The Houses of Healing

AmistwasinMerry’seyesoftearsandwearinesswhentheydrewneartheruinedGateofMinasTirith.Hegavelittleheedtothewreckandslaughterthatlayaboutall.Fireandsmokeandstenchwasintheair;formanyengineshadbeenburnedorcastintothefire-pits,andmanyoftheslainalso,whilehereandtherelaymanycarcasesofthegreatSouthronmonsters,half-burned,orbrokenbystone-cast,orshotthroughtheeyesbythevaliantarchersofMorthond.Theflyingrainhadceasedforatime,andthesungleamedupabove;butallthelowercitywasstillwrappedinasmoulderingreek.

Alreadymenwerelabouringtoclearawaythroughthejetsamofbattle;andnowoutfromtheGatecamesomebearinglitters.GentlytheylaidÉowynuponsoftpillows;buttheking’sbodytheycoveredwithagreatclothofgold,andtheyboretorchesabouthim,andtheirflames,paleinthesunlight,wereflutteredbythewind.

SoThéodenandÉowyncametotheCityofGondor,andallwhosawthembaredtheirheadsandbowed;andtheypassedthroughtheashandfumeoftheburnedcircle,andwentonandupalongthestreetsofstone.ToMerrytheascentseemedagelong,ameaninglessjourneyinahatefuldream,goingonandontosomedimendingthatmemorycannotseize.

Slowlythelightsofthetorchesinfrontofhimflickeredandwentout,andhewaswalkinginadarkness;andhethought:‘Thisisatunnelleadingtoatomb;thereweshallstayforever.Butsuddenlyintohisdreamtherefellalivingvoice.

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