“Are we there yet?” asked Feawen for the hundredth time.
“Not yet,” replied Marendil, with the utmost patience.”We haven’t gone that far since the last tim you asked. When we’re there, you’ll know.”
Feawen sighed and resumed pacing around the narrow deck.
In the house of Cirdan…
“Father, what’s the matter?” Aramel asked,”you’ve been looking so worried for the last few days.”
“It is nothing,”Cirdan replied, pacing around the room. “What are you doing these days, Aramel?”
“I know, I know. I am a woman, and I am supposed to read and sew and embroider, not rush around all day swinging a sword.”
“Yes,” Cirdan sighed, “You should do a woman’s tasks, Aramel.”
Aramel sighed and went back into her room.
“Well, we’re finally there, Feawen,” said Marendil. “None too soon, too, by your reckoning.
Feawen smiled. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
It was beautiful. The rising sun pierced the mists of night, turning the air a warm gold, and the waves of the sea sparkling silver.
“It has its own beauty,” replied Marendil.”We’ll be at Mithlond soon, at Cirdan the shipwright’s house.”
“Lord Cirdan!” a messenger cried. “A ship coming in to port!”
“That’s no surprise,” said Cirdan. “They do every day.”
“Yes, but this one looks like a swan!”
Aramel, listening beside her father, gasped. She had heard her father tell of the swan-ships of the Teleri. They had not been seen in Middle-earth since the War of Wrath.
Cirdan, obviously, had been thinking along the same lines. he stood up. “Where?” he asked eagerly.
The messenger rushed out, followed by Cirdan.
Aramel thought about it. It could mean only one thing. A ship had come from Valinor. But why? If only it were something big! Then at least her father would not lecture her on women’s work. Then she would be able to fight alongside the men…
She shook herself from her daydream. It was no good thinking about it. It could never be. She picked up her embroidery and stuck the needle in.
“Yes, come in, Lady Feawen.” Cirdan said. “What brings you here?”
Feawen looked around the spacious hall. “Actually, I wanted to see what Middle-earth was like. Besides, the Valar say the shadow is rising. Again.”
Aramel looked up. There was — a lady. She wore a long loose dress, and a leather belt. On the belt was strung a sword. Aramel smiled wistfully, thinking, Obviously she doesn’t have someone nagging her about doing men’s stuff.Then again, she probably wouldn’t listen anyway.
At dinner, Feawen sat beside Cirdan, telling him of all that the Valar had said. “My goal is to establish a sanctuary, where the shadow can never come. It may be that there will be quarrels over this, but that is what must be. The problem is, I am only one person, and one is not enough to establish settlements.”
Aramel sat up and listened intently.
“We need people who can defend the place, who will keep the shadow out,” Feawen was saying, “Willing people, of all kindreds, and not only warriors, but warrior-maidens too. We must be balanced.” She said this with a half-wink at Aramel, as if she knew.
“Father,” Aramel began, “could I”
“No, Aramel, I have told you already, war is not for women.” To Feawen he said, “I think, lady, that you will find warrior-maidens scarce.”
Feawen looked at Aramel searchingly, and dropped the subject.
When dinner was over, Feawen managed to find Aramel.
“Well?” she said, “I think I noticed a look in your eye that said plainly that you would like to come, despite your father’s disapproval.”
“How do you know my father disapproves?” Aramel asked, astonished.
“It doesn’t take a Vala to see that,” said Feawen. “But where there’s a will, there’s a way, or so they say. If you really want to come, you can talk your father around.”
“He won’t listen, I’m sure of it.” muttered Aramel.
“You think I could manage that?”
“Of course! Now, here’s the way we do it…”
To be continued…