Lady Eowyn, said Arwen, needs an escort down
to Rath Bein.
Ai ceryn Manwë, thought Haldir. But, Of course,
your Majesty, he said, with another bow. He turned to Eowyn.
Haldir had spent almost five thousand years as March Warden of
Lothlórien, but he had never heard The Ladys voice
as clearly as he was hearing Eowyns anxiety now.
He tried to reassure her: I love you, my lady, he thought,
and want nothing from you that you would not freely give. Then
he scooped her into his arms, and she was so lightLighter
than a mallorn leafthat his heart nearly broke.
I have sent word to the stables, said Arwen. Your
horses will be ready. I do hope you find what you are looking
for, Eowyn. She turned to him. No i Melain na le,
Haldir. Do not be a stranger, mellon nín.
Nanarad agevedim, híril nín,
he replied, with a bow of the head.
What is it that you are looking for, my lady? he
asked, as they rode out of the stables.
The sky had darkened early, threatening more snow, and several
Palace functionaries were rushing about The Citadel, lighting
lamps. Eowyn paused within a pyramid of golden light, waiting
for the passage to the Place of the Fountain to clear.
A gift, she said, for Legolas. And, at
the mention of him, she suddenly relaxed. Something
beautiful, Haldir. If I had thought of it earlier, I would have
had a robe made for him but, since I have only a day, I thought
of a sash, in some exotic fabric from Far Harad...
They passed the White Tree and entered the tunnel in single file.
Haldir made no attempt to banish the jealousy squeezing his heart.
This is how things are. He is a lucky elf,
I am sorry, said Eowyn, as they emerged, side-by-side
once more, on Rath Fain. And, at first, he thought that she had
heard his complaint. All this talk of clothes is of no interest
to you, she continued, but I do... She dropped
her gaze, suddenly, to the pommel of her saddle. I do
want to thank you, Haldir.
For what, my lady?
For going to the Golden Goose with himfor
taking care of him. I was so worried. She glanced up at
him, and frownedmisinterpreting his guilty expression. I
trust him, Haldir! Of course I do! But he is not worldlynot
like you and I and Gimli. He has skills the rest of us can never
hope to match, with the bow and the knives, and I have seen him
leap effortlessly onto a moving horse, and climb the leg of a
mûmak. But he does not know the ways of men
I think he is far shrewder than you realise, my lady,
said Haldir, as they rode through the Sixth Gate and into Rath
What do you mean?
Just that it was Legolas who immediately recognised Lady
Lëonórwyn last night; it was Legolas who, just as
quickly, thought of a way to speak to her privately and confirm
her identity; and it was Legolas who bought her from the landlord
Haldir realised that he had gone too far. And now he had no choice
but to explain further. She was disguised as a boy my ladyas
a male whorethe property of the landlord.
Legolas could not risk exposing her true identity, so he pretended
that he was...
He was what, Haldir? asked Eowyn.
Haldir selected the least of several evils. He said that
he was buying the boy as gift for you, my lady.
There was a moment of stunned silence. Then Eowyn laughed merrily.
For me! Perhaps you are right about his worldliness, March
Warden! I shall have speak to him about this
Please do not, my lady. If he has not told you himself
He and I have no secrets, March Warden, said Eowyn,
Of course not, my lady. But
No buts. If he has not already mentioned it, it is because
he has not yet had the opportunity.
Of course, he said, thinking, Tell yourself that
if you must.
The scowl he provoked should have felled an elf at sixty pacesHaldir
was not sure how he survived it. I am sorry, my lady; I
realise I have little experience of such matters... He said
it instinctively, with no intention of deceiving or manipulating
her, hoping merely that she would seize it as an offer of submission
and let the subject drop.
Eowyn clearly thought otherwise. What are you not telling
me, Haldir? she demanded.
There was nowhere to hide. And why should he hide? The
elf brought his horse to a stop. Legolas pretended that
he wanted to bed the boy, he admitted.
And you believed it! Eowyn stared at him incredulously.
How could you?
YOU KNOW HOW. YOU KNOW WHY! he thought,
but he said nothing.
Did you threaten him?
I have since apologised.
Wellthat is something.
And he was most gracious. But that is why I am convinced
he will not tell you about it, my lady, said Haldir.
Yes, he will tell me, replied Eowyn. But
he will wait until the time is right. She looked south along
the Rath. There is the shop, March Warden, she said.
And she smiled with relief.