15 November 1016
My dear cousin Amelia,
The first snows have arrived, and Bois-de-Bas is transformed in the usual way; and yet many things are different than they were last year.
Some time ago I wrote to you—or perhaps I just wrote about it in my journal—about the state of our shop’s store-room, which is to say, over-crowded. As the only general store in Bois-de-Bas, it has been hard to keep enough items in stock for our town’s increasing population: it is feast or famine, no room to move or bare shelves. Poor Amelie has been at her wit’s end.
But we have made a beginning. We no longer stock large staples—sacks of flour, for example, or beans—in our shop. Instead, we have built a new warehouse near the wagon-works, and all such goods are kept there. Our customers order these items at our shop, as before, but we have bought two small sky-wagons from Tuppenny Wagons, and hired two men, Jean-le-Grand and Jean-le-Petit, to make deliveries.
Yes, deliveries! In late autumn, with the snow on the ground and the roads blocked! Sleds and sleighs are all very well in deep winter, but neither sleighs nor wheeled carts do well when the ground is half-covered and half-mud.
Most of the wagons we sell, though floating, are pulled by beasts of burden; for the familiar is comforting. Our two delivery carts, however, are self-moving, like my sky-chairs and sky-sleds, and if they are not speedy (for speedy seemed most unwise) they care naught for the conditions of the road.
And now that our shop’s store-room is no longer taken up by large sacks and barrels (except for single barrels of items meant to be sold in smaller quantities), my Amelie has been able to expand our stock to include items previously only available by order from Mont-Havre!
We have heard nothing from the Couriers’ Guild as yet, as it has been but a month; but this coming week we—that is, Amelie and I, and also Marc and Elise Frontenac—shall take the Amelie to Mont-Havre, where we shall dine with M. Suprenant and his family, and also with Lord Doncaster and your brother Jack, and enjoy the warmth and life of the city for a day or two; and where also Amelie will consider what other goods she might consider bringing to Bois-de-Bas. (And when we return, we will send Madame Truc and Jacques-le-Souris off to do the same!)
Your happy cousin,