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Calamity Wears a Red Dress (part 4)

Hyle Troy's picture
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Headmistress Ytte Skovlund arrived then, precisely at 13:30. Hyle welcomed her and bade her take a seat whereby Ytte sat bolt upright almost to attention. Hyle regarded her, Ytte’s face, set to ‘very stern indeed’, thin lipped, breathing slowly through her nose. Very Prussian, Hyle thought.

So Ytte sat and said nothing for a few moments. This was work, and in her mind she should not speak until her superior gave her leave to do so.


So the Prussian and the Dane faced each other in silence for a few moments.


What can I do for you, Miss Skovlund?” Hyle understood her headmistress and her sensibilities. Ytte began her report in clipped Germanic tone.


This morning, Sergeant Sweetly brought three children to my office. Two boys and one girl. They had been watching one of the classes. With interest it seemed.”


Hyle sat back into her leather chair. “Do go on.”


After dismissing the Sergeant, I had a discussion with all three. During this, one of them, the girl, informed me that as well as being inmates at the orphanage they also work for Joseph Spivey, in his factory, making ammunition.”


Inwardly, Hyle rolled her eyes at the mention of Spivey, she sighed inwardly but did not let her thoughts show on her face. This was Ytte Skovlund in front of her and Hyle definitely had her Mayor hat on at this time. But two pairs of ice blue eyes meant and telegraphed mutual distaste for the individual concerned. Hyle nodded slowly.


And I also learned that this labour was being done without recompense. In short, Herr Spivey is producing ammunition with child slave labour. Exploiting inmates of the New Flagstaff Orphanage for his own gain, This is not correct!”


Hyle closed her eyes momentarily. On top of all this work now she had damned Joe Spivey causing her more trouble. She sat forward, facing Ytte, arching her fingers together. Ytte, still sitting bolt upright, waited for Hyle to reply to her statement.


Hyle instead, asked a question.


What would you like me to do?”


Ytte had her request prepared and ready. “We should make representation to The Union of New Flagstaff and put an end to this shameful practice at once. I have seen such workhouses and they are filthy, unsafe and uncaring for the very people who produce their goods and wealth. Indeed in this case, He. Herr Spivey is using slave labour. I know we are in the former United States of America where such things are accepted. But to my senses it is abhorrent and we can not just sit here and allow this practice to continue!”


I totally agree.” Hyle said quietly. Ytte’s face reflected her moral victory.


But,” Hyle went on. “The unfortunate thing is that at this point, I can do nothing about it.”


The victory slid from Ytte’s face to be replaced by barely concealed anger.


Warum?…. I mean, why?”


Hyle straightened her back “Because New Flagstaff in not my jurisdiction, in the same way that their laws do not apply here. Ergo I can not request or even force The Union to do anything beyond what they are doing now, because that would force us into a quid pro quo where they would demand influence over Hope, And I do now want them to have anything to do with Hope Springs, not now and not as long as I hold this office.


Ytte bristled at Hyle’s answer. Hyle sat straighter in her chair, projecting her authority back at Ytte. But she could see Ytte did not like this outcome.


Look, Ytte. We both know The Union are corrupted like a mouldy apple. And Joe Spivey will have his finger deeply in the pie. We also know Joe Spivey is a conniving little rat, but a clever one. He knows how to bend laws to cover himself and make everything look legal and correct, even when most people know he is as bent as hell.

I would as much as you, wish to stop him using children to make bullets but the sad fact is, there is damn all I can do.”


Despite knowing that she was speaking to her superior, Ytte could not stop her voice rising and her brow showing the boiling anger just below the surface. The Prussian Officer inside her made itself obvious, delivering its frustration clearly but with respect.


Mayor Troy. I must register firmly, my dismay at your decision. I am head teacher at our school and can not accept that other children, children of a similar age to the ones under my care, are being criminally exploited in such a flagrant manner. I must….”


Hyle shot to her feet.


Miss Skovlund!”


Hyles voice also raised above the usual calm to stop Ytte’s protestations. Ytte glared back but silenced herself. It was correct that she should, after all.


Hyle took a few seconds to reinforce the silence and exert her authority. She sat down again. Reining in her voice


Miss Skovlund, I share your frustration. Absolut I share them. But I know Joe Spivey and whatever we try to do he will find some way to circumvent. However, what I will do, I will cancel a good number of the contracts we have with his company and cease to invite tenders from Spivey Independent Traders.

I know it is not much, but the best way to hurt Joe Spivey is to kick his wallet.”

Ytte stiffened in her seat, still inwardly fuming. Hyle stood up, indicating the door.


I know it is not the best outcome, Ytte.”


Ytte stood and bowed her head stiffly,clicked her heels together, then marched out. The Prussian Officer in her much to the fore. But she did slam the door, which bounced from it’s latch as Hyle resumed her seat. She picked up a pen and started making notes of the meeting she had just ended.


Which was when…….


Joe Spivey's picture

... Arghhhhh!


Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Joe Spivey's picture

I would just like to say in my defence.... *Spends too long thinking* ...I'll get back to you.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

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