3. Trade in Kind - by Dwimordene
Aragorn and Halbarad have faced bandits, orcs, payment reneged, floods, and one time even fire when a summer thunderstorm set the plains between Mirkwood and the High Pass alight. That had nearly been the end of them; it had certainly been the end of the goods they had been guarding.
This time, it's a broken cart—Southern measure doesn't fit the ruts in the Road near Bree, and the axel had given way, taking much of the undercarriage with it. Halbarad had run ahead to town to bring help, while Aragorn had stood guard with the cursing merchant.
Eventually, help had come: a cart to match the ruts and carry the goods, and draft horses to drag the wagon back to town, whence it was sent to the smith and carpenter. Aragorn and Halbarad, off duty now, go with it nonetheless to watch as smith and carpenter take off dented wheels, break out the old axel and its damaged fittings, make a new one, replace the chassis, fit the cart with iron-capped wheels broader in the rim than the ruts.
"Are you any good at carpentry?" Halbarad asks.
"I can make a bow. Or a spear," Aragorn replies.
Halbarad grunts. "Too bad," he says. "Sometimes, I wish…"
He doesn't finish, but he doesn't need to. Young as they are, they've been on the Road long enough now to know their proper craft—to know that it's no 'craft' at all, as the smith or the carpenter or weaver or even merchant measures the meaning of that word.
Thus as the smith and carpenter shake hands, Aragorn murmurs wistfully, "Me, too." He ducks his head and sighs. "Me, too!"
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.