Reformism Revisited – Part Eight
by Nick Lucas
The dutiful widow
Lady Trevor sat with Mrs Craig in the conservatory of her adopted parent’s massive Meadvale home. Miss Howard and Miss Kenton, their guardians, had removed their muzzles to let them talk, whilst they took the girls for a walk. Lady Trevor was still dressed in black, mourning her late husband for a year, as the Archbishop instructed, her devotion visible to everyone. It was a national scandal, an act of terrorism aimed at all democrats, and Brogan’s grief, and her poor children’s fatherless plight, damaged Ben Cartwright’s opposition by association, as the killer was a member of the Social Democratic Party. But Brogan had moved to Meadvale as soon as her ‘father’ suggested it, because he was her legal guardian again and had rented out the London house. Mr Craig wanted his grandchildren and wards under his protective wing and his poor ‘daughter’ close to her ‘mother’. As Harry was the last of the Trevor’s, other than his own children, Paul Craig had full control of his estate. Brogan did not much care. It could not make her feel much worse, and she did not think that anything would make her feel better. She was thirty three years old and proven fertile. Her marriage had not been perfect by any means, but she cared for Harry and he understood her, even if he had a propensity to torment her. She did not expect to be so damned lucky the next time. And she knew there would be a next time.
“Surely your new gowns should be here, dear?” Mrs Craig asked, breaking the polite silence. “Coming out of mourning will make us all feel better, I am sure.”
“Miss Howard has made the arrangements, Mama.” Brogan sighed, her mittened hands resting in her lap, of little use to her but neatly arranged for the sake of appearances, like her whole life. She thought of herself as a decoration, but without Harry there was no respite. Every night was spent in her sleeping gown, muzzled, diapered and mittened, and she was totally at the mercy of Miss Howard, as Mr Craig had told the guardian to manage Brogan and the girls as she saw fit. Brogan had not even bothered to protest, and hardly reacted to Miss Howard anymore. She had no control, and no one to appeal to, as she was essentially a maiden again and Mr Craig had never interfered in such things. Meadvale was quite like living in a vacuum because other than the occasional glimpse of the news she saw nothing of the world outside her gilded cage. She could only look forward to visitors from London and the snippets of gossip she heard at the dinner table. With Harry, she always heard what was going on, even if she was only ever an accidental tourist, a mute observer of events, with no voice. She spent as much time as she could with Eloise and Grace, but they were maidens now and needed her support less and less. Reformism had consumed her, and it seemed to be slowly consuming everyone else, like a cancer.
“Pastor Michael has promised us a tour of the new cathedral complex later this week, and there will be photographers there so you should wear something nice. It is invitation only of course, once the press have seen us arrive, and we will meet the new bishop of Meadvale.” Mrs Craig continued, but Brogan only smiled at the thought of wearing something nice. Meadvale had outgrown the old Cathedral, and Pastor Winstanley had funded a massive new building with a theology college, a palace for the new bishop and a convent, to cater for the towns needs. He would remain based at the old Cathedral, as head of the church, still in his large old house by the river and in charge of the existing Meadvale Convent, although he spent a lot of time in London, of course. Brogan had not seen the construction site as she had been in mourning but she was told it was magnificent, and that Bishop Osborne was the rising star of the clergy, and renowned as one of the most intelligent men in the country. He had been the youngest Dean of Theology ever appointed to Oxford University and he would run the new Winstanley College of Theology as well as oversee the Winstanley Priory, which it was said would house the most pious nuns in the entire order, to serve the good people of Meadvale. Brogan had heard a lot about Winstanley’s plans for the epicentre of the modern renaissance. He wanted the town to have the best of everything Reformism could offer, from Cathedrals and Convents to schools and hospitals. Brogan had watched the town develop since she first arrived as her alter ego Brogan Hardcastle. No expense was spared, and Reformists flocked there, like Muslims to Mecca, to visit or to live, if they could afford it, making it feel like a separate universe.
Sister Caris had remained in Ribble Valley longer than anywhere else during her time in the order. She half expected to be there forever, as the work was important, but as she helped load another class of graduates onto a coach in the inner courtyard she found herself being pushed on board by one of the keepers. She indicated her blue braid with her mitten, trying to say that there was some mistake, but it was summarily ripped off her mantle and her ears were boxed for good measure. The name on her crucifix was checked at the door, and she saw a tick being put against her name on a list before she was pushed further into the bus, sat down, strapped in and blinded, ready for another journey into the unknown. She regretted not getting a chance to say goodbye, but she had learned not to look back, or indeed forwards, beyond the present. The prayers started over the tannoy before the coach even started to move.
A new broom
Sebastian Osborn allowed Mother Margaret to accompany him on a tour of the complete facility as he wanted to discuss things with her, with the VIP and press event just a few days away. He had given her permission to remove her muzzle in his presence. Not something he normally liked to do, but needs must, as he needed her to get the message. He met inside the new Cathedral, near his altar. He was looking forward to preaching from there. It would be the centre of the Reformist world, and his stepping stone to the office of the Archbishop, once Winstanley decided to retire.
“Seven thousand seats plus the choir stalls, the student’s gallery and the nuns’ cellars…and tickets are all allocated until well after Christmas Mother, so we shall have no easy ride. Right from the first service, we must be on the top of our game.”
“Of course, sir…I have the choirboys rehearsing morning and evening and all of my Sisters who are already here practise their procession through the knave and down into the cellar as much as possible.” Mother Margaret replied, choosing her words with great care. She had already learned that the bishop was a perfectionist, and a stickler for the doctrine. She had led the nuns in Meadvale for years, as a devotee of Pastor Winstanley she had been one of the very first to volunteer to join the order, but she already realised that working for Bishop Osborne was going to test her patience. She had no experience of other convents. She had stayed in Meadvale, close to her mentor, and her family, and had watched the order grow. But she had heard the stories and some of the nuns that passed through the old Priory at the old Cathedral seemed cowed and fearful in God’s love.
“Good, the choir will be famous…I only want the best voices…and the procession to the cellar is a vital part of the performance of course…the display of obedience and the separation from the people. I love the grills so that the congregation can look down on you…but obedience must be perfect at all times. I want to see them all lost in prayer. I expect any miscreants to be severely punished Mother, no exceptions. I am told you are much loved here…hence your promotion…but lenience will not promote the standards I expect, Mother. I have appointed some discipline specialists to work under you, and I do not want their best efforts hampered…I hope I make myself clear?”
“Of course, my Lord Bishop.”
“Obviously the convent serves many needs…not just the Cathedral, but the schools, the hospitals and the local churches…and I realise you will have a mix of Sisters as a result, but firm discipline is paramount to the reputation of my diocese.”
“I will have little time to train the new arrivals, sir.”
“I am sure you will manage, Mother. The event later this week is very much a dress rehearsal…we still have a month before the consecration, and that will be with the eyes of the world on us. Meadvale Cathedral must be the jewel in the Reformist crown, and you must work your Sisters until they drop. I shall hold you personally responsible Mother, and I can assure you that I am not a lenient or a patient man.”
Caris filed into another dormitory with another group of Sisters, as she had so many times before. She took no great particular notice of her surroundings. She did not even realise it was brand new and pristine. She just saw the cots with the sleeping gowns folded neatly at the end of each one. She saw the showers and the driers at the end of the long room, and she saw the paddle on the wall, beside the large crucifix, and the keepers carrying their cruel switches. She had no idea where she was. She had been on several coaches, and her journey felt as if it had taken days, but she had no real idea as she had spent it all beneath her blinding mantle. She badly needed to remove her clothing and get in the showers. The keepers were impatient with them, after the long journey, and they were all beaten, but it was nice to get clean, and even nicer to lie in her sleeping gown, shut away from the world. She sometimes thought that she never wanted to come out again.
Amelia was starting her second full day at the Winstanley Priory, working in the laundry as she had ever since she completed her basic training at several convents around the country. She was folding white robes. No one told her why, they just told her to fold them, and she worked hard, to avoid being beaten again. That was her objective most of the time. She had been told she would be the poster girl of the order, but she had not seen a camera since she was first put in a mantle. She could not believe what they were doing to her. She was being treated just like the others, like she was the same. Her life was awful, and the new convent was just as bad as everywhere else. But she had stopped asking to be let out, because that just made the beatings worse than ever.
“And this is Lady Trevor, Mrs Craig’s daughter, of course.” Michael Winstanley said, indicating the mound of dark red velvet standing beside the rather plumper mountain of brown velvet Bishop Osborne now knew was Mrs Craig. He nodded to both of them, and they curtseyed as Mr Craig shook his hand.
“Such an amazing building Bishop…are you ready for the grand opening?” Paul Craig asked, smiling warmly as he looked up at the towering vaulted ceilings and the intricate woodwork, framing the huge stained glass windows.
“Oh we will be…it is a lot to organise…not only here, but the convent, the college and the hospital too. I want the Cathedral complex to be the pride of the Church, and my students, my own team and the nuns are all aware of that…everything about this place has to be perfect from day one.” Osborne replied, his passion obvious to everyone. “Anyone coming here for the first time should be totally overwhelmed, as if God was standing right in front of them…as if this was heaven itself.”
“Sebastian was the driving force behind this place.” Winstanley told everyone. “It was my idea, but it became his dream, and he has nagged the architects about every tiny detail, and badgered me for more of just about everything!”
“Mrs Trevor’s generous donation was much appreciated…perhaps I should take you to see the memorial, before everyone has finished chatting and the tour begins?” Osborne suggested, offering Brogan his arm.
“She would be delighted, Bishop…I am sure.” Mr Craig responded, giving his adopted daughter a knowing glance. Brogan’s sight was hardly unimpeded, but with a sinking feeling in her heart she got the message. Her period of mourning was over and if both parties, Mr Craig and the good bishop, could reach an agreement, she was about to be officially betrothed to the Bishop of Meadvale.
The Moment of Truth
“It’s a huge call, Peter.” Charles Buckingham sighed, reading the report through a second time. “Originally you wanted to test the system in the local elections first…isn’t this a stupid risk?”
“I was worried about the technology…the new system has to cope with the best part of fifty million votes during a twenty four hour period, and that feels like a risk…but Kieran makes a valid point, too. The first vote, and the first sight of the system and how it works, will prove Ben Cartwright totally correct about the family vote…it will deliver us a landslide. But to do that in the local elections would not give us any sort of mandate…a referendum will…it gives us the whole damn thing at once.”
“Explain the system to me again?”
“Each head of household gets a letter containing a password, which gives him the voting rights for every person over which he has a legal responsibility. The password allows him access to the system and the first page offers him a quick vote, whereby he can tick a box against his preferred candidate and register all votes in his gift quickly and easily.”
“And if he chooses not to do that?”
“He goes to the next screen, and must enter full details of each person voting…their name, address, passport, national insurance and national health numbers, age, sex…just about anything we could think of…but if he gets bored with that, the quick vote button is always available in the corner of the screen, to save him the trouble. Charles, I know you don’t like it much, and I do understand that, but we have come too far. We will only have to do this once…if the referendum question is about the founding of a Reformist state we will never have to hold another election ever again.”
Brogan was told her fate. It was not discussed with her. She would be married by Christmas, Mr Craig told her, and he was so pleased, because his grandchildren would be close to him in Meadvale. He had made provisions for Harry’s sons, so that their inheritance was secure, but all the children would be adopted by Bishop Osborne. He had done well for her, he told a muzzled Brogan, securing a match with such an up and coming cleric. He had been too dedicated to his work before, but now he had his bishopric he needed a wife and Brogan was connected, via the Craig’s, to old Meadvale, whilst the widow of Harry Trevor provided useful political links. Her age was an irrelevance. She still had time to produce several children for the bishop, and her unblemished reputation made her an asset. A bishop could not marry a child. And Osborne was more than just a bishop; he was Michael Winstanley’s protégé. Paul Craig had passed an expensive responsibility onto the Bishop in exchange for priceless links to Meadvale high society, whilst ensuring that the probable next archbishop would be his son in law. Brogan merely nodded her acquiescence. Not that it was necessary. The deal was already done.
In the end, Caris was not the only one. Sister Esme and several other of the more experienced nurses, mostly the ones who had formerly been doctors, left Ribble Valley with her, to make the nursing staff at the new Meadvale hospital second to none. It had been decided, as far as she could make out, that their assistants could teach their specialism’s, having spent a year watching them do it, and everything about the Winstanley Priory had to be the best of the best, so they wanted the best nurses. Caris had therefore lost Sammie again, although having her beside her and not being able to hold her had been a torture. The new arrivals were told to dress in white robes, not the usual black and white. Then they were led to a chapel, where they were told exactly what they now were.
“Sisters, Winstanley Priory is a special place. You have all been within ‘the order’ for a long time, in God’s love, but now that you are here you are part of a new order, to be called the White Sisters.” Mother Margaret said, after introducing herself. “Your work at the hospital will be important, as we are dedicated to serving the community of Meadvale…the holy community…but you are not just nurses. You will work daily eight hour shifts at the hospital, which you can reach from the Priory via the specially constructed tunnels. You will sleep for eight hours a day to give you the strength to earn God’s love, and you will pray for eight hours a day, taking a full role in the life of the Cathedral and the Priory. Ours is an order of silence. You will be muzzled all the time, except for fifteen minutes to clean your teeth and eat some solid food, allowing you to live totally in God’s living embrace. Our Lord Bishop expects a lot of us all and it is my job to make sure that we all please him, Sisters. You will never leave here. This is your home now.”
“How can the Prime Minister look himself in the eye?” Ben Cartwright shouted over the usual chaos of Prime Minister’s questions. “He calls himself a democrat, his party all call themselves democrats, but he is forcing through legislation for which he has no mandate. It is a disgrace; will he not do the decent thing and call an immediate election to ask the people whether they want to live in his dystopian vision of a church state? He has lied to the people, and the people deserve the chance to tell him exactly what they think of him!”
“I am inclined to agree with the right honourable gentlemen, Mr Speaker.” Charles Buckingham shouted back, rising to the despatch box, his knuckles white. “It is a disgrace that the leader of the opposition cannot accept the views of the electorate. Our policies work…that is clearly galling for him…and he spreads his poison all around him, until the people do not know what to believe anymore. But I will not hold an election to prove him a fool, incapable of grasping the new politics. However, I will call a referendum, with a question designed to seek approval for our general aims. I believe the people know that what we are doing is for their own good, but I am minded to silence the minority voices who constantly try to undermine our efforts once and for all so that we can all move forwards together. Dystopia is where the socialists would take us, I believe in Utopia, and with the backing of the people I hope my right honourable friend will shut up and let me get on with leading us there.”
Closer to God
“Seen in all its awesome glory for the first time, we bring you the first panoramic views of Meadvale Cathedral, flanked by the Winstanley College of Theology on one side, and the Winstanley Priory on the other, standing in a gentle loop of the old River Mead, with the new hospital facing it on the other bank, joined by the fine Buckingham Bridge.” The breathless BBC reporter said over the sweeping pictures. Colin Hughes sat in his Paris flat, drinking beer. He did not care about the architectural splendour, which some critics were saying made the new Cathedral one of the wonders of the world, and he did not care about the idea of Meadvale as the capital of Reformism, the ideal that Charles Buckingham planned to roll out across the country if he won his tainted referendum. He cared only for Natalie.
It was eating him up inside. He could not appeal the legal case. Under British law ‘Natasha’ had been abused whilst under his care. If he tried to explain that Natasha was actually Natalie, then a whole mountain of new charges could be brought against both of them, the least serious of which for his daughter would be spying and travelling under a false identity. Her protective custody would be transformed into a prison sentence that was bound to be a lot longer than five years. So he sat in Paris, helpless to help his daughter, drinking and watching Britain fall under the relentless spell of Christian Reform, and no one could do anything to stop them. Colin did everything he could, running online blogs and message boards, under a pseudonym to protect Natalie from further punishment in his stead, to protest against the Reformist regime, but protests inside Britain were snuffed out almost before they started, with the new National Guard parked on every street corner. Now the sight of the new Cathedral made Colin Hughes feel sick to the stomach. He watched the phalanx of white robed nuns marching into the Cathedral, and down into the cellars, kept apart from the rest of the congregation, and imagined Natalie amongst them. He listened to Archbishop Winstanley and Bishop Osborn singing the praises of their Reformist ideal, thanking God for his blessings. He watched the camera scanning the famous faces in the congregation, the veiled faces all in thrall to their men, all suffering at their hands, just like Natalie. Was he any better? Colin asked himself the question over and over again, and never once came up with a positive answer. But at least he had done something he reminded himself, reaching for another beer. Not much, but he felt he had struck a blow back, like it said in the bible. An eye for an eye.
Brogan sat with her parents in the best seats, right in front of the altar. She was not blinded, for once. Archbishop Winstanley had urged the faithful to enjoy the Cathedral, to feel God in His house. She sat enveloped in her gown, cloak and veils, helpless to avoid her fate. Bishop Osborne was the star of the show in front of her veiled eyes. He spoke with a passion about the need to live every minute for the love of God, to dedicate every breath to his glory. Harry had that same faith, but his passion was politics and the building of a new society. But that seemed to be done. Certainly in Meadvale. In three weeks, Brogan would walk down the aisle to marry her bishop, and take her place at the centre of the epicentre. She did not even pretend to hope. She could not fool herself with positive thoughts. Harry had been her choice. Her trust in him had been largely misplaced, and her own reasons for choosing him erroneous, but that did not make it any less true. She was at least complicit in her own fate. But it was different the second time around and she could not pretend otherwise. She felt lost without Harry. She knew she could not protect herself, let alone the girls without him, and she feared for the future.
Charles Buckingham enjoyed the service. It allowed him to switch off, for the first time in weeks. It also allowed himself to lose himself in the perfection of Meadvale. It was a microcosm of his blueprint for the whole country. Great schools, a great hospital, good housing and a thriving business community, all working with the church in the middle. Meadvale had almost no crime, no litter, no unpleasantness. He had never caught one, but he was told that even the buses ran on time. He had never been a religious fanatic. He did not have the zeal of a Harry Trevor, or the passion of Michael Winstanley, but he did believe in the need for a renaissance. Modern Britain had been sorely in need of a reboot, to put things back in place. He believed he had done that, and he believed that they needed to take a few more steps to set everything in concrete. He told himself that the loss of democratic safeguards was a price worth paying for Meadvale. In his head, the ends justified the means. He looked at his own daughter, and saw her thriving with Peter Munroe. He had saved her from the permissive society. She had felt repressed at first but she was happy enough with her life. It was not about individuals, it was about the greater good. He did not really expect his opponents to understand that, because he was beating them hands down, but he was tired of the game. Peter Munroe believed it would all calm down after the referendum, when they could change the political landscape.
Charles hoped he was right, because he could not take much more of it. Losing Harry had affected him more than he liked to admit. Not because Harry was his natural successor, but because he kept Charles sane. Holding Harry back had been like controlling a loyal puppy at first, and then a strong horse at the start of the hunt, desperate to win the race. The next generation were rather more dour, more cold and calculating than anything else. For instance, Kieran Radcliffe was often charming and personable, but he kept his emotions firmly up his sleeve. He played a really dirty game with a broad smile. And then there was Bishop Osborne. Michael Winstanley had selected his own successor, as was his right, but Osborne was not cut from the same cloth as his mentor. He was focussed rather than passionate, and certain rather than faithful. He used God as a battering ram rather than a guiding light, and he did not take no for an answer. His brand of reformism was not idealistic at all, but dogmatic and resolute. He was not a builder. He would not win hearts and minds. He would plough on regardless and demand that everyone else followed in his wake.
Megan Brown was sitting so far from the altar that she watched Bishop Osborne preach on one of the big screens. Nigel had been invited by Bishop Murray and it was an honour, of course. Megan had never seen Meadvale before. She had never been anywhere like it before. She could not imagine Sevenoaks becoming like that, but Nigel told her that it would, just as soon as the referendum was over. Her parents had done the right thing if that was true. She could see that, because she was safely married to a Pastor. Everyone else, her friends who had called her father names, and had teased her when the Robinson’s started getting involved with the Church, would be forced to comply. They would never catch up with her socially. She had a place in life. She had a head start, and it was not so bad for her. She stared down through the gratings in the floor, at the sea of white robed nuns lost in prayer, and thought of her sister. Some people were calling them Trevor Nun’s, but the White Sister’s were an impressive sight.
Mrs Chloe Radcliffe only just made the service. She had given birth to her first child, a son, only days before. She was at the front, near the altar, sitting next to Kieran, and surrounded by the Reformist elite. She was not quite sure how she had ended up there, and even less sure that she wanted to be there, but she had certainly learned her place. She believed in God, and had been raised as a Reformist, so she had no particular complaints, just aching regrets. She knew it was wrong of her. She tried to lose herself in God’s loving embrace, but it was impossible. She still wanted more.
One Wedding, a Referendum and the Death of Democracy
The bride wore a gown and cloak of gold, flanked by her adopted daughters as her bridesmaids, and everyone agreed it was the wedding of the year. Bishop Osborne stood tall in his purple robes and Archbishop Winstanley conducted the service. Every important person was there. The guest list was more exclusive than the opening ceremony and it was broadcast live on the BBC as Charles Buckingham was taking every opportunity to promote the Reformist ideal to the people. Brogan did not feel a part of the ceremony or the celebrations. She saw nothing of it, heard little and cared less. She was an asset being transferred, a property representing an alliance. Nothing more. She made her mark with her mittened hand and that was that, she was Lady Brogan Osborne. By the time Miss Howard led her off to prepare her for bed she just felt numb.
Sebastian Osborne exercised his conjugal rights with some reluctance. He was a virgin, and had little or no real interest in the opposite sex, so he kept it impersonal and simple. He did not remove his wife from her sleeping gown, but merely opened the necessary gap and sowed his seed inside her. He used lubrication, as had been suggested, and his wife hardly moved throughout the rather undignified and uncomfortable process. He finished and called the guardian to deal with her. By the time Miss Howard arrived, the Bishop was back in his own room, fast asleep.
His palace had plenty of space. He left the domestic details to the guardian and really only came across his new wife and his adopted children at dinner. He kept things very formal and encouraged Miss Howard to do the same. Marriage was simply necessary for someone in his position, and Brogan fitted the bill, socially and politically. He considered it little more than a contractual arrangement and soon returned his concentrations to his work. He had taken advice, and he intended to lie with his wife twice a week, except when she was unavailable. He liked the idea of his own children, but there was no need to get carried away, and he would never remain in the same bed as her, or see her naked form. He also saw no particular need to talk to her in private. He allowed some discussion during dinner, and no doubt the guardian removed muzzles at other times, when he was elsewhere, but Brogan would never be unmuzzled when she was alone with him. He considered that unnecessary and rather inappropriate.
“I am afraid this leadership debate emphasises everything that is wrong with politics.” Charles Buckingham sighed, shaking his head at the live camera, as if he was disappointed with the entire spectacle. “Ben Cartwright is a good man, but he cannot be honest with the electorate. He can’t say ‘yes, that worked, we don’t want to change it’ because that would be quite like admitting defeat, even if it is the right thing to do. Everything has to be black and white…right and wrong…as if life was like that…but it isn’t is it? We were originally elected because we convinced the electorate that only radical social change could cure the ills of this country once and for all…and in what? Seven years? We have achieved so much, but there is still so much to do. Yes, I want a Church centred state, with strong moral and ethical guidelines and a degree of compulsion…not because I am some sort of raving fanatic, but because I believe it is what this country needs. Discipline is integral to survival these days. We cannot allow huge swathes of society to go off the rails, to disassociate themselves from reality. Ben accuses me of repression, of disenfranchising the women of this country in a malicious, sexist assault on civil rights, but he refuses to balance the reality of many women being happy with their new place in society with the simple fact that the economics work. I am sick of the political agenda, we need a government that will do what is right…and there is only one judge of that, and that is God…I make no apologies for what we have done or what we will do when we win this election, because it is right, and you can read it all in the bible. That is my manifesto. To change the performance of this country we had to radically alter the foundations, and rebuild a way of life that delivered economic security as well as moral fibre. We toughened up and agreed on things that we would no longer tolerate or suffer or endure. It is a fresh start, it will develop from here, but you cannot judge what we call the renaissance against what went on before. Because that was a broken society that had run its natural course.”
“This is a very unusual results show, because we are seeing live votes on screens, yes for Charles Buckingham, no for Ben Cartwright, and you don’t need me to tell you what is happening here. Britain is clearly voting for Reform…it is not a foregone conclusion yet, but the trends are clear. Family voting is delivering an overwhelming result for the Christian Democrats and we are surely seeing the creation of the world’s first Reformist state.”
“Gentlemen of the press…and I say that as, surprise surprise, there are no longer any ladies of the press here…we have all just witnessed the death of democracy in this country. I have no proof, because I cannot sit on the shoulders of every man at his computer screen making sure that he is checking with all those he is responsible for before placing their votes, but any sane man must see that this system is unsafe…and totally unacceptable. I told you it would happen, and no one listened…no one has listened to me all along it seems, or not enough of them, and there is nothing else I can do except mourn something we have all taken for granted all our lives. When you are fitting your wives and daughters with a muzzle, or signing their travel permission slips, or applying for their new FIDs, or having them injected with a location chip, do not blame me. I told you so. I fought against this travesty, and I lost. I do not believe that this result reflects the majority of opinion in this country and I never will. I wish you luck in God’s love…I fear many people are going to need it in the coming months.”
Ben Cartwright stepped back, away from the cameras, and disappeared back inside his house.
Brogan Osborne did not know the result of the vote. No one told her. But she would not have cared in any case. She was all alone in the drawing room of the bishop’s palace, covered, muzzled and mittened, and crying her heart out, screaming silently at the moon, finally out of control, the pain quite intolerable. After lunch she had asked Miss Howard where Eloise and Grace were. She had been told that they had left with their step father. He had taken them away to begin their national service as an example to the people. No one could avoid their Reformist future. Not even the stepdaughters of a bishop.
The End of Reformism Revisited.
The universe and the characters of Reformism Revisited are continued in its sequel Reformism Interrupted.