First you compare me to a society matron, then you confuse my poor sailors with soldiers. I suspect you only do this to vex me, or otherwise I would alert Kermit to this shocking deficiency in your education. Aren’t silencing charms still a weak point of yours, dear cousin?
I am greatly pleased that you like your earrings, though the reception they have received from others is somewhat less gratifying. Rest assured that the enchantments on them are purely beneficial, though to be truthful I do not know of their original owners. I had thought to ask but de Brissac, but he himself did not know, so chaotic was their acquisition.
(I had thought you would enjoy puzzling out their charms on your own, my little blue stocking, but if you would rather not, let me know.)
Please Helene, do not read me a lecture about my lack of caution. My gift is as much a part of my senses as are my eyes or my hands, and I must trust it as much as I do sight or touch. Perhaps it is not quite as available or obedient as the other parts of my construction, but it does, you must agree, make up for it in other ways.
As to my wayward brother, what my mother called ‘common sense’ I would more describe as ‘wit and cunning’. Believe me, Helene, I would be far more cautious going about this enterprise if I were sure it was even tied to his disappearance, but the deeper I go into his affairs, the less I think I shall ever see the bottom of them. I have found certain proofs that he is no newcomer to cloak and dagger games. This not entirely surprising, his gift is too well suited to such shadowy things.
In brief I shall relate what I have discovered so far.
It is his custom to leave Paris without a moment’s notice and to return, un-penitent, perhaps two or three months later. As such no one has yet remarked on his absence. Enough of these trips are made to friends, both within and without France, that the times when his itinerary is unclear pass un-remarked. So of course no one has the least idea of where he may be now, his son least of all. I have had to turn instead to investigating the contents of his personal rooms, and it has taken me all of this last month to get past his wards.
That Claude-Laurent is a spy now beyond a doubt to me, though I heartily wish I could divine who he spies for. Théophile thinks this just a droll fantasy of mine, but like many children on the cusp of adulthood I believe he underestimates his father. That, and he has never seen a cipher book. I, on the other hand, have, though the skill to decipher them is not within me. I have a particular friend who would certainly serve the task far better, but at present I do not yet think it worth the risk to send the books to him. (How my letters have blazed with wards of late, Helene! If Durville is so d____ impertinent with you again, pray hit him with this missive. I am sure it would answer satisfactorily.)
We are sitting in the library right now. Theo is across from me, making a creditable attempt at answering your letter. Tellingly, he is not often allowed to write to his father when he is away, so the boy is sadly out of practice. He promises though that my next letter will enclose his reply.
(He has also asked me about spiders. Anymore of those sort of tactics on your part and I shall be forced to run out my own guns, Q.)
And so we continue on here. Surely no grave peril could possibly be this tedious. Pray do not worry, I have faith if my business here were indeed dangerous my family would have had at least the solicitude to warn me.
What of you, Helene? You have been out for all of a month now, is there anyone who has captured your fancy yet?