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Companionship in a post-Napoleonic Canadian Shack

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[A letter found on the correspondence of Sir Joseph Blaine, London.]

 

Dear Sir Joseph:

 

As you will no doubt hear via the more usual channels, we have reached St John in New Brunswick and delivered our passengers without difficulty. The only incident related to the passengers worthy of comment here is that of the equine one. I speak, of course, of the Duke of Wellington's ex-warhorse, Copenhagen. Although J.A. is too professional to say so in public, all passengers are a nuisance on a working warship, and four-legged ones more so than many others because horses are notoriously difficult during ocean passages. Nevertheless, although Copenhagen was out of sorts when the seas grew choppy, he bore the trip with a robust good humor that put the crew very in mind of their own captain. Copenhagen soon became a favorite of the mess crew in charge of him, and when it came time to deliver him onto land nothing would do but for that part of the crew to walk him to his new home. (This is in marked contrast to their hasty and barely-civil farewells to some of the less-favored two-legged passengers, who were left to their own devices on the quay.)

 

Copenhagen was to be delivered to a farm not far from the town, and I accompanied them to see some of the countryside. Just as we were nearing the house to which we had been directed, Copenhagen -- until then the most agreeable and pliant of horses -- threw back his head, jerked the lead rope from the sailors, and jumped a fence, running towards a small grey horse in a nearby field. We feared a fight, or perhaps an unintended mating, but although the grey ran forward to meet him, the two horses merely sniffed and rubbed each other, for all the world like old friends at a chance meeting on the far side of the world. (Since attaching myself to J.A.'s crew, I have had occasion to discover that these serendipitous meetings happen far more often than probability would predict.)

 

The farm owner and his men came to meet us, and we found that, purely by chance, Copenhagen had chosen the field that they had planned to assign him. The owner, Mr. G., was much gratified both for the care we'd taken of Copenhagen, and for his apparent liking for his new stable-mate. He assured us that the two horses had not, in fact, met before unless perhaps on the field of battle, for just as Copenhagen had been Wellington's mount, the grey pony was Marengo, who had carried Napoleon through the Russian campaign. During the afternoon that I spent with G., the horses were inseparable.

 

The two animals, retired to stud far from their homes, seemed such fast friends that it was difficult to account for them not having spent time together before. It made me ponder on friendship, and how the most unlikely men (and horses) find companionship unlooked-for that yet grips the heart and molds their futures as they pull in harness together.

 

In other news, the tides in the Bay of Fundy are as impressive as I was led to believe, and I am quite taken by some of the fauna that have adapted to these conditions. The mud sharks in particular...

[further pages redacted as part of the Official Secrets Act]

 

 

 

[A letter found among the archives of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, in a section otherwise related to records of the dogs and horses that worked with this forerunner of the RCMP.]

 

Dearest Diefenbaker,

 

This is just a quick note -- I shall write more when I am able to dictate calmly.

 

My good friend, my dreary existence in this arctic land has been turned to a paradise in one afternoon, by the most unexpected event imaginable. Your letters have done much, over these past months, to reconcile me to my exile in New Brunswick, to this field and graceless shack of a stable that is far from the excitement and intellectual world of Paris. You have born with good grace my mention of the horses of letters and learning that I was forced to leave behind.

 

To my surprise, on Thursday last one of my epistolary friends appeared on the road beyond my home! He is a much younger and taller horse, quite handsome and remarkably virile, which more than makes up for his deficiencies in learning. Through events that are still unclear to us, he was also transported, and is to be living here with me for the foreseeable future!

 

He seems quite delighted to spend time with me, valuing my company in person as much as he claimed to value our correspondence. And although at my age I feel I should be more dignified and measured in my reactions, I must admit to a great fondness for his company as well. He is an even more handsome creature than I had imagined, and I feel it does me great credit to have passersby observe him in my field.

 

In this new young country, boundless energy is prized over intellectual acumen, and so I think my friend will do very well here, even when winter arrives. His bulk and warmth and (as I mentioned before) virility will do very well to keep me warm when the icy winds blow. Besides, I want to see what his winter coat looks like, whether he will turn as shaggy as did I last January.

 

Finally, I must ask you for one further piece of advice: how can one possibly obtain cob nuts by mail order?

 

Au revoir mon ami,

Marengo


[Further letters in this series are rumored to be in the collection of an American policeman in Chicago. We can but hope.]