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39
Another Judgement

Silma:

The next two days were filled with meetings: Dalf and Gimli were enmeshed in plans concerning the Gates’ restoration; and Silwen and I were busy with refurbishing and planning the new quarters for our patients in what had been House Cormallen, my family home next door. We all attended several court functions, and even squeezed in some discussion about our wedding. Silwen had forbidden me from going upstairs to the torture room, after I went into it once and then woke everyone by having nightmares. Samno was seeing to its being transformed into a storage room after a Sister of Nienna1 came and cleansed it.

The formal apprenticeship of Caic was held on the 24th, followed by a celebration in the dining-room and parlor. It had been decided that Marfel and Severion would still be pages at the Houses of Healing because of their rank and families’ wishes, but that they would unofficially also receive training from us. They attended, rapidly recovering from the orc attack, and sincerely happy for Caic. He proudly wore his livery of russet-trimmed green with an emblem, embroidered by me, of a hammer and scroll, his face filled with a quiet joy. The thin boy who had walked with shoulders hunched now stood straighter, lifting his head and looking directly into the eyes of those addressing him, and had filled out a bit from Mistress Samno’s fine cooking.

Nehemion came to me as I was listening to Meppi boast about winning some wager from Pemm, and I excused myself to see what he wanted. “Pardon, m’lady, but your… that kinswoman o’ Master Clerk’s, the fat young ‘un, is ‘ere an’ a-cryin’ for you. I tooken her down t’ the kitchen.”

“Here by herself?” I asked.

“Aye. One o’ her eyes be blacked an’ her dress’s torn. She’m dirtier’n a orc.”

“Thank you. I will come,” I said, put down my cup, and left the celebration, I hoped briefly.

I found her sitting on the cushioned settle by the fire, markedly the worse for wear, stuffing a plate of pastries into her mouth as fast as she could, when she wasn’t gulping ale. Mistress Samno and Rhylla were giving her disapproving glances. The cook came across to me and said in an undertone, “No disrespect to your late spouse, m’lady, but this one wouldn’t even wash ‘er ‘ands, an’ demanded food‘s if she’s th’ equal of Lady Silwen or yourself, with no thanks neither! Rhylla told her t’ sit on the stool, but she moved to the settle; I think she ‘as lice!”

“I see. Thank you.”

As I crossed the room to Morchiwen, Rhylla was right on my heels, pulling out a chair from the table for me.

I sat down, folded my hands, and said briskly, “The day’s greeting to you, Morchiwen. Why are you here? Where are the others?”

“Don’ know an’ don’ care!” she said with her mouth full. Swallowing, she added, “They tooken Rondo!”

“Who did? Where are your children?”

“With ‘em, the orcbait bullies!” And the floodgates opened again.

After a good deal of patient questioning, I had most of the relevant facts: When we put them out, they had gone to the nearest inn, where they took the most expensive rooms, had a big meal and began drinking and quarreling. Josia had blamed Ebanecuir for their unceremonious exit, he had blamed her, and the rest blamed everyone else…. This flared anew the next morning. Finally, Eban had snarled that he was through being her whipping-post, and he’d be better on his own, and she venomously agreed that she’d be better off without the boozing cripple he had become. Predictably, the rest took sides; all of them agreed with Josia except, of course, Rondirion, seconded by Morchiwen. “I ‘ad to,” she wailed.

At that point, Rondirion, Morchiwen and Ebanecuir had left, going off to a succession of taverns, each time being ejected after the two men started fights; after a while, Eban was left behind, she wasn’t sure where. In the Tipsy Farmer, one of the lowest dives in the city, in the First Circle, the tavernkeeper had called the Guards. By then Rondo was flourishing his belt-knife and was disarmed after slashing one Guardsman’s arm and half-braining another with a chair. He was felled by the tavernkeeper’s wife, who dashed peppered water into his eyes and then hit him with a bung-starter. Morchiwen had rushed at her, been hit in the eye, and the couple were hauled off to the Citadel, put into separate cells and left to sleep it off. Morchiwen had been let out, went to the inn to ask her mother for help, and had been told that they had been evicted for damage to the rooms and fighting. Did she want to pay for the damages? She had beat a hasty retreat, wandered around aimlessly for a time, almost got caught trying to pilfer a meat pie from a market stall, and eventually found her way here.

“You must be frantic about the children!” I said.

She shrugged indifferently. “They’ll be all right with Callie an’ Amiry, but wot’ll become o’ me ‘thout Rondo? ‘Ow c’n we get him out? You gots t’ ‘elp me, Aunt Sil!”

“I shall send to find out if he is still detained,” I promised.

“Meantime, you c’n take a hot bath an’ I’ll find summat for you t’ wear,” said Rhylla.

“An’ I’ll fix a cold poultice for that eye,” Mistress Samno said.

Quickly I penned a note to the gaoler, and Nehemion took it for me.

Tapping on the door of the small bathing-room, I opened it to a cloud of steam. Rhylla was saying in an exasperated tone, “Wash your own ‘air! Don’t you carry a small comb with you?”

“I ain’t got none!” wept Morchiwen. In an eyeblink, her tone changed. “An’ don’t you go a-snoopin’ in m’ pouch, neither!”

“B’lieve me, nothin’ would induce me t’ do any such a thing!” said my gentle maid. “I’d likely get bugs from it.”

“You think you’m so ‘igh-and-mighty! You ain’t no better’n me!”

“I keep m’self clean,” she retorted. “Cold water don’t cost nothin’! An’ I keep a decent tongue in m’ head, an’ know when t’ be grateful to a lady’s good‘s Lady Cormallen.”

“She ain’t nobody special, just m’ aunt.”

There was the sound of a smart slap, and Morchiwen’s “Ow!”

“Get this clear: none of us’ll let you talk nasty ‘bout our lady. Want ‘nother black eye t’ match the one you got?”

“Nay!”

“Then keep a civil tongue in your ‘ead!”

I closed the door softly and went back to the party.

Silwen made her way to my side, speaking softly. “Samno told me we have a…guest.”

“Jehan’s niece Morchiwen,” I said glumly. “Rhylla’s giving her a bath and clean clothes, along with a piece of her mind. Rondo’s in gaol for fighting and hurting a Guard, and she doesn’t know where the rest are.”

“The babes?”

“With Calina, Amiry and Josia. And no, I don’t know where they are—probably using up the last of the money I gave them. I’m sorry, Bein-Nana.”

“We can’t choose our own kinfolk the way you can crew on a boat,” she said. “And they really aren’t your blood kin, are they? Don’t worry, Little One—although I know you will. Things will work out.”

Tuor sidled over to me a few minutes later. “If you will excuse me, Lady Silma, I will go out for a while.”

“As you wish, Tuor.”

In an undertone he added, “I spoke with Mistress Morchiwen, and want to speak with the gaoler and see if I can locate the others.”

“That is very kind of you!”

“The sooner this is settled, the better.”


Dalf was not pleased to hear about Morchiwen’s arrival, although he told me his displeasure was because she had obviously upset me. After the party ended, he waited with me until Tuor returned. A moment later, Morchiwen, neatly dressed in borrowed clothing, her damp hair braided, joined us in the library.

“Rondirion is in serious trouble,” Tuor said. “He is being held for trial, to be judged by the King in two days. I have people looking for the rest of the family, but I can tell you that Ebanecuir Son of Papparion is in gaol for theft, and will also be tried in the same session. We will be notified of the time. I did speak to Rondirion briefly, but he only cursed me.”

“You did well, Tuor. Our thanks,” Dalf said, and with a bow he moved to a corner.

“That ain’t doin’ well, with ‘im still in gaol!” said Morchiwen. “Whyn’t ‘e get ‘im out?”

“He couldn’t, if Rondo’s going to be tried by the King,” I told her.

Exasperated, Dalf said, “Mistress, ‘tis best if you begin to plan for yourself. In the meantime, while you are here, we expect you to at least assist Mistress Samno and the other staff.”

She stared at him, then transferred her gaze to me. “Aunt Sil, tell this Dwarf t’ not talk t’ me like ‘at! Why’s ‘e even ‘ere, anyways?”

“First, because Prince Dalfinor is the Assistant Ambassador and is therefore one of your hosts, and second, and more importantly, he is my betrothed.”

She laughed. “Good ‘un, Aunt Sil.”

Purposely misunderstanding her, I said, “Yes, he is a good one! I am very blessed.”

“Aunt Sil, you can’t marry no Dwarf!”

Dalf was audibly grinding his teeth. “Why not?”

“’Cos you be a Dwarf! An’ ain’t she married t’ some lord?”

“We are betrothed. And no, she is not.”

“Then why be you all a-callin’ ‘er lady?”

“Because years ago, before I married your uncle, I was married to Lady Ornamir’s son, who has been dead for many years,” I told her patiently. “You’ve known this since you were a little girl, Morch. I don’t retain his title or name, since we were divorced before his death. However, my father was titled Lord Cormallen, before the Darkness and Lord Denethor’s decree forced us and others who lived in Ithilien off our lands. Living as a farmer on my mother’s land, he didn’t bother with the title.”

“I never thought ‘twas true,” she protested. “But why be they a-callin’ you Lady Cormeller?”

“Cormallen,” I corrected. “Because that is my own title, from my father’s family. The King bestowed it upon me.”

“But you’m married to Uncle Jehan!”

“I was. I loved him very much, but he is gone, and Prince Dalfinor and I love each other now.”

“You can’t marry ‘im!”

“I can, and I am.”

“But Nana won’t let you!”

“That’s not for your mother to say. It is late, and time for bed. Tuor, if you would take her down to the kitchen, Mistress Samno will show her where to sleep.”

“Yes, my lady. Come, Mistress Morchiwen.”



Two days later, we escorted my youngest niece-by-marriage up to the throne room in the Citadel, half-filled with a press of people sitting on benches. Seated between Tuor and Rhylla, she looked around at the statues, throne and Stewards’ Chairs, and asked in a loud whisper, “Who be all these stone Men?”

“Previous Stewards and Kings of Gondor, from long ago,” Tuor told her. “Hush!”

During the interval between her arrival and the trial, she had dimly begun to comprehend the staff’s scorn of her. Silwen, Gimli, Tuor and Dalf seemed to cow her completely. I had simply not had time to spend with her—or, truth to say, the inclination. No matter what else occurred, we still had to tend to our patients.

The Court was called to order after the defendants were brought in, some in chains, and the King, bracketed by Faramir and Lord Halladan, mantled and bearing their bared swords, took their places.

It was nearly sunset before the King’s Herald announced Josia’s case against me, for she had insisted on King’s Justice. I rose and went forward, accompanied by Dalf, Tuor, and Morchiwen who went reluctantly, as instructed by Tuor, over to stand with the rest of her family. All looked dirty and tattered, except for Amiry, Fiy, Callina, Kenndahl, and Jonnat, who had all at least washed their hands and faces and combed their hair. The other women immediately pushed the two children, both exceedingly grubby, at Morch. Rondion was a little apart from them; Ebanecuir was also separate. Both wore shackles on their wrists and ankles.

“Are you represented by counsel?” Aragorn asked them. “Do you wish for a lawyer to represent you and help you understand the proceedings?”

“Don’t need no lawyer,” Josia said. “Don’t got no money for ‘un, an’ no reason t’ pay ‘un jus’ t’ talk.”

“That is your choice. Lady Cormallen, are you represented?”

“I have that honor, Sire,” said Tuor, who was wearing a fine new lawyer’s robe in dark grey with my badge on the left breast, rising and bowing.

“Ah, Master Tuor. Your becoming Lady Cormallen’s man of business is our realm’s loss,” said the King courteously. He looked at Josia, who had sniffed loudly. “Pray tell us who you all are, your relationship to the defendant, and your grievance against her.”

Josia gave their names, stated that they were from Fox Run Farm in the Pelennor, “wot was ruint by them orcses, an’ ‘oo’s a-goin’ t’ pay us for all the damages, I’d like t’ know?” she said after adding that she was divorcing Ebanecuir. “We ain’t got nothin’; ‘tis all flattened!”

“But why are you bringing suit against Lady Cormallen?”

“’Cos ‘er owes us!”

“If I may, my lord?” asked Tuor respectfully. At Elessar’s nod, he said, “Lady Cormallen is the widow of Master Jehan Clerk, Mistress Josia’s younger brother. He died in the assault upon the city.”

“I remember hearing of that. Mistress, you and your family have my condolences. It is a grievous loss, not only for those who loved him, but for all Gondor.”

She looked confused, then belligerent again. “Fine words don’t butter no turnips! I want her t’ pay!”

“But why?”

“’Cos she gots it t’ pay! An’ ‘cos she didn’ let us know ‘e died, nor didn’t give ‘im no proper rites, nor send ‘im ‘ome t’ our plot like ‘e ought t’ ‘a’ been, nor give us our share of wot ‘e left.”

Tuor said, “As you know, my lord, instead of going to one of the refuges, Lady Cormallen volunteered to nurse the wounded at the Houses of Healing. No one could leave the city during the siege, and Lady Cormallen didn’t know exactly where they were. She and her husband had been estranged from them for several years, and she naturally supposed that they had been evacuated to a refuge in the mountains with the rest of the inhabitants of that region; she didn’t know which one. As soon as the battle for the city was won, and the messenger system reinstated, she sent a message to the farm. I may add that she spent almost her last copper on it, not having at that point come into her delayed inheritance from her first husband.”

“I see. Did you receive that message?”

“Didn’ do us no good,” Josia said sullenly.

“I have it here, my lord, as returned by the messenger when they refused it. You will see a note on it as to the reception it received, and that it is still sealed. The messenger has made a deposition as to the circumstances, in addition to his report to Lord Húrin’s office, filed at the House of the Keys.”

Tuor handed it to a page, who gave it to the King, and it was handed back after a quick scrutiny.

“As you know, my lord, while Lady Cormallen was labouring to aid the injured at the Houses of Healing, without her permission Master Clerk’s body was taken out of the city and interred in the Mound of Heroes on the plain of the Pelennor. By the time she learned of this high-handed and indeed illegal behavior, it was too late.

“It is well documented that Lady Cormallen was almost penniless, having lost all her possessions when their home was destroyed by the enemy’s siege-engines. At risk to her own life, she subsequently braved the danger of the ruined building’s imminent collapse to venture inside and bring out some notebooks of Master Clerk’s, rightly surmising that they contained notes for a device that enabled Master Kinfinning, one of the Healers, to save at least one life. I am told by experts that these pages contain notes of other inventions which may aid many of those who have been disabled by the late war. She took nothing of any monetary value for herself, and indeed, there was nothing left to take(2). Of the three items Mistress Josia has specifically demanded, two, a piece of furniture called a hutch and a chair, are known to have been at the farm and never in the Clerks’ possession, while the third, an heirloom sword from his father, was legally his and sold by him a few years ago to Master Rhanumas the Swordsmith. The money was used for an operation Master Clerk urgently needed, the fifth of seven in one year.

“I have here a copy of Master Jehan Farmer’s will as filed in accordance with the law, in the Office of Deeds and Funerals,” he continued. That too was passed up to the King, who glanced over it as Tuor continued, “He was the father of Master Jehan Clerk and Mistress Josia. This document, properly signed and witnessed (and the four witnesses still living have all agreed in writing as to its legality), states that the farm was to be divided at Master Jehan Farmer’s death. His wife Mattiwen was to have a life interest in it, of course; after her death, which occurred five years ago, two-thirds of any income derived from it were to go to Master Jehan Clerk, ‘for that my son is unable physically to work the farm, but is shrewd and will deal fairly, while in future he may have need of the extra by reason of his disability.’ The other third went to Mistress Josia, who with her family was to work the farm. Other clauses will be discussed later. Tax records indicate that subsequently, the condition of the farm’s assets deteriorated, the reason why they insisted they could not pay their share of the taxes— ”

“’Twas ‘ard times for farmers!” Josia said shrilly.

“Then ‘tis strange that all your neighbors prospered,” Tuor said dryly. “The Clerks, notified of the arrears, paid both their share and his sister’s, plus fines which strictly speaking they had not themselves incurred. Four years ago, a year after Mistress Mattiwen Farmer’s death, the two siblings quarreled, and became estranged—although Master Clerk and his wife still paid the taxes and fines. Mistress Josia, what was the reason for that quarrel? —and remember that proven lies bring penalties.”

“Your threats don’t scare me none,” she declared. “’Twas Morchiwen an’ Sil who argued, at the Mettarë(3) feast. ‘Twas all Sil’s fault. I misremember ‘zactly what was said, but I knows ‘at.”

“Mistress Morchiwen?”

She twisted her hands nervously in her skirt. “I tol’ Aunt Sil she didn’ act right towards Gran, ‘sides not takin’ care o’ Uncle Jehan,” she said. “They’d ought to’ve come more’n they done when Gran was sick.”

“Lady Cormallen?” Tuor asked.

Reluctant though I was to wash dirty linen in public, still I had to answer honestly. “As Josia said, ‘twas at the Mettarë feast at the farm,” I said. “Morchiwen asked me why I had not come more often to see her grandmother Matti. I said that we had come as often as we could, and one of the guests changed the subject. During the sweet course, she repeated her question and I gave her the same answer as before. She commented that I thought I was too good to come, as I held myself too good to drink with them.”

I looked up at the King. “My lord, as a young man Jehan had spent some time overindulging in liquor, attempting to dull his constant pain. Eventually he realized that being glued to a tavern-stool would not enlarge his life, and he fought desperately to overcome his cravings for ale; he never touched it again and spent the rest of his days trying to live as fully and courageously as he could. Many can attest to the success and inspiration of that life.

“Having endured the…darkness of my first husband’s addictions to drink and drugs, I am myself reluctant to imbibe very much. They knew this but chose not to believe it. My abstention had naught to do with them; Jehan’s family were good people. I loved and respected his parents, who were honest, hard-working, generous, loving folk.

“The year that Matti died was a hard one for Jehan; he had not one, not two, but seven operations in that year, long recuperations between, and four infections that nearly killed him. We did the best we could, the two of us. My time was spent nursing him, working at two places to earn our bread, and doing what embroidery for pay I could, besides the normal housework and cooking which occupy any folk with little money. The pattern of our marriage was that we would enjoy each other’s company and he would do what he could while his health was better until his condition would worsen and he’d need an operation or have a fall, resulting in a fracture that would take almost a year to heal, or sicken; I would nurse him, and then we would work the more to pay off the debts accumulating from his needs and those of the unpaid taxes and fines. I do not say this to complain; many have harder, longer, worse struggles, but to explain. I do not regret my marriage to Jehan Clerk, nor ever will! He was the greatest blessing of my life at that time, and I will always treasure the memory of it and him. I was honored by his love, and enriched by it.

“During that year, none of them came near us, even though I sent letters asking for help in nursing him. Josia came once, but she only sat with him for fifteen minutes, and complained loudly that I did not procure a room at an inn for her—”

“She ‘spected me t’ sleep on the floor!” Josia blared.

“On a pallet, as I did. It would have jarred Jehan too much to have another share the bed. I might add that she expected me to sleep on a pallet at the farm, and so I did without complaint, whenever we went there for a longer visit. But Josia only wanted to see the sights of the city, not nurse nor spend time with her brother, and I paid for her shopping that she charged to us, conveniently not telling me before she left. She was also angry that we did not host a party for her to meet our friends, not that we ever did have the money for such things. She ridiculed me for not having enough place settings for twenty, but so many dishes would have crowded us out of our two small rooms! We preferred to spend what money and leisure we had on tools for him and books to nourish our minds. Forgive me for digressing! Twice Morchiwen asked that question, and when I went into the kitchen area to do the dishes, she followed me and asked it a third time—”

“Pardon, my lady,” interrupted King Elessar, raising one hand slightly. “How many people were at that feast?”

“Sixteen, my lord.”

“How many were in the kitchen area?”

“The two of us, although the rest still sat at table in the hall portion of the room.”

“And how many were going to do the dishes?”

“I was, which is why I was surprised that she had followed me.”

“You were going to do all the dishes and pots used to prepare a feast for sixteen people, by yourself? Were there not at least two younger women in the household there?”

“I was not permitted to help prepare the meal, other than setting the table beforehand and peeling the root vegetables, so this was my contribution. I only did it alone after Matti’s death; before that, Josia and sometimes Morchiwen had helped.” I closed my lips hard, to keep back the words and that under protest, but had the feeling that Elessar heard them anyway.

“And what then, my lady?”

“She asked it a third time, adding that I was a terrible person for not being more devoted, for not giving my Jehan children, not that I would have known how to raise them—” Even now, I found myself blinking back tears, fighting to keep my voice from wavering “—and being generally useless and my nose so high it was like to get snow on it year-round, that I had neglected Matti and my duty to them by not coming more often.” I left out the stinging epithet about my Elvish blood, took a deep breath and went on,

“I confess that I lost my temper; I said that she had the right to judge and condemn me only after she walked in my shoes for a week and not before; that she knew, as they all did, what that year had been like for us, with precious little help and ample criticism from them. My lord, we went to see Matti when she was dying, in the dead of winter, when the Healers had told Jehan not to go, that he was not yet well enough. I was not with my own parents when they died; how could I gainsay his wish to go? And by the grace of Eru and all the Valar, he managed not to be the worse for it in his health, although he was greatly saddened by her death, as was I.

“We left earlier that Mettarë than expected, for when I finished the washing-up, Jehan insisted. We were fortunate to find lodging in a nearby inn, and left the next morning, but Jehan told me after we got home, and sent Josia a letter telling her, that he was utterly disgusted by their disrespect of both of us, particularly by their treatment of me, that we would not visit again, and demanded an apology from Morchiwen. I begged him not to be estranged from them, for that I know had been one of his mother’s deepest worries, but he was immovable. All it would have taken to heal the rift would have been a few words, but they would not say them. Josia sent a letter back saying that she was sorry that Morchiwen had spoken so, and that would have to do, although she felt it was unnecessary; I had no right to different treatment.”

“And you would have accepted an apology from Mistress Morchiwen?”

“Certainly.”

“The King's gaze shifted to her. “How old were you at the time?”

“How old? Two-and-thirty.”

“'My lord',” hissed Calina at her.

Morchiwen scowled at her sister and added, “M'lord.”

“So, you were a grown woman, yet you would not apologize to your aunt.”

“Why should I? 'Tis only Aunt Sil. 'Tisn't as if she's anybody important. Don’t know why Nuncle wanted to marry a halfer, anyways.”

The King frowned. “Please define that term, ‘halfer.’ What does it mean?”

“She ain’t even full Mannish! ‘Er mam’s fambly ‘ad Elves in it. Prob’ly why she’s so odd, with all ‘em books an’ all. You c’n tell by ‘er ears bein’ pointy, an’ a-lookin’ so plain. I’d be ‘shamed t’ look like ‘at.”

I was suddenly aware of several Elves among the spectators, including Prince Legolas, the King’s foster-father Lord Elrond and his two sons. All sat with folded arms and expressionless faces.The Four Travellers were also there, and Lord Sam was shaking his head. King Elessar said, “I will not try to disabuse you of your prejudice, although you only show your own ignorance. Instead, let us return to the reason why you are here. You are the mother of two, are you not?”

“Aye.”

“Do you not teach your children to apologize when they misbehave?”

“They ain't bad, so why should they?” There was muffled laughter and shaking of heads among the onlookers.

“I see. Continue, if you please, my lady.”

“Since then Josia would write about every month or so, asking for money.,” I said.

“And did you send it?”

“Jehan would swear that it was the last time, but aye, each time we did, although rarely as much as she wished. We did not have a great deal, but his parents, especially his father, had been so proud of the family’s owning the farm for so many centuries, and his mother had worried so about what would happen to the younger members of the family. Jehan was exasperated with them, but he did love them, and he would not scant his duty, nor did I wish him to do so.”

“There are many who know of your generosity, my lady,” King Elessar said gravely. “Please sit down.”

Silwen squeezed my hand, and Dalf, whose face was thunderous, put an arm around me when I sat down between them.

The King looked at Morchiwen. “What have you to say? Is that what happened?”

She looked sullen. “I guess.”

“Was it or not?”

“I don’t ‘member ‘zact, but I ‘spose. Aunt Sil’s usually clear on what’s been said. Aye.”

“Why did you never offer to help her with the dishes?”

She tossed her head. “’Cos I got better things t’ do.”

“Stand with your family,” he directed, and she flounced over to them. “Master Tuor? Have you any more to add?”

“Yes, my lord King, I do. You deemed it more efficient to hear all these cases regarding this family together and directed me to correlate the information garnered by my investigation and your men’s, in order to present it now.”

“Continue.”

“My researches show that Lady Cormallen’s description of Master and Mistress Farmer and their ancestors is accurate, and that we have indeed suffered a great loss in the death of their son Master Jehan Clerk. Many in their neighborhood and in the city have stated in their depositions, here presented—” He handed a sheaf of parchments to the page.

“Please summarize their contents.”

“—that Master Jehan Clerk and his wife were most devoted to each other, and of sterling integrity. Records show that Ebanecuir Son of Pappirion was a deserter from the army in 2969; that he married and later deserted his first wife and daughter because the child was born mentally impaired. He wedded Mistress Josia thirty years ago and was disabled as a tiler by an injury some fifteen years ago, thought to have been caused by his being drunk on the job. He has consistently refused to take the advice of his local Healer and those of the Houses of Healing here regarding exercise, diet, an operation and a brace, until his condition has deteriorated. He is now considered in the neighborhood as a drunkard.

“Mistress Josia married first, Drommion of the Dor-im-Nín, and by him had two daughters, Callina and Morchiwen. Drommion divorced her when she cuckolded him with Ebunecuir, now her second spouse.

“Her elder daughter, Mistress Calina, wedded Kenndahl of Lossarnach, who worked as a carter throughout the Pelennor until Josia summoned them to the farm to help run it after Jehan Farmer’s death. By all accounts, they are a thrifty and hardworking couple; if Kenndahl has a fault, it is being too intimidated by his wife’s family. He was an orphan who has made his own way, and although he was a cut-purse in Pelargir as a youth, he has been almost painfully honest ever since his one brief gaoling then.

“Lady Cormallen desired me to tell you, my lord, that Callina and Kenndahl have ever been civil to her, and Callina sent her a thank you note last year after Lady Cormallen sent her a lotion for a painful rash.

“They have two adult children, Amirwen and Liek. Amirwen is bright but was always discouraged by her grandmother from seeking more learning than she could gain from the immediate family. However, Liek has always been pampered and spoiled by them. Although he is now nineteen years of age, I found no record of his ever having served in the local militia nor in the army, even when they were required to send those able-bodied males between the ages of fourteen and sixty to aid in defending their own region during the war.”

“Why was that?” asked the King swiftly. “Liek Son of Kenndahl, stand forth!”

Liek slouched forward a few steps.

“Why did you never serve?”

“Didn’ have t’.”

“Why not?”

“Gran, she took care o’ ‘t.”

“My lord,” said Kenndahl anxiously, “Liek wanted to; I learnt him to use a bow an’ spear an’ sword, same’s Jehan-Grandsire learnt me, but the womenfolk said nay, not for him t’ be kilt nor ‘urted, but t’ bide an’ ‘ave the farm one day. They wouldn’t ‘ave me, ‘cos of m’ bad leg then, though ‘tis healed now; Memnion the Healer‘ll say so.”

“He did so, my lord,” affirmed Tuor.

“Mistress Josia, why did your grandson not serve?” the King asked.

“Why should ‘e? Risk gettin’ maimed or kilt dead for wot? I got the serjant t’ leave ‘im off the rolls, so’s ‘e’d stay safe along o’ us.”

Lord Faramir was already directing a clerk to make a note of that; I felt fleetingly sorry for that serjant, whoever he was.

Elessar regarded her stonily before gesturing for Tuor to continue.

Taking a quick sip of water, Tuor said, “The younger of Mistress Josia’s daughters, Morchiwen, began working as a housemaid in her mid-teens, was dismissed for laziness, and apprenticed as an artist, the fee being paid by her grandparents. They also paid for the apprenticeship to be dissolved, because the girl wanted to learn embroidery instead. She left that apprenticeship as well, and one to become a nurserymaid. It was while she was a maid at a large estate that she met Rondirion Son of Nirion seven years ago. They married when she was pregnant with the first of their two children, their son Sorletiol. For a time they lived in Pelargir and Rondirion worked as a clerk. He is clever, but of a disputatious disposition. They returned to the farm four years ago where their daughter Salmiressa was born.

“Wondering about Rondirion’s accent, I delved a bit further. He was born, not in Pelargir as he told his wife’s family, and not under that name but here in Minas Anor as Mihelion Maledov; his father was a vintner and wineseller from the famous Dorwinion winemaking family. Schooled as a clerk, Mihelion was brought before our courts on charges of inciting to riot when he was only thirteen. His father paid a hefty fine and convinced the judge that his son would mend his ways; Mihelion worked for him as a clerk, embezzled a large sum and disappeared two years later. He was judged in absentia and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment at hard labor for that and more treasonous behavior; his father committed suicide from shame. Not surprisingly, Mihelion also did not serve during the war nor even before it, somehow avoiding being noticed by the local militia commanders. It is said by everyone who knows him that he is unfailingly contentious and enjoys instigating dissent and discontent among others. Lady Cormallen has told me that she feared sometimes that Ebanecuir would have an apoplexy from his needling.

“It is clear that once he, his wife, and his step-grandfather-in-love parted from the rest following a row at the Starry Crown that he could not resist his old habits; they were thrown out of five taverns for fights begun in reaction to his speeches.”

“What were the subjects of those speeches?”

“Forgive me, my lord, I but quote in summary: The stupidity of our countrymen for so quickly accepting your rule and that of Lord Faramir as Steward; the union with Arnor; how we should rise up against all authority of any kind; that all taxes are iniquitous; and that all foreigners and other Kindreds should be ejected if not simply killed wherever they are encountered. Oh, and the Crown should give all Men free food, free drink and all else they need.”

The room erupted in laughter and catcalls.

Lords Halladan and Faramir rose to their feet, shouting for, and receiving, silence. They resumed their seats, and the King asked, “Is this true?”

Rondirion—for I could not think of him by another name so quickly—lifted his chin defiantly, arms folded despite his fetters. “I but speak the truth.”

“Without taxes and levies, the Crown would have no monies,” the King pointed out.

“Not my problem. Get the money from all those wealthy pigs who lord it over better men. Everything should be free.”

“Do you mean a meritocracy, that those who work the hardest and most should receive the most?”

“I mean that no one should have to work at all, ‘stead of foreign scum like you who do nothin’ but wear fine clothes an’ make life hard for better men.”

One of the guards raised his fist, grating, “Show some respect!”

“Stop,” said Elessar. “We shall not debate you, for you are too besotted with your own foolery. I have labored for almost eighty years in various ways; I am a Healer and warrior, and now a King; I have traveled and lived by my own labour here and in other lands, and you insult not only me but most of those in this room, both men and women, Mannish, Elves and Dwarves, by your scorn. Respect is not in you, for you wish only to foment trouble and then walk away from it. Know this: earning one’s bread honestly is the means to self-respect and the regard of others, without which most of life is ashes. Something is dead in you, that you do not see that, and I am sorry for you. We sentence you to the term of imprisonment at hard labor that was declared against you twenty years ago, as well as another ten years for refusing to serve in the levy. You have been a taker; now you shall learn to give. This sentence shall be served laboring on the roads in the North, and you will be closely watched. You will earn wages, one-fourth to go towards your keep, half to go towards the maintenance of your children, and the last quarter set aside for you for when your sentence ends, after damages to those taverns is deducted. But know this also: if you so much as whisper such treason as you have spewed here, you shall have your tongue plucked out, and when your term is over, you will be banished from both realms.”

“B-banished?” he choked. “You can’t do that, you orc! You slimy troll—“

“Gag him,” the King said, and the order was carried out.

Morchiwen wailed, running forward. “You can’t! You can’t send ‘im away! Wot’ll ‘appen t’ me? Wot’ll happen to our babes? Rondo, tell ’im you’re sorry!”

Even fettered, he managed to shrug her off, so that she fell to her knees, and he kicked out at her before he was hauled backward by the guards.

She sobbed, “You can’t! Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!”

“Mistress Morchiwen, stand up! Come here!” commanded Elessar.

Weeping a bit less noisily, she went where he indicated as the guards removed her husband. The King shook his head, sighed, and said, “I will discuss your situation shortly. Ebanecuir Son of Papparion! You are a deserter and a fool. We sentence you to fifteen years’ labour in the North; one third of your wages will be set aside to pay for the damages incurred by the tavern-fights—“

“’Twas Rondo started ‘em!” he whined.

“But you, his elder, did not stop him, and despite your lameness, you were accounted the better brawler.”

And Eban smirked! There is no understanding the male mind!

“Another third shall go to your maintenance during your sentence, since your disability makes it unlikely you shall long survive afterwards, but you will be able to work making the tiles others will install on buildings in Annúminas. The last third shall be saved for your old age, wherever you choose to spend it outside of Gondor. After your death, any that is left shall be sent to the daughter you abandoned so callously.”

Eban was taken away as Josia demanded, stridently, “Don’t I get none o’ that?”

“No.”

“But I be ‘is wife!”

“Whom you wanted to divorce a few moments ago. We shall deal with you shortly, Mistress Josia.” Elessar’s cold tone somehow managed to shut her up. “Master Tuor, continue with your summary.”

“Yes, my lord. I would call Master Palanthrar Malréd, a noted attorney and merchant in this city, former Master of the Thennidain, the Guild of Lawyers and Attorneys, and close friend of Jehan Clerk.”


Dalf:

Beside me, Silma whispered, “Palanthrar!”, leaning forward slightly as an elderly, balding Dúnedan using two canes came slowly forward to a chair set for him. Bowing to the King, he sat. The King gravely bowed back.

Tuor asked respectfully, “Master Malréd, would you tell the court what you told me?”

“My thanks, Master Tuor. Lady Cormallen, I apologize for not getting in touch with you sooner, but I only returned to the city a few days ago from Dol Amroth. My deepest condolences upon the death of Jehan Clerk. He was my dearest friend, and I was proud to be his personal man of business.” The old man contrived a seated bow, and Silma nodded.

He continued, “Master Clerk was generous in sharing his inventions and knowledge, but after he wedded, he took thought for his wife's future. It was their greatest regret that they had no children, a sacrifice he knew she willingly made for his sake, yet he was certain she would outlive him. Many times, he said to me, ‘I know I should refuse to help my family, but I cannot. She understands, but she has undergone so much privation, lost so much, that I must take thought for her. I believed I would die before I was three-and-thirty. I live now because of her devotion, and I strive to live as long as I can to be with her.' Every commission he took, every time he sold one of his devices, he would give me a small part of it to invest and put out part of the proceeds at interest. He also asked me to document the actions of his family, that there be no confusion about them in the future, for he believed that they were so rapacious that they would endeavor to take his share of the farm and to also get whatever they could of his from her, and he feared her own kind heart and modesty as to her own worth would harm her. I shared that information with Master Tuor for his report. I filed Master Clerk’s will with the Office of Deeds & Funerals yesterday. I estimate his monetary worth at his death as about 50,000 gold crowns, an example of how a little over time can increase if saved and properly invested.”

Silma gasped, her hands flying to her face.

Josia cried, “Wot? Wot?"

“Fifty thousand gold crowns,” he repeated deliberately. “And he had lived to be seventy years of age, far longer than ever expected, with far more joy as well. This sum represents his own sacrifices—he would not even smoke pipeweed, in order to save for her future. After he could rarely work, he continued his experiments and inventions, as a future resource for her, as well as setting aside the sum he estimated he would have spent on pipeweed and ale in former times. Do you wish me to state the relevant parts of his will, my lord?”

“Please.”

“He had sought my advice as to the provisions of his father's will and given me a copy of a letter from his father.” Master Malréd took out several sheets of parchment. “In that letter, dictated to a reputable scribe upon advice from an attorney, Master Jehan Farmer instructed his son to help his sister's family for five years following his wife's death. 'If, by that time,' he wrote, 'they have not maintained the farm in as good condition, or failed to remit the taxes and share the profits, then you may invoke the clause in the will that their share of the farm reverts to you. As the head of the family, it will be your decision as to whether you choose to allow them to remain or if you wish, to eject them and hire someone to manage it for you. Each of you has a copy of my will, although I have not told Matti and Josia that I am sending you one. Do not tell them, and do not tell Silma. I wish this to be privy between us, for it is my earnest hope that your sister and her husband will act more worthily than I fear they will.' Master Clerk told me, in writing—here is the letter—that he intended to notify his sister that he was weary of their cheating him, and their refusal to grant him and his wife decent treatment determined him to tell them to leave on the first of Víressë(3); that he did not was due to the siege and his subsequent death.

“In his will, made just before I departed for my daughter's home in Dol Amroth at the beginning of Súlimë(4), Jehan Clerk left all his possessions to his wife. He also expressed his wish that his sister and her husband, and her younger daughter and her family, be forced to leave. If Kenndahl and Callina were willing to stay and manage the farm with their children, rejecting all advice from the others and refusing them houseroom, then they should be encouraged to do so, 'for that they have ever been honest, hard-working and civil to us.' If his wife chose to live on the farm herself, or to sell it, then that was her decision to make. He did not wish her to give any money to his family, unless she chose to aid Callina and Kenndahl in their first five years of managing the farm, and in refurbishing it after any damages sustained in the war. Should there be evidence that they had continued the old ways of scanting on taxes and maintenance, they too could be evicted, and all in the farm should be available for Lady Cormallen's or her designated agents' inspection at any time. He also desired Josia to hand over her mother's jade jewelry that Mistress Mattiwen had wished be given to his wife Lindasilma.” He handed the parchments to the page to give to the King.

“We thank you for your testimony, Master Malréd,” Elessar said, inclining his head.

The old lawyer rose, bowed, and moved slowly to another seat in the assembly, while his chair was removed.

“That can't be a real will!” said Josia angrily.

“It is unquestionably authentic,” Master Malréd replied frostily.

“I can't be put out of m’ home! ‘Tis mine!” she shrilled.

Elessar said, “Mistress Josia, will you and the rest of your family move closer? You have demanded the King's Justice, and now you shall have it.

“We see no reason not to accede to the wishes of Master Jehan Clerk, legally stated and recorded. You and your family were given five years to prove yourselves, and you chose to defy your father's wishes. Master Clerk allowed you yet another year, which was exceedingly generous on his part, more so than We believe We would have been in his place. You repeatedly denigrated and insulted his wife, neither persuading nor commanding your daughter to apologize for her poor behavior. You are a bully, domineering and selfish, and you have taught your family to act in the same way. You are hereby evicted from Fox Run Farm and may not return there for longer than three hours once a year—if Lady Cormallen is willing to permit you that much. In her shoes, We would not. Josia Adder-tongue I name you, for the nastiness that you spew forth and allow to be spewed forth. You are under arrest for arranging Kenndahl and Liek's evasion of serving in the militia and will be separately judged when that is further investigated.”

Guards moved briskly towards her, but as they laid hands on her shoulders, she pushed them away. “Get your ‘ands off me! I be a respectable woman!” she shouted.

“You may have been—your family was—but you have forfeited that claim,” Elessar told her. “You have also forfeited your mother's jade jewelry. Where is it?”

“None o’ your business!” she shrieked.

“Nanai, give over!” Callina burst out. She reached out and seized a thong around Josia's neck, pulling a small pouch out of her mother’s bodice and over her head. “’Ere's all of Gran's jewelry, my lord.”

“Stupid snivellin’ bitch!” Josia spat in her face.

Tears streaming down her face, Callina dropped to her knees, holding it up towards the King. “My lord King, please! I beg mercy for m’ husband an’ children—an’ m’ mother,” she sobbed.

“Rise, Mistress Callina. Give that to Lady Cormallen when these proceedings are concluded. Mercy was not what your mother demanded. Kenndahl of Pelargir!”

“My lord King?” He dropped to his knees but looked up at the King, trembling.

“We are disposed to be merciful to you, and counsel you to place more reliance on your own strength and that of your wife, as well as to foster a sense of gratitude to your kinswoman by marriage. I leave it to you, your wife, and Lady Cormallen to make what arrangements for your futures that you choose, as soon as you pay a fine of fifty gold pieces for not serving in the militia.”

“I ain’t got ten coppers, let alone fifty golds,” he said. “My lord, iffen—iffen you sentence me t’ prison, please let m’ wife an’ children go free! I'd ought to've stood up to Josia. I knowed it, but I was weak.”

“We believe that, Master Kenndahl.”

Silma rose. “My lord, I will pay Kenndahl's fine. And Jonnat's as well.”

“Thank you, Aunt Sil!” cried Callina and Amiry.

“Thank you, Sil!” Kenndahl and Jonnat echoed.

“We will permit that—if they will agree to treat you with fitting respect.”

“My lord? I don't rightly know what you mean. I ain't unwillin’, I just don't understand.”
Kenndahl said nervously.

“Think about it, Master Kenndahl. Think about how this court and those of her household have addressed her, and how your family addresses her. Please go back to where you were standing. Liek Son of Kenndahl!”

Liek stepped forward, swallowing.

“You are young, ignorant, selfish, and lazy, but those are faults which may yet be corrected. At this time you may not go back to the farm, but you are given a choice: you can enlist in the army, and serve for five years, learning the lessons your neighbors and their sons voluntarily did about serving others, or you can undergo a sentence of hard labor for five years in the North.”

“Five years?” His voice squeaked.

“Choose!”

“Th’—th’ army.”

“Very well. Take your leave of your parents and sister.”

They embraced, and he moved away—without a backward glance at a sobbing Fiy.

“Wot ‘bout me?” asked Morchiwen shrilly.

“Ah. Mistress Morchiwen. You may not return to the farm either—unless you wish to apologize to your aunt?”

“”Pologize? When this be all her fault? Nay!”

“Morch, don't be a fool!” cried Callina. “Say you're sorry!”

She shook her head obstinately. “I ain't sorry. 'Tis all her fault. Nay!”

“Then to you I also offer a choice,” said Elessar. “You may not return to the farm, but you may take your children with you to your father's farm or go your own way.”

“Oo’s farm?” she asked.

A sturdy man with a weather-beaten face rose from a row of benches somewhat to our left and behind us and walked forward. “I be Drommion of Dor-im-Nín, my lord King,” he said respectfully, bowing. “My farm, Morchiwen. 'Tis a good place for a-raisin’ up your children. We all work ‘ard, but m’ wife Marna’ll welcome you, an’ so will your younger ‘alf-sisters.”

“An' ‘ave you all a-lordin' it over me? I don't think so! ‘Twould be deadly dull.”

“Then where’ll you go? You ‘ave no money!”

“You c’n give me some, Da, iffen you want,” she said cheerfully.

“Morch, wot about your little ones?”

“Oh. Well, 'f you want ‘em, ‘at's all right. You go 'long o’ your grandda, an’ I'll come see you sometime,” she said to her wide-eyed little son and daughter as she gave them a little push toward their grandfather. “Give me some money, Da.” As soon as he handed her some coins, without another glance at any of them, she made her way out of the hall. No one stopped her, I think in shock at her so easily giving up her own children. I could scarcely believe what I had seen and heard.

A motherly-looking woman with brown hair quickly helped Drommion soothe both crying children and take them out with them through another door.

“This Court is concluded,” announced Faramir. All stood while the King and his Stewards departed, and then a hum of talk rose up amid the noise of them rising and beginning to disperse.

Master Malréd came over to shake hands with Silma, bow to Silwen and myself, and give her some folded parchments. “Your copies of Jehan's will and those letters, and a letter for yourself.”

“Thank you,” she said, hugging him before standing back and taking my hand. “Master Palanthrar, this is Prince Dalfinor, my betrothed.”

I suddenly realized that she was afraid he would disapprove.

He bowed again, smiling. “I am most happy to meet you, my lord. Jehan would have liked you, from what I have heard, and I look forward to knowing you better.”

“I know that I would have liked him,” I said, bowing and shaking hands; he had a firm grip despite his age and infirmity. “I am honoured that I met him, although it was so brief and we did not exchange more than a few words.”

“I hope that you will tell me of it one day. Please excuse me; I am keeping you from your kin.” With another bow, the old man moved away.

Callina, Kendhahl, Amirwen, Jonnat, and Fiy were standing awkwardly nearby; all bobbed nervous bows and curtseys as we looked at them. Silwen had tactfully drifted away to speak with an acquaintance, and so had our staff, except for Tuor and Rhylla, both standing nearby.

Callina held out the pouch to Silma. “M-my lady, these rightly be yourn,” she almost whispered. “Th-thank you for a-payin’ their fines.”

Silma's eyes were soft with tears. “Callina, I am so sorry for all that's happened! I had no idea that Jehan intended any such thing!”

“Oh, I know ‘at, Aunt Sil—my lady, I mean. Nuncle Jehan was a lot like Grandda; quiet, mostly, but you got his dander up an’ ‘e'd dig in ‘is ‘eels an’ turn into granite. Reckon that ‘at ‘elped ‘im through all them times ‘e had t' learn t' walk again, but you'd move the Misty Mountains easier'n shift ‘im oncet ‘is mind was made up. Morch, too.”

“She'm a right fool, an’ ‘eartless,” put in Kendalhl.

“She bain’t ‘eartless!” cried Callina.

“You'd never 'a' give up our babes so easy!” he protested.

“No, a' course not, but she do love 'em!”

“Will you come to the House with us?” Silma asked. “We have much to discuss.” She looked up at me. “That is--”

“An excellent idea,” I said promptly, and was rewarded by her grateful smile.

~~~

1) Nienna – the Valie who is the embodiment of suffering and grief, able to see into anyone’s conscience and transfer torment and sorrow to herself, for all in Eä. The Sisters of Nienna are an Order of her followers, often performing rituals to cleanse such scenes and individuals. They are more prevalent in Eriador than Gondor, although they have a small presence there. They also perform most of the nursing in many rural Houses of Healing.
2) In fact, Silma retrieved also some personal items: 3 wooden spoons carved by her grandfather, a favorite brooch, a vase that had belonged to her mother, her wedding-cord from her marriage to Jehan, some books, and a wallet of her father’s papers, as well as a few tools and small prototypes of Jehan’s including his lookfar tube, besides six of his notebooks, all bundled inside a knitted throw she had made for him.
3) Mettarë (Q. “last day”) – last day of the year, outside any month, coming after the last day of coirë (stirring season) and 30th Sulimë/Gwaeron (March). In Bree, this and yestarë are called Yule-days and are part of a 6-day celebration—family holiday of visiting, merrymaking, and gift-giving. To the Elves, whose calendar starts in spring, this is modern 27 March, but for the Dúnedain in Endor, it falls in winter, on modern 21 December.
4) Súlimë – the third month of the Gondorian year by the Steward’s Reckoning; on a modern calendar, it ran between 21 February and 22 March.
5) Víressë -- The fourth month of the year, according to the calendars of the Dúnedain and those derived from them, following the spring feast-day of Tuilérë. On a modern calendar, Víressë ran between March 23rd and April.21st.


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