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

The Elms, Wickshire
7 May 1017


I have a great many things to tell you, some of them on behalf of my former chief, Lord Doncaster.

Yes, former. I’ll get to that, if you’ll only be patient. Why are you so impatient, Armand? Don’t you know that in the service one must hurry up and wait?

So, first of all, this: you have won your case, you Armoricans. It is now understood by His Majesty and the Lords that Armoricans are loyal subjects of the Crown, but not subjects of the Cumbrian Parliament.

The Commons are a bit disgruntled about the whole affair, as you might expect—I believe there was some notion of requiring Armorica to trade only with Cumbria, to the great benefit of Cumbrian merchants. And although I have nothing against Cumbrian merchants—I owe them quite a lot, I do assure you—I see no reason to coddle them in this way. I am sure they will survive their disappointment.

But second, though he and Armorica have been vindicated Lord Doncaster will not be returning to Armorica—at least not in his public capacity of governor-general, though he may pay a visit from time to time. This is neither a punishment nor a penalty; he will be remaining in Cumbria, where, in his role as a Peer of the House of Lords he will be investigating the cozy arrangements between the Commons and the Shipwright’s Guild.

You will perhaps have heard of the ruin of the good ship Annabel, the Shipwright’s Guild’s attempt to outdo you at your own game. As nearly as I can tell they did exactly as you have learned not to: they scaled up the bits that push the ship around, which ultimately destroyed the hardened bits that hold it together.

I was there, Armand, with His Lordship, and was it a sight to see. The whole ship came apart as it was landing on Salisbury Plain, simply fell into bits in a heap on the ground. And as the Guild had gathered a variety of dignitaries, MPs, and journalists the affair was well documented and publicized.

Lord Doncaster was asked his opinion as a general who had relied on the Shipwright’s vessels for transport. “Deathtraps,” he said. “I always preferred to use transports we had captured from the Provençese. The Salisbury shipyards? Pah! Thieves, the lot of them.”

And so it has come about that he has been asked to investigate the current disaster, and the standard customs and practices among the shipyards, which I am sure he will do with his usual dispatch. Certain of the Commons are not pleased about this, either.

However, he will investigate without my aid, alas; for someone in the Shipwrights’ camp has observed that I am a shareholder in Tuppenny Wagons and demanded that I be recused from the investigation. One can’t fault them, truly; His Lordship asked if I were irretrievably biased in your favor, and I said, “Any time these past twenty years.”

His Lordship approved, of course, being as loyal himself as the day is long, both to the Crown and to his men; but he had to let me go.

There’s not much call for a one-legged soldier, and I fear that I am nearly at point non-plus. As an officer, my allowance went to keeping up my gear and my social duties in the regiment; and my time as His Lordship’s aid was similar except for the differences in the kind and quality of gear and the nature of my duties.

So here I am, staying with Edward in the wilds of Wickshire, high and dry, as I ponder what to do next. I could always seek another position as a secretary to some lord or other—His Lordship has promised to give me a good character wherever I might go.

But you, Amelia, and Edward have ruined me, by your ostentatious displays of marital bliss, for the soldier’s free and happy life. I begin to think it time for me to settle down, Armand, if only I can find the funds to do it. I do believe I should trade all my military finery for civilian clothes, however subfusc, and a decent sufficiency.

Might my Tuppenny Wagons shares start to pay dividends one of these fine days? It would allow your impecunious cousin to live in the manner to which he hopes to become accustomed.

All the best,


Next letter


Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

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