Final Passage

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

Former’s Guild Hall, Yorke
20 June 1017

My dear Armand,

As you can plainly see, I have chosen to return your journeyman to you several months in advance of my last indication. I had intended to retain him for as long as I well might, as it could only do him good—but events have overtaken us, and I have found it prudent to let him bear my messages to you.

In short—for you will find the details in your mother’s letter, which Luc also bears—your father is no longer with us. I know that you saw to all the legal matters during your last stay here, but I believe that you will wish to wait on your mother with all due speed, for she is quite broken up.

Despite all expectations, your father was a considerable joy to her these last months. He had not quite remembered her, not in many a week, and yet whenever he saw her enter the room it seemed to me that he saw her not as she is, but as she was when he was courting her. His delight was plain, and she delighted in it.

After many great trials, it now seems that his loss is a great loss indeed, and your presence would be a great comfort to her.

And so, mindful of your predicament, I have returned Luc to you, that you may not leave your wagon-works without a master in charge. Luc is young, but I am certain that he is able to do all that is necessary, and that he will be equal to any challenge you may give him.

I have left it to you to give him mastery, as he was your apprentice; but in view of my esteem of him I have commissioned for him a master’s chain, knowing that such things may be hard to come by in Mont-Havre. It is in a package that he will hand to you, along with your mother’s letter. I may say, he does not know what is in it.

I have included a second chain for William Graves, as and when you should judge him worthy of it, and I beg that you will grant him his mastery at that time. Though intelligent, as you well know, he was a turbulent apprentice here in Yorke, and I had nearly despaired of him; I rejoice that through your instruction and that of Patches the Goat you have made of him a fine young man. He owes you a great debt, of which he is very sensible, for so he has written to me.

If he should choose to return to Yorke with his master’s chain, there will be a place for him here; and if he should choose to remain in Bois-de-Bas he may do so with my blessing. Between Luc’s instruction and your writings, I do believe the Guild here in Cumbria will be able to build upon your work in either case.

Lastly, for I know it will be foremost in your mind: Lord Doncaster paid a call on your mother when he heard of your father’s death, and assured her that it was now safe for you to return to Yorke at your pleasure. “The Shipwrights are on the run,” he said. “It will be many a day before they can raise their heads in Yorke, I do assure you.”

I write in hopes of seeing you as soon as may be, and remain always,

Your friend,

John Netherington-Coates

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Photo by Ray Shrewsberry on Unsplash

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