Wherein the army of the Empire of Fenwick, commanded by Marshal Ignacio Grace-a-Dieu Cavandish, encounters the army of the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel, commanded by General Redmond Barry-Eylund.
Near the village of Wuppenhas, the Fenwickian army moves into position. En route to relieve the siege of Fort Pippin, Marshal Cavandish has found his march blocked by the troops of the Palatinate of Bachscuttel. Clearly, a battle is in the offing! The marshal surveys the terrain. It is a mark of the seriousness with which he takes this coming encounter that Cavandish is still not abed. He's never literally been a bed, of course: rather, we mean that, surprisingly, we find that he is not actually snuggled under his coverlets dreaming about hot chocolate and even hotter actresses. (Below) As his staff officers converse amongst themselves in hushed tones, the marshal exhibits the loneliness of command: upon his head rests the responsibility for the Fenwickian plan. Also upon his head rests a night cap. Indeed, the loneliness of his position is only partly due to his responsibilities. The rest is a result of the unwillingness of his staff officers to stand near him when the marshal is in his night attire. Whilst a light muslin fabric might indeed be, as Cavandish swears, marvellously comfortable, it isn't quite so easy on the eyes of those that have to behold the marshal at close quarters on a bright and breezy day.
As Cavandish calls over Captain Fabius Nitzwitz, his staff officer, the captain himself can attest to this. Looking at his commander in his nightgown is rather like squinting at a butcher's shop through a net curtain. There is certainly very little entendre, double or otherwise, in the poorly obscured movement taking place under Cavandish's nightgown. It is all as obvious as Prussian joke about sausages.
'Now then, Nitzwitz', says the marshal jovially, 'are those pamphlets distributed as I asked?'
'Yes, my lord', replies the captain. 'Yes, indeed. We had some of the men throw them up into the air, and the wind carried many of them into the Bachscuttel lines'. Nitzwitz pauses. 'But ... sir, can I ask - what was on those sheets of paper; and why is it so important that they should be seen by the enemy?'
'All will be revealed!' chuckles Cavandish; ironically, as it turns out, since he then bends over to tuck in some of his covers.
'Gark!' utters Nitzwitz.
'Yes!' says Cavandish, 'Brilliant isn't it!'
'I was going to use the words "hairy" and "long"', chokes Nitzwitz.
'I think, captain, that when you see the enemy deploy, you will soon also see the excellence of my stratagem!'
'I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to see again' croaks Nitzwitz. 'Or unsee!' He rubs his eyes. As a loyal staff officer, however, he struggles manfully to regain his composure. 'My lord ... what, then, is so cunning about the pamphlets that you have delivered upon the enemy?'
The marshal nods knowingly. 'Nitzwitz - who are we to fight today?'
'Well, sir', replies the captain slowly, 'that would be the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel'.
'Exactly. Commanded by General Redmond Barry-Eylund. And what is he famous for doing as a general?'
Nitzwitz nods. 'For turtling, sir.'
'Exactly!' says Cavandish, snapping his fingers. 'Turtling. He is "Der Turtle Koenig". There are ancient obese turtles with shells five sizes too small that would look at one of Barry-Eylund's deployments and say "Oooh, that's a bit tight, that is". Not even with five hundred weight of fruit preserves would it be possible to jam a force in tighter than he can. So I have devised a ruse that will solve that little problem, and open up his position in some very interesting ways!' Again, ironically, as he says this, he throws up his arms in a manner that opens his nightgown in ways that could also be construed as "interesting"; if, that is, definitions of the word "interesting" included "frightening", "nauseous", and "certainly illegal".
It would no doubt warm the marshal's heart to know that, at this very moment, ructions are emerging in the headquarters of General Redmond Barry-Eylund as the general and his staff peruse some of the Fenwickian pamphlets ...