Not since the children of Israel rose up to frolic and to play, indeed not since the Dionysian revels of that rebellious tribe have so many cast off all restraint with the blessing of a triumphant and hence charitable few. The unfettered success of an electoral fraud has spurred Master Eccles to declare an extra day of rest and unbridled festivities, and lo! The people discarded their tools, took up their Sunday best and bedecked themselves most joyously in Tory favours!
A triumphal arch of Laurel Leaves and Hawthorn Berries festooned with the Royal Insignia of the Essence of Gove has been erected before the town hall, and a Maypole now stands erect in the town square.
“Eh up our Alice, goest thou to the May Dance? There’s pleasure to be had there by such as bonny as thou!” Green eyed Alice, with her raven black hair and fresh complexion, Alice of the Dimsdales would stand speechless had she the will,”Wouldst thou dance this day?” she protests,”And on whose grave? Knowst thou not that the Potters and Stampers of Grodden Parnock Refinery are to be laid off? And what of the men of Brume Polder whose furnaces are to be shut down? Are they to dance and prance too? Nay mother, I’ll not dance whilst men are deprived of employ and their families left to starve!” there can be no more comely a lass than Alice, and yet so grave a lass is she that nought will court her! For though it may be said of many a lass that they harbour a populous solitude, whilst at work in the factory or the field, Alice’s mind nourishes one idea above all else ‘De chacun selos ses faculties, a chacun selon ses besoin’ which is to say, from each according to his means to each according to his ability. According to the tenets of Gove t’is a most heathen saying, t’is one devoid of that shrewd wisdom so typifying Tory thought. Yet tis all Alice chooses to ponder and reflect upon, small wonder then, that none intent upon their own social improvement will court her!
“Nay lass, don’t take on so! T’is only a May Dance and a bit of a celebration!” to this Alice makes no reply stood out as she is on the doorstep, surveying all the revelry going on around her and wondering how the townsfolk will rue it in the cold light of day. There goes Charlotte Dymond clad in a crisp white frock with a blue ribboned bonnet, hark at her laughing! Why who would think that her grand-da lay on his death bed without a pension to bequeath to his widow? Now look at Methuselah Gray! Dancing a caper along the cobbled streets with a quart of brandy in his grip, his shoulder length grey hair flutters in the wind as he celebrates the fact that today he may eat and drink to his heart’s content! T’will make up for all the months of short work he and his kith and kin have been forced to endure he is certain!
The town is a-riot dear reader! But not with the overthrow of its betters, much to the discouragement of Master Benjamin and his fellow Iron-Reformers who now sit, disconsolate in the Quaker Meeting Hall. “Comrades! Will you tamely submit to being deprived by a gross fraud of the whole value of a franchise conferred by the people of Molten Tussock Major upon thee?” the Union Rep asks, “Brothers! The undisturbed success of one fraud may act as a stimulus to renewed exertions of the same character! Would you have this most audacious of swindlers, this ruthless perpetrator of a most heinous act of fraud go unchallenged? Nay my friends! You must fight this result tooth and claw!” Those present at the meeting listen raptly to all he has to say but at the end of the day they are stolid northern men not easily moved by sophistry. They do however stand in awe of the Union Rep’s deeds and these alone have seeded in them a glimmer of hope as to their chances of restoring democracy to the town.
“Oh we have fought!” cries the Reverend Parnham mournfully,”We have fought till our eyes were red from lack of sleep and our voices hoarse! Why Master Turnham campaigned so hard he caught influenza and near died from it!”
“Yes” murmured the congregation in sympathy “Say on brother! Would that there were a God to smite Master Eccles and purge him from our midst!” a dire wish but what strength of feeling dear readers!
“Ah but there is!” declares the Union Rep “Have you not heard the story of David and Goliath? Yet comrades what was the outcome? This Goliath laid low in the dust! Think on that my friends! Think on it and rise up and fight!”
“But with what pray tell? Our resources are exhausted, all as could have, have paid their membership dues, the elections have took all we had!”
“Yes! Say on Brother and what of the end result? Nowt has changed?” cries Master Wendell his face flushed with anger, it reminds the Union Rep of the ferocious rage of the London chimney sweeps and of how it swept all before it! “Nowt has changed? All has changed! Democracy has been overthrown! It has been abducted by as villainous a rapscallion as ever graced this town with his accursed presence! My brothers we must wrest democracy out of his claws and restore her maiden honour! We have little by way of means though we all share the belief that what has gone on here cannot be allowed to go on for much longer!”
“Here here!” cries Lord Douglas “Bravo!” much to the surprise and terror of all present he has forced entrance to this meeting, determined to weigh in and do his bit. Until now the Earl of Grodden Parnock and Brume Polder has been unusually quiet and reflective, but now he feels he must speak up and speak up he does. “How many years has Master Eccles dwelt within our bodies?”
“Nigh on twenty year too many” is someone’s sour reply,
“In that time how much good has been done to our town?”
“Himself grows fatter and fatter whilst manpower is reduced and short hours increased!” is another’s equally sour reply.
“What words are there to describe the slough of despond into which the town has fallen?” exclaims the Reverend and as one the listening men sigh, only to have their audible discouragement cut off by a peremptory snort from Lord Douglas.
“Slough of despond be damned! cries he, the muscles of an iron-puddling practitioner rippling beneath his jacket,”We will have rid of this iron master you have my word on it! Now I am told that Master Francis serves up grand fair after these meetings, is that true?”
“Aye my lord!”
“Then” says his lordship to all and sundry,”May we eat?”