Waiting by the Water
Waiting by the Water
He waits by the water, at the River's edge where the Anduin meets the
harbor basin of the port city of Pelargir. The water is wide and deep,
and it is quiet here in the early morning. The noise of the harbor
behind him seems strangely stilled and distant, and the sound of gulls
keening drowns out the sound of creaking masts, and the thud of ships'
keels against the docks, and the shout of men as they ready those ships
for sailing. It is quiet after a long day, full of fear and battle,
death and victory; quiet after a night of hard labor, preparing ships
reclaimed in battle for the final push to reach the White City before
she falls to the forces of the Dark Lord.
He tarries by the quiet water, though the greatest of those ships
awaits him. He should be giving the order to depart, for time is of the
essence; dawn approaches and with it, a new day of fear and battle. He
is needed in Minas Tirith, needed by his people -- yet still he
tarries, for the water calls to him. Something holds him here by the
shore; something draws him to sit beside the the water, and wait.
He gazes upstream and thinks of Minas Tirith. He thinks, too, of
Boromir, whose only thought had ever been for that fair City and her
people. He heaves a deep sigh -- how he misses that Man! Though their
time together had been short, Boromir had made his mark upon Aragorn's
heart, and now a part of him echoes empty and hollow when remembering
his friend and companion.
Aragorn casts his mind back to the day of Boromir's death,
remembering all that took place as if it had happened only hours before
-- how they had made a rough bier with their cloaks upon a frame of
branches, and carried Boromir to the shore, with trophies of his battle
with the Orcs and his own weapons found broken upon the field. He
recalls how they laid him in an Elven boat, combing out his hair and
arranging his clothing neatly, laying upon his lap the cloven horn and
the hilt and shards of his sword. At his head they had set his shield,
and at his feet, the swords and helms of his enemies.
Smiling sadly, Aragorn remembers how they drew their friend out
into the water, casting loose the funeral boat so that the River would
take him over the Falls.
"They will look for him from the White Tower, but he will not
return from mountain or from sea," he had said. Boromir had taken his
road, and they had chosen their own.
Aragorn sighs again at the memory. He has made his choice, and it
has taken him upon many a strange road since that sad day. He knows he
should make haste now, for his journey is far from complete and
uncertainty still clouds the end of the road -- yet still he waits.
Dawn approaches -- or such dawn as there can be in the midst of the
oppressive darkness that continues to flow from Mordor. The mist on the
River begins to pull back in wisps and tendrils, and the sea birds can
now be seen, dipping and wheeling over the wide waters.
At last he sees it, something approaching on the water from the
north. It is a boat, but not one of the craft they have freed from
control of the enemy. This is a small grey boat with a high prow,
nearly invisible in the greyness and the mist of the morning. The boat
draws near, and with a leap of his heart, he knows it, and knows why he
has been waiting.
He wades out into the River in an attempt to draw closer to the
boat as it floats by, but at the touch of his foot upon the water, the
boat stays its course and turns toward him. He can see it clearly now
-- the smooth greyness of the wood, the high prow carved in the
likeness of a fish leaping from the waters, and the Man lying at peace
It is Boromir. Aragorn gazes upon his quiet face with wonder,
amazed at the peace and beauty he sees writ there. He reaches out a
hand, then hesitates, and draws it back slowly, reluctantly.
"So it is you!" he says with a smile, but it is a smile that has
tears of longing behind it. "I had no thought of meeting you again so
soon, Boromir! You have tarried on your way to the Sea, have you not?
Have you been saying a slow farewell to the lands you loved? Looking
one last time upon the white walls of Minas Tirith, or perhaps taking
your leave of kin you may have met upon the way? Were you waiting for
me to come, so that we, too, could say one last farewell, before the
Aragorn smiles fondly, as the tears he has been holding back begin to
roll down his cheeks.
"I am glad you have met me in time, my brother," he says softly.
"Be at peace; I go now to fulfill my vow to you. The White City shall
It seems to him that Boromir smiles, though perhaps it is only a
trick of the dawn upon his face, or the pale light that seems to shine
from the boat. The Elven boat bobs and tosses upon the waves,
hesitating, reluctant; a breeze freshens and stirs Boromir's hair.
Aragorn lifts his head as he feels the breeze on his face, cool against
the dampness left by his tears.
"It is time for me to go, my friend," he says, "if I am to take
advantage of even the lightest breeze for my sails."
Bowing, he presses his fingers to his brow, then kisses them and holds
out his hand to the figure in the boat.
"Farewell, my brother," he whispers. "May you find the Mouths of
Anduin safely, and the beaches of Belfalas, where even the sea birds
will lament your passing. The Great Sea under the night stars awaits
you, and my destiny awaits me. But I promise you this, Boromir; we
shall meet again, one day, upon another shore..."
The boat turns, and drifts back out into the center of the stream,
where it is caught by the current. Aragorn watches as it speeds away,
watches until the boat is nothing more than a dark spot on the water in
the distance. He watches until it disappears into the mist that still
hides the River downstream.
He bows his head and sighs.
"Go in peace, Son of Gondor," he says solemnly, turning away. "We shall
not forget you."
Author's note: I had the joy of
being able to observe closely Boromir's funeral boat, at the LOTR
Exhibition in Indianapolis. That was where I noticed the carving of the
fish on the prow of the boat, something that is not even apparent in
any of the pictures I have seen -- though I have searched high and low
for a visual image to remind me of that detail. I have been waiting for
the opportunity to write it into a tale!