Steward and Thain

A Tale of a Growing Friendship by Agape4Rivendell

Opening Notes:

Peregrin Took - -

The Thain was the traditional military leader of the Hobbits of the Shire. The Hobbits first chose a Thain to rule them when Arvedui, last King of Arnor, died. Over time the Thain became a hereditary position, originally held by the Oldbuck Clan. Since 1740 SR, the Thainship has remained within the powerful Took clan. Since the Thain ruled in the place of the King, in principle his office was equal to the Ruling Steward of Gondor, albeit in power over a much smaller area. (

Boromir - -

Steward was the traditional title of a chief counsellor to one of the Kings of Gondor. During the time of the Steward Pelendur, from the famous House of Húrin, this title became hereditary, passing the station of counsellor from father to son, much like the Kingship. After the death of King Eärnur, who left no heir to the throne of Gondor, the Steward Mardil Voronwë became the first of the Ruling Stewards. The Stewards watched over the throne until it could be reclaimed by a true King of Gondor, an heir of Elendil. (

Chapter 1:  Along the Bruinen

“So you are a… thain? Is that the word you use?”

“It is but I’m not. At least, not yet,” Peregrin Took said with a smile. “And many don’t think I’ll ever become one.”

“And why is that?”

“Too flighty, I suppose.”

Boromir laughed long and hard, then quickly apologized as Pippin’s face grew red.

“So you are a… steward? Is that the word you use?”

“I deserved that, Master Thain.”

“No, you didn’t. I should watch my mouth. It gets me into quite a bit of trouble, you know.”

Boromir grinned again. They had not been traveling together very long, but long enough for the Steward’s son to know that Pippin rarely watched his mouth.

Pippin saw the grin and began to laugh. “None of that from you,” he cried. “I get enough from family and,” he pointed markedly, “Gandalf.” He burst into another bout of laughter.

“So we are alike?”

“I think so,” Pippin frowned. “I find it strange, don’t you, Boromir, that we are both not quite leaders of our people? I mean, you are not yet Steward and I am not yet Thain, but we are meant to be, someday.”

“More than meant, Master Thain,” Boromir continued the thought, “We are fated.”

“Yes, that’s a good word for it. Sometimes, Master Steward,” and Pip’s grin continued the joke, "I don’t want to be. Do you ever not want to be Steward?”

Boromir watched the Halfling who lit his pipe and drew on it as worry furrowed the small brow. “Is being a thain in the Shire difficult?”

“Sometimes,” Pippin sighed. “I see my father getting older before my eyes. I think it can be a great burden.”

Tears sprang to Boromir’s eyes. “Aye. I see the same in my father. Mayhap,” he turned and placed a hand upon the Halfling’s shoulder, “if we speak together of it, it will lessen the sorrow?”

“Sorrow?” Pip asked, wide-eyed.

“Aye. Is it not a sorrow to watch your father suffer?”

“Oh!” Pip exclaimed. “I don’t think he suffers. He gets tired of the squabbling and such, but he laughs a lot.”

Perplexed, Boromir waited, but the Halfling spoke not. “Then why do you not want to become thain?”

“Because I like to travel, I’ve discovered. And I like to do what I want when I want. And I like to meet new people. And I like to…”

Boromir looked askance. Had not he been warned about getting this particular Halfling started on any conversation? He gripped the shoulder again. “But you can still do all these things as thain?”

“Of course I can,” Pippin laughed, “but I’d be constantly reminded, mostly by Merry, that I had duties to do. That’s what I don’t like – the duties.”

“What are they, Master Thain?”

“Well, they used to be about building fences, maybe a bridge now and again, or settling a land dispute. Or,” he smiled wickedly, “judging jams at the fair. Dangerous work, that.” His face fell. “Since things have been going badly as of late what with all the strangers and unusual things happening, and if we aren’t successful on this Quest, then I suppose they will be duties of battle. I’ve… I’ve never been in a battle. Well, there was the thing with those wraiths, but mostly I was scared.”

“That happens to any sane person when o’ertaken by battle,” Boromir said mildly. “If you had not been afraid, especially with that adversary, I would wonder at your sense.”

“Don’t you already?”

Boromir studied the Halfling for a moment. “I do not. I consider you brave. To have left your world to step out into another for the love of a friend, that is most brave. Is not that what you did?”

“Well, it wasn’t all that difficult. We’d been watching Frodo, you know.” The irrepressible Hobbit laughed. “Sam was the first one to notice things were getting peculiar. So he told Merry and me to kind of watch over Frodo. Which we did. Saw some strange things.” He shut his mouth quickly.

“Master Thain,” Boromir said kindly. “I will not ask you to divulge any secrets or oaths you might have taken. Guard your mouth,” and he smiled at the thought, “and speak only what you wish. I will not cajole you further.”

“Thank you,” Pippin said and smiled at the Gondorian. “Well, the long and the short of it is – we decided that Frodo was planning on leaving the Shire and we decided he wouldn’t leave it alone, if you know what I mean.”

Boromir nodded, laughing to himself as he realized that, once again, the Halfling was off on another merry tale and had left behind the discussion they had started. He listened for some time, then, supper was called and the Halfling, hardly stopping to say good-bye, left him.