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November 1, 1677


I am in a very merry mood tonight. For the first time in a fortnight, I am feeling almost well-disposed to my old friend Patrick, who has carried out his part in my plan admirably—and I am not at all displeased with the Irishman. I have never before met a man with such a foul mouth on him, and it gives me great pleasure to see him put it to such efficient use as he has today.

But I am getting ahead of myself. As I explained last week, I had been (up until today) very near to missing out on an opportunity that will make me a good deal of money. Specifically, an arrangement that I had made with a clueless gentleman named William Gray to buy a quantity of stocks in the East India Company at an unimaginably low price was very near to falling through when the idiot Gray learned that an Irish acquaintance of his late father desired to purchase the stocks for himself. It became immediately clear to me that I needed an ornery, unpleasant Irishman to impersonate the buyer so that Gray would reconsider his choice, and a foppish businessman to play the part of Gray and tell the real Irish buyer that the deal was off. And as luck would have it, I was in possession of both.

I sent the pair off on their errands early this morning, and I have not seen either of them since, though it is well past midnight (which is a little odd now that I think on it). A few hours ago, I heard a knocking at my door and saw William Gray himself standing shivering on my doorstep, with a miserable look on his face and (upon closer inspection) a great black bruise around his eye. He was clearly in some distress, and after I opened the door to him it was some minutes before he was able to talk sense. When he was finally calm, the story he told was so exquisite that it was almost as if I had written it myself.

To wit, he awoke this morning and arrived early to his meeting with the buyer in the hopes of finalizing the deal over lunch. But, and here his wounded tone nearly caused me to laugh out loud, the buyer was no Christian gentleman as he had expected, but a coarse, rank-smelling, blasphemous thug. I knew at once that he was describing my Irishman. Best of all, Gray told me that when he expressed some incredulousness that his father could ever have been acquainted with such a man, the brute took a swing at him! You may guess the rest. Gray has promised me that he will return in a few days and sell me the stocks as he promised, and that he would as soon hand them over to me now, except that he has mislaid the deeds.

I am in great good spirits, and I will not forget to thank my friends for playing their parts so well. And so to bed, with the promise of a tidy fortune in my possession before the week is out.


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Lady Ulverstone

A letter from Lady Ulverstone

I have forborne to remonstrate with you, deeming it useless, this many a month, despite alarming rumours of your dissolute behaviour brought to me by assiduous friends (whose motive must, I assume in Christian charity, be care for the family’s reputation and your welfare rather than spite). I can forbear no longer, for I now have the witness of my own eyes. Driving home with your sisters from Matins at the Chapel Royal (an edifying sermon, if somewhat overlong—his Majesty, tired perhaps with the ardours of working through the night on matters of state, appeared to be sleeping) I observed a party of three young men walking down the Mall. Well, walking or weaving in the case of one of them. It was Emily who first realized that the Weaver of the three was in fact her brother. You, Jack. Before I go any further, I must first say: YOU LOOK LIKE ANTICHRIST IN THAT LEWD HAT! Clearly, you were inebriated. On the Sabbath.

Worse was to come. Discreet questioning (I name no names, but you should be aware that servants talk to each other) confirmed my worst fears. Not only are you incessantly drunk, frequenting stews and taverns and gambling away the proceeds from your (neglected) estates on devious and risky schemes, but, worse, you are consorting with a Papist Teague and a Debauched Blasphemer who dabbles in pagan enchantments. Beware for your soul!

I adjure you of your filial duty to wait upon me at the London house this Wednesday early, and sober, to give an account of yourself. Your father will be at the hunting box in Leicestershire for the week, with a shooting party. I have not as yet acquainted him with your misdemeanours. I tremble to think of his retribution should your misdoings come to his ears.

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