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October 26

Snared Again

Jack's histrionics have bested me yet again. A combination of pity for the wee man's broken heart and annoyance at yet another good meal interrupted by his sobbing pulled me from my chair and to his side, though a close observer would have noted my attempts at comfort were half-hearted. And thus I post with the anxious thought in the back of my mind that come tomorrrow morning Jack and I will be rummaging through his Great Chest of Subterfuge for the appropriate costume. 

A fascinating study could be done of the Irish, and I had some cause to think on this during dinner.  For some time, now, informal discussion at the Society has entertained the hypothesis of a connexion between the slope of a man's brow and the  Capacity of the mental workings contained within.  Among the Irish generally, I have seen, the slope of the brow off of the horizon is quite acute.  Like a well-landscaped garden, this gradient provides excellent drainage, but it does not provide for much of the volume the higher cognitive functions require.

To wit: our adopted latrine slopper, the incoherent Irishman.  His cranium resembles a low-lying hillock, of the sort found all over his homeland. He cannot structure a sentence requiring more than six words, and his motor skills are bovine.  Nevertheless, I have noticed that he has managed to live off of Jack's meager largess for over a month, during which Jack has not once set the dogs on him. This  accomplishment had previously been achieved by exactly one person (myself).

Like Jack's mastiff, the Mick is apt to slumber wherever he comes to rest, and when I next come upon him prostrate in the hall I will make some discrete measurements; a pity the drilling necessary to measure skull thickness will wake him.

Of the JuJu and the Tiny soul

The tiny one summoned us to dinner. I thought it was to be an unremarkable affair, but events soon took a turn for the worse. A meager repast was laid out for us, as far as I could tell I would have to take my sustenance from the bountiful amount of wine that had been laid out before us. Now I am no fool, as it was obvious to me that the tiny one expected to have me in my cups and then agree to his foolish scheme. Obviously, he has not learned the lesson that you cannot out drink a man from the Isle of Eire no matter how much alcohol you surreptitiously pour behind your back.

    I was about to take my leave of him when I noticed that the ugly one was muttering and rubbing his thrice accursed bone. It was at this moment that the tiny one took to moaning and thrashing about on the ground. I can sense witchcraft and I know a warlock when I see one, and the ugly one meets all standard descriptions. Despite my dislike for the tiny one I had to take into consideration the fact that he had fed me for nigh on a month and it was in my best interests to keep that situation up to snuff. After all, I rather not have to bed down near a warlock. Ignoring the tiny one’s piteous mewling I told the ugly one to quit forthwith with the juju lest I remove the bone from his neck and place it in parts he rather not have objects lodging. He came out of his magical stupor long enough to give me a nasty look (I pray God it was not the evil eye) and ran out of the room, no doubt to make amends with his Dark Gods on his failure to produce another Christian soul.

    This seemed to perk the tiny one up to no end, so much so that he lavished me with praise and attempted to embrace me as a brother. I know he is no God Fearing man, but I gently kept him at arms length and told him that it might behoove him to attend the Sabbath that week as some dark spirit could still be lurking near him. The depressing part of all of this is that in my efforts to escape his praise I agreed to his plan. A stupid Irishman he needs and a stupid Irishman I am not, but I should have finished my collection of his worldly goods in enough time to escape out the kitchen without notice.

I pray he does not set the dogs on me.

October 24


The day approaches, and both Patrick and the Irishman remain for the most part impervious to both my threats and, in Patrick's case (I would not stoop to cajoling an immigrant), my blandishments. But this evening, I had through no design of my own, something of a breakthrough. That is, I think I did, but the memory of it (I must admit) is a little hazy. Some hours ago, the three of us sat to supper in my dining room, and I confess that during the course of the meal, I drank more wine than I ought. I am quite sure that this does not constitute a breach of my vow to give up drink, as any fair judge would admit that the circumstances – i.e. the fact that my delicate plans rely entirely on the intellectual abilities of an illiterate Irishman and the whimsy of a mush-headed aristocrat – were too much to bear without recourse to a bottle or two of wine to calm my overtaxed nerves. Mark my words, I will not touch liquor again once I have regained my stocks from that idiot William Gray. 

Suffice it to say that I became inebriated, and perhaps more so than I am generally accustomed. I do not recall much of what I said toward the end of our meal, but I do remember (to my great mortification) that, after berating my guests for their refusal to abandon their cowardly objections to my scheme – which will make us all very rich indeed – I invoked the memory of my dead wife (in what context I cannot recall) and, shortly thereafter, began to weep. This was not my intent, and I am heartily ashamed of it. But the truth is that it did more good than any rhetoric I could have mustered. At once, the pair became silent, almost contrite, and begged me to cheer up. I believe that the Irishman even ventured to put an arm upon my shoulder, though I gave him a straight look which caused him to reconsider.

As they carried me up to my chambers, I sensed that they had softened in their resolve. That simple, human pity had won the day where coercion had failed. That my calculated display of strength over the past week – in the form of bribes, threats, and painstaking manipulation – had gone for naught, while a fleeting display of genuine feeling had penetrated all of their defenses. That, in short, they were ready, with just a little coaxing, to do the unselfish thing and play their little parts in my plan this week. I must remember how effective this is. It has not been my habit to play upon the sympathy of others, but with such a powerful example, I would be severely remiss not to tap this resource in the future.

I feel ill.

October 22

Pretty silver things

I have been remiss in noting my travails. However, I have good reason for my sloth. Well, actually two reasons, which could be best described as the tiny one and the ugly one.

It has been quite a number of days since I have come to the house of the tiny one. At first, I thought I might receive some gainful employment cleaning the privies and much the stables. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Instead, the tiny one proposed a plan to relieve a man of his worldly riches. Now how this plan would be to my benefit, he did not elaborate. He merely stated that the job necessitated my unique skills and that it would be for the best if I was to follow along in the endeavor.

Several days passed and I had not given my answer. The tiny one grows more and more perturbed by the hour. At first I thought it was because I was helping myself to his victuals which are supplied in paucity. I normally have to cuff the butler a few times to bring me another round of rashers. But I think the tiny one is more annoyed that I am not held in his thrall like the ugly one. He has taken to muttering such words as dirty papist and filthy Mick when I pass, which much aggrieves me. Of course, being tiny, he is not wont to confront me directly, but instead hops up and down, spittle flying and demands that I obey his requests.

Of the ugly one there is not much to say except that I would not trust him near animal nor small child. He consistently clutches a bone that he received in some twisted pagan ritual in the East Indies. I would go as far as to say that he worships some dark god, but am afraid to confront him lest he put the juju on me. If things don’t improve quickly I will have to take my leave. That would be unfortunate as I have only managed to collect half the tiny one’s silver dining set. There is a soup tureen I have my heart set on.

October 19

Morning tea

Jack has become more insistent, and insidious, than usual in promoting his latest scheme.  In the last two days he has mentioned "the Plan," "coming riches," "stocks" or "tea," at least sixty-four times, or an average of twice a waking hour.  I suspect the actual number of times to be much higher, because I must confess to becoming distracted by an unusual finch call on the ride this morning, and for most of it successfully and enjoyably ignored his musings.

It is a truism, but good help is hard to find these days.  Despite explicit, Exact instructions about the nature and sequence of my morning toilet and breakfast, Jack's butler bumbled into my chamber this morning with a tray overloaded with food.  In the process he spilled tea all over my beloved chimaera's tooth, an object of such rarity and prophetic value that, had he not immediately set the tray in my lap, I would have struck him about the ear.  I am not a superstitious man, but I have seen enough in my travels not to want to link small events with larger unfoldings. 

I am also not naive, and I have known Jack for some time.  It is entirely consistent with his manner to have orchestrated the whole event to make some impression on me.  I must watch him closely...

October 17

Chimeras & Catholics

Well, it has been two days since our scheme was hatched, and Patrick is being recalcitrant and obtuse (as is his wont), while the Irishman remains simply incomprehensible. I can receive no clear indication from him as to his own opinions about the task at hand, except, I think, that he desires remuneration. As if his eating me out of house and home, and my tolerating -- with a forbearance worthy of Seneca -- the malodorous emissions from his person and the guttural moaning which he attempts to pass off as discourse were not payment enough for a job that requires him merely to be himself for an hour.

As in the past, when I have fallen in with business partners who are incapable of making intelligent decisions for themselves, I have had to take matters into my own hands and create for them the necessary incentives to do the right thing of their own accord. In Patrick's case, I have played upon his superstition. He keeps with him at all times what he thinks is a Chimera's tooth (though it has quite clearly been removed from some unfortunate rodent), which he believes brings him good luck, and which he values above all of his other possessions. He wears the foul thing on a necklace during the day, but at night he keeps it on his bedside table so that it will be near him.

My plan is to encourage Patrick to make an association in his mind between the tea stock that I need him to procure for me and the mystical powers that he believes to inhere in his ludicrous totem, and to that end, I directed George to bring Patrick his breakfast in bed this morning and to make a show of stumbling and spilling some tea over the tooth. Even if this does not fully convince him that it is in his best interests to meet with O'Flanahan next week, I am certain that it will shake his resolve to fight me at every turn -- and I have some other tricks up my sleeve that will quell the remainder of his stubbornness.

The Irishman is an easier dupe. I have hinted to him that if he proves less than amenable, I will have no choice but to report his subversive Catholic sympathies to certain members of Parliament who will find them very interesting indeed.

I shall post again soon with the results of these endeavours, but with two such easy marks, I am quite certain of success.

October 16

A clever plan my arse

I am an empirical man.
Objective Observation has revealed to me, and to a great many of my brethren, those both more and less able, universal truths of our cosmos.  But in their revelation, these truths very often reveal greater mysteries still.

Fact: Jupiter has four moons.

BUT: even factoring in their presence, and gravitiational pull, doesn't completely predict Jupiter's position.  Are there more moons? Is there something else in the way?  Or is the model simply wrong? Isaac is down from Cambridge next month; I will query him on it.

Fact: Jack is right in his business proceedings just under 3 out of 10 times.  He has become very wealthy by this lowly statistic.

BUT: How the devil can such a degenerate, inebriated, philandering half-wit be right ever, let alone with sufficient frequency to make him the wealthiest man in the county?

I have learned to revile costumes, and after that run-in with the Raj's nephew and his seven macaques -- they can smell Truth, apparently; a boon for the philosopher and Royal Navy intelligence officer alike -- I hate false identities still more; my strengths as an agent lie less in the playing through of the deceit than in laying out its initial path, while letting the simpler but more resolute carry them out.  Further, there is little observational evidence, let alone anecdotal, for what happens to the unfortunate participants in the 7+ of Jack's schemes out of ten that go awry, and what evidence there is does not suggest a safe or quiet end for any of the participants (save Jack, of course).

I pray failure this time involves no monkeys.

October 15

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.

Eggs and Bacon

I awoke this morning in the grandest room I have ever had the pleasure to lay in. Now, I’m a simple man and I’m most used to sleeping in the stables. After all, animals can’t rob you blind when you’re in your cups and you can’t see more then a candle’s flame ahead.

Anyways, the room, as I mentioned was grand. Covered from top to bottom in ivory and all matter of fine trappings and my bed covers were made of material that I hope they bury me in. There was a bowl for washing my face (still covered in my life’s blood) and I nice receptacle to relieve the pressures of the previous night.

Of course, despite being surrounded by all this finery, I still get an exact account of my bearings. The last thing I remembered from last night was the behemoth and his companions buffeting me about the head and shoulders. (I do hope Maureen did not witness my disgrace, I might have to hang myself.) As I was still wearing my clothes and my wounds had gone unattended, I had obviously not been rescued by a local doctor looking to shake me a few shillings for his services. I though the best possible recourse was to find the nearest window and take my chances with a mad dash away from the situation I now found myself in.

Then I smelt bacon. Now many things might make a man run, but bacon is not one of them. I followed my nose from down one winding corridor after another till I was presented with the sight of piles of rashers and eggs all heaped on a large wooden table. Being a sensible man I tucked in and made sure to pour myself a large mug of coffee, a beverage with which I only had an infrequent acquaintance.

It was about this time that a very ominous gentleman, dressed to the nines entered the kitchen. “I see sir, that you are enjoying the fruits of my labors.” I being a polite man and a christian thanked him for his help the previous evening and for taking me in as his guest.

“Guest, the great beast scoffed, my boy I have plans to employ you.”

I kindly informed him that I had a job and that though his kindness was appreciated, I had no need of his charity.

“But my lad, I have great plans for you. I think that with my brain and your redoubtable might that we can achieve great things.”

He then relayed to me a plan which deserves its own missive. Suffice to say, he was a madman, but a madman who stood to become very rich if all parties to be involved did their parts properly. It was to involve him, myself, and a friend of longtime acquaintance who entered to break fast at not only a most unreasonable hour (it was at least 3 hours after the cock crowed) but smelled of oils and had all manner of trinkets dangling from his person.

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

We've Got a Plan

I rose this morning in Jack’s guest chamber, my usual lodgings when in London. Thrifty to the core, Jack was nevertheless extraordinarily generous with the things he had already paid for.  I always had a room in any of his houses scattered across the seven seas, therefore, but almost never (eg) any wood in the fireplace.  This also meant his larder was perpetually empty, and if I rose first I nearly always had to seek my own sustenance.  But again: if Jack had already risen, hungry and aching from the miseries of whichever dungeon he had ended the previous evening, he would gladly fork over some of his bountiful grub, already procured.

These two factors – the eternal, bone-racking chill of the chamber (is the Aether itself not of such a perfect, still, and icy mode?), save under the multitude of covers, and the Importance of outwaiting Jack down the stairs and into the kitchen – inevitably encouraged me to stay in bed well past sun up; far longer than at the ol’ Oxfordshire homestead or at the raj’s palace.

Jack routinely misinterprets this strategic reluctance as sloth.  I have no interest in disillusioning him. 

Mumbled cursing in the passageway indicated Jack was on the move, and the countdown to my cue for entrance into the kitchen began.  Years of empirical study had demonstrated that 14 minutes was the ideal delay: long enough for Jack to curse his manservant into prepping coffee and running around the corner for vittles, and for him to get a bite or two into his misused frame; short enough that the coffee was still piping hot.

Perfectly timed, my entrance was nevertheless bollixed by the mick.  I had forgotten we had brought him there after the brawl. We had deposited him in the chamber closest the stairs, and now, having descended at some point during my countdown, he had beaten me to both the coffee and the abundant scrapings of Jack’s plate.

Worse, Jack looked much too gleeful for that hour of the morning.  Glee on that man before the sun passes the yardarm is a sure sign of trouble.

Worst of all were Jack’s first words to me: “We’ve got a plan!”