Author: Linda Hoyland
Theme: Back to School
Elements: Wilderness skills
Author's Notes: none
Summary: When Eldarion fails to pay attention to his tutor, Aragorn decides a spot of Ranger training might teach a valuable lesson.
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Word Count: 719
"Your tutor tells me that you have been fidgeting and not paying attention during your Quenya lessons, Eldarion," Aragorn sternly admonished his young son.
"But Quenya is so boring, ada! It is so hard to sit still! And what use is it, since I want to be a Ranger! Rangers don't sit learning boring old words."
Aragorn looked thoughtful. "Do you indeed, ion nîn?" he replied. "Maybe then we should begin your training in earnest tomorrow. I have a free afternoon."
"Yes please!" Eldarion jumped for joy.
"I expected you to scold Eldarion, not give him a treat," Arwen later reproved her husband. "If he is to become as great a king as you, he will need to study."
"I believe he will apply himself more carefully to his studies in future, my love," Aragorn said mildly. "He reminds me very much of myself at his age."
Arwen regarded her husband quizzically but said no more.
The next afternoon, the King and his excited young son set out for the woodland that bordered the Pelennor. A group of Faramir's Rangers acted as their guards. They followed at a discreet distance endeavouring to make themselves invisible.
"I am going to teach you how to track a deer today," Aragorn told his son.
"Can I kill one?" Eldarion asked with the bloodthirsty gusto typical of the young.
"Not for many years yet," his father replied. "Deer are Yavanna's gift to us, as are all the wild creatures, and we must respect them, only kill when we are hungry and then quickly and cleanly with a single shot. No, I shall show you how to track a deer, but you will need to be very still and quiet and pay attention. Do you think you can do that?"
"Yes, ada," Eldarion replied.
"Look! "said Aragorn. "Here are the hoof prints of a stag. We will follow them."
Aragorn and Eldarion followed the tracks until they came to a thicket surrounding a stream.
"The stag has crossed the stream," said Aragorn. "We will wait here concealed in the undergrowth and see if any others come to drink."
The boy and his father settled themselves in the bracken and waited. Aragorn was as unmoving as the surrounding trees, but Eldarion fidgeted constantly. "Why don't the deer come, ada?" he asked after a while. "It is dull sitting here waiting!"
"The deer can hear you moving around, ion nîn, " said Aragorn. "They will not come because they are afraid. Maybe we should go home?"
"Ada, no!" Eldarion protested. " I can be still, I promise!"
"Very well, we will wait a little longer," Aragorn agreed.
Father and son settled down again to wait. This time, Eldarion remained still and quiet and they were rewarded with the sight of a hind and her faun drinking from the stream. Aragorn smiled at Eldarion's rapt gaze. The boy seemed hardly to breathe so determined was he not to frighten the deer away.
"Can we watch and see if any more come?" Eldarion asked when the doe and her baby vanished through the trees.
"Of course," said the King.
Eldarion managed to remain quiet for long enough to see a stag, a fox and a wild boar visit the stream. He only stirred when his father told him it was time to return home for supper. On the way back, Aragorn taught the boy the correct terms used in hunting and tracking.
That night when Aragorn went to bid goodnight to his son he found the boy in a thoughtful mood. "Did you enjoy being a Ranger today?" the King asked.
"Oh yes, ada! I did indeed," Eldarion replied. "I want to be a Ranger when I grow up, so I will practise sitting still when I learn my lessons."
"That is exactly how I learned to be still," Aragorn informed him.
"I still think Quenya is boring, though!" said Eldarion. "Do Rangers have to know it?"
"Can you remember the words I taught you this afternoon?" Aragorn asked.
"Oh, yes, they were interesting words."
"And every one of them was Quenya!" With that Aragorn kissed his son goodnight and went in search of Arwen. He thought it would be a long time before the tutor complained again that his pupil was not paying attention.