Letters from Armorica- Grumbling (12 February 37 AF)

First Letter

Dear Jack,

It has been three weeks since I wrote you about the troubles between the town and the garrison; and if the situation has grown no worse, it is only because the snow is too deep for any group to gather in large numbers at Le Cochon's Head. Those few soldiers and sailors who make it there consequently find ample room. But the mood about town is ugly, and even I can tell that the troops are desperately unhappy and blame us for their situation. And yet I have heard nothing from you, or from His Lordship!

Captain Hampton assures me that everything is quite normal, just what he would expect, that soldiers always grumble, that his own troops have endured far worse conditions than this without lasting harm, that there is really nothing for me to be concerned with.

"It's just part of the soldier's life," he told me. "It's got to be winter sometime. One just has to get through it. And you don't want them so comfortable that they get soft. We're here to defend the town. How would it be if there were an attack, and the men were so cozy in their beds that we couldn't get them up to meet it in time? As it is, they'd look on an attack as a personal favor, something to get their blood moving and warm 'em up.

"No, Mr. Tuppenny, we know what we are doing; and the men expect nothing better. Not that a tavern closer to the post would be unwelcome, you understand! But all things in good time."

Still, I worry. Would it be seemly to offer Captain Hampton the use of our Town Hall as a sort of barracks until spring? It is no more than a barn of a building, and unheated; but stoves could be added, and it would seem to be more hospitable than tents in the snow. If you think it right I shall offer its use to him (though, I may say, I fear what I would find carved into the walls come spring); and if His Lordship were to provide the stoves I would send a wagon to Mont-Havre to fetch them. Four stoves, say? One in each corner?

But perhaps you will agree with Captain Hampton. If so, I suppose I must defer to your greater experience.

Speaking of the weather: one of our regular drivers spoke to me about the need for warmer coats. He tells me that he's not used to plying his trade this time of year; usually when the snows get too deep to travel he and his brethren are out of work until after the spring thaw. Our wagons laugh at the deep snow, of course; it is a selling point. We have been giving the drivers warming blocks to carry with them, but he said that they aren't enough without a heavier coat to keep in the warmth. His thought was that we might have a sideline selling heavy driving coats, with special pockets for the warming blocks. Perhaps you and Leon could investigate the possibilities in Mont-Havre? For there is no need at all to make such coats here in Bois-de-Bas, where we have neither the materials nor the skills.

Though I suppose a coat whose exterior was lined with goat skin could be a defense against bandits…but no, the wear and tear on the wagon would be too great. Never mind.

I have been hearing from your sister Amelia, of all people. I was rather surprised, for though Amelia and I have always gotten on well enough, we have never been chums. Have you heard from her as well? It seems she has removed to the old family home in Wickshire. I have heard her explanation for it; I am curious to know yours.

Please give my regards to His Lordship, and give him my apologies as well if my concerns for the garrison are truly misplaced.


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photo credit: Seabird NZ The (shrouded) Footstool via photopin (license)

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