13 July 38 AF
Mon cher Leon,
I trust all is well with you and your family? I confess I was in such a rush to return to Amelie and my daughters that I did not linger in Mont-Havre for one moment longer than necessary. Truly, I owe you a visit.
But for now this must do, for the matter is of some urgency—should you fall in with my sense of things, as in this case perhaps you might not. But I think you will, when I have laid out the whole of it.
I have just had a visit from Jack Montjoy, who brought me an unofficial word from Lord Doncaster regarding political machinations in Yorke—machinations that will, if unchecked, affect us greatly here. As they are to some extent my fault—or, rather, for I cannot claim fault for the idiocy and malice of others—as they are due to spite and anger aimed in my direction—
I beg your pardon. Let me lay it all out as Jack laid it out for me.
Point the first, while Le Maréchal was busy elsewhere Armorica rebelled and set up its own Grand Parlement.
Point the second, His Cumbrian Majesty’s government asserted authority over Armorica following the expulsion (by Cumbrian forces) of Le Maréchal’s men from this land. (You and I well know that it was not due solely to Cumbrian forces—but let that pass.)
Point the third, Lord Doncaster was appointed His Cumbrian Majesty’s governor-general, theoretically replacing His Late Provençese Majesty’s governor, etc., etc.
Point the fourth, Lord Doncaster has asserted his authority lightly, and has not interfered with Armorican institutions or, in particular, the manner in which le Grand Parlement has come to conduct Armorican affairs day-to-day.
Point the fifth, le Grand Parlement has acceded gracefully to those requests His Lordship has made.
But, point the sixth—and this is the sticking point—there is nothing official about the current arrangement. In theory, Lord Doncaster has plenipotentiary powers under the Cumbrian Parliament; and le Grand Parlement d’Amorique has done nothing to cement its own authority over our land insofar as the other Lands of the Abyss are concerned. In short, we have a gentlemen’s agreement but we have no binding contract.
Point the seventh, the Cumbrian Shipwright’s Guild is petitioning Parliament to assert its direct authority over all colonies, so that Cumbrian laws may be enforced here as well.
They are afraid of our plans to build and fly fast packets outside of their control, Leon. That’s the whole of it. They cannot replicate the Anne-Marie themselves, thanks to its destruction; and they are determined that we shall not do what they themselves cannot do.
So here is point the eighth, and last: if le Grand Parlement will, formally and as a body, declare loyalty to the Cumbrian Crown—to the Crown, Leon, not to the Cumbrian Parliament—then Lord Doncaster will formally recognize le Grand Parlement as the governing body of Armorica under that same Crown.
And in so doing, His Lordship will have established a precedent that the trouble-makers back in Cumbria will have difficulty overthrowing—for Cumbrian law has always run on precedent. More than that, he will have established the principle that he himself serves at the pleasure of the Crown.
Jack hinted, but did not say outright, that His Cumbrian Majesty would be pleased by this outcome.
Some may say that by taking this step le Grand Parlement will be binding Armorica permanently to Cumbria, which is so. But in fact we are already so bound, for we have no military power able to resist that of Cumbria. But we can choose whether we are to be bound by silken threads or iron chains. For I tell you bluntly that no Member of Parliament in Cumbria will give two figs for the opinions of mere colonists.
We are at a crux, Leon.
There is no question that the course I propose will be in the best interests of Tuppenny Wagons. But I am a newcomer to Armorica; it is not for me to say how we should be governed, but for those whose families have built this colony.
You will know better than I, should you agree, to whom you must speak. But we are, as yet, too weak to stand wholly on our own. I do not think we shall get a better opportunity to ensure that we may do so in the future.
With urgency, I am