Cher Onc’ Herbert,
I very much appreciate the several wagon-loads of livestock you sent us yesterday, especially the chickens, for they will go a long way toward making our little hidden settlement self-sustaining should les Cochons du Maréchal come in force. But I ask you, was it really necessary to send us your goats?
Without warning? Seriously?
I picture you sitting in your big chair at the head of the table, guffawing at my expression when I discovered I had received a wagon-load of les chèvres du Diable. Whatever you imagined, it was less than the reality, as I’m sure Étienne was quick to inform you. At least you had your men put the goats in chains for the wagon ride, so we could keep them contained until we had a place to put them! Étienne wanted to leave immediately, for which I cannot blame him after a flight with a cargo of goats; but when I learned that he meant to let the goats go free, to roam the village and despoil men, women, and children, I am afraid I had to threaten him with violence.
Yes, Onc’ Herbert, I did. I threatened to chain him to one of the goats for the afternoon. More than that, I had to call a halt to the work that was going on so that my men could build a stout pen for the pernicious beasts, and I made Étienne fall in and help.
I have been wondering, did you bring these goats with you from Provençe, or did you find them here, in Armorica? I seem to remember meeting some goats on a farm in Cumbria when I was a small boy, and they weren’t like these goats. They were smaller, and they had gentle eyes, quite without that little red glow deep inside. I remember, I was able to pet them with my bare hands without abrading the skin from my palms, and I had no fear of turning my back on them. So are these Armorican goats, or are they Provençese, relatives of Le Maréchal, perhaps?
Speaking of palms, could you send us some leather gloves? Or at least some leather, so we can make some? Amelie is due soon, and as tempting as it would be to slaughter the goats for their hides I am afraid that we may need their milk. And for that, we shall need gloves.
My only consolation is that my regular duties leave me no time to be directly responsible for the care of the goats. Well, and I suppose it does give me another handle on young Bertrand and the other lads, and on the young men. Not that I will assign goat-keeping as a punishment, mind you. Far from it. I shall set up a rotation, and shall excuse people from goat-keeping as a reward for hard service and heroic effort. Building should go more quickly in the future.
Aha! Amelie has returned from the bath house; it is now the mens’ turn. I must go.