Cedars of the Falas
The days that followed were golden, and Spring and Summer joined and made revel together in the fields of Gondor.
quoted from: The Steward and the King, The Return of the King, Book VI by J.R.R. Tolkien
Minas Tirith, 28th March 3019, Third Age
After their usual morning walk along the walls, they reached the small table that Beregond always laid up for them. But to Éowyn's utter surprise this time they found it literally packed with dishes holding all kinds of different food. With a questioning look she turned to the Steward, but before she could say anything, he smilingly motioned to her to sit down.
"Indulge me, my lady, and do not frown."
Shaking her head, she sat down. How could it be that his easy mood and obvious happiness made her feel so comfortable? He took his seat and motioned to the array of food.
"You see, I have noticed that having slept well adds to your appetite. And as your fears seemed to have been laid to rest with the messengers' arrival, I expected you to have had a good night and consequently a very good appetite. And as we have not had an opportunity to celebrate our victory – why not do it with a banquet for breakfast?"
She saw the mirth in his eyes and could not help a smile. At least as far as the message went, he surely was right. She had been surprised how profoundly the news that Éomer was alive and well had shaken her. Her high-handed, patronising oaf of a big brother! She heaved a breath, feeling her heart brim with joy. She loved him, loved him dearly despite his obvious pig-headedness. Though she had not slept well it had not mattered, for each time she had woken she had looked at the dark square of her window, relishing the idea that somewhere out there was her brother, probably feasting with his comrades and friends on the Field of Cormallen.
Still smiling, she held out her cup to the Steward to have it filled with the fragrant, steaming tea. "I cannot confirm your assumption that sleeping well and feeling hungry necessarily correspond as far as I am concerned, but I have to admit to be overjoyed that my brother is alive and..." Realising what she had said she stopped abruptly, nearly pulling back the cup. How could she rejoice loudly at Éomer's survival in the face of a man who only recently had lost a brother he had loved dearly! Embarrassed, she groped in her mind for something to say, but the Steward just finished pouring tea and then looked at her, smiling warmly.
"Enjoy your happiness, Éowyn. You deserve it. It is only natural to be relieved when someone close to your heart has come unscathed through great danger. And do we not feel our joy doubly when we can share it with a friend?"
She swallowed. "That we certainly do, my Lord Faramir. But we also should be careful not to hurt said friend."
Pouring himself some tea, the Steward shrugged. "I do not feel hurt. And even if I did I would know that you did not hurt me deliberately and would be content. Tell me, what do you want to start your breakfast with?"
She did not feel it in herself to shrug off her blunder that easily. Facing him, she admitted: "But I thought about hurting you deliberately that very first day we met, when you were so calm and superior and made me feel so utterly childish."
He nodded, suddenly serious. "I know. But I still am convinced that even if you had lashed out, verbally or bodily, your actions would not have been meant to hurt me in the first place. You were hurt, in body and mind, and you tried to protect yourself from even greater harm, tried to at least keep the shards together, using pride like a kind of armour. I did not know then, but I believe I understand you now."
Her persisting doubt must have shown on her face, for he smiled faintly. "Don't underestimate the Black Breath, Éowyn. I have felt it pull at the very foundations of my heart, filling my mind with nothing but bleakness and despair, and even now, as the Dark Lord has been smitten down, I am not sure if I will ever be whole again. Only time can tell." His smile deepened. "And now let us pretend we are Hobbits and enjoy a good breakfast." He pointed at a basket holding a small pot wrapped in thick cloth. "Porridge," he said with a grin.
"Yes, I enquired what a typical Rohirric breakfast would consist of, and porridge was one of the items I was told about. And I was warned to take care to keep it hot until serving."
Only now Éowyn beheld the fried eggs, the crispy rashers of bacon and a number of bannocks, piled up on a linen cloth. She shook her head. "My lord, such a breakfast would be seen fit as a meal for hard-working people, labourers and warriors alike, but certainly not for convalescents who do little more than carry their own weight from one chair to the other."
He shrugged, the corners of his eyes crinkling with silent laughter. "I expect to have a very strenuous day in front of me, especially with the affairs down at the camp, so I certainly will eat. And so should you, my lady, for if you are willing to help me, I have a task for you."
"Yes, I think you would be able to collect the necessary information much faster and with less embarrassment than any Gondorean official." Seeing her frown, he grinned. "And no, my lady, I don't want you to spy for me, don't you worry. I simply need some information to be able to act usefully and sensibly."
The Steward raised his cup to his lips, watching her over the brim. "As Elfhelm will have the troops from Rohan start to go back to their homesteads, I would like to give them some grain, some seeds, whatever might be useful to keep their families fed until a better organised support for the devastated areas can set in. I was told about the problems in the Westfold, where not only supplies but also fields seem to have been destroyed. But I do not know what would grow best in these areas."
Éowyn snorted. "You do not really think I have to ask someone to tell you about that, do you? We grow beans, peas, even lentels in the more protected areas, crops that can be dried and are very nourishing. But grain would certainly be the main problem, as it is already late for sowing. Seeds for all kinds of roots and cabbages would be useful, too. But certainly things differ a bit, depending on the area of the Mark."
He nodded. "If you agree I will send you a scribe to make a list of what would come in useful where, so a small sack that can be easily carried on a horse can be prepared for every Rider going back to Rohan. I think Gondor should give a token of her gratitude, apart from the loot allocated to Rohan. I also thought about giving each man one of the knives Gondorean soldiers are provided with. They are simple but sturdy and have blades of a good quality."
She nodded approvingly. "A knife is always welcome, my lord. It is seen as an honourable gift from warrior to warrior and being provided with a surplus knife of good quality certainly will add to the owner's reputation. Especially as a good knife also is one of the traditional items a man would give to the woman he is wooing to show he is serious."
She was stunned by the expression that flashed over his face for a split second, but it was gone so fast that she was not even sure she had really seen it. And anyway he left her no time for pondering, pointing at the table again.
"You have not told me yet about your choice for breakfast."
She frowned, though she found it difficult not to grin instead. "You certainly are persistent, my lord!"
Grinning, he nodded. "A typical Hobbitish trait, I have been told."
Now she could not but laugh. "Béma, I assure you, you have nothing in common with a Hobbit!" Just to think of comparing this tall lord to the four foot high Halflings was hilarious. And as for his face, in his bold and stern features no one would see any similarity to the good-natured face of a hobbit. But to her surprise his voice had an unexpected graveness when he disagreed.
"I would not say so, my lady. Besides being persistent, which you just told me I am, they admire gardening and I even met one who is learned in much more than the common way."
"But they certainly are no warriors, no matter how loyal, high-hearted and enduring they might be."
He nodded his consent. "They certainly are not. And neither would I be one if I could help it. I am a warrior to protect what is close to my heart, to fulfil my duty to my people. And I always will strive to do it the best way possible. But I do not enjoy fighting for the sake of the fight."
She felt in an embarrassing way rebuked, knowing at the same time that he had not meant to embarrass her. To overcome the awkwardness of the moment, she took one of the small bowls and held it out to the Steward. "Well then, my lord, let me test how well Gondoreans can make porridge."
He spooned a small portion of porridge into the bowl, and then looked at her for further demands. "Bacon to go with it?"
Éowyn shook her head. "No. Some of that cream please, and some fruit, if there is any."
The Steward opened the lid of one of the pots. "Stewed apricots, made from dried fruit cooked in wine and honey. Will that do?"
"Certainly. And add plenty of the juice, please."
Receiving the filled bowl, she tasted gingerly, but found that there was no reason at all to hold back. The porridge was piping hot, the cream fresh and thick and the apricots were simply delicious. Taking a second spoonful, she nodded approvingly. "Very nice. I have to admit I could get used to this for breakfast."
The Steward chuckled. "Well, and I have to admit I have never had anything like porridge for breakfast."
"You don't know what you have missed!" Laughing, Éowyn filled the spoon, making sure that a generous amount of cream and fruit went with the porridge and held it out to the Steward. "Here, try!"
He leaned forward and opened his mouth, and still laughing, she fed him the tasty mush. "And? Do you like it?"
He chewed carefully, and Éowyn nearly snorted with laughter. To chew porridge! It was simply hilarious. Finally he swallowed, his face going absolutely deadpan and she knew she was in for a jibe.
"It certainly is a very nice experience, my lady, but unless you are willing to feed me each time I have to eat it, I would rather forego it."
"Poor you!" she mocked back. "Have some bacon and fried eggs instead. I can imagine that to be more to your taste."
For a while they ate in silence, each of them enjoying their food, and when Éowyn had finished, she turned the horn spoon and with a content sigh, she carefully licked its back. A sound like a suppressed gasp made her look at the Steward, who seeing her look, immediately schooled his features but could not help the visible blush on his face.
Béma, how could he take such a small lapse in manners that serious! She felt like rolling her eyes. Gondoreans! Sure, it was not ladylike, but had he himself not claimed they were friends? Certainly Éomer, despite his being king of the Mark, would even have licked the bowl! She had thought nothing about it, the taste of porridge and fruit having simply taken her back to the happy days of her childhood and the warmth of the kitchens at Meduseld.
For a moment she thought about making a snide remark, but then she simply dropped the spoon into the bowl and shoved it away. The way he had been brought up was not his fault, and as long as he did not try to lecture her about her way of behaviour, she would put up with his. Smiling, she addressed him. "That was certainly a treat, my lord. And now I think I could do with something savoury. And some bread would be nice."
He reached for one of the small rolls, and cutting it open, generously spread some cream-cheese on it, before offering it to her. "Goat's cheese. And you should try this with it."
"What's that?" Éowyn eyed the thin slices on the wooden plate the Steward held out to her critically. They seemed to consist of some kind of minced meat, probably air-dried, given the texture, but what puzzled her was the colour. Apart from the small chunks of fat that were still clearly discernible, the meat did not have the usual greyish texture of dried meat but sported a flaming red.
"We call it spiced wood, and it's a speciality from Lebennin." He grinned. "It really is spicy, but as you like ginger I thought you might enjoy the taste."
Warily Éowyn reached for one of the bright red slices and took a hesitant bite. She nearly gasped. The spicy sausages Anwen had given Berhtulf were bland in comparison. Resolutely she stuffed the rest of the slice into her mouth and chewed. The first impression of pungency soon mingled with that of salt and spices, and there even was a hint of sweetness. Strange, but very tasty. Only when she reached for a second slice she realized that the Steward was watching her closely, his eyes sparkling with mirth.
"It seems I was right about your taste, my lady."
Éowyn mockingly raised an eyebrow. "It seems everything you serve, my lord, is a speciality of some part of Gondor."
His grin deepened, and he nodded. "You certainly are right. But that's only because I am trying to show you the realm from her best sides. I might be no Halfling, but I too do enjoy good food and drink, and certainly the Rohirrim don't despise it."
Thinking of Berhtulf's and Grimbeorn's reaction to the spicy sausages a couple of days before, Éowyn laughed. "No, we certainly do not despise food and drink, but I dare say that even amongst ourselves the judgement of good and bad as far as food goes differs heavily."
"That I can very well imagine. For example octopus is regarded a delicacy with most people of the Falas, but I would have to be very hungry to fall back on it."
His grimace underlined his opinion concerning that coastal speciality, and thinking of a story Théodred had told her, Éowyn smirked.
"Boromir made Théodred eat octopus when they travelled Gondor together, and my cousin didn't like it either."
Remembering it, Théodred had shaken himself with disgust and stated that the stuff had tasted like a cooked hog's prick, only to make Frithuswith double over with laughter, asking him how he had knowledge of that kind of taste. Still grinning, she took a bite of the cheese roll the Steward had prepared for her and then reached for another slice of the spicy sausage.
"I suppose I can cope with not having had the honour of tasting octopus, as there are other victuals that truly are worth a try." Holding up the slice, she asked: "Tell me, is there a story with this kind of sausage, as there is with that golden wine we had last night?"
The Steward shook his head. "None that I know of." Seeing how fast the slices were disappearing, he started to cut off more, chuckling as Éowyn treated herself to them without any restraint. She felt rather full when in the end she held out her cup to him to have it filled with what had become the traditional second mug of tea that ended their breakfast.
"I only wondered how a wedding present was sent to a Gondorean lady by someone from Umbar. Were not the Umbarian warlords on Castamir's side during the Kin-strife?"
Putting down the teapot, the Steward nodded. "Yes, but you have to differentiate between the city and port of Umbar on the one hand and the coastal areas between that port and the mouth of the river Harnen on the other. The people of that region as well as their lords are of Haradrim origin and had little interest in being governed by one or the other of the Gondorean parties, and though a number of the lords took sides with Castamir, as did Pelargir and Tolfalas, there were others who simply wanted to be independent. They more or less were pressed into alliance with the Usurpers. And in some cases Castamir even took their sons as hostages to force them into compliance."
Listening with interest, Éowyn sipped her tea. It was fascinating how much he knew about events that had taken place so long ago, and truly amazing how he managed to talk about these things without the annoying stiffness that had made her roll her eyes more than once at her tutors' lectures back in Edoras. And certainly he had a pleasing voice. Nodding at his last remark, she put down her cup.
"That still is the usual practice. And certainly over the past centuries more than a few treaties held only because of an exchange of hostages."
"You are right about that, Lady Éowyn. But you certainly will agree that an exchange differs somehow from a unilateral taking of hostages."
Éowyn shrugged. "Yes, but that's the way it is. And I prefer dealing with facts to lamenting about morals."
The Steward raised his left eyebrow, and for a moment she was not sure if her remark had truly put him off or if he was merely mocking her. His voice at least sounded totally impersonal, uninflected and dry as he continued his tale. "Well, my lady, then let's stick to facts. One of those hostages more or less grew up on Tolfalas, and when Castamir was slain in the battle of the crossings of Erui, his sons fled to Pelargir and from there later to the city of Umbar with the help of the navy, but only after having ordered the hostage to be killed as they deemed his father had not been supportive enough."
She only realised that her disappointment of his change of narrating must have shown when he took a sip of his tea, and then continued his story more vividly, the corners of his eyes crinkling with suppressed laughter.
"I don't know exactly what reasons Lady Earendilme of Tolfalas had for warning the young man and even help him escape with the aid of some fishermen, but I do have certain ideas about them. Anyway, he succeeded in contacting his father, who consequentially sided with Eldacar and turned against the Usurper's ships. He was the only one on Eldacar's side to have any kind of navy, and in the end he proved essential for the king's troops in their siege on Pelargir. So Lady Earendilme's actions helped Eldacar's victory and it certainly prevented a raid on Tolfalas by the king's troops, as said Haradrim warlord claimed Lady Earendilme as being under his protection. In the end the lady married the former hostage, and that is when a large number of vines were sent to the island as a wedding-gift."
Éowyn smiled. "Hrodwyn will love that story. And the wine, to be sure."
"And did you like it?"
There was the twitching of the eyebrow she knew so well by now, but there was something else in his face, something she was not sure about. More to keep herself from pondering on it, she hastily answered his question. "I certainly did. I have to admit I prefer white wine to red, but I have never tasted the two varieties before, that very light one we had the other evening and the rich sweet one of last night."
"Which one do you prefer?"
He now smiled, his usual faint smile, and yet... If only she could grasp what made her so uneasy about his expression! She totally felt at a loss and shrugged. "I cannot say, as they are so different. I would prefer the light one with a meal, whereas the sweet one certainly is a treat for a feast. It's vines no doubt were a very fitting gift for a wedding."
He nodded, and for a split second she thought that his smile had just a hint of wistfulness. "Fitting and precious. And the people of Tolfalas guard the vines with a very watchful eye and do not allow any plants to be taken off the island."
He reached for his own cup and for a while they sat in silence. His gaze was still fixed on the cup when he finally spoke again. "They say my mother loved that wine and used to drink it every evening. I do not know if that is true, but I remember her holding a glass, a smallish translucent cup filled with what I believed to be liquid sunlight." Smiling sadly, he shook his head. "I watched her drinking it and expected her to start shining from within. Boromir laughed his head off when I told him."
He sighed. "It's a pity I remember so little of her. And what I remember in most cases rather resembles pieces of a mosaic, just splinters of a larger picture I cannot grasp. Like that glass, glowing with sunlight, while at the same time I cannot recall my mother's face. My uncle told me that as soon as my father had come to know that my mother liked that special wine, he journeyed to Tolfalas in person to make sure that a supply of the best was sent to Minas Tirith every year."
How lost he suddenly looked! Forcing her voice to sound encouragingly, Éowyn said: "She certainly must have meant a lot to him, not to trust that to any of his subordinates."
Their eyes met, and he nodded. "She certainly did. They say he knew how much she missed the sea and the easier ways of Enid en Ernil, and he tried to make living in the city more bearable whenever he could. And yet in the end it was of no avail."
He shoved away his cup. "She had a rather feeble health. There are rumours that she pined away due to the closeness of Mordor." Thoughtfully, he shook his head. "Some years ago I asked the healers who had treated her, and they told me that she had suffered from consumption. Perhaps it would have done her lungs good, had she gone back to Dol Amroth as my father had suggested when it had become clear how serious her illness was, but she would not have left my father for anything in the world. She knew she was dying and she did not want to lose any moment of the short time they still had."
He heaved a deep breath. "Come, my lady, let us walk a bit, before the garden swarms with patients."
In silence they walked along the inner wall until they reached the cedar, the emblem of the Falas. Looking up into its impressive heights, the image of a young woman and a small, raven-haired boy, doing the same, came to Éowyn's mind.
"I wish I could show you the cedars of Enid en Ernil, Éowyn. This tree is but a pale copy of their majesty."
"You have been often to your uncle's fief?" She was not sure what made her ignore his last remark, but she could not help a slight uneasiness, a germing wish to see all the places he had told her about: Ithilien, Emyn Arnen, the sea... She had better not think too much about it as it would not happen anyway.
"Quite often. The first time I went in my parents' company, but I don't remember anything about it. My father never went to Dol Amroth after my mother's death, so in later years I was accompanied by some of my father's officers. Dol Amroth has a good cavalry and a very impressive force of archers, and my father sent me there for training quite regularly. My chief archer, Maeron, who you met at the Houses, is from Dol Amroth, and it was him who told me how my parents came to know each other and set tongues wagging all through the realm ."
Intrigued, Éowyn tilted her head. "How they came to know each other? So theirs wasn't an arranged marriage?"
The Steward shook his head. "No, not at all. It was the only time my father threw his usual political caution and shrewdness to the winds and followed his heart. It certainly was a love match, and it caused quite a scandal when it came to pass. As you know, with Umbar lost, Pelargir and Dol Amroth are Gondor's most important harbours and have been in constant rivalry for centuries. And while trade had always been on a much larger scale in Pelargir, under the regency of Prince Adrahil, Imrahil's father, Dol Amroth managed to do some very effective cherry picking, securing some exceedingly profitable commercial agreements. Plus they had always kept their military navy well maintained. To settle the mutual animosity that might have endangered the security of Gondor's coasts, Ecthelion had subtly arranged an agreement between the ruling houses of both ports, which was to be sealed by an intermarriage. But though Adrahil had given permission for Lord Thólinnas of Pelargir to woo his daughter Finduilas, he had at the same time made clear that he would not force her to accept the man should she find him disagreeable. Ecthelion had arranged a great feast as a fitting occasion for the two to meet and for Thólinnas to appear at his best.
And attending said feast, my parents fell for each other so profoundly that an eruption of Mount Doom would have been a mild affair compared with it, as Maeron put it. Ecthelion was not pleased at all, Thólinnas was outright enraged, and only Adrahil shrugged it off with a grin, probably secretly happy that the Steward's own son had thwarted Pelargir's plans. Though that was not the last time Dol Amroth shamed the Lord of Pelargir."
"You do not seem to regret it very much, my lord." His broad grin more than confirmed her assumption.
"No, not really. I highly dislike Lord Thólinnas, though his son Radhruin seems to be a decent enough man, and also an acknowledged naval captain. He's a close friend of Amrothos, so at least there is some hope that the younger generation might be able to overcome the traditional rivalry. Last year his father made another attempt to obtain satisfaction and connect Pelargir and Dol Amroth. He proposed a marriage between his son and Lothíriel, Prince Imrahil's youngest child and only daughter, but so far my uncle has not agreed to anything due to the uncertainties caused by the approaching war."
It felt good to see him grin, and she had to admit she enjoyed his humour and irony. Raising an eyebrow, she shook her head in mock- reproach. "It seems we are in the middle of Gondorean court gossip, my lord."
At once he adopted a like expression, and pressing his right hand on his heart, he bowed. "We certainly are, my lady, but you have my word that should any of my ancestors' and relatives' actions offend you..."
Éowyn snorted with laughter. "I assure you that a Rohirrim is not that easily offended, at least as long as the shocking news concern Gondorean nobles and nobody of the Mark."
Again he bowed. "Then, my lady, let us continue our walk, and I will provide you with a story about Tolfalas' adventurous ladies, my uncles' piratical traits and a certain lord from Pelargir, who for a second time went for a high prize and was left with nothing."
To Éowyn's utter surprise the Steward offered her his arm. "Are you sure? What about your injury?"
He shrugged. "My lady, a fortnight has passed since I was wounded. The healers removed the plug yesterday and assured me that the wound is clean and nearly healed and can be left to close now."
She took his arm, and smiling he enquired: "And what about your injuries, my lady?"
Now it was her turn to shrug. "I can move the fingers of the broken arm, which no doubt is good, but the healers give me little hope that the arm will ever get back to its old strength. Should it heal, it will most probably stay weak and sore and also be somewhat shorter than before."
"Should it heal?" His expression was one of utter worry. "Is there any doubt that it will?"
"The healers are not sure if the different pieces of the bone will really mend together in the end. I'm afraid I'm in for another turn of waiting as only time can tell. But at least the bruises have faded."
"Bruises? They can be rather painful."
His grimace made her chuckle. He surely knew what she was talking about. One did not spar and fight without getting bruised. Grinning, she nodded her accordance. "They surely can. But I dare say that I'm used to being bruised as I seem to have been collecting them since my early childhood. One of the earliest things I can remember is my mother kissing my badly bruised knee, telling me a kiss would make it better."
She did not know what to make of the expression that flitted over his face, but then he shook his head and turned to her with a smile. "Come, my lady, bruised or not, we shall walk and delight in the stories and scandals of Gondor's nobility."
She took his arm, feeling its solidness under her palm. Solid and reliable, like its owner. For a split second she wondered where this thought had come from, but then he tilted his head slightly, and with a voice that only poorly hid his own delight in telling the story, he started to talk.
"It was in 2986, three year after Ecthelion's death and only six after Thorongil's victorious surprise attack on Umbar. After his failed attempt to win Findulas' hand in marriage Thólinnas had married a lady from Edhellond, who had died giving birth to her second daughter, leaving the Lord of Pelargir a widower without an heir. In an attempt to gain influence over Tolfalas, the big isle controlling the estuary of the Anduin, he then offered for the Lady Gelíris, the lord of Tolfalas' only daughter, though she was but a girl of sixteen and he a man in his late forties. Arrangements were made, but when he came to the island for the betrothal, the girl could not be found anywhere."
He stopped talking, and looked at her with an expression of mock enquiry. Smiling, she obliged to make a supposition. "Could it be that it was a trick to get rid of him and the parents were simply hiding their daughter?
Pulling a haughty face like conceited tutor, he shook his head. "No, it certainly was no trick. Her parents were devastated, and nobody knew what had happened. They had men search the island, but to no avail, but nobody paid any attention to the old fisherman who reported two days later that his boat had been stolen." He looked at her, and his eyes laughed, though he managed to keep the overbearing expression, and smirking, Éowyn grabbed his arm closer, eager to hear more.
"It was a week later that while patrolling the Bay of Belfalas, the lookout of Imrahil's warship noticed a fisher boat off the accustomed fishing grounds. Growing suspicious, the prince ordered to check the boat, lest it was some spy or smuggler. To their utter surprise, they found nobody but a young woman on board, who claimed to be from Anfalas and having lost orientation while fishing in an upcoming storm."
"The Lady Gelíris?"
The Steward nodded.
"But certainly the prince would have noticed that she was a noblewoman and of Númenórean blood! The features are so obvious..." Éowyn was stopped by the Steward's soft chuckle.
"No, my lady, it was not that easy. Though Númenórean blood prevails in her family, my aunt shows obvious traits of her southern ancestor. For one she is shorter than most women, and she has brown eyes."
"Yes, my lady. Lady Gelíris of Tolfalas, scion of Earendilme the brave and a loving pirate from Umbar, became Prince Imrahil's spouse in the autumn of 2986, and when the May of 87 came, my cousin Elphir was born, and...
"My Lord Steward, excuse me, but..."
Puffing and red in his face with exertion, the portly healer Éowyn remembered to have seen in the Rohirric wards, came jogging up to them. For a moment he stood panting, and then repeated his apology. "I am terribly sorry to interrupt, my lord, but could you please come? The Warden sends me, my lord. It is urgent. The Rohirrim..." He fell silent and shot Éowyn an unconfident side glance.
"What about the Rohirrim?" The Steward's voice was sober and cool, bearing no trace of his former joviality.
"They..." The healer swallowed, wringing his hands. "I can't..." Again he looked at Éowyn. "My lord, the Warden begs you to come to the wards. It is incredible. They have totally got out of hand, they... They simply won't listen to anybody and..."
Without ceremony, the Steward grabbed Éowyn's hand, and leaving the puzzled healer open-mouthed, they hasted back to the Houses.
Enid en Ernil: (Sindarin) The Land of the Prince; name of the fief held by the Princes of Dol Amroth
consumption:an archaic name for pulmonary tuberculosis
And a bit more on medicine:
Deep wounds cannot simply be closed by stitching, especially if there might be dirt in them, but have to heal slowly from the bottom up. Today a drain is used to remove any lymph fluid from the depth and keep the wound from festering, thus leaving only a very small hole in the skin and resulting in a thin scar. In former times a plug made of linen was inserted into the wound to keep it from closing on the surface while below it started festering which could cause traumatic fever and sepsis that endangered the life of the injured. The wound could be cleaned and controlled like that, and the plug was only removed when the surface could be left to close without further danger. Such a healing process would result in a quite wide scar.