King's Commission, The
33. Knowing Dignity
Celebgil accompanied them back to the rooms at the King's Head, and was finally shown the model for the memorial as Pando and Ririon ate a second breakfast. He smiled as he looked on it. "It is so different from anything I've worked on before," he commented. "I've not done a figure of the living. It is also different from the figures Master Varondil had thought to do."
"I do not generally do strictly monumental work," explained Ruvemir. "Part of my own appeal as an artist is that I seek to reproduce personality in the sculptures I produce, which is different from the statues I've seen so far in the city. The Travelers themselves hated how they were pictured in most of the drawings done of them. They did not recognize themselves in the stiff poses and expressionless faces; and the Lord King bowed to their own wishes in not pursuing it before."
"You left them barefooted," Celebgil noted.
"That is how they live, after all. I am told occasionally those working along the rivers will wear boots from time to time, but otherwise they go unshod in all weathers."
"Master Varondil thought it was demeaning to the dignity of the statue he might produce to portray them with their feet bare."
Ruvemir sighed. "One could not look at the Lord Samwise walking, his feet bare but with his circlet of honor on his brow, from the parlor to the study in Bag End, and find him undignified," he commented. "Dignity is in the individual, not in whether or not the feet are shod."
Celebgil studied the small figure of Frodo Baggins. "Certainly this one is full of dignity," he observed. "Dignity and a level of defiance."
Pando looked at it critically. "He would often look much like this after his return. He wasn't as often laughing and merry as he was before, but neither was he likely to give others the Look as he did before."
The mannikin laughed. "I never tried picturing him with the Look," he said. "You'll have to do a clay portrait of it for me some time. He sounds as if he could appear quite formidable when he wore the Look."
"Oh, yes, my cousin could look like that." The lad smiled. "But he could also just look dignified. Sam threw my dad out of Bag End once, when he was still a tween. Was looking for secret tunnels stuffed with jewels, only there weren't any. That was just after Uncle Bilbo left." Again he smiled. "And they all of them together threw out Cousin Lobelia. It was quite funny, my mum says. But she also says that Cousin Frodo was full of dignity that day, standing there dressed as the Master of Bag End, his face still full of grief for Uncle Bilbo's leaving, answering questions anyway, although he'd rather have been hiding elsewhere, weeping his grief. He must have looked quite a bit like that that day." He looked again at the small figure, then reached out to stroke it with one finger. "He would sit quite straight when he told us his stories, after he came back. And when he told us of the King, he would hold his head high with pride for him. He truly loved our King."
Ruvemir nodded, solemnly now. "And when the King speaks of your cousin, he gets the same look on his face, for he truly loves the Lord Frodo. Loves him and misses him terribly."
"He always was full of dignity when he spoke of the King. Always. Even when he was obviously ill, he was still full of dignity." The lad thought for a few moments. "Funny how he could be humble and dignified at the same time." His smile was proud and sad at the same time, and Ruvemir saw that Celebgil was examining it with wonder.
Ririon was nodding from where he sat on his pallet as he fed Joy the last bite of his seedcake. "Lord Samwise could be humble and proud at the same time. You could see it in his carriage of himself, and hear it in his voice. The day he told of the Lord Frodo leaving from the Havens, you could hear it plainly. And you could hear it in Captain Pippin's voice when he spoke of the King, how he'd be straightening to attention."
"Yes," Ruvemir smiled, "every time he spoke of the King or anyone just mentioned his name, Captain Pippin would straighten up as if he were standing before the throne on guard again. One moment telling stories to make us laugh, and the next he would be the Guard of the Citadel once more. And when he spoke of his beloved Cousin Frodo it was the same."
"Oh, yes," Ririon said, smiling, himself straightening, his chin lifting in pride.
"You just caught his attitude perfectly, Ririon," the sculptor said. "Just like that." He turned to Celebgil. "The pride and dignity of the Pheriannath is like that."
The young Man looked at Ririon, then back at Ruvemir, then at the solemn face of Pando Proudfoot as he continued to stroke the figure of his cousin with one finger. Finally he said, "I think I can see the dignity of the Pheriannath indeed."
"It is a different dignity than the one which Men assume," Ruvemir said. "It is a native dignity. And the Lord Samwise has it in full measure." He looked at the picture. "Full measure. He has been to the brink of despair and death, and brought his beloved Master, friend, and brother there and back again, only to lose him at the last. He believes full honors ought to have gone to the Lord Frodo and not himself, while the Lord Frodo felt full honors ought to have gone to the Lord Samwise and not himself."
"Why did Lord Frodo leave Middle Earth?"
"He was again on the brink of death, and this time what healing could be granted him here would only have served to keep him alive and no more. He carried the Enemy's Ring for well over seventeen years, and the last few months It was fully awake and active, and fully desirous to return to It's own Master's hand. It did all It could to twist his soul, to corrupt him, to betray him, and he defied It--always he defied It. His very soul was scarred by his ordeal."
He looked down at the small figure. "The Lady Arwen was to have sailed to the Undying Lands with her father, the Lord Elrond, but instead chose to remain here and accept mortality, to cleave to our Lord King. She begged the Valar to grant the Lord Frodo the right to sail with her father instead. Her father and the Lady Galadriel and others of the great Elf lords and ladies begged the same, as did Mithrandir. And they granted him that grace. He hopefully is finding there the healing that could not come to him here."
"You speak as if the Ring had a will of Its own," noted Celebgil.
Ruvemir gave a brief shudder, then looked into the youth's eyes. "When Sauron crafted the Ring of Power, he poured the greater part of his own malice and hatred into It, the greater part of his own Will to Dominate. Yes, It had a will of Its own--yet it was, in the end, the same will as the will of Its Master. That was why It had to be destroyed, or It would destroy us all." He looked at the model solemnly. "Two of those pictured there bore It, the Lord Frodo and the Lord Samwise, although he carried It only a day at most. But his memory of what It did to him while they were still outside Mordor is vivid. He has a better understanding of what the Lord Frodo endured from It than anyone, yet even he cannot truly begin to imagine what Lord Frodo suffered those last days within the Enemy's own land, much less what it was like to be taken by It at the end."
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