Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked: Part Sixteen

Lord Ambrose Vaughan stood on a platform in the hall of the Greymister Conservative Working Mens Club, and surveyed the crowd that had gathered. Normally, such a gathering would be little more than a meeting of the party faithful and a few representatives of the local press. But the attempted murder that had left his sister in hospital had turned the election into a major news event. Representatives of most of the major newspapers were there, and there wa a crowd outside who could not get in. Behind his lectern, Lord Ambrose adjusted his tie, as he looked out on the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen..." he cleared his throat, "I have to confess that I was not expecting such an event. This would have been simply the announcement that I shall be the Conservative candidate for Greyminster in the by-election. However, events have clearly made it necessary that I should say more. My sister, Lady Sylvia, lies in hospital, after taking a knife-thrust intended for me, and that is not the first threat I have had. There are people who do not want the curtain lifted on their little world, with its corruption and wickedness. They have shown themselves willing to do anything to keep me from being named on the ballot paper, or to drive me underground. But I cannot - will not - give in to such evil. I will fight those forces, for the sake of people here who live under the shadow of death and evil, and for the sake of my sister, a great young woman, a courageous girl who put her life on the line for my sake. The least I can do for this town is to put my life on the line for Greyminster..."

The young aristocrat spoke on, his clear voice resonating around the hall, the press and people hanging on his words, as he outlined his vision for the future of the town. Lord Ambrose pounded the podium as his reached his peroration. Men and women leaned forward.

As Lord Ambrose finished, the party workers rose, applauding. Lord Ambrose stood back, drinking in the applause. A curt smile appeared for a moment on his face. As the applause died away, he acknowledged the audience. His appearance had a little of the Roundhead aristocrat about him, the enthusiastic, privileged reformer.

All he could see, however, was the face of a cheerful brunette, joking about his candidature, and doing her level best to undermine him, in her own happy way. He missed Sylvia, and wished she could have been there with him.

"Lord Ambrose!" a man from a major newspaper rose to his feet. "The Government party have selected a local man. What do you have to say to the accusation that you are an incomer?"
"I was asked to contest the seat, and I don't spend the majority of my time at Greyminster Park." Lord Ambrose nodded. "But one reason I was asked is that, although I am a major local employer and landowner, I am not a part of the society here. The people who asked me believe that this place is deeply troubled and needs to have the power of a few broken. I shall do that."
The meeting broke up in applause.

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