Scene One: Beleriand First Age of the Sun, the fortress of Fingolfin at Eithel Sirion . . .
The High-king of the Noldor and his court are celebrating the Mereth Aderthad. Harp music drifts out across the grounds. Tables groan under the weight of cheeses and huge dishes of strawberries and cream. Elven lords and ladies stroll about congratulating one another on their good looks, fashion sense, and witty conversation.
At the edge of the meadow, a young tow-haired elf in ragged homespun garments stands clutching a bundle of twigs. "Buy me wood, Guvnor! Buy me wood."
The lords and ladies pass him by without notice, until a dark-haired young fellow, chasing a willowy blonde maiden, brushes past, knocking the bundle to the ground.
"Eh there, ye great Lachenn sod, watch out! This 'ere stuff don't grow on trees, yer know!"
"Maeglin, you should be nicer, even to your inferiors," scolds the blonde maiden." You know what Papa is always telling us."
"Hah -- dark-elf," scoffs the young man. "Uncle Turgon says they're good for tossing off high places but NOT for marrying your sister." The two move on, leaving the poor elf to recover his wood as best he can.
Glancing wistfully toward the castle, the young wood-gatherer sighs. “Born on the wrong side of the sea, I was. If only things ‘ad been different, I might be up there right now ‘stead of wanderin’ the villages sellin’ scraps of wood.
(Sung to the tune of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”)
All I want is a room in there
Far away from the forest air
Where Noldor braid their hair
Just like they do in Tirion.
Lots of plumbing so I can poo
In the warmth of a proper loo
Magic Sindar can't do
Not like they do in Tirion
Aaow, what I wouldn't give to be inside those hallowed walls
Serving Noldor canapés
At Fingolfin's fancy balls
Dressed up sharp in my livery
Basking in Noldor technology
But poor Sindar like me
can only dream of Tirion.
Clutching his twigs, Lindir sits at the base of a statue of Fingolfin and begins retying the bundle together with a bit of twine. A little distance away, a short, odd-looking fellow in yellow boots shakes his head sadly and says to his companion, "You know old friend, it isn't that young Sinda's wretched mass of tangled yellow hair, or even his ragged clothing that keep him in his place and make him the butt of every Noldo's contempt. It's the way he talks. I've never heard such a jumble of howls and clicks! Ring a dong dillo!"
“You are more than right, my friend,” his companion replies, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “I've been around since we all talked this way. I've even been around since we didn't any of us talk at all. The Exiles sound a bit queer to me, if you want Eru's own truth. But with a little work, I could have this young fellow, rough as he is, passing for one of the High-elves before you know it simply by working on that accent of his." As is his wont, he then begins to lecture his curious companion:
(Sung to the tune of “Why Can’t The English Learn To Speak”)
Círdan: Just look at him a prisoner of his verbiage
Struck down with each attempt to sell his herbage
Each word he speaks, each expression, every quip
Falls upon the ear like a Balrog’s whip
Lindir: Man penninog? (What did you say?)
Círdan: Great Eru, what a noise!
If this is what the Sindar in their hubris
Call Elvish then it’s quite beyond endurance
Tom: Roses are red, violets are blue, and so is my jacket. But come sir, you have picked a poor example.
Círdan: Did I?
Just listen to the way he talks,
He’s not alone, the Sindar squawks
Are common in this region I assure you
You there, where is it you abide?
Elf: Oi! With Thingol since ‘e turned aside
Círdan: You see, Tom, how his words are all askew?
The Moriquendi have a way
Of making everything they say
Sound like a flock of Crebain taking flight
A Fell Beast is more musical
When roaring out his mating call
Than this lad here
Lindir: Gin iston? (Do I know you?)
Círdan: I ask you, sir, how can one call that right?
Why can’t the Sindar teach their children how to speak?
The proper use of Elvish should no longer be unique
Why, if you spoke as he does, Tom,
Instead of ring a dong dillo
You too might be using a log for a pillow
Tom: My songs are stronger songs and my feet. . .
Círdan [cutting him off]: A Quendë’s way of speaking announces his geography
Doriath, Lothlórien or Mithlond by the sea
A common language, but with distinct vernaculars
Oh, why can’t the Sindar be spectacular-ly
Proper in their speech?
The Avari and the Nandor all but screech
There are even places where Elvish completely disappears
Why, in Eryn Galen they haven’t spoken it in years
Why can’t the Sindar teach their children how to speak?
The Dwarves are taught their Khuzdul
And the Ents are taught their Beech
In Rohan every Rohirrim knows their Rohanese
Actually, the Rohirrim don’t care what they do as long as they can shout it from horseback
Southron children learn their letters in an open air classroom
The Periannath tongue has several thousand words for ‘shroom
But use proper Elvish and you cause a fit of pique
Oh, why can’t the Sindar
Why can’t the Sindar
Why can’t the Sindar learn to speak?
"I always thought you were a bit daft, Círdan. Hey-nonny-nonny. You'd never bring it off. They'd spot him for an imposter first thing."
"Look who's talking 'daft' Mr. Eccentric Fashion Sense, always spouting your bad poetry! I tell you what, Tom, let's make this more interesting with a little wager. I say I can polish up this tree-running oaf and turn him into an elf-lord the likes of which will fool the High-king himself. If I fail, I'll shave my beard. If I'm successful, you'll do something equally out of character. Hmm . . . By Elbereth, I think I have it. You'll get married. To a woman."
"I saw the best minds of my generation laid low by women," Tom says, shaking his head.
"Who is in 'your’ generation, Tom?"
"You know, Yaweh, Osirus, Zeus..."
"Just some other guys you don't know. But I will take your bet for you can't win, not with this one. Ring a dong dillo."
"Says you! Oh well, finding a woman whose wardrobe won't clash with yours will be your problem. Now, let us go put it to this fellow. Oh, I say, young Master elf . . ."
"Want some of me wood, good sirs?"
"Actually, we wish to make you a proposition."
"A proposition? Oi, I ain't that kind of elf! Me Naneth raised me right, she did."
"Nothing like that, I'm sure, young man. If you will be so kind as to listen, here is what I have in mind. . ."
* * *
Scene Two: Círdan’s House in Eglarest, which, thanks to the magic of musical drama, is within easy walking distance of every other place in Beleriand, and indeed in Middle-earth if it suits our purposes.
A tall, silver-haired elf in a long grey cloak presses the door-button and is promptly squirted in the face by a carved starfish set into the top panel of the door. He mutters angrily and begins to pound with his fist.
"Open up, Círdan, I know you're in there!"
The door is opened by a blushing Falathren housemaid who drops a curtsy and leads the visitor to a private antechamber. Through the closed door drifts the sound of a verbal exchange:
"Ellen silla lummen ahmentillvo."
"No, no! After me -- AY-len SEE-lah LOO-men OH-men TYEL-voh."
"Ellen silla --"
"Gah -- you're hopeless!"
“Awwk! Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo. Awwk!"
“See, he can say it right, why can’t you?”
“My accent may be off but at least I don’t shit on your upholstered chair.”
Círdan comes through the door and stops short at the sight of his visitor.
"Hello, Greycloak. It has been a long time. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?"
"A little bird told me that one of my subjects has taken up residence with you."
"One of Melian's nightingale's, eh? Or perhaps an owl? Maybe from that large blue cursing chicken I bought from a Falathren sailor disembarking from Southern lands?"
"Never you mind how or who, I just want to know what you're up to."
"I suppose you mean young Lindir. I'm giving the lad lessons in diction."
"Oh, pull the other one -- it's got bells on, you bristle-faced codger! I've known you and your proclivities since back at Cuiviénen. Why, Finwë told me that when you all awoke under the stars, two by two, you weren't staring at your wife, you were looking at the fellow on the other side of you. I suspect you're more interested in getting into Lindir's leggings."
"And you've come out of concern for the moral purity of one of your subjects. How very touching."
"Morals be damned. I want to know what's in it for me. I can't go on relying on my luck forever."
(Sung to the tune of “With A Little Bit Of Luck”)
It is the charge of Elves to sail to Aman
Where Elves and Belain live in harmony
It is the charge of Elves to sail to Aman, but…
With a little bit of luck
With a little bit of luck
You’ll get lost before you reach the sea
With a little bit
With a little bit
With a little bit of luck you’ll lose the sea
Maiar were sent by Eru to sustain us
To guide us so in darkness we don’t stray
Maiar were sent by Eru to sustain us, but
With a little bit of luck
With a little bit of luck
You can find one with a kink for Fae
With a little bit
With a little bit
With a little bit of luck
She’s hot for Fae
With a little bit
With a little bit
With a little bit of Elven luck
Oh, you can take the Straight Road fellow
But with a little bit of luck you won’t get stuck (think Glorfindel)
The Dwarves have been our friends and loyal allies
To help us build our homes and keep us free
The Dwarves have been our friends
and loyal allies but
With a little bit of luck
With a little bit of luck
You won’t trust them with your jewelry
With a little bit
With a little bit
With a little bit of luck you’ll learn to duck (when hosting Dwarves)
With a little bit
With a little bit
With a little bit of Elven luck
Círdan makes a face. "Your take on life is unique, but I suppose that consorting with one of the Ainur will do that to a fellow. Do you mind if I recommend you to a young Exile by the name of Finrod Felagund who is interested in matters of morality here in Ennor?"
Ignoring Círdan’s sarcasm, Thingol replies, "I hear good things about the young man. I never met him, but his sister is a frequent visitor to Menegroth, and she seems to have set her cap for my great-nephew. By all means, send him my way -- as long as he speaks nothing but Sindarin in my presence. But meanwhile, you didn't answer my question -- why should I leave Lindir to your gentle rearing, er, 'tutelage'?"
"Here's why, you great silver git. I plan to pass your naive forest lad off as one of the Noldor. Think of the business opportunities of having one of your own moving in Fingolfin's rarified circles! And if not that, wouldn't the joke be delicious revenge for that 'Dark-elf' slur Fëanor’s son lobbed at you?"
"Hmm, as well as for the flying lessons Turgon gave Eol." Both elves bow their heads in a moment of respectful silence. "You've convinced me, Círdan. I wish you luck with your project. I know Lindir, and he isn't one of the sharpest arrows in the quiver, if you catch my drift. I'll leave you to it."
Círdan returns to his study, where he finds Lindir drawing a series of crude scenes in which ships sink, masts snap while crushing their builders, and a bearded stick figure is devoured by a giant squid. "Shall we begin again, Lindir?"
“Awwk! Círdan sucks wet farts out of dead seagulls! Awwk!” says a blue parrot in the corner.
Before Círdan can process this, there comes a knock at the study door and in prances a figure in yellow boots and blue jacket. "Fal lal, merry-dol, old chaps!"
Lindir executes a deep bow. "'Ullo, Tom! Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo."
Círdan’s head snaps around. "What did you just say?"
"He said, ‘a star shines upon the hour of our meeting’, ring a dong dillo."
"I know that," replies Círdan impatiently. "Say it again, Lindir."
Lindir repeats the salutation in perfect Quenya, with a fluid Tirion inflection.
"By Elbereth, I think he's got it,” says Tom. “So much depends upon a red wheel barrow.” Ring a dong dillo!"
"By Elbereth, I think he has got it!" exclaims Círdan and begins to waltz Lindir around the room, exclaiming, "The rain in Balar falls mainly on the Maiar . . ."
* * *
Scene Three: Eithel Sirion, the private box of the Lady Galadriel at the North Beleriand Royal Fancy Dog-show.
Elf lords are strutting about leading hunting dogs -- Mastiffs and Wolfhounds -- on intricately tooled leather harnesses. Smaller dogs prance about on bejeweled collars and leashes. Even smaller dogs protrude from the necks of embroidered satchels carried by Noldorin Elf-ladies.
"I say," exclaims Lindir in horror as he spies an impossibly tiny dog in a wool tunic, light elven shoes on its paws, and a fake quiver of arrows strapped to its back, "who would do such a thing to an innocent beast?"
"Your inflection is impeccable, my boy," says Círdan gently. "But I'm afraid we'll have to work on your small-talk."
"Yes, my dear Lindir," concurs Galadriel primly. "I suggest you stick to discussion of the weather and polite enquiries about everyone's health. I'm afraid those are the only safe subjects for genteel company such as this."
"Not gems? But I thought the Wise-elves were very fond of their jewelry, considering that even the dogs are wearing it."
"Oh gracious no, gemstones are a sore subject among us, especially in regards to my Uncle Fëanor’s side of the family!"
"Bad business, that," mumbles Celeborn at her side. "We never speak of it."
"How about boating?"
Celeborn winces. "Even worse!"
"Winter sports like sledding or ice-fishing?"
Galadriel lets out a little squeak and Círdan whispers into Lindir's ear, "Long story. Don't even ask."
Lindir heaves a sigh. "Very well. Looks like rain, eh what?"
"Hullo, cousin Artanis! Mind if I cut in on your little group for a bit? Uncle Fingolfin is being such a bore this afternoon, droning on and on about the costume on his poodle bitch. I simply had to escape." Without waiting for an answer, a dark-haired young man enters the box and takes a seat between Galadriel and Lindir.
"Of course, Maeglin," Galadriel replies, with a diplomatic tone that belies her expression.
"Always a pleasure," murmurs Celeborn, after a jab in the ribs from his intended.
"I say, who is this vision?" Maeglin exclaims. "I don't believe I've been introduced."
"I'm sure you know Círdan, and surely you must have met his dear friend, Tom Bombadil."
"Indeed," laughs Maeglin. "Tom is impossible to miss."
Tom nods a greeting. “I took the road less traveled by and. . .”
Ignoring him, Galadriel continues on. "In that case, Cousin Maeglin, may I present Lindir, Círdan's . . . houseguest."
"Houseguest, eh? Well, there's nothing wrong with that! How do you do, Lindir?"
"Very well, thank you. And may I enquire of your health?" enunciates Lindir carefully.
"I'm jolly. Frightfully, spiffingly jolly now that I'm sitting next to you."
"And your mother and father -- are they well?" continues Lindir.
"As well as can be expected, considering."
Galadriel begins to make frantic gestures behind Maeglin's head, ending with a finger drawn across her throat.
Lindir takes on the look of a deer in the torchlights. "Er, nice weather we're having, but it looks like rain."
"Eh?" Maeglin turns to Galadriel and says conspiratorially, "Oh well, I never did find brains all that attractive. Present company excluded, Cousin Artanis."
"Hush now, Maeglin, the first class is about to start."
Fifteen owners take the field, all with tiny dogs in various costumes. There are little Balrogs sporting cloaks that might or might not simulate wings. There are little orcs dressed in rough hides and wearing necklaces of skulls. There are spaniels in satin robes. And bringing up the rear is none other than the High-king Fingolfin himself leading his poodle bitch, which he has just reclaimed from its handler.
"Nice quiver and light Elven-shoes!" exclaims Círdan. "It's always so amusing to imitate the rustics."
"I think it's daft," grumbles Maeglin, "There is no way that dog could draw an arrow. But he'll win nonetheless. He always does."
The spectators promenading about the grounds with their charges pause to watch the little dogs trot around the ring before the judge. The crowd simultaneously strikes various poses and sings in chorus:
(Sung to the tune of “Ascot Gavotte”)
All the High-kings, queens, and lords are here
Hoping Orcs and Trolls do not appear
It’s the winsome, positively kinsome
Pageant, the Beleriand Royal Show
In the ring are all the pooches
Waiting for the judge’s final say
What a stirring, positively curring
Moment at the dog show op’ning day
Pulses, tranquil. Faces, facile.
Heart rates, beat slow. After all we are the Elves you know
Any second now, anyone can win
Hark, the judge is silent, he is thinking hard, and look,
What a nail-biter that was
Wond’ring who would win the big blue bow
What a cunning, positively stunning outcome
At the Beleriand Royal Show
Fingolfin steps forward, all smiles, to claim the prize. Celeborn merely shifts uncomfortably as the lady Idril hands the blue ribbon to her uncle, and every other owner pretends to be a good sport.
A herald blows a trumpet to announce the next class -- large dogs. On come Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, Great Hithaeglirs and huge wooly dogs with little kegs of miruvor attached to their collars, all on heavy leather leashes.
"Oh, Eru," groans Maeglin. "Here comes cousin Celegorm with Huan. I say, that's an unfair advantage!"
"Not necessarily," says Círdan with a smirk, as the final contestant, a tall woman in a long dark cloak that resembles bat wings enters the ring dragging a shoulder-high animal on a heavy chain.
"That's not a wolfhound," exclaims Lindir. "That's a wolf!"
The other dogs seem to agree as hackles rise all over the ring and elven-lords struggle to control their dogs. Huan, who has been matter-of-factly lifting his leg on the judges' stand, turns and bares his teeth. “Wolf bad. Huan kill,” he growls.
Everyone stares in amazement, except Tom Bombadil and Galadriel.
“I didn’t know that dog could talk,” Círdan says. “What an atrocious accent.”
"Interesting eyes on that wolfish dog," Tom Bombadil observes. "Red is such an unusual color. Ring a dong dillo!"
"Hold him, Cousin Celegorm!" yells Maeglin, too late as Huan charges and clamps his jaws around the newcomer's neck. Celegorm goes face down in the tanbark.
As the two dogs continue to grapple and roll, the Elf-lords begin to take bets as to who will be the winner. A smaller group takes side bets, carefully out of earshot of the other sons of Fëanor, on how long it will take Celegorm to pick himself up and get the debris out of his hair.
"Come on, Maedhros," Maeglin snickers, "why aren't you lending him a hand?"
The crowd of Elf-ladies assembled at ringside for the next event, scatters shrieking as they are splattered with blood, fur and spittle, their toy spaniels yapping frantically from the necks of their bejeweled purses.
Lindir, forgetting himself in the excitement, leaps to his feet and yells, "Huan, tear him a bloomin' new arse-hole!"
The scene falls into total chaos, as the tall woman unfolds her bat-like cloak and takes to the air, flapping off northward. Her wolf frees himself and runs ky-yiing after her. All eyes are on the two fleeing intruders, save for Maeglin, who stares at Lindir with an air of dawning adoration.
* * *
Scene Four: Two days later, a generic forest in West Beleriand.
Maeglin stands looking about dreamily, with a bouquet of wildflowers in his hand. "So this is where he lives! I don't know what is happening to me. Ever since he said, 'Huan, tear him a new bloomin' arse-hole,' I haven't been able to think straight. The elf-maidens hold no allure. Why, even Idril seems like. . . my cousin."
(Sung to the tune of “On The Street Where You Live”)
I have often strolled on the forest floor
But the ferns were always crushed beneath my boots before
All at once am I, Malinornë talan high
Standing here, ‘neath the tree where you live
All my life I’ve been hid in Gondolin
From a looming war we Elves fear we can never win
Now I’m in your thrall, I say bugger all
I’m content ‘neath the tree where you live
And oh, the feeling come o’er me
When you said . . . what you said at the show
My heart has been finally set free
Now I’m here because I have to let you know
I’ll declare my love for the world to see
Doesn’t matter if you’re Sindar you belong with me
I might be a prince, I don’t give a pence
I’ll wait here, ‘neath the tree where you live
A Nandorin elf wanders past carrying a load of firewood. Maeglin, mistaking him for a servant, says, "I say, old fellow, why does Master Lindir not answer? Surely he lives in some oak or beech hereabouts."
The wood-gatherer shakes his head in disgust. "Thingol's folk live in a cave, ye great Lachenn git. You've just been serenading a squirrel."
In response, the squirrel gestures indignantly at its equally aghast wife and children to emphasize its heterosexuality.
"My mistake, old chap. Where will I find him?"
The Nando points dourly to the west. "Just follow the smell of fish and the cry of the gulls."
‘The last time I followed those directions I ended up in a bawdy house on the wharf,’ Maeglin muses, but he heads west as instructed.
* * *
Scene Five: Fingolfin's fortress at Eithel Sirion again. This time the occasion is a diplomatic afternoon tea held in honor of the visiting King of Nargothrond, Finrod Felagund.
"Well, Lindir," says Círdan, "this is our moment of truth. Either you bring it off today, or we go down to failure. Are you as nervous as I am?"
"I don't see why you should be nervous," Lindir replies. "I'm the one who will be exposed for a fraud if I make a hash of it, and then I'll never get that job buttling for his High Majesty. I did so very much look forward to giving up wood-gathering."
"Poor Tom is the one who is the most worried," says Círdan, pointing at Bombadil, who is wandering about muttering, "Do I dare to eat a peach? I do so prefer a firm banana."
"As for myself," Círdan continues, "there is quite a lot at stake. This beard of mine covers up a congenitally weak chin."
A hush falls when the musicians strike up the anthem of the House of Finarfin and across the lawn come strolling the Lady Galadriel and her brother Finrod, ruler of Nargothrond, arm in arm. They nod graciously to the assembled aristocracy of West Beleriand until they pass Círdan and his little group. As Lindir makes his bow, Finrod whispers something into his sister's ear.
"Oh, Círdan, my dear," she says, turning briefly aside, "could you spare your young protégé for a short time? My brother would like to take a stroll with him."
"There we are, old chap," says Tom as the two of them walk off, "it's sink or swim now."
"I never learned to swim," says Círdan glumly. "I just build the ships. You'll never see me take one to sea."
"Oh dear," says Tom, looking across the greensward. "Círdan, old chap, do you remember that wretched urchin who attached himself to you when he was straight off Fëanor’s boat?"
"How could I forget? Smarmy little fellow," Círdan replies. "I thought I'd never be rid of him, no matter how much polishing I did of his Sindarin pronunciation."
"Well, don't look now but . . ."
"Mae govannen, Mariner," says a voice in mellifluous, plummy tones.
Círdan winces. "Hello there, Erestor. I see you finally got that lingering Lachenn burr out of your diction."
"Oh yes indeed," replies Erestor. "Your prize student is now the master. I have developed a stellar career for myself at functions like these, identifying those would-be aristocrats who aren't all that they seem."
"Had we but world enough and time,” pipes in Tom. “If you’ll excuse me. Ring a dong dillo.” He makes his exit, leaving Círdan to his fate.
"Do you see that dark lass over there talking to Lord Turgon's seneschal?" says Erestor with a sideways nod of his head. "Why, with her raven hair and grey eyes, she might be Noldorin aristocracy, which indeed she purports herself to be." He inclines his head in close. "Avarin. I know it from the way she rolls her letter 'L's."
"Shocking," murmurs Círdan.
"And that tall tow-headed fellow over there by the wine cask?" Erestor continues. "He claims to be a distant cousin of Elu Thingol's and aspires to royalty himself. But he's the son of a Sindarin pig farmer!"
"What letter does he roll?" says Círdan blandly.
"No letters," says Erestor with a high-pitched laugh. "It's the way he drinks, without his pinkie finger extended. Plus, he got drunk one night and told me."
"Elu Thingol never had anything against pig farmers," Círdan mutters, but is interrupted as Lindir comes skipping happily across the grass, his cheeks flushed and his hair flying.
"I say, Lord Finrod Felagund is a charming chap! He tells me he is about to embark on a journey to the north, but when he returns . . ." Lindir trails off as he spies Erestor. "Oh, forgive me. I don't believe we've met."
"Erestor," says Círdan dryly, "I would like you to meet my newest protégé, Lindir."
"Lindir, eh? What kind of a name is that? Oh, never you mind telling me, Círdan," says Erestor, deftly locking his arm with the young elf. "I'll find out soon enough while you lend him to me for a bit. Come, Master Lindir. The two of us can share a glass of wine and explore King Fingolfin's private grotto."
After the other two depart, Tom sidles back over, and he and Círdan snag goblets of wine from the tray of a passing waiter. "I need a drink," Tom mumbles. "I have a lot riding on the next quarter hour. Ring a dong dillo."
"Don't roll your 'R's," says Círdan, stroking his beard wistfully.
"Keep your pinkie straight," whispers Tom.
Three goblets later, Erestor reappears, pointing an accusing finger at Círdan. "Why you bristly-faced old cleverboots! You tried to pull a fraud on all of us, and you'd have succeeded had it not been for me."
"Fraud?" says Círdan. "I'm sure I don’t know what you mean." By now, every person assembled at the High tea is staring in rapt curiosity.
"Master Lindir's Sindarin pronunciation was too good," Erestor replies. "His Quenya as well. That raised my suspicions, so I listened carefully as we spoke. I can now say definitively that he is no educated Sinda, nor is he of Noldorin ancestry!"
Círdan begins to look seasick for the first time in his very long life.
"As I said, he is no Noldo. This elf was born Vanyarin . . . and he is a prince!"
"Alas," says Círdan, stroking his beard lovingly as the rest of the assemblage gasps and begins to applaud. "You got me!"
"Ah, Eru," says Tom Bombadil. "A woman! There is no joy in Mudville!” He faints dead away.
As Círdan and Lindir stand over the prostrate Tom, fanning him gently with a tea tray, a young elf comes running up. "Hello, my name is Edrahil. Has anyone perchance seen Lord Finrod Felagund?" When Círdan and Lindir point in the general direction of the grotto, Edrahil takes off again, yelling, "My lord . . . my lord . . . you forgot your crown . . . Oh, curse it. I'm going to have to run after him all the way to Angband!"
* * *
Scene Six: Círdan’s house in Eglarest, which for our convenience is a short enough walk from Eithel Sirion that the little group arrives at twilight, still in their formal afternoon tea attire.
Círdan and Tom move straight toward the liquor cabinet, while Lindir trails behind, gathering up dropped cloaks. He picks up and holds out Círdan’s light Elven-slippers, but is utterly ignored among the back-slapping and congratulating.
"You did it, you bristle-faced old salt!" exclaims Tom.
(Sung to the tune of “You Did It”)
Tom: By the bark of Old Man Willow, you're such a smart fellow
You bet me you could do it and indeed you did
Old Tom he is the Master, said you’re heading for disaster
But now he must concede it that succeed you did
You should be awarded the Most Cunning Linguist prize.
Parrot: Cunning linguist, Awwk!
Círdan [smugly]: It was easy, so very easy.
Tom: You’ll go down in history as the wisest of the Wise.
Círdan: Now wait, now wait! Don’t you forget you. You deserve some credit too.
Tom : But you’re the one who did it. I said it, you did it. As steady as Fëanor when he sailed out of Valinor. Even I must admit it that yooou did it!
When we first set foot upon the lawn I wanted to be swiftly gone. I thought the game would be up in a tick.
Círdan: I wasn’t worried in the least. Those silly Elves with their high speech are fancy but are not especially quick.
Tom: Perhaps, but still I thought that I would choke when Erestor popped up and spoke.
Círdan: Not me, I thought the whole thing was a bore.
Tom: And then the unctuous little Noldor stuck his arm out, and hooked Lindir’s to lead him far away. . .
I said to you, you did it! You did it! You did it!
Erestor thought him a Vanya, a true prince from Aman
And still he never guessed that it was yoou who did it!
Círdan: Thank the Powers for Erestor or there would have been no excitement whatsoever.
Housekeeper: Erestor? That awful man?
Círdan: Yes, the condescending little prick was up to his usual tricksy tricks
That Noldor who uses the techniques I teach
Not to educate but to impeach
He made it his business, as he always does, to find out who "this charming Lindir" was.
Like a barnacle upon a keel, he was there each time I tried to field another guest,
Confiding with his smarmy charm
“That ‘noble’ there ran a small pig farm.” He was such a pest.
At last there was no reason to deny Erestor a walk with him
So I let him take Lindir away to talk with him
I’ll never know just what transpired
But Erestor returned inspired
Every ploy he could engineer
He used to destroy Lindir’s veneer
When they came back from their little chat
He had the look of a well fed cat
Then with utter delight,
He clapped Fingolofin’s shoulder
Announcing to all that “This lad is no Noldor!”
Housekeeper: Great Bëor’s ghost!
Círdan: It was just that close.
His Quenya is too good, he said,
Which clearly indicates his roots in Valinor
While his dialect is perfect it is plain to see he’s another exile to these shores
And though he may have studied with an expert, he does not fool this grammarian
I can tell that he was born Vanyarin!
And not just a Vanya but a royal one to boot
He’s a prince of the House of Ingwë!
Tom: Congratulations, Círdan, I thought you’d lose
Now I have to find a girl to wife
Congratulations, Círdan I sing the blues
For the loss of my sweet bachelor life
"Your brilliant success leaves me with one small problem, though," Tom continues glumly. "I haven't a clue on how I will make good on my part of the wager. I don't know any women."
"Don't be daft," replies Círdan. "You know plenty of women. You know Galadriel."
"You know Idril."
"I don't think her father would approve."
"You know Finrod's niece, what's her name . . . Finduilas?"
"She's a fickle little thing, and besides, she's not my type."
"Well, curse it, Tom," says Círdan, "what IS your type?"
"Someone like that," says Tom, pointing at an exceptionally pretty footman who is standing in the corner with the evening post on a silver platter. "But I can't marry him, now can I?"
“Awwk! Marry the footman! Awwk!” the parrot says.
Círdan laughs. "As the Ent said to the tortoise, don't be so hasty." He motions to the footman to come over. "Take a closer look, Tom."
The 'footman' blushes scarlet. "Forgive me, my Lord Círdan, but it seems I've been found out. I heard how Master Lindir was learning to speak properly in your household and hoped I could do the same. You had no openings on your staff for housemaids, or even washerwomen, which is my specialty, so I put on leggings and applied as a page."
"I still don't get it. I am supply confused," says Tom.
"She's a girl, you dolt," says Círdan.
Tom takes a closer look. "By Elbereth, you're right, old chap! What is your name, lass?"
"Celoniel," she replies shyly.
"It doesn't really suit you," says Tom. "You're more like a little gold berry with those plump cheeks and pretty gilt hair of yours."
"I never really liked my old name all that much. And may I be so bold as to say, my lord, I've always fancied a man with a flamboyant sartorial style and a flair for poetry?"
Tom bows and kisses her hand. "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.”
“And nobody, not even the Gorton’s fisherman, has such yellow boots,” Goldberry replies.
As the two leave the room arm in arm, Círdan puffs with satisfaction. "Well, that problem is solved. I seem to have a genius for matchmaking and linguistics. Sometimes I surprise even myself." He pauses and looks about as if he's forgotten something. "Lindir, where are my slippers?"
Lindir looks down at the slippers in his hand and comes up with his eyes flashing. "Is that all I am to you, Círdan? Just some lowly woodcutter you taught to do tricks? Some turd you polished into a diamond to reflect the glory of your genius? Do you have any idea how hard I worked at this? Gah!" He flings the slippers into the corner. "I have what I want. I'm proper enough to be anyone's butler, which is far preferable to being your dogsbody. Namarie, my lord."
Lindir executes a sardonic bow and storms out, slamming the door behind him.
Círdan stares after him in stupefaction. "What in the name of Elbereth has gotten into him?"
* * *
Scene Seven: The street outside Círdan’s house in Elgarest, where Maeglin is waiting with a bouquet of flowers in hand along with a hired trio of Nandorin minstrels sporting harp, flute and viol.
"Where are you going in such a hurry, Lindir?"
"To the High-King's palace to apply for a position as butler," Lindir replies.
"You may not care for any of Uncle Fingolfin's positions," says Maeglin with a leer and a wink.
"Is that so?" says Lindir with a glance at the minstrels and the flowers. "Well, actions speak louder than words, my Lord Maeglin. If you have a better offer you can convince me on the way to Eithel Sirion."
“Ah, Lindir, you don’t know what you do to me. I feel like I could take on Morgoth himself when I’m with you. I could dig ore from the earth with my bare hands and pull the stars from the sky to make you a bauble worthy of your. . .”
“Eru spare me from good intentions, his and yours! I’ve had it with talk, I want action!”
(Sung to the tune “Show Me”)
Stop with the games, I’m not some maid
Either be real or blow me
No lavish talk of light from the stars
Make me all yours or blow me
Never have I seen such a mooncalf Elf
Not as much into me as into himself
Trailing me around with that lovesick grin
Your speeches are wearing quite thin.
No bunch of flowers, no harp and lute
Be more astute or blow me
No more long strolls, no holding hands
I’m not some poor clueless Drow
Just blow me now!
Lindir strides off and Maeglin stands for a moment, nonplussed, then drops the flowers and hurries after him.
* * *
Scene Eight: A forest along the northern borders of Doriath.
Lindir wanders through the trees, still trailed by Maeglin (although they have shed the musicians) and is surprised to meet Elu Thingol and Beleg Cuthalion coming in the other direction.
"Mae govannen, Master Lindir," cries the High-king of the Grey-elves. "What makes you look so downcast on this lovely day?"
"I've been all over northern Beleriand and no one will give me a job," Lindir replies. "Too posh to work as a butler they tell me, so forget about the job of footman or even stable hand. I blame that 'Vanyarin prince' rumor that somehow got started."
"Rough luck, young man. But I must say, you do sound like one of them now. I'm sure you'll find something lucrative, eventually."
"I suppose all that's left to me now is handling wood . . . in one form or another." Lindir jerks his chin back in the direction of Maeglin. "But what brings you out so far away from the Girdle, my Lord?"
"Ah, well, that . . ." Thingol shuffles uncomfortably while Beleg withdraws to a discreet distance. "You see, through the efforts and generosity of Finrod Felagund, whom Master Círdan recommended to me, with the assistance of a Man from the north, I have come into possession of a remarkable piece of Noldorin gemsmithery. Long story, I won't bore you."
"That sounds like a remarkable bit of luck!"
"Indeed. But it is complicated. You see, a long time ago in these very woods, what with the sudden surprise of meeting, and the staring into each other's eyes, and the stars wheeling overhead . . . well, Melian and I somehow overlooked saying the vows."
"You didn't mention the standing, my Lord."
"We spent very little of that time standing, son. At any rate, it just slipped our minds, and since then she and I have had an . . . informal relationship. However, now that I am an Elf of means, owner of the only gem of Fëanor’s that is not in Morgoth's crown, I need to be respectable. It is time I make an honest woman, er, entity of my dear queen. So . . ."
(Sung to the tune of “I’m Getting Married In The Morning”)
I’m going to handfast in the morning
I’m tired of looking in her eyes
We’re gonna do it
Manwë can screw it
Just get me to the glade on time
Don’t let me be late in the morning
Or half my folk will turn aside
They like to tarry
And to make merry
So get me to the glade on time
If I am riding pull up my horse
If I am fighting it’s got to be the Dwarves
Yes, I’m going to handfast in the morning
It’s time to shift my paradigm
Stop all this waiting
Get down to mating
And get me to the glade
Get me to the glade
For the love of Eru get me to the glade on time!
He beckons to Beleg but then turns to Lindir again. "I hate to leave a subject in the lurch -- although I have ofttimes done so when a better opportunity presented itself -- so I have one more thing to say before I am on my way. That young Noldo you intend to tie your fortunes to --" he nods in the direction of Maeglin -- "he has . . . issues. Before you make a final decision, I suggest you talk to Finrod Felagund's sister."
"You mean the Lady Galadriel?"
"Yes, that's the one. She's a bit strong-willed, but she seems genuinely fond of my great-nephew. We all know who will wear the leggings in that family if the bond should come to pass, but even I have to admit she has a good head on her shoulders. I trust her judgment. Whatever your decision, good luck, Master Lindir."
As Beleg and Thingol stroll off toward the sound of nightingales, Maeglin asks, "Where are we going next?"
Lindir sighs. "To have more tea."
* * *
Scene Nine: The private parlour of the lady Galadriel, buggered if I know where. Suffice it to say that it is within convenient walking distance of everywhere else . . .
"And that, Master Lindir, is the family history of my dear Cousin Maeglin."
Lindir and Galadriel sit drinking tea, with both their pinkie-fingers extended, although Lindir's has slowly lost its stiffness. "Oh my. He has had a tragic past, has he not?"
"And I daresay he will have a tragic future, which you will share if you choose to accept his invitation to become his, er, private secretary. Not that there's anything wrong with that! I mean your personal domestic arrangements, not the tragic fate part," she hastens to assure him. "I truly hope you will decline."
"But if I don't go home with Maeglin, where will I go? What will I do? In turning me into a counterfeit noble, Círdan has made me all but useless."
"Oh pish," says Galadriel. "I'm as noble as they come, and I can take care of myself. You would be an ornament to any court, Lindir, and my uncle Fingolfin's realm is not the only one in Beleriand. Who knows what the future will bring? Besides me. There may be other Elven-realms further east someday. Why, I have a fancy to found a realm of my own, and I do not see why you should not do so either. If the role of courtier does not suit you, why not try your hand at something else? How is your singing voice."
"Terrible, but I see your point, my Lady. I need to learn to stand on my own two feet."
Just then, the door bangs open and in stalks Círdan, trailed by a nervous Nandorin housemaid. "I tried to stop him, my Lady, but --"
"Forgive me, Lady Galadriel, but I simply could not believe it when I encountered Fingolfin's nephew in your antechamber and he told me that you were in here with my erstwhile pupil having 'girl-talk'. Have you taken leave of your senses, Lindir?"
"Whatever do you mean, my lord?"
"Do you honestly intend to leave me in order to set up housekeeping with Maeglin Lómion?"
"If that is what I choose to do, yes."
"Curse it, Lindir, what does he have that I do not? Other than a set of emotional baggage that puts Elu Thingol's pack train out of Cuiviénen to shame?
"He has a wish to please me, my lord, unlike some," Lindir murmurs quietly.
It is now Círdan’s turn to say, "Whatever do you mean?"
Galadriel raises an eyebrow. "Perhaps you should ask your good friend Tom Bombadil for romantic advice, Master Mariner."
"I cannot," says Círdan sourly. "He is off on his honeymoon."
"I believe that proves my point," Galadriel opines primly.
"This is not about romance," Lindir says. "It is not about whose 'private secretary' -- which seems just a fancy word for catamite to me -- I become. I do not have to be anyone's anything or pull my forelock in anyone's service. I am grateful to you, Círdan, for all you have done for me, but I no longer need you."
(Sung to the tune of “Without You”)
Lindir: What a tool I was, what an acquiescent tool
To let you have your way with me
What a tool I’ve been, what an injudicious tool
To have let you be the boss of me
No, you bristle-faced aggressor
You are not any longer my oppressor
Círdan: Why you little gutter snipe. You wouldn’t know a single one of those words if not for me!
Lindir: Fingolfin remains king without you
There’ll be one ruling ring without you
Gondolin still will fall
War will claim almost all
Morgoth will strengthen his cabal without you!
Círdan: Wait. What?
Lindir: Forget all that. Lady Galadriel told me not to say anything. But…
Elven-kind will survive without you
Beleriand still will thrive without you
And that rain in Balar
Will still drench the Maiar
Varda will kindle the stars without you
We’ll all do without you
Círdan: Why you ungrateful little…
Lindir: Without your counsel Eru made the world
Without you Ulmo makes the waves to curl
Without you Eagles soar through Manwë’s gale
And if you think that I still need you
I can do anything without you
Even learn how to sing without you
So get out of my sight
I’ll be more than all right without you
Círdan steps back in wonderment. "Look at you! I said I'd make an Elf-lord, and I did it. You're magnificent!"
Lindir shakes his head sadly. "My Lady Galadriel, I will take your leave now. I am most grateful for your wisdom. Good-bye, Círdan."
Out in the antechamber, Maeglin, still holding a bunch of wilted flowers, jumps to his feet as Lindir shuts the door to the parlor behind him. "So where to now?" he asks, with a hopeful look on his face.
Lindir shakes his head. "I am not certain."
"Oh, goody -- I like surprises."
"Then I hope this will not come as too much of a shock to you. Wherever I go, it will be on my own two feet and beholden to none. You seem a nice enough fellow, Maeglin, but henceforth, our fates will not be entwined. Forgive me for giving you false encouragement."
Maeglin shrugs. "Oh well, I guess it's back to Gondolin for me, where nothing says lovin’ like pursuing your cousin! I know I can get her to come around if I keep at it." With a rueful smile, he lets himself out the front door.
Lindir waits a tactful length of time and then goes out the front door himself. He looks east toward Menegroth, north toward Eithel Sirion, and then west toward the sea. He stands for a long time in indecision, and then strides purposefully away.
* * *
Scene Ten: Eglarest again:
"Preposterous! Ridiculous! I've never heard such a load of tripe!" Círdan wanders down the street as passers-by eye him nervously and give him a wide berth. "Going off to live with Maeglin, eh? I guarantee it will end badly, and even sooner than that golden-haired Lachenn witch thinks. Galadriel! I can hardly wait for the day I build the boat that takes her home and push her meddling backside up the gangplank."
He smiles as if picturing the white ship in his mind, and then quickly his smile fades. "Lindir can live without me, eh? I can live without him as well. I've done it since before the sun even rose in the sky. I was content enough. Give it time, and I'll be content again. "
He lets out a sigh. "And yet . . ."
(Sung to the tune of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”)
Ai Elbereth, Elbereth, Gilthoniel
I can’t believe it but. . .
I’ve grown so fond of Lindir’s ass
I don’t know how it all began
I’ve grown so fond of how it moves
When he’s walking through the room
It’s high, it’s round
It’s soft as down
He makes me happy just to watch
Him standing still or bending o’er
I’ve spent my life down at the docks, just looking for some perfect tail
Now all at once my love of sailors truly starts to pale
I’ve grown so fond of Lindir’s rump
So fond of Lindir’s butt
So fond of Lindir’s ass
When Círdan arrives home and enters his study, the blue parrot removes its head from under its wing and utters a sleepy, "Awwwk! Polly wanna lembas. Awwk!"
Círdan mutters something under his breath.
"Awwwk! Lín huitho! Awwwk!"
Círdan sighs and begins to sift through his papers. "Curse it! I can't find any of my scrolls. I've grown far too used to Lindir organizing them for me."
"Awwk, Lindir!" exclaims the parrot. He switches to an uncanny approximation of Lindir's voice: "Ellen silla lummen ahmentelvo." Then, in Círdan's deeper tone: "Dig the leaves out of your ears, and listen carefully, you tree-running oaf!"
Círdan's shoulders slump as he looks down at a tea-stained scroll. "I could have been nicer to him. I wish I had the chance to tell him that, but now I never will."
"Ullo, Círdan! Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo."
"Stop that this instant you cursed oversized blue sparrow, or I swear I'll turn you into a fricassee!" Then Círdan straightens, strokes his beard thoughtfully, and turns slowly to see Lindir standing in the doorway.
"Oi, I combed the leaves out o' me 'air this time, I did!"
The two of them stand for a long time staring into each other's eyes, until Lindir nods.
Círdan smiles. "Lindir, where in Angband are my slippers?"
Disclaimer: I need not point out that Thranduil Oropherion Reduxx and I own none of the source material. I rather think that JRR Tolkien, Lerner & Loewe, and George Bernard Shaw (for good measure) would like to distance themselves from this material as possible. But all's fair in love and parody. Enjoy!
Chapter end notes:
Authors' Notes: Thranduil Oropherion Redux wrote the libretto and IgnobleBard wrote the songs. The story contains lines from well-known poets spouted by Tom Bombadil, therefore I extend my apologies not only to Tolkien and Lener and Lowe, but also to William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsburg, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Andrew Marvell, e.e. cummings, and Ernest Thayer. I'll leave it to the Gentle Reader match the poets to the lines.
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