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.