Tamson O’Rourke Character in Clarkwoods Literary Universe | World Anvil

Tamson O’Rourke

Tamson Emily O’Rourke was the first cousin and first love of Silas Silver IX. Against their parents’ wishes, the pair married in secret while Silas was on furlough from the American Civil War. But their wedding night was to be the last time the couple saw each other alive, as Tamson disappeared under mysterious circumstances before the war was out and was presumed dead.


She wasn’t dead, though. Not yet. And the story of her life is a long and winding road indeed.



Warning: Here there be spoilers.


Tamson was born in Harwich, Massachusetts in the year 1844 to parents Martin O’Rourke and Caroline Silver. Though Martin’s Irish heritage, Catholic faith, and status as a recent immigrant were reason enough for Caroline’s family to essentially disown her, the arrival of Tamson in 1844 served to mend fences. Born the same year as her cousin (and future husband) Silas IX, Tamson also became fast friends with her cousin Sarah Silver and was doted upon by Sarah and Silas’ older sisters Elizabeth and Mary.


Tamson and Silas were the closest of the bunch, however. They bonded over a shared love of Shakespeare and Tamson’s desire to perform on stage. By the time they were teenagers, romance bloomed. And were it not for the salacious rumors spread by their classmate Patience, who once caught them “canoodling” in a carriage by one of her father’s cranberry bogs—were it not for that, they might have been able to get married in public instead of in secret.




The War and What Happened Next

With the outbreak of civil war in 1861 and Silas’ now-widowed mother forcing him to enlist, Tamson made her way to Boston to pursue her dreams of acting. To keep her parents from finding her and dragging her back to Cape Cod, she began performing around Scollay Square under the name Emily Gold. And in early 1862, when she married Silas during a brief furlough from his military service, Tamson made it official and changed her legal name permanently. “It should have been Silver,” she said. “But we need to keep it secret, and Gold is richer than Silver anyhow.”


They had one night together before Silas was back to the war, but that one night was enough. A few months later, now very much pregnant—and out of work because of it—Tamson was “living off the kindness of friends, performers [she’d] worked with around town in the months after Silas’ departure.”


Shortly after the birth of her daughter Grace Gold in late 1862, Tamson “took this body of [hers] that [she’d] spent weeks recovering, and [she] took it to a place where it might be of some profitable use” to she and her daughter. “I thought I would be back before [the baby] woke,” Tamson would later admit.


She wasn’t.


The Lost Years

On her walk home from turning the trick that would keep a roof over her and her daughter’s heads for a little longer, Tamson was assaulted on the banks of the Charles River. And the assault may in fact have turned to murder if not for the intervention of a man in a cloak who scared off the assailants. After he made sure Tamson was alright, he offered to give chase—if only Tamson would hold on to his cloak while he did so. Tamson, unaware of what she was agreeing to, said yes. And this was how she became a Ferryman.


She never saw her “hero” again.


Tamson served as ferryman for what seemed like an eternity (and may very well have been, given the possibility of becoming unstuck in time within the Clarkwoods Literary Universe). She shepherded souls beneath The River Without End and into the Undercurrent until she was able to hoodwink her own successor in the short story “The Price.”


Ever After

Tamson might’ve stayed a ferryman forever, if not for a chance encounter with one of Silas’ descendants in the autumn of 2007. It was only after this meeting with Ashley Silver, chronicled in The Elixir of Denial, that she finally had the motivation to do what she did in “The Price.”


What did Ashley tell Tamson? Well, that is the spoileriest spoiler of this whole article, but if you’re ready then here goes:


Ashley told Tamson that they had “the same eyes”:


“But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,” she said. “Everyone’s always told me that I have the same eyes as my great-grandmother, and they all said the way she won my great-grandfather’s heart was because she looked like you, his first love.”

Tamson looked surprised by this. “She did?”

Ashley turned a bit more, so that they were face to face and she didn’t have to strain her neck any longer. “Yep,” she said. “That’s how the story’s been passed down.”

“What was her name?” asked Tamson.

“You’ve never met her,” said Ashley, gesturing toward the boat, “in all your travels?”

Tamson looked desperate, and now her hands were back on Ashley’s shoulders—as if to hold Ash in place until she got her answer. “The name?”

Ashley thought about walking away just to spite the woman, just to play her favorite role: the most difficult person in the room. But something in Tamson’s eyes—those eyes that felt so familiar—something in her eyes said that she was as desperate for this name as Ashley was to see Robin again. Ashley knew that look, that wanton desperation. She’d seen it in the mirror that very morning.

“Her name was Annie,” said Ashley. “Annie O’Reilly.”


The name Annie O’Reilly set off alarm bells in Tamson’s head. The last she’d heard of her daughter Grace was that she’d married an O’Reilly. And if Grace’s O’Reilly was Annie’s father, that might make Grace Annie’s mother. And if Grace were Annie’s mother, that meant that Silas—poor Silas—had married his own granddaughter without knowing it.


Tamson could hardly believe it as she stood there with Ashley in the alley behind The Strumpet’s Sister on that evening in 2007, and that’s why she had to ditch her ferryman’s robes and set out across time to see if she was right.


But even after she’d found proof that she was right, Tamson still could not believe. And so she set out across time once again, trying to understand. And she’s still out there somewhere to this day—or somewhen, really. She is still trying to understand.


Silas Silver IX


Towards Tamson O’Rourke


Tamson O’Rourke


Towards Silas Silver IX


Year of Birth
Silas Silver IX (Husband)


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