“I would rather watch an Orc dance with a Warg! Have you two left feet, woman?” shouted a drunkard.
The dancing girl ignored the comments, though her eyes showed obvious distress. The Silver Crown was packed with customers that night, some who had come to be entertained, others, like the two cloaked and hooded men sitting in a corner, simply for a good mug of ale.
“Poor girl,” Aragorn murmured to his companion. ”I think she would be better suited to serving the drinks!”
“I had hoped we might hear the talented lute player again,” said Faramir.
“He has a broken wrist, so his daughter is dancing to try to earn their keep,” explained a greybeard at the next table who had overheard.
“Pick your feet up, girl!” shouted the drunkard.
Aragorn rose to go to the privy hoping that the excruciating dance would be over when he returned. As Arwen was spending a few days at Emyn Arnen, a visit to the Silver Crown with Faramir had seemed an agreeable way to spend an evening, now he was not so sure.
The girl finally finished her dance and bowed to the customers. Some, including Faramir applauded politely, while others simply ignored her and stared into their mugs of ale. The girl walked between the tables, The more charitable of the drinkers tossed her coins.
“Give us a kiss then!” cried the drunkard.
“No!” the girl looked flustered.
“As you can’t dance, you might be good for something else,” said the drunkard lurching towards her.
Faramir leapt to his feet. ”Leave the lady alone!” he cried.
“Lady? She ain’t no lady!”
Faramir instinctively turned to protect the girl. Before he realised what was happening, the drunkard had lashed out at him and he was lying on the floor.
“How dare you!” Aragorn’s tone was like ice as he ran towards his friend. The drunkard crumpled to his knees beside the Steward. The King beckoned to the innkeeper. ”There are two Guards outside. Bid them take this fellow to prison. The King will deal with him in the morning.”
Aragorn swiftly knelt beside Faramir who lay white faced on the floor, grimacing with pain. “Are you hurt, mellon nîn?” he enquired anxiously.
“Just winded, I think,” grimaced the Steward.
The innkeeper came back inside followed by the Guards. At a signal from the King, they dragged the protesting drunkard away. His curses could still be heard in the street outside.
An hour or so later, after being treated with salves and Aragorn’s Elven healing arts, a pain free Faramir was on the verge of sleep. Then a sudden thought struck him. He sat up in bed and laughed.
“What is so funny?” asked Aragorn, who was putting away his healing supplies.
“I was just thinking how that loud - mouthed sot will be rendered quite speechless when he learns who you are tomorrow!” Faramir smiled. With that he lay back against the pillows and drifted into a dreamless slumber.