41. Thoughtful Company - NEW 12.11.06
I was looking for Faramir; now that he was older, he often ended up in the gardens, reading or talking with the gardeners, while I was taking my half-day. I heard his voice nearby and walked in that direction, only to stop short when I caught the distinctive odor of pipeweed. He was with Mithrandir; I could just see the wizard's grey hat over the hedges.
I was loathe to disturb the two of them - Faramir did so enjoy Mithrandir's company - so I did not approach them right away.
"But how did they get all that treasure?" I heard Faramir ask in a puzzled voice.
"Most of Smaug's was stolen from the dwarves," Mithrandir replied, "although he did have some spoils of battle. Many dragons had such - after they had attacked a town, they would sack it as well. Some towns were not able to rebuild, so poor were they after a dragon had finished with them."
"No, I mean how did they take the treasure back to their cave?" Faramir said, in that tone of voice which I knew meant he was wrestling with something that confused him. "Gold coins come in a bag, and dragons don't have hands. You said that dragon's teeth and claws are sharper than swords, so wouldn't they tear the bag if a dragon tried to pick it up? And I don't see how a dragon could carry golden plates and silver cups, or jewels - although if they were in a chest, I guess a dragon could carry that carefully. But all treasure doesn't come in a chest."
Mithrandir's voice held a hint of amusement. "How do you think a dragon carried treasure back to his lair?"
I could not tell if Mithrandir knew the answer, or if he simply wanted Faramir to work it out on his own.
There was a silence, and I could easily picture Faramir's thoughtful face as he pondered the question. "He couldn't use a wagon to carry things like we do," he said finally, "because dragons can't drive a wagon, and I think he would rather eat the horses. Maybe - did dragons have men who worked for them, like Father's chamberlain?" This possibility was spoken doubtfully.
I could hear the smile in Mithrandir's voice. "If one did, I have not heard of it," he said.
"I don't think a dragon would want to pull a wagon himself," Faramir mused, "if they are as proud as you said. Oh!" His voice brightened. "He could carry the wagon in his mouth or claws, couldn't he, without smashing it, if he were very careful? He could scoop the treasure into the wagon, and then just carry the wagon back to his cave!" He sounded very proud, and I could not help but smile, even as I wondered what Mithrandir's response would be.
The wizard chuckled, a puff of smoke drifting over his head. "I think that sounds very practical," he answered, and there was fondness in his tone. "I have never seen a dragon making off with its treasure, so I cannot tell you if it is true or not, but it seems a likely idea."
"I wish I could see a dragon," Faramir said wistfully. "But they're all gone now, aren't they?"
"There might be a small one lurking in a dark corner of some land," Mithrandir said, and I shuddered to think it might be true. "But I have not heard of one being seen for many, many years." I saw him lean towards where I assumed Faramir sat. "Now, it grows near the dinner-hour - should you not be returning?"
"Nanny will find me when she comes back," Faramir said confidently. "She knows I come to the gardens when she goes out, if it's not cold or raining."
I hesitated; I did not want to step forward and reveal that I had been eavesdropping on their conversation. But then Mithrandir said, "I wager that she will be here any moment, if she knows your habits so well," and I realized that he had known I was there all along.
"And here I am," I said, coming fully into the garden. "Have you had an enjoyable visit with Mithrandir?"
"Oh, yes!" Faramir replied, eyes shining. "He has told me all about the Battle of the Five Armies and dragons!"
"He was not too inquisitive, I hope," I said to Mithrandir, for I knew how relentless Faramir's curiosity could be.
"He is never too inquisitive," he assured me. "And I welcome such thoughtful company."
Faramir's ears turned red, a reaction I knew meant he was both proud and a little embarrassed. "Thank you for telling me those stories," he said earnestly as he came to stand next to me. "It's much more interesting to hear what happened from someone who was there."
Mithrandir said, " You are very welcome, Faramir. Perhaps we will have the chance to speak again, ere I leave Minas Tirith?" His smile was warm and sincere, but a shadow flashed across his face, so swiftly that I was unsure whether or not I had even seen it.
Faramir looked up at me eagerly; I nodded, and he replied, "I would like that, very much."
We bid the wizard good-night, and for the rest of the evening, Faramir talked steadily of Mithrandir and dragons. I listened to him, asking questions when it seemed required, and wondered if the odd expression I had seen on the wizard's face had been regret or wistfulness. Both, I decided, feeling a surprising sympathy for him, for he had no children of his own that I had heard. What must it be like? I thought. To be so old and wise, and yet to have no child or kin to brighten his life?
Faramir had turned to sketching dragons. "Come look, Nanny!" He held up the sheet of parchment in his hand. "This blue one is for you -" he knew how I liked to save such things, "-do you think Mithrandir would like a drawing of Smaug?"
Impulsively I bent and kissed the top of his head, and he grinned at me in surprise. "I do," I said, pleased at his thoughtfulness. "I think he would like that very much."
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.