8. --You Can See the Stars
Not till the fire is dying in the grate,
Look we for any kinship with the stars.
Oh, wisdom never comes when it is gold,
And the great price we pay for it full worth;
We have it only when we are half earth.
--George Meredith, "Modern Love"
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"Lady." A sonorous, woodwind voice, reedy against the profound bass of the sea. "Saelon."
Turning her head to consider the tall shape in the starlight, she saw it was one of the sons of Elrond, standing calf-deep in the surf beside her rock. She hoped he had taken off his handsome boots; the salt would ruin them. "You ought to take some thought for yourself," he continued, gentle reproach.
"I am," she assured him, and turned back to the sea.
The back of his hand—a healer's touch—against her cheek, checking for chill.
"So," she murmured, "you, too, think me crazed."
The hand withdrew. "No," he said. "I am not sure what to think."
If he did not, then perhaps mere mortals, including herself, could be excused confusion. When he showed no inclination to leave, she sighed and brought her thoughts back. "Do you bring word of Hanadan?"
"No. The search continues."
Saelon glanced at the sky. Most of the night was gone; she had sent Gaernath back to the hall long ago. "Has something else gone amiss, that no one else can cope with?"
She turned to frown at him. "Then why are you here?"
It was odd, how clearly she could see him in the glimmer of the stars. "Concern for you," he replied. "Is that so strange?"
He gazed at her steadily while several waves came in, softly slapping the rock. "Lady," he took something from his belt and offered it to her, "Dwarves speak on your behalf."
The starlight picked out silver fittings: a flask. She wondered what it held, then decided it did not much matter. Wine, mead . . . if he would not leave her to the peace of the sea, let him ease her cares some other way. "Now that," she replied, taking the flask, "is strange. Or so it seems, if tales are true." Dwarves, but not her own folk—her own kind. She had heard how Lis explained it; she would not be the only one who thought it. Just the one with the gall to say it to her face. "What am I to make of it?"
"Have you known them long?"
"Until last Ivanneth I had never spoken to one." Had it been so short a time? "Can you tell me," she asked, "is Veylin a lord?"
"You might call him so. He is a chieftain, the head of a sept of the Firebeards. You did not know?"
Saelon shook her head. There seemed to be no end to what she did not know about Veylin. "He seemed . . . distinguished, but I knew not how to judge. I have never seen him as he appeared tonight." If he had been bedecked with gold and jewels when he lay on the moor, would she have dared to touch him?
A corner jutted out from the rock on that side; he perched on it, drawing his feet from the water. No boots. "And he did not say." He sounded almost amused. "That is the nature of Dwarves, Lady. They are as close with their confidences as they are with their gold."
"Well, he has shown his hand now." She met his gaze. If he would avoid speaking of Lindon, she would not bring it up. "And for what?"
"He told us that the two of you have allied against the raugs."
That; always something put off their chance of revenge. She took a draught from the flask, and found it only water. "Do I command such strength of men?" Who had stood for her? Partalan; Gaernath; Aniel . . . and Halpan, but he would return to the Rangers. A grizzled old swordsman, a huntsman with a mere handful of trained hounds, and an eager-hearted lad.
"I confess that I do not see how what you have can be turned to advantage against such foes," he said candidly. "Yet the Dwarves, who know you and your folk better than I, clearly think there is some value in you."
"Ask them, if you think they will answer! Ore often looks unpromising, yet they profit much. Do not frown at me—I mean no disrespect, either to your folk or the Dwarves. Our family is friendly to the Longbeards, from the days when they dwelt in Moria, then Khazad-dûm. Dwarves are never disinterested, but do not believe the tales that say they are naught but stone. They are as staunch as friends as they are inimical as foes."
"So I am learning." Saelon passed back the flask. "Which brother are you?"
He was about to reply, only to turn suddenly, facing the sandhills. She saw nothing but their dark curves against the star-speckled sky, but the relieved release of his breath changed her stab of fear to hope. A strange, top-heavy shape crested the ridge, and carefully trod the soft slope to the shore; a tall, rangy hound loped after.
Aniel, carrying Hanadan. He halted when he saw she was not alone on her rock, then came on to the edge of the water. "He refuses to go to his mother," Aniel told her, cross and weary.
"Oh, Hanadan," Saelon sighed, angry and pitying together. Climbing down into the shallow surf, she went to them and reached out to take the child. "Why did you worry us all so? Why did you run away?"
He flung his arms around her neck and hid his face against her shoulder; she could feel the dampness of his tears. "I don't want to go away. Nana scares me."
She stroked his twig-snarled hair. "I know, honey. I know. I will see to him," she assured Aniel. "Will you be sure the others are called in before you go to your bed?"
"Yes, Lady." With a stiff nod to Elrohir, he trudged back across the strand, calling his dog to heel from where it nosed among the wrack.
Shifting Hanadan's not inconsiderable weight—he did not loathe seaweed and winkles—Saelon explained, "Your nana is frightened, too. That's why she acts this way. But here is Lord Elrohir, and he will take you where you can both be safe and there is plenty of bread and milk and honeycakes, and then it will be as it was before."
"Don't want bread," he muttered, snuffling. He turned his head to stare mistrustfully at Elrohir. "Don't like Elves any more."
He thrust his face back against her shoulder and mumbled something she could not hear.
"Hanadan . . . . Don't you know Elrohir is a kinsman of ours? A—" she floundered, unable to tell how many generations separated them without telling over the lists "—an eleventy-first cousin."
The child glanced up at her, scowling suspiciously. "Eleventy-first?"
"Not so distant as that," Elrohir corrected mildly. "Do you see many Elves here, Lady?"
"I have seen a few, from afar, over the years," she replied, "but since the others came, only Círdan's coastwarden Falathar and his crew. Gaerveldis, he called me, but we had just sown the bere, and the tilling of the machair displeased him." She did not want the sons of Elrond to think they were hostile to Elves, because of a child's words. Or her own, spoken in bitterness. "And the dwarf-delved hall."
"Yes," he mused, "that might bring back ill memories."
"Of what?" she asked. "Do you know him?"
Elrohir gave her an odd, sad smile. "He sailed with my grandfather." And looked up to where Eärendil shone high in the west.
His grandfather. It was one thing to know it, as a thing in a tale; another to hear it said so matter-of-factly. She had asked Veylin about the ruined tower, seeking a touch of the Elder Days . . . and it had been—was—on this shore with her, living and breathing.
"I can imagine," Elrohir went on, after a few more waves had lapped the shore, "that you might have found him daunting. But Círdan would not have sent him to overawe you."
"I never thought so," Saelon replied. "He spoke ill of the Dwarves, however, and his parting words were . . . disturbing." She gazed out over the sea, trying to recall exactly what he had said as she hitched the drowsing child back up in her arms.
The Mariner's grandson slipped from the rock without a splash and came to her. "Let me take him." As she hesitated, with a furtive glance to see if Hanadan was awake enough to object, he added, "I do not think you should be the one to return him to his mother."
"I suppose not." Passing the child to him, she trailed behind as they climbed to the machair and lingered to look over the bere, silver-grey rather than gold under the stars, rippling gently in the breeze like a placid sea. It had taken no hurt from the afternoon's storm. So much trouble for so simple a thing: a field of tall grass, heavy with seed. Except for the whisper of the breeze, all was silent. Glancing up at the stars again, she judged it was only a few hours until dawn. They would not be setting out on the road this coming day, after such a broken night. One more day's reprieve.
As she came up the track, she caught the scent of pipe-weed smoke and there, by the boulder at the turning, the glint of star on stone, where no stone should be. "Have you made your peace with the son of Elrond," Veylin asked from the dark, "whichever one that was?"
Saelon could not help but smile. "Elrohir." Except for that fugitive glint, his gems were hidden by the night. "I suppose so. Not that we were at war."
He gave an amused snort. "They seemed to think you had handled them roughly."
"I was in a foul mood when they arrived. Such an appalling day," she murmured, scrubbing at her face, trying to wipe away some of the weariness that was finally settling on her, the weightier for being deferred.
There was the tap of his pipe against stone, and he rose, crushing the embers underfoot. "Then I should not lengthen it by keeping you here." As they climbed the track, he said gravely, "I have heard—"
Her breath caught.
"—that you will go east if most of your folk do."
Yes; that, too, he might mislike. "So I said. If more choose to go than stay."
A less amused noise. "And how did they divide?"
"We had not come to the point where that was clear."
"How do you think it will go?"
It seemed almost an age ago. With an effort, she considered where folk had stood before passion swept all reason away. "Urwen will not be stayed this time. Mais and his kin—" Lis must go; would they feel the need to accompany her? Mais had stepped forward to defend her . . . . "—except for Gaernath, yes, I think they will go too. Maelchon likes the land and wishes to stay. Certainly until after the harvest; Vitr and Vitnir must be paid. The cottars . . . they are less willing to risk another move, but after what was said . . . ." She sighed. "It will be a near thing."
"I do not understand," Veylin muttered, "why you would chain yourself to those who least regard you."
"I would have something to surrender to Halmir when he comes of age." Yet he had a point. How could she lead those who hated her?
Dissatisfied, he said, "You have made up your mind on this."
"I should go back on my word?" Trapped: by Halladan's dying trust, by her own sense of honor.
A lamp had been left at the head of the track. Veylin stooped to pick it up, and the light roused his jewels to sullen flame. They faced each other in the heavy silence.
"Thank you," she said. "For all your trouble." If she left, would she ever see him again?
Veylin shrugged. "I have a fondness for the child."
That was not what she had meant. "And that, too." She gazed on him. "You look very splendid."
His eyebrows shot up. "Are you trying to humor me, Lady?" he rumbled.
She gave him a reproachful look. "Why do you wear such things, except to be admired?"
"I wished the sons of Elrond to take me seriously," he insisted indignantly.
The corner of his mouth quirked. "I have not seen Elves so polite in long years." Yet it was a passing gleam, and he grew dour again. "Though it seems it was for naught."
"No," she assured him, reflecting on her conversation with Elrohir. How much of his regard sprang from Veylin's? "Not for naught."
That earned her a speculative look; but if he left much unsaid, he also left questions unasked. "I am glad to hear it," he said, though he sounded no gladder than she felt. "It is easy to doubt the effect of one's own work."
"Your work?" Saelon stared again at the fiery glitter of his belt and the chain around his neck.
Pride warred with other feelings above the beard that hid so much of his face. Self-reproach at the indiscretion? Wariness of her tender pride? "Much of it."
She wished it was day, so she might see it better, though perhaps it was more beautiful by night, its fire uncontested by the sun. "I have often wondered what your craft was," she confessed.
"You never asked."
Was that the reason for his reticence, or merely an observation? She could not tell, and it did not matter. She did not desire another quarrel in this rancorous day, nor, spent as she was, did she have the strength for one. "Would you have told me if I had?"
When Veylin finally spoke, he did not answer her question. "My heart is given to gems," he murmured, voice deep and low, "as yours is to the sea. Good night, Saelon; the scrap that is left of it." Then he limped off to the old byre-cave, leaving her there in the dark, fearing that was a parting gift.
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When Saelon finally woke, she was unsure of the time. It was always difficult to tell under stone, when the light came from lamps or the hearth instead of the sky, but usually sound gave clues: the deep silence of the night, relieved only by snores and the crying of babes; the bustle of the day, enlivened by the clatter of cooking or chat or the scamper of the little ones.
Outside of her chamber it was quiet, but not night-quiet. There was an inarticulate murmur of women's voices from Mais's chamber; snatches of a cradle-song from Maelchon's. Nothing from Urwen's, or the hall itself.
She knew she should rise and see how matters stood, but she could not muster the will to leave the cool darkness of her bed. She did not want to face people, after the ugliness of the evening before. She did not want to watch them all pack their slender goods, or think about packing hers. Twenty years' worth—so much would have to be left. So much.
Steps outside, pausing to open the door; a lamp in the chamber, enough light to find its way past the drapes of her box-bed. Steeling herself, Saelon pushed the coarse linen aside. If she could not face her niece, she was pitiable indeed.
"Good morning," Rian said, setting the lamp on the kist. "It is a fine day outside." Taking off her shawl, she began folding it.
Perhaps that explained the unnatural peace: everyone was outside, avoiding each other. "Is it still morning?"
Rian smiled, as if pleased to catch her lying in so late. "For a while longer."
Gazing around the chamber, Saelon acknowledged, "It was kind of you to put off your packing, so I could sleep."
The lass stared at her. "You think I am going?"
"Oh," Rian cried, slinging the shawl onto her heather bed, "do you think you are the only one who cares about duty, because you are the only one brave enough to stand up to Elven lords? How could I leave you here, kinless?"
"I thought . . . Eithel . . . your brother—"
"Yet you should give up the sea?"
"Please," Saelon begged, head in her hands, "do not you argue with me, too. Do we even know if I am staying?"
"Of course!" Rian came over and sat down on the edge of the bed. "You cannot mean to leave for them," she declared, flipping a disdainful hand towards Mais's chamber.
"It will depend on the count, lass. I gave them my word."
"They are your brother's only inheritance, now," Saelon told her bleakly, "save a sword and a helm and a horse. Your dowry, too. They are not mine to cast aside."
"Then send them to Halmir. I don't want them," Rian assured her. "And Sorcha would be happy if she were with Tarain again."
"If only it were so simple, and lovers need never be parted." After the words were spoken, she would have recalled their sour severity; it was not the lass's fault she was at the age where love mattered more than the practicalities of life. Had she not been foolish—worse than foolish!—herself, when only a little older? "There is something in that, though," she allowed, in hopes of making amends. "Perhaps the sons of Elrond might take them to Râdbaran." Would it be such an imposition? Although why they should grant any favor she might ask . . . .
"That would please Sorcha." Rian looked surprised that her aunt would take heed of her thought. "And you can stay here to watch over the rest of us, without fretting about them. Much," she added, daring a smile.
She patted her niece's hand. "We will hope so."
Rian studied her, sobering. She was a perceptive lass; when she had more experience of life, she might be as keen a reader of hearts as her grandmother had been. "Do you love Veylin?" she asked, with the callow candor of youth.
Like a half-trained hound, she had found scent, but gone off on the fresher, rawer spoor, wrong though it was. Still, that her own kin should give any credence to such lies . . . . "He is dear to me, but not in the way Lis insinuated." Saelon would not sully her mouth by speaking of the other slur, the vicious slander she had struck the woman for. "Since your father died, he is the only one who speaks frankly with me—who upbraids me kindly," she explained. "He and your father only met the once, over spearpoints, in fact—" she shook her head at the memory: spears mustered for her honor; they seemed doomed to misunderstanding "—but they agreed very well. They might have been friends, I think," she murmured, eyes welling, "if he had not been slain."
Leaning over, Rian kissed her cheek. "He would not have wanted you to leave the sea."
Then why had she and Halladan spent a score of years sparring over just that? "I wish he had not died in a vain defense of our lands. Life is full of grievous partings." Clasping Rian's hand to show she was grateful for her kind words, she sighed. "Now let me up, lass, or people will think I have crawled in here to die of shame."
Only after Rian had flitted out again did Saelon discover the water-stoup and pail empty. Gritty with the fine sand of the shore and the salt of the sea and her own sweat, knowing how poor an appearance she had made yesterday before their exalted guests, she wished to be more seemly today. Taking up the pail, she stepped out into the hall—and halted, shocked.
The fire was dead; the hearth cold, and stripped of everything that was not fixed to the stone. The hall itself was bare, save for the trestles and boards and benches, and the lamp that cast its light over the starkness. The homely bundles of the cottars' meager belongings, usually tucked under the sparse furnishings for the day, were gone.
She had thought, with so many up half the night looking for Hanadan, that they would not leave today. Were they already gone? No—Rian would have said. Bewildered, she stared at the two doors on the other side of the hearth, behind which there was some sound of life. She could hear Lis in the one chamber, her voice high and shrill. Yet . . . had Maelchon and Fransag changed their minds, after all that had fell out last night? Fransag's great cauldron, and the griddle of contention, were not in their places.
Going to their chamber door, Saelon tapped on the oak. "Fransag?"
Two breaths of suspense before it opened, revealing Muirne, little Ailig in the crook of her arm. "Come in, Lady," she bid her with a smile, stepping aside.
"What is this?" Saelon exclaimed, coming to a halt barely far enough in for Muirne to close the door again behind her.
"We are dragons, guarding our hoard," Fransag told her from the bench, where she sat nursing Malmin, her eyes gleaming in the lamplight with an almost dwarven resentment. "That pert vixen will 'borrow' no more from us." All the common equipage, including the greasy black spits and hooks, and the cottar's bundles had been shoved into the already crowded chamber. Saelon recognized Aniel's cloak and Unagh's blanket. "If you are going out, bring us your kists, and we will look after them, too. I know Lis covets that pretty silver cup of yours," the goodwife rumbled.
Saelon looked from the disorderly heaps of trenchers and bowls to Muirne. "Your family is staying?" she asked. "And Finean's? And your servants?" to Fransag.
"Except Sitheag and her whelp," Maelchon's wife sniffed. "Good riddance."
Muirne, who had settled onto one of the heather beds, laid Ailig in the nest of her lap. "Of course, Lady. How could we be so ungrateful as to leave you, when you gave up riches to house us?"
It took a moment to realize what she meant. How would Veylin have repaid her, if not with the hall? Yet—Rian and Partalan and Gaernath; all of Maelchon's house save Sitheag and her babe; all of the cottars . . . that was more than half, whether you counted the children or not. "What would I have done with gold and jewels?" Saelon wanted to know. "The people of Srathen Brethil have always been the wealth of our house. That is why I am so loathe to lose any of you!"
"Come," Fransag said, brusquely hearty, "you are a better mistress than that, Saelon. The bad apples must go, if you are not to lose the whole barrel."
"If I am so good a housewife," Saelon retorted with a wry laugh, showing her the dry pail, "why must I come beg water of you, so I am fit to be seen by our guests?"
"Rian ought to have seen to that." Fransag cocked her head. "Does she stay, or will she go with Urwen?"
"She says she will stay."
"I am glad her mother did not spoil her entirely, trying to match Urwen's airs. Help yourself to the water!" Fransag waved her hand towards the full pails set on the end of the bench.
"Where is everyone else?" Saelon asked, as she lifted the nearest pail. "Your mother is not with you?"
That brought a smile to the goodwife's face. "She has gone down to the machair, to see the fun."
"Fun?" What could bring merriment, as what was left of Srathen Brethil tore itself apart? At least they could not be making sport of Lis.
"They are dividing up the stock. Do not hurry yourself on that account," Fransag reassured her, seeing the alarm on her face. "Gaernath has charge of yours. He kept them for you last year, did he not? My man will make sure his brothers do not bully him."
For once, everything seemed to be in hand without her lifting hers. Taking leave of them, Saelon returned to her chamber, glad to have time alone to sort out her thoughts, which were as choppy as a cross-cutting sea. She would not have to go; not yet. Though how could she be glad, when so many were leaving? Very nearly half: poor lordship indeed. Yet with all the griefs and trials they had suffered, was that so discreditable? Rian was staying. There was still the matter of Lindon. They would not trouble to divide the beasts unless some were staying. Enough were staying. She was staying.
She was staying. She clung to that, and waited to see how the rest would settle. The better of her linen gowns, bleached pale with many dryings and threadbare, but it was too hot for the good woolen gown Urwen had given her. Her brogues, searched out from the bottom of the kist; it would feel strange to wear them in summer, but she would look a little less like a beggar-woman. Re-plaiting her hair, she was about to weave in the gold chain when she stopped and stared at it.
If she did not go, there were the Dwarves. And what her people might think lay between her and them.
At first she had worn the chain to rebuke Rekk, if the bruises on her face had not been enough to shame him. She had continued to wear it because it was a fair thing, something that called the Dwarves to mind after they had left, though it had been Veylin she wished to remember. Somewhere along the way, it had become the mark of her lordship, the one bright thing that set her drab person apart from the poorest among them.
Looking at it now, with Lis's words still curdled in her mind, she found it had lost its glamour. Or was it that it now seemed a poor, plain thing beside Veylin's splendour?
In the end she wove it into her hair to show her disregard for Lis's fling. But it was a near thing, and her heart remained stubbornly heavy. She did not even care if Lis pawed over her things while she was out; if she took the cup, that would be one less thing to burden her.
Going out to refill Fransag's pail and her own at the spring-fed basin by her old cave, she found the dooryard as deserted as the hall . . . save for the two tall and two short figures seated companionably on the stones along the edge of the cliff-shelf, their dark and ruddy heads bent towards the machair with absorbed interest. "It has always been a wonder to me," one of the sons of Elrond was saying, "that more of them are not injured, handling beasts as they do."
"It was not the one with the flaming hair, was it?" Veylin asked.
Leaving the pails, Saelon hastened over, even as the other twin replied, "No, one of his brothers." Glancing back over his shoulder, he assured her, "Do not fear, Lady. He is embarrassed, not hurt."
She was stepping up onto the rock, behind Thyrnir, when he twisted around to meet her eye and said, with what was surely a smirk, "The crook-horned ram is yours, Saelon, is he not?"
Veylin laughed. He still wore his chain and belt of gold and fire, and they were even more dazzling in the bright sun than by lamplight. "Better and better!"
Shading her eyes, Saelon looked for herself. Yes, there was Roid, with Bred clouting him good-naturedly on the shoulder, and Finean dragging her ram off by the horns. Most of the folk down there—and it looked to be nearly everyone—were laughing as well. The women and older children stood near the edge of the field, to turn the beasts from the standing crop should they bolt that way, while the crouched collie glared at the flock that did not want to be divided.
"It is amusing now," the twin on the right admitted, smiling, "but it will be less so as we travel. It will take near a fortnight to reach the Emyn Uial with so many young children in the party, even if all are horsed, but if we must go at a ewe's pace, we will be a month on the way!"
The other looked between Saelon and the Dwarves. "Can not some arrangement be made, so the beasts remain here?"
"But the beasts are all the wealth they have," Saelon told them, "especially since they are leaving before harvest. You would have them arrive in the Emyn Uial as beggars, dependent on the kindness of strangers for milk and meat as well as bread?"
"No," the twin on the left persisted, "yet wealth can take less troublesome forms." He cocked a brow at Veylin. "I do not suppose you would be interested in purchasing their animals? They could get both meat and corn for coin, and it does not require pasturage."
Veylin snorted. "Do I look like a herdsman?"
How many head did Urwen and Mais have between them? Two score of kine, one of sheep? What would they come to, in silver or gold?
"The ponies are vexing enough," Thyrnir maintained.
Or gold. Saelon's hand went to the chain in her hair. And Fransag said Lis coveted her silver cup.
"Surely those of the Lady's folk who remain—"
"Perhaps we can come to an arrangement," Saelon cut in. "If I can relieve you of the stock," she asked the sons of Elrond, "would you be willing to do me two favors in return?"
Veylin and Thyrnir were staring at her, puzzled; the Elven lords looked guarded. "What would those favors be?" the one on the right asked.
"That you bring Mais and his family to Râdbaran, so they remain in the service of my brother's son."
They looked at each other. "That is hardly worth the asking, Lady," the one on the left told her. "We do not see any trouble there."
"The other will make up for that," she warned them. "I wish Hanadan to remain here, at Habad-e-Mindon. At least one male of our line ought to grow up among his people."
"That is outside our right to grant, Lady. You will have to speak to . . . ." He trailed off.
"Should I really speak to his mother?" Saelon asked, raising an eyebrow. Under the keenness of their concerted regard, she prodded, "Am I wrong to expect my kin to honor their oaths to these people? The fostering of a seven-year-old boy—who does not wish to leave this place—is too much to ask?"
"What would you have us do, Lady?" the other said quietly.
"Speak on my behalf, as a kinsman would. I would ask Halpan to do so, but he has earned Urwen's resentment for insisting they all stay in his stead at Midsummer."
"We will have to consider this."
When they had withdrawn, Veylin considered her with narrowed eyes. "And what wealth can you give them in return for their beasts?"
She drew the gold from her hair and let it lay in the palm of her hand.
"That is too much," Thyrnir told her.
"Not if it takes Mais to Halmir . . . and keeps Hanadan here."
Veylin slowly smiled, though his eyes did not change. "I can see we will have to keep our wits about us, when we come to trade for beef and butter."
"And whose fault is that?" she asked him, with a smile of her own.
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"—You Can See The Stars": This is the second half of the quote that supplied the title for Ch. 6.
Charles Beard's "Lessons of History":
1. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.
2. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.
3. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs.
4. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
Sept: a branch of a clan.
Nana: Sindarin, "mommy."
"Not so distant as that": Elladan and Elrohir are probably something like Saelon's sixty-eighth cousins. Mannish kinship terminologies were never meant to cope with the longevity of Elves.
Falathar: one of the three mariners who sailed with Eärendil to Aman. They remained on Vingilot until Eönwë, herald of Manwë, placed them in another boat, which was driven east by a great wind. It is not said whether these mariners were Elves or Men; I have supposed Falathar was one of Círdan's folk of the Falas . . . and that having sailed West once, and been shown off, he would not have been eager to sail that way again. If the coast of northern Lindon is anything like the coast of west Britain and Ireland, you would want a master mariner to sail it in the chancy weather of early spring. Hopefully this explains why he was so intense and, since the Elves of the Falas were close kin to those of Doriath, his attitude towards Dwarves.
Vixen: a female fox. In the medieval mind, foxes were marked by their stink and their propensity to steal poultry.
Brogues: from Scots Gaelic, bròg, "shoe"; the traditional footwear of the Highlands. While in the modern usage a brogue is a stout walking shoe, in the Iron Age and Medieval periods it was a light shoe of deerskin, often with decoratively cut openings on the upper.
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