“Good morning, Prince Legolas!”
The young apprentice wiped his hands upon his paint-stained smock.
“Master Halmir is—er—he is resting, your Highness. Please, come
through...” He ushered Legolas into an elegantly-furnished reception
room. “Please, take a seat. I will tell the Master you are here.”
He shuffled backwards through the door, in a semi-bowing posture.
Legolas smiled at the sudden sound of running feet—the lads
footfalls changing subtly as they flew along the tiled corridor,
over a rug, and into a room with a wooden floor—the studio, no
doubt. There was a rustle of fabric, then some urgent whispering.
And, if I allowed myself to listen, I could just hear...
But men make no allowance for elven hearing, he thought,
and it is impolite to eavesdrop.
To occupy himself, he looked around the room. The walls were
hung with tapestries, the furniture upholstered in velvet, the
floor covered with a rug from Near Harad. Master Halmir was clearly
a successful man. And this is where he deals with his customers,
thought Legolas, the great and the good of Minas Tirith.
The room had been arranged for a viewing, its furniture clustered
around a decorative easel bearing a small, rectangular object
hidden under a velvet cover—evidently the Master's most recent
Legolas reached for the corner of the cloth—
“Good morning, your Highness!”
Guiltily, Legolas drew back his hand and turned to face the painter—a
short, balding libertine; unwashed, unshaven and smelling strongly
of ale. “Master Halmir—”
Halmir bowed, unsteadily. “What might I do for you, your Highness?”
“I would like to commission a painting,” said Legolas. “A double
“I see. Please—take a seat.”
“I would need it finished in less than three months,” continued
Legolas. “Could that be done?”
“Three months. The painting can be ready—though it will require
additional time to dry thoroughly. And the couple must, of course,
make themselves available—”
“They cannot,” said Legolas. “The portrait is a surprise gift.
They cannot know it is being painted.”
“Your Highness,” said Halmir, very clearly, as though speaking
to a child, “that is not possible. I paint from the life.”
“I can arrange for you to see them,” said Legolas, “at a public
“That is not acceptable.”
“What if I were to obtain other likenesses of them? Of him, at
“Who are these people?” asked Halmir.
“The Prince of Ithilien and his betrothed.”
Without a word, Master Halmir rose to his feet, walked over to
the easel and raised the velvet cover.
Legolas’ heart missed a beat. “It is so very like her,” he whispered.
She was gazing out of the painting at him, her golden hair framing
her face, her grey eyes smiling, her generous lips slightly parted,
a light blush on her porcelain cheeks.
“I must confess,” said Halmir, “that I believe it to be my finest
“She is about to speak,” said Legolas. She is about to say,
I love you.
“To Prince Faramir,” said the painter. “He was sitting beside
me... On reflection,” he decided, “I think I can do what
you ask. Though my fee must reflect the difficulty of the task.”
“The fee is immaterial, Master Halmir. And I have every confidence
in your skills. Perhaps you will draw up a contract and have it
brought to the King’s House? And perhaps,” he added, suddenly
diffident, “you would allow me to visit you occasionally, to see
the work as it progresses?”
“You may call at any time, your Highness.”
“Thank you.” Legolas rose, placed his hand over his heart and
bowed his head. “Good day, Master Halmir.”
The apprentice came forward to see him out.
But as he reached the door, the elf suddenly paused and, without
turning back, said, “Would you be willing to make a copy of the
lady’s portrait for me, Master Halmir? A copy by your own
hand—you may name any price.”