Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Friday, 31 October 2008

One 'L' of an idea

"Gentlemen, this spot suits our purpose. Herr General Muller, I wish you to take both Reiter Regimente, and deploy them parallel to this north-south road, off to the left and behind that ridge line. Deploy a screen, perhaps one Schwadron, to the North, I do not want to find that you have been rolled up by the open flank! Understood?"

"Yes, Highborn!"

"Good. Herr General Von Willich, the foot to be deployed on the near bank of that stream. I suggest two regiments forward and the third in reserve, anchor your right on that thicket. The Garde Regiment I shall keep under my personal control as a reserve, should it be needed".

"As you command, Your Highness!"

"Oberst Bruchmuller, two guns to accompany the Horse, the remainder to be posted in support of the first line of foot."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Good! Now, listen very carefully, I shall say this only once. We are not yet, as far as I am aware, at war with Hannunter! If any man, of whatever rank discharges his firelock or artillery piece without orders then I will have that man hanged and break his commanding officer - is that perfectly clear to you all? Good. It is not my intention to precipitate a general action, I merely wish to find out what the devil these demmed Hannunterans are playing at. I anticipate that our presence here will oblige them to halt. Once they have halted, I will send forth an emissary to arrange a parley. I am merely deploying as means to stop them, and in the words of the good Hauptmann Vogelsang, because I do not trust them as far as I can piss! However in the event of any hostile action taken against us I intend to hand them a demmed good thrashing. If an action should commence, then the sudden appearance of a brigade of Horse on their right flank should give them pause for thought. Do you take my meaning, General Muller - you do - good! Now gentlemen, to your posts if you please. Well, Von Smallhausen, I am glad to see, and smell, that you are once more presentable!"

"Your Highness is too kind."

"Damn it all, Von Smallhausen! You sound more and more like that blasted Flick with every passing day!"

"As Your Highness says."

"H'mph! Very well, then. It is you whom I shall despatch as my emissary. Are you quite clear on the protocols involved?"

"Yes, Your Highness, a colour and a trumpeter. Halt just out of shot range and await a response."

"Good. All we have to do now is wait. That's the easy part, hey?"

Late at the Feast

"Your Highness, my apologies for my absence, but the task took a little longer than I had anticipated."

"Von Smallhausen! Where the devil have you been? I do not expect my Military Secretary to be absent when there are orders to be written and despatched!"

"Your Highness, once again my apologies, but I have been working on that other task."

"Oh! The swordsman from...?"

"Just so, Your Highness."


"Well, I suppose that even I cannot expect you to be in two places at the same time. But, it was demmed inconvenient!"

"It is most frustrating, Your Highness, I had just begun to make some headway in my enquiries when I heard the assembly!"

"Yes, well, let that other matter keep for the nonce. You had best get back into uniform... where did you get that ridiculous outfit, you look like a down at heel waggoner... no, wait, from that particularly pungent odour, I should say a cattle drover!"

"Actually, Your Highness, I had assumed the character of pig farmer. I have found that a military coat has the most remarkable silencing effect on the local populace."

"Yes, well, in the name of God, go, freshen yourself and get back into proper attire. We march within the hour. Here, do you see, this road junction? Good. Well, by my reckoning, about three leagues to the north of that is a brigade strength force of Hannunteran troops. We do not yet know if there are more, or what their intention is. But I am tired of blundering around in the dark. I intend to challenge them, and if necessary beat them!"

"But, Your Highness, are we now at war with Hannunter as well?"

"Not yet, Von Smallhausen, but failing a satisfactory explanation of their presence and intentions then there is a good chance that we may soon demmed well be!"

"May I ask Your Highness, what exactly are your intentions?"

"I intend to block their route, and ascertain exactly what it is they are doing down here! And for that Von Smallhausen, I will need your presence - suitably attired, so go, change your coat!"

"Immediately, Your Highness!"

"Leutnant!"

"Your Highness."

"Leutnant... tare an' 'ounds! What is your name?"

"Leutnant Otto Von Rabental, Your Highness."

"Very well, Von Rabental, in my absence, you are to take charge of Headquarters. You are to ensure that Lady Henrietta is not to leave her apartment; you are to hold no conversation with her; you are to post double sentries at the door to this Gasthaus and you are to deploy picquets on all three roads entering the village. Is that understood? Good. You will have two zugen of the Guards as well as a half zug of Reiter Regiment Nummer Eine, and although you are in command, you will be well advised to seek the co-operation of those detachment commanders. Understood?"

"Yes, Your Highness, but if it please Your Highness, if there is to be an action, I would rather be with my Kompagnie!"

"Your keeness does you credit, Von Rabental, but you will do as you are ordered!"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Good! Do not fear, boy, your chance for glory will come!"

"Yes, Your Highness."

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Something beginning with 'H'

"Your Highness, Oberstleutnant Von Wilhelmsburg requests a moment of your time. On urgent business, he says."

"Very well, show him in... wait, why are you announcing visitors, Leutnant?"

"Your Highness, Hauptmann Von Smallhausen, has not yet returned to Headquarters."

"I see. Very well, show the Herr Oberstleutnant in, if you please."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Good evening, Oberstleutant, pray, enlighten me, what is so urgent?"

"Your Highness, half of one of my patrols has just returned. They report a column of Hannunteran Troops, a Brigade of foot, accompanied by horse and guns, some five leagues to our North East and marching parallel to us ."

"Half a patrol, Obersleutnant?"

"Yes, Your Highness, the remainder of the patrol is shadowing the Hannunteran force."

"Very well, now show me on the map, where exactly are these troops?"

"Your Highness, at about four of the clock this afternoon, they were approximately... here, in this low lying land between these hills and the Maas."

"H'mm, very well. Five leagues, hey? Well, if foot march at one league an hour, and dusk is at seven of the clock, then they will halt before that in order to billet, or bivouac, then, at the most they will have covered a further two leagues, which would put them about... here! So, some four leagues to the North East. That is a day's march. So... Thank you Oberstleutnant. Return to your Regiment, and have it ready to march at first light. Leutnant!"

"Your Highness?"

"Rouse the Headquarters staff - I have orders to issue. Rouse also the duty zug of Reitere, I want ten couriers ready to leave on the instant! "

"Jawohl, Your Highness."

"And find Von Smallhausen!"

"Jawohl, Your Highness!"


An opening gambit?

"Lady Henrietta, good afternoon."

"A good day, to you, Your Highness. What brings you to my humble cell?"

"Merely a desire to ascertain whether the steps which I have taken to alleviate your solitude have had any beneficial effect."

"I am not sure, Your Highness, whether you are to praise or to blame! Hauptmann Von Smallhausen seems particularly tongue-tied until he produces that de... that confounded chess board! Your Highness, the man is a demon! He consistently demolishes my defences with consummate ease! Why is he only a Hauptmann? With his strategic talents he deserves to be a General, at the very least! I confess, though, that he is a welcome visitor, his prodigious talents have roused my intellect, and for that I am vastly grateful."

"Good, I am content that I have, at least to some extent, gone some small way to make your continued presence with us less onerous."

"Oh, no, Your Highness, I have no intention of letting you off so lightly! You and I have a score to settle, and I impatiently await the day when I may have my revenge!"

"Madam, when that day dawns, you shall find me all complaisance!"

"Oh! You, you... insufferable man!"

"Madam, I really must insist that once this campaign is brought to a successful conclusion, that you visit us at Schloss Neuhaus. Your opinion of me marches so well with that so often expressed by my wife, that I am persuaded that you and she will deal famously together!"

"Sir, I can only suggest that if you subject your unfortunate spouse to this sort of Turkish treatment, then her opinion of you is obviously well merited!"

"Alas, 'tis true, I am a sad reprobate."

"Sir! You make game of me, I protest 'tis most outrageous in you!"

"Madam, I pray your forgiveness, how may I make amends?"

"Well... Hauptmann Von Smallhausen was to have dined with me this evening, however, he now informs me that he has pressing duties elsewhere, and regrets that he is no longer at liberty to attend me. Perhaps...?"

"Madam, I shall be delighted to join you. But, Von Smallhausen has duties elsewhere? 'Tis most passing strange... I cannot recall have required him to undertake any matter out of the ordinary, but let that pass. Lady Henrietta, I most gratefully accept your invitation, even if only as a surrogate to Von Smallhausen."

"You... you... Oh! Words fail me!"

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Mate in .....?

"Von Smallhausen, still at work?"

"Indeed, Your Highness."

"Pray, tell me, what is so absorbing?"

"I am re-reading the statements from the gentlemen of IR 3 and of the artillery park concerning their contretemps with the gentlemen from Hannunter."

"To what purpose?"

"I regret to inform Your Highness that there have been two further incidents with officers of the Elector's army, one concerning a Fahnenjunker from Reiter Regiment Nummer 2, and the second a Leutnant from IR Nummer 1."

"Gods above! Von Smallhausen, this is becoming an epidemic! If our young gentlemen are so keen to cross swords with an enemy I could but wish they would wait until we meet the demmed enemy! well, what's the worst of it this time?"

It is very bad, Your Highness, the Fahnenjunker was killed during the encounter, and the Leutnant has had a major tendon severed, it is doubtful if he will ever again be able to hold a sword. But, Your Highness..."

"Yes?"

"The Fahnenjunker, Erwin Schneider... he was just sixteen years old!"

"Sixteen! Gods on Olympus! What sort of man draws steel on a child?"

"That, Your Highness, I am endeavouring to discover. I hope that somewhere in these statements is a description sufficient to identify the murderer. Because, Your Highness, that's what this man is! From this account by another officer of RR2, the Hannunteran officer had a plenitude of opportunities to pink the young man, but seemed to deliberately to wait for a killing thrust!"

"Ach! That's sickening, von Smallhausen!"

"Just so, Your Highness. But, so far the descriptions are vague, and indeed contradictory, yet there seems to be no doubt that it is the same man. Given Your Highness' orders on this subject, that duelling is strictly forbidden, it appears that this individual is deliberately seeking out Your Highness' officers when they are, if not in their cups, a least a trifle bosky, and presses a quarrel on them which he must settle instanter!"

"Do you mean to tell me that this... man is deliberately stalking my officers with the intention of killing them?"

"It would appear so, Your Highness. Moreover, he seems to make a point of picking the least experienced of those he encounters as his targets."

"Gods! Von Smallhausen, this cannot be allowed to continue! But, how in the name of all that is holy are we to stop it? We cannot place all our officers under arrest, and short of so doing, I cannot anticipate that any order confining them to their regimental areas will be strictly obeyed!"

"As Your Highness has sapiently remarked, I have some small talent for intrigue. It occurs to me that something officially unofficial might answer our needs."

"What do you have in mind, Von Smallhausen?"

"It is but the slightest thickening of the fog, at the moment Your Highness, but Herr Flick has taught me a thing or two... Is Your Highness positive that he wishes to know?"

"If it something with which Flick has, or would, come up, then, no... I think I would prefer to remain in ignorance!"

"Just so, Your Highness. I take it then that Your Highness would prefer to leave the matter in my hands?"

"Why, oh why, Von Smallhausen to I have a distinct feeling of déjà vu? No, don't answer that, I would probably prefer not to be reminded!

"As Your Highness wishes."

"Now, Von Smallhausen, I have another wish. I wish not to be humiliated at your hands any further - in short, Von Smallhausen, I tire of being made to look like an amateur at the chess board. Yes, I know how passionate you are concerning the game, but I really must decline to take the role of sacrifical lamb in your eternal search for perfection on the board. But, never fear, I have found you a replacement opponent, who may prove to be a better match for you!"

"Your Highness slights your performance. It is not altogether to be despised; but Your Highness intrigues me, who is this opponent? I was persuaded that none of the Headquarters Officers will play. Well, not against me."

"Ha! You see, Von Smallhausen, you are a victim of your own success! However, I am informed that Lady Henrietta possesses no small degree of skill."

"Lady Henrietta, Your Highness? But... how?"

"It has been borne upon me that I am being inhumane to keep the lady in isolation. Therefore I have decided to alleviate the conditions under which she is held. I have agreed that, your duties permitting, you may spend such leisure time as you see fit in engaging her in conversation and chess. It will do you good also Von Smallhausen; you spend far too much time ith your nose buried in reports"

"But Your Highness... a lady! I do not know how to talk to such a one!"

"That, Von Smallhausen is not my concern. And it strikes me that with your chess-board you shall not stand in need of conversation."

"But, Your Highness, I do not think I can. I mean, I am flattered by Your Highness' invitation, but..."

"Von Smallhausen, you mistake me; this is not an invitation. You will do your possible to entertain the lady and alleviate her tedium."

"Yes, Your Highness."

Monday, 27 October 2008

With my little eye...

"Zug, Halt! Oberleutnant Meier, remain here with the main body, Feldwebel, one Gruppe to accompany us to the ridgeline."

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann! First Gruppe, walk, march!"

"We shall be very cautious, Feldwebel, we shall dismount some ten toise below the ridge, and then advance on foot. One pistol each, and if any idiot looses his pistol by mistake, then I shall see his backbone before the day is out, clear?"

"Understood, Herr Hauptmann!"

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Quietly now, Feldwebel, halt and dismount. Gefreiter, one man on two to remain as horse holders, the rest, follow me, quietly."

"Now, what do you make of that, Feldwebel?"

"Three... no... four bataillonen of Infanterie, two, maybe three Schwadronen of Kavallerie, or Dragoner, and five, six, seven, eight field pieces. Pobably sechs-pfunden, Herr Hauptmann."

"Yes, yes, but can you make out any colours, or uniforms? I think I see a blue colour with a red cross?"

"Yes, Herr Hauptmann. See, some of the infanterie are pike-armed! Red coats too. Britischers?"

"It looks like it, Feldwebel. Red coats, red cross, certainly matches with their reputation, but what, Feldwebel, would Britischers be doing out here? And in such small numbers?"

"Herr Hauptmann, begging the Herr Hauptmann's pardon, but might they not be of Hannunter?"

"Yes, that was a good thought, Fleischer! What say you, Feldwebel?"

"Yes, Herr Hauptmann, they could well be. Their direction of march is, well, at the moment, from the North East. They are on the correct route from Hannunter towards the Southern United Provinces. Yes, Herr Hauptmann, they could well be Hanunteran."

"H'mmm... We are not, as far as I am aware, at war with Hannunter, yet I do not trust them any further than I can piss! Let me think... Yes, we must keep them under observation, yet we must inform the Herr Oberst... We shall return to the main body, Feldwebel, just as carefully as we advanced. Oberleutnant Meier shall take one sektion and return to the regiment. You and I, Feldwebel, shall continue to observe this column."

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!"


Sunday, 26 October 2008

Tentative steps

"Good evening, Lady Henrietta."

"Good evening, Your Highness."

"You asked for an interview, my lady, here I am. How may I be of service?"

"Your Highness, you know full well, that you have absolutely no intention of being of service to me! However, I do have a favour to ask of you."

"Ask away, madam, and believe me, if I can grant you this favour, then I will do so."

"Your Highness, I have been shut into these two rooms now for above two days. Sir, I am going insane with this confinement, utterly unnecessary as it is! I am dying of tedium! I was used to be in the habit of taking exercise everyday. It is far too much to hope that you would allow me to take my exercise on horseback, but, sir, I beg you, permit me to take one hour of exercise, on foot, each day. I will gladly give you my word of honour that I will not attempt to escape during these periods."

"Ah, madam, I am sorely tempted to grant you your request, but I must remind your ladyship that you are in the midst of a foreign army. For your own safety, I most deeply regret, that I cannot, no, will not, permit you to leave thee quarters."

"Sir! I protest, 'tis vastly inhumane in you!"

"Madam, I cannot begin to tell you how deeply that label wounds me; I have ever prided myself on being a man of enlightenment, but I repeat, it is impossible."

"But, Your Highness, I promise that I will not attempt an escape. It would be quite impossible, you have taken away my coach and coachman, I have no riding habit with me, and it is impossible that I should even essay such a trial while afoot. Pray, sir, have pity on one who is trapped, without even company to share my misery!"

"Very well, madam. I am prepared to make certain concessions. It is by my orders that you are permitted to see any other person but your maid. How if I were to relax that order?"

"How do you mean, sir?"

"Let us suppose, for a moment, that I was prepared to allow an officer to bear you company for a space of some few hours each day? It would of course much depend on his duties, but I think it could be managed."

"I would far rather take exercise, sir, but I admit that company would be vastly pleasureable. But, I have no acquaintance amongst your officers that could bear me company."

"That, madam, is not strictly true; you have met Hauptmann von Smallhausen."

"Your Highness' secretary? Sir, do you intend to insult me further?"

"Madam, you misunderstand. Von Smallhausen is my Military Secretary, a far different creature than a family man of business. Von Smallhausen has been in my service, although not in a military capacity, for a space of above three years. He is no mere soldier, he has an acute mind, and is well read in the classics, and has a wide experience of life outside the army. Additionally, he is a man of high moral standards and absolute integrity. "

"Very well, Your Highness, I shall attempt to bear his company."

"Good, that is settled then... oh, by the way, do you play chess?"

"Why... yes."




I spy with my little eye....

"Herr Hauptmann, vedette coming in!"

"Yes, thank you, Feldwebel, I see him."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Well, Gartner?"

"Herr Hauptmann, I beg to report, dust!"

"Yes...?"

"About a league and a half over the ridge line, Herr Hauptmann, long and low, at least three, maybe four leagues in length!"

"Thank you, Gartner. Rejoin the picquet!"

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!"

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Feldwebel! What do you make of that?"

"Foot, Herr Hauptmann, and if the picket is right, then at least two Brigades!"

"Yes, my thoughts also. We will investigate more closely, but with caution, Feldwebel!"

"Herr Hauptmann, surely this far to the north east, they cannot be Franklanders?"

"Possibly not, Feldwebel. Still, we will proceed with caution. Pistols to be loaded and holstered, swords loose in the scabbards. And no calls! See to it."

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!"

- - - - - - - - - - -

"All is in order, Herr Hauptmann."

"Good! Zug! The zug will advance by half-section! Walk March!"


Home again, home again...

"Arretez! Qui va là?"

"Friends!"

"Who are you? Identify yourselves!"

"I am Colonel en Second Murray, of la régiment de la Garde à Cheval d'Écossais Royale!"

"That is not the uniform of les Écossais, it is an Englishman's coat!"

"I do not have to explain myself to you, soldier!"

"M'sieur, I am desolated, but unless you do explain yourself, then I cannot allow you to pass! It is regrettable, but it is my duty, you understand."

"And, if I should ignore you and your demmed duty?"

"Then, alas M'sieur, I should find it necessary to call out the Garde, and then, most unfortunately, I should be compelled to shoot you! But, M'sieur, we all reasonable men, are we not? There is a way around this impasse; If you will have the goodness to remain here, I shall summon my officier, and then we may all, once again be comfortable with each other. You shall not be shot, and I shall have performed my duty."

"Very well, then. Call your officer."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Bonjour, M'sieur."

"'Morning, Capitaine."

"M'sieur, my sentinel tells me that you claim to be a Colonel en Second in the the army of His Most Christian Majesty, but that he, the sentinel, not His Majesty, being an ill-educated fellow, cannot understand why you wear the coat of our English enemies, and that you decline to enlighten him. So you see me. Now, M'sieur, I confess to owning a considerable degree of curiosity - yes, I know, a lamentable flaw in my character, but what would you? So, M'sieur, I should be eternally in your debt if you were to take upon yourself the burden of explaining your habillement and indeed your presence."

"Capitaine, I have little time, and very little patience with foolishness! I have been engaged on the business of my own King, His Majesty King James the Second of Britain and Ireland! He is, I take the liberty to remind you, an ally of your own King!"

"Ah, but of course! Monseignieur le Duc de Normande! But, M'sieur, I reget that a repetition of that gentleman's titles does little to establish your credentials. I have no great desire to inconvenience you, M'sieur, but alas, without verification, I cannot permit you to pass. It is most regrettable, M'sieur, but it is the war, you understand. I must have verification from your régiment. Pray, M'sieur, be good enough to furnish me with the name of an officier of your Corps who shall be able to recognise you, and I will, with all haste, send for him. Then M'sieur, I invite you to accompany me to my humble quarters, there we can drink wine, while we wait for your guarantor."

"And if I shall feel disinclined to accept your invitation?"

"M'sieur, may I take the liberty of reminding you that you have but six men, while I, however indelicate it may be to boast, have twice that number at hand and ten times that number on whom I may call?"

"Very well, Capitaine, I needs must yield to force majeure, but Capitaine, I shall not forget this insult!"

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Gone away!

"Sir, beggin' yer parding, sir?"

"Aye, Sergeant, what is it"

"Sir, it's the men, sir. They ain't 'appy, sir."

"What the devil plagues them now, Sergeant?"

"Well, sir, they was comfortable with the army, sir. They 'ad their loot an' their doxies and light dooties, sir, an' they don't like leavin' 'em all be'ind, sir."

"Sergeant, are you actually daring to demand an explanation from me?"

"Ho, no sir, what you orders I does, an; that's enough for me, but p'raps a word to the men might go a ways to settlin' 'em. After all sir, there's five of them, an' there's only the two of us, an' with respeck, sir, we can't stay awake permermently."

"Good God, Sergeant, are you serious, have matters come to such a pass?"

"Well, mebbe, not quite that bad, sir, but 'tis comin' as sure as I live an' breathe."

"Damme! it's past time when we were back with the Regiment. What they need is a dose of proper discipline! Very well, Sergeant: You may tell the men, that the day before we parted company with the Margraf's army, I rode out to exercise my horse. During the course of that excursion, I spied a coach en route towards the army. That coach, Sergeant was emblazoned with the arms of the Wetherbys. That, Sergeant, could only mean that a member of that family was intending to visit the good Colonel. On their arrival, just how long do you think it would have taken for us to be discovered? I don't know about the men, or indeed yourself, but I find within myself a strong disinclination to decorate a gibbet!"

"Ho, I sees, sir."

"Do you, Sergeant, do you? I really wonder. Nevertheless tell the men what I have just told you, and if there remain any who would wish to dispute my commands, I, and my sword, am entirely at their disposal!"

"Yessir!"

From the Files of Margraf Albrecht

By Quickest Means

8 April 1701

Herr Otto Flick
Schloss Neuhaus

My Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your last two despatches, and that of Herr General von Prostler. I regret that they bring me no comfort at all!

I enclose a copy of Our ultimatum to Prinz Svein. You shall see that I have signed it in person. I desire that you shall take immediate steps to have it delivered to the Prinz directly.

I have written to General von Prostler, under separate cover. I have desired him to assemble the depot battalions of Our Regimente of Infanterie and march them to the border with the Vikmark, where they will stiffen Our Landwhr there currently deployed. They are to be accompanied by four companies of Dragoner, who if not entirely qualified as Kavallerie, are at least, regular mounted troops.

As to the matter of the prisoner discovered at Sir Fraser's residence, I pray you take all measures to preserve his life and restore him to health. The Leutnantoberst Wetherby with the army has somewhat mysteriously disappeared, and the disquieting possibility occurs that he was indeed an imposter. Von Smallhausen speculates that there may well be a connection between such an imposter and the elusive Sir Fraser. Pray have put in train enquiries to ascertain whether any such connection exists, or may have in the past existed.

An added complication is the arrival with the army of an Englisch Lady claiming to be the wife of Oberstleutnant Wetherby. I have caused her to be detained pending a satisfactory outcome of an inquiry into her identity. She is, however, a very reluctant guest, and, if she is indeed whom she purports to be, her father is a high-ranking nobleman of England whom I have no wish to offend. You may readily perceive that an expeditious resolution of these matters is most desirable; to that end I desire that you shall also conduct enquiries in Schloss Neuhaus to discover if there shall be any person or persons who can readily identify the lady, and if that is the case, have them conveyed to the army by the swiftest possible means in order that they may carry out such an identification.

I am persuaded that you require no reminding to keep me fully and expeditiously informed of any and all developments in these matters.

Believe me &c

Albrecht, Margraf

The slings and arrows...

"Good morning, von Smallhausen...that went rather well, I thought."

"Good morning, Your Highness... er... what went well?"

"A rather demmed ticklish interview with Lady Henrietta."

"Ticklish, Your Highness...?"

"Yes, I have just informed her la'ship that she must remain as my guest for some time, until I have established to my own satisfaction, that she is, indeed, whom she claims to be."

"Ah... I take it that, as a lady of some spirit, she did not rejoice at the news?"

"That, von Smallhausen, may just qualify as the understatement of the year! No, she left me in no doubt as to her feelings: I am a monster and have outraged her! But to practicalities: Pray arrange to have a sentry posted outside the entrance to her suite. She is not to leave her rooms, and no-one is to enter, except her maid. Her coachman and postillions to be quartered with..."

"Reiter Regiment Nummer zwei. Your Highness? They are some three leagues to the west."

"Yes, an excellent choice, thank you. Now, the unfortunate fact is that Lady Henrietta, is... ah.. as the good Rittermeister von Bayer remarked, quite young and quite pretty; she also speaks excellent German. Given soldiers' propensities, any sentry will be at risk of being suborned... Sentries had best be changed at frequent intervals, and no soldier is to be so posted more than once."

"Your Highness, if I may point out... such an arrangement will over a period of time, involve a great many soldiers. Reiter Regiment Nummer eine has a goodly proportion of Poles in in its ranks, perhaps a detachment of these, seconded to the headquarters might best serve your prurpose? I think it highly unlikely, that however much of an accomplished linguist the lady may be, she speaks any Polish."

"Another excellent idea, von Smallhausen! How is it that I have previously overlooked your talents for intrigue? I really have been most remiss! Now that is settled, I see you have the morning states, how goes it with the army?"

"Your Highness, Infanterie Regiment Nummer drei, reports forty-two men sick with a flux - no, Your Highness, no deliberate poisoning, it appears that the men in question, all from one company, ah... liberated, a litter of piglings, but unfortunately did not take enough care to ensure that the flesh was thoroughly cooked prior to consumption. I also have here a letter of complaint from one Mynheer Piet Boerer, who accuses members of Your Highness' army of theft of a litter of fourteen piglets!"

"Fourteen? He must have the world's championship sow! Make arrangements to pay him for twelve at full market rate, and take steps to have the sum recovered from IR 3! Write, also to the Commanding Officer of IR3 and indicate my displeasure; those responsible for the theft are, once they have recovered from their flux, to receive suitable punishment."

"Yes, Your Highness. Your Highness, I regret to inform you that there apears to have been a second instance of a disagreement between our army and the forces of the Elector of Hannunter."

"What the devil! This is not good news, von Smallhausen! We have, somewhere within striking distance of our army a force, size, composition and location unknown, in the service of one whom has not always held the best intentions towards Ober Nord Westfalen! I thought I told you to find out where these Hannunteran forces were?"

"Indeed you did, Your Highness. And, indeed, I have issued orders to both Reiter regiments to send out patrols searching for the ene... the Hannunteran force, but they have, so far, had nothing to report."

"I see. Issue further orders for the patrols to be increased in size, frequency and duration. Von Smallhausen, I must know where this force is. How can I move when I am in ignorance of a possible, as you so nearly said, enemy? - no don't try to answer. Now, what was the nature of this second encounter?"

"Much as the first, Your Highness. A party of officers, this time from the artillery park, had a seemingly chance encounter with a party of officers in Hannunteran service. Words were exchanged, insult and offence were given and received, finally swords were drawn, and we have one dead and two injured."

"What?! Very well, give orders for my horse to be saddled, yours too... arrange for a zug of RR Nr 1 as an escort - some of those Poles you mentioned shall be ideal! We shall go to the artillery park, where I shall interview the officers involved in this encounter; and I tell you von Smallhausen, if I shall have any cause for dissatisfaction with their conduct, then by heaven! I shall have their commissions - on the spot!"

"Yes, Your Highness. When shall Your Highness be ready to depart?"

"As soon as I have changed my habit and boots! I want this state of affairs brought to a speedy conclusion!"

Friday, 24 October 2008

Hubble bubble, toil and trouble...

"Lady Wetherby..."

"Your Highness, if you will permit? The correct form of address is 'Lady Henrietta'; my rank comes from my father, not my husband."

"Your forgiveness, I beg then. So, Lady Henrietta, your title is from your father, who is?"

"Augustus Fawnhope, he is the fifth Earl of Grantchester."

"Ach! Du Lieber Gott!"

"Your Highness?"

"Lady Henrietta... I suddenly find myself in a very perplexing situation. I would not wish to offend your father, and most certainly I do not wish to offend you. However, recent events have precipitated me, or rather, us, into a pretty pickle, and I fear that your presence among us has has merely served to exacerabate the situation."

"How very odd! Am I to assume that I am unwelcome?"

"Not at all, madam, you are assured of a welcome wherever I am. I see I must explain, or rather attempt to explain..."

"Yes, please do, Your Highness."

"Madam, forgive me if I state the obvious, but in so doing, it may help me to present the present... er... situation as clearly as I may. Your husband arrived at Schloss Neuhaus as His Britannic Majesty's military liaison officer to my army. He was in residence at Schloss Neuhaus for some weeks before we started our route to join forces with His Grace of Marlbrouk. During that period, we, that is Ober Nord Westfalen, suffered a series of mysterious accidents that delayed our plans quite considerably - including an epidemic of poisoning that claimed many lives - and for which I have sworn I will have the perpetrator's life! Nevertheless, the army, in due course marched, and Oberstleutnant Wetherby marched with it. The day before yesterday, Oberstleutnant Wetherby, and his party of six troopers, rode out on reconnaissance. They were due to return this morning. They have not done so. Enquiries have been set afoot, yet no one person has seen anything of your husband since his departure. The... er... women who accompany his party remain here, as does his party's baggage. His quarters bear all the signs of a temporary absence: clothing, footwear, wigs, gentlemen's necessities, all remain in his quarters. In normal circumstances I would assume that the Oberstleutnant had succumbed to the mischances of war, but, I have just received an urgent communication from Schloss Neuhaus, which states... well, here you may read it for yourself - oh, do you also read German?"

"Yes, Your Highness, indeed I do, and I confess I am afire with curiosity... may I? Thank you. H'mm... I begin to have an inkling of your plight! What to do with me. Am I indeed Colonel Wetherby's lawful spouse? or am I in league with an imposter? For it is quite clear that there cannot be two Lieutenant Colonel Wetherbys of His Majesty's Foot Guards!"

"Just so, Lady... er... Henrietta."

"Well, Your Highness, there is an exquisitely simple solution to your dilemna: I needs must return to Schloss Neuhaus. Once there, I can very quickly ascertain whether the individual in the care of Herr... Flick, yes, Herr Flick, is indeed my husband."

"I most deeply regret, madam, that I cannot, given the circumstances, permit you to leave these quarters."

"What! How dare you!? Am I to be held prisoner?"

"No, no. Not a prisoner, rather a..."

"What then? A hostage?"

"No, Lady Henrietta, not a hostage either."

"What then?"

"Quite frankly, madam, I do not know what title to append to you. But please rest assured, I have absolutely no intention of harming you, or even making your temporary residence with us in the slightest uncomfortable."

"Temporary?"

"But certainly. Once I have resolved the situation, you may, if you are indeed Lady Henrietta Wetherby, travel as far and as fast as you wish, in any direction you wish."

"And if you decide that I am not who I say, then what?"

"Then, madam, it is with the deepest regret that I must deem you an agent of a hostile power."

"And then what?"

"Madam, that prospect troubles me deeply. If such should be the outcome, I should have to consider long and hard as to what further action to take. In the meantime, I shall be obliged if you would confine yourself to this suite of rooms. Poor they may be, but they are... or rather were, until today my own quarters. Your word that you intend to do so will be sufficient."

"What if I were to decline to offer such a parole?"

"Then madam, the armed sentry which I shall place outside the door, rather than just ensuring your safety, will also be charged with ensuring that you do not leave these chambers."

"Monstrous! This, sir, is an outrage!"

"Madam, I am well aware just how unbecoming these precautions are. But, I really cannot see any other viable solution until I have satisfied myself of your bona-fides."

"And how sir, do you intend to do that?"

"I could write to your father, enclosing perhaps, an item of your jewellery that he would recognise. Or, dare I hope that you are known by sight to other gentlemen of your husband's regiment?"

"Of course I am!"

"Well, then, madam, it is to be hoped that the necessity of inconveniencing you shall indeed be short-lived. I shall send an urgent courier to the Britannic army, with a request that an officer known to you may return with him."

"And how long shall this journey last?"

"With God's blessing, and if I despatch the courier today, he should return within the next two weeks. I shall ensure that His Grace of Marlbrouk is aware of the urgency of the situation."

"Two weeks! I needs must remain confined for two weeks?"

"I regret so, madam".

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Dark as the dungeon...

By Quickest Means

5 April 1701

His Highness Margraf Albrecht of Ober Nord Westfalen

Your Highness,

You will by now, I am persuaded, have received my most recent despatch concerning the raids from Vikmark and the counter-measures which I have had put in train.

Part of my investigations into these attacks have revealed that they began after an elderly gentleman, in a heavily escorted, large, black coach was seen to pass into Vikmark. From the descriptions which I obtained of this individual, and which when compared to one another reminded me of a certain resident of Schloss Neuhaus; a retired Englander, or rather Schottischer officer. Von Smallhausen knows of this man, and can supply further details if required. A vehicle matching the description of his coach was seen in the vicinity of Friederichshafen prior to the explosion of the Britannic Powder Carrier, and both von Smallhausen and myself have carried out intensive inquiries into the ownership of the said vehicle. The Schottlander Officer goes by the name of Sir Fraser, and was at one time an adherent of James II of Britannia, prior to the latter's loss of his throne to Koening Wilhelm.

Continuing my investigations, I caused a file of soldiers to proceed to this gentleman's residence in order to accompany him to the Schloss, where I might be able to interview him. However, on arrival at his residence, it was found to be deserted, apart from two local women who cook and clean for him. They claimed that he had plans to be absent from Schloss Neuhaus for a period of two to three weeks.

I took advantage of the absence of Sir Fraser, and with the aid of a party of soldiers, loaned to me by Generalleutnant von Prostler, conducted a thorough search of the premises. During the course of this search a concealed chamber was found below the cellars of the house. In the cellar was imprisoned a man. He is in a very poor physical condition, emaciated to the extreme, and although receiving medical attention, he may not survive. He has however, been able to identify himself, and claims to Lieutenant Colonel Wetherby, of his Britannic Majesty's First Regiment of Foot Guards!

There is some deception taking place. As far as I am aware, Oberstleutnant Wetherby is currently serving with Your Highness' forces. The individual whom I removed from Sir Fraser's residence, I have placed under guard within the Schloss, pending instructions from Your Highness. The two women from Sir Fraser's residence, although they claim to have no knowledge of the presence of the individual claiming to be Oberstleutnant Wetherby, I have placed under arrest. Their claim is patently false; somebody had been feeding and watering him during Sir Frazer's absence.

I have, of course, issued warrants for the immediate arrest of Sir Frazer and his adherents, and instructed the forces in the four northern Kreise to be particularly vigilant.

I most strongly urge Your Highness to investigate the identity of the Oberstleutnant Wetherby with the army.

I await Your Highness' instructions before proceeding any further.

Your Most Obedient Servant

Otto Flick

Monday, 20 October 2008

No news is good news

"Your Highness! Your Highness, madam, a thousand apologies for this interruption, but a despatch marked 'Quick' has just arrived from Schloss Neuhaus. I am afraid Highness, that it is not good news."

"My wife, von Smallhausen...?"

"No, no Highness, nothing of that ilk... but it is important..."

"Very well, madam, if you will excuse me...? Pray continue at your ease here, I am persuaded you will not have to wait overlong for the Herr Oberst."

"Of course, Your Highness."

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

"Now, von Smallhausen, what is so urgent?"

"Perhaps you had best read it for yourself, Your Highness."

"Very well, give it here. Now..."


'Quick'

'3 April 1701

To Margraf Albrecht, Commander in Chief of Our Army

Your Highness,

I beg to report that as Commander of Your Home Army, I have today, in consequence of a series of incidents along our border with the Vikmark, and with the concurrence of Herr Otto Flick, placed our Landwehr forces in Kreis Hulstein, Kreis Schlessen, Kreis Kielland and Kreis Flensbergen on active service. In addition I have warned the remainder of the Home Army to prepare for service in the immediate future.

Gerhardt von Prostler
Generalleutnant'

'3 April 1701

To His Highness, Margraf Albrecht of Ober Nord Westfalen

Your Highness,

I regret to inform you that during the past week (commencing 26th ult) there have been a series of incidents along our border with the Vikmark. These incidents have taken the form of raids by persons in civilian attire, yet with the bearing of military men. Such raids have, for the most part, been restricted to barn and house burnings and the theft of livestock, there have, unortunately, been five cases of loss of life. All loss of life has occurred when our citizens strove to defend themselves and their property gainst the raiders.

Accordingly, I have requested Generalleutnant von Prostler to embody the Landwehr in the four northern Kreise, and to stand-to the remainder of his force.

I attach a draft of a note of protest, which with your approval, I propose to cause to be delivered to Prinz Svein.

I remain, Your Highness, your Most Obedient Servant,

Otto Flick
- - - - - - - - - - -

To His Highness Prinz Svein of Vikmark

Sir,

I write to protest the recent wave of incursions from the Vikmark into the sovereign territory of Ober Nord Westfalen.

I further give you notice that if an immediate cessation of such incursions does not immediately take place, then Ober Nord Westfalen will take all measures necessary to protect and ensure the integrity of her borders.


O Flick
Head of the Sekratariat to His Highness The Margraf of Ober Nord Westfalen'

- - - - - - - - - - -

"You have read this, von Smallhausen."

"Of course, Your Highness."

"Yes, yes, of course you have. Tare an' Hounds! What a time for this to happen!"

"If you will permit, Your Highness?"

"Yes?"

"It occurs to me, Your Highness, that the timing of these attacks may not be entirely coincidental."

"And your meaning is...?"

"If Your Highness recalls, our preparations for this campaign have from the outset been plagued by a series of misfortunes. Both my respected superior, Herr Flick, and myself are convinced that these misfortunes owe more to the hand of human malignity than to chance."

"Yes, yes... von Smalhausen, I must think. Please arrange for a Council of War this evening. All general officers and Oberst Bruchmuller to attend. And yourself of course... and Oberst Wetherby... Wetherby, von Smallhausen, where is he? You did pass the word for him?"

"Of course, Your Highness! I shall send another runner instantly."

"No... do not send a runner, but rather, go yourself. You do know where he is quartered?"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Very well, see to it."

"Directly, Your Highness."


The Merry Wife of Windsor...

"Well, von Smallhausen, is that the last of it?"

"Just one more item, Your Highness: It is a report from the chirugeon at Emsdorf, 'I regret to inform you that Oberleutnant Nagel of the 3rd Bataillon, Infanterie Regiment Nummer 2, last night succumbed to his wounds..."

"Your Highness, I beg your pardon, but... but..."

"Yes, Herr Rittermeister?"

"Your Highness, a visitor has arrived in camp and demands to see you."

"What sort of visitor, Herr Rittermeister?"

"A lady, Your Highness, an English lady."

"A lady?"

"Yes, Your Highness, and from her carriage and apparel, a wealthy one. She is also quite young, and quite pretty."

"Well, I am at home, and perfectly ready to meet quite young, quite pretty ladies; even if they are English. Pray, tell me, why is she kept waiting?"

"At her own request, Your Highness. She bade me ascertain whether or no you would receive her."

"She bade you?"

"Yes, Your Highness. She has a certain... manner about her."

"Well then, Herr Rittermeister, have the goodness to conduct her here."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Shall I leave you, Your Highness?"

"No, von Smallhausen, I think not. I have no wish for this meeting to have any appearance of singularity."

"Good morning, Madam."

"Good Morning, Your Highness."

"Pray, allow me to present to you, my Military Secretary, Hauptmann von Smallhausen."

"Good Morning, Herr Hauptmann."

"Your Servant, Madam."

"Now, Madam, you have the distinct advantage of us."

"Your pardon, Your Highness. I am Lady Henrietta Wetherby. My husband, Lieutenant Colonel Wetherby, has the honour of being our King's representative at your court, and I am informed, with your army."

"Lady Henrietta, you do us great honour. Pray be seated. Now tell me in what manner I can be of service to you? But forgive our bad manners, we have been speaking German, would you be easier if we spoke English?"

"No, I thank Your Highness, but I am perfectly comfortable in the use of German. After all, when in Rome..."

"Yes, quite. Your command of our tongue does you great credit. But, come, how may we assist you?"

"Your Highness... I mean no offence to the good Hauptmann, but my business is of a somewhat personal nature..."

"My lady, I dislike being compelled to contradict your wishes, but Hauptmann von Smallhausen's presence is, if you will forgive me, a necessity. No only does he take the role of a chaperone, but his memory is far more acute than mine, and as such he is my prompter on those occasions when my lamentable memory loses its grasp of detail. He is, I assure you, they very soul of discretion, otherwise he would not long remain in his present position. Is that not so von Smallhausen?"

"Just so, Your Highness."

"Very well, then. If you desire that the Hauptmann remains, then so be it. I am only a weak woman, and am entirely within your power."

"Only a weak woman? Forgive me, my lady, but I fear you deprecate your own powers. There are not many gently-born women who would at this time of year undertake a journey from England, via, I assume, Ober Nord Westfalen? - yes, I thought so - to a final destination in the midst of a foreign army!"

"Your Highness, you give me far too much credit for merely following the dictates of duty."

"Duty, madam?"

"Surely Your Highness, do you not hold that a woman's duty is to be at her husband's side?"

"Err... Yes... That is, in most cases. But surely when the husband takes to the field of Mars it is a great comfort to him to know that his life's companion keeps his home for him?"

"That may be so in the generality of cases, sir, but the Wetherby's have an entirely different tradition! Which, sir, brings me to my point: My husband has been absent from home for these past eight months. In general, he is the most faithful of correspondents, and indeed for the early part of his absence, his letters have arrived, if not promptly, then at least at regular intervals. However, for the last four months I have received no word from him, not even cursory replies to my own missives. I must own to feeling a degree of concern regarding his welfare!"

"Then, madam, I am overjoyed to be able to allay your fears at very short notice. Von Smallhausen, pray have the word passed for Oberst Wetherby to attend us here. And in the meantime, madam, I fear I am once again remiss, may I offer you some refreshment while we await the Colonel?"

"Thank you, Your Highness. A glass of warmed, spiced wine would be most grateful... if that is at all possible?"

"Certainly, madam. See to it, if you please, von Smallhausen. Now, madam, while we await the wine and the Colonel, pray tell me of your journey..."

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Parry, Riposte

"Your Highness?"

"Yes, von Smallhausen?"

"Are you at liberty for a few moments, Your Highness?"

"Is it important?... Oh, very well, come in."

"Thank you, Your Highness. It has to do with the injury to Oberleutnant Nagel of 3 IR2. If you recall..."

"Yes, yes, of course I remember. Have you discovered what happened?"

"Yes, Your Highness, and 'tis somewhat disquieting."

"Well, what happened, man?"

"It appears, Your Highness, that the day's march being completed, and the men fed and settled into their bivouac, that certain of the officers, not just those of 3 IR 2, have become habituated to seeking cheer and warmth in any nearby hostelries or inns. By this, I mean that..."

"Yes, von Smallhausen, I know very well what you mean!"

"Indeed, Your Highness. I crave Your Highness' pardon. It appears that on the occasion of the wounding of Oberleutnant Nagel, he and some of his brother officers, attended a Gasthaus in the village of Emsdorf, where, apparently, they conducted themselves in a manner appropriate to Your Highness' service. Unfortunately, there entered upon the scene a party of Officers attired in the uniform of one of the Elector of Hannunter's Dragoon regiments..."

"Hannunter! What in the name of all that's holy are troops from Hannunter doing down here?"

"I regret, Your Highness, that I have, as yet, been unable to discover the import of their presence. However, I have put enquiries in hand, and I hope, in the not too distant future to uncover the reason behind their presence so close to our army."

"Yes, do so, if you please von Smallhausen... and have prepared for my signature an order for increased patrols. We must find out if this was an isolated party, or the portent of something greater in consequence. However, I interrupt your report; please continue."

"Very well, Your Highness. It appears that in a remarkably short period of time, the Officers of the Electors Dragoons, made themselves objectionable to the Inhaber of the Gasthaus, and the unfortunate Oberleutnant Nagel was moved to protest their behaviour. The Hannunterans then changed the object of their attention to the Officers of IR 2, making insulting remarks, anent their appearance, bearing and military skills. Our officers, with remarkable constraint, forbore to answer the taunts aimed t them, until, eventually, one of the Hannunterans made an obscene remark, concerning I fear, Your Highness, Your Highness and your lady. Oberleutnant Nagel gave the lie direct to the originator of these remarks, and received in reply a blow to the face. As you are aware, Your Highness, after such a blow no apology may be proffered or accepted. Seconds were named, and both parties retired to the Gasthaus stable yard, where an exchange of sword-play occurred. Oberleutnant Nagel, according to report, was completely out of his class, his opponent being of measurably greater skill, as well, as one must assume from his greater age, of greater experience. The bout was short, I am regret to say, and Nagel received a deep thrust to the lungs. It is feared, Your Highness, that he will not survive his wound."

"I see. What do you make, of this von Smallhausen?"

"I am not quite certain, Your Highness, neither of the situation nor of your meaning."

"What I mean is, do you think that this was a chance encounter that got out of hand, or do you perhaps suspect some darker reason?"

"I simply do not know, Your Highness. The other officers present assure me that all seemed no more than jeering at another regiment. Your Highness, knows, I believe, of the intense rivalry, between RRs 1 and 2, as an example?"

"Yes... I do... However, I cannot recall two of their officers indulging in a duel so irregular that it verges upon a brawl in a common tap-room!"

"Indeed, no, Your Highness."

"Well, thank you, von Smallhausen - although such news merits little thanks - you have done well in discovering so much in so short a space of time!"

Cam ye o'er frae France?

"Sergeant!"

"Sir!"

"Get the men mounted and ready to move. We are to carry out a reconnaissance."

"Sir! Sir, can I ask 'ow long we are to be away for?"

"What possible interest can that be to you, or the men?"

"Sir, it would help if we knowed whether or not to tek rations, or camp stores, or..."

"Yes, yes, of course. We will be travelling far and fast, and I do not anticipate being absent from the army for more than two days. So... two days rations and grain for the horses, no camp stores."

"No stores, sir? That'll make an uneasy bivouac, sir."

"Yes, I am aware of that. But... listen carefully, Sergeant: I intend to leave this army, permanently. It is time we ended this farce, and rejoined our own regiment. To that end, we shall give all the appearances of making a routine patrol, and then, Sergeant, we will make our way to our allies and thence back to the regiment. So that these amateurs do not suspect anything, we will leave all our stores behind. Is that understood, Sergeant?"

"Ho, yes, sir! An' if I might make so bold, the lads'll be mightily pleased to be going home!"

"Sergeant. Let me make myself perfectly plain: The men are not to know of this plan until we are well clear of the army. Is that understood?"

"Very good, sir. But..."

"But what, Sergeant?"

"Well, sir, it's just that some o' the men have one or two bits an' pieces that they won't want to leave be'ind."

"If you mean by, 'one or two bits and pieces' the unsavoury drabs they have collected, then..."

"Ho, no sir! Them's just tarts, just wimmen, I mean sir. The lads won't miss the likes o' them for more'n a day or so. No, it's just that there's been the opportunity for a wee bit o' harvesting along the way, like."

"Harvesting, Sergeant?"

"Yes sir, yer know, the odd Thaler here, the odd Guilder there, an mebbe a candlestick or two..."

"Ah, yes, I do see. Now, the rules for this 'patrol' are simple. Nothing is to be taken that will slow down our ride by encumbering the animals. Anything that cannot fit into a pocket - without, mark you, causing a bulge - is to be left behind. In fact, Sergeant, it will be beneficial towards my plan if bulky and expensive items are left behind. After all, who would expect a deserter to leave his plunder behind? Yes, yes, it will serve very well. Now, Sergeant, do as I say and get the men supplied and mounted!"

"Yessir!"

Meanwhile, back at the Schloss...

"Hilfe! Ach, Hilfe mich!"

"Well, one... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine... ten! Now! What! Rogues! Thieves! Ha! Have at you! Take that... and that! See... they run, the cowards! Madame, are you... why, Fraulein Helga! Are you hurt... What was it a, robbery? Did they steal anything?"

"Oh! Herr Flick! Is it you? No... I think I am unhurt, but just a little shaken and frightened. No, they did not steal anything, but they tried to rip my rings from my hand, and... and one of them struck me on the head... Is there a bruise?"

"H'mm, let me see... ah, yes, I am afraid Fraulein Helga, that your beauty shall be temporarily marred, but I trust that no lasting damage has been inflicted. But, pray, how comes it that you have been so imprudent to walk unescorted through the Shambles after dark?"

"Oh, Herr Flick, you must remember that I visit my mother on this night every week. Why, you was used to escort me on my visits."

"Of course I remember, but you had not requested my escort of recent weeks, and I was persuaded that you had foregone your habit."

"Oh, no, Herr Flick. It is just that our last meeting was... was... was not so very comfortable, and I did not want to impose on you, or take for granted your..."

"Guardianship? No, no, Fraulein Helga, whatever the state of my feelings towards you, or whatever relation in which we stand to each other, I am persuaded that you must be aware that my character as a gentleman would not, had I been aware of your continued custom, permit you to make such a journey alone and on foot! If you must continue your visits to your mother, and indeed it is very commendable in you to do so, then you must allow me the privilege of escorting you, or if my presence is indeed so distasteful to you, then allow me to arrange an escort, or at the very least, arrange a carriage for your safe conveyance! But, notwithstanding your reluctance to share my company, I must insist on taking you back to the Schloss, take my arm, if you please."

"Oh, no, Herr Flick, it is not that I find your company distasteful, but... but..."

"Just so, Fraulein Helga. Now, it is not too far to the Schloss. Are you able to walk thus far?"

"Oh, yes, Herr Flick. And, Herr Flick?"

"Yes, Fraulein Helga?"

"I... I just wish to say, how, very, very grateful I am for your presence and actions tonight."

"Tush! Tush, child! Say nothing more of the matter!"

Saturday, 18 October 2008

En Garde?

"Von Smallhausen."

"Yes, Your Highness?"

"Von Smallhausen, I have just examined the army's daily statement. I see that, as usual, we have lost a few stragglers - which is only to be expected, even now. But, I see that an officer of the 3rd Bataillon, Infanterie Regiment Nr 2 is listed as 'Wounded, unable to travel'. Now, as far as I am aware, we have not yet encountered the enemy - I am Commander in Chief, do not you know? and I am persuaded I would have been aware of such a snippet of interesting news?"

"Indeed, no, Your Highness, we have received no such reports."

"Pray, then, von Smallhausen, how did this Oberleutnant Nagel, come to receive his wounds? Had he been involved in a duel, I would have expected to see another officer's name on the casualty list, and I am persuaded that I would have known of such an event in time to put a period to such foolish goings on! Had this officer been involved in a brawl with some or one of the local populace, then I am equally confident that the Burgermeester would have long since beaten a path to my door. So, von Smallhausen, what in the devil's name has been happening?"

"I'm sure I do not know, Your Highness."

"Humph! Do not know, or do not want to say? - No, don't deny it, von Smallhausen, I am well aware that you have a finger on the army's collective pulse! So, tell me, what is going on?"

"Really, Your Highness, in this instance and much to my chagrin, I do not know what might have chanced to occur. But, if Your Highness desires, I can make an essay to uncover what has happened?"

"Yes, do that, von Smallhausen, and also... prepare a letter for my signature, addressed to the Commanding Officer of 3 IR 2, suggesting that he report himself to my Headquarters, suitably equipped with an explanation of this event."

"Yes, Your Highness."

From the Files of Margraf Albrecht

29 March 1701
In the Field

Herr Otto Flick

My Very Dear Sir,

I have somehow received the letter which I now enclose for your attention. I am far from content neither with its arrival at Army Headquarters nor with its content.

I desire you to explain to the author - most emphatically - that with the State on the verge of open warfare, with all the demands on its manpower that such a condition involves, I am not receptive to the idea of stripping Ober Nord Westfalen of the number of citizens that the author's ill-conceived, ill-considered and ill-thought out proposition demands. Neither as Commander-in-Chief of the Army have I the time, the leisure or inclination to indulge in inessentials.

This not the time to indulge in chasing cloud castles! However, if and when peace breaks out, and if the originator of this preposterous idea cares to review his plans, then perhaps, just perhaps I may be persuaded to consider them in a more equitable light.

I also desire you to make it known that in future, all correspondence not immediately pertaining to the operations in which the army is currently involved, is to be addressed to yourself. You have, of course, my authority to deal with any urgent matters that might thus come before you; any matters of a non-urgent nature with which you feel unable to deal, may be retained until my return.

Believe me, &c

Albrecht
Margraf

"20 March 1701
Schloss Neuhaus

To the Most Noble Prince,
Albrecht of Ober Nord Westfalen

Your Highness,

I crave your indulgence in presenting before you a Scheme for the Betterment of Our Beloved Homeland.

Your Highness cannot fail to be aware of the Great Wealth that has accumulated to the Thrones of Spain and Portugal by reason of their subject territories in the New World. It is unbecoming, as has been demonstrated by divers States, that the treasures of a vast continent be perverted to serve the cause of Papish Superstition, neither should the benighted Heathens of that Land be permitted to fall under the sway of the so-called Church of Rome, but rather, should be brought to recognise the True God and the True Path to Salvation revealed to us by the Blessed Martin Luther.

Your Highness, in short, I crave your indulgence by granting to me and my Company, which I am shortly to form, a Charter granting the said Company the Right to Settle in the New World, under your benign Rule. The object of the Company is three-fold. Primus: To enlarge Your Higness' Possessions to the benefit of the Fisc; Secundus: To prevent thousands of immortal Souls from the Descent Into Hell which must assuredly be their lot should they remain in ignorance of Our Heavenly Father, or worse, fall into Romish Slavery; Tercius: By the acquisition of large New Lands to elevate Your Highness into the First rank of the Princes of Europe.

Your Highness, these ends may be attained at the cost of a trifling sum. All that I beg of you is the provision of a small squadron of ships, together with their ships' companies, sufficient to convey to the New World the party which I enumerate below:


Administration:
Governor of the Colony: Herr Ludwig Reifentstein
Deputy Governor of the Colony: Herr Helmut Reifenstein
Secretary for the Colony: Herr Matthias Reifenstein

Religious:
Domini Heinrich Kellern (Of the Parish of Sankt Pauli)
4 Other Clergymen to selected by the Domini

Military:
1 Company of Foot to act as the Governor's Garde du Corps and training cadre for a Landwehr to be formed from the colonists.

Colonists:
200 families (To include artisans, farmers, men of learning, &c. None to be over the age of thirty-five years).
No single men or women to be included. Each family to bear with them sufficient foodstuffs for a voyage of nine weeks, 200 Thalers in cash, seed corn and vegetable for planting and supplies sufficient to enable them to survive the first growing season. In addition, each family to have a good firelock, twenty pounds of powder and sufficient shot, for each male over the age of fifteen years.

Your Highness, it is intended to establish a colony on the Eastern Seaboard of the Northern Continent of the New World, somewhat to the South of the Britannic Colonies and to the North of the Spanish colonies. The climate in this region is benign, and the soil is rich, enabling the foundation of farms on a large scale producing tobacco and in the southern-most regions that most valuable of new crops, cotton.

Your Highness must readily perceive that I have given due consideration to the physical and moral welfare of the Company, and I am persuaded that you must regard my plans in the most favourable light.

I remain Your Highness' Most Obedient servant
Ludwig Reifenstein"