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Men pass by swiftly inside the Golden Hall. They run to and fro, endeavoring to do as I bid and prepare for the return of Theoden, Eomer, and a small group of their men.
I sit on a bench smoking my pipe, thinking about all that has happened these past few hours. Fool of a Took! I close my eyes and shake my head in disappointment. All I think of is how close we came to Peregrin giving Frodo and us away to the ruin of all.
However, in his foolishness, he saved me from making an enormous blunder myself. What if I had been the first to look into the Palantír? Things would have taken a grievous turn. Only recently I have returned from such a contest by defeating an evil balrog on the mountainside of Moria. Deep in my spirit I am not yet ready to endure such a confrontation with the One Adversary of all.
I watch young Peregrin sleep in a corner, though by the way he tosses and turns, I presume he is not finding rest. My guess is that he is still disturbed by the horror of seeing the Enemy. Yet, sadly, I do not doubt that by the time we enter the stone city, Minas Tirith, the lad will have put most of it, if not all, in the back of his mind.
Yes, hobbits do have an amazing ability to recover from the most dire of situations quickly. This lad has seen more calamities in the last few weeks than most Men have seen in a lifetime. He has witnessed first-hand two deaths; myself in Moria and Boromir at Parth Galen. A sad tale from what he has told me. He has been a prisoner of war in the clutches of a brutal enemy, and has been a part of a victorious battle at Isengard. I ponder at what awaits this young hobbit in Minas Tirith.
I look again at the sleeping hobbit and then wonder if they are all resilient in this manner, or is it only those in the bloodline of the Tooks? This hobbit has more Took blood in him than either of his two cousins, and so I know deep in my heart there is more to Peregrin Took than what he has displayed so far. He only has to be tested.
After all, as Gerontius Took once said of his own lad long ago--it is in his bones.
* * * * * * * *
We are at anchorage in the bay of Belfalas. It took four days of sailing for Cirdan’s ship to arrive here. Cirdan, the Dúnedain , and I have gathered together and are busy making plans for their travel to Lebennin where the heat of the battle is. Once their plans are complete, Darion and his men will head down below the deck to gather their belongings.
Isengar has fully recovered from his sea-illness and is once again a hale and hearty lad running about the decks laughing and jesting with the crew. I casually draw close to listen as Mirgalond is teaching him a new song. I lean against the railing, looking out into the grey horizon and sadly shake my head. I can only imagine Adamanta taking her boy aside and washing his mouth out with soap after hearing one of his new sea-ditties. Isengar does not know his peril in learning these vulgar limericks.
I walk over to the other side of the ship that faces the town, and watch as they lower a large boat down into the water. Everything is now in place; it is time to go ashore. I go below and inform Darion.
Soon after, Darion and I are lowering their bags into the waiting boat that is tied alongside Cirdan’s ship. I peer over the edge of the railing and spy a certain someone standing inside the boat, speaking to Mirgalond in a low voice. Together they receive the lowered bags and situate them in the bow. I shout down at him, “Isengar Took!”
He folds his arms across his chest and says, “Yes, Gandalf?”
I know by the gleam in his eye that he means not to climb back up the rope ladder. As we are in haste, there is no time to argue with the stubborn little Took.
The last bag has been lowered. Cirdan bids us safe passage while Darion and I climb down the rope ladder and into the boat. Once there, I give the little hobbit a stern look. He takes cover behind Mirgalond as if he were an iron shield. Cirdan calls from above; I see he is holding in his hand a small glass-barrel¹. He shouts, “Something is amiss in Belfalas--go carefully!”
Before I can respond, the rowers cast off. I look at Isengar; he sits quietly next to Mirgalond, his face is resolute. My heart breaks within me as Belfalas does not now seem safe for anyone let alone a small hobbit lad. Mirgalond whispers into my ear that he will personally escort the youth to his own home on the outer rim of the town square...to ‘watch’ as it were, over his wife and fifteen year old son. I nod in assent.
I hope in my heart that Isengar’s Took blood--that steadfast blood that Gerontius himself said was ‘in his bones’, will arise to the occasion.
¹Glass-barrel: an Elven prototype of a telescope (in my imagination).
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