Format: short story
Genre: general, family, humour
Characters: Faramir, Eowyn, OMC, OFCs
Summary: Faramir must prove himself as tamer of man and beast..
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Faramir considered himself a serious man with a suitably solemn demeanour appropriate for his serious duties, but compared to the artisan currently working on carving an elaborate screen for the main hall in his residence at Emyn Arnen, he was the very soul of levity. Tuor was a good workman, well skilled in his craft, but he seemed incapable of displaying the slightest hint of any kind of emotion. When Faramir praised his work, Tuor simply said, “Thank you, my lord,” without the slightest hint of a smile. Faramir suspected his reaction would have been the same had he told the man his craftsmanship was the worst he had ever seen!
For once on a fine day in early April, Faramir’s duties were not especially onerous and he was able to join his family in the solar by mid- afternoon. The cook had been baking and a plate of cakes was set on a low table for the Steward and his family to enjoy. They smelled delicious and tasted just as good.
Éowyn had just come in from the stables and was wearing a plain brown gown, which Faramir thought set off her golden hair to perfection. She sat with baby Elboron on her lap.
Faramir’s niece, Elbeth, and daughter, Elestelle were playing with Elbeth’s cat, a fine ginger tom, with a long stripy tale. The two girls were in fits of laughter at the cat’s antics. It was stalking a beetle across the floor, hiding itself behind the furniture, or so it thought, as its long tail was clearly visible, however closely concealed its body. Faramir joined in their mirth.
Eventually, the beetle disappeared beneath the rug and the cat settled himself on Elbeth’s lap. Faramir told the two girls a story about a visit he had paid to his Uncle in Dol Amroth when he was a boy and how he had played hide and seek in the sand dunes with Boromir.
“What are sand dunes?” asked Elestelle.
“They are hills made of sand near the beach,” Faramir explained. “Sometimes they are covered in sea grass.”
“Are they like the hills here at Emyn Arnen?” asked Elbeth.
Faramir shook his head. “No, they are only very small compared to the hills we dwell amongst. They were just the right size for two young boys to play hide and seek in, though.”
“Dune might be a good name for Night Beauty’s foal,” Éowyn remarked. “Such a pity she is brown rather than black like her dam, but she is beautifully proportioned. Maybe if the fates allow, I will get a black mare when Night Star foals next month.”
“May we go and see the horses?” asked Elbeth.
“I don’t see why not,” said Éowyn.
“I will go with the girls,” said Faramir. “I need some exercise.”
He got to his feet and opened the door, Elestelle clutching her father’s hand. The cat followed them outside.
While the girls petted the horses and fed them apples, Faramir stood looking out at the view of the hills and fields. Emyn Arnen was surely the fairest spot on Arda and his heart was filled with gratitude towards Aragorn for making him Prince of Ithilien.
Faramir was just about to tell the girls that it was time to go back indoors when Tuor came rushing out of the house. Instead of his usual impassive expression, his features were contorted with horror.
“My lord!” he cried when he beheld Faramir. “There is a snake in the hall! A great wriggling stripy thing it is, no doubt highly venomous! It will kill us all!”
“A snake?” Faramir raised his eyebrows. “There are few in Ithilien and those we do have are not venomous and live in the wilds.”
“I’m returning to Minas Tirith at once, my lord,” said Tuor. “I can’t be doing with snakes!”
“Let me see this monster,” said Faramir. “Girls, I will be back in a moment.”
“I’ll keep an eye on them, my lord,” said a groom.
“Come and show me where this snake is exactly,” Faramir ordered Tuor.
The man looked highly reluctant, but Faramir’s tone, more often heard when commanding men in battle, brokered no argument.
Faramir led the way into the hall followed by the quaking artisan. Nothing looked amiss. Then he noticed the curtain that divided a recess from the rest of the hall was twitching and a stripy snakelike appendage wriggled beneath it.
It was all that Faramir could do not to burst out laughing, but as Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien, he understood the importance of being earnest. He strode across the room and drew back the curtain to reveal Elbeth’s cat. He scooped the animal up in his arms and said “A strange snake indeed that has fur rather than scales!” He ran the cat’s long furry tail through his fingers to emphasise his words. The cat purred.
Tuor flushed scarlet. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he said. “It’s just that the very thought of a snake fills me with horror.”
“Most of us fear something,” said Faramir. “There is no shame in it. You can get on with your work in peace now.” With the cat still clasped in his arms, he made his escape. As soon as he was out of Tuor’s earshot, he burst out laughing.
A few weeks later, the screen was complete and Faramir was delighted with the result. It was carved from oak taken from Emyn Arnen’s forests and depicted scenes from the great tales of old; Thingol entranced by Melian; Lúthien and the faithful Huan, Elendil’s ship arriving on the shores of middle-earth and many more great tales.
Faramir and Éowyn decided to hold a small celebration to mark both Faramir’s birthday and the completion of the screen. They invited the King and Queen, Legolas and Gimli and Faramir’s good friend, Ambassador Tahir from Harad and his wife, Lady Adiva.
The guests admired the workmanship in the screen. Faramir then told them the tale of the “snake” which had almost resulted in the departure of the artisan for Minas Tirith.
The guests laughed at the anecdote and toasted Faramir on his birthday. On that happy note the party got started.