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Old 11-03-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
ShortNCuddlyAm
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The Clerkenwell Presses

I'm not only attempting NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm making it harder (or maybe easier) on myself by writing it sequentially, too. So this is chapter 1, written on day one. Chapter 2, written on days 2 & 3 ( ) to follow

---

The air was heavy with smog. Pollutants from uncountable chimneys mingled with fog rising from the rivers, streams and marshes of the town. The gas lights spluttered, reflecting light off the moist particles around them, but doing nothing to light the way of those below. Barely able to see a hand in front of a face, people stumbled through the streets and alleys. Arguments broke out as pedestrians and coaches alike bumped into each other. The more respectable citizens (or those who liked to think of themselves that way) pulled coats and cloaks around themselves, and hurried as fast as they dared for safety, imagining danger lurking around every corner. The smog muffled what sounds there were, and the normal airborne cacophony of the fly-boys was absent - it was dangerous to be driving a coach - either horse or steam powered - in this weather. It was deadly to try flying in it. Midday had come and gone unnoticed by all except those within earshot of a clock striking the hour; and now, with dusk fast approaching, it was as dark as night.

Smog crept in through every crack and crevice. It stole in through windows even slightly ajar, slid under doors and even seeped down dormant chimneys. On the river boatmen cursed and tried to find safe moorings, worried about running their boats into the cutwaters around the bridge piers, or into each other. The mudlarks usually present one the banks had called it a day long since, preferring to risk the wrath of their mothers and fathers than the worse fate of drowning. Most others of the more desperate and criminal classes had also given in for the time being - picking pockets, for example, is best accomplished when you don’t need to be physically touching the person before you can see their pockets.

Smog swept down the broad thoroughfares and hung there. It slipped into allies and around the rookeries, clothing them in a slightly greasy, discoloured cloak; making those twisty ways even more dangerous to those who had no business down in them. It washed into the railway stations, where steam and smoke from the trains mingled with it and fed it.

In parliament, the learned gentlemen peered across the divide and wondered just how many were there, and how many had taken advantage - especially in the back benches - to sneak away for a pie and a pint. And wondered if they dared risk it, too. In offices across the city, workers seemed more productive as there was less opportunity to gaze idly out of a window, or fling paper across the room. In pubs, the smoke from fires, cigarettes and pipes added to the smog that dashed in with each new patron, until the bartender was having a hard time finding the right pumps.

The working day drew to a dim close. Clerks poured out of their banks and offices, and into one another, adding to the unseen chaos. A snippet of conversation between two young men trudging up Holborn Hill floated to the ears of those nearby, causing a wry smile of recognition.

“Y’know, Phiz, I wouldn’t find it at all odd were a brontosaurus to waddle past us”
“Or a megalosaurus, Boz”

Shops drew down their shutters and locked up. The smog was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, no-one could easily see the wares on display in the windows; but on the other, more people took refuge in the shops to escape the weather. The canny shopkeeper knew how to manipulate these refugees into buying something, even if it wasn’t much. Tea shops and coffee rooms also saw an increase in trade. One enterprising, or possibly just foolish, street trader was trying to capitalise on the weather, calling out to passers by as he heard their footsteps.

“Gitcha real pea soup ‘ere. Eat pea soup in a pea souper. Steamin’ hot and freshly made”

Those who were foolhardy enough to try it later said that the man must have been taking advantage of the fog to ensure his face could not be seen. No-one could quite agree what ingredients they thought were in it, but everyone was in agreement that none of them were fresh. Or even actually edible.

Brothel madams tried every trick they could think of to keep some visibility around their doors. More lights just made the banks of smog seem brighter, fanning the air made it swirl around like petticoats, but without giving any tantalising glimpse of what lay beyond. In the end they, like everyone else with something to sell, resorted to calling their wares to passing traffic, using the smog as a ruse to entice people in.

The news boys didn’t have any such option. They could call out the headlines, but they could provide nowhere sheltered for people to read the papers. The brighter ones took to hanging around by coffee rooms, tea shops, pubs and chop houses - something that was normally discouraged in case it put off passing trade, but in weather like this actively encouraged as it was more likely to draw people in.

The last of the daylight faded away, unnoticed by the city’s inhabitants. The theatres and music halls had boys shouting from their doors, promoting not only the evening’s show but also the relative smog-less-ness of the auditorium. The calls acted as beacons for the confused traveller, giving them a signal to navigate by and a safe haven at least for a short period. No-one believed that the weather would have improved after they left these places, they were very aware they were delaying the inevitable. But eating, or getting drunk, or watching a show seemed preferable to fighting home through the smog immediately.

The hour grew late and the streets were emptier. Those still out were either making their way home from an eating or entertainment establishment; or were wandering, lost, trying to get their bearings. The smog gave an extra air of menace to the night, and those still out tried to hurry as best they could towards home.

---

The city had grown up from the Thames, the river that ran through its heart. London sat above a chalk basin, filled in with a heavy, stiff, blue-grey clay. Other rivers fed into the Thames, and streams fed into them. Springs abounded in the meadows and marshes further afield. All this water allowed people to settle and make their homes there. The opportunities that the larger rivers afforded for trade and travel, as well as food and water, were an added bonus which helped the place grow to the size it had. The clay had benefits too, making tunnels and deep foundations easier to build. But the conditions that attracted humans to it also attracted fog to it. The indigenous fog was, to be fair, no worse than fog found in similar sites around the world. But unlike most similar sites, London had added industrial pollution to the mix, creating a yellow brown shroud that lay thickly over the city, blotting out even the midday sun.

By now, many of the streams and smaller rivers had been partly or completely covered over, and the marshes and meadows built on. The water was still there, though, and made itself known through floods and fogs.

The city itself did nothing to help disperse the smog. It had sprouted, almost organically, from the small hamlets and villages that had sprung up around water sources. These had merged together into mess of narrow alleys and streets. From time to time, town planners found an excuse to put a broad thoroughfare here, some wider roads there. But for the most part it remained a jumble, grown rather than planned. It seemed almost as it it was alive - devastating events such as the great fire of 1666 didn’t lead to much in the way of complete renovation, but more of a rebuilding along the same lines, as if the city itself was dictating its own form.

For the most part people stoically accepted it; partly because it didn’t really do anyone much actual harm, but mostly because it was taken as a necessary side effect of industrialisation, itself seen as a necessary driving force of the Empire. Those who claimed that the new factories springing up were dehumanising the workforce and taking jobs away from them pointed to the smog as the evil satanic belching of industry, but in the city more people were benefitting from the factories than otherwise. More people with influence, that is, and who could also escape to the still-unpolluted countryside when it all got too much. The movement for change gathered some momentum, mostly amongst the downtrodden and those who felt unable to fight back on their own, but amongst the majority it went largely unnoticed.

But despite this, there were some murmurings of discontent amongst the middle classes. They were benefitting from industry, that they did not doubt. But not all of them were rich enough to keep a house in town and a house in the country to escape to when London became unbearable. And technology had made some tremendous leaps and bounds. If Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace could create a machine that would do away with a whole room of computers, then why couldn’t someone apply their mind to cleaning the London air and making it more breathable. They weren’t opposed to the continued industrialisation, but they felt it should be applied to making their lives better in all ways. Many couched this in terms of improving everyone’s lot, but it was generally accepted that they only did so in order to make themselves not look too selfish.

And a very few used the criminal angle - claiming that the smog provided extra cover for thieves, and thus made the streets even more unsafe than they were already. Something should be done, they declared, for the safety of everyone. How can we have the centre of the empire enrobed in a thick covering of toxic smog which only gives additional encouragement to thieves to prey upon both the natives and foreign visitors. They tended to act alone, or in very small groups, and were largely ignored as scare mongers or worse.
On this night, as on the last several nights of heavy smog, an odd clockwork noise could be heard from a narrow alley near the heart of the city. Those feeling brave enough to investigate simply found out that the noise was coming from behind the doors of a coach house. The newspapers had run a couple of stories on it, noting that the noise was only heard on nights with really bad smog. Some took the stance that it was an inventor trying to find a way to clear the smog, others that it was a criminal mastermind looking for ways to capitalise on it. But after a few nights of noise and no action, interest gradually waned to the point that it became part of the scenery.
On this night, unlike the last several nights of heavy smog, the coach house doors swung silently open. The noise of the clockwork was a little louder without the doors to muffle it, and this attracted the attention of a young lad, feeling brave after a night in the pub. He felt his way up the alley, and paused. The clockwork noise seemed to be getting louder, and underneath that noise, he could hear something that sounded like wheels rumbling over cobbles. He slowly edged forward, and just saw a looming tower trundling towards him in the gloom.

There weren’t many other passers-by at that time of night. But those who were there froze in their tracks at the sound of an almost inhuman scream sounding out, then suddenly ceasing. The papers the following day were full of the “Mechanical Murderer”, and the cry went up that someone must do something.
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Old 11-03-2009, 07:51 PM   #2
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yay !!! and also : crikey !!!! what a start ! i can't wait to read chapter 2 !
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:15 PM   #3
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And chapter 2

---

Late the previous night conditions changed, and on the following dawn the sun rose over a city largely clear of the smog. The papers were full of the murder, lasciviously describing the almost clinical precision of the cuts made to the victim. Some of the more sensational papers were calling the broken gear found next to the body the murderer’s calling card, whilst the more sober ones merely noted that the victim had been wearing a pocket watch, found smashed by their side. The noises that witnesses had heard prior to what was presumed to be the victim screaming, along with some odd track marks, led most of the papers to call it “The Mystery of The Mechanical Murderer”; and caused one very junior police officer much embarrassment as he had referred to it as such in front of a reporter. The pubs and chop shops, coffee rooms and tea shops were full of chatter about it, to the point that one enterprising landlord put a sign out saying his pub was a “murder-talk free area”, and a tea shop asked their baker to make gear shaped scones.

That evening, a group of around a dozen or so young men and women gathered in a cellar below Perceval Street.

“I trust you all noticed that most of the papers paid more attention to the method of the murder and murderer than the victim themselves?” an older man said.

The passion in his voice seemed at odds with his very nondescript appearance. He was the sort of man you could pass in the street without giving him a second glance. But there was nothing random about his ensemble. Everything from his cufflinks to his boot laces had been chosen with extreme care with the sole purpose of fitting in unobtrusively. Some of the younger people in the group wondered if he was double crossing them, too - but as so far no harm had befallen them it seemed unlikely.

“Aye, we did notice that, Jere. Did you really think the rags would pay any notice to the fact a prostitute got killed? And especially one working in that area? There’d need to be a sodding plague of ‘em killed before Fleet Street paid any attention”

“Even so George, it does mean we’re going have to be a lot more careful tonight than otherwise, though”

In a slightly exasperated tone, but one worn easily as if through frequent habit, someone replied “Lefty… our device runs on steam, not clockwork”

“He does have a point, actually, Sarah” a female voice piped up “there are still gears in our thing, and whilst most of them are somewhat larger than the one found by the body, according to the reports, even so…”

“What range d’you reckon you’ll get, Jo?”

“My calculations suggest we might just make Smithfields, possibly further depending on whether the load is loose or tied. We should definitely make Charterhouse.”

“If sticking bills on lamp posts and church doors doesn’t work, which it doesn’t seem to be, I fail to see how this will be any better” George sounded huffy as he spoke.

“We can target a wider area with more pamphlets in a shorter amount of time than by any other method we’ve tried so far. And it has novelty on its side. People won’t expect it to rain down pamphlets.”

“Samuel’s right” a man at the back spoke up “we’ve got the element of surprise and novelty. It will both shock the populace and awe them to see pamphlets raining down. And that, my friends, might convince a few more to read the damned things”

“That’s as maybe, Hugo, but we can’t rely on gimmickry to get our point across. There are people dying out there and we want to throw paper over them like some mockery of a wedding? Why not just fly over and bombard them from a gyrocopter?”

“Which you’ll have had plenty of experience of, George?” a female voice from the back near the door spoke out.

“Yes, well, not all of us can afford to be fly girls like you, Georgina… sorry… Georgyanna… so sorry…. Georgayna”

“Enough the pair of you. You can settle your differences later if you must” Jere glared at them. “Let’s get this thing tested. You all know what to do? Lefty - go on ahead. Jo - give him 15 minutes before we start getting the thing out. Hugo - grab the pamphlets. Sam - if you want to double check your calculations, now’s the time. The rest of you, give either Jo a hand getting the thing out and set up, or help Hugo bundling the pamphlets.”

Lefty was out of the building before Jere had even finished speaking. He strolled down the street, heading towards St James church. Suddenly overcome by panic, he dived into a doorway and checked he had his scope with him. Relieved to find it was still there, Lefty carried on towards the church. Nerves bade him stop and check another four more times in the 5 minute walk. He took a stroll around the church, checking for signs of life, then crept quietly up the stairs to the door and gently let himself in, waiting by the door for a moment. No voices called out, no footsteps echoed. The church was empty. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, counted to five, then opened them again and headed softly, slowly towards the stairs to the bell tower.

Jo headed upstairs and into the gated yard. The coach house was faintly silhouetted by the gas lights, and she made her way across the slabs to the doors. Holding her breath, she eased the doors open, taking care not to make a noise. They had been kept oiled ever since this project started, but she still expected them to scream out as they had done the first time she had opened them. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she could make out the hulking outline. Squeezing around behind it, she started the furnace going, and opened the smaller door at the back of the coach house to provide more ventilation.

Samuel stood next to the analytical engine, a sheet covered in tiny, cramped writing - mostly equations and other calculations. There was one he wasn’t completely certain about, but at the worst it would mean the bulk of the pamphlets would land just past Smithfields. In the room next door, he could hear everyone gathering the pamphlets into a bundle and loosely tying them. He had even calculated that - the bundle had to split apart, but not too soon otherwise it would only be them who were covered in them.

Lefty ascended the stairs as swiftly as he could manage without making a noise. About two thirds of the way up his foot slipped, and he was sure his heartbeat was echoing off the walls. He paused to regain his composure, and carried on upwards, more carefully. Once up, he made his way to where he knew one of the windows opened. He trained his scope on the yard where the pamphlets would be launched from, then traced an imaginary arc to Smithfields. Lefty settled back, keeping the scope trained on the yard. He was ready.

---

A steam boat moved upriver. There was not much traffic on the Thames at this time of night, but the river was never completely empty. A small group sat bunched together under a canopy on the deck, talking in a low murmur. They had asked the boatman to steer a course as close to the centre of the river as possible, not wanting to be spotted by casual observers on either bank. Amongst the group were a well known politician, a journalist who specialised in biting satire and gossip, and a member of the aristocracy. An industrialist and a philanthropist made up the remainder of the more recognisable people in the party.

The boatman was a little annoyed with the party. They were clearly professional conspirators as they had paid him extra to ensure he didn’t eavesdrop on them, but not enough extra to make him suspicious or curious enough to do so anyway. He far preferred nervous novices - they over-paid and he could make a nice sideline in either blackmail or selling information. Had he actually been able to hear them right now, he would have wondered why they had bothered paying him off at all, or suspected they were talking in code. The talk at that moment was revolving around arranging a flower show for the following summer, both to raise money for good causes and promote their own various interests.

As they approached Blackfriars Bridge one of their number got up, and walked towards the rear of the boat. Shortly after, a loud splash was heard just to the side of the boat, followed by a startled scream. A few seconds of chaos ensued, in which they discovered no-one from the boat was missing. The journalist noticed something bobbing in the water, spreading out and sinking slowly. A net was procured before the object had sunk completely out of view, and after a couple of attempts it was fished out and dumped on the deck. There was silence for a moment as they realised they had fished out a bundle of pamphlets from the river. Then the journalist tore into the bundle, found one in the middle that was still dry, and began reading.

---

The noise coming from Perceval Street alerted Lefty that launch was imminent. He could just about see the steam with his naked eyes, and with the scope he could see the rest of the group loading the bundle onto the trebuchet, which had now been wheeled out into the yard. He couldn’t see Sam, then realised he would still be with the analytical engine. There was a moment’s stillness, and then the bundle of pamphlets launched skywards. Lefty followed its progress through the sky, noticing that the bundle didn’t start to disperse at about the point planned. He watched it soar past Smithfields, and lost sight of it as it dipped behind some buildings. He did some calculations as he raced down the stairs, and worked out that the bundle had probably landed in the river. If the bundle had come undone when planned, that would have been a tremendous spread of pamphlets. He ran back to Perceval Street and rejoined the others. As he came through the gates, the others bombarded him with questions whilst he panted, trying to get his breath back.

“Who tied the bundle together?” he gasped

George and Georgiana glared at each other.

“It was too tight. It went soaring over Smithfields, still intact. I think it might have landed in the river!”

Jere looked at Georgiana and George. “You two will have to work your differences out one way or another. Those pamphlets could have been spread over a wide area by now. Instead they’re educating the fish.”

“I don’t get why a privileged little girl wants to get her hands dirty for a cause she has absolutely no experience with, and comes in flouncing around and showing off all her little gizmos and gadgets trying to impress us with what she has and all the things she can do for us and ease her middle class guilty conscience” George had gone beet red as he talked, getting louder and quicker until he both looked and sounded like he might explode.

Georgiana stood there watching with a faint hint of a smile. The rest were stunned into silence and inaction. George noticed the smile and in a flash was in front of her, fist raised. In the second or so it took everyone to realise what was going on, George found himself flat on his back, with Georgiana looking down over him.
“Don’t make assumptions about me. And please, don’t threaten me again. I’ve had to learn to deal with that kind of behaviour, and my reactions are rather instinctive these days. I’m here because I want to do more to fight injustice. I’m here because I have already done my time doing so solo and want to help make a bigger impact. I’m not showing off - these gizmos and gadgets can be usefully pressed into service for the cause. And finally,” and she paused for a fraction of a second, smiling wryly, “I am most definitely not middle class” As she spoke the last sentence, her normal accent seemed to slip slightly, letting a slight hint of a Northumbrian accent in.
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:47 PM   #4
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*smiles* Looks good. I'm proud of you. See what happens when you put your mind to it!

I got through Chapter 1, will have to go back later and read Ch2. Trying not to distract myself too much. I think I'm behind tonight.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:04 PM   #5
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Whoa! Very nice, Am... When I finished chapter 2, you had me and now I really want to know what is going on and what happens....
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:21 PM   #6
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hugo and lefty and a trebuchet !!! i feel like i've been on an easter egg hunt. brilliant stuff ! i can't wait for the next chapter.

just a question, what's the significance of a northumbrian accent ?
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
hugo and lefty and a trebuchet !!! i feel like i've been on an easter egg hunt. brilliant stuff ! i can't wait for the next chapter.

just a question, what's the significance of a northumbrian accent ?
Absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that the middle class in southern England would probably not consider it to be a middle class accent at all (and of course there's various different accents in that region, anyway... but a Geordie accent would have been one of them in the time the story is set (well, OK, it wouldn't, because Northumbria had long ceased to exist and had become Northumberland instead, but... what? oh OK, I'll shut up now ))
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:34 PM   #8
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And thank you all I'll post more later, probably tomorrow.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:29 PM   #9
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“We need to act quickly” the man speaking thumped the table for emphasis

“We can only act as circumstances allow us - we cannot risk being caught at this stage - or indeed at any stage.”

“And besides, we will get a better effect if it is not too rushed. The leeway this will buy us if played correctly will be immense. People will be asking us to do exactly what we want to do anyway”

“Veronica’s right. And it also means we must let some otherwise perfect circumstances go past. Otherwise it will all look too planned. We need to keep people on edge, not let them learn to expect what comes next and when.”

“Alright Simon, you both have valid points” Phillip, the man who had thumped the table, raised his hands a little wearily as Veronica looked like she was ready to jump back into the fray. The other people around the table were all starting to look like they wanted to have their say, too.

“If we can call some order to this”, he continued, “then we can start discussing the ne…” and broke off as the door swung open.

“I’m terribly sorry, sirs and madams, but this… gentleman… just barged past”

“Forgive me gentlemen and ladies” the intruder smiled winningly “but something came to my attention earlier tonight and I thought you might all be interested” He waved what looked like a slightly damp pamphlet at them. “Ah yes. Before you ask, the dowager countess of _shire advised me that I might find you here. And that you might be interested. And also passed on her apologies that her and her party are unable to attend, but other business detains them” He paused, sensing an interruption. “Oh - as for me - you probably know me best as Quaffington”

“Quaffington? The gossip columnist on The Daily News?”

“The one and only” he smiled.

There was an outburst of shocked exclamations. The individual words couldn’t be made out, but the force of outrage and disapproval emanating from those around the table could almost be felt.

Except from one. Quaffington passed the pamphlet to Phillip “you might find this interesting. Given how I came by it, I don’t think this is just another group of radicals with more ideas than sense”

Phillip glanced at it briefly whilst the others were still clamouring for Quaffington to be evicted.

“‘Tyranny of man and machine blah blah blah oppressed underclasses blah blah blah make a stand blah blah blah’ What on earth makes you think this excrement is any different to the dozens of pamphlets and bills handed out and stuck up all over the town?”

“It wasn’t either stuck up or handed out. It was launched”

“Launched? Explain yourself, man”

“I was on a boat with Char…erm, the dowager countess of _shire, amongst others, travelling up the Thames. Something flew over us and landed in the river with a splash. As one of our number had just, ahem, excused themselves, our initial thought was man overboard. As it turned out, it was a bundle of these.”

“What on earth would they hope to achieve by sending a large bundle of pamphlets flying through the air? Knocking out your intended audience is not going to win people over to your cause” Phillip said that softly, but with feeling, almost as if talking from personal experience.

“Unless the binding was intended to come apart mid air, and send the pamphlets raining down? Or maybe they were aiming them at a distribution point and missed…” Quaffington tailed off with a faintly quizzical expression.

“Which of course begs the question how did they get them airborne? Did you notice any more gyros or similar than normal? P’raps one of them had intended to undo the bundle from up there, but it fell before they could?”

Quaffington stifled a smile. He’d been afraid he would have to feed them all of his suspicions, but Phillip’s mind was now showing signs of starting to work.

“I’m afraid,” he said, sounding embarrassed, “I’m not actually all that familiar with the usual amount of air traffic over the Thames at this time of night. P’rhaps the boatman might know…?

“Good grief man! Have you no sense? The boatman will be suspicious enough - you don’t want him to think there might be something for him to gain from telling what little he… ummm, where are the rest of the pamphlets, by the way?”

“The good dowager has them. She says once they have dried out they will make good floor liners for her new litter of puppies.”

“Thank heavens for that!”

The muttering around the table had finally stopped as one by one they all noticed Phillip and Quaffington deep in conversation.

“These people” Phillip said, brandishing the pamphlet, “could be a major thorn in our sides. Not so much the content, which is standard fare, to be honest,” none of them, except John the security man, noticed Quaffington grimace faintly, “but their organisation, which is more than a notch above the others” Phillip continued. “We could try to fight them as we normally do or…” he paused, looking around, “we could use this to our advantage.”

“Are you out of your mind?” Veronica all but shrieked “How, pray tell, do we use trouble-making rabble-rousers to our advantage? It would kill every inch of credibility we have to even be seen to be considering associating with them!” and she threw a very pointed look in Quaffington’s direction

“I can assure you, ma’am, that none of this will be appearing in The Daily News. Or at least, if it does, it won’t be of my doing” and he looked around the table, smiling blandly.

“Well,” huffed Simon “I think I speak for all of us when I say I wouldn’t go to any of the rags with this. No offence.”

“None taken” Quaffington smiled reassuringly, although he was puzzled as to what he was supposed to have taken offence to.

“As I was saying” Phillip continued, “we can use this to our advantage. We may need to join forces with the riverboat party,” with a slight nod towards Quaffington, “but if we can keep this lot busy with their pamphlets, then, well, we might be able to control the outcome of our original discussion to even greater effect.”

There was silence around the table, and Quaffington began to think that the dowager had maybe credited this group with more intelligence and cunning than they had. Then the murmur started. It was clear they all saw the possibilities, and now their eyes had been opened to them their brains were running on full steam and churning out the ideas. With a nod to Philip, Quaffington stepped out into the night.

---

The moon shone down as Quaffington made his way to the dowager’s town house. The discussion had taken longer than he had expected, and he hoped the somewhat elderly lady would still be awake. As he approached the building, he realised he needn’t have worried. Going on the number of windows lit up, and people flitting to and fro in the gardens, she was having one of her famous soirees. A church clock chimed somewhere nearby. It was 1 in the morning and the party was still in full swing. With a nod to the butler, he went into the hallway, and from there into a small antechamber. He heard the butler ring a bell, and only a few moments later the dowager joined him.

“So my dear, did they bite?” she asked

“Finally. Once they realised how to use it. I was concerned at first…”

“You thought I was going senile in my old age?” she interrupted, and laughed. “No, they can be stubborn and slow on the uptake, but once they’ve grasped an idea, well” she spread her hands “they won’t stop until they’ve wrung every last possibility out of it and used them all for their advantage”

“I saw them when it started to take hold. I wouldn’t like to be someone they considered to be a genuine enemy.”

“Most people just consider you to be a nuisance. An annoying little insect. When they think you’ll be writing about them, that is. When you’re writing about their enemies or rivals, well, then they think you are utterly brilliant and the sharpest mind on Fleet Street. And” she held up a hand as he started to snort in derision “and I am very surprised you don’t use that to your own advantage more often.”

“I’m comfortable where I am, for the moment. The people I write about would more make dangerous enemies than valuable patrons. Maybe when I want to retire to the country, then…” he shrugged, “but for now at least I like the city life”

“You should go to the country” the dowager said, looking at him meaningfully.

Quaffington looked at her sharply.

“Well, not exactly, given you have to already be prime minister for that. But you have the right sort of brain to get ahead in politics, you know, and with the right patron…” she paused, watching it sink in. “But enough business. You haven’t met my niece, have you? Let me introduce you!” And in an instant she was back to the society matron most people believed her to be.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:37 PM   #10
zelda_pinwheel
zeldinha zippy zeldissima
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the plot thickens !!!!
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:45 PM   #11
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:41 PM   #12
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Very nice work Am. I did not know you wrote before I stumbled on this.
It's about time I got out of the lounge...
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:44 PM   #13
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so whatever happened to this story, anyway ???
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:21 PM   #14
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I was just wondering this myself.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:17 AM   #15
ShortNCuddlyAm
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Originally Posted by yvanleterrible View Post
Very nice work Am. I did not know you wrote before I stumbled on this.
It's about time I got out of the lounge...
Thank you And I don't much (well, I don't show what I've written much), and tend to only post the silly stuff


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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
so whatever happened to this story, anyway ???
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Originally Posted by jaxx6166 View Post
I was just wondering this myself.
So was I...

I'm editing it at the moment(*). I never finished it during November, but did get it done afterwards

(* Well, not right at this moment, as I don't have my laptop with me)
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