16 July 2012

The 1001st Post at the GD of S Blog. . .

The mid-summer masquerade ball at Krankenstadt Palace, July 1772.

While the Battle for Neu Sittangbad rages on the frontier, a mid-summer masquerade ball is in full swing at Krankenstadt Palace in, you guessed it, Krankenstadt, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Stollen.  To celebrate the 1001st post here at the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog, let's eavesdrop on a snippet of conversation between the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II and his trusty English manservant Hives, who are in costume as a lobster and a flamingo respectively, observing the arrival of various guests from across the ballroom. . .


Irwin-Amadeus II (Sighs contentedly): Oooo, Hives!  I say!  Those new Valliere 4-pdr. cannon arrived from France mid-afternoon.  Stunning little examples of the caster's art I dare say.  They should really look the business once the woodwork is all painted, and the barrels have been polished to a high sheen.

Hives (Stifling a yawn): Very good, Sir.

 IA: And I hear tell that the Battle for Neu Sittangbad has taken a turn for the better.

H: Indeed, Sir.  It seems that General von Tschatschke has de Latte right he where wants him now and has unleashed a cavalry attack destined to turn his enemy's right flank and bring the battle to a swift conclusion.

IA (Puffs out his chest):  Yes, Hives, yes.  It's hard work defending the Grand Duchy, but someone must do it.

H: By that, Sir, you mean General von Tschatschke?

IA (Temporarily humbled):  What?  Oh, yes, Hives, General von Tschatschke of course.

H: Of course, Sir.

IA (Scanning the crowd of guests): Oh, good God!  Hives, there's that useless idiot Schtinker von Boffke.  I had no idea he was invited.

H: It seemed like a good idea to set aside your differences with the young man given the festive nature of the evening, Sir.  The housekeeper Frau von Goetterfunken and I thought it might be a good idea to extend an invitation to the Prinz.  Burying the hatchet in a manner of speaking, Sir.

IA (Makes a displeased face): Oh, Hives, really!  Who is throwing this party?

H: Outwardly, it would appear that you are, Sir.  And the Prinz von Boffke is rather well connected, societally speaking.

IA: Yes, Hives, yes.  That's all well and good.  But wasn't he the bounder who stole the Lady Lenora-Christina away from me at my Christmas ball two years ago?  I hear though that she ultimately married a Danish merchant, living in Stockholm.  Serves him right (Pauses).  Outwardly, you say?

H: Yes, Sir.  And at the time, I seem to recall a distinct sense of relief on your part.  The Lady Leonora-Christina had a rather pronounced and (clears throat discretely) distinct laugh if I remember correctly.  Yes, Sir, a purveyor of coffee and tobacco, who is a good friend of her father's.

IA: Ah, yes!  Like a bull seal at mating season it was, Hives.  (Looks philosophically at the ceiling for a moment).  Still, what might have been, eh Hives?  She was rather easy on the old eyes (Pauses again).  Aren't I hosting this ball?

H: Indeed, Sir.

IA: Indeed, what?  To what are you referring?  (Thoroughly confused now).  Hives, my head hurts.  May we please stop going 'round in these circles?  Say what you mean.

H: As you wish, Sir.

IA: Oh, blast!  

H: Sir?

IA: It's the Prussian ambassador Herr Heinz von dem Salat.  He's wearing a black mask and a cape, but I'm sure it's him.

H: Quite possibly, Sir.

IA: There's never anything left in the larder once ol' von dem Salat has dropped by.  He always eats us out of house and home.  Drives the kitchen staff crazy I'm told.

H: The ambassador has a rather healthy appetite, Sir.

IA: Oh come now, Hives.  If it's not nailed down, the man inhales it, I tell you.  Inhales it!

H: Nevertheless, Sir, it is a good idea to foster solid relations with King Frederick II of Prussia via his representative here in the Grand Duchy.

IA:  Blast, Hives!  Why do you always have to be so practical about these things?

H: It pays, Sir, to consider all obligations and connections when compiling a guest list for a ball.  The possible social and political ramifications if you will.

IA: Sounds like you missed your calling, Hives.  You might have made a career as a diplomat.

H (Nods politely in the Grand Duke's direction): We must take care of our gentlemen, Sir.

IA (Suddenly crestfallen): Oh, no.

H: Are you feeling unwell, Sir?

IA (Lost briefly in his own thoughts):  What?  Oh, sorry Hives.  Sorry.  It's just that the Princess von Puffenstuff and her ladies in waiting were just announced.  (Shudders) A troglodyte's got nothing on her, eh Hives?

H (Diplomatically): Her complexion is rather (pauses), strong, Sir.

IA:  Strong, you say?  Word is that she is seeking a husband among the more eligible heads of minor political entities of Europe like (His eyes bug out as the full weight of his statement settles on the Grand Duke). . .  THE GRAND DUCHY OF STOLLEN!

H (Suppresses a giggle): I had heard something similar, Sir.

IA (Slightly perturbed): You're no help, Hives!  No help at all.  She's probably come to pitch woo and become engaged to me, or something dreadful like that.  But (resigned), I suppose, if she does, then I must ask for her hand and get on with it.  Oh, it always seems to happen to me, Hives.  I don't ask for it, mind you, but things like this always seem to fall into my lap without warning.  Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed, eh?

H: No, Sir.

IA (Brightening): Still, it's not like she'll recognize me right off the bat in my lobster costume is it?  After all, it provides a wonderful disguise.

H: May I point out, Sir, that are many here who may very well recognize you.  And there are not any other lobsters in attendance at the ball this evening either.  However, there are many guests present, who very likely remember the affair of 1767, Sir, when the Grand Duke had to be coaxed from his very grubby lobster costume for a bath in the palace fountain.  You do remember, Sir. . . 

IA (Cuts Hives off abruptly): Yes!  Yes, Hives.  I remember it perfectly well.  Thank you for bringing that up again.  Not one of my better performances as I recall.  Still, it did help us to avoid some threatened entanglement or other at the time didn't it?  Though I forget which princess or what matter of state was at the gates just then.  Still, it does pay to be cautious in both the romantic and political spheres, so that bout of feigned madness served its purpose I suppose.

H: Indeed, Sir.

IA (Changing subject and observing the Prinz von Boffke): I do hope that ol' Schtinker von Boffke won't try to strike up any mindless smalltalk though.  What prattle he spouts!  I mean all of that nonsense about calfskin shoes and the precise fabric content of his coats and jackets.  What a vain poseur!  I've heard talk at the club that the man has over 70 cravats!  70 I tell you.  Who in his right mind has that many hanging in his armoire?  If von Boffke were to wear a new one everyday, it would take more than two months for him to exhaust his cravat collection.

H: There are those, Sir, who might say something very similar about the Grand Duke.

IA: What?  Oh, nonsense Hives!  My own sense of gentlemanly style  is infinitely more refined than von Boffke's.  The man wears linen before May 1st with woolen cravats and tweeds with silken cravats in the winter.  Preposterous!

H (Cautiously): The Prinz von Boffke's sartorial quirks notwithstanding, Sir, cultivating a pleasing appearance in one's dress for the day is an important part of social intercourse.

IA (Distracted):  Yes, Hives, yes.  Very important.

H (Spotting the object of the Grand Duke's attention): Is everything quite all right, Sir?

IA (Resigned): Oh, dash it all, Hives.  Here she comes.  Quick!  Help me into the next room where I can better avoid the Princess von Puffenstuff and her entourage.  I can't walk very well in this blasted lobster costume.  You can hide me at one of the card tables set out in there.  There should already be a few games of Faro or Bassett in progress, and I'm feeling lucky tonight.  Do you have a few silver ducats to spare?

H: Three or four, Sir.

IA (Rubs hands together with enthusiasm): Excellent!  Hives, I'll triple them before the clock strikes ten and pay you back with interest.  Hurry now before she notices our exit.

H: Very good, Sir.

(Curtain falls).


1 comment:

Tomo said...

Congratulations on this particular milestone!

I wish there will be an opportunity to raise a cup to your 5000th post too!!

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