Title: A Taste from Home
Author's Notes: The lingonberry is known by various names depending on region. The UK term is "cowberry"; I have the Gondorians use the term "lingonberry" because they import from the Anduin (which seems to have more Nordic influences when you look at the names of the Hobbit Dwarves and you consider the fact that the Eotheod lived there)--and not from Arnor.
Summary: Thorongil is surprised when he finds a Northern fruit on the South Seas.
Word Count: 589
The ships of Dol Amroth operated on much the same hierarchy as the armies of Gondor and Rohan. Officers were as high, inaccessible, and beloved as the marble statues that decorated the White City. In the North…
Thorongil shook his head. He was not in the North and had not been for many a year. But he always thought of his home whenever he was somewhere new.
He had, of course, known Adrahil from the council at Minas Tirith. Dol Amroth was the strongest of Gondor’s fiefs, a great shining beacon to defy the might of Umbar. But he had never served under his command; much less worked, slept, and ate upon the sea.
So it was that he sat down in the officers’ mess with trepidation. He knew he was of the line of Sea Kings, but he had never been upon the ocean and he had heard stories. The other officers he did not yet know, and it would not do well to become ill. Their stares tested him, as if they doubted the rumours that had already reached the Swan Knights. He knew some of them wondered why he held such a high rank already, when he had no experience in naval combat.
Let them stare. He knew he would prove worthy of them, eventually.
They all rose when the Captain entered the room. Adrahil waved them down with a hand, and the cabin boys who followed him served out the meal.
Thorongil stared at his plate with some astonishment. There, sitting placidly in a corner, were eight plump cowberries—plump, no doubt, because they had been soaked in water for months, if not years.
“You have not seen the lingonberry before, Lieutenant?” said one of the officers.
“Indeed I have,” said Thorongil, startled into speech, “if that is your name for them. I had not expected to see them so far south.”
“That is not surprising,” said Adrahil, “for we learned of their lore from the North, when Eärnur sailed to deliver the Northlands and defeat the might of Angmar. They fight off the scurvy, and they keep better than any of the other remedies we know of for long voyages. These come from far up the Anduin.”
“Among the Northerners this is a sign of health and hospitality. It is even said the Snow-men gave these to Arvedui and his men when they sheltered them for a time.”
“And who would be the source of such a saying? For the lore of Gondor says, at least, that none survived the foundering of the ship that eventually rescued him. Perhaps the lore of the North says otherwise?”
That would depend, thought Thorongil, on whom you asked. He had had the benefit of both Imladris’ libraries and the legends of his own people. And he knew from his appreciation of maps and climes that not even the cowberry grew as far north as the Snow-men lived. He bowed his head. “No, there were no survivors in the tales I have heard. But the berries taste sweeter when I think on the myth.”
“The Men of the North know of Arvedui?” asked one of the other officers.
“As well as the Men of the South know of Eärnur the Second,” said Thorongil, and he turned to his meal and spoke not until Adrahil brought forth their intelligence on the movement of Umbar’s ships.
But after he had finished eating his stomach felt more settled than he had expected. Maybe it was comforted by a taste from home.