A ranger’s brooch|
Summary: The life of a boy from Bree who dreamed of being a ranger.
Rowlie was 6 years old when he saw the brooch for the first time.
He and his mother were on their way home from buying some yarns and threads just outside of Bree. It was not the first time they walked this way. His mother was a weaver and needed the materials. When she couldn’t find somebody to stay with Rowlie while she got it, she took him with her. It wasn’t considered dangerous. Only the last part of the way was outside Bree’s walls, but still close enough to see the town, and the road was broad and frequently used by good people. Or so it was said. Rowlie didn’t see any other people walking that street while he and his mother were. What he did see were monsters – real monsters: green, big, ugly, stinking and most of all scary. They came out of the woods. What exactly they had planned to do with him and his mother Rowlie didn’t know. But he did know for sure that it wouldn’t be pleasant. Just as he knew for sure that those men, who saved his mother and him, were the greatest heroes in all of Middle earth. They were tall men who appeared out of nowhere. Maybe they were sneaking from the woods, maybe they came openly and Rowlie was merely too scared to focus on anything but the monsters. In any case, the men were suddenly there and killed the monsters before these things could harm him or his mother. They did not say much, only that Rowlie and his mother were alright now and that one of them would escort them back to Bree while the others took care of the monsters.
Rowlie would have liked to thank the men properly, but they send him away too quick. If Rowlie was truthful, he also wanted to be away from the dead bodies of the monsters as soon as possible. The sight didn’t touch him as much as it did his mother, who was shaking all the way home and would never stop to be afraid of walking alone. The boy did not become afraid of monsters when there were none, nor did he started to fear being alone, but he would never be able to forget them either. Rowlie was glad he got away from them. Still, he regretted that he hadn’t even looked at his saviours properly. He wouldn’t recognize them later since he never took in their faces. All he noticed was that they were really tall – the tallest men he had ever seen – and that they wore green cloaks and a silver brooch that showed a star. Well, he only properly looked at the cloths and the star on the man who escorted them to the wall, but he was quite sure that the others had looked the same. He also was sure that he admired all of them. Somehow, despite the fact that Rowlie had just seen them kill, he never even thought that he should be afraid or at least wary of these men. How could men who saved his mother and him be anything but noble heroes?
His mother seemed to see that differently. She kept thanking the man who escorted her and Rowlie to Bree, but she also said that she hoped her husband wasn’t already worried and looking for them. She said they were running late and he was bound to be back soon and would look for them if they wouldn’t hurry. That was a lie. The truth was that Rowlie’s father died when he was too young to properly remember and it was unlikely that anyone would look for them that day. Rowlie had been taught to never tell any of that to a stranger. He didn’t really understand why. He had also been taught that lying was wrong and that didn’t fit together. His mother once said the reason was that it was a father’s job to protect his family. She said that in their case they could tell something untrue about his father, but at any other time lying was still wrong. Rowlie didn’t understand that either, but he concluded that without a father it was his job to protect his mother. When the man who escorted them to the wall parted from them with polite and comforting words, Rowlie decided that being one of these men would be the best way to learn how to protect. They were great men and he needed to become one of them.
Rowlie was 7 years old when he first wore the brooch with the wooden star.
It was his birthday and his mother’s present to him was a cloak that looked just like the ones from the men who had saved them – rangers as Rowlie had learned by then. Weeks before his birthday, Rowlie had begun to beg his mother to make him such a cloak as a present. He had also started carving then, so that he would have a fitting brooch for his cloak. He couldn’t find or make a brooch like the rangers had it, but he managed to carve a star like theirs out of wood, and he clued the wooden star on another pin. It was a rather plane and thin pin, but it was still visible that the star was only clued on it, and of course the wood didn’t look silver at all. But that self-made brooch was the closest Rowlie would get to a ranger’s one, and he was happy with it. He immediately put the cloak on once he got it and fixed it with his brooch. Then he ran out and pretended to be a ranger, killing imaginary enemies.
He repeated that game often later. Sometimes he used a stick as a sword, sometimes he related completely to his fantasy and practiced archery without anything to replace bow or arrows. Usually he saved his mother from monsters, sometimes also his neighbours or other children from Bree. Unfortunately, the other children never wanted to be rangers when they played pretend. It seemed nobody in town shared his fascination, even though most of the grown-ups claimed they would understand Rowlie. They said it was no wonder that a boy without a father would admire those who he thought had saved him from danger. When people said that, they always emphasized the “thought” and looked at each other in a way Rowlie couldn’t interpret. He had no difficulties to interpret how they looked the rest of the time when they spoke thus about him: sad. Rowlie didn’t understand why. He didn’t like how they spoke, but mainly ignored them. That the children didn’t want to play rangers was a little disappointing for Rowlie, but he just played other games with them and pretended to be a ranger when he was alone. That would do until he became a real ranger.
Rowlie was 9 years old when he last wore his self-made brooch.
He had already started using it less and less. The cloak didn’t fit him anymore and people advised him more or less friendly not to wear it. Whatever made them accept him with 7 apparently did not work anymore now that he was older. Rowlie also spent less time playing alone now, because he had started running errands for the Butterburs and sometimes for his neighbours. He didn’t do so that frequently, but still often enough to have less time for himself. Not that he minded. He would do more if his mother hadn’t forbidden it. She liked that he did those errands, but she insisted that he was too young to work and too many errands counted as work. She also told him that there was no need for him to earn money, since she earned enough to look at both of them. That was true, she had always done that, but Rowlie still noticed that she was happy when he brought extra coin. He also noticed that his mother used money as sparingly as she could while still providing what they needed. Rowlie couldn’t really think of something he truly wanted to own and couldn’t get. But he still saw that his mother was more careful with money than some others. He didn’t mind that, he merely noticed it. Rowlie generally felt like he started to be aware of things he had overlooked before. Besides, no matter how much money his family had - even if his mother could care for 20 people – Rowlie would still run the errands. He was always mighty proud when he was trusted with an errand and got paid like a grown-up would. Sometimes he also got sweets. Mistress Butterbur, for example, often gave him something tasty when he did something for her or her husband, even though Rowlie also got coins for it. Rowlie generally liked running errands for the Butterburs and Master Butterbur had already called him a good boy and promised to employ him later – properly, not just for errands. The only thing he didn’t like about them was their opinion on rangers and that he wasn’t supposed to wear his brooch – even without the cloak – when he ran errands.
As a consequence, Rowlie wore the brooch less frequently now. He did so mainly when he tried to avoid something. Mostly, because he didn’t want to hear his mother chat with Ted. The man was the carpenter and originally had been repairing their roof. However, he continued coming back even after the roof was repaired. Ted wasn’t an unpleasant man. He was friendly towards Rowlie and his mother. He was there when things in the house needed repairing and whenever Rowlie's mother needed something from outside of Bree, Ted would go for her. Ever since they had seen the monsters, Rowlie's mother refused to leave the town and also forbid Rowlie from doing so. In turn for Ted's help Rowlie’s mother took care of Ted’s cloths if they needed mending and also cooked for him whenever he was there. The carpenter had to cook for himself ever since he lost his wife and said he was very bad at cooking. Rowlie had to admit that this arrangement between his mother and Ted was fair and useful for both of them. But Rowlie didn’t feel comfortable with the way Ted and his mother smiled at each other sometimes or how his mother laughed in Ted’s presence. It wasn’t a real laugh, more like a giggle and Rowlie had never heard his mother giggle before.
The day the ranger came was one of the days Rowlie was outside the house to avoid hearing his mother giggle. Rowlie was dressed in his cloak that must have looked awkward on him since it was much too small. He also wore the brooch. At least that item could be used for every age. Rowlie didn’t hear the ranger coming. The man didn’t announce himself either. He was just suddenly there and asked Rowlie why he “copied their badge”. Startled and embarrassed Rowlie hastily removed the brooch and cloak, but couldn’t hide it. So he just hold it in his hands, unsure what to do with it. The ranger, who hadn’t even greeted him before he asked that question, didn’t react to the boy’s action and just waited for an answer. Rowlie stuttered an apology. He hadn’t thought about that before, but now that a ranger had seen Rowlie’s costume and asked him about it, Rowlie was worried that the rangers didn’t like it when others looked like them. They could think copying their cloths was an insult. Rowlie didn’t know what to say, just that he was sorry and then he remembered the words a grown-up would probably use in his stead. “I meant no offence, sir”, he said. That made the ranger smile. It was not a broad smile, but it was enough to make the man seem friendly rather than grim. The ranger then introduced himself as “Strider”. Rowlie thought that an odd name, but he didn’t tell the ranger that. Instead he introduced himself. Strider greeted him more formally than most would a young boy. He even bowed slightly. Rowlie didn’t know how he should react to that. It was probably merely a greeting gesture, but Rowlie had never seen anybody bow in that fashion and especially not to him. Nobody had ever bowed to him. Why would anybody? Before Rowlie could figure out Strider’s reasons or what the proper response was, the ranger spoke again. He assured him that he took no offence and that no apology was needed. “A forged silver brooch I might have considered a counterfeit, but not a wooden one”, he said and that he was only wondering why Rowlie tried to dress like a ranger.
So Rowlie told him that he wanted to be like them. When Rowlie started talking, he looked at the cloak and brooch in his hand and fidgeted with them. He didn’t manage to look at Strider while he told him how he admired him and his people. Rowlie wasn’t ashamed of it, but it was uncomfortable tell somebody how highly you esteem them. It was especially uncomfortable to tell that to a stern ranger, especially while holding an ill-fitting ranger-cloak and a wooden brooch. Nevertheless, Rowlie told Strider everything. From how he and his mother had been saved to how he had made that star, and that he had worn it while Strider found him because he liked imagining that he was a ranger. He even told Strider that he needed to learn how to protect his mother as there was no other man in his family. Rowlie remembered too late that he wasn’t supposed to tell strangers about his father’s death. While Rowlie spoke he grew more and more confident and in the end he even looked Strider in the eyes. It occurred to him then, that probably it was best for a ranger to know about his wishes. How else could he ever join them? Rowlie even found enough courage to ask Strider if he could make him a ranger. To Rowlie’s disappointment, Strider shook his head. He said if Rowlie joined the rangers, he couldn’t stay with his mother and that Rowlie’s mother needed him, as the boy himself had said. Rowlie couldn’t argue with that, but got rather gloomy. His sad mood didn’t hold long, though, because Strider offered to teach him something and Rowlie happily accepted.
At the end of that day, Rowlie knew how to fend off attackers bigger than him even if they had knifes and he didn’t have any weapon. He also knew that he wouldn’t wear that cloak anymore. It was just too embarrassing to be seen by rangers in such attire.
Rowlie was 16 years old when he told himself to give up all hope of ever wearing a real ranger’s star brooch.
His mother had made a cleaning rag out of his former ranger cloak and his wooden star was hidden in a drawer. It was embarrassing being caught by a ranger wearing a wooden, sloppy-made replica of their badge (or so he thought at the age of 16, when he had made it, he had been proud of how it looked). Despite that, he still secretly dreamed of becoming a ranger and wearing the real thing. It wasn’t only to protect his mother anymore. Of course Rowlie still wanted to do that, but Ted did so as well. The carpenter and his mother now spend a lot of time with each other and Rowlie had overcome his initial dislike of the situation. Ted made his mother happy. That alone would have been enough to make Rowlie accept him. Moreover, the man was very kind to Rowlie. He even gave Rowlie a sword that used to belong to Ted’s father. Ted said he did so because he had no children to pass the sword to and wasn’t interested in using it himself. He said Rowlie was the best one to own the sword, because he was the only one Ted knew who dreamed of becoming a good fighter and maybe even leave Bree someday. Rowlie knew there was much more behind that gesture. He hoped that his grave thanks for the sword and his general treatment of Ted made it obvious that he appreciated the man – not only because he was very happy about the gift. Rowlie did not admire Ted as he did the rangers or as a son would a father, but he liked the men and didn’t object to him being in his mother’s life permanently.
Despite his friendly feelings towards Ted, Rowlie turned down the man’s offer to take him as an apprentice. Ted already had an apprentice, his nephew. It was possible to have two apprentices, but more work and usually people in Bree chose to teach only one person. That way their apprentice could become their successor. Rowlie didn't think Bree needed two successors to one carpenter. What is more, Rowlie didn’t know how Ted’s nephew would feel about not being the only apprentice anymore. Rowlie had already gotten a sword of which he assumed that it would have been given to Ted’s nephew, if Ted had not met Rowlie’s mother. Rowlie didn’t want to make the young man feel slighted, especially since he was sure that Ted didn’t truly want a second apprentice and had mainly asked for Rowlie’s mother’s sake.
Besides, Rowlie already had a job. He worked in the Prancing Pony. Granted, being a serving and sometimes stable boy wasn’t as prestigious as being a carpenter, but Rowlie liked it. The Butterburs were truly friendly people and most of their customers were too. Rowlie enjoyed listening to their tales when he didn’t have too much work. He especially enjoyed tales of those who had travelled. Rowlie also got to speak to rangers. Sometimes the inn was too busy when they came to do anything but serve them, but other times he got to ask for a story. They didn’t always tell one, but they indulged him much more often than they did others. Rowlie assumed it was because he treated them with more respect, but it could also merely be his young age that made them friendlier towards him. Whatever the reason, he loved their tales. There had even been times when a ranger had shown Rowlie sword tricks after the taproom was closed. At first it was Strider, who remembered teaching the boy when he was just a kid and wanted to know if Rowlie could still do what he had taught him and if he wished to learn more. Rowlie was very eager and enjoyed the lesson. After that (when he felt strong enough for lessons and bold enough to ask a ranger) Rowlie asked others to teach him. He offered to pay them in exchange for their lessons, but they always refused that. However, when they asked if he knew anything about swords, and he told them that Strider had shown him something, some did teach him. Rowlie supposed they did so because Strider was some sort of role model or leader for them, though he wasn’t sure about that observation. The rangers never asked for payment and didn’t even let him pay their drinks as a thank you. They only told him to not use the learned without need and to practise, so that the lessons weren’t pointless. Rowlie didn’t get to use the learned at all, but he practiced a lot with the air as enemy.
One time when he served a ranger, he asked something else than for lessons or a tale. “Is being a ranger a family trade?”, he wanted to know of Strider. He would have asked any ranger that was there when Rowlie wondered why all of them looked so similar, but Rowlie was glad that it was Strider. Rowlie didn’t feel closer to him than to other rangers or customers, but since Strider had offered him lessons without being begged to – not only once, but twice – Rowlie felt more confident asking him about something personal. Not that this question was private or even truly personal, but Rowlie had learned that everything that somehow concerned the rangers themselves was secret to them.
Initially Strider’s only answer was that he did not think that was the right word. Then he paused so long that Rowlie supposed this statement on the expression was all he would get. There seemed to be a rule amongst the rangers that forbade them to ever answer a question directly. This time, though, Strider did add some more to his answer. “All rangers are kin”, he said after a while. Rowlie only nodded. He couldn’t word a proper response and was relieved when another customer shouted for beer. It was embarrassing for a nearly grown man to be so touched by something that he should have known and indeed had expected. All rangers looked so similar to each other and so different from the Bree-folk. It was obvious they were related. Yet there had always been this hope in him that maybe someday he could live his childhood dream, unrealistic as it was, and be a ranger. But he couldn’t for he wasn’t part of their family. Now he knew for sure. It was time to grow up.
Rowlie was 17 years old when he got the wooden star out again.
He sat in front of his mother’s house, at the same place Strider had found him playing years ago. Maybe it was his house now. It could be. His mother had moved in with Ted, whom she had finally married. Rowlie could now decide whether he wanted to live with them or live here alone or do something else entirely. His mother had suggested Rowlie that he should move with her, and Ted had assured Rowlie that he was welcome. However, Rowlie didn’t wish to do so. Ted’s house was slightly bigger than theirs, but with a weaver and a carpenter and both of their equipment in the house and an apprentices coming regularly, it would still be very full. Besides, Rowlie was now 17 and thought himself too old to life with a new family. Others his age lived alone. His mother understood that. A young man has already expressed interest in buying the house, but Rowlie’s mother wouldn’t sell if it Rowlie wished to stay. Living in that house was probably the reasonable thing to do. Still Rowlie hesitated. He assumed that, if he would decide to make this his own home, this would be his life forever. It would be a life in Bree, with a house and a job, hopefully a nice Bree-girl someday and everything most Bree-landers wished for. However, Rowlie wasn’t like most people in Bree and he still dreamed of something else – not necessarily something greater, just something different. He had given up the dream of being a ranger, but he still wanted to travel and fight and life less quiet and peacefully as Bree-landers did. It made little sense even to him and none to others in town, but it was how Rowlie felt.
There was no reason why Rowlie was in front of the house rather than in it. With his mother at Ted’s house, the house was perfectly quiet to think in. There was also no reason to take out the old ranger brooch again. But somehow Rowlie thought that being outside and heaving the item with him that symboled a childhood dream he had had for so long, would help him decide what to do. In a way it did, though not like Rowlie had imagined.
Just as the last time when Rowlie had his star out at this place, Strider suddenly spoke to him. Rowlie wondered whether that man had an uncanny timing or was there more often and just showed himself when Rowlie did something embarrassing. Again Strider walked without making a sound, but this time he greeted Rowlie politely before he remarked: “You have it still.” Rowlie greeted back, but didn’t respond to the comment. What was he to say? It was obvious that he still had it and thanks to the slight blush of Rowlie’s cheeks it was also obvious that he was embarrassed to be caught with it. Strider sat down next to Rowlie and only then it occurred to the young man that he probably should have stood up for the greeting. Rowlie wasn’t usually impolite, but the sudden appearing of Strider had taken him aback. The ranger didn’t seem to mind though.
“I heard your mother married”, he said when Rowlie didn’t speak. Rowlie wasn’t surprised he had, it was the main talk of Bree at the moment. That and that Master Butterbur had hired another serving boy, or rather Hobbit. Rowlie thought about what to respond, but decided that not saying anything would do. Why would he tell a ranger everything, when they never told him anything about themselves? Rowlie’s admiration for the rangers had always made him accept that they never spoke about anything remotely personal. But it still annoyed him at times and it irritated him even more today. Maybe because pondering on his life and future made him thinking about the world and how little he knew about it, even and especially about the area around Bree. While the rangers told great tales, they seemed to purposefully leave things out that would tell Rowlie anything about them or what they did around Bree. Didn’t he have a right to know what was going on close to his home? Now, Rowlie knew it was unjust to accuse them of wanting him to stay ignorant, even if the accusations were only spoken in his mind. If they wished him to know nothing, they wouldn’t have told him stories at all, much less taught him some fighting skills. Still, it was irksome and that day he was frustrated enough to ask Strider about it.
“What exactly is it rangers are doing? Who are you?”, he asked. The questions were very blunt and spoken out of nowhere. Rowlie added a “Sir” belatedly. He hoped it would make him sound less demanding. It probably didn’t. From the conversations they had had, even though it weren’t that many, Rowlie had found out that Strider was unsettling good at guessing his feelings. Right now Rowlie felt like demanding answers and Strider probably knew that. But at least he sounded a little more polite that way. Rangers appreciated politeness just as any Bree-lander, maybe even more, because they received less of it. Strider smiled a little. It was not a joyful smile; Strider seemed somehow amused and somehow pleased. When Strider did not say anything immediately, Rowlie assumed he would not do so at all. Rowlie had asked those questions before – more subtle, but still understandable enough – and he had never received any answers. To Rowlie’s surprise Strider was willing to share something. “Do you wish to know everything?”, he asked. Rowlie’s first thought was to say “of course”. Why else would he have questioned – several times? But Strider seemed so solemnly that Rowlie decided to look solemnly at him and only nod. Strider looked back at Rowlie with such a piercing look that the young man wanted to look away immediately. Rowlie tried his best to hold the eye contact, because he felt this was some kind of test. After what felt like a very long while for Rowlie, but were probably not more than a few seconds, Rowlie was the first to break the eye contact despite his attempts. Strider seemed to be satisfied with what he had seen and promised to answer the question where he was sure nobody unwanted would hear him.
The tale that Strider told Rowlie once they had gone into the house should have been hard to believe. He spoke of kings and lords long gone and said that the rangers were their descendants. Dúnedain he called them. He said fewest knew that they still lived in these lands. But they did, and they guarded not only Bree, but a much wider area, protecting it from dangers even worse than the monsters Rowlie had seen as a child. Strider talked about an enemy that had powers beyond Rowlie’s imagination and how the rangers fought his servants and other foes. He also spoke of hardship they endured, but did so with pride and didn’t complain. The most unbelievable part of the tale was that Strider himself was heir to a king. Truly, Rowlie should have doubted his words, any reasonable Bree-lander would. But he didn’t. Strider seemed different while telling him this than he had done while he was in the Prancing Pony. Rowlie couldn’t quite put his finger on this new attitude of Strider, but he supposed that was how kings were. Instead of asking himself if this could be possible, he wondered how one should treat nobles. Was he supposed to bow or kneel or do something else? Rowlie knew nothing about courts and such. For all he knew, everybody, male or female, could be required to curtsy. Rowlie was too overwhelmed to do anything. Strider then asked him if he still wished to be a ranger, now that he knew which life that would be and in what danger he could get. Rowlie didn’t need any time to think about his answer.
Rowlie was 20 years old when he finally got his hands on a real ranger’s brooch.
He had been trained to be a ranger now and lived with them. Rowlie was happy, even though he sometimes felt like an outsider. It wasn’t that they made him feel like that on purpose. At the beginning some were wary. They didn’t know him as well as their comrades. Most of the rangers had known each other for a very long time. There weren’t few rangers who had met first when one or both of them were small children. When Rowlie had first come, he had been known only to some and only as the boy from the Prancing Pony. But no one had ever been unkind to him, and after a while most treated him like he belonged and was one of them. Most of the time he felt like he belonged; it was just sometimes that he thought about how different he truly was. He did not look like them at all. Rowlie was fully grown now, but still smaller than many adolescent Dúnedain and far smaller than any grown ranger. He also didn’t have any Dúnedain-grey in his eyes and he didn’t share their facial features. Though, his looks and birth were an advantage sometimes. Bree-folk and hobbits usually trusted him more than they did any other ranger. They didn’t understand how a man from Bree could become a ranger and therefore still distrusted him for his lifestyle, but not as much as they would a Dúnadan. In Bree people gossiped that he had fallen for a girl who loved only rangers. They assumed he became a ranger for that girl and that once he married or fancied another, he would go back to follow a profession they considered decent.
Rowlie’s mother didn’t think that. She was torn between being happy that her son lived his childhood dream, being worried about him, and being mad at him for not visiting as often as she wished it. But she accepted his choice, because she was happy with Ted and would be satisfied as long as Rowlie liked what he did and visited at least sometimes to show her he was well. Rowlie did visit, even if she always complained it was not frequent enough. He hadn’t visited her at his 20th birthday, despite her request, because he had an assignment then that took him longer than expected. But he had visited the week afterwards and celebrated with her then.
Another week later he celebrated with the Dúnedain. They didn’t celebrate birthdays as much as they did in Bree, but they celebrated the 20th, because it was the age in which a child turned into an adult. Rowlie was happy to celebrate with them. There were no reports of trouble and so more rangers managed to come than he had expected. Even Aragorn and Halbarad were there. It was not often that both the chieftain and his second in command were at a celebration of their people. All rangers put their duty first and it seemed to be the lot of the leaders to have fewest time. However, at Rowlie’s celebration both were there and Rowlie was very happy about it. They seemed to be happy about it as well. Aragon and Halbarad sat next to each other and chatted merrily with each other and their men until Aragorn stood up and announced loudly in front of everyone that he wished to talk to Rowlie. The young man wasn’t sure why Aragorn was telling him that so that everyone could hear. Rowlie answered that of course he would talk with him and went to Aragorn, expecting to be told where and when Aragorn wanted to speak.
Aragorn started talking once Rowlie stood next to him. Apparently he meant to speak with him immediately at exactly the place he was standing. He told him that Rowlie was a grown man now by the law of their people. Rowlie already knew that as did everybody who celebrated with him. He wondered why Aragorn felt the need to announce this fact and how much his chieftain had drunk. He seemed sober enough, but all of this was odd.
“You have learned fast and done good work since you have been with us”, Aragorn said. Rowlie smiled brightly while he thanked Aragorn for the compliment. It made him immensely proud, even though he didn’t know how much drink Aragorn had. Rowlie wondered where this was leading.
“I once told you that all rangers are kin and that is true”, Aragorn then continued. It made Rowlie’s smile disappear. He hadn’t thought about that in a long time. Rowlie wasn’t related to any of them. His family was respectable and he was proud of his origin, but it wasn’t a lordly one. He could never be one of them. Rowlie had understood that years ago, before he even knew how different he truly was from the rangers. Somehow he had forgotten.
“It is rare that one, who was not born into our families, is becoming a ranger. But you are and thereby you are kin to us now”, Aragorn concluded. Rowlie could hear that the others cheered and some shouted something, but he didn’t understand what. He couldn’t listen to them, because he was too focused on the item Aragorn brought out. It was a brooch, a real silver star. “It will suit you better than a wooden one”, Aragorn added, this time not for everyone to hear but more quietly. Rowlie could clearly hear amusement in his chieftain’s voice. It didn’t matter. Rowlie was finally a true ranger.