Soon they… went to the midday meal in the hall of the Burg.
The king was already there, and as soon as they entered he called for Merry and had a seat set for him at his side. ‘It is not as I would have it,’ said Théoden; ‘for this is little like my fair house in Edoras. And your friend is gone, who should also be here. But it may be long ere we sit, you and I, at the high table in Meduseld; there will be no time for feasting when I return thither. But come now! Eat and drink, and let us speak together while we may. And then you shall ride with me.’
‘May I?’ said Merry, surprised and delighted. ‘That would be splendid!’ He had never felt more grateful for any kindness in words. ‘I am afraid I am only in everybody’s way,’ he stammered; ‘but I should like to do anything I could, you know.’
‘I doubt it not,’ said the king. ‘I have had a good hill-pony made ready for you. He will bear you as swift as any horse by the roads that we shall take. For I will ride from the Burg by mountain paths, not by the plain, and so come to Edoras by way of Dunharrow where the Lady Éowyn awaits me. You shall be my esquire, if you will. Is there gear of war in this place, Éomer, that my sword-thain could use?’
‘There are no great weapon-hoards here, lord.’ answered Éomer. ‘Maybe a light helm might be found to fit him; but we have no mail or sword for one of his stature.’
‘I have a sword,’ said Merry, climbing from his seat, and drawing from its black sheath his small bright blade. Filled suddenly with love for this old man, he knelt on one knee, and took his hand and kissed it. ‘May I lay the sword of Meriadoc of the Shire on your lap, Théoden King?’ he cried. ‘Receive my service, if you will!’
‘Gladly will I take it,’ said the king; and laying his long old hands upon the brown hair of the hobbit; he blessed him. ‘Rise now, Meriadoc, esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld!’ he said. ‘Take your sword and bear it unto good fortune!’
‘As a father you shall be to me,’ said Merry.
‘For a little while,’ said Théoden.