57. Am I a Chimpanzee?

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"What is this?"

My voice didn't sound like my own. It sounded as if it were coming from very, very far away.

Mr Ambrose sprang out of the coach and looked up at me. "What do you think it is? It is me expressing my cherished political opinions for the good of Britain and the Empire."

His voice sounded exactly like his own. In fact, it sounded more like his own than it ever had done during the last two days. Gone was the friendliness. Gone was the interest. Gone was the politeness. Gone was all the pretence.

And I suddenly understood what this was all about. His words rang in my head like a great brass bell:

You can stay, until and unless you leave of your own free will. And I will find a way to persuade you to leave.

This was his way. His way to get rid of me. His way to make me hate him so much that I couldn't stand to be in his company anymore, let alone in his employ. I threw a glance at the banner over the podium and shuddered. So he wanted to make me hate him, eh? Well, he was going about it right. Whatever else you could say of him, he knew me well.

I stole a glance at his immovable marble face. He... he couldn't really believe that, could he? He couldn't really be on the same side as those blasted chauvinists?

But then my eyes wandered to his dark, ice-cold eyes.

Are you kidding? Of course he can! Look at him! He's probably spearheading their movement!

And as much as I hated my inner voice right at that moment, I had, for once, to agree with it. If there ever was a man who crushed anything in his path it was Rikkard Ambrose. Arrogance and raw masculinity rolled off of him in waves that were almost tangible. The bastard!

Anger surged up inside me.

So what? So what if he was in cahoots with them? I would be damned if I let his intrigues deprive me of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I didn't care whether he thought I couldn't handle the dangers of my job, I would prove him wrong! And I would begin proving him wrong by surviving this humiliation! How bad could it be? I only had to stand beside him, after all.

Yes. Stand beside him and listen while he defiles the most sacred beliefs of your heart.

Oh, thank you very much for pointing that out. Thank you!

Leaving the coach in the capable hands of the driver, Mr Ambrose strode towards Cumberland Gate and the Park beyond, myself close at his heels. In spite of the masses of people gathered at the North-East corner of the Park, we had no problems finding our way towards Speaker's Corner. People made way for Mr Ambrose as if he were the King of England. Well, in a sense he was the King of his personal Empire. Did the people around us know that? Or did they just feel the iron aura of authority that surrounded him?

"... have developed a theory which rests on my study of the female brain. Though spurned by my colleagues at Cambridge University, I, Professor William H. Anstruther am wholeheartedly convinced of this theory. It may be years ahead of scientific thinking today, but that only adds to its brilliance."

Looking up, I saw that there was a man at the front of the podium, speaking to the crowd. He was a thin fellow, with a thin moustache and thin voice. Nevertheless, the crowd seemed to be listening intently.

"Based on my measurements of female head circumferences," the man continued, "I have concluded that their capacity for logical thought is far behind that of any man. Throughout my studies, this empirical conclusion was supported by behavioural evidence: a great many of the females I approached as potential test subjects frankly refused to have their head shorn in order for me to be able to take their measurements."

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