With a flick of his thumb, Pippin reached up and unfastened the
shutter, and opening it, leaned far out across the deep sill of the
casement. He had done the same that morning, after his arrival in the
Citadel and his meeting with the old Steward -- how long ago it seemed
That morning, the air had been clear, and the view fine, of the
white walls of the City below him, the mist-shrouded curve of the River
beyond the Pelennor, and northward, the Emyn Muil and the Falls of
Rauros, glinting on the edge of sight. It had been a compelling scene,
but now, nothing was visible. The night was dark and the lights of the
City were dimmed, by order of the Steward. The sky seemed overcast;
there were no stars to be seen and no moon shone, although Pippin knew
it should have been full and bright.
He sighed and closed the shutter. Climbing down from the bench upon
which he had stood to look out, Pippin paused in the middle of the room
and contemplated the curtained alcove where the bed was set. He was
weary, and wondered if he should attempt sleep, but he still felt
restless after the events of the day, and knew that sleep would not
come easily with so much on his mind. He was worn out with excitement
and tension. His head ached from tiredness, and his legs from
journeying up and down on the steep, cobbled streets and stairways of
But his heart ached the more.
Pippin was lonely, and the reality of his loneliness smote him like
a blow. He missed Merry keenly, and Frodo and Sam, and the others --
but worst of all now was the pain in his heart for Boromir. Here in
Boromir's city among Boromir's people, Pippin had been constantly
reminded of the Man who had been his friend, and it was impossible not
to think of him and mourn his loss anew.
Indeed, much of the early part of the morning had been spent
recalling for Boromir's father every detail of the attack that had
wounded his son and left Pippin and Merry prisoners of the Orcs. Now
that he was quiet and alone, the memory of it was difficult for Pippin
When first he had laid eyes on the lord Denethor, Pippin had been
struck by his resemblance to Aragorn. Yet the more time he spent with
the Steward, the less he saw of the Ranger and the more he saw of
Boromir. Denethor, Boromir's father, was much like him in looks, in
timbre of voice, and in lordly manner.
The Steward had raked him with questions concerning the battle and
Pippin's vision of Boromir dead. That vision in the palantír had
shattered the hobbit's hope of ever seeing Boromir again -- hope that
had just begun to return after hearing news from Treebeard of Boromir's
survival, despite his wounding. Denethor, too, had seemed to take the
vision as final comfirmation of something long suspected, and the
palpable grief that hung over him had settled on Pippin, and had never
fully left him, in spite of the excitement of the long day that
When speaking of his vision to the Steward, Pippin had known better
than to mention the palantír, realizing it was a thing that
wished to be kept secret -- yet he had wondered if the old lord knew or
guessed what was behind Pippin's vague references to visions and dreams
of Boromir dead, and the men with him weeping. It gave Pippin an
uncomfortable feeling, to think of those piercing eyes seeming to see
that which was unseen and glimpse that which was unsaid, piercing eyes
looking out of a face that was so like Boromir's that it took Pippin's
Those eyes still haunted him, for though they had looked upon him
with aloof kindness and stern courtesy, Pippin had seen the sorrow of
loss in their grey depths, and knew nothing but relief whenever that
gaze had released him and turned aside for a moment.
Yet even more haunting than the remembered gaze of those sad, stern
eyes, was the memory of the ruined Horn of Gondor. Even now, Pippin
could not prevent the sudden flow of tears as he recalled the Horn upon
Denethor's lap, split asunder, its voice silenced forever, the stains
of Boromir's blood still darkly visible upon its white surface.
Bowing his head, Pippin sank down upon the floor, and buried his face
in his hands.
A gentle knock at the door startled him out of his despair.
"Come!" he called in an unsteady voice, as he struggled to his feet.
The door swung open and a Man entered, bearing a salver of bread,
cheese and fruit. He nodded at Pippin warmly and courteously, seeming
not to notice the hobbit's tear-streaked face, as he set about laying
out the food on a small table near the window. When all was set to his
satisfaction, he turned to Pippin and bowed.
"I am Dûrlin, Master Peregrin," he announced. "I am at your
while you are here among us, so do not hesitate to call upon me should
you have need of anything, at any time. I anticipated that you might
crave a morsel to fortify your strength, even at this late hour. No
doubt you have already taken your evening meal, but the day has been a
trying one for you, has it not? Turmoil and loneliness are somewhat
easier to bear if you are not weakened by hunger."
"Thank you!" exclaimed Pippin gratefully.
Suddenly realizing how hungry he really was, Pippin helped himself
to some bread and cheese, and sat upon a low bench to eat it. As he
ate, he watched the man Dûrlin as he moved about the room,
the cover of the alcoved beds, and checking the level of the water in
the silver pitcher beside the wash basin.
"You... you were there this morning, I think," Pippin said at
length. "In the Hall with the lord Steward? You brought the cakes and
drink, and listened while I spoke of... of Boromir."
Dûrlin nodded gravely.
"Yes, I was there, and heard all you had to tell of Boromir. You
spoke well in a hard place! It is not an easy thing to be questioned by
the lord Denethor, particularly over a matter which has occupied his
every waking thought and darkened his dreams since first we suspected
that Boromir was in danger, and perhaps lost."
"I did feel rather worn out afterwards," admitted Pippin reluctantly.
"But I was glad to tell what I could, if it might help."
"Even news that is hard to bear is helpful to those who are starved
for it," replied Dûrlin. "I was as eager as the Steward to hear
my lord. I am Boromir's personal attendant, who cares for his every
need when he is here in the City. In the same way, I care for the lords
Denethor and Faramir, at my own lord's behest. And I shall gladly
extend that service to you, Boromir's close friend."
As he spoke, Dûrlin smiled down upon the hobbit, and Pippin felt
warmed and comforted. He was suddenly reminded of the grave kindness of
Elrond, yet this Man seemed infinitely more approachable, rather like a
favorite uncle or even Pippin's own father. Pippin found himself
relaxing, and made no more attempts to hide his melancholy from
"Yes, Boromir was my friend, and I miss him," he sighed. "I wish... I
wish I could stop thinking about him!"
Dûrlin laid an understanding hand upon Pippin's shoulder.
"Would it ease your heart for us to speak of Boromir together?" he
suggested. "He is on my mind as well, and I fear he will give us little
Pippin laughed through his tears.
"I would like that very much! But... well, I've noticed you speak
of Boromir as if he is not dead... as if you expect him to return. Why
Dûrlin did not hesitate in giving his answer.
"I am a cheerful man whose heart cannot long be darkened, and I
prefer to look at the future with hope, rather than doubt. My
confidence has been sorely tried of late with Boromir's long absence;
nevertheless, I cannot find it within me to discount the possibility
that he may yet live. The very proofs which lead others to believe he
must be lost are to me still only circumstantial, and not wholly
convincing. So I continue to watch for his return, until I am convinced
"Do you think... do you think it's possible I could have been wrong --
in my vision?" Pippin stammered, amazed.
"I cannot say for certain," replied Dûrlin cautiously. "But a
vision is not the same as seeing with the eye, and thus its meaning and
import might easily be misread. Boromir has been in situations before
where he cheated death and returned unlooked for -- and my hope is that
this is yet one more instance of that. I choose not to despair before
all the facts of his situation have been uncovered."
"Tell me of one of those times when Boromir cheated death!" begged
Pippin. "I... I think I want to be convinced, too. Maybe if we speak of
him alive, it will be easier for hope to return..."
"It would be my pleasure, Master Peregrin!"
"I did not say that I would bid you
ride with me..."
The king's final words to him before bidding him good night echoed
in Merry's ears as he paced the grassy area in front of his tent,
unable to sleep.
"I won't be left behind!" he muttered as he walked to and fro,
unsure whether he felt more frustrated or frightened at the thought of
being left alone. How he wished Pippin were here with him now!
"I offered the king my sword, and I won't be parted from him! I
must go where he goes. Besides, I don't want to be left here, alone,
when all my friends have gone to serve in the battle!"
He glanced at the pavilion next to his small tent, where King
Théoden was housed. All was quiet and still. Merry wondered if
the only one in the camp, aside from the guards, who could not sleep
Even as the thought crossed his mind, he heard the approaching
sound of booted feet on grass, coming from the direction of the field
where the horses of the King's household and guard were picketed. Out
of the gloom strode a tall Man, swathed all in dark green, the small
silver star on his helm barely visible in the darkness. Merry
recognized him as Hirgon, the errand rider of Gondor who had arrived
earlier that evening, bearing a red arrow as the summons to King
Théoden to ride to war.
As the Man approached, Merry was struck once more by his strong
resemblance to Boromir, even as he had been when the rider had first
entered the king's tent upon his errand. Merry had been so startled, he
had cried out, thinking for the briefest of moments that perhaps
Boromir had survived after all and had somehow made his way here to
Rohan, to present himself at Théoden's court.
Much to Merry's surprise, Hirgon slowed his pace, and stopped to
stand before the hobbit. He looked down and nodded at him gravely.
"You, too, are restless this night," he observed quietly, in a
voice that so reminded Merry of Boromir, that his heart leapt in his
"I have been to see my horse settled," continued Hirgon, "and now I
may go to my own rest with lighter heart. But first, perhaps we might
have a few words together, you and I? For I have heard somewhat of your
tale from the lord Éomer, and I would know more of you."
"I would be honored!" stammered Merry, pleased for the chance to
talk with this Man who must have known Boromir. In truth, he had been
longing to speak to him ever since he had first seen Hirgon enter the
"My name is Merry," he said with a bow. "Meriadoc Brandybuck, hobbit of
the Shire, at your service."
"Well, I suppose you in Gondor would say, a halfling."
"Ah, yes, a Halfling!" said Hirgon, gazing at Merry thoughtfully.
"I am honored to meet you, Master Meriadoc. I have been told that you
have been in the company of my lord Boromir, not so long ago. That is
why you cried out when first you saw me, perhaps, because I am much
like him, and you thought I was he, returning."
Merry nodded mutely.
"I am sorry," Hirgon said in answer to the nod. "I fear the sight
of me has brought you sorrow anew -- for I have also been told that my
lord must surely be dead. Alas for Boromir, son of Denethor! Long has
it been feared in the City that our captain is lost and will not
return. Perhaps it will be of little comfort to either of us to speak
of his final days together, but I would hear what you might tell me, if
you can bear it."
"I.. I would like to speak of him, I think," replied Merry slowly.
"I miss him very much, and it would be comforting to talk to someone
who knew him. Your voice... well, it reminds me of him a bit, and
that's helping me remember things about him -- things I don't want to
"It is good to recall the deeds of lost comrades in this way,"
Hirgon said solemnly. "Come then, let us walk together for a time
before we go to our rest. We shall speak of the dead, that they might
live forever in our memory."
Boromir was restless and could not sleep. The darkness flowing from
Mordor troubled him, and his heart was filled with fear concerning all
that his people would surely be facing in the coming days. Would he
reach his City in time to be of help to his father? How did his brother
fare? Would the Rohirrim be free from war to ride to the aid of Gondor,
and would they come in time?
And what of the others? Where were Merry and Pippin? Had Aragorn
been able to rescue them? Did Frodo still live, or was the Ring even
now in Sauron's possession, and this darkness the beginning of the
If only I had some news! sighed Boromir to himself, as he tossed
and turned on the hard ground. If only I knew what was happening...
At last he fell into a troubled sleep, sleep that was filled with
dreams of his comrades in grave peril and his City in flames.