The Adventures of Laramir Pt. 6 - Greater Vision
As all Minas Tirith gathered in the Pavillion of the Tree and attacked the food tables laid out by the servants earlier that day, Denethor led Mithrandir down through the Seven Gates, past the deserted houses and empty streets. (Some houses were of course deserted because their inhabitants were at the celebration, but others because their owners no longer trusted the strength of Minas Tirith, and preferred strongholds further from the Morgul Vale.) Finally they reached the lower wall. They began to climb a stair of stone and walk along the city wall until Denethor stopped. He looked inward at the Fields of Pelennor, at the many crops still to be harvested, and thought of the glory of Gondor; but Gandalf turned his attention outward to the fields that stretched beyond to the horizon, where finally it met the woods of ancient legends. Finally Denethor broke the silence.
'I know what you would have me do, Greybeard. But you must remember: Gondor is mine.' And he stared at Gandalf for a long moment before remembering to add, 'until the king returns.'
'Until the king returns. But what hope is there of that, in this lonely time. Yet hope, or doom, may very well find you before death does, Denethor Steward of Gondor.' He broke his gaze from the woods and fixed his eyes on Denethor. 'Yet, you are apparently now lore-master of Gondor as well, who knows the thoughts of men, elves, and now even wizards. Tell me my thoughts, if you are so wise.'
'You wish to tutor my children. My heirs. And I would have it. But what you must understand--'
But something inside the wizard snapped as he looked at this great man. 'You insolent fool! Do you think I exist merely to tutor your children in simple script and calculations? No!' The wind whipped up around him, and Gandalf's cloak billowed behind. While before Gandalf and Denethor had seemed roughly equal height, suddenly Gandalf towered above the Steward. And then it passed.
He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and seemed to recollect himself while Denethor watched. 'I am sorry for that. Denethor, even you must realize by now--I am not mere parlour entertainment? I came to your city for one reason only: your libraries, which are famous beyond measure as far as the libraries between the River and the Sea go. I have a pressing quest, that you cannot understand, and that I cannot explain--I don't have the time, and you wouldn't understand it--it's not yet time for you to see how dangerous the world beyond Gondor really is. But the fate of lands far away that you have never heard of, and indeed your own kingdom, depends on my finding the information I seek, and quickly. But I do fear for your house. I don't have time to see to fireworks tonight, but I will do so, because your daughter has captured my heart. Denethor, I have walked the trails of all Middle-earth for a hundred lives of men, and not seen anyone else like her. She has a hope and beauty that surpasses explanation. I must protect her from the days that come ahead. That is why I will show her fireworks, and give her lessons in smoking and the lore of the halflings and other peoples far away. But to teach her sums--that is too much!'
'Yes, my good Denethor. Find your sons a tutor to teach them what they need.to know. Sums, and script, and swordsmanship. The three S's of Gondor. I will teach them what no one else can. Trust me in this. But my schools are not held in a schoolroom. We will walk through gardens, and perhaps some day through woods, and smoke many a pipe, Laramir and I. And Faramir as well--and Boromir, if you would let him. I don't understand why you refuse to have him taught. And to confound the wise is a sign of great wisdom--or, perhaps in your case, great foolishness.'
'I will not have him learn your wizard ways. My brother went to the Elves and it cost him his honour, his family, and his life. Boromir will one day be Steward of Gondor. What does he need with kingdoms he cannot see? He needs his feet on the ground and his head out of the clouds.'
'But heirs come from unlikely places. And those who live by the sword often perish by it.'
'There are worse things than to die in battle. To die in a river, for one. We all must die; I would have Boromir make such an end that it would be remembered.'
'That choice is yet before him. But you now have your own choice: whether to groom a warrior or a prince. Choose carefully, Master Steward. The choice is important, and far from obvious. I know it looks like you don't have the luxury of nobility, that only a warrior's sword and not a sage's heart can save you in this hour. But I warn you: in hours such as these, you cannot afford the warrior but need most the sage.'
'I do not understand.'
'No, I expect not. But I guess I wasn't really talking to you, as much as musing to myself. Never mind. You are still quite sure that you will not have Boromir taught?'
'Less sure than I was. But how can I have him tutored? He will soon be twelve, and the time for school really is passed.'
'For school, maybe, but for learning? That is a lesson you would do well to remember, Denethor. By learning you see what you do not know. And that brings humility. No man should know too much, more than he can handle. But to know too little, that also is folly. Because then you believe you know everything, and can handle all. Isn't humility a good thing for a leader, even if all the other knowledge is useless to him? Do you wish this pride on Boromir?'
'Then let me teach him. Teach, not tutor. Apprentice him to the Guard, if that's what you want to do. But at night, and in his off-hours, let us talk. Let me teach him in what time you can spare him, if at no other time, of humility.'
'All right, Gandalf. But remember, the choice is mine.'
The wizard nodded absently. He looked at the sky, which was rapidly growing dark, and remembered that he had promised Laramir fireworks; she would get them; the ishtari were true to their word. But before he went...
'There is one other thing.'
'I knew it. Go on.'
'Who is to be the Lady of Gondor?'
'Oh, that's a simple question. Mellawyn.'
'Aye, but there is no more Mellawyn. Only Laramir.'
This thought silenced Denethor. Finally he said, unsure: 'She is still a girl, no matter her name.'
'Yes, but it is more than a name. She will learn what the boys learn, and spend her time around boys and men. She will learn the art of smoking--which I fear, will crowd out of her mind all thought of the art of embroidery. And what of your people? What man among them would wed a woman more learned than them, a man in her own right?'
Denethor was dumbstruck. Finally: 'This is more than a problem of entertaining princes. You are not really concerned with the decorum of my court, are you?'
'Yes. But more than that. You can choose any woman of your land to be Lady of Gondor. Find some distant cousin. But it doesn't solve Laramir's problems. She will be raised a prince, but no kingdom will have her, or if by chance someone would marry her, he would force her into a cage. I don't want that fate for her, and I'd hope her father would feel the same.'
'She needs a mother.'
'The one thing I cannot teach her,' Mithrandir continued, 'is how to be a lady.'
'But Gandalf, you must realize, I just lost my wife. I still love her. How could I marry again?'
'For that, I'm afraid wisdom has no answer. Wisdom can only speak to matters of the head, not to matters of the soul.' A long pause. 'So what is the king's decision.'
'I can't do it, Gandalf. She will be all right, I am sure.'
The wizard arched his bushy eyebrow. 'As you wish.' And without saying another word, he walked down to the stairs, and out to the field of Pelennor, where his fireworks waited.