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.


emoone said...

Glad to seethe final struggle of 'Factotum' get a mention :)

Alyosha said...

But I do hope that he emerges soon from the confines of his room, if not from the confines of his confusion. Surely he has at least considered skipping town some night. And, if nothing else, in his confusion, and in the enforced solitude of his room, he must be much tempted to speak of his experiences and to ask advice of the very appealing character you have created in Bidbrindle. That might be enough get Economous kicked off in some direction or other. Seeking quietness in prayer or meditation is one thing, but no good (nor any exciting adventure story) ever came of a hero sitting alone in a room and fretting.

Unknown said...

It would be helpful to hear some of Economous' internal debate on where to go from here. I know if I were holed up for a month, scared for my life, I'd have come up with a myriad of different plans of escape or possible new professions or fancifully better places to live. For the past few chapters Economous has been treading the waves of life changing experiences, but now he has time to plan.

Ben Bryddia said...

I second the King. Even if Economous has run through all his options three dozen times during this month of solitude, that's still something. Admittedly, Economous has spent a great deal of time thinking and sitting so far in the story--although the Lapinduce has given adequate cause for it.
A few details I was thinking about as I read: The clamour of new year's arrival might not have been enjoyed by Economous, but it might have deepened his anxiety. With all the clatter, he couldn't hear an approaching soul as easily, and so he'd have no advanced warning if the authorities came for him.

I was also thinking that a month in your room like that might be rather like being in solitary confinement, which called up memories from Camus' The Stranger, in which the protagonist spends a lot of time asleep while incarcerated. I thought Economous, once he's gotten a bit over the fright, might take to sleeping a lot. He might also pass the time by sketching.


Alyosha said...

About writing being difficult for you because it involves facing yourself, perhaps it is a necessary ingredient of your craft. I tried writing stories when I was several decades younger. I could generate well structured plots that stated, developed, and resolved a problem or theme. I had good command of the language. I had the perseverance to complete what I began. But the stories never came to life. I’m guessing that that’s because, for me, writing stories was not a frightening, self-exploring experience. All of which is to reiterate that your hardship may be a gift, a needful thing for the wonderfulness of the stories that you write.

BrokenSphere said...

I was under the impression that the emperor was visiting the Soutlands with his son, but I guess grandson could be implied as the text in Chapter 20 of Factotum doesn't explicitly state son:

“He brings his youngest heir to show to we simple southern folk. And to commemorate this infrequent coming forth, the dear fellow has gone and changed the order of the arbustral months, citing his heir’s name—Iudus Haacobin Manangës, or Jude—as a more fitting name for the month in which they intend to travel.”