Another snippet from “The Gears That Grind.” In which Your Author uses a Cunning Stratagem in order to keep from having to explain the Stock Market.
Though [REPORTER] had told Sally to go straight home when he’d left her with the hack, late the night before, she’d found the rented room unbearable. The slightest of noises had her jumping; she was all too aware of how easily it could become a trap.
She changed into her own clothes, and headed back out onto the streets, until she found a place on the corner from which she could watch the front door.
It was nearly dawn, when she finally spotted [REPORTER]’s familiar figure. She darted out to meet him.
“I thought you’d be in bed,” he said.
It wasn’t until then that she’d felt the results of her long night. She suppressed a yawn, and said, “I was afraid we’d been followed.”
“You know we lost him.”
“Not then,” she said. “You haven’t been all too quiet about your poking around.”
“I know,” he said. “Sally, do you have anywhere you could go when this is over?”
She let out a short, bitter laugh. “If I had, d’you really think I would’ve been sleeping in a [WIDGET] factory?”
“I was afraid of that.”
She shrugged. “I could lose myself among the crowd. Just another [URCHIN] sleeping under a bridge.”
“If I go to [NEWSDOOD], he could advance me enough money to put you on an airship — ”
“And send me where?”
He looked away, clearly floundering. “I shouldn’t have involved you.”
“It’s a bit late for second thoughts, isn’t it?”
For a moment, she was tempted to ask for the money she’d already earned. She could take it, and try to lose herself, but as she’d asked him, where would she go?
“London’s the safest place for me, less I go down to Cornwall or something and try to get a place in a mine.” Just the thought of it made her shudder. “And before you offer to buy me a train [TICKET], I’d rather die in the open air, [THANKS].”
“So,” she said. “What’s our next step, boss?”
He frowned, studied the crowd, and then admitted, “I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?” Never, in the few days that she’d known him, had he been without a plan for long.
“I think … these numbers, they don’t add up. I suspected that [SIL] was involved somehow, and that Lord [BADDIE], his father-in-law, would be as well. But the numbers don’t make sense. They’re investing heavily, they have warehouses in Bristol and [CITY] that must be full of raw materials — ”
“Why not in London?” Sally asked, offended on her city’s behalf.”
“I don’t know. That’s what doesn’t make sense. They’ve got enough raw materials for several years worth of production, only why buy them now and pay to store them rather than buying them as needed? The only thing I can think of is speculation, like the [STOCKMARKET], but that makes no sense … ”
“Why doesn’t it make sense? I don’t understand the [STOCKMARKET], why is what he’s doing so strange?”
“The thing about the [STOCKMARKET] is, it’s all based on — look out!”