The Secret Meeting
Hear the Luddites' voices in RealAudio 3 Child | Ned | Benjy | Mary | Sarah | James | Sam

Transcript of accompanying Audio files


Ned took up the story. "We broke the glass in the window to get in, and we left a sentinel outside, to make sure nobody was about. We covered our faces like this, and changed our voices." He covered his face with his muffler and made his voice gruff. "So no-one could mark who we were."

"We think it's best to be organised about this," I finished. "We have formed our own Society, and we intend to raise money among the knitters to fund future raids."

"So," said William, "We're here to form a Nottingham Society of our own. It's time we made a stir and showed those hosiers we're not going to starve for their profits. Are you all with me?"

There wasn't so much a cheer at that point as a mumbling of general agreement. These were serious matters, and we were not violent men. It was only the fact of our children going without food, when all we'd done was work, 12 or 14 hours a day, six days a week, and the other day go into town for to take in the hose and get more yarn. Even for honest men, unused to violent means, when your little ones are suffering, you have to take action….

"We must write letters, to the people of Nottingham, to the Duke, to the town clerk," said William. "I think I know who will write them, but we need a name to sign them with."

"You should sign it Ned, for this brave lad here!" I said, laying a hand on his thin shoulder.

"Nay, they'll clap me in jail!" yelped Ned.

"Ned, lad, would I do that to you?"

"Ned Lud, there's a name will do," said William, thoughtfully.

"GENERAL Ned Lud," I added. "Give him an air of authority."

"General Lud it is then!"

We finished the meeting in high accord, and William went off to write the first letters from the Nottingham army of Ned Lud. Ned and I began the long walk back home to our village of Arnold.

"He was mumbling to himself as we set off. "What is it, lad?" I asked, exasperated.

"Why couldn't it have been KING Ned?" he said at last. "Sounds even better than General…"

I clapped him on the back. "Mebbe it'll catch on, lad, mebbe it'll catch on!"