Academies

Oh My America! My Newfoundland!

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The reader will have the goodness to imagine the delicate frisson of the hunt, hunting is not a novel occupation by any means, no, this traditional practice has existed for centuries. It is depicted upon the interiors of the caves in which Neanderthal man is said to have dwelt, it is a part of the Native Indian’s intiation into manhood. To position one’s self in close proximity to one’s prey and from a very specific and precise vantage point. To observe one’s prey gently cantering to a spot nearby, to watch it  stop and ponder, to see a troubled look cross it’s brow. More extraordinary still, to watch as it cocks-a-swagger and struts abroad, parading the length and breadth of the docks with it’s red headed doxy! It takes a fastidious disposition to restrain any sudden impulse to throw one’s target to the ground, to take one’s game captive. To wait. To observe,then to move in steadily and with immediate effect and success, such was the inclination of the man Geraghty and such was his practice.

“Well and if it isn’t my Lord Grid-Iron! Gone to ground in a flop-house by the sea! And with his little red headed moxy too!” The men surrounding Seamus Geraghty laughed at that, their tanned and weathered visages crinkling with mirth at his humour. When Tobias tried to join in the joke all fell silent, their faces becoming mirthless and grim, their eyes ablaze with something that felt a bit like hate, except that Lord Grid-Iron had difficulty defining it quite so precisely. From his birth he’d known that there were those who would envy him his position in life and hate him for it, but he’d always managed to keep those people at arms length. “It’s Seamus isn’t it?” Tobias smiled tremulously, ” Seamus Geraghty? Mary Geraghty’s lad? How is Mary by the way?”

“Starved to death along with my Da, Mr Geraghty, her husband” Tobias Grid-Iron scratched his head, he glanced at the four burly men surrounding him, he gulped as they glared back at him “Oh” he spluttered, “I am sorry” Seamus Geraghty looked him up and down before giving his men a curt nod, “Into the carpet bag with him before I change me mind” Tobias screamed, he struggled, he bit, he swore and all to know avail. Flailing around like a done to death piece of Haddock,he was slung head first into the oversized carpet bag whose clasp was then firmly padlocked. Thrust into that cramped and stuffy cocoon of fabric he started to panic and then passed out. Just as well, for at the instant he was so imprisoned, the door to his lodgings were flung open and in piled three sabre wielding Indian Fakirs. Astonished by the dramatic entree of the three Indians the Molly Maguires retreated from the carpet bag which they had been about to boot and stomp upon.

The eldest of the Indian Fakirs lowered his sword and affected to bow deeply before the Molly Maguires, “You will please forgive us Sahib for stealing that which you have so recently acquired, our need is greater than yours” catching hold of the carpet bag he tugged it towards the door, “Says who?!” roared Geraghty, his face flushed a deep crimson, “Where it not for that Gombeen my Da and Ma would be alive still! Gabriel O’Hara would not be enslaved in the mines, he’d be working his own lands! And Cathy O’Houlihan’s brother would be alive still! Instead they hung him for preventing his family from being evicted! All the men that stand here alongside me, they and their families have suffered for the sake of that baggage! We want justice and we’ll not give it up!” he tugged the carpet bag back into the room.

Navendra Patel sighed, this whole business had become so very tiresome, that Lord Grid-Iron was a terrible man with a terrible reputation was a fact beyond disputing. Indeed so terrible was his reputation that one had to fight one’s way through the many just men who wanted to acquire him, in order to ensure that he faced…justice. “We too wish for retribution, we are the three Brahmin of the Banashankari Temple, he stole an artefact from our temple, this with the help of an associate we have retrieved. But it is our earnest desire that this devil, one of many who participated in the wholesale slaughter of the people of Jhansi, should face divine retribution!”

“We’ve no argument with ya there! If we cart this to the America’s he’ll be judged and hanged nice and swift, the best kind of divine retribution there is!!” the Fakir sighed, “That is almost what we had in mind but not quite, we had hoped to have him brought before the village elders in Jansi and then poisoned”

“Ye don’t happen to know Father Fitzpatrick d’yeah?” Navendra’s face lit up at the mention of the name, for everybody in Jhansi knew the name of the good father, if it were the same man. “The holy father I knew rescued many a wounded and starving villager from the hands of the Imperialist forces, may Krishna curse and ravage them!” Seamus nodded, “That’ll be the good father, forever sticking his nose in where the British didn’t want it! We’ll take this gift” he kicked at the carpet bag inside of which Lord Grid-Iron let out a hale and hearty shriek, “To the good father, he’ll know what we should do with it” the three Fakirs nodded earnestly in agreement but the eldest coughed politely and raised a slender wizened hand,

“May I ask why it is that you refer to Lord Tobias Grid-Iron as it?”

Seamus snorted, “What else d’ye call a man that treats other human beings as if their needs were of no consequence next to his own? To treat those you were called to serve as if they were little more than upright walking beasts. Why, such a man is a man no longer, he has become a beast himself!”

And so dear reader, we observe the first ever Indian-Irish treaty in action, a mutually agreed and agreeable determination to decide Lord Grid-Iron’s fate over tea and biscuits at Father Fitzpatrick’s asylum, prior to carting him off to America or if the fates decree India. And so these men of justice joined arms to haul the carpet bag and its contents down the stairs, out of the front door and round the corner to an alleyway where a horse and cart had been stationed, ready to cart Lord Grid Iron and his pursuers away. Night has not yet fallen dear reader, but there is a splendiforous sunset on the horizon and it is towards this that our vigilantes cheerily ride.

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Academies, Hypocritical Cant

Of Wild Roses & Narrow Vestibules

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Lady Grid-Iron was tired, she was tired of reading the bible day in, and day out (and of trying to look demure whilst doing it).Tobias had developed an abiding fascination with the book of Exodus, particularly where it pertained to the sacking of Egypt, indeed he had memorised the entire chapter and never tired of reciting it to both her and the servants. She was tired of crocheting purses and sewing ribbons on bonnets, the common pass time of women born high and low throughout the realm, supposedly,(when in tarnation would she get the time to clean her Winchester rifle?), most of all she was tired of London (give me the prairies any goddamn day of the week!). But she dared not let the irritation show, for one thing, she was married to the honourable Lord Grid-Iron, and that required a degree of ladylike finesse, a degree of turning out, she had hitherto not much required.

And then, of course, there was Francis, her negro page boy, why his eyes became liquid, unfathomable pools, if he stood in Lord Grid-Iron’s presence for longer than thirty minutes, and what was worst she knew what he was thinking. He loved a good hunt, in fact he had a gift for it having been born, raised and enslaved in the Sudan (by Arab Militia men). He had been sold to a plantation owner in the Americas and subsequently freed by the underground railway. The potential consequences of his patent and potent distaste for Lord Grid-Iron might have terrified her, had he not been recruited by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and then assigned to her by Allan Pinkerton himself. “Mah-dear” she cooed, smiling sweetly at the big, old, galoot she had married, “Ah-m tired”

“Tired m’dear? Damn it! I’ve invited Lord Montaperti to brunch! Who’ll entertain him?”

“Montaperti? Why? Such a strange little man. If I but once turn my back on him I catch him rubbing the silk of my gown between his fingers, like a common dressmaker!”

Lord Grid-Iron chortled, ” He is a common dressmaker my dear! He’s in textiles, yes! Quite common and very rich, and since we both have an uncommon fascination with the great unwashed he will lunch with us this morning!”

“And what of the mill worker’s strikes my love? Countess De Lacey tells me all sorts of terrible things about them. Is it true they’ve threatened to burn down the mills unless their working conditions improve and their wages are raised?”

“Not entirely my dear, they’ve threatened to dynamite them. You know, I sometimes wonder why we ever bothered improving the cost of living. Since Lord Aberdeen became Prime Minister we’ve cut the beer duty tax, introduced ‘the right to buy your own berth in the workhouse’ policy and introduced two further alms-giving days. We had much rather they kept their little ones in the industrial schools we’ve reformed, is it our fault they choose to put them to work? The proles are their own worst enemies”

“Ah-shall have cook send up a pot of Earl Grey and some of those pastries Mademoiselle Lefevre bakes, she really is the most delightful find”

“Most delightful” the great galoot replied with a lascivious twinkle in his eye, Kitty Grid-Iron feigned a yawn and fluttered her lashes watching his face grow flush beneath their influence, delicately discarding her embroidery, she lifted her satin skirts and minced over to him, pecking him most delicately on the cheek she sighed,

“Toby mah-dear I do so tire of these interminable brunches with interminably boring elevated tradesmen, promise me my love that this will be the last one…for a while” her large, brown, doe’s eyes met his watery blue ones and as ever he blushed and became a little flustered, “My dear” another delicate peck on his hirsute cheek and she was gone.

He gave no thought to regularly attending Parliament, though he had fought tooth and nail for his seat in the lower chamber, and certainly none as to how he should persuade the mill workers not to make good on their promise to blow up every Silk Mill in London. Kitty supposed the British government would have the infantry open fire as per usual (all the really big guns were stranded some place in the Crimea). And then of course there were the little boat trips to New South Wales, the judiciary had that down to a fine art; caught stealing a loaf of bread? New South Wales. Arrested for rioting against poor pay and conditions? New South Wales. Kitty supposed that sooner or later they’d run out of penal colonies and then where would they send them? The America’s were now independent.

“You sent for me m’aam” Maggie made a small curtsy, little Maggie, so neat and pristine in her prim little mob cap and prissy blue gown complete with frilly white apron, it made Lady Grid-Iron want to scream,”Did you sleep well Maggie? You look awful peaky this morning”

“Yes M’aam” said she, her eyes downcast, “I slept as well as might be expected, thank you m’aam”

“Lay out the primrose coloured water-silk and the satin slippers will you? And then you may run my bath”

Maggie curtsied,” Will you need me to fix your hair m’aam?” Kitty shook her head, “My hair’s fine, would that my contemplations were so”

“Contemplations m’aam?” Kitty smiled wryly, four years had been the most time she had ever spent on any operation in the United States of America. She’d been married seven years, widowed three, out on the hunt for secessonists in Alabama for four, and all of that had been a walk in the park next to being married to Lord Grid-Iron (two years and three and a half days,forty minutes and thirty seconds).”M’aam I couldn’t help but to notice the brooch you always wear, excuse me for asking but m’aam that lettering, what does it mean?”

Kitty’s eyes narrowed, she smiled brilliantly and in that moment she seemed most unlike her feminine, demure self, “Numquam Somni? It’s Latin child, it means, ‘I never sleep’, I’m a lot like you in that respect mah-dear” she said, hugging the child who was her maid very gently.

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