The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 10

Will makes an agreement with Jane's father Illustration: Mandy Dixon

Back in the room that was to be his for the unforeseeable future, Will took stock.

Becoming involved with a failing leatherware company had not been his intention when he came to Chester.

But how, in all goodness, could he have refused the master tanner’s plea? Restoring the firm to its former glory was not beyond his capabilities.

Moreover, here was a man of integrity and bearing, brought down through no fault of his own by the cruel hand of fate. Of course he would help.

There was also Jane. Will’s new role presented the means to get to know her better.

“So, there you have it,” Jane said as they walked  back along Dog Lane after the promised inspection.

“Mmm.” Will’s response was non-committal.

It was as he had suspected. Evidence of bad practice was rife, presumably due to a lack of overseeing from the top.

Putting Hatton’s to rights looked to be an even greater challenge than Will had first thought. But he loved a challenge.

“You are not impressed,” Jane guessed.

“I was just thinking about the cordwainer’s shop at Greyfriars.

“It’s giving a steady income that could be improved further by some updating. Footwear moves with the times. A more fashionable line in ladies’ and gentlemen’s shoes might be beneficial here.”

“I have told Father this.”

“I understand. All had got beyond him.”

“What about the workrooms?”

“Too jumbled. Decorative items, belts and money-pouches being made at the same bench as fire buckets and household wares. It could do with more order.

“There was the same slackness here as at the tanning pits and warehouse. The men need rustling up.”

“Would it work?”

“Indeed it would. Good plain speaking, man to man.”

Jane frowned.

“Which I am not capable of?”

“Nay, Jane, don’t take offence. In time, staff will come to recognise the iron hand in the soft glove. For now, a bluffer approach is needed.”

Will hesitated.

“Speaking of gloves – these are sold in the Eastgate shop, which also needs some reorganisation, not to mention a lick of paint.

“Have you never considered a separate premises for gloves, much the same as the cordwainer’s shop?”

“No. Our gloves have always been marketed as you saw.”

“That needs looking into. An exclusive glover’s shop can be a great asset. Worth bearing in mind for the future.”

They reached the Rows and mounted the steps, Will puffing a little.

His recent setback had taken more out of him than he had thought.

In the office, he put his observations to Nicholas Hatton. Nicholas listened, nodding now and again and sighing deeply.

“I have been remiss,” he said sadly.

Will shook his head.

“Not intentionally. You must not reproach yourself, sir.”

A slight disturbance outside the door made them look up. There was a knock and Jane went to answer it.

“Father, it is Master Glasier.”

“Thomas, my dear fellow. Come and join me in a cup of wine. Jane, wilt do the honours? Will, this is Thomas Glasier. Thomas, Will Leche.”

The two men exchanged a stiff bow. Balding, bearded and running to fat, in his costly doublet and hose, Thomas Glasier had all the appearance of the successful merchant.

That he was far from impressed by Will’s presence was obvious, and on hearing that Will was the new overseer at Hatton’s, his expression stiffened all the more.

“You are knowledgeable in this field, sir? Forgive me, you seem young to be taking on such a task.”

“But not without experience,” Will rejoined.

“Having youth on one’s side can be no bad thing. It speaks of vigour and fresh ideas,” Nicholas added.

“Quite so. Master Leche, you have qualifications?”

“Those that life can offer, certainly.”

Glasier studied Will levelly, and Will felt the first twinges of unease. Was this man an enemy in the making?

Conversation moved on to domestic issues. Will learned that the caller was a widower of some years.

He had a fine house and was a prominent member of the Guild of City Tanners, everything that Will wished to become.

He exuded power and posed a threat to Will’s existence in this city where guild membership and wealth were paramount.

Will did not miss the glances of admiration the man cast in Jane’s direction and was not sorry when the visit ended.

When the door had shut on Glasier, Nicholas refilled Will’s goblet.

“You must not be disheartened by my colleague’s cross-questioning. It is only to be expected.

“Remember, as an employee you are under my guidance and protection. You have no cause for concern.”

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.