Part V. Chapter I.

20 Feb

Dro Hullux foresaw that the emergency meeting at the Improvement Club was going to be rough on him. As leader of the party, he bore the responsibility for the fact that the Velvet Association under Tado Foleg was getting the better of their ally, the Improvers. A continuous series of concessions and accommodations had followed the initial agreement to form their alliance and partnership. The retreat was the work of Dro Hullux. He was the one who accepted and rationalized these surrenders, his critics held.

When were these failures to end? How far would the leader go in allowing the Velvets to take advantage of them? asked many party members.

Hullux realized he had to provide some justification for his appeasement of Tado Foleg and his movement.

His inventive mind devised an answer to the fears running through the ranks.

All at once, the overweight politico rose to his feet at the executive table and spoke.

“How did our predecessors solve the problems caused by alliances with exterior forces? I go back in our Improver history for the answer. The simple solution is by absorption. We must offer full membership to every Velvet supporter. In fact, we should urge them to merge their association directly into our party. A reward must be offered them for giving up their autonomy: the full and sincere adoption of their futural philosophy and program. Their ideals shall become ours.

“We promise to realize all the goals they hold in their hearts. But they have to amalgamate with us, not the other way around. Isn’t that just and fair?

“A larger, more diversified Improvement Party will be the result. We will enjoy an infusion of new, vigorous blood. There will be no sell-out of our principles as Improvers. The present leadership will insist on maintaining its posts in the party. We shall be the same people, only our words will become different.”

The meeting ratified this new strategy with enthusiasm. The critics of Hullux fell silent before his tactical brilliance.

The leader outlined how he planned to pressure the Velvet Association to disband as an independent organization and melt into the Improvement Party, which was going to accept and follow the ideas of the futural movement.

No one present raised any objections to the merger plan.

Dro Hullux knew that he would now have to convince Tado Foleg to buy such a deal from him.

It appeared wisest to meet with Brage Sucre before presenting his merger plan to the Chief Editor. The publisher appeared to be the weaker link among the Velvets. The politician sent a note by messenger and was invited to come to the home of Brage to talk. He was surprised to discover that the daughter, Paena, was in her father’s study with him and that she intended to take an active part in their discussions.

“Good evening, Miss Sucre,” he said to her with a wide smile. He took a gummi chair across from one in which she sat. Brage stayed behind his ulmus desk.

“It is all right to speak here in confidence,” began the father. “My daughter knows all my thoughts. We can talk freely in front of her.”

It took Hullux surprisingly little time to outline the main features of the merger program. He ended with an appeal full of emotion.

“The joining together as one party will fulfill the dreams of all of us, both Improvers and Velvets. Our Horae will become a better, perfected society.”

By the time the leader was finished, the eyes of the publisher seemed to be bulging out of their sockets. The proposal shocked and astonished him. For a time, he was unable to say anything. He appeared to be choking on something.

Brage Sucre turned to his daughter. “How does what he says sound to you, Paena?”

She looked with tenderness at her father. “There will undoubtedly be great opposition to such a plan by many of our active followers. This will be hard to sell to them. There is not enough trust of the Improvers. There will be a lot of suspicion and scepticism about a union of the two organizations. No, the mass of our people would be shocked at how much has been surrendered. The reaction would not be positive.”

Her father realized that she was thinking of the rejection of the scheme by Tado Foleg among so many others. But at that same moment, Hullux had the same thought in mind.

“If you wish, I can wait for an answer while you consult among yourselves,” he said with a pleasant grin.

Brage accepted the idea of a delay and promised to tell the Improvers when a decision was reached.

Having nothing more to say, Hullux excused himself and left.

The two Sucres were silent for a long while, knowing that they faced a problem with the political ambitious Tado Foleg. It was the father who expressed it to her.

“If this plan were presented to Tado, he would certainly veto it as a surrender of our cause,” he frowned.

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