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Home > The Children of Húrin(8)

The Children of Húrin(8)
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Beleriand is wide, and houseless for exiles,’ said Morwen. ‘Whither should I flee, with few or with many?’

Then Húrin thought for a while in silence. ‘There is my mother’s kin in Brethil,’ he said. ‘That is some thirty leagues, as the eagle flies.’

‘If such an evil time should indeed come, what help would there be in Men?’ said Morwen. ‘The House of Bëor has fallen. If the great House of Hador falls, in what holes shall the little Folk of Haleth creep?’

‘In such as they can find,’ said Húrin. ‘But do not doubt their valour, though they are few and unlearned. Where else is hope?’

‘You do not speak of Gondolin,’ said Morwen.

‘No, for that name has never passed my lips,’ said Húrin. ‘Yet the word is true that you have heard: I have been there. But I tell you now truly, as I have told no other, and will not: I do not know where it stands.’

‘But you guess, and guess near, I think,’ said Morwen. ‘It may be so,’ said Húrin. ‘But unless Turgon himself released me from my oath, I could not tell that guess, even to you; and therefore your search would be vain. But were I to speak, to my shame, you would at best but come at a shut gate; for unless Turgon comes out to war (and of that no word has been heard, and it is not hoped) no one will come in.’

‘Then if your kin are not hopeful, and your friends deny you,’ said Morwen, ‘I must take counsel for myself; and to me now comes the thought of Doriath.’

‘Ever your aim is high,’ said Húrin.

‘Over-high, you would say?’ said Morwen. ‘But last of all defences will the Girdle of Melian be broken, I think; and the House of Bëor will not be despised in Doriath. Am I not now kin of the king? For Beren son of Barahir was grandson of Bregor, as was my father also.’

‘My heart does not lean to Thingol,’ said Húrin. ‘No help will come from him to King Fingon; and I know not what shadow falls on my spirit when Doriath is named.’

‘At the name of Brethil my heart also is darkened,’ said Morwen.

Then suddenly Húrin laughed, and he said: ‘Here we sit debating things beyond our reach, and shadows that come out of dream. Things will not go so ill; but if they do, then to your courage and counsel all is committed. Do then what your heart bids you; but do it swiftly. And if we gain our ends, then the Elven-kings are resolved to restore all the fiefs of Bëor’s house to his heir; and that is you, Morwen daughter of Baragund. Wide lordships we should then wield, and a high inheritance come to our son. Without the malice in the North he should come to great wealth, and be a king among Men.’

‘Húrin Thalion,’ said Morwen, ‘this I judge truer to say: that you look high, but I fear to fall low.’

‘That at the worst you need not fear,’ said Húrin.

That night Túrin half-woke, and it seemed to him that his father and mother stood beside his bed, and looked down on him in the light of the candles that they held; but he could not see their faces.

On the morning of Túrin’s birthday Húrin gave his son a gift, an Elf-wrought knife, and the hilt and the sheath were silver and black; and he said: ‘Heir of the House of Hador, here is a gift for the day. But have a care! It is a bitter blade, and steel serves only those that can wield it. It will cut your hand as willingly as aught else.’ And setting Túrin on a table he kissed his son, and said: ‘You overtop me already, son of Morwen; soon you will be as high on your own feet. In that day many may fear your blade.’

Then Túrin ran from the room and went away alone, and in his heart was a warmth like the warmth of the sun upon the cold earth that sets growth astir. He repeated to himself his father’s words, Heir of the House of Hador; but other words came also to his mind: Give with a free hand, but give of your own. And he went to Sador and cried: ‘Labadal, it is my birthday, the birthday of the heir of the House of Hador! And I have brought you a gift to mark the day. Here is a knife, just such as you need; it will cut anything that you wish, as fine as a hair.’

Then Sador was troubled, for he knew well that Túrin had himself received the knife that day; but men held it a grievous thing to refuse a free-given gift from any hand. He spoke then to him gravely: ‘You come of a generous kin, Túrin son of Húrin. I have done nothing to equal your gift, and I cannot hope to do better in the days that are left to me; but what I can do, I will.’ And when Sador drew the knife from the sheath he said: ‘This is a gift indeed: a blade of elven steel. Long have I missed the feel of it.’

Húrin soon marked that Túrin did not wear the knife, and he asked him whether his warning had made him fear it. Then Túrin answered: ‘No; but I gave the knife to Sador the woodwright.’

‘Do you then scorn your father’s gift?’ said Morwen; and again Túrin answered: ‘No; but I love Sador, and I am sorry for him.’

Then Húrin said: ‘All three gifts were your own to give, Túrin: love, pity, and the knife the least.’

‘Yet I doubt if Sador deserves them,’ said Morwen. ‘He is self-maimed by his own want of skill, and he is slow with his tasks, for he spends much time on trifles unbidden.’

‘Give him pity nonetheless,’ said Húrin. ‘An honest hand and a true heart may hew amiss; and the harm may be harder to bear than the work of a foe.’

‘But you must wait now for another blade,’ said Morwen. ‘Thus the gift shall be a true gift and at your own cost.’

Nonetheless Túrin marked that Sador was treated more kindly thereafter, and was set now to the making of a great chair for the lord to sit on in his hall.

There came a bright morning in the month of Lothron when Túrin was roused by sudden trumpets; and running to the doors he saw in the court a great press of men on foot and on horse, and all fully armed as for war. There also stood Húrin, and he spoke to the men and gave commands; and Túrin learned that they were setting out that day for Barad Eithel. These were Húrin’s guards and household men; but all the men of his land that could be spared were summoned. Some had gone already with Huor his father’s brother; and many others would join the Lord of Dor-lómin on the road, and go behind his banner to the great muster of the King.

Then Morwen bade farewell to Húrin without tears; and she said: ‘I will guard what you leave in my keeping, both what is and what shall be.’

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