The Mask of Anarchy, the second exclusive short story by the acclaimed novelist and agency client, Neil Blower, went live this week. And thanks to SalfordOnline.com, here’s a sneak preview….
The Mask of Anarchy, by Neil Blower
16 August, 1819; Manchester
The sabre descended through the air and split the young man’s head clean open. Blood dripped off the silver instrument of death as the Trooper charged through bodies bouncing off his flank to find another target and the young man dropped to the floor, dead. This, for nothing more than a say in how his life was governed.
“Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.”
St Peter’s Field was awash with blood and the trampled bodies of the dead and dying. What was meant to be a peaceful gathering had quickly descended into a massacre.
James Watkin had come along to hear what the radicals had to say. Henry Hunt in particular had told his audience: “Come armed with no other weapon than a self-approving conscience.” It was a nice sentiment to be sure, but no match for the sabres and muskets of the yeomanry.
“And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,
What they like, that let them do.”
James had walked with hundreds of other men and women from his hometown of Salford because he was sick and tired. They huddled together on the roads, sick and tired of the abuse, sick and tired of being treated like a second-class citizen. Sick and tired of not having a vote or a voice.
He worked 60 hours a week in a cotton mill. He woke early, grafted hard, he turned up on time and did all that was asked of him, and at the end of it all got 5 shillings in his hand. Not nearly enough to feed his wife and four children. So he decided to go and hear the radicals speak. Anything had to be better than the life he was living. Read more.