Hetti Trilmarker was given an excellent all-round education. She had been something of a quiet child, happy in her own company, and she liked nothing better to curl up on a couch with a book. To be fair it didn’t really matter which book, she would read poetry, theology, alchemical text books, and learned discourses on political economy with the same enthusiasm she read novels. So when at last she looked round for employment she decided to be a governess. This decision was discussed around the dinner table, as all family decisions were, and the family chipped in with advice. Her brother suggested a regime of exercise to keep her fit. Her father merely commented that the only person she had to be able to sleep with was herself. Her mother majored more on sensible underwear and long vests. Her grandmother sat silent for a while and then said, “Don’t let anybody take advantage of you.”
Hetti applied for a number of positions and finally got one. She kept the advice she’d been given firmly in mind, and was certainly never without a vest. Thanks to the wise words of her grandmother (assisted by the suggestions made by her brother,) in the course of the next six months she knocked down one employer, the wives of two employers, two house maids, one butcher’s boy and a house-guest of uncertain nature.
It has to be said that Hetti was changing employers faster than some in domestic service changed their small clothes. Also she was getting a reputation and jobs were getting harder to find. Finally she decided that she would abandon the career of the governess and instead become a school mistress.
She rapidly realised that this was a field where she could find herself changing jobs on a daily basis so instead she decided to run her own small school. Here at least she found matters proceeded with rather more decorum than she had hitherto experienced.
The problem now was having enough paying pupils to enable her to live. She really needed a further source of income, and she racked her brains trying to find one.
The solution to her problem came entirely by accident. She walked past the local watch house and noticed that there was a poster on the door saying that the watch were offering a ten alar reward for one Tolly Widebat. An hour later she returned to the watch house accompanied by Tolly Widebat. When I say accompanied, she had him by the ear which she kept twisting whenever he seemed about to offer resistance. She collected her ten alar reward and Tolly was packed of as an indentured labourer working in the cold waters of the Houses of Licentiousness. Given his crimes of ‘insult with intent to provoke a break of the peace’, ‘making a person believe that they will be an object of divine displeasure’, ‘outraging the modesty of a musical instrument, to wit, a grand piano’, and moral turpitude, the sentence was probably fair.
From then on she kept her eyes on the wanted posters and could normally reckon to hand at least two felons a week over to the proper authorities. This was of course in addition to her usual duties as a schoolmarm.
It has to be admitted that legends grew around her. Brawling Bur Batten was assaulting two of Cruen Richpole’s bouncers. She merely raised her voice slightly and said, “Burren Battern, who gave you permission to strike those two gentlemen with a table leg?”
He immediately dropped the leg and half hid behind the two men he was assailing, all the while protesting it wasn’t his fault.
It did him no good; he was taken firmly by the ear and marched off.
Eventually the criminal classes realised that something had to be done about this new bounty hunter who was plaguing them. Various methods were discussed, and finally it was Cruen Richpole himself who came up with the answer. I have always felt that he is legitimately considered one of this city’s leading criminal masterminds, some indeed go so far as to call him an amoral criminal genius. But who but a genius could have solved the problem by the simple expedient of ensuring that enough prosperous criminals sent their children to Hetti Trilmarker’s school? This ensured that financially she prospered. But far more importantly it kept her properly busy and out of everybody’s way.
Personally I see a great future for our city. Producing a generation of superbly educated criminals is bound to give us an edge in our dealings with our neighbours and trading partners.
Every keen to ensure you, my much cherished reader, gets value for money, I’ll merely point out that for some reason Amazon seems to be selling, “Dead Lady Riding East” for a mere £1.62 in Paperback!