1. The Esquire
"I will, when I learn what you are fit for," said Denethor. "But that I shall learn soonest, maybe, if I keep you beside me. The esquire of my chamber has begged leave to go to the out-garrison, so you shall take his place for a while. You shall wait on me, bear errands, and talk to me, if war and council leave me any leisure. Can you sing?" Denethor to Pippin. ROTK: The Siege of Gondor.
(In memory of the Fall of Sauron - 25 March)
I tried not to cry as I begged him, for he did not approve of tears. 'My father is there,' I told him, 'and I would join him.' Surely the Steward would understand that. His eyes flickered in anger and I knew my request had been denied. I saluted, took my customary place behind the Chair, eyes forward. Silence ensued. I stilled my thoughts, attentive as ever to his needs. I felt him stir and did the unpardonable - I looked. Tears glistened upon his cheeks. "My Lord?" I questioned, dumbfounded.
"You love your father."
It was a statement, not a question. I nodded, trying to still my heart at his obvious grief, keeping myself from falling to my knees to comfort him. I had seen this same grief as he held Boromir's broken Horn in his lap.
I loved him, too. Almost as a father. I had been his esquire for two full years now. From the first day, when I stood trembling before him, his eyes twinkled. He did not smile, but I saw benevolence in his eyes and fear left me. Though gruff to most, he showed me acts of kindness, joked with me till the homesickness left.
"Do not tell anyone," he whispered conspiratorially. "Else I lose my power over them."
I nodded, smiling.
"Wipe that smile from your face, Esquire. No emotion in this Hall."
I shuddered for a moment until his eyes brightened again. I saluted him. "Where would you have me stand, my Lord?"
He pointed. "Next to the Chair. Just a bit back so it does not look as if you were concerned that I would fall out of it at any moment."
A laugh escaped my lips. His own tightened in what I now knew was mock anger. I apologized profusely.
Over the years, I watched as hope left him, replaced by resolve. I had been afraid that the Enemy would triumph when first I entered this Hall as his esquire. I fear no longer. He is stone - as marble from Mindolluin. I know Gondor will survive. No enemy can best my lord.
I waited upon him. The silence grew more profound.
"I said, go. I will find another to take your place."
I knelt and kissed his hands, tears flowing from my eyes. "Your sons love you as I love my father, my Lord. I have seen it. And mayhap, Boromir will return."
He stood, flinging my hands from his. "Leave me before I change my mind."
Now that the moment was upon me, I found myself torn. How could I leave him alone?
He sat upon his Chair, the Rod cradled in his arms.
I saluted him, tears streaming down my face. Some part of me knew I would never see him again.
I ran to the outer battlements and my father hugged me tightly. I fell that day, in my father's arms, the Lord Denethor's name upon my lips. May the Valar protect him.
A/N - Pippin takes this esquire's place. I take the liberty of believing that Denethor had a heart as evidenced by the opening quote of this tale and this next quote. Right before Pip pledges fealty to Denethor, Tolkien writes: "A pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed over the old man's face..." ROTK: Book V, Chapter One: Minas Tirith.
A squire was originally a young man who aspired to the rank of knighthood and who, as part of his development to that end, served an existing knight as his attendant or shield carrier. However, during the middle ages the rank of the squire came to be recognized in its own right and, once knighthood ceased to be conferred by any but the monarch, it was no longer to be assumed that a squire would in due course progress to be a knight. The connection between a squire and any particular knight also ceased to exist, as did any shield carrying duties. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squire Also, http://www.reference.com/search?q=squire
A medieval page was the first stage of chivalric knighthood. In medieval times the degree of page was the first stage of chivalric knighthood, preparatory to that of first esquire and then knight. http://histclo.com/act/work/page/work-pagemed.html
"In the military organization of the later middle ages, a young man of good birth attendant upon a knight, one ranking next to a knight under the feudal system of military service and tenure. http://www.stamaria.com/onSquires.asp
According to the books I have of LOTR, Tolkien calls them esquires NOT squires. 'Éomer and his esquire rode back to the rear.' ROTK Passing of the Grey Company. "You shall be my esquire, if you will. Is there gear of war in this place, Éomer, that my sword-thain could use?" ROTK Passing of the Grey Company. "Rise now, Meriadoc, esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld!" ROTK Passing of the Grey Company. 'But at that very moment a trumpet sounded, and a man came summoning him, the king's esquire, to wait at the king's board.' ROTK The Muster of Rohan. 'Now having eaten he made ready to set out again, and he wished his esquire a kindly farewell.' ROTK The Muster of Rohan. "And what of the king's esquire, the Halfling? Éomer, you shall make him a knight of the Riddermark, for he is valiant!" ROTK Houses of Healing. 'But when, after the Standing Silence, wine was brought there came in two esquires to serve the kings; or so they seemed to be: one was clad in the silver and sable of the Guards of Minas Tirith, and the other in white and green. But Sam wondered what such young boys were doing in an army of mighty men.' ROTK The Field of Cormallen.
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