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'Song For Tomorrow II'
Song For A New Tomorrow
aside his quill and glared. Two pairs of grey eyes looked up at him,
serious startlement on baby-round faces that were each the other's
mirror image. It was early afternoon on a cool spring day,
occasional sunlight touching the big windows that looked out over
rainbowed mist and an endless vista of green treetops, new leaves
spreading fresh and bright down the valley. Elrond's twin sons sat
on the floor of Erestor’s office on a priceless rug that was
coloured and patterned in the fashion of the South, an assortment of
small toys scattered around them. Their mother was gone to visit
briefly with her own parents, their father was involved in giving
one of his rare lectures to aspirant healers, their nurse had family
concerns down the Valley...
The task of
caring for them seemed to have fallen upon Erestor without warning;
he was unaware of having volunteering for it. In the last hour he
had been called upon to mediate in five sibling altercations, fetch
three cups of water, wipe one nose and answer innumerable questions.
Finally he was prepared to admit defeat.
When he was
certain of their attention, he said, "Go to the bookshelf - not the
main one, the low one over there - and select a book. Anything with
pictures. Perhaps we can read a while?" And perhaps, he thought, you
will grow sleepy and your eyes will close and I will be able to
settle you on the couch outside in the general office and get on
with my work?
Elrond’s children dearly, although he tried not to let it be too
obvious to the casual observer, but their company paled when he had
a desk piled with work to be completed before nightfall.
Two faces lit
as one. "Will read a story, Restor?" asked the one on the left -
Erestor suspected this was Elladan, slightly broader around the
belly than his brother.
"I will read
you one story," he agreed, his tone firm. "One only. And then I will
continue with my work and you two will either rest or play quietly."
Please, rest, he thought.
There was a
scramble for the bookcase, a degree of shoving, a great deal of the
clumsiness natural to the young and uncoordinated. Not unexpectedly,
"This one. This
Flowers smells funny."
"Dis. Got a
"No, no, look -
big birds... and, and... fightings ..."
an eyebrow and hid a smile. The shelf held his personal reading, a
selection of old favourites - and a couple of books suited for
children, put aside for emergencies rather like this one. An
agreement had apparently been reached as the boys returned to him in
complete unity, holding between them a large book with a dusty, blue
velvet cover. Erestor smiled to himself - the last few comments now
twin who was probably Elrohir said as they offered it to him, being
too small to heave it up onto his desk. As they grew older, Erestor
was finding it easier to tell them apart, but some days were less
sure than others. Celebrķan tried to dress them and style their hair
in such a way as to make them easily distinguishable, but she was
away from home and the nurse apparently failed to see the need for
Erestor took up
the book and glanced about. Chairs for visitors, comfortable enough
but not cosy, bookshelves, maps, plants - he liked a couple of
plants about the place. It was not a room set out for the
entertainment of small children. Shrugging to himself and hoping his
assistant had no cause to enter the room, he took the book, cleared
a space amongst the debris on the carpet and sat, crossing his legs
and settling his robe around him. The twins on cue dropped down on
either side of him and sat waiting, quietly expectant.
He first wiped
dust off the cover where it had adhered to the velvet, then opened
the book and began to flip through it. Brightly coloured drawings
adorned the pages, the script was large and easy, set out so that a
new reader would be able to follow the well-chosen words. Birds,
dogs, horses. A mountain. A seaside idyll. Rolling plains under a
wide, pale sky.
“Dat one!!” two
voices said together. The twin on the left patted anxiously at his
arm. The twin to the right bounced urgently.
‘Dat’ was an
involved picture of a cliffside, a straggling line of people
traversing a narrow path, many pointing back over their shoulders.
Flames leapt from buildings far below, an impressively drawn
creature of smoke and flame glowered, and a great warrior, golden
haired, armour clad, faced it with sword aloft. Written small above
him were the words “You shall not pass!”
said, nodding. “Gondolin. Very well then. Make yourselves
comfortable. The last time we shared this tale you were considerably
smaller and I was singing to you.”
Two pairs of
eyes gazed up at him, awestruck.
sing for us?”
his eyes and wondered how he had managed to get himself into this
one. “First the story,” he insisted firmly. “Then, if you still want
me to, I’ll sing to you of Glorfindel the Golden.”
Two dark heads
nodded enthusiastically and the twins curled their legs under them
and settled down quietly, waiting to be entertained. Erestor gave
good value when he read stories, taking on different voices for the
various characters, his mellow tones rising and falling
expressively. He read slowly, pausing occasionally to ask simple
questions or express opinions. Soon both children were leaning
against him, their eyes on the picture of the flight from the
burning city, their concentration wholly on the tale being woven for
them. Celebrations were curtailed, the dragons roared, terrified
citizens fled. Idril, wise, brave Idril, led the way to the secret
exit through the mountains, followed by mighty Tuor, a mithril-clad
Eärendil on his shoulders. In the fire-shot night, the roar of the
Balrog; a warrior to the fore, hundreds of lives in the balance.
When the tale
was told, the final word dropping into a soft, breathing silence,
Erestor slowly closed the book and looked down at the two sleepy
heads, one resting against either of his knees. With a small sigh,
still caught up in the story of a time and place long past, he
cleared his throat and began to sing, his slightly husky voice
mellow as brandy, lilting as falling water.
the outer office on his way to collect his sons from his
hard-pressed chief councillor and was immediately hushed by
Melpomaen who stood close to the inner door, a finger pressed to his
lips. Elrond raised his eyebrows but obeyed, moving silently to join
him. As he neared the door he realised the reason he had been
signaled to silence and smiled at the young assistant, nodding
complicity. He took up station behind the shorter elf and watched
over his shoulder as Erestor, no longer radiating contained
efficiency, sat on the floor, hands caressing sleepy dark heads,
while he sang honour to the hero whose loss had bought life for
frisson of foreknowledge shivered Elrond’s skin. Time and events
moved, lives unexpectedly collided, joined. For a moment he found
himself smiling, feeling a tug of warm anticipation. Somewhere in
the future he sensed an echo, an answering tune played in
counterpoint. For an instant it seemed another voice lifted and
joined with Erestor’s. Out on the edge of time it was as though he
heard a new lyric; a song for a new tomorrow. A song that would one
day enrich all of their lives.