May You Live In interesting Times

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by TimKeck84, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    London, 1855

    "Roger Fenton, you are found guilty of taking and publishing obscene photographs. I hereby fine you 200 pounds. You are lucky to be getting such a light sentence."

    Roger looked around the courtroom as he was escorted out by his solicitor. He hadn't meant for things to get out of hand like this, but when the newspapers had got a hold of his pictures, most hadn't hesitated to splash them across the front page. His photographs of Brunel's Hospital was meant to show the modern technology serving the empire, but he had failed to notice several wounded men on cots and the ground off to the one side of his shot. More newspapers had sold because of that picture than had sold in the previous six months. The 200 pound fine wasn't going to hurt - too much - as he had been paid very handsomely by no less than four publishers.

    Several people attempted to accost him in the hallway, including an old biddy who shrieked about his moral depredation in even taking those pictures. His head was hung and he was entirely lost in thought as the solicitor guided him out of the building and into a carriage. He was free, and possibly the most famous man in England at the moment. Of course infamous may have been a better word.


    Three Months Earlier


    "So this is the Brunel Hospital?" Roger had just arrived, and was shocked at the absolute newness of the place. It wouldn't have looked out of place attached to an Army Camp back in Wales.
    'Yes, there is an Operating Room over there, and most of the other tents are for Recovery or housing for the Doctors." The Nurse giving him the ha'penny tour was the most welcoming sight he had seen in the last few weeks, and he was hard pressed to remain the perfect gentleman around her.
    "Is there any specific spot where I may set up?" Roger was concerned for his camera, he had to be on his way in the morning, and it was already early afternoon. He was losing time to take his picture.
    "Yes, I was told to let you set up anywhere, but the recommended areas were here, there and over there." She pointed out the spots that were to be preferred as Roger nodded, his mind racing.
    "That last one seems to be the best. I shall take my photograph as soon as possible. Thank you for your help Nurse?"
    "Abel, Mr. Fenton. I will see that the enlisted men bring your things over to the tent set aside for you or tonight."
    "Thank you, Nurse Abel." Roger walked off to scout the site for his picture.

    Scouting around for a few minutes, he found the perfect spot for the camera some five feet from where Abel had pointed. He could get a nice shot of the Operating Tent and some of the staff. He set about unpacking his camera and tripod, not paying attention to his surroundings. Hearing shouting off in the distance distracted him and he craned his neck to see the commotion. Not finding the source, he returned to his camera and proceeded to take his photograph.

    That night he dined with the commander of the camp, discussing several pleasantries but nothing of any substance. The next morning, Roger left the hospital camp.

    Two Weeks Earlier

    The pictures had gone for much more than Roger had expected, and Roger was getting comfortable back at home with his wife and son. In his mind, everything was perfect. Perfect until a shout interrupted his tea.
    "Father! There's a man outside for you. He looks like a Constable"
    "Harcourt, I have told you a hundred times! No Shouting!" Roger's son sulked into the room and repeated his earlier statement.
    "Much better, you see. It is much more polite to speak to each other rather than--- Wait, you said a Constable?"
    "Yes Father. He's dressed like one, I think he's even got a truncheon of his own!" Harcourt Fenton was of the age where every young boy wanted to be a soldier or an Inspector.
    Tearing out of the Drawing room, Roger nearly ripped the door off of it's hinges to meet the Constable, worried about his presence. The Constable regarded him coolly, as a hawk sizing up a field mouse.
    "Are you Roger Fenton, sir?"
    "Yes, constable. What service may I be to you?"
    "You are to be arrested for violation of Her Majesty's Obscenity Laws."
    "Obscenity? I do not understand?"
    "If you will come with me peaceably sir, I will allow you to send a message to your Solicitor."
    "Absolutely. May I get my coat?"
    "Of course."
    "Please come in and get warm while I do."
    Roger sifted through the coat rack, looking for his heaviest jacket. His mind was racing, trying to understand what he could have possibly done.
    "Harcourt! Come here."
    "Yes Father," Still sulking, Harcourt trudged into the foyer. "I wasn't listening - honest."
    "I don't care right now. Here, take this note to Mister Williams office as fast as you can. Do you understand?"
    "Yes Father. Right away."
    "Good boy, hopefully I will see you soon. I love you son."
    "You too Father."
    Roger stepped outside with the constable and they strolled down to the local station in silence, Roger too wrapped up in his own mind to talk.
    What is going to happen to me?




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    Editing thanks to MrP
     
  2. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    The Afternoon of December 2nd, 1855
    Fenton Residence
    London, UK


    Roger Fenton sat at his desk in his studio, sipping his drink and reviewing the events of the past several weeks. His life had taken a turn, leaving him feeling adrift and somewhat numb. The unintentional photograph of wounded men had spread like wildfire. After his arrest had been published nation-wide, along with his semi-exoneration, Roger was the most famous photographer in the UK. He had begun receiving fan mail and hate mail, but he had no real idea of what to make of it. The oddest incident was when the constable who had made the arrest showed up on the step to apologise. Roger had waved the apology off and they spoke for a few minutes before Constable Goodwin had to continue his patrol. Roger felt that his family had had a particularly tough time during his short incarceration. His son, Harcourt, wouldn't speak of it, but Roger had heard from the neighbours about some incidents of adults hurling abuse at him, even a few escalating into physical altercations. The worst of which was broken up by the same Constable Goodwin who had arrested Roger. Sighing to himself, Roger just went through the motions of life, not really feeling much but determined to keep moving forward.




    The Evening of December 2nd, 1855
    Douglas Residence
    Washington DC
    , USA

    Stephen Douglas kept revising and re-revising his speech. Taking a break to think, he lit a cigar and leaned back, eyes closed and mind racing. His entire career had been based on the principles he held closest, rule-of-law and Popular Sovereignty. He needed a way to get the vote to swing his way. The election was in less than a year and Stephen had no idea how to win it. Between the new "Republican" Movement and those Know-Nothings, Stephen was in a bind. He needed a way to pull one or the other onto his platform. He decided to relax for a few minutes and think when his ears picked up a couple of children arguing outside when one said that the other didn't know anything. "Know-Nothing!" His body bolted upright automatically. The Know-Nothings weren't the people he needed to pull. As a group they didn't think so much as simply react. But the Republicans he could win over with reason. Combined with the Know-Nothings whose fears could be allayed by words Douglas knew he could easily keep his seat. With a small smirk on his face, he decided to deal with that Republican orator, Lincoln.



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    Editing thanks to MrP
     
  3. MrP Enemy of the people

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2005
    Location:
    Emirate of Cheshire
    Good to see this coming along, old boy. :)
     
  4. stevep Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    TimKeck84

    Intriguing. Wondering how this is going to impact on the [non?] war between the states and how a British photographer will interact with it. 1st thought that comes to mind is he will take a photo that because of his notority will become far more well know and have some significant impact. [Or simply be in the right place at the right time to trigger/stop something]. Looking forward to finding out.:)

    Is the Obscenity trial a POD or did this happen historically?

    Steve
     
  5. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    To answer your questions Steve....

    1. Roger Fenton was a real photographer, one of the first war photographers ever. I don't believe he ever took a picture of the Brunel Hospital, and he certainly never took a picture of wounded or dead soldiers. So the picture that accidentally includes the wounded is the POD, as is the immediate effect of his Obscenity Trial.

    2. I'm going to be telling this story from several points of view, Fenton's is one, Douglas' is the other main POV. Other points of view will be slipped in here or there. I'm almost aiming for something HT-like, but without the repetitiveness or the extra commentary.

    3. He just took a photo that changed the world. He just doesn't know it yet. Then again, neither does anyone else.

    On another note, I'm going to try to put a chunk of story out every few days, to keep things going.
     
  6. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA

    December 5th, 1855
    London, England



    Jeff Dunham had it pretty good. A nice bunk at the barracks, decent food and a simple job: recruit soldiers for the Army. He had been singled out for it after serving in Crimea. His silver tongue had both infuriated and entertained several of his superiors and because of it, they had endorsed him to be a recruiter.


    So life was good, and Jeff did his job well, so it was likely to stay good. Pulling himself out of his thoughts and putting on a work face, Dunham greeted the young man walking in. After some small talk, the youngster requested that he be shipped overseas as soon as possible. They talked a small amount more while the boy signed the papers necessary, and then it was done. The young man was to be the newest recruit for Her Majesty's Army. The paperwork was checked by Dunham's superior and the boy was told to be back in the morning with his affairs in order or that he would face desertion charges. A simple nod in acknowledgment and out the door the boy went.


    Dunham was congratulated by the Superior for his fast work on the boy, and the day resumed as expected.


    For about ten minutes.


    Another man, this one in his late thirties came in to ask about rejoining. The man had been discharged due to an infected wound. The doctors had not been able to heal it, so they had shipped him home. His discharge came some days later as the infection was subsiding. After four years of recuperation and work, the man wanted back in the Army.


    Dunham was two for two.


    Another young man walked in not even a moment as the older man left to set his affairs in order. This one was after purchasing a commission. Jeff's superior beckoned him off as to inform the young man how to go about taking care of that.


    These three were not the end of the day for Dunham. By that evening, no fewer than forty men and boys has signed up. They had been so successful that they had to ask some to come back in three days as to have enough space on the train for them. (Don't really know how one'd get to one's barracks in '55. Best ask 67th Tigers, if you're not sure.)


    Jeff Dunham had had a wildly successful day. In thanks, his officer paid for the drinks that evening.


    Over drinks, even more men expressed interest in joining up. Jeff and his superior shared a smile, knowing that they were definitely on top of the world.


    Repetition seemed to be the theme of that month.

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    Editing & Proofreading Thanks to MrP
     
  7. MrP Enemy of the people

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2005
    Location:
    Emirate of Cheshire
    Good to see this back, old man! :)
     
  8. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Thanks P, and it only took me months to break my writers block.
     
  9. TimKeck84 Not dead yet

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Here's a possible Chapter 1 Revamp

    September, 1855
    London, UK

    The headlines screamed from the page the monstrous indignity thathad been done.Newspapers sold out in record numbers, with the pictures telling the tales when words failed them. The British were incensed.

    But who they were angered with was another matter, one which fractured the nation. Some blamed the government, some blamed the enemy – although who that was was never quite clear, and some blamed that man.

    At the moment that man was being escorted from his trial. His solicitor had scraped by in the case, barely winning freedom for his client – even with a fine. That man hadn't a clue why he'd been arrested and punished. He'd have understood if he'd had his work confiscated – but arrested? Confusion was evident on his face as his mind replayed the incidents from the day.

    The courtroom was large, and a crowd had gathered. The judge was young but not so young as to be unbelievable. The prosecution seemed to hang over every juicy word, relishing the idea of punishing someone thought of as a menace to proper society. The defending solicitor barely managed to parry the verbal thrusts directed at his client, so enraged and quick was the prosecutor.

    The prosecutor was removed at lunch on a technicality and his assistant decided cut a deal. The Judge agreed that the deal was the best resolution and lightly admonished the assistant prosecutor for not having made one before – more to pass along the message than anything else. Following the meeting in the Judges chambers the court reconvened and the Judge read the sentence like a death toll.

    "Roger Fenton, you are found guilty of taking and publishing obscene photographs. I hereby fine you 200 pounds. You are lucky to be getting such a sentence in light of your crime."

    Roger blinked, looking around the courtroom as he was escorted out by his solicitor. He hadn't meant for things to get out of hand like this, he really hadn't. It was the Times. The other newspapers didn't help, but most of those editors were more accepting of the accident he had made. He hadn't meant to include those men in the picture – it was supposed to be a landscape. Of course once the newspapers had got a hold of his pictures, they hadn't hesitated to splash them across the front page.

    His photographs of Brunel's Hospital was meant to show the modern technology serving the empire, but he had failed to notice several wounded men on cots and the ground off to the one side of his shot. More newspapers had sold because of that picture than had sold in the previous six months. The 200 pound fine wasn't going to hurt - too much - as he had been paid very handsomely by no less than four publishers.

    The trip through the hallway out to the street was eventful. Several people attempted to accost him, including an old biddy who shrieked about his moral depredation in even taking those pictures. He stared at her slack-jawed, his mind still trying to process this when she leaped at him trying to claw his eyes out. After leaving a deep scratch on Roger's scalp, she was hauled off by the constables and witnesses and carried away to be arrested.

    Roger hung his head and lost himself entirely in thought as his solicitor guided him out of the building. He only looked up when they were out the door and there was a mob. The two quickly re-entered the building in fear. Roger had known that the people had their emotions stirred and if given a change there would be a riot. Roger's solicitor sent for a carriage to come to the read entrance. They climbed in and closed the curtains to hide their faces. Roger finally calmed and snapped into focus as he realized that he was free. It wasn't until he entered his home and was holding his son when he realized that he was possibly the most famous man in England at the moment. Of course infamous may have been a better word.
    Three Months Earlier

    The air was horribly stagnant and the trip was turning into a nightmare. The government had inquired with Roger about his availability for overseas travel. He jumped enthusiastically at the idea, thinking it would be an entirely new area of art and photography.

    He had been wrong. There was no new frontier here – only death.

    He and his crew had endured unimaginable horrors since arriving. Disease, Theft, and destruction abounded and rest, comfort and good health were in short supply. Roger himself had broken his ribs only two weeks ago and could barely walk let alone ride with any speed.

    They reached the crest of the ridge and looked down on the hospital camp. Their goal for the past week had been to get themselves and their equipment to the Brunel hospital to photograph it for The Crown. Rumor had it that Her Majesty both wanted her people to see the technology working for their soldiers and she wanted to see it for herself. So here they were, looking at what appeared to be an oasis in a land of turmoil.

    He was greeted upon his arrival by the Commandant and Head Surgeon who handed him off to one of the few women in the camp. She proceeded to guide them to the stabled and assigned them to quarters for their stay. "So this is the Brunel Hospital?" Roger had only just arrived, and was shocked at the absolute newness of the place. He thought that it wouldn't have looked out of place attached to an Army Camp back in Wales.

    'Yes, there is an Operating Room over there, and most of the other tents are for Recovery or housing for the Doctors." The Nurse giving him the ha'penny tour was the most welcoming sight he had seen in the last few weeks, and he was hard pressed to remain the perfect gentleman around her. Despite his less-than-honest intentions Roger decided that he must press on with his work. He began walking around to look for a suitable site to take his photographs. He had only just found the perfect position to place the equipment when a runner came looking for the Nurse. She turned to go with him, but Roger needed one more piece of information from her.

    "Nurse! Before you go, I need to know if there is there any specific spot where I may not set up?" Roger was concerned for his camera and the photograph itself, he had to be on his way in the morning, and it was already early afternoon. He was losing time to take his picture. He wouldn't have the time to re-shoot if he had to scrap the first picture.

    She stopped and turned to him, shouting "Yes, I was told to let you set up anywhere, but the recommended areas for your portrait were here, there and over there." She pointed out the spots that were to be preferred as Roger nodded, his mind racing.

    "That last one seems to be the best. I shall take my photograph as soon as possible. Thank you for your help Nurse?"

    "Abel, Mr. Fenton. I will see that the enlisted men bring your things over to the tent set aside for you for tonight."

    "Thank you, Nurse Abel." Roger walked off to scout the site for his picture and the Nurse disappeared to one of the medical tents.

    Scouting around from his vantage point for a few minutes, he found the perfect spot to aim the camera. Some five feet from where Abel had pointed there was a break in the tents. He could get a nice shot of the Operating Tent and some of the staff. He set about unpacking his camera and tripod, not paying attention to his surroundings. Hearing shouting off in the distance distracted him and he craned his neck to see the commotion. Not finding the source, he returned to his camera and proceeded to take his photograph.

    That night he dined with the commander of the camp, discussing several pleasantries but nothing of any substance. Their conversation lasted until they were both well into their cups and Roger diculged his “mission from the Crown”.

    “You must be having me on, there is no possible way that Her Majesty would want this war!” The commandant was slurring heavily as he sloshed his drink.

    Roger was in no better shape “I am telling you- really telling you the truth here. Her Majestess Victor-ria hired me through her-r agents.”

    “Poppycock.” The friendly discussion went on until late in the night

    It was with good, solid photographs and a disaster of a hangover that Roger left the hospital camp the next morning. His trip included some more photographs before heading back to London.


    Two Weeks Earlier

    The pictures had gone for much more than Roger had expected, and Roger was getting comfortable back at home with his wife and son. In his mind, everything was perfect. Perfect until a shout interrupted his tea.

    "Father! There's a man outside for you. He looks like a Constable"

    "Harcourt, I have told you a hundred times! No Shouting!" Roger's son sulked into the room and repeated his earlier statement.

    "Much better, you see. It is much more polite to speak to each other rather than--- Wait, you said a Constable?"

    "Yes Father. He's dressed like one, I think he's even got a truncheon of his own!" Harcourt Fenton was of the age where every young boy wanted to be a soldier or an Inspector.

    Tearing out of the Drawing room, Roger nearly ripped the door off of it's hinges to meet the Constable, worried about his presence. The Constable regarded him coolly, as a hawk sizing up a field mouse.

    "Are you Roger Fenton, sir?"

    "Yes, constable. What service may I be to you?"

    "You are to be arrested for violation of Her Majesty's Obscenity Laws."

    "Obscenity? I do not understand?"

    "If you will come with me peaceably sir, I will allow you to send a message to your Solicitor."

    "Absolutely. May I get my coat?"

    "Of course."

    "Please come in and get warm while I do."

    Roger sifted through the coat rack, looking for his heaviest jacket. His mind was racing, trying to understand what he could have possibly done.

    "Harcourt! Come here."

    "Yes Father," Still sulking, Harcourt trudged into the foyer. "I wasn't listening – honest."

    "I don't care right now. Here, take this note to Mister Williams office as fast as you can. Do you understand?"

    "Yes Father. Right away."

    "Good boy, hopefully I will see you soon. I love you son."

    "You too Father."

    Roger stepped outside with the constable and they strolled down to the local station in silence, Roger too wrapped up in his own mind to talk.

    What is going to happen to me?


    And a potential next one.....


    Revenge is a dish best served cold.

    -Old Klingon Proverb
    London, 1855


    Harcourt Fenton! You'll cease stomping around this house immediately.” Roger Fenton did not abide by noise. He was world-famous, somewhat reviled and considered an all-around scoundrel for what he had done. The problem was, it had been an accident.

    It was not Christmas Eve and Harcourt, Roger's son, was pouting because he couldn't at any dessert. Had he gone to church quietly – as he had been told – he would have been able to have all the dessert he pleased. Well, life wasn't fair, and neither were fathers.

    Bang! Bam! Harcourt expressed his displeasure through the floorboards.

    The clock struck 11 when there came a knock at the door. Roger rose to answer, when the knocking turned into a pounding. Roger tore the door open to find out Constable Goodwin – the same man who had arrested him. The Constable stepped in close and whispered into Rogers ear.

    Do what I say. They are watching your home.”

    Puzzled but playing along, Roger shut the door behind Jenkins and went to take his coat when he was fixed with the coldest stare he had ever felt. Only one other person I've ever had that look in their eye – and Major Black and perished in the charge of the light brigade.

    Do not do anything yet, but prepare yourself. You trip onto it with your photograph. Now they think you're one of us, and they will strive to kill you.” Goodwin's voice was a hiss, chilling Roger to the bone.

    It was only at this point that Roger recovered enough to ask “Who are you, truly? And who are they?”

    A cold smile spread over Goodwins face and he let Fenton away from the door. “I am from her majesties special services – sent to tell you and see whether you were a threat to the crown

    Roger couldn't believe his ears “Me?! A threat to the crown!”

    Goodwins sized antenna threats come in all shapes and sizes. You made quite a stir in the papers with your pictures. We had to be certain

    And now? Who are they?

    At this point they had reached Roger's bedroom and entered. Goodwin leaned in and told Fenton to pack of Goodwin would keep an eye on the street. It was they that set the rumors around about the ones who incited your neighbors against. You have to understand – not just know – to truly understand the empire is at war and our enemies are games of the series. The aim to kill you to hurt us. So pack – collector son and wife and let us be gone!

    Roger was packed inside of two minutes. His son and wife with another five. Small caravan departed for the Constable's carriage at a brisk pace and were gone from their house within 10 minutes

    A short while later the clock chimed midnight.

    Suddenly there was a spark -