A Mighty Endeavor

A Mighty Endeavor by Stuart Slade

Book: A Mighty Endeavor by Stuart Slade Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stuart Slade
Tags: alternate history
with your charming and beautiful ancestor?”
    “Thank you, Sir.” Ever receptive to compliments, Eleanor dimpled at Churchill’s gallantry. “Have you and Osborne thought about how to achieve our ends?”
    “Would you not rather wait until you have rested from your journey? An arduous trip over the Atlantic and then a harrowing ride on the London and North Eastern Railway requires some recuperation at least.”
    “Osborne, a clipper flight to Southampton is hardly arduous. Although the railway ride could fairly be described as harrowing.” Churchill’s tones rolled around the room. “And my stay here puts you in danger, a risk that increases daily. I think our charming Nell is right. The least time we waste, the better it will be for our enterprise.”
    “Perhaps you are right. Frankly, Eleanor, I’m at my wits end on this one. The ports are being watched, with special attention on the ones feeding the Atlantic liners and the ferries to Ireland. The airports too, and the flying boat terminal at Southampton. France has been cut off by its surrender. Then there is getting around inside England. The train stations are being watched; that much is obvious. Oh, the small country stations are all right, but there are passenger checks at all the main ones. Petrol is rationed and the number of cars around is much reduced. There aren’t many roadblocks, not yet at any rate, but getting between the road blocks will be just as hard as getting through them. And Winston is, well.. ..”
    “Osborne means to say I am easily recognized and well known. Frankly, Nell, I do not see how we can pull this off. Even the day of the coup it was hard enough, and now the steps taken by That Man make it much harder. The hand of the government is heavy enough already and I fear it will continue to get worse.”
    “Who mans these checkpoints and carries out the inspections?” Achillea was absorbing all the information that was flowing. “Surely the police don’t have the manpower to do it? Or the firepower, come to that.”
    “That Man has formed a police auxiliary. He doesn’t trust the armed services, so he’s recruiting his own police force. We don’t see them much up here; they’re mostly in the ports and cities. You’d see more of them in the Home Counties than in the North.”
    “Police auxiliaries.” Gusoyn was intrigued. “What are their uniforms? Nothing complex, I hope.”
    “Black shirts and Army khaki trousers. And a Sam Browne pistol belt.” The Duke was indignant.
    “Black and Tans.” Achillea was reflective. “And nobody sees them much up in this part of the world ...”
    “They do bear the shame of the Black and Tans, yes. Now people already call them the Blackshirts.”
    “There was nothing to be ashamed about with the Black and Tans.” Achillea was still absent, rolling over information in her mind. “They had a rough job to do and didn’t do that badly at it.”
    “They killed, burned and looted.” The Duke spoke heatedly. “In the name of reprisal, of course. No way for Englishmen to behave.”
    “You know something?” Gusoyn was grinning. “I think Lord Halifax has just solved our mobility problem for us.”
    The Duke had just been about to follow up on his disapproval of Achillea’s ready acceptance of the Black and Tan’s history. Gusoyn’s comment stopped him dead. Churchill beat him to the punch. “How could anything That Man does be of any help to us?”
    “Well, when the police control all movement, only the police can move freely, is that not right? And up here, nobody knows who is in the Blackshirts or what they are supposed to be doing. In fact, I would surmise that they do a lot of the dirty work that needs doing and so nobody inquires too closely into their movements. So, I think it is about time we formed our own Blackshirt unit. Get ourselves established and nobody will dare ask who we are or what we are doing. We need some vehicles for transport though.”
    “Army trucks.”

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