Letter 4: The reason.



 

His youngest child to Bóurr son of Bíld of Erebor greeting.

The slab is laid and the seven days of mourning are over — though to observe them in full has been neither my duty nor my privilege, as merely Motgrouk’s niece-in-affection. The last of his blood kin has come to take possession of his property, making just about the worst possible impression on arrival in the Blue Mountains; though some of that may be fairly attributed to exhaustion and grief on everyone’s part, I have little inclination to stay and make his better acquaintance. When I am confident that his companion, Miss Kithri, is safe and well in her new lodgings, I will away with Seimurr and my bodyguard; ideally we will secure a place in a caravan headed east and divert from it to Rivendell.

I fear this news, as with near to all the news you have of me, will displease you. But I do not wish to stay in the Blue Mountains, safe as they may be. In part it is because the object I have in Rivendell is unmoved: I wish to learn something of the Elves’ healing lore, for reasons more pressing than curiosity. But I confess it is in part that I am unhappy here, and not only, I think, because of the shadow grief casts for me upon fair Thorin’s Hall, nor only because I am every day confused whether to go out in a dress as Blída or in trousers as myself Bíld Bóurrul.

I fear it is that I have long been, and still am, unhappy in the company of Dwarves.

 

In Bree-land I met a Dwarf whom I   respect and like a great deal. He is a healer, learned, with fine artistic sensibilities and a good, kind heart. He is skilled and wise and would be an asset to any mountain under which he lived.

But he does not live under mountain. As far as I have been able to learn, he fled, or rather was subtly pushed out, because for all his virtues he is also too queer, too gentle, too yielding, too tender, too different. Even though he is one of the very best dwarves I have ever met, he is still a poor Dwarf.

Because to be a Dwarf is too hard.

To be rock-hard, and iron-strong, and adamant-sharp — fearless, fierce, never forgiving a challenge to his honor — to have hands that can both cleave without hesitation and create with the tenderest attention and care — to never bend under the weight of suffering, to never break oath, to never brook insult — to never speak false and yet never speak a secret, to never swerve from the right path though it kill him and cost him everything he loves — it is too hard. It is impossible. Many, perhaps, can come close; perhaps a few actually achieve it, if they are named Durin or Dáin Ironfoot. But if one is born like my friend in Bree-land — with a heart not of cold iron but of gentle gold — it is impossible. Chase it, he can; pretend, he can. But he will always, always come up short, because he was not born as tall as the statue of Durin; and each time he comes up short, he will be scorned and punished.

And he can take it, beating his broken heart of gold back together each time. But so many times must he repair it that eventually it will stop seeming sensible to do so. It looks more and more like a building built on faulted stone, to be at long last abandoned by the mason; and he is tempted to turn and walk away, to give up living as a Dwarf and try just to live instead.

I do not think it is right. What would mend my broken heart would be to see my friend return to the mountain and be reconciled with his kin. Indeed I am hopeful, even desperate to see it — for the reason that otherwise I fear it will be me, at six-score years of age, who can bear no more heartbreak and must give up.

 

I want to sing the songs, tell the stories, lay my little brick in our people’s delve and work and fight to forge for us a future with more laughter, less sorrow. I want to see Durin’s mansion full of light again, the lost secrets of metalwork recovered and surpassed, a generation of young dwarrows full of vitality and hope and excitement for the next Age. I want so badly to be a Dwarf. And I want so badly to be your son, worthy of carrying forward the name of a brave and honorable hero.

But I cannot. I can try, but I know it is hopeless. I am yielding, brittle, weak of body and character,    I am not manly. You would love me, my beloved family, your kindness and tolerance a gift beyond measure, a true blessing — but I will never be accepted by the mountain at large. If I try to do my part, lifting my mattock in the project of our civilization, I will be derided, rejected, pushed out. I cannot be a Dwarf, and a dwarf is not good enough.

I have tried instead to be a Dwarf-lady, and I almost can; my disposition is for it better suited. But my heart still is not; I cannot be content. I may be able to walk elegantly through Thorin’s Gate in my dress, but I suffer from anxiety every step, for I know the dress is a costume, a fraud. But in trousers I am just as anxious, afraid I will still be found out as a fraud on the basis of my body or my heart. I have feared this. It is why I long delayed coming here, to the birthplace of my mother and my brothers: it is confirmation that I cannot be happy among Dwarves, my own people that I love.

Dad, I am so unhappy. I do not know what to do. I do not even want to send this because it will anguish your heart so to hear my confession, but you and Mad have begged me to deceive you no more.

I hope you understand I did not run away because I was merely bored, or just longed to see the world under the sky, or ever felt a lack of love from you or lacked love for you.

What I look for is the place that I may be useful.

 

Shortly before we were parted, the Golden One mentioned that he was learned in the reading of the stars. They shine more brightly here than anywhere else I have been; though the High Pass stands taller, those Mountains are as Misty as they say, while here they are glinting adamants on black velvet. Yet still I cannot speak their language, as never much was I allowed to see them before. If I could, I wonder if I could read in them his advice.

He made suggestion, too, that I might be the one to take up his mantle and be the Taleteller, keeper of culture. But at the moment I write this, it seems implausible.

"Too kind" he was indeed.

 

With love, but with shoulders too narrow,
Your child,
Blída.