Logres at Work

The following are examples of the British Principality (nicknamed "Atkins" by Logres) guiding Logres by providence/synchronicity/luck/circumstance to nurture the English national genius, according to the four temperaments, coming and going (that is, having problems come to them or going out and encountering problems):

Phlegmatic, Coming:

"Dear Dr. Dimble:
You don't know me, but my friend Prosser is engaged to Miss Appleby, who said you helped her awfully on her paper on Swift. She also said you were very keen on King Arthur and the Matter of Britain, so I thought I would try writing to you. I am getting up a little society or club for the older children in my town, all to be about Arthur and such, and part of this is teaching them about codes of chivalry. To be frank, I don't know a great deal about those codes, but from the little I do know, I think teaching them to kids is a very good idea. Would you be willing to come to our next little gathering and give a short talk about it? I would, of course, pay all your expenses and add something for your time and trouble..."

Thus does Dimble help start the ball rolling on a modern revival of chivalry, part of a Creative Anacronism or Historical Re-enactment society for school children, which will (if all goes well) produce a large number of surprisingly upright men and women in a particularly English vein.

Phlegmatic, Going:

Arthur Denniston and Mark Studdock spend a fair bit of time in the library of the rebuilt Bracton College, reading their professional journals. "Studdock, isn't this the Thornfield I've heard you railing against?" says Arthur, looking over Mark's shoulder and pointing at the table of contents.

"That's the man. Started his own field of sociology. Calls it 'mass behaviorism' and claims to have a mathematical basis for it. Very nice ideas," he says with an emphasis Arthur understands. "Let's see what he can do for my blood-pressure today." He flips to the article, reads, and discovers it to be based on a line of research exploded shortly before the War. He writes a letter to the journal about it.

Thornfield answers, wittily; Mark does not reply, but a heavy gun in mass psychology does, starting an exchange that discredits Thornfield. If anyone had ever bothered to write a biography of Thornfield (which no one ever did), they might have noted "the Studdock letter" as the point where "mass behaviorism" started to head down the drain.

Choleric, Coming:

Jane went up to London for some shopping. "'Scuse me, miss?"

Jane stopped for the child. A little boy. "Yes?"

"Would you mind if I walked with you for these next few blocks?"

Jane wondered if he was a pickpocket or the confederate of a mugger. He seemed too young for either. "Certainly you may. Why, though?"

"I, uh, well, it's getting late, like." Evening was coming on, certainly. And their little journey together took them down a short street between two busier, brighter ones. She watched her companion's eyes. They flicked nervously over one particular house, dark and empty, chunks still missing from the war damage years ago.

"Nasty-looking place," she remarked, nodding toward it.

The boy nodded. "Folks say it's haunted. Mum says the neighbors hate it."

"You live near here?"

He nodded ahead. "At the corner."

Two lots away from the empty house. Was it haunted? She couldn't simply dismiss the idea anymore. She prayed silently as she walked, for the boy, for his family, for his neighbors. For, if necessary, whatever lingered in the ruined house.

The boy peeled off toward his home, warmly lit. Jane made her way back toward the train station. On the way, she passed a small church. Hm. On an impulse, she entered. No one about. Apparently. She took a seat in the front pew and repeated her prayers. Aloud. And mentioned the address. She never learned any more about the affair.

Choleric, Going:

MacPhee is in charge of the Logres finances. On a trip to London, he encounters ads for the "Whittington Society," a humane society with cats as their mascots & logos. (Actually, because some people take a fair bit of nudging, he only notices the Whittington Society after seeing an ad and an article in newspapers on the train, walking by two posters, and having a third poster blow along the street and plaster itself on his shin...)

The idea that he's being prompted never occurs to him, but he begins thinking about humane treatment of animals. "Sentiment? There's no need to bring sentiment into it. You're caught coming or going. Either animals have souls or they have not. Dimble tells me the Bible says they have souls. On that hypothesis, they have the same kind of right, though doubtless not in the same degree, to good treatment as we do. If they do not, why then we are talking rationalist materialism, and you have a great authority like Darwin arguing against vivisection and the like, on the grounds that beasts' sufferings must be similar to our own because of our general similarities of constitution, due to our common heritage."

Yes, fine, whatever. In any event, he sends donations to the Whittington Society's various causes, which helps keep it afloat and an instrument of the famous English pottiness about animals, translated into actual humane treatment. (Even though MacPhee is Northern Irish.) Camilla thought the expression on his face was priceless when the Whittingtons presented him with Smudge, a kitten destined to become fifth of the Seven Cats of Logres...

Melancholic, Coming:

What MacPhee actually does for a living is teach history and philosophy at Durham, which is not too far from St. Anne's. (He alternates between staying at St. Anne's on the Hill and at his Durham rooms.) His philosophical teaching tends to concentrate on ethics.

He is rather surprised when a student of his, a generally clear-minded young lady, comes to him for practical ethical advice: she has a friend who is doing something bad, but she does not see how to help without betraying the friend's confidence and making an enemy of her. He helps her with some analysis and council and eventually sees both young women, briefly.

The student goes on to become an elderly lady priest of the Church of England, mentoring and spawning a line of protégés in the mode of those indominable British females that make empires tremble.

Melancholic, Going:

"It's a mercy he's dead," Mrs. Dimble said.

"Bromley? Margaret, what a thing to say!"

Mrs. Dimble saw her husband had not been listening. "When Camilla and I were in Sterk today, we went to the zoo to visit the giraffes." The giraffes were escapees from Belbury; the Company of Logres had briefly cared for them before giving them to the zoo in Sterk, along with the elephants, the apes, and other exotic creatures. "We saw Daphne Richards there, with her little girl. Daphne? Bromley's daughter? We looked at the giraffes for a bit and then Daphne said, 'Tall blondes,' talking to herself, only too loudly. We looked puzzled, and she remarked her father was fond of tall blondes. Too fond. Apparently, there is a tall blonde woman trying to blackmail her family about it. So Daphne told her that her father died in the Edgestow blow, and she could publish and be damned. Camilla got it all out of her in a few minutes."

"Camilla's become very authoritative."

"She's also going to the police about it, with Daphne."

Sanguine, Coming:

A church in Sterk puts out the call for help in refurbishing the jail where Tom Maggs was held, before he was remanded to the N.I.C.E. Tom gets wind of it and volunteers time doing stuff like painting, cleaning, simple repairs, moving furniture. Mark Studdock goes with him. (This, incidentally, cements a friendship between them and they become a known pair, called, in Logres, "the jailbirds.")

Mark sees what conditions are like in real jails (sorry, gaols) and what real criminals are like. The strongly affects the sort of papers he decides to write for publication. These are not earth-shaking papers, by any means, but they get cited by other, much more influential authors, and help head off, on the one hand, reactionary attempts at very punitive penal systems and, on the other, attempts to revive the dehumanizing methods of the N.I.C.E. Not that British gaols are pleasant, or jails either, but Mark helped keep them less unpleasant than they might have been.

Meanwhile, he and Tom Maggs interacted with the prisoners a fair bit, which helped reduce crime in the Sterk area, and which particularly steered a lot of people away from being available as minions for occultists (who are not plentiful in the Sterk area, but people, including thugs, are always going off to London as career moves).

Sanguine, Going:

Tom Maggs and Mark Studdock are running highly mundane errands and stop off at a pub for supper. There, they see some teens "joking with"—harassing, warming up to beating—an old tramp.

"Great heavens!" says Mark. "I know that man!" It is, in fact, The Tramp.

"Know him or not," says Tom, "that horseplay don't look like the sort of thing a couple o' knights of the Round Table ought to put up with."

So saying, he wades in and pulls the currently active youth off by his scruff. Mark does his best and wades in half a second behind, trying to look confident and dangerous. (He's actually rather good at this; all his years of posing have given him some acting skill.)

" 'Ere, now, you don't want to be actin' like that. It's cowardly, for a start, gangin' up on an old man. An' you know where it leads? The clink. And you would not like the clink. I know, 'cause I bin there."

"So have I," adds Mark, holding the youth's other shoulder and wisely deciding against affecting a cockney accent. "The same clink. But not all the people in there are as nice as us." He smiles nastily. He's very good at nasty smiles.

"You've had your shandy and proved you're a grownup. Now go home before you prove you're a blackguard," says Tom. The onlookers begin to rumble approvingly. The teens huddle back, looking sullen and scared.

Mark invites The Tramp to have supper with them. "No, thankee, lad. Got business appointments," he says, jerking his thumb at his tinker's pack. "But I wouldn't say no to a drop. And d'ye have a bit o' baccy about ye?"

Mark laughs. "Yes, this time I do."

The Tramp, as usual, seems quite unperturbed by what's gone on. After heading out the door (the teens are long gone), he picks up the lead of his donkey (late of Belbury) and starts down the darkening road, toward his next gig as an instrument of Providence.

Atkins works largely by Butterfly Effect, that aspect of chaotic dynamics whereby a slight change in the right place can cause a big change in the system. The Logres folk are his stable of pet butterflies, having voluntarily given themselves to his service, or rather to their mutual service of realizing the ideal of Logres in Britain. Of course, Albion also has his pet locusts, who are used to pull similar tricks—or he will have when he has a suitable replacement for the N.I.C.E. organized.

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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010