Throughout Faramir's report and the
angry discussion, Dûrlin had remained silent and unobtrusive in
background, stepping forward only to refill goblets with wine.
Nevertheless, his keen eye had taken note of every glance and
expression on the faces of those in the room, and he had missed no word
which was spoken -- nor those which remained unspoken, yet still
palpable in the air and obvious to one who knew well the moods and
tones of voice of those he served.
But when the argument had suddenly included mention of Boromir,
had stepped forward to listen more attentively, not caring if anyone
thought him out of order for doing so. He was responsible to serve and
care for each member of the Steward's household, but he was Boromir's
man first and foremost, and that which concerned Boromir concerned him.
What he had heard of his lord only deepened his already keen sorrow.
"...in desperate hours gentleness may
be repaid with death," Denethor had said, angry with Faramir for
what he considered grave disobedience of his strict orders. "But
not with your death only, Lord Faramir: with the death also of your
father, and of all your people, whom it is your part to protect now
that Boromir is gone."
"Do you wish then that our places had been exchanged?"
"Yes, I wish that indeed. For Boromir was loyal to me and no
wizard's pupil. He would have remembered his father's need, and would
not have squandered what fortune gave. He would have brought me a
"I would ask you, my father, to remember why it was that I, not he,
was in Ithilien. On one occasion at least your counsel has prevailed,
not long ago. It was the Lord of the City that gave the errand to him."
"Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself! Have I
not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue foreboding that worse yet
lay in the dregs? As now indeed I find. Would it were not so! Would
that this thing had come to me!"
Dûrlin wondered again what this thing was that Denethor so feared
yet so desired, and that Faramir seemingly had let go when he could
have had it in his possession. Whatever it was, it would seem it had
held some influence over Boromir, as well...
"Comfort yourself!" Gandalf
had interjected. "In
no case would Boromir have brought it to you. He is dead, and died
well; may he sleep in peace! Yet you deceive yourself. He would have
stretched out his hand to this thing, and taking it he would have
fallen. He would have kept it for his own, and when he returned you
would not have known your son."
Denethor had spoken softly in reply.
"You found Boromir less apt to your
hand, did you not? But I who was his father say that he would have
brought it to me..." **
Dûrlin was grateful for the wizard's defense of his lord, and
was not yet quite convinced that Boromir was actually dead and gone, he
was soothed by the thought that whatever had confronted him in that
hard time, he had done well in the end. But Dûrlin's heart ached
Denethor and Faramir, for it seemed to him that a rift was growing
between father and son. It widened with every passing moment, while he
stood by, powerless to stop it.
"Look after them, Dûrlin,"
Boromir had said to him, before leaving upon the quest from which he
had not yet returned. "Look
after my father and my brother... see that they are not too hard on one
another. I do what I can to bridge the gap between them, but it is
widening -- and with me not here, I cannot say what will happen. My
father will expect much from Faramir, and he will give it willingly --
even if it breaks him. But I do not want it to come to that. You know
much, you see much of what goes on in this household -- do what you can
Alas! thought Dûrlin sorrowfully. I gave you my word, Boromir,
would look after them in your stead. But that promise grows harder to
keep. There is indeed a gap separating them now, and it is suddenly
wide and deep. I wonder how such a chasm can be crossed? I fear this
new sorrow which lies between them is beyond my ability to heal or
repair. Yet I must try for your sake, while you are not here. For your
sake -- and for my own. I cannot bear to see these two so at odds!
Despite their differences of temperament, there is still love between
them. I only hope this current trouble will not bury that love too
Sudden tears filled Dûrlin's eyes, and he turned away so that no
one would see them.
Ah, Boromir! he silently cried. What has befallen you upon the
journey you undertook, that they should speak of you so? What is this
fearsome thing that, if you had taken it, would have changed you in
such a manner? I am not certain I wish to know, for I fear it is
"Alas for my brother!" he heard Faramir say, as if echoing
Dûrlin's own thoughts.
Mastering his emotion, Dûrlin turned back to his duty, in time to
see Faramir rise. Even as he asked for leave to go, Faramir swayed,
leaning wearily against his father's chair.
"You are weary, I see," said Denethor. "You have ridden fast and far,
and under shadows of evil in the air, I am told."
"Let us not speak of that!"
"Then we will not," said Denethor. "Go now and rest as you may.
Tomorrow's need will be sterner." **
Dûrlin was dismayed to see that though Denethor's words were no
longer angry and he spoke fairly to Faramir, he still held himself
stiffly aloof. The Steward was putting distance between himself and his
son, and that did not bode well. It would be up to Dûrlin, then,
temper the stark sternness with some warmth.
As Faramir passed on his way from the chamber, he turned and smiled
at Dûrlin, and for all his weariness and sorrow over his father's
the smile was warm and open. Dûrlin seized his opportunity and
taking care that the others heard his words, as well.
"Rest well, my lord Faramir," he said, returning Faramir's smile.
"Let no shadow of fear or strife cloud your heart! The words of hope
your father has spoken so recently are ones I would repeat, for they
are on my heart as well: '...let all
who fight the Enemy in their fashion be at one, and keep hope while
they may.' Let us truly be at one, and keep our hope alive."
"...and after hope still the hardihood to die free," added Denethor
softly. "Yes, Dûrlin, let us keep hope while we may -- until that
when hope is gone and the time to die free has come."
The sharing of news between the Men of Gondor and the Rohirrim
scouts lasted well into the night, for there was much to tell on both
sides. Boromir spoke long about his journey north after leaving Rohan,
of the time spent with Surefoot, and how they had come to be separated.
He spoke, too, of his journey to Rivendell and his subsequent return to
Gondor, sharing as much as he felt free to tell of the quest and how he
had come to this place, wounded and on foot.
Eadric in turn did his best to answer Boromir's many questions
concerning Rohan and Gondor, though he had little enough knowledge of
details beyond that which he needed to know as a scout. His latest news
of Rohan was days old. Word from Éomer had come of victory at
cost at Helm's Deep, and of the mustering of the Rohirrim, but beyond
that he knew little more.
Boromir was grateful for any piece of news, no matter how
incomplete, particularly the report Eadric shared of the observations
he and his fellow scouts had made during their passage through
That the land had been entirely emptied of people -- even the scattered
herdsmen and husbandmen who dwelt there -- told him something of the
state of affairs in Gondor. War was imminent, and his people were being
gathered to places of safety.
"So, there was no sign of any enemy in the land?" Boromir asked,
watching Eadric's face thoughtfully.
"No sign, my lord," Eadric confirmed. "But I fear that will change
any day now. You say your goal is to attain the Road at the beacon hill
of Nardol? That is the straight way from here, but it may no longer be
safe by the time you reach it."
"Alas, we can go no faster on foot with me wounded; and even if we
come to the Road in safety, we would still have the journey to the City
before us. I fear I cannot reach her in time! At this pace, we will
find the way barred by the Enemy."
Eadric was silent for a time, lost in thought. Leaning suddenly
towards Thrydwulf, he conferred with him in a low voice before turning
back to Boromir.
"I have a suggestion, lord, if you are willing to hear it."
"Of course, you have but to speak," answered Boromir eagerly.
"Horses would ease your journey greatly. So my suggestion is this:
I will send one of my scouts to the nearest waypost along the Road
where horses are kept for your Gondorian errand riders. He will bring
back horses for you and your men. Once you are mounted, you should ride
with all haste to the Road -- but not towards Mundberg. Ride to meet
the Rohirrim along the way, and join your numbers to ours.
will welcome you, and arm you for your further protection. Thus, you
may ride in safety and in a timely manner to your City, with an army at
your back and allies to support you."
Boromir drew in a great breath, and let it out slowly.
"Your suggestion is a sound one," he replied with a relieved smile.
"More than sound! It is excellent, and answers our need well. I thank
you, Eadric -- not only for your help, but for the encouraging news you
bear. It heartens me greatly to know of Théoden's riding to our
Eadric waved Boromir's thanks aside.
"It is my pleasure to serve you, lord, in any way I can."
"Pleasure or no, it is well done," Boromir replied firmly. "Now, my
friends, we should go to our rest. Tomorrow's need will be stern enough
without meeting it weary from lack of sleep!"
** The words spoken concerning Boromir, and Denethor's words to Faramir
as he asks leave to go are all quoted directly from The Return of the King,
from the chapter entitled, "The
Siege of Gondor."