“Everyone, take out your tools!”
Hearing those words–it was their signal–other workers also took out hidden tools.
Hundreds of angry workers began to smash the machines, and the factory quickly became a mess. (Organized labor and direct action? Be still my beating heart)
The workers at Ashford’s factory were full of grievances about their slave-lake job-conditions.
The plan to destroy the machines and proceed with the factory strike was scheduled for tonight, but Anna advanced the plan by a few hours.
But no one was dissatisfied with it.
Everyone was furious, watching James beat little Tom.
“Stop those madmen!”
James ordered the guards.
The knights immediately pulled out their swords, but there were too many workers armed with tools.
There were only two knights, so it didn’t take a genius to do the math.
Workers holding hammers quickly surrounded James.
“Don’t come near me!”
He pulled out the sword he was carrying for self-defense and swung it in vain.
The workers hesitated for a brief moment
Then, Anna wielding a hammer, walked forward.
“Get rid of your blade, or I’ll split your head with this.”
When he heard the violent warning, James froze.
His voice broke, and he spoke in an unsightly trembling voice:
“If you hurt me, you won’t be safe!”
He threatened them with the future.
However, Anna was not intimidated by blackmail.
She said, swinging her hammer:
“You’re only a chain that the workers will lose then.”
James stumbled as he stepped back.
He looked into Anna’s eyes and thought: That’s the look of a madman who is about to kill. I’m gonna die.
“We have little to lose, but what about you?”
As she said, James had too much to lose.
He hadn’t even fulfilled his ambition to push out his niece Olivia out of the head seat and take over as Duke… he couldn’t stand the thought of dying in such a place.
James looked around with despair.
The guards and factory supervisors have long been overpowered by workers.
No one was left on his side.
The sword slipped from James’ hand.
“Yes, good idea.”
Anna ordered men to tie James tightly with rope.
Then she had ordered the children to be chaperoned to a safe location and instructed that the sick Tom be taken to the doctor.
“It’s good to take the boss hostage as planned……, but what should we do now?”
Fellow workers came and asked Anna for guidance.
Anna said, thumping her hammer on the floor.
“What should we do? Of course, we have to bring in the big boss and negotiate.”
“But, will the nobles listen to people like us?”
“They will have to.”
Anna asserted, looking at her colleagues with determined eyes.
“Olivia Ashford, we might be able to talk to her and come to an understanding.”
The gray smoke emitted by the steam locomotive left a long trail in the clear sky.
The train had left the capital and was heading for Lancaster.
My sudden departure for Lancaster was because of a telegram that arrived a few hours ago.
A telegram sent by Uncle James’ secretary.
The contents of the telegram were as follows:
-Factory workers caused violence. They took Lord James hostage and want to negotiate with the lady. Please come to Lancaster as soon as possible.
When I heard the news that my uncle was taken hostage, the first thought was, “I’m only benefiting from this situation.”
I knew that he was exploiting the workers and only filling his stomach (aka he was being corrupt and stealing money).
I constantly said that workers’ wages should be raised, but my uncle completely ignored my argument.
The management of the Ashford spinning plant was my uncle’s domain.
Because of that, there was a limit in exercising my opinion.
As a result, things have already reached this point—a strike on top of it.
Even if I had faced my uncle’s opposition, I should have pushed it somehow…. I got off the train feeling responsible for this situation.
My uncle’s secretary met me at the train station.
As if he couldn’t delay for a moment, he took me straight to the negotiating table to bargain with the workers.
To be honest, I didn’t want to save my uncle quickly.
I wanted to use this opportunity to wake him up and have him come to his senses.
In order to hide my inner feelings, I deliberately played the role of the good niece who was worried about her uncle.
“What were the knights of the Dukedom doing? Why didn’t they rescue uncle?”
When I complained, the secretary hurriedly made excuses.
“If we acted stubbornly… Sir James’ life was being jeopardized, and those cunning workers threatened me… so I couldn’t move the knights.”
“Excuses. Come on, guide me to where my uncle is.”
“Ah, yes, I understand.”
The place for negotiations set by the workers was an old, closed warehouse in the factory’s backyard.
Inquired the big men who stood guard at the warehouse door:
“Are you acting Duke of Ashford?”
When I affirmed, the men stepped aside.
However, they stopped my escorting knights from trying to follow me.
“From here, you have to go in alone.”
“What…! Lady going alone is dangerous!”
Sir Hans, my guard, protested as he reached for his sword.
I calmed him down.
I told him it was okay, ordering my guards to wait for me outside, and stepped forward into the warehouse.