2. Before the Doors of the Houses of Healing -- Tanaqui
"Could you have done more than I did?" he answered in that calm and irritating manner he had when he was convinced he was right.
"And what did you do?" I said, not at all placated. "It was Beregond who held the doors against those fools of servants. And if I had been there, they might have listened to my commands where they did not listen to yours. And the Steward might not be dead."
"He would have listened to you no more than me." Mithrandir answered, very sure of himself.
"I say he would," I returned. "For he did not think that I was seeking to supplant him with a usurper."
The wizard's eyes flashed at that. "Do you deny your king?" he asked
"No," I was not daunted by his look. The Lord Aragorn knew he had my fealty. I remembered him well enough from when I was a youth to know now why the Lord Ecthelion had loved him and why he had always been placed first in men's hearts, even above such a man as Denethor. "You know I hold him to be my liege-lord, whether he claim it or no. I did not speak of what I thought, only of what the Lord Steward had in his mind."
I took a deep breath to try and calm myself. "And that does not excuse you from your failure to tell me that the Lord to whom I had sworn my service was near to death and that my nephew--" Here I paused, almost too overcome by knowledge of what had so nearly come to pass to continue. After a moment, I mastered myself and continued, "that my nephew was to be robbed of his life by no weapon of the enemy but by his own father. I ask again: by what right did you withhold that news?"
"By the right to save you from yourself," the wizard answered quietly. "What would you have done, my Lord Imrahil, if you had known my errand. Your duty lay on the fields of the Pelennor - as did the Lord Denethor's. Grief and madness had overthrown his reason. Would you have had your love for your nephew overthrow yours, and rob Gondor of the only leader all would follow? I could save Faramir. You could perhaps have saved Denethor, although to what end I do not know. The enemy had wounded him more deeply even than his son and I do not think you could have reached him. But I know that none save you could have led your people in such an hour."
"In this he has some right, my Lord Prince," Éomer said, laying his hand on my arm. "There were too many rash deeds this day."
I remembered then that his sister also lay near to death within the houses and it sobered me. I pondered the wizard's words. If I had known what passed in the hallows, what choice would I have made? Mithrandir was right, I saw, that I was needed on the field. Yet could I have abandoned my nephew to his fate for the sake of the fate of Gondor? And would that make me more or less of a fool than a man who saw only too late how much he loved his son?
What was done could not be undone. At least my nephew lived, for now.
"So victory is shorn of gladness, and it is bitter bought," I said at last.
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