First, I feel inclined to lecture you on your slowness in writing to me. The weather is no excuse. You are a squire now, and should have many candles to warm your fingers by. I imagine that you have whole rooms of them at your disposal. For shame. I am sorry to hear of your leg, though. My father has a similar trick these last two years, and some of the guards, also. You join the ranks of the elderly early. Congratulations. I hope to hear many grouchy and jumbled tales of the old days, as well as find you complaining of my childish priorities and wondering at how much more difficult to handle the young generation has made such instruments as knives and needles and keys when you return. I shall be quite disappointed if you do not fulfill my expectations, so please practice now.
Also, while I am glad to think you may return soon (and vexed that you are in no hurry to do so), that is no excuse not to write me again, in case. Less than a fortnight this time, if you please. Nia promises me she shall fully snub you if you do not return before spring, whatever you may say of fresh cheese. I do not fully believe her, though. I have tested it, and find her strength of will wanting.
I am glad to hear you have finally had some word of Eston. While I do not fully understand the circumstances, the strength of concern I have received put me in a mind to be bothered over him. It is encouraging to hear that he and Berta and Lecie are in fact well enough not to be overtroubled over.
About Sir Colin’s boots I am doubly glad to hear. Please report the results as quickly as you discover them, even if it means not a fully letter (perhaps then I shall get /something/ from you in a timely manner, at least). I admit to not knowing the habits of frogs, although it makes sense well enough that they would bury themselves in winter, as toads do. However, if they are like toads, I have special wish to hear of you finding one as a sleeping companion, for I happen to know they sometimes freeze and come back to life when thawed. I wish that you and I may do more than imagine the many uses for such a trick.
The bells were received at first with offense, but this was quickly overtaken by a good humor of which I am quite proud. The guard in question can sometimes be rather surly, and I may now claim to be his friend, an honor both dubious and high. About the stockings, I am very inclined to see the results of such an experiment, however this particular guard is going through a hard time and I must determine whether such a scientific endeavor would distract or disturb him.
Related to this, I have some news, which is that he has written to his sometime lost sister in Chesterton and she has not written back. I have offered to journey with him should he determine that the letter was not misplaced, so that together we may see about reconciling them. It would take Captain Garian conceding to spare me, of course. I admit to some curiosity as to Chesterton, which Lady Avery has told me some interesting things of, not least a set of swans I mean to befriend against odds.However, I do not wish to be away when you and Sir Colin and Lady Arael return, and I do not favor the idea of missing my friends here, such as Sir Darrin and Kaeryn and Perth and Owin and Gearn and Danall and Lady Avery and Dranken and my father and of course we cannot forget Merken, and all of the others. So I am rather torn on the idea, but I think it important, as he is very sad about the affair, and could use a friend perhaps more than I will miss the rest of mine.
Sir Darrin has yet seriously to injure any of us, although this is not for lack of trying, and he and Kaeryn both seem very fond of finding ways to get things to stick into my hair, which is some harm to my pride if not my actual well-being. I have taken to teaching him and some of the guards to cook for themselves, as they are all of them hopeless at caring for their own needs, although Sir Darrin is, as usual, more competent than he gives himself credit for in conversation. In return, he is giving me a few lessons with the horses. I fear I show less aptitude for the one than he does for the other, but I suppose that is to be expected.
Prince Roshan is still here, and no sign of his leaving soon. I think we are all a little eager for his return home, though I don’t mean to say ill of him. He seems very clever in his own right, though his ways are odder than Lady Aravis’s. I can only think that such long negotiations take a great toll on the lords, and Sir Colin is clever to have got engaged in such a timely manner. The other lords are probably storing up their personal revenges for his absence while they toil away. If they are not, I think I shall plant the idea in Sir Darrin’s head, at least, and trust his persuasion to make it spread.
If you find some frozen toads, I hope you shall send a missive to me straight away, and pay extra for travel overnight, or better yet, come to me immediately with the report yourself. The outer ward has not enough tipped carts dropped cheeses without you, not to mention my reading is suffering terribly. Only look at my handwriting and you shall see.
(in another hand) MEGREN
Postscript: I have just received your second letter, and this is the kind of promptness I am talking about. Please continue in this manner, thank you.