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Ch.2 - Gems for Mama
Faramir stood at the foot of the stairs waiting impatiently for Éowyn to come down. They were to begin the journey to Gondor and he was anxious to be off. He knew that she loved him. He was convinced of that. He felt that he could almost see into her heart but old doubts still tried to worm their way into his mind. A lifetime of doubt and caution did not just go away overnight. He still bore the scars of his upbringing. Of never being quite good enough; always doubted and suspected. He would rise above it, he fervently told himself, he would. He looked up and all else fled his mind, in a simple white woolen dress, her hair loosely pulled back to allow that beautiful flow of reddish-blond locks to stray casually over her shoulders, Éowyn was a vision of loveliness. Was there a more beautiful woman in the world? He could not imagine it. It was impossible.
“Close your mouth, something might fly in.”
Faramir looked to his side. Éomer stood with a knowing smirk on his face. The look in his eyes though told a different story. He was happy. Faramir looked at him and smiled, “Yes well, if your sister wasn’t so inestimably beautiful,” He turned to Éowyn, “You are so beautiful.”
Éowyn tried to parry the remark with her normal banter, but she was caught up in the earnest, loving look in Faramir's blue eyes and found herself tongue-tied. She just stared then stammered, “So are you.” She colored just a little at having said something that silly.
Éomer took a second to revel in the delight of seeing them so happy and proceeded to distract the two lovebirds by teasing them in a way only a brother could, “Shall I tether both your horses to mine so you can simply look at each other on the journey to Gondor.”
Éowyn blushed in earnest this time but quickly recovered herself and quick as a flash slapped Éomer upside the head, “That will not be necessary, brother dear! We actually want to get there and your sense of direction isn’t always the best. I am remembering a certain set of caves that you swore you knew your way around in and we went around for nearly two hours until by sheer luck we found our way out.”
Faramir laughed. Éomer looked at him while rubbing the back of his head, “You still sure you want to marry this harpy! Tis not too late.”
Faramir laughed, “I am quite sure. But what is this I hear about caves?”
Éowyn laughed, “Well, we were children at the time, before we came to live at Edoras.”
Éowyn stood up and grabbed Eówara, her rag doll, by her arm and tried to brush off her little dress, but to no avail. She had been sitting by the stream bank digging up some beautiful little stones that had caught her eye. She had given her nurse the slip once again. Guthhild would be searching for her to drag her off to practice her needlework but Éowyn simply needed to be outside under the sun and amid the fresh air. She could not stand to be inside where there was so much gloom and bad feelings. It had not always been so, but since Papa had gone away so much had changed. She needed to be outside where she could breathe. She looked down at the state of her dress and frowned. Mud and dirt on the rim of her skirt and by reaching around she could feel the damp mud on her backside as well. She shrugged her shoulders and picked up the pretty rocks she had collected and placed them in the small leather pouch on her belt. She would show them to Éomer later.
She walked along the stream just listening the burble of the water and the chirping of the birds. She meandered, taking her time to look at wildflowers that caught her interest along the bank. She heard the snap of a twig behind her and she turned around. Éomer was walking down to the stream with a smirky smile on his face, “Did you escape Guthhild again?”
Éowyn replied, “Yes! She was going to drag me off to do more needlework! But never mind that! I’ve got something to show you!” She shoved Eówara under her arm and reached into her pouch. “Look what I found!” she showed Éomer the rocks she had dug up. She looked at them and they weren’t as pretty as when she first dug them up except for one gold colored one. “Oh Poo! They were much prettier when I put them in my pouch!”
Éomer heard the disappointment in his little sister’s voice and to cheer her up he said, “Never mind, I think they are still very nice. Especially this one.” He picked up the gold-coloured rock, “I can show you where you can find more of ones like this.”
Éowyn, fretting just a little, bit her lower lip and then said, “Can you? If you can that would be really nice. I thought maybe I could give them to Mama to cheer her up a little.”
Éomer smiled at his sister, “I think she would really like that.” Rewarded with a smile from his seven-year-old sister Éomer indeed hoped she would like it. Their mother was slipping away from them, he could feel it, but maybe it would make her happy he thought with as much hope as a twelve-year old boy could muster. “Come on, it is this way.”
They walked along the stream a little further and then Éomer began to veer away from it and closer to the mountainside. Éowyn saw a small opening in the mountain face, “Is this it?” she asked her brother excitedly.
Éomer nodded. They approached the small cave and entered. Much to Éowyn’s amazement only the entrance was small, as soon as they entered the cave it opened up into an array of tunnels going in different directions. “So many tunnels, which way do we go to find some of those pretty rocks for Mama?” Éowyn asked looking at Éomer.
Her brother said decisively, “This way,” starting down a path to the left, “I was here last month…” Éowyn blithely followed, knowing that her brother would not deliberately mislead her. They walked for a little way and turned into another tunnel. It was getting a little cooler as it seemed that the tunnel was headed downwards.
Éowyn asked because she was starting to feel cold, “Are we there yet?” Éomer paused and looked around. His face took on a pensive and unsure look. “Brother, are we there yet? Éomer was silent as he looked around. Éowyn started to worry, “Éomer, are we lost?” she asked as she started to chew her bottom lip.
Éomer looked at her, “Well, we are not lost,” he said hesitantly, hating the fact that his little sister was starting to look nervously around her, “I'm just not quite sure where we are at the moment.”
“Isn’t that the same as being lost?”
Éomer opened his mouth and then shut it, “Yeah, I guess it is.” He saw the worried look in his little sister’s eyes and felt really bad, “I’m sorry, Éowyn.” He fell silent. He heard inside his mind the last words that his father said to him after he had been brought back severely injured from an Orc attack. He said that Éomer was to protect Éowyn always, for she was his only sister. That she was dependent upon him. He brought her here in an effort to cheer her up. To help her find some of those pretty stones to cheer their mother. And now they were lost. “I really thought I knew the way.”
Éowyn looked at her brother, “It’s okay. Well maybe we can find it together. And still find some stones.”
Éomer sighed, “Yeah. Hopefully. Let’s go back in this direction.” They walked back and tried to retrace their steps. As they were walking Éomer noticed that there were some steps that could not have been made by either of them for the prints in the dirt were too large for either of their feet. Éomer swallowed his worry and doubled his awareness recalling he only had one boot dagger on him. He heard Éowyn exclaim and his heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. He turned the corner and saw Éowyn looking at a protuberance in the wall, “Look Brother, the same golden rock as I found by the stream!”
Éomer looked and sure enough the protruding rock looked to be the same color as the rock that Éowyn had found at the stream. He looked at his sister, she looked so hopeful. His heart sank; he had no idea how to dislocate the stone from the cave wall. Also he was more than a bit concerned about the footprints he had just seen. He looked at the stone in the wall from one side and then the other, his forehead crinkled in thought. He removed his dagger from his boot and began to chip away at the surrounding wall. It was hard going, much more difficult than he thought it would be and with each sound he thought the owner of those footprints might happen upon them but thankfully that did not happen. Éomer looked his dagger and it was not pretty, in fact it was a sight not to be seen, nicked in several places. Eventually though, the gold chip of a stone fell into his hand. He turned triumphantly to Éowyn to hand it to her. He saw her prone form clutching Eówara; she had fallen asleep. Éomer sighed but then smiled, “Éowyn,” he said, gently, “Éowyn wake up! I’ve got your stone.”
Éowyn awoke bleary-eyed, and then realised where she was, “Did you get it?” she asked excitedly.
Éomer dropped it in her hand triumphantly, Éowyn looked at it. She thought it was a bit small for all that work but looking at her dust-covered brother, she decided in a rare display of tact that it was a comment best left unsaid, “It is beautiful, Éomer! Mama will love it!”
“I do surely hope so!” Éomer avowed with much emotion but with less hope. “Now,” he said looking around and clapping his hands to shake off what excess dust that could be shifted by such means, “We just need to get out of here!” He sighed and looked around him. “Well, I suppose we could continue with trying to retrace our steps.” He looked at Éowyn who was clutching the stone in one hand and Eówara in the other. “Stow the stone away in your pouch to make sure we don’t lose it.” Éowyn quickly put it in her little leather pouch and then rubbed her nose creating a grimy little streak across her face. Éomer took her hand and then said, “Onwards!” with more cheer than he actually felt.
They wandered for the better part of an hour until they felt a bit of airflow gently blow past them. Éomer exclaimed, “Air! We shall follow from where that came!” He followed as best he could, pausing occasionally to figure out which direction and only made a few missteps and finally they once again saw the light of day.
Late afternoon light filtered through the trees as the two children hurried back to the hall. They entered through the back gate because it was the quickest and easiest way to enter without being seen by Guthhild and was also the shortest path to their mother’s bedchamber. They stole past a few servants and waited across the hallway as the healer left their mother’s bedchamber. At waiting a few seconds they slipped into their mother’s chambers. Théodwyn lay propped up upon pillows looking outside with a lost look on her face. Éomer immediately felt tongue tied upon looking at his mother, feeling that she was slipping further and further from this world but Éowyn felt no such emotion. She buoyantly shouted, “Mama! Look what we brought for you!”
Théodwyn started a little and then turned her eyes upon her daughter. A little light filled her eyes as she beheld Éowyn and a wan smile lit her face. In a soft voice she said, “What did you bring me, little one.” Éowyn ran to her mother’s bedside and unceremoniously sat Eówara on her little cloth face and began to empty the contents from her leather pouch. “I found all of these by the stream and thought they were so pretty that I would bring them to you.” Théodwyn looked at the dusty stream pebbles as if they were priceless jewels that had been poured into her lap. Éowyn looked at them, “Well, they did look much nicer when I first found them.” Théodwyn smoothed back the stray blond hair that found its way out her daughter’s plait and gently said, “They are beautiful, my little one. Because you brought them for me.” Éowyn smiled. “Oh wait! One last one! We went into a cave near the stream and found this for you! Éomer dug it out of the wall. Just for you. Gold.”
Théodwyn looked down and in Éowyn’s hand was a little slab of pyrite. She looked at Éomer, who was bashfully looking at his shoe, she asked in that quiet voice that was only a shadow of its former self, “Éomer, Did you dig this out of the wall for me?”
“Yes, Mama.” He said a small voice, “Éowyn wanted to give it to you. So I helped.”
Théodwyn held her hand weakly for Éomer to grasp, which he did immediately, “Oh Thank you, my sweet son. I will treasure it and all these precious gems always.” She caressed the side of his face as Éomer smiled, unshed tears filling his eyes.
Guthhild appeared at the door, “Éowyn! Come away this instant and let your mother rest. And where have you been all this while?”
Théodwyn looked up and spoke in an unexpectantly sharp voice, “Guthhild! My children are welcome anytime they should want to be with me! And as to where they were. They were ‘exploring’,” She looked conspiratorially at both Éowyn and Éomer, “And they were kind enough to bring me presents.”
Guthhild opened and closed her mouth, swallowing what she was going to say, “Yes, my lady. Beg Pardon.” She dropped a small bow and said, “I shall await the little mistress in the hall.”
“Thank you, Guthhild. That will be all.”
“She is a bit of an old dragon, isn’t she,” Théodwyn laughed gently and then coughed which caused Éomer to get a drink of water for her at the bedside pitcher and then handed it to her.
“Thank you, my son.” Théodwyn took a small drink and then set the goblet aside. “But my children, I am in truth a little tired. But thank you so much for my all treasures.” She grasped the little slab of pyrite to her heart.
“Yes, Mama.” Éomer said, “Come on, Éowyn. We should go.”
“Ok,” Éowyn leaned over and kissed her mother’s cheek, “Love you, Mama.”
“I love you, my dears.”
Éowyn fingered a necklace at her breast as she ended her story. Faramir noticed that it was a little slab of pyrite and he realised she always wore it and he had never really noticed before.
“Is that the stone that you gave her?” Faramir asked.
Éowyn nodded, “Yes. Not long after that Mama had some of the stones made into jewelry. This pendant and earrings, a ring and a bracelet. I remember the master jeweler being a bit put out when first he saw what he was being asked to work with. Then he realized who he was making them for.”
“A seven-year old girl with a winsome smile and big blue eyes.” Faramir said placing his arms around Éowyn and a loving smile on his face.
Éowyn giggled and looked into Faramir’s wide light blue eyes, “Something like that. Mama wore them with pride and when she passed away they came to Éomer and I.”
“That is wonderful that you have such a keepsake.” Faramir said.
“It is,” Éowyn said thoughtfully, a plan beginning to form in her mind. But she said nothing for moment. “Well, we best be off. And we shouldn’t have any troubles getting there if we are not having to follow Éomer’s directions.” Éowyn raised her eyebrows looking at Éomer.
“I did find the way out.” Éomer said defending himself.
“Sheer luck, Brother mine!” Éowyn laughed as she made her quick way to her horse.
“Brat!” Éomer proclaimed as he gained his horse’s seat.
Faramir watch brother and sister and for a moment felt a pain in his heart as he remembered his own brother. He then thought what Boromir would say at his brother having such maudlin thoughts, he smiled and then mounted his own horse on the road to Gondor.
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