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For All Nails #51B: Victoria's Secret (Part 2)

by Jonathan Edelstein

Government House
Nairobi, Victoria
15 February 1973

"With all due respect to Harry," said Prime Minister Richard Patten, "what the devil is the man thinking?"

"That's always difficult to tell," replied the Foreign Secretary, John Amalfi. "I assume, though, that this time he did something more scatterbrained than usual?"

"If he had a brain to scatter, I'd agree with you," said Patten. "Indicting that Madoka woman, I mean. What does he think he's doing?"

"Removing a thorn in our side, I'd say," answered Charles Nicholson. Patten sighed; Nicholson was doing a fine job at Education, but he was a Conservative, and Conservatives tended to have blinders where they could least afford them.

"There's a bloody election coming up in May," he said, tapping his forefinger on the political map that lay on the table. Sixty-eight of the 119 ridings were colored in the green of the Prime Minister's Victoria United Party or the blue of the Conservatives. Twelve of those ridings, however, were colored in a lighter shade, to indicate that they had been carried by a majority of less than a thousand votes. FN1

"There's an election coming, and the bloody trial will happen right in the middle of it."

"Surely we're stronger now than we were then," said Nicholson.

"With a hundred thousand more niggers on the voting rolls," the Prime Minister answered, "we can hardly be sure of that."

"It's about 150,000, actually," Amalfi corrected. Only nine percent of Victoria's nine million blacks and less than half the Indians met the income qualification to be registered as voters, but that was still considerably more than had qualified in 1969. The three million whites of Victoria still made up three quarters of the nation's electorate, but they were losing ground every year thanks to a constitution that Patten didn't have the votes to amend.

"Yes, but more immigrants from the Gold Republics are becoming citizens every day," said Nicholson. "The Goldies are all our votes, and they won't care if some fancy nigger goes to gaol."

"They may not, but those Carrollton bastards will," the Prime Minister answered, naming an upper-middle-class suburb of Nairobi. "Because she's what you said -- a fancy nigger. The kind they almost think of as one of themselves. If we indict her for standing in a meeting hall and making a speech -- you know, the sort of thing they get poetic about -- they'll think the damned Liberals are next."

"Why not?" said Nicholson. "They bloody well are."

Patten regarded him steadily. "Have you ever heard of social contracts, Charles?" he asked. "Part of ours is that whites say what they want. And if we even hint that we're changing the rules, half the people who voted for us last time will go right back to the Democrats. We won the last election through fear, Charles, and we'll lose this one if we give the voters something else to be afraid of."

"Then quash the indictment if you think it'll hurt us that much," said Amalfi.

"You know I can't do that," Patten said. "The Anti-Corruption Act, remember? Only the public prosecutor can quash an indictment. It's supposed to prevent indictments from being buried for political reasons, which is a damned inconvenience when I want to bury an indictment for political reasons."

"Yes, that can be a bother, can't it?" replied Amalfi. "Harry's a member of your party, Charles. Maybe you can talk to him..."

The Lambs Club
Nairobi, Victoria
16 February 1973

"They won the last election through fear, Paul," said Magistrate Ian Douglas, "and they want to win this one the same way."

"Well, of course they do," replied Paul Masseret. "What other platform do they have besides 'vote for us or lose your job to a nigger?'"

Ian looked around quickly before remembering where he was. At the Lambs Club, there were no black people around to be offended except the waiters, and the waiters didn't count.

"They're raising the stakes this time, though," he said. "Harry's indicted Victoria Madoka."

"Madoka?" Paul asked. "Not sure I recall the name -- she's an attorney, isn't she?"

"Yes, and something of a radical," the Magistrate said. "Evidently, she praised the Victoria National Congress at a bar association meeting."

"And they're indicting her for that?"

"It does seem a bit much, doesn't it?" asked Ian. "But they have, and they're very serious about it. Young Mr. Hodges from the Public Prosecutor's office has told the Guardian that he'll ask for a two-year sentence."

"Two years for something she said at a meeting?" said Paul incredulously.

"I believe that's the maximum for violating that section of the Sedition Act," answered the judge. "I won't give it, of course, but he evidently thinks the Appellate Division will disagree with me -- or maybe he's just playing to the gallery."

"I should think that wouldn't impress anyone who isn't voting for them already."

"I'm not so sure of that," Ian said. "Think about it. On the one hand, we're starting to have a real black middle class in this country -- and on the other, we've had 300,000 Goldies come here in the past ten years. Between them both, there are lots of whites afraid for their jobs and their social position, and they're looking for someone who isn't afraid to put the blacks in their place."

"And this Madoka is being put in hers?" asked Paul.

"Exactly. She's a remarkable woman, Paul -- and yes, I know any black that we can't manage to keep out of university must be above average, but she's more than that. She can talk to you about anything in three languages, she's an outstanding musician -- yes, you should come along to one of her parties sometime -- and she has the manners of a queen. I'll admit I've sometimes thought of her as the daughter I never had -- that surprise you?"

Masseret managed something noncommittal.

"At any rate, she's everything they fear -- a black person as good as they are. What did we used to call her kind -- the people who'll share our future? It seems they're sharing a bit too much of the present for some people's taste."

"Then you think that Patten's indicting her to make a point?" asked Paul. "To prove he's tough on the nogs?"

"What other reason could there be?"

Carrollton, Victoria
18 February 1973

"Would you like cup of tea, dear?" asked Caroline Boyle.

"Yes, thank you," said Victoria Madoka, accepting a cup from a silver tray carried by a uniformed maid. "Thank you, too, Letitia."

"You're very welcome, madam," said the maid with a trace of a smile. Victoria smiled in return, hoping that she didn't look as embarrassed as she always felt when a black person called her "madam." She lived comfortably, but she didn't have a maid; the situation would be too awkward all around for comfort.

"It's a terrible thing they're doing to you, Victoria dear," said Caroline. "Of course we'll support you any way we can."

That wasn't an empty promise, Victoria reflected. Caroline Boyle was one of the Liberal Party's leading hostesses and was active in several organizations for the "advancement of the black citizen." Not that any of that prevents her from keeping Letitia away from her family for months at a time, or from being surprised every time I call her on it.

"We'll fully support your defense, of course," Caroline continued, "and we've made the Nairobi diplomatic corps aware of what's going on. I believe the German ambassador has already expressed his concern to the Prime Minister's office."

That will probably get Patten as many votes as it loses him, Madoka thought. "Thank you," she said.

"What I can't understand," said Caroline, "is why they're doing it. After all, it's not as if you were out in the bush shooting people."

"I think that's exactly the point they want to make," Victoria said. "They want us to know that anyone who challenges the way things are -- even by advocating peaceful change -- will be considered their enemy. They won the last election through fear, but now they're becoming frightened themselves. And frightened men do frightening things..."

Forward to FAN #51C (26 February 1973): Victoria's Secret (Part 3).

Return to For All Nails.