Ah,” said Mr Pin. “Right. I remember. You are concerned citizens.” He knew about concerned citizens. Wherever they were, they all spoke the same private language, where ‘traditional values’ meant ‘hang someone’.

There were plotters, there was no doubt about it. Some had been ordinary people who’d had enough. Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact that the world was run by old people who were rich. Some were in it to get girls. And some had been idiots as mad as Swing, with a view of the world just as rigid and unreal, who were on the side of what they called ‘the people’.

When I rule the city, the Supreme Grand Master said to himself, there is going to be none of this. I shall form a new secret society of keen-minded and intelligent men, although not too intelligent of course, not too intelligent.

The thing about secrets is that they are usually best kept by just one person. That was the special thing about secrets. Some people seemed to think that the best way to keep a secret was to tell as many people as possible; what could possibly go wrong for a secret when there were so many people defending it?

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