My Dear Rackham,
No doubt you have had the experience of waking in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place, stumbling around in the dark, groping about with your hands. You can imagine what it would be like if, in the next moment, you opened a door into a room fully-lit. At first it would be blinding – you might even raise your arm to shield your eyes – but gradually you could see again, and would be loathe to return to the dark.
I feel these days like a man whose vision has acclimated to the light, and can at last see clearly, as if for the first time. I fear that in some of my earlier letters I was like the man with his arm shielding his eyes, expressing fear and caution when all that was really needed was a moment to adjust. I have made that adjustment now, and am eager to relate all the progress we have made in establishing our bright beacon of hope, New Albion.
I wish you could have been there to see the official ceremony yesterday! The governor has suffered from ill health of late, but he gamely stepped forth onto the veranda, in front of the surging crowds, and placed a circlet of gold on Robards’ head while the band played our new anthem. A barrage of gunfire was heard in the distance, which many in the crowd took for a fitting salute. In fact it was members of the Brotherhood quelling unrest at the docks, but I found it quite serendipitous that it might serve a dual purpose!
The captain – or the former captain, I should say – is too modest, and refuses to fully embrace the role of a monarch. For a year and a day he will designate himself the Steward of the Albionese crown, and only then will he take on the full mantle of kingship if none of the rightful line have been found to have survived. While part of me fears that his hesitation in this matter may prevent him from acting as decisively as will be needed in the coming months, there can be no doubt that his humility endears him to the people.
And while you did not know it at the time, your own actions have played a part in his ascension, and solved a thorny problem to boot! While I hold Robards in extremely high regard, as you know, he is no god, and I have, on isolated occasions, had cause to question his judgment. Even as I dutifully made the preparations to venture to the bottom of the Channel to recover his talisman, I feared that the end of such a mission would be the loss of too many loyal subjects for an uncertain gain. And what should arrive in the middle of all of this but your letter, and the ward you had from Stratham via Thompson! No sooner had I read your letter – and opened the cookie tin – than I eagerly rushed to the audience chamber and presented Robards with a replacement for his lost treasure. He accepted it graciously and wore it proudly around his neck at the ceremony. So you were there in spirit, my friend!
Bringing the justice of New Albion to all of Garnsey has come with some pains, to be sure. While the ranks of the Brotherhood swell with devoted and militant citizens, eager to help in any way they can, some of the soldiers in Robards’ own company have not proven as loyal. I regret to say that my former traveling companions, Jacobs and Sharma, were among those who have been arrested on charges of insubordination and inciting revolt.
A granary near the residence has been converted into a prison for the housing of said soldiers, Van Dyke, and now too Sanders and several others from the College. Robards had made several peaceful overtures to the Society and those who fronted for their machinations, offering to welcome them into the fold of New Albion, but they steadfastly refused to see the light. And so he returned with the Brotherhood at his back, and now the College is fully under his control.
Some allowances must be made, in these times, for the wheels of justice to turn somewhat faster in times of crisis than they may otherwise. Robards is empowering a panel of judges to try these prisoners in the coming weeks. At the same time, he realized that idleness among some of the dockworkers was a growing problem, and so he has conscripted them to construct a magnificent gallows in the town square for after the sentences are handed down.
The one remaining thorn in the side of our restored kingdom is Campbell and his New Columbian crew. They have not recognized the new authority, and the land approach to their grotto is a thoroughly defensible position. And, of course, they are well-armed. Ever the canny commander, Robards has calculated that the cost of assaulting them directly would be too high, and in any case, his forces are needed to address pockets of resistance elsewhere on the island. (Those villages farthest from Stockport, in particular, have been more reluctant to embrace our bright new future.) And so he is content to wait them out. Without reprovisioning they will falter soon enough. If the Sigsbee is repaired they may try to set sail and risk the vortex-storms; naturally, I would rather that they capitulate and come into the fold.
As to our flyers: I regret to say that Alona appears to have thrown in with Campbell. At any rate she is holed up with him in the grotto. I encouraged Robards to require an oath of loyalty from Alia, but in his wisdom he has decided it best to allow her the freedom befitting her profession. That way, when she does pledge herself into the service of New Albion of her own volition, it will be all the sweeter. Her value – and that of the mooring tower at the College, only lightly damaged in the fighting – is beyond measure, and security there is appropriately tight. Not even I am permitted to see her any longer; instead, I will hand this letter to a loyal Brother of New Albion, who will no doubt hasten it up the hill and place it directly into her hands.
I pray you finish your business at this Isle of Skald and hurry south as safely as you may! My daily concern these days is to find some reliable way for larger vessels to cross the vortex-storms, so that loyal citizens such as yourself might come and assist in the rebuilding of our great nation here at its new island home.