The Fancy Times

Fine Slop for the Discerning Tastemaker

Character Sketch: Magdalinda Usher

Magdalinda is the Dowager of House Usher. She may be the only member of the Ancient Regime whose lot was dramatically improved by the Good Revolution. 

Magdalinda Usher was born to the lesser branch of House Usher. She grew up at the House’s Spital Fields estate a league away from the Cruxham seat. The First House of Usher seldom associated with this branch and made no secret of their contempt for them. The schism began with Magdalinda’s grandfather, who married his first cousin in his fifteenth year. By this era, marriage between relatives as close as first cousins had become taboo, and anything less than four degrees of removal was frowned upon. But there had been no choice. The young cousins had spent a frivolous summer racing into one another’s arms. By autumn harvest the girl’s belly was already showing. The Cruxham Ushers were appalled and distanced themselves from the lesser estates. Nonetheless, the scandal of inbreeding would haunt the line til the end. 

The Spital Fields estate of the lesser House Usher.

Magdalinda’s father would also shame the House with his marriage. Rather than take a girl from a House of similar rank, he opted for a left-handed marriage with the daughter of the Spital Fields sheriff. There was a considerable difference in ages between the two. It grew into a long and unhappy marriage. Within a couple years Magdalinda’s father was a widely known philander, which eventually put the house at odds with the Spiral Fields sheriff. But despite his wandering heart, the couple produced a son and a daughter. 

Before perdition.

The siblings were never close. The family’s reputation alienated Magdalinda from peers of her own age. Her family’s rank alienated her from the laborers’ children. In the waste of the tarry Spital Fields Magda grew up quite alone. Early in her childhood her father abandoned the family and disappeared. The sheriff was not inclined to spend resources on a comprehensive search. So the burden of rank fell on Magda’s brother well ahead of his years. 

Sylvano Usher, elder brother of Magdalinda.

Magdalinda’s brother would succumb to the pressures of his position early. By his nineteenth year, he was drinking morning and night. The family’s already diminished coffers were squandered. In an effort to bring in revenue and offload some of his own burdens, he arranged a marriage for Magdalinda with the heir of the cadet branch of Usher. This was the lowest rung of the House and they historically served as mayors in Spitaltown, a bleak place where the tar workers kept their camps. The arrangement was hellish for Magdalinda. A second cousin marriage rendered the estate fully outcasted. Her husband was violent, with a mind for sadism. He drank near as much as her brother, but it did nothing to change his mood. They had one child before Magdalinda fled the estate in the dead of night. She took almost nothing but her infant son. 

Magdalinda and the infant Langston.

With no friends and little money young Magdalinda found her way to Cruxham to beg for a place with the First House of Usher. Begrudgingly, they allowed her to stay until her son was out of infancy. She was placed in the servants’ quarters and taught to clean and care for the estate. While it was an improvement, her relatives never treated her as family. Rather, she was treated as the least of the servants and endured constant insults in their presence. Their favorite joke was to remind her that her place in their home was very temporary. 

The First House of Usher.

The Good Revolution came before Magda’s promised eviction. When her relatives were removed to face their trials Magdalinda had been assumed to be a servant and was left at the estate. When Directory organizers returned to interview the staff she told them the truth of her identity as well as a lengthy and sordid account of the House’s nefarious activities. She also detailed the sins of the Spital Fields Ushers. In its early days, the fledgling Directory was eager to appear authoritative and capable. They made an agreement with Magdalinda to grant her stewardship of the first estate in trade for her attesting to any corroborative statements that may be needed against her relatives. 

Magdalinda finds her way.

The First House of Usher was charged with human trafficking and each member was executed. The Ushers of the Spital Fields were ruled insolvent and stripped of rank. Magdalinda became the sole possessor of House Usher’s holdings. She allowed her mother and brother to stay in the lesser estate but barred them from visiting the First. She had all their revenues routed to her directly and allowed a small stipend for her aging mother alone. 

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