Nary a Hitch
I begrudge him it, but Jack's plan has seemed to go off well. I finished my part in it sitting in the mud. My cloak had just been pulled over my head by the "Irish" acquaintenance -- himself a con, of course -- of the foolish Mr. William Gray, right before he pushed me roughly to the side of the road, swearing vengence against my counterpart Sean. At that very moment Sean was doing his best to disgust Mr. Gray (and succeeding admirably, no doubt). It was comforting, really, sitting with my arms stuck above my head and my face muffled in the warm, dark folds of my cloak. The mud, though cold, was soft and familiar, bringing to mind a happy childhood of rough-housing with cousins and the neighboring children, after which play I often found myself in a similar position. Yes, I have ended Jack's plans in much, much worse states: bedridden, for example, in the tropical heat, suffering shuddering fevers induced by the bite of a Macque, or trying to determine, before sunrise, the appropriate bribe for a eunich gaoler.
I titled this post "nary a hitch," but in fact there was one, although the knowledge gained from it may well offset any harm suffered by it. I had realized that the simplest way to dismiss this man's claims on the notes, a way that precluded any attempt on his part to persuade me to reconsider my decision, by violence, bribery, or otherwise, was to explain that they had been stolen. Perhaps he doubted my story, although I did (I think) a passable job of affecting a distraught fool bearing bad news. But after I had explained my position to him, he asked one question I had not prepared for: "Did I suspect anyone?"
The RIGHT answer, of course, was "no." But I was flustered, perhaps, by the question, or perhaps I bear greater malice towards Sean than I had realized previously, but looking away I said, "We suspect Sean Fagan."
"Sean? The loo scrubber at the Griffin?" he cried in a base Cockney, dropping all Irish pretense. Swearing great and emasculating harm towards Sean, the brute initiated the final steps of our encounter, described above, by grabbing the hem of my cloak. After this I had trouble hearing, but I believe the man called for reinforcements, and some smithy tools.
Sean, of course, has no conception of any financial instrument that does not sparkle. It would never occur to him to steal the notes, and even if did he would have no notion of their worth. But our plan has a happy result all the same: Mr. Gray's buyer has been knocked off course and, assuming Sean is successful, Mr. Gray will sell to Jack before the week is out.
When Sean and Jack and I collect to celebrate our victory, I must remember to warn Sean of this rogue's wrath towards him. I wonder that Sean has known him previously...Regardless, I am feeling satisfied with my role in this scheme, and I am assured that Jack will be well pleased.