The alternative career of Dilkerton Thallawell by Jim Webster #BlogTour #EpicFantasy #ShortStory #Books #FamilyDrama
Welcome everyone. Jim Webster is once again on tour, sharing some tales from Tallis Steelyard. Today's story is The alternative career of Dilkerton Thallawell.
Dilkerton was a member of the great Thallawell legal family. To be fair his life was comparatively conventional, if only because he was somebody who instinctively tried to conform. So he went into the family legal practice, married a nice young lady and they had two delightful daughters. So whilst he worked hard, he made sure that he was home from work early enough to spend time with the family.
Now he wasn’t a great courtroom performer. On the other hand he had a real genius for cutting through to the crux of the case and working out what were the real issues. Indeed the partnership decided that his analytical mind was wasted on courtroom histrionics. Instead he would examine the case when it arrived with the partnership and then, when it was assigned to a partner, he would go through it with them and explain it. Even old Tildus Thallawell, the senior partner, and considered by many to be the finest legal mind in Port Naain, would discuss his cases with young Dilkerton.
This led to Dilkerton being much in demand, and the pressure was on him to work longer hours. He put this off as long as possible, but the girls were older, well into their teens, and his wife pointed out that there were going to be a lot of large expenditures to face soon. Daughters don’t get cheaper to keep as they grow older. So somewhat reluctantly, Dilkerton started working longer hours. To be brutally honest at this point, he did love the work so that side of it was no hardship. Initially he stuck strictly to his days off but his wife pointed out that if he could get money tucked away with his usurer now, once the girls were married and away, then they could relax a bit and spend more time together. This seemed reasonable, indeed it was a goal Dilkerton could work towards. So he threw himself into work. Indeed his wife arranged with the partnership to put up a bed in his office for him and every day somebody came in with a complete set of clean clothes and took away the previous set. Similarly, three times a day a lady arrived with his meals.
He settled down nicely into his new routine, his wife would send him a pleasant note every so often letting him know how things were going, and he set out to put aside enough money. He was lucky in that the partnership had a number of complex but fascinating cases. On the strength of his part in these, the Council of Sinecurists asked him to produce a codification of Port Naain commercial law.
He produced the first volume, ‘The rights, duties and perquisites of the Legal Person in Port Naain law’ in a couple of months. He was helped in this because he’d been prompted to do the research because of the complexities of one of the cases he was working on anyway. The second volume was, ‘The law of Land and Property, including inheritance and the duties and privileges of Landowners, absolute, qualified or possessory. The third volume was, ‘Maritime law, including maintenance and cure, reasonable care of passengers, maritime liens and mortgages, salvage, and piracy’. Legal experts seem to regard this as his magnum opus. Certainly it was immediately accepted within Port Naain. Indeed it was also adopted within a month of publication in Prae Ducis. Apparently well-thumbed and hand-written copies of the piracy sections have been seen being passed around rough bars in Ulwin and Rothturning.
I’m not sure how long this had been going on when he found, in his morning’s post, a letter from his usurer. It was an apologetic missive, it merely informed him that unless he could send funds immediately they would not be able to honour his monthly standing order to the Goldclaw Baths and Laundry. This came as a shock to him as he hadn’t realised he had such a standing order. He questioned the person who brought his clean clothes. Dilkerton had rather assumed that the chap was somebody from his household, sent each day by Dilkerton’s wife. It turned out that he was from the Goldclaw Baths and Laundry. Later that day he discovered that the woman bringing his meals was Madam Balgot, who had quite a nice business providing decent meals for men too busy to leave their desks. After he had finished his lunch he left the building and walked to his usurer’s offices. There he asked to see the ledger of his account. On the input side he could see the money he was earning, pouring into the account like a river. Unfortunately on the other side of the ledger he could see money pouring out like the retreating tide. He looked more carefully at where the money was going. Goldclaw and Madam Balgot were there, being paid their quite reasonable sums. Rather more surprising was the fact that judging by the sums disbursed, he was apparently the sole support for three of the city’s more prestigious ladies’ dress shops. Then to his genuine shock he discovered that he’d also opened an account in the last three months with a gentleman’s outfitter.
It was a remarkably thoughtful Dilkerton Thallawell who made his way home (to his house, not the office). He did wonder whether he would even be able to get into the house, but there appeared to be a ball in progress so he could stroll in unremarked. He found the situation disconcerting. He didn’t recognise the servants, he didn’t recognise the guests, and even the décor was strange to him. He suddenly had an irrational fear that he’d inadvertently slept for a century and was now surrounded entirely by strangers. As unobtrusively as possible he made his way through the house to where there appeared to be dancing.
Standing near the door he watched the dancers. He could see his wife dancing with a rather handsome gentleman. He turned to the man standing next to him. “Who’s the gentleman dancing with Madam Thallawell?”
“Damned if I remember his name, but I think he’s the favourite to be the widow’s next husband.”
A little dryly Dilkerton said, “I hadn’t realised she was a widow.” He thought briefly and asked, “Did she have any children by her first husband?”
“Yes, two daughters, but they both married in the last twelve months.”
Somewhat shocked by what he’d heard, Dilkerton made his way out. He noticed a copy of the Port Naain Intelligencer on the table in the hall, and for perhaps the first time in his life, when he looked at the date, he checked the year first. Much to his relief the paper and he agreed on the day, month and year.
Next morning he left instructions that any income from his codification of the law should be paid to the Order of Illuminated Seditionists. He took leave of absence from work, took his current month’s salary in cash and walked out of the office and headed for the Roskadil Ferry. Eight hours later he was at the home of a client he’d always got on well with.
Next morning he started work. He watches over his employer’s horrocks, for which he gets a cottage and three meals a day. As he watches over his charges, Dilkerton will carve small animals from wood, just as he used to when his daughters were little.
During the evenings he reads a lot. Every so often he will send me a bag of the animals he’s carved and I’ll sell them for him. Then I’ll go to Alen Gaetz’s second-hand book shop. There I’ll buy as many fifty-dreg tales of derring-do and romance set amongst the bandit chieftains of Partann as the carved wooden animals would pay for. He trusted me to do this properly, as I had a list of the books I’d taken to him previously.
His wife I never really knew so cannot really say what happened to her. She wasn’t the sort of person to patronise poets. But Dilkerton didn’t leave her penniless. As a partner there would be his annual share of the profits. Although paid quite some time in arrears, there’d be enough for a lady living quietly in a small house. It might even be enough to pay somebody to come in two or three days a week to do the washing and cleaning.
A message from Jim Webster:
So here I am again with another blog tour. I’ve released two collections of short stories from Tallis and if you’ve enjoyed the one you just read, you’ll almost certainly enjoy these.
So what have Tallis and I got for you?
Well first there’s, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A guide for writers, and other stories.’ The book that all writers who want to know how to promote and sell their books will have to read. Sit at the feet of the master as Tallis passes on the techniques which he has tried and perfected over the years. As well as this you’ll have music and decorum, lessons in the importance of getting home under your own steam, and brass knuckles for a lady. How can you resist, all this for a mere 99p.
Then we have, ‘Tallis Steelyard. Gentlemen behaving badly, and other stories.’ Now is your chance to see Port Naain by starlight and meet ladies of wit and discernment. There are Philosophical societies, amateur dramatics, the modern woman, revenge, and the advantages of a good education.
So come on, treat yourself, because you’re worth it.
Below is a list of other stories and their scheduled dates. If you enjoy reading Epic Fantasy, these will be a real treat all for the price of a few clicks and perhaps a book or two?
A fine residence - July 14, 2019
A man who doesn’t pay his bills never lacks for correspondence - July 15, 2019
Be careful what you pretend to be - July 16, 2019
Call yourself a writer - July 17, 2019
Every last penny - July 18, 2019
It all comes out in the wash - July 19, 2019
Noteworthy - July 20, 2019
Oblige - July 21, 2019
Performance art - July 22, 2019
The automated caricordia of Darset Dweel - July 24, 2019
The dark machinations of Flontwell Direfountain - July 25, 2019
Thoroughly married - July 26, 2019
Water under the bridge - July 27, 2019
It’s not who you know, it’s what you know - July 28, 2019
My compliments to Tallis Steelyard and Jim Webster for sharing their time and their stories with us. A "tip of the hat" to my fellow bloggers for their time and shares.
Founder of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC
Can be found on Twitter as @LHallbrooks
Today I present part 10 of the blog tour featuring Tallis Steelyard's adventures. If you've missed reading one or more of the other parts you can catch up by visiting these links.
Part 1: A significant gesture
Part 2: An eye to the future
Part 3: Butterfly net
Part 4: Getting rich moderately rapidly
Part 5: In tune with the Zeitgeist
Part 6: Learning a role
Part 7: Love letters
Part 8: Matchmaker
Part 9: Mother mine
Now on to, today's part: No strutting or fretting.
I’ve known and respected old Tallan Wynfeather for many years. He is, in my humble opinion, one of the great actor-managers. Admittedly you’ll rarely see him or his troupe grace a Port Naain stage. But over the last forty years he has kept on the move. By his own account he’s performed in every keep, town and village in Partann, and in every community north of Port Naain as well. They’ve performed before brigands, nobles more bloodthirsty than brigands, and burghers more avaricious and hypocritical than nobles. Yet he has brought his people through it all and has not lost one to the manifold dangers of the area.
There are times when I find that it is advisable not to be in Port Naain. I’m not talking about the occasions when it’s necessary to disappear for months, but sometimes it helps if you’re not available for a week or two. I’ve discovered over the years that if you’re too available, nobody appreciates you. So in the early years I got into the habit of disappearing off for a fortnight, and travelling with Tallan did at least mean that I still ate.
Now one of the strengths of Tallan’s troupe is that he has never written the plays. Far too many actor-managers do, to ensure they get the good parts. With Tallan, on those occasions where he hadn’t got a writer, the troupe wrote them. Mind you, such was their repertoire; it was possible for them to survive without a writer for many months.
Indeed they performed a very wide variety of works. Depending on just who they had travelling with them at the time, they could put on some of the old standards such as ‘Darkshore Revealed’, Cleethbart Ingratstone’s famous ‘Silent Monologue’, and ‘Three Shorecombers and the Lost Dinket’. But the company’s real strength is its ability to put on a score of different tales of ‘Forfulum the Buffoon.’ You must have seen some of them; they are based on a series of comic tales about the sordid, debauched and incompetent individual after who they were named.
Sometimes Tallan and his thespians have to cross the city to get from the villages in the North back to Partann, or vice versa. Tallan will always book a hall or even a theatre if the price is right. So on perhaps two nights a year, in some years, you can see a performance in Port Naain. He’ll send out children pasting up fliers and handbills to bring in an audience. At the start of the evening, the audience will take their seats, as strait-laced and po-faced as you could hope for. By the time you get to the interval they’re clinging to each other and hooting with laughter. The reviewer will write an utterly damning review, and next time Tallan passes through the city, the theatre will be packed again.
Nowadays, Tallan’s daughter, Tessi, writes for the company. To be entirely accurate, she doesn’t merely produce new plays for them; she pays suppliers and generally acts as Tallan’s factotum. She even pays occasional walk-on parts and helps with the catering.
To give you a feel for the life, I can do no better than describe what it was like the last time I was with them, north of Partann. We had just finished the evening performance in Lannan Crossroads. The performance had been held in the great barn that was part of the Crossroads Hotel. The performers were relaxing with a meal Tessi and I had prepared whilst the play was being performed.
Tallan had spent that day in Muckleport. We were going to move there next. He had arranged with the Dullard’s Lament, the largest Inn in the village, that next day the Landlord would erect an awning outside the inn. Then that evening the company would put on a play. The whole thing was cleverly arranged. To get under the awning you had to pass through the bar, so the landlord was happy, he’d sell more food and drink. At the same time it made it easier to make sure nobody attended without a ticket. Tallan had already been spotted by people who asked when the performance would be, so he reckoned that they’d get a good crowd.
Once this was arranged Tallan then loafed about the bar for an hour or so, chatting and listening to gossip. Then he rode back in time for the performance, played the part of Ruff Tumble, the unfortunate pimp who has inadvertently purchased the indenture of Forfulum the Buffoon. The play is the tale of how he tries a series of increasingly desperate expedients to get his money back.
The play over, their meal eaten, Tallan and Tessi retired to the wagon which serves Tessi as office, writer’s studio and home. Tessi sat down, picked up her pen and asked, “So what do we perform tomorrow?”
Tallan had been contemplating this, “Forfulum the Buffoon and the Magistrate. Make the magistrate female and let her be thin, venal and severe, with a fat, self-important husband. That way they’ll recognise her as Lady Vestan, who sits here in Lannan Crossroads.”
Tessi makes a brief note. “What about the arrest scene? Gallan has been working on his pratfalls and it would be nice to give him a chance to use them.”
Tallan nodded. “Yes, and Treggor and Mifelt can do their clothes washing scene. Have them washing the magistrate’s formal regalia before the trial.”
Thus and so, the next evening’s play is decided. Tessi will hand out a synopsis to the cast with their breakfast so everybody knows their role, and if anybody does need to learn their lines, during one of the stops, they can copy them from one of the script books kept in the wagon.
Mind you, to see father and daughter at work, one really had to be there when they decided to play Woodpin. The village sprawls over about four miles of road. There are farms and fields in the middle of it. When you arrive from the west the first building is the Woodpin Grandiloquent Hotel. When you leave heading east the last building is the Woodpin Salutation Hotel. The two hotels are managed by two sisters, termagants who apparently loath each other even more than they dislike the rest of humanity. Yet they both brew decent ale. Given that they were taught by the same mother, there is little to choose between them when it comes to brewing, cooking or general cleanliness. A fair man might comment that the standard is high and all that is lacking is hospitality.
Over the years Tallan had tried to be reasonable. He’d suggested that his troupe alternate between the two inns. He’d even offered to stay two days and play each inn on the same trip. Finally Tessi came up with a plan. Father and daughter went to see old Bulwin. Bulwin farmed exactly in the middle of the village. He brewed his own beer and shunned both inns equally. Bulwin was happy to let Tallan put up a big awning against his barn and brew house. They’d put a stage under the awning and put on the play there. Bulwin even promised to run a temporary bar. The evening was a great success, and judging by the number of drinkers supping old Bulwin’s beer, there couldn’t have been many in the two hotels.
The next morning, Tessi went to see the two termagants. She explained that she was already thinking ahead to the next time they passed through. She and her father had agreed with old Bulwin that they’d have a Woodpin theatrical festival stretching over three days (and more importantly, three nights).
The two older women were not entirely happy at this, but then Tessi pointed out that whilst they could doubtless allow people to camp, she and her father felt it better to help those who became partners in the festival. This they would do by insisting there was no camping and people stayed in one of the two hotels.
Immediately the two ladies were more sanguine about the plan, especially when Tessi suggested that they might both like to have their own temporary bar, one on each side of the theatre, where they could sell drink and food.
By this time they were calling her a wise young woman and came dangerously close to mothering her. In fact they were so caught up in her vision that both paid over twenty alars apiece in cash for her to use on advanced publicity.
The author has a few words to say about Tallis Steelyard's other adventures.
So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his tales.
So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run their soirees.
These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is here, and perhaps even a little more.
Firstly; Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.
You can find in UK Amazon here or US Amazon here.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Discover the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, lady writers, and occasions when it probably wasn't Tallis's fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?
And then there is Tallis Steelyard Playing the game, and other stories. Which you find on Amazon UK here or Amazon US here.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Marvel at the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red. Travel with Tallis as his poetical wanderings have him meandering through the pretty villages of the north. Who but Tallis Steelyard could cheat death by changing the rules?
If you want to see more of the stories from the Land of the Three Seas, some of them featuring Tallis Steelyard, go to my Amazon page at UK Amazon or US Amazon.
Tallis even has a blog of his own here.
Want to see what other adventures Tallis Steelyard shares with everyone, visit these links over the next few days.
Part 11: Something of the night?
Part 12: The civilising influence of Betta Thrang.
Part 13: Unfashionably tired
Part 14: Vegetating
Wordsmiths work not only for the kind praises but the sale of wares to put food on the table and a roof over their head. Therefore, if either of these books tickles your fancy, then click on the appropriate link or visit Jim Webster's Amazon page to see what other delights might suit your palate for reading.
Founder of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC
To make a long story short, I was provided an opportunity to binge-watch the Game of Thrones series from HBO. I have not read the books but the video series taught me a few things that I believe authors should take to heart when writing.
For those who haven't seen it, don't worry, I don't plan on giving out spoilers. Just general statements. I will say that if you are sensitive to graphic violence, sex, and language, do not even begin the series. If you can get past that then you will see an Epic Fantasy that has wonderful world building with characters that are true to their nature.
In my humble opinion, as a viewer and reader, authors should avoid giving names to people and places that are so similar that it can get confusing. If I were asked, as an author, I would have recommended using as many letters in the alphabet as possible. I know how tough that is. I've caught myself using multiple names with the same first letter. It varies with each writing. Knowing that I have this problem, now I go back through after the rough draft and rename some of the characters. Recently, I've been learning about outlining. In the future, perhaps I will catch that as I review my outline and character list.
For those of you who have watched Game of Thrones and are an author, what things did you pick up on that perhaps could have used a 're-write' in your humble opinion? What did you think was well done and would be great for authors to aspire to do? As a reader/viewer is there anything that you found annoying or well done that you feel comfortable sharing? Please keep comments G-rated and information general - without giving anything away - for those that haven't watched yet.
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I'm Lynn Hallbrooks - an author, blogger, cheerleader, founder, proofreader, reader, and reviewer. I have read and reviewed books for Masquerade Crew, NetGalley, and Reading Deals, to name a few. I enjoy reading books by new-to-me authors as well as sharing my love of books with others.
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