Bertrand and I have been installed at The Farm, and I am not best pleased about it.
I spoke with Jack on Wednesday as planned, and told him all I knew of Trout and his intentions for me. It seems that Le Maréchal and his few remaining troops have indeed retreated to Guyagão as Trout said, and that the region is being watched…but Jack is unaware of any planned efforts to draw the cochons from their hiding places.
“His Majesty’s Government is pleased to let them rot in the swamps,” he told me. “We’ll keep an eye on them, and we’ll certainly prevent any would-be recruits from joining them, but there’s little enough harm they can cause there.”
Further, he has never heard of Trout or of any secret doings His Cumbrian Majesty’s Government might have in train in Armorica.
“That means little, though,” he said. “As His Lordship’s aide I hear things, but I don’t hear everything. Still, I don’t like you going off with him, not when we know he’s lying to you.” He shook his head. “And yet, there is little we can do other than arrest the man when next he presents himself at your guild hall. I would be pleased to arrange that. But if he is genuinely in His Majesty’s service, His Majesty’s Government would be…displeased.”
“Perhaps His Lordship knows more?”
“He might; and you’d best believe that I shall ask him instanter. But if he doesn’t we are simply left in the same position as before. Tell you what, coz, let me speak with him. He’ll have to decide what’s best to be done. Where shall I send word to you?”
“It would look odd if we met again; and I have to assume that Trout has me under observation. Perhaps send a messenger to Suprenant et Fils? I dine with them tomorrow night.”
“I shall do so.”
“I don’t suppose you could simply speak to him; if he’s on His Majesty’s service he must have some way of proving it. Some code word or something?”
“But how would we know he is here? The man’s been careful not to draw official attention. No, if we bring him in we’d best arrest him outright, for he sure’s to know you’ve been talking to us. We’ll have to make inquiries to the folks at Home, and that will take time.”
It would, and several months of it even by fast cutter.
“I suppose I must go with him on Friday, then.”
“I’m afraid so. But if I know His Lordship, you won’t be as alone wherever you’re going as Trout thinks you are. We’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
I nodded. “Perhaps you could make discreet inquiries about my status in the Guild? Trout was so good as to inform me that I owed my chain solely to him, and that he could remove it at any time. I’ve no idea whether the Guild knows anything about the business or not.”
“Messing in guild business, is he? That could be helpful.” Jack nodded. “Aye, it could. His Lordship will want to know about that.” He eyed me over the last of his ale. “You have a way to get in touch if trouble arises?”
“Yes, I do. I can send word through M. Suprenant; he will know how to reach you.”
“Good, then. I’m off, and you’ll hear from me tomorrow.”
And so I did, but it was brief: “Trout unknown. L.D. will inquire. Eyes open. J.”
“L.D.” was surely Lord Doncaster; and “Eyes open” presumably was a warning to me and also a promise from Jack, and with that I had to be satisfied.
Trout came with a cart this morning, and carried us north out of town, into a region I’d not ventured into before. It took us several hours to reach what I am calling The Farm: several small fields surrounded by collapsing fences and stone walls near a farm house that will need several days worth of work to be livable, the whole shrouded in deep forest.
“I’m sorry I was not able to find a place in better repair,” he said, “but there is fuel and food. I shall return in a week.” Of course he wasn’t a bit sorry. I told him we would manage, and he did not linger.
And so here we are, Bertrand and I, and I am writing by the light from the kitchen fire for though there is firewood there is no oil and no lamp. Trout made no comment at any time today as to my progress, and I fear that his real goal is only to have me out of communication. He is doomed to disappointment if so.