7. The Sixth Cloak
The sun was low and the light in the bower began to fade. With a gentle incline of her head, Maedhvel lifted the cloth closer to her eyes and continued sewing. She was hemming the collar with even silvery stitches.
"This cloak is for one who has strength of heart and of thinking," she said. "He comes from a firm-minded people. I could see that he has sought knowledge beyond the confines of his country and he knows how to order things well. He plans and arranges, instructs and decides. He is destined to be a leader among his people."
"And yet I saw fear in him and doubt," said Salabeth.
"That is so. He is out of his depth," said Belegwen. "The firm ground he has always stood on is beneath his feet no more, and he is like one who has dived into a river and found it deeper and stronger than expected. He sees himself swept away by wild waters."
Aerwing nodded. "I saw that, too, Belegwen. But the day has worn out and it is getting too dark for sewing. We will end our work and have a sip of wine while we talk."
They folded the garments and tidied away their needles and scissors. Parvelui rose to fetch the flask and poured out the sweet smelling wine. Moving softly on unshod feet, she lit the lamps one by one until the room was filled with a glimmering of gold and green. The others stretched their arms and rubbed their eyes. Around them, voices emerged, some nearer, some far. The city of Caras Galadhon was ringing with songs, but Lindhris sat in silence.
"What do you think about your cloak now, Maedhvel?" asked Salabeth. "What will you wish for its wearer?"
"What can I wish for someone who feels washed away by a flood? It is not only the quest that has done this to him. It is the might of his companions that makes him feel smaller even than he is. All the time he is forced to look up, after he has been used to being a figure of some authority. This smothers his confidence."
"He won't be so easily drowned," Faenchiriel said. "Wherever the current may take him, I would have him return to his people with his head held high."
Maedhvel put her hand on the cloak that lay folded by her side.
"So would I. With all that is given to me, I wish him courage, when the right time comes, and strength to do whatever deed must be done in the hour of need. If my blessing on this cloak is not in vain, then he will gain honour and renown."
They sat for another while, listening to the voices among the trees. Then one by one they glided out of the room and made their way to their sleeping chambers, passing through the night like wisps of cloud.