Dear Broddi and Leofryn,
Gondor suggested that Ceci might do better at Rivendell up with the elves and offered to help escort. It might buy us some time. I’m busy with Angmar preparations, but will make it for supper before muster. Stay strong.
Dear Mrs. Marshfield,
I think I shall astonish you by accepting your gracious invitation to next month’s salon, provided that all is well at home enough that I can be spared for an afternoon. I thank you on Belion’s behalf for the lovely tin cup. He uses it with great relish daily and will, we hope, soon learn to see it as a drinking vessel rather than a hat, a projectile, or a noisemaker. I shall refresh my knowledge of Arnorian couplets in anticipation of the theme topic.
With fond regards,
Master H. Leafcutter-Smithe
Dear Mrs. Jane,
Papa asked me to send a nowt warning you he’s gott to vissit about something important. Reckon he did’nt meen me to rite the ‘warning’ part, so he’s just coming. Anyhow, Cookie and I will see you at Sunday tee. I made sommat two show you. I hop I speled this all rite. Tessa was tiurd and Mrs. Celeveren the Elf was cuting up somthing ded.
Mr. Geffy Glazer.
P.S. Papa’s corting Ma Robson, butt they still might nott get merryd. I hop it do’nt make you sad nun.
To Teriel, Steward of Pel Tathren,
I send you greetings on my own behalf and that of my lord husband. We are well and as safe here as can be managed, but I fear there will be some delay in our return. If fate allows it, we shall have a new child in a few months, and we think it prudent to delay our departure until the weather warms and the baby is old enough for traveling.
((Several lines intervene discussing various minutiae of interest only to the parties involved.))
You will forgive me if this request breeches custom. I am given to understand that it is expected of me as my lord’s wife to be aware of the nature and extent of his holdings as well as their current conditions and any pressing problems. It is not in any way my intention to interfere with your honored position nor to question any of your actions on his behalf. Indeed, my incomplete understanding of your management leaves me with the deepest respect for your skill in this. But it would be negligent for me to remain in ignorance where other Gondorian wives have knowledge, and I could better advise my lord in his plans if I knew as many specifics as possible.
I know we have not met and I ask a great deal of trust from you in this, being as I am a foreigner from a people still at war with yours, and I will respect you should you decline my request. Know that my dearest wish is to be of help to my lord as he takes a more active role in his duties, and that I make this request with his blessing. My own training has made me somewhat more accustomed to difficult political situations than his has, thus far. As a matter of honor I would never advise him to act in anything less than the best interest of his own people, even as I have labored to give my own dependents a measure of peace. You may apply to Khassan, Fatimah, and Meritt who have known me longest and are by no means hesitant to give clear accountings of both my faults and my virtues, or to any of my people willing to speak of me for good or ill. I have made a study of your law and would welcome a correspondence with Mother Sedileth as well to correct my ignorance on several matters. Take your time in deciding.
For your kindness to my people, you have my gratitude. I am indebted, and shall pay such debts as I am able. You will pardon a suggestion that might have already occurred to Khassan, but there are among my people skilled weavers of rugs and tapestry hangings. Perhaps the cavalry is in need of blankets for rough use and barding for formal occasions? I cannot help but think a market might exist for luxury carpets as well. My late husband and I found demand quite high.
For Nafisah, my love always. I am glad she is finding time to not be quite so serious, though I understand the insects make such moments distressing. I hope she isn’t too much under your son’s feet. She finds him quite a wonder of a man, and I can only agree from what my lord husband and Thragan tell me. A thousand blessings on you all, and may Fate, who sees all, reward you greatly.
Aminah, Lady Arathalion
Dear Miss Tessa,
I was naughty and now I have to peel taters for a week! A whole week! It wasn’t even my fault because it was Firkin who dared me to ride Bessie and Pipkin told Papa B. Mama doesn’t understand that you have to take dares otherwise folk’ll think you’re chicken. I am not chicken!!! ! !
My hands are wrinkly and there’s three whole days more of tater peeling! How can I catch a Baggins with tater hands? It isn’t fair, not a bit. Papa says I shouldn’t be so dramatic but he just doesn’t understand because he’s a boy. Ma never made me peel taters. Do you have to peel taters?
I’ve got to peel some more now. I hate taters. I will not eat any and I’ll starve and they’ll all be sorry!
Miss Marigold Proudfoote-Bolger, Snowdrop farm, Bywater, next to Hobbiton.
A letter arrives at Ravenhold with no direction and some beak-marks. The outside says only Oendir, and inside there isn’t any writing. There’s a beautifully rendered watercolor of Solstan playing with a mechanical whirligig surrounded by a menagerie. He leans against a patient bear while a lynx licks his hair askew. Birds perch on a nearby railing and in attendance are also a badger, three squirrels, bullfrogs, three lizards, a fox, a black snake (draped loosely around Solstan’s neck), and a mating pair of wolves. There’s a cake with four candles on the chair with the birds. Solstan’s grinning a cake-smeared smile.
Here is your first ledger, all your own. You will start keeping track of the materials you buy and the materials you sell, just as we’ve practiced. Don’t worry if there’s a lot of lost material at first as you learn and perfect, but do get into the habit of keeping an accurate report so you know precisely how well you’re doing. I’ll be checking this every weekend, and if you do well, you shall have an extra penny for candy.
Go mix some gall ink before you play. Be sure it’s good ink.