11 August 1016
My dear John,
Or perhaps I should address this to “My dear Grandmaster Netherington-Coates,” for most unusually I am writing about a guild matter.
I have an apprentice, young Luc Touchard. He is a bright lad, as smart as any I have met. He is not only diligent and skilled but also mathematically inclined, and has begun to absorb the theoretical work I have done on greedy and generous formed objects. He has completed his copy of my grimoire, so far as it has gone, and learned a great deal of its contents; and I judge that he is ready to be advanced to journeyman.
I trust you see the problem. I am but one master; it is time for Luc to begin to learn from others, even if it be only other journeymen. I trust I might send him to you for a time? I should not wish to lose him from the Armorican guild; but I have no one in Armorica to who I may send him. I predict great things for him, John, and so I wish there to be no lack in his experience; and as he will, in all likelihood, be grandmaster here in Armorica after me, I wish for him to have contacts in Yorke.
Such has been your kindness to my mother and father, and indeed to myself, that I have every faith that you will gladly take Luc under your wing.
I must tell you that although he has begun to come to grips with my theoretical work he has seen but little of the practical aspects of it, at least as they pertain to Tuppenny Wagons. Luc could certainly form a sky-sled or sky-wagon that would function adequately for a few weeks or a season, given time and materials, but he does not yet know how to build them to be safe for those using them. And I must add that he knows virtually nothing of my work on fast packets.
I say this for his own protection, and yours; were it thought that he did I fear young Luc might become a target for the aspirations and malice of the Shipwright’s Guild, and that in a short time the same malice might extend to the Cumbrian Former’s Guild as a whole.
But this is a delicate situation. My theoretical work is to be shared with the Cumbrian Guild; that is an absolute. My practical work must also in time be shared with the Cumbrian Guild, though here I owe a duty to my partners in Tuppenny Wagons. At the same time, I know that if I do not take steps then someone in Cumbria will attempt to duplicate my work, and do so without the benefit theoretical underpinnings that I can provide. That would be disastrous to the Cumbrian Guild, and would give the Shipwright’s Guild the seeming of being correct in their persecution of my work.
I have discussed this with my partners, and they agree that that wagons are too bulky to be worth shipping across the Abyss from Armorica to the Old Lands, and that the Armorican market for wagons is likely to keep us occupied for some time.
So now it comes down to it. Here is what I propose.
First, that you will receive Luc, and oversee his further progress.
Second, that I will provide you with my theoretical writings so far as they extend. You may make use of these as it seems appropriate to you.
Third, that you will send me a suitable journeyman whom I will train to safely build the sort of wagons that Tuppenny Wagons manufactures. If possible, I will also teach him the theory, insofar as he is capable of receiving it.
Fourth, that you will undertake to preserve Luc from harm. I should not wish him to be singled out, or made much of, but to be treated as any other journeyman. I believe his best safety lies in that obscurity, and so I have directed him to hide his light under a bushel, as it were—to do solid work, as directed, but to keep his brilliance hidden from all save yourself.
You will have already noted that I said, “I have directed him,” and indeed such is my trust in you that I have sent Luc along with this letter. You will find him in residence in my mother’s house.
I know little of the current political situation in Yorke with regards to Armorica, nor of the current machinations of the Shipwright’s Guild. Should you find receiving Luc to be too dangerous to him or to the Guild, I will trust in your judgement; he has funds to return to home. Otherwise, you may take any actions that seem good to you, with my blessing.
I do hope you will find it possible to receive him, for if he had remained here I fear he would soon know as much as I do about building fast packets, and that would make sending him to you far too dangerous.
With all of my respect and affection,