Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Decisions, decisions...

"Well! How came you by this von Smallhausen?"

"My... er... correspondent from Potsburgh delivered it to me last evening Your Highness."

"But, according to the wacht, there were no visitors to headquarters last night?"

"No, Your Highness, but a letter was delivered to me, requesting that I attend he... er... my info... correspondent in one of the local gasthofen."

"So... your... 'er... info... correspondent' would not then prove to be a rather attractive female?"

"Your Highness! I beg of you! Please, the uttermost discretion is required in this matter. The lady in question is merely an old and close friend from my days at Wittenberg. Our relationship is based upon affection, companionship and shared history. Frau Fischer is a member of a well-respected Strasburgh family, and makes the journey from Strasburgh to Amsterdam, where she intends to purchase gem-stones, and has merely stopped for a day or two's rest, and discovered my presence here entirely by chance. I am not held in high esteem by her family, and any mention of my name in connection with hers should perchance cause her some disagreeable attention from her family."

"Very well, then von Smallhausen, let us accept, for the nonce, that the arrival of your correspondent and this lady are events connected by pure coincidence."

"Exactly so, Your Highness."

"So. What to do with this document? It is evident - if the document is accurate - that the Kurfurst of Pommersche has no evil intentions towards his neighbours, but is on the contrary preparing to despatch a force to co-operate with the Herzog von Marlbrouk! I ask myself, is Marlbrouk aware of this? And if not, do we tell him of our belief, or maintain a a discreet silence?"

"Oh, the latter of course, Your Highness. It would not be prudent to rely upon this Englischer's ability to conceal his knowledge of our knowledge from others - particularly those of Pommersche - and such disclosure may lead to inconvenient questions as to by what means we gained our knowledge. I - and Herr Flick - would infinitely prefer that our interest in events in Potsburgh and Brandenstadt remain concealed."

"I see... But why are we interested in events in Pommersche?"

"Your Highness, in this unsettled world, we of the Sekretariat take an interest in the thoughts words and deeds of many of the states of Germania. Official despatches from the various capitals are not always the tr... are not always entirely accurate or reliable. Past experience indicates, nay, impels that we maintain discreet observation of those princes that might, as is said, er... rock the boat. Not all rulers are happy with the results of the Treaty of Westfalen, let alone the results of other, more recent disturbances."

"H'mm, I am aware Herr Flick has agents at large in certain, potentially inimical, areas of the Kaiserreich, but am I to understand that I, through the Sekretariat, have a far-flung network of spies?"

"Spies, Your Highness? The Good Lord forbid! Merely some individuals to whom the sicherheit of Ober Nord Westfalen is dear. As to a far-flung network, Your Highness, I could not, with any certainty say yea or nay. I know only of some few correspondents, with whom I deal. What of Herr Flick's correspondents, I cannot say!"

"Be plain with me, if you please, von Smallhausen. 'Some individuals'? You would have me believe that love of Ober Nord Westfalen motivates a variety of people to send you - and Herr Flick - information that may impact on ourselves, particularly should the correspondent be uncovered and swift and condign punishment should follow?. Come, come von Smallhausen, that's coming it far too strong!"

"Indeed, no, Your Highness. I see that complete openness only will serve here! It is true that there are one or two individuals who correspond with us out of love of our homeland, or out of friendship with Herr Flick and myself, but it must be admitted that the majority of them do so in return for monetary considerations."

"Hah! Tell me, von Smallhausen, does it not say in the Book that 'the love of money is the root of all evil'?

"It does indeed, Your Highness. However, the amounts disbursed by Herr Flick and myself, while seemingly generous to the recipients, are generally of little substance. There are occasions, however - and this is one of them - that real generosity is required, in order to reward exceptional service."

"I see... so you want me to empty my purse into the hands of this... correspondent of yours?"

"No, no, Your Highness. But I would wish that you set your signature to this bill of exchange in order to ensure the continued good-will of this particular correspondent, and as mark of appreciation for the very real risks taken, as Your Highness has observed."

"Let me see it. What! Ten thousand Marken! Are you mad, von Smallhausen? And who is this Mlle Eloise de Chardonnay - a Franklander?"

"No, no Your Highness, Mlle Eloise is, despite her name, a good German."

"Even so! Ten thousand Marken!"

"Your Highness. It is impossible, for a variety of reasons, for Mlle Eloise to return to Pommersche. Indeed it is imperative that she disappear entirely. The generosity of the reward is, in part occasioned by the value of the document that she brought here, and in part by the need for Mlle Eloise to ... ah... re-invent herself! I have great hopes that in her new role, she shall provide us with timely news of intentions and events in Frankland. She can hardly do so, but that she has the entree to the Polite World of Parisian society".

"H'mm... I suppose not. Certainly the information contained in this memorandum is of great potential value; can you be sure that any further information shall be of equally significant worth?"

"Your Highness, no, I cannot entertain any such certainty. It is in the nature of Mlle Eloise' s occupation that there is always great doubt, as well as great risk. It is, I most respectfully submit, consequently most fitting that the rewards should be commensurate."

"Very well then, I shall sign the bill. But mark you, von Smallhausen, should this correspondent of yours disappear with the money then my wrath shall most assuredly be visited upon you!"


Bluebear Jeff said...

Interesting . . .

-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

Eloise de Chardonnay... an interesting person indeed: hope we'll learn more about her.

Byrhthelm said...

I am almost persuaded that we shall indeed see/hear more of Eloise, or Isabelle, or...