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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rangers But Were Afraid to Ask: 1. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rangers But Were Afraid to Ask
“We’re getting pretty close to Bree,” Halbarad said to his friend after some weeks on the road. “Are you ready for some good ale at the Pony?”
“Any time. And a bed too.”
“Do you mean just a bed?”
Aragorn looked at him with curiosity. “What else would I mean? A hot meal, I suppose.”
Halbarad hesitated. There were some things about his new friend that puzzled him, like the time a few months earlier when they had been roasting a rabbit they had trapped. Aragorn was in one of those silent, moody spells that sometimes beset him. Halbarad had had enough, so he elbowed his friend in the side, seeking to cheer him up: “Aragorn, what’s wrong with you, you are mooning about like a lovesick boy.”
Aragorn was turning the logs in the fire with a sturdy stick, which he promptly hurled with all his strength into the night, where it hit a tree trunk with a loud thwack. He snarled, “Leave it!” and stalked away from the fire.
Halbarad stared after him. Well, there was only one conclusion to draw from that! His friend was in love. But with whom? While he was always beautifully courteous to the women in the village, he showed no interest in any of them. That left only one possibility: He must have left someone behind in Rivendell. He loved a woman of the Elves. That was something that shouldn’t get around, given the strong feelings among some of the Rangers that their Chieftain was too Elvish. Obviously he did not care to discuss it, either. So when Aragorn came back some time later and muttered an apology, Halbarad just shrugged and said nothing.
But now, as they trudged down the road toward Bree, he figured this was a good time to ask some questions. “I mean women, of course.”
Aragorn stopped in his tracks, his face brightening. “I’ve been wondering… Maybe you can help me with this.” He started walking again. “Before I left Rivendell, my brothers told me something that I did not understand. As they put it, the women of the Dunedain are not as affectionate (that’s the word they used) as the women of the Valley. And I certainly saw that was true.”
“Wait a minute,” said Halbarad. “Do you mean what I think you mean?”
“I mean that in Rivendell nobody takes sleeping together so seriously like everyone does among us. I’ve found it most strange. But I didn’t want to ask, because Elladan and Elrohir warned me that it was easy to enrage husbands and fathers if you took a wrong step. Not what I wanted to do.”
Halbarad started laughing.
“All right! Go ahead, make me feel like a fool!”
It was a while before he could stop laughing enough to talk. “My friend, you’re not a fool, but you are lucky, if I understand you. So you were sleeping with Elvish beauties in Rivendell?”
A strange look passed across his friend’s face, a shadow of some kind of pain. But he shook it off, and smiled. “I guess you could put it like that. It’s just, you know, seen as a joyful part of life, like having a really good glass of wine. And the women enjoy it just as much as the men—it puzzles me that among the Dunedain, from what I hear people saying, there are different ideas about what is proper for a woman compared to a man. In Rivendell, some are more interested than others, but no one thinks anything of it if a woman invites you to spend a night. For one thing, Elvish women don’t conceive children unless they want to.”
“Well, that’s a big advantage,” said Halbarad. “That’s the kind of result that really enrages husbands and fathers.”
“So I gathered.” Aragorn sighed. “Anyway, it’s not what I’ve been used to. To tell you the truth, it’s been…kind of frustrating.”
“You aren’t the only one who feels like that. Tell me more. When did you first start with these Elvish beauties?”
“Oh, I guess I was about 15. There are two or three women in Elrond’s House who like doing initiations.”
“Two or three?”
“Yes. And then—“
Halbarad clapped his hands on his ears. “Say no more! I can’t bear it! Why, oh why, did you ever leave?”
Aragorn didn’t answer that. Instead, he said, “But are you saying that in Bree there are some women that we could—”
“Yes, my friend, there are. But I think you may find it another kind of surprise. You pay for them.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I kind of thought you wouldn’t. I mean they do it for money. You give them money and they take off their clothes, for an hour, or a whole night if you pay enough.”
Aragorn frowned. “Well, if they need the money, I guess I understand why they would do that. But I don’t think I’d be interested.”
“Well, because I only want to be with a woman who wants to enjoy it. For me, that’s more than half the fun, getting her really wild—”
Halbarad groaned. “I’m going to start hating you pretty soon. Here I was, thinking you were probably a virgin or something, and now this!”
Aragorn looked startled. “A virgin? Why would you think that?”
“Because you’re always so cool around all the fairest maidens! So polite! Such a gentleman! My sister says all the mothers talk about what a fine young man you are. Little do they know.” Halbarad shook his head.
“But in Bree there are only women we would pay for.”
“Actually…” Halbarad smiled at his friend. “I do know another possibility.”
The farmhouse was up the road to the north of Bree. At the Prancing Pony Halbarad had listened in on enough conversations to know that the grumpy husband in question was indeed away from home. Just to be sure they spent an hour watching the road and fields near by.
“Let’s go,” he said to Aragorn. They emerged from the bushes and crossed over to the house, going around to the back door. Halbarad knocked. A buxom young farmwife answered and broke into a big smile. “Well!” she said. “It’s been quite some time since you’ve been by!”
A couple of hours later they were back on the road, having gotten a good meal into the bargain. Halbarad thought back on the quite enjoyable afternoon. The most memorable few minutes, however, were taken up by the ecstatic cries of female joy sounding through the wall when his friend had his turn with the young and pretty wife.
“Aragorn, my friend, I’ll never understand it,” Halbarad said, shaking his head. “Why ever did you leave Rivendell?”
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