Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan

by Vison

Part Eighteen

………..the Grey Company passed swiftly over the plain, and on the next day in the afternoon they came to Edoras; and there they halted only briefly, ere they passed up the valley, and so came to Dunharrow as the darkness fell. The Lady Eowyn greeted them and was glad of their coming; for no mightier men had she seen than the Dundedain and the fair sons of Elrond; but on Aragorn most of all her eyes rested…..

“Lord,” she said, “ if you must go, then let me ride in your following.”……..

“Your duty is with your people,” he answered……… “Therefore I say to you, lady: Stay! For you have no errand to the South.”

“Neither have those others who go with thee. They go only because they would not be parted from thee----because they love thee.”………

Then she fell on her knees, saying, “I beg thee!”………

The Return of the King, Chapter 2, The Passing of the Grey Company.

Much had Eowyn endured in her life. Strong as the sharp steel blade she bore at her waist, she stood slender and tall, her shoulders square and her head held high. Still, the finest steel will break, if it is bent often enough. Forth and back, forth and back, and at last the shining metal begins to heat and crumble where it is bent.

As the angler plays the fish tempted to the fly, so Eowyn was played by fate. Let run, then jerked back to be let run again. Swiftly the fish slices away in the quick water, seeking the deep pool where it will be safe. Then the line is pulled sharp and tight and the hook bites cruelly and the fish is pulled fighting back. Again, and again. At last it has no more fight left in it, and the triumphant angler pulls it up, the silver body shining in the sun. Shining but dead.

She went into her lodging and did off her her mail coat and her sword. She could scarcely bear to touch them. What had such as she to do with those things? Was she not a woman, and bound therefore to wither and fade in the shadows? Not even in her own house, for she had no house.

Long time she sat, her hands clenched in her lap. Bitter tears she shed, the bitterest of all that had ever spilled from her eyes. Before, in the worst of her misery, she had always had that tiny spark of hope in some corner of her heart. She had not known until now how strong that spark had been, she did not know how bright that light was until it was snuffed out!

Bitterest of all was the knowledge, that she could not keep from herself, that the worst pain of this parting to her was that it was a parting. Not that Aragorn was taking the Paths of the Dead. Not that. For it might well be that he would be allowed to pass through, he was surely born to great things, surely his life was a life that would be remembered in song. Fey he seemed, as a man might be who was certain of his destiny though that certainty was shared by no other. Still, they followed him, his friends, and she would have followed, too.

But it fell out that she was to have no part in that, for he refused her.

And he was lost to her, living or dead.

Of all the cruel strokes that could have befallen her, this was the hardest. For she had come from the shadows into the light, she had let herself imagine that her time had come at last, that her long apprenticeship in sadness had entitled her to joy.

The folk came to her lodging seeking this and that and she told Mercia to send them all away. The girl cast a quick, frightened glance at Eowyn and withdrew, saying what she was bid.

The day wore on to twilight and word came that Theoden King was riding hither.
From some deep well of her being Eowyn found the power to rise yet once again and she girded on her sword and dressed herself as a warrior and rode out to meet Theoden.

Duty she would do, though she be a dead woman walking.