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February 27

We're Going to Need A Bigger Boat

If any man were to tell me that I was to spend my first few days of being wealthy crawling about the dirty pubs of Shelmerston in search of a boat and its requisite captain I would have called him a fool and sent him on his way.

Yet, I found myself once again embroiled again in the intrigues of others as Patrick insisted there was not a moment to lose and that “fortune rides upon the tide.”

This statement sounds much more impressive when the cock crows at the Crimson Unicorn, and after one has drunk the requisite amount of ale.

So anxious was Patrick to embark that he hurled himself out the doors of the bawdy house and started staggering in the general direction of north. Thankfully, I managed to persuade Patrick that our first purchase should be mounts, lest he planned to make the trip by foot. So we set off this morning, I on the back of my new mount Ajax (for Buchephalus is too noble for such tasks) and Patrick on the back of his dapple grey mare Marigold and a pleasant trip it would have been too if not for Patrick’s insistent complaints to “make haste” and “bear forward.”

Haste making proved itself more or less a minor point when we began to interview our prospective candidates. By late afternoon we had had our choice of three lechers and one man painfully afflicted with the gout. It was then that Patrick produced for me our final prospect, a derelict Spaniard who had obviously washed up during the last war. His ears had both been badly mangled by musket shot and his rakish demeanor would make Jack blush in shame. Patrick, however, was insistent that this “was Our Man” and so I know find myself the employer of one Gustavo Araoz and his good (hah!) ship the Mariposa.

When I return to London I plan to put this all behind me by anointing myself in Silk. Let Patrick explain the situation to Jack, as from what I understand he hates Spaniards as they were somehow involved with the unfortunate end of his second wife.

Huzzah!

Financial Backing!  Back to the East!

February 26

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.

Pasqua Rosee's Coffeehouse, which I used to quite like

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.

February 22

Midas' Touch

There is a creature in Ireland that I was taught to fear more than any other, and to cross its path was to encounter a mortal dread greater than if one had spat on the Pope himself. That creature is the Banshee and its inhuman wail could be heard many a night when I was just a wee bairn, snug and safe in my bed with my five brothers knowing that another man had passed on.

Such was the sound Jack made when he learned that it was I who was to sell the papers to the Dutchman.

Banshee
If only Jack were as lovely

Luckily, I was in civilized company or I expect that Jack would have thrown himself bodily across the table and wrapped his fingers around my throat. Nevertheless, after his initial outburst he regained his composure and spent most of the meeting glowering at me with hate in his eyes.

Surprisingly, Patrick was in attendance as well, hoping to attract visitors for his mission to the Orient. I felt bad for the man as I had entered the room during the apex of his speech during which he was loudly denouncing the rumor of “fearsome monkeys” bringing his last venture to disaster.

When all attention had turned to me, I soon learned that I was in trouble. The Dutchman, or Hans Broekman as he preferred to be called, was a fierce negotiator and as discussions progressed I had the sinking feeling that I was about to be fleeced.  In fear for my fortune that was rapidly disappearing before my eyes I called a quick break to get some air and escape the black-toothed Broekman.

I then proceeded to do something that I hope I never have to do again in my life. I asked Jack for help.

Jack was no fool and quickly took the lead in negotiation. I had to part with twenty percent of my earnings to him and make a strict promise that he be allowed to handle any future investments with my windfall. It was a hard bargain, but one much better than what the insufferable Dutchman proposed.

The long and short of it is that I am now a disgustingly wealthy man. And while Jack may have some say in my future endeavors, there is nothing he can say to my taking Patrick to the Crimson Unicorn tonight and celebrating until daylight tomorrow morning.

February 14

Love Is in the Air

I'm sorry to raise such an unpleasant subject, but love has been much on my mind today, though I could not tell you why the notion should have entered into my head. It may be that I am coming down with a bad cold, or some sort of infection—such illnesses are quite common in the middle of February. I have often found that writing helps me calm myself when my brain is agitated in this way, so I took the liberty this afternoon of composing a list of the advantages and the disadvantages that I have discovered in having an attachment with a woman, a task whose ameliorative effects I felt immediately, and whose results I shall post now for your interest and edification, beginning with the disadvantages.

The Disadvantages of Love

1. The prospect of having a woman share one's bed is much more pleasant than the actual result. Though 'tis true that after a time one remembers only the caresses and the sweet whispers, the prevailing experience is one of legs and arms everywhere, and farts beneath the blankets.

2. Three times in my life have I thought myself to be in love. The first turned out to be a case of kidney stones, the second (though a pleasant enough experience) ended very sadly indeed, and the third cost me nearly half my fortune. Thus, love is expensive, painful, and bad for the health.

3. Unlike ill humor, disappointment, or remorse, love is only made worse by a jug of ale. 

4. A woman who truly loves you will look beyond the façade that you present to the world and come to see you for the person that you really are. This is not a pleasant experience for either party.

5. Being in love is not unlike being drunk, though in the latter case, the nauseating effects of overindulgence do not usually last a lifetime.

The Advantages of Love

1. When I had a wife, I often found it a useful way of extricating myself from awkward social engagements by claiming that she had a case of the vapors.

Those were all that I could come up with—though I think it is not a bad list, and it did me good to write it. I believe I would have been cured entirely had there been any available ladies at the Crimson Unicorn tonight, but when I arrived they were all occupied, and I found Patrick sitting desultorily at a table with a bottle of wine. I sat with him for a while, until Sean joined us, and they both seemed quite interested to hear my disquisition on the merits and drawbacks of the married life. I suppose I have had less pleasant evenings.

Tante Dolore Quante Amore

I am no friend to Love tonight.

A Highly Regarded Physician gave a lecture at the Society this afternoon entitled Tante Amore Quante Sanguine, in which he proposed to delve into the physiological causes of affections between the sexes. Having reflected on this topic before myself, and how it has on occasion propelled me to perform preposterous acts against all reason and Good Sense, and given the unusually high numbers of sweethearts I had seen this morning, flitting about hand-in-hand, I decided to attend. 

I am a clinically responsible man: I never allow my emotions to impinge upon the focus of my academic  pursuits.  And yet midway through the lecture, with our speaker pointing at a spot just below the right breast of a naked and unnecessarily voluptious specimen (by rumor, the wife of his Manservant), I decided this affection was worth discussing rather less than it was worth pursuing and headed out to the Crimson Unicorn in search of Odyllia.

To my great misfortune, today is apparently their busiest day of the year -- I had no warning of this -- and Odyllia was at the Opera, on the arm of a wealthy young man keen to make jealous an heiress he was wooing.  In fact, I was told moments later by Jack as he descended from somewhere above and joined me at my table, every girl in the place was booked the entire night. Shortly thereafter, as I recounted the course of my day to Jack, Sean bounded in, only to be disappointed just as quickly. Our conversation gradually waned, and we drank in somber silence until near ten o'clock, at which time I made my excuses to my companions and departed.  They did not look up to see me go.   

Love's Labours (Found)

It has not started out as the most illustrious of days. Normally, the totality of my ambition involves raiding Jack’s larder and possibly sneaking off with Beth to the linen closet. Today I woke up and not only was the cupboard bare, but Beth was nowhere to be found.

Now I am not a man who puts much stock in the theory that a woman is needed to refine a man’s baser nature. Jack has had two wives and he is still a miserable old sot who is better fit to spend his days counting his coppers than wooing a maiden.

But I found myself with this strange pain in my stomach whenever I thought of Beth, and rather than ascribe it to any sort of affection, I decided it must come from lack of bacon.

I set out to the Griffin for my midday meal only to be shocked by a truly appalling sight. It seems that everyone in the entire town of London had decided to couple, and I could nary walk five feet without bouncing into a giggling couple or some young gentleman clearing the path of beggars for his lady. I caught a right cudgel in the head from one of these louts.  The pain in my stomach got worse.

The obvious solution was not bacon, but a trip to the Crimson Unicorn. Upon arriving I was not shocked to find both Patrick and Jack deep in conversation over a presentation by one of Patrick’s witch doctor friends. It appeared that not only were all the women of the Crimson Unicorn formally occupied, but that I would have to spend my night drinking in a brothel with two of the greatest cynics in all London.

I confess the pain has become unbearable.

February 13

Revelation

In preparation for my meeting with the “Dutchman” I have done a fair amount of research into the particulars of their race in order to gain some advantage. An informal survey of the opinions of several tavern goers has lead to some startling conclusions as listed below.

The Dutch are Deceitful

During our time at war with these nefarious people, the Dutch have consistently claimed victory even after English forces have thoroughly thrashed them. In the 4 Days Battle of last summer, English forces suffered losses at two times the rate of their Dutch counterparts. However, the Dutch retreated first which meant England won. There are simple rules to follow in warfare, if you back up, you have lost. One can’t claim victory by jumping about and stating that one killed more people.

The Dutch are Grasping

The Nutmeg Islands are an English possession. We were there first, therefore it is ours. That the Dutch have come and usurped our territory demonstrates that their need to expand will never be sated. It is doubtful that they even know what to do with nutmeg.

The Dutch are Stupid

They have built their empire on land that continually floods. Such lack of foresight only underscores how stupid the Dutch truly are.

Hopefully, this knowledge will come in useful this week.

February 12

Back in the Game!

Kind readers: My sincerest apologies for my lengthy and unexplained absence. Two basic forces have coincided to keep me out of sight for the last fortnight.  First, I have an extremely important meeting later this week with a well-connected Dutchman, and some of the biggest players in the India trade in all of England, since Jack refused so unceremoniously to back my venture.  The proposal I have been putting together has required the utmost effort, taking me to all corners of the political, merchant, and academic worlds that snake around and through the City, and I have slept barely a wink tying up all the loose ends.

The second reason is Jack's accursed mother-in-law.  I found Sean in the stables the other day, conversing with Jack's horse; I was surprised to learn he was there not by choice, opting for the braying of a large, flatulent, and querulous beast over the shrill invectives of That Woman, but instead because he had been banished there, as if he were somehow capable of offending Her.  An evening of Sean in the illest of humors is sunshine and roses compared to a mere moment with Her.  Jack has more than once saddled me with Her, disappearing in a flash around a corner with naught a trace or a sound, leaving me Her sole escort to the theatre.  I hence try to avoid them both.

I hope to post again on my regular schedule, starting at the end of this week. My thanks for your kind patience, dear readers.

February 5

The Dutchman

Peace at long last, and a bit of time to post. It cannot have been much more than 14 days since that beast from hell, my mother-in-law, insinuated its way into my home, but I feel as though I have lived many lifetimes in those two short weeks. Yesterday was spent mostly in prayer (she, often vociferously, for my soul, and I for a quick death), and for the better part of today we discussed the deficiencies in my grooming habits. I have taken the precaution of installing Sean in the stables (Mrs. Turner does not take kindly to papists), which situation he did not bemoan as much as I had anticipated. Indeed, he appears to have formed a strong attachment with my horse, which is exceedingly strange to me. I had thought that Bucephalus had better taste.


My mother-in-law: an artist's rendition

Patrick, that scoundrel, is nowhere to be seen, though he may perhaps be excused for taking his opportunity to escape the monster's clutches. Better men than he have quailed at her fearsome approach.

Despite this adversity, I am not beaten; indeed I am quite pleased with myself this evening, as I am near to closing a deal that will, I believe, solidify my interests in the tea trade. Next week, I am to meet with Hans Broekman—a Dutchman from the East India Company—to present a proposal for backing one of his ventures out East. He informs me that some of the most important personages in the business will be present at the meeting. Many of them are very well known in the trade, though I am particularly curious to meet two mysterious new players—a wealthy Irishman with a large stake in East India stock, and an academic with powerful connections to Indian royalty. I shall be very interested to see how this meeting turns out.