MUS #5 – The Doorward of Meduseld

Hamá, the Doorward of Meduseld, sat uncomfortably in his saddle. The road between Edoras and Helms Deep was stretched and undulating, and whilst Hama loved his mottled brown horse like the Horsemasters of Rohan should, his days standing guard outside Theoden’s Golden Hall had accustomed him to being on his feet rather than seated. To distract himself from the casual bruising, and to maintain pace with the King’s vanguard, he spoke to a banner-bearer, a young lad of ten and four summers. Already men’s conversation had left behind the style of whispers and glances, and instead were now eagerly embracing a brazen volume, as Wormtongue had been cast abroad.

“And my reply was firm but fair, I said to Master Greyhame, I told him: ‘The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age. Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom.’”

“I’m sure glad you did my Lord, but was that not folly? I mean, begging your pardon Sire, but given your duty to follow our Kings orders?” replied the boy.

“Undoubtedly so!” Hamá cried laughing aloud, but he quickly became downcast “But to that I say this, Bannerman” he continued softly, “Is it folly to seek one’s own council when uncertainty pours from our King? Is it not my duty, nay, my right, as a trusted representative of the King, to represent his best interests, as he had chosen me to do so?”

“I believe so Sir. A man, such as yourself, who is chosen by our King with personal attention, should act as best he sees. Presuming you know the King’s mind that is” the lad replied, with a twist of wit that took Hamá off guard, so much so that he nearly fell from his horse!

“Well now, for all my talk of judging character it seems I’ve underestimated our bannerman Guthláf here. True enough, presuming to know a King’s mind is tantamount to treachery. Theoden King of course needed to reprimand my break of faith and in doing so reclaim the authority eroded from him. Though my exile was only for a short time not long enough to pass through the gates, until his attentions fell upon the poison whisperer, and I was forgiven” Gamá exclaimed jovially, and again fell troubled in thought, “But, you are right young Guthláf, presuming to know our Lord’s mind whilst it wrested enraptured by Wormtongue was indeed a fool’s gambit”.

It was now Guthláf who was embolden to presume the mind of his betters, and reading the unease written on Gamá’s brow, decided to help alleviate it of thought. “Tell me Sire, if you will indulge an inquisitive mind, how did you come to know the intentions of Master Greyhame and his companions, I mean, they’re such strange folk”.

Hamá, recognising the boys intention, but not disparaging at the obviousness of it, in fact he was rather grateful, lifted his head and smiled. They rode on for a few paces whilst he gathered his thoughts, and feeling the road was long enough to accommodate the unabridged version, he began:

“It is appropriate that the race of Men have come to find themselves in Rohan and Gondor, serving as the boundary between the ashen hot lands of Mordor and shrubland cool of Eriador. Ours is an expansive grassland heath, with the Anduin flowing cold and swift, crags of untamed stone jutting forth from the ground, and the surrounding horizon dominated by ancient lofty mountains capped with white. The Lords and Kings and Stewards and Counselors will change throughout the age, but our lives are fleeting before the endurance of the earth. For you see, I hold true the belief that it is the land that maketh the man. The humid summers and lush foliage of the shire encourages a calm contentment innate to the shirefolk, who with a relaxed jovial speech swap tales and jest as their main discourse. The choking arid heat and cracked black tread of Mordor manifests in a guttural painful whine and thickened sharp skin of all who are unfortunate enough to call it home. Men, then, reflect our lands too, for better or worse. Having neither the deep pools of patience of north-westerly elves and halflings, nor the limitless rage of south-easterly Uruk-hai. Expansive ambition punctuated by steadfast resolve illustrates both our lands and temperament.” Hamá paused his speech, looking at the lad whose mind was spinning from lofty talk of far flung places.

Guthláf roused himself from confusion and replied: “Well I don’t know about all that Sir, having never seen those lands, or halflings, or orcs for that matter thankfully. But it seems to me that the lands are what you make them not the other way around. Orcs are nasty creatures and have made nasty lands. And they like it so! For a Captain of soldiers you have a lore master’s mind about you, yet in all this talk, you haven’t shared how you came to know Greyhame’s intentions”.

“That’s Master Greyhame, Guthláf, sully not our open talk with disrespect” Hamá retorted. “But you are correct again my lad” with a brief pause, and a readjustment in his saddle, Hamá continued. “My duty is to guard the doors of Meduseld from fell intent, be it of obvious design or otherwise. Receiving guests to host before our King means studying the guests on approach, with knowledge of their tradition, custom and etiquette, it is insufficient to see sword and cry slayer, in this age of war. Would you have me judge the Dwarves on their surly countenance and gruff expression, or the Elves on their evasive aloofishness and riddles of reason? No, lad, it is but their way, and those ways I must study to understand. The Dwarf may not be aggressive nor the Elf arrogant for displaying the characteristics of their people. Judging others on the etiquette of Rohan could ostracize even The Men of Minas Tirith, we’re different within our own borders. Our Sire Master Greyhame roamed the land long before I was born, though tales refer to him by all manner of titles, never is he called an ill guest. My study of foreign conventions put me at ease for the most part, but it was the truth that a man can be judged by the company he keeps that encouraged me most. Having safely travelled with such assorted company, I deemed Master Gandalf a herald of hope of unification in our desperate times, not an emissary of evil. I feared that had already found its home in Meduseld.”

Satisfied, the boy nodded and reflected on the words. The Rohirrim were approaching a crag-like region of stone and heath hills, and here Hamá slowed the company behind him, and beckoned a second to follow him as he left to meet up with the scouting company. The Horses were nervous, turning this way and that against the reins of their masters. Hamá trust himself to make an accurate reading of mens intentions, but of beasts he could not profess mastery, instead deferring to his horse, who twisted and snorted frantically. An ill breeze drifted over the hills and a sense of impending evil took hold.

Source: J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers & its adaptation by Peter Jackson

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