Marty Sam did not notice the Orcs at first. For just at that moment, he wasn’t Marty Sam sitting under a tree, writing a poem. He was Elwe Singollo, walking in the starlit wood of Nan Elmoth, hearing the song of nightingales and gazing at Melian the Maia with wonder and desire.
“I see the light of Aman in your face,” he said rapturously. And looking up, he beheld the startled face of Garbazh, son of Cabbazh.
“Attack,” bellowed Garbazh, trying to conceal the fact that he felt guilty. It seemed unfair to him for three tall, solidly built Orcs to attack this tiny hobbit with a pleasant smile, who appeared to have no weapon on him at all.
“Attack,” he shouted again. Ashnazg and Szlash, who had been hesitant too, now rushed forward and grabbed Marty Sam, making a big show of roaring and waving their swords, but in fact hurting him as little as possible.
“Tie him up,” barked Garbazh.
Ashnazg turned to Szlash for some rope. Szlash felt all over his person, looking for rope. Ashnazg, too, searched himself for rope.
“Have you no rope, curse you,” asked Garbazh in disgust.
“Er… no,” said Ashnazg. “Have you?”
Garbazh’s answer was unprintable.
“He hasn’t any, either,” sniggered Szlash.
Garbazh’s answer to that was still more unprintable.
Marty Sam, seizing this opportunity, jumped up onto Szlash’s shoulder, caught hold of a nearby mallorn branch and scrambled onto it.
“Ouch,” screamed Szlash as Marty Sam’s hairy foot inadvertently gave his flashy gold earring a sharp tug.
He began to slash wildly with his sword at the branch that Marty Sam was standing on. Marty Sam nimbly leapt up onto the branch above him just as the lower branch was neatly lopped off by Szlash’s sword. The branch crashed down onto Szlash’s own head, knocking him out temporarily.
Marty Sam climbed as fast as he could to the high flet at the top of the mallorn. Radio Mallorn’s two messenger birds fluttered around him in concern as he hurriedly grabbed his bow and his quiver of arrows. They were beautiful twin goldfinches named Goldrond and Goldros.
Not knowing that Haldir knew about the Orcs and was already running away from them, Marty Sam whistled urgently to the messenger birds, “Quick, take a message to Haldir – there are Orcs after him. Ask him to run and hide as fast as he can – I’ll pretend to be Haldir for a while to give him time to escape. Got that?”
“Got that,” whistled Goldrond and immediately flew away to deliver the message.
Looking down, Marty Sam noticed that Gollum had now joined the three Orcs far below.
“Welcome, welcome,” Garbazh was saying in a voice dripping with sarcasm. “You were supposed to spy around and find Haldir for us, so you conveniently disappeared and now you’ve turned up after we’ve found him.”
Gollum was surprised. “You’ve found him?”
“We’ve found him. Look – there he is!”
Gollum stared up at Marty Sam, who tried to move out of the lantern light.
“But there’s only a nassty little hobbit up there, Haldir is…” Gollum’s words were cut short by a volley of arrows fired haphazardly at him by Marty Sam, who was not the best of archers.
“I’ve got to stop him from telling them that I’m not Haldir,” said Marty Sam desperately to Goldros, who was perched on his shoulder. “But I can’t keep this up much longer…
The story now moves to another part of the forest and slightly back in time…
Haldir and his brothers, on their way to Caras Galadhon, stopped to admire the sunset that blazed in fiery splendour across the evening sky. They did not notice the lone rider who was galloping by, until he was almost upon them. They stiffened in fear at first before they noticed that the rider was an elf. Rumil and Orophin vaguely remembered having seen him somewhere before but Haldir’s face lit up in delighted recognition.
“He’s Marty Sam’s cousin on the elven side of the family,” he explained. “He comes to visit them every now and then – his name is Legolas.”
Rumil and Orophin looked impressed. “You mean, Marty Sam’s royal elf cousin? The son of King Thranduil of Mirkwood?”
Before Haldir could answer, Legolas had leapt off his horse and landed gracefully in front of them.
“Hello, Leggy,” smiled Haldir. “You’ve come to visit Marty Sam and Mary Sue?”
“Hello Hal,” grinned the lanky newcomer, who towered over the tall Haldir like a young tree. “Yes, I’ve come to visit Marty and Mary. And it looks like I haven’t come a minute too soon!”
“Why, Leggy, is something wrong,” asked Haldir.
Legolas nodded. “It’s Mary Sue. She’s in love with this fool who’s been writing revolting poetry about her and carving it on every tree in sight.”
Haldir gulped and did a better frog imitation than Orophin had ever done.
But Legolas didn’t notice. “…so what I’m going to do is, introduce her to someone more intelligent in the hope that she might then forget about the said fool,” he continued.
“And who do you have in mind, Leggy,” asked Haldir, for want of anything better to say.
“Well, how about you, Hal,” answered Legolas. “An intelligent person like you might be able to make her forget about the ass who wrote all that rubbish… what are you two snickering at,” he asked, turning to look at Rumil and Orophin.
“Er… nothing,” said Orophin.
“Why don’t you leave her alone,” suggested Rumil. “This poet guy might not be all that bad…”
“Are you joking,” exclaimed Legolas. “Look at this!” He pointed dramatically at one of Haldir’s poems, lit up by a lantern on the mallorn beside him. “Just look at this! Every word argues a lack of intelligence, an abysmal…”
Rumil and Orophin’s eyes met and they burst into peals of laughter. Legolas looked at them in mild irritation.
“Haldir, what’s the matter with your brothers?”
“That’s something I’ve often asked myself,” muttered Haldir.
“…and what’s the matter with you,” enquired Legolas, for Haldir had turned an attractive shade of fuchsia.
But “Leggy” decided not to probe too deeply into the strange behaviour of Marty Sam’s friends. “Anyway, I’ll say goodbye for the present, Hal, and don’t forget what I’d like you to do, all right?”
“All right,” said Haldir, taking the line of least resistance.
Legolas gave Haldir a friendly whack on the back and prepared to mount his horse again.
“Leggy, wait!” Haldir’s voice sounded strangely nervous.
Legolas turned at once. “Yeah, Hal?”
“I…I need to talk to you…”
Haldir had wanted to reveal to Legolas the true identity of the “Mallorn poet.” But now his nerve failed him. Legolas was not an intimidating person to talk to. Far from it. But Haldir knew that his views on any matter carried great weight with both Marty Sam and Mary Sue. Ever since they had lost their parents, Legolas had been fiercely protective of his cousins. And so, although he was pleasant, easy to talk to and in fact a good friend of Haldir’s, Haldir was intimidated by the fact that “Leggy” had the power to make or break his relationship with Mary Sue.
Haldir faked a smile. “I… actually it’s nothing. It can wait. Well, see you, Leggy. G’bye!”
Legolas immediately sensed Haldir’s unease. “Something wrong, Hal,” he asked kindly.
“No,” said Haldir.
“But there is?”
“All right, I’ll tell you the truth. Leggy, I wrote the poems on the Mallorns…”
There was silence for a moment. Haldir looked around him, looked anywhere except at Legolas’ face, wondering nervously what Leggy’s reaction would be. Suddenly, he felt himself being enveloped in a warm hug.
“Hal, you fool,” said Legolas, delightedly, “You ass,” he said, “you lunatic!”
Legolas’ choice of words tended to be a little unusual. But his affectionate smile welcomed Haldir warmly into Mary Sue’s family, and told him that he was appreciated, wanted, loved. In short, Legolas approved.
“Leggy” was now looking with great interest at a nearby Mallorn on which were carved the words:
What light is light, if Mary Sue be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Mary Sue be not by –
Except I be by Mary Sue in the night
There is no music in the nightingale.
Unless I look on Mary Sue in the day
There is no day for me to look upon.*
Legolas tapped on the poem with a long finger.
“The work of a genius,” he said, smiling at it indulgently. And he leapt onto his horse and was gone.
As soon as he had left, Goldrond, the messenger goldfinch who had been waiting in the branches of a nearby tree, flew down and perched on Haldir’s shoulder. He had the message from Marty Sam to deliver. “I have come and we are here met,” he chirped conversationally to Haldir, “…at the very nick of time, by chance it may seem, yet it is not so…” Haldir nodded, a little impatiently. Would this bird never come to the point?