Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 1

Two days missing!?! 

I think I am getting the jitters, for we are actually now in the lumpy parts of the story; that peculiar wilderness between what is definitely written, what is still being formed, and what has yet to be writ.

This is where my First Draft will really be showing.

Those of a praying persuasion, please pray that I face the fear of writing before your very eyes, because I very much want to get this story told, hence showing it to you all in the first, but fear is my constant opponent.

Regarding last week's questioning, it is a salient point that the serialised nature of this tale promotes pondering on what is next because there is only short bursts of words with a significant pause in between. 

Also, I am sorry if I gave the impression of not appreciating the deeper insights into the flow and direction and implications of these: I value such musings greatly (tho not just simple guessing/showing away about the plot, but genuine full-expressed wonderings) - indeed, they have at times given me insights into what I am doing I could not have had myself. So, thank you musing folks.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 1
The Sulk & Through

gastrine(s) ~ great muscles grown especially in boxes –  usually made of bronze- or iron bound wood  - and used to drive treadles whose motion is used originally and chiefly to provide motivation for rams (naval gastrine vessels) and packets (articled gastrine vessels). In more recent decades they have also become more widely employed in the manufacture of mill-worked goods: beating metal,grinding grains, turning looms, and making many folks very wealthy in the process. ALSO stachel ~ said "STA-kl", a spine, especial one grown upon the back.

Too excited to sleep, Economous spent the night in preparation, which consisted mostly of packing, examining, re-packing and re-examining his meagre count of possession. The heaviest items to bring were his foldable easle that had seen little use in the last few months but would be useful indeed over the next; and a small carter’s trunk holding spare smallclothes,  the few books he still owned – every blank leaf scrawled with drawings, his modest collection of paints and brushes, a pair of handsomely buckled mules that had somehow survived his regular system of pawning – and would be good to wear come his first presentation to his patroness, and his sole threadbare blanket – such a friend for so many cold winter nights he could not bare to leave it to be sold. Rolled inside a hempen sack, he placed three blank, unstretched canvases of various dimension. Rather than wrestle the bulk of made frames all the way from Brandentown to the domain of his mysterious patron, he planned to construct them from wood he was sure would he could find once he had arrived at his journey’s terminus. Wondering at first if he might leave the dread tool behind, he wrapped Miserichord in his sole spare shirt and placed inside a narrow wooden box – the purpose of which or how he came to have it he could not recall – with a leatherned strap like the sword-holding bautis boxes carried by sabrine adepts.

The morning of the eighth day of the second summer month dawned with a cackle of magpies upon the neighbouring roof waking him from his slump upon the tandem. Leaving the sale of his remaing paltry goods in the hands of Bidbrindle – who promised to forward what ever profit he could garner as soon as Economous could furnish him with an established address – Economous farewelled his tiny garret, descended the geriatric stair for the last time. Half way down he was met my by Bidbrindle himself coming out from his own second storey abode.

“A-hey! The adventurer off to seek his making,” the older man greeted him.

“Aye, or bread and bunk, at least.” The young illuminator smiled, putting the carter’s trunk down with a clumsy thud so as to get a better hold on it.

“Well, let it not be that the heldin is set on his way unsung,” Bidbrindle returned. “Or unfed.” He flourished a canvas flour bag, tied with a hair-ribbon lumpy with foodstuffs. “Allow me to assist you with your heavier articles, I shall come with you to bid your farewell from the hard.”

Economus did not know what to say. His innards griped with sudden regret at abandoning so true a man as the violin-maker.

“You have elected to wear your metrician’s cingulum, I see,” Bidbrindle observed quickly, seeking to spare them further discomfort.

“Aye,” Economous returned with a duck of his head and a shrug, tugging at the black sash about his shoulder and chest that showed his to be a full-measuring concometrist. It made him feel like an imposter, but it could ease the path ahead, especially with the more clerical set – unless they were an abacus-trained mathematician, of course.

“Very wise, sir,” the violin-maker pressed on even quicker, seeing his first attempt fail. “Everyone likes a member of the Amicable Fraternity of Athenaeus.”

Passing through the tiny vestibule some small part of him still wanted for the vaunted door – that old portal to both fear and bliss – to spring open this one last time and for Asthetica to fling her lithely arms about him in weeping apology.

It did not and she did not.

For only the third time since he had come to Brandenbrass and the second time in a week, Economous hired a takeny from the To-Market, directing the stripe-coated driver to [……NAME OF EC’s HOUSE PLEASE!], there to pick up the carter’s trunk, easle and faithful Mister Bidbrindle with them. The journey to the harbour was startlingly brief and all too soon Economous found himself – not really feeling like himself the whole time – stepping off from mildewed steps at the bottom of the Queen’s Wharf Hard and into a jollyboat already waiting to take him to his vessel.

“Fare thee well, good sir!” Bidbrindle cried from the top of the stonepace wall. “Write me that I might boast of you success to all who need tell of it!”

“I will!” Economous cried in return, his voice cracking clutching the flour-bag of vittles had passed to him in farewell like it was a treasured keepsake. “I will!

“Sit ye down, ye bloat-brained looby!” the master of the boat skolded roughly. “Who wants yer fussin’s to make us over-tip and miss gate-shut at the Spindles!”

Amongst the great number of receiving vessels gathered in the outer moorings of Middle Ground, Economous’ vessel – the Douse Fish – looked disconcertingly small. She was a cromster – this much he could see by sight of her: a river-going craft that was surely scarce large enough for even the relative tranquillity of the inshore waters of the north western Grume. Climbing the short side ladder and handed aboard with the disdainful aid of a young bargeman, he was gratified to find that the craft was neatly turned out at least, neither rusted or cluttered with lumber and unravelled rope as was the common lubberly view of all sea-going vessels. While his carter’s trunk and his canvases were heft aboard and sent down to the hold, he presented himself and his commutation ticket to an ancient fellow standing by the long hefty tiller beam at the helm who he presumed to be the diminutive vessel’s master.

“ Mister Patefract,” he said with gracious nod, flourishing the ticket to be verified by this age-ed sea dog.

Close to the man now, Economous observed a face white-wiskered and ruddy red, the flesh scarred with white dotted cicatrices and the tiny, burrow-like pits of a life spent upon the vinegar seas.

“I cannot vouch for what them inky boobies at the certifying establishment told ye…” the vessel’s master drawled, squinting suspuciously at the paper held before him then up to Economous’ slightly disconcerted face,“Mister Musgrill. Yet I am reckoning they likely failed to collect ye, sir, that the ’Fish is not some fiddling-worked ducal caroucelle with more bunks than batteries.” He uttered these otherwise sardonic words with the flatness that could only come from constant repetition. “Ye’ll find no pillow for ye to lay yer head tonight – the deck will be yer berth as it will be mine and yonder barge-fellows.” He nodded backwards to a crew of two man-handling Economous’ stores below: the rest of yonder barge-fellows were presumably below deck to ready limbres and gastrines for the great push out to sea. “Only the gastrineer gets the privilege of keeping dry below decks and for that he must suffer the gutline’s reek. Sleep or wake as ye please, but stay ye clear of me crew and their labours. And that long lump o’ lumber ye have there,” he went on with a second nod, now to the narrow box holding Miserichord, “will have to go below: stachels on shoulders is one thing, but I’ll not have such above until ye reach yer harbour.”

“Very good, Mister Patefract,” Economous answered, not knowing what else to say. Despite the slight fee he had paid for his ticket, he had hoped for a little more. All disappointments be dashed! he schooled himself as he passed the offending article to a stowing bargeman. He was on his way to brighter days and that was all the purpose of life answered.

His oft-rehearsed speech now done, with scarce more than growls the river-master gestured to a rough bench formed from a line of puncheons sawn in half and fixed together between two wooden riding bits before the sole mast. Another soul cloaked from neck to ankle in a long oil-hide despite the balmy morn was already sat there, clutching cloak to throat and staring fixedly away to open waters on the right. As Economous – with a tip of his tricorn – bade this other whom he assumed to be his fellow passenger good morning he felt a shudder transmit from the pale slightly bowed deck through his feet and up his shanks. This surely was the gastrines – the boxes of living muscle that propelled all such vessels through the hostile waters – being released to action.

His fellow passenger glanced ever so briefly to him, thus revealing herself to be a woman. Neither obviously young nor noticably old, her faced was striped on each side with pale parallel  bands that came from under the band of her own tricorn, going over either eye, down the cheeks and around the line of her jaw – the markings of a skold.

The lady skold nodded but said nothing and returned to her inspection of the outer reaches of the harbour.

“Sit, will ye, sir!” Mister Patefract barked from his station by the tiller behind. “Or wind and wine help me, I’ll lash ye to the polemast!”

Economous sat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 7 Part 3

Alas, with Supanova Adelaide now done I have the post con blues, but such trifles are not enough to stop Economous from pushing on!

To those who are seeking to guess what is happening next, it may come as some surprise to you that if my stories have plot twists these are not nor have ever been intentional, and though some authors might (certainly tv script writers seem to anyway), I am not sitting at my keyboard rubbing cunning hands and playing some kind of guessing game with you all. 

If their are "twists" they are instead simply artefacts of me seeking to be true to my characters and to the Half-Continent most of all, and because the H-c is a foreign land with forces driving it different from our own, "twists" occur, it seems. Was this how you were reading the MBTs? Trying to fathom ahead how things were going to turn out? 

(I do not do this myself, so I find the practice strange - I have always thought a story best enjoyed if each moment is savoured and I leave the telling and what is ahead to the director/author/whoever.)



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 7 PART 3
Opportunity Unlooked For

In the bright cheer of a warm Estor morning promising a hotter day, Economous – dressed in full coat, high shirt collar and neckerchief despite the waxing heat – finally set a step outside the warren of his garret. With many a wary glance to left and to right he hurried his way to the harbour where the many commutation offices were, eschewing common paths in favour of an obscure route less likely to be patrolled by those not local living. His way took him to seaward precincts of the harbour’s edge where the closer to the powerful stink of the palid, acrid waters of the harbour the city drew, the more tumbledown it became. For the more well-to-do souls were, the further back from the reek they sought to dwell and to work – most of the city’s peers living in the hilly suburbs beyond the first curtain wall – as if to escape the bitter reality of the hostile waters. Even the Brandendirk – the Archduke’s palace and the cities chief seat of government – was built well inland. Economous had read once that it was the reverse in Gottland: that for their noble classes it was considered a sign of the strength of their breeding to live as near the sea-stink as possible, building out even over the smashing waves that were a feature of those distant waters.

It was the reverse for comutation agents too.

Proximity to the sea was prized for its convenience to the very vessels for which each agent acted and all the best crowded the main strands that ran along the very rim of the city’s many elevated stone pace – great structures of stone, brick and mortar lifting the sea-side districts safe from the monster-infested waters. Consequently it was in lanes and walks the tunneled off from these high strands that the cheaper – and generally shabbier – commutation agents were to be found. And, as a seldom contradicted rule, the shabier the agent, the shabier the vessels they represented.

 As for himself, Economous had grown well used to the smell by now, and standing now on the stoop of [AGENT NAME & ADDRESS], found in a dingy perpendicular alley, he drew in a lung-full of the odour before entering the file. He still remembered vividly his own very first proper smell of the vinegar seas; stinging, over-sweet yet caustic at once, bringing back a time in childheood when his father had spilt embalming douse all over the kitchen floor. The reason for such an expensive mishap in so incompatible a location remained vague yet disquieting even to this day, though Economous well recalled that at the time he and his mother – under her tearful insistence – spent a goodly long time living in the kinder-smelling hospitality of their next door neighbour’s tiny back room.

Purchasing the cheapest commutation ticket possible – twelve whole sequins or a week’s labouring wage – from a blandly mannered clerk, Economous was set to depart on the least costly receiving vessel warping a course to Boschenberg very early in two mornings’ time.

“The Douse Fish is the vessel’s gazetted name,” the commutation clerk intoned. “Its master one Mister Patefract.”

“Is it a good vessel?” Economous asked before he thought. “Sea-fit or whatever the saltdogs call them?”

The clerk regarded him with a mixture of required patience and barely vieled scorn. “I cannot say, sir,” he said and added meaningfully as he collected the fee. “I believe in our line you get what you pay for.”

With nought else to offer, Economous passed over on of the dazzling new coins of his down-payment.

“What is this, sir?” the clerk arched a brow at the glittering geld.

“It is… gold, sir,” Economous returned mildly, thinking fast. “Surely you do gold?”

“It is also not proper tender, sir,” the man blinked long-sufferingly at him. “Sous, oscadrils, staters, grassus, hours, Hergott doubles, Turkic lots and even Sebastian imations we do, but that” – he continued to regard the coin as if it were nothing more than a slip of paper with the word money writ bold upon it – “we do not. Find a benchman and git this changed into something useful… Or better yet, take it to one of those learn-ed wiseacres at the Pike Athy who could buy it off you to put on wondrous display,” the froward fellow concluded in a tone that spoke of anything but wonder. “On either course, no ticket will be issued without genuine denominations.”

Economous had thought the gleam of genuine gold would move folk to be far more willing, but it appeared that the avoidance of bureaucratical tribulations was prized higher. Half the district, two thirds of the day and four benchmen later, Economous at last found some one willing to do more than snort or sniff or scowl at his alien billions.

“That’s a Samnian knot!” this fourth benchmen – one Mister [………BRILLIANT NAME HERE………], Handler & Exchange, according to his well-polished sign on the shop’s door post – finally responded, speaking through rotten teeth and straggling greasy moustachio like the drooping wiskers of a cat. Despite these most obvious disadvatages, the fellow was finely turned out in well-cut frockcoat, his  solitaire properly tied about a pristine white collar.

 “From the lost kingdom of Samé?” Economous replied, recognising the name from his athenaeum learning.

“Aye, aye, Samé, Samnë – ‘tis all apples,” the benchman returned. “Where in the blighted here and vere did ye find such trove? Ye di’n’t steal ‘em, did ye?” he pressed with a scowl, drawing himself up indignantly. “I’m no fence for pilfer, sir!”

Economous straightened too, puffing his cheeks at the accusation, refusing the fright and the inwardly repeating scene of the fight on the Prandial with Monsiere Blanquett and his all-too-eager roughs. “It is payment, man,” he retorted hottly, “from my patroness in the far-off Undermeer.”

The benchman’s dubious expression did not shift, yet he said no more on it and agreed to five sou for each coin less his handling fee, writing up ten crackling-fresh folding notes – one for each coin.

Of a sudden, Economous found himself in that single transaction pocket-filled with an entire year’s living. Oppressively aware of the sheer weight of wealth in his wallet as he stepped in a daze from the benchman’s shop, the young illuminator hurried back to [AGENT NAME & ADDRESS] to pay the commutation fee. Receiving yet more folding notes as change from the increasingly unamused clerk and, for only the second time in his entire life in Brandenbrass, Economous hired a takeny-carriage to carry him, money and all, safe back to Shaded Rafters.

As Binbrindle so sagely predicted, Madamine Grouse was indeed displeased to be told of such abruptly final departure.

“I must be allowed time to advertise for your replacement!” she declaimed tartly from her appartment door. “How am I to make my own small way in zis ugly city wizout a full list of lodgers?” She thrust her hand at him, open and empty always wanting more.

Behind her and turned out prettily in a white summer dress all wide whispering hems of the softest, purest cloth and a broad straw bonnet – obviously a preparation for some dazzling Midwich outing with her beau –  Asthetica pottered  in the saloon and made a point of not looking at him.

But Economous felt bold now that he was going and he would show these grasping women the full stretch of his bow – as Bidbrindle was fond of putting it. “This ought cover my obligation,” he retorted with equal severity and slapped one of his newly writ one sou notes onto the cold grasping palm of his landlady. It was likely well more than was needed, but worth the loss if just once, on this last occasion, it

Astounded to silence, the Madamine just blinked and the folding money, laying so crisp and brightly printed in her grip.

This oddly strangled silence drew Asthetica’s attention. “Ma-ma?” she asked, coming now to the door.

 “You stole it!” Madamine Grouse suddenly gasped, clutching the billion to her bosom in over-drawn shock.

“Ma-ma!” Aesthetica chided.

“He stole it,” the older woman insisted, waving the note like it was an alarum flag, “and now he is fleeing zis city for fear of ze duke’s justice!”

“I did not steal it, madam!” Economous grew loud. Why are folks so keen to cry this at me? “I have a patron!”

“So you have been playing pauper all this time, have you?” the sour-souled woman shifted flank as quick as any wily ambuscadier. “Fooling this poor soul, starving my precious daughter out of her food! But now it proves you are a-wash with coin!”

“I have a patron now, Madamine Grouse!” the illuminator insisted with yet greater volume which seemed to bring him space to speak at last. “An agent for a lady of the highest distinction called only yesterday. This great personage has sent for me especially from the Subtle Pall. Her, and that” – he nictated firmly to the glittering disc snatched so securely away – “is part of a down payment to retain my service. If it proves insufficient, madam,” he pressed, keen to keep the momentum of the shock, “then you may take what rent you like from the sale of my affects. You are welcome to it. I am leaving this city, probably never to return.”

At this Aesthetica finally beheld him in full and frank surprise.

 “Never to return?” she repeated in a small, strangely strangled voice.

Economous frowned and jutted his bottom jaw obstinately. “Aye,” was all he said in overly cold reply.

Occult thoughts clearly raced behind the perplexed quickly blinking gaze of his one time fixation, and her perfect Hamlin-bow lips seemed for a moment to quiver perhaps with emotion, perhaps about to speak… Yeet Asthetica said no more.

What was it to her that this was so? She already had her deep-pursed peer just as was always intended; Economous was free to go and do now just as winds blew and for once they were gusting his way.

“Well zen, good bye to you, sir,” Madamine Grouse returned with an abrupt stiffening of manner. “Maybe now I can get someone to pay proper rent for your room.” Reaching across her daughter to subtly yet bodily shove the confused girl back into to room, his landlady firmly shut the apartment door, gracing him with one last and peculiarly narrow-eyed glare before the portal closed with a telling final “thud”.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 7 Part 2

Here I am, back from Supanova Brisbane after meeting a whole tribe of most excellent readers and fellow Sundergirdians. How uplifting it was to speak to you all of whom I met - someone signed my book "you were more normal than I thought you would be," which I am choosing to receive as a compliment (maybe too normal?).

But alas, such happy times always end and here I am, returned in time for more Economous.

I now have a week to catch my breath before Supanova Adelaide - of which I am now a late inclusion \o/



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 7 PART 2
Opportunity Unlooked For

So, in the unhealthy steadily summer-cooking gloom Economous slowly formulated a resolve to give up on the Moldwood, on Asthetica and fabulism and seek more certain employment in some duller – surer – line of trade.

Perhaps  in another city? he considered with little enthusiasm. Doggenbrass, maybe…? Brandenbrass’ most immediate southern neighbour languishing in the shadow of the great city’s gravity likely possessed less opportunity … but at least it is not HERE. Here where all paths were thwarted and aspirations brought to nil.

The very morning – was is Luneday or Meerday? – he settled with uneasy certainty upon this sure, unhappy yet necessary answer, ascending footsteps shook with increasing violence upon the staircases up to the garret door.

The duffers have come for me! was his first wrenching terror, but he quickly caught hold of panic as he realised only one pair of feet was making the awkward climb. Bidbrindle knew the stairs too well to be so noisy, and Asthetica – even if she might condescend to pay a visit – would have been quieter yet, besides which, it was the wrong time of day for either of them.

It must be Scrivener-Sergeant […NAME…] , he realised with a dark twist of guilt in his gizzards.

Being paid a visit from a senior metrician of the local athy was and oft threatened consequence if a concometrist was know to be about but failed to bring their numrelogue its for requisite quarterly numrelogical examination. Scarcely avoiding a suspension last time, Economous had missed the year’s first review at the ……… Room in Pike Athenaeum – Brandenbrass own athy – for obvious reason. He glanced uncomfortably to the little stack of rent binding and frayed paper that was the vainly reconstituted remnant of his numrelogue lying where he had thrown it down more than three weeks gone. Drawing what he saw as he saw it had always seemed to him the best way to measure anything, and he had contended this successfully every time he took his number-book for inspection. Such fine argument was not going to help him here. So ready to claim the title as a defense in a fight,  surely he could scarcely call himself a concometrist any more.

The inevitable knock fairly rattled the thick planks of his garret door, far firmer even than Bidbrindle in all his unwonted enthusiasm.

Easing the portal open a cautious crack, Economous fairly unravelled with relief: it was a stranger – a tall man clad in a frockcoat of strangely iridescent black and wearing a lofty black stovepipe hat and not at all like the cruel-faced officials in the archduke’s service. This the mysterious caller now swept off his crown and flourished as he bowed: a stiff bend at the middle like his hips were a hinge and an oddly jerking twist of the head. Under his silken coat, the caller seemed disconcertingly gaunt – Economous might have gone so far as to say malnourished. Yet he stood tall and steady enough as he straightened once more in the gloom of the landing before Economous garret door.

“Good morning… sir,” the visitor declared proudly. “My name is… Hoopstick. I am an agent for a great lady… of the northern realms of… the Undermeer.” Thin and breathy and strangely inflected.

Economous nodded a bow of his own in baffled reply.

“I hope that…” this Mister Hoopstick continued, “you do not… mind this intrusion upon… your civil privacy? Your grand knavery –” he spoke this word with a sour twist of mouth “– directed me here upon… my enquiries.” Here he paused and waited.

Roused by the silence from his fascination for the fellow’s stilted manners, Economous realised he was expected to respond. “Oh – not at all, sir. I have time.”

The awkward caller gave a thin and cryptic smile. “I… come to you, good sir, to… bring my mighty mistress’… compliments. Your fame as a… worthy pen, an … accurate delineator of physiognomy has… gone ahead of… you, even to my mistress’… ears. And now she seeks to offer to… you her patronage if…if you would but… come to her mighty halls in… Meerschaum’s borders and there… daub her imago.”

A great lady?

A mighty mistress!

Economous innards gave a happy leap. At last, he delighted inwardly, my labours are sprouting fruit! Word of his work at the gala of the Branden Rose must have made it all that way north.

Situated at on the northern lands beyond the dread Ichormeer, Meerschaum and the united realms of the Undermeer were at least a weeks journey or more to the north east. Yet two years of thwarted intent had made Economous ravenous for any chance no matter how slim or difficult and he readily accepted the offer.

“To which great lady in which great hall should I present myself?”

“My mistress lives… in necessary seclusion and does… not wish her name be… bandied abroad too… readily. Yet as a… token of her good… faith and my honour as… her messenger, allow me… to present this pledge… of our veracity.” With a staccato click of elbow and knuckles, the agent held out a purse made of the same shimmering dark material as his coat.

Taking the purse and peering within, the would-be fabulist beheld a golden glint – ten gold coins of alien denomination, larger by size and weight that the sou of the Soutlands or oscadril of the Haacobin empire. Economous almost dropped the payment in his shock; even the Branden Rose did not pay as richly!

“There is ten… times that awaiting you – and with it… other rewards ­– upon… your successful depiction of my mistress.”

Dumbfounded, Economous goggled at Mister Hoopstick who in his turn smiled a sunken-eyed – almost cadaverous – smile.

 “I shall depart now,” the agent concluded, bowing another stilted, hinge-like beck, “and go… ahead of you… to report the good… news of your agreement. When you achieve… the haven of the stout… city of Knapphausen, wait… on me at the [………………] on [……………] Street, and I shall see you… escorted to my mistress’… residence.”

With that Mister Hoopstick turned and retreated down the shuddering stairs, leaving a flabberghasted Economous blinking stupidly in his garret doorway, the purse of wealth still open in his outstretched hand.

I have a patron…? he marvelled in shock, arm still reaching out.

“Uh, goodbye, sir,” Economous eventually collected himself enough to call down to departing messenger already halfway descended to the vestibule.

I have a patron! But darker clouds immediately threatened this glowinig prospect. Now, now, don’t tally your skins ‘til they’re skun, let’s await to see if all bears out well.

Economous shook his head as if to clear it.

He was not interested in sensible-seeming, joy-dampening, parent-voiced cautions: he had a patron! All roads had closed to bring him to this one shining opportunity. Was he in any other state of soul, he would likely have turned such a proposition down, but today at this moment he was ready, ready, ready!

Arriving with a supper for two of ox tongue poached in brine, a novelty he called sun-parched tomatoes and a thick stop of bread, Bidbrindle received the happy news with his usual gust. “A patron, by the Lots! A patron!” he exclaimed. “Ah, a patroness to be exact. When do you plan to go and leave us all bereft?”

“Tomorrow if possible, the day after if not.”

The violin-maker baulked. “I reckoned it would be prompt, but that seems a mite too prompt to me, m’boy. She-down-stairs” – by which he meant Madamine Grouse – “will not like it one knot. I have seen it before: she always demands a month’s written notice for such things.”

“Well, I will tell her and see,” Economous returned with the sudden confidence that comes from receiving excellent news. “On either hand, I am going.”

To this Bidbrindle gave one of his knowing shrugs and the two settled to silence of hungry eating.

“A body would reckon I ought be glad to lose so eligible a rival for the dear Asthetica’s attentions,” the older man said at last, becoming strangely glum as he looked up from his poached ox tongue clumsy. “But I am not, my good sir, not at all. Who now will I share these distant and impossible longings?”

“You are welcome to her, Mister Bid,” Economous said a little too carlessley. “I am done with this city and all in it – Oh! I do not mean you, sir!” he interupted himself at sight of Bidbrindle’s open dismay. “You have been a light here when much else is dark. I shall write you when I have achieved my glorious new position and invite you over to visit. Mayhap my new employer might have viols that new mending.” Silent and brooding for so long, Economous’ words fairly ran out from him.
Bidbrindle laughed brightly. “Yes yes! Here is hoping she does, good fellow! I could do with a summerscale excursion.”

                                                *          *          *          *          *

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 7 Part 1

A days delay again


I think perhaps because we are only some weeks away from the pre-written work coming to an end and me anti-ing up to press on with the tale, and I am afraid. I do not know how it is for others, but writing for me is a whole lot of facing myself, which I do not find easy. Perhaps this is why I write protagonists who themselves struggle to "emerge".



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 7 PART 1
Opportunity Unlooked For

benchman ~ articled yet ungazetted money changers and exchangers of goods for coin, supplying loans as needed if proper items can be provided as collateral . MORE ………………………………………………………………………………………………

HIR 1601 had ended as a year of curiosities: the Emperor came South from his far away throne to show off his newest grandson; monsters attacked in mass on the borders of human habitation up north; a  mercantile gent with more money than sense had set off very publicly to hunt a mere rumour of a monster over the eastern seas; the Aestival Walking at the Hippodial had been a grand success despite the great dread of monstrous assault … and Economous Musgrove, concometrist and aimless imagineer, had found a monster-lord in the innermost districts of the city, defeating three spurns single-handedly with little more than a stick.

HIR 1602 was brought in with more noise than had been made in a goodly long time, a great riot of desperate joy, music and dancing, the tolling of the new annum welcomed with great clashings of anything that made such racket, and a grand cannonade from every harbour fort and as many rams out in the water as were present: a greater display than even the Emperor had received a month before…

Yet Economous Musgrove – locked away in his garret for fear of discovery and reprisal – heard it all with little care and witnessed nil but glimpses from the thin grimy panes of his loft window. Keeping watch day upon day upon the thin view of the street through sooty lichen-blotched roofs and elongated smoke-dribbling chimneys, he spent his hours pinned between anxiety of discovery and of foiled ambitions, and a confounding wearying wariness of the black rule, Miserichord. All too often in his vigil his attention would be drawn to look where it lay hidden and half-discarded behind a pile of books that even at his most indigent he could not bare to sell. Unseen though it was, he could yet feel it there until it seemed to him the black rule occupied the entire garret, leaving him only his vigil couch as sanctuary.

So it went.

Were it not for the kindness of Bidbrindle fetching vittles for him each day, the sulking, aimless imagineer would have expired of the starve.

Of course the rumour of the beating given to some uppity gentleman come to lord it over the low with an army of spurns and being “lorded” in his stead was all over Merry-the-boon and Liberty Folgate – indeed, the whole of the Alcoves. Until then, the biggest subject of enthusiastic repeated conversation – bigger than rampaging northern bogles, or the Grand Imperial Visitation in the last month of last year – had been a pitched battle said to have been fought by various private parties in the harbourside suburbs of the Alcoves itself. But now the stoop-step tale-tellers and alehouse story-mongers had  a far better tale upon which to rant; a tale that involved one of their own!

“The mighty deed is supposed to have been done by a golden-haired heldin born of our very own streets,” the violin-maker declared with unrelieved enthusiasm delivering a small parcel of vittles he insisted upon paying for from his own meagre purse. “The defender of the low, of ladies’ honour, of children and small animals come with a flashing blade and a biting turn of phrase to put down the wicked overlord!”

Not sure whether to be gratified at such a valiant transformation of his own unimpressive physiognomy, or dismayed at the wide spreading of the report however exaggerated, Economous only nodded.

“It is a lovely bit of absurdus ineptiae,” Bidbrindle continued and then sighed. “If it were but true… I have it on quiet but firm authority that our true heldin was of a more modest frame.” He gave Economous a disquietingly knowing wink. “Bravo, my boy, bravo,” he added in a whisper.

Humours starting, setting a frighted banging in his ears, Economous looked at the violin-maker with rabbit-wide eyes. If Bidbrindle knew, anyone might know

“For what, sir?” he said with fumbled innocence.

The other man laughed. “All secrets safe as Hollicar’s tomb, here, m’boy!” Bidbrindle patted the paper-wrapped parcel in a fatherly way. “Though perhaps it is best I keep bringing you these as you stay hid away for a little while longer…”

Whatever his qualifications or his wide yet largely unacknowledged learnings or the quality of his patronage, Economous’ resolutely cheerful neighbour had always played to the tacit pact of goodly Alcovine with pointed thoroughness: never betray your neighbour to any aristocratic oppressor; there is ever someone in more desperate need than you; every  stranger in the ‘Coves is a neighbour. It was a most surprising trait in a fellow who worked so constantly for the higher stations and expressed such unalloyed admiration for the same.

 Economous could do nought but trust that Bidbrindle would continue in this role and keep his disconcertingly astute reckoning mute. For an entire month into the new annum, he did not dare to venture from his hiding hole, furtively watching the slightest sliver of a glimpse of the street below that he had from his garret window. Remaining in the increasingly stifling heat of his cheap attic rent, he relied on the violin-maker for his sustenance and for reports of the daily to-and-hither often provided by irregular deliveries of topical gazettes like the Scribner or Assessor. Yet, while it may have been wondrous scandal throughout the Alcoves, the glorious assault did not feature once in the august pages of either broadsheet – not even in the obscure observations in the rearward pages. Whatever morbid fascination many well-to-do folk might have with grand district, the rest of the city did not actually care what happened to those living in its infamous streets.

Close confined and sweltering, he began to long for the peculiar comforting airs of the Moldwood; yet he knew all too clearly that the glebeland’s shadows and hissing boughs and its grazing rabbits all hinting the great and terrible secret that dwelt within would only bring deepening of his gloom.  The ancient park had now come to represent most solidly of all his frustration with his life’s path. Even if it did not, despite the encouraging absence of gazetted report, he dared not step out – not until Bidbrindle said it was safe to do so.

Tellingly, Anesthetica had not once made the short journey up the worn flights to seek Economous out, nor even left a note – as she had on his last self-seclusion. He listened to her every day carefully not making noise as she went out to work and returning  later and later and all too often accompanied by the arrogant tones of Lord Fold… But she never came up to him. 

So much for “You are missed”Economous concluded bitterly, then corrected himself: Of course she had not, why would she, all her goals were achieved in Lord Fold, Reive of Lot-in-the-Hole.

He considered some brief missive of apology for his rude and thrusting behaviour that ill-shone night so short ago, but an ugly quandary of blame kept him from forming suitable words.