The Right Honourable Thomas Bass has descended from his carriage accompanied by Lord Molesworth to view with his own eyes the spectacle that has descended upon the Newgate Prison.With a chill in the air and it being near morn one would think that the demonstraters, worn out from the march, would fade like the morning mist back to cold homes and even colder breakfasts. But none have moved, not one has shown the slightest inclination to depart from the wrought-iron gates of Newgate Prison. Standing shoulder to shoulder they circle the very walls; man to child to woman to man, row upon row of haggard faces ferociously set and all of them armed to the teeth. No sun rises glimmering on the horizon to gild their pinched faces, instead it hides its light behind the thunderous looking clouds.
The Right Honourable Hardy Ethelbert-Smythe has stopped his carriage just on the corner of Newgate and as he looks about him a sight greets his eyes which leaves him aghast. For there stand Millicent Flanders and right alongside her Ronald Walters and Arnie Tobin, newly fed and released from the workhouse here they loiter, savagely intent upon biting the very hand that has fed them! On any other occasion he would step from his carriage and berate the ingrates, but he has affairs to attend to at Bethlehem Asylum and so he signals to his driver to continue on. What a congregation to behold on a Sunday morn such as this! For these are the stony gazes of such as have forsaken the dream of boundless peace in the great heavenly yonder, and who are now ferociously determined to have bread and better working conditions in the here and now.
“Have the troops been called out?” murmurs Thomas Bass for he has only lately been informed of this walk out by Her Majesty’s Railway servants (he has funded several of them). “I know not” replies Lord Molesworth,”Though I suppose they will be, this cannot possibly end well, the government cannot be seen to be of weak resolve on this”. But the right honourable Thomas Bass shakes his head, “Nay lad,have you not heard? He who was the most opposed to leniency in this matter lies ailing upon his sick bed!” Lord Molesworth raises an eyebrow,”ill? With what? When I saw him last he looked as right as rain!”. Mr Bass blushes,”T’is said he has the Jezebel’s Lurgy,desperation led him to take comfort in the midst of the bosom of iniquity and this illness is the result. The scandal should break this very morning” now Lord Molesworth is dismayed,”Really? In which paper?” and now the Right Honourable Thomas Bass looks appropriately vague,”The Northern Star one should imagine…”.
Royal Dockers, Her Majesty’s Railway Servants, chimney sweeps, cottonmill workers, porters, street walkers and musical artistes. All who were present at the beginning and all who have had a hand in the struggle are now present. Silence pervades the ranks of the great unwashed and save the sharp, cold breeze touching upon their ragged garments nought may be heard. Gradually police pass casually through the ranks of the protestors clustering themselves on the opposite sides of the Newgate Road and not looking too worried about it, for they have it on good opinion that they won’t be kept idling there for long. Polishing their whistles on the sleeves of their smart uniforms they glance across the street at the demonstrators with a knowing glance,”What a sight!What a handsomely attired set they is!” one of them remarks,” Keep comin back don’t they? Ain’t they tired of hangings yet?” remarks another and there is raucous laughter. Lord Molesworth and those besides him (for several more Lords and politicians have descended from their carriages), are horrified, for they were given a tour of the aftermath of the Grid-Iron Riot. Why are these officers of the law so at ease with these eager depredators? And why are there so few of them?
His question is soon answered for there is the sound of a dozen hearty whistles warning of the impending arrival of a fire engine. And not too long after a bright red fire wagon presents itself attended by the chief fire engineer himself and two officers. “Make way! Make way!There’s a fire over at Spitalsfield! Make way!”. Like the parting of the Red Sea the crowd gives way, it scatters, and a great roaring cheer sends the fire chief and his valiant men on their way. Thomas Bass notes that the marchers seem more relaxed now, in fact they seem almost cheery as they resume their positions outside the walls of Newgate. Now several of the officers unbutton their dark blue jackets and pull out pewter canteens which they pass around, “Ere Mr Bass fancy a tipple of gin?” shaking his head The Right Honourable Thomas Bass glances once more at the cheerful, relaxed disposition of the police officers on duty; is there something they know that he doesn’t?
There is definitely something a-foot for he notes that several officers are now examining their pocket watches,”Another two minutes” mutters one “Ey up! Ere comes another!” replies the Bow Street officer beside him. And indeed another fire engine and another and another materialises. Each screeching to a dead halt before the striking workers and each greeted by a raucous cheer as they depart. Lord Molesworth counts several, one after the other and all seemingly headed in different locations. Lime House, St Martins-in-The-Fields, the Commercial Road, Liverpool Docks,”What the deuce?!” declares Lord Ruckle-Smoot,”What’s going on?!”
“Not what! Who!” replies one of the officers,”Ah well lads! Time we was packing up! They’ll be no rioting to put down today! March out!” buttoning up their jackets and adjusting their helmets and capes the officers depart the scene of the Newgate Prison Siege, much to the dismay of Lord Ruckle-Smoot. “What the devil’s going on?” Lord Molesworth thinks he knows and glancing up at the lone figure of the Union Rep standing a-top the wall of Newgate Prison, he can’t help but admire the man and indeed the movement’s cunning.” “Observe who is missing from the marchers,chimney sweeps and match factory girls!” replies a red faced departing officer,”This is not a riot, it never was; there’s been fires set in silk mill premises all over London”.