Monthly Archives: January 2019

Letters from Armorica- A Literary Request (21 Novembre 34 AF)

First Letter

Mon cher M. Fournier,

I have an urgent need, which I hope you will be able to address. You see, we have run out of books. My wife Amelie has learned to read over the last year, and having read and re-read has exhausted our supply. And there is worse: our home was occupied by soldiers over the last several months, and those books we left behind (for we took what we could with us) were treated most abominably and are now unreadable.

When last we spoke, many, many months you were rapidly running out of stock; and it is possible that you have nothing at all left. Still, I should be happy to receive whatever you have, up to perhaps thirty or forty volumes. We have here a mere handful of books, some of them exceedingly dry; most of the rest are by the novelist Jacques Renaud. (These last belonged to Amelie's late mother.) I have included a list of the titles. You will note its extreme brevity.

But please to remember, this is your friend Armand—I am not looking for beautiful leather spines to line the shelves of my find home in Mont-Havre, I am looking for books to read. I know very little about Provençese literature, so I hesitate to make any suggestions, but may I say that my Amelie likes dashing, romantic adventure and tales about far off lands? Though of course even Provençe is a far off land for her. For my part, I would delight in anything new, anything at all. Winter is fast approaching, and if I have to read one more time about Renaud's simple country milkmaid who becomes one of the great ladies of Provençe without losing a shred of her virtue or simplicity, leaving all of her social enemies agog, discountenanced, or converted by her simple goodness, I fear I shall I shall go mad. But truly, anything new will do, even if it is by M. Renaud. If necessary, you might even make arrangements with M. Harte for some of his remaining stock, low as it is.

Please work out what you can spare, if anything. I am a trader these days, as you know, and I have an account with the firm of Suprenant et Fils; and the bearer of this note can help you work out the payment with them, and will transport the books back to Bois-de-Bas.

In the meantime, I have made inquiries to my family in Cumbria about a source of Cumbrian books; but of course I have heard very little from them over the past year. My father is feeling well-disposed towards me these days, I do believe, and with trade resuming, at least with Cumbria and her allies, I think it may be time for you to make inquiries. I shall write his direction below, and you may use my name.

But beware! As grandmaster of the Former's Guild, my father is a great man in his own opinion, and, I suppose, in reality as well. If you wish to win his aid, you must address him as such, though it pains me to say it. (You will note that I am in Bois-de-Bas, rather than by his side, in part because I refused to do so.) But as I say, he is well-disposed towards me at the moment, and I am sure that everyone in Yorke sees the virtue in increasing trade with Armorica at Le Maréchal's expense. I think you must strike while the iron is hot, as we would say back home.

And please, let me know how you do. I have worried for you very much this past year.

Your friend,

Armand Tuppenny

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Letters from Armorica- News from Mont-Havre (19 Novembre 34 AF)

First Letter

Mon cher Armand,

My thanks for your letter of the 15th. I am pleased that you remain well and have come through these trials in good spirits, and I am delighted with what you tell me of Jean-Baptiste. Please convey my best regards to him and his bride; and tell him that he shall always have a place with Suprenant et Fils should he choose to return to Mont-Havre in the fullness of time. (Though from what you say I do not think he shall choose to do so!) And I shall surely remember you to M. Fournier.

Now, to answer your questions.

It would be an act of the most foolish for you to come to Mont-Havre, even for a brief time. Yes, matters have improved and trade is beginning to flow, for which le Bon Dieu be thanked! But we remain a few short steps from chaos. Gouverneur Francois remains in his palace, but he was moved to one side by General Marchant and is now ignored by all the world. Ma mere Provençe will only ever rule here again by force.

But Marchant also disbanded le Petit Parlement, and he and they have been replaced by no one at all. Half the cafés are full of those calling for le Petit Parlement to be re-instituted, while the other half are full of those who think it should be le Grand Parlement, and most of these are full of schemes of the most grandiose! Meanwhile to my certain knowledge there are several men of standing plotting to make themselves le Roi d'Amorique. They shall not succeed, naturellement; my countrymen would not stand for it. But it is a measure of the times that they try.

Given time, all can made plain and order can be restored. But have we time? There is no one who knows. And so, the first of the Lands of the Abyss to send troops in force will find that Mont-Havre falls into their hands. Note, I do not say that La Belle Amorique will fall, but Mont-Havre is ripe for plucking.

Non, mon cher ami, do not come to Mont-Havre, not even for a visit. You are far safer in Bois-de-Bas; and, I think, L'Amorique is safer with you there as well.

And that is the answer to your second question. Timber we must have, and the products of agriculture, but your newer products should remain in the countryside for now. And, bien sur, I will rush to find the things your village needs and send them on to you, and I thank you for coming to me to procure them.

To resume: nor can I recommend that Madame Truc return here. I myself have gone to inspect her former home, and it is a shambles. Le Maréchal, may he die in infamy, sent his worst troops here, and I fear it would be easier to burn her home to the ground and rebuild than to make it habitable for anyone but les cochons. And tell her, please: I have been unable to determine the whereabouts of M. Sabot. No one has seen him in many months.

Et enfin, yes, I do know a lad with the skills and habits you describe: my third son, André, whom you will no doubt remember. I shall send him to Bois-de-Bas with your man, and he shall carry this letter. I know he shall do well under your tutelage, for I remember the care with which you ministered to poor Jean-Baptiste under adverse circumstances.

I believe that is all for now. You may be sure I shall send to you discreetly if the situation changes for the worse here in Mont-Havre.

With all cordialité,

Leon Suprenant

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Letters from Armorica- Cleaning Up (15 Novembre 34 AF)

First Letter

Dear Aunt Maggie,

Trusting that my cousin Jack is well, and presuming upon your good will, I've enclosed a letter for him. Please, of your love for me, send it onward to him wherever he may be.

Your loving nephew,

Armand

Dear Jack,

Why is it that soldiers are such pigs? Or perhaps you will tell me that it is only Provençese soldiers that are pigs, and that Cumbrian soldiers are fine, upstanding, courtly lads who would never dream of carving obscenities on the mantelpiece of a temporary billet. Indeed, I think you might very well tell me that; and yet you forget how very well I have known you from a child.

Cumbrian soldiers would have been an improvement, mind you. The rubbish heaped (and, in some cases, seeped) into the corners of the rooms of our little house would at least be Cumbrian rubbish, and my dear Amelie would be less likely to be offended by their foul words.

You may well blink in surprise! Yes, not only do I have a dear Amelie, but we are wed; and not only wed, but parents of a lovely little girl.

You needn't look like that, Jack. Your countenance betrays your evil soldier's mind. Amelie and were married last December, and little Anne-Marie was born in September. Shame on you, Jack!

But yes, I find I am "settled down" here in Armorica. Not in Mont-Havre, however. On receiving your last letter I found myself quite unwilling to assist le Maréchal's forces in anything like an official capacity, and finding Mont-Havre uncongenial to those aims I journeyed out to Bois-de-Bas, the small village where my friends Marc and Elise Frontenac had settled.

It was a bold stroke, and as a way of avoiding the war, a futile one; for the war came to Bois-de-Bas in due course. Amelie and I were forced to leave our home (the village shop, in point of fact) and seek shelter elsewhere. Now we have returned to our village and are trying to put the pieces back together again, higgery-hoggery; and I suppose that restoring the woodwork will provide me with something to do once the snows come, which may be any time now. The mantelpiece itself can be replaced, but the timbers cannot be. At least the timbers are bronzewood, so the marks made on them by the Provençese cochons are as shallow as their wit.

The new mantelpiece will also be bronzewood, if I have anything to say about it; and indeed I think I shall take the time to harden it. That will learn them, should we ever have any trouble with soldiers again. May their knives break on it!

Yes, Jack, it is true, your esteemed cousin is now a humble shopkeeper. Amelie's father, M. Fabré, was the village shopkeeper—which, by the by, is a much grander title than you might think. The village shop is where everyone buys whatever they need that is not made locally, so it is as much a warehouse and a transshipment point as a shop. But he was unwell, and had only a daughter to follow after him, and—

You needn't look at me like I'm some kind of fortune hunter, Jack. If you must know, I was maneuvered into this marriage by my friends Marc and Elise—and, indeed, by the whole rest of the village, I suppose—and I am grateful. Amelie suits me very well, and should you have the chance to meet her you'll wish she had a sister, Jack, indeed you will. Alas, for you! But truly, you could do worse, when your time is up, than to take your pay and come here.

But there is more. Not only am I a humble village shopkeeper, I am now a master in the Armorica Former's Guild—which, at present, consists only of me, myself, and I. Yes, you may well stare. The guild here was founded by masters from the guild in Toulouse nigh on thirty years ago, and after experiencing conditions here in the early days of the colony, the survivor went home, leaving me in possession as it were. I have quite risen in the world!

Jack, I am hoping this finds you well; and if well, then, of course, still about His Majesty's business. In that case you shall certainly not tell me where you are or what you have been doing. But please, do write me, if you can, and let me know that you are well. I have been much concerned.

Your cousin,

Armand

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Letters from Armorica- A Letter Home (10 Novembre 34 AF)

First Letter

Dear Journal,

I have taken advantage of the lull in the fighting to send the following letter to my Aunt Maggie in Yorke. I copy it here because I have no doubt it will come to the attention of Mr. Trout, and when one's mail is likely to be read it is wise to keep track of what one has written. Not that having a copy will save me, should it come to that, but the truth should be known.

Dear Aunt Maggie,

The fortunes of war have kept me from writing to you since last June, but now I am taking advantage of His Majesty's victories to let you know that we are well—all three of us! Yes, Amelie and I now have a beautiful little girl, whom we have named Anne-Marie. She is adorable. I have had no time for drawing, or I should send you a picture.

I have not much news beyond that; life here in our little village had been much upset by the war and the depredations of le Maréchal's men, but that has greatly eased due to the valor of HIs Majesty's troops and the current blockade. May it long continue!

Indeed, the mood here in Bois-de-Bas is joyful; there is no love for le Maréchal or his regime in my part of Armorica, I can assure you, and if there is no great affection for Cumbria still there is admiration for Cumbria's role in putting down le Maréchal's navy. I gather sentiments are similar in Mont-Havre; for the people there, being much more dependent on trade than we are here in the country, have suffered much by its lack, and now are reassured by its increase. In time, I am sure, overt sentiment in favor of His Majesty will decline in the hearts of many, but for now the sight of a Cumbrian emblem on a sky-freighter is much lauded, or so I am told.

I do have two requests for you. First, I should very much like news of Jack. I have not heard from him since the war began, and I have been greatly fearing for his safety. I trust he is well and unharmed? I should like to hear from him, if that may be arranged. And second, I should wish you to know that my master's chain arrived in good order, and accompanied, to my surprise, with words from my father! Was it necessary for you to go to the Guild, to Master Netherington-Coates? If so, I must be sure to send him my thanks as well.

In the mean time, please convey my news to my mother; and if it seems good to you, please also convey my thanks and best wishes to my father.

A final note. Previously I had requested you to write to me in care of Madame Truc's boarding house; at this time, you had best write to me in care of the firm of Suprenant et fils, also in Mont-Havre. M. Suprenant is my friend, and will ensure that I receive your letter.

Your affectionate nephew,

Armand

There is so much I do not know. My father was clearly involved in sending me my chain; only he would know what passed between us on my twelfth birthday. But did he send my chain of his own free will? Was he pressured by His Majesty's government? Will Aunt Maggie receive my letter, or am I simply writing to Mr. Trout's master? How I wish things could go return to the days before the war, when my new life was beginning and everything seemed so simple and grand.

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