Bramblebury, a lovely and friendly neighbourhood, is special in many ways. They even have their own newspaper! Yet, when I first visited, I was not feeling comfortable or at ease at all. My first visit started with another disappointment: Someone else lived in my mother Yola's house. Where was I to look now? But then I met someone who changed everything for me. The friendly hobbit that had been on his walk when we met there and then..
“I am her brother!”, he shouted after me, me running away in confusion and fear. I stopped immediately and turned around. He came walking towards me as I was pinned to the ground. “Are you Peppy?”, I stammered. He smiled, nodded friendly. “Peppy Bristlebrush, at your service, Miss.” I still hesitated. Could I trust him to speak the truth? The news of my mother being betrayed and conspirators still roaming free had put a fear in me that made me distrust anyone I didn't already know. So I decided to test him. But what could I ask? I did not know much about Yola, to be honest. The things I did know, were common knowledge and would also be known to the ones that had caused harm to her. Then I remembered the notes I took in Stock. “Name me a few of Yola's childhood friends!”
He looked surprised, thought a while and then named several of the friends who's names I had written down. It was Peppy! It had to be! This hobbit was my mother's brother, my uncle, the one mentioned in the note from my cradle. Tears, real tears, ran down my cheeks as I threw myself in his arms. From his reaction, a comforting series of taps on my shoulder, I sensed he felt a bit embarrassed by my explosion of affection. O, how silly of me! He did not know yet who I was!
I excused myself and took a bit of distance again. I opened the locket I wore around my neck, the safekeeping place for the note, unfolded it and showed it to him. He immediately recognized his sister's handwriting and his jaw dropped when he read it's contents. “Yola had a baby?”, he asked me, “and you were that baby?”. I nodded. He stood in amazement, lost for words. It was apparent that he had not known about me. Yola had not told her own brother about the child she had carried and given birth to. It was futile, but I had to ask: “Do you have any idea who could be my father?”. He shook his head, still staring at the note. “I have no idea. I did not know about this.” He asked me my age and after a quick calculation confirmed what I had already figured out. “I was away for a long time around the time you were born.” He looked at me again with a broad smile. “It had to be something like that. I knew it! When I first saw you, I was very surprised, shocked even. In the light of the lanterns, it seemed as if Yola herself was approaching me. You look so much like her, Rubellita!” This was the first of many times that someone told me how much I look like my mother. It made me feel proud and happy. Apparently, I carry a lot of who Yola was with me, and not just the looks.
As it was already past midnight, Uncle Peppy invited me to his burrow in another part of the homesteads, in Pinewarrens. O, how he beamed when I first called him that: “Uncle Peppy”. It was time to go to sleep, but he promised me that in the morning, after a pair of solid breakfasts, he would tell me more about my mother.
I was so happy that I had found this kind hobbit. I had not found my mother, but he was the next best person to find, with the possible exception of my “real” father. Still, it was odd, that my existence had been kept secret by Yola, as well as the name of my father, even to a relative as close as a brother. My search was not over yet..
As I fell asleep, I thought gratefully about Pa and Ma in Buckland, the two hobbits that I would always consider as my true parents, if not my real parents. They had raised me, educated me and had taken care of me when, for whatever reason, my mother Yola could not. I loved them so much and could hardly wait to tell them about me finding Peppy.
Next: Learning more.