The silence was not complete.
Outside, the wind still wound its way through the piney broughs. Scattered bird calls punctuated the early afternoon and the occasional chipmunk chattered. Silvered notes of wind chimes kissed every current of the air. Outside, the mountains breathed their melody with stately grace.
All these lovely sounds traveled easily through the arched stone of the tall windows where inside, four elves sat in stillness and silence. Their loss was yet too new for words or sounds.
It seemed impossible that she was gone so soon, so suddenly.
Gradually, Gwilminawyn became aware of a new noise in the room. A few soft sobs slipped into their sorrow. No sooner did she hear them, than she realized they were her own.
How could she be gone?
Gwilminawyn pulled her shaky breath back in, felt her mother’s gentle fingers slide through her hair. The young Gwilminawyn, seated on a floor cushion at her parents’ feet, leaned against her mother’s legs and rested her head against her mother. She took a deep breath and let herself slip into an elven reverie as she delved into her memories of Evelyn.---
Only the slightest pause separated the soft, rapping from the turning of the door handle. Gwilminawyn and her mother looked up from where they sat on the floor drawing flowers. Blossoms were scattered on the smooth stone floor where the mother and child sat drawing. Gwilminawyn sprawled on her stomach, and just as much colored chalk had made it to her fingers as did her paper, but she, as all young artists often are, was quite pleased with her efforts. The interruption surprised her, not that someone would come calling, but that someone would let themselves in without waiting for a response.
As the door swung open and a man in dark grey cloak stepped in and wiped his wet feet on the small rug. The hood of his cloak was pulled up and hung low over his face to keep off the rain...the same rain which kept the ladies drawing their flowers indoors rather than out. The man turned and closed the door behind him, but something about his movements struck Gwilminawyn as awkward. It was then she realized in one arm, the man carried a bundle under his cloak.In one smooth movement, her mother rose to her feet. Gwilminawyn, who had never known any danger, remained interested, but unalarmed on the floor.
“Eruarwen,” the man said. “I did not mean to startle you.” Using his one free hand to pull back the hood of his cloak, he added, “Surely, I have not been gone so long that my own sister fails to recognize me?”
Gwilminawyn could hear the excitement in her mother’s voice and found herself smiling and standing as well. Uncle Galanian had come home at last.
Eruarwen nimbly stepped over the flowers and the pads of paper to greet her brother, but drew back from his embrace as soon as the first kiss of greeting had been exchanged. Gwilminawyn, close behind her mother, stopped short, wondering what was wrong.
“What have you there, brother of mine?”
Galanian took a deep breath and gently opened his cloak. In human, he said aloud, “It’s all right, Little One. See, this is my family, which I told you about.”
Gwilminawyn, even after stepping around her mother to get a better view, did not at first understand what she was seeing. Her uncle seemed to be holding nothing more than a bundle of coarse fabric. Neither did his words make any sense to her. Why switch to a different language than their own beautiful elven? And, though Gwilminawyn was diligent in her studies, she must be translating her uncle’s words in correctly, or why would he be introducing Gwilminawyn to her own mother?
When the coarse bundle moved on its own, Gwilminawyn gasped and jumped back.“Little One,” her uncle still spoke in human, and now Gwilminawyn realized he was speaking to the bundle, “will you let my sister see you?”
The top part of the bundle shook its head no. Gwilminawyn crept closer and found a little foot protruding from the bottom of the bundle, and a little arm coming out the side of the bundle, with a tiny little fist clinging to her uncle’s tunic.
“Oh!” gasped Gwilminawyn, “It’s pink!” Instantly she clamped her mouth shut, realizing she had spoken in haste, and was likely very rude. She looked up at her mother, regret on her face, and received her mother’s gentle nod of pardon.
Her uncle chuckled. “Little One, look, there is another little girl here too. She wants to say hello to you.”
On cue, Gwilminawyn, in what she hoped was good human, said, “Hello, my friend. My name is Gwilminawyn. What’s your name?” But still, the bundle didn’t move or turn its face away from where it was buried on her uncle’s chest.
“Nevermind, Galanian,” said her mother, also now speaking in human, “the little dear is cold and wet and frightened. Introductions can wait. Let’s get your wet cloak off and some warm tea served. Little One will meet us in time.”