The Fortunes of Virtue

The farmboy Justin slips away at night and takes to the roads, heading toward the city, dreaming of skilled work, guild work. He dreams of adventure, of love, of riches untold, but most strongly of being something better and rarer and more interesting than he was before. He longs for tight alleyways, the crush of pubs, the splendors of the public baths: city life!

Life in the city is hard and lonely at first. He gets a job in a factory and it’s grim, repetitive work. The pubs take his money and repay him in headaches and a throat scraped raw. He lives in a room with five other refugees from the farms; they mostly talk about being homesick and how much money they’re sending back to their sainted mothers. He gets fired from his job, and thrown out onto the street. In desperation, he returns to the baths, where hands clever from the bobbins can make money in other ways.

His skills grow legendary; he spends less than a month in the baths before finding a room of his own—all his!—in the factory district; less than a year in the factory district before buying a house of his own in the merchant quarter; less than five before buying a mansion in the hills. Those who know, know, and shower him with wealth, furs, jewelry; the mansion fills with fountains and music and highly polished discretion.

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