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Meneldil watched as his uncle, now High King of the Dúnedain, himself lifted out the paving stones from the Court of Gathering before the King’s House at the top of the city of Minas Anor, entrusting each to one of his sons to lay neatly nearby. One of the groundskeepers had brought a spade as requested, and once the earth was sufficiently cleared, Isildur took it and began to dig a hole.
The younger Man looked at the small sapling that had been brought from Osgiliath, there to the east on the river. “I do not understand,” he said, “why you appear to think this so important, Uncle. Why does this need to be planted here, and now? It is only a tree, when all is said and done,” he added.
His uncle paused in his labor to look at his nephew, whom he’d only yesterday confirmed as King of Gondor. “It is far more than only a tree, Meneldil,” he said, shaking his head. “I almost died to bring a fruit of Nimloth the Fair from the Courts of the King in Armenelos, and your father himself hid with it for weeks to see it planted and sprouted and safely growing that the honor showed to our ancestor Elros Tar-Minyatur by the Belain and the Eldar not be forgotten. For I was not the only one who sacrificed to see to it that sign of grace not be lost to the plots of the Father of Lies we defeated so short a time ago at such great cost. Had Anárion been found with a fruit of the White Tree, he would not even have been given the dubious honor of being dragged to the accursed temple and burnt there. Nay, they would have killed him as painfully as could be contrived at short notice, there on the spot, and the fruit hacked to pieces. So deeply did the Nameless One hate the Tree and all it symbolized.
“Nay,” he continued, “even as your father hid to nurture the fruit as it quickened and sprang into a vigorous sapling, so I now plant this to his memory, that the Kings of Gondor never forget all that was lost when we accounted among the Faithful left the island of our birth. It was the Land of Gift, the Land of Promise to us while its folk remained true in heart. Now we dwell once more in Ennor, the Mortal Lands, and our realms of Gondor and Arnor are the lands where we seek to keep alive the memory of the good that came of that promise.”
He looked up toward the top of Mindolluin, shining in the light of the midday Sun. “Your father was faithful to me and to the White Tree, there after I was wounded by Sauron himself,” he said as he lifted the spade once more. “Now I will return the honor.” His spade dug into the earth, preparing it to hold a symbol of grace memorialized.
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