"But in the morning, as Faramir
came from the Houses, he saw her, as she stood upon the walls; and she
was clad all in white, and gleamed in the sun. And he called to her,
and she came down, and they walked on the grass or sat under as green
tree together, now in silence, now in speech. And each day after they
did likewise. (...) and heavy as was the dread and foreboding of those
days upon the hearts of men, still these two (...) prospered and grew
daily in strength."
(The Return of the King, chap. Book 6, ch. V).
The Fourth Day
Faramir knocked gently on the door, his gloved hand muffling the sound. He waited. It was the fourth day since the Lady had been introduced to him, and the third morning he had come to her for their daily walk in the gardens. Often they would just stand by the high walls that protected them from the outside world, looking eastward, ever wondering what the world would bring on yet another day of waiting...
The Steward was recovering as it should, according to the healers, even though a great weight was still on his heart, but he had come to enjoy these moments they would share in their captivity. That was how the White Lady called their unfortunate situation. She had resented even more than he to be confined to quarters, like a captive child in the care of women, forbidden to go as she pleased, she, a daughter of Eorl… Faramir smiled. Now at least her chambers looked eastward, and though she would not show any of it, that only had done so much to lift her spirits. “Lift her spirits…” he thought bitterly, “for what purpose would that be now?…”
“My lady," he said at last through the door, "I shall await you by the walls." He did not want to impose any more on a lady’s own time...
But then as he was turning round to leave the door opened, and the White Lady of Rohan stood, her face as cold and pale as a distant sun, clad in a simple unadorned gown of plain russet wool. How not even such humble attire could conceal her royal allegiance! Her arm in its bandage had been well tended and was healing as the Lord Aragorn had said it would. But now she was standing as tall and icy as ever, and only the flicker of a flame in her eye told Faramir that she was pleased to see him, and ready for their little outing.
“Please forgive me, my Lord”, she said, not adding any more to explain her being late. But Faramir did not ask anything more either, and simply offered his arm without a word.
They walked thus towards the gardens, arm in arm, their steps on the bare stone barely making any sound in the bitter morning cold. Éowyn had learned in the past days not to take offence in the Lord Faramir’s long moments of silence. It was not that he was secretive or shy, simply this was his way, he was not one to use speech unnecessarily, and often a word or two would suffice when a thought crossed his mind that he wanted to share with her.
And yet that morning it was Éowyn who kept silent. She had had so many questions lately, and wanted to know everything about the war and their hope and the Enemy... And he had answered all her queries as well as he could, speaking to her as to an equal. And indeed Éowyn had not fail to see in his grey eyes, when he looked at her steadily and intently, how highly he seemed to regard her. Even Éomer had never spoken to her in such a way; Faramir would be direct and plain, yet courteous and fair, and above all he felt not the need to protect her, and for that she was grateful.
But Faramir knew that morning that her mind was troubled, he had sensed that kind of uneasiness before in the eyes of young rangers at the break of dawn... that look of disquiet at the eve of battle…
He stopped and turned to her, speaking softly:
“Is all well, my lady?” and he waited, looking into her eyes steadily, until she at last opened her mouth as if to say something. But instead she tugged at the Lord’s arm to resume their walk. But Faramir stood still and did not move and she had no choice but to turn and face him.
“Lady Éowyn”, he said softly but firmly, “there is nothing that your heart could tell that I would not hear, you can speak freely…”
“How can it be that you understand so well what my heart would tell, Lord”, she said with more bitterness in her voice that she intended to let show, “are there no secrets that a woman can keep to herself?”
“Your secrets, fair Éowyn, are your own. And yet my heart tells me that something causes you disquiet which has little to do with a woman’s heart, am I not right?” He went on, suddenly concerned:
“Or perhaps it is your wound making you ill again? Should we look for the Healers?” But before he could add any more, Éowyn raised her hand high to stop him.
“Lord Faramir”, she said, holding back a fit of anger, “I am grateful for your solicitude, but I can take care of myself, please do not try to help me.”
“Do not scorn what solicitude I can offer, my lady, for that is the heart’s way, and my only wish is to see you well and healed and whole again”, and with that he added, more softly, placing his hand on her forearm “and if there is anything that I can do to ease your pain, I will”.
Éowyn stood silent, then lowered her head a moment, hesitating. Lifting it suddenly, she said, her voice filled with sad despair:
“My lord, there is nothing you or anyone can do to ease my sorrow, my heart is filled with the desire to fight and to die in battle and win whatever glory to honour my forefathers... I have tried, but failed…” She turned away from him as tears filled her eyes. “My heart is darkened, in my rage I only look forward to the killing of our enemies. There is nothing in my mind but to find a last hope to avenge our dead and the misery of our people massacred, burned, destroyed.” And before her eyes rushed back all the treacheries and betrayals that she had to witness in the great golden hall of Edoras, where she used to stand behind the throne, unable to speak or to do anything, a silent witness to the Worm’s games and the slow falling into decrepitude of her uncle and king.
“Darkness is upon us all, lady Éowyn” replied Faramir gently, though in his words was more than the echo of the lady’s own. But he looked at her with pity. He reached for her arm again. “Come, let us not dwell on the past, let us walk through the gardens while we still can.”
Éowyn could not say what made her nod and just follow this kind man and walk with him to the gardens. She only knew that death had not come to relieve her and that she was no longer hoping for any healing.
And yet the sun had risen on the cold morning once more, and a bitter wind made her draw nearer to her new grey-eyed friend.
She smiled. Or so it seemed to Faramir, or maybe it was only a glimpse of sunlight reflecting in her eyes...
In silence they would wait, one more day, if that was to be granted to them, and look eastward for the fate of the world to unfold...