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had posed as the life model . . . and his use of colour was
bizarre. Ussie did much better with landscapes and was a
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dab hand at designing heraldry shields and icons and such
peripheral art work.
'Yes, but you'll have to live in Bitra Hold while you're doing
it, and coming into winter is not the time to live there.'
'What? To do four miniatures? How long could it take?'
Iantine had a seven-day in mind. Even for very small and
active children, that should be sufficient.
'All right, all right, so you've always managed to get kids
to sit still for you. But these are Chalkin's and if they're
anything like him, you'll have the devil's own time getting
them to behave long enough to get an accurate likeness. Only,
I sincerely doubt that an "accurate" likeness is what is
required. And I know you, Ian...' Ussie waggled a finger at
him, grinning more broadly now. 'You'll never be able to
glamorize the little darlings enough to satisfy doting papa.'
'The last time a commission came in from Chalkin,' said
Choreas, joining in the conversation, 'Macartor was there for
nine months before his work was deemed "satisfactory".'
Chomas jabbed his finger at the clause that began 'on the
completion of satisfactory work'. 'He came back a ghost of
himself and poorer than he'd started out.'
'M~cartor?' Iantine knew of the painter, a capable man with
a fine eye for detail, now doing murals for the new Hall at
Nerat Hold. He tried to think of a reason why Macartor had
not been able to deal well with Chalkin. 'Great man for detail,
but not for portraiture,' he said.
Ussie's eyebrows rose high in his long face and his grey
eyes danced with mischief.
'So, take the commission and learn for yourself. I mean,
some of us need some extra marks before Turn's End, but not
so badly as we'd go to Bitra Hold to earn 'era. You know the
reputation there for gambling? They'd sooner stop breathing
than stop gambling.'
'Oh, it can't be half as bad as they say it is,' Iantine replied.
'The sixteen marks, plus keep and travel expenses, is scale.'
Ussie ticked the points off on fingers. 'Travel? Well, you'd
have to pay your own way there...'
'But he specifies travel...' Iantine protested, tapping that
phrase impatiently.
'Hmmm, but you have to pay out for the travel there and
account for every quarter mark you spent. Take you a few
days to sort out right there. Chalkin's so mingy no decent
cook stays with him, ditto for housekeeper, steward and any
other staff, so you may end up having to cook your own meals
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. . if he doesn't charge you for the fuel to cook with. The
Hold's not got central heating, and you'd want a room fire
this time of the year in that region. Oh, and bring your own
bed-furs, he doesn't supply them to casual workers...'
'Casual? A portraitist from Hall Domaize is not classified
as a casual worker,' Iantine said indignantly.
'At Bitra, my friend, everyone's casual,' Chomas put in.
'Chalkin's never issued a fair service contract in his life. And
read EVERY SINGLE WORD on the page if you are foolish
enough to take the commission. Which, if you had the sense
of little green apples, you won't.' Chomas gave a final decisive
nod of his head and continued on his way to his own work
station, where he was doing fine marquetry on a desk.
However, Iantine had a particular need for the marks the
commission would bring him. With his professional diploma
all but in his hand, he wanted to start repaying what he owed
his parents. His father wanted to avail himself of Iantine's
land allotment to extend his pasturage, but he didn't have the
marks to pay the Council transfer fees: never a huge amount,
but sufficient so that Iantine's large family would have to cut
back on what few luxuries they had to save the sum. It was
therefore a matter of self-esteem and pride for Iantine to earn
the fee.
His parents had given him a good start, more than he
deserved considering how seldom he had been at the hold
since his twelfth birthday. His mother had wished him to be
a teacher, as she had been before her marriage. She had taught
all the basics to him, his nine siblings and the children in the
other nearby Benden mountain sheep and farm holds. And
because he had shown not only a keen interest in learning
but also discernible skill in sketching - filling every inch of a
precious drawing book with studies of every aspect of life on
the hillside hold - it had been decided to send him to the
College. His help would be missed, but his father had
reluctantly agreed that the lad showed more aptitude with pen
and pencil than shepherd crook. His next youngest brother,
who had the temperament for the work, had been ecstatic to
be promoted to Iantine's tasks.
Once at the College, his unusual talent and insights were
instantly recognized and encouraged. Master Clisser had
insisted that he do a portfolio of sketches: 'animal, mineral
and floral'. That had been easy to collect since Iantine
constantly sketched and had many vignettes of unsuspecting
classmates: some done at times when he should have been
doing other lessons. One in particular - a favourite with
Master Clisser - was of Bethany playing her guitar, bending
over the instrument for intricate chording. Everyone had
admired it, even Bethany.
His portfolio was submitted to several private craft Halls
which taught a variety of skills, from fine leather tooling to
wood, glass and stone workings. None of those on the West
Coast had places for another student, but the woman who was
master weaver in Southern Boll had said she would contact
Master Domaize in Keroon, one of the foremost portraitists [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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