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Counted in the majority of the true quality, Maria-Jane is a great grand-daughter of El Clavel. Her geas is not onerous, her line responsible for the good hearts of the people, of song and celebration, she oversees the fiestas of Parquet and most notably the important Parquet Del Mar. With the Grails seeing admirably to the theatres whose name she bears, with many eager to host balls, and the citizens more than competent to see to their own diversions, the ease of such duties might in another have led to indolence. Fortunately, the marchesa is a woman possessed of a stiffer back and consequently the city fiestas enjoy ever more grandeur, and ever more diversions with each successive year. Not one to leave much in the hands of others Maria-Jane, whilst her determination drives the fiestas to ever greater success, also drives all those she patronises to see to them to furious distraction. Of all the true quality of the Parquet the marchesa is widely regarded as being the most noble amongst the citizens, in that in her they see the character of the lords and ladies some have encountered in the wider world. True, that character is domineering, haughty, determined, and high handed but to those that in their hearts hanker for the certainty of a dipped bow, a clutched cap, or a knuckled forehead she can little wrong, the gods bless her! The loyalists love Maria-Jane; the agitators abhor her.

Her geas including the teatro the marchesa is not one to often attend. It being her responsibility she is not above having the collected proprietors of the teatro attend her in salon where she will hear of their excuses for the many infractions that have been presented to her for her notice. Infractions noted for her by her husband, Salvemini. Whilst surely that man would have been possessed of a Christian name in his early life it has long been forgotten since, and as was the tradition of bookkeepers until very recently that was how he was known since a very young man. Some years younger than the marchesa he can into her service as a brilliant, if temperamental bookkeeper before she herself came to her title. They dallied, the old marchesa forbade her daughter’s affections, and as a consequence they married the very afternoon that Maria-Jane came to her status on the afternoon of her mother’s death. In the years since they have, even by the most pointed gossip, made a great success of that union. If she refers to Salvemini by that name alone, and he in reference to her will always defer to her title, then neither has dallied with another even within the acceptable socitorial of free Parquet. So too have their children not performed as is traditional amongst those of the quality in quietly doing away with their rivals to inheritance, something of which the marchesa disapproves after her own struggles. In this as so many other things, Maria-Jane is not to be crossed. And so too therefore, in her responsibilities where the teatro owners have no recourse but to obey her wishes, or more commonly become so very good at seeming to be have them done.

The marchesa is obeyed, clearly. Such a steely will would in Parquet avail no one much power unless they had power first to see it done. Maria-Jane’s grandmother being one of those to establish a milicio, the marchesa quite aside from her distribution of wealth also has such swords at her disposal. So too, and because she sees to the teatro as distantly as she does, the Jack of the Grails (where near all the teatro are found) is only too accommodating. That Jack, Maddi Lanterne, moves in the circles of the quality and if she will always agree that in her bailiwick the wishes of the marchesa are to be obeyed, it is noteworthy that the marchesa so very rarely presents such wishes where they might concern Maddi directly. Her milicio then are arguably the most ceremonial of milicios, whose cereminals compose much of their labour. Seeing to the safety of the fiestas as they do, most commonly they are little more than another entertainment in the Grails where those ceremonials take place. The marchesa might, of course, have her milicio act firmly if ever there was a need. Maddi Lanterne has always ensured that such a need has never arisen, accepting openly an authority that is as resolute as it is never exercised.

A woman then of high tradition, one often going about the Looms in company with a contingent of her milicio, she is apt to stand and wait, eyebrow raised, if fighting occurs between they and their rivals in the milicio Tesoro. Once when her small guard was defeated so resoundingly by their old enemies that she was left without accompaniment she demanded that the victors would then have to act for them, which they did, rather delighting after only being so ordered to do twice, in the humiliation this served up.

That then would be the Marchesa Teatro, and to many that is the sum indeed, yet the image of the haughty, arrogant, even moral woman is hardly the whole of her. Indeed, she likely plays up to it, so very useful has it proved. For if she hosts few balls then she attends many. She dances fair well, can be fierce in debate, and loves Parquet.

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