‘The Prize is Not as Great as You Think
As I have been plugging for the last few weeks, I now present you with the serialization on Wednesday’s of The Prize is Not As Great As You Think. That has been my working title and it is possible that before all is done, something different will suggest itself. Something shorter.
As mentioned it is a Ruritanian Romance. I can’t remember just now how the idea came to me, but then after it did I started to research, and reread such works as Edgar Rice Burroughs the, The Mad King as well as the The Prisoner of Zenda to prep for writing my tale.
To prep you, the tale deals with events in the Grand Duchy of Almondy, as I describe ‘bordered the north of Switzerland. To the east was France and now Belgium. The Germanies to the west, and finally the Netherlands to its north. Almondy was landlocked.’
One of the characteristics of a good Ruritanian Romance is intrigue. And as you can tell from the position of the country, the buffer between Germany and France, there certainly will be opportunity for it. With such neighbors, and set 836 years after the conquest. The conquest that took place the same year the William invaded England and defeated Harold. The year of our story begins in 1902, September.
A period of time when the Great War is brewing.
I hope you enjoy and should you like to leave feedback before next Wednesday and the next installment, please do so.
Chapter One can be found either at our website
Or here on the blog
After having met with his grieving his cousin, and the Grand Prince’s chief ministers, Gerald knows that the investigation into who through the bombs that blew his cousin to bits is important. He does not want such radicals to still be of the notion that it would be a good idea to keep blowing up Crown Princes to little pieces, especially since he now is the Crown Prince. He meets with all the precinct Constables of Steilenberg and sets up a task force to investigate. He also has friends from his life before milking cows that are competent and good to turn to for advice. Having summoned them to the Palace, he ensures that they are all available to help guide him and Almondy during these trying times.
Dramatis Personae (so far)
Athelstan Perry-Bastard son of the Grand Prince of Almondy
Crown Prince Reginald Baxter Simeon Fitzroy Perry-Heir of throne of Almondy
Grand Prince Michael Alan Henry Fitzroy Perry-Ruler of Almondy
Michael VII-Grand Prince around 1640’s
Gerald Henry William Fitzroy Perry-2nd in line to Grand Prince
Princess Margaritte-sister of Baron William
Baron William Fitzroy Perry-Leader of government
Prince Michael Fitzroy Perry the Castle Snatch, Founder of the Fitzroy Perry, and conqueror in 1066 of the Almondian Keep.
Samuel-Bodyguard of Crown Prince Reginald
Franc-Bodyguard of Crown Prince Reginald
The Citizens of Splatz
Chief Constable Lestaing
Master Helmut-a Farmer and neighbor of Prince Gerald’s
Master and Mistress Bette Kramer-onwers of the Blue Belle
Hilda-maid at the Blue Belle
Mr. Granowitz–the Bookseller
Mayor Goretz–previous mayor of Splatz
Captain Sir David Lieven-Captain in First Cavalry Regiment
Captain Adolphus Krabbe
Celebont Palace-The permier castle of the Grand Prince of Almondy
Ritzlauer Hotel-Where Athelstan Perry lives
Almondy-Our mythical Country, north of Switzerland
Castle Repos where Reginald is headed to spend a few weeks before he is killed
The High Street
St. Alban’s Square
The Cathedral of St. Alban
Splatz–Small village where Prince Gerald has his farm on the outskirts of
Nantz–nearest town to Splatz and Castle Grayton where there is a railroad stop
Castle Grayton–Hunting Lodge near Splatz of Prince Reginalds
Glemaire–Village between Splatz and Nantz
6) The Modern Techniques will Help
Led to the audience room, Gerald heard a great deal of noise from it. There were guards at the doors, which they opened. He told his sergeant that the word should spread about altering the guards uniforms. A room filled with more than thirty constables was revealed.
Seeing that Gerald came into the room these men stood straight and stiff to attention instantly. Some were former army officers, for many found that when they had wives and children, the transition to being a constable was the best way to proceed with a career.
That sign of respect he had not had from many others that day. At first, back in Splatz, it was clear that everyone was overcome with surprise about the events. Then when the Cavalry arrived, Major Krabe had not brought such deference with his command. Krabe was still back with the Prince’s ministers scheduling the meetings for the following day. Gerald looked and saw a clock. It was past midnight. The meetings for later this day.
This was another audience chamber of the palace. The middle sized one he presumed since he had been in the great one for ceremonies before. Red velvet wall coverings with three representations of the royal arms about the room. At one end, there was a canopy. Which he would have thought strange but the main audience chamber had one as well. Under which a dais of three steps, though the top step ringed a very wide platform. A throne was on the very top, and a second chair, much more plain was on the step below. Clearly meant for him as Crown Prince. He had seen Reginald sit in a similar chair in the main audience chamber as well.
“You may rest gentlemen,” Gerald waved his arm. Then he motioned for Lord Hermes, “What kind of money do you have for your ministry lying about? More than ten thousand, twenty?” he asked quietly.
Lord Hermes looked thoughtful for a second and then started, “I am sorry, money, sire?”
“I hope you are not being coy, or anything like that, my lord. What kind of funds to you have in the banks to run your ministry and to pay for special projects. Do you know? You know we give children little banks of clay that they may break and then go buy a candy on their birthday. We farmers always have money in the bank, but we also have money we hide for an emergency. And there are a lot of emergencies on the farm. I have mine in an old tea pot that was my mothers. I must remind someone to fetch that, or hope they pack it when they send my things to me. Now, your ministry, what monies do you have?”
Hermes nodded, “Sorry highness. I did not expect such a question. Much more than you said. More than a hundred thousand, I am sure. We are a big Principality you understand. Perhaps Minister Henry Louis will be able to tell you better about money.” Henry Louis Ramm was a cousin and the Minister of the Treasury. He was also the youngest of all the ministers of the crown.
“I shall ask him tomorrow, but more than a hundred thousand, that is good.” Gerald then turned to the men in front of him. “Hello. We need the help now of your best men. And your smartest men. Do any of you read these stories of the english about this Sherlock Holmes? I have not talked to many Constables before about your jobs and duties but how many men like this, who solve crimes that are like riddles do you have?” The men were shaking their heads. Gerald believed that there might not be any.
“Perhaps our spymasters will be better at such mysteries but that should not be. What happens when there is a murder, do you not have constables at your precincts that look for the killers?” Now there were a few nods. “Can someone speak for you. I believe you must be the chief constable of all our constables?” There was one man who had more bright metal buttons and gewgaws then any of the others. Looked older as well. A rather portly man with a fringe of white hair around a large bald spot. He had the typical heavy moustache and chops, as many older burghers had.
“Yes, sire. I am chief constable Otto Grosbarts. It is a pleasure to be of service. We do have a few men that are good at such things here in the capital, but most crimes like that, the suspect is pretty obvious.”
“Those men then, they may have some pressing matter, but if it is not as important as finding the murderers of the Crown Prince, then they should be tasked with leading an investigation immediately.”
“Yes of course, but surely the Guards are in charge of such a matter?” the chief constable asked.
Gerald shook his head and turned to Lord Hermes to see what he was thinking.
Lord Hermes then saw that Gerald was looking at him, nodded. Lord Hermes said, “No, I don’t think that the Guards are capable of leading such a matter. They did not protect the Crown Prince very well.”
“No they did not,” Gerald agreed. “Perhaps there are former officers of the army here in this room, and in your precincts, you and others that might have much better ideas how to protect the royals, which is what the Guards are supposed to do.”
The chief constable did not know what to make of it, but then another constable stepped forward from his fellows. A tall man, who looked very fit. Probably two inches taller than Gerald, and with a very trim, thin moustache. “If you will allow me highness. I was a major in the Fifth Infantry Regiment before I became a constable. The bombing happened in my precinct and I have men at the sight there still, securing the area until there is a decision for what to do.”
“Very good major…” Gerald said in a way that pointed out that he needed the man’s name.
“Williams, Bernard Williams,” the constable said.
Gerald continued then, “Lord Hermes has authorized the formation of a unit from the constables to investigate this horrible crime. All you gentlemen, if asked to lend aid, should know that the crown considers this the greatest priority and that aid must be forthcoming immediately. Someone told me that when there is a murder, the trail can be muddied very quickly. A matter of a few hours.”
Constable Williams nodded. He said, “Yes. I have seen that before.”
“Chief Constable Grosbarts, should not Constable Major Williams head such a unit of men?” Gerald asked.
The Chief Constable looked like he had just swallowed a sour apple, without chewing. “What sire? We don’t have Constable Majors…”
“That is a matter that is now rectified. Surely a unit of the constabulary funded by the Ministry for the Homeland needs a Constable Major at its head. A man with the full authority of the crown, within the limits of the law, to do all that is necessary to bring down those who have broken the law. Such as these who have murdered Crown Prince Reginald. A man to head a unit where normal constabulary practice is just not enough.”
Grosbarts looked around the room. Gerald well knew that he was causing traditions to end that day, but it had been a few hundred years since a royal had been murdered so. And having lived in Steilenberg those years when he had been in the army, he knew that there were many traditions in Almondy that were due for a change. The Chief Constable surely was looking for support. But why fight Gerald and his decisions. A new unit would be a boon to the man.
“Surely Chief Constable you can see that another unit of men in the constabulary with such skills under your command can only be an added measure of the prestige I and the Grand Prince hold for you. And if there is not adequate space at your current headquarters for such a unit, I am sure additions can be built to your offices, or a new building can be found.” Lord Hermes probably did not like that, but the Chief Constable did. Bureaucrats derived their status from the size of their offices, the height of their headquarters.
Gerald saw the look of exasperation in the Chief Constables eyes. Grosbarts said, “You are most likely right, highness. A group of men surely are needed now to solve such terrible crimes.”
Gerald had spent some time on the train thinking of the mater. He said, “Yes. Solve them, prevent them. Find such criminals and place them in our prisons. Now Major Williams, here are many other men who also command precincts, I hope you all know each other well. I have seen amongst the platoon commanders when I was in the army how one can be given new orders and then all of a sudden his old friends think he has been given something too special and resent him. We can’t afford that. If we finish this inquiry, we may disband the unit. Right now though, we need to find and stop these murderers. I don’t want them to think to attack me next.”
Gerald could see that there was a great deal of grumbling and unhappiness. “I do not do this to cause anyone here a diminishment in the eyes of the crown. In fact should the constabulary produce results, you all shall be esteemed by me. I need to know where the order for this murder came from. Was it anarchists? Was it the German government, or French. Most of us have some blood ties from each of our neighboring countries but we are Almondians and the Great Powers begin to play a much more dangerous game with us of late. Does anyone in this room think it is not possible that those countries might not want to kill Prince Reginald?”
“They would, damn Germans!” one man said.
Another though called, “It had to be the French!”
Gerald held up his hand and made his face look disappointed, “Gentlemen. Please. We don’t know who it was. That is why we need to have somebody lead an investigation. Constable Major Williams, of all these men here, men who have had similar responsibilities as you have had, do you think you are the best qualified to lead the investigation? The best to find men from all the precincts who might help you? To find me the answers that I need?” Gerald asked.
“I really can’t say yes to all that, highness. I know of several men in the other precincts who would aid in such an investigation. I do not know if I am the best for the job,” the man said in response to Gerald’s questions.
“Anyone here think they can do as good a job as Constable Major Williams?”
One man raised a hand, “I have solved a lot of such crimes highness that seemed hard to find the culprit.” He was short, and stocky. Clean shaven and did not look too far past thirty years of age.
Gerald nodded. He said, “Chief Grosbarts, I am afraid we will need two of your precinct chiefs. I suspect this will be a problem but I know that you can find good men to take over their duties until we finish this matter.” From that moment it became a matter of operations. He looked to Grosbarts and motioned to Williams and the other man.
Gerald said to all in the room, “Gentleman, let us sit down and you all start talking about who needs what, and what the other chief constables need to provide. I will listen and Lord Hermes and I shall ensure that you get what you need. I hope we can do this quickly for I still have more meetings and also need to find the bed in this great big palace they have for me. You can understand that I am a little disoriented. This morning, yesterday morning I was up before dawn and milking my cows.” That got a chuckle and sympathy.
The second constable that had spoken up was named Octavian Georgescu and Gerald suggested that he and Williams sit close to each other. By the end of the meeting several of the constables had pledged men to report to Williams and Georgescu, though Gerald asked that some men go to the site of the bombing immediately and ensure that it remained untouched. Williams took the lead in organizing all the resources that would be needed and Georgescu, after the two talked quietly for about half a minute, was to lead the investigations. He had several ideas and read often the stories written by Conan Doyle.
Almondy, a conglomeration of so many cultures and languages had many who were comfortable in not only French and German, but English, Flemish, Danish and Dutch, Italian and even Spanish. Gerald had met as many men from Spain as he had from China. The Spanish though seemed to be good with very small restaurants, though he heard that there were a few artists that had made their way to Almondy.
Though picturesque and tourists proliferated throughout the country, the artist community in Steilenberg was not nearly as large as Paris. “Lord Hermes, who encourages tourism and our revenue from such? I came this morning from a tavern that had nearly three quarters of its revenue from such trade. Do we look into that at all?”
“I am sorry but I do not think anyone does. Perhaps that should be something for Lord Forte or Lord Ramm?” Those ministers had probably left for their homes due to the lateness of the hour.
“We shall talk of this when I meet again with all, but think of it. Do you know of anything better then looking at the Alps in our southern border? The wine region to the west? These are treasures. Could not those very rich Americans and English be persuaded to stop here as they tour all over the continent. Spend some of their money with us. We have as many ancient statues, I am sure, as all of Italy. Do we not have an entire city that was a Roman Governor’s town preserved to the delight of archaeologists? I am sure we can use the money. What government does not need money? If not your office, exploring these possibilities, then perhaps some men in the Assembly can be given such a task, for they are always looking for ways to be of more use and influence in the government.”
The other man laughed, “That is a good joke highness. I shall credit that you are very tired it being so late. Yes, let us talk when the council is gathered.”
“Good. I think I may go to the next meeting and if you wish, you may go home. The Chief Constable can take care of the rest, but Lord Hermes, I should like to see my spymasters at breakfast. Can you arrange that?”
As the Minister for the Homeland, such men surely reported to Lord Hermes. “Yes of course highness. You understand that such men do not like to be known by anyone else.”
“I understand the concept. As spies, I am sure they have the means to join me at breakfast without notice.” Gerald motioned to Krabe. “I shall require a private dining room tomorrow for breakfast and at least ten extra glasses for beverages, coffee, etc. I do not eat a great deal in the morning since I would have to cook for myself on the farm. Usually bread and some preserves. See that there are plates for such, though we are in the capital and I treat myself to pastries here. Ten extra plates for those I speak with to eat off of. Lord Hermes will that do?”
“Ten, yes more than enough. Thank you highness,” the man replied. Gerald did not know if he was earning Hermes’ respect. But he could see that Hermes did not think him irrational.
“That’s all Krabe. I shall say my goodbyes to the constables and then join you in the hall for my next meeting. It is all arranged?” Krabe nodded. The officer had settled down, which was well.
When Gerald stood, the constables noticed and all stood as well. “Thank you gentlemen, but please sit. Chief Constable, may I leave this to your hands? I must get to the next meeting and I think you have done a masterful job in the creation of this new unit. We shall find all such criminals and radicals in the best tradition of the town watch and constabulary. You men who are charged with keeping the peace in our country are the best and I am thankful for your service.” Gerald knew he needed a speech writer. He was probably going to have to say that often. He was going to have to choose which feathers he could ruffle and which feathers he was going to have to stroke.
Gerald had learned when training to be a leader that he had to choose his battles. Though sometimes they chose you. Certainly becoming Crown Prince was a battle chosen for him. Reform of the Guards, decades overdue, a battle he chose. Adding a group of men who could investigate such a tragedy as had occurred and robbed them of Reginald, again long overdue. Especially since the first attempt on Reginald’s life. Shaking up the Ministers so they took responsibility for their portfolios and not wait for the Grand Prince to agree to everything, another battle that had to be forced.
He was near the door when that thought struck him. Gerald turned and got the constables attention, “Gentleman, let me say a thing. What hampers our being treated as a great nation, aside from Almondy having no port on the sea, is that so many of you wait for an idea to work it’s way to the desk of the Grand Prince, and for him to agree to the idea. That has to stop. If an idea will help Almondy, will save a life, then we have to have men, such as yourselves, the instrument of the Crown’s Will, who will take action. You men are the instrument of the Crown’s Will in enforcing our laws and allowing children to sleep safe in their beds at night. If you need more of my attention and you think there is time, I will listen. If you think there is no time and you have to carry out an action to enforce our laws and keep us all safe, do so. Act and when you are in the right, I will see you rewarded.” He stopped there for if he cautioned them not to act, then he would also have them second guess, and they then might not act. He would have to work this theme into all his conversations. His shoulders were not broad enough to handle every decision, and he knew that many decisions that were sent up channel for someone higher up to answer, could often be dealt with at a lower level. Changing the old traditions was what had helped the Prussians win the last war.
Gerald was in good spirits and nodded as he left then. Almondians had to think clearer and for themselves. A week at a farm would do all the city men good. Farm animals took care of most of their needs once they were benevolently provided for. Yes, every officer should spend time on the farm.
“Your guests wait for you in a room of the south wing. That is where your rooms are highness,” Major Krabe said as he and the guard detail crowded round him.
“Good. I have lost track of my travel bag. Do you suppose it was taken to my room?”
“Yes highness, and two valets await you. They have taken care of arranging your things. There is also a room in the wing that will be ready for your breakfast. Prince Reginald’s personal items shall be cleared from his palace, of your palace, by the end of the week. If you could arrange for a viewing of what art you should like to keep and any articles of furniture that you should like to be sent to storage sometime soon, I think we should fit that into your schedule.”
Gerald thought for a moment. “Has anyone seen Athelstan? He knew Reginald much better than I. Perhaps he could have taken away anything that was truly precious to Reginald, then I can view what is left and decide should I not like anything. Where is Lord Athelstan?”
“I do not know sire. Sire, he is not a lord,” Krabe said. That he heard some grunts from the guards meant they had an opinion as well.
Gerald asked, “He is the son of the Grand Prince. Should he not be regarded as a lord? Have not most such sons of the Grand Princes in our history been accorded that title? He has been given a land grant from Prince Michael Alan.”
Krabe remained silent. Enough people seemed to not embrace Athelstan. Including his own father.
“Very well, I shall think on this,” Gerald said. There were arms of Almondy at a set of doors when they turned a corner. They had obviously entered the south wing.
“Yes sire. Until about two hundred years ago, before the Sundawn Palace was built, the chief butler told me, these were the quarters of the adult Crown Prince and his family. He would move from the quarters he had lived in as a child to this when married or he became an adult. It has a separate entrance so that he could come and go from the Palace building, if not from the grounds, as he wished. There is even a barracks room downstairs here where men of the Third Foot, The Crown Prince’s Own, still have a presence. One squad is always there, even though the Crown Prince now lives at the Sundawn Palace, and the Guard has the duty of protecting the Crown Prince.”
Gerald took a deep breath. “Remind me that one of the things I need to do tomorrow. I want an order drafted for the Third Foot, saying that such guard duty here is no longer required. If I know the army, an officer and a squad are rotated there every time there is a meal served here, and the palace staff run to serve them.”
The guards laughed. Gerald turned to them, “And I suppose that the way I have treated the Guards officer’s tonight means I don’t think they take advantage of such foolishness as well? None of you have found themselves benefits of meals here at the Palace when you were finishing your duty? I do not begrudge purchasing you who work very hard such a treat when it is deserved. But should you just be standing guard while I or the Grand Prince sleep and then the kitchens have to employ cooks, at the ready to make you and your officers a meal should you desire it whenever you have desired it, while the principality also pays for cooks to prepare a meal for you at your barracks. I find that unacceptable. Do you think that they do this in France? In Germany? Are you not concerned that when there is a war these two giant nations will not only overrun our little country, but laugh at us when they find our men sitting at a table, eating a schnitzel instead of mustering to fight them? Time to ask yourself if you are a soldier, or a spectacle of a warrior.”
The sergeant glared at his men, then snapped, “Attention! Sire, we, these men and I, wish for you to consider us soldiers. If yesterday we were lax, tomorrow you will see that there are no other men more dedicated to being Guardsmen then we.”
Gerald nodded, “Well said Lieutenant. That is the sentiment that will keep us safe when war comes. Major Krabe ensure that there is a promotion order for me to sign for the Lieutenant and yourself in the morning. Better have a handful of them from Castle Abwehr. You may get less sleep then I. Hmm, if you know another cavalry officer whom I should see promoted that you can work with, and can keep up, for I think you know we are maintaining quite a pace, draft them to serve as an aide also. Now which room are the men I sent for in, there? Good. Krabe you go and take care of all those other items and I will see you in the morning. Is that my bedchambers, and those my valets? You two, here please.”
The door was across the hall and down a bit but he could tell by the livery that they were part of the castle staff. “I need only one of you to show me where the bath is, the necessary. Lay out my nightshirt and then I want to rise at five and if a hot bath is ready at 5:15, I should appreciate it. I want to be ready to break my fast at six. This should not take long. I hope to be ready for sleep no later than two, if that can be done.”
Gerald could not believe how late it was getting. It was a long and stressful day. He entered the room where his friends were. Sir David, Henry Levi, William Glau and Francois Diedrou. He said, “I am thankful that you all could join me.”
William said, “Nonsense. You must be terrified. Of course we came, highness.”
Henry Levi said, “William is right, we had to come. Not the least because two army officers came knocking at my door to ask me to come to the Palace.”
Diedrou laughed, “That is right. Two officers. I had thought that I was in trouble again. Though I should have realized. I heard the news and always before it has been constables that have come to my door. I am sorry for your loss, highness.”
Sir David stepped forward and he had a sword in his hands, “Highness, you are going to need this, and I have already talked to Krabe. Before you eat lunch, I shall spar with you for an hour tomorrow. If you don’t agree fine, but the Officers are going to need to know you remember how to use it. Also, you really may need to use it. And before dinner, there is a pistol range here, you shall need to go there and shoot. You were never a great shot, but you best learn to be a better one.”
Gerald nodded, “No I had forgotten this. I may never have been a great shot as you say, but I always was able to best you with a sword.”
Sir David smiled, “You may not know it, friends, but our Prince was very good with a sword. I think it is because his father insisted when he was younger. But milking all those cows these last few years, I think now perhaps I shall be better than he is.”
Gerald smiled which turned into a yawn that he barely had his hand up to cover. “Forgive me. I am tired and do not know how much longer I can remain awake. However I shall show you, David, tomorrow after I have rested. Come I want to speak to you all before I fall over in my boots.”
He then looked down at his footwear and he was still in his mucked boots from the farm. He had not changed and though they were not his worst pair of shoes, he had been dressed to go to market that morning and sell some of his farm goods. Eat some fresh bread with Pieter and then go back home for the evening milking.
“Then sit,” William said, “And tell us what you need, highness.”
“I need my friends. I need you to tell me if I am being stupid with what I have done and will do, or if I am helping. And when we are alone, you all do not have to be so formal.” He then told them of all the things he could remember doing that day.
Henry shook his head. “I thought you did not want to be a part of all this. It is why you went to Splatz.”
William also said, “Yes, a simple life. Now you act like the Crown Prince you have indeed been forced to be.”
Gerald looked at them, “You do realize that on the farm, unless there is a crisis, once the animals are cared for, and between harvest and planting, or planting and harvest, once I have taken care of the thousand things that need to be cared for, I have time to read and think. A lot of time to think. I have had to worry that I should end this way. Especially all these years that Reginald has refused to marry and get heirs.”
Francois was already laughing, “You imagined yourself as the Grand Prince and decided on things that needed to be done before it ever came to be. If Prince Reginald had spent the same time doing so, perhaps he could have reformed the Guard into a unit that would have protected him.”
It was Sir David who spoke, “It may prove that the Guard was derelict, and I am not a fan of theirs. I advise that you watch your back with them Gerry. It really isn’t a laughing matter. They might actually have been at the top of their form and still unable to protect Reginald this morning. I like the idea of the Constables. Levi, you were writing down all the changes, weren’t you.”
Henry nodded, “Yes. I will make copies so we all can think about them, but here, I only see that this matter with the constables as being something that you may have trouble with. I do not think we have had as many as we need and you may weaken them with creating a new group from amongst them.”
“Recruit more of them.” William said. “You will see that we can afford it. Especially if the money that your cousin Reginald spent and hid away is accounted for. Reginald lived extravagantly. Very extravagantly. I have known you long enough to know that you would not spend so much. Even I do not spend so much, and we Glau’s have a great deal of money.”
“Hmm, yes. We may need to talk about that. You are certainly entitled to your profits, but so much, when war could be so near? William you may need to talk to your brother Louis, I may want you to grant the crown concessions. As for Reginald, did he really send money away to foreign banks? I know the Grand Prince is also accused of that. I should hate to think my cousins have money in banks and that when they are dead the bankers will keep them.”
Sir David shook his head. “One thing you need to do is stop thinking that the other royals, even Athelstan are as altruistic about ruling Almondy as you are. You left Steilenberg because you did not like the way things were. Well in five years things have not changed much. The FitzRoy Perry’s have kept their hands very much fixed on the tiller here. They have had their hands in the patisserie shoppe as well as the till all this time. You went to Splatz and you forgot a good deal of what happens here.”
Gerald shook his head. “I went to Splatz because what occurs here does not occur in most of Almondy. You fast cityfolk are the source of endless amusement to us countryfolk. It has become almost that we are two nations. And that is not a good thing. Even the other cities of Almondy are unlike Steilenberg.”
Francois said, “Steilenberg wants to be thought of as Paris or London. Just as Berlin wants to be thought of as a special city. I think Steinlenberg is closer to that ideal then Berlin. That has to be upsetting to the Germans.”
Gerald was tired and he had been at this for a very long day. The most important things, the investigation into Reginald’s murder and making the Guard able to do their job, protect him and the Grand Prince were important. The other items, electoral reform, a real war college, tourism which started as a passing thought, diplomacy with the Great Powers that were their neighbors; all could wait until the next day. “I must go and get some sleep. I am not good for much more of anything. I just wanted to be sure that you will all be available to help me with this task. Even should you be appointed to positions in the government. I did not want to be Crown Prince, and really did not expect it, but now I am stuck with it.”
“You will recall I said if you ever needed help, I would be there for you,” William said.
“Yes, all of you have said so. Especially when my cousins died before and I became second in line. Now first. Henry, Francois, can you find for sure if Reginald has money outside of the country and what happens to it? We don’t want to lose that. And David, I will need a lot of help with the Guard Regiment these next days. Oh, here is a portfolio on one of their officers. He might be salvageable. And I have that fool Captain who was at the station and their Colonel under house arrest. Best take some men and put them elsewhere before lunch tomorrow. By then I might know what to do with them.”
They all nodded to their instructions, but then he started awake. William was saying his name so he had not fallen asleep for too long, but he had fallen asleep. “I think I better go to bed, else they will have to wake me from this chair at five.”
“Yes, you have done enough for one day. Go. Go!” Sir David said helping him to his feet. Henry on the other side. They opened the door to the hallway and there were the Guard and the one valet. “Here we are taking his highness to his bed, for he is about to fall over from exhaustion. He was up, as he will remind us all, at four this morning to milk his cows, and even with no cows or roosters, you can be sure that his eyes will pop open at four this morning. That is not much longer now. Come help us.”
It seemed like five or six men were involved in getting him to his bed. “I am not an invalid. Nor am I drunk. Just exhausted.”
He heard William from behind him say, “Surely you can allow us all to help you, Highness. A lot rests on you resting! Ha. I never thought I would have a place for such a jest about rest! No, it is too much, I never knew I could rhyme such!”
“Enough Glau,” that was Henry. “Highness, Gerald, can you unbutton your coat, there let us help you out of your clothes for you do need your sleep. Perhaps you can sleep until six tomorrow. Later?”
“No, in a few days maybe. Too much to do still. You all, can you be back by seven? My breakfast is for six…” He yawned and it was loud. Someone had his arm trapped behind him helping him from his coat and shirt, so then he could not cover his mouth. “Seven, did I say that?”
“Yes highness. Rest your eyes a moment. Yes that is it…” Gerald thought there was some more talking and he felt his legs lifted up to the bed. But then the next thing he remembered was the need to take care of his bodily needs. He waited a moment and noticed it was very quiet. He opened his eyes and saw there was a candle on a table burning. He was in a room he did not remember but he knew he was at the Celebont Palace and why. Finding a chamber pot he was able to take care of his needs and then go back to his sleep.
At the farm he had a chamber pot for the outhouse during most of the winter months was too far in the snow, and too cold to walk to. That was one of the many annoying things about farm life he never admitted to anyone. That and …