The following takes place at an outdoor table of the Jester's
Cafe in Kingstown, Mittelland. Sitting at this table is Mr. Arthur
Shortbush, a Kingstown business-man. He is taking his morning coffee
(where the morning is eleven A.M.), and reading the Kingstown
Informer, a paper chiefly for the entertainment of business-men.
We observe Mr. Shortbush for a while, he is like his namesake
short, barely four foot eleven inches. He does however have the
advantage of the most wonderful thick, and perfectly neat brown hair.
Many would say it was his most attractive feature. Mr. Shortbush is
not lazy to be up so late, but the Markets are closed today, and he
relaxes for the moment, sure that his investments are secure.
By-and-by we see Mr. Shortbush's good friend come up the
street and join Shortbush at the table.
"You still read that rag?" Mr. Shortbush's friend is of course
referring to the already mentioned Kingstown Informer. Mr. Shortbush
folds up the paper in response.
"I must keep up with my business affairs."
"Don't lie, I know you read that thing for fun." Lord
Southwell is of course completely correct. Lord Southwell being Mr.
Shortbush's friend. Lord Southwell is actually a relatively minor
personage, which no land worth speaking of. He is unfortunately tall,
undesirably lanky and not very handsome. His only saving grace as far
as the general populace was concerned was that that he had the
friendship and esteem of (the very rich) Mr. Shortbush.
"I would never lie to you Leon." We wonder whether Mr.
Shortbush is being genuine. "However, there was a rather interesting
article in today's 'rag'. It seems Southland man has received
permission and financing from the Westland monarchy to try a mad
expedition to the other side of the world."
"Ah yes. DeMerro is his name right? I wonder what he plans to
do when he gets to the other side of the world."
"Well considering the Southlander nature, I imagine he intends
to throw a ball." Lord Southwell laughs uproariously at Mr.
Shortbush's witticism. The other diners and people in the vicinity do
not think it nearly as clever.
Mr. Shortbush continues, "Yes, it says here he will have a
fleet of five ships. Is five really a fleet I wonder? My own merchant
fleet exceeds fifteen, although my ships don't appear to be nearly as
large as this madman's. Five ships will depart from southernmost port
in Westland, and travel west, all around the earth until they arrive
in the Distant East. It goes on and on about the minutiae of sailing,
not very interesting I should think.
"Fancy a card game?"
"I suppose I could do with a hand or two." replies Lord