"Why did you bring her?" asked Theodred.
"I did not bring her," said Eomer. "She just came."
Theodred, for all his bluster, knew better than to try where
Eomer had already failed. "Well," he said, "she
had better be quiet."
He drew back the heavy curtain, carefully lifted the massive
latchgrimacing at the noise it madeslowly pushed open
the door, and peered into the Council Chamber.
"It is empty. Come on." They slipped inside and closed
the door behind them.
"Where can we hide?" asked Eomer. The chamber was smaller
than he had expected, and sparsely furnishedjust an oak
table surrounded by nine heavy chairs, the seat at its head a
small throne. Three of the walls were bare; the fourth was draped
with a tapestry.
Theodred grinned. "In the privy," he said.
With a flourish, the King's son lifted the wall hanging to reveal
a doorway. "This privy."
"But what if someone wants to go?" asked Eomer.
"They cannot. It is my father's private privy."
"But what if he wants to..."
Theodred ended the debate by grabbing Eomer's arm and dragging
him into the small room. Eowyn tried to follow. "You
cannot come in here," said her cousin, pompously. "This
privy is only for men."
He dropped the curtain, leaving the girl standing alone in the
Eowyn turned around and around, looking for somewhere else to
The table? You can see right under it...
But there was nowhere better. She dropped to her hands and knees
and crawled beneath, just as the door opened behind her and someone
wearing a newand ill-fittingsuit of armour, metal
grating on metal as he moved, came into the chamber.
There was a moment's silence. Then he said, "I can see you,
Eowyn closed her eyes. Perhaps, she hoped, he means Eomer.
"I can see you."
No, he means me.
"Come out, my lady," he said. Then he added, with a
desperation that Eowyn was too nervous to notice, "Please
do not make me bend."
Eowyn stayed exactly where she was.
"Theoden King and his Counsellors will be here at any moment,"
he pleaded. "If they find you, you will be in trouble, and
I shall very likely be dismissed on my first dayplease,
my lady, come out."
Sighing (silently) to herself, Eowyn began to crawl backwards.
"No! Wait!" he hissed. His hand pushed her bottom.
The door latch was lifting.
There was a grating of armour. Eowyn rolled over and drew up
her knees, wrapping her arms around her legs to make herself as
small as possible. The young guard had turned and was standing
between her and the door, shielding her with his mail-clad legs.
"Father!" he said.
"I told you not to call me that here. Is the Chamber secure,
"Then do not lingeryou know your duties. Come on,
Banduilwhat are you waiting for?"
"Iera rat, sirI think I saw a rat,"
said Banduil. "And I was just"
Captain Falemi swore. "The Council Meeting is about to start,"
he said. "Find the wretched thing and use your sword."
"And do not leave it lying in here." The door closed.
Eowyn shot out from under the table.
The young guard grinned. "You do have a face, then,"
he said. "Come onstay behind me." He led her to
the door, cautiously opened it, and peered outside. "The
King is coming, we must hide you quickly. Do you know where the
door opposite leads?"
"My uncle's bed chamber," whispered Eowyn.
Banduil used the same oath as his father. "The one beside
"Theodred's bed chamber," said Eowyn. "I could
go in there."
"Are you sure?" She nodded. "Good. Then keep your
head down and do not look about you." He gave her another
grin as he seized her hand. "Ready?"
They slipped from the Council Chamber, crossed the corridor in
a blurEowyn could already hear the measured tread of her
uncle's Body Guards to the leftpushed open the bed chamber
door, and fell inside.
"There," said Banduil, as her helped her to her feet,
"you are safe and sound."
Then, as if remembering his place, he drew himself up to his
full height, clicked his mailed heels together, with a slight
wince when his armour pinched, and bowed his head respectfully.
"At your service, my lady. Good night."
He backed out of the chamber.
Eowyn waited several hours until her cousin and her brother returned
at last, each blaming the other for the dare that had forced them
to endure, in silence, the endless tedium of a Privy Council meeting.
"You will have to do that every day when you are
King, cousin," said Eomer, throwing himself down on the bed.
"And so will you, when I make you First Marshall of the
Riddermark, cousin," replied Theodred, carefully pouring
out two glassesand a half glassof his father's finest