The Price of Demand (Reintegration Edit 3)

She paused, indignation clouding her features. “There’s people there need work, Altman, he can’t be denyin’ ‘em that.”

Altman sighed, gaze fixed upon the desk top in front of him. “He can, if he can declare the area unsafe, and he doesn’t seem to need much provocation to do it. I expected problems with Mr. Mitchell. It’s the electrite that truly bothers me, though. I sold too much of it. I’ll have to cut down for some months, lest someone begin to wonder where I get it from in such quantities.”

Kaylene smiled at him. “That’ll work out fine. If you sold a bit extra, I’d think we must ‘ave enough to build the road out to the Holdswaine highway?”

Altman nodded with more enthusiasm in his face. “Yes, the road and the market both. If there’s one silver lining to the spreading of the news about this place, it’s that people know there are men working the area, and merchants of all sorts will know that means there’s profit to be had here.”

Her face grew thoughtful. “If we get a crew in to build the road now, the travel and trade it brings in’ll certainly help to lift the men’s spirits, but what if someone spots the electrite deposits? Sellin’ too openly isn’t the only way someone could learn ‘o them, ‘specially with all the people ‘ere now.”

“I know, my love. But that’s where electrite’s scarcity aids us. To the uneducated eye, the signs of its presence are all but invisible, especially with our precautions. It’s a difficult position, but we must work with what we have; if we bring men in to build the village, we risk discovery, but we need the protection of numbers to let us hide in plain sight. We have no choice; we must bring men in to work.”

Kaylene nodded. “And we’ll ‘ave to hope that buildin’ the village is truly what they’re here to do.”

Altman’s expression was grave. “Yes. Yes indeed.”