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October 15, 1677

Cool idea I had

The first test is knowing where you are. If a man wakes up and knows where he is, he is in as good shape as anyone can expect to be. If you can add to this happy state of orientation at least a sketchy account of your doings the night previous, then there is no need to fret overmuch about the intangibles of the situation, such as the blood on your hands, the hammering in your head, and the fact that you must have slept the whole night, shivering and naked, in your hall.

I know from long experience that mysteries of this sort breed others of a more vexatious character, so my reaction was more one of resignation than of surprise when some cautious research revealed that the commotion in my second spare bedroom was being made by a foul-smelling, illiterate Irishman. The first thing to emerge from the chamber was a hideous crop of orange curls, which proved to be sprouting from a ludicrously oversized head, even despite the bulk of his body—the whole of which any responsible parent ought to have drowned, burned, or buried within a few days of birth. This is not the first time this has happened, and I have learned from the last unpleasantness that when these sorts of people appear in my home it is more politic to offer them a plate of vittles than a piece of my mind.

I asked George to see if he couldn't assemble enough supplies for the two of us to make a decent breakfast, and set about considering what use I could make of my houseguest, since he appeared to have no intention either of leaving or of offering any explanation for what he was doing in my home beyond the odd grunt or burp.

The idea occurred to me with the dregs of my first mug of ale still warming my innards (honestly, the benefits of my drinking far outweigh its drawbacks even if they don't outnumber them—I must reconsider this resolution). I have been trying for some time to close a deal with an unregenerate idiot named William Gray, whom I met through a stock-jobber earlier this month. Mr. Gray is of a mind to unload a good quantity of shares in the East India Company, and he had promised them to me at a price which was my first indication that he is unstable. The second indication came last week when he came to me in a great state of agitation to tell me the preposterous story that he had received a letter from one Seamus O'Flanahan, who purported to have been a great friend of his late father and who was himself seeking to buy shares in the East India Company, which his old friend had promised him before his death.

With tears streaming down his perfumed cheeks, Mr. Gray told me that he must renege on our agreement for, provided that this Seamus was a good Christian man, "The ties of family take precedence over the bonds of friendship," and, his thin bottom lip quivering with emotion, he hoped that he could "consider me a friend."

Well, as I explained to my Irish guest, who was by this point cramming his maw with a third plateful of bacon, in a week's time, Gray is set to meet with his long lost family friend, and it is imperative that he find him to be a man lacking in all prudence and Christian virtue so that he can reconsider his flight of fancy and sell the shares instead to their rightful owner. Me. And since the pair have never met, all that is needed is for a vulgar, unpleasant, unchristian Irishman to meet with Mr. Gray at the appointed time and persuade him of his unsuitability to possess Gray Sr.'s precious shares.

I could see that my visitor was quite impressed by my plan, since he was unable to respond and even managed to stop stuffing his face for a second, but I noted to myself a minor flaw in the scheme's fabric. Who was to impersonate the effeminate Mr. Gray in order to explain to the real Seamus O'Flanahan that the deal was off? It was just then that Patrick walked in (ridiculously late for breakfast, as usual—I know that they are accustomed to rise late in India, but Patrick's interminable lie-ins would make a Rajah ashamed). Once he sat down, I explained the plan to him as simply as I could, scoffing at his various objections. Honestly, it can't fail.


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