but after a brief alert everyone relaxes and the outer sentinels do not change position to block the newcomer. She is another shade, but somewhat different in appearance from any other Elves we have seen so far -- for one thing, she's a good bit shorter (though still taller than Beren) as well as barefoot. There should be a somewhat windblown, beachcomber look to her outfit, and her jewelry is all of strands of small pearls. Her speech is not as archaic as the other Valinorean Eldar, but should have somewhat of a precise intonation -- slightly "old-fashioned" in tone. Julia Ormond might be good in this part.]
So you're the ones who have been running and shouting in the halls. I might have known it.
We were not "running and shouting in the halls." We were conducting an experiment. Wh--
[they tend to cut over each other's sentences like relatives or very old acquaintances often do, without noticing or taking offense.]
You could have fooled me. Is--
--So what are you doing here, Curlew?
Teler Maid: [rolling her eyes]
It is not "Curlew."
--Sanderling? --Murrelet? --Lapwing? It's got to be some sort of shorebird, you're standing on one leg again.
[she adjusts her posture]
Teler Maid: [mock exasperation]
It is Maiwe, and well you know it.
Curlew, Sea-Mew -- you can't expect me to keep them straight. Next thing you'll be saying "jib" and "clinker" like those are real words that mean things.
I was going to rail at you, you know.
Rail -- isn't that some kind of waterbird? --Any particular reason? I mean, you could do it now, if you wanted.
Are you just going to keep on being silly?
Well -- until you get really annoyed. Or perhaps a little bit before that. So why are you here? --Does it have anything to do with why you wanted to yell at me?
Not you personally. All who were disturbing of the peace.
If you're here, does that mean that he is back, as well?
You didn't hear?
[she looks up, much as Finrod did just before Finarfin's entrance, and simply disappears, not as the Powers, but gradually blending into the background]
--Wow. --Who was that?
[he looks extremely perturbed]
Maiwe--? Are you all right?
[she does not reappear]
She -- used to be a colleague of mine. I -- don't--
[Beren looks at the Sindarin Ranger, who only shrugs helplessly]
--Ah. I wonder-- I'll bet that's--
[the Captain grimaces, shaking his head and calls to the empty air:]
--Maiwe, if it's the Lord Seneschal again, don't worry -- he can't hurt you if you don't allow him, and he'll probably be so embarrassed he'll ignore you anyway. And if he isn't we'll send him packing.
[at that moment the Steward reenters the Hall, looking quite pleased with himself. The Captain puts his forehead down on his knee, grimacing.]
Hullo, Sir. We didn't expect to see you back any time soon.
We thought you were playing chess with the King's uncle.
I was. I won.
Steward: [a trifle smugly]
That is for me to know, and the High King to endeavour to find out.
[on the further side of one of the columns, the Sea-elf girl reappears and leans back against it, her arms folded tightly about herself, visibly in the throes of indecision]
What? --Do not, I insist, involve me in another such scheme which requires me not to come to your assistance while you get cut to ribbons. I have better things to do, believe me on that--
[the newest visitor makes up her mind and leaves the shelter of the pillar, coming out to confront him in silence]
A mutual acquaintance of ours is here and has been asking after you.
[they are staring at each other without hearing his words, she still with folded arms and and narrowed eyes, he in total shock and disbelief]
Teler Maid: [grim satisfaction]
I see that you are returned at last.
[the Steward continues to stare at her, completely stunned. Beren gets up and goes over to him, looking worried, but not interrupting]
Teler Maid: [acerbic]
I suppose I should not be surprised that you have no greeting for me, when you had no farewell before.
[it takes the Steward several attempts before he can manage to say anything]
But how -- how long--?
Teler Maid: [tossing her head]
As to your second, for as long as you have been gone; as to your first, --can you not guess, then?
Steward: [in denial]
But -- I made certain that your family were all safe, and…they were as certain as I, that you…were at your cousins' home in Tirion…
[he breaks off, grimacing at his own words]
Teler Maid: [sharply]
I do have other friends, you know. --Or I did.
[he flinches again]
After that our last fight I returned home, but did not wish to hear my kin tell me what I already knew, that there was for us not a jot of hope of any bliss, and I went to a certain house of my acquaintance, where my childhood friends would not tell me aught whatsoever, and I might have some small amount of peace before going back to my work where I must see you again.
[with a certain bitter satisfaction:]
And we went out on their boat, and you were not there to dispraise it, or to speak with displeasure of the weather, or the canting of the deck, or the noise of the wind, or our crude chanteys, or the food -- and we had but put in to port when the Lights went out, and I would have gone back to make sure mischance had not befallen you, but my friends persuaded me to wait, that it was not safe, and so we waited for word, and then--
[she stops, not broken up, just angry, staring at him with tight lips]
Steward: [shaking his head in dismay]
But why -- why not -- why are you here yet, and not returned to your parents? Why should you remain in this place for so long, when no Doom bars you from going Outside?
Teler Maid: [ice]
Because I did not wish to learn that you had been party to it.
[he staggers, taking an involuntary step backwards and would fall if Beren did not catch him]
What's wrong, sir?
[the Steward only shakes his head, overcome, leaning on Beren's shoulder]
If -- if you had somehow survived your encounter with the Wolf, and the King of Doriath had not -- would you not judge there was something far amiss between you, if your lady's first assumption was that -- you were in some way directly responsible?
Uh -- yeah. Wait -- I know you weren't part of the Kinslaying, so -- oh. She thinks you were--?!
[to the Sea-elf, urgently:]
No, he didn't, and not only that -- he would never, ever do anything like that. He's one of the most upright and kind people I've ever known in my whole life.
[She gives him a look of increasing curiosity]
Who are you?
The reason he's dead.
[the Steward makes an exasperated noise]
Are you a creature of the Enemy? For you do look somewhat like, at least in accord with the tales I have heard.
I assure you, the Lord Beren is no more nor less of an Orc than I am.
[she gives him a sharp look in turn]
You are making fun of me.
I'm making a joke, is all. Have I ever made fun of you?
Teler Maid: [sulkily]
You were much used to tease me.
To make you laugh. And you gave back just as good, hm?
[she nods, quickly and unwillingly, and moves on]
Then what manner of creature are you? Surely our folk who remained have not become so rough and wild in the meanwhiles!
[Beren shakes his head]
I'm a Man. Or was -- the ghost of one, now.
You are one of the Secondborn?!
[amazed, she reaches unthinkingly towards Beren; equally unthinkingly, the Steward deflects her hand before she can touch him]
Do not presume to push me about so, my lord!
[he freezes, expressionless]
My lady -- please -- it wasn't you, people have been trying to beat me up a lot and it was just a reflex.
Teler Maid: [speaking to him, but looking at the Steward]
I am no lady. I am a "humble rustic," and no more, who should be more comprehensible of the signal honour done me by the King's house, in securing for me such a fine post and an opportunity to raise myself beyond my simple origins in the home of his daughter.
[the Steward hides his face against Beren's shoulder]
Did he -- did you -- really say those things to…?
[head still bowed, the Steward nods]
Does he not speak slightingly to you, then, nor is ever critical of your words and manners in the sight of all?
But that isn't the whole of it by a long shot. He died rather than betray me, or King Finrod -- and that means way more than just words.
Lord Ingold is dead? He is here as well?
[for the first time she looks more upset than angry]
He's the one mostly responsible for the disorderly conduct that bothered you. It wouldn't have occurred to us to try without him.
You…did not know we were here, ere now?
Teler Maid: [sniffing]
I keep to myself: I have no wish to be snubbed by Exiles here, as if this were Tirion. I only came to complain to Lady Nienna about the noise having resumed once again.
But even if you didn't realize -- I'm sure someone would have told you it was us.
[the Sea-elf looks simultaneously guilty and stubborn]
Teler Maid: [defiantly]
I never asked.
Steward: [with difficulty]
Teler Maid: [cutting him off]
--Still you would tell me then, fine sir, what I should say or must think? I have a name -- however little you have liked it, and called me "a half-savage, yet" for taking it to my heart -- and if you would have me hear you, then needs must address me by it.
[he stares at her, unable to keep going, and she tosses her head]
I did not think you would. --Or that any word of mine would make you change your ways.
[he shakes his head helplessly]
What, then? No words at all for me? Not even to answer me, that I may have peace from wondering, if you were among those who slew us in the Darkness?
I swear to you -- upon mine own name -- never have I raised bow or blade against any of our people, in life or in death, saving in gaming or in defence.
Defence! Was that not what it was called, when Fingon and the companions of Fingon came to kill us too?
[he does not say anything more]
Why could you not even come to speak to me, not even to bid me farewell before your going?
I -- we did not think it would be so long. --Home before the last Leaf fell, some of us said at the outset, and thought it possible.
And still you did not think to seek me out, and ask me whether I would or no?
Steward: [as though unable not to answer her]
As we had fought, and you were angry enough to depart the House that we might not meet even though it be a high Feast, and your Lady deeming you so aggrieved that she did chide me for it though I a guest at table, and the chill of your temper like the mist off the surf -- I judged it should be "no." --Should it have been other?
Teler Maid: [tossing her head]
Again you presume to know my mind without my speaking it. --And no farewell, not even in anger, that would have told you in the seeking-after and not finding, that I was not in Tirion that hour--?
Steward: [in the same compelled manner]
It was a madness upon us, like a fire within our hearts, scorching away all other thought and reason. And it seemed to me that I and all of us might return in blaze of glory, having done deeds worthy of the gods, and I should make the songs of this our victory that every lip should sing -- and then you would no longer dare disdain me, nor turn from me in the coldness of your anger, and in your eyes I should see naught but myself reflected in your admiration. And so in pride, and anger, and insanity -- I left without farewell.
Teler Maid: [softly]
You speak of fire, my lord. --Do you know how I was thieved of my body, while you listened to the words of the Spirit of Fire and dreamed your bright dreams of battles and great journeys? To make the defenders leave off the fight, or else choose betwixt protecting ships and breathing children, his people fired the homes along the waterfront, and set all quayside alight, and the rafters burned, and the wooden galleries that crossed the streets between the upper stories, and I was trapped when I would flee, under the wood and the fallen tiles --
[he shakes his head but she does not stop]
--and none could hear my screams above the roaring of the flames. What was I to know, but that you were amongst the ones of those warriors, that numbered so many of them as your friends? --And ever did speak, even as those friends, speak slightingly of our poor Wanderers', Thirdlings', Latecomers' ways?
[he opens his mouth and tries to say something, but it is not audible -- perhaps her name]
And what of you, fine sir, Edrahil Enedir's son of House Mahtan? Did you find glory, beyond the waves, did you find what you dreamt of that I could never give you, enough honour and power and admiration to quench your limitless thirst, and deeds enough to busy your restive heart, that would not rest beside mine, and yet would not set me free -- was there wealth and renown enough to please you in those lands? And at the end did you meet your Doom in manner fit for the songs of your leader's boast, that all have heard, living and dead? What mighty deed for our people's remembering cost you your life? Surely it was no panicked, headlong flight into a trap, like a fish into the nets -- not you!
Steward: [shaking his head]
You -- you don't want to -- to know about such things--
[she stamps her foot impatiently]
O most wise and clever and eloquent of Elves, when we two were on the green earth together, it was you who would speak, whether I wished to hear or to speak myself, and who would be silent when I prayed you speak to me, and not to turn your face aside, or speak to another as if I were not there, for your ill-temper and your pride. And now you will answer me, will you or nill you, and you will not tell me what it is that I do not wish to hear.
[he answers as before, unwillingly but under compulsion]
No songs will be made of our end -- I died unknown, a thrall, enchained, blind, my voice long worn away in weeping, food for a hellspawn beast, and none of my days' work across the years before meant anything by comparison, nor shall I be remembered for accomplishment in the places where I served, nor any there mark or miss my leaving.
Sir -- that -- that can't be true. They'll find out how much they needed you, if they haven't already.
Teler Maid: [chill]
And -- in all those days and years -- was there ever an hour in which you thought of another left behind, or missed me?
There were few that I did not. When I could no longer call your face to mind or make your voice sound in my thoughts I remembered the Sea, and dreamed of the gulls' cry until my turn came to perish.
But you have always feared the Sea.
[he nods. Wonderingly:]
--I did not know that until I only now did utter it. I thought…that you considered it but a dull and formless wasteland, unlike the gracious halls of stone…and thus you would not willingly go to it. And all the time -- it was but fear, that you hid in guise of pride.
[he cannot answer. Suddenly loud:]
Edrahil! What will you do to me, mad lovesick fool that I was, and am, that left me so long cold and grey before I was brought to this, and now are come back to trouble my rest and drive me mad once more with your aloofness and your mistral moods, that I cannot follow, being that they change quicker than the wind, so that not even my namesake gull could match them?
[he clutches Beren's arm harder, too stricken to notice or care about the audience or the audience's distress]
[she turns her attention towards him again, waiting, and he sighs]
I was going to ask you not to be angry with him any more about leaving, but that isn't it, is it? You two had problems way back before the Return. That was stupid of me. But he is different now.
[She moves even closer to them and reaches her hand out to Beren, brushing aside his hair to get a better look at his ear and touching his unshaven cheek -- not in a rude way, but very childlike in her curiousity -- while staring into his eyes. (Note: all her gestures and attitudes should be very natural and unformal -- it is only dealing with her ex that she is tense and self-conscious.) The Steward checks his defensive reaction, looking away with an anguished expression.]
Teler Maid: [amazed]
--Aftercomer. You are so very different from they who company you.
So are you.
Teler Maid: [suspicious]
Howso mean you?
You don't tower over me.
Are all your folk so short, then?
Nah, I'm about in the middle. I was kind of tall for my tribe, 'cause my mother's folk are tall, as tall as Noldor most of them, but the Haladin are a lot shorter than we are. I should explain -- the People of Haleth are another tribe of Men who live in a different part of Beleriand. So did Hador -- that's Ma's side -- but they lived in another different part, up by the High King's holdings.
[she frowns at him doubtfully]
I probably shouldn't have brought that up, because of the Kinslaying.
[the Sea-elf continues to give him a dubious Look]
Only maybe you don't know about how Fingon is the High King now -- only that's just the High King in Middle-earth, not here, of course. Or does everybody here know about King Fingolfin? Not that this is really relevant…
[he trails off]
I am not following your words well -- but I think that it all comes to your first "no."
Everyone here will tell you that I do a real good job of confusing people with my explanations, not just Lord Edrahil here.
Teler Maid: [challengingly]
You know that he was one of those most resenting of the notion that your people should have our place, and those lands of Middle-earth that had been ours, and should have been yet, had we not ever crossed over the Sea?
Yeah. He told me all about how Morgoth used to play on each person's vanity and goals like a harp, even the ones that he never said out loud, and how nobody realized it until it was all over.
Teler Maid: [short laugh]
If he had but listened half so well to me!
[None of them can say anything to this -- she turns away distractedly and begins to wander off, oblivious of the curious and concerned looks of former aquaintances.]
[she turns back and looks at him, waiting.]
Did you truly think -- that I had taken part -- in those murders?
Sometimes. --When I was most particularly angry, or surpassingly sad. --Which was the most of the time. --I want to see Lord Ingold.
He's off on a mission at the moment.
What quaint manner of jargon is that?
Sorry. He's gone upon an errand and he didn't say whither.
Teler Maid: [uncertainly]
Is Lady Nienna here? I think -- that I need to talk to her.
I haven't seen her about. But she might well be. --Do you want me to go with you and help you look for her?
Teler Maid: [shaking her head]
No. I need to think -- without being talked at.
[she vanishes abruptly -- the Captain sighs.]
Say what you would.
[he does not say anything further]
Steward: [tiredly -- to Beren]
As well yourself.
[Beren shakes his head]
You didn't owe me that. It wasn't any of my business before.
[the other stops leaning on him and moves a few paces away, still looking dazed and lost -- Beren follows, staying at his elbow]
It is not necessary that you hover so.
I don't want you to fade, sir.
Unlike yourself, there is no place else for me to go.
Couldn't you go all sort of not there like she did, or like the K-- like you said Finrod did about me?
I have too many responsibilities for such self-indulgence.
I do not mean to accuse our lord of such -- only that there are those whose behavior is disproportionate to their suffering. --Nor would I imply that your near-fading was of the same.
I know, sir.
Steward: [less remotely]
Thank you for your kindness, and your support. I know well that I am…
--I would have said,
Steward: [brief involuntary smile]
--and waspish of humour, and despite what you have often alleged, it is not "all an act" -- I truly am of a chill and critical nature, against which I must ever contend--
Well, you keep winning.
You're most kind.
[straightening his shoulders]
I am all right. I shall manage.
You're still shaking, sir.
I am still undone.
[Huan gets up and comes over, somewhat uncertainly, to lean his head over the Steward's shoulder -- the latter does not shrug him off, but rather pats his nose a little absently as if it were the Hound who was in need of comfort]
You should also know -- Lady Nerdanel is here. She arrived after you left, in conjunction with him--
[he nods towards where Finarfin is lost in meditation; his colleague glances over, then looks at him bleakly]
I thought you might not have noticed yet, either. It seems only the broadest outlines of our disaster reached them before. However it goes, it's probably going to be not unlike the Princes towards their brother, only worse.
[the Steward continues to regard him in silence.]
I thought you'd rather be surprised now than surprised later.
The notion of retreating for the rest of the yen has ever-increasing appeal.
My problems hardly seem much compared to yours. I mean, even our fights -- we only had a couple months of arguing and it was all about the same thing. Not centuries. And how complicated can it get? Who here doesn't have family mad at them here?
Youngest Ranger: [quiet]
--Er…me. --As far as I know.
I swear, this is worse than any of the grazing-drainage disagreements in Drun! I mean, you all knew each other, or worked for each other, or were related to each other, and then you fought, and went away, and now you're back and people aren't speaking to you, or each other because of you, and these are all the same people.
Soldier: [aside to the Warrior]
That's got to be the shortest version of the Noldolante ever.
Beren: [getting more upset]
What are you going to do? Even if you wait a hundred and whatever years, is it going to fix things? If she's--
[glancing at the doorway]
--still furious with him--
[to the Steward]
--and your girlfriend's still angry at you -- and all your parents! -- after what, four hundred sixty years? That's not going to make a difference. What's going to happen to you out there?
This, at least, is one trouble for which you cannot blame yourself.
Don't underestimate Beren. Dangerous thing, that.
I'm sure that if we give him a little bit of time, he'll manage to figure out some way he's responsible for Alqualonde.
Why stop at the Kinslaying? Why not everything in the world? I'm sure that with some thought, every possible misfortune in Arda could be laid at Beren's door.
An interesting problem, to be sure. --Are we limiting ourselves to material causality, or are we admitting metaphysical causality as well? For if the latter, I think it should hardly be any challenge at all.
Beren: [raising his hand in protest]
Oh, come on--
[The Steward gives him a very small, very knowing smile -- distractions.]
Start making the list, Edrahil--