Many Guises and Many Names
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Courtly Love: 6. Morwen
She watched an eagle sweep lazily across the sky, its wings seemingly motionless as it caught an upward draft and rose effortlessly until it almost left her sight. It was surely one of the great eagles of the Misty Mountains that seldom flew south, but when they did were hailed by the Rohirrim as heralds of great moment, revered and held in awe. The queen harboured no such superstition, but admired them as hunters of great magnificence, lords of the Hithaeglir. Once, as a young woman, she had been privileged to see one at close quarters, astonished to find herself gazing straight at the regal head, the stern face and those keen eyes, remote and lofty, but without disdain. They seemed to penetrate her thoughts and lay her heart bare. It was a moment that had entered her soul, and even years later she would try to capture the eagle’s likeness in her work, but she never caught it to her satisfaction.
Her thoughts turned to Thengel. She could hear his rich voice and feel his touch as though he was there walking with her, and it made her shiver with longing. Three months he had been gone and she missed his bear-like form, his kind face and great, gentle hands. Their children promised to be more like their mother; the boy, Théoden, slighter and shorter than his father, though he had Thengel’s pale blue eyes and the strong golden hair that had so drawn her to him in her youth. But his sisters had the dark locks and grey eyes of Gondor and ever reminded Morwen of her old home.
Grey eyes. Odd that the newcomer was not of Gondor. Apart from his skin, ivory rather than olive, he seemed in a strange way more Gondorric than many of her countrymen. But at the same time, there was that marked ‘otherness’ about him, in his eyes and especially in his manner and bearing. It felt almost otherworldly. And there was a grace and silence to his movements that reminded her of a cat.
She began to ponder the words they had had on the subject of names. A name is a title that a man must earn, not that which his mother gives him. The men she knew were named by tradition or fancy. Many were the private moments when Thengel seemed to her less than a prince, and much less than a king, though the songs of their children would treat him far kinder than they had his father, she was certain. And Gálmód now, what manner of man would he have been, had he been born an Éomer or an Ælric? She laughed aloud. It seemed impossible that he could be anything other than what he was, but the coincidence troubled her. What had his mother been thinking? It seemed to her that the Rohirrim chose odd names for their sons. ‘Tis a heavy enough burden to name a child, even when his fate seems clear by his birth. It was hard to imagine the boy, Théoden, as king, but such he would one day become, fate willing. As to herself, the name Steelsheen, accorded her lately by the Eorlingas, both amused and moved her, more at any rate than Morwen, whose meaning she could scarce recall these days.
But when it came to the foreigner; the more she learned about him, the more of a riddle he presented.
Thengel (A.S.) prince
Galmod (A.S.) licentious
Theoden (A.S.) king
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