Letters From Armorica: Madame Truc (16 Mai 33 AF)

First Letter

Dear Mum,

I thought you might like to hear what Mont-Havre is like, since it is very different than Yorke (or anywhere else I've been in Cambria).

Mont-Havre is built down the side of a flat-topped mountain, with the poor sections nearer the top. They didn't excavate the peak to make it flat; the first Provençese colonists found it that way and saw in it a natural harbor for sky-ships. Madame Truc tells me the explorers' vessel was losing buoyancy at the time, so the discovery was a blessed relief. They called the mountain Mont-Havre, which would be Mount Haven or Mount Harbor in Cumbrian, and the name naturally passed to the city that grew on the mountain side.

The climate here is pleasant. The land around the mountain is fertile and well-watered, and natural riches are abundant, from forests to wildlife to minerals of various kinds. It is a good land, and the people here seem to me to be happy and comfortable.

I have discovered that Madame Truc came here on the Pont Neuf, the first colony ship to follow after the explorers, she and her husband, for she was a young woman, newly married. Alas! Her husband died the first winter, though not from hunger or disease; he went hunting, exploring the land roundabout, and never came home. She believes that he was killed by a grand-blaireau, which I gather is a kind of enormous badger that once inhabited the region. They are both fierce and territorial, and claimed many lives until the colonists learned how to avoid them. There are none left near Mont-Havre, though they are still seen in the provinces.

She showed me a coat she has, made of the fur of a grand-blaireau her husband caught; it is quite luxurious. I do believe that Dad's guild regalia might be trimmed with it as well, for the hat he wears at guild festivals has just the same pattern of brown and white.

She is quite a font of stories, is Madame Truc! She never remarried, and since her husband's disappearance has lived in Mont-Havre keeping her boardinghouse. Many young men, and not a few older ones, have come through her boardinghouse on the way to better things—or, sometimes, to worse ones. She seems to approve of me, I guess because I live quietly and don't come home drunk and wake up her other boarders.

I took a job at the port for a few days after I arrived, just a temporary thing to earn a little money to live on while I seek a better position. I was thinking of hiring myself out as a day-laborer here in town, but Madame Truc has put her foot down.

"Such work is not for you!" she cried to me. "You are a young man of the most educated. I will speak to my friends, and we will find something for you." I am awaiting the result with both eagerness and trepidation.

Your loving son,

Armand

Next Letter
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photo credit: Marlis B Watercourse Killarney Nationalpark via photopin (license)

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