The Mutiny of the Mavericks

Sec. 7. (I) Causing Conspiring with other persons to cause a mutiny sedition in forces belonging to Her Majesty’s Regular forces, Reserve forces, Auxiliary forces, Navy.

When three obscure gentlemen in San Francisco argued on insufficient premises they condemned a fellow-creature to a most unpleasant death in a far country, which had nothing whatever to do with the United States. They foregathered at the top of a tenement-house in Tehama Street, an unsavoury quarter of the city, and, there calling for certain drinks, they conspired because they were conspirators by trade, officially known as the Third Three of the I.A.A.—an institution for the propagation of pure light, not to be confounded with any others, though it is affiliated to many. The Second Three live in Montreal, and work among the poor there; the First Three have their home in New York, not far from Castle Garden, and write regularly once a week to a small house near one of the big hotels at Boulogne. What happens after that, a particular section of Scotland Yard knows too well, and laughs at. A conspirator detests ridicule. More men have been stabbed with Lucrezia Borgia daggers and dropped into the Thames for laughing at Head Centres and Triangles than for betraying secrets; for this is human nature.

The Third Three conspired over whisky cocktails and a clean sheet of notepaper against the British Empire and all that lay therein. This work is very like what men without discernment call politics before a general election. You pick out and discuss, in the company of congenial friends, all the weak points in your opponents’ organisation, and unconsciously dwell upon and exaggerate all their mishaps, till it seems to you a miracle that the hated party holds together for an hour.

‘Our principle is not so much active demonstration—that we leave to others—as passive embarrassment, to weaken and unnerve,’ said the first man. ‘Wherever an organisation is crippled, wherever a confusion is thrown into any branch of any department, we gain a step for those who take on the work; we are but the forerunners.’ He was a German enthusiast, and editor of a newspaper, from whose leading articles he quoted frequently.

‘That cursed Empire makes so many blunders of her own that unless we doubled the year’s average I guess it wouldn’t strike her anything special had occurred,’ said the second man. ‘Are you prepared to say that all our resources are equal to blowing off the muzzle of a hundred-ton gun or spiking a ten- thousand-ton ship on a plain rock in clear daylight? They can beat us at our own game. ’Better join hands with the practical branches; we’re in funds now. Try a direct scare in a crowded street. They value their greasy hides.’ He was the drag upon the wheel, and an Americanised Irishman of the second generation, despising his own race and hating the other. He had learned caution.

The third man drank his cock-tail and spoke no word. He was the strategist, but unfortunately his knowledge of life was limited. He picked a letter from his breast-pocket and threw it across the table. That epistle to the heathen contained some very concise directions from the First Three in New York. It said—

‘The boom in black iron has already affected the eastern markets, where our agents have been forcing down the English-held stock among the smaller buyers who watch the turn of shares. Any immediate operations, such as western bears, would increase their willingness to unload. This, however, cannot be expected till they see clearly that foreign iron-masters are willing to co-operate. Mulcahy should be dispatched to feel the pulse of the market, and act accordingly. Mavericks are at present the best for our purpose.—P.D.Q.’

As a message referring to an iron crisis in Pennsylvania, it was interesting, if not lucid. As a new departure in organised attack on an outlying English dependency, it was more than interesting.

The second man read it through and murmured—

‘Already? Surely they are in too great a hurry. All that Dhulip Singh could do in India he has done, down to the distribution of his photographs among the peasantry. Ho! Ho! The Paris firm arranged that, and he has no substantial money backing from the Other Power. Even our agents in India know he hasn’t.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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