The Last Debate
The morning came after the day of battle, and it was fair with light clouds and the wind turning westward. Legolas and Gimli were early abroad, and they begged leave to go up into the City; for they were eager to see Merry and Pippin.
‘It is good to learn that they are still alive,’ said Gimli; ‘for they cost us great pains in our march over Rohan, and I would not have such pains all wasted.’
Together the Elf and the Dwarf entered Minas Tirith, and folk that saw them pass marvelled to see such companions; for Legolas was fair of face beyond the measure of Men, and he sang an elven-song in a clear voice as he walked in the morning; but Gimli stalked beside him, stroking his beard and staring about him.
‘There is some good stone-work here,’ he said as he looked at the walls; ‘but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better contrived. When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall
offer him the service of stonewrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.’
‘They need more gardens,’ said Legolas. ‘The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad. If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die.’
At length they came to the Prince Imrahil, and Legolas looked at him and bowed low; for he saw that here indeed was one who had elven-blood in his veins. ‘Hail, lord!’ he said. ‘It is long since the people of Nimrodel left the woodlands of Lórien, and yet still one may see that not all sailed from Amroth’s haven west over water.’
‘So it is said in the lore of my land,’ said the Prince; ‘yet never has one of the fair folk been seen there for years beyond count. And I marvel to see one here now in the midst of sorrow and war. What do you seek?’
‘I am one of the Nine Companions who set out with Mithrandir from Imladris, said Legolas and with this Dwarf, my friend, I came with the Lord Aragorn. But now we wish to see our friends. Meriadoc and Peregrin, who are in your keeping, we are told.’
‘You will find them in the Houses of Healing, and I will lead you thither,’ said Imrahil.
‘It will be enough if you send one to guide us, lord,’ said Legolas. ‘For Aragorn sends this message to you. He does not wish to enter the City again at this time. Yet there is need for the captains to hold council at once, and he prays that you and Éomer of Rohan will come down to his tents, as soon as may be. Mithrandir is already there.’
‘We will come,’ said Imrahil; and they parted with courteous words.
‘That is a fair lord and a great captain of men,’ said Legolas. ‘If Gondor has such men still in these days of fading, great must have been its glory in the days of its rising.’
‘And doubtless the good stone-work is the older and was wrought in the first building,’ said Gimli. ‘It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.’
‘Yet seldom do they fail of their seed,’ said Legolas. ‘And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.’
‘And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess,’ said the Dwarf.
‘To that the Elves know not the answer,’ said Legolas.
With that the servant of the Prince came and led them to the Houses of Healing; and there they found their friends in the garden, and their meeting was a merry one.