Nearly the worst has happened: the Provençese cochons have come to Bois-de-Bas in force, and established a garrison in the village, bringing three sky-sloops and a full company of troops in addition to the crews. Marc and Elise have been ejected from the shop, which they had been running in our absence; it has been taken over by their quartermaster. Others have been ejected from their homes as well.
It seems that the Provençese commander in Mont-Havre, Général La Salle, has become suspicious of the number of sky sloops that have been lost in the vicinity of Bois-de-Bas, and sent the garrison here to find out what has been happening to them, and to put a stop to it. Beyond that, I know very little.
The first we knew was when Jean-Pierre, one of Bertrand’s lads, flew right into the Avenue on a sled, bellowing “Les cochons, les cochons.” He had been manning the western watch post and seen them with his spyglass when they were still on the horizon. He is a good lad, and will not be made to tend the goats any time soon.
Étienne was here making a delivery—not of goats, for which God be praised—and leaving his sky-wagon where it lay, he took one of my first man-sized sky-sleds back to town to give the alert. He is a brave man as he had never flown one before, for I must say that flying head first at speed between the trees while lying prone in a sky-sled is very different thing from moving more sedately in a sky-chair or wagon!
We had been preparing for this, of course. There are a fair number of sky-vessels in in Bois-de-Bas, now, and it would be fatal for les Cochons to find them—even if it did not turn their attention to the skies, which it surely would, it would reveal that I am still in the vicinity. It would also remove our advantage in short order, for there is little difficult about forming a sky-chair or wagon once you have the knack. But we had laid plans, as I say, and within a quarter of an hour of Étienne’s return, every chair and wagon in Bois-de-Bas was on the way north under cover of the trees while the Provençese vessels were still miles off. Their drivers left them in a hidden spot near the lake shore and returned to the village, and this evening after dark my men descended in Étienne’s wagon and flew them all home to L’Isle de Grand-Blaireau. Now they are all stacked higgledy-piggledy among the trees on the edge of the encampment.
Étienne has retained the sky-sled, which he will have stashed in a safe place; it is essential that the village has a means of communication with the island. It should not matter if it is found; it is much less obviously a conveyance than a chair or wagon, appearing to be little more than a simple wooden frame. I hope that Marc will use it to come to us as soon as safely may be. There is much we can do to harry them, if we are careful, but we must have information; and of course there is much concern here in the encampment, for everyone here has friends or family remaining in the village and its environs.
In the meantime we have disguised our settlement here on the island as best we can. We have stopped all building, all hammering and pounding, and the fires have been put out. Even the use of candles and lanterns has been forbidden: the Provençese commander in Bois-de-Bas shall certainly notice that many folk are missing, and I would not be surprised if he were to conduct night patrols with his sloops looking for signs of cooking fires. If they should fly directly overhead we shall be lost in an instant; but islands are common in the skies of Armorica, and everywhere ignored, and if we take care I have every hope that we shall be above notice.