You will gather from the title of this post that I have not left for the Indies as promised – though, lest you think that this is but a small deviation from a grander plan, I should observe that our ship has left without us. But you will want to know how we ended up in our pitiable situation, and – racked with concern for our well-being as you must be – how we are faring at the present moment. The answer to the latter question is "not very well at all, thank you very much", and the answer to the former is rather more complicated. To wit:
On the 28th of May, the day before our intended departure, Patrick retired to bed and Sean and I headed for the Griffin, ostensibly to celebrate our last day in England – though it was my intention to ply the Irishman with so much liquor that he would finally give over his superstitious reluctance to set foot aboard a ship (a fear which he failed to inform us of until two days before we were set to leave). Some hours, several pints, and two public houses later, we found ourselves in an area of London that I have not often frequented, at a place called The George and Dragon. Our conversation had turned to Papists, and the relevant part of it proceeded as follows:
Sean: [slurring badly and humming to himself] The pope, the pope, the pope the pope, the pope.
Me: [patiently, but with genuine concern] Sean, my friend, please come to your senses – or at the very least sing about something less incendiary.
Sean: [grinning as if he were the greatest wit in the world] The pope, the pope's our only hope!
At this point, I became very anxious, and I could sense other patrons of the inn pricking up their ears and turning their wary eyes in our direction, but in my attempt to head Sean off at the pass, I made a blunder that significantly worsened our situation:
Me: [in a strained whisper] It is high time we left. [And louder] Come on. Up, Sean. Rise up.
Sean: [mimicking me at the top of his voice] Rise up, rise up! The pope! The pope! The pope!
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, I knew we were in trouble. All eyes turned to us, and there was a general clamour and confusion, through which I could hear someone shouting "Papist conspirators! Arrest them!" and the next thing I knew, we were being bundled into a cart headed for a prison cell.
I am not yet ready to speak of the horrors that I endured over the next seven days, which were rendered almost unbearable by Sean's insistence on singing Irish drinking songs to "keep our spirits up," but, relieved as I am to have been released with a fine for public drunkenness, the damage that has been done is irrevocable. With Sean and I stranded in England, our entire venture in the Indies now rests on Patrick's resourcefulness and creativity – which is like saying that I have entrusted my entire estate to the cat and am hoping for the best.