…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…
The bluntness of the question was refreshing after the waffling that had just occurred. Down to business as soon as his business partner was out of the room. The three of them knew that they couldn’t trust this man a centimeter, so they had planned for just this occasion. In order to put herself on equal footing, Emma stood and paced around the room.
She began, “We know that you need locals to help you convince people that Poyais is in fact a real place. Well, we know that the land is real, but to convince them that there is substance to what the Sketch says.”
There was a burning pain in her heart as she said the words. She knew that the journey which she began just after Fulham Palace was complete, though with a slight nuance. She would not be scammed and she would scam, but only those who tried to defraud others. MacGregor was her first and probably best target. Jose and Noemi had agreed, but it was Emma that burned with the passion to end this man’s life as he knew it, rather than extinguish it altogether.
“Jose is probably best placed to do this. Let’s be honest, the Frenchmen we are trying to part from their money will always be more receptive to a man. We can style him as something grand – though not as grand as Cazique – he should be like a Prime Minister where you are Head of State.”
“Excellent!” Cried MacGregor, “That was exactly what I was thinking. Do go on.”
Emma looked slightly bewildered at him and then continued, “so that solves one problem —”
“Yes, your last Scheme failed for you as you didn’t think each step through properly to its conclusion. It’s why you find yourself here plotting again rather than counting your fortunes.”
“Yes, quite. Very well, continue.”
After a curt roll of the eyes, Emma proceeded, “the other key fault was that your name was all over everything. You couldn’t move but to see s mention of Poyais and MacGregor —”
“‘Sir’ MacGregor,” he corrected, “in any event, I don’t see how that is a great fault.”
“Regardless of whether you were responsible or not, it all has your name against it do people think you were the mastermind. You were, of course, but you don’t need people to know that. You just need to profit from that.”
“And how does one gain this distance?” He inquired, intrigued.
“Easy. You get a front. Someone, a company here in France, who you sell the land to and will in turn market a settling scheme.”
“Will they pay up front?”
“Unlikely, though you never know what people will do until you ask them. I would say that you agree to do it on a 75% pay as you go basis. If they sell £1,000 of land, you get £750. They have the risk though.”
“Very interesting. Though you’d have to find someone?”
“We have ideas.”
“What else?” Asked MacGregor doing his best to hide his pleasure, but failing.
It was Noemi’s turn to show her hand. As they said at the start, they were a package deal.
“I imagine you don’t have the easiest time finding banking partners, is that fair to say?”
Silence made it clear that it was a sore subject. On their travels from London to Paris, the group managed to hear more about MacGregor’s escapades, so they knew it was a good button to push. Everywhere that MacGregor looked, people were bashing in back rather than helping him out. He tried his hardest to convince people, but no one wanted to take the risk. In a way he was a very desperate man. Though his desperation was for wealth rather than survival so it wasn’t nearly as dangerous as it sounded. Noemi drove the point home, ensuring he understood that he truly did need them on this particular point of his scheme.
“It was certainly what we heard from everyone that we came across between here in London, not least in the City. The words ‘black’ and ‘listed’ were used together frequently. So, I do think that one of the key successes to your earlier scheme will be quite hard to replicate. Is it really worth it without that piece of the puzzle?”
They all knew that it was actually, but MacGregor was a greedy little man and couldn’t help himself.
“Oh, OK, you are quite fair in what you say. Am I really to believe that you know the only banker that will work with me?”
“He won’t necessarily want to work with you — with us — but he will. This particular man is no stranger to the grey areas of finance, so that will be fine, and he owes us a very large favour. We helped him out in an unfortunate situation and saved one of his bigger schemes from falling apart.”
A smile beamed over MacGregor’s face, extra pleased by the fact that it was a bit of entrapment that would get these bankers on board.
“This is excellent, my friends,” said MacGregor, who still hadn’t asked what any of their names were, “so where do we go next.”
“We’ll go and find you the company here in France to act as your front,” said Emma, “and then we’ll come back here.”
“Excellent! Make sure you liaise with Hippsley if you need any cash to keep you afloat while you work these details out. Don’t send word to London until we get the ‘front’ sorted. Thank you and please do show yourselves out.”
It was not precisely the goodbye they were expecting, but they were in exactly the position that they had hoped they would be in when the meeting had started. They were amazed at how easily it had worked. The three of them bustled out onto the street of their flat and saw Gustavus returning from afar. They decided to wait for him and fill him in out what they were doing. Not that it was a scam, as he was a true believer in the Poyais fantasy, but that there was a float they needed to do MacGregor’s — Sir MacGregor’s — bidding. While they waited for him to approach, they shared a knowing smile amongst them. Step one was complete.