(Inside the Grand Ducal coach, returning to Krankenstadt after a long weekend of frivolous gaiety at Aunt Agatha's).
Irwin-Amadeus II: (Scrutinizing the silver snuffbox in his hands) I say, Hives, have you noticed anything about this new snuffbox of mine?
Hives: (Nose buried in copy of Plato's The Republic) Sir?
IA: Something just isn't right about it. It's "off," you might say.
H: (Turning a page) Off, Sir?
IA: Yes, Hives. Peculiar.
H: (Still reading) Peculiar, Sir?
IA: Oh, dash it all, Hives! Don't be so obtuse! You know what I am talking about.
H: (Lowers book to his lap) Might his highness be referring to the Zichenauer coat of arms clearly engraved on the underside of the snuffbox in his possession?
IA: (Spirits lifting somewhat) Yes, Hives! That's it.
H: No, Sir. I must admit that particular detail has eluded my attention.
IA: (Spirits nosediving) Hives, dash it, I would appreciate you not having fun at my expense.
H: Very good, Sir.
IA: What in the world are we to do? This snuffbox clearly belongs to Great Uncle Somthing-or-Other of that dreadful Princess Antonia III, and it's the reason behind the invasion of Stollen.
H: I must admit, Sir, that particular detail has not escaped my attention either.
IA: (Adopts a conspiratorial tone) Hives, we're in it up to our necks! If we don't get this snuffbox back to Princess Antonia's great uncle, the Grand Duchy of Stollen could be in for a lot of trouble, and it could be curtains for me. Why, Aunt Agatha might not invite me for the weekend again. And I'm already in the doghouse with Uncle Heinrich thanks to that incident with the sheet music he keeps in his harpsichord bench.
H: There is the young Lady Ermgard von Kessin, who might be able to help us, Sir.
IA: (Slowly puts two and two together) Oh, Hives, no. . . NO!
H: The Lady von Kessin does have connections, Sir, however distant, to the ruling family of Zichenau. She also belongs to a very minor branch of the House of Hohenzollern in Prussia. Though she is, some might say, somewhat "stern," an engagement between yourself and the young lady might just smooth over any misunderstanding about how the snuffbox came into your possession.
IA: (Looks into the air and shrugs, resigned to his fate) I knew it, Hives. I knew it. It had to come to this. I knew as soon as the Lady von Kessin and I circled the dance floor that first time, and my entire life flashed before my eyes. (Pauses) Still, Hives, I suppose it must be done. Stiff upper lip and all that.
H: (Returns to his book, turning another page) Indeed, Sir.
IA: (Mood renewed) Right! Hives, as soon as we've returned to the palace, have a letter drafted asking for the young Lady von Kessin's hand, and have it brought to me for approval before it is sent off to her by special courier. I do hope we're not too late. And I suppose we can always wiggle our way out of things later on. It's not like we haven't been down this road a few times before, eh?
H: (Absentmindedly) As you wish, Sir.