Ever wondered why Fred and George never seem to pay for anything? How the Inn of the Seventh Happiness keeps going? Why Vexstein bothers to make beer if it’s all free? Well, it isn’t.
One of the first things that Hugo has to do when he arrives at the inn of the Seventh Happiness in book 4 is to establish his line of credit. It’s something he takes great care of in his preparation for his journey – taking ‘negotiables’ as he calls them. He gives Argon a couple of pieces of gold (coins) to establish his line of credit and Argon notes this in a ledger. After that he can travel anywhere he likes, charging things to his account.
Fred and George don’t have to do that as their credit is with Marsh. Belonging to a Castle is important as whatever your status within the castle, the castle will provide for you. It becomes much more difficult for those outside castles. If they have enough land to farm they can live well enough, working hard to raise food, exchange surplus and barter for other necessities. Most will be at least ‘attached’ to a castle though, as the castle has an interest in the food production. If a castle fails, though, like Fortune, the people lose their protector as well as their provider, and may desert their farm to go to a more secure area. A village community can provide similar security although it is usually linked to a castle as well. The people and traders at the Inn of the Seventh Happiness are independent of castles but have lines of credit managed either by the inn or at one of the small businesses established there just to manage credit and transactions.
This explains why most of the persons we have met in the books so far are decent law-abiding folks. It is in their interest to be so. They can eat, drink and do pretty much anything they wish to do within the constraints of their castle life, provided they carry out their duties. Baden and his brother Robert though, have left their castle, Powell, because of the politics of the line of succession there. Better an exile than dead! Baden, already a friend of Lupin, became his steward and so although he was first dependent on Lupin’s generosity, he is now credited as a Buckmore resident in his own right. Robert joined the army, and the army provides for its own, claiming credit from all the castles in a complicated formula.
What about all those princelings that left Marsh driven out by Ludo or other family members? Locksley was last heard “creating havoc in the northern woods”, others “emigrated to the west” and the rest not heard of since. Then there are the vagabonds, rogues and pirates causing trouble at Fortune. Yes, life can be hard if you haven’t got a castle to vouch for you or another established line of credit.