Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Sunday, 5 July 2009

P To the Power of Five (or Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance )

"The Devil take it, von Smallhausen! This could not have come at a worse time!"

"But, Your Highness will attend?"

"Of course. I have no option; this is not an invitation but an Imperial summons.

"But, Your Highness declined just such a summons not two years past?"

"True, but that summons was signed by the Kaiser's Secretary for Foreign Affairs. This is signed by the Kaiser himself, ergo, I go. I needs must, however, see von Marlbrouk, as planned, before I depart. So, my orders for my coach for this afternoon stand. In the meantime, you and I have much to do. First, a runner to General von Willich – he must take command in my absence. Second, a promotion order. You shall accompany me to Wienburg - under normal circumstances, I should be accompanied by Flick, but I need him to remain at Schloss Neuhaus – you wish to say something?"

"I am flattered of course, Your Highness, but there are matters outstanding here that would greatly benefit from my continued presence."

"Yes, there are matters here that would also benefit from my continued presence, but it cannot not be! Your light o' love shall have to accustom herself to your absence! Ah, that surprises you, does it not? Yes, von Smallhausen, I do have sources of news, other than what you permit me to know!"

"News, Your Highness? Say, rather baseless gossip!"

"Baseless gossip, hey? Well, never mind, let that pass for the nonce. Now, where was I... Oh, yes, young von Rabensthal to be Hauptmann, and to assume his new rank and new duties in your stead, from tomorrow. Now, another runner to my quarters if you please! Kurt is to pack all that I shall require for a period of at least two months, including attire suitable for the Imperial Court. Now, to the journey itself: We, that is you and I, shall undertake the journey in my travelling coach. My second coach shall contain Kurt, your man and a sufficiency of attire. Our mounts shall accompany us, led by our grooms. I shall take my Head Groom and one other – you?"

"Unlike Your Highness, I have only the one groom".

"You may well need a second. Dammit! This disruption of the Reitere could not have come at a worse time!"

"Your Highness..."

"Yes?"

"A thought occurs to me... suppose it were that some... person or persons ill-disposed to us – I mean, Ober Nord Westfalen – had foreknowledge that this summons was on its way, and had then deliberately fomented the unrest between the regimenten?"

"What!? No, no, no... the ill-will between the two corps is long-standing. A spontaneous uproar, having its source according to your theory of a brawl between a few individuals that got out of hand... Or, no, wait... D'ye know, von Smallhausen, you may have reason, after all. Think on, if you please... there was all that trouble 'ere we left home, and although Herr Flick is fairly confident that it was the false Wetherby and his accomplices... We never did ascertain to our complete satisfaction just who was the guilty party... or parties."

"Just so, Your Highness. But may I just remark that the ill-feeling is indeed of long-standing, and is certainly no state secret. Thus the situation should seem to be easily manipulated by persons ill-disposed to us?

"H'mm, yes... very well I shall think upon it."

"And if I may revert to my absence from here? Your Highness will not have forgotten that the task we set Herr Major Kr... er, I mean Monsieur Du Plessis?"

"Oh... yes, of course.”

"May I remind Your Highness that we are the only two persons who have any knowledge of his task? If he should need support, or to communicate with the army, with both of us absent... What shall then happen?”

"Dammit! I said this was a most inconvenient time! There is nothing else for it, we shall have to admit von Rabensthal into our confidence!”

"I am against such a measure, Your Highness."

"Oh, why is that?”

"Well, Your Highness... von Rabensthal is certainly a most efficient deputy for myself. But his sense of discretion has not yet been fully put to the test. To bring an unknown quantity into the equation may yet set at naught all our calculations! It goes against everything that I have learned from Herr Flick!"

"On the other hand, von Rabensthal has shown no sign of being loose-lipped, has he? Otherwise, I assure you, he would not have lasted a week in his employment!"

"It shall, of course, be as Your Highness wills, but before we include the young man in our inner circle, may I beg Your Highness' indulgence for a few hours while I consider what ought best be done?”

"Very well, but I remind you that we do not have many hours!”

"True, Your Highness, but Your Highness will be away from headquarters for this afternoon – and I suspect for much of the evening. Although there is much for me to do, I am persuaded that I shall have sufficient time in which I shall hit upon some stratagem that will obviate the need to fully inform von Rabensthal of the Du Plessis affair.”

"Very well, you may have until my return from von Marlbrouk's headquarters. Absent a satisfactory alternative at that time, we shall summon von Rabensthal and fully inform him of the situation. Now, to the journey."

"As Your Highness wills it.”

"Good. Now,von Smallhausen, you have a map of the German states? Good. Look ye, the most direct route takes us from here to Aachen, Köln, Koblenz, Frankfurt, Nürnberg, München and then to Salzburg and finally Wienburg."

"True, Your Highness, but may I remind Your Highness that Kurfürst Johannes Maximillian of Bayern, is not entirely sympathetic to the Kaiser's claim to the throne of Spannien? It may be the more prudent to take a detour around that Prince's domains?”

"Yes... what do you have in mind?”

"To follow the route suggested by Your Highness until Nürnberg, and then strike further east to Plzn, Brno and then south to Wienburg. For the latter part of the journey we shall thus be safely in the Kaiser's Bohemian realm.”

"Yes... yes... I see your point. Very well. Make it so. We shall need a team of fore-riders, of course, to bespeak changes of horses and accommodations for our journeys. A team of six ought to suffice. And I must have an escort – not only for protection, naturally, but also to mark my position. I really cannot arrive at an Imperial conclave quite unattended!”

"But, Your Highness has just dismounted the Reitere!"

"Yes, von Smallhausen, that fact had not eluded my memory! Dammit, what to do? I needs must have an escort, but I will not appear to be so vacillating as to countermand the orders that I have only just issued!”

"If I may make a suggestion, Your Highness?”

"Yes.”

"Your Highness, although the punishment is richly deserved, it applies to all the personnel of both regimente, does it not?”

"Yes.”

"Surely, Your Highness, it shall be possible to find with the ranks of these regimente sufficient men to furnish an escort; men who did not participate in the riot?”

"Possibly, possibly...”

"Then, Your Highness, permit me to send an order to both regimente requiring them to furnish each a body of men who were not thus involved?”

"Von Smallhausen, I shall need a minimum of one Eskadron. Can it be possible d'ye think?”

"I do not know, Your Highness. All I can do is attempt to find out.”

"Very well, von Smallhausen; make it so."

2 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

Ah, they live in interesting times, don't they?


-- Jeff

Byrhthelm said...

"interesting times,"

Indeed, as in the ould Oirish curse - 'May you live in interesting times'.