“There is one more to come,” they sat for a while and nothing happened. “Perhaps she has changed her mind. How sad.”
“Can we wait a little longer?” Erestor asked.
"I am afraid not," the elf said and pushed off with his oar. "It was debatable whether she would hear the call, and it seems the Valar have decided that she will not.”
They cast off and listened to the oars dipping into the still water. All seemed calm and silent as if a hush had descended over the whole of the ocean. The time of the elves was over, and the acquiescent sea would be their final memory."
The elves rowed to the crystal bridge unaware that another person swam in the freezing cold water, trying to catch them up. She called out but the elves could not see her, and so they continued. They reached the bridge and watched as the elf with the oars stood up and waved his torch in the air.
“Wait for me,” a voice cried, and this time the elves heard her. The swimmer caught up and Glorfindel pulled her aboard and gasped. “Dorothy?”
“Thank goodness, I nearly missed you all. I could not get my jewels out of the safe as it stuck. In the end a bit of brute force did the trick.” Dorothy grinned and before anyone could ask her anything, she pointed up into the sky. “Look, there is a shooting star.”
All was forgotten as the elves stared upwards at the sky. Into view came a ship, whiter than the purest cloud and with billowing sails of gold. Along the side was painted the legend, ‘Vingilot’. Over the side, a rope ladder tumbled down and the purser who had guided the lifeboat to this point urged them all to quickly climb aboard.
Eärendil the Mariner stood smiling, with the Silmaril fixed to his brow and his long dark hair flowing in the gentle breeze. “Welcome dear friends,” he said, his face full of joy. “You are the very last elves left on Middle-earth, and now it is time for us all to go home. When we cross the crystal bridge, the link with Earth will be severed and I will not have to patrol the skies ever again.” He moved forward abruptly, as Dorothy climbed on board. “I did not know if you would hear the call,” he said as he gazed upon her face for the very first time.
“Well I did, but I had a bit of trouble getting my jewels out of the safe and when I called out, those idiots did not hear me. “ She gestured towards the elves who were all standing on board. “They just kept rowing. I am freezing cold, soaking wet and I am not very happy.”
“Then we must get you warm again,” Eärendil said. “What are those ugly things on your face, my dear?”
“They are glasses, meant for poor vision, but these are plain glass. I do not really need them but I wanted to keep up the disguise.” She took them off and threw them over the side and then she let her hair loose so that her normally covered ears were revealed.
“Arwen?” Erestor said, his face betraying his shock at seeing her again. “We were told that you died. Indeed the chronicles record that you went to Lothlórien, sat under a tree and passed away.”
“Well I did not.” She seemed shocked. “Who told you that?”
“Your brothers,” Erestor answered.
“They are so naughty, aren’t they,” she grinned in delight. “It is just the sort of thing they would say.”
“I said it was the Reverend who we saw on the dock,” Erestor said and looked to Glorfindel for confirmation.
“He thought that I was going to visit my sister in America and waved me off. I felt the call as soon as I saw you both in the village. I knew then that it would be time to plan my departure. I feel a bit bad leaving him in the lurch like that, but that is how I have had to leave everyone when I have failed to follow them into old age.”
“You could have told us who you were,” Glorfindel said.
“I was torn between doing so and having two confederates in my plans, and not risking the secret being exposed because I had failed to maintain my silence. So, I chose to say nothing.” Arwen explained. “I cannot wait to see my parents and my brothers again. I hope they remember me.”
Eärendil wrapped a blanket around Arwen’s shoulders and kissed her forehead. He looked around at the other elves. “Is everyone ready?”
The ship slowly glided along the crystal bridge, upwards into the firmament until it reached a fine silver filament, hanging as if from nowhere and trailing a slender path down to the Earth. The elves looked over the side at the blue planet.
“It is beautiful,” Erestor said, his voice choking. “I do hope they will be all right.”
“We are not of them anymore,” Glorfindel soothed. “Turn away before your heart breaks forever.”
Erestor looked to the side and saw a tear trail silently down Glorfindel’s cheek. “I looked forward to this moment so much and now it is unbearable. It is as though we have died.”
None of the elves were left unmoved, and they held onto one another in their grief. Eärendil paced across to the edge of the ship and drew his sword. In a great swinging arc, the heavy blade cut through the thin silvery strand. “There is no going back and never will the crystal bridge appear on the earth again.”
The elves watched silently as the earth seemed to grow rapidly smaller. “Are we moving or are they?” Erestor pointed to the rapidly shrinking blue planet.
“We will never know,” Glorfindel said and held onto his husband in public for the first time in thousands of years.
Erestor looked at Glorfindel and smiled, “We have to say goodbye in our hearts and then we can move on.”
Glorfindel furrowed his brow. “You are right. We have much to look forward to, and yet still I grieve.”
They held each other as the ship travelled into the dawn of Anor during the start of its daily axis. Ahead was a land green and fertile with a ridge of mountains in the background.
They had arrived.
They were in Valinor.
They were home.
Official statement issued by the Cunard Line. 14th March 1920
Captain Oakes of the RMS Octavia reported during the evening of the 13th March 1920, that his ship passed the RMS Mauretania in the Atlantic Ocean en route from Southampton to New York. The vessel was in complete darkness except for the lights in four cabins, and was silent due to the engines not running. During the next hour, the RMS Mauretania did not respond to telegraphed enquires as to her state. As the Octavia neared, the engines and lights of the RMS Mauretania came back on. No member of the crew could give an explanation as to why the engines and electrics had been off and seemed unaware that this had been the case.
Upon investigation, it was reported that six passengers and the purser were missing, along with one of the lifeboats. The assumption was that the two events were connected. No electrical or engine fault has been found that can explain the loss of power to the RMS Mauretania.
Several hours later, the lifeboat was found floating with the oars still in place. The passengers and the purser have not been retrieved from the sea and their whereabouts remain a mystery. There is no evidence of foul play.
A special service was held before continuing the journey for those lost at sea.
Lord Amras Meneldur
Captain Lord Rowan Erestor VC
Lord Finwë Glorfindel CBE
Mr Galdor Helyanwë
Mrs Dorothy Nerwen
Missing member of crew.
Purser – Albert Saelbeth
Royal Observatory, Greenwich. 14th March 1920.
Advisory note to the government.
“The star Vingilot just right to, but not part of, the constellation of Orion, has disappeared from the night sky. The reason is unknown and any conjecture would be fruitless until the proper calculations have been made. Any implications are not thought to have any proper or serious bearing on the Earth, due to the distance in millions of light years previously between the two bodies. Whilst we searched the Orion constellation for Vingilot, a comet was observed to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. There is no connection between the two events.”
The Times Newspaper - Monday 15th March 1920
Captain Lord Rowan Erestor VC and Lord Finwë Glorfindel CBE
Lord Glorfindel and Captain Lord Erestor were cousins who remained close even in death. Therefore, it is appropriate that two young men, so very close, should also share our remembrances of them.
On the 22nd March 1880, the two grandsons of the reclusive Earl Finwë of Seeland made the voyage to Australia to take over the running of a two-thousand acre sheep station the Earl had won whilst playing cards. They were successful in the undertaking and it was rumoured that their grandfather travelled out to meet them shortly after. It is reported that none of the parties are still alive.
In the summer of 1904, two young men, aged eighteen, came to these shores with letters of introduction from their fathers. Both young men went up to Oxford to study and were quickly accepted into the upper strata of local society.
Lord Glorfindel showed early promise as an explorer and joined a party to Samarkand in his third year of study, where he excelled. On subsequent explorations in India, Upper Sudan, Tanganyika and Venezuela he found several rare plants with medicinal value, one of these being the herb Athelas, now used for drawing out poison and relieving swelling. Several species of beetle and lizard were also discovered by him, as were the rare Ungoliant Spider and the seldom seen Elwing Albatross.
During his travels, Lord Glorfindel was able to send a once weekly diary report of his journeys to The Times in London, which was a major sponsor of his Sudanese and Venezuelan expeditions. He proved to be a fluent and engaging writer and, and upon his return from his travels in Tanganyika, he published two books about his explorations. In the year prior to the war, he was sent on a secret government exploration of which there are few details. Upon his return he was given a year’s leave before joining the army so that he could recover from the terrible hardships and privations that he and his party had endured. It is known that he was successful in his mission, and after the war was made a Commander of the British Empire for his service to the Crown.
In between expeditions, Lord Glorfindel spent much time enjoying the social scene, both in London and at various large country estates. He fitted in easily with the friends of his cousin, Lord Erestor, but unlike him, he did not court controversy. Lord Glorfindel embodied many of the traits of long-forgotten heroes and especially appealed to the British love of history and Empire.
Lord Erestor studied architecture, art and form. He announced that his quest was ‘to paint the perfect golden light’, and he showed much early promise. Precociously blending dada-esque elements with fauvist expression in his earlier works, he was pronounced too avant-garde for the critics who attended his first major exhibition in The Bond Street Gallery in London. Undeterred, and buoyed by the support of his fellow artists who violently rejected old perceptions in favour of a new originality and futurism in art and architecture, he found an ally in Marinetti who introduced him to Boccioni during a visit to Italy. On his return, he exhibited a shocking but brilliant painting titled, “Elf loving a watermelon.” The daring use of imagery, meaning and form meant that he could no longer be dismissed as a mere painter of daubs. He was now considered one of the darlings of the contemporary art scene in both London and Paris, where he unveiled probably his most symbolic painting. The Tears of Despair portrays a man looking into a pool. He stands with arms outstretched, watching the reflection of a melting cross; he cries because all that he held dear is now lost, causing him to question the reason for his existence and the ultimately hopeless outcome of personal sacrifice. Lord Erestor always denied that the painting had any religious meaning.
Picasso invited Lord Erestor to spend the summer with him and his family in Spain. After dabbling briefly with Cubism, he exhibited his most famous painting, “The Woman with a Cat’s face”, at once innocuous and yet dark in hidden meaning and mysticism. Because the character in the painting wore a crucifix and the cat’s face when viewed upside down was that of the devil, the more virulent critics of his work considered bringing blasphemy charges against him. Never one to stay with a particular method for too long, he developed his own style of painting, which took expressionist elements and subjected them to the overwhelming light of Impressionism and the ethereal mysticism of post-romanticism. His next exhibition was lauded by the critics for his daring use of light and colour, juxtaposed with dark elements of form and meaning.
Lord Erestor maintained a busy social life and was often seen in the company of Lady Victoria Buccleugh and her cousin, Lady Alicia Ridgeway. His cousin, Lord Glorfindel was also seen with the two ladies whenever he was in town, leading to much speculation, all of which proved unrewarding in the end. It was posed that perhaps marriage was not for those with so itinerant a lifestyle.
At the crest of his personal success, Lord Erestor was called up in 1915 to serve as an officer in the war. He was placed with a detachment of war artists and displayed considerable skill as a technically exact painter and draughtsman of the conditions at the front. He exhibited astonishing bravery and was mentioned in dispatches three times for his daring in sketching enemy encampments at close hand. His crowning achievement was to walk into no man’s land during the Battle of the Somme and rescue the wounded. He saved sixty men from dying in the filthy mud of that wasteland and all who saw it said that the hand of God shielded him from the sniper’s rifles. For this one single act, he was awarded the Victoria Cross after the war.
A shell burst next to Lord Erestor as he was delivering a fresh set of illustrations to the carrier to take to the War Office in England. Terribly injured, he maintained a quiet dignity in spite of the pain. He was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland to recover.
Lord Glorfindel, upon hearing of his cousin’s distress, bought a cottage in the small village of St. Michael’s Leap on the South coast and took him there to convalesce. They fitted in well with the local gentility and Captain Lord Erestor recovered enough to mount an exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London. He was too weak to attend the exhibition, but the paintings were of a style not previously encountered. One critic said that the paintings were of pure light. Some had no form, only expression, whereas others were technically perfect and showed a brilliant understanding and empathy. His painting of a beautiful woman peering into a watery pool and looking at a ring covered in strange runic writing was hailed as a major success. Captain Lord Erestor was now hailed as one of the greatest contemporary painters in England.
The next major exhibition was planned for New York, and the cousins booked passage on the RMS Mauretania. It is not known what happened next. Their rooms were deserted, as were those of three other passengers, two male and one female. The safes in their rooms were empty, and they were not on the ship. One crew member could also not be accounted for. Conjecture as to why they all abandoned ship takes on an even greater air of mystery when, after an extensive search, their bodies could not be found. There was no other ship in the area and the night was cold. It has been assumed by the British Government that Captain Lord Erestor and Lord Glorfindel are missing, presumed dead. They leave no issue and the line is now extinct.
The British Empire has lost two of its leading lights. Their fire shone fiercely and like all such flames it was extinguished too early.
There will be a memorial service 15th April 1920, for Lord Glorfindel and Captain Lord Erestor in St. Martin’s in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.
St. Michael’s Leap 1955
Mrs Bedlow-Squires sat in the chair by the window, watching the world go by. She did not recognise most of the villagers now, and neither did she want to. She thought back to events thirty-five years before when three members of the village had presumably been washed overboard at sea on the RMS Mauritania. The loss still made her sad. Captain Erestor and Mr. Fin had been such charming young men, so brave and full of life. Poor Dorothy had also been on the ship and had not survived. The Reverend had died of a broken heart six months later.
Major Bellstone-Gibbons and his wife Rosemary had died the year previous and the only one left was dear Daisy Hawkinghurst, who had bought her the book she now held in her hands. It seemed a fanciful book, but Daisy had loved it and wanted her to read it so that they could discuss something that she felt was very pertinent about the story. Without thinking she looked over the room at the painting of Captain Erestor’s fiancé looking at the underwater ring with the strange runic writing on the outer side. Because of his death, the painting was now priceless. She could sell it, but something within herself made her loathe to ever part with it.
She turned her attention to the book on her lap.
Three weeks later Mrs Bedlow-Squires stopped reading and examined the painting by Captain Erestor again. It struck her that the ring and the lady portrayed in it were exactly as described in the book. This warranted further investigation and so she rose from her chair, took hold of her walking stick and made her way over to her writing desk. Removing a sheet of headed paper, she started to write.
“Dear Mr. Tolkien…”
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