King's Commission, The
36. Bringing out Captain Peregrin
Bringing out Captain Peregrin
During the dawn meal Master Beneldil arrived to say word had come a pony cart was being sent to carry Master Ruvemir to the level of the Citadel. Ruvemir thanked the innkeeper and arranged to pay for the portage of his tools the day before, finished his meal, trimmed his beard and mustache, and worked more on the third set of diagrams until Celebgil arrived.
They did not have to wait long for the cart, and once more they found themselves heading back up the levels of the city, Joy trotting happily after the cart carrying her young master.
Ririon continued on with his pattern of interlaced diamonds while Celebgil continued work on the first figure and Pando assisted Ruvemir with the second. Before they'd been there an hour Orin arrived, followed by Dorlin. Orin carried three chisels he said he rarely used which he gifted to Pando's use. The young Hobbit was thrilled, and after practicing for a time on the waste piece he'd used the day before, he came back to Merry's block and began again to do the rough cutting as directed by Ruvemir. Dorlin soon asked if he could assist as well, and soon he and the Hobbit between them were working on Merry's block while Ruvemir turned to Pippin's with Celebgil. The citizens of the city had begun to come up to the Court of Gathering to enjoy the day and watch the artisans at work on the King's commission, and Joy began to be distracted by the numbers of folk who saw her and wished to pet and stroke her. Worried someone would feed her something that could cause her to become ill, Ruvemir advised his ward to leash her and tie her at the back of the workspace where she would be less in danger of wrongly expressed affection.
There was a privy building near the base of the Tower of Ecthelion, and Ruvemir and Joy guided Ririon there later in the morning. The Sun was bright, and the boy's sight was suffering as a result. "We'd do best to find you another brimmed hat to wear, I think," Ruvemir said. "You look quite miserable with the glare."
"I can't squint enough to relieve it," Ririon explained. "And when I face it I can see nothing but white. It makes my eyes to hurt and my head to ache."
When they returned they paused to get drinks from the pitchers of juice and water left for them that morning, and Ririon ate some dried apple rings before going back to his pattern in the shade of the work shed. As he returned to the statue Celebgil was still working on, Ruvemir saw the arrival of Master Varondil with another Man wearing the chain of a Guild Master.
Celebgil was just finishing the last strokes to meet the restrictions Ruvemir had indicated, and when finished he stepped back and wiped his brow, smiling at his accomplishment. "The stroke you taught me yesterday has helped speed the work, Master Ruvemir," he commented. "We may be able to start work on detail before we head south, then."
Ruvemir turned to examine the statue. All signs of the black paint were gone, but the youth had not gone deeper than directed. "Excellent work, Celebgil," he said. "I will have words with those approaching, then will mark the next area of removal. Go refresh yourself, and if you wish you may work for a time as you please on one of the waste pieces."
The youth turned to see who was coming, gave a quickly masked grimace of distaste, then a low bow of respect, and withdrew as directed.
Ruvemir had seen the grimace, and wondered which it was who had earned it, or if both intruders had triggered the look. He simply waited until they approached close enough, then gave his own bow of greeting. He decided not to say anything more than he had to--he would allow time to reveal what it was that bothered the young Man.
"Welcome, Masters," he said. "You have come to see the work so far?"
"Yes, Master Ruvemir," said Varondil genially. "May I present Guild Master Dorion, of the Guild of Carvers."
"It is an honor," Ruvemir said respectfully. "Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin, Master Sculptor, at your service." He gave another low bow.
"It is my honor as well, Master Ruvemir," the Guild Master said. "I was out of the city when the King granted you this commission, so I wished to meet with you and see how the work is proceeding."
"It is to be a grouping of four figures in an ornamental base, surrounded by certain flowers agreed upon by all," Ruvemir explained. "Three of the four subjects have approved the design and model, as have our Lord King and Lady Queen and others who knew all four of the Pheriannath, including their own kinsmen and the leadership of their land."
"But the fourth did not approve it?"
"The Lord Frodo Baggins has gone to the Undying Lands, my Lord Master. He is not in a position to agree or disagree, I fear. However, his kinsmen and his heir have approved it for him."
"And may I be introduced to those working with you?"
"Celebgil son of Hirdon, apprenticed to Master Varondil here and loaned to my tutelage for a time to assist in the preparation of the figures. Pando Proudfoot son of Sancho of the Shire in Eriador, apprenticed according to the customs of his own people to learn the basics of sculpting in all materials, but who is going to Mistress Andúrien in Belfalas to study the working of clay and wax and casting in the near future. Ririon son of Embril and Damsen, ward to myself and my sister, and apprenticed equally to myself and my father, Master Carver Mardil of Lebennin. Orin son of Bofur and Dorlin son of Dwalin of the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor, stone workers and sculptors among their own people. Guild Master Dorion of the Guild of Carvers."
Ruvemir led the way to his chests, and brought out the articles of apprenticeship for Ririon and Pando and offered them to the Guild Master for examination. He read through them and noted that the King himself had signed as witness for the apprenticeship of Ririon, who stood by his ornamental block, and that the papers produced for the smaller youth were quite elaborately written and signed.
"Whose are these names signed here?" asked the Guild Master.
"Paladin Took is the Thain of the Shire, the King's representative among the folk of the Pheriannath, as well as family chieftain for the Took clan and Master of the district known as the Tooklands. He is also the father to Captain Peregrin Took of the Guard of the Citadel and the King's Guard, and Heir to his father's lands and offices and titles. Saradoc Brandybuck is the Master of Brandy Hall and family chieftain for the Brandybuck clan and Master of the district of Buckland and the district known as the Marish, as well as father to Sir Meriadoc Brandybuck, Esquire and Swordthain to the King of Rohan and Knight of the Riddermark, and Heir to his father's offices, lands, and titles. Will Whitfoot is the elected Mayor of the Shire, whose signature must be on all legal documents filed within the Shire and who must witness all such formal contracts. Samwise Gamgee is the Lord Samwise who attended the Ringbearer to Orodruin, is now Master of Bag End and named heir to the Lord Frodo Baggins, the Ringbearer. Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck I have already identified. Merimac Brandybuck is the brother and Merimas Brandybuck a nephew of Master Saradoc Brandybuck whom I've already described. Sancho Proudfoot is the lad's adoptive father, and Angelica Baggins Proudfoot his adoptive mother. Lord Halladan is the Steward of Arnor, equal in rank to our Prince Faramir, and he is our Lord King's cousin. He registered this contract for the King's records at Annúminas. And our Lord King, as King of Arnor, signed it here."
"I see," Master Dorion said. "It is, therefore, a binding legal agreement equal to that of Gondor, then. The Pheriannath appear to be very careful with their contracts."
"Indeed. Three lawyers prepared this indenture, my Lord." He noted the shudder given by the Guild Master and suppressed a smile.
The Guild Master could certainly see no objection which could be made against such a formidable document signed by apparently all of the notables of the apprentice's land. He returned it to the mannikin, who restored it to its place in the chest.
Master Dorion then walked over to see what work the youth Ririon son of Damsen and Embril was doing. "What help did you have in doing this pattern?" he asked the boy.
"None, save the advice of Orin and Dorlin, sir. I thought of it myself and have done all the work myself. It is a practice piece to learn the use of the tools and the feeling of this stone as compared to wood and soapstone, which is what I have worked previously."
"Is this the first time you have worked in marble?"
"The second. But the first was just another practice piece. I believe it lies on the table, sir." Ruvemir fetched the wedge of marble and presented it to Master Dorion--Ririon had found himself doing the shape of a dragon on it, similar to that on his walking stick.
"Your vision is impaired?"
"Yes, Master, but Master Ruvemir has assisted me to learn to use what vision I have and my sense of touch to compensate."
"Who assisted you with this?"
"No one, Master. I was only supposed to get a feel for the tools, as I've not used such before. When I realized I was doing what felt like the head of a dragon, I just continued on, sir."
"Have you received instruction in reading and writing?"
"Yes, sir, although I must read raised letters, and I have written by using a scriber on wax or clay."
"I've received a good deal of instruction in history, sir, on our journey. Ruvemir has taught me much, as has Eregiel of Arnor, Lord Samwise Gamgee, Folco Boffin, Master Dorlin, and Master Gimli."
Varondil was startled. "What does Lord Samwise know about history?" he asked.
"Very much, sir. He has studied the First and Second Ages all his life. Master Bilbo Baggins and the Lord Frodo taught him, and he has read many books provided him by the Lord Elrond Peredhel, father to our Queen and foster father to our King."
"Do you doubt the scholarship of Lord Samwise, Master Varondil?" asked a new voice. No one had heard the approach of the King, and they turned to him, startled. His expression was amused, as were those of the three men who had accompanied him to the worksite. "It took me a time, also, to appreciate that this seemingly simple soul is actually almost as well-read as myself. My Adar was greatly amused to see me learn how wrong I was. He had spoken more to Master Bilbo about all four who came on the quest than I'd had the chance to do, and was better informed than I as to just how much Sam knew. Samwise Gamgee is one of the most knowledgeable souls in Middle Earth outside the families of my wife and myself about the First Age of Middle Earth."
"He even has surpassed me," Prince Faramir commented. "He knew little of Gondor's history, and little more about that of Arnor. But his knowledge of Elven Lore and that of the Edain is full."
Pando nodded. "I've heard him arguing with Frodo, and even proving him wrong."
Ruvemir explained to the King, "Pando used to spy on his cousin and Lord Samwise, my Lord King."
The King laughed. "I suppose I shall have to recruit him to my intelligence service also then, along with you." He held out a courier's bag to the sculptor. "We just received these from the Shire, addressed to you. I thought I'd bring them to you myself and learn what Sam has to say to you."
Ruvemir thanked the King and delved into the bag, and found quickly a letter sent by Sam Gamgee, easily recognizing the unadorned script. He opened it quickly, drew out the familiar golden sheets with the green threads, and smiled.
My dear Master Ruvemir,
I hope as this finds you well. We have had no more ills since Yule, once Elanor got over her earache. She sends you much love, and Rosie sends you more. And Frodo-Lad smiles as I tell him what I've written so far.
I've just finished binding the copy of the Sindarin grammar as I spoke to you about, and it will be added to the library tomorrow. I have set my copyist working on the Red Book now, and perhaps we will have a copy for you next year. Then Mr. Pippin wants to take it and make more copies for several folk, including the Lord Strider.
The mallorn tree is suddenly growing as spring comes on, and it is full of leaf buds. It fairly sings with beauty. The garden is starting to stir, and the athelas under Mr. Frodo's Window is pushing up through the soil, while the elanor and niphredil are already putting out buds.
Cyclamen Proudfoot sends you and her brother her love. She says she misses his reports on what he learned by spying on us, and she hopes he's learning to use his gift well.
I put the figure of Strider you give me on the mantel in the study, and the one of Frodo sitting on the bench on the one in the bedroom. Every time I look at them I smile. Rosie has hung the plaque with Elanor's face in the kitchen where the morning light falls on it. Master Paladin has put his of Mr. Pippin in his uniform on a shelf in his study where no one can miss seeing it. Both Mr. Pippin and Mr. Merry have put their pictures you did for them on the walls of their studies--yes, Pippin has a study now hisself. It's very impressive. And Mr. Merry is done with his book on herbs and pipeweed, and is looking at doing a book on the history of the Rohirrim next. Lord Elladan sent me a note he has three books on the Rohirrim in Rohirric, so I've advised him of this. Guess he's planning to study it now.
I'm reading a book on Númenor written in Sindarin, but it's not the Sindarin I'm used to. Guess it has a fair amount of Adunaic in it, so I am finding it slow going at the moment. Only got through twenty pages yesterday.
I guess you and your Elise will be marrying soon. We're sending you a gift, and hope as you find it helpful. Is Strider going to marry the two of you? Did he give you any argument over the model? He'd better not, or I'll have to come down there and speak to him.
You take care of yourself and your Elise, and do write when you have the chance. You are going to do two more memorials when you get this one done? They are keeping you busy, aren't they? And how many statues of us are going to be spread out all over Middle Earth, I wonder?
Anyway, we miss you lots. Elanor says to tell you she wishes you'd come back to visit again.
Ruvemir looked up at the King and held it out to him with an indication of what he should read. He saw the King skim through the rest of the letter, then read the indicated section and start to laugh.
"He's taking up Adunaic, I see," the King commented. "He only got through twenty pages in a day? If that is Sepharion's History of Númenor as I suspect, when I read it I was lucky to get through fifteen, and I was raised speaking Sindarin and Adunaic! It's about the driest commentary I've ever come across." He shook his head as he turned to Master Varondil. "Gandalf told me repeatedly that there was more to Frodo Baggins than meets the eye, and the same is even more true of Samwise Gamgee." He finished the letter, smiled, and handed it back. "Maybe I ought to demand changes, just to get him to return to Minas Tirith, no matter how briefly." His smile broadened. "I did send the children a new teething ring, of the same material as the last, although intended for the purpose this time."
"He'll know I told you, then." But Ruvemir could not help but laugh. "Did you desire to see the progress to date, Sire?"
"You can show all of us the progress to date, I suppose."
The Lord King Aragorn Elessar examined the two sets of diagrams and looked at how they were being referenced by Ruvemir as he marked the blocks of stone for the rough cutting, had the three apprentices speak of what their master had taught them so far, had them demonstrate their skills, examined the practice pieces Ririon had done and praised him for his accomplishments, then looked at the work Pando had been doing in the roughcutting of Merry's block, and finally looked at Pippin's block and how master and apprentice were now ready to work in concert to further refine the figure. He asked Celebgil several questions regarding how he was being directed in the techniques to be used and appeared pleased by the youth's answers.
"You told me the other day you did not expect to get much beyond rough cutting the first block, yet now you are doing two blocks at the same time. What led you to add the second block now?"
"I have found Celebgil to be more efficient and skilled than I'd expected in an apprentice of his experience, and so the work has gone more quickly than I'd anticipated. Also, Pando has proven a quick learner with rough cutting techniques, and so, with the assistance of Masters Orin and Dorlin in supervising him we will be able to have the first figure well toward feature stage and the rough cutting of the second mostly done fairly quickly. We may have a good start on the detail work before we leave for the south."
"You have not used Ririon much in the work on the figures. Why not?"
Ruvemir smiled. "My Lord, I am considering using the pattern he is producing now in the surround for the floral base. His feel for creating patterns and shapes is extraordinary, I find. His feel for the use of mallet and chisel is what is important for him right now, for I am seeing he has a natural aptitude for finished work. However, he has done several removes from the second block, and has already realized how to do them in a controlled manner. For Ririon, a smaller, controlled remove is the more desired technique most of the time, and he is perfecting that skill."
"Why was the Guild Master questioning about history?"
"Because we are often required to prepare memorials for historical events, the Carver's Guild requires we give our apprentices an education in the history of the realm and surrounding nations and peoples. He was checking to see if I have been doing my duty toward their educational requirements."
The King turned his mild eyes to the Guild Master. "Please pardon me, Guild Master Dorion, for interrupting. However, I must soon go down to the Houses of Healing where my own skills and gifts are needed, and I wished to see the progress done on the commission I have given. Have my questions inconvenienced you in any way?"
"Oh, no, Sire," the older-looking Man said, smiling and with a bow. "Your questions and my own have coincided, and have been adequately answered. I only wish all the apprentices I have questioned have been as adequately prepared." He turned to the young Pherian. "You have not long been in your position, and you are on your way to another master more suited, I am told, to your own gifts." The young Halfling nodded. "Can you read and write?"
"Yes, sir. My cousin taught me when I was but a little one. And I have been learning the history of the realm in the Shire school in my village."
"And how have you been learning this?"
"My cousin endowed the Shire schools, sir, and the Lord King has sent to us histories of the realms of Arnor, Gondor, Rohan, and the older realms that we may learn. And one of my teachers is Master Samwise Gamgee."
Guild Master Dorion smiled. "And we have just had his qualifications attested to by our King himself--and his own hand." He straightened. "You were granted entrance to the Guild in Lebennin, Master Ruvemir, so this is the first chance I've had to see your work and your qualifications, and I am well pleased to welcome you to Minas Anor. I understand you are to be married soon?"
"Yes, Master Dorion, on the second High Day from today, an hour after noon at the Inn of the King's Head in the Second Circle. Elise and I would be honored if you and your Lady will agree to join us, also. You may see then the model on which this grouping is based."
"I would be honored. Oh, and I bear greetings from my kinsman Bergemon."
"Oh, I am pleased. I wish to speak to him of cooperating on one of the commissions I have been granted for when this is completed, for he is more skillful in the depiction of figures on horseback than I."
"You have more commissions already?"
"Yes, sir, granted me in Arnor on the basis of what they have seen done on this one so far."
"I see. I will be pleased to speak to you of these in the future, then. Today we have interrupted your work too long already." He walked again to see the diagrams pinned to the wall. "They are not as tall as I'd expected, your figures."
"No, sir, for I've planned them only a bit taller than the individuals themselves were when they left their land of the Shire. All of them stood not much taller than their kinsman Pando here."
The Guild Master turned to the Pherian with renewed interest. "You are kin to these?"
"Yes, sir, Frodo is first cousin to my father. I am more distantly related to Merry and Pippin."
Master Dorion thought on this, then gave the Pherian a respectful bow. "As kinsman to the Ringbearer, I welcome you and offer you the respect of our people. He gave much for the safety of all." He turned. "My Lord King, my Lord Prince Steward, my Lords, I take my leave. Master Varondil, thank you for attending me this day. Your choice to offer the aid of your apprentice to Master Ruvemir was well done. Good day, gentlemen."
Those in the King's party bowed in return and dismissal as the Guild Master turned and set off back toward the ramp to the lower city. The King smiled again. "I must take my leave, also. I attended the girl Lorieth during the night, and she was resting well enough when I last saw her. But it is time I gave her the benefit of my skills once more. I am pleased to see the work progressing so well, and only wish I could follow it more closely. Master Varondil, Master Ruvemir, Celebgil, Pando, Ririon, Master Dorlin, Master Orin, I take my leave and thank all of you for what you have done so far." The King and Steward and their attendants bowed, and the party working on the two figures bowed back.
"We are honored, our Lord King, Lord Steward, Lord Hardorn, Lasgon," Ruvemir returned. The King turned and led the way to the ramp. Ruvemir turned to the one remaining guest. "It is an honor to be visited by you this day, Master Varondil. Celebgil has been most industrious in his work, and I am well pleased by his skills and his willingness to learn. You appear to have trained him well in our skills."
He could easily see that this compliment was not as well received as such should be. Again he wondered what conflict there was between master and apprentice, for it appeared this assignment had not been originally intended to be a reward for the youth's service. He wisely kept his face neutral.
Varondil made a show of examining the two blocks that had been worked so far. "Progress does indeed seem swift. This is but the third day, is it not, that you have worked on them? But I see but three blocks here. Do you need another?"
"The fourth block has several surface flaws, and has been placed in protective storage until it is needed."
"Oh, I see. You are certain the flaws are but on the surface?"
"Only one has the indications it goes more than a measure in depth, and it is such it can easily be worked into the cuff of the sleeve."
"You are certain of this?"
"I have experience with the marble from Casistir, after all, having done three life-size figures in it already."
"We do look forward to the delivery of the larger blocks for practice pieces next week." He noted that the taller sculptor straightened at the reminder of the purchases Ruvemir was transacting. Good, if it distracted him from mischief.
Master Varondil looked about him. "I thank you for your invitation to see the work this day, Master Ruvemir. And it is heartening to hear how well Celebgil is working under your direction." He bowed and left, barely giving Ruvemir and his companions the chance to do their own courtesies.
Celebgil looked after, and Ruvemir could clearly see the anger briefly revealed in the youth's eyes. "Well, that was quite a visitation," the mannikin commented. "We shall all take a break, for I see the servitors from the Citadel are approaching with our luncheon, and then I will begin work on marking the stones for the next round of shaping." All nodded and appeared relieved, and turned to the table under the shelter of the work shed.
As they ate, Ruvemir looked further through the contents of the courier's bag. In it were several packages, which he guessed correctly held marriage gifts for Elise and himself. He found the next letter he took out had been written by Pippin, whose writing was rather scrawled.
Just a note to assure you that all is well. So, you will be returning to Eriador when you are finished with the King's Commission to do two others, then? Well, that will be pleasant, and perhaps I can coax an invitation and permission for you and Elise and whoever accompanies you to enter the Shire, then, so you can visit with us. At any rate, I am certain Merry and I will come out to see you at your worksites, at the very least. And I understand Frodo and Sam are to be in all three, counting the one you are doing now. That is good, and I am well pleased, if no one else is.
I'm not sure about the other one, of course, for that means I will undoubtedly have to see myself repeatedly in the process of making that long journey again and again in the years to come as Aragorn comes more frequently to his lands in the north and I attend on him.
Merry and I hope that next year in the summer months we will bring our brides down to visit Rohan and the capital, although that is not yet carved into stone. Hope that sentiment offers no offense, by the way.
Father has given me my own study now, and I have found, surprisingly enough, I am using it for its intended purposes, although I have also here planned two rather clever tricks to be played on Sam and Merry--just to keep them on guard, you understand. Mustn't let them grow complacent, simply because I am now of age.
Diamond and I are to be married during the Free Fair at Midsummer. We will spend our honeymoon at the farm at Whitwell. Hope she enjoys farm life. I suppose you and Elise will celebrate your own union with your journey to Lebennin and Belfalas.
How is Pando doing? And is Ririon still growing as quickly as he was when here? I'd not realized how swiftly children of Men can change size. I'd almost expected to hear he'd had a drink of an Ent draught.
Let me know how things are going. I still cannot believe I am not only finally of age, but soon to be married. It is almost frightening.
With much respect, I remain your humble servant,
Heir to the Thain and Guard of the Citadel
He opened the letter from the Thain next.
To Master Sculptor Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin, currently in Minas Anor
From Paladin Took, Thain of the Shire
I understand that you have received two more commissions already that will bring you back into Eriador, and that these, too, are in honor of Frodo and Sam, and that one will also show the entire Fellowship. I hope it will be placed somewhere close enough that I may visit it and see the images of the others who took part in the journey Pippin made. It is an honor to learn that Arnor will also recognize the sacrifices of all who took part in the quest.
Pippin is doing well, although I have seen that gleam in his eye that indicates he is planning some mischief. I only hope it is aimed at Merry, who is fully capable of protecting himself from his cousin, and of avenging himself in at least a seemly manner.
I cannot yet promise that when you return to the North we will be able to allow you to enter the Shire again, although I hope this may be accomplished. All remember you with deepest respect, after all.
Fredegar Bolger and Melilot Brandybuck will be married the end of April, and Pippin and Diamond will be married in Michel Delving during the Free Fair at Midsummer. Considering how many wish to pay him back for one trick or another, I decided to give the dubious honor of marrying them to the Mayor--and as far from the Great Smial as is possible for the time.
Will Whitfoot is now finding himself relying heavily on the wisdom of Samwise Gamgee, and is preparing him, I think, as his successor when he retires in a few years' time. He'd always hoped Frodo would follow him, as I think had been the hope of all. None could understand why he gave up the post of Deputy Mayor after such a short time, although now we do. I think that even then, when he still appeared mostly well, Frodo was already aware his time was short, and his spiritual discomfort was obviously deeper than we realized. Now knowing the nature of his experience, I grieve that I did not give him the chance to unburden himself more fully--not that such came easily to Frodo Baggins.
Remember us to Folco and Mistress Miriel and young Ririon, and to your intended. Eglantine and I have sent Folco and his bride also a missive which we hope will reach them as this reaches you, and we forward to you a gift for yourself and your bride. I hope she realizes how caring and understanding a husband as she is getting.
And so I remain your humble servant,
Paladin son of Adalgrim
Thain of the Shire
The Great Smial, Tookland
Eriador in Arnor
Ruvemir smiled solemnly as he refolded this letter.
The next envelope was from Brandy Hall, and held three letters.
Hello, Ruvemir son of Mardil.
We received your posts sent from Tharbad, and hope the damage to your coach didn't hold you there too long. I hope to hear soon from you, that you have indeed returned to Minas Tirith safely.
How is your Elise? Will you be married at the King's Head? Will the King wed the two of you? If he doesn't I'll be most disappointed in him.
Eregiel sounds like an excellent companion, much as Strider was for us. Was the King surprised to see him? Were Artos and Joy good companions, then? Is she still growing? Is Ririon still growing? It seems teens of your race grow so swiftly! Freddie tells us he thinks to become as tall as Aragorn himself, which will indeed be gloriously tall.
How is the work on the monument coming? Where are you doing the bulk of the work? Are you getting any assistance? How long will it take you to complete, do you think?
I have just reread this post, and see I have asked more questions than would any Took. You must have mistaken it as having come from Pippin, even. We are all doing well, and preparing for the two weddings of the year, Freddy's and Melilot's in late April, and that of Pippin and Diamond at the Free Fair in Michel Delving at Midsummer. So many wish to come there is not room to fit them all in the Great Smial. Actually, it is more as if it is neutral ground between the Tooks and the North-Tooks, for there has long been rivalry between the two branches of the family, and Diamond's formidable grandfather Orimbard swore after a fight with Ferumbras when both were younger he would never again set foot in the Great Smial. So they have compromised. Orimbard is actually a fine fellow--only he is as stubborn as any Baggins, I fear. As his mother was a Baggins, an aunt of Bilbo's, even, I suppose that is to be expected. His health is beginning to fail, so I suspect the next family celebration will take place at the Great Smial once more. He is a hundred eighteen, after all.
I've just finished work on a book on herbology, with special interest in the history of pipeweed we grow here. I started studying this long ago, before we left the Shire. I'll have to send you a copy. Sam bound it for me, in brown calfskin.
I think Sam will be our next Mayor. He certainly knows how to get Will Whitfoot thinking, and then convinces Will that the ideas he plants were Will's all along. It's been interesting seeing Uncle Paladin realizing what we've known for years, just how intelligent Sam is. There was good reason he was the first I involved in the Conspiracy.
Your coming was good for Sam, I think. Face it, it was good for all of us, as it allowed all of us to speak out our love for Frodo, and how deeply we all miss him. First time many have realized they weren't the only ones. But it has especially been good for Sam, has helped him grieve more fully and let the grief take its proper place rather than sitting in front of him all the time. I hope the Powers are helping Frodo equally, for he, too, must grieve for Sam and us and home. All the beauty in the universe is no substitute for love, I suspect.
The nightmares are waning now. Still have them, but I recognize them as dreams and can deal with them better. I can more easily wake up, dismiss them, roll over, and return to sleep again. And my arm doesn't get as cold and numb in feeling as it did. Has talking out the grief for Frodo helped deal some with the terrors of the quest, too, I wonder? Maybe it has. Or perhaps waking to find Estella beside me is the source of the magic. Most likely both. Her love has helped me heal, I know. I wish Frodo had been able to find such a love.
My, this has become long. I will close then. Let us know when you come north again, and at least Pippin and I will come out to see you--Sam, too, if we have to drag him. Two more commissions? I'm sending drawings of our cloaks that we first wore, then. You've seen Strider's, after all. And I found a picture of Sam and Bill that Frodo did that you may find helpful. Have included them in the package with the wedding gifts.
Good fortune, then, and may the Valar bless your marriage. Send me a picture of Elise so I'll recognize her when you come north again. I'll try to pressure folk to allow you to reenter the Shire, even.
Ruvemir smiled, replaced the letter, and decided he'd read the others later.
The mid-afternoon break found the work on Pippin's statue advancing. The basic rough cutting was finished, and now he and Celebgil were working together more closely. Celebgil had taken an hour's break, working on a face in the block of stone he'd chosen for a practice piece. He'd come back relieved of some tension, and he quickly found himself following Ruvemir's lead as he began taking off long, shallow removes over what would be the back of the cloak. He was smiling as Ruvemir called the rest. He unbent that day, answering questions put to him by Ririon easily about his family. He had lodged for a time with many of the other apprentices, but said he'd become homesick and now slept at home in the fifth circle. He had three brothers and a sister, and two of his brothers were apprenticed to their father. The third was only eight, and would undoubtedly become a writer one day.
"Learned to read and we lost him, Corúmir. Is always walking about planning stories out in his head, or writing them out in booklets he makes. Just as long as he doesn't decide to take up stone carving...." And the look of anger returned.
Afterwards Ruvemir sent the youth back to work on his face while he marked the next area for clearing in both figures and began the removals about the head and face. By sunset he'd brought the sculpture close into what would be the features. He was tired, but it was a good tiredness, he found. The work was going well. Several people had stayed to watch the work for long periods, but they didn't seem inclined as he'd found elsewhere to question all being done. One boy stood watching, fascinated, for quite some time.
Folco and Miriel arrived shortly before sunset to see the progress, and they immediately gathered respectful attention. Folco examined the diagrams closely, then the work on Pippin's figure, and others watched his examination with awe.
Then just at sunset the King appeared, and the crowd around the site became even more respectful as he gently felt edges where cuts had been made and examined the work accomplished since that morning.
"It goes quite swiftly, it seems," he commented.
"Yes, Sire. But there is one more detail I've realized I need to work on for the Lord Frodo's figure. His feet."
"Oh, I see. Yes, I can see this is a more crucial detail for the final statue than the initial model. Give us a few days, and we will see what we can do, Arwen and I. Now your cart has arrived. I wish you a good evening. Oh, and Lorieth does well, as your sister will tell you." And with a deep bow and a last fondle of Joy's ears, he turned to the Citadel and his own rest.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.