Thursday, 20 December 2012

Unwelcome Visitors (2)

The cavalry halted out of musket range and a small number approached the troops covering the road into the town. With fifty men behind him, Sergeant Schmidt felt confident that he could prevent a quick assault down the main road, but the fieldworks were incomplete and could be easily crossed as no abbattis was in place. All he could do was conduct a fighting withdrawal down the road to the bridge.

Trouble was they didn't look like Frundsberg or any other German cavalry, but Frundsberg did deal in mercenaries, so he couldn't be certain who they were. But they seemed to be dressed in all sorts of oddments without any obvious uniform. However the leader was more smartly dressed and rode up accompanied by a couple of other riders.

He spoke with a heavily accented voice “Good Morning Sergeant, are we in Pommaine?”

“Yes suur, can I ask your business, and can I see you Pass-porte” responded the Sergeant not at all sure how he should handle this.

“Ah yes, I have a letter here somewhere from Count Vladislav” and opened his saddlebag, then stopped and exclaimed. Micha! leave the soldiers alone”

 The Sergeant instinctively turned to where the leader was looking to see one of the riders returning one of his men’s hat on the end of his lance.

“I’m sorry about that Sergeant, now I see one of your officers has arrived”

Friday, 14 December 2012

Counting them all out

Meanwhile in a tavern in Pappenheim two gentlemen are discussing the parade

“Well how many did you count?”

“Ummm, about two thousand foot and five hundred horse”

“What do you mean about?” came a raised voice

“Keep calm, it was difficult to keep count, besides, someone might be listening”

“So my count was just over 1,800 foot and 460 horse, what did you actually count?”

“Well there were eight companies and assuming the ranks stayed six wide for the infantry and eight files that would make 1,920 men, plus officers, etc.  I think that makes two thousand foot more or less and similar for the cavalry”

“OK, lets go with your figures and explanation for our master, will you pass the message on this time?”

“Yes, but how do we get south to check what is really happening?”

“It’s all conveniently restricted because of so called bandits; I’ll try and find a way”

“Very good, I’ll leave to usual mark to indicate if we need to meet again.

After the gentlemen left the tavern, the father treating his daughter to a meal in a quiet corner asked “Well did you get a good look at them?”

“Yes father”

“Those are just the two spies we know of, and we know they use Frau Wurmser’s Academy as a post box, but we need to find out what happens to the letter after that.  So finish off your lunch and we’ll sort out what you might need”

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Unwelcome Visitors (1)

In Bruckewasser the atmosphere was quite different the gates were closed, the walls manned and the militia were being hastily mustered in the main square. The cause of their nervousness soon became apparent as a large mass of cavalry came into view.

Earlier, Sergeant Schmidt had been alerted by an observant sentry that cavalry were approaching the city and sent him back to warn the city. “But, what about the Lieutenant?”

 “Just get back and tell the Major to call out the guard, now get going” Turning around the Sergeant called out “Fall in and prepare for cavalry” his men quickly climbed out of the various ditches and ran for their piled arms, before assembling on the road behind him.

Seeing the various townsfolk stopping their work on the fortifications he shouted out “And you lot keep working, it’s nothing to worry about”

From behind he heard the question “Where’s Lieutenant Uston Sergeant?”

“Don’t you worry lad, he’s better off sleeping off his hangover” The Sergeant wasn't as sure when he looked out at the mass of cavalry that had appeared in front of them.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Grand Parades

The Glowstein Electoral Grenadiers looked splendid as they passed by the saluting platform in Pappenheim, but their impression was surpassed by the Horse Guards who followed the open coach with General Bludnitz of Glowstein waving to the crowds. Following the parade the troops headed south to join their compatriots on the Pommaine border awaiting the order to attack.

Meanwhile to the south the Prussian army had been assembled and the message from their King was read out to the troops, the officers had had separate briefings the previous evening. Their orders stated that they were assisting a friendly state threatened by a lackey of the Emperor and that any looting or disorder would be severely dealt with.

Further south the Austrian forces were conducting a very similar event, parading past the “Grand-Duke” and the officers pledging to restore him to his throne.

Meanwhile while across the Rhine, the Alsatian troops seemed quiet and stunned when told they would be shipped down river to Pommaine while the Rhine was at its usual spring high.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Slight cough, then somewhat louder.


The head began to move.


"Oh Margrave, I must have dozed off, it's the warm weather you know, and unfortunately combined with the excellent wine you brought it put me to sleep"

Rising from his chair "Now remind me where I was at while I get some coffee"

"Well Baron, you were explaining about the War of the Pommaine Succession and how you came to employ Ilse Von Barner as a spy".

"Right, just give me a moment and I'll resume"

Monday, 23 April 2012

Meeting the Baron (3)

“Thank you Ilse” responded Baron Wilhelm to her detailed explanation of her trips to Pommaine “I must admit I was worried when your father initially suggested your name for this assignment. After all it is not uncommon for people to suggest their relatives as suitable for a mission, whether they are competent or not!”

 “However, I see in your case that your father has suggested the right candidate, despite your young age you are quite a capable spy, but as your father explained, you need to learn the airs and graces of a lady”

 “What!” exclaimed Ilse to be silenced by a raised finger from the Baron.

 “And as your father has already explained you are to attend Frau Wurmser’s Academy, which will be at my expense”

 “But!” again a slightly raised finger.

 “You already know that there are Prussian agents in Pommaine but you are probably not aware that the trail leads to Frau Wurmser’s Academy.   So we need someone inside to find out what is happening and where this information goes next. Are you prepared to take on this mission?”

 “Of course!” responded Ilse.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Meeting the Baron (2)

“Oh, and what’s that mark on your arm?” asked the Baron

“It’s a tattoo” answered Ilse caught unawares

Ilse father butted in “She did it to hide a scar from when she broke her arm”

“Yes, but it’s a bird, may I suggest it might even be a sparrow” replied the Baron smirking.

Ilse looked at him and then her father who had a broad smile on his face and then demanded “Right who’s going to explain what’s going on!”

Ilse’s father nodded to the Baron, who responded “Your father claimed that one of his most useful agents in Pommaine was Sparrow, who provided some very useful information. So how did he convince you to go”

“He didn’t, I had read the reports and saw the frustration at how little could be discovered so I decided I could try it myself, after all I thought that if I could break into my fathers study with its locks and other safeguards I could do the same in the palace in Traunsberg”

Ilse then went on to explain the events of both her trips to Pommaine.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Meeting the Baron (1)

The Major and Ilse were shown into Baron Wilhelm’s study. He immediately stood to greet them. “…and I’m especially please to meet you young lady”

“Well, then perhaps I can tell you about the Alsace communication that came into my possession, my father has been too concerned with my appearance to pay any attention to it” Ilse looked cross and determined to have her way

“Really, and what makes it so important” replied the Baron trying to keep control of the meeting.

“It was written in code and is some sort of agreement between Prussia and Alsace over splitting Pommaine between them”

“Perhaps we ought to cover this first as it seems relevant to our situation. Now can you show me what this message contains Ilse?”

“Of course” Ilse pulled out a sheaf of papers from her bag “Here is the original message”

“I see and how did you obtain it?”

“It was in the saddlebags of a horse I stole in Traunsberg” at the Baron’s raised eyebrows she continued “I didn’t realise it was a Alsatian courier’s horse until after I had escaped”

“Very well, I see it’s a code, so how did you work out the message”

Ilse pushed up her sleeves “right, first I looked for obvious patterns such as double letters that normally give an initial clue like MM in Pommaine, then I looked for common letter groups, but with no luck. It was only when I relaxed then looked again that I saw the letters were in groups of four.”

“I see it now you have pointed it out”

“Once I had reversed the groups I found the pattern, it used the keyword kraut and the rest of the alphabet reversed, and here is the translation”

“Excellent work! Normally we pass the information to Professor Töring at the University for him and his Mathematics students to find the code”

“I know!”

“How?” demanded the baron

“Well, he has written some interesting papers on the subject”

“But those had limited circulation!”

Von Barner interjected “I admit only recently discovered my daughter’s capabilities in espionage”

Feeling the conversation was drifting in the wrong direction Ilse asked “The part I don’t understand in the agreement is how they define Upper and Lower Pommaine”

“Ah, that’s an old term from the very early days of the Empire, when much of what is now the Frei Stadt was called lower Pommaine. Hmm, it seems that Prussia is out to occupy us should all the current claimants to Pommaine die, while Alsace will occupy Pommaine proper. A very fortunate discovery, I’ll pass on a suitable warning to the Emperor.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The talk of the town?

When Ilse knocked and then entered General Wurst’s study, Major Von Barner was shocked, was this smart young lady his daughter? It was quite a transformation.

The General responded before he could “Fraulein Von Barner, I’m glad to see my wife could find some suitable apparel for you and I must say it is more than suitable in my opinion”

“Thank you General, but I must say, I am puzzled by all this attention”

“Well I must let the Baron reveal what he might wish you to do for the Freistadt”

It was only a ten minute walk to the Baron Wilhelm’s residence in Pappenheim, but it took nearly a half hour to traverse the roads through this fashionable part of town. This was due to the large numbers of young gentlemen who insisted on stopping and passing the time of day.

Looking at his daughter as she responded to yet another gentleman passing the time of day the Major realised that she could be very attractive and yet dangerous as the highwaymen had discovered.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Smartened up

No sooner than they had stepped through the door of General Wurst’s house than Frau Wurst was there to greet them.

“Welcome Major, I see the problem, now young lady if you will accompany me”

“Father” queried Ilse

“We are going to meet the Baron and you have to be presentable, now go along with Frau Wurst and she will do the best she can in the limited time we can spare, I’ll be in the study with the General”

Having ascended to a bedroom, Frau Wurst looked Ilse up and down “ I don’t know if I can manage in the time. Now girl, don’t looked so frightened, just get out of those things, as you just look like a maid”

“But it was the best I had at the time”

“Of course, but now, give yourself a quick wash, while I find something suitable from my daughter’s clothes. Martha, where’s the hot water?”

“Coming Marm, have you heard the excitement about the highwaymen attempting to rob the Welle post-coach?”

“No! What happened?”

“Well they shot the guard, then this girl! Can you believe it! She took his place and killed lots of them”

“I only killed one!” exclaimed Ilse to their surprise. “and killed a horse….and knocked another off his horse”

“Well no wonder you need tidied up” expressed Frau Wurst “Now run along Martha and find a suitable bonnet as I don’t have time to wash and set this young ladies hair”

Monday, 20 February 2012

New arrivals in Pappenheim

As the coach swept into the main square in Pappenheim, Ilse was surprised to see a mass of red uniforms. By the time the coach reached the Greyhound Inn, she realised they were from Glowstein and she could see her father waiting for her.

Of course he was shocked as she leapt down from the driving seat and grabbed her bag from the militiamen. “Hello father”

“No time for that, you are late, come with me straight away to General Wurst’s house”
With that they were striding off up the main streets with Ilse given no chance to explain what had happened.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Highwaymen (3)

As the coach neared Tonclot, the Driver turned to Ilse “could you hold the reins Miss, while I sound the coaching horn”

“No it’s OK, I can sound it what should I play?”

“One long and then two short blasts”

Ilse picked up the horn took a deep breath and sounded a long note, another breath and then two short ones”

“Good Miss, nice and loud, now wait a moment and sound it again”

By the time Tonclot came into view Ilse could see the Militia assembling.

Once they arrived the driver quickly explained what had happened and a couple of riders disappeared up the road to look for the missing Guard and any traces of the highwaymen.

Another rider headed off for Pappenheim with the news and two burley militiamen settled into the carriage with their equipment in case of further trouble. Ilse was glad she had decided to remain on top of the carriage. With another change of horses the coach was off.

Well Miss, if we’re lucky they’ll find Kurt and fix him up. You see he was new to the business and he grabbed the blunderbuss first and fired at too great a range. Now settle back and we’ll soon be in Pappenheim”

Monday, 13 February 2012

Highwaymen? (2)

“What did you think you were doing Micha?”

“Well you said find out where we were and the simple solution was to ask the wealthy people on the coach”

“You mean your lads wanted a bit of fun, and now one is dead and another has a face covered in bruises, you were lucky you didn’t lose more”

“Sorry Sergei”

“Well we had better find out where we are and head in the right direction before they come looking for you. Did you discover anything at all?”

“No, it was all in that funny writing, but I could draw the words on the coach if it would help”

Studying the drawing Sergei eventually worked it out “Frundsberg Post!, So in avoiding the Prussians we have come to far north. We have to head south, lets go”

Sunday, 12 February 2012

First meeting of the Regents

The three regents and General Von Gessler reconvened in the Morning room with guards posted outside the doors.

“I didn’t think it would come to this” sobbed the Grand-Duchess Mari
“Well the Grand-Duke did and that is why we are allied with Prussia and Alsace” expressed the General “We had hoped for a bit more time to get our allies into position, but we still have the advantage of the ground and our fortified cities”

“Is there anything I can do?” asked the Archbishop

“You could pray for victory and for the Ottomans to cause trouble for the Austrians”

“No I meant I could try negotiating with the Austrians”

“Too late for that, I’m afraid; the Ambassador must have had pretty specific instructions”

A couple of shots broke the momentary silence. Count Vladislav, walked to the window “A bad day for pigeons it seems. Our precautions seem to be working , no-one allowed in or out off the gates and game keepers and falconers ready to deal with any carrier pigeons. It may give us a couple of days extra to prepare.”

“I may be a man of the cloth, but why is there a red flag flying on my cathedral?” asked the Archbishop.

“What, exclaimed the Count. Guards, Guards!”

As the guards entered the room he count shouted at the officer in charge “Get to the cathedral immediately remove that flag and catch whoever is responsible”

“Hmm” expressed the General, “It seems our enemies anticipated our precautions, we need to be more careful”

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The bells

Franz was exhausted; it had been a long limb up the Cathedral bell tower. But there was a splendid view from the top, especially across to the Ducal Palace. Finding the flagstaff, he got prepared and as he looked across to the palace he could see all the dignitaries arriving.

Taking out his telescope, he could get a clearer view. Watching the last one enter and the doors being closed he settled down to wait, but trying to remain alert. He was sure he had prepared everything for a hopefully unseen rapid departure and a wedge was ready to place behind the roof door as he left.

After what seemed an age people began to emerge from the palace, Franz lifted his telescope and spotted the Austrian Ambassador pausing just outside the entrance and mopping his brow. The Frundsberg ambassador joined him and offered him his startlingly red kerchief, the offer was declined, but the offer was strangely repeated.

Franz scrabbled over to the flagpole and raised the flag he had already attached to the halyard and left as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Highwaymen? (1)

The calm progress of the post coach was suddenly disturbed when the driver shouted down to the passengers “Highwaymen, hold on tight” and cracked his whip. The horses were still reasonably fresh from the last change so the coach rapidly picked up pace, but not quick enough. A shot was heard and the guard tumbled off the coach and moments later a face leered through the window, only to have the door thrust out at him by Ilse.

Looking back she could see the rider lying in the road, but at least another ten riders were in pursuit. Without thinking Ilse just swung out and climbed up alongside the driver. “Do you have any weapons?”

“Yes there is a carbine and pistol under the seat, you had better be a good shot as they are gaining on us” Grabbing the weapons Ilse turned, the Highwaymen were getting very close but the jolting of the coach would make any shot difficult. Gently squeezing the trigger on the carbine she took aim and fired. The lead highwayman’s horse crumpled, it was a shame but she had to aim at the bigger target.

Ilse then started to reload while keeping a carefully eye on their pursuers. She hadn’t finished by the time a pair came alongside so she shot one of them with the pistol and aimed the carbine at the other.

The highwayman veered away and then the remainder seemed to lose interest and halted their chase. Ilse rammed the charge down in the carbine and then started reloading the pistol.

“That was close, thank you Miss, we’ll be in Tonclot in a few minutes, it’s only a league away.”

Ilse pondered about the highwaymen, there were so many of them and dressed strangely. Also the Freistadt rarely suffered this problem. Something wasn’t right.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Grand Duke Otto’s Will (2)

Despite this action the Austrian ambassador remained standing “This Will is counter to Imperial law and is therefore invalid it is also clear that foreign influence is being applied”

The General had had enough and declared “Well run off to the Emperor and see what he really wants to do about it!!”

The Ambassador took out his kerchief and wiped his brow, “In which case I have the authority to announce that the Empire declares war on the usurpers of Pommaine and that Imperial forces will intervene to restore the rightful Grand Duke Karl”

There was a moments silence as the audience reflected on the Ambassadors statement, it was broken by the General exclaiming “Then we will fight for the rights of Grand Duke Konrad”

The Alsatian ambassador shouted out “Alsace will support the right of monarchs to name their successors” followed by the Prussian affirming the same.

The Austrian Ambassador who had remained standing throughout concluded “Well gentlemen, it seems there is nothing more to discuss here, if anyone wishes to reconsider their position I will be at my residence” with that he left the chamber.

Seeing that the event had come to a dramatic close the rest of the guests began to leave.

Turning to the Regents the General simply said “I think we should move to a quiet location and discuss our options”

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Grand Duke Otto's Will (1)

In front of the assembled throng the Archbishop of Traunsberg stood up on the dais. The main hall of the palace was packed, every last chair was filled and any remaining space was filled by those standing. In was a good attendance.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Subjects and Ambassadors, welcome to the Duchy”

“A shout of “just get on with it” was heard, he suspected it was the Monte Cristo ambassador but it was met with a murmur of agreement so he just continued. “I will now read the grand-Duke’s will.” He was handed the sealed packet by the Grand-Duke’s lawyer and waved it to the crowd before ostentatiously opening it.

Taking up his glasses he proceeded to read in monotone “This is the last will and testament of Grand-Duke Otto of the County of Pommaine………..

My rights and privileges will be inherited by.. my younger surviving son Konrad….”
A gasp from the crowd

“Until he comes of age the Duchy will be administered on his behalf by a regency headed by my wife the Grand-Duchess Maria advised by my elder son Karl and Count Vladislav. Until that time all decisions made by the council of regents will be made on a majority basis.”


“If my elder son Karl, refuses to accept this will then his position on the council will be taken by the Archbishop of Traunsberg”

At once there was a cry of what?, shame! and other unmentionable remarks.

The bishop then re-read the same section finishing with “The Grand Duke Otto’s will seems clear enough”

The Austrian Ambassador stood up immediately “This change in succession has not been cleared in advance with the Lower Saxon circle or raised with the Emperor, therefore it cannot stand” He was supported by loud agreement from various other ambassadors”

“General Von Gessler stood up, “This is a convention intended to prevent usurpation of lands not something to prevent the normal rights of monarch to name their successors.”

Cries of agreement were heard from the Prussian, Alsatian and a few other ambassadors
The General continued “All loyal Pommaine office holders have committed to the Grand Duke’s will in his presence”

Colonel Preysing stood up.

Before he could speak the General pointed to him “Except for this sole officer who is now under arrest” and several neighbouring officers moved to arrest him and led him from the chamber.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

On to Pappenheim

After breakfast, once the reply to the Colonel’s message was received. Ilse was put on the post-coach to Pappenheim that had been deliberately delayed.

“At last” exclaimed a clergyman as they departed “I hope you were not the cause of our delay?”

“No, I was just lucky the coach was still here, there might have been some problem on the road ahead”

With that the clergyman turned to his colleague and recommenced a discussion on ethics of rulers”

Ilse felt she should explain more, but then remembered the coded message, so she took it out to study. She knew something about codes, but there was nothing obvious that stood out, especially as both Pommaine and Prussia should be mentioned so the double letters should be an indicator.

Sitting back and just looking vaguely at the letter, she suddenly spotted a pattern in the writing, the letters seemed to have been written in groups of four. Grabbing a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil she started rewriting the letter reversing each set of four letters. Moments later she stopped as the clergymen switched to speaking in Latin and started discussing local gossip and then speculated on her presence.”

“No I am not a whore of Babylon, I am the daughter of major Von Barner and I am travelling on state business and have not had chance to dress myself in suitable attire!” exclaimed Ilse in Latin to the shock of the clergymen. A stunned apology followed and Ilse was left in peace for the rest of the journey.

Once the message had been rewritten Ilse rescanned it for obvious clues and they gradually appeared. It was a simple transcription using a key word, in this case “kraut” and then realigning the other letters. The message was clear it was a protocol between Prussia and Alsace on how they would divide Pommaine between them if “all other claimants” were to die.

Monday, 30 January 2012

An early morning

Ilse, awoke and realised that she had slept in. It had been a while since she hadn’t tried to remain alert at night and she’d nearly missed her early morning appointment with the Colonel. Dressing quickly she dressed in as feminine a manner as possible, given her remaining clothing and made her way across to the barracks, hoping that her late arrival could be excused as being fashionably late. However, once she arrived, her honesty prevailed and she admitted she had overslept.

“Don’t worry my dear, your early arrival was not needed the message has been sent, we just have to wait for the reply. Now have you tried the local ham, it’s excellent with these fresh rolls and more coffee will arrive shortly”

The Colonel was obviously making an effort and Ilse felt obliged to make an attempt on the repast spread before her. It would not be easy as the landlord at the Weisse Rossl had provide her with a large meal the previous evening and she had overheard the Dragoons talking loudly of her fencing skills from the tap-room.

“Now, before my officers arrive, why don’t you try the chutney, it’s a new idea of preserving from India of all places and works well with our local fruit”

Ilse took a taste and looked shocked “Oh, no, I forgot to explain, you add it to your cheese or meat…. And perhaps the cook has been a bit enthusiastic with the hot spices as my officers like it that way”

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The aftermath

After Major, now Colonel Fruhling left the General turned to the Count “Well any last thoughts?”

“No, but I’m sure we have missed something. As far as we can arrange all communications between Pommaine and the rest of the Empire will be stopped or delayed starting tomorrow, so that our allies have the maximum time to deploy.”

The Count continued “The city gates will be closed and no-one without explicit authorisation will be permitted to pass. Hussars will be patrolling the outskirts of the city and gamekeepers with hawks will be deployed to intercept any carrier pigeons. The border will be closed for a week and only accredited diplomats will be allowed across."

“What about that Alsatian courier?”

“Well as far as we can tell it was just a rather bold horse-thief. It does seem rather stupid to have left the diplomatic papers with the horse while he had breakfast. No spy could have relied on someone being that foolish, anyway they claimed the papers were not important”

”Really, it seems that they and the Prussians have had a lot to talk about”

“Yes, but remember we decided it was better to involve two powers to help us rather than just one so that they could not dominate us, but we need to watch them and play them off against each other”

“Indeed, that was the late Grand-Duke’s observation. You didn’t arrange for the papers to be stolen?"

“NO, though if I had realised it was that easy, perhaps I should have!

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Ducal wake

The wake in the Ducal palace continued, everyone seemed prepared to drink the Grand-Duke’s cellars dry. Count Vladislav spotted his quarry, “Ah Major Fruhling, would you mind joining me and General Von Gessler for a quick discussion” The startled major was led through into an adjoining room where General Von Gessler was actually present.

"Ah Fruhling, glad you could spare the time, you realise of course that when the Grand-Duke’s will is read tomorrow, there might be a few surprises?”

“Yes sir, I presume that was why the Grand Duke made us swear to uphold his wishes”

“Also that your commander Colonel Preysing did not so swear?”

“But I think that was just a formality sir”

The General held out a piece of paper “Well, here is your commission to command the regiment should the Colonel fail to uphold this obligation. You will note that it is signed by the Grand-Duke himself. He gave it to me on the understanding that it was only to be used if Colonel Preysing’s loyalty was suspect”

“But sir, Colonel Preysing has always been loyal”

“That may have been true, but he has been in contact with enemy agents and can no longer be trusted. You will leave the party immediately and return to Illerkamp first thing in the morning and prepare the city for defence”

“But sir, it can’t be that bad?”

“I hope not, but we have to prepare for the worst, thank you Colonel Fruhling”

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Colonel Kraut

Ilse was shown into Colonel Kraut’s office. he was the Governor of Welle and the commander of the Welle Infantry Regiment. After a formal greeting he waited until his aide had shut the door. He started with some pleasantries “Now if I remember correctly we have met before at your father’s residence?”

“That’s correct; I was eleven at the time”

“And, you had fallen out of a tree and broken your arm, or was that your sister”

“No the mayor had pulled the ladder away from under me when I was stealing his apples”

“Indeed, and why were you doing that?”

“Because the boys had dared me too, and then they ran and didn’t warn me when the mayor was coming”

“So was your trip across the border another dare or acting as a courier for your father?”

After a moment’s hesitation, while she realised that the colonel was aware of her father’s role and what the best answer was, she replied “a courier”

“So can you tell me anything about the Prussians and their plans? We’ve been put on a war footing because of their forces in Sedrot and that’s why our patrols are so careful”

“Sorry, I was just collecting information about what was happening in Pommaine, and it’s rather urgent”

Right, it’s too late now. So my adjutant will arrange accommodation for you and then first thing tomorrow once the telegraph is open I’ll send a message to General Wurst about where to send you, as he’ll know where your father is. I trust you will join me for breakfast at eight?"

Of course, thank you for you assistance"

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

On to Welle

As she rode out from the camp, Ilse shouted to the Lieutenant “I forgot to mention that the bridging stores are slightly visible from Pommaine, you might wish to check how well they are hidden”

Ilse rode on, accompanied by the same corporal and dragoon as before. She had retrieved the papers and just wanted a moment to inspect them carefully, at a quick glance they seemed to be from an Alsatian despatch rider, but the message was obviously coded.

Before leaving she had quizzed the old Jaeger about his bet. He apparently had served under her father in America and firmly believed that the real odds were 50:50 otherwise why would she have challenged the Lieutenant? Besides it was well worth getting the Dragoons to bet against her at longer odds. Did he have the money to cover the bet? No but his lads would have helped out and now they would share in the winnings. But you’re only a private she had asked with a wink. He explained he’d been up and down to sergeant so many times over the years, the downs because of drink and gambling. Her father was the best officer he had ever served under and he asked Ilse to pass on his best wishes. And his name “Franz Knappe, miss”

As they approached Welle, The Corporal said “If you don’t mind miss, I’ll go ahead and report.