38. A New Role
"I do not care if he is a Cat or the Steward himself, you will care for him. I did not go to all that trouble saving him to have him die in your tents!"
I tried to close my ears. My paw hurt terribly and the squabbling nearby only made it hurt worse. My eyes still burned as with fire.
"He is a cat. We have men who need help. When we are finished with the men, if the cat still lives, I will take a look at him. Someone already amputated the paw; that should help some."
'My paw,' I thought wildly, 'my paw is gone?' I shuddered.
"I will bring the King here and then you will know that this Cat needs care. Is that what you wish, for me to stop the King in the midst of his duties, to tell you to tend to his Cat?"
"This is the King's cat?" I heard the man whisper.
"It is. Now tend him or you'll find yourself in one of your great city's dungeons. Mark my words!"
Again pain assailed me as the healer touched my paw. Nay, no paw, just a stump. I fell into delirium, calling out Pippin's name.
"Poor little thing. I must find Pippin, see if he is well enough to come visit."
When next I woke, I found Pippin sitting on a rocker, holding me in his arms. He was sound asleep. I smiled and then, a flash of pain filled me, and I looked down and saw the great bandage around where my left paw should be. I felt a bandage on my left eye and mewed quietly, so as not to wake the Hobbit, but I could not stifle the cry.
"I am glad to see you awake, little Swan," Elessar was stepping into the tent. "I thought Gimli would have us all on a spit if you did not survive. He seems quite taken with you."
I wanted to leap into his arms, as I had done a few days ago, from the cart as we left Minas Tirith. He saw and took pity upon me.
"Let me hold you for a time. I do not think Pippin will begrudge us a moment together." He sat upon a cot and held me close. "You did frighten us all. I had not a clue as to what I would tell my Steward if you fell."
'Faramir,' I breathed. 'The battle!' I sat up quickly, too quickly, and the pain that shot through me took my breath away.
"The battle is won because the Ringbearer triumphed. Sauron is fallen."
I heaved a sigh and leaned back against his chest.
"I have further orders for you, Alqualondë. I bid you rest for these next several days. Once Pippin is fully healed, I expect you to come to my tent and enter into your true service. I have need of your wisdom. I will send a guard for you. I do not want you walking for at least a fortnight."
I looked at him in surprise. 'I have lost a paw. And, it seems, an eye.'
"A little thing, for a Cat of your quality and lineage."
'I remember what happened to my paw, but what happened to my eye?'
"An Orc fell on you after Legolas killed it. The blood flowed down and into your eye. It is burnt beyond repair. I am sorry."
I shuddered. At least I was alive. But how could I serve him?
"Alqualondë, I know, from Ecthelion, what service your mother did for him and for all of Gondor. Though we are no longer at war, I will still need your services. I know you have it within you to conquer your wounds and help me. The people will return to the City and there will be little food, almost no work, and much suffering. I will need someone to watch over them, bring me reports as to what area of the City is most impacted, where I should set up soup kitchens and the like, temporary healing houses and such. I know you have a network of felines that listen and obey you. Take them into my service also. Exact an oath from them, and let them serve me."
I nodded. 'I will, my King.'
He held me closer and sang to me. Never had I felt such peace.
A/N - One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the one about Tobit. It's a great, but short little apocryphal book that I just love. Here is the quote that pertains to the Cat's eye injury. "I did not know that there were sparrows on the wall and their fresh droppings fell into my open eyes and white films formed on my eyes. I went to physicians, but they did not help me." Tobit: Ch. 2; 10. Revised Standard Version. I figured that if a bird's dropping could be that harmful, what an earth could an Orc's blood do to a person's eye, especially a gentle Cat's eyes. I am sorry to have him so maimed. It was not my intention, but the Cat told me that's what happened, and so, as his scribe, I faithfully noted it.
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