When the Company again stood before Celeborn and Galadriel, they were welcomed and greeted with fair words. At length, Celeborn spoke of their departure.
"Now is the time," he said, "when those who wish to continue the Quest must leave this land. Those who no longer wish to go forward may remain here, for a while. But whether they stay or go, none can be sure of peace. For we are come now to the edge of doom."
There was silence. Galadriel looked into the eyes of each one in turn. Boromir looked back steadily and did not flinch.
"They have all resolved to go forward," announced Galadriel.
"As for me," said Boromir clearly, "my way home lies onward and not back."
"True," replied Celeborn, "but is all this Company going with you to Minas Tirith?"
"We have not yet decided our course, " said Aragorn quickly. "Beyond Lothlorien, I do not know what Gandalf intended to do; perhaps even he had no clear purpose. I am undecided."
"Yet you will have to decide, one way or the other," said Celeborn. "The Great River Anduin cannot be crossed by travellers with baggage between Lorien and Gondor, save by boat. The way to Minas Tirith lies on the western shore, but the straight road of the Quest lies to the east. On which side will you journey?"
"If my advice is heeded, it will be the western shore, and the way to my City," said Boromir, looking at Aragorn. "But I am not the leader of the Company." The others spoke no word, and Aragorn looked troubled and doubtful.
Celeborn gazed upon the Company thoughtfully before answering.
"It is not my part to choose for you, but I will do what I can. There are some among you who can handle boats; Legolas, whose folk know the swift Forest River, Boromir of Gondor, and Aragorn the traveller."
"And one Hobbit!" cried Merry, pushing forward. "Not all of us look on boats as wild horses. My people live by the banks of the Brandywine."
"That is well," replied Celeborn. "Then I will furnish your company with boats; they will make your journey less toilsome for a while. But they will not give you counsel; in the end you must leave them and the River, and turn west -- or east."
Aragorn was obviously relieved and thanked Celeborn many times, but Boromir inwardly sighed. More delay in the making of the decision! he thought. Still, the situation is not hopeless. Aragorn has not yet made up his mind; there is still time to persuade him.
"All shall be prepared for you and await you at the havens before noon tomorrow," said Celeborn. "I will send one of my people to you in the morning to guide you there. Now we will wish you all a fair night and untroubled sleep."
"Sleep in peace," said Galadriel. "Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with the thought of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Good night!"
They took their leave of the Lord and Lady, and returned to their pavilion. Though Galadriel had bid them rest well, they wished to take counsel together before they slept. For a long time they debated what they should do, and how it would be best to attempt the fulfilling of their purpose with the Ring, but they could reach no decision. Most of the Company wished to go first to Minas Tirith, to escape at least for a while the terror of the Enemy, but still Aragorn was divided in his mind.
"I shall go to Minas Tirith, alone if need be," said Boromir with a heavy sigh, "for it is my duty." He watched Aragorn quietly from where he sat beside him; he regretted now his doubts of Aragorn and the harsh words he had spoken before their audience with Celeborn. It was indeed a difficult decision for a leader to make with so many in his care to consider. He reached out suddenly and laid a hand on Aragorn's arm and gripped it briefly; Aragorn acknowledged the gesture with a grateful nod.
The Company continued to sit in silence, each one lost in his own thoughts. Boromir looked around the circle, and his eyes came to rest on Frodo.
Frodo looks so troubled, Boromir thought. I wonder what he is thinking? He knows so little of the road ahead; he trusts us who do know to advise him, and yet we cannot! I wish they would listen to me, for his sake! He watched Frodo for a moment, then spoke softly.
"If you wish only to destroy the Ring," Boromir said thoughtfully, "then there is little use in war and weapons; and the Men of my City cannot help. In that case, there is little point in going to Minas Tirith. But if you wish to destroy the armed might of the Dark Lord, then it is folly to go without force into his domain; and folly to throw away!"
Boromir paused suddenly; he realized he had been speaking out loud. He felt the eyes of the Company on him. What was I saying? he thought, becoming confused. Folly to throw away...what?
"Folly to throw lives away, I mean," he explained hurriedly. "It is a choice between defending a strong place and walking openly into the arms of death." He paused, then shrugged. "At least, that is how I see it."
Boromir looked at Frodo, but he could not read his expression. He used to have such an expressive face, thought Boromir, but he has changed. His face is closed now; he keeps his thoughts to himself. Poor Frodo! I wish I could help him!
After their morning meal, they packed their gear and made ready to move on. Haldir had returned from the Northern Fences to be their guide to the havens of Lorien. They passed through Caras Galadhon, down the southward slopes of the hill, and out the Great Gate and across the white bridge. Turning away from the paved road, they took a path that went off into a deep thicket of mallorn-trees; their path led them through rolling woodlands of silver shadow, ever downward south and east, towards the shores of the River.
Noon was at hand when they came to a high green wall; passing through, they came suddenly out into the open. Before them lay a long lawn of shining grass, studded with golden star-shaped flowers, glinting in the sun. The lawn ran out into a narrow tongue between bright margins: on the right and west the Silverlode flowed glittering; on the left and east the Great River rolled its broad waters, deep and dark.
"Anduin!" sighed Boromir. His heart was lifted suddenly; in spite of the doubt he felt about the future and the course they were attempting, he felt a little less homesick. This River he knew, at least, though he had never travelled it this far north. Its dark, wide waters were the same waters that flowed from the foot of Rauros at the northern borders of his land down through Gondor, past Osgiliath, lapping at the very feet of Mindolluin and his city of Minas Tirith. He looked forward to a journey on that River; he would be home that much sooner.
He felt someone at his side; glancing down, he saw Merry.
"What do you see, Boromir?" Merry asked, looking out across the green lawn to the the wide water beyond, a puzzled look on his face. "What are you looking at?"
"I am looking at the road home," replied Boromir with a smile. "That is the River Anduin, that flows all the way to the Great Sea; but more importantly, it flows through Gondor, to my City. I feel like we are getting closer now, Merry, and I am eager to be back."
Boromir laid his hand on the hobbit's shoulder and shook it gently.
"Come! Let us go see these boats the Elves are offering us. I wish to see your abilities put to the test."
"And then," went on Boromir, with an answering grin, "you can tell me about this River of yours that flows past your country."