Between ourselves I assumed that everybody knew the tale of Ralmano and Jellet. Apparently not, but at least this painting of Jellet’s Tower gives me a chance to tell you the tale.
Jellet’s tower, as painted at its most bucolic by our host at this exhibition, Andeal Willnoton Quillabin, is situated deep within Partann. Indeed, many would claim that it’s so deep within Partann that it’s in Uttermost Partann. Geographers and historians bicker about this because the tower is north of the town of Chatterfield, and as these things are measured, Chatterfield is reasonably civilised and law-abiding. Still it is a town with a hinterland thronging with brigands, bandits, extortioners, pirates and general-purpose rogues. There again the same can be said about Port Naain and nobody thinks the worse of us.
But to cut to the chase, the families of Ralmano and Jellet lived in the area around Chatterfield. If my memory serves me right the story happened perhaps five hundred years ago. At that time, geographers and historians notwithstanding, Chatterfield was the capital of Uttermost Partann, and all the aristocratic families in the area would have a house within the town so that they could intrigue and stab each other in the back, surrounded by all the comforts of home.
Note that by ‘aristocratic’ we really mean that they had numbers of armed retainers and the land to support them. It has been said by some sceptics, (mainly dwelling safely in Port Naain) that in Uttermost Partann having a pedigree that extends back more than four generations without including a cousin or brother-sister marriage qualifies you as a member of the aristocracy.
Still by local standards the families of Ralmano and Jellet were aristocratic. Like many others of their ilk, they would foster out their children to other families, thus creating a web of alliances secured by hostages of varying worth. Thus, while the families of these two children had been feuding for at least four generations, the children themselves were placed with families who were not involved in the feuds. This meant that fostering served a useful social function in that young people got to meet and mingle with the scions of other families away from the constraints of the feud. It also meant that the children of these feuding families got to know each other as real people. Thus, when they grew old enough to take part in the feud, they knew exactly who they hated and why.
In a way, the Partannese are most enlightened. In other places feuds are passed down through the generations and people forget exactly why the feud started. In Partann each generation not only gets to learn the causes of the feud, they also get to know and dislike members of the other family as individuals rather than merely hating them as part of an amorphous group.
Yet, in spite of the best laid plans, occasionally things go wrong. So the thirteen year old Ralmano and the twelve year old Jellet fell in love. Who knows how it would have ended up but fortunately Jellet’s nurse saved the day. Seeing Ralmano moping about under Jellet’s balcony, she threw a bucket of cold water over him and as he fled shouted after him, “Sugar off you little brat, and don’t come back until you’ve started shaving.”
After this at the next social function, Jellet snubbed Ralmano, cutting him dead over the fruit punch, and danced all night with Kalwan Jiddle. Not to be outdone, Ralmano cut Kalwan Jiddle dead, literally, in a street brawl, and had to flee Chatterfield and seek sanctuary on the family estates.
Now that might have been that, but Jellet and Ralmano continued to exchange letters. These were a mixture of threat, gloating over family successes in the feud, concerned inquires after the other’s health and tender best wishes for the future.
Still life continued, both married; Ralmano twice. Yet they continued their correspondence and (on those occasions) when they met, at functions where well meaning outsiders attempted to settle the feud, Ralmano and Jellet would dance, talk and even dine privately together.
Finally, Jellet’s scandalised family had had enough of this; they felt that in her fifties she ought to know better. So, they banished her to the tower we now know as Jellet’s Tower. Ralmano was outraged!
He gathered together a score of good hard men and with them he manned a small raiding galley. One night with no moon he beached the galley on the shore below the tower. Then attacking with the advantage of surprise his men overpowered the guards and freed Jellet.
Jellet took Ralmano to her bedchamber at the top of the tower and as the sun rose, showed him the view. Out to sea stretched the Dog Stud Rocks. The whole coast was a playground for shallow draught vessels, and from the top of the tower you could see for miles. No boat could slip past without being seen.
Ralmano took in the scene. “Well I’ve got a handy light galley with a useful twenty-man crew.”
Jellet smiled at him, delighting in his perspicacity. “Give me a week and I’ll raise another score and we’ll soon acquire another galley.”
Ralmano tenderly kissed her. “Then we shall make this tower our own and defy our families to shift us.”
And so was born a pirate dynasty. Actually, one of Ralmano’s daughters married one of Jellet’s sons and for several generations they plied their trade along the coast. Finally, the inevitable happened, they grew so prosperous that respectability claimed them and Jellet’s great-grandson moved out of the tower and North to Prae Ducis. Now the tower stands empty, but legend insists that if you spend a night in the top room of the tower you will hear the giggling as Jellet and Ralmano run their fingers through chests of gold and gems.
Tallis Steelyard and Jim Webster proudly present
Tallis Steelyard. The Festival, and other stories.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. In here
Tallis touches upon child rearing, politics as a performance art, the joy of
dance and the advantages that come with good manners. Discover why Madam
Dolbart was forced to constantly hire new cooks, marvel at the downfall of
Dash Blont, lecher, libertine, and philanderer . Whatever happens, do not
pass through life without knowing of the advantages to be gained by an early
morning pick-me-up of horse dung spread fine on toast. You too can be
charming and elegant once you know how.
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