Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A Farewell to arms...?

"Well, von Smallhausen..., Oh, I beg your pardon, Madam, I had not seen you in the shade."
"Good morning, Your Highness. I had called upon the good Hauptmann, to make my farewells, so if you shall now excuse me, I shall relieve you of my presence and remove my neck out of temptation's reach! Good Day to you Sir!"
"Madam!..."
"I do believe, Your Highness, that the lady is somewhat vexed with you."
"Yes, I had rather comprehended that myself, von Smallhausen! But, that apart, how goes it with you?"
"I have every expectation, subject to Your Highness' willingness to continue my employment, to return to my full duties within the next two days."
"That is good hearing; much as I am annoyed with your present situation, I find myself asking how would I maintain control over this army without your assistance! But, that was not my meaning; rather I was inquiring as to the state of your health."
"Oh, a slight soreness around the injury, Your Highness, but the Herr Doktor says that the flesh is gravely insulted, and that such sulkiness is both normal and to be expected."
"Very well, then I shall ask the Doktor to examine you further, just to satisfy myself that all is in order."
"Oh, there is no requirement for such an examination, Your Highness. The Herr Doktor professes himself quite satisfied with the injury, and indeed has left for my usage a salve which does much to sooth the hurt."
"Well, if you quite certain, von Smallhausen..."
"Indeed I am, Your Highness."
"Very well; then passing onto the next matter, I am still awaiting a full explanation of how it is that you are come to be hurt."
"Ah, as I have said, Your Highness, it was all hubris, and not paying attention."
"Hauptmann Erich von Smallhausen, it pains me greatly to perceive that you are a monstrously untruthful man!"
"Oh, no, Your Highness; believe me, the injury occurred, as I have said through my own false pride and carelessness!"
"Do you solemnly affirm that this is indeed the case?"
"Indeed I do, Your Highness. I occasioned my injury solely through my own stupidity."
"Very well then, von Smallhausen. I must, of course, accept your assurances upon this matter. Now, moving swiftly on; you are, I am persuaded, aware that the Lady Henrietta leaves us today? Good. However, I understand that she has been most assiduous in her care of you? Yes?... so now it should seem that we must find another to assist you in the changing of your bandages "
"Your Highness, there is no need; Indeed, I am am almost well, observe how deedily I may now move my arm... and do you see, Your Highness, not a spot of blood on the bandage!"
"Very well, then. So be it. For the nonce, however, you are to remain in your quarters. I, despite your protests, forbid you to return to duty until you are quite fit. Is that understood?"
"Of course, Your Highness! But... but who shall assist you while I remain here?"
"Leutnant von Rabensthal, while perhaps not possessing quite the same capacity as your good self, does write in a passably neat fist, and has performed some of your lesser duties quite capably. It should seem, perhaps, that when you are returned to duty, that you could do much worse than to take him under your wing."

Saturday, 7 February 2009

All's well that ends

"So, my lady, 'tis now proven that you are indeed whom you claim to be. You can have no conception of the vastness of my relief that it should be so."

"Why so? How should it be that you are so greatly relieved, sir?"

"Lady Henrietta, surely you must have been aware that I harboured some suspicions that you were a spy, trying to insinuate yourself into my headquarters for some inimical purpose?"

"Your Highness, if I had been attempting to insinuate myself, do you not think, did you not pause to think, that if such had been the case, that I would not have adopted a more concilatory pose?"

"My lady, as it should seem that you have much in common with my lady wife - I believe I have mentioned so in the past, yes? Good - it appeared to me that I possessed the unhappy knack of irritating yourself as greatly as I do, upon occasion, her Highness."

"Yes... you do indeed have that unfortunate effect on me. But, that still does not explain your relief."

"My lady, much as it grieves me to admit it, but had you been proven an imposter, then I much regret, that however greatly it may have pained me - and believe me I would have been greatly pained - then I would, very reluctantly, have had you hanged."

"Hanged! Oh! You monster!"

"Yes, hanged. But, as you are now proven to be no imposter, then the matter need not concern us further."

"You... you... you say you would have hanged me, then dismiss the matter as of no further interest! You... you... oh! Words fail me! Leave me!"

"Ah, may I point out that you are in my apartment, and if either us should leave then it should be yourself. No! Sit down, madam! We have not yet finished our business!"

"What further business can we possibly have, sir?!"

"Madam, we must now bend our attention to the matter of conveying you as swiftly as possible to Schloss Neuhaus, where I trust that your husband, if it be he, is recovering from his confinement. No madam! He was not, I may remind you, confined at my orders or by my servants, to whom he and you may be grateful for his release! I have already sent a messenger to the Schloss, bearing letters to her Highness, and to the excellent Herr Flick, notifying them of your imminent arrival, and requesting that your every need and comfort shall be assured. I have also given orders for your coach, and your servants to be here at first light tomorrow morning. I have also ordered that a zug of my Reiter be here in order to furnish you an escort to ensure that your journey shall suffer no further untoward delay. I have further ordered that the commander of the escort is to do his utmost possible to ensure your safety and comfort during the journey. Is there anything that I may have forgotten, and to which you wish to draw my attention?"

"No there is not! The arrangements should seem to be entirely satisfactory. And now, Your Highness, if you shall excuse me - I shall need to pack!"

Friday, 6 February 2009

Various loose end unloosened?

"Good morning, Lady Henrietta, how fares our patient?"

"I reregt, Your Highness, that Hauptmann von Smallhausen is almost as exasperating as Your Highness! Nothing must do, but that he must call for the correspondence from his desk, and in despite of my remonstrances, he is sitting up in his bed, and devouring what I can only term a mountain of paper!"

"I see, well, discounting for a moment your estimation of my character, it should seem that the Hauptmann is beginning to recover from his indisposition - which is as it should be, for he has yet to provide me with a satisfactory explanation of how he is come to be injured!"

"Indeed, Your Highness, the Herr Hauptmann is exceedingly shy in providing an explanation - even to me! It should seem, perhaps, that he incurred his wound in the course of some unseemly adventure, involving, it may be, an outraged husband?"

"H'mm... No, madam, from my familiarity with von Smallhausen' character, he is not in the habit of... ah, ratherI should say he is not at all in the petticoat line! - Yes! What is it?"


"Excuse me, Your Highness, but there is an Englischer Offizier arrived, who wishes to have speech with you."

"Very, well von Rabensthal, I shall come directly. If, madam, you will excuse me... It may be that this Englischer is the envoy from Marlbrouk, whom we have both been awaiting!"

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Von Schwerin! It is good to see you again, my friend!"

"Who...? Oh, of course! Desborough! It has been many years since Cambridge!"

"Indeed, it has, Albrecht, but 'tis 'Desborough' no more; I am now, as you see me, covered in the dignity of the Earldom of St Erth!"

"Ah... your father?"

"Dead, these last three years and more."

"I am sorry, St Erth."

"Ah, the old gentleman went the way he would have wished. He caught a chill whilst riding to hounds, which descending to his chest, he was put to bed. He died cursing the parson and throwing a snuff-box at the doctor's head and all the while calling for brandy!"

"Yes, that sounds very like your father. A toast to his soul?"

"Indeed, yes!"

"You mention the dignity of St Erth; yet I see no signs of dignity about your person - not too put too fine a point upon it, but you are absolutely covered in dirt!"

"How else should it be in such a country! I give you my word von Schwerin, let there be but two days of rain and the roads in this benighted place become a veritabe morass! I started by coach, but before God, after taking two days - two days, I say - to cover no more than three leagues - three leagues, mark you! I was obliged to change my mode of transport to the saddle!"

"You have not come alone, surely?"

"No, no, I brought a half-troop of my regiment as escort."

"Your regiment?"

"Oh, yes, under this veneer of dirt, this poor coat - now probably irretrieveably ruined - bears the distinguishing marks of His Majesty's regiment of Life Guards, in which your unworthy servant bears the rank of Lieutenant Colonel!"

"How we have ascended to alarmingly exalted heights! Who, knowing you as a somewhat impoverished under graduate could have conceived a notion that your rise would be so rapid and to such a height!"

"You always did have a damnably clever tongue von Schwerin!"

"Forgive me, St Erth, but I could not resist the temptation... just to see if you would still rise to the bait! But tell, me, are you the officer whose arrival I, or rather we, have been attending with ever-mounting impatience?"

"Elliptical as always! If by 'we' you mean yourself and the Lady Henrietta Wetherby, then the answer is yes."

"St Erth, my very, very, good friend, you can have no conception of just how vastly relieved I am to hear you say so!"

"Oh? How so?"

"The woman is a counfounded nuisance! The need to keep her secure has occupied a great deal of my time - time I may add that I sorely need for other, more important matters! She has the temper of a shrew, and I shall be heartily glad - one way or another - to see her room in place of her presence!"

"Ah. Yes. The Lady Henrietta does have a reputation for being somewhat hot-headed!"

"Hot headed, you say? My dear St Erth, she is possibly the most froward piece of feminity it has yet been my misfortune to encounter. She has no sense of decorum, no concept of respect for place or position - why she has subjected me to what I do not hesitate to claim as Turkish treatment! She has indulged in a series of tantrums and even threw an ink-pot at my head! Yes, 'tis all very well for you to laugh, but..."

"My very dear Albrecht, that sounds so very much like Lady Henrietta! But, I had no idea that you was grown so inflated, so... so... pompous even."

"Pompous! Pompous? D'ye really think so?"

"I regret to say it, but, yes. Why?"

"Oh, 'tis merely that something of the sort of which the lady accused me; I had supposed it to be yet another manifestation of her temper. but if you really think so..."

"Albrecht, if you could but hear yourself. You remarked earlier, that I was vastly changed since my under graduate days; but if any of our Cambridge friends had heard you just then, I misdoubt me whether they could have reconciled the Margraf of Ober Nord Westfalen with the ink-stained college-fellow who treed the Provost with a bear!"

"Yes, and did I not suffer for that! But time has passed, old friend, my responsibilities wear me down; I could wish sometimes, that I had a king and a parliament on to whom I could pass some of the issues the which I must resolve! You know that I had no expectation of the title, my cousin's death I must forever regret on more grounds than one!"

"You are not happy, my friend?"

"What has happiness to do with anything? It is all duty."

"Yes, and speaking of which, I gather you required the presence of an English officer to verify the identity of this lady. What shall be the outcome if it should seem that she is not who she says?"

"If she is indeed the Lady Henrietta, then I shall with all speed have her conveyed to Schloss Neuhaus, where a man claiming to be her husband is recovering from injury, and all shall then be well."

"And if she be not the Lady Henrietta, what then?"

"If that should be he case, St Erth, then I must make further essays to discover her identity."

"And?"

"And if it prove to be that she is a spy, then she shall hang."

"Von Schwerin!"

"Yes, that shocks you, does it not? But, St Erth, I have the lives of all my people , and of the very State, to consider. And in the scale of all things, what shall count the life of one enemy, even if it be a woman?"

"Aye, you have the right of it, though 'tis a cruel hard thing to contemplate. I begin to to understand your reponsibilities. I must render unto God my thanks that I am not faced with the same sort of decisions."

"Yes. Well, shall we request the lady to grace us with her presence, so that we may come to a decision as to her identity?"

"Very well."

"Leutnant! - Leutnant! Ah, good. Pray convey my compliments to the lady, and ask her to attend us here."


Sunday, 1 February 2009

Excuses, excuses...

13 May 1701, Despatch Nr 1 of 1701, Copy Nr 1 of 3

His Highness, Albrecht, Margraf of Ober Nord Westfalen

Your Highness,

I crave pardon for the dilatory nature of this reply to your despatch of the 20th ult, but I must inform you that certain duites have necessitated my temporary absence from Schloss Neuhuas, consequent to some singular events on the Northern Marches of Your Highness' realm.

However, before I embark on an explication of these events, I trust Your Highness will forgive me if I advert to the substance of Your Hghness' despatch of the above date. The government of Hannunter had closed its borders with us on the 23rd of March last, and thus prevented me from gathering reports in the usual manner. One of my agents who attempted to cross the border was, alas, apprehended, and as a result met with an untimely demise - 'shot while endeavouring to elude capture' - if Your Highness is pleased to accept the official communication from Hannunter. Nevertheless, I did contrive to amass certain informations regarding a concentration of the army of Hannunter, and accordingly requested General von Prostler to place the Landwehr of the Southern Kreise on the qui vive, while I endeavoured to ascertain the meaning of Hannunter's warlike preparations. Fortunately, subsequent enquiries revealed that Hannunter's troops were concentrating towards the south and were about to take a route to the United Provinces.

In the full nature of things, I addressed to Your Highness, a full report of these matters, together with my thoughts and conclusions and despatched them by 'quickest means' on the 3rd Ult. It should seem that this despatch had not yet reached Your Highness by the date of your despatch to me. It should also seem that the courier with whom I entrusted this despatch has disappeared while en route. I am carrying out investigations in an effort to discover what might have befallen him. I am reluctant to entertain any idea of treachery; the young man in question is one of my most promising protegés, and has been in Your Highness' service for nearly five years.

It occurs to me that, under our present arrangements, neither of us shall have any idea that a despatch has gone astray, and therefore it behooves us to instigate a system of numbering and recording our communications. Therefore I have taken the liberty of so numbering this communication, and moreover, because the detection of a missing despatch, shall, by the nature of our communications, consume an unwarrantable amount of time, I have instigated a system of multiple copies of each despatch, each of these copies to be borne by a different courier. I should not, of course, impose any system upon Your Highness, that Your Highness shall not approve, but I most strongly recommend the adoption of such a mechanism.

Now, If Your Highness will indulge me, I shall attempt to describe the course of events on our Northern border. Your Highness will remember that I had, on a previous occasion, cause to bring to Your Hignerss' attention news of raids upon our Northern Kreise by unruly elements of the citizenry of the Vikmark; in response to which Your Highness was good eneough to supply me with a defiance for forwarding to the Prince of the Vikmark. The defiance was in due course delivered, and was met with outraged denial from that Prince, who indignantly averred no knowledge of the events in question, and furthermore assured Ober Nord Westfalen that his forces were not involved, and disowned any and all such actions as perpetrated by those whom he termed 'ulfhednar' or wolves' heads; that is to say common criminals.

His Highness of the Vikmark was most accommodating and gave Ober Nord Westfalen carte blanche in the matter of crossing the border in pursuit of any further marauders. Further depredations did occur, and a force of two schwadronen of Flensbergen Landwehr Kavalerie, under the command of Rittermeister Schirmer pursued the raiders into the Vikmark, slaying a number of them and recovering some thirty head of stolen cattle. Unfortunately it should seem that the Prince of Vikmark's permission had not been disseminated to the officers commanding his Border Guards, and our Kavalerie was then attacked by a force of Vikmark regular troops. A sharp skirmish ensued, and our troops were forced to withdraw into Ober Nord Westfalen, nit without loss to themselves and having inflicted some casualties on their attackers. Regrettably, Rittermeister Schirmer was one of our fatalities. I enclose Hauptmann Grüber his report of the incident.

Upon news of this unfortunate encounter, I was compelled to take my leave of Schloss Neuhaus and journey once more to the north, where I met His Highness of the Vikmark, who although professing regret at what he termed an unnecessary effusion of blood, did not, to my eyes, seem particularly perturbed at the occurrence of these events.

Accordingly, I have requested Genral von Prostler to increase the number and frequency of his patrols on the border, and have required Major von Hochstadt to accelerate the training of Your Highness' Grenz Schutzen.

Your most obedient servant

Otto Flick