Saturday 1 March 2014

The magic of dawn


From Smith of Wootton Major by JRR Tolkien

...the silver star was indeed a fay-star: the apprentice was not one to make mistakes about things of that sort.

What had happened was that one of the boys at the Feast had swallowed it without ever noticing it, although he had found a silver coin in his slice and had given it to Nell, the little girl next to him: she looked so disappointed at finding nothing lucky in hers.

He sometimes wondered what had really become of the star, and did not know that it had remained with him, tucked away in some place where it could not be felt; for that was what it was intended to do.

There it waited for a long time, until its day came.


The Feast had been in mid-winter, but it was now June, and the night was hardly dark at all. The boy got up before dawn, for he did not wish to sleep: it was his tenth birthday.

He looked out of the window, and the world seemed quiet and expectant.

A little breeze, cool and fragrant, stirred the waking trees.

Then the dawn came, and far away he heard the dawn-song of the birds beginning, growing as it came towards him, until it rushed over him, filling all the land round the house, and passed on like a wave of music into the West, as the sun rose above the rim of the world.


"It reminds me of Faery," he heard himself say; "but in Faery the people sing too."

Then he began to sing, high and clear, in strange words that he seemed to know by heart; and in that moment the star fell out of his mouth and he caught it on his open hand. It was bright silver now, glistening in the sunlight; but it quivered and rose a little, as if it was about to fly away.

Without thinking he clapped his hand to his head, and there the star stayed in the middle of his forehead, and he wore it for many years.


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