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View character profile for: Seymour Niples
View character profile for: Jacky Kong
Those Fleming luddites! WBWW pt1Posted by
Posted: Nov 27, 2012, 6:24pm
OOC - This is part1 of my story for WBWW. If you're not sure what that is, see here.
Taking a last deep drag on her fag, Cass flicked it away as Jacky sat up with a groan
“Smeg off Seymour” she sighed
“Can you walk?” Seymour said patronisingly to the semi-conscious Jacky, who was still sat on the floor. He mumbled, but nothing coherent. Seymour swivelled his chair away. “So if we can't leave him here, and we can't take him with us, what can we do?”
“You tell us.” Said Cass. “I thought you were supposed to be in charge.”
“I don't know. Cass said with fists on her hips. “Are you? One minute you're bossing us around, and enjoying it. The next minute you're washing your hands of all responsibility!”
“Well... uhh....” Seymour said, which didn't help Cass' irritated mood.
“Why don't you stay here, and we'll check the explosion.” She said, leaving Seymour and Jacky.
“Me... with him? But he's diseased!”
Whilst they were gone, Seymour started to think about what Cass had said about his inconsistent leadership. It reminded him of a story his father told him once about one of his distant ancestors.
It was 1792 and Mr Fleming Niples trudged through the large courtyard towards the large brick building before him. Walking on a crutch and his one good leg, the cobbled courtyard looked like it was going to take him forever to cross.
“Watch out!” cried a voice in a thick Derbyshire accent, and Fleming turned to see the horse and cart coming towards him, he quickly sidestepped clear of the vehicle, almost losing balance on his crutch. “Good lord!” he said, “Be careful will you sir!”
The driver turned, and tipped his flat cap but said nothing. He was wearing torn ragged overalls and a dirty leather overcoat. Fleming wasn't sure if he should have addressed the gentleman as 'sir', as he was clearly one of the workers, and it wasn't proper to let them get ideas of grandeur.
He felt something wet and squishy under his single foot, and noticed that in his hasten to avoid the vehicle had stepped in some horse manure. He shook his fist at the cart, which was now pulling up to a building at the far side of the courtyard, where two young men were getting ready to unload its cargo, several hessian sacks filled with wool.
The entrance that Fleming was heading towards was a wooden stable door. A maid wearing a tattered grey smock appeared, dragging a sack of unwashed wool. She looked up at him, causing Fleming to quickly turn around with embarrassment. She approached him.“Sir?”
“I'm sorry miss, I didn't realise this was the servants entrance. If you could be so good as to direct me to Mr Niples' office, I would be grateful.” He said. It seemed odd giving his own last name.
“Oh this is the right entrance sir.” She said with an accent that Fleming was only just getting used to. Back in London where he's from the peasants spoke very differently there. “Mr Richard's office is up on the top floor.”
Fleming opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish. “You address him as Mr Richard?”
“Yes sir. He doesn't much care for using his last name.”
“Preposterous! Our family name is a proud one!”
The woman didn't know what to say after the outburst, and looked down at the floor. “Sorry sir...”
“'Tis not your fault ma'am. Where can I find Mr Nip- Mr Richard?”
“I'll go fetch him sir. You can have a look around the mill floor if you'd like.”
“Associate with the workers. Not a chance!” Niples said, although he was curious at the processes of the mill.
Before the woman left, she took a good look at his face. The realisation struck her so clearly it was visible. “You're his brother aren't you sir?”
“Just fetch Mr Richard if you please.”
Whilst waiting, Fleming Niples walked around the busy ground floor. Old women spinsters wove clumps of wool into cotton using a machine Fleming recognised as a 'spinning jenny', he's seen one being demonstrated at a travelling tradeshow in London and was the height of modern technology several years ago. The old crones sat on wicker chairs, and some on hard sacks of sand. Between them, younger workers carted around sacks of wool and cotton, and one very small child in the corner was using a well-worn broom to clear up the additional bits of fluff that had escaped.
Several of them looked up at him as he trudged through, his face stern. This wasn't the height of technology he was expecting from his brother's letters, but he was impressed at the grand scale of this operation.
“Brother!” came a shout from another entrance to the room. Fleming immediately smiled.
“Dick!” He called, and held out his hand for his sibling to shake. Instead, his beaming ruddy-faced brother grabbed him in an embrace with such force it lifted him off the ground.
“Careful!” He warned his brother as he let go of his crutch which clattered to the ground. Not even this friendly embrace caused him to smile, although inside he was glad to see his baby brother. He was deposited onto the ground on his one good leg, where he hopped for a bit whilst Richard picked up the crutch with a chuckle.
“Have some decorum brother, 'tis not good to let the workers see your personal side.”
Richard laughed. “It's not a problem, we're all family here!” He bellowed, and the workers around him smiled.
Richard Niples was wearing thick velvet coat, unbuttoned at the front so you could see the vibrant yellow waistcoat he was wearing. The vibrancy reflected his personality, bright and cheerful. He pointed to the doorway, first checking Fleming could walk.
“Want a tour around the old place? I think I've done our father proud!”
“Where's all this new technology you've been boasting about? All I see are peasants!”
“These are my hard working angels!” Richard said, winking at one of the old ladies who was spinning cotton. She blushed, and waved. As they exited the building, Richard rubbed the head of a small child who was scrubbing the floor.
“Come and have a look, I think you'll like this.” They went for a stroll around the facility. Several tall buildings with many square windows, build in the Georgian style which was currently very fashionable. Fleming could hear the far-off roar of water.
“Have you heard the French have abolished their Monarchy?” Richard asked.
“Yes, bloody cheese-eating lunatics!”
“Ah here it is!” Richard said as they turned a corner, and gazed up at the giant water wheel. It was a huge structure, being moved by the power of the river.
“Magnificent!” Fleming said in awe.
Richard nodded. “She is isn't she? It's Cromford's design, only bigger. But that's only the start of it brother, inside is where the state of the art technology is.”
Fleming couldn't wait. Truth be told, not his brother or the family, but the grand machines he'd boasted about. It certainly was impressive.
Inside on the second floor, the machines blew his mind. Instead of the scruffy factory floor with the spinning jennies, this was an entire room of steel and brass machinery that Fleming couldn't even fathom. So many moving parts and, pistons and gimbles. Fleming watched transfixed as wool was transformed into a string of cotton at a thousand times faster than one of the old spinsters could do in an entire afternoon.
“Remarkable!” Fleming said. “You must be filthy rich!”
But Richard Niples bit his lip. “Actually, err... about that.”
A clattering at the window caught both their attention, them an entire window frame shattered and a pebble bounced off the wall, hitting some steel machinery with a chime. Richard didn't even look concerned, he only looked embarrassed. “Ah, ignore that.”
“What is it brother?” Fleming said, moving to the window, his crutch clattering on the wooden floor. He looked out to see a small gathering of tattered looking peasants, throwing stones up at them.
“Well... I... uh... this new fangled machinery cost a fortune, and I had to lay off quite a few workers.”
“Well that's the whole point, this single machine works harder than all that lot put together!” Fleming said, putting a comforting hand on his brother's shoulder. “Look out!” another stone hurtled towards them and smashed another pane of glass. This time, Fleming leaned outside and yelled at them. “Get lost you bloody luddites!”
The crowd dispersed, and Fleming turned to his brother. “The first thing I'd do is replace those cobbles for paving slabs. It gives them less ammunition.”
But Richard was holding his stomach in a worrying manner. A loud gurgling came from within.
“Good heavens, is everything alright Dick?”
Richard swallowed a few times and took a deep breath. “Yes brother, I have a case of the devil's bowels. Stress sets them off.”
“Oh...” Fleming waited for a few gurgles more. “Have you seen a doctor.”
“Nothing to worry about.” Richard said, wincing in pain. A few seconds later he released a bottom rumble which exploded like a fireball in a coalmine. Now it was Fleming's turn to wince.
Richard blushed, then patted his rear down with his hands curiously. “We're all good!” he said after a thorough investigation. “So do you care to join us for dinner? Katherine cooks a lovely lamb casserole.” there was an awkward silence as Fleming stared at Richard's bloated stomach. “Oh it's not her food, the Doctor says I've got a 'spastic colon', and the Priest says it's an evil spirit. I think they're both right.”
They trudged downstairs. “So have the luddites been a problem before?”
Richard nodded. “It'll get worse too, the canalside mill will be opening too, with even more machinery. We'll have to sack the rest of them.”
“Good riddance, I say. Peasants littering the place!” Said Fleming. “I much prefer the shiny steel machines over real people.”
Richard shook his head and laughed at his brother's cruelness.
“Where's your top hat anyway Dick?”
“Ah... had to use it as an emergency toilet last week I'm afraid.”
“Those demonic bowels will be the death of you.” Said Fleming.
And he was right.