Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Web To Weave Corn To Grind

(c) Simon Baines (great-grandson); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Oh the grandeur and the picturesque charm of stormy waters, till one is caught in them! Having rustled through the cloven seas, having flirted with near oblivion, the Resurgam now lies safely harboured. The ship’s captain has resolved to have her seaworthy by the end of the week if he possibly can. He dare not stay there longer, for his orders are to surrender his illicit cargo and then to re-join Commander Fox and the SS Baltic which is bound for South Carolina.

How we gonna get that lunatic off this ship without the whole damn yard knowing? I purpose that we off load him tonight, once the coast is clear too much sleep has fled Kitty’s eyes this past week, the whole mission seems cursed and she cannot wait to be rid of the man she used to call husband.

Men full of more brawl than you have been press ganged on these docks, wait till the morrow. You’ll find a way then, for sure Nathaniel Keeler-Breeze watches her march back and forth restlessly and wonders why she doesn’t simply shoot the English gentleman, after all there are far more pressing matters.

A civil war is looming, as it undoubtedly had been since Lincoln the ‘nigger-lover’ had been elected president. The woman was a crack shot with any rifle you cared to hand her and had been an excellent spy, in his opinion abducting the puerile Englishman had been a waste of her time, she should have been left down south, putting the devil to them secessionists!

“Did you see the way they eyed us as we anchored?” Nathaniel shrugged, for it was known that the ‘Tammany Tiger’ ruled these docks. Still, even the Tammany beast could be made to roll over on its back and purr, if one knew how!

“I saw it, now get some sleep”

The ship lies silent as the grave (or a harpooned whale) and the crew are as the dead, the result of generous amounts of rum, mingled with physical exhaustion, that and a desperate desire to escape the sporadic sobs of Tobias Grid-Iron. Why, even a trans-atlantic mouse has paused momentarily in its hunt for food, to observe the wonder of an aristocrat weeping, over an inconsequential part of God’s creation!

Down in the hold, midst the remaining crates of sea biscuits and Rum, Francis stands guard, keeping an eye out for any river rats or dock thieves who might come upon the ship unawares. He is not alone, the Hindu Fakirs stand guard with him, so fond have they become of their Sudanese friend, who like the hunter he has been from his youth, walks alert and unblinking in the dark.

You were a hunter yes?” Navendra has wondered about this since it seems clear to him that Francis is a gentle and proper man, a most fastidious gentleman in matters of retribution but hardly bloodthirsty.

“Yes, I was a hunter

“But why hunt?

“ My master (Sultan Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim) was a devout Muslim and also a hunter of great repute, at ten years of age I attended him. On one of his most esteemed hunts I was one of ten runners dotted across the forests of Nederhiwi

“Why would a hunter require runners?” Francis smiled gravely,

“To lure out his prey…jaguars…sleek and able to move with such fluid grace and speed that to hesitate but for a moment was to assure one’s own entrance to Janna! I was careful and I was fast, so I survived, many others didn’t. When I was twelve I made my first kill.”

“What did you kill?”

“A beautiful gazelle, slender of carriage and fleet of foot, her name was Nuur Hamdi

“She sought freedom, the Sultan would not give it and so she fled. I was ranked high amongst the hunters so he sent me after her, through the jungles of the Nederhiwi. She was the first person I killed, but not the last.

“Oh” the Fakirs are horrified by his casual admission, to have slaughtered another enslaved human being? The consequences for his karma must have been disastrous!

“ I thought if I served Mehemet Ibrahim loyally, Allah might be kind to me. But one day an important man invited his Royal Highness to Alabama to give lectures, and I as his most reputed hunter was asked to go with him

The Sultan was asked to give a talk? On what?”

“The efficacy of the slave trade, several years before he had been petitioned by a Sufi sect, to end the abominable practice of enslaving Christians. He was reluctant to do so, and since he was both a philosopher and an intellectual he was able to expound convincingly as to why he should not. His arguments were so impressive that Jedidiah Kane Thickett invited him to Alabama to share his beliefs. The Sultan was so flattered to have been presented with such an invitation, that he presented him with one of his most prized possessions”

“Really? And what was it?”

“Me”

The three Indian gentlemen are horrified, a culture that barters human flesh as if it were a lump of gold or of ivory? And to such a one as Jedidiah Kane Thickett? The thought itself makes them shudder, for had they not observed the violent disposition of the man for themselves?

“How did you escape?”

I was stolen from him by Allan Pinkerton and given a choice, liberty or death! I chose liberty!”

A most worthy choice!

“I didn’t think so at the time, in fact I shudder to think of those days of my darkness. Allah has indeed been most kind.

The gentle lapping of the harbour waters, the intermittent hoot of owls and the hollow cries of harbour watchmen, who for a couple of dollars will turn a blind eye to river rats regardless of what they are supposed to do. These sounds garner the attention of Francis and the Fakirs as they stand guard in companionable silence.

“Liberty or death that is an honourable saying” replies Navendra

“An honourable choice also” remarks Amjal

“Oh villainy of villainies that ever the sultan should have betrayed me thus! To have surrendered me to the most brutal calumnies of one whose depravity knew no bounds! To have left me to drown beneath that vast wave of moral pollution they called slavery! But Allah has been merciful to me, I shall endeavour as best I can to reward the life who redeemed mine and when the time comes I shall take the revenge I have purposed upon!

“Yours is a terrible, terrible tale, I wonder that in the midst of your trials you did not succumb to lunacy, but as you say the gods are most kind”

“And what of you? How did you survive the massacre of Jhansi?”

In the darkness they tilt their heads one to another as if communing without words, they are silent and the silence is as dense and as comforting as velvet.

“One day my friend, when the thoughts are less painful, perhaps we shall tell”

“Yes” agrees Francis, thinking of the aristocratic dolt below deck, whose cruelty caused their suffering “Perhaps, one day”.

Francis Page

Francis Page

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass-Elspeth!

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“T’is most unnatural” murmured Caleb Flaherty,

“Indeed” replied Gabriel O’Hara ” Did you note how the winds bearing us to salvation did abate, once that accursed bird was loosed from its cage!”

They both glance uneasily at the albatross now perching upon its master’s chest, and now hopping blithely across the quarter deck. These courageous stalwarts who, have been unmanned by historic dangers, and now suffering a psychological perturbation, have impressed upon their minds that the way of their deliverance lies in the slaughter of that harmless bird.

Are there any seasons which may account for it? For they do say that change of seasons has a notable effect on the social habits of the predicatorial. Which is a shame, for the long, weary, dismal night has passed, day has come, and all (save the unfortunate shantyman) are alive. The Resurgam has fought her way through the raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean and survived! Helmed by a dauntless and valiant captain, a man whose steadfast tenacity at the wheel has helmed all to safety. The ship has swept through shark infested waters , weathered a tumultuous storm, and now limps on towards her final destination. The sea is becalmed so that the Resurgam may be likened to ‘a painted ship upon a painted ocean’ so little progress has it made in these waters over the last three days.

The sun sweeps down upon the drowsing crew, cossetting all in her balmy embrace. They are two days away from drowning as the ship continues to take on water and yet they care not! Is it any wonder then, that the two most desperate, most murderous sailors aboard ship, have taken it upon themselves to expedite matters, by falling upon the albatross and slitting its throat? Ah! But freedom will reign inspite of earth and hell! The albatross upon seeing the murderous glint of sharpened steel takes flight, and nestled safely amongst  the main sails, looks with a sharp eye upon its would-be slaughterers, who, howling with thwarted intent , clamber swiftly up the main-mast towards it. But the albatross is not stupid and cawing as loudly as its soft voice will allow it, wakens its master to its plight!

“What ho?” Lord Grid-Iron’s first act upon awakening is to reach for the comforting solace of the albatross, which had been nestled snugly against his breast, but she is gone! What ho! Jumping to his feet and looking up towards the crow’s nest he espies Elspeth and the murderous profligates inching their way towards her , with daggers in hand. Ne te quaesiveris extra! For how can one remain virtuous in the face of such evil? With a deliberate calm borne of mild derangement, Lord Grid-Iron seizes the sleeping Methuselah’s crossbow, takes aim and fires! The arrow sped on its way with startling accuracy, hurtles towards its intended victim. It would have hit its mark, were it not for the sudden tilt in the ships hull causing the ill-starred bird to swerve into the path of the arrow’s trajectory! A pain filled sqwark and the albatross is sent plummeting toward the ship!

“Elspeth!”

How accurately dear reader,can one convey the sheer horror contained within that hollow cry? What heart rending grief lies encapsulated in that word! What good fortune then that a hale and hearty breeze has sprung up, brawling its way through the sails of the ship and nudging her forwards! That as the ship picks up speed one and all spring to life, manning the rigging for all they are worth. None have time to glance upon the piteous sight that is Lord Grid-Iron, indeed none would think to empathise  as he grieves miserably over the jinxed albatross that brought the fog and mist.

Faster and now faster the ‘Resurgam’ moves, flying through the waters as though borne on the wings of destiny. Whipped savagely about by the winds which bluster and billow about her sails the ship glides swiftly along as though the devil himself were at her back.The crew strain to hold her in check but she moves like an unbroken stallion straining at the leash, give her liberty or death! With each pulsing blast the ‘resurgam’ is thrust forth till at length a lone cry arises from the crow’s nest.

“Land ahoy! Land ahoy!” t’is a cry echoed joyously by the crew,

“Land ahoy! Look fast! Look fast! Land ahoy!”

“Look on it! Look on it! We’re almost home!”

“New York Harbour ahead!”

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Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass- Rocks!

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Have any of us the tolerable notion of the depth and skill required to become a ships captain? To know that all eighteen souls-for the Hindoo Fakirs had also taken passage to the Americas-look to you to steer them to safety? With what agility with what skill and speed a captain must do his work and navigate his ship to safety in waters such as these. Even now to see the vessel attempting to steer it’s way towards a wavering sliver of light, even now to cling on for dear life as the iron-clad hull battered itself upon the savage rocks.

“A ha ha ha! You have us at the rattle!” Lord Grid-Iron chortled midst the crazed turmoil of boiling sea foam,

“Will you be quiet? T’is unnatural behaviour when our souls are in peril! Stop it! Will you stop it? Seamus make him stop it!”

“A ha ha ha! We shall all drown!” chortled Lord Grid-Iron his charcoal locks plastered flat against his skull and his watery blue eyes darting to and fro.

“Oh gawd! Gawd save us! Hail Mary……” screeched Gabriel clutching the ropes which tied him to the ship’s main mast. He had slung his mother’s rosary beads around his neck, now he clutched at these tightly and prayed fervently that the storm might abate, and the ship not break apart upon the bestial rocks.

“A ha ha ha!” cried Lord Grid-Iron once more making the hackles rise on the back of Seamus’s neck, for t’was plain that terror had made the Gombeen fiend take leave of his senses!

“Hand me a grapple hook Seamus!” cried Methuselah O’Houlihan, “I’ve a mind to join Captain Keeler-Breeze at the wheel! Sure he’ll need prodigious help saving the Resurgam from certain doom!” as wave upon violent wave breaks across the deck, Methuselah loses himself from the mast and with grappling hook in wizened hands hacks his way across the sodden deck, toward Captain Keeler-Breeze. He arrives not a moment too soon for the poor captain can scarce clasp the wheel in his frozen claws and that look, such a look! As t’would say I teeter on the precipice of desolate surrender! But Methuselah is full of pluck, with several aggressive tugs on the ship’s wheel he has her turned aft towards that broadening shaft of light, so that her hull scrapes hard against the smaller rocks, narrowly averting collision with the worst of them.

“The storm is abating!” cried Methuselah

“But the waters are infested with sharks and the hull may have sprung a leak!” the good captain cried desperately,

“Take heart! We’ll not drown! Helm there!” replied Methuselah with a salty twinkle in his eye “There! Towards that chasm of light! I’ll check what damage is done!”

With grappling hook held aloft the ancient mariner hurls himself length by length across the deck, hammering the hook into its wood and then hauling himself along, in several strides he is back alongside Lord Grid-Iron, who, clutching fiercely to Elspeth the albatross continues to cackle the crew’s impending doom,

“We shall all drown! Drown! I tell you! HA!”

Not for the first time Methuselah O’Houlihan wonders what degree of hatred could possibly have possessed the Molly Maguires, to have abducted such a one as this, bereft of all the good sense that would have made him a decent tenant landlord to his people. But he has not much time to conjecture, for soon he has bypassed the masts and now slipping below deck he spies a dim light toward the helm of the ship and thinks he hears singing.

Om trayambakam yajaamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam Urvaarukamiva bandhanaan mrityor muksheeya maamritaat. We worship the three-eyed One.Who is fragrant and Who nourishes well all beings; may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality even as the cucumber is severed from its bondage”

This exotic song he has heard many a-time, sung above deck by the Hindoo fakirs as they clambered up the ropes and unfurled the sails and as he gets closer to the helm the singing continues gently on, though their voice is joined by another far less gentle and patient.

“Bismillahi! Bail faster! Faster! Hand me those croker sacks!” deftly catching sack upon sack Francis skilfully stuffs the hull breach which has rapidly filled with water, then over the padding he nails several planks of wood, torn off a storage crate of rum.

“T’is done!” he declares

“But she’s still awash!” cried Methuselah

“There’s a larger tear towards the bulkhead!That will take some repairing, come with me!”

Murky dank and cold like an underwater tomb, the ship tilts abruptly to one side and Methuselah and Francis with it, but they abruptly steady themselves against the hull and continue on, sloshing their way through the briny overflow towards the back of the ship. There is the oddest contrast between this ancient stalwart of the sea and this sombre lithesome land lugging warrior, whose dextrous skills swiftly heal the breach in the ship’s side. Plugging it with with croker sacks and several planks of wood from the abundance of rum crates (whose contents he has, sadly, tossed overboard eager to thwart the desire of the crew to immerse themselves in befuddled depravities and at such a time as this!) stored below deck.

“Will she hold do you think?”

Francis shrugged, “We have been travelling for six weeks, the storm blew us off course costing us four days, it should take us another five days to reach port”

“New York is five days away?”

Francis nodded,”At least, if she springs a leak before then? We drown…..slowly…”

Are there words to describe the stark esteem in which Francis the indefatigable is now held by this worthy old dog of the high seas? Stripped to the waist and rippling with the lithe wiry muscle of a woodsman he has not the air of your average gentleman. So dauntless so valiant in a storm that has shaken many a courageous soul! Methuselah harbours a sneaking suspicion that Francis was not always a Pinkerton agent….

To be continued…..

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass-Shark!

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A handsome stalwart native of the Americas and a skilled mariner, since first he fell out of his mother’s apron and onto the Eliza Battle, the estimable captain is thunderstruck! Was not the Mary Celeste his first command? Had he not survived all the dangers and privations of service aboard the Pilgrim, that privateering brig owned by Master Cabot? The captain cannot account therefore, for the grim sense of foreboding that grips him like a shroud as this glistening apparition, this shark, bears down upon his vessel. At times the monstrous, glistening beast lies hid beneath the raging waters, but it is soon upon them and as it nears port-side it swerves, and with an agile flick of it’s tail surges upwards out of the water, and arches itself sideways towards the main sail mast.

Are there any words to describe the terrible sight of those gaping jaws embedded with sharp bone-white teeth? I think not!

“Cover your eyes Kitty! Don’t look!”

Drawing his sou’wester violently over her face he turns her roughly in towards his manly shoulders. Alas dear reader that there could be no protecting of this worthy mistress of the high seas from the Shanty-man’s singing as it was most violently interrupted by his terror-filled shrieks! Thunder crackled overhead, lightning struck the ironclad ship dousing it in ethereal light and t’was plain to see the horror which had transpired then!

“And it’s ho! Ho! Aaargh! Get away! Get awa-aargh!”

To have survived several ship wrecks and kidnappings midst these treacherous waters is no mean feat. Alas, then, for man-eating loan sharks! With a final garbled cry of “Help me! Aaaaargh!” with a brief, flailing about of one pale limb, the poor shantyman was gone! Swallowed whole by that terrible beast who like that terrible terrible beast of sea lore, the leviathan, swiftly disappeared beneath the foaming waves. Captain Keeler-Breeze silently threw up a prayer to that patron saint of monks travelling the high seas, St Brendan (it couldn’t hurt now could it?).

“Now he has the taste of man-flesh in his jaws he’ll be back, t’is little doubt of it!” looking up towards the crow’s nest he espied a lithe figure nimbly sliding down the main mast and headed below deck. T’was the valiant Francis Page gone to call the rest of the crew to battle no doubt!

“Kitty! Uncover the Gatling Gun! Quickly! We won’t have long to wait!”

Apprehending in that instant that God had opened a way through which impending death might be averted, Kitty slid swiftly towards the main deck clasping a grapple hook in her gloved hand. She had barely reached the Gatling Gun when a shard of lightning hit the main mast once more sending shards of it crashing towards the deck. Tearing desperately at the oil skin which covered the gun, she heaved it slowly around to face the ship’s port-side. Lassoing  herself to the gun’s base she gripped the gun firmly by the barrel and the trigger and steeled herself for the shark’s next attack. Like a ‘tossed shuttlecock to the blast’ the ship reeled  back and forth midst the churning waters and t’was all Kitty Grid-Iron could do to cling grimly on to the gun.

“I won’t go I tell you! Noooooo! Nooo! I won’t!”

“Oh but you will!”

“Let me go back to Elspeth! I tell you I won’t do it! I won’t!”

“Ah but you will!” hissed Seamus Geraghty his fierce green eyes were fastened intently on the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose pale blue eyes were awash with tears as Seamus grimly thrust a whaling harpoon into his limp, wet palms.

” You’ll do as you’re bid, if you ever wish to see land again! On deck wid ye! Ye Gombeen fiend!”

At this point it must be said dear reader, that though there is much to distinguish the predatory human being from a lone shark, in terms of mindset their natures are one and the same. For, having achieved his nefarious aim (the devouring of human flesh) and that without punitive consequence, the shark returned once more and he came not alone. O! The follies of venturing abroad on the high seas without knowledge of the dangers that may befall thee! Oh! It has grown most bitter, cold and dark with naught but the ethereal sliver of light, which only does aid the good captain in his journey toward home.

“Shark! Shark! Men to the port-side! Steady your positions! Hold yer course! Shark!”

Whale-spade in hand Seamus Geraghty clambers swiftly aboard port-side in time to meet the fierce onslaught of the shark whose sharp teeth,gruesome close up, bear the adorning fragments of the Shanty-man’s remains.

“I’ll have at ye, ye fiend! You’ll ne’er get the better of us! Come ahead damn ye! Come ahead!”

With a ferocious yelp, such as would chill the marrow of any seaman, he sprang upon the beast spade in hand beating it savagely about the head.

“Have at ye! Ye accursed lone shark!”

Is there anything more brutal than a crew of desperate men drawn on to passionately embrace their leaders cause? For lashed by fierce winds and rains the ship’s crew clamber up and over the ships hull, leaping upon shark after shark with such ferocity that  the waters below the ship churn and foam with the shoal’s swift retreat. Such bravery dear reader? Such brutality! The likes of which will be spied many a time ere this arduous adventure is concluded!

And yet, has this particular instance of courageousness been all in vain? For as Seamus’s men clamber back on deck (offering up a swift prayer of thanks to St Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of St Bethel’s Asylum, as well as sailors), the bloodied lone shark attempts another surprise onslaught! Hurrah, then, for Kitty Grid-Iron who flinging herself urgently over the Gatling gun pulls hard on the trigger and it seems as if the very fires of hell issue forth from its revolving barrels! With a piercing shriek the devilish fish falls, plummeting back into the waters and disappearing. Peace at last descends, but there is worse to come.

“Rocks ahead!” cries Lord Grid-Iron albatross in hand, “Abandon ship!”

“Ye will not! Ye will stay and face justice!” growls Seamus Geraghty wondering how amidst all the fracas, he had managed to  return below deck, and retrieve the accursed albatross. Nevertheless as the stormy seas continue to break in very fast, all can perceive the truth of his utterances and fastening ropes about themselves and the mid and main-masts, the ship’s crew braces itself against the impending violent collision.

“Tally-Ho! cries Lord Grid-Iron wriggling like an eel beneath Geraghty’s fierce embrace “We’re doomed!”

to be continued…..

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Transported

Of Triumphant Emancipation From Waged Slavery!

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Of all the righteous deeds that ever took place beneath the sun this was the best, of all the pleasures that from justice should ever transpire this was the most enduring.  To see now the gates to Newgate Prison opening slowly and the prisoners both dazed and bemused stumbling forth. T’is a clear, cold, day my friends and one as will be etched in the memories of those who reluctantly did the liberating for some time to come. To have made reparations for a great social wrong and to have been made to do it, for fear of blossoming scandal! Why, even the bells of St Sepulchre ring out exultant over this triumph!

Look there my brothers and sisters look there! T’is the Union Rep! Valiant yet shrewd, heroic and yet longsuffering! Borne away upon the bowed shoulders of the silk mill workers, they whose reputations once smeared and sunk in calumny, now stand vindicated. An open cart stands a’fore the prison gates and as they place him down in it there he stands, waving his arms aloft and waiting for silence. All necks are stretched eagerly in his direction, all starved faces upturned. So many earnest faces, so many hope filled gazes from those who have braved the workhouse and prison for this victory.

“My Brothers and sisters! I stand before you as a man humbled by your sacrifices! For whilst I have slept comfortably upon a prison bed, many amongst you have braved the charity of Mr Ethelbert-Smythe and his workhouse!”.

Hearing the muttered curses and surveying the scarce hidden rage of the workers the Union Rep smiles inwardly, he continues “Ours has been a great sacrifice, family members transported to the colonies ne’er to be seen again if our masters had their way!”. Here and there loud sobs and howls of rage may be heard and still the Union Rep speaks on,”We have lost much my brothers and sisters, so much and yet in the end, they as called themselves our masters were forced to defeat! The eight hour day is ours my friends! It is ours and with it decent pay!”

“How much?” cries first one soul then another, for though word has reached them all, they will not believe it until he as has led them says it is so.

“Five shillings a piece for every adult, two shillings for every child”. Silence and something worst than silence, a thousand faces struggling betwixt faith and disbelief, five shillings? Five? They glance at each other, they look up at the stolid face of a man who has never yet lied to or misled them. Five shillings? Can it be true? After all this hardship and heartache? To return to work with improved wages and working conditions? Without further transportations or hangings? Can it be so? The adults struggle with this good news, but the children roar exultantly,“Hurrah for the Union Rep! Hurrah Hurrah for the Union Rep!”. And soon their cheers are joined by their mothers and fathers, their aunts and uncles, their brothers and sisters and grandparents, in short all the vast, grimy forest of indigent poor bearing London aloft on its shoulders. “Hurrah for the Union Rep!” the cart makes its way through the crowds that throng it and is soon lost amongst them as it is driven back to that place from whence it came,St Giles.

“Can it be true? Are they indeed freed? It seems but a dream! Would that my brother were here to enjoy this sight!”

Wendy Woodbine tilts her beribboned bonnet at the cart as it passes her, “T’is certainly strange” remarks the young man with her, tilting his hat with one hand, whilst the other, gloved in grey leather, rests upon an elegantly carved cane, “One would think he was royalty!”

Not since the funeral of that venerable fireman Master Braidwood, have such crowds lined the streets and thronged the byways of London. Not since the hanging of Mother Birthe-Rugge has there been such high spirits and good humour. See there calmly marching the chimney sweeps, red scarves tied around their necks, their scarlet banners held aloft for all to see. The music hall entertainers trail behind them, armed with musical insturments and waving their bowler hats in the air, whilst the ladies twirl their skirts and dance to the tune ‘Oh Susannah!’.

All the traders along the way have shut up shop, and now they also line the streets cheering and waving their caps in the air,”Hurrah for the silk mill workers, hurrah, hurrah and down with the rich!”. Hurrah and down with the rich! What a cry to freeze the heart and chill the bones of the aristocracy were it to be taken seriously! But only a few of its members are present and they are wholly disinclined to attend to the brayings of an impoverished mob. See there that glossy black carriage with the Westminster Palace coat of arms emblazoned upon it. But pray who is seated within it? None other than the Prime Minister and Palmerston!

“Is all in order?” asks the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston nods,

”Yes, but there were complications”

“What complications? How hard can it be to make off with a carpet bag?! Don’t tell me its still here! Lord Grid-Iron cannot still be in England!”

“A robbery was attempted by American secessionists and foiled by the Bow Street Police”

“By whom?!” The Prime Minister looks horrified but Lord Palmerston smiles,

“Mr Thickett-Kane whom we now have under arrest, fortuitously Inspector Depta was on hand with his men and so was able to take matters in hand”

“But what would he want with Lord Grid-Iron? Please tell me they shot the ingrate! The carpet bag, where is it now?”

Lord Palmerston pulled out his pocket watch, glancing down at it he said, “At this precise hour he’ll be aboard the Resurgam and on his way to the Americas, I don’t expect we shall ever lay eyes on him again

“But what if he should think to return?”

“He will already have been apprised of how much the government knows, about his business dealings in the Crimea, t’is an act of high treason he has committed. I feel sure that once he comes to his senses he will consider his imposed exile a mercy!”

“Excellent! Now tell me, how goes our venture in the Crimea?”

One hundred and eighty dead from the failed Light Brigade charge in Balaklava, five hundred dead at the Battle of Inkerman…in fact this ‘venture’ fares not very well at all. Truth be told with statistics as inconvenient as this mounting up like the bodies of the dead, t’is a relief that such as Lord Tennyson exist. “Why such soaring prose as his stirs the patriotic and urges us on to further bravery, for ours is a just cause!” declares the recalcitrant Palmerston. The carriage glides on through the crowds with its politicians deep in discourse and wholly oblivious to the power of the poor that will, in due course, bring about the downfall of the cabinet, if these politicians but knew it!

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