17. Of Squires and Liveries
Dan, who was apparently familliar with the castle,
took Beomann up another winding stair, not the
one, to a bright, airy chamber two floors above Lady
Finduilas' sewing room.
It had a pair of wide beds, their carven headboards
against the inner wall and big chests decorated with
painted hunting scenes at their feet. The wall
opposite was slightly curved with two deeply recessed
windows, one with a table and chair beneath it, the
other with a cushioned bench. There was a shelf of
books between the two windows, a fireplace in the
righthand wall and a door in the left which Dan
opened to show a small room with a big round bath,
apparently carved from a single lump of red stone and
shelves holding pitchers, basins, piles of folded
linen towels and a big copper kettle.
"Bathroom." he said, rather unecessarily, then
moved to the foot of the nearest bed to throw open the
lid of its chest. "Now let's see if we can find a
livery that will fit you."
'Livery' turned out to be the kind of clothes
Beomann had seen Dan and other Rangers wearing in the
palace at Annuminas. Like Breelanders they started
with a shirt and breeches but instead of waistcoat
and jacket covered them with a long tunic and an
equally long sleeveless garment Dan called a surcoat.
The tunic and surcoat he found for Beomann were a
shade to long, loose at the waist and tight at the
shoulder but not enough to be obviously ill-fitting.
The tunic was of nubby white wool and the surcoat of
glossy grey leather, both falling nearly to his
ankles. Beomann felt foolish and was afraid he looked
Dan didn't. He had a silver brooch, shaped like a
many pointed star, to fasten his surcoat at the neck.
And his belt seemed to be made of grey fur and was
fastened by a silver clasp like two wolves' heads,
their jaws locked together. (1)
There was a knock at the door and another young
Ranger came in. His tunic was green and his surcoat
black, but he too had a star shaped brooch at his
throat, Dan greeted him with easy familiarity.
"Camborn, this is Beomann Butterbur of Bree who's
newly taken service with my Captain. Beomann, Camborn
is is the service of Captain Belegon and his lady."
"Welcome to Tol Ernil," the new Ranger said to
Beomann with an apologetic smile, "though I fear you
find us at less than our best." he turned even more
apologetically to Dan. "I know it's not done to ask
labor of guests, but could you two help with the
serving tonight? There's only Brandir, Elboron and I,
and Brandir's laid up with a wound." adding quickly at
Dan's look of concern. "Oh not bad, just an arrow in
the muscle of the calf, but of course he can't carry
platters and cups while leaning on a crutch."
"I say yes for myself most readily," Dan answered,
"but as for Beomann - " continued to the
puzzled Breelander. "Camborn's asking us to help serve
dinner, if you wouldn't mind?"
Beomann grinned. "I'm an innkeeper's son, remember?
I've been serving meals to folk since I could walk."
But dinner wouldn't be for several hours yet. Dan
suggested they go see if Gilvagor had anything he
wanted done and led the way back down three flights of
yet another winding stair and through a door into a
circular room, about a third the size of the throne
room below, dominated by a big round table its top
inlaid with an elaborate map of all the country west
of the Misty mountains, bounded by a great bay in the
far north, and a river in the south.(2) High backed
chairs, carved and painted with the oak and sun, lined
the curving walls beneath colorful banners emblazoned
with all kinds of devices; not just the usual stars
and trees and ships and suns and moons, but flowers,
strange beasts, swords, axes and other weapons.
Sunlight streamed in through high windows embelished
with colored glass. Beomann would have liked to linger
a bit and get a good look at that map but Dan circled
briskly around the table to knock on a door in the far
wall, then open it.
This was a much smaller room, about the size of one
of the Pony's private parlors, its red stone walls
hung with big parchment maps and its floor covered by
a gigantic wolfskin rug. A writing table faced the
door with Belegon sitting in the thronelike chair
behind it, another oak and sun banner showing over his
shoulder. Gil sat in a second chair on the other side
of the table.
"Come in Beomann." he said. "Danilos, you will find
the Dunadan's messenger in the west solar, bring him
to us if you please."
Dan nodded and went out again. Beomann came further
in, paused to look at the maps on the wall. They
seemed to be of the Wilds south of the road, all
dotted with little houses and towers labelled with
names written in strange letters. A number of them had
been scored through by a slash of red ink.
"So, Beomann, what do you think of our manner of
dress?" Gil asked with a teasing glint in his eye.
"I feel like I'm wearing skirts," Beomann admitted,
"but at least there aren't any petticoats!" shrugged.
"I'll get used to it."
"I don't doubt but you will." Gil indicated a
sealed letter on the table. "We are writing the King
that Norbury and Sudbury may be rebuilt, but
Wutherington is beyond salvaging. You agree?"
"Oh yes, like you said there's nothing left to work
with there." cocked his head, puzzled. "But why ask
"Because you are the only available representative
of the Men of Eriador, and the matter concerns your
folk as much as ours." Gil answered. Smiled faintly.
"I have told Aragorn you approve of the idea. Though
your father seemed less pleased."
"Dad doesn't like things changing, but he'll be
pleased enough when there's more business going
through Bree." Beomann frowned. "You saw how Aunt
Alisoun and Cousin Ban can barely keep their heads
above water? Well if something isn't done about it we
might be in as bad case in Bree before to long."
"It won't come to that," Belegon assured him
quickly. "even if the cities are never rebuilt, the
Road will be safe to travel again and trade will pick
"But I don't just want things to go back to how
they were!" Beomann burst out with a vehemence that
surprised him quite as much as the two Rangers. "That
may be all Dad wants but I want more." he pointed to
the oak and sun hanging behind Belegon's chair. "I
want that banner to mean something again. I want our
Kingdom back, with its cities and towns and its King
too. I want my people to be what they once were." he
blinked back the tears stinging his eyes, swallowed.
"And if Strider - the King I mean - wants that too,
I'll do everything I can to help make it come true."
"That is exactly what the King wants," Gil said
softly, "and he will need all the help Men like you,
who share his vision, can give him."
There was a knock at the door. Gil gestured Beomann
to stand beside him as it opened admitting Dan and a
Man who looked like a Ranger in height and coloring
but wasn't one, dressed all in black with a white tree
and seven stars on his surcoat.
Beomann wasn't quite sure just how he could be so
certain the Man wasn't a Ranger, maybe it was the open
shock in his face as he stared at Gil and Belegon.
Beomann looked at them too.
Both had risen at the messenger's entrance. They
were washed and brushed and dressed in the deep grey
that seemed to be the favorite Ranger color when they
were out of green leather.(3) Beomann had gotten used
to the fact that Gil was beautiful, he'd even gotten
used to Aranel's dazzling looks, and to Belegon's
majestic height. You'd think a Man from the Southern
Kingdom would be acustomed to people who were
beautiful and people who were very, very tall - but
Or maybe the messenger wasn't any more used to
people with the kind of power Gil had shown in the
Barrow or Belegon to the quarreling Men in the Downs
than Beomann himself was, and like Beomann could sense
it under the two Ranger Captain's ordinary manner,
like a banked fire ready to burst forth at any minute.
Suddenly the Man seemed to realize he'd been
staring, flushed a little, took three steps forward
I apologize for your long wait, Asgon of Gondor,"
Gil said, gently as if he wanted to avoid giving the
Man any more shocks, "but I am sure my kinswoman, the
Lady Finduilas made the delay as pleasant as
Asgon bowed again but apparently couldn't think of
anything to say. Beomann knew the feeling, high
ranking Rangers seemed to do that to people.
"I am Gilvagor son of Armegil, the High King's heir
and deputy here in the North." Gil continued. "Captain
Belegon and I have been inspecting the sites of the
old cities. Fornost Erain and Cardol have been sadly
damaged by time and their citadels slighted by our
enemies yet with sufficient labor they may be
restored. Minas Sul however has been all but erased,
her very foundations dug up, and would require a total
rebuilding that is beyond our means." he picked up the
letter and handed it to Beomann, who looked at it
blankly for a moment then realized he was supposed to
give it to the messenger and did so.
Now it was Belegon's turn to talk: "I would ask
that you delay your departure till tomorrow so my
kinsman and I may here firsthand the news of our kin
in the south." he said with a reassuring smile such as
one gives to nervous children. "And I will send one of
my Men with you in the morning to guide your company
on safe paths known to us."
Asgon finally found his voice. "Thank you, my Lord,
you are very kind."
1. The star brooch is of course the Badge of the North
Kingdom worn by all Rangers, (re: The Grey Company).
The wolfskin belt with its ornate wolf head buckle is
an award of valor for saving a companion by killing,
or helping to kill, a great Warg.
2. The Bay of Forochel and the River Isen, in other
words the map covers all the lands ruled by the
Isildurioni and their allies.
3. In fact it's Dunedain mourning.
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