Finn is glad for a chance to finally spend time among the Woodmen. He feels it more strategic to do so among the folk of Rhosgobel, if for no other reason than here dwells one of the Wise, and there are always reasons to bring him news or to learn from him.
For his own purposes, Finn still considers his Father's business. The relationships with the Woodmen must be built, that he might eventually procure a new and less politically-charged source of timber. The Woodland Realm would only trade for so much longer. Here, on the Western Eaves of Mirkwood, the Woodmen were too far to be a good source for the business, but if there were Woodmen who were brave enough to start a new colony on the Eastern side of the forest... well, Finn would want to not only know about it, but hoped to help influence things that way, if possible.
But that shall never happen, he thinks, unless these folk know and trust me. So for part of the fall Finn spends his time with the rest of the company in Rhosgobel. He finds he is most useful with Beran, the servant of Radagast whom they had saved from Dagmar and her men. Helping Beran with his duties around the village, Finn learns much from the man.
One afternoon in the forest, chopping firewood and keeping an eye out for easy game, Beran closely observes Finn, seeing that the man only takes notice of what seems to be right in front of him.
"You are a musician, my friend. You have long been taught that to play well, you must listen well. Why is it that when you are out and on the lookout for potential game, or danger, you only use your eyes?" Beran chuckles and continues chopping.
Finn sets his axe down and wipes his brown. Of course I use my ears
, he thinks.
"Did you know that one of the foul grim hawks has passed our way while you busily worked on finishing this cord of wood for the coming Winter?"
Finn shakes his head.
"Now, I did not see it. If it had been close enough to see, it might have attacked us," continues Beran, "They are foul things. Anyway, I knew it passed by because I heard it. It must have been high up, just above the canopy. Quiet as a whisper it came to my ear from so far, but I could not mistake its guttural call."
Finn nods and continues working. "I will try to discover what my ears tell me." Though how you heard anything with our loud axes is beyond me.
The advice proves valuable to Finn, who after paying better attention, takes it to heart, realizing he needed to use his ears even more than his eyes while on the road.
The days in Rhosgobel go quickly; a few friendships with the leaders of the village are made, and Finn and others return to the Easterly Inn.
Dody and Dindy are of course happy to see the company, and after a fine meal Dody sits them down to give them an accounting of all that's happened in the Inn, and how their investments are turning out so far. "The future is still bright, but we have a long way to go. Winter might be difficult, but with each of you here I have hopes we will do better. Perhaps you can go about the Beornings and other friendly folk to let them know of the warm meals and hot Barleywine they can find here in the cold days to come while on the road. Oh, and you can tell them you'll be playing music in the evenings for guests as well," says Dody. Finn smiles at being volunteered, but can't complain.
Finn asks after the well-being of the others who support the Inn, including Frier the Dwarf, and the other regular visitors. "Have things remained safe enough for a good amount of travelers for the summer? Have you managed to host any Elves?"
The conversation continues late into the evening when suddenly Agatha comes in with pipes and a pie.
"Dody, have you not brought it to Finn already?" she says.
"Oh! No need to scold me Agatha. I was just getting around to it."
Finn looks at them both, puzzled.
"Just one moment," says Dody, who slips away and returns with packages for each of the friends.
"These are gifts," he adds, and by his excitement Finn and the others can tell he hopes they will open them right then and there.
Taking the box, which is very heavy and long, Finn wonders who would have sent him a gift, and who would have known to send it to the Inn. He looks at the paper which covers the wooden box. It is finely decorated, by hand. It seems a shame to tear the paper in unwrapping the gift; the paper is a treasure in and of itself. "Agatha, this paper is very fine," says Finn. "Why don't you help me carefully remove it? You can have it, to decorate for Yule or whatever other good purpose you want to put it to."
Underneath the paper, which has a smell about it that refreshes Finn's senses and brings back strong feelings though he cannot quite place them, is a wooden box. The box itself is about the length of a man's leg, and while it is plain, is shut by two finely made gold clasps and a pattern carved into the wood along the front. He takes no time setting the box down, and opening the clasps.
Inside is a sword, covered by a scabbard of intricate chalcedony.
A finer sheath Finn has never seen. He carefully lifts the sword and glances at Dody, who seems to have a "Go on, go on" look in his eyes. The sword is slowly unsheathed. The grip and hilt are simple steel, polished dark rather than bright, and the dual edged blade is sharp, and seems to reflect a rainbow prism from the candlelight of the room. Finn takes a deep breath, and sheathes the sword before he has fully examined it. He would do that later. He needed to sit down, and wonder at the gift, and more importantly at the giver.
He sets the sword back into the box and re-clasps it. He thanks Dody and Agatha for holding this gift for him.
"Who sent it? Who gave it?" he asks.
"We don't rightly know," replies Agatha. "Yes," adds Dody, "I'm afraid it turned up on our doorstep one morning. All the gifts did."
Later that night, in his room, Finn examines the sword again. Inside the box he finds a small parchment that he had not seen, rolled up in the corner with a small ribbon. The parchment too, has a faint smell about it, similar to the paper covering the box. He reads,
I cannot help it, but you will long think on these words, which you well know,
Thus began the anguish Beren paid
for that great doom upon him laid,
the deathless love of Lúthien,
too fair for love of mortal Men;
and in his doom was Lúthien snared,
the deathless in his dying shared;
and Fate them forged a binding chain
of living love and mortal pain.
But this is the age in which you were born, and so, I fear, Fate had determined otherwise.
This verse must be your song,
Ah, lissom limbs and shadowy hair
and chaplet of white snowdrops there;
oh, starry diadem and bright
soft hands beneath the pale moonlight!
She left his arms and slipped away
just at the breaking of the day.
I will not forget your deeds and those of your friends.
Yours in an age long past,
Finn is struck deeply. The letter is the greatest gift he has ever received, and yet brings greater sadness too. He places the parchment near his chest and lays down, looking up at the ceiling, torn in his spirit, elated and deeply sad. He falls asleep as the birds are beginning to sing, and wakes late in the day. The letter is never mentioned.