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  • Phil

    Huh. So does this mean that the current baron of Widdershins is a Barber too? Must be quite a large family, would make it easier for the deadlies to find one, or does it have to be one directly descended from these two?

    • Tsapki

      Possibly that latter. Isabelle was apologizing profusely just before the flashbacks began. maybe the end result of this is some sort of ‘synergy curse’ or something, maybe something that threatened to haunt them if they stayed together, to which they gave a collectively said “Sod that” and promptly got hitched.

      • Could be they seal the deadlies in such a way only they can unseal it, keyed to the presence of their blood, or or some-such. Which any descendant of theirs would have..? Or they could have been cursed for their union to end up releasing the deadlies, more like you’re talking about there, and as results of their union the grandkids count. : )

    • tali

      Hmm, seems to me that there either might not even be a baron of Widdershins anymore, or that this side of the family isn’t really close to the noble one.
      The reason for this is they never mention them (the barons), the first thing that comes to mind at the name Barber is Henry, a hunter. Florie, who likes to live a leasure life, also makes no mention of them, neither does she try to hook up Harry with anyone of noble birth.
      Though it might just be that this side of the Barber family is in odds with the noble one.
      EDIT: If we’re following this historically, having a black person in the family probably didn’t sit well with the noble side as well.

      • katfeete

        If the Widdershins nobility is much like the real-world 17th-18th century English nobility, and Henry married a commoner, they probably disowned him.

        • tali

          Well, judging by Henry, I would think they disowned each other:)

      • Columbine

        Not exactly disputing the race comment but it did happen. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/Dido_Elizabeth_Belle.jpg Lady on the left is Dido Elizabeth Belle and I believe she was a descent of British nobility. How well she was treated by her family and how much she was acknowledged seems to be debated. Thinking of England at the time….Isabelle is probably seen as ‘worse’, she’s Roma/part-Roma. Which is still (unfortunately) a big issue in some parts of the country.

        • tali

          Yeah, I was thinking about Isabel’s ancestry, as well. Sure as hell didn’t sit well with the baron.

          • Columbine

            No I imagine it didn’t- Wouldn’t have referred to Travelers/Roma/Gypsy (hard to know which term to use) as ‘Black’ myself though, that sort of heavily implies African ancestry where I’m from.

            I’m no expert (and I certainly don’t want to play down the discrimination that existed) but my instinct is that at the time there’d have been more stigma attached to the….groups of people that were more commonly encountered. Irish, Welsh, Jewish, Dutch, French. I mean there are *old* Black and Indian communities in the UK but they were dwarfed by…for want of a better term European minorities. That’s something I kind of see in other parts of the world now too: my racist Greek relatives say disgusting things about Asians/Africans but it’s nothing compared to the vitriol reserved for the Turkish. Rambling a bit here, sorry.

      • MoeLane

        I think that the rules are a bit looser in this universe, when it comes to race. They certainly are, when it comes to gender.

        • The notion is largely that because Widdershins is one of only three places in the world that’s got an Anchor (and of the other two, one is inaccessible and the other is quite a slog to reach), it’d get an awful lot of interest from all over the world, so it’s gonna be pretty mixed.

        • tali

          That’s true.

    • rainycity1

      hmm… interesting question.

  • Darth Fez

    Clearly Henry would much rather look down his nose at spoons.

  • *sigh* So typical of these Victorian penny-bloods, ain’t it? Although honestly, with dashing rogue hero and the nobleman-impersonator villain, I really should’ve seen this classic reveal coming a mile away. Nice homage.

    Oh spare them! They are all noblemen who have gone wrong.
    What, all noblemen?
    Yes,
    all noblemen!
    What, all?
    Well, nearly all!

  • Did Henry suddenly become clean-shaven for the one panel where he confesses his secret shame?

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      Of course, it’s a power that comes with Nobility.

      • Sanjay Merchant

        With great power comes great tonsorial responsibility?

    • John

      I see the stubble lines in all of the panels. In some of the panels they are fainter than in others, but they’re there in all of them.

      • Phlebas

        I see them too. But were they there when fairportfan left the comment? Who can say?

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Seeing the meaning of Widdershins, it totally sounds like a title the Queen would give to some madman, as a joke.

    • Sanjay Merchant

      Added hilarity from making someone “govern” a town of wizards. It’s probably easier to herd cats.

  • Columbine

    The nose is the correct place for spoons.

    Also I love that Henry manages to outshine the nobility bit to the point where in Harry’s day people don’t think ‘Baron of Widdershins’ when they hear ‘Barber’ but instead think of Hunters.

    • RLB

      Not that surprising… when you hear “Wodehouse”, do you think of Plum, or of his relatives the earls of Kimberley?

      • Columbine

        Who?

        • RLB

          You don’t know Wodehouse? Oh my, are you in for a world of belly-hurting laughs.

          Some of his works are available on Project Gutenberg, but IMO that can’t compete with a battered paperback and a comfy couch. The Jeeves&Wooster books are the best, by the way; the rest are also good, but not as good as those which gave us the likes of the aunt who eats broken bottles, and the “if not actually disgruntled, then far from being gruntled”.

          The second-best comic author in the English-writing world; the best, of course!, being Saki.

          • Percabeth_trash

            I would argue that the late great Sir Terry P is the best comic author. Hogfather makes me crack up even after the umpteenth read.

            • Michael Brewer

              Some bookstores were selling boxes of tissues along with The Shepherd’s Crown. And I confess to having needed some while reading it. :(

              RIP Sir Pterry Pratchett. Thank you.

            • I’d agree, I wouldn’t be making this comic if I hadn’t become hooked on Discworld at age 12 :)

            • RLB

              Much though I like Sir PTerry (having been a long-time fan), IMO his strength doesn’t lie in his comedy. Yes, he’s funny, wildly funny… but he’s even better at characterisation, mental turnabouts, perspective changes, and all that. This from, oh, ER onwards; TCoM and TLF were more strictly comic, though even there the humour had a parodic point.
              Wodehouse and Saki are, usually, funny for funny’s sake. Saki’s humour sometimes has a barb (Sredni Vashtar, and who can forget Hermann the Irascible?), but usually, as in the Schartz-Metterklume Method (where did he get these names?) they’re just meant to make you laugh at people’s silliness. With Wodehouse, of course, it was even more so.
              In Sir PTerry, by contrast, the humour serves the function of drawing you into the work, which then makes you think. He’s a character and real-world-satire author who employs humour to bring his point across, not a comic author who has some characters in his books. Reaper Man would’ve been a good book even if it hadn’t been funny; if a J&W book isn’t funny, there’s nothing much else in it.

          • Columbine

            Huh. OK I’ll take a look. But yeah I hadn’t heard of either the author or the noble side of the family. I sort of only came to Britain when I was 10; I miss a lot of cultural references from all my countries.

      • Dud

        The Earl of Emsworth of course.
        The Hon Henry Barber is on the bottom rung of the aristocracy (and in the process of falling off…) so his personal exploits are lkely to be far more important (to people) than his lineage. Isabelle will become The Hon Mrs Henry Barber though, so she’d better go back and read the chapter on precedence.

        • He didn’t fall off the ladder so much as leap off it, honestly.

          • Dud

            He doesn’t have much choice either way so taking a flying leap with both eyes open is probably much more fun.

          • Possibly while shouting something dramatic?

            • I could see a backflip of some kind being involved

              • rainycity1

                (into a river?)

            • kuku

              Like “Wahoo!”?

  • DatComment

    Yeah toast!

  • rainycity1

    Yeah, I guess I’d categorize ‘third son’ as sort of or a bit nobility. Isn’t it that the first sons get the estates and the church gets the second sons, and beyond that, the sons have to go off, have adventures and find their fortune? ‘Hunter’ seems like a pretty good choice to me!

    • Hans Rancke

      The traditional saying is that the first son inherits, the second joins the clergy, the third joins the army and the fourth joins the navy.

      • rainycity1

        True, I’d forgotten the military element.

      • Sanjay Merchant

        Eh, Henry would make a terrible officer anyway. He’d always be carousing with the men instead of making them do drills or show up for combat on time.

  • Despite his social potholing, His Lordship still has several of characteristics of the gentry, such as expecting other people to do the heavy lifting (when the boat was pushed out of the shed) and expecting a commoner to give him whatever he asks for, from sandwiches to magical flying machines.

  • Tikatu

    If he’s the fourth, it usually means his father is the third–but the honor of the hand-me-down family name is–IIRC–given to the oldest son. I know sometimes a generation is skipped and perhaps Henry’s mother didn’t like the name “Henry” but it seems weird to me that a third son would get that particular family “heirloom”.

    Of course, his elder brothers could be “Second” and “Third” with father as “First”…

    • VHough

      I have to admit this struck me as well. I can craft a way around it, but it’s nowhere near traditional.

    • Matthew Krawczun

      royal families have many heirloom names so just because he’s henry the fourth doesn’t mean his father was a Henry. it could have been a grand father or even grate grand father that was the “Henry the third”.

  • Rolan7

    “tete” is a wonderful onomatopoeia.

  • Michael Brewer

    So the Noble wants to be a Gypsy and the Gypsy wants to be Noble? Ok, not really, but don’t even phrase it like that near Lust. His presumed ability to give you your Heart’s Desire might kick in in a way you don’t want.

    • kuku

      I think she just wants someone to take her research seriously, and the academy types are snoots so she thought she needed to become more acceptable to snooty people. Not that she wants to become nobility herself.

  • Michael Brewer

    Something I’ve noticed that’s a running theme through the books is that one of the heroes usually has to overcome that book’s Sin metaphorically, while the villain is usually pulled down by it. I don’t know if that applies to all the books (none of the chefs were particularly gluttonous and, aside from his curse, Sidney isn’t particularly greedy, for example) but it seems like a fairly common theme running through the comic.

    In Slight of Hand, Macavity’s Greed is the motivating force for everything.

    In No Rest for the Wicked, Mal has to shake off his Sloth and actually try to do something before he can save the day. Fairbairn, on the other hand, is using every shortcut she can to get power and wealth, which is a more classical form of spiritual Sloth (I think).

    In Vanishing Act, Harry needs to learn to swallow her Pride and accept help, while Lei lets her Pride get the better of her and starts with the evil schemes.

    In Piece of Cake, the owner of the hotel became obsessed with food, Gluttonous, if you will, which caused this whole mess. I’m not sure this works and it doesn’t seem like it fits the chefs either, but I admit I’m somewhat hazy on exactly what makes Gluttony different from Greed and Lust. (Do we really need four sins devoted to “wanting something really badly?”)

    In Green Eyed Monster, Voss is obviously Envious which is where the problems start, while I think Mal and Ben are both a bit jealous of the other. At least Ben is, I’m pretty sure.

    In Find the Lady, everyone has a Heart’s Desire they’re trying to get. One could almost say they’re Lusting after it. Isabelle and Harry both want professional respect, Luxuria wants the pendant for unknown reasons, and the members of his posse each apparently have a thing they want from him.

    What do you think?

    • I think this is a wonderful comment, thank you!

    • Thomas

      According to Wikipedia, Gluttony is about consuming so much it’s wasteful. In particular gorging yourself in food whilst poorer people starved was Gluttonous apparently, and so gluttony could kind of come to mean selfishness. So I think it’s less about the desiring of something, and more about the act of taking too much of something.

      Even with wikipedia I can’t tell Greed and Lust apart.

      • RLB

        Wikipedia is, I think, a bit confused or at least unclear on this point.

        Greed is wanting material things, beyond reason; wanting more money than you could possibly need, but also spending it on pointless purchases merely – buying something merely for the sake of buying it, having it, not because the object does you any good.

        Lust is wanting immaterial things, pleasure; a desire that controls you rather than you controlling it. So, yes, sexual lust not coupled with love; but substance addictions would go there as well.

        (And by contrast, Gluttony is consuming things even though you do not, actually, want them – you just want to consume.)

        • MoeLane

          The distinction I make is that Greed demands that you possess things without valuing them for their intrinsic worth; while Lust insists that people are things that only have value in terms of how they affect you.

    • Sanjay Merchant

      My particular take was as follows:

      Gluttony isn’t so much about wanting something you don’t have, but abusing something you do have. To use the classical example of food, you find yourself with an excess of food and, rather than give it to the poor or share it with your workers or the community or whatever, you keep it to yourself and overindulge.

      Envy is specifically concerned with what you have relative to other people. Imagine you’ve got a 5 year old Ford while your cousin just bought a brand new Mercedes. Desire turns into Envy when you don’t just want a Mercedes of your own, you want to have a better car than your cousin. It’s not enough that you gain, but he has to lose to satisfy capital-E Envy.

      Teasing apart Greed and Lust is a bit trickier: my first instinct would be to say that Greed is wanting The Thing and Lust is wanting to abuse The Thing, but some schemes subdivide Greed into Avarice (hoarding) and Prodigy (wastefulness), the latter of which neatly encapsulates my attempt to differentiate Lust. I think RLB might be onto something with desire for material vs. immaterial things.

      • Michael Brewer

        Hmmm…. Given that Ethan was taking his spouse for granted, maybe that’s where the metaphorical overcoming of Gluttony pops up.

        And, while Sidney isn’t Greedy, he does start out needing money and has to find a way to turn his Greed curse into an advantage before they can save the day, which, incidentally, does get him the money he needs.

        So, it might be stretching things a bit, but I do think the “Hero metaphorically overcoming the Sin before they physically overcome the sin, while the villain has been dragged down by the sin” works as the general structure for these books.

    • Percabeth_trash

      Stolen from Tumblr:

      The Seven Shittiest Sins
      Greed: I want shit
      Envy: I want your shit
      Wrath: I’m going to wreck your shit
      Lust: I’m into some freaky shit
      Gluttony: This is some tasty shit
      Sloth: I don’t feel like doing shit
      Pride: I am the shit

      • Property_of_Deduction

        This is absolutely beautiful

  • Sanjay Merchant

    I can’t make up my mind if “He wasn’t any good at it anyway” refers to being a nobleman or holding a spoon on his nose.

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      Yes.

    • kuku

      I imagine he was pretty good at the spoon on the nose.

  • Euodiachloris

    Why do I get the impression that he hung around the kitchens and the groundskeeper rather more than his parents would have wished? :)

  • Silly Zealot

    Someone who does NOT like bossing around other people?! Now I know this is fiction!

  • tinwatchman

    I’m not the only one who thinks this is adorable, right?

  • maggPi

    I’m re-reading this chapter to bring myself up to speed before delving into into a whole lot that I’ve missed.
    I wonder, did I ever notice before that Henry looks a lot like David Tenant as the Doctor..?

    It adds an extra bit of fun to read Henry as the Doctor! 😸

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