7. Looking After Arda
I was in the midst of replacing the leg on one of the tables when Elessar came stridin' into the hall, that young hothead Carandol close on his heels. At the sight of the lad, I rolled my eyes before I had time to think better of it. I was hopin' the King hadn't seen my expression, but I reckon he had because I saw him tryin' to choke back a laugh. Seemed the two were in the middle of a conversation concernin' some lass named Anbel, who turned out to be one of the horses out in the stables. From what I could make of the conversation, the King had put this mare under the lad's care, and the young man seemed to be doin' a fine job. But what really surprised me was just how fond Carandol seemed to be of the animal. He spoke a bit more softly when he talked about the mare, almost tenderly.
When the lad had left for the stables, the King grinned to himself. He seemed right pleased with Carandol for a change, somethin' like a proud father.
"If you don't mind my sayin' so, Sire, the boy seems to do right well with that horse of yours."
"Indeed he does, Master Innkeeper. The mare's mother died shortly after birthing Anbel. I thought I'd lose the foal, but another mare allowed her to suckle, and the little foal survived despite the odds. I thought Carandol might take a liking to her because of their similarities."
The King took a deep breath before continuin': "Carandol's mother left her husband and young son when the boy was but three. Why, I know not. The boy's father raised him on his own, but then he was killed several years back. Carandol sees himself as abandoned."
"Well, I reckon he was, Sire." Now, what did I go and say that for? Can you imagine? A man like me correctin' the King!
Mercifully, the King took no notice of my impudence before continuin': "On the surface, yes, but it always amazes me that just when we lose one person, the Valar place someone else in our lives. I have seen it often enough to know that it is true."
I knew from the curve of a smile on the King's lips that he had some personal experience in this matter, and I had to restrain myself to keep from askin' who had come along in his life to fill in when he'd lost someone dear. 'Reckon the only reason I managed to keep my big mouth shut is because I got caught up noticin' just how gracefully Elessar smiles, how elegantly his mouth curves. Now, just you forget I said that! I don't need you repeatin' that I took notice of the King's curvy lips! And don't you go gettin' any strange ideas about me, either. Just sayin' the man has a nice smile; that's all.
Now, what was I sayin'? Oh, yes, Elessar was tellin' how when we lose one person, we seem to gain another. I started thinkin' 'bout what he'd said, and I'd just decided that he must be right—'course he is, bein' the King and all—when he spoke: "Carandol fears that Arda has given up on him. What he knows not is that Arda does not give up on us unless we give up on it. And Carandol, despite his faults, has not given up on Arda. His fondness for Anbel is proof of that."
I started thinkin' about my inn once again, the way it seems to keep on providin' for me and the wife so long as I look after it, and I decided that the King was even wiser than I'd thought.
I still had to repair a loose plank in the stairs, so I reckoned I'd best take my leave. "If you'll excuse me, Sire, I have to be on my way. Have to be lookin' after Arda."
The King winked and grinned, and it occurred to me just how fortunate we are to have Elessar out there lookin' after his corner of Arda. Yes, I'm happy to let him go on lookin' after his corner of Arda while I go on lookin' after mine. 'Reckon that's what we're all here for. Even young Carandol.
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.