The Lord of the... whatever, Book II, Chapter 7:

The Birdbath Of Galadriel

     The sun was sinking behind the mountains, and it was far too dark to
play golf when Aragon and Frodo cleaned themselves up, got dressed, and
went on again.  Night came beneath the trees as they walked, and lamps of
Noldorin crystal automatically lit up the forest -- though Frodo noticed
their odd tendency to flicker off as he passed beneath them.
     Suddenly they came out into the open again, and found themselves
staring up at a glittering palace all made of crystal and coloured glass. 
Delicate spires and tiny minarets of Elven-colour were cleverly woven into
a beautifully designed castle.  A splendid sight.  It was the home of
Galadriel, the Elvenqueen.
     Frodo gasped.  "Is this where Galadriel lives?" he asked, disregarding
the previous sentence.
     Aragorn shook his head.  "No, this is just the set for a previous
movie, which never got made because of, er, contractual difficulties. 
Galadriel actually lives over here."  He pointed to a thicket of the
brambly shrubs that the elves name ferlyrn,  upon the highest of which was
perched a rough structure of boards nailed hastily together, with a rope
ladder dangling therefrom.  Above the platform was the crudely lettered

                  GLADREEL'S TREE HOWS
                     (DULBORNS 2!)
               POZITIVLY NO DWERWS ALOUD!!!!

     Ever since Frodo had set foot upon the far bank of Silverlode, a
strange feeling had come upon him; it seemed to him that his head ached,
there was a sour taste on his tongue and that now and then lights would
flash before of his eyes.  Now, as he stood looking up the ladder towards
the treehouse, a rush like a great green wave drowning the fair land of
Numenor came over him, and he suddenly perceived Reality.
     He looked down, and saw that his feet had sprouted roots and were
sinking deep, deep into the fertile loam, spreading out so that he could
feel clearly every grain of mould beneath him; each blade of grass sprang
up, keenly speaking its aliveness, and he felt a sudden kinship with the
tree that rose up before him.  He could feel it growing, see it rising up
into the sky and spreading its leaves, thirstily draining the aquifer...
Frodo staggered back, overcome by the knowledge.  He looked beside him, and
saw Aragon staring down at him with glittering eyes.
     "Are you all right, Frodo?" he said -- but his voice seemed to come
from a long way away, as if from the bottom of a well.
     Frodo tried to say "yes", but his voice came out strangely, and it
seemed as if something or someone else was speaking for him.  "Would you
believe me," it said, "if I told you I was being followed by a yellow
     "Nooo..." said Aragon's distant voice, and suddenly Aragon twisted
into a tiny blue marble and shot away into the distance.  Frodo shook his
head, saw the rope ladder before him, and began to climb.

     It seemed to him that the ladder rose up forever, and that he had to
stop many times before he reached the top.  At each stage he marked the
great leaves that grew out from the trunk, overshadowing the groups of
elves that sat chatting beneath; while huge black ants roamed up and down
the tree, on their endless quest for Meaning and Food.  Woodlice he saw,
and moths resting upon the sad grey bark of the forlorn.  Up, up he
climbed, until he reached the stratosphere, the svarga heaven above the
stars, the jungle canopy where the spider monkeys brachiate from branch to
branch.  The treehouse floor stretched broad and fair before him, and its
floor was made of lapis lazuli; through the floor he could see the
constellations glimmering fair beneath him. "Cassiopeia," he said to

     And there they were, seated upon golden thrones underneath a tapestry
glittering with Jewels: the Lord and the Lady.  The Lord was tall and dark
bearded, hairy-chested like a satyr and brimming with virility; he held a
silver athame in his head.  The Lady was also tall and deep-cleavaged, with
broad hips like the Willendorf Venus, and in her hand was a fluted chalice
of gold.  Secret symbols were drawn upon the floor.
     Frodo stood before them, wordless.  The Lord welcomed him in his own
tongue, saying, "A, peryando tiucumba váratalya limbenengwea!  Auta!"  The
Lady said no word, but merely licked her lips.  And Frodo knew at that
moment that they had looked deep into his soul and perceived the essential
oneness that connected them both at that moment.
     Dullborn, perceiving that Frodo was still there, not having understood
a word he had said, used sign language to indicate that he should go stand
in a corner, while he interrogated the remainder of the company, who had
mysteriously materialized on the lapis lazuli.  "So, Aragon son of
Arathon," he said, "Did you off Gandalf before he could pay me back the
three thousand miriain he owed me?"
     "Nay," said Galadriel, her voice resonating like a cracked theorbo. 
"Aragon never had the wit to do away with Gandalf.  Now tell us where he
is, for he oweth us both money and favors."  She crossed her legs.
     "Alas!" said Aragon.  "Gandalf was lost in the depths of Moira, taken
by a shadow and a flame, which had no wings..."
     Lego-lass stepped on Aragon's foot, hard.  "It was a Balrog of
Mortgage," she said.  "Its wings spread from wall to wall, over a span of
thirty years."
     The dismayed cries of the Elves rang out.  "Gandalf?  Lost?  Without
heirs, beneficiaries, or estate?  Now whom can we sue?"

     Lord Dullborn stood up straight and tall.  "At such a grim time," he
said, "a time of sadness and loss for us all, when strong leadership is
required more than ever, there is only one thing for us to do..."
     "That's right!" said Halfwit the Elf.
     "...blame the Dwerrows!"
     "The Dwerrows!  It's all the fault of the Dwerrows!  Expel 'em!  Take
away their property!  Sterilize 'em!  Hang 'em!  Fry 'em in oil! Zwerge
'raus!"  These were among the more printable remarks made by the Elves
assembled there.

     Galadriel coughed, and the treehouse fell silent.  "While it is well
known to all of us," she said, looking at Giggly, "that Dwerrows are
hideous, gnarled, shrunken mutants, with a barbarous speech, no manners,
and a long history of elf-molestation, they are still not to blame for
everything -- just most things.  Besides, who can blame the Dwerrow if he
wished to gaze at last at his ancestral home whose entrance lies deep at
the head of that shadowy vale between the mountains known as the Limbs of
     "Dark are the waters of Kleo-patrâ, and warm, oh, warm are the springs
of Kunni-gonda," she chanted, running the tip of her tongue over the tops
of her lower teeth.  
     And Giggly, on hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue,
looked up as far as he could; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly
into the heart of a perfect stranger and saw there lust and amorous desire. 
He smiled in answer, rose, and said politely, "You can visit me any time."
     There was a deathly silence, during which Galadriel stared hard at
each member of the Company.  At length Dullborn spoke again.  "Get the hell
out of here, all of you."

     That night the Company slept on the ground, as no self-respecting Elf
would allow them into their treehouses.   For a little while the travellers
argued among themselves, engaging in unrestrained slander, backbiting, and
feeble excuses for their behaviour.
     "What were you wriggling for, Sam?" interrogated Pipsqueak.  "Maybe
planning on cutting me and Morrie out of the action?"
     "I never thought no such thing," answered Sam.  "If you want to know,
I felt as if the Lady was looking right through my tunic and seeing the
'Rosie' tattoo on my chest."
     "And the little fluffy pink lambs embroidered on your shorts," Morrie
added helpfully.
     "To me it seemed exceedingly strange," said Boromir™.  "For though
they say in our land that the Lady of the Golden Wood possesseth X-ray
vision as well as superhuman endurance, I did marvel that she passed over a
man of my physique so hastily."
     When Aragon had calmed them all down, he bade them sleep well for the
night.  "And if you must go outside, take with you a handful of leaves of
the forlorn; for there is in this land no toilet paper, unless a man bring
it hither himself.  Then let him beware!"

     They remained some days in Lothlorien, so far as they could tell, but
since their watches had all been confiscated at the border, they tended to
lose track of time.  All the while they dwelt there Frodo's symptoms
remained unchanged.  They had not seen the Lord or Lady again, and the
Elven-folk shunned them as if they were rabid lepers, except for two:
Lego-lass spent all her time among the Elves, and pretended not to see the
companions if they passed near; and Giggly was often seen returning from
Galadriel's treehouse well after midnight, and the others wondered at this.     
     And after some weeks had passed, the companions held a wake for
Gandalf.  They could sometimes - if they eavesdropped - overhear the Elves
mentioning his Elvish name, Mesprendeur; but if Lego-lass was with the
company, she would not interpret for them, saying that if they wanted her
to be an interpreter they could bloody well pay her, and in any case the
remarks were far too rude.
     It was Frodo who first put something of his feelings into words, as
they sat in a circle, talking about their memories of the old bum, and
getting roaring drunk.  Frodo had been listening to the Elves singing about
Gandalf, but as he had never gotten better than a C+ in Sindarin class, and
moreover they spoke it with a strong Québecois accent, he understood hardly
anything of what he had heard, and his translation, as repeated to Sam,
must be regarded as if he had made it all up himself.

          Picture yourself in a wood by a river, 
          With golden-leaved trees of unusual size; 
          Words incomprehensible call to remind you, 
          The elf with the silmaril eyes. 
          Elanor flowers of silver and gold, 
          Springing upon the green lawn. 
          Look for the elf with the clouds in her hair, 
          And she's gone. 

          Varda in the sky with starlight 
          Varda in the sky with starlight
          Varda in the sky with starlight

          Follow her down to a grove in the forest 
          Where feather-tressed maidens spread marshmallow thighs, 
          Niphredils rise around you under mallorns 
          That grow so incredibly high. 
          A boat with a swan's prow rows on by the shore, 
          Waiting to take you away. 
          Sit in the stern with your face to Mordor, 
          And you're gone. 

          Varda in the sky with starlight 
          Varda in the sky with starlight
          Varda in the sky with starlight

          Picture yourself on a ship in the Ocean, 
          With oddly-dressed elves wearing beards for disguise, 
          Suddenly someone is there on an island, 
          The elf with the silmaril eyes. 

          Varda in the sky with starlight 
          Varda in the sky with starlight
          Varda in the sky with starlight

     "But that doesn't have anything to do with Gandalf at all," Sam objected.
     "Well, finish it yourself, then," Frodo replied sourly.
     "How about this," said Sam:

          Hamburger and fries with ketchup,
          Hamburger and fries with ketchup,
          Hamburger and fries with ketchup,
          Hamburger and fries with ketchup...

     Frodo kicked Sam all the way back to the tent.

     One evening, after Frodo and Sam had finally kissed and made up, Frodo
asked: "So, Sam, do you think you've seen enough of the Elves?"
     "I reckon I have, Master," Sam replied.  "They're interesting enough
to start with, but spend a few months with them and they're horribly dull."
     Even as he spoke, as if in answer to his words, there was a sharp
cough and the Lady Galadriel stood before them.  She spoke no word, but
offered them a glimpse of well-rounded calf and ankle, and they followed
willingly enough.  She led them behind the thicket of treehouses into a
damp, mossy little garden, ornamented with a mirrored globe, a sundial, and
a stone dwarf that was remarkably lifelike except for the lichens growing
upon him.
     At the bottom of the garden stood a birdbath filled to the brim with
water.  Galadriel stooped and breathed on it, and when the water was still
again she spoke.  "Here is the Birdbath of Galadriel," she said.  "I have
brought you here so that you may look in it, if you will."

     Sam muscled his way past Frodo.  "I'll have a look," he said.  He
stepped up on a brick and leaned over the basin.  "There's only sparrow
droppings, as I thought," he said.  But suddenly the Birdbath turned muddy,
then clear.  Sam gasped. "Hey!" he shouted.  "There's Ted getting a
monopoly on the industrial waste reprocessing business.  I wish I could get
at Ted, and I'd reprocess him!"
     Galadriel shook her head.  "Remember that the Birdbath shows many
things, and not all have yet come to pass.  Some never come to be, unless
those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them."
     Sam looked puzzled.  "So you mean that if I don't go back to the Shire
to fix old Ted's waggon, he won't be turning Bywater Pool into a dump for
toxic sludge?"
     Galadriel snickered behind her hand.  "Well, if you do go back, then
it certainly will happen; and if you don't go back, it won't necessarily
not happen; and if I use conditional sentences that are complicated enough
and have enough multiple negatives, you will get so confused that you'll
stop asking questions and go with the narrative flow.  Do you understand?"
     "Excellent.  Frodo, it's your turn."

     Frodo stepped up to the Birdbath.  The night was dark, and its velvet
seemed to stream away from him in waves of purple and indigo, while the
stars played their eerie flutes inside his head.  The water swayed before
him as he bent over the basin.  His jaw dropped, and saliva began to drip
from his lower lip.
     "What do you see?" Galadriel asked.
     "I see..." Frodo replied dully, "an Eye... filling nearly all the
water... it is glazed... yellow as a cat's... watchful... intent... but its
pupil opens onto a pit... a window into Absolute Nothingness... that
Hideous Void where Space and Time become naught, where all individuality is
destroyed, where Azathoth pipes his hideous flutes to the nameless tunes of
Nyarlathotep!"  Frodo's voice, at first low and sluggish, had risen to a
shrill scream.
     "Oh," said Galadriel.  "That must be Tivil."  She sighed, rolled up
her right sleeve, reached deep into the Birdbath up above her elbow, and
hauled out a twisting, hissing creature.  She held it up and looked at it
accusingly.  It glared back at her through a yellow, slitted eye.
     "Naughty beast!" Galadriel said.  "How many times have I told you not
to hide in there?  Be along with you now."  She released it in midair,
where it stretched itself out to reveal scaly flanks, long furry fins
tipped with claws, and a whiskery face that it wiped with its forefins. 
Mewing, it flexed its broad, striped tail and swam away through the air
into the trees.
     "Anyway," Galadriel said, "I know what you thought you saw.  But I say
to you, Frodo, that however the Dark Lord tries to grope me, still the door
is closed!" She turned to the East, crossing her arms and legs in a gesture
of rejection and denial.
     "Wow," said Frodo.  "You are beautiful and sexy, Lady Galadriel.  I
will give you the One Ring, if you want it."
     Galadriel tossed her head in the gesture known to the Elves as the
maewest.  "That's enough from you," she replied.  "Maybe a lot of other
girls would fall for that line, but not me.  You see, already all love me
and despair."
     She lifted up her hand, and from a cleverly hidden spotlight there
issued a great light that illumined her alone and left all else dark. 
Moody music with lots of violins emanated from out the thick air, and all
around the garden came the click of the cameras of the paparazzi.  
     Then she let her hand fall, and the spot switched off.  "So you see,"
she continued, "I don't need anything at all that you can offer."  She
turned to Sam, who sat cowering in the dirt.  "Have you understood anything
at all that you've seen here?"
     "No, Lady," he replied humbly.  "But can I have your autograph?"

Book II, Chapter Six / Table of Contents / Book II, Chapter Eight
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This chapter of this epic work is presented through the courtesy of David Salo <dsalo-aaaaaaat-usa-dawt-net>. Copyright © 2000 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this e-text and the original printed material by Professor Tolkien is inevitable. Using this as an electronic resource for scholarly or research purposes may lead to a certain degree of academic embarassment. All agree that the printed version of the text, available from respectable publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books, is to be preferred. Boromir™ is a trademark of Saul Zaentz and Tolkien Enterprises, who hold all merchandising rights to Gondor™ and its subsidiaries. Galadriel will be featured in next month's issue of Cosmopolitan, along with her article "How To Seduce A Dwarf (When You're Married To A Dwarf-Hating Megalomaniac)".