B2MeM Challenge: “And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, reckoning nothing on wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.”—The Siege of Gondor.
But the cock also must have had mundane origins, since it was a real, physical being. My question is, where did the cock come from? And why was it still in the city, since all the other cocks have apparently disappeared
Genre: Character study
Summary: An old woman remains in the City during the siege of Gondor.
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A/n Some words are taken directly from Tolkien.
Idril had refused to leave when the other women were evacuated. At her age what did it matter. She’d die soon enough and preferred to depart in her own bed, the bed in which she been born.
And who would look after her cat and her chickens if she left? The wily Beren might be able to fend for himself, but Fëanor and her poor hens would end up on some soldier’s dinner plate most likely. She wasn’t having that, not if she could help it! Her chickens must be the last left in the city, come to think of it. Fëanor belonged in her courtyard, strutting round and protecting her and his hens.
If only this dreadful darkness would lift. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t. It was putting the hens off laying, and since it had started Fëanor hadn’t crowed to greet the morning like he usually did. She’d slept late without his crowing to rouse her at daybreak. He hadn’t even chased Beren, as was his wont, when the old tom had patrolled her courtyard. It always made her laugh to see her chickens, led by Fëanor chase the usually so confident cat up on to the sanctuary of the wall, but even that diversion was no more.
Idril wondered if any of them would live to see the end of this day. The enemy had assailed the City all night and those terrible black riders were abroad. She glimpsed one the other day, given her quite a turn it had. She’d never been so scared in her life and that was saying something. She doubted the City could stand much longer without reinforcements and where would they get those from? She could only hope her death might be swift and painless and her poor creatures would not not suffer.
Master Maeglin the baker brought her what scraps of news he could gather. None of it was good. It was said that Lord Boromir had been slain in some foreign parts. What had he been doing in foreign parts anyway? They had needed him here to command his men. He’d been a bit too full of himself for her liking, but he knew how to raise folk’s spirits and that was just what they needed right now.
Then Maeglin had heard that Lord Faramir had been struck down by some fell weapon and lay close to death. That was grim news indeed. She liked Lord Faramir. He had a nice way about him and always had a smile and a kindly word for the old folk like herself. If she’d had a son or a grandson, she’d have been proud to have one like him. Yet, it was said that Lord Denethor paid little heed to him, much preferring his brother. Well, he’d have to now, wouldn’t he with Lord Boromir gone? But wasn’t Lord Faramir at death’s doorstep too? Oh, it was all too much for an old lady to take in.
And what was Lord Denethor doing? Maeglin said he’d not been seen in days. Surely, he should be abroad overseeing the troops and encouraging his people during these dark days. Maeglin thought that Mithrandir had taken over the City defences. Whatever was Lord Denethor thinking of? She didn’t hold with wizards herself. There was something unnatural about them. She didn’t much hold with Lord Denethor either. He always looked fit to turn the milk sour. It was sad that he’d lost that lovely wife of his all those years ago, but lesser folk had sorrows and managed to bear them with a cheerful countenance, at least in front of their neighbours.
If only Captain Thorongil will still here! Now he was indeed a great captain. He’d lift their spirits and drive those murdering devils away, he would! Idril thought wistfully of the one time she had met him. He had been behind her in the market one day and had picked up her gloves, which she had dropped without knowing in the crush of market goers. He had returned them to her and smiled. Oh such a smile! She’d never seen such a one as he before, so tall and handsome! Maybe Lord Faramir was a little like him, if an old woman such as she were still permitted to notice if a young man were good looking or not.
Well, it was no use lying here in bed, brooding, Idril thought. It must be around dawn, though it was hard to tell without Fëanor crowing.
She sat up, causing Beren to leap from the bed with an indignant yowl. She lit a candle and dressed by its flickering light. Going into her kitchen, she went to the bin that contained grain for her hens. She’d give them a good meal today, as it was likely to be their last.
And in that very moment, Fëanor crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, reckoning nothing on wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
Idril’s spirits lifted. If Fëanor could welcome this day so bravely, so would she.
It was then that she heard the horn calls in the distance. They were not the horns of the Enemy, but others, loud and clear. Help was coming! Maybe she and her brood would live to see another day.
Fëanor crowed again and Idril was filled with a sudden wild joy. She laughed.