The Blind, the Deaf, the Crippled

King's Commission, The

34. A Day's Work

A Day's Work

            He sighed and looked out the window.  "We ought to go now up to the work site.  Come."  He took his cloak from the chair, rolled up the diagrams of Merry's statue and bound the roll with a ribbon; and after making certain the box with his better tools for rough cutting was on the folding table just inside the doorway, he indicated the younger folk should exit first.  He paused at the desk to speak with Beneldil about having the box on the table borne down to the Dwarves' warehouse in the first level, and they headed up the steep streets toward the Seventh Level. 

            Tharen Thranduilion came to meet them.  "I am sorry that I could not see the model ere you must away to your work, but if it is acceptable I will accompany my brother and the Lord Aragorn when they come to see you tonight, and see it then."

            "Very much, my Lord," said Ruvemir with a bow of respect.  "You are always welcome." 

            As they walked, Ririon asked Celebgil, "When did you realize you had a gift for carving?"

            Celebgil shrugged.  "I'd never carved stone, but did love to work with clay, forming many figures when I was a child.  My father is a potter, so we always had clay for me to work.  There were no openings for sculptors in clay in the city when I came of age to be apprenticed, though, so my father sought a place with Master Varondil, who is greatly esteemed among sculptors in Minas Tirith.

            "Master Varondil owns an interest in a particular quarry for marble which produces finer stone appropriate for producing statuary and for use on the facades of buildings.  He therefore always has a suitable supply ready for most situations, and usually steers others to purchase stone from his quarry rather than from others.  He is an adequate artist, I suppose--certainly most within the city purchasing and commissioning effigies for tombs turn to him.  But almost all the work is of effigies, or standard memorial figures to place over graves.  Also, almost all the work is done in his workshop under his eye, with little chance to experiment or do anything different.  I dislike being forced to remain in the same place, the same room, almost all of my time, and asked if I couldn't be allowed to try something different.

            "When it was learned that Master Ruvemir was to complete a memorial to the Pheriannath, he offered my services as an apprentice to assist in the rough cutting and the easier and less detailed shaping.  I finally am able to work under other conditions than just my master's workshop and to do work on images of living folk for a change, and I am content.  And what new techniques I learn I will teach to my fellow apprentices."

            "Do you like working with stone?" asked Pando.

            "I didn't at first, but mostly I do now.  I have done much of the draperies for the effigies of women and great lords, for I appear to have a feel for how cloth flows and flares.  But only Master Varondil carves faces and hands.  We may do all else, but that is his own domain and he will not allow others to do them on those statues which are commissioned."

            "Well, on these statues I, too, will be doing the detail work," Ruvemir indicated.  "But I will be expecting you to work on learning to do faces and hands, and invite you to use whatever waste stone you please in your practice.  I will probably end up purchasing smaller blocks from your master for practice pieces for you."        

            "Thank you," said Celebgil.

            "After all," continued Ruvemir, "it will be difficult for you to learn new techniques if you don't have a chance to practice and perfect them."

            After a time Ririon asked Pando, "Did you spy on the Lord Frodo often?"

            "Yes," Pando replied.  "There was a weak place in the hedge where I'd lie and watch Sam working in the gardens.  He was always busy.  Usually after he'd cleaned up the kitchen after second breakfast Frodo would come out into the garden, too.  He might kneel down and cut off dead blooms or do some of the simpler weeding, or he'd bring a book and read it out loud to Sam as he worked.  When they got to discussing what he'd just read, often he'd get down and work with Sam, although often he would stop paying attention to what he was doing, and Sam would have to break off and tell him to stop trying to pull out all the alyssum or whatever. 

            "Frodo would usually work alongside Sam for a half hour or so, and then he'd sit usually on the grass in front of the garden bench with his knees drawn up with his hands clasped around them as they'd talk while Sam worked until elevenses.  Frodo would usually go in to eat his or to go to the study and work on a translation for a time, while Sam ate the meal he'd brought or that one of his sisters had sent up for him.  After, he'd go in and fix some tea and take some to Frodo, then come back out and drink his own before returning to work.

            "Frodo would often fix luncheon for both of them, although sometimes he'd get so involved he'd let the fire go out or forget to turn something.  Sam got so he'd check during the fixing of luncheon to see everything cooked properly, and if Frodo was very involved he'd just take him a tray and go back out to his own work.  He was often done with all that needed to be done fairly early, and then he'd just putter.  He hated to leave the flowers.  If Merry and Pippin and Folco and Fatty had come, often he'd be invited in to have tea and supper and so on with them.  Sometimes if there just wasn't enough to be done to make staying worthwhile, he'd announce he'd finished for the day, and he'd go to see the Cottons, who are relatives.  He and Young Tom Cotton were close friends, and he'd always been sweet on Rosie--everyone knew that.

            "On market day, Frodo would usually walk into Hobbiton to do the shopping, and would often stop at Number Three to ask the Gaffer and Marigold if they wanted him to get them anything.  Sometimes Sam would go with him if there was much to bring back, and Sam would usually insist on carrying most of it.  But when Frodo went alone, he would let me play Túrin and the Dragon with him."

            Celebgil looked at him with surprise.  "Wasn't he a grownup?"

            "Yes, but he'd still let me play it with him."

            Ruvemir was curious now.  "How did you play this?"

            "Well, there was a place along the way where there was a break in the hedge, so I'd hurry to get there with the wooden sword I'd made myself, and I'd pretend to be Túrin waiting in the narrow crack for the dragon to walk over him, and Frodo would be the dragon.  Just as he was passing, I'd rush out of the opening and attack him, and he'd pretend to be terribly wounded and fall down dead.  Or he'd pretend he'd taken only a flesh wound and he'd turn on me, making loud roars, catching me and finally starting to tickle me. 

            "If he had something urgent to do or had to meet with the Mayor or anything like that, or just wasn't feeling like playing that day, before he got to the crack he'd call out, 'Túrin would do well to go home today.'  One day he just said, 'Sorry, Pando, but I just got this cloak cleaned, and if you get it dirty or rip it with your sword I'll have to do something dire.'"  They all laughed.

            "After he was done with the shops and the stalls, he'd often sit on one of the benches on the Common to have a pipe, and we'd come to beg him for stories.  He told the most wonderful stories.  Often he'd act them out as much as tell them.  Sometimes he'd bring a book and he'd read a story to us, or occasionally a poem.  When he read to us, he'd usually let one of the little ones sit on his lap while he was reading, and afterwards would tell the letters and how the words were pronounced to the one he was holding.  Many of the children of Hobbiton and Bywater were taught to read by Frodo.

            "He usually didn't hurry home.  He'd stop in the Ivy Bush and have a mug of ale and talk with his friends or listen to the gossip, or he'd wander about a bit and maybe help someone finish sweeping a walk or stoop, or he'd sit in the Common and talk with someone--mostly, he would let them talk and he'd just listen and ask questions, and then give advice when they were all done.  Or he'd have them decide how to deal with a problem."

            "Did he let you play Túrin and the Dragon after he came back?"

            "I didn't do it any more.  At first, he'd been gone so long; and then he just didn't look like he was ready to play back.  Sometimes he'd walk into Hobbiton or Bywater, but now he was often tired looking, and he always walked slower.  Sometimes he'd have to stop and catch his breath, and then he'd clutch at his jewel he wore.  Finally he stopped walking far at all.  He was only going a short way at a time, and he'd tell us stories there at the turn in the lane where there used to be a bit of a wall, but now there was a bench Sam put there in its place.  But his stories weren't the same as before, and he didn't act them out any more.  Often Cyclamen, who was the littlest on the Row then, would sit on his lap and hold his hand, like we said inside, and she'd rub the place where his finger was gone now.

            "Sometimes he'd stop in the middle of the story and just look out at the mallorn tree for a few moments.  We would just sit there and wait for him to finally go on, which he always did.  He smiled and all, and always would ask us how things were for us at home, and laugh when someone told a joke or just said something silly, but he also usually looked sort of solemn.

            "His voice had become very slow and thoughtful.  Sam said he sounded Elvish now.  Then--then he went away.  He made Sam his heir and took him to the Havens to say goodbye.  Then Sam came back alone, and now he is Master of Bag End.  He still spends much of the day working in the gardens most of the year, and like Frodo he helps whoever needs help.  Frodo was always doing that.  When Cyclamen was born he brought down meals for us for a few days until Mum was feeling better and Dad was able to help her cook and take care of us.  When Gordo Twofoot broke his leg, Frodo came down and split kindling for him, and stacked wood.  When I was ill with a rash and fever, he came down and read to me.  Now it's Sam that does all that."

            They walked for a while in silence.  Pando had taken the roll of paper, and Ruvemir was using his cane; but as they went through the gate to the Fifth Circle he was becoming tired, and for the first time in quite a while his hip was beginning to ache.  Finally he said, "I need to stop for a moment."

            They could hear horses coming up the way behind them briskly, and drew to one side.  Then they heard a voice calling out, "Is all well with you, Master Ruvemir?"

            The sculptor turned, gladdened to hear the voice of the King, but his expression became concerned when he saw the King's face and form.  There were five in the party, including the Lord Faramir and Lasgon.  All were well dressed--except their fine clothing was smudged with smoke and cinders, and their expressions were grim and tired under streaks of soot.  The King held in his arms the figure of a child, and he looked concerned.

            "My Lord King Aragorn," Ruvemir exclaimed.  "What has happened?"

            "A fire upon the Pelennor.  I cannot stay, for we must get this one and her brother to the Houses of Healing quickly; but I see you are fatigued with the climb.  Lasgon, will you take Master Ruvemir before you and carry him to the Court of Gathering?  Have them draw a bath for me for when I come, and ask Lord Hardorn to call those who are most familiar with the paths on the mountain to gather to me in an hour's time in my chambers--we will need snow brought down for this one's burns."

            "Were you down visiting with Captain Beregond, then, my Lord?" asked the sculptor.

            The King drew a tired smile.  "I see I should admit you to the ranks of those who gather intelligence for the realm.  Pippin told you this?"  At the sculptor's nod, he sighed.  "I bid you good day.  I may not be able to come down tonight as planned, due to this.  I will send word later in the day as we learn more."  He spoke to his horse--not the grey today, but the bay; and hurried on the way to the sixth level and the Houses of Healing.  Lasgon dismounted and assisted Ruvemir into the saddle and remounted behind, then led the way up the last two levels.

            "What has happened, Lasgon?" Ruvemir asked.

            "The King went out to the house where Captain Beregond stays while Prince Faramir is in the city, and because his son Bergil and I have long been friends I was asked to be part of his escort that we might enjoy one another's company.  The Lord King after a time went out onto the porch to light his pipe and enjoy the sun, and saw smoke near the west borders of the Pelennor.  He raised the alarm and called Roheryn to him, vaulted onto the stallion's back, and rode off toward the smoke, calling orders to me to get help from the city as he rode away.  I'd not realized Roheryn was trained to riding Elf fashion as is Olórin, but obviously he is.  The others followed the King, but were delayed as most of the horses present had been relieved of tack, and few are as accustomed as the King to riding with no saddle or bridle.

            "A crofter's houseplace had caught fire--no one knows why as yet.  The neighbors were quenching the lower walls, but the roof fell in.  The father managed to throw his infant son out of the blaze to the King's hands before a beam struck him and his older boy.  The King drew the daughter out of the house himself--she appears badly burnt on the left side.  He drew out the father, but he apparently was killed by the fallen beam.  Bergil drew out the older boy, who died in his arms.  He is bereft."

            "I can imagine," Ruvemir said, shocked.

            "The King bears the daughter, and the Lord Prince Faramir carries the infant son.  His mother, we are told, died giving birth to him."

            The Ladies Arwen and Éowyn were walking down the ramp between the Sixth Circle and the level of the Citadel as Lasgon rode his horse up it, and nodded their recognition as they and the two women and three guards with them went as swiftly as the Queen's condition allowed down to the Houses of Healing to assist in the caring for the injured.   Lasgon dismounted and carefully lifted Ruvemir down, saluted them, and handing his horse to a guard who'd moved forward, ran to the doors of the Citadel to carry the orders of the King.

            Ririon watched after, troubled and knowing there was nothing he could do to assist.  Sighing, he gestured the three with him to follow, and they crossed to the work site. 

            His larger chest of tools for stonework had been brought up the previous evening, and now he unlocked it, lifted out the smaller chest that contained his finer tools, and carefully laid out the tools he would use today.  He brought the three youths to look at the diagram of Peregrin Took, and he indicated how the shaping marks he'd done the day before would help to bring the stone closer to the shape of the finished figure.  He then asked Pando to describe what he'd learned the day before, and indicated he would allow the young Hobbit to assist in the shaping of certain parts of the block intended for the sculpture of Sir Meriadoc, as there was more stone to be removed and less chance he would cut too deeply.

            He then had all three run their fingers over the work done already, identifying places where the density of the stone varied, which proved to be few.  "Very good," he judged.  "The less variation in densities and the fewer the flaws, the easier it is to work the stone as intended, and often the more pleasing the finished figure.  However, as in people, the additions of flaws and differences bring more interest to the sculpture, particularly when they are used to enhance the lines of clothing drape or features."

            He looked over the work Celebgil had done, and using his pot of paint and brush he marked the sections he wished worked this day and indicated the types of strokes he wished used.  "We are coming close to the level of the figure itself, so we do not wish to cut deeply as yesterday, only to remove those layers that are not Hobbit and their clothing, and we wish the cuts today to lay the groundwork for those I will do in the final carving.  Do not go above this level on the block.  I wish the stone covering the face to remain for now."

            He took Pando and Ririon with him to the other figure.  He pinned up the diagram for Merry's stone, and using his measuring line figured out where he would cut to for various points.  Again he used his pot of paint to mark the contours for the rough cutting, and he then took the two of them to his tool chest, had them feel each tool, and named and described it and its usage for them as they handled them.  At one point he realized Celebgil had broken away from his carving to come listen.  He looked up at the young Man in question.

            "I have not heard all these tools described before, Master," Celebgil explained, "and I wished to learn also." 

            Ruvemir nodded and smiled.  "Well enough," he said, and continued. 

            During the time they were gone some odd pieces of stone had been set by his workbench, and Ririon guessed rightly that they had been donated by the Dwarves and artisans working on the repairs of the city from their waste pieces.  Once they were done with the instruction, Ruvemir set Ririon experimenting with some of the punches and chisels and hammers on one of these, and then demonstrated the use of the larger chisels for rough cutting for Pando, then set him experimenting on another rough block while he turned to the block for Merry.  He looked carefully at the block for some time, looking at the direction of the grain, examining the crystalline structure, and finally set his chisel and began tapping.  Again Celebgil stopped his own work to watch, then came over and watched more closely.  He smiled as a single blow from Master Ruvemir removed thrice the material his did, yet failed to go any deeper than the lines marked indicated.

            "You are far more efficient than I, Master Ruvemir," he said.

            "Yes, I need to be, for I don't have your leverage or endurance, Celebgil.  As I told the Lord Samwise, my father, who is a carver of wood, taught me to judge grain and weaknesses so as to set wedges and chisels where they do the most good in a single blow, and the same is true, in a different way, with stone."

            He then had Celebgil describe the grain of the stone and its structure as he saw it as best he could.  Nodding, he offered what corrections he had to give, and indicated several places where he could set the chisel to do his next cut, and described what would occur in each case.  "However," he said, "I will set it here--" he suited action to words "--at this angle and cut thus--" a blow "--and this will be the result." 

            Celebgil watched the single elegant wedge of stone removed fall away with awe.  "Yes," he breathed, "you do indeed deserve the title of Master, sir."

            He went back to the first figure, and examined it for some moments.  Ruvemir followed, watched with interest, and smiled when the young Man set his chisel, adjusted the angle and the grip on his mallet, and looked for approval.  Ruvemir refused to comment one way or another, but it was plain from his expression that whether right or wrong, the blow was unlikely to cause irreparable harm, so Celebgil took a breath and struck.  As had happened with Ruvemir, a long, elegant wedge fell away, and the youth smiled with achievement.  He did two more such long removes watched by Ruvemir, then the mannikin smiled at him and went back to the other block.  Finally he called Ririon and Pando to him, had Ririon hold a smaller chisel at a prescribed angle, and had him do several removes.  Then he had Ririon hand the chisel to Pando and return to his own block, and did the same with him.  Soon he was having Pando work with a variety of other chisels.

            "These are too big for your hand," he commented.  "I will have to see about getting some more appropriate for your grip."

            "I may be able to help there," commented Dorlin, who'd arrived a short time earlier with a shorter Dwarf with black hair and beard.  "My kinsman Orin," he said by way of introduction.

            "Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin, at your service," the mannikin said with the bow he'd learned was appropriate.  Pando and Ririon followed suit easily, with Celebgil, obviously self-conscious, completing the introductions offered by Ruvemir's group. 

            "Orin son of Bofur at yours and your family's," the dark Dwarf said formally.  He looked over the work done so far and nodded.  "Not many of us go in for sculpting such as this--usually we work geometric shapes or the designs made by tree limbs and plants into our decorations, although some of us do make statues of great heroes or tomb effigies.  But this is fine planning, and it is good you recognize the young Hobbit needs tools fit for his hand."

            "At this time he is learning only the basic techniques I use, for his greatest gift as revealed is with clay and wax."  The Dwarf nodded his understanding.  "So he is only now getting a feel for the work Celebgil and I do before he goes to an instructor better suited to teach to his talents than I."

            "I have a smaller grip myself," Orin said, "and will be glad to give him a few of my lesser chisels, since he is unlikely to do much here.  But, if he loves clay, I can think of a fellow who can help with tools there.  Few Dwarves work with clay and kilns for it, but Dorin is a bit of an odd one for Dwarves."  He watched Ririon work.  "That one is clever, and has already begun to come out with a pleasing pattern."  He watched Ririon pausing to feel the interlaced diamond pattern he'd started, and place his chisel for the next blow.  He nodded approval as the blow fell true.  "He knows what he wishes to bring forth, and the stone gives it to him."  He went forward to hunker down by the boy, and began to talk with him as he worked.  Dorlin watched with a smile behind his beard. 

            "I knew Ririon would capture his attention," the Dwarf commented quietly.  "Gimli was coming with us, too, but went aside to the Houses of Healing with Legolas instead."         

            At that moment there was a movement up the Court of Gathering from the ramp as the King, plainly tired but grimly determined, walked swiftly toward the Citadel, accompanied by others.  An hour later, as the servants of the Citadel came out with the luncheon provided, he and three others headed back down the ramp, all now clean and the King dressed now in white garb.  A healer met him at the head of the ramp, and after a moment's talk he sped down it, the others scrambling to keep pace with him.  Ruvemir watched with concern for the burned girl and the babe, and a prayer that the King's aid would be enough for them.

            By mid-afternoon Ruvemir was well fatigued, and he quickly shrouded Merry's block and indicated that after the break for ale, fruit, and cheese he would go back to his quarters to work on the diagrams for Lord Samwise's figure.  Again he had Pando remain with Celebgil and Orin, who'd been watching the work with occasional comments and suggestions, so well made they offered none any offense; and accompanied by Ririon and Dorlin he headed back down to the lower city.

            They paused at the door to the Houses of Healing, where they asked after the girl and the babe.  They received word the babe was alive and would recover quickly, but that the girl's condition was guarded.  She would be in grave pain if allowed to awaken, so the King had sent her into a deep sleep.  He'd steeped a good deal of athelas in boiling water, and had then set bowls of it in larger bowls of snow and ice brought off the mountain to cool it, and was using compresses dipped in the cooled athelas water to soothe the burns, and had laid some of the leaves after steeping directly over the worst of the burns.  Leaving word to the King that care for the children had been expressed, Ruvemir went on down through the city.

            In the Fifth Circle they were intercepted by Master Varondil, who bowed deeply and asked after the work accomplished that day.  "Young Celebgil suits well?" he asked.

            "Oh, yes, very well indeed," Ruvemir agreed.  "He is dedicated and skillful, and is following instruction full well.  I thank you again for the loan of his services.  He is making good progress on the rough cutting of the first block, and will undoubtedly assist in doing some of the detail work on the cloaks and clothing."

            Master Varondil seemed a bit surprised but fully pleased at this report, and promised to come up the next day to see the progress made.

            It was as they went through the fifth level that he saw the shop where Lord Frodo must have received the writing and drawing supplies he'd used here in the city as he taught himself to compensate for the loss of his finger.  Ruvemir indicated he wished to go in and purchase some more supplies for himself, and together they entered the shop.  In it, sitting in a corner, sat the elderly Man whose picture Lord Frodo had done in Gondor, a smiling figure as he sat, absorbed in what he was reading, obviously not noticing his customers.  No wonder, Ruvemir thought as he looked at the Man, the Ringbearer had found him intriguing.  His face was full of humor and had an abstracted air to it; and on an easel stood an ethereal drawing that was obviously a work in progress of Elves facing a great dragon.  Yes, Ruvemir thought, this would be an individual with whom Frodo Baggins could identify, here in this place of stone and mountains and strangeness--another scholar and artist.

            "Hello," said Ruvemir rather loudly, and the Man startled to awareness, drawn with suddenness from the world to which his book had taken him.

            "Oh, I am sorry," he began.  "I was just--"

            His eyes, as they focused on the party that had entered his shop, popped slightly.  "Oh," he said, "are you a Pherian, Master?"

            "My apprentice Pando is a Pherian, sir, but not I.  I am but a humble mannikin.  I was wondering if you would show me your selection of sketch booklets and drawing paper."

            "Of course, sir.  They are in this corner, Master, all that I have.  Do you need drawing sticks?  Graphite?"

            The selection was greater here than in the shop just the other side of the gate into the First Circle, but the shopkeeper did not sell books other than those that had to do with artistry and architecture.

            After a long discussion on the benefits of one grade of charcoal against another and the comparison of both to graphite, Ruvemir at last bought three more sketch booklets and a binding with ribbons through it to fix some of the pages he'd cut out for use in constructing models and such that he wished now to protect.

            As his purchases were wrapped up, he commented, "I wished to let you know you and your shop were remembered pleasantly by the four Pheriannath who left their far home to take up the quest of the Enemy's Ring.  Captain Peregrin and Sir Meriadoc and Master Samwise all remember you with thanks for the generosity you showed their kinsman and beloved friend.  And the Ringbearer left a portrait of you among his papers--he appears to have found you a person he came to admire, sir."

            The Man straightened, obviously surprised.  "You have met with them, Master?  Oh, how wonderful!  And how did you come to know them?"

            "I was sent by the King to meet them in Eriador, and all remembered the first visit when the Lord Frodo found your shop and came in to obtain materials so he could practice writing once more."

            "They do?  That is pleasant to know.  They were so odd, and so worthy.  Master Frodo came to visit me several times, and we would talk.  He told me about his land and his home, and one day drew me a picture of it.  They live in holes carved out of the hills of their land, did you know?"

            "Yes, so I have learned.  So, he has given you a picture of Bag End, has he?"

            "Oh, yes.  A marvelous artist.  One can tell, looking on the picture, what flowers were blooming about the round door.  He told me of being brought there as a youth as the heir to his cousin, and of the joy he felt there, coming of age amongst the flowers planted by his friend Master Samwise.  And he told me of the day he came into his inheritance, and how they found a cousin stealing small items and secreting them in something they call an umbrella, which I am told shields one from rain, and how they carried her out the door and dumped her onto the steps.  It was quite funny, the way he told it.  His eyes would laugh as he told me his stories, and I could tell he wished strongly to go back to his home."  The Man laughed, then became solemn.  "When I heard the story he'd left Middle Earth, I was so saddened.  A light has been lost to us, you know."

            Ruvemir and Ririon nodded.  "All of his own people mourn for his leaving as well," Ririon said.  "They pray the great Elves in Elvenhome and the Powers are aiding him to heal."

            "Elvenhome?" asked the shopkeeper with amazement.  "You mean he is not dead, then?"

            "Yes," Ruvemir said, quietly.  "His kinsmen and his friend accompanied him to the Havens and saw him take ship.  He was very weakened by his ordeal, and had begun to fade.  The Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel themselves interceded for him, as did Mithrandir."

            "But he will not be able to return."

            "No, he will not."

            "And his home is now empty?"

            "No, he left it to Master Samwise, who married and now has two children and a third due at any time.  He and Mistress Rosie are determined to see the Lord Frodo's desire to fill Bag End with children and love made manifest."

            The shopkeeper smiled.  "That is good, then.  He wished so strongly to see a family in his home."  He looked down at the package he'd just wrapped.  "He was a gentle soul, Master Frodo.  He forbade me to call him Lord, you know."  Ruvemir nodded.  "He took pity on a lonely widower, and visited me on occasion, made me feel almost as if my grandchild was visiting me.  We would talk of drawing and painting, of writing and books and the binding of books.  He bound books, you know.  And he sent me this from his own land."

            He reached under the counter and brought out a small book, elegantly bound, in which Frodo had copied a number of poems written by himself and his uncle.  Two of them were illustrated, one of Eärendil the Mariner which showed a tall man, similar to the Lord King Aragorn but clean shaven, with the Silmaril bound to his brow; the other a nursery rhyme about an Oliphaunt--and the picture made it plain he had indeed seen such a beast.  Searching carefully, Ruvemir smiled to finally discover the dragonfly in each of the pictures, worked into the sail of Eärendil's ship in the one, and flying over the back of the Oliphaunt in the other.  Skimming through the book, Ruvemir found a long rhyme about the Man in the Moon visiting an inn, and paused.

            "May I read this aloud to my ward here?" he asked.

            "Of course," the shopkeeper said.  "Feel free."

            Ruvemir smiled.  "You will remember what Mr. Butterbur told us of his dancing on the table in Bree, Ririon, Dorlin?  I think I've found the song he sang that night."  And he read it aloud, and soon all were laughing.

            "What a droll poem that one is," the shopkeeper said.  "I think he did the pictures in the book."

            "Yes, he did," Ruvemir smiled.  "I see his signature symbol in each."

            "You found the dragonfly, then?" asked Ririon.

            "Yes, in both."

            "You say he had a picture he did of me as well?" the shopkeeper asked.

            "Yes, among his papers he brought back from Gondor.  He appears to have remembered you with fondness."

            "I am honored.  He'd sit and talk to me, and sometimes, after he was comfortable holding a pen or drawing stick again, he would draw as we talked.  Most were of his friends or of flowers or birds.  One he gave me was of the Citadel and the old White Tree.  I framed it and it hangs there."  He indicated the wall behind him. 

            Ruvemir turned to it avidly.  It was detailed, and he asked if he could hold it.  As he took it in his hand, he realized suddenly that there were two pictures here--the obvious picture of the Citadel from the Court of Gathering, and in the entwined branches of the dead White Tree the image of the Lady Arwen Undómiel.  He straightened in surprise.  He'd seen such double images in the works of a few artists--but this one was masterfully done.  He looked up to search the eyes of the shopkeeper.  "Did he make this, then, after the wedding of our Lord King to our Lady Arwen, then?"

            "No, a full month before her coming.  Why?"

            "Because he drew her into the picture--here.  And I did not think he realized beforehand how deeply the Lord King and the Lady Queen loved one another."

            The shopkeeper was surprised--evidently he hadn't seen the second image.  Now he examined it closely, then smiled.  "Wonderfully wrought!" the Man smiled.  "He was indeed gifted!"

            Ruvemir searched, and found it, resting near the surface of the pool of the fountain, the dragonfly symbol.  He sighed.  "It is the most wonderful example of his work I've seen to date," he said softly.  "He was a master artist."

            "You, too, are an artist?"

            "Nowhere as gifted with drawing or painting as he.  I'm a master sculptor."

            "Oh, are you the Master Ruvemir, then?  It is an honor to meet you.  I am Iorhael son of Berenion of Lossarnach."

            Ruvemir smiled.  "Another reason for Master Frodo to seek your company, Master Iorhael.  You and he shared both interests and a name, then."


            "Yes, for his name means Wise One as well."

            The Man stood quiet for a moment.  "I didn't know.  It was better given to him than to me, I think."

            "He was not certain."

            "If they accepted him to the Undying Lands, then it was properly bestowed."

            With reluctance Ruvemir gave the picture back to the son of Berenion of Lossarnach.  "Thank you, Master Iorhael," he said.  He paid for his purchases and left the shop quietly and thoughtfully.

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.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Larner

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/25/08

Original Post: 12/05/04

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