Friday, December 13

A Letter Home

This letter has been translated from its original French:

Messer. Francois Rochambeau 
Hotel Marzon
Market Street
New Orleans

Dear Sir, 

I was most gratified to receive the package you sent to me by Messer LeDuc in Halifax. I am overwhelmed by your generosity. Perhaps your fondness for your Godsons has overcome your sense of  economy to my benefit?  Of course you know I say this in jest, as you have always shown the most generous love for myself and my family. My one consolation is that my family is safe in your care.

What strange fortune, ever my lot, that after declining employment under Captain Morreau's letter of marke I should find myself under arms in the ranks of his opposition. May the Blessed Virgin forbid that I should ever find myself in conflict with my brother, for Vance did take up the offer.

When I  saw that there was no possibility to avoid being pressed I went ahead and volunteered. Without the small pay advance that came with this I should have been left with only the clothes I was wearing. Your kind gifts have lifted my spirits more that you can ever know. This pistol, it is the one you killed the rabid wolf in the orchard with so long ago, is it not? The sailors tell me that if we must become boarders we will be issued cutlasses, but I shall be glad to have a pistol also.  The cheese, smoked tongue and pate I have shared with the fellows of my mess. Good generous fellows they are too. After being among them even this short while I marvel at why our kings were always at odds. 

Since the emperor has sold us for Americans these years past should I wish them for victors in this war?  I think not- for I am entitled to a portion of the profit for each American ship we take. Prize money it is called, perhaps not as great a profit as in the crew of a corsair, but potentially much better than that of a common sailor. The sailors are hopeful of taking many such prizes before the war's end.

Already I have bettered my lot beyond a common sailor. I am now the surgeons mate, just as I was in the Belle Lorraine, Cerf and Van Blough. The surgeon seems a good fellow, not at all like old Barbe of the Lorraine. I have yet to see him drunk, and he has been kind to me so far. He is also a man of science. I should think that you and he, and dear Messer. Duval, could have many an interesting discussion.

I have enclosed a separate letter for Marie. How I miss her already! And my sons! How I hope this war should be at an end before they have forgotten me! I will be grateful for your reading the letter to her. Tell her nothing of prize money and taking American ships, for I do not wish her to worry. 

I am sir, as always, in your debt, 

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