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Thoughts

Section LXXXVII-The Argonath

Another day on the river, another day lost in thought, as lost as I am in the land in which we now journey...

Today, Sam travels sitting in the front of the boat. We trade, from time to time, to break the tediousness of each day. In truth, Sam does not let a day go by, nay, not a morning nor an afternoon, without muttering something about his distrust of boats, lamenting the lack of another way to proceed.

The other night, Merry and Pippin declared their intention to create a song of this journey. They assert they already know the chorus: ‘Sam loves all things Elvish, but boats...’ When we return to the Shire...

When they return to the Shire... some small corner of my heart struggles to convince me I shall see the Shire again, yet truly, shall I? It seems as lost to me as I am in this wilderness. My home, Bag End, is certainly lost; and as charming as Crickhollow may be, it is not home to me. So long ago now, I spent but one night there... what of the rest of that serene land... green and lush and quiet... what I would not give now for a dull and tranquil Shire night, even out camping, untroubled, on a solid Shire forest floor... safe from harm and terror... to hear again familiar sounds...

When last did we hear birds singing? Even the animals seem to have abandoned this forsaken land.

Daily, there is only the lapping of the river. Sometimes, it is swift and thundering, the waters white and angry... other times, when the current is slow and placid, there is the steady paddling of Aragorn, Legolas, and Boromir...

I start out of my reverie... what was I thinking about again? It matters not, as I recognize Aragorn’s hand lying gently on my shoulder. More than his murmuring of my name, I hear the awe -- the veneration -- in his voice. I struggle to rouse myself more fully from my half-waking world...

On the riverbanks before us, they appear.

Aragorn declares simply, “Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings.”

These were his kin?

My eyes raise higher and higher and higher still. What a marvel do I behold! How, I wonder, were Men able to create these remarkable statues? What master craftsman designed and executed the massive undertaking? How long did it take? Taller than trees -- except mayhap those in Lorien -- are these ancient kings of Men. Kings indeed, with crowns on their heads. They seem carved from the very cliffs about them, or are they? For taller still do they stand. Proudly, they reach skyward as their feet disappear into the cliff roots, and the river. They are not shod with boots of any make with which I am familiar, but then I am admittedly not particularly familiar with boots, in any case. Never have I seen boots what leave the toes exposed. Even the toenails are etched into the stone. No detail was overlooked. The folds of their clothing would almost convince me they are alive; if I touched them, the robes would give way as living material might. Yet their eyes are lifeless, unseeing, though opened wide. They are, in truth, singularly different, in face, clothing, and weapons; one holds an axe and the other a sword, in the right hand, respectively. One thing only do they share, their left hands are outstretched, palms forward... not in welcome, my heart whispers, but in warning.

More warnings, yet it does not quell my astonishment. Any words I might choose to use to describe this magnificent gateway fall short of adequately expressing my wonderment. I ask myself again, how did such things come to be?