|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“Silver Window, Flowing Fate”
Those wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine –
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine
All wreathes with faerie fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.
…And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy gray eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams,
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.
"To One in Paradise”, st.1 & st. 4
Edgar Allan Poe
Paladin sighed in relief upon seeing his son again, although he was somewhat troubled by the question Pippin had asked. He watched his son’s eyes light up and heard him gasp when the storyteller said the person had been a hobbit, and a Took. Pippin was excited and no doubt wanted to hear more. Paladin spoke without allowing his eyes to stray from the vision lest it fade away, taking his child with it. “Why does he need to know this tale? How much has he already been told? He’s far too young to hear such things, and no one has even asked my leave to tell him all of this.”
He has need of this knowledge. He will hear no more, nor any less, than what he requires.
“But he’s too immature to understand! Such tales may frighten him, and cause him to ask questions for which I have no answers.”
Fear not, for he will hold the knowledge within his heart and it will not trouble him, yet it will be there when he needs to draw upon it.
“It would seem you have all the answers sorted out, as usual,” Paladin muttered in irritation as he again sensed growing amusement, although he held his tongue this time. After all, it was most likely for the best to have this entity amused with him, rather than angry.
As it would seem you learn no lesson without a struggle. So be it.
“Will you allow me to reunite with my son now?” Paladin was aware of the pleading tone in his voice; annoyed, he ignored it with no small measure of effort.
Yes, you shall meet presently along the path you now follow.
Paladin rushed ahead, only to find himself drawn back immediately. He balked at the admonishment he knew was coming. “Let me go to him!” he cried.
You shall walk this path with me and hear the remainder of the story, until it is time to reach your son. And you shall make the acquaintance with patience as you proceed. Mark my words, Paladin Took. Your determination will serve you well one day, just as it has throughout this ordeal. But you must learn to harness it as you would one of your beasts of burden, and direct it according to your will, rather than allow yourself to be drawn astray by the same force. For now, be still and listen closely to all that you see and hear.
Paladin fell silent, taking the words to heart at last. He suddenly felt very small and vulnerable, as if he, too, were a lad of Pippin’s age. Was it simply the Spirit’s manner of speaking to him as a parent would a child? Perhaps that was part of it. However, Paladin could feel the ancient wisdom in the Oak Spirit’s words; in an odd way, they carried weight that felt as solid as anything in his surroundings. The words commanded obedience, even if he didn’t entirely understand why it was so.
He turned his attention back to the storyteller. A thought occurred to him as he listened to Alfie speak of Eolande and the hobbit lad. He addressed the Spirit again. “You have called this being ‘Elf Counsellor’. Is she an Elf, then? Or is she of the Daoine Sidhe?”
She is Elven-kind, as well as kin to the people of the Otherworld.
Alfie continued speaking in her soft, musical voice and Paladin listened closely. He smiled at the mention of the yellow primrose Pippin had been given and recalled the day recently when the excited lad had brought it to him. He wished he had paid more mind to what Pippin was talking about that day. He laughed aloud when Pippin glanced at his toy with an obviously guilt-ridden face, no doubt recalling he wasn’t allowed to stray any further than the bottom of the meadow, and how Tulip had stopped him. Pippin apparently had found a very strong voice of conscience in the knitted piglet, and that could only be a good thing. He sobered recalling that for whatever reasons nothing had stopped Pippin from his adventure yesterday. They would need to have a discussion about that once he had him home safe and sound.
The Elf began to speak of the destiny of the Took ancestor and Paladin fixed his attention on his son as he was told there was another young hobbit born to a special purpose. Pippin asked if she was talking about him, and how did she know what was going to happen in the future? “What exactly is she referring to?” Paladin tilted his head as if to hear her better. “What does she mean in saying that my child has a crucial task to complete one day?”
Listen with your heart as well as your ears. You too, will understand when the time is right.
Paladin sighed and resisted the temptation to roll his eyes as Pippin so often did whenever the lad was given an ambiguous answer. Another thought occurred to him. “She says my ancestor’s son was bade not to reveal what he knew of his mother and her people. Yet, it’s apparent that something about what happened must have been discovered along the way. Why else would this tale have been handed down amongst generations of Tooks? And be spoken of only in whispers late at night,” he said, recalling the condescending looks his granda had often received while speaking of the Great Battle. “And few believed him,” Paladin added, his voice soft.
Yes, few of your relatives took the legend seriously. Yet, there were those, including yourself, who knew in their hearts that it was so. That it was not a question of belief; rather, it was a search for enlightenment. Those of your kin who possess the Dha Shealladh feel this strongly.
Paladin found himself nodding in agreement. He had heard his granda use that term when referring to the Sight. That odd way of knowing things, of seeing what others did not. Yes, there had always been something…a feeling of empathy, or a queer certainty that his grandfather was sincere in his beliefs. Paladin had sought answers, but instead had uncovered only more questions. The one time he had summoned the nerve to ask his father about the stories, he’d been scolded soundly for his covert behaviour and warned not to eavesdrop on his elders. Paladin had never approached anyone with his questions again. Somehow he couldn’t imagine Pippin giving up as easily as he had.
Alfie rose and offered her hands to both children, drawing his attention back to her and he became anxious again. “What is happening now?”
They will go to the duin and there they will say their farewells. But first, she has a gift to bestow upon your son.
“What sort of ‘gift’ are you talking about?” Paladin’s brow climbed into his hairline and he eyed the Elf with suspicion.
A significant gift. One he should be encouraged to treasure.
“Come children, it is time.” Alfie led Pippin and Rhoswen into the woodland, following the path towards the river Cenedril o’galad. There she stopped and invited both to kneel alongside her.
Paladin grew frantic. “She is not—she cannot allow him to--”
Fear not, he will not be allowed to drink of the waters.
Paladin tried to calm his racing heart, but its pounding did not slow until he saw that the Elf indeed did not intend for Pippin to drink from the river. He blew out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, feeling dizzy with relief.
Alfie dipped her fingers into the sparkling liquid at the same time she began to sing in a soft voice. Rhoswen beamed at Pippin, who returned her grin with one of his own. Even Tulip was awed by the strange ceremony as she watched from her perch inside Pippin’s collar. Oddly, she felt no need to caution her lad.
“Close your eyes, Peregrin,” Alfie murmured, and when he had, she touched her fingers to his eyelids and continued her song. “You may open them,” she said after several moments had passed.
Pippin darted a look around, unsure what to expect. “What did you do that for?”
“You are already blessed with the gift of Dha Shealladh, the Sight, as it is known among your people. I have added an Elven blessing to enhance your trait, and one day, when you need it most, it will serve you well. And you will see the Daoine Sidhe whenever they are near. The waters of the duin will serve you.” Alfie leaned over and laid a gentle kiss on Pippin’s brow, and pressed a small object into his palm.
“The Sight?” Pippin murmured. “I’ve heard--what’s this?” Pippin turned the small gray stone over in his hands, examining it in surprise. It was worn smooth by the waters of the river, and held an unusual sparkle within. In the center of the stone was a small hole and Pippin held it up to his eye and looked through it.
“It is known in your tongue as a Faerie Stone, Peregrin. Keep it always.”
“I will!” The excitement on Pippin’s face faded as he looked up at the Elf with a sad smile. “Will I ever see you again?”
“Time will tell, my dear, young Took,” Alfie said with a wink and a mystifying nod.
Rhoswen hugged him enthusiastically, and kissed his cheek. “I am certain you will, Peregrin.”
Tulip squeaked as she was pressed between them. Pippin chuckled, extracting her from the front of his shirt and placing her on his shoulder. “I’m very glad to hear that. I would miss you even more if I thought we’d never see one another again.”
Rhoswen slanted a glance at Alfie, then leaned forward and gave her friend another kiss, causing the Elf to laugh at the little one’s antics. Rhoswen also pressed something into Pippin’s hand, and he studied it curiously, running his fingers over its smoothly worn edge. “A coin?” Pippin raised his brow in question.
“A very old coin, Peregrin. I hope it will remind you of the story about your ancestor, as well as the time we have spent here together.”
“I’m sure it will! Thank you, Rhoswen.”
“You are welcome.”
Pippin held his toy up. “Will you give Tulip a special blessing too, Alfie?” The knitted piglet squeaked with delight and the Elf laughed. Her laughter was like music to Pippin’s ears and his smile widened as she took the piglet from him and placed Tulip upon her lap.
“Of course. We could not allow Tulip to feel left out.” Alfie cupped her hands into the sparkling river once more and then pressed her fingers to Tulip’s embroidered eyes, murmuring a few words for the piglet’s ears alone. She gave Tulip back to Pippin with a smile. “Your companion was fashioned with your mother’s love, Peregrin. I think she will always watch over you.”
Pippin chuckled and winked at Tulip before tucking her back inside his shirt. “I think she watches over me a little too carefully sometimes,” he told Alfie.
“Ah, but in your case there is no such thing!” Alfie gathered Pippin in her arms and whispered something into his ear before turning him towards the woods with a nudge. “Go now child, your father is waiting for you there, just beyond that clearing where the three trees meet. You see it, yes?”
“Aye!” Pippin cried and trotted off, then stopped and turned back to his friends one last time. “Thank you for taking care of me, Alfie. Goodbye Rhoswen!”
“Namárië, Peregrin Took,” Alfie called.
“Farewell, Peregrin!” Rhoswen waved excitedly.
Pippin returned her wave before turning and sprinting towards the trees fearlessly…and straight into his father’s waiting arms.
Paladin rushed forward when he saw his small son running towards him and gathered him up into his arms at long last, embracing him fiercely. Tears ran down his face unchecked, and when he pulled back he saw that Pippin’s eyes were bright, but he wasn’t weeping. Instead, he was grinning from ear to ear.
“I missed you, Da!”
Paladin groaned and hugged Pippin to him again with a sob, rocking him back and forth. “We’ve been so worried…oh, mercy…I was so frightened for you…” Paladin felt an insistent tap on his shoulder and drew Pippin back again to find his son giving him his most engaging, impish grin along with a half-shrug. Paladin’s heart swelled with pleasure.
“But I’m all right, Da!” Pippin giggled as his small hands patted his father’s wet cheeks. “Don’t cry!”
Paladin couldn’t resist a shake of his head before bouncing Pippin in his arms. “Aye, so you are! What do you say we get you home now to see your mum, so she’ll quit worrying too?”
“Yes!” Pippin flung himself onto his father’s shoulder and hugged him enthusiastically.
Paladin turned and started walking. He seemed to know which direction to head and he breathed a quiet word of thanks to the Spirit of the Oak for its guidance. He smiled as a strong feeling of warmth overcame him just as it had before; he knew a heartfelt hug when he received one.
“I will,” Paladin promised in a whisper.
Pippin had been asleep on his shoulder for some time when they emerged at last from the dense cover of the mighty oak, ash, and thorn near the clearing where he had last seen his friends. He looked up at Milo’s shout to the others, and grinned, placing a finger to his lips to indicate Pippin was asleep as his cousin ran towards him.
“Look! It’s Pad! It’s Pad, and he’s found Pippin!” Milo gestured wildly over his shoulder to his fellow searchers.
“Pad, wherever did you disappear to?” his cousin asked. “We were just starting to look for you and here you are already, and with Pippin too! What happened? Did you know right where to look?” Milo grinned and patted Paladin on the back as he shook his head in amazement. “My goodness, I can’t believe it. It’s as if you knew precisely where to go and find him.”
Paladin smiled ever so slightly. It would seem then that very little time had passed in this world while he was gone. “Come lads, let’s be getting this young one home to his mother. Help me, will you?” He placed the stirring child in Milo’s arms while he mounted his pony and then reached down for him, settling Pippin in front of him in the saddle. “Let’s go!” With that, he coaxed the pony around and started off without waiting for the rest of them.
Eglantine lay motionless in the darkened room, every minute that passed without word from her husband stabbed at her heart with an almost physical pain. It had been far too long and she was finding it increasingly difficult not to give in to her growing despair. She dared not give free rein to the dark feelings that festered in her soul as the night aged. Beside her, Esmie sat attentively, holding her hand and saying nothing for the time being. Together, they listened to the night sounds in the still farmhouse, sounds that would have felt comforting at other times. A light, warm breeze wandered in through the open window, causing the lacy curtains to lift gently back, revealing the moonlit night. Somewhere in the distance a night owl hooted and Eglantine shivered and squeezed Esmeralda’s hand. They held that pose for several minutes, neither one speaking.
At last, Eglantine released a little sigh, and Esmie knew she was weeping. “Tina, are you certain you wouldn’t care to take just a wee dose of sleeping powders? You are utterly exhausted, dear.” She felt, rather than saw, her sister-in-law shake her head from side to side. “Perhaps a cup of tea, then?”
“In awhile, perhaps, Esmie. Not now.” The pair fell silent once more until Tina spoke into the darkness a few minutes later. “How…how does a mother…prepare herself for the worst…?”
“No, Tina.” Esmeralda squeezed the hand she held, and shook her head. “Don’t start thinking like that, now. You are completely worn out. Why, you’ve had no sleep at all in two days, and small wonder your mind is starting to wander in the wrong direction.”
“Is it the wrong one?” Eglantine struggled to a sitting position and Esmie moved to the bed to sit beside her, one arm squeezing her shoulders in comfort.
Pulling her friend close, she whispered, “Yes, it is. My brother will leave no stone unturned until he finds his son.”
Eglantine buried her face in both hands and sobbed. “There are some things even a father can’t fix, Esmie.”
Esmeralda tightened her grip. “Paladin will not fail you, Tina. I know it in my heart. Pippin is alive and well, and you’d feel it too, if you weren’t so drained.”
“How do you know that?”
Esmeralda hesitated. “Because…I do. That’s all. He will be found safe, and I haven’t thought otherwise for a moment since I found out he’d gone missing.” She chuckled softly, “Oh my, for such a young lad you certainly can count enough times when his antics have set you to fretting over him. Why, remember the time, just last autumn, I think it was, when he was convinced he could fly like a bird if only he set his mind to it?”
“Oh, mercy,” Eglantine half-chuckled, half-groaned at the memory. “He climbed up on the roof of the shed and scrambled his way up into the big oak out back of the barn, and--”
“And then called out for us to watch, because he was going to fly straight across the barn!”
“Oh, I have never been so frightened in my entire life, as I was at that moment! Pippin had both of his arms spread out like a bird, and he was ready to leap!”
“Aye, and I remember poor Pad was as pale as fresh milk in his panic. But he kept his head and was right there to catch him when Pippin tumbled out of that tree like a stone from a catapult, rather than soaring like a bird!”
“Oh, dear, you’re right, Esmie.” Eglantine pressed a hand to her forehead. “I thought I was going to swoon on the spot.”
“And my poor Merry, trying to get there in time to help his uncle catch him. I remember the shriek the poor boy let out when he saw Pippin falling, and I suppose I was screaming too, by then. But there was Pad, rushing up to the tree just in time, and a moment later had his arms full of his giggling lad!” Esmeralda bent forward with her laughter. “What a surprised look my brother had on his face! Not to mention Pip, who couldn’t understand why everyone was so upset.”
“Ah, yes, that’s my boy. Always way too daring for such a wee young lad. Why, I shudder to think just what kind of mischief he’ll be getting himself into as he gets older, whenever I see the kinds of things he’s already doing!”
“Yes indeed, you and Paladin may have to put him on a short lead if he keeps this up--” Esmeralda was interrupted by a sudden commotion outside.
Eglantine rushed to the window, her heart catching in her throat. Were the cries she heard ones of sorrow and grief, or…? She darted a look of panic at Esmie, who was smiling broadly now, her excitement and laughter pouring forth. Could it be? The thud of ponies’ hooves and the shouts of the returning searchers filled the air now and Esmeralda grabbed her the hand and pulled her along.
“Come, Tina! They’re back!”
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|