27 June 2010

Meanwhile at Aunt Agatha's Country Home. . .

(Hives enters Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II's chambers, rolling an ornate silver tea service on a cart before him).

Irwin-Amadeus: (Yawning, stretching, and sitting up in bed) Ah, there you are Hives.

Hives: (Pours cup of Darjeeling tea, adds two sugars with a dash of milk, and places the cup on the bedside table next to the Grand Duke) Good morning, Sir.

IA: (Takes sip of tea, burns lips, and winces) Thank you, Hives. What time is it, please?

H: (Consults pocket watch) It's just gone half past nine by my watch, Sir. Breakfast will be served in the dining room in one hour.

IA: Oh, dash it all, Hives. Why on Earth must Aunt Agatha insist on having breakfast at such an ungodly hour?

H: (Tactfully) Many people would say, Sir, that 10:30 in the morning was the best part of the day.

IA: (Takes another sip of tea, again scalds lips, and follows with a pained expression) Well, I suppose there is nothing for it then but to dress myself. Hives, draw my bath, please.

H: (Crossing room to open curtains) As you wish, Sir.

IA: Dreadful business, all this with Zichenau and Pillau-Zerbst. But what a dinner party last night though, eh, Hives? And all of that dancing afterward in the drawing room. I felt seventeen again.

H: Yes, Sir. It did appear you were enjoying the festivities.

IA: Oh, yes Hives. I do so enjoy a good Minuet.

H: (Laying out the Grand Duke's clothes for the day and whisking them with a clothes brush) The kitchen staff informed me this morning, Sir, that you were the focus of certain female attention during the dancing yesterday evening.

IA: What? Oh. Yes. Her. (Furrows brow) Lady Ermgard von Kessin I think it was.

H: A minor Prussian princess I'm told, Sir.

IA: (Troubled) Yes, Hives, that's right. Pretty girl, but she has two left feet. My right arch is still sore this morning.

H: Nevertheless, Sir, a good connection for you to make given the Grand Duchy's current political and military situation.

IA: Blast! She'll probably want to become engaged or something like that.

H: Quite possibly, Sir.

IA: (Throws back the covers and gets up from the bed) It's all enough to make a man desire a good sneeze. I say, Hives, hand me that new silver snuff box, please. I've filled it with a fine Virginia blend. It's over there on the dressing table.

H: (Picks snuff box up from the dressing table and examines it) This one, Sir?

IA: (Impatiently) Yes, Hives, blast it. That one. You know I own no other.

H: (Hands box to IA) Indeed, Sir.

IA: Thank you, Hives. (Opens silver snuff box, takes large pinch, snorts it, and sneezes violently. Twice). Ah. Nothing like a good sneeze or two to put one's problems in proper perspective.

H: (Disapprovingly) Indeed, Sir.

IA: (Bounces on toes and rubs hands together) Still Hives, I wish we knew who to thank for this delightful little gift. Why, the box is small enough to fill and drop into my left coat pocket, so I can take snuff at anytime.

H: (Curtly) Yes, Sir.

IA: I wonder, though, what in the world Princess Antonia III of Zichenau is up to. As far as I know, we've had no quarrel since all of the dreadful sawmill business a year or so ago. There was talk in one of those ponderous emergency meetings on Friday before we left Krankenstadt that she has sent General de Latte and her army to recover something that belongs to her great uncle or someone, but I for the life of me can't imagine what we have that might belong to him.

H: (Distractedly) I wouldn't be so bold as to venture a guess, Sir.

IA: Ah, well. Nothing for it then. Hives, I think I'll have that bath now.

H: (Patiently) Very good, Sir.

(Curtain falls)


Stagonian Jeff said...

"I love it when a vile plan comes together."

Koenig Ludwig of Stagonia

Archduke Piccolo said...

H'mmm - I wonder if one of Bertie Wooster's fore-fathers wasn't some by-blow of a visiting ancestor of Irwin-Amadeus and an indiscreet female member of the English Upper Class. I'm certain I see a familial resemblance...
Obviously the Academy of Butlers, Valets and Gentlemen's Gentlemen that formed Jeeves's serene urbanity has had a long history, and a diverse international studentship...

Stokes Schwartz said...

Archduke Piccolo -- My indebtedness to Wodehouse is freely admitted. I've been surprised by how easily Bertie and Jeeves slip into the 18th Century! ;-)

Jeff -- Twirling my waxed mustache and gnashing my teeth as I leer at the camera. Why, all that's missing is a damsel tied to the railroad tracks!

Best Regards,


Bluebear Jeff said...

If I read the comments on that vile Stagonian blog correctly, Der Alte Fritz has offered to fight a "proxy battle" should the Grand Duchy and the Vile Stagonians end up in battle.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

A J said...

Ah, "when aunt calls to aunt like mastodons bellowing across a primeval swamp..." Got to love "Plum's' turn of phrase. ;)


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