Of course you should come to us for the Twelve Days of Christmas. How not? Until you marry and start your own family we are your only family here, n’est-ce pas? And you can hardly go home to Cumbria.
I realize, of course, that our little celebrations here in Bois-de-Bas will be quite unlike what you are you used to in Yorke—what times, that is, that you have been in Yorke since beginning your military career—but I think we can certainly do better for you than Christmas in a military camp. And who knows? Perhaps you shall meet someone young and attractive, and choose to keep them for a change. Your Sergeant Allen did, and I can tell you that Sergeant and Mrs. Allen are to all appearances much taken with each other.
Yes, Jack, I know the Old Religion is an obstacle to you—or, at least, to your mother, whom I would not wish to worry in any way. But it isn’t so bad as all that, Jack. I find I much prefer the simple faith of my fellow townsfolk here in Bois-de-Bas to the manner in which my father practices his piety in Yorke. They’ve retained something we’ve forgotten, I think.
But enough of hounding you! Though, you know, it is my job as the closest thing to a brother you shall ever have. But on to your news!
I am fascinated by what you tell me about His Lordship’s actions with regard to Le Grand Parlement. It is quite a list—are you certain he is acting within the scope of his remit from His Majesty’s government in Yorke? But of course you are, you handle his mail and saw the decree, you said so.
It is an astonishing degree of sovereignty His Majesty is giving us, Jack: the right to make our own laws subject only to His Lordship’s veto, with possibility of appeal to Yorke; the right to keep our own courts, provided that we institute the jury system for capital crimes. We lose the right to our own foreign policy, but in fact we never had that. And in prior days we were entirely under the thumb of Toulouse, in theory, at least, if not always in practice.
What accounts for this, Jack? This is magnanimity itself; Cumbria could easily have chosen to treat us as a conquered territory. They’d have been foolish to do so, mind you: frontier folk are a fierce folk, as I have good reason to know, who make better friends than enemies. But I am surprised that His Majesty’s ministers were wise enough to consider it.
Jack, I must know: what do you hear about Le Maréchal in his swamp in Guyanão? What is going on in Provençe? For I can only assume that some kind of action is in the offing and that His Majesty is clearing the decks: that he is trying to bind Armorica more firmly to Cumbria before the fighting begins.
Let me know instantly if there are any steps I should take.
Your alarmed cousin,