Suffragette Stories

Home > Stories > I Stood Tall by Charlotte Butt

I Stood Tall by Charlotte Butt

This story it to remember Lilian Dove-Wilcox who planted a Spruce on 9 May 1910

I am roughly forced into the dark cell. It is damp and cold, but I smile. It is my greatest achievement, for this means they notice me. This means they care, this means we are getting closer to the vote.

*

I stepped off the Tube, my handbag swaging low by my ankles, the weight within pulling it down. The sky was grey, and the air was thick. I walked, the heels of my shoes tapping on the pavement. My sash hung loosely around my body, and my hair was tucked back under my hat. I held my posture and my eyes were sharp, the only thing I was interested in was getting women’s rights.

“Stop.”

I looked up. I felt my cheeks flush red, I cleared my throat. “What can I help you with, Sir.”

I looked up at him, with innocent eyes. He knew who I was, what I was planning to do.

“May I check your bag Miss?”

I ran. Around the corner, I knew a back entrance, nothing would stop me from committing my crime.

I could hear my heart beating in my chest, a ringing in my ears. My hand was pressed down on my hat, to prevent it from flying off. I got to the railings. I unzipped my bag and pulled out the chains, my arm slightly trembling with the weight. I lifted the hem of my dress and slipped the chains up my torso. I tensed as the cold metal made contact with my skin. The chains were secured around my waist, as my back was pressed against the railing. I wrapped the chains around myself and the railing bars several times. Then I stood tall, with confidence. I was proud.

I heard the voices of men. They grew louder, and the footsteps became heavier. Two police officers appeared in front of me. “Miss, we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” One of the officers said harshly.

I ignored him.

“Right then.”

And it all happened very quickly from then on, all rather a blur. They manhandled me, as I kicked and screamed. I felt their hands go up my dress and roughly detached the chains from my body. Still screaming I struggled in their arms, but they held on strong. They handcuffed me and heaved me into the police car.

*

It’s been three weeks, and I have now started my hunger strike. I can hear the footsteps coming, they echo through the damp of this dark place. Two men and three women enter my cell. One of the men holds a tube with a funnel attached to the end and the other holds a small ceramic jug. A woman pushes me into a chair and straps me down. Another gags me, stifling my screams. The man with the tube inserts it into my left nostril. The other pours the contents of the jug into the funnel. I squirm and let out muffled screams. All three women have to hold me down. I can’t bear the pain. My eyes water. My hands curl into fists. I think I must have passed out because when I awake I am alone, once again.

Charlotte has lived in Loddon all her life. She has two brothers and both her parents are teachers at Langley School. She is very creative and loves painting, drawing, taking arty photos and acting. She is an excellent skier and goes to Austria every year on holiday with her family. She also loves cats and dogs!