I must thank you for your care of my friends Madame Truc, Jacques-le-Souris, and especially Jean-Baptiste, and for bringing them to me most swiftly. They had to take off Jean-Baptiste’s leg below the knee, but now he is doing ever so much better than he was when he arrived. He is still weak, but his fever has gone and he is speaking sensibly.
He is, of course, in a dark mood. His livelihood is gone, and so is his leg; he is angry at Le Maréchal, as who isn’t; he feels that he can do little to help, and that his future is gone. It is difficult for him. We are taking the best care of him that we can—Madame Truc has nursed many a sick gentleman in her time—but there is something lacking.
As you know, we have men here on Grand-Blaireau, and mothers with children, some with and some without their husbands; but we have no young ladies, no one to visit with him and give his life a little interest. Jacques-le-Souris tries his best, for he has a fund of stories going back to the founding of the colony; but I do believe that Jean-Baptist heard all of the best ones, and many of the worst, while on the road from Mont-Havre, and to him they all now have a tinge of pain and delirium.
Might you and Elise be aware of some other young lady in need of a husband, who might be willing to dare the wilds of L’Isle de Grand-Blaireau? Jean-Baptiste is a diligent and serious young man, a clerk, true, but one whom M. Suprenant put in a position of responsibility at the port of Mont-Havre. And he is something of a hero; I have been spending as much time with him as I can manage, and I have been delighted by such of his stories as he has had strength to relate. Before his injury, he and his compatriots managed to do not a little damage to Le Maréchal‘s forces; it seems that the Provençese have been bringing war materiel to Mont-Havre, to support their efforts to rouse the colony and conscript her people, and Jean-Baptiste’s group have been busily sneaking in to the port and burning them as quickly as they arrive. Apparently they also left a grand-blaireau in the commander’s bed. It was dead, of course, and had been for some time, and the commander, General Marchant, was forced to move out of Le Gourverneur‘s mansion.
I have employment for him, as soon as he is well enough to take it. My darling Amelie has been serving as our quarter-master here, but her time approaches. I am hoping to transfer her responsibilities to Jean-Baptiste’s shoulders as soon as may be.
I do not know what Jean-Baptiste will wish to do when peace comes, if it ever does; but I am confident that he would be an asset to Bois-de-Bas should he be persuaded to stay. All that is necessary at the moment, of course, is that he be persuaded to live.
Have a care, though. He has been unlucky in love before, for some time ago he was betrothed but his intended ran off with a sailor; you do not meet young ladies of good family at the port of Mont-Havre. If you know of any young lady who might be willing to come to us, let it be one who knows her own mind, and who will not lead him on if she decides against him. Sincere friendship will do far more for him than love followed by a broken heart.
In the meantime, we have enough sky-chairs and wagons now, and I have enough other responsibilities, that I am slowing down production. Which is to say that Jacques Poquerie and I have been working on new chairs and wagons in the mornings; and while I have been attending to the business of L’Isle de Grand-Blaireau in the afternoon, Jacques has been working on completing our new bath house. It is still a tent, mind you, and more rustic than I can well say. But the first set of tubs are complete, as is the boiler for the hot water (for which I formed a heating element out of slate), and today is the first day we shall make use of it. Indeed, our ladies are in the bath as I write, for we do not yet have enough space for both sexes to bathe at the same time. Oh, I am looking forward to it; I have greatly missed the hot springs in the grotto.
You and Elise must come visit us when you can spare a few hours; Amelie misses her friend!