A deceptively frank portrait of General Etienne Aigner Leger de Main, veteran of the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years war in Europe, who has made his way to the Grand Duchy of Stollen via service in the French and Saxon armies. . . He says.
The Grand Duke Irwin Amadeus II is all flustered this morning, following the arrival of a foreign officer at Krankenstadt Palace. Let's eavesdrop on a snippet of conversation between the Grand Duke and his trusty English manservant Hives. . .
Irwin-Amadeus II: And who did he say he was again, Hives?
Hives: The Most Honorable General Etienne Aigner Leger de Main was the title and name he gave downstairs, Sir. (Hands calling card to the Grand Duke).
IA: (Takes card and peers at it with considerable scepticism through his lorgnette) Hmmm. Nope. Never heard of him. (Puts card down on small silver tray in Hives' hand and takes another sip of coffee).
H: He mentioned that he wished to offer his services to you, Sir.
IA: Fancy that! But the sheer audacity of it all and Leger de Main's apparent lack of consideration is astounding, Hives, simply astounding. What on Earth is society coming to? Hives, it boggles the mind, and to think. . . Services? What kind of services? Oh, Hives (with mildly annoyed tone), do stop speaking so elliptically!
H: I beg your pardon, Sir. Do forgive me. Military services on the fields of Mars, Sir. It seems General Leger de Main has some considerable experience in that area, having served in the French and later Saxon armies. He does seem questionable, however, if you will permit me, Sir.
IA: Well, Hives, that's how it is with these Frenchies, you know. They're so accustomed to telling the ladies whatever they want to hear on the way to the boudoir that it's difficult to distinguish the truth from artifice when they speak in most other situations.
H: Indeed, Sir. It's his eyes especially though. They strike me as extremely shifty if you will pardon the observation. And the good General does not seem to speak with a credible upper class Parisian accent either but rather with a marked Alsatian or upper Rhenish accent, although he claims to have spent the vast bulk of his youth and adult life in Parisian society and at the French court.
IA: Hmmm. . . Alsatian or Upper Rhenish accent, you say? No, Hives, you're right I think. Don't like the sound of that either. Those Alsatians and Rheinlanders will be the death of you every time. We'd better keep a close eye on this fellow Leger de Main. Could be trouble.
H: As you wish, Sir.
IA: (Gazes dreamily into space) Saxony though. Well, they do have rather handsome uniforms in that army. All of that red and white and yellow and crimson. (His eyes glaze as he smiles moon-eyed at the ceiling).
H: Most assuredly, Sir.
IA: (Snaps out of daydream and collects himself) And he's asking for an audience, you say?
H: The General Leger de Main was most adamant on that point, Sir.
IA: Very well, Hives. But I must have a bath and shave first. Show the General Leger de Main to the drawing room on the ground floor and serve him tea with shortbreads. Offer him some of that strong French tobacco for his pipe, too, if we have any left from the Christmas holidays.
H: Very good, Sir.
IA: And start a bath for me on your way out. You can also lay out my new Glen Plaid suit along with that navy and dark green woolen cravat and my tan shoes. You know, the ones with the buckles. And Hives?
H: Yes, Sir?
IA: Keep a close eye on Leger de Main until I join him. You know how these French gentlemen like their chambermaids. No telling what he might get up to in the next 30 minutes or so.
H: (With a disapproving tone) As you wish, Sir.
IA: Oh, and Hives?
H: Yes, Sir?
IA: Lay out my powdered wig with the pink tint too, please. I think I'll pass on the blue one today. Mustn't look too studied and over-coordinated when I meet the General. First impressions and all that, you know.
H: No, Sir. I was just thinking the same thing.
IA: Ah! Thank you, Hives. Thank you. You always seem to have my best interests at heart. Don't know what I'd do otherwise.
H: We must do our best to take care of our gentlemen, Sir.
IA: It's much appreciated, Hives. Now, what about that bath?
H: As you wish, Sir.
-- Curtain Falls --