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Fish Stocks Limited
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Ambrosius sighed. “Look, if I give you twelve pence will you get me the rest of
my money back?”
“Sure thing, sir.”
Ambrosius reached into his pockets.
“Best pay me after you get your money back, sir,” said the post- insurance
salesman, giving a sympathetic smile. “One second.” The insurance salesman ran off
down the street. A minute passed. Ambrosius wondered whether he should give in
and except his new- found impecuniousness, but, against all expec tations, the
salesman came running back up the street rubbing his knuckles.
“I should charge you extra for that, he had a bigger brother. There you go sir, your
money back, minus sixteen pence for me.”
“Thank you,” said Ambrosius, taking the money. Many eyes lingered on it as he
deposited it back in his pockets.
“If you don't mind me saying, sir, the chances of you now making it up the street
without requiring my services again are slim to none. In short, sir, I think you need a
“How much?” asked Ambrosius. He had been considering looking for a guide as it
“Another ninepence? Then threepence per hour.”
“Done,” said Ambrosius. “What's your name?”
“Got a lot of names, sir. You can call me Stan.”
“Ambrosius. Now, Stan, I want to get a feel for this town. What makes its heart
beat, so to speak. Can you show me?”
Stan grinned. “The City's got a lot of hearts, sir, a lot of beatings too. If you're
looking for the former you often find the latter.”
“That's what I'm paying you to avoid.”
“Quite so, sir. What is it you're interested in exactly?”
“I've been told I need to find my vice.”
“Ah, very good sir. I'm an expert on that. There are a handful of things that might
push your button. Women?”
“I came to the City to escape a broken heart, not to find one.”
“I see. Drink?”
“Not my thing?”
“I hate the stuff.”
“A good brawl?”
“I couldn't punch my way out of a paper bag.”
“Well then, that leaves money and power. You interested in them?”
Ambrosius thought for a second. “Yes, I suppose they would suit me.”
“Then you need one. A suit, that is. Trust me, if you look the part, your one step
away from being a millionaire.”
The suit fitting took the best part of an hour. It wasn't the very best suit money
could buy, but it looked sharp enough to say “I'm not poor”, which marked
Ambrosius above ninety- nine percent of the City's population. Ambrosius left the
tailors five pounds poorer but with a feeling of importance.
“Now sir, a good con-man...” started Stan.
“Hold on,” said Ambrosius. “Con-man?”