My dearest Rogan,
I hope this letter finds you well and happy, as I have been doing all I can to make you so.
May I offer my dearest friend my congratulations on his promotion to Post Captain?
No jest, Rogan.
In all honestly, no jest.
The official letter from the Naval Board will not reach you for a few days more, but I can predict its coming even without the aid of foresight.
My dear Rogan, I do suspect the Naval Board is trying to bribe me. Most obligingly since I wasn’t quite prepared to bribe them.
No matter. It is done. Some justice for you, Rogan, after all these years.
Lest this offend your sensibilities (which I fear it might) let me explain the situation. Claude-Laurent, as we thought, wove a tangled web around him. I know for certain now that besides this smuggling business he was spying for both England and the Bourbons. God alone knows which of the two he’s actually loyal to.
You could say his disappearance has sparked something of a panic in intelligence circles. Certainly more of a panic than it has in his own family. The fact is they approached us to ask of what we knew, which is how they found out I was in Paris.
I was also about to leave Paris. I had, my dear, all by accident, discovered the true reason Claude-Laurent sent for me.
Well, perhaps ‘discovered’ is too nice a word for it. Theo’s tutor had a nervous breakdown on Sunday and confessed the truth to me in exchange for no longer having to teach the boy.
Theo’s powers, as I’ve told you, are the mirror image of mine; the orientation may be opposite but the motions are the same. You do recall what an all-knowing brat I was at 13?
More justice for you, Rogan, for I am being punished in full for it now. Claude-Laurent invited me to Paris to ask me if I could try to knock some sense into his son and heir. Theo admitted the truth of it when I confronted him. He was sullen at first but cheered up a little when I told him I only had time to teach him if he came with me to sea.
So we were packing our bags and making ready to come back to London when the letter came from the Admiralty Board ordering me to stay here. I replied that, being as I was not currently attached to any fleet, plus a Post Captain and not an agent, they had no right to command me to do so. After a quick exchange of letters, in which they threatened to break me and I threatened to sell out, it was eventually agreed that in exchange for a certain amount of patronage to be paid to a certain lieutenant, I would stay in Paris and try and sort this mess out, whatever it is. (They have not the slightest idea either but it seems that Claude-Laurent was deep enough into things that the possibilities worry them.)
So there you have it, Rogan. Now I must ask a favour of you.
Theo has threatened me with dire punishment if I dare communicate any of this to my cousin, Miss Endicott. We have been in as constant communication as ever and Theo, sitting in with me as I write my letters, has somehow conceived a tendre for her. He is in dread lest the revelation that his father summoned me to take him into hand makes her think him a boy and not a man. (For the sake of peace I have not told him she has advised me to bring him to visit England and spend a stay with her father’s family, because the ‘wholesome density’ would be good for a child of his years.) I have no care to write to Miss Endicott with this latest development, because even if I did ban Theo from reading my letters to her over my shoulder, nothing would stop him from reading the memory of them from the writing desk.
He has no interest in you though, my poor, dear Rogan. Would it be asking too much for you to convey certain intelligences to a certain damsel? Forgive me for asking, I know it’s not usually quite the thing for a gentleman to call on a young lady not of his acquaintance, but I’ve enclosed a letter of introduction that should offer your honour some protection. I wish you luck in getting past her aunt, however.
Very much yours,
P.S. So now the House of Sutcourt may produce the fourth midshipman in a generation. Lord preserve us, the Navy may not survive this.
P.P.S. Of course now that you are Post and are soon to have your own ship, there is no need to send you these codebooks to keep you occupied. You’ll be busy enough proving to everyone just who exactly it was who taught me such deadly scientific gunnery.
I shall keep them by me instead, to see how well you have taught me code-breaking as well.
P.P.P.S. - Really, Rogan, you’ve gone astray with these enquiries after de Brissac. Subtlety never was one of your virtues.
Allow me to put your mind at ease. He is a slight man, somewhat tall and sharp-boned. His hair is dark but his complexion pallid from too much time indoors spent bent over books. His manners are excellent when he is not distracted and his conversation captivating as long as you talk about magic. He is otherwise quite easy to miss but does not seem to mind as all his attention is taken right now with one of his charming young pupils. As long as Mademoiselle Chevet takes notice him, he is content.