Doing Business With Fools
Four days have passed, and my foul mood has not yet subsided. The long-anticipated gathering arranged by the black-toothed Dutchman, Hans Broekman—who advertised it to me as a meeting of "all the most influential personages in the tea business from London to Leeuwarden"—might as well have been a drinking bout in the stables with Sean, Patrick, and my horse Bucephalus for all the useful new contacts I made in the East India Company. I have been at a loss for words but twice in my life: The first time, perhaps unsurprisingly, also involved Patrick—when he arrived at my home after three years' absence wearing nothing but a turban and a loincloth and babbling incoherently about the black death. Now that I think on it (and as soon as I am finished being vexed with him), I must remember to ask him what that business was all about—at the time, my only instinct was to set the dogs on him, and I never did discover the story behind his sudden strange reappearance.
The second time was four nights ago, when I walked into Pasqua Rosee's coffeehouse in St. Michael's Alley to discover both Sean and Patrick sitting at a table full of East India notables, with Patrick sweating and stammering even more than normal (if that can be imagined) and Sean grinning and simpering like a cat that had stolen the cream.
Fortunately, I was able to recover myself and avert the complete disaster that the pair seemed to have intended for the evening, negotiating a stake in Sean's shares (how he laid his hands on them, I am at a loss to explain) that will allow me at least to reign him in when he becomes extravagant, and helping Patrick to finish his sentences.
These past four days I have spent confined to my chambers, listening to the pair of them retelling the story to each other over and over again with great mirth and revelry, while I try to reconcile my own accounts with the dangerous business proposition they have forced me into, and grind my teeth into a powder.