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Saturday, August 15, 2009
'Jane' by PF Jeffery (Book 1, Modesty's Camp, Chapter 6)

Three riders are seen to approach the camp and, while inexplicably ('each slid her hood backwards')anticipated to be female, once revealed, they are much younger (and well-descriptively more beautiful) than expected.


The results of Jane's liaison with Modesty seem to be the investigative goal of these riders.  Innovatively concerned with legends or ballads and posterity, I soon gather.

And the accuracy of Jane's audit. All grist to he investigation's mill.  Intriguing stuff, played out as I write these thoughts down in real-time.


The plot thickens even as it clarifies:


"And," Susan added, "we have already remarked that Modesty is the subject of ballads.  The matter is very delicate.  It seems strange that a young and inexperienced girl was selected for the task.  Again we need to ask why.  I believe, Jane, that you were chosen for this mission by Coral Frobisher."



The investigators seem to know everything that has been going on.


The larger picture, not minor indiscretions, is in focus.


All concomitants are brilliantly described by the I-Narrator (with PFJ's help?) and en-dialogued.  As brilliant as the audited accounts themselves. Potentially not a ha'penny error, it seems.


Spot checks.  Almost as if we're auditing the plot with spot checks ourselves.  Or made to feel as if we are.



Then the plot itself sort of sets sails in prospect as Jane is told of her mission.


Passwords and passing-places.


There seems to be a lot going on here below the surface.  Then a clinking toast. Toast after toast


I feel entrusted with facts and figures and celebrations that I may squander through unrefined reading on my part.


But then I am reassured I may be in tune with the words' music, viz this text:


"The third toast was one I could accept with no shadow of doubt.  My glass clinked without taking thought.  It was not until the liquid reached my throat that I realised all of our enterprises would include my being reunited with Modesty some day.  Why not?  I'd arrived in her camp as a fiscal inspector, but left it as a spy.!"


A legend in the making. Jane's legend?


Is this correct: "Captain and auditor forbidden love."?


More songs and ballads. This novel really now as got a swing.


More telling dialogue between Modesty and Jane:


"I thought that next time we met, it might be on more equal terms – you as an officer, me as a spy."

"You still don't think that a fiscal inspector is as good as an army captain?"


In fact all the dialogue is natural as well as purposeful.


Some of this dialogue sounds familiar but I may be jumping ahead of myself:

"It was New Year's Eve, and the Usurper held a masked ball.  Just as midnight turned, there was a loud crash.  The spymaster fell through a large skylight to the dance floor.  He was dead, surrounded by broken glass and splintered wood.  I remember seeing a snow flake redden as it melted."



Then some reported rude language that sounded like conversation from the Big Brother reality show.  One wonders at the burgeoning plot into the equally burgeoning future as well as into the equally burgeoning past, conveyed by this long dialogue reverberating with the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction, much like showgirls in reality TV?


Leading to a beautiful passage among many other beautiful passages:


"She sounded close to tears.  Reaching out, I held her tight, lying on the damp grass, a cold breeze playing upon our near nakedness.  It seemed to me, in that moment, that I was the adult comforting she the child.  Never before had I known Modesty so vulnerable.  With an access of wisdom beyond my years, I sensed that her captain's persona masked a myriad hurts from an often painful life.  We kissed chastely, as though I were her mother.  One day, I realised, I would have a daughter – and would strive to protect her from suffering such as my lover had known."


Although 'she the child' seems a bit clumsy?


Enraptured both as reader and in perception of others' rapture at chapter's end.




Links to all my JANE chapter comments:

Posted at 08:12 pm by Weirdmonger

PF Jeffery
August 20, 2009   06:23 PM PDT
Thank you!

Yes, “Captain and auditor forbidden love” is correct. The love between an auditor, and the captain she’s supposed to be investigating, is forbidden by the regulations. Perhaps “Auditor and captain forbidden love” might be more accurate, but it seems to read better with the captain placed first. That may be at least partially because it seems fitting to name the more important person first. And – certainly as Jane sees it – a captain is more important than a checker of pennies.

I think that the dialogue is, indeed, purposeful. One can do a lot with dialogue – advance the plot, develop and reveal characters. Sometimes I find that, having written what felt like a passage of dialogue which accomplished little (and maybe needed deleting), it transpires (in reality) to have done a lot of work.

The reason the dialogue about the spymaster dieing during a New Year’s masque sounds familiar, is that it recounts things that happened in “Odalisque”. According to my current plans, the masque will take place in “The Warriors of Love” volume 8. In terms of the sequence of novels, we are looking forward a long way, here. (Although the events of volume 8 occur 5-6 years before those of volume 1 [Jane].) Later, there will be more looking forward/back to “Odalisque” (to be re-written and expanded as “Warriors of Love” vols 2, 5, 8 and 11).

I think that “she the child” is only slightly clumsy. All of the alternative ways of expressing this (such as occur to me) seem clumsier.

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