Letters from Armorica, 6 Juin 33AF

Dear Mum,

One hasn't much opportunity for merriment in Mont-Havre, not on a clerk's wages, not if you're trying to save every franc you can—as you must, if you wish to be able to take advantage of opportunities for advancement as they come by. The folk of Mont-Havre are hard-working, and have no use for layabouts; I wouldn't have my position as a clerk if I'd been seen frittering away my earnings from my work at the docks.

It makes for a tedious life: up at dawn, wash up, dress, a quick roll and coffee with Madame Truc and the other roomers, walk to Suprenant & Fils, work at my desk until noon, back to Madame Truc's for my midday meal (fortunately, it is a short walk), work until evening, supper, and then to bed. I usually have a bit of time to read between supper and bed, and I have been known to carry a book with me on my walk to and from S&F's.

My only expenses are my room and board, a few items of clothing suitable for my new station, and the occasional book. I am becoming quite well known at the bookshop of Monsieur Fournier, and as his stock comes mostly from Provençe I am necessarily working on my Provençese. My fellow roomers have taken to addressing me as Monsieur le Rat, which I'm afraid means just what it sounds like; but it is short for rat de bibliothèque, "library rat," or, as we would say, Mr. Bookworm. Alas, there are no lending libraries in Mont-Havre or I should save my francs all the faster.

However, few opportunities is not the same as no opportunities. The 3rd of Juin is the anniversary of the Deuxième Débarquement, which is to say the Second Landing, the arrival of the second colony ship to Armorica. I haven't yet learned all of the details, but the first colonists had great difficulties and hardships, as is so often the way, and the arrival of the second ship was a more than welcome relief. It is one of the biggest fêtes of the year, and it is traditional for employers to give their workers the day off with pay. Generous employers, like Monsieur Suprenant, will even give their men a few extra francs to drink their health. It would be a "rudeness of the most great," says Madame Truc, and a miserliness "of the most deplorable", not to spend them for that purpose; and in truth I had little desire to hoard them.

The celebration itself was not much different from the various guild festivals in Yorke. The center of the festivities was Durand Park, tellingly named after the leader of the colonists on the second ship. The leader from the first ship was a man named Gerard Morin; the Armoricans hold him responsible for the hardships experienced by the first colonists, but I haven't been able to get anyone to tell me just what he did. The younger folks don't know, and the older folks just snort and look aside, and (if outside) spit on the ground when they hear his name.

There were booths around the outside of the park selling food and drink, and bands played throughout the day; there was a parade in which all of the guilds took part (the Former's Guild was notable for the puny size of its float; I've had no contact with it or its members, but it seems not to be one of the major guilds in Mont-Havre). Also, there was much dancing, and in between drinking (and eating) M. Suprenant's health I danced with any number of pretty young Armorican girls.

Yes, Mum, I hear your gasp of horror quite clearly. But this is my home now, you know; and so I must necessarily marry an Armorican girl in the end. If it is any consolation, many of the girls I danced with were of families originally from Greater Britonia, and them not the least pretty.

Your loving son,

Armand

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photo credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie Badger on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge via photopin (license)