“If you do not help me Olly I do not expect to live past the end of the week! The Molly’s are out Olly! Out and about and looking for me!” Lord Tobias laid a scented hankerchief beneath his nose and sniffed at it, he dabbed at the tears which trickled down his cheeks freely, dampening the knot of his scarlet cravat. “It’s not as if I’ve done anything to deserve this! I’ve been an admirable Chancellor of the Exchequer, my brilliance has shone out past the confines of old England even to the boundaries of our beloved empire! Why does nobody inquire as to where I am Olly? Why does no one inquire after me?” Lord Tobias sobbed a-fresh into his scented & monographed hankerchief, his head reclined against the back of a plush (and overstuffed) chaise longue and a pale hand clasped to his elegantly waist-coated breast. Oh his was a tragic dilemma! Though he had never been more elegantly dressed.
“Toby my dear” demurred Oliver Micheletti,”One can hardly complain can one? Your wife thinks you dead, Parliament thinks you dead, the Mollies are sure to attend your very public funeral, and once they are satisfied as to your evident demise, and have returned to the Americas, you may resurrect yourself and go on as you always have” Oliver puffed langorously on his cheroot, savouring its bitter sweet taste. Cheroot’s were supposedly ladies cigars; but he had picked up the habit of smoking them whilst fighting alongside the Umbongo Bongo during the siege of Khartoum in the Sudan. That particular fray hadn’t ended terribly well, though he had at least acquired an elegant smoking habit. “True you may have to relinquish the role of Chancellor as well as that of Second Lord of the Treasury” Lord Toby sobbed afresh, “But at least you will have retained that most valuable of assets, your life” knocking back a small glass of absinthe he surveyed Lord Toby’s rooms. Not bad for a man who was being hunted by his former tenants, the relatives of those who had either starved to death during the Irish potato famine, or frozen to death out of doors because he’d had them evicted….from a distance.
“Oh, how can those people hold me responsible for whatever tragedies they might have endured in that veritable Irish wasteland? I was nought but a child at the time! A veritable child!” Oliver smiled sardonically at his none too bright friend, who had, at the time of the Irish potato famine, been in his twenty fifth year, nevertheless he had ascended to the chancellery and made his mark there, as the silk mill workers strike and the Battle of Grid-Iron Square had clearly shown.
“My dear the poor are ever with us. Come now! Cheer up! Do! How is Becca?”
“My constancy has become a veritable proverb!” opined Lord Toby with more tears in his already considerably swollen eyes,”I would have been cast a-drift! Alone in the world! Were it not for her! Mon Ange! Though I do wish she would come to see me more often than she does!” a cloud passed momentarily over his visage,”But no matter! She alone of all women deserves my unbridled admiration and when I am accepted into public life once more she shall be duly rewarded”
“I hear Lady Grid-Iron is in London” Oliver remarked, feigning disinterest, for if ever there was a lady he’d have liked to ravish ferociously it was her, meek and mousy though she appeared, there was a steely intensity to her carriage and a sparkle in her eye that spoke of more than just bonnet beribboning or embroidery en pointe.”Oh is she?” Lord Toby knocked back his fifth glass of absinthe and reached for his opium pipe. His lack of interest in the woman he had gone to such lengths to marry amused Baron Micheletti, who gently despised his friend. For here was a man whose emotionally disconnected approach to economic policy making, had brought poverty, and destitution, to the working class minions of the empire.
Whether sweet England and its people prospered or starved he ate heartily, drank heartily and caroused with abandon. It never occurred to him that the poverty and destitution he so blithely imposed could breed the kind of tenacious hatred that had led to him being holed up in the Nag’s Head. Baron Micheletti smiled absent mindedly at the little white mice he had brought with him on this final visit to his erstwhile friend.”You know my friend, I was once like you, a staunch aristocratic capitalist, but then I met Madame Guacamoley and the rest, as they say, is history”
Lord Grid-Iron observed the mice frolic and scamper upon Baron Micheletti’s hand and forearm with rapt disgust, for it seemed as if the stark white furry rodents scampered and chittered in time to Baron Micheletti’s rendition of Puccini’s Rigoletto. Could mice decipher music? Toby Grid-Iron was so rapt at the sight that he did not notice the Baron pulling out a Colt revolver as he quietly opened the door to the Lord Chancellor’s lodgings. Though he did with horror note the discomfiting sensation of a sudden gust of cold air accompanied by the emergence of a manifestation he had desperately prayed he would never be privy to, t’was shorty Seamus (his former nursery companion) in all his monstrous glory. “Oh ye kin run” hissed Seamus Geraghty, leader of the Molly Maguires “But where’s there to hide?”