The weather is pleasant today, so grandfather and grandson have decided to move out into the open air. There is a quiet portico alongside the courtyard of the White Tree. They have set up next to a column: Parmaite bent over his portable writing-desk, Vardamir ensconced in a comfortable wicker chair with his notebooks.
‘I could not make out what you wrote about the differences between the calendars of Tirion and of Gondolin,’ says Parmaite.
‘Let’s see,’ says Vardamir, studying the page.
He explains and Parmaite dips his pen into the ink and begins to write: careful, beautifully formed tengwar.
Evening comes. Although Parmaite lights a candle, it is too dark to go on writing and soon too dark to read. But they remain, talking at random of this or that—of all the lore of Aman and Middle-earth, neither of which either of them has ever seen. They do not talk of Numenor—the land still seems so new it has not occurred to Vardamir that it, too, might have lore worth gathering and remembering…
The candle is half burnt down when they hear a light familiar step approaching along the portico.
Delighted and surprised, Parmaite cries out: ‘Yavien!’
‘Where have you been, Yavien? You were gone more than three months!’
‘Was it so long? Maybe it was. It was full moon when I left, I remember…’
‘Where did you go, this time?’
‘I followed the course of the Siril down to the sea.’
‘But there’s nothing much there, is there?’
‘You’d be surprised!’
Usually, Parmaite has no trouble making Yavien talk; she was happy to tell them about discovering the tremendous cliffs of Sorontil on the North Cape and the sweet scents of lake Nisinen in the West.
Tonight she sighs, smiles and finds it hard to begin.
‘But you must tell me about the wonders of the Land of Gift, Yavien! You know I want to write them down, just as I do Grandfather's lore!’
Yavien opens her satchel and brings out her spoils: dried flowers and reeds, a set of fish hooks, a sketchbook filled with jottings. She begins explaining them.
‘Enough for now,’ she says, finally. ‘How's Great-grandfather?’
Suddenly, Parmaite looks sad.
‘Not well?!’ asks Yavien, alarmed.
‘Well enough,’ says Vardamir.
‘Yes,’ admits Parmaite. ‘Only, when I look at him, it's as if I see time like sand in an hourglass running out...’
The sundial is neatly inscribed in Quenya: Count the Sunny Hour.
Yavien finds Elros seated beside it, soaking up autumn sunlight. He smiles as she crouches down.
‘Great-grandfather’, she begins. ‘I met someone I could… Someone I care for.’
‘Did you, my Yavien? When will I get to meet him?’
‘She’s a fisher girl from Nindamos.’
A moment’s silence.
‘What a pity’, says Elros then. ‘I’d put on a plain cloak and travel to Nindamos to see the woman who’s captured your adventurous heart, but I’m too old.’
‘You’re not old, great-grandfather!’
‘Sadly, my bones say otherwise, Yavien.’
I remember a time when my brother and I sat by the shore, fishing for our next meal. I remember a time when most of my people were freed thralls. I remember a time when none of us were sure we would live to see the next day and some took love as they found it, asking no questions.
The seasons of the world wrought changes. A couple of centuries went by—and already in Numenor they believe there is much difference in station between a princess and a fisher girl. Who to love and how? The rules apply.
Could I have done more to stem that tide? But was I not chosen myself for kingship precisely by those rules, heir to Tuor and Beren by blood? They were never entirely suspended; regained prosperity has brought them back in force.
My little Yavien, silver-quick, her hair bleached by Numenor’s sun like ripe wheat! Voronwe told me he could see something of Idril in her. Now she is grown, she loves, but cannot freely speak.
Could I have done more? It is too late. All things have their season. Mine is past; already the kingship has slipped almost from my hands…