Following the usual, morning knock the door opened and Éowyn entered. Théoden King's young niece had only recently arrived at Edoras, following the death of her parents, and now came to the young scribe every day to be taught her letters.
Gríma laid his quill down and got up from behind his desk, moving over to the table where the girl was spreading out her things.
“Good morning, Éowyn.”
She smiled up at him. “Good morning, Master Gríma! Look, I have done all my exercises.”
Gríma slid onto the bench at her side, carefully examining the wax tablet she held up to him. She had learnt a new letter yesterday and had practised it with varying skill. Gríma found it hard not to smile at the wobbly letters and her eager diligence to get it right. Éowyn was a delightful child, full of life and cheerfulness, despite the sad fate that had brought her to her uncle’s home and the somewhat severe lifestyle of the Royal Court. But she was also exuberant and constantly on the move, preferring to be outside and with the horses. Sitting down quietly for any indoor occupation was hard for her, and results were sometimes only achieved with a lot of coaxing and tears of frustration.
Gríma, who was young to be a scribe at the king’s court, had neither experience with children nor as a tutor, but he had learned quickly how to encourage her and that rewards worked much better than criticism. She could concentrate best when listening to a gripping story, and Gríma, who was well-versed in the lore of their people, chose suitable tales from their past to inspire her interest. Learning new letters from the names of the hero or, preferable, heroine of the latest tale was much more entertaining than from boring everyday terms, particularly if it earned her a new song or another story to be told, and she was really doing well by now.
“Very good, Éowyn, you did well. You deserve a reward.”
Éowyn’s eyes lit up at his smile. “What is it going to be, Master Gríma? A new drawing for me?”
The scribe’s smile deepened. “Yes, if you like. Do you have your booklet?”
“Yes!” Éowyn shouted eagerly, jumping up and fetching her scrip. It also held many things unrelated to lessons, and it took a moment until she had found the item in question. A bit red in the face, she brought it back to the table, setting it before her tutor.
The booklet had also been Gríma’s idea, earning him the praise of the king’s housekeeper who was responsible for the Lady Éowyn’s education in more feminine pursuits. Sewing, like writing, was a task the girl found utterly boring, and especially so because it required sitting quietly. When Éowyn had once complained loudly about these lessons, which were useless in her eyes, Gríma had pointed out that she needed to learn to sew so she would be able to repair tack, and that every Rohir could sew well enough to repair clothing when on patrol or travelling. But instead of kerchiefs and shifts to hem he gave her a little piece of leather and some scraps of parchment, and taught her how to sew it together to create a little booklet. Sewing lessons were grudgingly accepted after that.
When Éowyn had earned her next reward, she had asked him if he could draw her a horse instead, and had presented him with her booklet. The result, a small, well-executed drawing of a running stallion, had delighted Éowyn so much that a drawing of an animal had become her favourite prize.
“A stag, please, Master Gríma, a stag!” she now begged, hopping up and down in excitement.
Gríma laughed. “All right, little lady, but you must sit down again. I cannot draw if you are jumping around like a filly.”
~ finis ~