"Now we had better have it again," muttered the Elf.

The old hobbit shuffled to his feet and bowed.  "I am flattered, Lindir, but it would be too tiring to repeat it all."

He actually thinks I am asking for an encore, thought Lindir.  Nor did he want to hear it again; even after seventeen years at Imladris, Bilbo obviously didn't recognize an Elf's sarcasm when he heard it.  What he actually meant was along the lines of I have to hear it again to believe it.

"Not too tiring for you," laughed Saelbeth, whose tolerance for bad verse was far greater than Lindir's own.  The Flammifer of Westernesse?  A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

Bilbo, meanwhile, had remembered to stop bowing.  It really wasn't polite to make light of a mortal's frailty or senility, Lindir reminded himself, and the hobbit had aged with unusual speed since coming to Imladris.  Lindir wondered if it was this way among all mortals, for they seemed to go from vigor to dotage in the space of a heartbeat.  Elrond said it was this way for some, and that the hobbit was unusually old for one of his race and must be allowed some eccentricities.  In other words, indulge his passion for bad verse if it made him happy.

Actually, Bilbo's verse wasn't so bad when he sang of hobbit matters, and the Elves genuinely liked these songs of the Shire.  It was only when he tried to write in ann-thennath or otherwise imitate the Elves that it was trite.  Why is he so ashamed of his people's songs, as if they were not fit for our hearing?  Elrond likes them well enough and has said so. 

"You know you are never tired of reciting your own verses," Saelbeth continued.  True enough, thought Lindir.  The hobbit positively does not know when to stop.  I wonder if the others are as bad.  "But really we cannot answer your question at one hearing."

Ai, do not encourage him!  Saelbeth caught his eye, winked and flashed him a cheeky grin.  You wicked Elf!

"What?" sputtered Bilbo.  "You can't tell which parts were mine, and which were the Dúnadan's?"

Honestly.  That Elfstone bit is as obvious as a Yrch's stench.  "It is not easy for us to tell the difference between two mortals," said Lindir. Flammifer--is that even a word?  He looked around to see what Aragorn's reaction had been, but the Dúnadan was, like Elrond, conspicuously absent.   So were Glorfindel and Erestor, who were regulars in the Hall of Fire; the latter in particular had a lovely singing voice and the former a passion for anything about Gondolin or the Blessed Realm.

"But if I hear one more song about how the brave knight of the Golden Flower killed the Balrog," Glorfindel once said, rolling his eyes in Bilbo's direction, "I am going straight back to the Halls of Mandos."

"Nonsense, Lindir," snorted Bilbo.  "If you can't distinguish between a Man and a Hobbit, your judgment is poorer than I imagined.  They're as different as peas and apples."

"Maybe.  To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different.  Or to shepherds.  But mortals have not been our study.  We have other business."  Yes, like good verse.  Besides, hobbits really are not my thing, and Men....well, I do not know what the Lady Arwen sees in them.

"I won't argue with you," said Bilbo.

Thank Eru for that.

Bilbo yawned.  "I am sleepy after so much music and singing.  I'll leave you to guess, if you want to."

As the old hobbit got up and ambled toward one of the newcomers, a hobbit named Frodo, Saelbeth caught Lindir's eye and mouthed, "Elfstone."


Note: Yes, that Saelbeth.  If that Decipher trading card is any indication, he certainly looks cheeky enough to engage in a bit of needling with Lindir.