by Belladonna Baggins, nee Took Chapter Eight: The Grey Havens
by Belladonna Baggins, nee Took
Chapter Eight: The Grey Havens
… the Sea became a word of fear among them, and token of death …
The Fellowship of the Ring
'The ancient seat of the Kings of Numenor,' said Gandalf, puffing furiously on his pipe, 'and you've been wandering through it scrawling Belladonna Took was here on the walls.'
'Of course I didn't,' I protested. 'I was busy finding my way out. It's just Bs with arrows.' My Elvish friends, wisely, didn't say a word. But they smiled. I could hear it behind me, at the back of the boat, as we rocked gently on the Lune river.
We had borrowed another boat from the Bandits (old friends of Gandalf's) who had arrived at the very nick of time to rescue us from the Goblin caves. Then there had been an exciting bit with lots of fighting which would have been a lot more fun, mark you, if we hadn't had to pick up all the dead bodies afterwards. The Bandits had sighed with relief as they sent us on our way, making us promise never to blunder into military manoeuvres again. Ever. I said I'd try.
There remained an important question. 'Whither have you wandered, O Wizard,' said I, 'and what did you there?'
He gave me a Look. 'I was by the Tower Hills,' he said, 'looking for you – or rather, your friends.'
'Oh, we surmised that, if you found us, you'd make us go home,' said Ethrendil blithely.
'So we took a detour,' said Mirendil.
'I can see that.'
After the kerfuffle on the lake, the trip down the Lune river was very quiet. This is not a bad thing, as such, but it was much more fun to do than to read about, so I won't go into much detail. Only, there was Mirendil in a patch of sunlit grass, with blackberry leaves in her hair and a smudge of juice on her cheek. Ethrendil always reminded me of a stork, standing on a rock with his carven spear and the wind stealing strands of his inky hair. If memories were leaves, I'd tuck those away in my scrapbook and, when I were old, I would open it up and gently touch them and remember summer. Except, by then, they'd be withered and old too. Drat it, metaphors never go the way you want them to.
Then, one day, a wind came from the West. It did not smell of pondweed and blackberry. It smelled of wildness and freedom, and of danger. I heard the crying of an unknown bird. 'What is that?' asked Mirendil, her face turned to the wind.
'It is the Sea.'
I would rather not write of this, but the tale is not complete without it.
The Lune river widens out into a long firth, the Gulf of Lune, that is largely protected from the wild sea. Where it opens out, there is Mithlond. It is an odd place. On one side of the harbour is a town of Men. They run a small fleet of fishing boats, and a little merchant trade. It is a pleasant enough place to live, I suppose.
Over the river are the Grey Havens.
All you see at first are the towers of stone. Even when the clouds are thick and the Sun hides her face they hold a pearly glow. There is a smooth sheen on the stone as if the long years only polished it clean and made it more itself, if you take my meaning which you probably don't. I'm sorry, I can't find the words to explain it properly. They are so lovely. As if whoever built them was saying to visitors Here you are! Welcome! Isn't this land beautiful?
Past the towers are shipyards. A shipyard. There were two boats there – one was only half-finished. I could see Elves working on it, slowly and steadily. From where we were standing the boats looked tiny, not fit for stormy seas. An old gentleman came towards us, very tall, in a long robe. I couldn't tell what he was. I've never heard of an Elf with a beard, let alone a grey one, yet there was a light behind his eyes that did not look Mannish. He bowed and said, 'All is now ready.'
Mirendil and Ethrendil bowed back. Then they knelt – to my height – and hugged me for a good long time. Fool that I was, I was thinking Hey, we're going for a boat ride now! I may even have babbled something like this, for they shook their heads.
'We're going away,' Mirendil said.
'It was meant to be,' added Ethrendil, seriously, then, 'I'm sorry.'
And they walked away, almost dancing, to music that I couldn't hear. Gandalf had a hand on my shoulder, gentle but inescapable, or I would have clung to their legs like a two-year-old. Like I said: a fool. They climbed into the little boat, just the two of them, and let down the sail. I looked up at the towers then, and I knew that they also said: Goodbye, good journey, remember us. 'Wait!' I shouted, running after the departing ship. 'Wherever you're going, you might need a knife!'
I tossed the bilbo end over end. It landed with a solid thunk in the high bit at the back of the boat. Mirendil pulled it out and they both waved. I stayed watching as long as they were in sight, but there was a brisk wind that blurred my eyes: they were soon gone. I turned and saw Gandalf, looking out to sea with hunger in his face. Círdan beside him said, 'I will still be waiting,' whatever that meant. He took us back into his house and fed us, which I appreciated. It was very good food, too – Elvish stuff with berries in it.
Gandalf and I went back the short way, on the roads, keeping company with a salt caravan for part of the journey. There wasn't much of note. We stopped at one of the Towers in the Far Downs and looked back. You're supposed to be able to see the Sea from there, but it was too cloudy in the West. It was sunny by the tower though, and not too breezy, so we sat down for a noon meal. I looked up at the tower and couldn't see the top of it. 'Someday,' I vowed, 'I will climb this. But not today, for I am weary.' Gandalf said nothing. He was sitting with his back against the curving wall and his hat pulled over his face. I strongly suspect that he was napping. I patted the holly tree carved into the stone of the tower and settled down for a rest myself. Eating is very hard work.
I was back in Tuckborough by dusk, when all the lights were being lit in the round Hobbit windows. Great Smials was dark, though. It looked like the whole family had packed up for a holiday, as they sometimes do. I swung round to the slope below my bedroom hoping to break in, as I have done before. By then it was really dark and I was stumbling a bit. But under my window I walked surely for there was a lamp on the sill, shining with light, and fresh flowers. I was wondering at this, when the light was obscured and I saw a pair of legs wiggling wildly out of the window as they tried to get out. Then, with a groan, they were free and landed, with the rest of the hobbit, on the grass outside my room. It was Bungo, all perfectly combed feet, respectable breeches, lovely waistcoat, and slightly disarranged hair.
'Ah,' he said. 'Miss Belladonna. You're back.'
What with one thing and another, Bungo and I got married a couple of years later (and if you think this story is wild, wait until you read about our wedding!).
I can no longer see my toes and soon, my dear, I will be meeting you for the very first time. I hope that you don't mind but, boy or girl, I am naming you after the trusty little knife that served me so well in troubled times. We Tooks have always believed that peculiar names build character in the young.
I am going to seal this manuscript in a lead box and hide it under the latest pressing of Old Winyards. It has been a plentiful year, and nobody should find this for quite some time.
And this leads me to a final warning. My dear Bilbo: by the time you read this I shall be ever ever so respectable, so you mustn't breathe a word.
Due to fragmentary records, no date is known for the wedding of Belladonna Took and Bungo Baggins. However, their only, though very famous, child Bilbo Baggins was born in 1290 (SR); presumably the wedding was before then. Thistranslator and editorwishes them every happiness, retrospectively.