The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 13 - Inciting the One Percent
THERE WERE MAYBE two dozen people milling around in front of the small school building where the wreck victims had been sent. All of them were well-dressed, though some well-dressed as servants.
A kid in a maid's uniform sat on the step to the school, trembling and hugging herself. A middle-aged woman in a fur stole and fashionable little hat -- with a huge, but broken, feather in it -- patted the maid on the shoulder.
The two young men who talked to Alex were standing nearby, the tall one pacing angrily, the shorter one looking amused.
"They're neglecting us," said the taller young man. "They said they would keep us informed!"
"Patience, Freddie," said the woman with the feather. "They can't give us word if they don't have word to give."
"We haven't seen hide nor hair of them since those security fellows arrived."
"Excuse me," said Alex. "You said you tried to get into the building too. Why?"
"We haven't got any luggage," began the shorter fellow. "We haven't got any rooms, or any tea--"
"Basil!" said the other sharply. "I think our cousin is more important than your tea!"
"Sorry, Freddy," said Basil, and he turned back to Alex. "As it happens, we're also out of baronesses."
"Our cousin is the Baroness of Beethingham--"
"A baroness in her own right, no less," interjected Basil.
"--and she has been kidnapped by those bandits who derailed the train."
"Or perhaps killed by them."
Alex looked around at the people standing there. They looked uncomfortable and disgruntled and worried. Disgruntlement is a powerful force.
"I've got a friend who's missing too," he said slowly. Then he raised his voice so they all could hear him. "Are there a lot of people missing?"
"My companion, Miss Vilthrop, for one," said an elderly woman.
"And Emmett, the undersecretary to Lord Blinkersly," said a man. "Nobody has seen him."
"Lord Blinkersly is missing!"
"No, I just saw him. He's just behind the building, having a smoke.
"Well, I haven't seen anything of my footman...."
Voices were calling out about people and luggage and sore feet. All sorts of complaints. They were ready to turn into a mob. Alex felt guilty for even thinking of taking advantage of that. Still you can't incite anybody who doesn't want to be incited, and their complaints were legitimate.
The question was how to take advantage of it? A diversion, maybe. Or just a covering crowd....
"When you were inside just now," said Freddie, "did they tell you anything at all?"
"No," said Alex. "I only talked to the cook. The place seemed practically empty."
"They've got everybody up at the wreck, I expect," said the woman with the broken feather.
And older man pushed his way to the front. "You're telling me they've got room in there for us?"
"Well, I only got a glimpse. I mean, I didn't see upstairs or into the guest rooms, but there's a parlor and a tavern room which are just completely empty."
"Sounds a darned sight more comfortable than here," said the older gentleman.
"Listen," said Freddie. "Did you see that brute of a captain? The gimpy one with the walrus mustache? He's in charge, you know. We should march in there and take him hostage until we get some answers!"
"Freddie," said the woman. "You're beginning to sound like Basil."
"Not me!" said Basil, "Takin' a hostage sounds like jolly fun, but it also sounds like work."
Alex took a deep breath. Here goes his plan....
"What we should do is take the tavern hostage," said Alex. "As a group -- all of us just troop in there and occupy it. You know, a flash mob."
Stay Tuned for Episode Fourteen: "Rozinshura is Disappointed"
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