As the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II awaits the arrival of the von Grandin family later this afternoon, we are privy to another snippet of conversation between him and his manservant Hives. . .
Irwin-Amadeus II: (In a panic) Hives, this is madness, just madness I tell you! The von Grandins will be here later today, having braved the Stollenian snow and ice between Riga and Krankenstadt. They'll expect hospitality and entertainment through Christmas (pauses uncomfortably). . . along with a proposal of marriage from me to the Lady Leonora Christina! And then, there is Aunt Irmgard, of whom I'm even more afraid.
Hives: On the matter of your Aunt Irmgard, Sir, I have already taken the liberty of writing a letter to her, begging her pardon on your behalf. I have also suggested that we might join her in time for the New Year's Eve celebration instead.
IA: (Calms down appreciably) Oh, I see. Hives, thank you! You always manage to come through for me. But what about the von Grandin family? I haven't been able to see a way through that particular amorous conundrum.
H: It occurs to me, Sir, that you might take your lobster costume out of storage and use it to feign madness, or a similar malady, during the fortnight that the von Grandin family is here with us. The correctly timed bit of (clears throat delicately) offensive behavior in their company might also help your cause considerably, Sir.
IA: Oh, Hives, surely you don't mean. . .
H: Extreme situations sometimes call for extreme measures, Sir.
IA: (Thoughtfully) I see. But, do you really think. . .
H: It is my considered opinion, Sir, that a family as prominent as the von Grandins will not willingly choose to arrange an understanding between one of their daughters and yourself once it becomes apparent that you suffer from various delusional behaviors and take pleasure in flaunting polite social convention. Such a marriage would be an (hesitates). . . How do I put this delicately?
IA: Oh, dash it all, Hives! We're both men of the world. Just say what you mean. An inconvenience? Less than satisfactory? Mildly disappointing?
H: (Continuing) Embarrassment, is the word I was thinking of, Sir.
IA: (Nonplussed) Oh.
H: Marriage between the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin and a foreign gentleman, who is both visibly mad and apparently unschooled in the social graces, would most assuredly be seen as an embarrassment by the von Grandins. Therefore, a connection between your two families would be perceived by the young lady's parents as undesirable, to say the least, both from a social and a business point of view. I dare say that your present situation will be a distant memory by Twelfth Night if you follow my suggestion.
IA: (Letting Hives' brazen idea settle over him and warming to it): Hives, I say, that's genius! Pure genius.
H: I do my best, Sir.
IA: Very well, then, Hives! There's nothing for it. Please fetch my lobster costume from that large trunk in the attic, and have it brushed up if necessary. Now, I have a Christmas tree, or two to decorate in the drawing room. We have guests to consider. And ask Frau Goetterfunken in the kitchen to send another pot of hot coffee up, please.
H: As you wish, Sir.
Curtain falls. . .