Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.
8 September 1016
It has become a regular thing with me: of a sudden I am beside myself to know how Armorica’s declaration of independence is going over in Yorke; and each time I must remind myself that even with the best of weather over the Abyss the word can hardly have reached Cumbria yet. And when it does, it will be another two months before we receive word.
Perhaps you are having a similar time of it. If so, you have my greatest sympathy.
In the meantime, we at the wagon-works are proceeding apace with the construction of the Amelie. The skeleton is complete, as are the formed members that interlock with it: the lifting blocks, the motive blocks, and so forth. The hull cladding is being put into place as I write (for I am in my workroom at the wagon-works), and soon we shall begin to build the interior decking and bulkheads, and the upper-works.
It all seems to take so long! A new sky-wagon can be built in a matter of days, or a week at most, and even the war-wagons which I designed in Cumbria took little longer.
But of course a sky-wagon has not much in the way of an interior, and no one is expecting to make a month’s journey across the Abyss in one. In addition to the basic structure we must have a galley, living space for the crew and captain, a passenger cabin or two, a sail locker (just in case), a hold for stores, and all such manner of things; and all of the exterior wood must either be heavily finished or made of exotic woods like teak that will bear the weather.
When we built the Anne-Marie I was doing so in with the aid of the His Majesty’s forces, and much of this fiddly detail work was done by others without any needed cognizance on my part. But here in Bois-de-Bas, if I do not call for it then it will not happen.
Do not mistake me: what we are building will fly, and right swiftly; and it will do well-enough as a transport for the use of the owners of Tuppenny Wagon Company. But it won’t do for sale, not as it is. I can see we shall have to hire someone with more experience at shipbuilding—or at least with more experience with life on a packet—to see that we get the small details right. Perhaps you could inquire as to whether there is anyone on the staff of the Courier’s Guild in Mont-Havre who has the knowledge we need?
Amelie bids me tell you that our Anne-Marie has been asking after “Cousin Jack,” and wishes that you might come see us soon. I must add my own entreaty to hers; and may I say, though it will not be ready for occupation, the Amelie should be ready for a short test flight next week. I hope that we will see you soon.
Your industrious cousin,
DALL·E 2022-10-09 08.18.23 – A sailing ship under construction in a wooden shed, as viewed from the side