64. Scene V.xviii
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Elsewhere: the Corollaire]
At the risk of sounding awful sorry for myself -- I've gotta say you must be pretty disappointed in me. And hard up for Servants.
Why would you think so?
Beren: [staring out over the plain]
Because it didn't matter in the end. You try, and you try, and you do the best you can -- and some bastard comes along and smashes down everything that you built up over the years, and you fight him off and put it back together again, and it just happens all over again, and you can't defend it all, and each time there's less to fix, and whatever you manage to save means that there's something else that you're not protecting, and eventually there's nothing left because it's so much faster to burn things down than to build them. And nothing can grow when everything's being burned and trampled and no one's there to look after things. And finally you have to go, and whever you did is lost and ruined.
[he is struggling to keep from breaking down, his voice unsteady as he finishes]
Yavanna: [a bit sniffly, but proud-sounding]
Yes. Yes, that's it exactly. I knew you'd understand.
[he gives her a strange Look]
It doesn't stop hurting even after thousands of years.
I was talking about -- myself. About us.
And you. --Not just you. --Ma'am.
[she looks intensely into his eyes, until his embarrassment and self-consciousness fade leaving behind only the earnest effort to understand]
I never realized -- that you saw us that way. It seems -- like we'd be, be just too small for you -- for you to notice.
[wordlessly she closes her hand and then opens it, like a conjurer doing a trick, with something tiny -- a pebble perhaps, lying in the middle of her palm. As he frowns at it, she folds her fingers shut and then opens them again -- and something bright, like a dragonfly-sized metallic green-and-gold bumblebee buzzes forth, remaining in a kind of orbit around her -- Beren stares, amazed, trying to figure out what it is, while the Earthqueen smiles, and beckons it closer, until it settles on her forefinger, briefly at rest. Recognizing the avian nature of it, he gasps in amazement, and the hummingbird takes flight again, attracted to the flowers now rising high over the grass where Vana left them.]
That -- is that real?
[laughs at himself, shaking his head]
What is it? I guess it must be one of those creatures that there's only Quenya names for because they don't exist back home. --But that one -- was it real, or did you just make it to show me that? And the vole, only they don't usually have ears like that -- I mean, are they just going to disappear when you stop thinking about them? Or are they real like me, at least?
You're worried about little animals that might be imaginary. Do you still wonder why you're my Champion?
Even hummingbirds dream, though they don't rest much.
So when a -- hummingbird -- dreams, it dreams about you.
About being a hummingbird. I simply called it over. Very few people pay much attention to us, you know. Even here. Quite properly -- this isn't for us, after all.
[as he still looks confused]
The Song. Arda. It's for all of you.
Oh. Okay, I see. --Are their eggs really the size of small beans?
That's hard to believe. All right, I get that if you care about a bird that's not much bigger than a big bug, then it's not impossible for you to know about or care about any of us, but that just leaves me even more confused.
And you're quite correct. There's too much of Ea for any one of us to attend to every aspect of all parts of it. That's why it goes without requiring interference, mostly -- why we made it that way. You don't think that I have to come and pollinate every seed and ripen every grain and berry by hand, do you? As if there's enough time for that! We're much better artists than that. Things look after themselves, except when Melkor breaks them.
That seems to happen a lot, though.
That's why we specialize. If I were to allow myself to get as upset about everything of mine that's been wrecked -- let alone everyone else's Work -- as they deserved, I wouldn't be able to function. None of us could. And that would be very bad for the world.
I thought you didn't do everything yourself, though.
You were never lord in your own hall, with your lady at your side -- but your experience and wits should still suffice to tell you, what happens when those who order the moving of others cease to attend.
[after a second he looks down, nodding]
Yeah. It can't go on very long. After -- after my aunt died, my folks did what needed to be done but if my uncle hadn't pulled himself out of it, he wouldn't really have been Beor any more, even if we still would've called him that out of politeness. 'Cause somebody had to make decisions and get stuff done.
But your parents did not do all those tasks themselves, surely?
No. They just had to -- be there, mostly, so people could know that everything was okay enough for them to do their own work and not worry about -- well, everything. They had to do it while my uncle was in mourning and being with my cousins, because he couldn't focus on anything else then.
[pause -- he looks at her very seriously, working his way through it:]
That's -- that's Her job, isn't it? Because somebody has to. Because the world deserves it. Because -- we deserve it.
But the day's work still has to be done and somebody has to make sure there's enough food in the barns and the cellars for winter. Somebody has to greet travelers and make the little ones toys and teach them stories even if you feel like it doesn't matter if the sun comes up ever again. It has to keep going.
You do understand.
Is -- Is it true it would destroy Beleriand, for you all to go there and fight Morgoth up in the far North even? I mean -- I'm not trying to say they were lying to me, but -- are you sure they're not wrong? Maybe?
You do know that the mountains of your birthplace were made in the course of the last war? I mean really know, not just one more strange thing that you've heard the Eldar say that sort of skates past your self's awareness the way a leaf might drift past you in a stream, there and then gone from your mind the next moment?
[giving her a sidelong Look]
Unfortunately that part of the earth isn't my field, if you'll excuse the joke -- such a curious thing, using words as toys, I still don't understand how the Eldar came up with it -- but my husband's, and when he starts talking about subduction and transverse faults and so on my mind starts glazing over. The best way I can explain it is that mountains have to come from somewhere, and something has to go in where they used to be; you can't just have nothing, not within the World. Look--
[she spreads out the hem of her skirt in front of her and manifests a handful of fine sand, sprinkling it over the fabric so that it fills up between where the grass makes rises in the cloth]
This is water. It goes wherever the ground is lowest, you know that.
Because it's always trying to get back to its home.
[she nods. Sprinkling a handful of small flower petals in between, covering the rest of the cloth]
This is everything else. Now--
[she pinches up part of the hem]
--this is what happens when you lift up a mountain in the middle of it. Sort of.
[as she pulls the tented cloth higher, all the sand and organic matter pours together and starts running into the grass]
Aule would laugh at me and tell you this was all wrong, and then go into an explanation that would leave you thinking that the earth was really made out of numbers instead, but as analogies go, it's pretty accurate really. You have to imagine that it's happening in fits and starts and that the fabric of the crust is more brittle in places and so it rips and the hot melted parts that keep everything going are coming out through the holes.
[he points to a place where some of the biomass has caught in a fold]
Beren: [very quietly]
There's still a little bit left.
How is it doing?
It looks all mixed together to me.
[Beren doesn't say anything]
Something would survive. It did the first time, and last time as well. But the ocean will move in where the ground pushes in--
[she presses down the edge of her skirt into the grass, which dips over the hem as the remaining sand spills off]
--and the fires which come up will burn what is near them, and that will cause storms much worse than the seasonal ones--
[she blows at the flower petals, which drift away]
--and what was done to Dorthonion in the course of trying to chivy you out will seem like nothing by comparison.
Do you really want that to happen to Middle-earth? Even if it does come as the price of Melkor's defeat?
[he shakes his head, not looking up. She smooths his hair and rubs his back in a consoling gesture]
--Neither do I.