The book of lost tales p.., p.5
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       The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, p.5

           J. R. R. Tolkien

  “Growl not, O Karkaras,” said she, “for I go to seek my lord Melko, and this thane of Tevildo goeth with me as escort.” Now the dark robe veiled all her shimmering beauty, and Karkaras was not much troubled in mind, yet nonetheless he approached as was his wont to snuff the air of her, and the sweet fragrance of the Eldar that garment might not hide. Therefore straightway did Tinúviel begin a magic dance, and the black strands of her dark veil she cast in his eyes so that his legs shook with a drowziness and he rolled over and was asleep. But not until he was fast in dreams of great chases in the woods of Hisilómë when he was yet a whelp did Tinúviel cease, and then did those twain enter that black portal, and winding down many shadowy ways they stumbled at length into the very presence of Melko.

  In that gloom Beren passed well enough as a very thane of Tevildo, and indeed Oikeroi had aforetime been much about the halls of Melko, so that none heeded him and he slunk under the very chair of the Ainu unseen, but the adders and evil things there lying set him in great fear so that he durst not move.

  Now all this fell out most fortunately, for had Tevildo been with Melko their deceit would have been discovered—and indeed of that danger they had thought, not knowing that Tevildo sat now in his halls and knew not what to do should his discomfiture become noised in Angamandi; but behold, Melko espieth Tinúviel and saith: “Who art thou that flittest about my halls like a bat? How camest thou in, for of a surety thou dost not belong here?”

  “Nay, that I do not yet,” saith Tinúviel, “though I may perchance hereafter, of thy goodness, my lord Melko. Knowest thou not that I am Tinúviel daughter of Tinwelint the outlaw, and he hath driven me from his halls, for he is an overbearing Elf and I give not my love at his command.”

  Now in truth was Melko amazed that the daughter of Tinwelint came thus of her free will to his dwelling, Angamandi the terrible, and suspecting something untoward he asked what was her desire: “for knowest thou not,” saith he, “that there is no love here for thy father or his folk, nor needst thou hope for soft words and good cheer from me.”

  “So hath my father said,” saith she, “but wherefore need I believe him? Behold, I have a skill of subtle dances, and I would dance now before you, my lord, for then methinks I might readily be granted some humble corner of your halls wherein to dwell until such times as you should call for the little dancer Tinúviel to lighten your cares.”

  “Nay,” saith Melko, “such things are little to my mind; but as thou hast come thus far to dance, dance, and after we will see,” and with that he leered horribly, for his dark mind pondered some evil.

  Then did Tinúviel begin such a dance as neither she nor any other sprite or fay or elf danced ever before or has done since, and after a while even Melko’s gaze was held in wonder. Round the hall she fared, swift as a swallow, noiseless as a bat, magically beautiful as only Tinúviel ever was, and now she was at Melko’s side, now before him, now behind, and her misty draperies touched his face and waved before his eyes, and the folk that sat about the walls or stood in that place were whelmed one by one in sleep, falling down into deep dreams of all that their ill hearts desired.

  Beneath his chair the adders lay like stones, and the wolves before his feet yawned and slumbered, and Melko gazed on enchanted, but he did not sleep. Then began Tinúviel to dance a yet swifter dance before his eyes, and even as she danced she sang in a voice very low and wonderful a song which Gwendeling had taught her long ago, a song that the youths and maidens sang beneath the cypresses of the gardens of Lórien when the Tree of Gold had waned and Silpion was gleaming. The voices of nightingales were in it, and many subtle odours seemed to fill the air of that noisome place as she trod the floor lightly as a feather in the wind; nor has any voice or sight of such beauty ever again been seen there, and Ainu Melko for all his power and majesty succumbed to the magic of that Elf-maid, and indeed even the eyelids of Lórien had grown heavy had he been there to see. Then did Melko fall forward drowzed, and sank at last in utter sleep down from his chair upon the floor, and his iron crown rolled away.

  Suddenly Tinúviel ceased. In the hall no sound was heard save of slumbrous breath; even Beren slept beneath the very seat of Melko, but Tinúviel shook him so that he awoke at last. Then in fear and trembling he tore asunder his disguise and freeing himself from it leapt to his feet. Now does he draw that knife that he had from Tevildo’s kitchens and he seizes the mighty iron crown, but Tinúviel could not move it and scarcely might the thews of Beren avail to turn it. Great is the frenzy of their fear as in that dark hall of sleeping evil Beren labours as noiselessly as may be to prise out a Silmaril with his knife. Now does he loosen the great central jewel and the sweat pours from his brow, but even as he forces it from the crown lo! his knife snaps with a loud crack.

  Tinúviel smothers a cry thereat and Beren springs away with the one Silmaril in his hand, and the sleepers stir and Melko groans as though ill thoughts disturbed his dreams, and a black look comes upon his sleeping face. Content now with that one flashing gem those twain fled desperately from the hall, stumbling wildly down many dark passages till from the glimmering of grey light they knew they neared the gates—and behold! Karkaras lies across the threshold, awake once more and watchful.

  Straightway Beren thrust himself before Tinúviel although she said him nay, and this proved in the end ill, for Tinúviel had not time to cast her spell of slumber over the beast again, ere seeing Beren he bared his teeth and growled angrily. “Wherefore this surliness, Karkaras?” said Tinúviel. “Wherefore this Gnome10 who entered not and yet now issueth in haste?” quoth Knife-fang, and with that he leapt upon Beren, who struck straight between the wolf’s eyes with his fist, catching for his throat with the other hand.

  Then Karkaras seized that hand in his dreadful jaws, and it was the hand wherein Beren clasped the blazing Silmaril, and both hand and jewel Karkaras bit off and took into his red maw. Great was the agony of Beren and the fear and anguish of Tinúviel, yet even as they expect to feel the teeth of the wolf a new thing strange and terrible comes to pass. Behold now that Silmaril blazeth with a white and hidden fire of its own nature and is possessed of a fierce and holy magic—for did it not come from Valinor and the blessed realms, being fashioned with spells of the Gods and Gnomes before evil came there; and it doth not tolerate the touch of evil flesh or of unholy hand. Now cometh it into the foul body of Karkaras, and suddenly that beast is burnt with a terrible anguish and the howling of his pain is ghastly to hear as it echoeth in those rocky ways, so that all that sleeping court within awakes. Then did Tinúviel and Beren flee like the wind from the gates, yet was Karkaras far before them raging and in madness as a beast pursued by Balrogs; and after when they might draw breath Tinúviel wept over the maimed arm of Beren kissing it often, so that behold it bled not, and pain left it, and was healed by the tender healing of her love; yet was Beren ever after surnamed among all folk Ermabwed the One-handed, which in the language of the Lonely Isle is Elmavoitë.

  Now however must they bethink them of escape—if such may be their fortune, and Tinúviel wrapped part of her dark mantle about Beren, and so for a while flitting by dusk and dark amid the hills they were seen by none, albeit Melko had raised all his Orcs of terror against them; and his fury at the rape of that jewel was greater than the Elves had ever seen it yet.

  Even so it seems soon to them that the net of the hunters drew ever more tightly upon them, and though they had reached the edge of the more familiar woods and passed the glooms of the forest of Taurfuin, still were there many leagues of peril yet to pass between them and the caverns of the king, and even did they reach ever there it seemed like they would but draw the chase behind them thither and Melko’s hate upon all that woodland folk. So great indeed was the hue and cry that Huan learnt of it far away, and he marvelled much at the daring of those twain, and still more that ever they had escaped from Angamandi.

  Now goes he with many dogs through the woods hunting Orcs and thanes of Tevildo, and many hurts he got
thus, and many of them he slew or put to fear and flight, until one even at dusk the Valar brought him to a glade in that northward region of Artanor that was called afterward Nan Dumgorthin, the land of the dark idols, but that is a matter that concerns not this tale. Howbeit it was even then a dark land and gloomy and foreboding, and dread wandered beneath its lowering trees no less even than in Taurfuin; and those two Elves Tinúviel and Beren were lying therein weary and without hope, and Tinúviel wept but Beren was fingering his knife.

  Now when Huan saw them he would not suffer them to speak or to tell any of their tale, but straightway took Tinúviel upon his mighty back and bade Beren run as best he could beside him, “for,” said he, “a great company of the Orcs are drawing swiftly hither, and wolves are their trackers and their scouts.” Now doth Huan’s pack run about them, and they go very swiftly along quick and secret paths towards the homes of the folk of Tinwelint far away. Thus was it that they eluded the host of their enemies, but had nonetheless many an encounter afterward with wandering things of evil, and Beren slew an Orc that came nigh to dragging off Tinúviel, and that was a good deed. Seeing then that the hunt still pressed them close, once more did Huan lead them by winding ways, and dared not yet straightly to bring them to the land of the woodland fairies. So cunning however was his leading that at last after many days the chase fell far away, and no longer did they see or hear anything of the bands of Orcs; no goblins waylaid them nor did the howling of any evil wolves come upon the airs at night, and belike that was because already they had stepped within the circle of Gwendeling’s magic that hid the paths from evil things and kept harm from the regions of the woodelves.

  Then did Tinúviel breathe freely once more as she had not done since she fled from her father’s halls, and Beren rested in the sun far from the glooms of Angband until the last bitterness of thraldom left him. Because of the light falling through green leaves and the whisper of clean winds and the song of birds once more are they wholly unafraid.

  At last came there nevertheless a day whereon waking out of a deep slumber Beren started up as one who leaves a dream of happy things coming suddenly to his mind, and he said: “Farewell, O Huan, most trusty comrade, and thou, little Tinúviel, whom I love, fare thee well. This only I beg of thee, get thee now straight to the safety of thy home, and may good Huan lead thee. But I—lo, I must away into the solitude of the woods, for I have lost that Silmaril which I had, and never dare I draw near to Angamandi more, wherefore neither will I enter the halls of Tinwelint.” Then he wept to himself, but Tinúviel who was nigh and had hearkened to his musing came beside him and said: “Nay, now is my heart changed,11 and if thou dwellest in the woods, O Beren Ermabwed, then so will I, and if thou wilt wander in the wild places there will I wander also, or with thee or after thee:—yet never shall my father see me again save only if thou takest me to him.” Then indeed was Beren glad at her sweet words, and fain would he have dwelt with her as a huntsman of the wild, but his heart smote him for all that she had suffered for him, and for her he put away his pride. Indeed she reasoned with him, saying it would be folly to be stubborn, and that her father would greet them with nought but joy, being glad to see his daughter yet alive—and “maybe,” said she, “he will have shame that his jesting has given thy fair hand to the jaws of Karkaras.” But Huan also she implored to return with them a space, for “my father owes thee a very great reward, O Huan,” saith she, “an he loves his daughter at all.”

  So came it that those three set forward once again together, and came at last back to the woodlands that Tinúviel knew and loved nigh to the dwellings of her folk and to the deep halls of her home. Yet even as they approach they find fear and tumult among that people such as had not been for a long age, and asking some that wept before their doors they learned that ever since the day of Tinúviel’s secret flight ill-fortune had befallen them. Lo, the king had been distraught with grief and had relaxed his ancient wariness and cunning; indeed his warriors had been sent hither and thither deep into the unwholesome woods searching for that maiden, and many had been slain or lost for ever, and war there was with Melko’s servants about all their northern and eastern borders, so that the folk feared mightily lest that Ainu upraise his strength and come utterly to crush them and Gwendeling’s magic have not the strength to withhold the numbers of the Orcs. “Behold,” said they, “now is the worst of all befallen, for long has Queen Gwendeling sat aloof and smiled not nor spoken, looking as it were to a great distance with haggard eyes, and the web of her magic has blown thin about the woods, and the woods are dreary, for Dairon comes not back, neither is his music heard ever in the glades. Behold now the crown of all our evil tidings, for know that there has broken upon us raging from the halls of Evil a great grey wolf filled with an evil spirit, and he fares as though lashed by some hidden madness, and none are safe. Already has he slain many as he runs wildly snapping and yelling through the woods, so that the very banks of the stream that flows before the king’s halls has become a lurking-place of danger. There comes the awful wolf oftentimes to drink, looking as the evil Prince himself with bloodshot eyes and tongue lolling out, and never can he slake his desire for water as though some inward fire devours him.”

  Then was Tinúviel sad at the thought of the unhappiness that had come upon her folk, and most of all was her heart bitter at the story of Dairon, for of this she had not heard any murmur before. Yet could she not wish Beren had come never to the lands of Artanor, and together they made haste to Tinwelint; and already to the Elves of the wood it seemed that the evil was at an end now that Tinúviel was come back among them unharmed. Indeed they scarce had hoped for that.

  In great gloom do they find King Tinwelint, yet suddenly is his sorrow melted to tears of gladness, and Gwendeling sings again for joy when Tinúviel enters there and casting away her raiment of dark mist she stands before them in her pearly radiance of old. For a while all is mirth and wonder in that hall, and yet at length the king turns his eyes to Beren and says: “So thou hast returned too—bringing a Silmaril, beyond doubt, in recompense for all the ill thou hast wrought my land; or an thou hast not, I know not wherefore thou art here.”

  Then Tinúviel stamped her foot and cried so that the king and all about him wondered at her new and fearless mood: “For shame, my father—behold, here is Beren the brave whom thy jesting drove into dark places and foul captivity and the Valar alone saved from a bitter death. Methinks ’twould rather befit a king of the Eldar to reward him than revile him.”

  “Nay,” said Beren, “the king thy father hath the right. Lord,” said he, “I have a Silmaril in my hand even now.”

  “Show me then,” said the king in amaze.

  “That I cannot,” said Beren, “for my hand is not here” and he held forth his maimed arm.

  Then was the king’s heart turned to him by reason of his stout and courteous demeanour, and he bade Beren and Tinúviel relate to him all that had befallen either of them, and he was eager to hearken, for he did not fully comprehend the meaning of Beren’s words. When however he had heard all yet more was his heart turned to Beren, and he marvelled at the love that had awakened in the heart of Tinúviel so that she had done greater deeds and more daring than any of the warriors of his folk.

  “Never again,” said he, “O Beren I beg of thee, leave this court nor the side of Tinúviel, for thou art a great Elf and thy name will ever be great among the kindreds.” Yet Beren answered him proudly, and said: “Nay, O King, I hold to my word and thine, and I will get thee that Silmaril or ever I dwell in peace in thy halls.” And the king entreated him to journey no more into the dark and unknown realms, but Beren said: “No need is there thereof, for behold that jewel is even now nigh to thy caverns,” and he made clear to Tinwelint that that beast that ravaged his land was none other than Karkaras, the wolfward of Melko’s gates—and this was not known to all, but Beren knew it taught by Huan, whose cunning in the reading of track and slot was greatest among all the hounds, and therein are none
of them unskilled. Huan indeed was with Beren now in the halls, and when those twain spoke of a chase and a great hunt he begged to be in that deed; and it was granted gladly. Now do those three prepare themselves to harry that beast, that all the folk be rid of the terror of the wolf, and Beren kept his word, bringing a Silmaril to shine once more in Elfinesse. King Tinwelint himself led that chase, and Beren was beside him, and Mablung the heavy-handed, chief of the king’s thanes, leaped up and grasped a spear12—a mighty weapon captured in battle with the distant Orcs—and with those three stalked Huan mightiest of dogs, but others they would not take according to the desire of the king, who said: “Four is enough for the slaying even of the Hell-wolf”—but only those who had seen knew how fearsome was that beast, nigh as large as a horse among Men, and so great was the ardour of his breath that it scorched whatsoever it touched. About the hour of sunrise they set forth, and soon after Huan espied a new slot beside the stream, not far from the king’s doors, “and,” quoth he, “this is the print of Karkaras.” Thereafter they followed that stream all day, and at many places its banks were new-trampled and torn and the water of the pools that lay about it was fouled as though some beasts possessed of madness had rolled and fought there not long before.

  Now sinks the sun and fades beyond the western trees and darkness is creeping down from Hisilómë so that the light of the forest dies. Even so come they to a place where the spoor swerves from the stream or perchance is lost in its waters and Huan may no longer follow it; and here therefore they encamp, sleeping in turns beside the stream, and the early night wears away.


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