55. Scene V.ix
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Luthien has recovered some of her usual animation and is telling about her past experiences in a tone made more vigorous by indignation, though there is a very tenuous quality to it, like a gap between clouds on a midsummer day. (Huan has finagled the Steward into allowing him to rest his head on the Elf-lord's lap, and now is lying on the dais like a docile, napping Kodiak bear, enjoying non-stop if absent-minded ear scratching.)]
I was so completely in shock. I didn't honestly know what I was feeling at the moment -- it was as though I were watching myself and wondering what it was this person was going to do now, as if I were hearing a tale about someone that this was all happening to. And convinced that it wasn't actually going to happen -- that I was having a nightmare, just like a mortal, not that it was real, but that somehow I was going to break out of it and find it was only a dream gone bad. Or if it was real, surely it wouldn't really play through to the end of the verse -- that Dad wasn't really serious, that Mom wasn't going to pretend she didn't know what was happening right outside our front door, which was a pretty impressive bit of self-deception given all the work it was to set up rigging and build a full-fledged house, not just a flet, all the way up in Hirilorn.
[looking rather anxiously at Finrod]
Was I wrong? Was I stupid to refuse to give in, and just lie about it, and pretend to agree to give up Beren, and then leave? Instead of telling the truth, that I couldn't make that promise in conscience, or honor it if I gave it?
Finrod: [quiet but earnest]
No. Trying to do evil so that good will come of it is hopeless. It would have made everything worse eventually.
[she frowns with a bitter expression, not at him but abstractedly]
I still don't understand it. --Especially Mom. Even after we came home I couldn't get any straight answers out of her. --Any answers, really. If she knew Beren was there, why didn't she tell Dad right off? If she knew I was seeing him, why did she say nothing to any of us, not even me? I know they fought about her silence after he found out that I'd gone to her for advice and she didn't say anything to him about what I said, but -- and then she didn't stop me, but she didn't help me either, but then she sort of did by not preventing me by interfering. So I just don't get it.
Belike her tenderness towards thee did differ in small wise from thine own most fearful love and striving to hold safe withal thy Beren from his fate?
Yes, but then why did she not not get involved as much as she did get involved?
There's naught of sense in that.
Actually, it isn't really any different from us wondering why the gods back home didn't stop things before they got out of hand.
--Here. We are home, brother.
Aye, and here's the end forewarnéd of such rebel thinking!
[Finrod looks away in distress; Luthien clasps his hand in sympathy]
Indeed, here we are -- and do you know, I've heard more harping on that one note in the last hour, than I have in the past ten years since we were killed, from the Powers that rule here?
More like twelve -- no, thirteen, by now.
[Amarie's expression is set as stone]
Actually, Nessa was very definite that they don't and didn't know everything that's going on in the world, only lots of it. I didn't get any sense that she was lying, or even shading the truth, to me.
Nerdanel: [with a touch of trouble-making]
Nay, 'ware thee, cousin, else my niece-by-love be troubled to heart's veriest heart by thy most impertinent impieties.
[the living Vanyar lady reacts with an angry glare]
Angrod: [frowning, with both resentment and confusion in his tone]
Though that still leaves the question of how they managed not to realize what we were up to, right next door to us as it were.
Fingolfin: [tolerant, but sad]
Nay, lad, have you forgotten so swiftly, that we did all in our power to conceal our activities, and dissembled with smiling faces and lying silence, at the first, and then with the guise of our heraldry and devices, making it seem but one more new thing we had devised, no more than letters, or the symbolism of colors and other such languages, hiding our swords' forging beneath this covering most open to the eye, as we covered our resentments beneath words of flattery and studiousness that did but steal all that teaching so freely given -- and why should they mistrust us from the first, that had given us no cause to hate them? If you would be judged fairly, you must be as just in your own turn.
[his nephew bridles a bit at being so rebuked, but nevertheless is thoughtful and silent at his words; his living kin regard him with bemusement, but only his daughter-in-law actually says anything:]
Elenwe: [surprised tone]
Verily, is't thou, Fingolfin?!
[in the awkward interval of Valinorean surprise at the fact that Feanor's eldest brother is talking about prudence and dispassionate perspective]
I'd regret the fact that this son of Finwe has learned mercy and wisdom -- even a little -- too late; but I know my Master and her brother would sigh and look at me oddly until I figured out why -- so I suppose I've got to figure it out before I say it to them.
[as the common family chagrin is set aside in a spontaneous return to the subject, simultaneously:]
About Melian -- I've been thinking--
Haply else 'twere thy mother's--
[they both stop at once at the realization that the other is also speaking, and look at each other warily, waiting/indicating for the other to go on. Finarfin shakes his head a little, and after a second Finrod continues, a little more self-consciously]
If in fact Beren's Doom was to--
[he is cut off by the Princess of Doriath]
Luthien: [intense exasperation]
--Did he say that to you, too? Mablung told me that, what his last words were -- but it isn't true, it can't be, and if you think so then--
[Finrod makes hasty shushing gestures and she stops mid-rant with an apologetic Look]
Let's just assume, for the sake of argument, that Beren is right -- at least in part; that he was meant to recover the Light of the Trees from the Lord of Fetters, even if nothing went as it ideally should have. --Please note, cousin, I didn't say, "even if he bungled it." I don't think that any single one of us -- not even Elu Thingol -- is responsible for the scale of this fiasco, any more than any one of us--
[glancing round at his brothers, companions, and uncle]
--is responsible for the failure of the Leaguer. Considering the level of Power you were up against, it's more than amazing you three succeeded in so far as you did. Beginning from that premise, ask yourself what Melian was supposed to do.
You mean in a Fate sense of "supposed," not "what was I supposed to do?" the way people usually mean when they say that.
[she shakes her head impatiently]
Finrod, I'm too tired for guessing games.
Well, if you were meant to help him -- because it's not in question that he couldn't have done it alone any more than, as it turned out, I could have -- then it would be Melian's duty as one of the loyal Powers to assist in the project to steal back the Silmarils. Right?
Nerdanel: [passionately, shaking her head]
Yet how should any parent -- any that's deserving of the name -- consent and moreover gladly thereto, that the child most beloved and so long reared and sheltered, now doth go afield and into most grievesome dangers, into fell perils and woes both certain and uncertain, nor ever but restrain as she is able?
Ambassador: [to Luthien]
The lady has put it quaintly, yet as well as any might, my Princess.
Luthien: [to Finrod]
Now I'm going to sound very contrary -- but I'm going to agree. I don't like the thought of Mom having -- an ulterior duty of some sort, beyond to us -- we're her family after all! -- but that--
[shaking her head]
--just sounds too -- too creepy. And if it is true--
[breaks off, biting her lip]
Eol: [macabre glee]
--It's pretty funny, if it is -- great Melian, daunted by nothing in the whole wide World, singlehandedly holding back the power of the Dark Lord, handing out bread and wisdom all these years for the grateful masses and her adoring husband -- and coming quite to pieces because with all her legendary foresight she wasn't prepared for her daughter taking after her -- and up with a travelling stranger. Who'd have thought of it, Fate catching up with the runaway goddess at last, her thinking she'd done her divine duties by looking after the poor benighted savages and it not being what she'd thought at all. It's easy to do what you please, and fancy yourself virtuous, isn't it? Much harder when you have to give up something that really matters -- like your child.
[Aredhel growls at him under her breath, gripping the hilt of her dagger as if about to hurl it at him]
Mom's not like that at all!
Eol: [maddeningly patronizing]
Well, of course you wouldn't see it, young demigoddess.
Teler Maid: [aside, to the Guard nearest her]
Has he truly killed someone once?
Third Guard: [nodding]
[the Sea-Elf stares at Eol with spooked horror, covertly]
Lord Eol, you wrong not only our Queen and King, but our entire people with your groundless mockery.
Yes, well, you always did know what board your bread was on, didn't you?
[the Captain gestures covertly to his team, and four of the Ten get up and surround Thingol's kinsman promptly]
Captain: [to Finrod and Luthien]
How far into the floor did you want him?
Oh, just leave him alone -- his is just a warped version of what I was going to say. And it won't do him any good to beat him up, I'm afraid.
[all of the Noldor shades present look faintly disappointed, as does the Doriathrin Ambassador, though the Teler Maid has only expressed alarm at the prospect, and Elenwe more amused, if slightly disapproving, than anything else]
Soldier: [aside, wistfully]
But he deserves it…
Yes, but he doesn't seem to realize that, and I don't think it will help him to, either.
[turning back to Finrod as the disappointed Elf-warriors leave her alienated cousin alone, with visible regret]
Because if that's true -- not only is it creepy and disturbing, but then I'd have to feel sorry for her, too. And I know I said it felt like I was the only grown-up and sane Elf in Menegroth then, but I don't really want it to have been the case -- that I was more mature and responsible than Mom during all of this. Because that's what it would really mean, if it was right and proper for me to pity her for being in over her head and not able to cope.
I didn't say it was going
to be a cheerful conclusion at all. I'm a little unsettled by the one I
reached long ago and whose implications I'm still working out, that I was
supposed to go to Middle-earth.
[looking at his father intensely]
In the Doomed sense of the word.
[there is a moment of uncertain silence from his family; Huan lifts his head and gives Finrod an attentive Look]
What, in the Song?
[the Steward winces, and there is a general bracing of selves among Finrod's following as their sovereign gives his consort a long, cool Look in turn, before there is an intervention]
Most assuredly, such is th'import of thy lord his words.
Oh, but there's an easy answer -- return to all reproach, that most pridefully declareth -- 'Twas Foredoomed so, therefore I may bear no guilt in this--!
Aredhel: [piqued aside]
Didn't we hear all this when we left? Do we need more sanctimonious lecturing, really?
[she goes back to knife-juggling with a bored expression, while the Apprentice listens with intent curiosity -- but no surprise or disapproval, apparently unaware that his non-reaction is noted with interest by various of the Ten]
Far from, for still 'tis no answer to that which each must ask unto heart its inmost heart -- did I but follow "ought" unto Doom, else did I but Doom mine own self for aught of pride, else folly? --Still less what purpose should be served, by such a cross-grained mandate, nor whether it be fulfilled by deed, by undoing, else by failure. And there's but the least and eke the simplest portion of't. For if it be so, then must be asked thereafter -- what signifieth this, that the One should ordain such strife amongst his Children, nay, set those who strive to remain in tune at discords, each unto each the other?
I didn't realize you'd thought this through as well--
Some do spend these measureless hours in anger, some in despite, some in despair -- some had rather go busily to and fro making many diverse sorts of affairs and contentions, whilst some others rather do occupy the passing Ages in deep seekings after wisdom, the better to comprehend their Doom.
Finrod: [mock affront]
I'll have you know, I don't spend all my time dashing about starting trouble!
There's a great change, assuredly.
[Amarie breaks impatiently into their affectionate teasing]
Yet thou dost hold it within potentiality, no less, that deeds done against the will of Manwe, nay, in willful disrespect of, as well as all that's done by cause of such thereafter -- might yet be holy, and sanctioned by a higher Power oversetting yet?
Out on thee, cousin!
[the Vanyar ghost looks up at the vaulted ceiling, her expression ironic]
Not yet, I.
[the living Elf-King leans forward, earnest rather than perturbed by this cosmic speculation]
Nay, canst make plain unto me, what cause thou holdest warrant for thy certainty, beyond all those with which ye did reproach me heretofore?
If all else had gone the same, except only that I had not gone forward over the Grinding Ice, and all else had fallen out the same but for what had been changed by that--
--which actually would have been fairly significant in the western part of the country, and very uncertain, though I think that whatever the nominal state of things, Galadriel would have ended up running the House overseas, but that isn't what I'm talking about -- in any case--
[back to his serious tone as before distraction]
-- if I had not been there, who then should have met and dealt with Beor when they came into the eastern territories?
Whom, then, meanst thou?
Feanor's children. If anyone.
[longer, speculative silence]
Angrod: [quiet, but upset]
No. No, and no.
I don't mean that's the only.
--But you think it's the most important.
[his eldest brother does not deny it]
Admit it -- you do.
Well -- yes.
[their relatives regard this display of cryptic sibling communication with worry and confusion]
What are you three rattling on about there?
I would have phrased it differently, but -- precisely.
Aglon: [startling those who have forgotten he's present]
He means that the most important Deed he accomplished in the course of the Age, was not to do with the War, nor in spreading the glories of our civilization throughout the disordered wilderness we found there, but simply this -- that he should be the one to discover the Followers, and not my lords' brothers.
[fiercely, to Finrod]
--Is that so?
Essentially, though I'd also phrase it somewhat otherwise.
Aglon: [shaking his head, his eyes fixed on the Elf-King's]
No. I meant -- do you still believe it, now, after -- after what was done to you? --In perfect honesty?
Oh, yes. More so than ever, that it was my Work to find the Secondborn, and lead them, to the knowledge of the West, at least.
[to his lawful relatives]
Something set me in the Eastern Marches in the proper season, in that year of all years, where I had no reason to be then rather than a year before, or ten years after; something called me to follow the sunlight on the distant mountainsides, to yearn more to see the way the fading day should change the lands before me than for the cheerful company of my own kind -- though it seemed no more than the truth of the old saying, that every bit of countryside should be viewed between the ears of a horse, until I heard the singing. --Everything else which I did, or helped in doing, someone else of us could have done, or did.
[to Luthien, quietly]
Only I failed there, too -- and far worse, having so much more by way of resources at my command, than Beren ever could be considered to have done.
[very deliberately she takes his hands in her own, and one after the other raises them to her lips while he blinks away tears]
I keep forgetting, that you've lost Men you loved too -- that it isn't just me.
[she turns to look now at Aegnor, who flinches under her gaze]
Aegnor: [involuntary honesty]
Don't -- please, don't -- I'd rather you hate me than pity me, cousin.
Luthien: [shaking her head]
I'm sorry, I can't help it. Even if I wanted to.
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