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A Truth Universally Acknowledged
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Steward’s heir, in possession of sound limbs and mind, and pleasing form, must be in want of a wife."
Faramir chuckled; Boromir sighed and rolled his eyes before turning towards the graceful young woman standing in the doorway. Just beyond her, the ballroom was awash in light, color, music; while here on the balcony was peace and quiet. Or had been.
“And how many of them have you interviewed on our behalf, Lothíriel?” Boromir asked. “For I am sure you are acquainted with all the eligible maids in Dol Amroth, Minas Tirith, and the estates in between. Are you recruiting for Faramir, and your brothers, as well? It would make things much easier, you know; just send each of us a list of likely candidates, with their flaws and virtues clearly identified, and we can choose the least unappealing. Or draw lots amongst us; that might work even better.” He could see Faramir’s shoulders silently shaking with laughter.
“I don’t see how you can take this so lightly. For a thousand years the stewardship has been passed, father to son. That sort of heritage is not to be ignored! Yet you seem to have no interest at all in fulfilling your responsibilities.”
“Not fulfilling my responsibilities?” Boromir choked; Faramir decided to give him a moment’s rest from their cousin’s attack.
Lothíriel easily took that bait. She turned toward Boromir curiously. “And just what sort of a woman would entice you, cousin?”
He took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “What sort? Any sort, I suppose; I’ll not be difficult to please when it comes to choosing a bride; I just have no time for the choosing. Rich, she should be, that’s certain; a family can never have too much money. Wise, or she’ll not interest me; not too wise, lest I bore her, and she’ll seek someone more to her taste, like Faramir!” Faramir grinned, but Lothíriel looked thoughtful.
“Virtuous, unless she’s already given up her virtue to me. There are a few who have… still, that’s not an encouraging start to a marriage. How would I know who else had dipped into that well? Fair, of course; if I’m going to be looking across the dinner-table at her for fifty years. Mild, by all means; the Valar know I’m certainly not.” Both Lothíriel and Faramir had to smile at that.
“I think you’ve described at least half of the women who are waiting for you in that ballroom; most of whom you’ve known since you were five,” Faramir observed.
“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? What is there to choosing? You could toss a dart in that room and take whichever one claimed to be pierced in the heart. And make a good marriage of it as well. What is there to marriage, anyway?” Lothíriel, open-mouthed, started to speak, but he went on determinedly. “I’ll have my duties, and she’ll have hers; once a year I’ll get a child on her and she’ll see to its raising. It’s not like she’ll be living in a squatter’s hut on the first circle; she’ll have as much help as she needs. Raise my children well, and don’t dishonor me or my family, that’s all I would ask.”
“You’ve certainly taken all of the romance out of it!” Lothíriel protested. “Is there no poetry at all in your soul? No music, or beauty? What should she look like? What hair color, at least?”
“Music? It all sounds like caterwauling to me, except I do like a good marching song. Hair color? Hair color? How would I know? I suppose if she’s Numenorean it would be dark, wouldn’t it? Like all of us? Though I confess,” he laughed, sheepishly, “I’ve always had a preference for tall, blue-eyed blondes.”
Suddenly Lothíriel giggled, reminding him that she was, for all her matchmaking ways, a young girl herself. “So have I, cousin, so have I.”
2007 MEFA Award Winner Second Place in Genres: Humor: Gondor or Rohan
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