The Grand Expedition

Hello again my colleagues!  I hope this summer evening finds you well.  We are half way to the Funding Date of our kickstarter project, and couldn’t be happier with the support so far!  Expect an update later this week with some juicy details about the book.

As for today’s LOM update, I have a delightful letter from the mentioned-but-yet-unseen Mrs. Tingley.  If you recall, she was referenced by Miss LaDuke as the intended recipient of the Jungle Sheep and/or their wool.  And, as you will read below, it is easy to see why!  You may also recall a Mr. Charles Tingley, head engineer on Miss Hackwork’s airship.  Though I had guessed the two were married, you’ll soon see there more interesting and touching family ties than that.  Now, let’s head to the countryside!

Mrs. Miriam Tingley
The Farm at the Parting of the Waters
Mystic, Connecticut
14 August 1883

Mr. Charles Tingley
The Hackworth Enterprises Airship Miriam
Somewhere over the Mongolian Steppes

Dearest Brother,
I hope this note finds you in exceptional health and intellectual rigor.  It is most gratifying to hear of your adventures testing the Weightless Airship of Rapid Propulsion.  Have you contemplated the use of an acronym when shouting below to engage the specialized drive mechanism?  I certainly think there would be fewer mishaps differentiating between the two propulsive methods if one kept to a single word.

Last week I received a note from my dear friend Miss Hackworth extolling her delight with the preliminary tests of the Courier-class airship.  I found myself filled with pride on your behalf, and also with profound humility to read you had christened the prototype in my honor.  Thank you, dear boy, for the kind words of your speech.  Coraline was ever so kind to provide a transcription and I was utterly moved beyond words.  I too have been ever thankful I had the raising of you to your majority.

That year I lost both my beloved spouse and my parents was the Most Dreadful of my existence.  Had I not rescued my beloved’s youngest brother from the life of insipid thinking exemplified by the majority of your family, and subsequently had cause to nurture your obvious ingenuity, I might well have fallen to the pits of despair.  All your charming little clockworks from that first year I held your guardianship received an extra polish this morning; I am drinking tea poured by the self-tipping pot as I write.  It was the first of the little gifts you created to cheer me, and to this day remains my favorite.

Our neighbor Mr. Crowley mentioned the vicar overheard my enthusiastic (and indeed boastful) description of your current endeavors at the market Saturday, which means a lecture against “my unseemly propensities of immodest independence, business acumen, and character traits” will once again be incorporated into the sermon Sunday next.  I understand the current odds of the good vicar providing a scathing commentary on the topic of “Conduct Becoming of a Widow” to be 4:1, and on the topic of “Immoderate Boasting is the Bane of Feminine Mind” to be 2:1.  Longest odds (9:1) were on “A Woman’s Place is at the Hearth, Not the Table Head”; so I had Mr. Crowley place a sizable wager in your name on the latter.  I will be announcing my own Exciting Endeavor at the Widows of the Sea Luncheon on Wednesday.  I am certain Mr. Crowley will place your winnings in the farm scholarship account, minus his usual percentage, on Monday next.

I must confess I do miss your genius here on the farm, and I thank you for your regular correspondence.  Your advice to replace the winding mechanism arrived most expeditiously.  At our next reunion I will be sure to amuse you with the Complete tale of the runaway shearing automaton, Mrs. Crowley’s chickens, and your father’s fishing nets.  I must confess the long-standing disagreement between your father and myself as to the advantages of Modernization was not aided by the resultant tangle of fowl, fin, and ferrite.

On the positive side, Mrs. Crowley has asked if you could adapt the small shearing clockwork to her services, as the shearer was surprisingly efficient at getting all but the pin feathers plucked from the poultry.  I must reveal your Mother was not so impressed at the scaling and filleting of your father’s catch, as it resulted in him being home early. She asked I ensure the shearing automatons stay in the barn where they belong as she is not interested in entertaining his company more than is required by decency either.  She sends her congratulations, and her thanks for the Pekoe you sent in honor of her birthday.  I am enclosing, as always, her private correspondence for you within my own envelope.

When next you write your mother, you will need to address your correspondence care of Mrs. Crowley, who has agreed to be the go-between in future.  I will be leaving the Farm and Mystic this very Friday with a starter flock, the large automatons from the Steel Barn, and most of my household.  I am confident in the stewardship of my estate manager, and more so that Mrs. Crowley will keep an eye on the farm laborers on my behalf.

Indeed, this is my great adventure at last!  You will recall I purchased a large estate in the Montana Territory some years ago.  The Ranch is between the Yellowstone River and the Gallatin, a wild difficult country.  I will have to get the barns and greenhouses in before the first snows, and may find myself spending my first winter lodging with my sheep!  I have hired strapping hands local to the Territory, upon the recommendation of my friend Kitty Dexterhaven.

The Dexterhaven Locomotives will get me close by, whereupon the short-haul cargo airships of Hackworth Enterprises will meet me and hoist all my life and livelihood aloft into the mountainous terrain.  It is quite amusing to me how thrilled I am at present to be facing such a Grand Expedition.  My association with the Ladies of Mischief has certainly inspired me to continue to embrace life with exuberance.

I must finish my packing.  I was sorry to hear that your warm mittens were not up to the multitudinous tasks of the engine room aloft.  As I have time to do some spinning and knitting along the way, I will provide you with a pair of hand warming knitted garments that allow use of your digits with ease.  Expect a set in your next mail from me, in which I will detail my travels west.

My best wishes for your continued health and well-being,
Your sister, Miriam

It’s quite heartwarming to read about the loving, unconventional family the Ladies made for each other.  Truly, they were all such wonderful, supportive friends and it seems there’s nothing they couldn’t do when they worked together.  I wish I were around at the time to give the naysayers a piece of my mind!  Though it sounds like Mrs. Tingley made the best of it (and some decent profit to boot).  You’ll notice this letter pre-dates many of our others; I will, of course, look for more recent ones with futher news on the success of her Grand Expedition, and those delightful gloves.  Though now, I must sign off and reflect a bit more on the joy of great friends and what you can create together.

Yours in Mischief,

~The Archivist

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