‘Ah! My dear Burggrave! It is indeed a plaisir to see you again, brought home safe from the rigours of campaign.’
‘And it is good to see you, Mr Faltaire, although I fear that we meet again in less than ideal circumstances’.
‘Why so, Burggrave?’
‘Have you not read my correspondence with you, sir?
‘Why, of course, your Excellency’
‘Well then, you know that Nabstria is finally at peace once more but smarting under the most damnable terms. We have lost Nottelbad, it would seem permanently, and the merchants of Falkensteinstadt are most unhappy about the new trade terms with Saukopf-Bachscuttel. I went onto the last campaign with a real sense of hope that the Nabstrian Army would be able to defeat those scoundrels and return home with glory’.
‘Ah, yes, Burggrave, the fortunes of war have not been kind….but it is of this that I wish to speak to you, your Excellency’.
‘Oh, what? You did mention some new plan for training the officers of the Nabstrian Army that might well lead to victory – has it resulted in anything?’
‘Indeed, Burggrave! I have created for you and your officers the most excellent method of practicing the evolutions and tactiques of war. With this method of ‘playing’ at war all of your officers will be well skilled and versed in the many different situations which may arise while on campaign without having to leave Falkensteinburg!’
‘But, Faltaire, how is this possible?’
‘Follow me, my dear Burggrave…’
Faltaire leads the Burggrave to another part of the grounds where his new ‘soldiers’ can be revealed…
‘But what are these, Faltaire? How can these toy soldiers possibly help my officers?’
‘Well, Burggrave, these are but a small part of the plan. I enlisted the aid of the guild of woodcarvers – all sadly out of employ due to the war - to fashion an ‘army’ of these soldiers so that you may engage in a game of war – a kriegspiel, if you will. I have formulated rules for the conduct of these games which closely approximates the real performance of troops and the nature of the events in battle. I have named them ‘Maurice’ in honour of the great French captain of war and I think you will find them both amusing and useful…’
The Burggrave and Faltaire walk further to witness the full scale of the French philosopher’s project.
‘Indeed, your excellency. I chose Nabstrian blue for one of the forces and Rotenburg red for the other. With these forces, your officers may practice all of the formations and evolutions that they may require on campaign, while not over-exerting themselves when they should be resting. The woodcarvers have done an excellent job have they not, Burggrave?’
‘Ah, yes, you are quite right, your Excellency. I have taken the liberty of engaging additional labour for the gardeners of Falkensteinburg. They will undertake to fashion miniature hills, ditches, watercourses and whatever obstacles your Excellency desires in order to replicate the chosen battlefield. With the addition of small charges of gunpowder, your field of honour in miniature should be uncommonly imbued with realism…
The Burggrave and Faltaire are joined by General von Rumpfler…
‘What the devil is all of this, Faltaire, have you lost your wits?’ shouts the General. Before the rather startled Faltaire can answer, the men are joined by the Burggravina and the lovely Miss Hindquarters.
‘What tomfoolery is this, sir?’ asks the Burggravina.
‘Well, my dear, this is a new project by Mr Faltaire designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nabstrian Army.
‘To do what? Another excuse for you to play at soldiers instead of attending to the other pressing matters of state, I’ll be bound! Do you realise that I have had to economise my budget for pastries again this month? It is simply not to be borne…anyway, what was the cost of all these playthings?
‘Well, madam, it was most reasonable, considering the amount of work provided to impecunious woodcarvers’, declared Faltaire.
‘How much?’, persisted the Burggravina.
‘When you consider the increased efficiency of the Nabstrian Army, is twelve thousand guilders too much?’
‘Indeed I will, sir. I have never heard of such pointless extravagance! And when I think the money could have been spent on dresses and entertainments…’ sobs the Burggravina
As the ladies return to the castle, Faltaire manages to explain his scheme to von Rumpfler.
‘Do you know, I think this might be the answer we’ve been looking for, Burggrave? Hmm, we’ll need to depict some Jagers as well, tho…’ the gruff General muses…