Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Which Plans are Made, and Gratitude Expressed

Lynde Falconer to Thomas Crowder:

Dear Tom,

I most certainly wish to be married soon, and my heart lifted when you suggested it – and then fell, when I thought of leaving my friends and the place I’ve been able to make for myself here. Oh, please don’t think I have second thoughts – I would live with you at Dumcruckle, or in a mountain cave, or at the bottom of the sea so long as we could be married. But the princess has made us a most interesting offer, to which I hope you will give serious thought – it seems to me the answer to prayer.

She would like us to make our home here at the Tower, where I can continue my duties as her bodyguard and, it has become, somewhat as her lady-in-waiting, as well. Of course you would need to take up a post of some sort here, and she thought of that too: currently, Bentlefay Tower has a large library and archive, with books from the Nine Kingdoms and beyond as well as documents going back into the mists of history, and the whole thing falling to pieces in the absence of a full-time archivist. Generations of kings have added to their collection, putting the books in the shelves with no reference to order and relying on their own memories to know where everything is. In this generation it is the princess’ memory that serves as a catalogue, but she has duties of her own and cannot be expected to put in the hours of manual work each day that it would require to put everything in order and make a written list.

It seems to me that this is the perfect outlet for your particular talents, and that you could do real good here. I know that we will be missed at home, but Sir Roger and Lady Dumcruckle would have had to make new plans for the school and the archiving anyhow when you and I wed and began to farm. The only matter unresolved would be Father, and he could come and live with us just as easily as he could back home.

What do you suppose, dearest Tom – shall we do it? I admit that the prospect interests me; I have seen so much of history over the last weeks that it would seem dull to be out of the way of it – although of course, you made history of your own at Dumcruckle during the siege, which shows you how much I know.

Please do not refuse right away; give it a day or two of thought. I would not want to press you, or to influence you to take a step that you are reluctant to take, but do think about it. We can always go back home if we do not think the arrangement is working – that is the nice thing about home; one can always go back.

Your loving,


Thomas Crowder to Lynde Falconer:

Dearest Lynde,

Of course we will go and live the high life at the Tower; I began packing my things before I even finished reading your letter. Finally I can tell you just how bestially envious I was that it was you who were going into the world to make your fortune, and I who was staying at home to spin. Why, in the last week I have been chewing my own pillow at nights in agony that I would never travel farther than the next estate, and that you would always hold it against me.

The description you give of the library has my mouth watering to sink my teeth into the project. Our library here, though comprehensive for a remote country manor, would be sadly modest on the world stage, and in any case it has been in perfect order for at least the last fifteen years, leaving little scope for my talents.

I have discussed the matter with your father, and he will be very sorry to have you so far away, but he was utterly firm in the matter of staying where he is. He says that he has spent his life here and he has the respect of his years of service; in the capital he would only be a burden to hold you back. I did my best to dissuade him, but I can rather see his point; a healthy country life is better for an old man than the glittering court you describe. Now that Minnie and Mistress Rebecca are settled at Dumcruckle for good, he will have his family with him and all the care, affection and daily arguments he needs to keep him hearty.

The one condition he would make is that he would like to see you married, and of course I said we would do whatever was needed to make it so. He is perfectly fit to travel with me to the capital if we take it easy, and you and I could bring him home together, if the princess is willing to allow you a honeymoon.

Lynde dearest, you have no idea how much this suggestion has done for me. To be an expert among books instead of an amateur on a farm is a far more fulfilling future than I had expected.

I will be with you in a week, my darling – dream of me!

Your own,


Christina, Queen Consort of Bentlefay, to Robert “Long Bob” Langstrom of the Golden Gull:

Dear Bob,

I owe you a debt for keeping Dulcie safe through what turned out to be much more exciting an adventure than most of us anticipated. On the other hand, of course, you seem to have given her a story she can hold over my head any time she cares to, so in that sense, we can call it even.

Ah, well, I can forgive much in a man who has ensured the safety of the realm in general and my daughter in particular – not that I was ever able to stay angry at you for long. You are a good man, with a generous heart, a nimble wit and a prodigious reach. But then, I have had no reason to believe that you would have altered in any of those respects from your youth.

I have sent you along a nice selection from our treasury in an attractively carved wooden chest which you may recognize, as it is of our mutual great-grandfather’s manufacture and the one upon which I happened to be sitting when you first proposed marriage twenty-six years ago. The treasure, if you would be so kind, is to be divided among all the men who fought on Bentlefay’s behalf. The chest is for you – in gratitude, and in remembrance.

Yours very truly,

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