A special day in the lives of Boromir and Faramir...
My little brother marches out today for the first time. He is fifteen years old and he goes with his age-mates in the Boys’ Troop, on a scouting mission into the White Mountains. I took the same trip five years ago. The lads are shepherded by a company of Guards and taught many useful skills. But Faramir seems so young! It seems like only yesterday that I placed his small hand on the hilt of a wooden practice sword for the first time.
A flock of mothers rings the group of boys. Some of the ladies are grave, others teary-eyed. I cross the square to where Faramir stands proudly, regarding the Great Gate. “Boromir!” He greets me happily. We both know that Father is too busy to see him off this day. To spare his new-soldier pride, I do not kiss him. Instead, we clasp hands as comrades.
Still, old habit remains strong. I look the boy over, from polished boots to newly cut hair. Faramir's face is freshly scrubbed, his modest uniform properly laced.
“Did you pack your cooking-pan?” He’s thin enough without missing meals because he forgot his cookware.
“Did you remember to sharpen your dagger and your sword?” Orcs have been known to infest the mountains. And a warg or two. And wildcats.
“Boromir! I am not a baby!” Faramir complains with a sudden blush. My little brother has nearly attained full height and can look me straight in the eye.
I must not weaken his confidence. “No, you are not, Faramir. Keep quiet, follow the Captain’s orders, and you will bring honor to our House.”
“Yes, brother” He bows his head respectfully. Captain Turambar arrives, stepping briskly to the head of the company. In a few moments, they will file out the open Gate.
Butterflies flutter in my belly. Curse it, I am a soldier and a prince, not a lily-livered old woman! The chick must leave the nest sometime. Come now, I tell myself, it is not as if the boy is going off to join the Ithilien Rangers. We of the Guard, safely based in Minas Tirith, often call the Rangers “Orc-Bait”. My stomach pitches again. I remember how word of Faramir’s skill with a bow has already spread. The Rangers’ scarred old Captain had watched my brother practice and told me that Faramir would be the best archer in Gondor one day. Udûn’s Pits, the Rangers are always trying to poach good bowmen from the other companies!
No! Not Faramir. He can finish learning the longbow here, and join the City’s archers on the walls, where it‘s safe.
“Boromir?” asks my brother quietly. “You are pale. Is something amiss? They are calling us up now; I must depart.”
He is so eager to prove his worth. The Steward‘s sons must meet future peril, not evade it. Faramir must go forth to whatever fate awaits him. It is not fit that I ease his way. For the first time, Faramir will sleep under the stars without his kindred’s protection this night. At least he knows the stars; better than I, if truth be told!
“Nay. I just ate too fast at the nuncheon.” The trumpet sounds. “Well, lad, take care of yourself. Watch your back.” If danger threatens, be bold, but not reckless. Come home alive!
Faramir bids me farewell, with shining eyes and a lift to his step as he strides out with his fellows. Despite his courage, my baby brother is still an untried young bird. But for the first time, I can glimpse in the fledgling the hunter he will become.
The Boys’ Troop of Minas Tirith is my personal invention; though, considering the presence of a small group of boys in the beleaguered White City in ROTK, the concept of lads receiving rudimentary military training prior to further service or other vocations does not seem far-fetched.