Yes, it is quite true that I am “engaged in trade,” as you put it, and have been since I married my Amelie and became a shopkeeper. Since I left Yorke, I have done many things that no doubt would distress you. I have also a been a stevedore, a clerk, and a keeper of goats. I should particularly like to introduce you to one of the goats. At present, I am, yes, the Grandmaster of the Former’s Guild here in Armorica, a guild that consists of myself, my sole apprentice, my workshop here in Bois-de-Bas, and a mostly empty building in Mont-Havre.
In fact, Father, I have done much worse: I have hardened cookware for those you would call peasants. I have earned my living by forming at retail. I consort with the lowly, with farmers and cabinetmakers and small merchants, not with members of parliament and owners of large shipping firms. I have (I can hear you gasp) innovated.
In short, Father, I am using my gift as it was meant to be used, rather than as a means of political power and social status.
As you surely do not know at time of writing, but surely will before you receive this, I have gone into business for myself, with several partners—stout, trustworthy men of the sort you despise. I am now a builder and seller of wagons, wagons whose construction involves careful forming. I have joined the merchant classes, Father—and I have based it on a breakthrough in the theory of forming.
By now, you are no doubt turning purple (if you have not already thrown this letter in the fire) and are thinking of ways to bring me to heel. If so, I will remind you that by guild law the guild here in Armorica is at present bound to the guild in Yorke only by ties of affection. I am the grandmaster, and I will conduct guild business as I see fit. Hence, the remainder of your letter is of no consequence, and I will pass over it without comment.
Your industrious son,
Amelie and the girls are well, as am I; life is good here in Bois-de-Bas, and I have come to a good understanding with Lord Doncaster, the royal governor. My practice is doing well, and I shall be taking on another apprentice as soon as I can locate a good candidate.
I have gone into business, of a sort, with Cousin Jack and several of my Armorican friends; we are making and selling a new kind of wagon that floats above the ground. It provides a much more even and gentle ride than a traditional wagon, and is easier for the oxen to pull. It’s a pity you aren’t here, I should love to take you for a ride in one, as I know how much you hate riding in carriages on the cobbled streets of Yorke. (Hah! There’s an idea for a new product—thank you, Mum, for inspiring me!)
By now Father will have opened my letter. Please do contact his physician, won’t you? He will need something soothing.
Your loving son,