Letters from Armorica— 4 Juin 34 AF

Dear Journal,

My sky-chair is a success! I completed it yesterday, just before writing to my father, and today I took it out for its first trial. It functions almost entirely as desired, and unlike my first effort it is not confined to the Nursery. I built it in my new workshop as my first major project, and it was with the greatest of ease that my neighbor Jacques Pôquerie and I carried out through the double doors into the open air.

I had originally intended to work on my sky boat in secret, given that I am unregistered with the local guild—but that cat is long out of its bag. And since I built it in my new workshop I couldn't hide it in any event, what with customers coming and going. What my father will say when he discovers what I am doing I fear to learn. I only hope he sends me my master's chain promptly, before any such word comes to him. Once I receive the chain I shall be forever out from his power, by the very rules of the Guild he so adores: I shall be my own master in all truth. And I shall need to be, for I am sure I shall be reviled as much in Toulouse as in Yorke. A former engaged in trade! A former selling to the common folk! Unheard of!

Trying to keep my work secret would have been foolish in any event. My Amelie is neither a gossip nor a prattler, but she is proud of me, and she will speak up on my behalf, as witness the affair of the pots. And then, had I built it in secret I should have had to do without Jacques' help.

Jacques is our village cabinet maker, and as a result the new sky-chair is both more sturdy and more beautiful than its predecessor. Instead of being made out of old packing crates it is solidly joined out of the wood of the Chêne-pierre tree, and it is most beautifully finished. It is larger than the original, with room for two to sit one behind the other, but is otherwise similar in design. It has the same controls, and the same lifting element hanging over one's head like the canopy of a four-poster bed. Or, actually, a three-poster bed: there are two posts at what I suppose I should call the bow, one to the right and one to the left; and then a stouter stern-post that rises up behind the operator. All three posts extend below the vessel by about a foot, and serve to the support the vehicle when it rests on the ground. Jacques assures me that three posts will be more stable than four. It even has comfortable seats for the occupants, shaped like the seats one of Jacques' fine chairs.

So first thing this morning Jacques and I guided it out of the workshop; and climbing in I took it for a spin around the village, being careful to rise no more than a foot or two from the ground. It steers over-large, and I can see a few modifications I shall want to make to the controls, but I was well pleased. There were many cries of delight from my neighbors, and I fear that all of the infants of the village will be wanting rides around the green ere long, once their mamas see that I have come to no harm.

The morning was still young, and so we went visiting. Jacques helped Amelie to climb into the bow of the craft; and once she took her seat, blushing and a bit anxious, I guided it down the road to Onc' Herbert's farm. We were able to travel faster than a cart, and with perfect smoothness, and indeed could have gone faster yet but for Amelie's qualms. Well, and my own: one step at a time! Our friends at the farm were most astonished—all except Onc' Herbert, who just laughed quietly to himself when we hove in view.

We stayed for the noon meal with Onc' Herbert and Marc and Elise. Marc is curious about building a kind of sky-sleigh, pulled by mules, or even a self-propelled sky-wagon, much like my sky-chair but larger. I assured him that a full-fledged sky-wagon should be almost as easy to form as a sleigh, but he's thinking that a sleigh would be easier to control with less training, and be a better working tool on the farm. He may well be right. The thought of a laden sky-wagon hurtling through the village at the speeds I believe my chair to be capable of—well, it is more than a little chilling.

I begin to view the future with a mixture of alarm, delight, and wild surmise.

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photo credit: creyesk Green tunnel via photopin (license)