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The Storyteller
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Many thanks to Larner, for allowing me to borrow some of her characters, and generously suggesting I post this story about the statue she mentioned in one of hers.


~~~

The Storyteller

“Ruvemir,” Elise said gently. “Ruvemir!”

The Mannikin sculptor blinked and focused on his wife. “Yes, my love?”

“I asked you who that Shire letter was from,” she said patiently.

“Oh—it is from Lord Sam,” he answered slowly. “He was describing their Free Fair in Michel Delving.”

“Which is why you were so deep in thought, Master?” asked Ririon, their former apprentice, now nearing the end of a month’s visit from Mardil’s farm in Lebennin.

“I had been thinking that it would be nice to make him a Yule gift, but I haven’t been able to think what. Now this letter has given me an idea. I’m sorry to be so abstracted.”

The other two, long familiar with his ways, smiled. “An excellent idea, dearling,” Elise agreed. “I have been embroidering some scarves for Lady Rose and Eleanor.”

“I’m sure they will love them,” he said.

“Master, what are you thinking of doing?” asked Ririon.

“He liked that small figure of Lord Frodo so much that I thought I’d do another, only this time doing the storytelling at the fair,” Ruvemir told them.

“What a good idea!” said Elise.

“What’s a good idea?” asked a new voice, and they all rose to welcome their brother-in-love, Folco Boffin, married to Ruvemir’s sister.

“Folco! Is Mirel with you?” Elise cried joyfully. “We did not expect you for several days!”

“No, she stayed at home in Lebennin, but asked me to give you her greetings. The children had colds, and she decided to stay with them. I came early to deliver some special healing herbs I’ve been cultivating for the Warden at the Houses of Healing.” The Hobbit farmer grinned. “I’m not the gardener Sam is, of course, but the Healers want me to do a—a seminar, they called it, on growing these herbs for a class of their journeymen who will be practicing away from the city when they finish their studies. And so after I got my room down at the King’s Head, I came up here to cadge some supper.”

“Oh, dear, I’m not sure,” sighed Ruvemir. “Elise, can we possibly have enough food to feed both a Hobbit and a growing lad like Ririon?”

They all laughed. “I think we can manage,” she answered.

After much merriment and good food and drink, they reassembled later in the parlor with glasses of ale or cider, a few apples, small pastries and nuts to fill in the corners, and further conversation. As was his habit, Ruvemir absently picked up a sketch pad and began drawing while the rest chatted.

Finally, Folco could stand it no longer.“Ruvemir, what are you drawing, and why do you keep glancing at my hands and feet?” he asked.

Just then, the serving-maid knocked and opened the door. “Excuse me, Mistress, Master, but the King, Prince Faramir and Lady Ėowyn are here,” Lorieth said.

All immediately rose as their new guests entered. “I’m here as Strider tonight,” said Aragorn quickly after greetings were exchanged.

“You look tired, my friend,” Ruvemir said as Elise took the King’s grey cloak. “Faramir, are you well?”

“Not at the moment, Ruvemir. It’s been a difficult day.” The Prince of Ithilien sank down into a chair with a sigh and accepted a glass of ale with a nod of thanks. “Thank you, Mistress Elise.”

“Thank you indeed!” said Aragorn as Ririon handed him one as well. “It is never easy to have to mete out justice, some days.”

“But you handled it well,” Ėowyn said, brushing back a strand of golden hair before sipping her own drink. “It is especially hard when it is involves both our countries. You came up with a good blending of Rohirric and Gondorian justice for that filth.”

“I hope Ėomer King agrees with you,” Faramir remarked wryly.

“I think he will,” Aragorn said.

“If anything, my brother may think you were too lenient,” Ėowyn said. “But enough of that! What of yourselves, friends? Did we interrupt anything?”

“I was just asking our king of artists here what he was drawing,” Folco said. “He’s been staring at my hands and feet for the past quarter-mark while he sketched, and I cannot imagine what kind of interest they could have! I could never be a model!”

Aragorn’s eyes lit with interest. “You are making another Hobbit sculpture? May we see?”

“This is just a preliminary sketch,” the Mannikin explained. “Sam wrote describing the Free Fair at Michel Delving, which gave me the idea. I wanted to give him another small sculpture of Lord Frodo as a Yule gift.”

The others passed the drawing pad around. Faramir asked, “But how did a description of a fair give you this idea? And while I know that Frodo was a great scholar, why would he be reading at a fair?”

“Sam said that stories are read to the children.”

“Let me see,” said Folco, who with Ėowyn was the last to look. “No,” he said decidedly. “That will not do at all, brother!”

“But it is Frodo to the life!” Aragorn protested.

Ririon looked half-angry, but Ruvemir only looked intent. “How did I err?”

“Nobody reads stories to the faunts at the fair!” Folco said firmly.

“But Sam said—“

“He never would. And Frodo wouldn’t be sitting on a chair, anyway, except in the Ale tent, and that only has benches and he wouldn’t have a book out anyway.”

Ruvemir looked puzzled. “Yet he did write that to me!” he insisted.

“And I tell you, he would not have! I’ve gone to the Free Fair every year from the time I was a faunt until I wedded your sister!”

“Wait,” said Aragorn. “Master Boffin, is it common in the Shire for all Hobbits to be lettered?”

“No, although Sam hopes to change that with the schools he is establishing as part of Frodo’s legacies,” the farmer replied.

“Well, then, I would think that it would be reasonable for those who are able to read to share a tale with those who aren’t, especially children,” said Faramir. “So perhaps they began doing that since you left the Shire?”

“Even if they have—and they wouldn’t—Frodo never did!” Folco said. His jaw was beginning to jut. “If you aren’t going to do it right, don’t do it! Not with Frodo!”

Ruvemir looked at him in dismay and growing annoyance. Elise, who rarely lost her temper, was glaring. “Folco Boffin, you should know, after all the research and work Ruvemir did for the memorial, that he wouldn’t do anything that wasn’t right!”

Aragorn took out his pipe and began to fill it, offering his pouch of leaf to the angry Hobbit. “Would you like to try some of the Old Toby Merry sent me?” he asked. “I wonder if this is a cultural misunderstanding.”

“Cultural?”

“Yes. Ruvemir, Elise, aren’t most children in Gondor literate to some extent?”

They nodded.

He continued, “Ėowyn, is that true in Rohan as well?”

“No, it isn’t,” she replied. “In fact, we pride ourselves on our tradition of passing down our history, lore and music by mouth. Our skalds are famed for the accuracy of their memories, and so are many of our people.”

“That’s also true in places as far apart as Lossoth in the North and Far Harad and beyond in the South, and in Dunland and Dorwinion,” Aragorn said. “Dorwinion has a yearly gathering of bards, performers of all kinds, particularly singers, poets, and storytellers. I was fortunate to be in Shrel-Kain for it one year.”

“I’ve heard of that,” Faramir exclaimed. “My uncle once attended it. They have a saying in Dol Amroth: as fine a performer as one with ring-rank from the Wineland.”

Ruvemir tilted his head. “I didn’t know that, or if I did know it about the Rohirrim, I forgot. I beg your pardon, Folco, I certainly don’t mean to misrepresent the Shire or Lord Frodo in any way!”

“With all the time I have spent here in Gondor, I certainly should be more aware of differences like this myself,” Folco said in chagrin. “I apologize, Ruvemir! I am clearly more tired from my journey and anxious about doing that seminar tomorrow than I thought. You are right, Lord Aragorn; we in the Shire also have a long tradition of storytelling, not story-reading, at the Free Fair and other events. Frodo was a very fine teller of tales. I think he must have learned that from Bilbo.”

The King grinned. “Oh, I remember some of Bilbo’s tales from Rivendell when I was growing up! He could always make me jump the way he told his story about the trolls! And Sam especially is full of Elvish lore; he is particularly good at memorizing all kinds of poetry.”

Folco said, “He’s also adept at writing some himself, another skill he learned from Bilbo. Frodo did a lot of translating, and of course he wrote about the Fellowship and quest in the Red Book, but I don’t recall him creating original poems. But then, he was more of an artist and dancer. And he was a marvelous storyteller, and often told at the Fair. I remember him telling about the last part of the quest at the last one he attended, although he did not name himself. Sam, Merry and Pippin are continuing that tradition.”

“Would you tell me details of how it is done?” asked Ruvemir. He had reclaimed his drawing-pad, turned to another page and had a graphite stick in his hand. “Is it done standing?”

“Always, in Rohan, for public performance,” said Ėowyn.

“We are not so formal in the Shire,” Folco said.” The rule at the Fair is one story from one person, to give others a chance if they wish to. Since it’s on the edge of the dancing grounds, behind the Ale Tent, the teller sits on an ale keg. I do remember Frodo telling to the lads and lasses in Hobbiton once a week or so when he was well enough to do the marketing, and then he’d sit on a bench with them sitting on the ground around him. My cousin Narcissa would linger on purpose to listen, and sometimes I did too. Later when he was frailer, he would sit on the seat in the lane and tell to Pando and Cyclamen Proudfoot and other faunts from the Row. I think he occasionally read some poetry to them if he had a book with him, but taletelling was and is always from memory.”

“But wouldn’t the stories be changed, being told by one person and then another?” asked Elise. “I mean, think about gossips! One person says something at one end of the street, and by the time it gets to the other, let alone from one Circle of the City to another, it can be completely different!”

Everyone laughed.

“Not the important ones,” Ėowyn replied. “Everyone knows the stories about the Valar and great heroes, you know, so no one gets them wrong. And the tales of the folk, that aren’t as exalted as the ones from Númenor or the Elves, are polished by being passed down. What is important or funny or a well-turned phrase is kept, and what isn’t falls away. Don’t you have tales like those here?”

Faramir smiled. “Callan tales! I have heard many of those, from one end of Gondor to the other. Are those told in Arnor, Aragorn?"

“Oh, yes,” said Strider. “Especially the one about the magic bean. I think almost every culture has some, except perhaps the orcs.”

“But did they have a culture?” asked Folco.

“No,” the King answered. “Another sad thing about them. No art, no lore, no stories. Even their marching songs were very crude.”

“They sang?” Ririon asked from where he had been sitting quietly in the shadows petting his dog Joy.

“Sam and Frodo both spoke of their marching songs, more chant than real song, I think,” Strider told him. “They were about as far from a true bard as it is possible to be!”

“What do these bards do?” asked Folco curiously. “That is a new word for me; I thought it was the name of the first master in Laketown, the one who shot Smaug.”

“It was his name, and his grandson’s now,” Aragorn agreed, “and Barding became his family’s name. Not all bards can do it fulltime and certainly not in a frontier settlement under the fear of a dragon as Laketown was then. I suppose to an extent it depends on the value a society puts on it. The one who won in Shrel-Kain that year told me that she had spent seven years learning, seven years practicing, and seven years teaching, and would continue to learn and teach for the rest of her life. But she had been enchanted by tales and songs from her earliest memory, so had sought them out as a very young child. To a degree it is a natural aptitude, honed as a warrior would hone his swordwork, or an artist his drawing. A bard in such countries is one who plays at least one other instrument besides singing, can create a new song or tale or poem, brings news, passes on the history and longfather trees of different clans or tribes and other lore, can marry couples, and teach. They know hundreds, perhaps thousands, of songs and tales, sometimes more than one version, telling them from memory and the heart. She told me that sometimes she told from the gut, when she felt a tale was important for others to hear. Those are the ones difficult to tell and hear. In such cultures, bards deservedly have very high status.”

“It is also said,” added Ėowyn with a grin, “that some of our ancient skalds were dangerous to anger.”

“Why?” asked Ririon.

“Because to rile someone with those skills was to risk having a song made about one that was so scathing in its ridicule that it could raise blisters on the skin, and had the power of toppling even a king from his throne. Especially if the name was easy to rhyme!”

“But how can they remember all that?” asked Faramir. “Do they have notes, or books?”

“Some do, if they are literate, Most have trained memories. How do you remember all that you do?” Aragorn asked him. “You have committed much to memory, Faramir, from sheer love of it in your studies, and so have they. More, from love of the art.”

“I could not recite even part of many of the lays I love!” he protested.

“You aren’t used to doing it,” his wife said, leaning her shining head on his shoulder. “Did you not complain, my love, that you would not improve at playing the harp because you have not the time to practice daily? And you know the warrior’s rule that unless injured, you should not be away from arms training for more than two days without losing some of your skill.” She looked thoughtful. “I think I will write to Ėomer tomorrow, and suggest that he bring back the yearly skald-fest that we used to have at Midsummer at Edoras. My uncle used to give prizes. It would be a shame if that part of our heritage should cease.”

“But surely it is better to have the tale written down, so that it will not be lost,” he argued. “Think of the danger of one man knowing a tale, with important information in it, and dying before it can be told. The tale would be lost.”

“You speak from your habit of reading, my lord,” said Folco.

“But am I not right, Folco?” Faramir asked. “I mean no offense.”

“I take none,” the Hobbit assured him. “This discussion has given me much food for thought too. There is that risk, yes. But having something committed to paper and ink, if you will forgive me, is no guarantee that the information will be transmitted. Did not almost all forget about the Ring, and Gandalf sought among many archives for the fragments he found, piecing together both written records and Bilbo’s tales to finally know what and where It was?”

“That is very true,” agreed Faramir soberly. “I know that in the great libraries here only a very few of the staff know the whole system of how the archives, books and scrolls are organized, as Lady Silma has lamented. I should bring that up with the head of the Bards, Minstrels and Musicians Guild.”

“Why would a guild of musicians be involved in the libraries?” asked Folco. “I thought you didn’t have bards in Gondor.”

Faramir looked disconcerted. “I never thought about it, but clerks and bureaucrats, including librarians, come under that fellowship. I wonder if that derives from a long ago period when we were less literate, even before the Fall of the Star-Isle.”

Folco said, “Mark you, I do not believe that only gentlehobbits or the great should be able to read. Perhaps if more in the Shire had had that skill, we would not have lost our original language or the tale of our origins. But there is something about a tale told in person, or a song sung from one to another, that is very—very—“ he gestured with his pipe, groping for the word he wanted with a shake of his head. “Immediate,” he said finally. “Think of those special adults from your own childhoods who shared tales with you from their hearts and memories. Have you ever seen the expressions of those rapt in a tale? I will never forget the ones told to me of the Ring Fellowship, in part because I have seen the pain in Frodo’s eyes, and the grief in Sam’s, and the sheer wonder about the Ents in Pippin and Merry’s. Those tales have taught me to know more of courage and suffering and joy. A connection is forged by the voice and images that is as strong as any Dwarven steel or Elvish mithril. So yes, we do need the written tales, Lord Faramir, but we also very much need the ones told in the moment.”

Faramir, Steward of the Reunited Realm and Prince of Ithilien, rose to his feet and bowed deeply to the small Hobbit. “You are right, Master Boffin, and that was well said,” he told him respectfully. "I can also imagine that sometimes a tale must change given different audiences or amount of time to tell, or even the purpose of the telling might cause one part to be emphasized." Turning to the King, he added, “Aragorn, why do we not promote this art among our own people? Could we not include a small area for storytelling, aside from the stages for musicians, at the next fair outside the gates? And should we not allow our people to hear these tales before the White Tree, perhaps every sevenday in good weather?”

Aragorn laughed aloud. “An excellent idea! But how will we convince our people that it is not only for the children, since most leave such tales behind as they grow?”

Ėowyn shook her head. “Tell them that each child must bring one adult,” she suggested. “And show them that you give it importance by listening and telling yourself, at least at first.”

The King looked dismayed. “But I am not a bard!”

“You were a part of the Fellowship,” Faramir pointed out. “And with all the traveling you did, you have learned many tales from other lands that you could share.”

“As you could tell some from Dol Amroth, and from the lore you have studied,” Ėowyn said with a wicked gleam in her eye.

The Steward, who was still shy at times, stared at her in horror. “I?”

“Yes!” she said.

Abruptly he grinned. “Very well—if you will tell some of Rohan’s tales, my lady!”

“Gladly,” she agreed.

Elise chose that moment to ask, “Have you finished, Ruvemir?”

The sculptor almost diffidently handed his pad to Folco. “Is this any better, do you think?” he asked.

Folco looked at it for a long time before he raised eyes filled with tears. “Much better, brother! May I have this?”

“If you wish.”

“May I see, master?” asked Ririon. He studied it intently, then nodded. “May I make a wax copy to show Grandfather Mardil?”

“By all means.”

The company broke up shortly after that. But that night, before going to bed, Folco wrote a long letter.

It was perhaps a month later that Faramir came out of the Citadel into the Court of the White Fountain and to his surprise saw a small figure standing near the memorial, wrapped in a dark cloak. Pleased because he had not known that any of the Halflings were in Minas Anor, he approached, saying gladly, “The day’s greeting!” as he reached out to touch a small shoulder.

To his surprise, it wasn’t a Hobbit, but the Mannikin, looking stunned.

“Ruvemir? Are you well?” he asked in concern.

The sculptor blinked and came out of his—trance? Dream? Faramir was uncertain, only knowing that he was relieved when he saw the other’s eyes focus on his. “Lord Faramir.”

“Are you well?”

Ruvemir looked at the memorial, and Faramir thought he was especially looking at the figure of Frodo. “I…think so.”

“Do you need a Healer?”

“No. Oh, no. I’m just…what Lord Samwise’s father the Gaffer would call feeling gob-smacked. Yes, that’s it. Gob-smacked.”

“Do you want to sit down?”

“That might be a good idea.”

They sat on a bench near the White Tree. Faramir asked, “Did you get bad news?”

For answer, Ruvemir handed him two folded pieces of parchment.

“Do you want me to read this?” the Prince of Ithilien asked.

“Yes. Perhaps if I heard it, it will seem more real.”

Faramir unfolded the papers, and saw that one was a formal document, dated three weeks before. Clearing his throat, he read the other one aloud first:

To Ruvemir Son of Mardil:
Istil Street
Sixth Circle
Minas Anor
Reunited Realm of Gondor and Arnor

Dear Ruvemir,

I was real happy when Folco wrote to me about your kind thought of making me a Yule gift, and I hope you won’t be angry with him for telling me about it aforehand. But once I took some thought, and talked to Rosie and Merry and Pippin and then their das—well, it was kind of like the time when I was a faunt and Mr. Frodo and me went up to the top of the Hill after a big snowstorm.

I can’t member which of us made a ball out of snow, but it was so slickery, it began to roll down the backside of the Hill, and by the time it reached the bottom, it was the biggest snowball we ever saw. Mr. Frodo showed me how to use it as the base of a snow-Hobbit that looked uncommon like Mr. Otho as was Lotho’s dad when it was done. Made old Mr. Bilbo laugh until he sat down in a snowbank when he seen it.

You may feel confused, what with me going on about snow-Hobbitses, but the point is, your idea has grown faster than that or even the mallorn what’s in the Party Field! What’s either of them got to do with the making of a Yule gift for your Sam, you’re wondering, and I don’t blame you. Just please, please, read the other letter real careful, and believe me that we all mean it from the bottom of our hearts. This is important, and you are the onliest person, Man, Dwarf, Elf or Hobbit, who can do it justice. We all know that. Not a doubt of it! Please tell Strider that we want him to agree to another exception.

Give our best regards to all our friends in the City, and thank Ririon and Lord Faramir and Lady Ėowyn especial. And of course keep a lot of love for yourself and Elise
from
Sam


With no comment from the sculptor, Faramir unfolded the other missive and read:

To Ruvemir Son of Mardil, Master Sculptor, etc.

Greetings from Paladin Took,
Thain of the Shire,
Great Smial,
Tookland,
the Shire

Folco Boffin sent my son, Captain Peregrine Took, a picture drawn by you, as well as a tinted wax statue modeled from it by your former apprentice, Ririon of Minas Anor now of Lebennin. These show Frodo Baggins, The Baggins, former Master of Bag End, Lord Frodo Ninefingers of the Free Peoples, seated on an ale keg as when he told stories at the Free Fair at Michel Delving in Midsummer before he left Middle-Earth.
Having seen them and discussed this with Paladin Brandybuck, Master of Buckland and the Marish, as well as Lord Samwise Gamgee, Mayor of the Shire, my son Peregrin and Captain Meriadoc Brandybuck,, and such family heads as we could gather and particularly Fosco Baggins, now The Baggins in his cousin’s stead, and other family members, we wish to give you a commission to execute this as a statue, to be placed on the Fairgrounds in Michel Delving. We are sending a copy of this letter to Gimli son of Glóin, now Master of the Glittering Caves of Aglorond, in hopes that he will consult with you on obtaining the materials you wish to use, and transporting them to you and thence to the Shire, and to Lord Halladan, the King’s Steward of Arnor in Annúminas so that his folk can offer what aid they can at your request.
It was decided that your fee will be paid by the family heads as collected and forwarded to you by Mayor Samwise Gamgee, Master of Bag End. Please let him know what that will be. We will not haggle, for all feel that this is too important. The memorials that you have done of the Travelers commemorate the great significance of their Quest for all Free Peoples of Middle Earth; this one is uniquely of Frodo as a Hobbit of the Shire, engaging in a crucial part of our heritage and traditions. It will be wholly ours in a way that other depictions, here and in other lands, are not.
It is our hope that you, your family, and Master Ririon will be able to come see to its installation, although there are some who feel that there should be little public ceremony concerning it at that time. Please understand that that is in no way a reflection upon your great artistry or a lack of appreciation on our part of your consummate understanding of our cultural traditions and your sensitive depictions of our beloved Frodo! However, since you have proven in the past your comprehension of our folk’s aversion to fanfare, we hope that you will understand why we simply wish it to appear on the site.
Once again, we are delighted and awed by your understanding of our people’s ways, and look forward to seeing you once again. We are honored by your friendship and talent, Master Ruvemir, and hope that you will remember us to your wife Mistress Elise and your family, King Aragorn Elessar and Queen Arwen Eveningstar, and especially to the Lady Eowyn Wraithslayer and Lord Faramir, Prince of Ithilien and Steward of the Realm. Folco told us of your fruitful discussion.
Naturally, we trust you to make any changes you deem necessary--including the way you depict Frodo’s hand. We are confident that you will once again produce a masterwork all will enjoy.

With esteem, we remain at your service,

Paladin Took
Thain of the Shire


Under his signature were those he had mentioned above, all signed n red ink and with family seals appended. “This looks very official,” he said after a moment.

“Oh, it is legal and binding in Hobbit law,” Ruvemir agreed.

“Do you not wish to accept this commission?” Faramir asked.

At that moment, the King rushed out and over to them. “Ruvemir? Are you all right?” he asked, leaning down to feel his forehead.

“I thought you were going to meet with the Rhúnish delegation,” Faramir said.

“I was, but one of the maids told me that Ruvemir looked ill, and that you were with him.”

“He’s been gob-smacked.” Faramir’s expression was solemn, but his eyes began to twinkle.

“He’s been what?”

Faramir passed him the letters, which Aragorn scanned and then read more slowly, sitting back on his heels. He glanced up into Ruvemir’s face. “I see. That seems like an accurate diagnosis.”

“I don’t quite understand why it has affected him this way,” the Steward said. “I was just asking him if he didn’t wish to accept the commission.”

“Is that it, Ruvemir? You don’t want to do yet another statue of Frodo?” Aragorn asked.

“No, that’s not it at all,” Ruvemir answered. “It’s just…I feel overwhelmed. Folco must have written an account of the entire conversation we had to them. One conversation, and here is this letter and—and—“

“Is it that you are too busy to do it?” Aragorn inquired.

“Not too busy to do this, and Elise would love to go to the Shire—she didn’t accompany me the other time, you know, because it was before our marriage. I know that Ririon would be happy to go too. No, it’s—it’s— I’ve been thinking about it since that night. You’ve been having tellings every Mersday here, and so is Sam at the same time in Hobbiton, and so are the Tooks at the Great Smial and Mistress Brandybuck at Brandy Hall. Lady Rose wrote to Elise that Lord Samwise has instructed that there will be weekly tellings in each of the schools being established, so that the Shire faunts and bairns can learn, hear and practice telling and they can encourage anyone who has a gift for it. Lady Ėowyn told me a few days ago that Lady Lothíriel and Ėomer King are doing the same in Edoras, and Miriel writes that the village near my father’s farm is beginning to do it as well. It is amazing!”

“So will you do it?” the King asked.

Ruvemir laughed. “Do it? Of course! It is a very great honor! It will be one of the most rewarding and important pieces I ever do! I have been so overwhelmed with their trust and confidence in me, and so moved by it. All of this because of one conversation, and that began because I wanted to make a Yule gift for Sam! I scarcely know how to even describe what has been happening!”

“It is very satisfying,” agreed Aragorn.

“Yes, it is. But I’m sorry to have interrupted your schedule, Strider.”

“It is of little moment; the meeting was more protocol than anything else,” he said dismissively. “I’m sure that Gimli will be happy to help with the stone and transporting it. You know, it could be said that Bilbo’s tales of his first trip to the Lonely Mountain helped Frodo begin his telling.”

“Will it be difficult to decide what kind of stone to use, Master Ruvemir?” Faramir asked.

“Some of that green marble, I think,” Ruvemir answered, “But I think that it needs to be a two-figure piece, with a small Hobbit lad or lass with him. I think I know exactly which one to do.”

“An excellent idea!” Aragorn declared. “Would you consider copying the statue once it is finished?”

For a space Ruvemir stared at the memorial—definitely at Frodo’s statue this time, Faramir thought—before rising and looking up at the tall King, who had also risen. “No, Your Majesty, I think not,” he said slowly.

Faramir was startled; the little sculptor had never before refused the King.

But Aragorn Elessar was nodding. “You are right, Master Ruvemir. I should not have asked, and I beg your pardon. It should be completely unique.”

Suddenly Ruvemir laughed. “But between ourselves, I do know how I shall always title it in my mind.”

“And what is that?”

“The Power of Storytelling!”

Years later, on Tol Eressēa, when Sam told Frodo about it, Frodo was dismayed and annoyed. “Of all the stupid things to take up space at the Fair!” he grumbled.

“No, Mister Frodo, you’re wrong,” Sam said firmly. “When you think about it, you’ll understand as to why Ruvemir thinks this was the one of the four most important pieces he ever made, right up there with the memorial at the Citadel, the Fellowship as a whole and the effigy for Strider. This storytelling is powerful important! Think 'bout how it helped get us through the journey, and how all those old tales I loved so much about Elves and oliphants and even trolls and such, and Sauron and Sharkey, even, will help folk with their own journeys. If they know the tales, they can take the wonder and humor and strength to stand against wrongs with‘em. In a way, it’s kind of like the Road old Mr. Bilbo made the song about. And a lot of folks don’t even seem to realize it’s you, Mr. Frodo. They keep saying as the Hobbit is the little lass’s da. And Cyclamen and her family are so proud as she’s the little lass as you’re holding. You’d be proud of her yourself—she’s turned into a real fine scholar and teacher, and she’s even gone all the way to Shrel-Kain in the Wineland. She’s the only Hobbitess to ever win ring-rank at their festival!”

“Yes, Sam, it certainly is!” Frodo smiled. “I think—I think perhaps I will look forward to meeting this Master Ruvemir. I love the tapestry cloak he gave Gandalf to give me on his way to the Furthest West—at least, Gandalf said it was he.”

“It’s just exactly what he would have made in his heart as he worked on all his sculptures of you. I know he wanted to meet you too, but he was a bit anxious about getting The Look leveled at him for a-goin’ 'gainst your wishes. But none of us are sorry, ‘specially of this one.” Sam regarded the tiny statue fondly. “My Elanornelle told me to bring this to show you, she did. ‘I know you’re taking him all sorts of pictures of folk, Sam-Dad,’ she says to me, ‘but I think you should take this for yourself, just in case he’s gone on afore you get there. Who knows, might be the Elves there could start a telling for their faunts and kin too!’ So I packed it.”

“I’m glad you did too, Sam. Bilbo will be happy to hear about it, loving stories as he did.”

~~~

For the purposes of this story, I am ascribing Irish beliefs about the power of Irish bards' satires to the Rohirric skalds. Also, the competition in Shrel-Kain, capitol of Dorwinion, and ring-rank, is my invention.


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