Saturday, 30 April 2011

Out by the front gate

Much earlier, Juli, walking up to the palace gate, boldly waved the note to the Sentry “I have to take this to Dr Tölpel”. She knew the guard was about to change shortly so the replacements would not notice her failure to return.

The sentry blinked and concentrated on the note, he slowly read the Addressee “Herr Doctor Tölpel. Do you know the way miss?”

“Yes it won’t take long”

Juli then calmly proceeded up the main road in the direction of the doctor’s. Once she was out of sight she turned off and headed towards the cathedral. As she skirted round the main square, filled with market stalls, she caught sight of the cook and Albert. Albert may have spotted her, so she headed down a side alley and then turned into another and another. She then waited patiently for several minutes. Slowly she reversed her steps keeping as inconspicuous as possible. As she returned to the corner of the first alley, she could just see Albert back in the main square in the firm grasp of one of the Schwartzgarde grenadiers, while the cook was in conversation with another.

Juli decided to make her way to the safe house through the back streets and hoped she wouldn’t get lost. She had been shown it briefly when she first arrived in Traunsburg and told only to use it when she needed to escape.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


It was late afternoon when Captain Pilsner was shown into an elegant drawing room in the palace to find both the Duchess and the Count present.

“Ah Pilsner, want have you found out?”

“Well Sir, I’m not sure he is the culprit, but I can’t be certain till we find the servant girl Juli, and she seems to have gone missing. I’ve asked the servants to check the palace”

The Duchess interrupted “Juli? is that the new servant girl?”

“Yes Madam, only thirteen and been working here a few months”

“I remember her, she convinced Konrad to put a whole gold crown in the widow’s collection”

“A very generous gesture Maria, now Captain tell me exactly what you know”


Suddenly there was a knock on the door and a sergeant entered and saluted smartly “Urgent news sir”

“Carry on”

“Well sirs, it appears that the girl Juli left the palace this morning with a note for Herr Doctor Tölpel and hasn’t returned”

“Send men round to the doctor’s to collect her”

“Already in progress, Sir.”

“Very good sergeant”

“But sir, no-one in the palace sent her”

The Count leapt up and ordered “Close the city gates and turn out the guards, find the girl”

Friday, 22 April 2011


The young servant was dragged out of the guardhouse, across the palace courtyard and into the barracks. He was flung through an open door onto the floor then dragged to his feet. Looking up he saw the Count staring at him across a desk.

“So, you rascal, we’ve caught you at last, thought you could give us the slip did you?”


“Yes it was fortunate some of my men were watching when you tried to run”

“But I was only going to find out what Juli was doing”

“That’s not what the cook said! Seemed you were too anxious to help with the shopping, and then ran as soon as you left the palace”

“What do you think Captain?” the Count turned to another officer.

“Yes, looks likely to me”

The Count placed some clothes on the desk, “Do you recognise these?”

“Yes, I mean no. They look like my spare clothes, but, but they are covered in blood, Oh!” Albert turned pale and collapsed on the floor.

“Right, Captain Pilsner, you carry on the interrogation, but don’t damage him too badly! Let me know what you find out. Oh, and don’t just let the men string him up for killing Sergeant Huber, I want to watch.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Sparrow considered the position, it was becoming far too hazardous to remain and the mission had more than achieved its objectives. The last bit of information had been hidden for collection, but it would be critical if lost and therefore taking the news back in person would make sense.

But how to leave? Servants had to work all day and no one could enter or leave without a pass. At night since the death of the sergeant the sentries were far more alert than before. The two options were either to get sent on an errand, or slip away when the staff went to church on Sunday. The danger was that by running away, the authorities might link it to the death of the sergeant, therefore the need was to maximise the time before any absence was noticed.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Duke's study

The Duke’s office was always guarded, even before the recent troubles, but the sentry just let Juli enter. The room was full of bookcases and tables and every flat place, including some of the floor, was covered in papers. Susanne, one of the senior maids looked up flustered, “Oh good you’ve been sent to help, now be careful. We have to clean, but the papers are not to be disturbed. Just lift them up, dust and replace them in exactly the same place” After a while an adjoining door opened and Juli heard a discrete male cough. Suzanne look across at Juli and said “Just carry on, do exactly what I said, and I’ll be back shortly” with that she entered the next room and shut the door. After what might have been a quarter hour Suzanne emerged looking flushed. Juli tried to look busy as the Count followed Suzanne into the room and pressed something into hand. Looking around he noticed Juli. “Ah I see you have help, quite a scrawny wretch, she needs to grow a bit before I can feed her to my grenadiers” with that he left and closed the door. “So Juli, I hope you haven’t moved anything out of place?” “No Suzanne”

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A respite?

Returning downstairs from a task, Juli cringed, the only other person present in the servant's hall was Albert, who seemed to take an interest in everything she did. Although he was only slightly older than her, he been there a short while longer and he seemed to be doing well, partly because of his persistent volunteering for any task, however unpleasant.

Just then the Butler entered and seemed disappointed to find none of his usual targets there. “You girl, Juli is it?”

“Yes Sir” replied Juli not sure if being remembered by the Butler was a good or bad thing.

“How old are you?”

“Thirteen, I think sir”

“and can you read?”

“I’ I’ I know my letters, sir”

“Please sir, I can read”

”The butler glowered “I didn’t ask you. Juli, get upstairs and help Suzanne clean the Duke’s office”

Monday, 11 April 2011

Chemical Analysis

Once again Baron Wilhelm received an unexpected visit from Von Barner. “More revelations from Pommaine, Major?” “Yes, we have the details of the Duke’s medication. I have just been to the university to discuss the composition with Professor Doktor Kremnitzer. His view was that the major ingredient, Digitalis, was consistent with a heart attack and the dosage was reasonable. His view on some of the other components was that they were as effective as eye of newt and toe of frog.” “So in his view the Duke is not being poisoned?” “Not exactly, although the medication was reasonable the treatment of sweating a fever was in his words medieval and could make the situation worse” “Deliberately so?” “Not in his view, especially when I mentioned that the Duke’s doctor was called Tölpel, he considers the man a charlatan, apparently he was thrown out of Heidelberg medical school for failure to understand basic precepts” "Then there is the position of the youngest son, Konrad, apparently the Duchess refers to him as the heir, Erbherzog " "has all this come from Sparrow?" "Yes, a very useful agent" "But to have gained this much information, he must be very much at risk. Do not push your luck too far Major, it’s not good for our image if our agent get caught." "Exactly sir, a recall order has already been sent, hopefully it will get through"

Friday, 8 April 2011

The son and heir?

After several changes of water, Juli had almost finished the cleaning; it was amazing how much blood there had been. The door creaked slightly and she looked across to see a small face looking in.

“is this where the sentry was killed?”

“Yes sir. Over by the window”

“Was there a lot of blood?”

“Yes it was horrible”

“So who did it?”

“Well the sentries say it must have been a young lad trying to break into the palace”

An elegant woman swept into the room “Ah there you are Konrad, I’ve been searching for you”

“This is where the soldier was killed Mama, and the blood went absolutely everywhere”

“Quite horrible, now come Konrad, you have piano lessons”

“Excuse me Ma’am” said Juli in a low voice.

“What” “The sentry said they were having a collection for the sergeant’s widow and young sons”

“Oooh Mama can I play with them”

"No Konrad, an Erbherzog does not play with common children”

“But Mama, what about the collection”

“Yes, if you want” she sighed and the pair left the room.

Juli breathed a sight of relief; she had forgotten the rules about speaking to the Ducal family and the risk of a beating for speaking out of turn.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


In the early morning, the servants had just settled down to a breakfast of leftovers from the previous evening when the butler strode in and pointed at the youngest servant “you girl, what’s your name?”

“Juli, sir” “Right get a bucket and mop and follow me”

“But” stuttered the girl, looking at the food.

“Get on with it there is no time to waste”

As she collected the cleaning equipment and followed the butler to the door, Dora, the old seamstress who shared her room came up to her and pushed something into her apron pocket and whispered “Eat it later”

She followed the butler up the backstairs and along the corridor to the Green Parlour; a sentry nodded and allowed the butler to open the door. The girl gasped, there was blood everywhere.

“Right girl, don’t gawp, a guard was killed here last night and it needs cleaned up immediately” with that the butler strode off.

Juli grabbed the mop and started on the floor. Just then the sentry walked in. “What happened?” she asked as while mopping.

“Well miss, the Count seemed to think that Sergeant Huber caught a burglar breaking in to the palace, from the look of his clothes he must have been a young lad. It might explain why the Sergeant was caught unawares; he was a hard fighter but a great family man with kids of his own. If it had been a man he'd have skewered him without hesitating."

At that moment Juli just rushed to the open window and emptied the contents of her stomach outside. The sentry followed, and said “That’s lucky; they must have removed the clothes that were lying there. Now I’ll let you get on with your job, but could you let the servants know we will be making a collection for the widow. Don’t know what will happen to her and the kids now”

Juli nodded and returned to her task and spotted some faint bloody footprints heading off into the palace.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Proclaimed by the town-crier of Traunsburg:

Loyal citizens of Traunsburg a horrible murder has been committed by person or persons unknown attempting to rob the Ducal palace. All efforts are being made to catch the murderer, but until further notice the curfew will be strictly applied between the hours of 10pm and 6am.

Anyone having any information on this crime should report it to the Gendarmerie. Furthermore you are reminded to secure your property to help prevent further burlaries

By order of Duke Otto of Pommaine

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Perilous Return

The task completed Sparrow carefully left the Doctor's house leaving no trace of entry. The streets were quieter now, but at least it was easy in the near dark to check for guards, who carried torches and then slip from alley to alley back to the palace.

“Got you, you little rascal! Thought you could sneak in and rob from the palace did you?” Sparrow was lithe and small and in the dark easily mistaken for a ragamuffin, but it was the Grenadier who had found the ground floor window ajar that made the mistake. Before anymore was said the Grenadier slumped his throat slit. Sparrow cursed quietly, they would trace the blood stains. After a moments thought, Sparrow discarded the blood soaked clothes and cautiously returned naked to the servant’s quarters. The clothes were untraceable, hopefully easily replaced, and a quick wash would remove any remaining traces of blood.