…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…
The private coach rattled along the road to Calais carrying the twins and Emma, the French countryside passing along as if it were walking in the opposite direction, leaves on trees and blades of grass waving goodbye to them. Swiftly on the heels of their success with Lehuby, Sir MacGregor had despatched them on the second part of their Poyais mission while he sat in Paris playing with his ‘constitution’. Lehuby’s words rang true in their ears – that they were doing all the work – but for them at least there was a clear upside. They just hadn’t decided exactly how they would extract it.
London had not been much of a friend to any of them, particularly when they had such high hopes for it. There was a tinge of anxiety as the coach edged closer to Calais, with a short boat journey to take them to over to Dover and then the winding roads back to London. They had done nothing wrong per se in London. It just felt like a step in the wrong direction.
Jose was wariest of them all, having thought they could have corresponded with Sam Jenkins of Thomas Jenkins & Co to convince him it was in his interest to make his way over to Paris to discuss a deal. It only took Sir MacGregor a second to dismiss this idea. There couldn’t be any exchange of letters. Face to face was the only way to do business, he had told them. Though whose face was clearly open for debate.
“I hate travelling back this way. We were starting to get settled there. I was hoping MacGregor was going to give us a bit more rope to find somewhere to base ourselves.”
“Patient, brother, we need to do this bit. Without this bond, MacGregor will cut us loose and pretend that he never heard of us.”
“Not to mention that it is probably our best way of making our own way from this mess without much of a trace,” Emma said nodding to Noemi and then turning to smile at Jose. It was a small, but major boost to his happiness that Emma had decided to sit next to him on the coach ride and that her hands had periodically touched his as they both rested on the seat in the middle of them.
“Yes, I know, thank you both. Still, I don’t have to like it.”
“No, I suppose not. We can’t be bothered to hear any further whining though.”
Jose considered this as a veiled threat by his sister. She knew that putting herself in the same camp as Emma would mean it was much more likely that he would follow her instruction as she would be able to convince her how unreasonable and awful Jose was being. Too much of that would certainly ruin any budding romance. In this case he thought it best to heed the warning.
“Understood, my dearest sister. So, while we are still in private, before we get on the boat, what are we going to do to sink this second Poyais Scheme after the money has come in?”
It was a very good question that none of them had properly considered. They had thought it would be easy to sink the scheme seeing as it was a complete scam. The steps leading up to exposing the scam subtly while also taking their pound of flesh from the deal were murky.
“We’ll effectively be collecting the money from them won’t we? So let’s just do some funny business with collecting and make sure enough goes to MacGregor to tie him to the mast.”
“Is Lehuby going to pay us?”
“Effectively, yes. He won’t make payment until we have the bond issuance secured so he can market them simultaneously. Do you think MacGregor will collect himself?”
“Not at all. Gustavus might though.”
“That old git is too busy helping carry MacGregors bags around to get involved in anything as mechanical collecting money.”
“No, no, that’s all wrong. Of course MacGregor will collect himself or send Gustavus. We’re talking about money here. The whole reason he’s doing any of this.”
“He’s probably doing it for his ego as well, but I agree. No way he’s leaving the money to us.”
“So how do we get at that?”
The first dead end. Every turn they took it felt as though fate were blocking them. How could they take down the scammers and still come out with enough to make a life? We’re their moral compasses so degraded that the universe decided their plans must fail? They had convinced themselves they were in the right so they wouldn’t allow themselves to entertain the thought. Instead they continued to curse the greed of MacGregor.
As they rattled along it became clear they were nearing the Channel. There was a moisture that hung in the air and seeped into the coach. A greeting from a border guard warning that you had entered a new territory where it was the water and not the land the ruled.
“I don’t have much of a useful thought on how to get the money from Lehuby and/or MacGregor, but I have had a thought about how we can sink the Second Poyais scheme.”
“Do go on brother. We’re nearing the coast and the end of our privacy for a time.”
“Well, Emma, did you take a passport with you when you left England?”
“No, but I don’t think anyone mentioned that we should.”
“Well, that’s exactly what I’m thinking. What if we applied to the French passport office on behalf of some settlers?”
Emma and Noemi nodded. It would certainly cause some sort of stir. Particularly amongst the more widely read civil servants.
“I think they’d question whether this Poyais existed or not,” ventured Emma with a wry smile.
“That is a fair assumption, particularly if there was some advocate from South America earning the civil servants about made up countries.”
There were smiles all around as the coach came to a stop in the port of Calais. They gathered their things and walked out into the brisk wind. Despite the beauty of the day, the wind caused a biting cold and discomfort that whipped at their raw faces. It would be the first of two journeys over the Channel in shot order. Not particularly something any of them relished. A necessity at this stage in their work though.
The Captain of the vessel they were crossing in welcomed them aboard and then a porter showed them to the communal area where they would endure the crossing. Nothing compared to their trip across the Atlantic. Still, the Channel was a harsher body of water than you might expect knowing that it was in between two land masses so close.
It appeared that they were the first to arrive on the ship, so they quickly took the time to pick up their conversation.
“The bond is simple, right?” Jose asked.
“Yes, we convince Sam to allow us to market it with his firms name and collect money, but he denies that he ever worked on such a thing. He takes 20% and we take the rest. Lehuby and MacGregor will never be any the wiser and we’re all OK.”
“That won’t be enough to forge our new life though. We need to get some of the money that’s changing hands between Lehuby and MacGregor.”
Emma was about to open her mouth when a number of our passengers arrived. It was no longer safe to conspire, so they put to issue to bed without any resolution. They had to journey to mull their ideas over. It was for the best.