Salina Toldeck was, to be honest, an incurable romantic. It wasn’t merely
that she read those slim volumes of romance where love finds a way and the
story ends tactfully at the bedroom door, she even wrote them.
Now please don’t think I’m mocking another genre. Whilst I may hold strong
opinions on the subject of essayists, and my suspicions with regard to
musicians are both well known and based on many sad experiences, I am
generally supportive of all literary genres. The more entertaining, the
better has been my rule of thumb.
Salina herself was not one of the more successful writers in her chosen
field. I suspect that to an extent her youth was against her. Also one has
to ‘break in’ and she’d simply not had time to do this. So as well as her
writing she worked on the front desk for the Clothiers’ Guild Benevolent
Society hostel. This institution provided accommodation at a reasonable
price for those travelling to Port Naain on business. It had a decent dining
room, so that one could entertain one’s business clients there, and half a
dozen small sitting rooms one could hire for a meeting. It also had a
considerable number of small but cosy bedrooms.
Salina would greet all visitors, take bookings, book tables for dinner and
generally help the visitor make the most of their stay in our fair city.
Also, being Salina, she would almost inevitably take them under her wing and
attempt to find them a husband or wife. This wasn’t really a service the
Benevolent Society offered, it was merely what Salina did, whether anybody
asked her to or not.
The first time I came across it was when she started to feel sorry for
Todmarsh. He dealt in hides and bone meal and probably spent a third of his
life in Prae Ducis, a third in Port Naain, and a further third onboard boats
travelling between the two.
Salina always felt he seemed lonely and a little lost. Talking to him one
day he commented that he always stayed with them because he loved the
cooking. Musing on this later, Salina realised that the cook, Maddan, was a
widow and had also been complaining about being lonely.
She took advantage of her role to engineer meetings between Todmarsh and
Maddan, even to the extent of asking Todmarsh if he wouldn’t mind escorting
her home on an evening after work. Soon, love blossomed and eventually they
Now it might be supposed that Salina was acting against the best interests
of her employer. She was in danger of losing not merely a regular paying
guest, but a cook as well. In this she was more fortunate than she deserved
to be. Whilst Todmarsh did stay with his new wife when he was in Port Naain,
Maddan kept working in the kitchens at the hostel. As she said, it gave her
something to do, especially when Todmarsh was in Prae Ducis with his other
wife and family.
Another of the guests who caught her eye was Bassan Felttedder. He was in a
small way of business bringing decent quality cloth into the city from the
south and having it made up into clothes locally. Salina made a habit of
pairing him up with the young widow, Carai Lantyard who stayed at the hostel
with her four young children as she untangled her late husband’s various
Initially it has to be said that Bassan was courteous but showed no signs of
wanting any deeper involvement. It was Salina who pointed out to him that
the children were all past the potty training stage, and that mother and her
offspring displayed robust good health.
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