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CHAPTER FIVE: CORMALLEN
Boromir was drowsy but content, as he sat on a folding wooden chair next to Frodo’s cot. There was a minor throbbing in his injured shield arm which was wrapped and carried in a sling close to his body, and his head still ached from the blow which had rendered him unconscious during the battle before the Black Gate. But Frodo was alive, and so were Sam and Pippin.
He or Aragorn or Legolas or Gimli or Gandalf had been at their sides ever since the battle ended. But he knew who needed to be here most…
Just then, a small figure darted into the tent with a cry of grief. Legolas was behind him, shaking his head sadly.
“Merry!” said Boromir, “they are alive, all three of them, though they look to fare much worse than they actually are!”
“Oh, but Boromir! I should have been here! I should have protected them!” Merry’s anguished expression wrung Boromir’s heart. He held out his uninjured arm, and the young hobbit came to his embrace.
“Meriadoc, you had your own injuries to recover from! And you have done your share and more, on this journey! Why, you saved my life, when the Company was broken at Parth Galen! And you also saved the Lady Éowyn and helped to slay the foul chief of the Nazgûl!”
Merry took a deep hitching breath and nodded. “Oh, but they look dreadful!”
“They do. But they live, as I said, and now you are here, I think they will recover even more quickly!”
Legolas came up and put his hand on Merry’s shoulder. “They have needed the presence of their friend and cousin, Merry! Now, I am going to get some food for you.” The Elf pointed to a small table, on which stood a ewer and basin, “I think perhaps you could do with a wash, and then after you eat, you might rest alongside Pippin--the cot is wide enough that I do not believe you will hurt him.”
Merry nodded absently, and Legolas left. The hobbit reached out and tenderly brushed a curl away from Frodo’s face.
Boromir said nothing, but watched. Merry had done so much--why if it had not been for his quick thinking and accurate aim with a stone, the Orc archers would probably have put an end to Boromir on that awful day. As it was, Boromir had been hard-pressed, and he could not keep enough of the Uruk-hai away. The beasts had still managed to seize the two younger hobbits and make off with them before Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had joined the fray.
He was very proud of Merry and Pippin. He still found it astounding that the two of them had rescued themselves. He, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had made such a run as had never before been heard of, in pursuit of the Uruk-hai and their captives, only to learn in the end, that the two young hobbits had managed perfectly well without them.
And now all had ended well, after all. Not something he could have begun to imagine, before he had set off to Imladris in search of the answer to a strange riddling dream. Then, all had seemed doomed to despair, and it had appeared to his mind that only the Ring held the answer to Gondor’s problems. He knew that now for the deception it had always been. He only wished that his father could have come to understand.
That had been the Enemy’s only victory, to overturn the mind of the Steward of Gondor, so that now the once proud Denethor was locked up, stripped of his authority, a raving lunatic. He had rejected the healing hands of the King, and Boromir held little hope that his father would ever regain his reason. He had refused to believe that Boromir was alive, and denounced his presence as that of an imposter.
Merry, whom Boromir had been watching solicitously, reached a hand up to dash away a tear, and turned to the Man. He gave a sniff, and said lightly, “Your brother sent a message to you. He said he is very glad you are alive, but that next time, you will have to be the one to stay behind. He’s very tired of that role!”
Boromir chuckled. “I suppose I will have to oblige him then, if there is a next time, for as Steward, I shall have to stay behind!”
Merry managed a smile, and then his look grew sly. “You know, you might soon have a sister-in-law, if your younger brother gets his way!”
Boromir’s jaw dropped. Faramir had never seemed to have much time for the gentler sex. Neither of them had, actually, with the hard press of the Enemy upon their people.
The hobbit nodded smugly. “He has his eye on the White Lady of Rohan, and I’m blessed if I don’t think she returns his regard!”
Boromir managed to close his mouth. Then he laughed. “Ah, little brother, I think you may have found more peril than in battle!”
Pippin awakened a few days later, to Merry’s great relief. The young hobbit was still in great pain, but he was glad to be alive and very glad to see Merry and his other friends once more, and overjoyed to discover that Frodo and Sam yet lived, though Aragorn said they would sleep for some days yet.
One afternoon while Merry was occupied with the King of Rohan, Boromir assisted Pippin to sit up and take the few steps Aragorn had said he was to be allowed. He was panting with exhaustion by the time he had crossed from his cot to Frodo’s. But he stood and leaned against it, brushing the dark curls away from his older cousin’s brow. Then he bent and placed a kiss there. “Silly old Baggins,” he said fondly. “Giving us the slip.” Then his knee started to buckle, and Boromir, who had been watching, caught him up in his arms--for his own injured arm was now nearly well--and carried him back to his own cot.
“I’m sorry to make such trouble, Boromir,” Pippin said meekly.
“You are no trouble at all. You are a great hero, my small friend, and I owe you not only the life of my brother and father, but my own as well. I do wish, however that you had remembered my instructions not to allow your defeated foe to fall upon you!”
“Well, I couldn’t let that troll make a snack of you, Boromir!” He smiled, but then his face grew solemn. “I am sorry about the Lord Denethor, though. Gandalf got him away from the fire in time, but he would not listen to reason.” Denethor had been raving, his statements so clearly mad that even his most devoted servants realized his mind had been overturned. Boromir’s arrival had come not a moment too soon--the sudden vision of his son‘s face in the palantír, alive and fighting to reach the City had distracted the distraught Steward long enough to allow Gandalf to save his life.
Boromir’s gaze grew distant for a moment, and then he shook his head. “My father spent too many years believing in his own strength of will, but he courted madness when he allowed desperation and pride tempt him into using the Seeing-stone. The Enemy had years to work upon him.”
Tears sparked in Pippin’s own green eyes. “I should have thought once would be enough.” He shuddered, remembering his own encounter with the palantír.
“You acted out of curiosity and ignorance, Pippin, and yet still managed to keep your mind whole. My father acted out of pride, and even once was too often, when done with such an attitude.” Boromir hung his head, remembering now many things that now were made clear to him. And he knew that his own pride had nearly led him into an even worse folly than his father’s.
Pippin nodded his understanding. Just then, the tent flap opened, and Merry came in, bearing a laden tray. “Supper!” he called cheerfully.
Frodo gazed about him, nearly staggered at the cheering throng. He and Sam went forward and saw that amidst the clamorous host were set four high-seats built of green turves. Behind the seat upon the far right floated, white upon green, a great horse running free; upon the left was a banner, silver upon blue, a ship swan-prowed faring on the sea;behind the seat at the near right of center was a gonfalon of creamy white bordered in gold, with the Tengwar letters R-ND-R, surmounted by three stars;* but behind the highest throne in the midst of all a great standard was spread in the breeze, and there a white tree flowered upon a sable field beneath a shining crown and seven glittering stars. On the throne sat a mail-clad man, a great sword was laid across his knees, but he wore no helm. As they drew near he rose. And then they knew him, changed as he was, so high and glad of face, kingly, lord of Men, dark-haired with eyes of grey.
Frodo scarcely heard Sam’s own exclamation, as he ran into Aragorn’s arms, and felt his strong embrace. And then, looking over Aragorn’s shoulder, he met Boromir’s shining eyes! And the world felt too full of joy for his heart to contain it.
*“In the same fashion, stewards of Gondor never took any heraldic device of their own, and their banners are white with golden lining. Personal flag of the Steward of Minas Anor showed the letters "R · ND · R" for Arandur ("King's Servant"), surmounted by three five-pointed stars “(UT, Cirion and Eorl).
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