literature

The Poor Man's Wealth

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Literature Text

The Poor Man’s Wealth


Dís was carving decorative patterns on a saddle, tapping her foot to the musical ringing of paired hammers at the anvil, when the door opened and closed.

She paused a moment and pretended to be considering the placement of the next curl of vine in the motif.  Only a handful of people would come into the forge without knocking, all of them dwarf-men and two of them sweating away over what would be a very fine pot for the innkeeper at the bottom of the road.  One she had hugged so tightly she feared she’d break him, and two more she had kissed good-bye and tried so very hard not to weep for.

Her husband leaned over her shoulder to kiss her cheek.  “There’s my lovely,” he sighed.

“You found some good ores, then?” she asked.  “Or were you too busy drinking and singing songs with your fellows?”

Orin put a hand to his breast and proclaimed, “My lady, I have delved into the very darkest pits of the Ered Luin to find only the very brightest silver and iron.  With such iron as this, a dwarf might make steel that would gleam fit to shame the stars in the sky!”

Dís scoffed at his words and waved him away.  “Miners and their poetry…I swear you’re getting worse than Bofur.  A dire case—I may have to shut you up in a cave somewhere and start declaring to new acquaintances that my husband is quite mad.”

He laughed at her good-natured teasing and looked around.  “Where are my other treasures, my bright little gems?  This time of day, I’d expected to see them here, mocking the lads for the fact they’ve overheated the metal again.”

“We wot?” yelped Gilhin, breaking the rhythm of hammering to yank a bar away from the forge’s heart.

“You’ll have to cool it gently and re-heat before you try to turn that into a handle,” Orin advised.

Dís gave him a swat to the behind.  “And what would a miner know about such things?”

He grinned at her.  “I learned a very little bit from watching my boys get their ears twisted.  Don’t think I’ve missed you not answering, light of my life—where are Fíli and Kíli?  Where are my sons?”

She set her tools and the saddle aside and stood briskly, making for the door.  “They’re with their uncle, of course.  A week in those black depths with none but your fellows says to me that you’ve eaten poorly; come inside and have a proper meal.”

Orin was not to be put off, it seemed, and followed a pace closer than he otherwise might.  “With their uncle?  Where?”

“Well, I shouldn’t say they’re with Thorin,” she admitted.  “He’s off to the lordsmeet first, and then he’ll be with them.”

Her husband stopped her in the middle of the yard, boots sticking in the springtime mud, clothes and face stained with soot and candlewax, eyes gone wide.  “Be with them where, Dís?”

“Your ears were quite as close to Balin’s mouth as my own when he said the signs had been read,” she told him.  “My brother has gone to win back our kingdom, and his heir has gone to earn his place.  As for Kíli, he would not be parted from Fíli, and being a younger sibling myself I could hardly deny him.”

“By the depths,” he gasped in horror, and took a step away from her.  “How in all the world could that fool tangle my lads up in his selfish vengeance?”

Dís drew herself up to her full height (a respectable four feet, two inches).  “You’re angry,” she noted coolly.

“Of course I’m angry!” he bellowed, drawing himself up likewise (more than an inch shorter).  “That daft, half-mad brother of yours has dragged my children off to that forsaken place, to be crushed beneath the feet of a dragon that has already claimed half your family and all of mine.”

She would have liked to say that he was exaggerating, but she knew he had, in truth, understated matters somewhat, and so she held her tongue.

“He’s a thief, is what he is,” Orin hissed through his teeth.  “A shameless thief.  The poor man’s wealth is in his family, they say, and he’s just stolen my greatest treasures while I toiled at honest labour!”  He tore his hat from his head and dashed it to the ground, leaving his golden braids tousled in a very undignified manner.

Dís very kindly kept her temper as she bent to retrieve his hat and brushed at it with one hand.  “You’re not wrong,” she admitted.  “But if ever you call my brother a thief again, I will nail your feet to the floor, my love.  And are your sons not also mine, that you may shoulder this loss alone?  Am I not a mother to two dwarves barely old enough to leave home, let alone follow their beloved uncle on a quest that may end their lives before they’ve yet begun?  Am I not a sister who has lost one brother already and must watch the other burn with a hatred that consumes him and may yet consume all that is bright and shining on this Middle-earth?”

Her fine sop of a husband crumpled at her words, crying apologies into her braids like a drunkard.

“Oh, there,” huffed Dís, patting her weeping man while he began to soliloquise at great length about the first time Fíli walked, the first time Kíli said ‘Papa,’ about bygone days of bringing home fish in their boots and frogs in their braies.  “They’re not twenty anymore.  They’re near-grown, with beards and all.  They have the blood of kings in their veins, and Fíli would never sit upon a throne he had not helped his uncle win.”

But, “My boys,” he sobbed, with all the pain of a parent who has heretofore only withstood being parted from his children because he knew they were waiting safe at home.

“I know, you great lump,” she whispered.  “I know.”

“They even didn’t wait to say good-bye.”

“They said good-bye to you when you left for the mines.”

He shook his head and held her closer against him.  “That was good-bye for a week, not good-bye for…Durin’s beard, Erebor is months away without misadventure!  And then who knows how long it may take to slay a dragon?”

She snorted.  “We always knew they would grow up and leave us behind someday.”

“Oh, but must someday be now?  They’re still so young, Dís.”

“Do you forget that Thorin was younger when we fled the dragon’s wrath?”

Having run out of arguments, Orin gruffly leaned away from her and applied a (very sooty) pocket handkerchief to his nose.  “Well, your brother was hardly ready for that—and anyway, as I’ve mentioned, he’s daft.”

She shooed him toward the house.  “You only say that because when you first met, he took one look at you and said you weren’t fit to shine my boots.”

“I say it because the fellow goes chasing off after clouds when we’ve steel and gold aplenty right here.  And I also say that if he wanted a lad to trail along behind him, he should’ve settled down and had one of his own instead of taking mine—ours,” he amended at her sharp look.

“Sit down and busy your wagging tongue with some porridge,” Dís grumbled.


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from my tumblr.

so. more slightly-less-sad Hobbit fic. ¬_¬;;

totally unintentional. i'm starting to see what Lex means when he says his fingers have a mind of their own and write whatever they want.

Dís informs her husband that their sons have gone on an adventure.

[movieverse-ish, pre-Hobbit; very light spoilers for The Hobbit and the Appendices.]


:pointl: Whatever End :bulletyellow: And I Cannot Reach You :pointr:
Published:
© 2013 - 2021 MerianMoriarty
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Akagitaa's avatar
It is so lovely! And the characters really do seem realistic. You did a great job on them :heart: !
But it is also sad, and it reminds me of the third movie of the Hobbit, and of the end of the book, and I just feel I'm going to cry.