Mon cher Armand,
My thanks for your letter of the 15th. I am pleased that you remain well and have come through these trials in good spirits, and I am delighted with what you tell me of Jean-Baptiste. Please convey my best regards to him and his bride; and tell him that he shall always have a place with Suprenant et Fils should he choose to return to Mont-Havre in the fullness of time. (Though from what you say I do not think he shall choose to do so!) And I shall surely remember you to M. Fournier.
Now, to answer your questions.
It would be an act of the most foolish for you to come to Mont-Havre, even for a brief time. Yes, matters have improved and trade is beginning to flow, for which le Bon Dieu be thanked! But we remain a few short steps from chaos. Gouverneur Francois remains in his palace, but he was moved to one side by General Marchant and is now ignored by all the world. Ma mere Provençe will only ever rule here again by force.
But Marchant also disbanded le Petit Parlement, and he and they have been replaced by no one at all. Half the cafés are full of those calling for le Petit Parlement to be re-instituted, while the other half are full of those who think it should be le Grand Parlement, and most of these are full of schemes of the most grandiose! Meanwhile to my certain knowledge there are several men of standing plotting to make themselves le Roi d'Amorique. They shall not succeed, naturellement; my countrymen would not stand for it. But it is a measure of the times that they try.
Given time, all can made plain and order can be restored. But have we time? There is no one who knows. And so, the first of the Lands of the Abyss to send troops in force will find that Mont-Havre falls into their hands. Note, I do not say that La Belle Amorique will fall, but Mont-Havre is ripe for plucking.
Non, mon cher ami, do not come to Mont-Havre, not even for a visit. You are far safer in Bois-de-Bas; and, I think, L'Amorique is safer with you there as well.
And that is the answer to your second question. Timber we must have, and the products of agriculture, but your newer products should remain in the countryside for now. And, bien sur, I will rush to find the things your village needs and send them on to you, and I thank you for coming to me to procure them.
To resume: nor can I recommend that Madame Truc return here. I myself have gone to inspect her former home, and it is a shambles. Le Maréchal, may he die in infamy, sent his worst troops here, and I fear it would be easier to burn her home to the ground and rebuild than to make it habitable for anyone but les cochons. And tell her, please: I have been unable to determine the whereabouts of M. Sabot. No one has seen him in many months.
Et enfin, yes, I do know a lad with the skills and habits you describe: my third son, André, whom you will no doubt remember. I shall send him to Bois-de-Bas with your man, and he shall carry this letter. I know he shall do well under your tutelage, for I remember the care with which you ministered to poor Jean-Baptiste under adverse circumstances.
I believe that is all for now. You may be sure I shall send to you discreetly if the situation changes for the worse here in Mont-Havre.
With all cordialité,