…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…
They walked up the steps, one by one, towards their meeting with Sam Jenkins. In communication with him prior to leaving Paris, they agreed it was best to meet at a neutral location such as Fox Lane. Jose reaches the top of the stoop stairs and then slipped, a loose stone coming out from under his feet. Emma was their to catch him as he fell back slightly, which he was grateful for on a number of levels. Before he could thank her, Noemi was cracking wise, “you better not kiss her now brother, we need to be focussed on Jenkins. You too Emma. Focus!”
Both blushed and then straightened themselves, standing behind Noemi now as she rang the bell and took a deep breath. No one was in the mood for Mrs. Peversham’s particular brand of hospitality.
“You again,” she sneered as she opened the door, to which Noemi advised, “We—”
“I know you have an appointment! That doesn’t mean that I have to approve of seeing you freeloaders again.
A fair point to which the group all shrugged. She showed them into the room from which Sam Jenkins had despatched them last time around. No offers of tea or food, just a curt nod and a closing of the door which could have been interpreted as a slam.
The room was much the same, though a touch on the dirtier side. They all chose to sit and wait for Sam rather than have him interpret their standing as some undue deference to him. A small act of defiance, if you could even call it defiance, against a man they firmly believed had stitched them up. They had maintained his reputation though and now they cane to collect on that favour, to cash in their chits.
Sam Jenkins was running late, either by design or happenstance, but the group remained silent. They no longer trusted anyone outside the three of them. Mrs. Peversham could be listening in to report back to Sam Jenkins or he could be waiting behind a door for them to slip up and discuss their strategy with him. Paranoid, perhaps. Only the paranoid survived when the aim was to scam effectively and without a trace.
Finally, thirty minutes after their agreed meeting time, Sam Jenkins burst through the door, huffing and puffing slightly. A convincing ruse to make them believe he was rushing over. Not one of them believed it and so, while they looked over and acknowledged his arrival, none of them stood to greet him.
“My sincerest apologies, my dear friends. I was at a lunch with a rather important client of mine. Works for one of the larger shipping companies and a frequent user of my services.”
He paused and surveyed them. It was not what he was expecting. They were more refined then when he had last encountered them. He took a seat and faced them.
“You don’t want to hear about all that though, now do you? What is it that you want from me?”
His tone was not unexpected. They knew that once he understood they were unlikely to be bowled over, he would become more curt and want to get to the point. It was Noemi that took the lead on this particular negotiation, “I think it is rather what you want from us and what we expect in payment for that service.”
A smile on the outside with great hatred behind it as he seethed out, “Is that so? Rather unusual for me to want to pay for something. I usually just take it.”
“I think you’ll be interested,” Noemi said, rising and starting to pace, “we met your friend on that errand you sent us on over at Fulham Palace.”
“Yes, I recall that you dropped some papers for me.”
“What you don’t know is that we met the Bishop himself first.”
Sam Jenkins face was fighting a falling sensation. He kept it as blasé as possible, but they could all see the cracks appearing, just as they’d hoped.
“You see, my brother was very kind to you when we met the Bishop. Emma and I would have turned you in without a moments thought, but Jose decided it was best to save your reputation and the little deal that you had going with the Bishop’s Treasurer. So, the Bishop is none the wiser. For now, that is.”
“Do you? It would be quite a shame if the Bishop found out about this scheme of yours, would it not?”
“A man such as the Bishop would not believe such a story from some scallywags that he met once. I call you bluff young lady. It is time for you all to leave.”
“I’m afraid, for you that is, that it is no bluff. We have left a letter with a courier who is instructed to deliver it to the Bishop at four this afternoon if he does not hear from us. While he may not take much stock in the views of some ‘scallywags’ he will certainly take note of a letter that provides more colour behind his suspicions. You see, we had to convince the man that you were not up to something sketchy. It was only because he was short on time and Jose was so silver tongued that it worked.”
Noemi stood still and studied the sitting Sam Jenkins. Lesser of a man having been backed into a corner.
“Nothing to say? Fine.”
She sat and thought about exactly what to say next carefully. They had him more backed into a corner than she had expected. She was determined to play on this and get the best possible deal out of him.
“Now on to payment. £300,000 in cash before we leave London.”
Same Jenkins laughed from deep within his belly, “that is absurd young lady.”
“It is not. You’re a banker. You have access. I will also give you something to help raise the money back.”
“Oh really? Your kindness knows no bounds.”
“MacGregor is doing a second Poyais scheme in France. No respectable banker will touch him, so he’s struggling to find a way to raise additional funds through a bond issuance like he did with the first scheme. You can use that as a front to get some of your more idiotic investors to stump up cash and then pretend you were swindled by MacGregor. No bond would ever be issued and your record would be largely intact.”
Sam Jenkins sat in his leather arm chair contemplating the ultimatum put before him. He was not a man used to being put into corners, so his mind worked through the permutations as fast and diligently as it could.
He ventured a rebuttal, “You don’t know anyone here. I don’t believe you hired a courier or even wrote a letter. I think you should leave.”
It was Jose’s turn to present documents to Sam Jenkins. He stood up and handed over a leather bound folio.
“In this,” explained Noemi, “you’ll find a copy of our letter to the Bishop, a receipt from the courier we have ready to deliver said letter (unless we stop him in the next couple of hours), which should satisfy you.”
She looked at him intently in the eyes, “we’re not bluffing you see as we have nothing to loose. It’s possible the bishop might not believe it, but he appears the sort of man to investigate a matter where he already had a suspicion. Don’t you think?”
A silence hung in the air in discord, sweet music to ears ears of Noemi, Jose and Emma, while equally devastating and deafening to Sam Jenkins. His mouth was dry with adrenaline when he responded, “I’ve never met the Bishop.”