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6
His captain's captain

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Who does i’ the wars more than his captain can
Becomes his captain’s captain; - Shakespeare- Antony and Cleopatra – Act 1

With grateful thanks to Raksha and Virtuella.


~~~



A Royal Visit to Gondor’s coastal regions was mostly cause for great excitement, Aragorn and Faramir had discovered once they left Linhir. The King and the Steward had no official itinerary, but word soon spread throughout the region that they were on their way.

In many town and villages, they had been greeted by cheering crowds and invited to feast by townsfolk, “It gladdens my heart to see how the people love you,” said Faramir as they left Belfadas to the applause of cheering crowds.

“I visited these regions many years ago,” said Aragorn. “Little did I dare hope to return here one day as King and have the chance to meet people and appreciate the beauty of the ocean.” The King was in a cheerful mood, having learned that young Mardil showed no signs of fever and seemed likely to make a complete recovery.

A small girl presenting flowers to the King interrupted the conversation.

“I picked these just for you, Sir King!” the child announced, holding out a wilted posy.

“Why, thank you!” Aragorn smiled as if the flowers were the finest from the Royal Gardens.

***

The next day, the Royal Party crossed into Dol Amroth where they planned to spend a few days with Faramir’s Uncle, Prince Imrahil, but first they planned to visit some of the smaller towns and settlements, starting with a fishing village right by the coast.

Much to the surprise of the King and Steward, not to mention their guards, the streets were almost deserted apart from a handful of young people. Even they appeared somewhat indifferent to their visitors. Stranger still, the streets were festooned with colourful garlands, which suggested some sort of celebration was taking place.

Neither Aragorn nor Faramir had ever sought fame, nor public adoration, but nevertheless found such a cold welcome somewhat disconcerting. Eventually, Faramir could no longer contain his bewilderment and hurt at the insult to his lord. He stopped to greet a young woman who was hurrying by with a strong lad at her side.

“Where is everyone, mistress?” he enquired. “Have your people no wish to see their King?”

“I’m sure I’m glad to meet you, my lords,” said the girl, bobbing a curtsey. ”Didn’t you know, though, that it is Captain’s Day when we all celebrate our liberation? Or rather the old people who recall the day do, we just go along to enjoy the feast!”

“I’ve heard the King is a good man,” said the little boy. “But no man can compare with the great Captain!”

“I should like to know more about this Captain,” said Faramir somewhat suspiciously, fearing some threat to Aragorn’s authority.

“Come and join our celebrations then in the Great Hall,” said the woman. “We rarely have visitors in these parts, but you will be most welcome.

The local reeve greeted his visitors pleasantly enough. “Ah, King Elessar and Lord Faramir,” he said. ”We are delighted you have come to join in our celebrations to honour of the great Captain who saved our children from being stolen, and enslaved by the wicked Corsairs. I wish you could have met the Captain, my lords. I was but a boy at the time, but I’ll never forget the glimpse I had of him. He looked right kingly. I wish you’d met him, a finer man there never was. Some of us wish he’d have come back. If he’d wanted to be our King and replace Lord Denethor, we’d have welcomed him, begging your pardon, my lords.”

A sudden flash of realisation struck Aragorn and he smiled.

“What could be more important than your visit here?” Faramir protested in a low voice. "Who was this man in any case? A rival claimant to your throne?”

The reeve called for silence and bade them raise their tankards for a toast. “Let us remember the deeds of the mighty Captain Thorongil and drink to his memory!” he cried.

Cheering, the people drank and burst into a rousing song.

“I have just remembered the date,” Aragorn whispered. ”Today is the anniversary of the defeat of the corsairs of Umbar. It is my praises that they sing!” He shrugged his shoulders and joined in the song, with the air of polite attention that he had perfected long before Thorongil had ever come here.

Faramir’s frown faded as he realised the truth and a smile of pleasure spread across his features.

"I can see that you're a good man, Lord Elessar," said the reeve, who was more than a little drunk by now. "And if you're half the man that our Captain Thorongil was, you'll be a great king indeed!"

Struggling now to contain their mirth, Aragorn and Faramir tucked into a simple but delicious meal of fried fish washed down with good ale.

“This was Captain Thorongil’s favourite meal,” Aragorn informed Faramir with a twinkle in his eye.

“It was indeed, but how can a lad like you know that?” an old greybeard enquired of Aragorn.

“I know a man who knew the Captain as well as I know myself,” said Aragorn solemnly, causing Faramir to almost choke on his fish.

“I’m sure the reeve would have served something more fitting for fine gentlemen like yourselves, if you had not come on Captain’s Day,” said the old man.

Aragorn finally swallowed the fish and smiled at the greybeard. “This suits us very well,” he said. “Very well indeed.”

TBC

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