44. A Useful Skill NEW 12.11.06
The nursery was quiet, though Denethor could hear the nanny moving about in Boromir's room. Faramir, not surprisingly, was sitting on one of the couches, his head bent low over a -
Denethor blinked, sure he must be mistaken. But he was not; it was no book which held Faramir's attention, it was a sock. A sock which Faramir appeared to be mending. Irritation arose with in him immediately - why was his son performing such a menial task?
Before Denethor could speak, Faramir glanced up and saw him standing there. "Father!" he exclaimed. "Father, look!" He slid off the couch and displayed the sock proudly. "I'm fixing the hole - see how I'm weaving this thread across? And then I'll weave it up and down til the hole's all filled in -I have to keep it flat though, or it'll bunch up inside my boot and rub my foot. See - " he stuck his hand inside the sock and pulled out a smooth egg made of some pale wood. "That's what this is for, to help keep it still while I sew it."
"Darn," Denethor corrected absently as he examined Faramir's work. "When you are repairing socks, it is 'darning'." Despite himself, he was impressed with the neat woven stitches; Faramir was nothing if not meticulous. But the Steward was still very displeased to find his youngest darning socks as if he were some common first circle urchin who had to earn pennies for food. "You have made a very clean job of it," he said, and Faramir beamed as he carefully slid the egg back inside the sock, "but - why are you darning your own socks? Is that not your nanny's task?"
Faramir's smile faltered and Denethor realized that he has spoken more harshly than he intended. He did not want to direct his annoyance at his son, when clearly it was the nanny who was to blame. "I .. I thought it looked interesting when Nanny did it," Faramir said slowly. "So I asked her to show me. She said when I am grown and a solider, I would need to know how to se - to darn my own socks and sew up holes in my shirts."
Denethor was a bit startled at this reply. He would not have expected a merchant's daughter from Dol Amroth who had no soldiers in her family to realize that men in the field often had to tend to holes and tears in their garments. He also could not help feeling a bit rueful at his own forgetfulness. It had been years since he spent any significant time in the field, but in those days, he had indeed repaired his own clothing when it was needed.
He could not remember who had taught him the skill, how to make tiny careful stitches. One of his sisters, perhaps? He did remember, however, that his first efforts had been less than pleasing.
"I'm not allowed to sew?" Faramir's voice held a note of disappointment.
He looked down at his son's solemn face. "It is a useful thing to learn," Denethor said at length, smiling, "and I think perhaps Boromir should learn as well. Now - " he seated himself on the couch, and Faramir sat beside him, "show me what you will do next."
Nanny re-entered the room just then, arms full of clothing. She cast them a curious, somewhat apprehensive glance, as if she expected Denethor to express his disapproval. He merely nodded to acknowledge her presence, then turned back to Faramir's explanation of the process, faintly amused at the relief that flickered across the woman's face.
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