Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.
3 Madrigal Court, Yorke, Cumbria
9 September 1015
My dearest cousin Armand,
I rejoice to say that you may now style me Mrs. Maximilian Archer when you speak of me, as in, “My dear cousin, Mrs. Maximilian Archer,” or “Jack, I have just heard from your sister, Mrs. Maximilian Archer.” I trust you will do so on every possible occasion!
Our wedding was simple, as expected, and marred only by Jack’s absence, he being the only close family member that we lacked. And as that was no surprise, he being in Mont-Havre, it can hardly be said to have cast a shadow on that blessed day. The wedding breakfast was delicious, but not nearly so delicious as the announcement that my dear Maximilian made at its conclusion: we are to go to Toulouse!
Now, you might say that this also is no surprise, but I assure you that you are mistaken. It was certainly a surprise to me!
Many young ladies of a certain class have gone to Toulouse on their honeymoons, it is true. It is of all things the done thing, the state of the world and one’s fortunes permitting. Toulouse has, after all, the fashions, the food, the opera, the chance to broaden one’s mind. But the Archers, though wealthy beyond measure in reputation and good will, steeped in honor and the esteem of their neighbors, and good stewards of their land, have not been accustomed to foreign travel—except for the second sons, in the service of their King, which you know is not at all the same.
And Maximilian’s fortunes are rather less than that, as you well know. I had determined that we should be buried in the country, coming to Yorke for short visits only; and I had persuaded myself that I should enjoy that mode of life.
And do you know, I rather think I should, even now!
But Toulouse! And there is more. We are not simply going to visit: we are going to to reside there for a time. Maximilian has accepted a post at our embassy there, working for the Foreign Office, and I—oh, Armand, it is too wonderful for words: I shall be allowed to audit courses in wizardry at L’Ecole du Sorciers!
Dr. Tillotson, you see, has been busy. He is eager that I should be properly trained in the wizardly arts; and it seems that Edenbridge as an institution has a profound prejudice against the education of women. Should we have moved there, as I once thought we might, I should have been frustrated and confounded at every turn. Dr. Tillotson would have done his best, along with one or two other dons of his acquaintance, but I should never have been widely accepted as a colleague. Provençe—or, at least, Toulouse—is more progressive in this regard, and wizards of the fairer sex, though rare, are not unknown there.
I shall not be a registered student at L’Ecole, not at first. But a Dr. Laguerre, a correspondent of Dr. Tillotson, has taken pity on me, and will provide me a measure of tutoring; and if, or, rather, when (Dr. Tillotson’s words) I prove myself to him, I shall be allowed to enter the school properly.
Of course, I will also need to learn to speak Provençese much better than I do now; but that is by the way.
And while I am so engaged, Maximilian will be working to advance Cumbrian interests in Provençe, which is still struggling to rebuild itself after the despicable work of Le Maréchal.
And with all that, there will be the life and culture of Toulouse! But I am beginning to repeat myself.
I hope and expect that you are en route to Yorke, and as this letter is of more import than its predecessors I will leave it here in Mama’s care, to be given to you when you arrive—for I will not send it to your family home and suffer it to languish in your father’s ambit. I will send subsequent letters to her as well until I learn that you are returning to Armorica.
I do not know where we shall stop in Toulouse, but I will include the direction in my next. And if you should be so bold as to come to us in Toulouse before you return there, we shall be glad to receive you!
Your supremely happy cousin,
Photo by Robin Ooode on Unsplash