The next morning, slightly the worse for the previous evening, Friedrich rose and prepared himself for the coming big day.
The main salon at the hot baths was laid out for the event; both sergeants would cover the entrance, while the cadets would man a table where the volunteers could sign up.
By the time the appointed hour stuck on the Abbey clock Friedrich was please to see that a large audience had gathered.
Friedrich ascended the stage at one end of the room and waited for silence.
“Gentlemen”, and then paused as another individual pushed through the doors into the chamber.
Feeling the eyes of the assembly upon him the person blurted out “Sorry, my masseuse failed to keep track of the time”
Trying to keep a straight face, Friedrich restarted, greeting everyone, then listing the objectives of the French Sans-Culottes and the devastation of the German lands to the west of the Rhine. Then he moved on to the current peril. “What will happen when the French do cross the Rhine? They are trying down its entire length to find a crossing point.”
“Our forces are limited, but we can resist them, especially if we cooperate. The whole of the Holy Roman Empire is in danger once they get across”
“Our biggest weakness is a lack of cavalry, which is why, gentlemen, I look to you. I am looking for gentlemen of independent means, used to riding and ideally with some experience with the sword. Initially we would have to act as a back up to the regulars, but I believe with our élan and appropriate training we can be their equals within a short time”
“My intention is to start assessment and training tomorrow at the cavalry barracks at 10 o’clock”
“Are there any questions?”
“But what if the French don’t cross the Rhine?”
“Since this is a volunteer unit, members will be free to leave with a weeks notice.”
“Can I bring my servants along?”
“If they can ride and fight then they are welcome to join at your cost. However in that capacity they will be unable to function as servants. That said, we will have a small equipment train with tents, remounts, etc. so individuals to run this will be welcomed especially grooms though I don’t think we will be able to use hairdressers or masseuses."
“How long will get to sort out our affairs?”
“Although training will commence immediately it will be at least a week before we have to depart Sonnenbad, so hopefully this will give you sufficient time."
“Why won’t the Saxons help us?”
“Well as you are aware, they are having problems with the Prussians over Poland”
“Well I’m prepared to join, provided you’ll accept Prussians”
“Any friend of the Empire or enemy of the Sans-Culottes will be accepted”
“Since there are no more questions, Gentlemen are you prepared to help the cause? If so please sign up with the cadets over at the desk”
Friedrich then stepped down and was gratified to see a number of volunteers with the cadets and a number debating their options.