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

25 February 1017

Dear John,

Do you know, I begin to think that your journeyman William Graves will work out very well here in Bois-de-Bas; indeed, I begin to fear that you may lose him to us in the fullness of time.. Splintery edges he had and still has, to be sure, but already we have knocked some of them away. He has quite lost his air of snobbish superiority, and is beginning to be a real help to us.

His mauling at the hooves of Patches the goat was the turning point, as you’ll have guessed. Caring for Graves during his convalescence naturally fell to my man Bastien; and as Bastien has spent sufficient time with goats to have the deepest sympathy for the victim of a goat-mauling, he did not take advantage of his adversary’s weakness to play off their rivalry as another young man might do.

Truly, it is amazing what effect a little kindness and sympathy may have. And also boredom, for the time of convalescence from injury excels in producing that state, and when sufficiently bored even the most haughty mind might condescend to learn a thing or two just to pass the time.

In short, Bastien has spent much time with Graves over the past six weeks, and naturally much of that time was spent talking “shop”; with the result that each of these young men now have a thorough appreciation for the skills and knowledge of the other, and a willingness to help and to be helped.

Graves is now assisting Bastien at Tuppenny Wagons, and has acquired at least a cursory acquaintance with the mathematics behind my work. He will surely come to the rest of it in due time. Truly, I could not be more pleased.

Young Graves has also been “standing watch,” as he calls it, at the counter of my forming shop; where I fear, being a well set-up young man, he has become an object of interest to several of the local girls. And if the occasion of his goatish injuries makes him a figure of fun to the community, the nature of those injuries is even more likely to breed sympathy in a maidenly heart than in Bastien’s.

He had discovered, in other words, that if he is willing to be pleased, there are many who are willing to be pleasing.

It is too soon to tell what will come of that, if anything; but between the young ladies and his own natural ambitions, you will see why I fear you may be losing a future master former.

Do not be too concerned; I shall certainly send him back to you when he is ready to receive his master’s chain. But you must not blame me overmuch if having received it he decides that Armorican grass is greener than Cumbrian and chooses to return here.

On a more serious topic: Lord Doncaster should have arrived in Yorke by the time you receive this, with what effect I do not yet know. Please do inform me of any significant repercussions with respect to the Guild, won’t you? I should hate the Shipwright’s animosity towards me to hinder you in any way.

Your friend,


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Photo by Colby Thomas on Unsplash

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