Beyond the Cascade
The True Story of the Valerius
Jennings’ Letter to the Minister of Exterior -- Nov. 26, 682, Trans-Cascadian Enterprise Headquarters Having spent two full days at the Headquarters of the self-ascribed “Trans-Cascadian Enterprise”, I now feel myself in a position to share my thoughts on the nature of the enterprise and its members. I admit that I wish I had more time to acquaint myself with the situation before making a report to you, this will be my last opportunity to communicate to you before the Valerius departs, and I therefore felt it preferable to give my thoughts as they are now. Of the vessel, I have little of note to say, as I was given only the most cursory tour by the Captain. However, I shall endeavor to describe it as best as I am able. The hull appears similar to that of an ocean-going cog, and seems to be built primarily of wood. From both flanks there protrude squared beams, perhaps a foot in height and a foot in width, which extend what I believe to be ten or fifteen feet. The vessel as a whole is forty feet in length and twenty in width, and does not sport castles at either its bow or stern, but rather has an entirely flat deck. Appended to the stern is a large rudder. These points are the greatest extent of my current knowledge, and thus I shall proceed to a discussion of the crew of the Valerius. To begin with Captain Asper, he seems to me to be a straightforward sort of man with the honest intent of exploring a new land. His manner is gentile but his convictions firm; I believe I will not find in him the corruption or want of integrity that can be discovered in so many others. However, his unwavering spirit will be a matter to contend with should he decided to turn against myself and the authority of our Emperor Valerius which I carry. In a conversation with the Captain, he assured me that he would not do so, and that his only fear up until this point had been that the envoy would be someone unscrupulous enough to wield the authority of the Emperor for their own personal gain, and that, seeing as I was not one who would do such a thing, he now has no fears on the point. The lieutenant, Mr. Calther, barely needs mentioning. He does not speak whensoever he can avoid it, and performs his tasks competently. I do believe that Captain Asper could not have selected a superior lieutenant for this voyage. Of the other two passengers I have less flattery to report. Mr. Harcastle appears to be a foppish and inconsistent young man, of the sort who study at university and declare the world to be broken, without having the courage to leave their ivory towers to correct it. He will, I feel assured, get into his head some mistaken idea, which, by nature of his mind, root itself so thoroughly into his thoughts that he will resist all attempts at correction. This fault may indeed prove to be a burden on the vessel. Of his skills, we have yet to be told in any definitive manner of their nature, and have even less evidence of their existing at all. However, I shall endeavor not to let this prejudice affect my attitude, as to do so would invite unnecessary trouble upon myself and the Captain. And now I come to the matter of Miss Summerfeld, a matter that is most difficult to make sense of. The Summerfelds are a very respectable family, and thus to see a daughter of that household join as a member of such an adventurous enterprise is beyond my ability to understand. Indeed, in conversation her manner is pleasant enough that she would be presentable in court, yet she chooses, and her family allows her, to join such a venture as this in the position of Chief Science Officer! And where are we to believe that she was educated? To what extent are we to trust the Captain’s assertion that he finds he abilities satisfactory? It is common knowledge that the female mind is simply not suited to pursuits of science, and it therefore becomes difficult to believe that so young and feminine of a lady is capable of conducting any useful scientific research, and indeed if she is capable, it points to a mind so out of balance and contrary to the order of nature as to be potentially dangerous. The Captain has made it most clear that he believes her competent and will not be persuaded otherwise, but I intend to register my objections should the situation ever get out of hand. I have stated in this letter everything which I believe pertinent and relevant to the Minister. I will continue to write regular reports on the events of this voyage, to be relayed to the Minister as soon as I have the ability. Respectfully, Rory Jennings Envoy to His Majesty Emperor Valerius