“As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit – Bilbo Baggins,
that is – was the famous Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable
daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits who lived across The
Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said
(in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have
taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was
still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while
members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. . . . Not that
Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo
Baggins. . . . Still it is probable that Bilbo, her only son, although he
Looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of his solid and
comfortable father, got something a bit queer in his make-up from the
Took side, something that only waited for a chance to come out.”**
“The Hobbit”, chapter 1 – “An Unexpected Party”
The Remarkable Daughters of Gerontius Took
It was just another dreary day on the on the plains south of Rivendell. Dreary on many counts for the weather remained chill and grey, the scenery was drab when they could see it at all as they travelled during the night and slept during the day. Even though they were only a week out of Rivendell, it seemed much longer to some of the party.
“’Tis rather a disappointment,” Pippin muttered, “to be traveling in foreign lands and not even be able to see much.”
“Well, it’s not like we’ve seen none of it, Pip.” Merry replied from the cocoon of his bedroll. “We do keep walking for a while after sunrise and start in the glomming each evening. And we’ve sometimes had a reasonable amount of moonlight.”
“Yes, yes. But really, it isn’t like we have a decent description to give folks when we get home, do we? And not even any good stories to pass along, seeing as we don’t get to have a fire to sit around for meals. That seems to take the talk right out of a body. We all just tuck into our cold food, eat it without enjoying it, and then roll ourselves up in our bedding and go to sleep.”
Gandalf was listening to the hobbit’s exchange. He listened to everything. Smiling, he sat up. “Peregrin, you have a good point, my lad. There’s not been near enough telling of tales on this expedition. I’m sure we’re all still awake. Gather ‘round and we’ll have some stories. Except for you, Legolas and Aragorn. You need to stay on watch.”
“I can hear you all perfectly well and won’t miss a thing.” Came the Elf’s voice.
“As can I.” Came Aragorn’s.
“Of course.” Gandalf acknowledged. “Who will start?” he asked as the others, bedding still wrapped about them, came to sit in a circle, all but Gimli, who had lay down and promptly gone to sleep.
The first respondent surprised everyone; it was the taciturn Boromir. “I do not wish to tell a tale. But there is one I wish to hear. I would know more of the old hobbit, Bilbo, who found . . . It. I was quite amazed at the respect and honor he was shown and felt it wasn’t only because of his . . . find.”
“Bilbo Baggins, eh?” This from the wizard, not one of the hobbits, as Boromir had expected. “Well, well. Best to start at the beginning, or somewhat close to it. I had kept an eye on Bilbo from the time he was a lad, him being the son of the famous, at least in the Shire, Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters . . .”
“. . . of the Old Took.” Pippin rudely cut in. “Blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard that all my life, being a Took and related to all three of Gerontius’ daughters, though not directly, and I’ve yet to hear from anyone what made them so remarkable. They were only lasses, after all, and I’ve spent my whole life with three Took sisters, just like they were, and there’s naught remarkable about Pearl, Nel or Vinca.”
Gandalf chuckled, remembering to not let out a hearty guffaw. “Now, Peregrin. For one, you are being too loud. Remember where we are. And second, I think your sisters are quite remarkable.”
“I agree.” Merry put in. “After all, Pip, they’ve managed not to kill you . . . yet.”
As the soft laughter of the group died down, Gandalf turned to Boromir. “Might I ask your indulgence, Boromir. You asked to know more of Bilbo, but it pains me that this young Took is so ignorant of his ancestors despite the fact that hobbits, and Tooks in particular, can talk incessantly about their families. May I answer the lad?”
“I am now rather intrigued myself.” Boromir grinned. “Please, tell the tale of the “Remarkable Daughters.”
“Yes! Tell it to me, Gandalf.” Pippin ordered. “Since you seem to be the only one interested in setting me straight on the matter.”
The wizard raised an eyebrow at the lad’s impertinence, shook his head in wonder, than began his accounting of the sisters.
“Well, to begin with all Tooks are rather remarkable. No offence intended to the other Hobbit families represented here,” the wizard quickly added before any protests interrupted him. “Yes, the Brandybucks have their oddities, living by the Old Forest and enjoying boating and swimming. But the Baggins who lack Took or Brandybuck blood are an unassuming lot, and the Gamgees are a solid, dependable working family. The Tooks, on the other hand, have been held as un-hobbitlike by the Shire as a whole for generations.”
Gandalf addressed himself to Pippin.
“In some ways, my lad, those lasses would have been remarkable even if all the claim they had was that they were Tooks and were females.”
“Why would that make them special?”
Gandalf had Pippin’s attention. The wizard smiled.
“You know your family tree better than that, Peregrin. Recite for all of us Gerontius’ children, in order, oldest to youngest.”
Without hesitation, Pippin began. “Isengrim, Hildigard, Isumbras, Hildigrim, Isembold, Hildifons, Isembard, Hildibrand, Belladonna, Donnamira, Mirabella, and Isengar.”
Boromir was goggle eyed, although he knew his brother, Faramir could do the same with their lineage. He himself could do it at one time, but such things didn’t stay long in his mind.
“Well done, Peregrin. And now, how many of those children where females?”
“Now that I stop and think about it, you’re right Gandalf. Only the three of them. Only Belladonna, Donnamira, and Mirabella.”
“Exactly. For that same reason your father and you yourself are remarkable as you are both your parent’s only male children. But, considering that these three lasses made up only one quarter of Gerontius’ twelve offspring, and their being numbers nine, ten and eleven, it is more remarkable yet. He and Adamanta had long given up on ever having any female children, and then to have three in a row seemed miraculous indeed.”
The youngest hobbit nodded. “Hmm. I can see that, I reckon. But really, is that enough for so much to be made of them? You, and others, call Belladonna ‘famous’, and for them all to be remembered as ‘remarkable’ for so many years just because they were Gerontius’ only lasses seems a bit much.”
“Well, who did those lasses marry? Eh, my young Took?” Gandalf counted it off holding up his fingers. “Belladonna married Bungo Baggins, head of the wealthy and influential Baggins of Hobbiton. Donnamira married Hugo Boffin, head of the wealthy and influential Boffins of the Yale. And Mirabella married none other than Gorbadoc Brandybuck, head of the wealthy and influential Brandybucks of Buckland.”
Gandalf paused for effect.
“Even for the daughters of the head of the extremely wealthy and immensely influential Tooks of Great Smials, those are remarkable parings. And, as I recall, not a one was an arranged marriage.”
“No,” Pippin admitted, “the Tooks usually don’t go in for arranging marriages.”
“No.” Gandalf backed the lad’s statement. “Especially the highly favored daughters of the Took and Thain of the Shire. And, although none could know it at the time, some rather important hobbits came of these marriages. Bilbo is Belladonna’s son. Frodo and Merry are both descended from Mirabella, and Folco Boffin and Fredegar Bolger are descendants of Donnamira.” He turned to Boromir. “Those last are good friends and relations to Frodo, Merry and Pippin who helped get Frodo out of the Shire.”
Boromir nodded his understanding.
Gandalf leaned over and tapped Pippin’s knee with one gnarled finger. “Rather remarkable, wouldn’t you agree?”
“I suppose it could be seen as remarkable.” Came a begrudged reply.
“And,” the finger tapped again for emphasis, “all three of those lasses had at least one adventure before they were married. Now what say you, Peregrin Took?”
“What!” Pippin slapped his hand to his mouth then slowly uncovered it. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to yell, but, really Gandalf, I’ve never heard of such a thing. What did they do, if they really did anything at all.”
“Ah. You don’t believe me, eh? Well, for that you’ll just have to stay curious, my young Took. If you behave yourself as we go along on this journey, I may just tell you what they did. Especially that rascally Belladonna. But, for now, I’m weary and am going to sleep. I suggest you do the same.”
With that the wizard turned his back to the hobbits and lay down.
“You’d best behave, Peregirn.” Boromir stared at the youngest hobbit. “I’m curious myself, now, and have a great desire to learn more. A good rest to you, my friends.”
Merry, Pippin, Sam and Frodo walked the few steps to where they had made their beds earlier in the morning.
“Do you believe him?” Pippin whispered to the others.
“Yes.” Frodo said. “Bilbo seemed to have things he knew about his mother that he always stopped short of telling me. But if I were you, I’d be quiet about it for now. I’m sure Gandalf can hear us.”
“I can. You just made yourself have to wait an extra day for still doubting me. Go to sleep.”
The hobbits settled down on the rough grass and were soon asleep, except for Pippin. It took him considerably longer than the others for sleep to quiet his mind.
“As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit – Bilbo Baggins,