5 Thrimidge, 1420
Tookbank, Tookland

Dear Meriadoc,

Everything is hot and slow. The weather is muggy and humid and I simply can’t bear it. Pearl has locked herself in her bedroom with the window open and wet cloths draped all over herself. I wish I could do the same, but stupid Nellie has forced me to stay in this hot drawing room and study government and the history of the Tooks and such. I’ll bet that wretched sister of mine has plans to steal my bedroom. It’s the coolest room in the Smials, on the brook side, and perfect for hot days like this.

But Nel shan’t conquer me! Ha! She thinks I’m in here dutifully studying for Thainship, when in reality I am writing a letter to my idiot cousin who was stupid enough to go and steal the house at Crickhollow and live away in Buckland where I’ll never see him again, and it’s not fair! After all the time we spent together in the War, to suddenly sever me from all my friends! How do you expect me to survive without ever seeing you or Frodo or Sam?! It’ll be the death of me! You mean to murder your own cousin! Merry! How could you, after all we’ve gone through together?! I saved your life! You owe me something!

Your distraught cousin,

Peregrin Took

8 Thrimidge, 1420
Crickhollow, Buckland

Dear Distraught Cousin,

Of course I do not mean to murder you! Heavens. I ought to be the chastising you for moving up and away to that queer Tookland of yours. Buckland is rather lonely. Frodo and Sam promise to visit, of course, but at present they are very busy; and while Fatty and Folco are good friends, I am afraid they are no match for your much-missed company.

Tell Nellie I think she is a proper orc-wife for locking you up to study the obviously COMPLETELY unnecessary knowledge that of course you will NEVER need as Thain of Tookland.

You know, I am quite loathe to realize what the two of us have missed out on by never having spent any time in our earlier days in the company of Miss Estella Bolger, Fatty’s sister. She really is quite charming, and thinks in the same way we do. She simply put her foot down and demanded to know why Fatty hadn’t informed her of our conspiracy, and why she hadn’t been invited along for the ride – this was during a party that Fatty threw for the coming-of-age of young Stallford Tweed-Toot last week. At this remark I excused myself to go to “get a glass of water”. In reality I was huddled in the pantry stifling laughter. But Miss Bolger really is a good lass.

My dear lad, I am quite afraid that I have no supernatural powers to dismiss the sweltering mid-day heat of early Thrimidge, so you shall have to be content with the best wishes of

Your loving cousin,

Meriadoc Brandybuck

11 Thrimidge 1420
Tookbank, Tookland

Dear Meriadoc,

Ha ha. Funny.

For your information, Master Brandybuck, the stuff Nel is trying to force-feed me is not necessary in any way, shape, or form, to the duties of a Thain! My father, your uncle, is a perfectly good leader, and he never needed to know the birthplace of the hobbit who invented the first fire-proof wooden pipe, in order to enhance his position as Thain! And no matter what you may protest, I’m right, and you know it. Nellie is truly getting on my nerves. I wish she’d go jump in the Brandywine. Partly because if she did, she’d have to go to Buckland, and I could come with her and see you.

I did tell her, however, that you think she is a female orc, which did not make her extraordinarily pleased.

Fatty’s sister? I met her once at a dance in the Yale. Quite a nice girl.

No supernatural powers?! Merry, I’m shocked and stunned!

Your cousin,

Peregrin Took

14 Thrimidge 1420
Crickhollow, Buckland

Dear Shocked and Stunned Cousin,

Miss you too.

Yes, you are right: perhaps some of what Nel is pressing on you is, ah, not entirely needed in order to be a Thain. But you do lack schooling, my young kinsman, and I intend, if Nellie fails, to give you a proper education. Although something tells me that it might be a little too late, now . . .

Peregrin, Gandalf was right: you truly are a fool of a Took. You were not supposed to inform Pimpernel your sister that I had compared her to a female orc! Now she’ll hate me forever. At least that destroys any threatening chances of my parents trying to hook me up with her. You know some people’s parents do that to them? Make them marry their own cousins? I don’t think I could stand it if I was your cousin and brother-in-law, much less to have Nellie living within the same square mile as me!

All right, Pip, you’ve officially insulted a lady, and one very undeserving of such treatment, at that. Estella Bolger is not your average hobbit-lass, but all the same she should be treated with the same respect as any blundering giggling eyelash-flapping female. Which, now that I reflect on my last sentence, is none at all. However, seeing as how Estella is not a blundering giggling eyelash-flapping female, you must treat her with due politeness; and as a new acquaintance of Miss Bolger, and her next-door neighbor, it is my duty to inform you of your undoubtedly unintentional error.

I really do miss you. And Frodo, and Sam, and Strider, and Legolas, and Gimli, and Gandalf. But strangely, most of all you, even though you’re only a day’s journey away and most of the others are halfway across Middle-earth. I’m going to have to force Nel to release you for a few weeks and let you come down to Buckland. We have much to discuss. Not to mention the fact that there is much pipe-weed and peach coffee to be had, and stars to be looked at from inside the shelter of a warm blanket and a good laugh. Get out of that nasty horrid Tookbank sometime soon and get down here! We hobbits must stick together.

Your loving cousin,

Meriadoc Brandybuck, the poor soul with no supernatural powers

17 Thrimidge 1420
Tookbank, Tookland

Dear Meriadoc,

And stick together we shall.

However, I most disapprove of your calling Tookbank “nasty” and “horrid”. It is no such thing. And you know very well yourself that it’s Buckland, not Tookland, that has a reputation of being, shall we say, queer.

I beg your pardon, cousin, but in what way have I offended Miss Bolger? Was it an impolite approach to call her “quite a nice girl”? Is it really your “duty” to inform me of mistakes I’ve made in my talking of her, or do I sense that something else is amiss? I do hope you shall invite me to the wedding, Meriadoc. I should terribly hate it if I were to miss out on such an occasion.

I shall make every brave endeavor to free myself from Pimpernel’s clutches and make my way down to queer old Buckland. Down there, you Brandybucks need someone of intelligence to keep an eye on things.

Your cousin,

Peregrin Took (or Peregrin Took I, or so I hope to be called someday!)

21 Thrimidge 1420
Crickhollow, Buckland

Dear Peregrin Took I,

My dearest and most beloved cousin, if Buckland lacks a person of intelligence, I shall certainly not call you down here. Which shows how intelligent I am. Which is very much. Which completely dissipates of any reason for another being of such an intelligent bloodline to visit Buckland. Which throws your plan to pieces.

Dear lad, there is to be no wedding in the immediate future, and I have no intention at the time being that there should ever be one involving myself and Estella Bolger as the main attraction. In other words, no, I’m not in love with her. I do quite enjoy her company, and find her very kind and agreeable. In fact I believe I am on my way to becoming very close friends with her. But there is absolutely no romantic interest involved, I tell you in all honesty. Rest assured that you shall be present at whatever wedding I have in the future, since it would do very ill to have the best man absent at the ceremony.

And now, to show you what a kind, loving cousin I am, I will answer your question as to how you insulted Miss Bolger: you called her “quite a nice girl”. Estella is NOT quite a nice girl. Pay her a visit when you come down here, and you’ll see what I mean.

My parting remark to you is this: if Buckland is queer, then better for the rest of the Shire to be queerer still than to keep up this pretense of dignity without the Brandybucks.

Your “queer” cousin,

Meriadoc Brandybuck

26 Thrimidge 1420
Tookbank, Tookland

Dear and queer cousin,

I agree with you that the world could find a fine role model in Buckland’s society. After all, I was born there. Quite a blessing for the community, don’t you know.

I finally got a break from Nellie’s drilling!–she went for a walk out down by the brook to cool off! You shan’t be surprised when I tell you that the past three weeks she’s been cramming useless Tuckborough-related information into my skull. But this afternoon, ’twas particularly hot, so she excused me. Bless that sister of mine. I love her most of all when she gives me a break from herself.

But of COURSE there shall be no wedding in the immediate future! Estella would not want to rush things. Best to wait a few years. She’ll be ready by then. Lasses take a long time to get ready, you know. Or so Berilac tells me.

My parting remark to you is this: never laugh at live dragons.

Your mother’s Tookish brother-son,

Peregrin Took

29 Thrimidge 1420
Crickhollow, Buckland

Dearer and queerer cousin,

You were not born in Buckland. You arrived a few hours after your birth. I remember because I was standing outside the door to the Hall watching your family’s carriage come up, and I wondered why there was another person in the carriage, instead of the five people we’d been expecting.

I am extremely grateful for your break from drilling. Hope you enjoyed it.

Pippin, how many times must I go to the trouble of assuring you that I am not marrying Estella Bolger? And how would Berilac know anything about lasses?

You know me well enough to know that I never do laugh at live dragons. I will at any rate pass on this bit of wisdom to you in turn: never laugh at live dragons, unless the only alternative is laughing at a Ringwraith.

Your cousin,


30 Thrimidge 1420
Crickhollow, Buckland

My dear Pippin,

I got the news last night, by messenger.

Oh, my dearest cousin. I am so, so sorry.

With tears in my eyes and an emptiness in my heart,

Your cousin,


5 Forelithe 1420
Tookbank, Tookland

Dearest Merry,

A month ago I wrote to you and told you how stupid Nellie was.

Now I’ll never lay eyes on her again.

I cannot, in any amount of words, describe the horror and pain and heartbreak that has been coursing through me in the last eleven days. She’s gone. My sister, who looked out for me and taught me and was always there to lend a hand. Gone forever.

Merry, I feel like it’s my fault. Like I had infuriated her so, with my obstinacy and idiocy and insensitivity, that she couldn’t take it any longer. I know it isn’t true, that it would have happened regardless of anything I did, but what if–what if she went out there to take that walk by the brook because she was fed up with me? What if she was so tired and exhausted from fighting with me that she decided to wade into the water to cool down?

When Father came back from outside, grim-faced and with an expression of ultimate sorrow on his face, and I saw Pimpernel, cold and lifeless and dripping in his arms, I screamed. I have only screamed like that four times in my life. When Gandalf fell. When I saw the last arrow pierce Boromir, and his face as he collapsed on the ground, looking up at us in despair. When I found you, close to death, beneath the foul body of that stinking orc. And when my da brought home my dead sister and told us that she had slipped into a pothole in the brook and drowned.

I cannot bear it anymore. To see home, to see my house and my lands and the places where I used to play with my sisters, and to know that one of them will never again be there to–I can’t bear it. I am coming to Buckland, Merry. I must get away from it all.

I shan’t leave yet. Not for a few days more, at very least. My family needs me. I only got back to them last Blotmath, and it would be cruel to take another child from them so soon, after they’ve lost Nel.

But I’m coming. I need you. Right now I think I need you more than anything else in the world.

Your cousin,


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