“Okay. So we need a plan.”
Em was thinking at her usual pace, and when Agnes opened her mouth she silenced her with an upraised hand.
“Very well. This is what we do…”
Ginny looked as if she might have been about to argue, but Agnes elbowed her sharply and hissed.
“When the Queen tells us what to do we at least listen before we argue.”
“Ginny. You accept the parish council gig, and if you could remember to appear wispy and ineffectual it would be helpful. Agnes. You set your family mafia on planning applications. Once we find out what they are after we can spike their guns. In the meantime I’m about to sink my principles and make friends with the television bloke who left me his card after the vicar went batshit about the bats. Any questions?”
“Hundreds,” Agnes said cheerfully, “but until we find out what the heck is toward nobody can answer any of them. Ginny, you better come home with me now, and I’ll give you some reading material. Normally you’d be living in my house for a month or so while you learn. But I don’t think we want old Harmless-Peashooter to know you are one of us just yet.”
Em frowned. “Agnes. Less of the Harmless-Peashooter if you please. With money behind him the gormless bastard could be dangerous.”
Agnes sighed. “I know. It just helps to think of him by his nickname. Otherwise he’s….”
She stopped in the middle of what she was saying and stared into the middle distance.
Em looked at Ginny and mouthed ‘thinking’.
Agnes showed her teeth in a feral grimace. “Now perhaps we can begin to understand why the housing association is bullying its tenants.”
“Explain yourself Agnes.”
“Well. If you think back twenty years. When Harmsley-Gunn sold the building land to the council we all thought he rather shot himself in the foot.”
“Of course we did. And now he needs to sort it. Yes. I cede you that point Agnes.”
Ginny made a noise like a confused sheep. “Can someone please explain.”
“Yes. Sorry. Harmsley-Gunn owns a rather large tract of land running from the middle of the village down to the river. It’s no use agriculturally, and there is supposed to be some sort of a covenant preventing it from being built on.”
Agnes took over. “And even if the rotten little chiseller thinks he has found a way around the covenant there’s no practicable access. Except through the little housing estate.”
Ginny narrowed her eyes and Em thought how un-sheeplike she was when aroused to anger.
“We’re saying, then, that the housing association is trying to get rid of its tenants and make a killing selling its land?”
“Looks mighty like. Either that or they are being pressured to do so by an irresistible force and an offer they literally can’t refuse.”
“And I assume we are not going to let them get away with it?”
“No. Not if we can stop it and we can try very hard to do that. I will have a high-powered solicitor here tomorrow. The tenants association just gots itself a fighting fund.”
“Tenants association? Since when has there been one of them?”
“Since about a couple of hour’s time, when Jamelia rounds up a couple of the residents to form one.”
Agnes snorted. “I do wonder if HG realises he has a tiger by the tail.”
Em shrugged. “I doubt he will notice until I bite his face off.” She noticed Ginny’s horrified expression. “Metaphorically, sister.”
“Okay. So we need a plan.”