Hi, everyone. Jim Webster has two more new novellas coming out and I offered to help spread the word. First, meet Jim:
Someone once wrote this about me…
“Jim Webster is probably still fifty-something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this, he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.”
Now with eight much-acclaimed fantasy works and two Sci-Fi to my credit it seems I might be getting into the swing of things.Amazon Author Page: Jim Webster
Jim has shared a story for you to enjoy:
“Learning a Role”
It is always wise to be cautious when dealing with the theatrical profession, especially if it you find yourself involved with agents or impresarios. I find that compared to them, even poets become persons of solid worth and unshakeable integrity.
As a cautionary tale I shall relate the story of Elsa and Mattan. They were children who lived in a village some distance south of Port Naain. Indeed their village was nearer to Avitas, which was considered their local centre.
These two young people could be categorised as ‘childhood sweethearts’ and there was an assumption in the small farming community where they lived that once they had reached their mid-teens they would marry and settle down to a lifetime of backbreaking toil.
Whilst neither raised much objection to the first half of the prospect, the second half didn’t appeal and when Markle the Mummer arrived in their village, the children joined the crowd that was thronging around his wagon.
Markle did some tricks, had a couple of his team do a few scenes from various plays, staged a slapstick harlequinade and had the hat passed round.
Also, he passed out a few handbills printed badly on cheap paper, stating he was recruiting keen young players for a summer season in Avitas. To Elsa and Mattan this sounded more interesting that another year of farm work.
So, when Markle and his troop moved on, the two youngsters slipped away from home, caught up with the troop and enquired about joining. Markle swept them into his private wagon, past the massive guard dog Fang who was locked in a cage by the door and explained his plans. He insisted on paying them.
They were warned to keep within the circle of the camp at night because Fang was allowed to roam free, but they were assured he wouldn’t attack anybody within the circle. They were two days away from Avitas when Markle handed the young pair a script and left them to peruse it. They sat quietly together and read it.
Elsa pointed to the title, “The beast man and the maiden. A performance for discerning gentlemen. It doesn’t seem to be high art.”
Mattan pointed to a section half way down the second page. “Is it actually possible to do that?”
Elsa pondered it. “Surely not when standing up in a hammock.”
They had just finished reading when Markle appeared with two bundles. “Your costumes; put them on and you can wear them as we make our way to Avitas. It’ll help with the publicity.”
Elsa put her garment on and was left wondering whether she was actually wearing anything. The term diaphanous might have been coined with this dress in mind. Mattan in comparison was left with a piece of hide to tie round his waist and a shirt of coarse material.
They read the script through a second time and Elsa admitted to being no more convinced as to its practicality, especially the scene with the donkey, the wash basket and the leeks. Indeed, she suspected her mother would not approve and her father would have been tempted to take a horse whip to anybody suggesting such a thing.
Mattan agreed and quietly they pondered whether now might well be the time to resign from the troop. They decided that rather than causing a scene, they would just slip away that night. In this they were helped by the fact that after Fang had been released, Markle unostentatiously went to the wagon of a female cast member, and judging by the way the wagon rocked and shook they were practicing some particularly complex and vigorous performance.
Elsa suggested that, as Markle was not in his wagon, and Fang was not guarding the door, they should creep in and retrieve their contracts.
Unfortunately, the wooden box Markle kept them in was locked. Mattan decided that they would take the box with them and open it when they got an opportunity. After helping themselves to some bread, an orid shank which still had some meat on it, and a bottle for carrying water, they left.
By sticking to the road they made good time, but perhaps two hours after they left they heard a savage howling behind them. It seems that their escape had been discovered and Fang had been set on their trail.
Frantically they looked for somewhere to hide, but the great beast was soon within sight. Mattan helped Elsa up a tree and when Fang appeared, stood with his back to the tree and waited for the attack. The hound approached him, snarling, and Mattan held out in front of him the orid shank.
Immediately Fang sat down and waited for the titbit to be presented to him formally. This Mattan did and Fang chewed on it with every sign of enjoyment. Mattan, who had spent most of his life working alongside farm dogs of all temperaments, scratched the great ears and told the dog what a good boy he was.
Eventually Elsa climbed down to join them, and they decided they’d better press on. Fang seemed intent on accompanying them and to be honest, there wasn’t a lot either of them could do about it. As dawn arrived, they burrowed into a thicket to hide and fell asleep, cuddled up to Fang for warmth.
Next morning, they opened the wooden box by the unsubtle but reliable method of hitting it with a heavy rock until it gave up its secrets. In it they found several documents and a small amount of cash. When looked at carefully it became obvious, even to these two children, that their ‘contracts’ were actually indentures. Not only that but the other documents were the indentures of the other members of the troop, including one showing that even Markle was indentured. As Elsa commented, the only free person in the entire troop was Fang and he was the one they locked up in a cage.
After reading the indentures carefully, they realised that the others had all been formally ‘lodged’ with an association of usurers which appeared to have
offices in Avitas and Port Naain. Theirs had not yet been lodged, so they were still free. Markle’s indenture made particularly interesting reading, in that he seemed to be using it as a business overdraft.
He regularly borrowed more money from the usurer and it was added to his indenture, and then over the following months he’d pay it off again. Elsa pondered the Markle indenture; it occurred to her that it might be possible for others to secure money on it as well.
So, they kept that document and burned all the others. Then they set off to walk north. Their unspoken agreement was that they weren’t going back to farm work, couldn’t now go to Avitas, so only Port Naain remained.
A month later they arrived in Port Naain. Elsa was dressed rather more decorously, thanks to some clothes a farmer’s wife had forgotten to bring in off the washing line and had left them out overnight. With them, as well as Fang, they had Midnight. She was a black bitch whom Fang had somehow acquired. Mattan wondered if she had been living wild. She was thin and her coat was matted, but with a little care she’d be as big a dog as Fang.
They found the office of the usurer who held Markle’s indenture and watched the clerks come and go. After carefully assessing them they selected one whom they felt showed evidence of being weak willed and venal and he was the one they followed when he went out for his lunch. As he nervously perused the indenture Elsa pointed out to him that Markle regularly raised sums of as much as a hundred alars on it. So, any clerk worth his salt could do the same and pocket the money.
The clerk was disposed to be generous, mainly because Fang sat on one side of him and Midnight on the other. Eventually, probably thanks to the presence of the dogs he offered them twenty alars for the document. This they accepted and all parted amicably. Now with finance Elsa and Mattan could start their new lives in the big city.
Mattan had spotted a niche for them. He would buy horses that died on the street and similar, and this was cooked up and sold round the better areas as pet food. The job paid well enough, and it was the only way they could have afforded to feed the two dogs.
Mattan would buy and butcher and cook the meat. Elsa, with a small cart drawn by the two dogs, would set off on her rounds to sell their produce.
This she did with absolute confidence as on the rare occasions where somebody tried to be over familiar or merely to rob her, the dogs were happy to take her part.
Over the years, as tends to happen in these situations, there were children. Elsa’s and Mattan’s offspring could wander the streets safely, often accompanied by a descendant of Fang and Midnight. Elsa always used to tell her daughters that a girl was entitled to make one really stupid mistake in her life. Apparently, she had no such advice for her sons.
And the hard sell!
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.
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.
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:
Tallis even has a blog of his own at https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/
Thanks for stopping by and having a read.