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Boromir winced as something sharp in the path pressed against the thin, worn spot on the sole of his boot. As he lifted his foot to relieve the pressure from the irritating object, the loose heel on his other boot shifted, and he lost his balance momentarily. To his relief, no one was present to see his momentary loss of composure.
I really must find a cobbler who can repair these boots, or even a bootmaker who can make me another pair! Boromir thought anxiously. I cannot continue to present myself in this unseemly fashion! Who will be convinced to give Gondor aid if I go about limping like a raw recruit in the Gondorian infantry? But is there such a thing to be had here in this abode of Elves? I am not certain that what they wear upon their feet can even be called boots. More like soft shoes they seem to me -- and how they do not feel every sharp stone through that thin leather, I cannot think!
Perhaps Elvish boots are such that they never need repair, and thus the services of cobblers are not required. That would explain my inability to find one!
He sighed again and sat down heavily on a nearby bench, gazing at his scuffed and worn boots ruefully.
More than likely, it is my inability to find my way around in this odd place without getting lost, rather than the fact that there is no cobbling to be had here. I am wearing out my boots even further wandering around fruitlessly! It is a shame that young Halfling ran off so quickly; he seemed energetic enough to be willing to take part in a search for someone to repair my boots. But he seemed perplexed somehow when I told him I needed a cobbler... I suppose Halflings, even more than Elves, have little use for such things. They do not seem to wear shoes, let alone boots!
Boromir contemplated the path that passed by his bench, looking it up and down in both directions.
That Ranger from the Council should know something about where to get boots repaired, I suppose. His boots are as worn as mine! But how to find him in this mysterious place...?
Just then, he heard the sound of cheerful voices raised as if in heated argument -- though how they could be arguing and still sound so happy was a mystery -- and around the bend in the path came two Halflings. Boromir recognized the smaller of the two as the one he had met earlier on the staircase. What was his name again? Peregrin Took, known to his friends as Pippin or even Pip... Boromir smiled suddenly to himself at the memory of the plucky Halfling who had wasted no time in making his acquaintance, and sharing intimate details about himself and his friends as if the two of them had been friends for life.
"There you are!" cried Pippin. "We've been looking everywhere for you! We've found one!"
"Found one?" queried Boromir, mystified.
"A cobbler, of course! You want your boots fixed, don't you? Come on, then, follow us. We'll take you to him. By the way, Boromir, this is Merriadoc Brandybuck, Merry this is Boromir... I mean Lord Boromir... er... well, whatever!"
Boromir followed along after the Halflings, feeling rather breathless at the amount of talk that poured out of them. But after a time, he found himself enjoying the sound of their voices, and how they managed to make him feel included in the conversation even when he never got to say a word. He actually felt a pang of regret when they finally reached their destination -- an honest-to-goodness Elven cobbler, as Pippin was describing it to him in tones of great satisfaction.
The cobbler gave Boromir a pair of soft slippers to wear while the Elf worked on his worn boots, and so the Man and the two Halflings sat at their ease on a provided bench and continued their talk. After Boromir had been regaled by many a tale of Hobbits who wore boots, of the Shire (where wearing shoes was unheard of), and the glories of all manner of cobblers (particularly blackberry), Pippin finally asked the question that had been burning in his heart since he had first seen Boromir on the stair holding one boot in his hand and contemplating the other.
"Boromir, if you're such a great lord in your land, how come you're wearing such shabby boots?"
"Yes, do tell us, Boromir, sir!" Merry chimed in. "They look positively antique!"
"Would it surprise you to know that these boots were new when I set out upon my journey to Rivendell?"
Exclamations of disbelief met that statement, as he knew they would.
"Indeed, these boots were newly made for me, and they were the finest boots ever worn by a lord of Gondor, befitting the station of the Steward's son, the Captain-General of the White Tower, made to last no matter how difficult the journey I might undertake with them."
Merry and Pippin's eyes grew round with awe at the reminder of Boromir's honorable titles and station in life. They had been feeling so friendly towards the Man who was limping about Rivendell that they had almost forgotten how important he really was.
"These boots have lived up to their name of being boots that might support me in any adventure," continued Boromir. "But even boots made for a king will wear out if put to such use as these boots have been put! One hundred and ten days I have traveled in search of this hidden valley of Rivendell -- and much of that journey was done on foot through the wilderness, after I lost my horse at the fords of Tharbad! Is it any wonder my boots are worn and seemingly old?"
"One hundred and ten days!" Merry and Pippin cried in unison.
"On foot??" Pippin exclaimed, staring at Boromir's slippered feet.
"No wonder your boots wore out!" cried Merry. "I'm surprised you made it this far, actually!"
"Oh, do tell us about your journey, Boromir!" pleaded Pippin.
"You must have had some amazing adventures..." Merry chimed in.
Boromir glanced over at the Elf who was working on one of the boots, fitting a new piece of leather to the spot that was worn and thin. The other boot lay nearby, a new heel ready to be trimmed to fit and affixed with small delicate-looking nails. A look passed between the two of them, and the Elven cobbler imperceptibly began to work more slowly than he had been previously.
"Ah!" remarked Boromir, winking at the enthralled Halflings. "It would seem my boots' repair will not be completed just yet. Perhaps there will be sufficient time while we wait to tell you some of my tale..."
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