Monday, August 6, 2007

Discussing the Vile...

A private library, somewhere in Hesse-Engelburg....

A man in a Major's uniform studies a wall map, before stepping to pull a bell-cord. A few minutes later, a slightly aged but still strong butler enters to attend him. "You rang, Herr Major?"

"Yes, Karl...has there been any further word from Mutter Anna?"

The butler seems to have expected the question, shaking his head with an appropriately apologetic expression. "I am afraid not, Herr Major. The latest post just arrived, and there was nothing."

Pursed lips greet the news, before the Major turns back from the map to face the attendant. "I did not think there would be. I fear Mutter Anna is holding out on us, Karl...she has sent us nothing of importance from Stagonia these several months, and now she cannot find even one merchant. We financed her house with the expectation of useful information from her patrons, and I do not think it is the girls who are failing to deliver....I fear Mutter Anna is lining her pockets without holding up her end of the bargain."

"The dearth is....conspicuous, Herr Major," agrees the butler quietly, nodding a couple of times before he inquires, "Have you any instructions for the next post, Herr Major?"

"Yes, Karl...I feel that Mutter Anna is going to have a tragic accident....most unfortunate, but clearly only an accident." He pauses, moving to his desk and opening a book, looking down a list of records in a curious shorthand, before looking up to the waiting servant again, "I think Belinda would be best to take over the position of Mutter. Would you agree, Karl?"

The servant considers, then nods decisively, "Ja, Herr Major...it was her own initiative that gave us the opportunity to free those 3 prisoners from the Baron's dungeon. I believe he *still* believes the Austrian count responsible for that one."

Another purse of lips, and then the Major nods, "You are right, Karl. It is time she saw more of the fruit of her labors. You will arrange the details?"

"Of course, Herr Major. Is there anything else, Herr Major?"

"No, Karl, that will be....wait, just one more thing. Tell Belinda that from now on the girls' cut will be increased to forty percent of the fee for any useful information provided. It will smooth the transition nicely, and perhaps bring us further information. Mutter Anna was only giving them ten percent. That suffices...see that it is discrete."

"Ja, Herr Major. It shall be done." A bow, and the butler retires, leaving the officer to his thoughts.

3 comments:

Herzog Ignaz said...

Later that week in Stagonia, Mutter Anna steps out of the Rosenherberge early in the morning on her way to the Apotheker Heinrich across the Hirschplatz. Distracted by her arguments that morning with Inge and Belinda over the disposal of two delinquent clients from the previous evening, she pays little attention to her surroundings. The night-earth wagons are still making their rounds, and when one rattles to an abrupt halt in front of her as she was just about to cross onto the Hirschplatz, she scolds the driver abruptly. Rather than deferring to a woman of obvious wealth and importance, the gap-toothed driver instead cackled loudly and shot back "Can't be getting any filth on Dame Anna, can we now?"

Stung by the driver's knowledge of her name and allusion to her trade, Mutter Anna gathered her breath to rebuke the driver more sternly, but instead reconsidered and began walking around the wagon to continue on her way. In a flash, the driver jumped down from the wagon and placed himself in front of her, apologising profusely. Ignoring him, she attempted to step around him as well, but was arrested by his grasp of her forearm.

Crying out in alarm, she began to flail her arms, attempting to attract attention. Hearing some answering cries further up the Thüringerallee, she redoubled her struggles, and broke free, whirling and stumbling about across the street, looking up the hill just in time to see the runaway milkwagon racing down the street, pulled by four panicked black Oldenburg horses frothing at the bit, trailed by the yelling passersby attempting to warn those down the street...

Stagonian Jeff said...

Oh oh, I think that it is "squashed like a pumpkin" time for Mutter Anna.

Snickering Corpses said...

A day or two after the terrible event, with the house still in mourning (and more than a little uncertain of their fate), a not entirely unhandsome though aging gentleman sits in Belinda's room, small spectacles settled on his nose as he converses with her.

He'd periodically appeared in the past year or two, and always asked for her specifically, and so far as she knew he was a professor at a university some distance away who visited the town on occasion while researching bits of Stagonian history. Belinda had come to welcome the professor's visits....he always tipped her, and yet she never unfastened so much as a button. They would have tea, and talk of politics or religion or some obscure bit of history....whatever struck the professor's fancy. It was almost like being a courtly lady, and something in Belinda's heart stirred to the dream.

But this time, this time he had a different topic of conversation for her. "Ah, thank you, Belinda. Your tea-brewing skills have only improved with time. Allow me to extend, also, my condolences on the loss of Mutter Anna."