After tidying himself up and now wearing his cadet uniform, Friedrich arrived back at the Commandant’s house at the specified hour and was waved inside by Hans to where Ilse was waiting. She then led him into the dining room where most of the other guests were gathered. Last to arrive was Stupenhagel the local commander of posts and customs a very dour individual.
Friedrich found himself seated with Ilse on one side and Bettina on the other and Captain Mannerheim opposite
The Major opened with “Welcome everyone, to my small celebration of today’s victory, but first a moments silence in remembrance of those who fell in battle”
“Now for the benefit of our young guest I’ll quickly introduce you all”
“And now young fellow please introduce yourself”
Friedrich introduced himself as Friedrich von Wettin a senior cadet at the Kriegsakademie and that he hoped to graduate this summer and then either find a position on some general’s staff or perhaps do some travelling first.
”Are you related to the current Elector?” asked Captain Mannerheim
Friedrich dreaded this question, but he had a response ready “Like most Saxons I’m related to Frederick the Strong.”
The room all burst into laughter, except for Stupenhagel who had to have the joke explained as he was not aware that Frederick the Strong, the Saxon Elector, who had died 50 years earlier, had sired over 350 children, all but one illegitimate.
The soup was then served and most of Friedrich’s conversation was with the two sisters, especially with Ilse. Bettina was engaged to a Jens a Danish Trader and she hoped to be married shortly, but Ilse was unattached.
Listening in on the banter between the militia officers, who originated from various parts of Germany, Friedrich realised that the real common factor was that they had all served in the Fundsberg forces and had since settled in Stonew. Quite typical was Captain Mannerheim who now ran the local bank. All of them had a large collection of anecdotes of places near and far.
Friedrich himself described the high life in Sonnenbad and the large numbers of German nobles talking the waters who talked about the need to resist the French. “The trouble is that each and everyone of them thinks they should be in charge”
At the close of the evening, Hans passed around the table handing out small glasses of schnapps.
The Major then rapped the table for silence. “Gentlemen, and ladies, a toast” everyone rose “Frundsberg forever” They all stood, raised their glasses and roared “Frundsberg forever” then downed the schnapps.
A little while later Ilse led Friedrich to the front door. Opening it, she thanked him for being such an entertaining guest “I still don’t know exactly who you are, but I’ll find out!”
“Gnädige fraulein, it has been a real pleasure” Friedrich kissed her hand and left.