05 February 2013

The Morning After. . .

The sunny bedchamber of the beleaguered Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II.

The morning dawns bright, cold, sunny, and early.  Far too early for the Grand Duke, who has a hangover and a splitting headache.  Let us eavesdrop on a snippet of conversation between Irwin-Amadeus II and his trusty English valet Hives late the next morning after the first in a round of grand balls to welcome the various guests at Krankenstadt Palace.

Irwin-Amadeus: Oh!  Hives, I say, close the blasted curtains and leave my breakfast on the table over there (pulls bedclothes over head).

Hives (stifling a chuckle with a gloved hand): The clock has just gone half Noon, Sir.  It is time for you to be up and dressed so that you may join your guests for luncheon in an hour's time.

IA (from beneath the covers): Dash it all, Hives!  Are they still here?  Can't you make them all go away?

Hives (selecting clothing for the Grand Duke from the wardrobe across the room): Regrettably, Sir, the young ladies in question along with their respective entourages and your tailor Signore di Polenta are here for the week, or so.

IA (peeks out from beneath covers): Hives, I don't think I can face them after yesterday evening.  Why, I've never met a bunch of young women who pitch woo as aggressively as this bunch. 

Hives (Brushing down a chocolatey brown brocade jacket and dark crimson pantaloons [Thanks, Der Alte!]): No, Sir.

IA (Throws back covers, bounds out of bed, and descends on breakfast tray on table across room): Why, the Lady Cheque de Voyage virtually turned the Minuet I danced with her into a Tarantella of love, Hives.  I've never seen anything quite like it.  I say, Hives!  This toast is particularly good today!  Where'd it come from?

Hives (from over his shoulder): The Lady Cheque de Voyage and her companions do seem most intent on establishing strong social connections and arranging suitable marriages, Sir.  And the toast came from the kitchen, Sir.

IA (through another mouthful of toast and marmalade): And damn fine it is too, Hives!  It must be the marmalade then.  Where did we get that?

Hives (arranging the Grand Duke's shoes, stockings, and walking stick on a loveseat near the wardrobe): From the same lady in Scotland where we always procure your stock of thick-cut orange marmalade, Sir. 

IA (heaping a spoonful of marmalade on a new piece of toast): Well, Hives, arrange for her to be freed then.  This is simply the best orange marmalade I've ever experienced.  It's ambrosial.

Hives (turns toward Grand Duke and almost makes an incredulous face): The lady in question is already free, Sir.  A lower middle class lady of some maturity and considerable industry in Edinburgh, I am told, who has turned her initially small operation into a major undertaking, supplying orange marmalade to many of the major houses of Europe.

IA: Well, I ought to marry her then, Hives, and cut out the middle man.  She could make her orange marmalade right here in the palace.

Hives (returning his attention to the Grand Duke's shoes): Mrs. MacConnell has been happily married already, Sir, for quite a few years to Mr. MacConnell, who, no doubt, would have something to say about the matter were you to arrange a proposal.

IA (finishes toast and takes a sip of tea): That's too bad, Hives, a real shame.  Still, I suppose we mustn't bite the hand that feeds us thick-cut orange marmalade, eh?

Hives (frowning at stubborn dullness of the leather shoes and going at them with a horsehair brush with great gusto): Indeed, Sir.

IA: Well, Hives? What is on the old agenda for today, then?

Hives:  Luncheon with your numerous guests at half one, Sir, followed at half three by another fitting for your new spring suits with Signore di Polenta, late afternoon conversation over tea with the Mademoiselle de Ambuscade and her mother, supper at seven, and this evening's ball begins promptly at 10pm, Sir.

IA (makes a face): Blast!  A full day then?

Hives: It would seem so, Sir.

IA: And I suppose the Mademoiselle de Ambuscade and her mother will be laying the groundwork for more pitching of the old woo, eh Hives?

Hives (finally achieving high shine on the toe of one shoe and continuing his machinations with the other): Indubitably, Sir.

IA (Stands, bounces on toes several times and then does several jumping jacks in place): Well, nothing for it then but to put on a brave face and get through it.

Hives: As you say, Sir.

IA (gazes thoughtfully at the ceiling): Still, there i the next fitting for those new suits with ol' di Polenta.  That should be entertaining, what?

Hives: What, indeed, Sir.

IA: One thing though, Hives.

Hives: Sir?

IA: Well, it's the way he continually measures and remeasures my inseam, Hives.  I mean, how much can that possibly change since I am standing still like a mannequin when he takes my diemsions and writes them down in his notebook?

Hives: I am not sure that I follow you, Sir.

IA: Well, ol' di Polenta doesn't use on of those what-you-ma-call-it thingies with his dressmaker's tape measure to preserve a gentleman's modesty when he takes down my dimensions.  He uses his hand.  It seems indecent somehow.

Hives (doing his best to disguise a smirk): Signore di Polenta is from Naples, Sir.  Perhaps tailors do things differently there?

IA (chidingly): Come now, Hives!  We are both men of the world, I'll grant you, and I'll admit that various people do things differently in different places.  When in Rome and all that. . .

Hives (interrupts): Naples, Sir.

IA: What?  Oh.  Yes.  Naples.  But, dash it all, this is Krankenstadt, and we do things differently here in the Grand Duchy of Stollen, Hives.

Hives: Shall I speak to Signore di Polenta's assistant for you, Sir?

IA (relieved): Oh, yes, Hives!  Yes.  Please.  And I would be most grateful if you would do so before my fitting later today.  I really don't think my inseam has changed any since last Signore di Polenta and I met for a a fitting.

Hives: Very good, Sir.

IA: Now, Hives, how about running my bath?  If I'm going to be presentable for luncheon, I suppose it's time to submerge myself before dressing.  Oh, and Hives?

Hives: Sir?

IA: Be so good as to put out my powder blue wig.  The new one that I purchased late last summer when we were in Paris.  I think I'll wear it downstairs to luncheon.

Hives: The one with the netting, stuffed canaries, and glitter in it, Sir?

IA (rubs hands together enthusiastically): Yes, Hives, that's the one.  Imagine.  The man at the shop where we found it suggested that it was more suitable for ladies.  I think it's rather dashing in a masculine sort of way.  It ought to go very well with that chocolate brown jacket and crimson pantaloons you've laid out for me today.

Hives (winces slightly): Very good, Sir.

IA: Hives, what would I do without you?

Hives: Lay out your own clothing and dress yourself, Sir.

IA:  What?  Oh, yes.  I see.  Good point.  Well, we mustn't have any of that, must we?

Hives: No, Sir.

IA: Now, where has my bathrobe gone to?

Hives: Hanging on the inside of the door to your dressing room, Sir, on the way to the tub.

IA: Ah!  Hives, please warm it by the fire while I'm in the tub.  And get my shaving mug and razor ready if you please.  I have emotional and connubial entanglements to avoid!

-- Curtain Falls --


Gowan James Ditchburn said...

a very nice little insight there... I wonder what will happen later on...

Der Alte Fritz said...

I say olde fruit, a proper English manservant would not call IA's breeches "knickers". That is what he would call a lady's um, ah, you know...


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