Mon cher Leon,
You are aware, of course, of Lord Doncaster’s decisions regarding how lightly Armorica is to be governed by Cumbria; the mood in Mont-Havre is joyous, I am given to understand, and well it should be. But you are likely unaware of some the undercurrents that Jack has shared with me, intending me to pass them quietly along to our whole circle.
The news is of the worst, as Amelie would say. Le Maréchal has broken out of his retreat in the swamps of Guyanão, he and what few men remain to him; and he has gone—where? We do not know. His ultimate plan must be to regain the seat of power in Toulouse, but first he will need to rebuild his forces. And where shall he do that? We shall not know until he lands somewhere.
The most likely place, of course, is somewhere in Provençe; Jack assures me that he still has supporters there, that there are many who would rise up to follow him once again. But he is a master of strategy, a master of what Jack calls “defeating the enemy in detail”. Which is a grand phrase, but insofar as I understand it simply means that he uses his forces to destroy the enemy’s forces while they are yet scattered, for two smaller forces may be beaten more easily than one large one.
But what if he were to choose to come to Armorica first, mon ami? It seems unlikely on the face of it; we have no central position between Cumbria and Provençe. But it is not unthinkable. We have young men, who can be enlisted; and though the people here in the region of Bois-de-Bas oppose Le Maréchal whole-heartedly, it may be that this is less universal across Armorica than we have thought. He may, indeed, be able to find men here. His Lordship’s hand has been light, but I am sure there are those who hate him simply because he is a representative of a foreign power.
Or, possibly, Le Maréchal may simply still think of Armorica as loyal; and as a fertile place to plant a new regime that will lead in the end to still greater things.
All of this is a farrago of conjecture, of course. We do not know what le Cochon intends; likely Armorica is not in his eye at all.
And yet, I am concerned.
Leon, we have a hidden refuge that we established during the last war, and which we are now provisioning. You are closer to the center of things, and will hear things I do not, even as I hear things (through Jack) that will not come to you through the normal course of business. Moreover, any attack on Armorica would fall first on Mont-Havre. I beg of you, at the first sign of trouble do not hesitate to send your family to us; we will keep them safe. I do not say, come yourself; you will know whether it is better for you yourself to stay or go.
And send me an arrow if the situation becomes desperate. The wagons we sell require oxen, for safety; but that is easily and quickly remedied, given the necessary preparations—which are even now in train. Should you have need of us we will come for you and yours, and that speedily.
With the blessing of le Bon Dieu, none of these preparations will be needed. I am no doubt being unduly alarmist, and perhaps you are chuckling at my consternation. Perhaps so, and if so none will be more delighted than I. It is even possible that Le Maréchal has already landed in Provençe, and has already been destroyed, and that the news, always slow in coming, simply has not reached us yet. May it be so!
And yet, perhaps not so.
But I find that I am about to lecture an experienced and prosperous merchant on the subject of prudence, for which I beg your pardon; you need no schooling from me!
Please give all of my best to your family, and to M. Bardot; and be assured that the phrase “you and yours” includes him and all other members of your firm.
Ever your friend,