Letters from Armorica- Worries (18 Juillet 34AF)

First Letter

Dear Journal,

I'm glad I've got you to write in, because otherwise I'd go mad sitting here with no one to talk to. Marc should be here in a few days, but first he needs to finish helping laying a false trail to amuse the Provençese when they come looking for me. I hope he returns safely!

I spent the day on deck, brooding and working on another sky-chair. Brooding, because it rankles to have run, leaving my wife and child-to-be behind. I should be defending them, not they me. I tell myself that I haven't run, precisely, that this is a strategic retreat, and that it ultimately is the best way to keep Amelie and my new home safe. But I hate it, and I am glad I have work to keep me busy.

The new chair will be elegant in its design—I learn more with each chair I build—but crude in its construction, what with Jacques not being here to help. Perhaps he can do some finish work on the mundane portions of the chair sometime later: he could install more comfortable seating, for example. It will still be ugly, for the formed portions of the craft cannot be modified.

Perhaps on my next effort I shall work on just the portions of the chair that requiring proper forming. I could form a kind of skeleton with all the necessaries, complete and able to fly, but otherwise unfinished and then Jacques or another skilled craftsman could complete the body work. Each to his own work! It would require changing my design yet again, in order that the skeleton be complete and self-supporting, but I think it can be done. I shall sleep on it.

So I have not been wasting my time out here in the woods on my sky-island; but I have not been comfortable either. The air is chill and damp, here over the river; and then there is Old Man Blaireau tromping about out there in the woods. He knows I am here, though he can't reach me, and I have seen him on the banks several times. He is every bit as large as I remembered, but gaunt. Whatever he is finding to eat, it isn't enough for him.

I hope he doesn't try to knock down the trees to which the sloop is moored. I don't know how smart grand-blaireaux are, or whether he is likely to notice the mooring lines, but I should hate to be set adrift.

There is a cot of sorts in the captain's cabin, a tiny cubbyhole in no way deserving of such a grand name. I attempted to sleep there last night, but tonight I think I shall bed down here in the galley, where I am currently sitting and writing. There is a wood stove here, for cooking the men's meals, and it is the only source of heat on the entire vessel. Perhaps tonight I shall not shiver all night long.

I worry about using the stove, though, because of the smoke. We moored the sloop here on the sky-island because it had to be hidden: our entire defense is based on leading the Provençese to think that the sloop came and went and is still out there, somewhere, carrying on its mission. (It had to be hidden or destroyed, and it is far too valuable to destroy: it could be a significant asset to Bois-de-Bas in the years to come, once the war is over, and possibly even in the coming months, if we can learn how to fly it well.) It seems unlikely that the Provençese will look for it here, or even pay this island any attention at all.

And yet, any Provençese soldiers who come searching are likely to have a sky-vessel of their own, and if so they can fly at any altitude and on any route they please. If they choose to investigate this island, they must necessarily find me; and if they see a plume of smoke, well. I think I must bank the fire before morning, and let it burn freely only when it is quite dark. And when Marc comes, I shall ask for more blankets and a small whirtle-oil stove. That will be enough for cooking and making coffee, and there will be no tell-tale smoke.

If only I could get off this sloop and search the island! It is made of the same limestone as the land below, and as Marc and I saw on our first visit, the underside is riddled with caves and grottos. Perhaps there is something that, with a little help, might be big enough for the entire sloop, to preserve it from prying eyes. Damn Old Man Blaireau anyway.

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photo credit: Ken_Mayer Jotul wood stove via photopin (license)