Letters from Armorica: Joy Abounds (12 August 37)

First Letter

The Elms, Wickshire, Cumbria

4 July 1015

My dearest cousin Armand,

So as not to leave you in undue suspense, yes, the banns have begun to be read, and Brother Edward is to marry my dear Jane Willoughby in a month's time. He has resumed his work with Blightwell for the time being; and it is an understood thing that in due course he will succeed Squire Willoughby as the Squire of Stourness and the surrounding region. The wedding will be in Stourton, for Edward has said that he has had enough of life in Yorke.

"I wasted thirty years of my life in idle pursuits, Amelia," he said to me yesterday. "I shall visit Mother and Father, of course, but my life is here now."

Brother Edward and I have had several such warm conversations in the past week. He is grateful beyond all measure for my efforts on his behalf, and has quite changed his opinion of Mr. Archer.

"You cannot know the horror, Amelia," he said to me. "I was in a fog, and the only light was—", and here he paused and swallowed hard, screwing up his face as though he had been made to take some unusually vile medicine. "I beg your pardon. It was as if the only light were Agatha Grimsby. All of my faculties rebelled against it, against abandoning my dear Jane and my duties on the estate, but I could not help myself. Apart from Miss Grimsby I could not think, and with her I did not."

"How boring for her," I said. "Though I suppose she did not want you for your wits, but rather for your stout appearance on her arm."

Edward frowned at me. "Now, now, Amelia. We must not leap to rash judgements." Then he frowned even deeper, and continued. "Though I confess I cannot but think you correct in this."

Leaping to rash judgements is all we can do with regard to the Grimsbys at present, for they have left Wickshire and are believed to be residing in Yorke. I do not know how Mr. Grimsby was persuaded to undertake such an expense—for it is as unlikely that he was a party to his daughters' game as it is certain that his wife was the driving force. (And if that is rash judgement, Armand, so be it.) Two such poorly matched individuals I never saw.

Except, now I come to think on it, in Stourton on any Market Day this past month.

Oh, Armand! Is that how Gertrude Grimsby caught such a fine gentleman? I shall have to speak to my father, and see what he remembers from those days. But the poor man, the poor, poor man, tied for so many years to that harpy!

Dr. Tillotson has left us, to resume his duties in Edenford, but he assures us that he has communicated the entire affair to the Royal College of Wizardry. "Steps will be taken," he promised me. And further, he has promised that we shall be informed of the eventual outcome. "Indeed, I am sure that Orthopractor Simms will choose to speak with you," he said. "He is the one who corrects such offenses."

"And then, Miss Montjoy," he went on, "we must see to your continued education in wizardry. I do not know whether you have a scrap of magical talent about you, but your grasp of theory is excellent, so far as you have been able to go into it. Skilled practitioners of the wizardly arts are rare, Miss Montjoy, but skilled theoreticians are far more so. May I have your leave to correspond with your father?"

Of course I gave it to him, dear cousin. And be sure I shall keep you informed as matters progress.

But what of me, what of your darling cousin Amelia?

There are no banns in the offing for me as yet. Mr. Archer—his given name is Maximilian, I have discovered—was compelled to leave Wickshire this past Friday, for reasons related to his leaving the regiment. I hasten to assure you that his elder brother Octavian is perfectly well, and still heir to the family name and fortunes—I am surprised at you, Armand, wishing ill on such a fine gentleman—but it seems that Maximilian has inherited the estate of an elderly cousin on his mother's side, he being the only male heir. As such he is no longer penniless—what joy!—though to be sure the estate has been much neglected in recent years; and so he has much to do down in Cambershire as he takes up the reins.

I do believe he planned to make a stop in Yorke and have a word with my dear Papa as well—seeking leave to court me, Armand, not to offer for my hand. For truly, we hardly know each other. He has fine manners, and a fair countenance, and I am most grateful to him, but until this past week or so we have hardly been able to speak two words together without my brother or Mr. Hargreaves interfering. I rushed into an engagement once; I shall not do so again.

And yet, dear cousin, I think that soon enough you may have cause to wish me very happy.

As for Edward Hargreaves, well. The world has changed about him, but I am not at all sure that he has yet noticed. Crop rotation, forsooth!

Your hopeful cousin,


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photo credit: alexliivet Cheshire crop fields via photopin (license)

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