Friday, June 8, 2007

Meanwhile, on the Plain of the Plain Thanes....

I wish night would come, thought Don Diego Halfdane de la Chevrolet-Vega, or el Grapaduro Rojo.

Since the now-hot, now-cold war between Gallia (whose western border lay just the other side of the rolling frontier from the northeasternmost heorthwerod of the Union Real de Scandalusia y Cuatrofenia) and Hesse-Seewald, His Majesty the High King had been bending the ear of his minister to the court at Versailles--that would be de la Chevrolet-Vega--to simultaneously seek any advantage possible for the Union Real while keeping out of the war proper, owing to the rather parlous state of the army.

Meanwhile, de la Vega had it on good authority from the Foreign Minister (his own tio, Alejandro Thorgrim) that His Royal Highness, Prince Joern Carlos de Yayubetja, was agitating at court to get into the war on any side and by any means available.

This is why, de la Chevrolet-Vega mused as he lounged theatrically near the open window in the Scandalusian evening, I insist upon receiving my expense allowance from the Crown--long may His Majesty reign, if only to keep his mad dog of a son off the throne--in gold, rather than that dodgy paper. Experimentally, he bounced a small muslin bag, mouth tied with twine, in his right hand, testing its weight.

A soft knock came from somewhere in the middle of the wall, or so it seemed. Crossing to the wall, de la Chevrolet-Vega tucked the bag into a sleeve, put a hand to the pistol in his waistband and with hispressed a certain spot in the chair-rail, and the outlines of a door suddenly appeared in the brocaded wallpaper. The low, narrow door opened and a rather nondescript man ducked into the study.

"Ah, Schwinglein, my good friend, well met," de la Chevrolet-Vega said with an audible exhalation, slipping his hand from the pistol butt. "I feared that you had come to grief."

"Senhor is too kind," said El Grapaduro Rojo. "I believe I was followed for a time, and I had to make certain I had shaken my shadow before entering via the secret route down by the river. I am pleased that I did not have to shoot the fellow, as he was a mere baby and was, I believe, most likely in the hire of His Royal Highness. I grow old for this business, and do not care for the attention."

De la Chevrolet-Vega nodded, considering. "The Crown Prince? You are certain of this?"

"There is no way to be entirely certain, senhor, but I believe I recognized the lad from the corps of cadets de Lutefisque," El Grapadura Rojo replied.

"Then that is sufficient to satisfy me," said de la Chevrolet-Vega, holding up a hand. "I have had occasion to rely upon your unusual memory more than once." He twitched the muslin bag from its resting place in his cuff and handed it across to Schwinglein. "You have earned this, old friend. Now we know that the Crown Prince seeks almost openly to set aside the policy of his father the High King, long may he reign" (por favor Dios, may it be so). "Lodge here tonight--I do not wish you to be seen upon the grounds nor within the city. Tomorrow I have another task for you...."


Bluebear Jeff said...

Ah, another mystery (and more intrigue). Perhaps Gallia needs to be wary of more than Hesse-Seewald.

Gallia said...

Mon trés cher, Don Diego Halfdane de la Chevrolet-Vega, or el Grapaduro Rojo,

I have the honour to resume our conversation of not quite a year ago. Duty calls me away for a fortnight but if I may have the honour to receive you for dinner in a fortnight at my chateau, I have information from the Prince de Charade and the King himself regarding our mutual interests and your Prince in the matter we discussed last summer.

I beg to be excused for my immediate absence trusting my dear collegue you will understand the needs of the service, time and circumstance. Meanwhile I have instructed Pierre to bring along a bottle of Chevert wine which we enjoyed during our last dinner together. I hope you find it as tolerable as before as I remain,

Votre Obt. Servant
l'Comte de Rapprochement
At Chateau Rapprochement
Versailles, Gallia