Thursday, 12 November 2015

Follow that sedan chair!

In the mean time, gentle reader, we turn our attention to the other portion of Zeigler's command: Captain Stefan von Kobblers' force, comprising of a company of regulars and two squadrons of dismounted cavalry. Kobblers quickly sends the company of musketeers forwards to establish a perimeter. Now, though, he must consider how it is that he will get the large barrel of gunpowder to the all-important bridge. It looks very, very heavy.

Kobblers is considering the problem, in the company of sergeant Steiner, when his contemplation is broken by the approaching sounds of feet, accompanied by heavy wheezing.
'Hang on', says Kobblers, 'is that a sedan chair? I know! We could hire them to take the gunpowder to the bridge'.
'They'll never accept a barrel of gunpowder as a fare', says Steiner dubiously.
'Hmmm, true', says the captain. He pauses for a moment. 'But I have an idea ...'

The sedan chair suddenly encounters an aristocratic captain of infantry, who waves imperiously.
'Halt!' says the captain. Gratefully, the two men drop their burden, none too carefully, and then stagger around slightly randomly, muttering to themselves "Breathe! Breathe!"'
'I wish to hire you', says the captain.
The sedan chair runners nod cheerfully.
'That's fine, sir. Step this way, sir. Just a couple of questions, though, for your own safety.'
'Questions?' says Steiner narrowing his eyes.

One of the footmen runs to the side of the sedan chair and opens the door, quickly brushing down the cushions inside. He peers in, tuts, and then begins to dab a little as well.

'Are you sure that you packed your own luggage, sir?'
'What?' says Kobblers.
'And that you're not carrying any sharp objects?'
'I have my sword', says Kobblers, suspiciously.
'Oh yes, sir, obviously sir', says the footman. 'And pistols I see. But I mean, sir, that you're not carrying anything really dangerous - like scissors, or tweezers; or small quantities of liquid'.
'No, no', says the captain. 'Just my ... wife'.
'Your wife?'
'Yes, yes: here she is'.
'Ah'. The two runners look at Kobblers' wife, and then at one another.
'Is there a problem?' says Kobblers.
'Well, sir, it's just that your wife ... looks a little bit like a barrel, with a dress stretched around it and a wig plopped on top'.
'Are you saying my wife is fat?'
'Oh no, no, no, no, no, sir. I suppose what I'm trying to say, sir, isn't that your wife looks as wide as a barrel - that would be very rude; rather, I think I'm trying to say that she might actually be a barrel'.
'I'd think I'd notice if my wife were a wooden container', says Kobblers tartly.
'Well, sir, you wouldn't be the first man whose wife had turned out to be to be a piece of furniture'.
'Wouldn't I?'
'Oh no. There was Ludwig, who lived near me. He was with his other half for ten years. She was insatiable; endless capacity'.
'Yes, but it turned out she was a commode. And then there was Frau Kettle'.
'Frau Kettle?'
'Yes', nods the runner, 'who turned out actually to be a kettle'.
'Oh yes, says the other runner, 'and don't forget Frau Bucket - who, ironically, wasn't a bucket, but turned out to be a door. And lovely Frau Gertrude'.
'Oooh yes', says the other. 'Lovely Frau Gertrude - marvelous legs'.
'Mmmm', says his comrade. 'Four of them; and a lovely lacquer inlay, the little minx'.
'What sort of place is this?' asks Kobblers, appalled.
'Well, sir, around here the winters are long, the nights are dark, and the standards are low'.

Money is exchanged, and with the usual round of 'left hand down a bit, right hand up', the captain's "wife" is eased into the sedan chair.
Captain Kobblers addresses the two footmen directly. 'Look, I just want you to take my wife to that bridge over there. And don't, for God's sake, drop her into the water'.
'No worries sir', one footman says to Kobbers. 'Though if we did', he sniggers, 'I suspect that she might float better than you think'.
Sergeant Steiner eyes the captain and then steps forward awkwardly. 'One thing about the captain's wife - she, er, she loves to smoke'.
Kobblers nods equally awkwardly and then says, rather too loudly, 'I'm just going to light this cigarillo for her'. He leans forwards and lights a small taper protruding from under the wig.
The footmen nod. 'Certainly sir, but ... why is everyone shuffling backwards?'
'Well, we're, um, in a rush', says Kobblers stepping rearwards quickly, and appearing to cover his face with his arms. 'Now - off you go'.
'Hang on, sir. We have to go through the safety briefing for passengers - emergency exits, that sort of th...'
Kobblers cuts them off brusquely. 'Listen, if my wife doesn't get to that bridge in twenty minutes, she won't be pleased'.
'Bit of a temper, then, sir?'
'You've no idea', says the captain, breaking into a sprint. 'Explosive'.

'Phew', says Kobblers, watching the sedan chair disappear into the distance. 'Off they go. Splendid'. The captain catches a strange look on Steiner's face.
'Sergeant, are you alright?'
'Yes sir, its just ... my wife'.
'What about her?'
'Well, it just occurred to me that she has a lid'.


  1. Your account reminds me of a passing strange court case held in London recently. The publisher, Montgomery Serpent, was accused of deliberately publishing an innacurate English-Hungarian dictionary. One of the phrases contained within was 'Can you direct me to the Town Hall' which the dictionary translated into English as 'My grandmother was a wardrobe, can I fondle your handles?' It would appear that Gelderland may have the confused perceptions as the anonymous author of the dictionary....

  2. Ah, Montgomery Serpent - always taking the hiss. Serpents's dictionary sadly didn't sell that well in Mittelheim. It was far outstripped in sales by Hugo Dare's German-German dictionary, a publication that promised to have you speaking like a local in minutes, or your money back.