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Garrat Stilforth Drane was very much the odd one out amongst the Drane
siblings. Whilst the others might have pursued unusual careers, Stilforth
(or ‘Young Garrat’ as his mother occasionally called him when his father had
in someway irritated her) appeared to have a deep seated aversion to
anything which might involve working for a living.
Unfortunately the obvious option, marrying well, was denied him. Even the
most generous described him as a ‘long streak of misery’. Thus abandoned by
the fair sex, Stilforth was forced to drift, ineffectually, from one
inadequately recompensed post to another. These he fulfilled in a
lackadaisical and half-hearted manner until his reluctant employer decided
with a feeling of relief that he could dispense with Stilforth’s services.
It was Meirdre, who, as older sisters often do, finally found him a suitable
trade. One recurring problem that beset the legal firm of Thallawell,
Thallawell, and Thallawell was tenants who wouldn’t pay their rent. Now
normally the partner dealing with the property would merely have a quiet
word with Meirdre and she would send an ‘arm and a leg’ man round.
This was almost inevitably efficacious. It didn’t normally take much, just a
couple of heads banged together, a few contusions and some broken furniture,
and the tenants tended to pay up in full.
Now this is well and good for houses down in the Sump. It’s even acceptable
in large sections of Ropewalk or the Commercial Quarter.
But when we come to the Merchant Quarter or Dilbrook, different tactics had to be found.
Respectable tenants, even if in arrears, would merely summon the watch. Then
the watchmen, secure in the knowledge that there would inevitably be a
generous tip, would cheerfully deal firmly with any of the lower orders who
might seem to be causing trouble. Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell
were most displeased by this, and allowed their displeasure to encompass
Meirdre pondered long and hard before finally broaching the matter with
The next time Meirdre was asked to chase up a respectable tenant she and
Stilforth sprang into action. Firstly she had the tenancy assigned to
Stilforth, and he calmly moved into his new abode. The existing tenants were
shocked and mortified by his arrival, but when they summoned the watch;
Stilforth merely produced the papers which showed that he was the tenant,
the previous tenants having invalidated their tenancy by non-payment.
Presented with the evidence, the watch would leave.
Sometimes this would be enough to persuade the defaulting tenants to either
pay what they owed or leave, but some displayed greater determination. At
this point it is as well to mention that Stilforth was an early riser who
also retired early to bed. Thus the master of the house and his wife would
be somewhat put out when they discovered that Stilforth was already asleep
in the master bedroom. They were even more put out when, after a refreshing
night’s sleep, Stilforth would rise, perform his ablutions, and get down to
some serious and much needed, practice on his bladder-pipe.
During the day he would spend much of his time reading his newspaper in the
front room of the house. Still he wasn’t entirely idle. As an honest man he
could hardly be expected to pillage the larder of his current hosts. So
instead he would put a pan of cabbage, soused in vinegar, on the stove and
leave that to cook all day, every day.
to read more of this stirring tale, click on the link below.