Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A Policeman's Lot

"Good Morning, Herr Hauptmann."

"Good morning, Herr Flick. This is a surprise; we do not normally see you at Army Headquarters. How may I be of service to you?"

"A pleasant surprise, I trust. However, this is, unfortunately not a social visit; I require a few moments of the Herr General's time, if that is possible."

"A moment, please, Herr Flick."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Herr General Prostler, my apologies for the intrusion, but Herr Flick is in the outer office, and requests a few moments of your time, if that is convenient."

"No, Hauptmann Ortler, it is not convenient. In fact it is most inconvenient! But, I suppose I had better see him. The fellow has the Margraf's confidence, you know. It would not do to antagonise him. Send him in, but give me a minute to secure these papers. He might have the Margraf's confidence; but I'm demmed if he has mine! Alright, let him enter."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Good morning, Herr General. It is very good of you to see me, when I know you must be almost as busy as I am."

'"Morning, Flick. What brings you all this way?"

"The Margraf's business, as always, Herr General."

"Then I am, of course, all attention."

"Just so. Now, Herr General, I have here a despatch from His Highness, marked for your attention. You will see, that amongst all his other duties, he has found time to consider the defence of our homeland, and the preservation of law and order. His instructions are quite clear, but he has left to your discretion, the manner with which his orders are to be complied."

"But... but this is a sealed despatch! Have you had the temerity to open a despatch from His Highness and addressed to me!?"

"Not at all, Herr General. His Highness has, naturally, sent a copy of this despatch to me, for the archives, do you see."

"Ah, of course. Yes, I do see. And I take it that you read your correspondence before you saw fit to deliver my copy?"

"But, naturally, Herr General. I would be a poor Head of the Sekretariat if I allowed myself to become no more than a runner."

"H'mph, I suppose so. Well, now that you have performed this latter task, no doubt demeaning yourself greatly thereby, you have my leave to depart."

"Not so quickly, Herr General. We must, between us, decide on how best to fulfil His Highness' wishes in this matter. It is in order that we spend no more time than is absolutely necessary, that I have... er... demeaned myself, was it not? that I undertook the most onerous task of bringing you your own copy of the despatch."

"What! Do you dare mock me, you... you... man milliner!?"

"Herr General, I most respectfully urge that you restrain yourself. This once, and this once only, I will overlook your unwarranted insult. But mark my words well, Herr General, if you insult me just once more, then I shall feel obliged to ask you to name your friends!"

"Name my friends! Why, you... you..."

"Just so, Herr General. But, pray, take a moment to collect yourself. Squabbling between ourselves is not conducive to completing His Highness' instructions. If I may point out, His Highness is most desirous that we implement his wishes most expeditiously."

"Very well, Flick. I must, of course, obey His Highness, but I shall inform him of your despicable conduct."

"You must, of course, do as you see fit, Herr General. But in the meantime, can we, please, turn our attention to the important matters?"

"yes, of course. The sooner started, the sooner I shall be rid of you! Now, let us see... do you have your copy of the despatch with you? Ah, good. Now paragraph the first: H'mm we are to establish a force of Grenzschuetzen and a civic police guard. Yes... but easier said than done, and I don't understand your part in a military matter."

"Ah, but do you not see, Herr General, that it is no longer a purely military matter? There, you see, 'civic police guard'. Now Herr General, although I am not a soldier, I am fully aware of the value of discipline in the constitution of such a force. It lies second only to the probity and integrity of the individuals who make up a constabulary. Which is why I have come to you. With the exception of those with the army, you have, in the Landwehr, accounted for all the able-bodied men in the state. I need some of those men. No, pray hear me out. I have no intention of poaching on your preserves, I have come to ask licence to recruit likely men from amongst the ranks of the Landwehr. Primus: They have had some military training. Secundus: Given the localised nature of the Landwehr they will be familiar with their respective areas. Tertius: I do not want, young, untried men. I seek men in their twenties and thirties, preferably with families and of undoubted good character. Which is precisely where I need your assistance, well, that your officers; they will know the characters of the men under their command. I wish to issue an invitation to those members of the Landwehr that fit my requirements, to volunteer for this new, paid, civilian guard."

"So, in effect, you wish to strip me of those men whom I have marked for promotion to unteroffizier or even offizier rank?"

"Not at all, Herr General. I will need no more than five or six men from each regiment. And is it not true, that there are many men who would make good unteroffizieren, or even offizieren, but who will not be at all suitable for the role I have in mind for them? If all His Highness wanted was a military force, why, then he could simply order the Commanders of the regimente to provide such a force in every town, village and hamlet. No, Herr General, His Highness is quite specific. This is to be a civilian force, and good civilians do not always make good soldiers, nicht wahr?"

"Y..e..s, this is true. Very well, I will allow you to recruit from the Landwehr and take such men as you need, subject to the agreement of their individual offizieren."

"Thank you, Herr General. Once I have the necessary proclamation drafted, I shall of course provide you with a copy - before I have it sent to the Landwehr regimente."

"Very well, Herr Flick. Let it be so. But, Herr Flick, let it be also clear, that while I must work with you in this matter, I neither like nor trust you."

"Herr General, I believe I will survive your dislike, but as for mistrust, why, what possible grounds can you have for harbouring such suspicions? No, no, do not answer, nor I pray you, derange yourself. I am persuaded that I can find the door by myself. Good day to you, Herr General."

"H'mph!"

Nefarious Little Plans

"Good Morning, Herr.."

"Please! No Names - it is better that way."

"As you wish, mein Herr. H'mm, this is my first visit to such an establishment. Very comfortable."

"Your first visit? Then you must allow me to introduce you to the speciality of the house. Herr Ober! - a jug of the Guinea and two dishes please!"

"Well, this is all very pleasant, but I am sure you did not request my presence here just to drink... Chocolate, is it? H'mm, a strange brew, bitter, yet sweet and unctuous."

"You are correct. While I wish you joy of the beverage, it is true that I asked you here for quite another reason; I have a little task that requires the skills of your minions."

"Ah, I had thought so. You are aware, are you not, that you never seek my company, unless you have in mind something that requires my attention?"

"This is quite true; however you must bear in mind that I have many, multifarious duties, and that my time is not all my own. Indeed, I am rather pressed for time today, so if you please, to business."

"Very well, what is it that you require."

"It is quite simple. There is, in the employ of the Margrafin, a young woman. I require that she be taught a lesson. Each Monday she visits her mother on Flussstrasse. Her route back to the Schloss takes her along the eastern edge of Der heillose Durcheinander. This Monday, her walk is to be interrupted. She is to be attacked. Let me make it quite clear: She may be struck - but not with a cudgel, and she may be robbed; nothing more. Is that quite understood?"

"Y...e...s. But will she be carrying anything that makes it worthwhile robbing her?"

"Indeed she does. Habitually, she wears a rather fine locket and chain, as well as two or three rings. However, I would take it amiss if the locket was to be stolen. You see, the robbers will be interrupted, and put to flight, therefore they will gain nothing from the attack."

"Ah, a put up job, I take it?"

"Just so."

"And, if the assailants are to leave empty-handed, just why, apart of course from the love and respect that I bear for you, should I ask my men to expose themselves for no reward?"

"Oh, there will be a reward, of that you may rest assured. And it will be in a far more disposable form than stolen jewellery... shall we say, oh... thirty Thalers for each of four men?"

"That seems equitable enough - if there are no casualties. You can, of course, guarantee that will be the case?"

"Provided the robbers are not stupid enough to stand and fight for more than a few seconds, then indeed I can guarantee exactly that. You see, it shall be I who interrupts the attack."

"Ah, you wish to appear in an heroic light to the young woman!"

"Something of that ilk, certainly."

"And how shall my assistants recognise the young woman. After all your planning, it would be unfortunate if they were to select the wrong vic... er, target."

"Yes, I had considered that eventually. Here is a detailed description of the young woman, together with a miniature likeness that I have obtained. In the case of any doubt, I shall be, on Monday evening, in the Gasthaus Schwarz Adler, on Fleischerstrasse. Your assistants may also attend, and I shall indicate the right target for their attentions."

"Very well, it shall be as you wish."

"Good, now enjoy your chocolate. I regret that I must depart. So little time... so much to do!"

"I will wish you a good day then, mein Herr!"