"Then it was that the Noldor first bethought them of letters, and Rúmil of Tirion was the name of the loremaster who first achieved fitting signs for the recording of speech and song, some for graving upon metal or in stone, others for drawing with brush or with pen."
Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, Arwen
Summary: Eldarion is a reluctant scholar.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
“How is my son progressing with learning to write the alphabet?” Aragorn asked Eldarion’s tutor .
“Slowly, I fear sire,” the man replied. “He speaks it aloud fluently, but shows little inclination to learn to write it down.”
“I shall speak to him,” said Aragorn. “I desire my boy to be well lettered.”
Aragorn made his way to the nursery where he found Eldarion seated at his small desk. In front of him were quill, ink, and a file of sheets of parchment. The little boy was scowling as he dripped inkblots all over the parchment. He looked wistfully across the room to where his painted wooden dragon was sitting on a chair.
“How is your writing progressing, ion nîn?” Aragorn enquired.
“Who invented stupid writing?” asked the boy.
“Writing is not stupid,” Aragorn replied. “It is an art. Tradition says that the alphabet was invented first by the loremaster, Rumil, and then improved by Fëanor, who also made the great light that adorns Eärendil’s ship.
“He should have made more lights and not these stupid letters!” cried Eldarion. “I hate them! I want to be the only person in Gondor who cannot write!” He threw the quill down, splattering ink everywhere.
“I fear that cannot be so,” said Aragorn. “There are many boys who would love to learn to write, but their parents are not able to send them to school. Instead, they must work in the fields.”
“Well, let one of those boys learn in my place! It would be much more fun to work in the fields!”
Aragorn pulled up a chair beside the boy. “That is not possible, ion nîn. You need to learn to write.”
“I’m going to be a Ranger and Rangers don’t write letters.”
“You are mistaken about that, Eldarion. What if you had a sweetheart and wanted to write to her?”
“I don’t like girls. They are silly and play with dolls.”
“You might change your mind about that when you are older, ion nîn,” said Aragorn gravely. “One day, though, you will be King and a king must be able to read and write.”
“Why?” asked Eldarion. “When I’m king, I’ll order my servants to write things down for me!”
“Indeed you would employ scribes as I do,” said Aragorn. “But if I make a new law or issue a decree, it must, by tradition and the law of the land, have my signature upon it.”
“Why can’t the scribe sign it?”
“If a decree was not signed by me, people would have no way of knowing that I issued it,” Aragorn explained patiently. “Everyone would be trying to issue new laws. Maybe, for example, someone who didn’t like cakes, might issue a decree saying no more cakes were to be made and claim I had issued such a decree. Then someone else might issue a law to ban toy dragons! No one would know which was a real law decreed by me and approved by the Council, or not.”
“Could they really, ada?”
“They could if I did not sign every decree.” Aragorn said solemnly before being overcome by a sudden fit of coughing.
Eldarion looked thoughtful and slowly picked up his quill again. “Maybe I should learn to write then?”
“A wise decision, ion nîn.” Aragorn tried to look grave, but he was smiling. He took the quill from the boy, dipped it in the ink, and wrote “Eldarion” in large clear letters.
“I suggest you practise writing your name,” the King said.
An hour later, Eldarion proudly showed his mother his signature in rather shaky but legible characters. “I’ve got to learn writing so the scribes can’t ban cakes and dragons!” he told her.
“Cakes and dragons?” Arwen asked in bewilderment.
“It is a long story,” said Aragorn.
Arwen studied the parchment. “I am so proud of you, Eldarion,” she said.
“And so am I,” said Aragorn.