(1937-11-20) The Rabblerouser
Details for The Rabblerouser
Summary: A Communist speaker tries to rouse a rabble in Regent's Park. He could have picked a better time. And a better audience.
Date: Tuesday, November 20th, 1937
Location: Regent's Park
Related: None.

It is a fall morning. The weather is warm and clear.

Regent's Park - London

The Regent's Park is mainly open parkland, reserved for pedestrian use. During the day the air is filled with the sound of music, laughter, and in general the sound of people enjoying a little slice of nature for the day. The park provides a wide range of facilities and amenities for people to enjoy including gardens, sports pitches, and children's playgrounds. One section of the park even boasts a lake with a heronry and a colony of waterfowl where people can take out rowboats for a spin, an especially popular activity with young couples.

A weekend morning finds Regent's Park a relatively forlorn place, despite the pleasant weather: housewives and small children make up the majority of the parkgoers. But like most London parks the place has a small area set aside for speakers to (attempt to) regale the masses. Why on earth the bearded working class chap on the little platform has chosen well-to-do Regent's to try to whip up a crowd on the merits of Communism… is anyone's guess. This sort of thing usually happens in the lower class parks. But he has managed to gather a few curious spectators.

Jane Gwynn is amongst them, leaning lightly against a lamppost. She's looking subtly amused. A pampered looking Cocker Spaniel is sitting at her feet, looking bored. "- only the proletariat class is a TRUE revolutionary class!" thunders the speaker, evidently trying to make up for the small audience with volume and animated motions. "You bourgeois fear it - and RIGHTFULLY so!"

Sloan could be considered anything but Bourgeois. Dressed in a pair of charcoal slacks, work boots Thick leather belt, suspenders, a White T-shirt and a Bowler hat. Having stayed at Eddie's last night, his daily walk finds him in Regency park. Leaning on a tree near Jane, he listens quietly to the man, eyebrow raised as he rolls a cigarette in his left hand.

A few of the other spectators cast the occasional glance at Sloan: his working class appearance has probably gotten him grouped in with the would-be rabblerouser. Who is, by now, picking up steam. "Look around you at the spoils of the plunderers, stolen from the mouths of the poor! Lush townhouses with a single resident, when in the East End two families share a single room! Truly, who could justify such inequality!"

"You!" barks the speaker, pointing out into his meager crowd - at Jane, who raises a single manicured hand to her collarbone in evident surprise. "How many children could you have fed, with the money you spent on that hat!" The young woman looks a bit nonplussed by the question, opening her mouth to reply - but being cut off before she can. "Inequality in person!"

Pushing off the tree quietly, Sloan makes his way through the crowd quietly. moving towards the man in an unhurried fashion, he keeps his hands in his pockets as he walks a slow circle around the man. silent as he looks the man up and down. Almost as though he were memorizing the man's every feature.

Sloan's movements catch the speaker's attention, and the bearded fellow gestures expansively in his direction. "Compare, then, this solid working class fellow - workboots on his feet! Best beware, comrade; these pampered parasites will report you to the police for vagrancy!"

This provokes a few mumbles of disagreement (and a few of agreement) from the little crowd. Jane, however, is the only one to raise her voice in distinct words. It's undeniably a posh sound, with a gentle, silvery tone. "Of course we wouldn't, sir," she says. "This is a public park, the gentleman is quite welcome, as are you."

Pausing for a moment, Sloan grunts. "Aye. they're welcome tae try. but tell me. What is it ye do for a living?" The Black Irsh auror speaks softly in a thick Irish, almost Pikey accent.

"Raise consciousness amongst the working class," says the speaker, with a scowl, "and write for Communist newspapers." He seems to feel this tangent is getting away from him, and says, sharply, "That's besides the point. The POINT -"

Jane casts a sideways glance at Sloan, a hint of a smile on her face, before stepping away from the lampost, threading through the mothers and their strollers. Her pampered little spaniel trots dutifully along besides her. "Why," the young woman says, still in that gentle, silvery tone, "Isn't that quite important, sir?"

Considering the man for a long moment, Sloan grunts. "Can't imagine raising consciousness amongst the working class pays very well, aye?"

"It doesn't," admits the speaker, obviously rather annoyed by this change of topics. He gives Sloan a dark look before barking: "But that is why we must fight to move past this capitalist system! Only in an economic system where everyone is rewarded fairly for their efforts can the working man be free!"

The little crowd of well-to-do ladies and their children are by now watching the exchange with every sign of entertained interest. Jane glances from one man to the other, the little hint of a smile still on her face.

Considering this for a moment, Sloan grunts. "We are rewarded fairly. S'called a fe…" Pausing as he realizes there are children around, he amends. "It's called a Wage, lad. ye WORK and ye get paid."

"And after all, sir," Jane's gentle voice inputs, "it isn't as though we leave those who truly can't labor to starve, as they do in some countries." She bestows upon Sloan an admiring little smile, one echoed on several other faces.

The speaker is in high dudgeon, now, scowling darkly at Sloan. After a moment to gather his frayed dignity about him, he says, sharply, "A pound a week isn't a fair wage, comrade. You deserve to have as much as these painted -" there are, after all, children present, so he too modulates his tone "- parasites. Perhaps you should come to one of our rallies, and have your eyes opened!"

Chuckling, Sloan nods. "Aye. maybe I will. sometime." Leaning forward, he speaks in a soft whisper. "Again. Though th' last time I went tae one o' yer rallies….they tried tae kill me. Stabbed me 4 times in th' guts and left me bleeding because I asked questions lad. Now it's a nice, sunny day. There are families about Son. so nothing will happen to ye here. But I'm givin ye 10 seconds tae leave…I knows ye, son. I sees ye down in Hoxton…and Hoxton…is….mine. Leave now, or one night very soon, ye'll find me, tap tappin' at yer door. and it will be a ver' bad night for you, aye?" His back to the crowd so they can't see his face or hear his whisper, he adds. "It will also be yer last son."

The little crowd of women and children watch this exchange with great interest, even as it becomes too quiet for them to follow. Jane has a hint of satisfaction on her pretty face, her eyes peeled on the two men's body language. The increasingly shocked (terrified) posture of the speaker makes for entertaining viewing material.

"I - you - a police plant, are we?" the speaker hisses back, trying (and failing) to keep himself from looking intimidated. He takes a step back, looks at the little audience - they look back, a pack of pampered wolves in fashionable frocks, scenting a kill - and barks, "Beware the revolution! Your backs will be against the wall!" before making a break for it and heading towards St. John's Wood.

As their entertainment departs, the well-to-do women duly clap, fashionable faces amused and admiring. Jane joins in on the applause, but comments, as a good-natured aside, "Did you have to chase him off, sir? He was rather amusing, with all that nonsense."

Looking at Jane for a moment, Sloan grunts. "Hate t'hear profane and dirty language in front of women an' children miss. and his words were like Tar t'me ears, aye?"

Jane glances at the little crowd of women and children that is now beginning to disperse. "Well," she says, lightly, "perhaps we should keep you on retainer, then. The British Union -" i.e. the British Union of Fascists "- usually have a speaker here on Thursday nights." Her gentle smile is humorous, but has a subtle hint of sincerity to it. "Something to keep in mind."

At her calf, her dog gives an impatient little prance, silky coat rippling. Jane gives a soft laugh. "I think I'm being given my marching orders. Good day to you, sir!" With that, and a small nod of her head, young woman and pampered pooch are off.

Touching the brim of his Bowler hat, Sloan nods and offers a quiet, almost smile before he turns and continues on his walk. Placing the cigarette he rolled earlier between his lips and lighting it with a Lucifer match.

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