Man in Debt
Chapter 9

Copyright© 2017 by Scriptorius

Trask, Blaimire & Co.
1, Haymarket
Lower Newton Godfrey
13 March

Holliday & String
7, Main Street
Chinfold Major

For the attention of Mr Lionel String

Dear Mr String,

Thank you for your letter of 8 March, to which I was unable to reply earlier, as I have had a slight chill. I note your remarks concerning the merits of our two chess teams and I must say that I find them offensive. You speak of offering to handicap yourselves by removing pawns at the outset of any encounter between us. It seems to me that you are already sufficiently disadvantaged by your own arrogance. By what feat of presumption do you suppose that you could give us a start? If you wish to challenge us, by all means do so, but do not assume superiority in advance, as that might let you in for a severe shock. Only a month ago, we visited Nether Walford, where we played the usual six-board match, the result being a decisive 4 : 2 in our favour. Therefore I say do not count your chickens at this stage.

By the way, I am familiar with the story about Dr Alekhine and his companion on a train. I am also aware that he was also given to fits of bad temper when things did not go to his liking. You may have heard that some unpleasant articles on a wider social theme were published under his name, though he denied having written them. Does your admiration of the man extend beyond an appreciation of his skill at the great game? If you are seeking a chess hero of bygone days, I suggest you consider the great Emanuel Lasker, or perhaps Ossip Bernstein. I believe the latter was, like us – or at least like me – a competent lawyer.

As to your obsession with a dead cricketer, I think that this does not reflect well upon your mental state, especially as you present yourself as an experienced player of a different game, requiring a higher level of logical thinking. May I suggest that you put the ‘feats’ of my late cousin behind you? You have said that he never played at the top level. Furthermore – and if you had not pursued the point, I would not have responded this way – Eric drank to excess and smoked heavily. In that respect, he perhaps conformed to type, as he was, or so you seem to think, an artist of sorts, and such people are often given to extravagant behaviour. Shades of the above-mentioned chess master, perhaps? I am sorry that I cannot offer you more comfort – or perhaps I should say that I am unable to confirm your illusions – but Eric Blaimire was a flawed man.

I think you are right in saying that it is a pity that we do not have a meeting of minds. Such a concord could be profitable, but would require of both sides a tolerance that appears to exist on only one.

With regard to Aytuzi v King, we may well meet in due course.

Yours fraternally,

Henry Blaimire

Aytuzi Finance Company
Unit 3, White Horse Yard
Newton Godfrey
14 March

Cedric King
Poplar House
Halfpenny Lane
Little Chinfold

Dear Cedric,

Thank you for your letter of 10 March, which like your other communications gives much food for thought. You are a smart man and it is pity that you find yourself in such reduced circumstances. However, this could happen to any of us. Indeed, notwithstanding my own recent emergence from the Slough of Despond, I am again conscious of the howling of wolves at my door.

Let me set you straight about our representative. Deep down, he is a very nice fellow and although of formidable appearance and, as I have already indicated, phenomenal strength, he is sparing in the use of his physical attributes when confronting borrowers. It is true that he has a few GBH charges on his sheet, but they invariably came about after he had been provoked and if you were to ask me, I’d say that the people who took exception to his methods were pretty small-minded. I mean, what is a man to do when somebody calls him a big ape? If I remember rightly, that was the broken jaw case.

On the whole, you are not in great danger of assault. In fact, if you want to put a figure on it, the odds are about five to two in your favour. Steve Rook is in most ways a fairly civilised chap and very fond of chamber music – when he is not pumping iron! So easy to prejudge people, isn’t it? Frankly, I had thought better of you. Be assured that Steve was far more alarmed than you were by the recent near-confrontation. Really, Cedric, barbed wire and a leopard. I note your explanation, but am not totally convinced.

Anyway, next time Steve calls, do invite him in. I think you will find the two of you have much in common, in that you are both brawny lads and neither of you lacks sensitivity. In other circumstances, you might be members of the same rugby team. Not a neck in sight – know what I mean? Give the man a chance, but don’t get too close to him. I did that during a company training session eighteen months ago, when SR gave me a friendly hug. My breathing and ribcage have never been the same since then. If you’d ever been embraced by a Kodiak bear – giant grizzly, in case you didn’t know – you would understand.

Ahoy there, shipmate of Planet Earth. Your essay into seafaring is quite gripping. However, I must set you right, as your grasp of matters nautical seems to be as tenuous as your hold on the affairs of the Old West or the Mongol period, both already discussed. I doubt that you will find any authenticated instance of a man chewing a cutlass, any more than you will turn up with a true story of a man walking the plank, though I believe there was one validated case of keel-hauling. History just isn’t your thing, is it?

I can hardly bear to leave so interesting a subject, but feel obliged to point out that your grammar seems to have slipped. Heaven knows I am no expert, but you mention our man approaching you with a wooden leg and a parrot on his shoulder. Are they both up there and if so, does he have two natural trotters or is he obliged to hop along on one? Sloppy work, Cedric. Should you use this material again, you might care to rephrase it.

Another point I feel bound to make is that your maritime foray is particularly ill-directed, addressed as it is to a man who in a school play had the eponymous role in a production of Captain Kidd’s Treasure. There was some reading involved, so please believe that I know what I’m talking about.

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