11 December 2010

Meanwhile, at the Residenz. . .

A lazy December Saturday morning in Krankenstadt Palace. . .

In his private drawing room, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II sits at the harpsichord, still in his dressing gown, with another cup of coffee on the bench to his left. His manservant Hives sits on the settee a short distance away, engrossed in the morning edition of Die Krankenstadt Tageblat.

Irwin-Amadeus: (Ruminating) I think I'll have a bath.

Hives: (Absent-mindedly) I alert the press, Sir.

IA: What? Oh, dash it all, Hives! I'll thank you not to make light of me in my current state of ennui!

H: (Turning a page of his newspaper) Very good, Sir.

IA: (Striking a few chords softly on his harpsichord) I mean, how am I going to contrive a way to see the Lady Leonora Christina again? She's all I've been able to think about this last week.

H: (Warming up his own cup of coffee and returning his attention to the paper) Love will find a way, Sir.

IA: We could invite her and her ladies in waiting here for the Christmas holidays, Hives.

H: A fine idea, Sir, but you are neglecting two important points.

IA: (Standing and bouncing on his toes) What might those be, Hives?

H: (Gives up on reading the paper) First, Sir, the Lady Leonora Christina and her ladies have returned by ship to Sweden earlier this week, and there is the problem of extending your invitation in enough time for her to make the return journey to the Grand Duchy. Secondly, we usually spend the Christmas holidays with your Aunt Irmgard, and as you might recall, Sir, she is not one who takes kindly to regrets when one has already accepted the annual invitation.

IA: And have we accepted Aunt Irmgard's annual Christmas invitation already, Hives?

H: (Nodding) That we have, Sir. Those come out in October each year, and your secretary makes a practice of accepting on our behalf by mid-November without fail.

IA: (Frowning) Blast! We'll have to do something about that.

H: Very good, Sir. More coffee?

IA: (Walking toward windows overlooking Greater Zwischen River and large town square on opposite bank) Yes, Hives, please. I say, Hives?

H: Yes, Sir.

IA: That new troop of dragoons drilling down there. . . Aren't many of them from Sweden?

H: Indeed, Sir. Most of the regiment has, in fact, arrived from Sweden quite recently. Only the officers are Stollenians along with a few veterans from Prussia and Hesse. The language of command is, of course, German. The regiment in question is a gift from the King of Sweden, I am told, Sir, who is an uncle of the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin's third cousin twice removed.

IA: (Looks pained and raises both hands to his forehead) My head, Hives, my head.

H: The Gordian knot of family relations is sometimes difficult to untangle, Sir.

IA: (Single-mindedly) Very! But there aren't enough troopers mounted on chestnut horses. Many bays, and the trumpeter and colonel are mounted on greys, but I don't see enough men on chestnuts. We'll need to do something about that right away (bugs out his eyes and rubs hands together).

H: As you wish, Sir. I'll look into the matter directly.

IA: Thank you, Hives, thank you. Now, I think I'll have that bath and then have my hair dressed. And afterward, we'll go shopping, Hives. Christmas is coming, you know, and Aunt Irmgard is notoriously difficult to shop for. I'll also need to find a special something for the Lady Leonara Christina I think.

H: (Prepares to leave room) Yes, Sir. Oh, and Sir? I almost forgot to mention. . .

IA: (Over his shoulder) Yes, Hives?

H: The post has arrived early today, and your new copy of Battlegames, Issue #24, has arrived from Great Britain.

IA: Ah, thank you, Hives. Please put it on the desk in my bedroom. I'll have a look-see after I've bathed and dressed while the hairdresser is attending to my locks. I just can't do a thing with my hair lately. Perhaps I'll wear that warm wig today. You know, the froofy blue-tinged one that you forgot to pack last week?

H: Indeed, Sir.

Curtain falls. . .

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