Aragorn paused for a moment to admire the White Tree. The buds were opening and the first blossoms starting to show. It was almost a year since the King had brought it down from the Mountain. Much to his delight it had thrived in the Court of the Fountain.
He had decided to hold a celebration to mark the anniversary of his planting of the sapling and was on his way to a council meeting to discuss the festivities.
A man in the robes of a healer, hurried across the courtyard towards him. He recognised Tarostar, the Warden of the Houses of Healing.
“My Lord King, I bring a message from Borlad. He has fallen from his horse and broken his wrist so cannot attend the meeting.
Aragorn sighed. Borlad was the scribe who took notes when the Council was assembled. “Thank you, Master Tarostar. The Council Meeting will have to be postponed.”
“I could take notes for you,” the Healer volunteered. “It is my afternoon off and I was planning to go to the market with my wife, but she went on ahead without me as I was delayed tending to Borlad. I would far rather take notes than follow my lady around the stalls! She is seeking fabric for a new gown.”
Aragorn nodded sympathetically and accepted the offer. Throughout the meeting, Tarostar sat in Borland’s place and scribbled down everything that was said. He delivered the parchment to the Master of Ceremonies when the meeting concluded.
When the day of the celebration dawned, Faramir went early to ensure that all was ready for the ceremony before the King and Queen arrived. The Court of the Fountain was almost deserted, the public being barred while the final preparations were made, Faramir was rather surprised to see several kitchen staff hurrying hither and thither as no mention had been made of refreshments being served. Then he gasped; A frightened dove in a cage was hung on the branches of the White Tree and twelve tubs of lard were arranged in a circle around it.
“What is the meaning of this?” the Steward demanded.
“I don’t know, my lord,” said a scared looking kitchen maid. “We are just doing as we were told.”
“Fetch the Master of Ceremonies!” the Steward ordered.
A few moments later the man arrived. He had been one of Denethor’s attendants and Faramir suspected the man still wished his father ruled Gondor. The Master bowed low. “You bow only to the Lord Elessar,” Faramir said sharply.” Now tell me, what is the meaning of this outrageous display?”
“I followed the instructions I was given exactly, my lord.” He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from within his robe. “See, it says here,’ Twelve portions of lard to be placed around Gondor’s most scared symbol’. A dove was the best I could think of for the symbol, as they are timid creatures. It isn’t my fault that our new lord has such eccentric ideas, coming from the North as he does!”
Faramir took the parchment and studied the barely intelligible scrawl. Healers were notorious for their bad handwriting and it seemed Tarostar was no exception. ”I agree it is somewhat hard to read and maybe you have made an honest mistake,“ he said.” However, you should have asked when the words appeared to make so little sense. It reads; ‘Twelve powerful lords will stand in place around Gondor’s most sacred symbol!’ Now quickly, remove the lard and bring chairs for the lords!” He had to suppress a chuckle as some of the lords, especially Dervorin of Ringlo Vale, did somewhat resemble lard!
“What about the dove?” asked the Master of Ceremonies,” I could serve it for your supper, my lord, if it please you?”
“I will take care of it,” said Faramir, snatching up the cage.”Now go and make all ready!”
When the King and Queen arrived a little later, there was no sign of the lard and the lords rose as one from their seats and bowed low. ”People of Gondor,” said the Faramir.”Let us rejoice and celebrate that our White Tree has now thrived here for a year .We are blessed by its blossoming and by the presence of our King and Queen amongst us!”
Just then the dove, released by Faramir alighted on the topmost branch of the tree.
Aragorn smiled at his Queen. ”Indeed we are blessed!” he smiled .”And let us not forget Lord Faramir who has arranged this occasion so smoothly just as he did my coronation and our marriage!”
Faramir bowed low disguising his expression. Little did they know!