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January 21

Why have you forsaken me?

Current mood: Sanctimonious

Today has been triply vexed, and my head is so full of religion that I believe I could recite all the psalms from end to end without mistaking a word. I have been to Mattins and stayed for Eucharist, and we are home now, having just taken luncheon—where the discussion did not once deviate from today's sermon, which was made the more difficult for me by the fact that my only material recollection of its contents and qualities was that it was exceedingly long. I have but a few minutes to post now, as my mother-in-law, Mrs. Mary Turner, has a full day of the most exquisite tortures planned for me, ending with Evensong and an early bed, without so much as a drop of ale allowed from morning to night to dull the agonies that she inflicts upon me with each shrill, hysterical utterance that emerges (like a poisoned dart) from betwixt her carious, yellow teeth. Why do you spurn me, Lord? Why must I go about mourning, with the enemy oppressing me?

See? Psalms. Hundreds of them. Rattling around my head with such a clamour that I cannot tell what is my own thought and what is an imposter from the Book of Common Prayer. Business goes ill as well, though I have had little time to think on it today. Patrick approached me on Thursday to present his scheme for making some headway in the tea trade. It is his notion, if I understand him rightly, that we can make capital by managing operations in India ourselves rather than investing in the operations of the Dutch. This seems to me to be an exceedingly risky plan, and I said as much to him. Nonetheless, he persists in his belief that his own connections with the Indian nobility would give us an advantage over the Dutch venture—a notion which does not impress me, as I have it from a reliable source that his most recent visit to India ended with his running naked from a Rajah's palace, pursued by a family of angry gibbons. I shall not be quite so easily parted from my money.

January 18

I tried ...

Well, damn.  I had tried to distill my plan to the simplest possible points, so that even Jack, at his most contrary, could not raise any objections:

India_image_post_11807_1

He would hear none of it, however.  I blame it partly on the impending arrival of his erstwhile mother-in-law, whose tone of voice could get a murderous rise out of a deaf sheep.  But a healthy reward stands at the end of this particular trial, and that prospect usually allows him to tolerate minor annoyances.  I must remember to ask him how well he passed water these few days past, and if he would like to go with me to see Sydenham tomorrow.

To be fair to the man, he did ask two or three reasonable questions of the expedition, solutions to which will require me to do some more thinking.  And the Dutchman is very likely to go for the project; I will consider my pitch to Jack a rehearsal.

January 11

Taking Care of Business

Very much business conducted at the Griffin this week.  My bet on Sean was well-placed: four pints in I laid out the whole story behind his close calls with death, and he laughed uproariously. The fellow can be genuinely good-natured at times.  A short while later, I pointed out to Sean the very man responsible, as he slipped in through the backdoor well laden with crates, and Sean laughed still more.  He excused  himself to address the miscreant, and I, feeling the ale resting heavy on me, decided to weigh anchor and head for port. 

The distinct memory of which decision (to return to Jack's) contrasts strongly with the real fact of waking up, once again, and with a headache, at the Crimson Unicorn.

Tonight I meet once more with Jack. I have decided to approach him once again about a plan to start importing tea straight to London some time ago - the Portugese or Dutch are responsible for most of it at the moment - when we were loudly interrupted by Sean's violent, and i must say, even up to this point, unbalanced, entrance into our lives.  He has been in quite a state ever since he had word of poor sweet Liza's mother-in-law's impending arrival; I have hope that the potential for vast profit will break his foul mood.

January 8

Good Christ!

I have the papers! Well, I think I have the papers...I can't make out a word of this foreign nonsense. I shall consult Clonfert immediatley.

Vereinigte_ostindische_compagnie_bond

Patrick's Ill Tidings

It is indeed a suspicious occasion when Patrick offers to buy the ale. It is even more suspicious when he forgoes sipping upon Madeira so that he can “drink ale with his mate.” Mate of mine he may be, but I trusted his actions no farther than I could toss his spindly body.

After a few pints the story finally came out. It turns out that my many close calls with the bony finger of death were not from any curse or wrath of God, but instead were the result of Patrick’s own cowardly action. I had half a mind to beat him with my barstool but a leopard cannot change his spots as the sailors say and it would be silly of me to expect bravery from a man whose length is greater than his breadth.

It turns out that my mystery assailant was Nigel Clonfert, a nasty bit of work that plied his trade at the Griffin selling what had “fallen off the backs of wagons.”  Men such as Clonfert need dealing with quickly, lest they think they have you at their mercy. Thus named, I approached Clonfert at the Griffin and after a brief conference which transpired with the point of my dirk at his back I learned what all the fuss had been about.

To wit: When Patrick attempted to sell him papers, Patrick had none. Patrick then blabbed that I was meeting Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray did not have the papers, so by means of subtraction I must be in possession of them.

I explained to Clonfert that his notions were both ridiculous and insulting. I would not be living in Jack Shepherd’s closet if such a treasure was in my possession. Moreover, would I not have come to Clonfert himself to help me sell such an item? Clonfert soon came round to my way of thinking and being an obliging sort offered to buy me a round. I confess that one round became many and the morning found Clonfert and I arm in arm toasting the dawn.

January 7

Bad news

Current mood: Bilious

Listening to:
'Ayres and dialogues, for one, two, and three voyces' by Henry Lawes

This morning, Patrick and Sean somehow discovered my store of songbooks, and I have had no peace all day. The Irishman has a tolerable voice, it must be admitted, but Patrick's strained tenor is not unlike the mating call (or the death throes) of one of our London starlings.

It was with this cacophony by way of accompaniment that I received the most dreadful news that I have heard since my Liza's unexpected death: My mother-in-law (Liza's erstwhile mother) is coming to visit. I do not yet know how long she intends to stay, but I am quite certain that she intends to chatter endlessly, complain about my way of life, and make unreasonable demands on my time and my purse for as long as she is here. Under normal circumstances, I would plead a sudden onset of gout or dropsy, or plague—such is my desperation—but I can ill afford this luxury at present, as I have my eye on the old woman's sizeable fortune, and must be civil to her or suffer the financial consequences.

Perhaps if I introduce her to Patrick, they will bore each other to death.

January 4

Making My Confession

I am resolved: over the course of our next evening at the Griffin, I will tell Sean who is behind the many attempts on his life.

He has suggested that he may feel well enough to rise from his bedrest, and shortly I will propose a trip to the Griffin to celebrate his convalesence.  I have found that when bearing potentially ill news, copious spirits ease the situation for messenger and listener alike, the former because of Drink's fortifying effects, and the latter because of the equanimity it produces in those in whom it does not produce anger.  I used this method to ease that which might have made an already bad situation even worse in a similar situation a few years ago, when I alone escaped and was therefore the bearer of Very Bad News to the local director of the East India Company.  (I also learned that night that, when in their cups, elephants are of the equanimious type; macaques tend towards rage.)

Being a mercurial sort like so many of his People, Sean has demonstrated both tendencies, with his frame of mind when he first lifts his glass determining his later attitude.  As this will be his first time out of the house in several weeks, and as Maureen's presence will likely raise his spirits still further, I feel safe betting on the phlegmatic Sean.

January 3

New Year's Resolutions

It has been many a week since I have last written. After many assault upon my person I have grown loathe to venture out into the wide world of London. However, a New Year brings with it new hope that I will survive it without further physical or mental wounds. Jack has hired a new maid who has done much to balm my fevered brow. Furthermore, New Year’s itself was quite delightful as Patrick presented his momentous occurrences of the past year. Both pressured me into creating my own list, but I demurred as it is not part of my character to demonstrate such showmanship. Instead, I have come up with several resolutions for the New Year which I hope that all may follow in the hopes of preserving both health and wealth.

Resolution 1 – Take up Smoking

This is a new activity that has taken London by storm. All young gentleman of worth have taken to smoking the weed from the Colonies and it is my hope that I too will be lighting my pipe with this most fragrant form of diversion.

Resolution 2 – Avoid Strenuous Activity

A gentleman never exerts himself and I have had enough physical activity to last me ten years.

Resolution 3 – Eat More Meat

As my diet consists of mainly black bread and the vegetables from Jack’s garden I desperately need to incorporate more meat into my diet. I have already started the New Year right by helping myself to a third serving of bacon at Jack’s table.

Resolution 4 – More Trips to the Crimson Unicorn

If only to see the look upon Patrick’s face which is much akin to a child opening his Christmas cracker.

Resolution 5 – Beat Samuel Pepys about the head and shoulders

I have heard mention that Pepys has made several pointed remarks about our activities. I have never met the man, but Jack assures me that he is of the most repulsive character as he frequently discusses his bowel movements. Such talk is clearly unchristian and I am resolute in having a private discussion with Pepys about what is proper and what is not.

My best to all is this New Year and many thanks for both your time and attention. I hope this greeting finds you in both good health and free of the juju.