Arathorn smiled as a baby's happy babbles joined the whispered conversation between his parents. "That is your learned opinion is it, my boy?" he asked, winking at his wife. "I cannot say I agree. I think it much wiser to do as your mother suggests. She is quite right. It would be better to use the last of our supplies rather than hunt. We shall be home on the morrow, after all."
Settled in a nest of furs, Aragorn bounced on his bottom and flapped his arms as he gibbered a response.
"Oh, you are the stubborn one, my son," Arathorn laughed in reply. Bending down, he gently lifted the boy into his arms. "But there is no use arguing the point. Your first hunting lesson will simply have to wait for another occasion." Aragorn cocked his head at this papa and babbled again. "Alright, alright, how about I offer another lesson in its place, will that do?" Aragorn cocked his head, again. "Well, I shall teach you to make a fire," Arathorn responded as if in answer to a question.
Aragorn bobbed his head and flapped his arms. Arathorn grinned and patted the small back and lowered the baby back into the next of furs. The, he strolled casually around their chosen camp. "First," he explained, stooping to pick up several large stones, "we must make a safe place to set our fire. That means clearing a spot of grass and leaves and aught else that might burn, and then placing a ring of stones in which it will be contained."
Aragorn bounced and flapped his arms, gibbering now and then as his father worked.
"To your satisfaction?" Arathorn asked, as he finished. Aragorn clapped his hands together, then held them out to his father. "Very good. I am relieved that you approve," Arathorn replied laughingly. Placing the strap of a pouch across over his head, he strolled over to the baby and lifted him back into his arms. "Enough supervising, my boy. Time to get your hands dirty… My father always said lessons were better learned with action rather than words."
He carried Aragorn into the trees. "First, we must gather some tinder and kindling. It has not rained of late, and that helps us." Aragorn gurgled. "How, you ask?" Arathorn replied. "Well now, my boy, damp tinder and kindling is a bugger to get started, and without that base, there is no hope at all for the larger logs." Aragorn bobbed his head agreeably, earning a tousled head.
Bending, Arathorn stopped, holding tight to the child, and let Aragorn grab a fist full of dried grass. "Well done, my boy. That shall do quite nicely," he affirmed. "But we shall need a good deal more than that." Arathorn grabbed several handfuls of dried grass and pine needles and stuffed them into his pouch. Then, he gently pried the grass from his son's fingers as the baby attempted to jam his small fist into his mouth. "It does us no good if it's wet, remember, Aragorn?"
The baby gurgled and flapped an arm. "Patience," replied Arathorn. "That was only the tinder. We need kindling still before we fetch the larger pieces." He strolled around, softly bouncing the boy in his arms as he walked. "Ah, here we are, a nice bit of kindling," Arathorn stated, pointing to a scattering of thin, broken sticks on the ground." Bending carefully, he grabbed a stick with peeling bark. Quickly swiping off the little bark that remained, Arathorn handed the now smooth stick to Aragorn, letting the baby gum it while he added several handfuls of kindling to his pouch. He then gathered a few larger pieces of wood into a haphazard stack that he tucked awkwardly under one arm.
"This will do for a start," Arathorn announced, turning back to the camp and dropping his armload of logs by the firepit. "Now comes the actual fire-making," he revealed conspiratorially, as he lowered the baby back onto his furs. "This bit you will have to watch, rather than do." He tousled Aragorn's head again as the baby settled down, contentedly gnawing his stick. Then, Arathorn dumped out his pouch beside the logs.
"First," he began, "we must make a little nest of tinder right in the center of our ring. Tinder is easy to light, you see, but it burns quickly…too quickly to light the larger logs." Arathorn glanced up at the baby and smiled as Aragorn gazed steadily back. "Thus, we need to build a little hut of kindling around it next," he explained, carefully forming the structure of kindling. "Why not simply toss the kindling atop the tinder, you ask?" Aragorn cocked his head. "A fine question, my boy. Well, you see, a fire needs air to live, just as a man does. Toss the kindling atop the tinder, and the spark smothers before the kindling can catch. But if we give the flame some room to grow, before you know it, the kindling has caught and a larger log may be added," Arathorn announced, enthusiastically, earning another gibber from his son, before Aragorn returned the stick to his mouth.
"We have a solid base to begin with," Arathorn continued, "the tricky bit now is getting the flint to spark enough to catch the tinder." He glanced again at the baby, who bounced on his bottom as their eyes met. "Ahh, but we are in luck tonight," Arathorn exclaimed, as he struck the flint and with the first spark, the tinder began to smolder. "And thus, your first lesson is complete."
"He shan't remember any of that, you know," laughed Gilrain, settling down beside Aragorn's nest of furs. "He is but 8 months old."
Arathorn shrugged and grinned. "It is never to early to start teaching, my papa said, even if the lessons must be repeated."
Gilrain laughed and rose up to kiss him gently on the lips.