Profit and Loss
I have been remiss in not posting the last few nights, but you will hopefully find my excuse to be a sound one, viz. that I have been lately struck down by a terrible loss, which has kept me to my bed these past days. I am no stranger to bereavement, having suffered the loss of two wives and as many children (though it must be admitted three of those passings were long wished for and much rejoiced), but this most recent tragedy has hit me very hard indeed.
On the Monday of this week, I called upon Mr. William Gray to enquire about the East India stocks which he had promised to sell me. I brought along the Irishman, Sean, and asked him to remain outside in view of the house, in case the memory of his foul temper and quick fists should prove a more powerful incentive for Mr. Gray to make good on his promise than my own gentle diplomacy. Such was indeed the case, as Gray, visibly shaken upon seeing the man whom he believed to be his father’s friend Seamus O’Flanahan (and who had done such violence upon him a fortnight before), asked me what on Earth could have possessed me to fall in with such a brute. I replied that we had met by chance at The Griffin, discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance in Gray, and fallen to discussing this gentleman’s distressing reluctance to part with the goods which he had, at different times, promised to each of us.
It was at this point that Gray, sobbing and heaving like a woman who has been caught in a lie, clutched my arm and begged for forgiveness. He had known for some time that the deeds he had promised me were lost irreparably—he could not think who might have stolen them or where he had misplaced them, but he had “turned his home inside-out in despair” and come up empty-handed. His fear at, as he put it, “losing a dear friend” (by which I believe he meant to indicate me) had compelled him to forestall the inevitable result and pretend that nothing was amiss. I was inclined to believe the fellow, as I do not consider him capable of dissembling with any real art, and—too dejected even to kick him in the shins—I returned to my home with Sean, where we sat in silence for some hours as the wine bottles piled up around us.
This is a bitter, bitter blow, but it is made worse by my increasing suspicion that Patrick is somehow involved in the affair beyond the role that I had originally entrusted him with. As I have described before, Sean has been subject to a surprising number of accidents and near-fatalities since this East India business began—run down in the street by a cart horse, grazed on the shoulder by falling masonry, chased by a pack of dogs outside The Griffin, and countless other such mishaps. At the same time, Patrick has taken to spending an unaccountable portion of every day with the Irishman—quite contrary to his character, which naturally inclines to fops and hypocrites as companions. On top of this strange behaviour, he has of late, an air of guilt and nervousness about him that is far beyond his accustomed awkwardness, and when I spoke to him this morning about the strange coincidence of Sean’s repeated misfortunes, he became so flustered and distressed that I thought he was like to have a stroke.
Now that I am back on my feet, I shall get to the bottom of this. Someone is playing me for a fool, and they will pay for it, whether I see my stocks or not.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I interviewed a new chambermaid today (Sean informed me this week that old Bess, who has been with me these ten years, has been pilfering my silver right under my nose), and she is very pretty indeed. It has quite brought me back to my senses.