MacGregor’s Hand

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

Was luck turning?  Was fate playing a cruel trick?  Did neither exist and this was just another coincidence in life?  An example of how random things do happen that go your way if you sit in the right place.  Whatever it was, Emma and the twins couldn’t believe what they were hearing.  

Suspicion kicked in almost immediately after their amazement subsided, their newfound cynicism now firmly routed in their psyches.  This Gustavus must have overheard them talking, figured from the interaction with the waiter that they were weak and decided to pounce.  They all looked at each other with small, knowing glances before speaking.

“Mr. Hippisley —” began Emma.

“No, no, please call me Gustavus.  I can’t stand my last name when it’s spoken.”

“Very well, Gustavus, how is it exactly that you know Gregor MacGregor?”

“I know Sir MacGregor very well,” he said, taking a seat uninvited, “as I am currently in his employ.”

Emma thought it was time to up the ante a bit and asked, “we heard that after the unpleasantness in London with that bond of his and the settlers scandal that he had fled to Rome.”

“Well, the hireling press are very good at inventing a story, even if it means driving an honourable man from his home.  I’m not sure who, the powerful people didn’t like MacGregor promoting a new exporting colony to rival their interests,” he said in a crescendo of anger.

It didn’t necessarily prove anything other than that this man had lapped up whatever MacGregor or others had told him.  Though it seemed odd for this turn to happen if Gustavus was planning a scam to Part them from their money, even if they didn’t really have any.

“Well, we wouldn’t really know much about that.  With only a few pennies to rub together, we’ve been focussing mostly on ourselves rather than the truth in matters,” Noemi tried to show the man that they had nothing to offer him.

“So why do you seek out MacGregor?” He asked, puzzled.

“For employment,” Jose chimed in, “so we have more than a few pennies to rub together.  We heard that MacGregor was looking for natives of British Honduras, which me and my sister are.”

“How splendid!  I was going to ask where you were from.  Please, let me get you some lunch so we can discuss further.”

This was not quite the reaction they had expected and it did wonders for relaxing their cynicism towards Gustavus.  A scammer might invest a little for a lot down the road, but this man knew there was nothing down the road.  There was a visible relaxation around the table at the mention of food.

As the sane waiter passed by the table, noticeably without any vin rogue, Gustavus stopped him immediately with the raise of a hand and a curt, “Garçon,” following which he rattled off a number of words in French at rapid pace.  He looked back at the table and said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just ordered a few things that I thought would be suitable.”

There were no objections, just silent admiration at pulling something off so effortlessly that they had struggled with not ten minutes before.  Within a couple minutes of Gustavus ordering, vin rogue appeared on the table.

“I guess you’re a regular then?” Asked Emma.

“Well, we frequent the cafes and establishments in the area as we continue with our work.  You just need to know how to order…and speak french!  They don’t take kindly to English.  Not least because most don’t understand it.  That’s why you had such a hard time.”

“So, What can you tell us of MacGregor?” Asked Jose, itching to move on to the next step.

“You’re very down to business, aren’t you.  Personally, I can see the attraction to that.  I’d warn you though that Sir MacGregor is a fan of small talk and chit chat.  He never gets straight on to business.”

“Notes, for when we meet him.”

“Very good!  You wrapped it straight back to business.  You’re lucky that Sir MacGregor likes a dedicated person.  It’s been hard starting up here with all the nastiness in the English press.  Very hard to find a banker that will work with us.  Though there must be some way to put Sir MacGregor’s land to use.”

“Well, we have ideas and would love to meet him to discuss,” said Noemi, to slightly stunned looks from Emma and Jose.  They didn’t have plans beyond them meeting MacGregor.  Not that either of them knew about at least.

“Very good, very good.  Even without ideas he would like you.  I’m not entirely sure why, but he’s very clear that we need some locals involved.”

The food arrived and they all dig in, indulging in idle chit chat about the weather, Paris and anecdotes about Gustavus’ life.  All very boring, but no one minded much as there was food and drink aplenty.  

When the food had disappeared and the drink was running dry, the group got antsy.  Did Gustavus have any intention of actually introducing them to MacGregor or was this just some way of filling his afternoon?  The answer itself didn’t matter so much, but they all wanted to know what was next.

“So,” said Gustavus, after boring them all with a story of how his great uncle could have actually won the American Revolutionary War If his superiors had allowed him to, “that was very pleasant.”

“Yes,” said Jose, “what’s next?”

“Sir MacGregor should be back at his home by now, so shall we go see him?”

Sometimes things happen just at the right time.  They all nodded and then stood up ready to go as Gustavus settled the bill.

“It’s not far,” he said, “only off the Champs Elysee further up here.”

So they trudged off to their next destination unknown, being led down the garden path or along the path to glory.  It didn’t matter much to any of them at this point, though it would be a lie to say they didn’t care about glory.

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