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A Taste from Home by Celeritas

Author: Celeritas
Title: A Taste from Home
Rating: G
Theme: Myths
Elements: Lingonberry
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.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
nancylea57
Oct. 27th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
isn't it funny the things that trip you up when you have a secret?
labourslamp
Oct. 27th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC)
Yes, most certainly. But I think Aragorn conducted himself pretty well here anyway.
dreamflower02
Oct. 27th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
Very nice use of your element! I like the way that these berries not only settle Thorongil's stomach, but give him a bit of home!
labourslamp
Oct. 27th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think that Aragorn's stomach would have been pretty settled anyway, but sometimes seeing--and tasting--a bit of home can give you that extra boost of confidence.
blslarner
Oct. 27th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
Yes, a taste of home indeed! Just what is needed by him to relax among these high and mighty southern officers, who appear to think they alone are the repositors of ancient myths and legends!
labourslamp
Oct. 27th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
I know that foods from your homeland can be really settling in a foreign environment. And given Boromir's speech in the Council of Elrond, I think that the idea that Gondor was a Bastion of Civilization was a common sentiment in the southlands.
harrowcatliz
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
Nicely done. A taste from home really does reassure.
labourslamp
Oct. 27th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
shirebound
Oct. 27th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
What a lovely and unexpected reminder of home.
labourslamp
Oct. 27th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Sometimes reminders can show up in the strangest of places, can't they?
surgicalsteel
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
I like the taste from home showing up in an unusual place, and I like the nod to the antiscorbutic properties of fruits. A couple of things sort of niggled at me a little, and they likely only bug me because I have a freakish interest in medical history. Otherwise, this was a fun read.
labourslamp
Oct. 28th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this despite the niggles (I'm afraid my research for this piece was not very thorough)!
lindahoyland
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
I loved this glimpse of Thorogil's adventures.His longing for home is very poignant.
labourslamp
Oct. 28th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks! As soon as I equated the growing zone of the lingonberry to the North I knew that Aragorn would have to be involved. Then reading about its use as a scurvy remedy moved the setting of the fic south, and the rest fell into place after that.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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