6. Ill News and Foul Memories
I suppose I have every right to be angry with boys, especially those around their tenth year. Was not my own mother tortured and dragged behind a cart by one such as those who now played with the Hobbit? My fur stood on end. If ever I found the ones... I would scratch their eyes out! I would rip my claws across their cheeks! I would...
I padded softly away, shrugging off the dark thoughts and smiling as I noted the Half- the Hobbit looking around for me. I had duty still to perform. I perused the shops and such that catered to the people of Minas Tirith here on the First Circle, but gave them not much thought. My main purpose, for the nonce, was visiting the Rangers' garrison. Though Faramir was not in the City at the moment, I thought it wise to uncover any word not given that the Steward might need to hear. I do not totally trust Faramir's men, though I trust Faramir completely. A cat knows these things, senses them. 'The Lord Denethor must have cat in his veins,' I thought ruefully, 'for, with all my gifts I am still unable to read many. Whereas, I believe he could read one of the Valar themselves, if he put his mind to it.'
There was no activity whatsoever. There was not even a guard at the door, a fact that would be brought to the Steward's attention. The wall overlooking the Pelennor beckoned as I heard the sounds of far-off horns and cheering. 'Help has come,' I thought, 'at last.' The City responded with a loud trumpet-blast. Forlong of Lossarnach first, four hundred men behind him... I watched in sudden fury. The enemy's ploy of sending ships up the Anduin was reaping desperate consequences. After the last man passed, those of Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, I knew we were doomed. What? Three thousand men at the most! Well, much as I disliked being the bearer of bad news, it seems to have been my sad duty too often this last year to do that very thing.
Within moments, I was before the Steward, waiting patiently whilst he finished some business or the other, nothing I was concerned with. The garrisoning of the newly arrived troops. What care I where they billeted, as long as they hampered me not. I needed free rein of the City. At last, Húrin stepped aside, eyebrows raised as he noted my presence. I do not think he likes me over much. I nodded my head to him, gave him a small measure of respect, then waited. The Steward rang his gong and the Hall cleared.
"What have you to say for yourself, Alqua? I have missed you. I expected a report at mid-afternoon, yet none came."
I bowed graciously and looked him full in the face. He acknowledged my courtesy and we began. I saw his brow furrow as he realized what message I conveyed. Though I knew that his sight was better than mine, he still took my report with grace. At last, he patted his knee and I sat upon it, our business done for the nonce. I purred lightly, licked my paw and cleaned my face. The Steward knew I was hungry.
Denethor considered my state and offered but a small apology. "There will be rationing beginning this day. The last good meal, I fear, for any of us was the one you finished earlier today. Though," and he smiled warmly, "you must keep up your strength if you are to continue to do your duty. Come with me then, to my study; I have appropriated a few of your favorite dishes."
A/N - Ok - so I wasn't sure if cats had fur or hair - this site helped! http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleid=0006E5B1-64B0-1C72-9EB7809EC588F2D7
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