Saturday, 20 May 2023

Brazen Hussey!

Emperor George's angry surprise is not altogether unwarranted. In Fenwick, where sensitivity to double entendre makes even a milk jug a dangerously ambiguous item, the situation that confronts him is only one 'Fnar' short of a major crime scene. Joachim is wearing his Kurlandian codpiece; although, given the size of this conspicuous cucumber of cupidity, it would be just as accurate to say that the codpiece is wearing him. To his front, a lady of questionable station has her leg propped up against a chair: whether she is limbering up, or just airing herself, is unclear - and also, for the purposes of Fenwickian double entendre, largely academic.

'Brazen hussy! Painted Jezebel! Slobbering, sweaty, boudoir-beast of unholy co-joining!' cries the Emperor.
'I aint done nothin', sir!' says the lass plaintively.
'Not you! Him!' says the King, pointing, which he does often, towards Joachim.

'No father: there is no salacious intent here!' responds Joachim. 'Lisalotte is just doing her cool-down routine after helping to fit my codpiece!'
'Bah! But why must you wear this appalling item, Prince Joachim?' asks George. 'It is both upsetting and impractical. I've seen the problems that you've had turning around in doorways. And then there was that accident with the mangle ...'
'I am just expressing my individuality!' says the prince earnestly. 'I tire of the fusty, frumpery of Fenwickian fashion; the constraining conservativeness of our constumery; there has to be more to life than this!'
'By "this" I take it, son, that you mean "a life of privileged luxury amongst the aristocracy"'.
'Indeed, father - my life needs more meaning!'
'Well, I could meaningfully cut your allowance ...'
'What would be the point, father?' replies Joachim quickly. 'Money wealth and luxury mean so little: so I may as well keep them all. No, my codpiece is symbolic of my struggle against the system!'
'If by "system", son, you mean "getting up in the morning" then I can say with confidence that you are already strongly engaged in that struggle'.
'No, father, I mean the struggle against the man!'
'The man that tries to get you up in the morning? Because as I've said, you are already struggling quite a lot against that'.
'It is important that I should discover myself!'
'I have discovered more than enough about you this morning, Prince Joachim'.
'Father ...'
The Emperor gestures decisively. 'No more of this! I shall do nothing but find a larger barge pole with which to touch this issue'.

Minister Wernar von Wormer enters the room.
'This isn't what it looks like is it?' he asks with concern.
The Emperor snorts. 'Apparently it's fine: this young lady was just helping him handle his  ... appliance'.
Wernar nods. 'So, it's exactly what it looks like, then'.
'Alas, yes, minister. But at least he is on time, even if he is off-putting. Which leads me to the reason for this meeting. I need to be crowned King of Gelderland. That means I need Bishop Baldwin, and I need to get to Schrote cathedral!'
The minister nods. 'Schrote has been occupied by Rotenburg troops, lord. But I think that we can direct our army to deal with that problem'.
Joachim nods, trying to appear useful. 'Our troops are unbeatable, father: the Spartans of Mittelheim; sucked by wolves, they say'.
'I think that's "suckled"', says the minister.
Joachim considers this. 'Yes, now I think about it, that would make more sense'.
'The real problem', says George,  'is going to be getting hold of Baldwin. We will need to give that a serious think'.
'My lord', replies Graf Wernar. 'I might have something, or rather someone, who could help provide us with a solution'.
'Really? How?'
'They have experience, sir, in planning and military theory that might help us'.
'It's not Horace de Saxe is it ...'
'No sir, someone better'.
'That doesn't narrow things down very much. That would be anyone, or mostly anything, at all'.
'Indeed sire, but with your agreement, I shall arrange for her to meet you'.
'Her? This already sounds dubious. But, whatever, it can't hurt to speak, I suppose'.

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