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Fish Stocks Limited

“Would you rather have some small beer?” asked the barwoman with evident
amusement, having seen the look on Ambrosius' face. “I'm afraid this city isn't made
for teetotallers.”
Ambrosius nodded and took the mildly alcoholic beer. Jerry and Mungo were still
sleeping at their table, so Ambrosius decided to leave them be. He took his beer and
drank it in the doorway, tasting the foul air of the City as he supped.
Feeling a little merrier and marginally more hydrated, Ambrosius returned the cup
to the bar and left the pub. He did not really want to have to hang out with two sailors
with sore heads for the rest of the day, so he decided to see the rest of the City alone.
****
Chapter 10 - Sightseeing
“Cheers,” he said to the fish vendor, and, as he walked, tucked into his turbot and
some new things he had never heard of before called “chips”. They were good. He
was feeling good. Money gave a comforting weight to his pockets and the world was
his oyster (although, as he had never encountered an oyster, he did not know this).
Perhaps amongst the depravity of the city he really could lose his sorrows.
The City was split up into four quarters: in the first, where he had landed, were the
warehouses and red lights and drinking dens of the docks. The second quarter, which
he now entered, was the market quarter, full of noise and bustle. Half the goods had
been stolen several times before they made an appearance on the stalls, which kept
prices competitive and ensured a good redistribution of wealth amongst the working
classes. The third and fourth quarters were the industrial and residential quarters, but
the day was half gone alread y and he doubted he would get to see them just yet.
Instead he headed towards the centre of the City, through the markets. Ambrosius
finished his fish and chips and stopped to buy a bottle of small beer from a grotty
looking tyke of a street vendor who eyed his full pockets covetously. He walked on
down the street enjoying his beverage, taking in the sights.
“S'cuse me sir, you want to buy post-insurance?” It was a chirpy, sharp-witted
voice that seemed to exude a kind of lively, likeable yet highly untrust worthy quality.
“Three pence.”
“No,” said Ambrosius, wondering vaguely what the man meant by “post”.
“Post-insurance, cheap at half the price. Threepence per minute.”
“I said I'm not interested.”
“To me, sir, that would suggest that you are ignorant as to just what services I am
providing, if you beg my pardon, sir.”
“Look, would you go away?”
“Post-insurance, sir, is an extremely valuable service that lets the policy holder –
that would be you, sir – insure himself against past events such as, sir, some grotty
little tyke picking your pocket just after you bought a beer from him.”
Ambrosius stopped. “He did?”
“Afraid so, sir. Post-insurance? Six pence.”
“Are you trying to extort money from me?”
“Not at all. Nine pence now, sir.”
“I should call the police.”
“The police? That'll cost you more than twelve pence, sir.”
 
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