Letters from Armorica, 20 Juin 33AF

Dear Marc,

I'm so glad to hear that you and Elise are settled in Bois-de-Bas in such an excellent situation. It must be good to have family there to support you, and to "pave the way" as we'd say back home. I'm sure that you will work your way into your own farmstead in short order.

No, I'm not still working at the port; I am now a junior clerk at Suprenant et Fils, and I live at Madame Truc's boarding house. You may safely write to me at that direction. I hadn't planned on staying here very long, but Madame Truc has taken a shine to me, and M. Suprenant pays me well enough that I am able to save for the future so long as I am not extravagant in my needs. For that, Madame Truc's serves me very well.

What that future may be I am still unsure. I am still working it out. I do not wish to remain a clerk all of my life, but I am learning a great deal about trade and imports and exports just by watching what goes on at S&F. With my connections in Cumbria and the knowledge I am gaining I suppose that some day I could set up as a merchant here in Mont-Havre. I think I could manage it. There are many inducements. M. Suprenant lives in a grand house, and has all the good things in life, or at least all of the good things that are readily available here in Armorica; and he is a good man, generous in both word and deed. I expect that I shall marry one day, and it would be good to make a fortune to provide for my family.

And yet, to be M. Suprenant seems to me to be little more than a grand sort of clerk—he needn't keep the journals and ledgers himself, but his working life is consumed by them. He comes in every morning, perhaps an hour after I must arrive, and always through the warehouse doors at the back of the building. He greets me and the warehouse-men cordially, and asks after our comfort, and then heads off whistling to his office across from the senior clerk to go over the latest transactions. At noon he dines in the hall of the Guilde du Marchandes with his peers, the owners of the other mercantile concerns, and the talk is all of harvests and storms and the price of bronzewood in the back-of-beyond. And none of it is good, open talk such as we used to have on board the Lombard. They enjoy each other's company and drink each other's health, but they fence one with another, always desiring to learn whatever will aid their dealings while giving nothing away.

It's a grand game, I suppose; but it was to avoid something like it that I left Yorke.

But the experience can only be useful, and my wages will lay the foundation for my future dreams whatever they may turn out to be.

Please, write me and tell me more about Bois-de-Bas. I am delighted by your descriptions of the woods and grottos and hot springs around which your town is built, and would gladly learn more of them; and also of the people of your town. I am a city boy, as you well know, not a countryman like yourself, and I have no taste for farming; but if there were some way I might earn my living there in Bois-de-Bas, some way I might be of use and support a family, I would gladly live closer to such an excellent friend as yourself.

My best to Elise!

Your friend,

Armand

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