Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.

Bois-de-Bas, Armorica
25 August 1016

Dear Mum,

Today my Amelie came to me and said, “Armand, we are too small, or Bois-de-Bas has become too big.”

I was confused. “You want to live somewhere smaller? But where? And what about the wagon-works?” For there are smaller villages not far away, but the wagon-works is here in Bois-de-Bas.

Non, non,” she said. “It is our shop, n’est-ce pas? We are too small to supply the needs of tout le monde.”

“Oh!” I said. “I see what you mean. Yes, even my former’s shop has been getting busier than before, and not everyone needs forming done every day, or even every week. But how exactly are we too small?”

“Our people, Armand, they come to us for everything. But there is too much everything to keep it all in our store room until it is needed.”

“I suppose we could add on another store room. Or do we need a bigger shop as well? We would have to build somewhere else, I think.”

Precisement, mon cher. I do not wish to move. I do not think I want a larger shop; I do not want to be like the King in Cumbria, with all his servants dancing around him. Non, I like my customers, me, and I want to serve them myself.”

“It would seem odd not to have Jacques-le-Souris and his cronies sitting in the front of my shop. I’ve rather gotten used to them.”

Mais oui!” said my darling. “That is it exactly.”

So we are taking thought as to our future. The answer is simple, of course; Bois-de-Bas needs more shops. But what do we want to do? Should we remain a general store, and try to sell everything for some folk? Or should we sell fewer kinds of thing but try to sell those things to the whole town? Or should we expand anyway? It is not clear.

I spoke of this to Marc Frontenac, who told me I was being foolish.

“How many shops are there in Mont-Havre? Just the one? How ignorant I am, I had thought there were one or two more.”

No, I had to admit that there were more, far more.

“So,” he went on, “if Amelie cannot provide all things to all people, someone else will try to supply the lack. And when you see who it is and what they do, you will know what you need to change. For Amelie is right—you cannot serve everyone. Three new houses went up just last month!”

He is right about that, too: more people are coming to Bois-de-Bas with each passing month. At first it was just the young men who had come here during the war; but now we are getting others, some looking for jobs at the wagon-works, others farming or performing other crafts. We have a cobbler, now, and a weaver, though where he gets his thread I cannot say; and we have added yet another inn.

We old-timers still go to the hot springs of a Sunday afternoon; but more of the springs have been opened, and though there is much discussion amongst the bathers the town no longer makes its decisions between the steam and the ale, but rather in meeting at the town hall. There was a time when even I, a relative newcomer, knew almost everyone in town; now I surely cannot say the same, and yet I am the mayor!

It makes me sad, to lose the village that took me in so warmly just a few years ago; but Bois-de-Bas is becoming a place I do think you would like, should you come to visit—as I hope one day soon you might.

Your loving son,


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Photo by Kyle Wagner on Unsplash

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