We've Got a Plan
I rose this morning in Jack’s guest chamber, my usual lodgings when in London. Thrifty to the core, Jack was nevertheless extraordinarily generous with the things he had already paid for. I always had a room in any of his houses scattered across the seven seas, therefore, but almost never (eg) any wood in the fireplace. This also meant his larder was perpetually empty, and if I rose first I nearly always had to seek my own sustenance. But again: if Jack had already risen, hungry and aching from the miseries of whichever dungeon he had ended the previous evening, he would gladly fork over some of his bountiful grub, already procured.
These two factors – the eternal, bone-racking chill of the chamber (is the Aether itself not of such a perfect, still, and icy mode?), save under the multitude of covers, and the Importance of outwaiting Jack down the stairs and into the kitchen – inevitably encouraged me to stay in bed well past sun up; far longer than at the ol’ Oxfordshire homestead or at the raj’s palace.
Jack routinely misinterprets this strategic reluctance as sloth. I have no interest in disillusioning him.
Mumbled cursing in the passageway indicated Jack was on the move, and the countdown to my cue for entrance into the kitchen began. Years of empirical study had demonstrated that 14 minutes was the ideal delay: long enough for Jack to curse his manservant into prepping coffee and running around the corner for vittles, and for him to get a bite or two into his misused frame; short enough that the coffee was still piping hot.
Perfectly timed, my entrance was nevertheless bollixed by the mick. I had forgotten we had brought him there after the brawl. We had deposited him in the chamber closest the stairs, and now, having descended at some point during my countdown, he had beaten me to both the coffee and the abundant scrapings of Jack’s plate.
Worse, Jack looked much too gleeful for that hour of the morning. Glee on that man before the sun passes the yardarm is a sure sign of trouble.
Worst of all were Jack’s first words to me: “We’ve got a plan!”