Author’s note: a correction
The Elms, Wickshire, Cumbria
26 August 1015
My dearest cousin Armand,
The time is so close! Maximilian and I shall be married on the 6th of September at St. Cuthbert’s in Stourton. You may consider this an invitation, though of course you will not receive it in time—though I do have great hopes of seeing you in late November, or December at the latest.
If he is not much worse, your father is certainly no better; he spends much of his time ranting at anyone in earshot, and I am afraid that your poor mother can do nothing with him. The only positive note is that he believes himself to still be grandmaster of the guild, and that others should do his bidding on the strength of that; and as he is not, his bidding remains undone, doing no harm to anything but his own temper—which has always been, and remains, excessive. Mama and Papa have supplied your mother with a new footman, of stout and sturdy build; we do not believe your father in his rage will so far forget himself as to strike her, but should he attempt it he will be stopped. And then there will be hell to pay, for legally he remains the master of the house.
Your family solicitor, Mr. Cuthrington-Smythe, is aware of your father’s instability; your mother and Master Netherington-Coates have spoken with him, and should your father choose, in his person as head of the Massey family, to have recourse to him, that good man will endeavor to delay and obfuscate. But as I have written before, I am assured the matter cannot truly be resolved until you are here.
I hope and trust that you are already on the Herbert, flying your way home. If not, what is delaying you, dear Armand?
Brother Edward and my dear Jane have returned to Wickshire, to take up their residence here at The Elms. Edward is once again spending his days working with Blightwell to manage the estate, though not quite as master and apprentice as before. Edward is still full of plans for improved farming techniques and expanding the estate, but now, after months of tutelage from Blightwell and Edward Hargreaves, his notions are no longer fit to be laughed at.
Jane, for her part, has settled greatly, and is spending much time with her mother—for the squire’s wife has many social duties. In the past they were none of her concern, though of course she is familiar with them; but now she and her mother are undertaking them together.
Edward and Jane have been goodness itself to me, and it is understood between them that the library here at The Elms is to remain my particular province so long as I am in residence here; but after being the mistress, more or less, of this house I find that their presence wears upon me. Many duties that had fallen to me now fall to Jane; I am left with nothing essential to do but prepare for my nuptials, and anticipate.
And truly, there is little enough for me to do in that regard. The bans have been read; my mother and I completed my trousseau when we were last in Yorke; the guests for the wedding breakfast have been invited; M. Curasou, the new chef, has the meal well in hand; the vicar stands ready to hear our vows; and I remain utterly ignorant of whatever it is Maximilian has planned for our honeymoon and life together. That it shall be magical, in both senses of the word, I have no doubt, but while that heightens my anticipation it does nothing to make the time pass more swiftly.
But I must not repine, Armand, not in the face of so much impending joy. And you must not imagine me sitting in my library, languishing in ennui and texts on magical theory, for in truth I am doing no such thing. Oh, I am not neglecting my studies, though I greatly feel the want of a teacher; but I am too excited to remain still for long. I feel that I am fizzing like a bottle of Provençese wine.
But I am not wholly idle. Since my return to Wickshire all of my acquaintance here have been coming to call, so as to wish me well, and I have done much visiting in response. Mama and Papa are expected tomorrow, joy! And Maximilian’s family will arrive next week, for of course his brother Octavian will stand up for him, as Jane will for me. I do look forward to introducing Mr. Archer to Squire Willoughby, for I do believe they shall take to each other.
Less than a fortnight, Armand! Wish me joy!
Your fizzy and sparkling cousin,