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The Steward, His Lady, and Their Sons

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Prompt: Boromir gardening
It's A Mystery

Though I had happy memories of our mother’s garden, I had never really thought about it once she was gone. Whenever I peered in through the wrought-iron gate, all seemed in order; so I was startled while passing by one day to find Boromir, stripped to the waist, his shoulders gleaming with sweat and streaked with dirt, manning a pair of pruning shears, a small stack of lilac-trimmings neatly piled nearby.

“I’d never imagine you to set aside the captaincy, even for a day, in favor of gardening,” I said.

Boromir laughed. “ ‘Tis mindless work, but relaxing. I like the feel of earth under my fingers. Did you ever stop to think...” He raised the stoneware crock and took a long pull of ale before offering it to me, “that when this city was built, every bit of soil in these gardens was carried up here? The grass-clippings and the leaves and flower-stems renew it, now, but it all began somewhere else. Birds and bugs have flown here, or been tossed by the breeze, carrying seed in their bellies to give us windflowers and dandelions and chokecherry bushes. But the earthworms – and there are lots of them, too – how did they get up here?”

I stared at him, totally dumbfounded, then began to laugh myself. “I never thought of it, and now, I’ll never stop thinking of it until I’ve come up with an answer.”

“Well, while you’re thinking,” he said, “ pick up a spade, and start digging out those purple iris – they’re overcrowded, and I promised some to the gardener at the Houses of Healing.”


Prompt: Faramir and Boromir relaxing
Many Hands Make Light Work

I had not thought to spend my day so. I had just left a rather difficult interview with my Lord Steward concerning increased funds for my rangers; and so the temptation of a few hours spent in a quiet garden with my brother was more than I could withstand. Digging and hacking provided an excellent outlet for my frustration. After a while, Boromir threw himself onto the ground, wiping his brow as he surveyed the garden with satisfaction. I stretched out beside him.

“We’ve accomplished quite a bit here, and I thank you for your help! Mag will be by around mid-day, I think; when I told her my plans for the day she got that thoughtful look in her eye, though she didn’t say anything.”

“I’ll stay then, by all means; I’ve not had the pleasure of one of Mag’s picnics in years. A disadvantage of being posted away from the City.” So I said, but I sometimes felt it an acceptable trade-off for the freedom of Ithilien.

“Picnic! Ha! It’s a workman’s lunch. Picnics, though… Do you remember those picnics we used to have at Dol Amroth? And the spiced crabs, the way uncle used to fix them?


Prompt: Prince Imrahil cooking
Master Chef

Had I not been born, by the grace of the Valar, Prince of Dol Amroth, I would have like to have been a cook. Or a fisherman.

As a boy, I’d cast my line at the edge of the surf, on the beach below the garden. I’d proudly bring my catch up to the kitchen, where our cook would nod approvingly, then serve it to me, crisply fried and perfectly seasoned, for my breakfast. As I became older, I’d go back and watch her, and thus learned many secrets. It’s always a good thing to be friends with the cook.

During my seafaring days, I’d learned many ways to prepare fish, lobster, squid. I didn’t have much opportunity to use those skills until later, first with my nephews, and then my own children as well. We would have what we called “Corsair parties”, down on the beach. We’d steam lobsters and crabs in a pit full of seaweed, or grill a sea-bass, and eat it all with our fingers; washing it down with well-watered ale. With all due respect to my own cook, those were some of the best meals I can remember, not just because of the food.


Prompt: Comfort Food
Comfort Food

My darling boy came by early, slyly mentioning that he planned to spend the morning working in his mother’s garden. I could read his mind well enough, I always could; so I merely nodded. He headed off, whistling, for all the world like any gardener’s helper, happy to be at work on such a lovely day.

As I set about my tasks that morning I packed his basket, bit by bit: crusty bread, soft cheese, hard sausage. Apricots. Cherries. Raspberry tarts, apple turnovers. Another flask of ale, a bottle of cold tea. Spiced almonds.

I was just about to call the baking boy to help carry it when one of the cook’s helpers led in a sturdy young girl, carrying a seagrass hamper on her back. She slid it off easily and set it on the flagstone floor.

“Crabs, mum,” the girl said. “We caught them just t’other day, and wrapped them up in seaweed. Poured salt water on ‘em every day to keep them alive’. Lookat ‘em wriggle! My mother said you should have first pick, and if you don’t want ‘em I’m to take ‘em down to the fourth circle fishmarket.”

Crabs, eh? I remember Boromir talking excitedly about eating crabs when he visited Dol Amroth, cracking the claws and picking out the tasty meat inside. “I’ll take them, and thank your mother for thinking of me,” I said, reaching into my pocket for a handful of coin.

There was some confusion, and fear, as I set the kitchen maids to digging the crabs out of the basket; finally, the baking boy laughingly took over the job. The seaweed would be put to good use dug into a garden. I steamed them up quickly, adding a few spices Prince Imrahil had suggested as being particularly toothsome for crab. Setting them carefully in a crock, we set out to bring the garden help his lunch, the spicy scent of steamed crab preceding us all the way.

I should not have been surprised to find Faramir there as well; both of them eagerly reaching for the basket. “There’s bread and cheese,” I said, “and sausage, and fruit, and a surprise –”

“Steamed crabs!” Boromir whooped. “Faramir, what did I tell you? The woman’s a mind reader!” He grabbed me by the waist and whirled me around, until we were both giddy with laughter. It always did my heart good to make my boy happy.