The Life, Times, and Misadventures of Dennis St. Michel, Viscount of Stokington, Soldier, Gambler, Diplomat, Scoundrel, Notorious Rakehell, and Lord of Menacing House, in his Own Words.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Stones

While I must admit I found Walker’s story to be most engrossing, in truth I could not see how it pertained to me, nor how it might lead to an enriching of myself. I said as much.

Walker gave a rueful chuckle. "Yes, I imagine you’re quite lost. So was I, when I realised precisely who my adversary was. Do not worry, shortly I shall reveal to you the part I wish you to play. In the mean, I must continue my tragic tale.

"When I saw Sir Julius standing there, as proud and reputable as a cockerel, it was only the distance between us that saved his life, for I had sat, as I informed you, in the rear of the chamber. Realising that any attempt to rush the podium should alert Sir Julius to the danger and provide him time to escape, I left the room, fuming in frustration. Once outside, my anger cooled slightly.

"I realised that I was no murderer. Revenge, such as it was, would not be served by descending to the depths of depravity currently inhabited by my nemesis. I would need to strike at him another way.

"I made inquiries, around and about Town, as to the extent and nature of Sir Julius’ business. In doing so, I discovered that Sir Julius had been involved in the trade and sale of human beings for many years, and had grown fat upon the sweat of their suffering. But his expedition to the Bangallan coast was different. Most of his slaves, I learned through discreet questioning, came from the West of Africa. Bangalla lies in the East. Why would he travel many hundreds of leagues out of his way for something he could get in waters most familiar to him?

"This was most curious to me. For days, the answer eluded me, no matter how many of his servants, hangers-on, and lackeys I questioned. The man himself I never met, fearing that in his presence I would lose control and throttle the despicable creature.

"Eventually I made a startling discovery as to the reason for Sir Julius’ expedition to Bangalla, via a most unusual source. It seems that Sir Julius, his first wife having long since expired, had recently remarried, and Lady Dithers—her maiden name is Büpadüp, a German—had brought into Sir Julius’ house a number of new servants. One of these, a scullery maid, had been dismissed for attempting to throw out what she described to me as 'odd little stones.' These stones, which were further described as ‘brownish-red’ and ‘not fancy’, were seized from the poor lass by Sir Julius himself, who until that point had troubled himself very little with Lady Dithers’ servants. He then harshly berated her and dismissed her on the spot. I only encounter the girl by chance; her brother is still in service with Sir Julius and she overheard us discussing him."

"And the stones?" I asked.

"Could only be one thing," he stated. "Bangalla is wealthy in many natural goods—ivory, spices, even a little gold—but of precious stones it is surprisingly lacking. However, among the empires and colonies of Africa the country is well-known for the rare reddish stones found on the slopes of Mount Mlima."

"Which are?" I asked, interested despite myself and irritated at his dramatics.

Obviously he was pleased with the suspence, for he took a deep drink of coffee, making me wait, before answering.

"Diamonds, your Lordship. The stones Sir Julius stole from my people were diamonds."

1 comment:

Lord-z said...

Master Dithers married Büpadüp? What happened to the glutton Bumstead?