5. Kind Words
As soon as the Council was dismissed, Faramir left the hall. He did not say a word to his father, nor to anyone else. He strode in a terrifying pace to his private chamber. All who saw him were amazed, for the Lord Faramir was known to be gentle in bearing. But those who had been in the Council that morning were not amazed. Indeed, if there was something that amazed them, it was that Faramir could have stayed in the Council after the bitter words he exchanged with his father the Steward.
Now Faramir has reached his chamber. He closed the door behind him, sat in a chair and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath. Again he took another deep breath. And another one. It had taken all his self control to stay in the Council and not storm out after his father last words.
It was not his father insisting on the almost desperate attempt to defend Osgiliath that embittered and angered him. Nay! He knew his duty as a Captain of Gondor. He had always been prepared to die in defence of his city and its people. And the Steward's decision to defend Osgiliath was not entirely unwise. Faramir himself had considered this course the day before. As his father, he too was loath to yield the River and the Pelennor unfought. Anduin, the Great River or Gondor! The river would always be dear to him for many reasons, not least because it gave him a last glimpse of Boromir. Yet at the end he decided against it. For this was not the time to listen to pride or memory. They barely had enough strength to defend Minas Tirith, let alone to man the outposts. But he could understand why his father insisted to defend Osgiliath. It is an unenviable task to be the lord of a dwindling realm, and these recent years had been hard on the Steward. It would be unbearable to him to lose any part of his charge.
It was not, either, the Steward choosing him for this perilous venture that embittered him. Deep beneath his anger, sadness and bitterness, he was proud of his father for choosing his own son instead of commanding other captains. For what a cruel lord is he who spends his servants but spares his sons! Faramir sighed. The Steward did not openly choose him. It was Faramir himself that offered to go to Osgiliath. Yet he could not have failed to comprehend his father intention. Not after his remarks on Boromir and courage.
It was not the fact that he was sent that angered him so. It was the way his father parted with him, and his belief that Faramir lacks courage to defend his city. Faramir was not sure which of these angered him most. He was hurt that his father seemed to have no sorrows at the thought of losing him. He always knew which son his father favoured most and he had learnt to accept it. And it was not unexpected that one who had lost his most beloved son would feel less sorrow at the lost of his other sons. It was not unexpected, yet it hurt all the same.
And courage! How could his father, or anyone for that matter, accuse him of lacking courage? He had encountered the black riders few times, stood against their shadow, and he was still ready to fight them again. Were there other Captains of Gondor who could boast so? And he had rejected the lure of the One Ring. Was there anyone who could boast so?
Faramir opened his eyes and shook his head. He was startled by his own thoughts. In a wretched state indeed was he if he started singing his own praise. Enough of these thoughts, he said resolutely in his heart. There was no time to lose now. He had to make ready, and he had to gather his men. He resolved that he would not command anyone, but would only take those who are willing. And he would not taunt them with the mention of courage.
He was just going to ring for his squire when he heard footsteps approaching his door. Soon there was a knock at the door.
"I bring some clean raiments, my lord," a servant announced herself.
"Enter," said Faramir. He did not want to see anyone, but he might as well ask this servant to send for his squire.
The servant put the raiments in the ornate chest at the corner of the chamber. But one tunic she put on the bed.
So she knows that I am going forth again, Faramir thought, news spreads quickly in the Citadel.
"You may put all the tunics in the chest," said Faramir. "I would not need a new one today." Or indeed, ever again, he was tempted to say. But he restrained himself.
The servant took the tunic from the bed but she did not move nor say anything for a moment. Then she said, "Forgive my asking, my lord, but would you not change to a clean tunic for your journey?"
"I said I would not," said Faramir, his voice slightly rising. In Gondor a servant does not question her master's order.
"But this is your newest tunic and I have just pressed it this morning," she said, "and forgive my boldness, my lord, but I heard you are riding to Osgiliath."
Then her face blushed red and she lowered her face. But Faramir had caught her meaning.
"And you think that one must wear one's best to meet death?" he asked.
She lifted her face, "My lord, I would not hope death for you! I ... "
"Worry not!" said Faramir gently, "I know what you mean. You do not wish death for me, but you know that Osgiliath is dangerous and this might be my last battle."
She looked at him as if in awe, then she nodded. Faramir looked at her closely. She seemed very young, she could not be more than fifteen. And she looked so dejected and sad.
"Are you a new servant?" asked Faramir.
"I have been here for only six months, my lord. And this morning was the first time Mistress Saerwen let me press your raiments," she said with an evident pride. "But they said you are going to Osgiliath and may not return," she added sadly. Then she seemed to realize that again she had spoken unseemly, and she blushed even more.
The Lord Faramir could read much more than what one put into words, and what he read in this young maid-servant touched his heart. O, if it is for the safety of such as her that he should fall in Osgiliath, he would not count it a vain death.
"Very well, child," said Faramir, "I will wear the tunic that you prepared with your tender fingers and heart. And I will count it an honour to march and even to die in such raiment."
She smiled and her face lit up. Those who saw her then would think that she had just been granted a great prize.
"You may go," said Faramir. "Ask Targil to see me and bring my armour."
"Aye, my lord," she said. She stood silently for a moment, as if afraid to again speak improperly. But finally she said earnestly, "Ride safe, my lord. I hope you will return soon."
To the surprise of them both, suddenly Faramir's eyes were wet and tears trickled down his cheeks. What a strange thing a human heart is! Neither rough battles nor the black shadows, nor bitter words, nor contempts, had reduced Faramir to tears. But now he wept upon hearing her kind words.
The servant girl looked frightened. Faramir smiled and said, "You worry too much. Go now! I will try my best to return."
She bowed and hastily left the chamber. To her credit, no tale of their conversation had ever spread in the Citadel.
Those of my esteemed readers who had read the history of Gondor surely know that the Lord Faramir did return. He was near death when he reached Minas Tirith again, for he and his men were assailed by large regiments of Haradrim led by the Black Captain of Minas Morgul, but the King Elessar healed him. When he and the Lady Eowyn made their home in Emyn Arnen as the Prince and Lady of Ithilien, the maid-servant in this tale found to her great delight that she was assigned to go there at their service.
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.