Letters from Armorica- A Little Stir (3 May 36 AF)

First Letter

Ma chère Amelie,

Our trip to Mont-Havre has been more glorious than I could have expected. The journey itself was a treat: I knew riding in a floating wagon would be much more pleasant than in a conventional wagon with wheels, but I had not accounted for the lack of bumpiness over the course of an entire day. For once I do not feel battered and bruised as I sit down to my evening meal!

I do believe our road-wagons will change the geography of Armorica. The little towns of Honfleur and Petit-Monde are spaced about a day's walk apart on the road from Bois-de-Bas to Mont-Havre, a distance suitable enough for oxen as well; but we made quicker time than I have ever made before. The oxen didn't get so tired as quickly, and though we stopped briefly in Honfleur for water and necessaries we spent the night in Petit-Monde. It made for a very long day, so that we would much have preferred to stop midway between the two; but still, to arrive in Mont-Havre on the second day!

If only the wagon were self-motivating, I do believe we could easily have made it in one day. But Marc was correct: there is far too much traffic on the road for that to be safe in unskilled hands. We must have passed twenty or thirty other wagons today, some going our way, some coming the other way; and the road is narrow and far from straight. Had we been moving faster, I think there would have been some dangerous collisions! A fine thing it would be for our new company to go bankrupt before it was formed, through paying damages to other firms.

But the glorious part, chérie, is the look on the faces of the other travelers and those who dwell in the little towns as they suddenly realize that our wagon is different. We have been stopped for a talk by many of them, and I have told them to contact me, Armand Tuppenny, care of the shop in Bois-de-Bas. I expect you will already have heard from at least one or two by the time you receive this. I have been collecting the directions of those who are interested; do you the same, and we shall—but I am not to be telling you how to conduct business, chérie!

Today we all met: M. Suprenant, Marc, Jack, and I, with Luc in attendance; blessedly, Lord Doncaster did not feel the need to be present, though I expect that he might still drive a difficult bargain when it comes time to address selling wagons to the Crown. We had a fine dinner at M. Suprenant's home, and then had a long talk after the table had been cleared.

Most of the details were settled quickly, as things so often are among friends; and may I say that Marc and Leon Suprenant are well on the way to becoming friends? I could ask nothing better.

There will be one hundred shares. Leon will own the grand-blaireau's share, of course, as the money is his; I begin with fifteen, as the former who can make it possible; Jacques Pôquerie with ten as the builder, and Marc and Jack each have five, leaving Leon with sixty-five…at present. Part of our agreement (all properly written down, I assure you) is that Jacques and I shall be able to purchase shares from Leon as we begin to earn money, so that in time you and I shall own the largest share. For now, it is Leon who is taking the most risk.

Though I know you will be pleased I find I am rather embarrassed to tell you the name we settled upon for the new venture. I favored a simple name like Armorican Wagons, but the others insisted on "La Compagnie des Wagons Tuppenny", or as we would say in Cumbrian, Tuppenny Wagons. We wrangled over it for quite some time, but ultimately they wore me down. I tried to argue that it was a bad name, that the wagons would cost quite a bit more than tuppence, that our customers would find it confusing, and Jack laughed at me and told me I should have chosen my nom de guerre more carefully, and that it was a proper stick in the eye for my father.

It is true, I should like to see the look on his face, chérie. His son, grandmaster of the Former's Guild in Armorica, engaging in trade—and under such a name as Tuppenny! And when we are successful, as I am sure we shall be, I am not sure which will annoy him more: that I am bringing shame on the family by engaging in trade, or that I am not using his name, so that he can't take credit for our success.

It has been a long day, chérie, and there is much to do tomorrow; but I should be home late on Samedi. Kiss Anne-Marie and Margaret for me!

Your loving husband,


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photo credit: benjaflynn Lush via photopin (license)

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