Faramir cleans up the Steward’s library, and wonders why he does so.
"War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I only love that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have loved her for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present
wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise". Faramir in "The Window of the West", TTT.
Volumes in ramshackle groups, books where they do not belong, the stacks seem numberless and bewildering. The piles of bound paper, leather-covered spines cracked from heat and age, crowd around my feet, on tables, on chairs, vying for space and attention. Dust rides on each page’s edge, every book coated with it. Carefully, I pick up the next tome from a heap—“A poet’s journey through the wild, by Ceredir the Blind”—and place it where it belongs. Poetry, individual, epic. With each additional book sorted, new piles grow, rising order from descending disorder. Hours pass in the same fashion, until weariness wraps around my very bones.
I labor through the morning, bend, straighten, bend again. Every so often, I pause to read snatches from the most interesting titles as I go. But unruly mounds of leather-bound books still stretch before me, a task nearly unending, and again I ask myself, who will care? That the contents of the library are restored from chaos to a more seemly order, neatly grouped by topic or category? The disarray is worst among the arts, our lyrics, drawings, literature, and poetry, but the decay has spread farther, to studies of our world. It is difficult if not impossible to locate volumes in geography, weather, the land, and even in such basic areas as language. I wanted to learn the language of the Rhovanion Northmen—Forodric, I think it is called—the tongue of Rohan’s forebears, and I was curious if it bore any resemblance to Rohirric. My inability to find a book that would teach me triggered this project, my personal crusade against the disordered tomes of the Steward’s library.
This anarchy would not be tolerated in lore, law, or anything related to the military. The parchment and books of those sections are kept neatly, indeed, remain in perfect order, ever since they were re-organized lovingly by Denethor during his youth. “We must know our past, and prepare for our defenses and the future,” I hear him say, as he has said so often.
I bend for the next volume—“Plants and animals in Northern Ithilien. By Galahir of Anórien.”Plant life, cross-referenced to Animals, general, as well, and return it to its kin, the home where it should shelter with other books on similar topics. It is also the last work lying in a chair, so that once I place it where it belongs, I can sag happily into that resting place myself, looking at my morning's achievement. Three more stacks reorganized, the end of the table cleared of volumes that had lingered since Mithrandir's last visit.
Who will care? Mithrandir might, if he could spare a moment to think on it when next he comes to Minas Tirith. But I know this task is mine for more than his sake. I do not voluntarily spend my mornings on this work-- and probably the next three weeks, at this rate --solely for Mithrandir. For whom, then?
Reaching to the next pile, I lift another book stained dark, age-frayed, and read the title aloud. “Travels across Gondor, by a Haradric wanderer. Wonder who Fauglith the Half-Blood was.” Geography, foreign travel accounts. As my hand lays it to rest near sleeping brethren, the volume hints to me one answer for the riddle I have set myself. Pride. That the stewards have kept faith. Keep faith still. When the King returns, we will have need of more than history and warcraft. We watch over these for the King, that all will be right at his return. We must be ready to tend the garden of our land, travel through it and see it with the eyes of ages. Our care bespeaks an unbroken fidelity, through generations true.
And if the King does not return? my relentless mind asks.
Then still we remain true to the vows taken by our ancestors. We must care for this kingdom in peacetime and in war. Our family must steward all parts of the realm, not just the military, so that we may enjoy the fruits of peace, when it comes. If our vows are kept, then our duty is done, our steadfast care its own reward. Not pride, but honor promised, and promised duty fulfilled.
Pride. Fidelity. Honor. Duty.
Fatigue forgotten, I straighten my back, the answer now clear. Who will care? I do. And my family, our posterity. Here I labor, and if none else should see the result but me, that is yet enough.
The next book I finger: “Sea-faring birds of Dol Amroth. By Lhaundir of Lamedon.” Animals, birds. And I smile, as a new stack is begun.
Partially inspired by this quote: ”Unless the King should come again? Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom against that event, which few now look to see... But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, although Gondor should perish, if something passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?” –Gandalf to Denethor, Return of the King, “Minas Tirith.”
Faramir would know that ancestors of the Northmen from Rhovanion and the Rohirrim were the same, and their languages were cognate (cf. Appendix A ii:
“the forefathers of Éorl claimed descent from kings of Rhovanion, whose realm lay beyond Mirkwood before the invasion of the Wainriders, and thus they accounted themselves kinsmen of the Kings of Gondor descended from Eldacar.”)
“Forodric” does not exist, but was created by analogy from the Sindarin
adjective ‘forodren,’ “Northern,” which would yield the collective
plural ‘forodrim,’ “men of the North.” From ‘forodrim’ one can derive the
adjective ‘forodric’, “pertaining to the men of the North”, which could
name their tongue. For comparison, see the naming of languages as Haradrim/Haradric, Rohirrim/Rohirric.
With thanks to betas perseph2hades and gladio for all their help!