Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

And Upon Further Consideration...

"D'ye realise, von Smallhausen that that young man's idea is not all bad?"

"It should certainly serve as a salutary lesson, Your Highness. But..."

"Yes, but what?"

"But, Your Highness, if you will allow me leave. It may be that such a punishment might rebound upon Your Highness' head."

"How so?"

"Your Highness, if you compel the offizieren as well as the soldaten to undergo such a public... well... humiliation, it may well be that many of the offizieren will tender their resignations."

"Yes, I had taken that into consideration, von Smallhausen, and I believe I have the answer."

"Yes, Your Highness?"

"In a word, no, von Smallhausen. Put quite simply, I will not accept the resignation of any officer who is undergoing punishment. If those offizieren desirous of quitting my service then do so, I shall have no compunction in publishing their names as deserters and sequestering any property they might hold. I will be understood; I will have no further such incidents in my army."

"Ah, had you taken into consideration, Your Highness, that such dealings may be thought to be, well... a little high-handed?"

"Yes, I had, and, once more I tell you it concerns me not! If need be,I will echo the Roman Kaiser, Kaligula, who said, I believe, 'let them fear me as much as they will, so long as they obey me!' However, I am optimistic that matters will not come to such a pass. As von Rabensthal has said, they are probably all very much ashamed of themselves, and will take heed that the punishment must be as public as the offence. Also von Smallhausen it occurs to me that the two regimenten may become the butt of quips and sneers from the infanterie."

"That thought, Your Highness, had also crossed my mind!"

"It may well be that the two regimenten may join ranks in defiance of the scorn of the rest of the army, and come to realise that, like it or no, they are part of the same army, and indeed the same brigade!"

"Well... yes, Your Highness, that possibility exists. If it does so chance to occur, had Your Highness considered that sneers, jibes and quips may have two other possible outcomes?"

"And what do you have in mind, von Smallhausen?"

"Well, Your Highness, firstly that each regiment may blame the other for their predicament, and so, resenting their confreres, far from being beneficial, Your Highness' actions may well drive a deeper wedge between the two regimenten?"

"H'mm... you said two possibilities, I believe?"

"Yes, Your Highness, the jeers and jibes may provoke the more hot-blooded among the two regimenten to offset the sneers by further violence."

"Any offizier of either regiment - any offizier, I say, von Smallhausen - that allows his men to become involved in any further disturbance, or issues or receives a challenge over this matter shall speedily find himself with the full power of my wrath poured upon his head!"

"As Your Highness, wills."

"Good, draft out, if you please an order containing the provisions outlined by Herr von Rabensthal, and have it ready for my perusal, by... tomorrow morning."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Is there aught else to which I should today turn my attention?"

"Ah... routine letters from the Schloss, Your Highness... nothing to overly concern... Hello! What's this?"

"Well, what is it, man?"

"A copy of a... court circular... no, 'tis more emphatic than that, a diktat, perhaps?"

"Go on, von Smallhausen, stop dithering!"

"Your Highness, it is from The Summer Palace at Pavlograd, and announces the passing of the Avtokrator Mikhail of Slavonia. He is succeeded it should seem by his second son, Pyotr... what has happened to his elder son?... who has assumed the title of The Avtokrator of Pan Slavia. Your Highness, it is dated some two months ago!"

"Two months! A plague take it! What the devil does Flick think he is about?! Two months!"

"Ah... a moment, I pray you, Your Highness. Here is a covering letter from Herr Flick. He writes that Slavonia had sealed its borders until two weeks ago, and that no news of the change of Avtokrator had reached the outside world until then."

"These demmed Slavonians and their secrecy! But you say this Pyotr has claimed sovereignty over all of the Slavian states?"

"So it would appear, Your Highness."

"But that is madness! The Ostern Reich has sovereignty over some half a dozen or so of these states! The Kaiser will never stand for this! But wait... is not Pyotr Mikhailovitch reckoned to be..."

"Yes, Your Highness, as mad as a rabid wolf - and with about as much self-control - or so it is held by common repute! But, Your Highness, that is not all!"

"What else then, von Smallhausen?"

"Your Highness, Herr Flick writes that Pyotr has issued a defiance to Karl of Skania, demanding that Skania cede its holdings on the south and east coasts of the Baltic, '...upon pain of war'!"

"The plaguey fellow is mad!"

"Undoubtedly so, Your Highness,"

"No, but look ye, von Smallhausen! He has, implicitly, claimed sovereignty over a portion of the Ostern Reich, and now demands further territory from Skania. We must then, assume that Slavonia has reached some accommodation with the Sublime Porte!"

"One would indeed so think Your Highness. Without such an accommodation, Slavonia is faced with enemies to its south, west and north-west. He cannot be so insane, surely?"

"Even if he is, von Smallhausen. Damme! His generals must surely be able to explain unto him the perils of his actions!"

"But, if he is so insane, Your Highness, will he listen to them?"

"Mayhap not... no... you have reason, von Smallhausen. These actions of his may plunge the whole of the north into war! Skanian holdings on the south coast of the Baltic are not too far from Ober Nord Westfalen, and now that I come to think of it, does not their border march with that of Pommersche?"

"Indeed it does, Your Highness."

"That cunning dog Franz Ferdinand! Think ye that Pommersche had prior news of events in Skania, and the object of his oh-so-puzzling mobilisation is in consequence of those events?"

"H'mm, it might well be so, You Highness."

"Von Smallhausen, the more I think on this, the unhappier I become. What the pox does Flick mean by including such vital news in a package of routine letters? I am persuaded he must realise its significance - if not then it is time he retired! Another draft, von Smallhausen, expressing, if you please, and in the strongest terms, my displeasure at Flick's dilatoriness!"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"I must consider... I must consider... Von Smalhausen!"

"Your Highness?"

"Yet another draft, if you please. This one to the Herzog von Marlbrouk, to the effect that I shall do myself the honour of visiting his headquarters... tomorrow... post meridian. Let this letter take precedence over all other matters if you please, and send suitable instructions to the stables. My travelling coach with two outriders to be ready, here by two of the clock tomorrow afternoon!"

"Yes, Your Highness."


Bluebear Jeff said...

More troubles indeed.

-- Jeff

Frankfurter said...

Hmmnn ... I vonder whom ist allied mit whom in fact?
Delicious ...
Will make nice sausages ...