Chapter 5: No Kings in Gondor
Gandalf looked closely at Boromir, wondering if this was some prank. But the
boy’s face was earnest, waiting anxiously for the wizard’s reply. The moon
was sinking to the dark mountains behind the White City and a bitter wind
swept the stone courtyard. Boromir began to speak but Gandalf raised his
hand, glancing about the shadowy yard..
‘Not here, Boromir.’ He said ‘follow me….’
Even in peacetime Denethor ordered a curfew in the Citadel, so Boromir was
breaking the Steward’s laws to venture out after dark to find Gandalf. But
as they passed quiet as ghosts along the dark covered colonnade the wizard
saw that the lad strode impatiently and without fear at his side, as if
driven by some urgent necessity. At last, and unseen by the Citadel guards,
Gandalf pushed open the door of his guest cell and led Boromir into the
little pool of light cast by a small brazier and a candle guttering on the
bare wooden table..
‘Please be seated….’ Gandalf said. Boromir, still clad in the fine blue silk
tunic he had worn at dinner, perched nervously on the edge of the only chair
in the room while the wizard moved his sword Glamdring to sit on the narrow
bed. As he touched the scabbard he noticed Boromir’s eyes glint and his head
come up. He said;
‘This is Glamdring, made by the Elves. Would you like to examine it?’
Boromir jumped to his feet, his eyes shining, and Gandalf handed him the
great sword. The Steward’s son drew it from the worn scabbard and the
wavering candlelight flashed on the fine steel blade. For a moment Boromir
forgot all about the wizard watching him closely, forgot his errand, and was
lost in admiration of the fabled sword, gazing intently at the Elvish runes
he did not understand, and trying it as far as the cramped confines of the
tiny room would allow….. after some time Gandalf brought him back to
‘I do not think…’ he said with a humorous twinkle in his eye ‘that you came
here to borrow my sword…’
Boromir went red and quickly handed Glamdring back to Gandalf, who sheathed
it and waited patiently. Still standing Boromir said, hastily as if to get
the words out before he lost courage;
‘I came here to ask you for your help.’Gandalf nodded and indicated to
Boromir to continue.
‘Remember the cadet you helped me to reprieve from banishment?’ the boy went
on, a slight tremor in his voice.
‘Cianda?’ said Gandalf ‘what about him?’
‘Well..’ said Boromir, looking upset. ‘..he is dying.’
‘Dying!’ said the wizard in surprise..
‘His wound isn’t healing..’ said Boromir quickly ‘.. and he has taken a
fever. The leeches have despaired of him, and I was wondering, as you are a
Boromir paused. Gandalf gave a dry laugh and said;
‘Because I am a wizard and know all kinds of magic…..’
‘Nay, I do not mean that…’ said Boromir in a hurt voice. ‘but you are versed
in the leechcraft of the Elves, which is greater than ours here in Gondor.’
Boromir stopped, and Gandalf regarded him thoughtfully. Then he said;
‘You are right, and I am sorry to have mistaken you’ Boromir looked
relieved. Gandalf went on;
‘But I am not a necromancer, I cannot bring the dead back to life…’
‘No’ interrupted Boromir ‘He is not dead! At least not yet…please, Gandalf,
will you not help him?’
The last words were spoken in a pleading voice and Gandalf guessed what it
cost this proud young man to ask for help. He rose from the bed and walked
over to Boromir and gazed into the keen grey eyes. Faramir had requested
instruction from him, but not Boromir. He was proud, like his father,
Denethor. Too proud, perhaps….
‘I will do what I can.’ Boromir sighed with relief but Gandalf went on;
‘..on one condition’ the boy looked up sharply. ‘What?’ he asked guardedly.
Gandalf arranged his long fur-lined robe and said quietly.
‘On condition you tell me exactly what happened…..’
In the small dimly-lit room the whole story came out then; how the cadet had
taunted Boromir, and how the young prince’s savage reprisal had almost cost
Cianda his life.
‘I wanted nothing but to slay him, Gandalf’ said Boromir sadly. ‘and perhaps
Gandalf nodded, then said;
‘What about the second fight?’ Boromir looked up sharply.
‘How did you know about that?’ he said, his face betraying fear of sorcery.
Gandalf chuckled and answered;
‘No magic, Boromir. You did not have that cut on your face when I saw you in
the Great Hall yesterday…’
Boromir put a hand to the graze on his cheek that Cianda had given him in
the struggle. He sighed and nodded.
‘Somehow he learned that he was to be banished and lay in wait to attack
me…I think that was when he did himself the greater hurt….’
A silence fell. Gandalf gazed into the coals of the brazier for a while then
‘It is not for me, Boromir, to tell you what you did wrong; I can see you
have learned your lesson.’ Boromir nodded glumly. Then Gandalf went on,
almost to himself;
‘The trick isn’t learning lessons, but remembering them. Time will bring
even greater trials and temptations than the need to repay an insult. Very
Then he seemed to recall himself to the present and fixing Boromir with a
stern look he said;
‘One day, if fate spares you, it will be your duty to protect these people
as their Steward...’
Boromir was nodding, keeping his face serious. He had expected a lecture at
least and his father said things like this all the time. But then Gandalf
‘..unless the King comes again to claim his throne…’
Boromir looked up at the wizard with a startled expression.
‘There are no kings in Gondor, not any more. ‘ he said defiantly. ‘Not
unless the Stewards are made kings. Perhaps it is time they were….’
Gandalf looked keenly at Boromir, but did not answer. There was an awkward
silence, then Gandalf picked up the staff he had leaned against the wall
beside the door and said;
‘Very well, Boromir. I will do what I can for Cianda, if it is not too late.
Take me to him straight away….’