Behold, the fifth part! For previous installments, as well as all other Animas stories, click the ‘Animas’ category tag at the top of the post. Thanks!
Sir Stonild never revealed to me the precise reason behind her decision to enter the political arena, particularly at such a young age – nineteen summers, then as now, was considered to be a trifle too few for such a field. She never revealed to me the reason she stayed in it either, but she never needed to. The excitement that animated her countenance whenever the mind behind it was concerned with politics was as plain as freshly-printed folio to read. The lack of it, once she had a taste of it, would have made her bored and snappish, like one addicted to coffee. It should not surprise anyone that she died in office, for can you seriously contemplate a retired Sir Stonild?
But no matter her reasons, enter the lists she did, and for that, she returned to her former and true home of Eleheim. Her chosen affiliation was with the Cavalier Party (the precursor to the Union Party), due to Millen Rochdale’s membership, but Queenston was already represented by two well-settled Cavalier MLAs – so back to Eleheim with her.
Enter Tybalt Catherson, now dapper, with a well-scrubbed face. When Lark met with his father, her former schoolmaster, to secure his support, the young man eagerly gave her his. I had inquired about his motivations many decades later. He cited an abundance of time post-graduation and pre-career, but with an interesting turn of the lips.
Whatever his motivation, the young Catherson’s efforts were only matched by Lark’s in her bid to unseat the venerable old firebrand, Shora Klein (best known today as the founder of the Eleheim Citizen). Handshaking, door knocking, back slapping – all this Lark endured with gusto, to the point where she was forced to allocate precious funds to ice her abused hand. Stumps were stepped upon all over the city so she might give her speeches (Note: Some of those survive and can be found in ‘The Speeches of Sir Stonild Lark’, edited by myself and also available through Parley Publishing.)
Still, this was not enough. The Cavaliers had no party organ in the city possessing anywhere near the readership and reach of the Citizen and Klein used this to her advantage, heartily abusing the pup that dared to challenge her. (It is only a mercy that Sir Stonild’s parents were by then dead and buried, for Klein certainly would not have scrupled to use them against her.) Lark’s chances looked small leading up to Election Day.
In the face of such odds, how did Lark win? Although it may seem unsavory in these times, Lark won a not insignificant number of votes by means of treating – plying voters with drink, for the more innocent among my voters. Some might judge Sir Stonild for this, but I see it as allowing the citizenry to relax well enough to vote with their natural inclinations, without fear of the censure that would have awaited them from their employers or through the forces of journalism. Such methods are, of course, no longer needed due to the introduction of the secret ballot, but I contend they were needed then.
Catherson provided the supply for the treating, having struck a friendship with the son of a local publican.
In the end, Stonild Lark won by a very tipsy twenty-five votes. She duly celebrated, shook Klein’s bony hand, then packed her bags for Montarbre and the Legislature. Catherson was in tow, having signed on as her assistant.
Sir Stonild was to hold her Eleheim seat for the majority of her career, past Confederation and almost until her death.
That’s the end of Part V. If you enjoyed it, please consider throwing a tip my way via PayPal or Patreon. Also, please let me know if you want to read more Animas posts or if you want me to write about some specific aspect of this world. Part VI is scheduled for Saturday. Cheers!