From "Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon" (2003) by Brian Rosebury
This text is reproduced exclusively for the purposes of discussion on The One Ring.net.
Now more torches were being lit. A cask
of wine was broached. Storage barrels were being opened. Men were fetching water
from the fall.
Some were laving their hands in basins. A wide copper bowl and a white cloth were brought to Faramir and he washed.
‘Wake our guests,’ he said, ‘and take
them water. It is time to eat.’ Frodo sat up and yawned and stretched. Sam, not
used to being waited
on, looked with some surprise at the tall man who bowed, holding a basin of water before him.
‘Put it on the ground, master, if you
please!’ he said. ‘Easier for me and you.’ Then to the astonishment and
amusement of the Men he
plunged his head into the cold water and splashed his neck and ears.
‘Is it the custom in your land to wash the head before supper?’ said the man who waited on the hobbits.
‘No, before breakfast’, said Sam. ‘But
if you’re short of sleep cold water on the neck’s like rain on a wilted lettuce.
There! Now I can keep
awake long enough to eat a bit ...’
Before they ate, Faramir and all his
men turned and faced west in a moment of silence. Faramir signed to Frodo and
Sam that they should
‘So we always do,’ he said, as they sat
down: ‘we look towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to
that which is
beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. Have you no such custom at meat?’
‘No’, said Frodo, feeling strangely
rustic and untutored. ‘But if we are guests, we bow to our host and after we
have eaten we rise and thank
‘That we do also’, said Faramir. (TT, 284-5)