Of Mîm the Dwarf
Of Mîm the Dwarf is the seventh chapter of The Children of Húrin.
Once Beleg had departed the outlaw’s camp, things went ill with the Gaurwaith, for the rains came out of season and the orcs raided ever further southward. Túrin made up his mind to make a stronghold where his men could weather storm and make store against hunger – so they journeyed further southward through the Vale of Sirion.
There they caught Mîm, one of the few Nibin-Nogrim (or Petty-dwarves), and he begged for mercy at Túrin’s feet; but when the other outlaws would have killed him, Túrin released Mîm for a ransom. In payment for his life, Mîm granted them passage to his home where they might share his halls and so also grant the Gaurwaith their sanctuary. But with darkness creeping about, the outlaws were loathe to follow Mîm for fear of him escaping, so they put him in bonds to await the morning, and Mîm took this darkly.
The following morn, Mîm led the band onward, up the slopes of Amon Rudh, the barren hill to the west of the Sirion, through a rocky landscape, until they reached a secret dell. There they found the door to Mîm’s house, that now he named Bar-en-Danwedh, the House of Ransom. The other Nibin-Nogrim were there also and sadly, Mîm’s son, Khîm, lay dead from an arrow loosed by Andróg’s bow the night before.
Mîm’s anger was great and he cursed Andróg that if he might use his bow again so would he die from it – and Andróg was made to break his bow and swear never to hunt again, which he was wroth to do.
For a time the outlaws dwelt peacefully in Bar-en-Danwedh and learned its ways and entrance; and foods they shared with the Nibin-Nogrim; but the friendship was not warm, except perhaps that between Túrin and Mîm who would often talk alone. In this time Andróg searched out a hidden stair that passed to the heights of the hill but of his discovery he told no one.
With the coming of the deep snows of winter, Beleg came to Bar-en-Danwedh unlooked for; his heart had called him to his friend Túrin, and he brought the Helm of Hador and the Lembas bread that was the gift of Melian. So the Bow of Beleg and the Helm of Túrin were reunited.
Once again the ‘spirit’ of the outlaw band is demonstrated in their capture of Mîm, his bondage, and their residence in the Nibin-Nogrim’s home – and what deed had the Petty-dwarves done to deserve such a ransom? They happened to pass the outlaws on their return from gathering food! Túrin also is a party to these actions, but his leadership seems to temper his men and stave off the worst of their angers and emotions.
Andróg continues to play a central role in the band throughout the chapter – he seems to ready himself to usurp Túrin at a ripe moment in locating the secret stair, watching Túrin and Mîm in their conversations, and distrusting Beleg.
Beleg’s return, although not a surprise, is one perhaps to illustrate Túrin’s charisma – the two formed a strong bond when they protected the northern marches of Doriath, and Beleg cannot shy away from his friendship. Looking back to his final conversation with Túrin in the previous chapter, and his discussion with Thingol, it might be seen that Beleg is coming to Túrin to save him. Beleg does not agree with Túrin’s choices and actions; but he cannot let him fail, so he must try to help him.
The hand (or mind) of Morgoth might be seen in some subtle ways in this chapter:
- The death of Khîm, Mîm’s son, from an awry arrow-shot sews the seed of doom in the relationship between the Petty-dwarves and the men.
- The festering anger of Andróg and his distrust and growing hatred of Túrin, Mîm and Beleg paves the way for rebellion and upheaval.
- Beleg’s return may have been more than ‘love over wisdom’ but an action designed to best bring anguish to Túrin in the future.
We also see the prophetic skill of Túrin in his retort to Andróg's description of Amon Rudh as having blood on its crown: "Not yet," Túrin simply states.