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Old 03-26-2008, 05:56 PM   #39
Itinerant Songster
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,051
littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Having finished his supper, Eodwine walked over to Javan again. The boy looked none the happier for having eaten, but Eodwine did not expect more.

"Did you get food?"

Javan nodded. "Yes. Thornden brought some for me. Are you going to untie me now? He said he could not, I guess you hadn't told him to."

"Not yet. There is still something that has not been dealt with between you and me." Eodwine looked for a comfortable place to sit, but decided that being at eye level with the lad would not be wise at the moment; seeing no rock or branch close by big enough to hold his weight, he remained standing. "You are too full of how you appear before others. Why is that?"

Javan wondered what the eorl was driving at. What did this have anything to do with it? What did he want? Why did he have to stay tied? In the time that it took to ask these questions in his head, he remained in what probably appeared to Eodwine to be obstinate silence. His answer confirmed the assumption. "I don't know what you mean," he said. He saw Eodwine draw a breath and open his mouth, probably to explain more clearly, as quietly and gently as he always did. "I mean," Javan pressed on a little more loudly, "I don't know what you intend me to do - be happy with humiliation?"

"No. I intend to teach you not to get yourself into scrapes that bring about your own humiliation. The problem with you, Javan, is that you think first of yourself, whether to bring yourself pleasure, or to avoid pain and humiliation. You need to stop thinking first of yourself, and start thinking first of others. What if you had thought of others' needs before your own desires when you went running off this morning?"

Javan felt frustrated, and stubborn. He still did not understand how his behavior earlier had harmed anyone. He knew that burning the stables had been wrong, even if it was an accident, and he understood the consequences for that, but this had not hurt anyone, it would never have hurt anyone, and if anything, it would only have freed one person of having to keep an eye on him. He therefore kept his mouth shut - more than shut, he clenched his jaw - and he kept his eyes fixed steadily on the ground in front of him.

Javan was saying nothing. Eodwine was ready for this. "Javan, you must answer or you must remain here for the night. Make your choice."

"You can't leave me tied up all night!" Javan blurted out without thinking, alarmed at the threat. Javan stopped, recoiled and tried to recover his calm. "I mean, I don't know how to answer! Running off wouldn't have caused anyone any harm or inconvenience! Honest, it wouldn't've!"

"Think, Javan! Did not Rowenna have to chase you? She was inconvenienced. Everyone who has been charged to look after you has been inconvenienced. Having to look after an irresponsible boy because he cannot be trusted to look after himself is an inconvenience. Begin to show some responsibility and you will no longer be an inconvenience to others. Do you understand, Javan? Think carefully before you answer, for I most certainly can and will leave you tied up all night if I think it will do you good."

Javan shrank back into himself further. Eodwine meant all that he said entirely, and Javan had no reason in the world to doubt it now. His words were piercing and humbling and Javan hung his head in shame.

When Eodwine was done, Javan answered quietly, almost too quietly to be heard. "Yes, sir," was all he said.

Eodwine got down on his left knee, his right elbow resting on his raised right knee. He brought new intensity to his voice, not with the hard will with which he had been speaking, but with hope in his tone. "Very well. You have a choice now, Javan, whether to become a man or forever be a boy no matter how many years you live. To become a man is to be good for your word, to be the first one to question your own behavior, to seek to do right by all, and thereby to do right by yourself. It is to be a man of honor, an Eorling, like your brother. Like the King in Meduseld. Or-" Eodwine paused for effect. "-or you could choose to remain one who must be looked after and not trusted. Would you rather be a mounted knight of the Eored, or a mere vagabond?"

Of course the answer was obvious, put in those words. "I want to be a man," Javan replied, glancing upwards briefly. "I'll try. I will try." Then doubt confronted him suddenly. "But what if I forget to think first? Like when I lit the fire or ran off? Then you will never trust me, and you will always think I am nothing better than - than a vagabond."

Eodwine smiled. "Mending one's ways takes time. I have time and so do you. I want one vow from you and one only, that you will never give up trying to become a man of honor, and in return I make this vow to you, that I will treat you as if you are my son; for I have begun to do so already. If you will so swear, so will I. Will you?"

Javan finally looked up at him and met his eyes. Although the light of day was almost gone and dim shadow covered lord Eodwine, Javan still saw the earnest gentleness in his face.

"I will swear," Javan said after a long pause.

Eodwine smiled but did not allow his expression to show too much elation. This was serious business, especially for this boy. "Very well. I will untie you. Walk with me, and you and I will swear in sooth before witnesses." Eodwine loosed the boy's bonds and stood up to wait, for the boy to shake loose his limbs and walk with him, or get up, turn tail and flee: this was the first test.

Javan first rubbed his wrists, for although the ropes had not been tied tightly, they had chaffed against his skin all day. Then he rose, wincing as his cramped muscles were stretched. Pressing his lips together in attempt to conceal the discomfort, he nodded to Eodwine, indicating he was ready to go.

Eodwine nodded. "Come, Javan, walk beside me." They walked side by side back to the others.
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