“You have a sir’s way about your speech. Art handy with a weapon?”
“Oh, fair to middling, my lord, but I can take a blow.”
I had forecasted the secondary character Huw Daggerman since ages past and, like most characters I have not yet written, he had a vague but sensible appearance and a touch of personality. I had some misgivings: what is his purpose, where is he from, why am I allowing this character to brutally shoulder his way into my story at all? I already knew his vocation and what work I would put him to later, but the fact remained that he was just a secondary - almost a tertiary - character. I should probably resist allowing him in. But the damage is done (for better or worse, probably worse) and I'm not altogether keen on the notion that all characters have to have a clear purpose in the plot: life itself isn't that way, and the characters who move even on the outskirts of the plot have just as weighty an importance of being as the characters in the foreground. So I let him come on.
Unfortunately, the moment I began to write him (which was only a few days ago), he ditched the vague impression I had of him and made a lunge for the spot-light. In my head, at the back where it is grey and gloomy and full of cobwebs, he was a middle-aged, rough-and-tumble man with a short, bulky figure and a profession of taking things which weren't his. He kept the profession, but as I began to write him I found my fingers obedient to another image: still middle-aged, a spry and healthy forty or so, dark hair that has long since begun to grey, with a rough but pleasant face that prefers being amiable but has had a hard life. His originally caustic undertones became tinged with a sense of self-sufficiency and pride, his face (before a little unlovely) became both assured of its relative desirability and genuinely friendly. (I find the latter trait incongruous because he is not fond of people, but then the human soul is amply capable of incongruities.) His ego, turning out to be much bigger than I had anticipated, is proving difficult to shove into the backdrop. As my husband remarked dryly, "Plenilune is full of show-stealers."
How these men were defined by their glories and their insults!
Where is he from?
You know, I actually don’t know. I suppose if I troubled to ask him he could tell me, but the man is anything but landed and he moves about so much that having an origin has never struck him as being important. He finds people’s pride in their countries an interesting phenomenon, but not one that he shares or wants to share. It makes life inconvenient sometimes.
Does he have a life verse? If so, what is it?
There is an old nursery rhyme—so old it is almost universal—a bit of which goes:
Pipe clean away the azure blood,
Pipe away the fame;
Pipe away the laddie’s youth
And the beauty of the dame.
Pipe to the old macabre dance—
It’s all a-one to me.
Birth is had with a hefty price
But death we have for free.
How did he do in school, and what sort of education did he have?
“He is the natural son of NObody knows who—” He never really attended school. Between the ages of nine and ten he was put in a country school where he got a rough acquaintance with his letters, but that spurted and fizzled out quickly and he never progressed beyond that. He is by no means a dullard, however: he is a fast learner and a very keen student of anthropology and the human condition. His natural disposition runs readily in the direction of pleases and thank-yous, but experience (oftentimes a pessimistic teacher) has given him a cynical side which has kept his neck out of the hemp halter yet.
Does he have an accent?
What his native accent might be, I don’t know. Typically among the lower classes the brogues are thick with thees and thous, ests and eths, but Huw Daggerman (in his free-from-the-schoolhouse way) has risen above that and speaks in a very clear, autocratic language. He may or may not have cheated the hangman of the boots he is wearing, but he strikes you on first acquaintance as being a well-bred (if poor and unfortunate) gentleman.
Is he more introspective or does he talk aloud?
Neither. He does tend to internalize, as he does not have any friends to which he can open up, but he can also be very impulsive: a defect he is trying to remedy and could also be checked by a possession of friends. The two things he is clear on are that life is very harsh and empty and never keeps its promises (unless that promise is an assurance to let you down) and the fact that he is, to be honest, very lonely.
But you wouldn’t guess it for his smile.
Has he ever been in love?
That depends on your definition of love. Let us say that the man gets around, as it were, and that his morals are perhaps not as rigid as those of other characters in Plenilune.
What would his reaction be if he discovered he was dying?
It is a combination of extreme fear—because he has been running two steps ahead of death all his life and it is always breathing coldly down his neck—and resignation—because he has seen humanity fight with death and always lose. He is not nihilistic. He does believe there is something beyond death, but judging from people’s innate fear to approach death and whatever lies beyond it, he has concluded that it is a dreadful and inevitable evil and one can only square one’s shoulders like a man and hope to “whatever gods there be” that one’s lip does not tremble at the last moment.
Does he have simple pleasures or does he have elaborate dreams for the future?
For what he does, Huw is very sanguine about living a simple life, as comfortable as is necessary; he is quite of the school of thought which admits that you can’t take it with you, but he also doesn’t buy into the notion that we should eat, drink, and be merry, for it is as bad for the mind, in his opinion, as unhealthy living is bad for the blood.
Describe this character in three words.
Attractive. Amiable. Agnostic.