Guest post: Jim Webster – A Measured Response… Episode 6

Benor is back!
I know, I know they always say, start with a big hit. Except Benor’s never really gone away, I’ve just not published any stories about him since April 2017. Yes I admit it’s too long, but if he has a life, why can’t I?
OK, let’s start again.
Benor is back! And this time he’s slightly older but still as charming as ever, and might possibly be a little more cynical than he was.
I’m not selling this am I?
Let’s try another tack.
Benor is back! After the first critically acclaimed collection of the ‘Port Naain Intelligencer’ novellas, by popular demand a second collection is on its way!
Better? Actually I thought the ‘critically acclaimed’ was a nice touch.
But anyway I’ve just published, ‘A licence to print money: The Port Naain Intelligencer.’ It’s available on Amazon.
In it, Benor, who just wants to get paid for some work he’s done, struggles against corrupt officials, bent bookies, and all manner of other problems.
On the positive side he does get to meet a Magistrate who is also a performance poet, and young Mutt finds somebody who might even be tougher than he is.

As with all the stories in the Port Naain Intelligencer collection, you can read them in any order. It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them in a particular order, but you can dip in and out of them, you don’t need to start with volume one and work through them chronologically.

But it struck me that people have got used to me writing about Tallis Steelyard and might need reintroducing to young Benor. So I decided that I’d write another Port Naain Intelligencer tale, ‘A measured response,’ where each chapter is a post on the blog tour. Follow the blog tour and you’ll probably get to uncover the mystery, free and gratis. Cannot say better than that can I?

A Measured Response… Episode 6

It was on the fourth night that he was awakened. He sat bolt upright in bed, listening. Somewhere he could hear a horse whinny. Given that the stable below him was empty, the horse had to belong to a stranger and what was a stranger doing lurking close to the house at this time of night? Whilst this area was considered civilised, it was still Partann. Swiftly Benor dressed by moonlight. He then moved his bed as quietly as possible. After finding
the body he had taken to sleeping with two of the bed legs standing on the trapdoor. Nobody was going to creep into the room without waking him. Then he opened the trapdoor and made his way carefully down the ladder to the stable. The door was open and Gyp sat quietly by it, obviously without a care in the world. Reassured by this Benor stood in the shadows of the stable and watched, he could hear something but he couldn’t see anything.
Then he saw a man moving stealthily across the stable yard towards the house. Benor glanced down at Gyp. The dog was watching with interest but didn’t seem particularly upset by the presence of the stranger. So perhaps the stranger wasn’t strange to her?
Benor decided to act. In a firm voice he said, “Don’t move, I’m pointing a loaded crossbow at you.”
The figure froze. Then the kitchen door burst open and out ran Winnith. She waved her hands somewhat unnecessarily to attract attention and shouted, “Don’t shoot.”
The man turned slowly to face Benor, the light from the kitchen falling on his face as he did so. “I am Arad Branwit. I have the estate next door. I thought I saw a felon crossing my land and I tracked him on foot, ending up here.”
Madam Grasia now appeared at the kitchen door as well. “Thank-you for you concern Master Branwit.” She looked towards the stable where Benor remained in the shadows. “Master Branwit is the guardian of Ella, who is soon to become my brother’s fiancé. You may return to bed now Master Dorfinngil.”
Having thus dismissed him, Grasia turned back to Arad Branwit. “Perhaps you’d like to come into the kitchen to recover from your ordeal.”
Benor made his way back up the ladder to his room, undressed and got back into bed. “Perhaps,” he thought to himself as he dozed off, “I ought to acquire a crossbow. They seem to be remarkably effective.”
Next morning as he breakfasted nothing was said about the previous evening’s drama. He set to work as usual. He was close to finishing the mapping, and was now working on the fields which formed the boundary with the neighbouring estate. By mid-morning he’d worked his way down to the Tarrant Beck where it left the estate. The young woman whom he’d seen riding previously was standing on the edge of the beck watering her horse.
He bowed briefly to her. “Good morning.”
She smiled back. “And a good morning to you good sir; and you are?”
“Benor Dorfinngil at your service; I’ve been asked by Grayer Thirsk to do a bit of work for him.”
She smiled again. “I’m Ella.”
Benor felt disposed to continue the conversation. Ella was perhaps twenty, trim, pretty and had the sort of voice that caressed your ears. He would happily talk to her all day. “So are you the ward of Arad Branwit?”
“Yes, he’s my uncle.”
Benor nodded. “So you live here with him.”
“Oh no, he lives here with me. I inherited the estate from my mother, and when I was orphaned Uncle Arad came to live with me and act as my guardian.”
Benor remembered reading something about land in Partann and Port Naain often passing down the female line. It was one of the local peculiarities that a cartographer needed to keep in mind when writing the commentary to his maps.
Cautiously he ventured, “Somebody was saying something to me about a woman disappearing and did I know her. I didn’t want to appear ignorant so just nodded. Has a woman gone missing?”
“Not recently.” She stopped to consider. “And not really; there was Anna who disappeared two years ago but I think she just got bored with life round here and decided to make a new life for herself in Port Naain.”
“Perhaps that’s what they meant,” Benor said. “They were perhaps asking me because I might have met her there.” Then almost as if it were an afterthought he asked, “Could you describe her? Had she any obvious features?”
Ella paused as if picturing the woman. “She was a handsome woman, perhaps in her thirties; I always remember she had really long dark hair, so long she could sit on it.”
“Does she have any family, anybody who might know where she is now, and then I can put her in touch with people?”
“Uncle Arad hired her as a house keeper. I think she got bored with us, but Uncle Arad did mention he got a letter or two from her over the years since she moved, so he might be able to tell you where she’s living now.”
“I may have met your uncle.”
“Last night?” Before he could answer, Ella winked at him and mounted her horse. “He spends far too much time out of his own bed tirelessly ensuring the safety and comfort of others.”
With that she guided her horse up the river bank and trotted off across the field.
Glancing at the sun Benor decided it was time to call a halt for the morning. He made his way to the Bridge Inn. Josette, owner of the establishment was standing behind the bar. He wandered across, ordered a drink and a meal, and realising there was nobody else in earshot he asked quietly. “There was a young woman, Anna, who disappeared.”
Josette finished filling the tankard and put it in front of him. “A couple of years ago, she was housekeeper for the Branwits. I heard she got bored and went to Port Naain?”
Benor noted hesitation in her voice. “Bored?”
Josette seemed to make up her mind, “She was pregnant. I can vouch for that, she came to me for something for morning sickness. She hadn’t told the father, but was going to. Then she just went without saying goodbye or anything.”
“And the father?” Given that Josette seemed in the mood for confidences, Benor decided he’d keep asking questions.
“She lived in with the Branwits. She did complain to me in passing that she never got to see anybody. I assumed the father was Arad Branwit, but she never mentioned a name. Nobody else round here seemed to notice her or that she’d gone.”
“Had she any family?”
“Yes, a heap of brothers and sisters over Allenside.”
“Could you get word to them?”
Josette stared at him. “Why?”
Benor leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “I might have found her body.”

For those of you who still love Tallis, his blog is still there at Tallis Steelyard.

And some more collections of anecdotes from Tallis Steelyard are in the
publishing pipeline.

And you can find my books on Amazon.

Oh and I’ve got another blog, Jim Webster, which I write which is mainly sheep, quad bikes and stuff. Or perhaps not?

About the authorJim Webster

Someone once wrote this about him:

“Jim Webster is probably still fifty something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.”

Now with eight much acclaimed fantasy works and two Sci-Fi to his credit it seems he may be getting into the swing of things.

Find and follow Tallis (and Jim)

Jim Webster may be found  at his blog, on Twitter, Facebook and on his Amazon author page.

Tallis Steelyard may be found loitering at his own blog while their book have their own Facebook page

Many tales of Port Naain can be found on Amazon. Click the images below to see these and other books by Tallis Steelyard (and Jim Webster).

collage of covers 2

collage of covers3

collage of covers



About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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9 Responses to Guest post: Jim Webster – A Measured Response… Episode 6

  1. Pingback: A licence to print money blog tour, part 6 – Tallis Steelyard

  2. jwebster2 says:

    thanks Sue 🙂


  3. Fabulous episode, Sue and Jim. I seem to have missed episode 5 so I will have to go and look for it [smile].

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Episode 6 of “A Measured Response” from “A licence to print money. The Port Naain Intelligencer” collection blog tour.


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