Summary: Written in the spirit of Tolkien’s “There is an Inn.”
At the coronation of King Elessar, Faramir and Samwise attempt to entertain
some of the Citadel’s youngest guests.
There had not been a feast so wonderful in
Gondor in years. Scents of roasted meats, ales, breads, and desserts
wafted in the soft breezes that blew through Merethrond. Although
night had come to the White City, the feast hall was lit with candelabras
of silver and lanterns of gold and roaring fireplaces on each wall.
Music and laughter filled the stone confines of the place and in every
corner, there were noble lords dancing with their ladies and gallant knights
competing for the hands of maidens.
At the head of the table sat Elessar, Aragorn, chieftain of the Dúnedain of the north, victorious in battle, Envinyatar the Renewer, the Elfstone. He had a great many names and titles, and only a few hours ago had acquired that of King of Gondor. This great feast was in honor of his coming. With him at the table sat not only his own people, but also Elves, a Wizard, Hobbits, and a Dwarf.
To Faramir, the new Steward of Gondor, it seemed as if he had walked back in time to a great feast hall of the Elder Days. Peoples he had thought only legend or who he had thought had sundered themselves from the fate of Men sat in the very citadel he had grown up in.
But just now, he was not thinking of all that. At the moment, his eyes were firmly affixed on the fair maid he was dancing with. She had captured his heart and he had been blessed with the gift of hers. Éowyn’s hands were gentle in his and her hair flowed about her in a most mesmerizing way.
Of course, it might have been the ale he had been drinking. But either way, Faramir was content to have the moment last forever. The music conspired against him, however, and the song that was being played suddenly ended. As was the custom, he took one of Éowyn’s hands and bowed. Feeling bolder than that, he kissed her fingers and received a loving smile in return. He then offered her his arm and together they wandered back in the direction of the feast table.
“Oh, if only tonight would last forever,” said Éowyn, “I imagine you’ll have much to do on the morrow.”
“Almost certainly,” Faramir replied, “quite honestly, most of the preparations I made were under the assumption that Gondor would now have a King instead of a Steward. I did not count on having both.”
“But was that not the way before the last king of Gondor rode away to Mordor?”
“Yes, but my house has ruled Gondor in the King’s stead for generations. I would think that such a change back to a rightful King would not be without problematic political consequences.”
Éowyn leaned closer to him as they walked. “You worry overmuch. Aragorn trusts in your loyalty and where you lead Gondor will surely follow. But think not on it for now. Tonight is for celebration. And not that I do not appreciate it, but you have been most kind to me this night. I have stolen away all your time.”
“What is there to say? You are a most cunning thief, to have stolen it from someone who thought he was giving it freely.”
“You may play the foolish boy, Steward of Gondor, made delirious in your lovesickness, but I know better. You know as well as I that men and women in our positions must do their duties as hosts and guests and that social pleasantries will often soften harsh politics.”
Faramir sighed heavily. “Alas, it is true. And I do feel as though there is someone I have forgotten to greet.”
“Then I shall go make my rounds and you shall make yours,” said Éowyn, “and our reward afterward shall be another dance.”
“As my lady wishes it, then.”
And with that, they parted for a time. Faramir watched Éowyn move off into the crowd of revelers, his gaze lingering on her for as long as it could, even as his thoughts turned to other things. Absently, he began pondering the strange feeling of forgetfulness that had come to him moments ago and he ran thought a mental list of the people he had greeted that night. Still, it seemed to him as though he had forgotten someone.
“Lord Faramir,” came a voice from behind him. With a sinking feeling, the Steward recognized it. With trepidation, he turned and found Éomer-king striding his way.
On the other hand, Faramir thought to himself, perhaps striding was too generous a word. The young King of Rohan seemed more to stagger, although he was quite obviously practiced at it. The half empty stein in his hand was only confirmation of Faramir’s suspicions. But, worse than that, Éomer had one of those looks on his face that told Faramir that he wasn’t going to like the direction their forthcoming conversation was about to go. As Éomer came to Faramir’s side and wobbled to a halt, Faramir gave a due greeting.
“She is a marvelous woman, my sister,” said Éomer, “is she not?”
Faramir sputtered for a split second before he found what he thought to be a suitable reply. “Yes, yes, quite a remarkable lady. The slayer of the Witch King. Quite beautiful… memorable, that is. Forgive me, Lord Éomer, it would seem I’ve had my share of the ale this night.”
“Oh pah,” Éomer replied with a scoff, “I’ve been watching you. You’ve hardly had a pint.”
“Yes, and the two of you seem rather joined at the hip this night. Which brings me to my question; what are your intentions toward my sister?”
Murder will out, it is said. And in that instant Faramir decided that this situation was just as futile. The Steward was, of course, no coward and was especially not so with concerns to the King of Rohan. He could manage himself well as a statesman or a warrior. It was simply that he wasn’t entirely certain yet if he could manage himself while talking to his drunken, prospective, future brother-in-law who didn’t yet know that he held the title. Faramir knew that such things were best discussed while sober and in a room that had no sharp or heavy objects. A room on the ground floor of the outermost circle of the city with no windows was even more ideal.
So, to save them both untangling a rather messy business later, Faramir quickly cast about for his chance to beat a hasty retreat. He found it when Éomer puffed his cheeks with the suppression of a rumbling belch that seemed to have originated in his toes. Faramir acted quickly.
“Goodness, what is that noise outside?” he said. “Perhaps I should go and check with the Citadel Guards. If you would excuse me.”
With that, Faramir made his way toward the nearest door, hoping at the last second that, in his ale-haze, Éomer didn’t notice that it did not lead outside. As soon as the main feasting hall was out of sight, Faramir leaned up against the wall of the dimly lit hallway and let out a relieved sigh in celebration that Éomer didn’t follow.
It was then that singing reached his ears, bright and full of mirth. It came not from the feasting hall, but from a smaller room at the end of the hallway. Curiosity gnawing at him, Faramir made his way toward it and soon began to make out words.
The round moon rolled
behind the hill
As the Sun raised up her head
She could hardly believe her fiery eyes
For though it was day to her surprise
They all went back to bed.
The room Faramir peered into, as silently as
he could, was one of the smaller sitting rooms on the long north wall of
Merethrond. A flickering, lantern-light spilled out into the dark
hallway, accompanying the bouts of laughter that resulted from the end
of the song. The voices were those of children and a moment later
Faramir heard the clapping of small hands.
“Do salad dishes and spoons really walk around in the Shire?” asked a particularly young voice.
“Well, if they do, I’ve never seen ‘em,” came a much older voice. After a moment, Faramir recognized the provincial lilt of Samwise Gamgee, “but I suppose they might if they were left without a proper washin’.”
Several young voices giggled. Faramir allowed himself a quiet sniff of a laugh, then silently leaned against the door frame, still half in the shadows. He saw in the room Samwise standing in the middle of a circle of seated children, each and every one of them the son or daughter of some of the feasting hall’s current guests. A few of the children were those of some of the Citadel Guard and with a short pang Faramir recognized Beregond’s son, Bergil, among them. His father was somewhere in the Citadel, under guard and awaiting the King’s judgment. Faramir had heard that the four Hobbits had taken it upon themselves to keep the lad occupied and distracted in the meantime.
“Are all the songs in the Shire like that one, Master Samwise?” Bergil asked, his eyes alight.
“Well, that’s not so much of a Shire song, so much as I suppose,” Samwise answered, “it’s just a little somethin’ that I made up, really.”
“You wrote that?” asked Gwindor, one of the other children of the Guard, wonder in his tone.
“Well, sure,” said Samwise, “which just goes to show you that anybody can do any writin’ that they want. You don’t even have to write it down on paper, even. All you need is-”
“A little imagination,” Faramir said, deciding the moment was right to join the conversation. “I couldn’t agree more, Master Samwise.”
With a startled gasp, the children all sprang to their feet and quickly formed a tight knot. A few of the older ones dropped into shy and somewhat clumsy bows while the rest all seemed to have looks on their faces as if they had been caught doing something wrong.
Faramir gave a laugh. “Come now!” he said. “This is not the White Tower! It would seem that I am the intruder here. Do not stop your conversation on my account.”
“Oh, hullo, Captain Faramir, sir,” said Samwise, “or, rather, I suppose it’s Lord Faramir now, isn’t it. But, we were just singin’ some songs. I hope we weren’t too much of a bother.”
“He was singing some Shire songs for us!” said one of the younger boys.
“Galuneth!” Bergil exclaimed, giving him a reproachful nudge. “We’re sorry we left the feast. It was just that... It was getting somewhat dull.”
“We decided to have a party for just us little-folk, if you catch me,” Samwise explained further, adding a small wink.
Faramir caught on. Samwise was keeping the children occupied so that they wouldn’t cause mischief at the feast and trouble their parents. If they all happened to have a little fun in the meantime, where was the harm. Faramir decided to join in the task. “Ah! So you have created your own refuge in here! And it would seem that I am in need of refuge myself, so...” With a touch of bravado, Faramir went down to one knee so that he was eye-to-eye with Samwise. “I beg leave to enter Henneth Forod, oh captain of the small-folk.”
“Henneth Forod?” asked Gwindor.
“The Window on the North?” Bergil appended, somewhat perplexed.
“Of course,” Faramir stated, gesturing to the window in the wall opposite the door, “for there is the window and it faces north.”
One of the little girls gave a giggle and Faramir noted that it was the first sound he had heard her make.
“Well, in any case, we need to make a ruling, I suppose,” said Samwise, “what do you think, everyone? It was supposed to be a refuge for just us little-folk, but maybe we could make an exception.”
There were voices of assent all around, accompanied by emphatic nods of approval. Then Bergil spoke up again. “He could be an honorary little-folk.”
“It’s like a secret company!” Gwindor added with excitement.
“We should have an Elvish name, too!” said Galuneth. “What’s the Elvish word for ‘little’?”
“Tithen,” Faramir supplied, “shall we be called the Tithenrim, then?”
There was a great cheer from all. A couple of the children even jumped up and down. Faramir then came back to his feet and turned to Samwise. “Then what does the brave captain of our company wish of us this night?”
“Well, we’re supposed to be celebratin’,” said Sam, “so... how about some more songs?”
“Can you sing us another Shire song, Master... I mean, Captain Samwise?” said one of the girls, Arasien.
Samwise suddenly obtained something of a perplexed look. “Well, gee,” he said, “We’ve been in here singin’ songs so long that... it would seem I’ve fresh run out of Shire songs. Leastways, ones that I know all the way through. Mister Frodo would know more, I bet. But he’s probably still busy with the big-folk.”
“Well now!” Faramir exclaimed. “Would the Tithenrim ask their captain to entertain them? I would think that it should be the other way around. Perhaps it is time for a song of Gondor.”
“Beren and Luthien!” Gwindor suggested with gusto.
“That’s too long,” said Bergil, “Eärendil Was a Mariner!”
“But that’s not a song for celebrating,” said Arasien.
“Yes it is!”
The children promptly set about their great debate over the perfect song to sing for Captain Samwise. The conversation was just beginning to increase in volume when Faramir felt a tug at his sleeve. He looked down and found the little girl from before who seemed to have yet to speak. She beckoned to him silently and he crouched down so that she could whisper in his ear. He nodded to her and she shyly blushed.
“My friends,” Faramir broke in on the growing argument. Almost immediately, it ceased. “The young maiden has suggested The Traveling Mouse of Númenor. Does this have approval?”
There were nods all around as most of the other children seemed stunned that the littlest among them had actually ventured to speak at all. Faramir knelt back down again to the little girl’s height.
“What is your name, fair maiden?” he asked.
“Faeriel,” she answered quietly.
“Then, for Faeriel, the fair young maiden of the Tithenrim, I shall sing the song of The Traveling Mouse of Númenor.”
The children all formed a circle and sat once again, Samwise among them this time. Faramir stood in the middle and after they had calmed and fixed their eyes upon him, he took a deep, anticipatory breath and began.
Oh long ago on Númenor,
by a port so fair
Lived a mouse quite well traveled, the wisest in his lair
A grey of silver was his fur and noble was his birth
And lived he longer by a stretch than mice on Middle-earth.
Oh far too small was Númenor
for his traveling feet
He’d walked the star from tip to tip in a manner passing fleet
He sought to travel farther than he’d ever been before
And so he stowed aboard a ship bound for the eastern shore.
Now all his life
the land had been his well-mastered domain
The water he by then had seen was mostly made of rain
The waves, he found, were not his friends and made a horrible sound;
A-dickory-dickory against the hickory and made him wish for ground.
The ship then came
to port upon the shores of Middle-earth
And eager was the mouse to set his feet upon the dirt
But when he came out of the hold he found himself in shock
For still there was that sound, a-hickory-dickory on the dock.
The mouse, he knew
the ship would depart in just three day’s time
Upon the moment when he heard the clock’s first hour chime
And so at once the mouse began to travel far and wide
And came across a mouse-hole deep within the countryside
“Hello!” he called
down the hole in a voice that held no fear,
“I’ve come across the roaring sea and I bring good cheer.
Are there kindred mice below in this welcoming hole?
I’d like to treat with you this day and learn what tales you know.”
Up from the hole
there came a mouse whose fur was a dull brown
His nose he twitched and sniffed the air while circling round and round
“What ho!” he said. “Who is this who has come up to my door?
Unless I am deceived, it is a mouse of Númenor!”
“That I am,” said
the grey mouse and bowed quite gallantly,
“And glad I am that you have come up to entreat with me.
I’m here only for two days more and would like a knowing guide
To show me all there is to see upon this land so wide.”
And so the two mice
went abroad, hither and yon and to,
Seeing all there was to see and doing what they could do
Until such a time drew near that the ship was to depart
And they returned to the docks to see one last work of art.
A clock, it was,
which kept the time of ships that went and came
Its figures and its craftsmanship were of a marv’lous fame
But the brown mouse forgot that it was guarded by a cat
Who prowled round and round its base and within shadows sat.
Next to the bustling,
busy port was this wond’rous clock
And all grey mouse could hear in his ear was hickory-dickory-dock
Quiet came the cat a-stalking and snuck up behind
And the two mice were saved by naught but shadows and sunshine.
For near it was
to noon by then and the mice stood in sun
And when the cat came up behind they saw its shadow come
They skittered off in panic and the brown mouse led the way
Brown mouse ran up the clock and grey followed straightaway.
The cat, too large
to follow them was left upon the ground
And like a hunter in the wild it circled round and round
Eventually it gave up and looked like it went away
“But we should wait some, nonetheless,” said brown mouse to the grey.
And so they waited
in the clock not having that much fun
Until at last they were rattled when the clock struck one
“Oh help!” said grey mouse. “This was the time my ship was to depart!”
And so the mouse ran down that great and timely work of art.
He ran down to the
port and heard the waves, a-dickory-dock
And hoped and prayed that the ship’s crew had not heard the clock
He ran over plank and board and looked across the sea, forlorn
For there he saw his ship had sailed back to Númenor.
He could not swim,
he could not fly to reach the sailing ship
And now he truly quite lamented of this folly trip
For he was born on Númenor and had lived there since his birth
And lost and lonely he was stranded on the shores of Middle-earth.
As Faramir finished, there were cheers and
clapping all around. He gave a short bow, noting with some satisfaction
that little Faelriel was now the most boisterous of the celebrants.
She hopped up and down with a gleeful little squeal and eyes alight with
“Bless me!” Samwise exclaimed. “That is a fun song, and no doubt!”
“It’s a parable,” Gwindor explained, “the grey mouse was counted the wisest of his kin, you see. And yet, he didn’t understand things outside his own home because he’d never been there.”
“That’s not it,” said Arasien, “it’s all about getting so caught up in something pretty that you don’t see dangers around you.”
“That isn’t what my father said,” stated Bergil, “he said that it’s like what happened to the kings of old, Elendil and Isildur and Anárion who were banished from Númenor and had to live on Middle-earth.”
“That isn’t it!” said Galuneth.
“How would you know?” Bergil shot back.
“Because Númenor didn’t sink in the song!”
“Well, beggin’ your pardon,” Samwise cut in, hoping to head off another debate that would surely escalate in volume before long, “but I don’t think that’s what it was about at all.”
Faramir gave a knowing smile, unseen by all but the Hobbit.
“You don’t?” Arasien asked, puzzled.
“But you just heard it for the first time,” said Gwindor in kind.
“That does not mean that Master Samwise has no thoughts on the song,” Faramir told them, “we have all heard what everyone else thinks. Should we not hear what he has to say?”
“Yeah!” Bergil agreed in excitement. “What do you think of our song, Master Samwise?”
Suddenly under the scrutiny of all the children in the room once again and the Steward of the realm besides, Samwise shifted somewhat uncomfortably and colored shyly. He twiddled his fingers for a moment, searching for the best way to put his thoughts into words.
“Well, the grey mouse liked to travel, you see,” he said, “but whenever he would go about on the island, he could always get home again. But as soon as he went too far and as soon as he couldn’t get back home again, he found out what it really meant to him, if you follow. I guess I sorta know what he feels like at the end of the song. Adventurin’ is great an’ all, but it can get scary. And sometimes, you just want to be headin’ off home again.”
After a moment of silence in the room, Faelriel went over and tugged on Sam’s sleeve.
“Do you miss the Shire, Master Samwise?” she asked in all but a whisper.
Sam nodded. “I do,” he said, “I mean, Gondor is great an’ all. With lots of great towers and grand mountains. And I made lots of friends, just like the grey mouse did, and I got to meet Elves and Eagles. But home is still home, if you understand me.”
Faelriel then launched herself into a hug, wrapping herself around Samwise’s neck. “You won’t forget us when you go home, will you?”
“Well, now, of course not! I’m not the smartest Hobbit in the land, not by a long stretch. But I’m not as simple as that!” He took her by the shoulders and set her on the ground once again. “Besides, who could ever forget about the Company of the Little Folk?”
“But, you’re the captain of the Tithenrim,” Arasien protested, “once you leave, there won’t be a company any more.”
“That’s a silly thing if ever I heard one,” said Samwise, “a company doesn’t go away just because it’s captain leaves. Take Lord Faramir, for one. He was captain of the Rangers in Ithilien up until just a little while ago. He’s busy in the city, now, but the Rangers are still there.”
“That is true,” agreed Faramir, “for once a company is formed, some part of it will remain forever. And if the company is formed of friendship, it can never be broken, even if no two members are in the same place ever again.”
“But even sayin’ that,” said Samwise, “maybe I should be appointin’ a lieutenant.”
“It should be Lord Faramir!” Bergil exclaimed at once. “He’s already the Steward of Gondor. He can be the Steward of the Tithenrim, too!”
“Nay, nay, that will not do at all,” said Faramir with a laugh, “recall, I am an honorary member of the Little Folk only.”
“Besides,” said Arasien, sensibly, “being the Steward of Gondor is going to keep him too busy. Whoever’s the lieutenant of the Tithenrim will have to do a lot to make sure it stays going. The only sensible thing to do it to have it be the oldest of us. And that would make it Bergil.”
Bergil shook his head. “No, it should be the wisest of us,” he said, “and who’s the one who understood what Captain Samwise said about wanting to go home? It was Faelriel.”
Shyly, Faelriel shrank back from the group and stuck a thumb in her mouth. She shook her head back and forth in a manner so small as to be almost invisible.
“Well, that won’t work out,” said Galuneth.
“I know!” Gwindor exclaimed suddenly. “We should all be the lieutenants! That way both the oldest and the wisest will be the lieutenant. And the work will get spread around, besides.”
This met with general approval among the children. Faramir and Samwise exchanged a glance that said they agreed as to the absurdity of the solution. But neither one of them was going to argue. If the children could make it work, who were they to disagree? They all conversed a while longer about how best to handle things in the absence of Captain Samwise and were finally halted by the appearance of a lady from the feast hall in the doorway.
“Gwindor, by the Valar, I have been looking all over for you!” she said.
“Sorry, mother,” Gwindor mumbled.
The lady gave a short bow to Faramir, gathering the boy up next to her. “My lord, I’m terribly sorry for any trouble my son has caused you.”
“No trouble, dear lady,” Faramir replied, “we’ve been exchanging songs to pass the time.”
The lady laughed, directing her gaze to the rest of the children. “And you all certainly have done that. The hour has grown late indeed and I have it on good faith that all your mothers and fathers are searching for you. Best say your thank-yous to the Lord Steward and the Master Perian and run along.”
With that, Gwindor, Galuneth, and Arasien all mumbled their thanks and departed under the watchful gaze of the lady.
“Lord Faramir, sir,” said Bergil, “do you think my father is lonely?”
“Well, if he is not lonely, he certainly would be overjoyed to see his son come home. Always remember; a friendly and beloved face can do wonders for a person in a time of woe.”
“Yes, sir, I’ll remember,” said Bergil. And with that, he departed the room and Faramir could hear his running footsteps all the way down the hall.
There was then a tug at his sleeve again. Faramir looked down to find Faelriel looking up at him. “Thank you for singing for us,” she said, bashfully.
Faramir knelt back down on the floor so that he was eye-to-eye with her again. “It was my honor, young lady,” he said, and planted a kiss upon her forehead.
Blushing and with a giggle, Faelriel gave a timid little courtesy and darted from the room.
“Well, I guess that’s that, then,” said Samwise, “I really didn’t mean to be a bother to you, sir.”
“Oh think naught of it,” said Faramir, “believe me, t’was you who rescued me this night. In fact, I think it premature to return to the feast hall, yet. If you would care to sit with me a while longer, I would hear more about the Shire.”
“Why, I’d be delighted to, Lord Faramir,” said Samwise, “I’d surely be delighted.”