"Well, de Latte. Shall we commence firing off our musket-armed troops, or what?" asked General von Tscatschke with a slightly inebriated flourish of his left hand.
"What? What? " replied General de Latte, somewhat nonplussed before regaining his composure and concentration. "Oh, yes, yes. Off course. I'll go first, shall I?"
"Wouldn't have it any other way, old ramrod. Fire away!" intoned von Tschatschke with all of the cool he could muster.
"Very well, then. Let's see. On actually re-reading the firing rules just now. . . My O'Malleys Irish Grenzers will fire at the Cuirassiers! About 10 within range are there? Thus, I roll a 4. Halved for firing at cavalry. That means two hits. So, I'll have two casualties off you old chap. From the flank if you please."
Across the table, von Tschatschke smacked his forehead in exasperation and exclaimed, "Gott in Himmel!" and shook his fist at his opponent. De Latte grinned wryly and continued.
"Now, let's see about the the Ermland Guard opposite those cuirassiers. Are there about 16 or so, who can fire?" He rolled the dice in a cup and threw them onto the tabletop. "Ok. A 6 and a 5 is 11. Halved is five-and-a-half. Halved again is two and three-quarters. Rounded up to three?"
"Naturally," sighed von Tschatschke.
"Naturally," giggled de Latte with joy. Shall I remove them from the front rank, or would you prefer to do that yourself."
"Blast!" growled von Tschatschke with disgust. "I'll do it myself."
"Oh," added de Latte, "And be so good as to refill my glass while you're about it. There's a good chap." With a dark look in the direction of his guest, General von Tschatschke removed his cuirassier figures from the table and then turned toward the bar table at his back, took his guest's tumbler, and removed the lid from the ice bucket with practiced ease.
"You know, de Latte," cautioned his boozy old host over his shoulder as he dropped a few pieces of ice into the tumbler, "There are those among my household staff who might say you were taking advantage of the situation. My head housekeeper Frau Bluecher, for one." From outside in the courtyard, the wild neighing of horses drifted through the open window and into the drawing room. After an odd pause, General von Tschatschke continued.
"You've been a guest here for something like seven months as we've fought this game, drinking my liquor, participating on my hunts, taking advantage of my hospitality in general, and availing yourself to the chamber maids as and whenever the whim strikes you. No, no." von Tschatschke held up a palm toward his guest. "Don't speak. Don't deny it. I know you have. It's all over the village. But the point is that I hope that the collegial and neighborly nature of my household has not escaped your notice."
"Not at all! Not at all," replied de Latte in refined, reassuring Gallic tones. "But permit me to clarify the precise nature of the situation between myself and the mademoiselles Gerda, Adelheid, and Katrin."
"Not another word, my dear de Latte. Not another word. The less I know of it the better. Makes my temples throb just thinking about the various permutations though. Reminds me of a time though back in 1748 when I. . . Oh. . . Erm. . ." Von Tschatschke faltered and his face grew appreciably red before he began again. "We'd best leave that for another day I think. Let's get on with the game, shall we?"
"As you wish, my dear von Tschatschke," agreed General de Latte with a characteristically wolfish grin. "Though you must tell me the whole story another time. I am sure it bears repeating. Now what about your firing this turn?"
"What? Oh. Yes, yes," answered von Tschatschke, returning his full attention to the game. Let's see. Well, for starters, let's fire my lone gun on those Flickenhoffer Fusiliers in your front line. I need to roll a 6 at that range to have a chance of hitting anything. Here goes. Ready? And. . . Blast! All I've managed to roll is a measly two!" From his side of the table, General de Latte smirked and adjusted his pince-nez with considerable ceremony and peered at the tabletop without saying anything.
"I'll thank you to refrain from making any smart remarks, my dear de Latte," warned von Tschatschke, adjusting his own monocle in reply. His opponent looked around the room innocently. Apparently satisfied, von Tschatschke continued.
"Now, let's see to my musketry. First, there are my Jaegers zu Fuss in Eispicke village to consider. They will discharge a round of skirmish fire into the flank of your Engineer battalion as it moves past the buildings they occupy. Alright, I have eight figures in my front rank firing at less than six inches, and I've thrown a six Let's halve that since my unit is in open skirmish order. And. . . Ha! That's three casualties you owe me, old brandy snifter," concluded von Tschatschke with a spirited guffaw. "Hand them over!" he demanded.
General de Latte sullenly removed the three engineer figures from the table without comment, presented them to his host, and then produced an ornate Rococo sterling silver snuff box from his left coat pocket. He opened its lid as von Tschatschke watched with great envy and proceeded to snort two healthy pinches of snuff, one into each nostril, before his host. A thunderous Parisian sneeze followed almost immediately. Von Tschatschke winced as though the entire house were coming down around him. He recovered his Teutononic composure quickly, however, and observed,
"I hope the crystal is all right. And three casualties are nothing to sneeze at, my dear de Latte! Nothing at all."
"No, no. Of course not," agreed de Latte through watering eyes as he replaced the snuff box into his pocket. "Do continue, old candy dish, do continue."
"Thank you," von Tschatschke replied with a distinct chill. No, onto the rest of my musketry." He measured carefully between his own Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers and de Latte's Flickenhoffer Fusiliers before casting the measuring stick across the room in a foul temper and exclaiming, "Hell and Damnation, what? Your front line is still beyond the range of my own! More than 12 inches."
From across the room, de Latte emitted a high pitched, tittering laugh and began dancing in 3/4 time back and forth along his side of the table to a tune only he could hear through the low-hanging cloud of tobacco smoke that enveloped the drawing room. Nonplussed, von Tschatschke soldiered on unamused.
"Shall we move onto the melees then?" he asked, adding. "I'd like to declare a charge and have my cuirassiers charge home on the exposed flank of your Ermland Garde before my horsemen take anymore hits from your Irish Grenzers. Shall we move onto the next phase of the current turn then, old briar bush? De Latte? I say, de Latte! What are you on about over there? Steady on, old dancing pump!"