'What about Captain Kidd? He must surely have been a terrifying paragon of pirateness', says one.
'What's frightening about a pirate who's a toddler? How small would his wooden leg have to be?', replies another.
'His name was "Kidd": I don't think that he was actually a child. I don't think that he was all "yo-ho-ho and bottle of warm milk". In any case, even if he were - do you have a toddler?'
'No. I have not yet been blessed with legitimate progeny'.
'Then believe me when I say that a toddler, pirate or otherwise, is a terrifying experience - sleeplessness; poverty; projectile explosions of bodily matter from both ends. If one of them had indeed put on a hat and eye-patch, and commenced to sail the Seven Seas, I for one would move very far inland'.
The main battlefield clash continues to develop. Sniping from the the cover of the hedgerows, the Burberry fire begins to take a toll upon their adversaries. Gaps appear in the baron's infantry line, and the Rotenburg troops are forced to retire a short distance in order to rally and re-group. (Below) Hunchmausen takes the opportunity to push his third company into the fray, adding it to the left of his formation.
(Above) More volleys are exchanged. Alas, the skirmishing pirates are able to derive considerable protection from their dispersed formation and their ability to utilise both the vagaries of the terrain and of Hunchmausen himself.Emir Rhoddri Pasha nods with satisfaction as the combat begins to turn his way. Binky, his monkey, begins to chatter vigorously and to hop up and down. He seems to be pointing. Rhoddri considers this, and then turns to his second in command, Kuchuk Huseyin.
'Hmm - I think I'm beginning to get the hang of Binky's speech. I suspect now that he is advising us to maintain the initiative by pushing forward our reserves against the enemy's centre of gravity'.
'No, my lord', replies Huseyin, 'I think that this time he just wants a banana'.
(Below) The Rotenburg centre company, having lost half its number, and having accumulated considerable shock and disruption, retires. This breaks the line, and the Rotenberg musketeers must now fight as three separate clumps; a "clump" being an arrangement not actually found in Mittelheim drill-books but to which their soldiery have a curious affinity.
(Below) The baron tries vainly to rally his men, but to no avail. He has with him only a single lieutenant to help in his efforts to restore order.
'Dammit, sir!' cries the baron to the subaltern, 'my staff is far too small!'
The lieutenant nods. 'I had heard as much, my lord: but I'm not sure that such revelations are strictly relevant in this moment of crisis'.
What?' cries Hunchmausen, momentarily confused. 'Oh, damn your eyes, sir - I do not mean my staff; I mean my staff!' He gestures at the subaltern. 'Anyway' he adds later in a moment of fluster, 'what have you heard about my ... staff'.
'Oooh ... nothing , sir. Nothing of any importance. Nothing provable, or that involved a reliable sense of scale. After all, the phrase "piddlingly small" is such a vague term'.
More enemy fire is laid against the left-most Rotenburg company. The effect is telling. Like seeing Landgrave Choldwig without his clothes on, it's not the physical damage which is so bad, but rather the resultant psychological blow, reflected in shock, disorder, and disorientation. The Rotenburg battle line can take no more.
With much wailing, many desperate cries, and also some enthusiastic cheers, the Rotenburg troops fall back from the field of battle. (Above, right) Three local peasants look on from a point near the crossroads. They regard the fleeing soldiers with equanimity. They don't seem as terrified of the approaching pirates as perhaps the landgrave of Rotenburg might hope loyal subjects should be. Their lack of fear is further indicated by the small valise and other luggage that they seem to have with them, and their cries to the pirates of 'Cooeee! Over her! We're over here!'
As he watches the frenetic dash from the field by his Rotenburg adversaries, emir Rhoddri grunts with satisfaction. 'Excellent, Huseyin, my superbly organised subordinate. Victory is hours! We can sweep up our plunder at our leisure, and still have time for a leisurely dinner'. The emir looks down at his waist and then frowns. 'But do you think I'm putting on weight?'
Huseyin, avoiding Binky's rhubarb, considers this question. 'Only in a good way, my lord', he replies after a moment. 'You aren't so much getting fatter as simply becoming more noticeably successful'.
Rhoddri nods. 'Excellent, excellent. I'm a bit peckish - break out the cakes, and bring me another large slice of success!'
As events on the coast of Rotenburg begin to resolve themselves, we must now turn, dear reader, to weighty considerations relating to major field battles. On this subject, the armies of Wurstburp and Fenwick are about to provide us with yet another lesson in the considerable difference between military theory and military practice ....