‘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
The business of government goes on. Finding that the Swiss Bankers have much of the fortune of his dead cousin Reginald, and don’t want to give it back causes Gerald to issue a few ultimatums and begin to dissever his ability at Brinksmanship. And then there are his first remarks to the people of Almondy at Evensong in the great Cathedral of St. Albans. Here, Gerald’s true character is revealed.
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
Lady Catherine Keller-Daughter of the Minister of Justice
Captain Dain-an Aide to Crown Prince Gerald
Celebont Palace-The permier castle of the Grand Prince of Almondy
SunDawn Palace-Home of the Crown Prince of Almondy, on St. Alban’s Square
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
8) We Must Bind Our Wounds
“Tonight, just a day since our loved Reginald was taken from us…” the speech began. Gerald had changed some of the words that Catherine Keller had written for him.
Now he stood in front of a sea of people. Though he had not ever seen the sea, he had heard the expression. Gerald had come and laid a wreath earlier that day, around lunch time, in front of his cousin’s casket. He had been told that the casket was empty. The mortuary would put what few remains that they were sure were Reginald into the coffin before the funeral, for they would wheel the coffin away when the funeral was to take place.
Every seat in the Cathedral was taken. A long line of mourners snaked their way down the far left of the hall and would pass in front of the speakers podium, for the casket was right below him, and then they would leave. If they had come early enough, they could have gotten seats. His excellence, Primate Reynders had to have monks from St. Maximian’s come into the center of Town and help with the control of the crowd. Thinning the flowers, which had overwhelmed the steps and courtyard of the Cathedral. And St. Alban’s was the second largest structure in Steilenberg. That the Saint was English and honored here was because the dowry of a Grand a Princess from the English a Royals in the fourteenth century paid to build the foundations of the cathedral. The Primate had explained it quickly to him some few minutes before.
When Archbishop Reynders told him that they were beginning to dispose of the flowers, Gerald told them to stop. The Sundawn Palace was close. He ordered that they should open the gates of the palace courtyard and start laying flowers there. Those who wished to bring them. “The people are showing their love for the crown still, something that we want to encourage, not discourage. Have them bring the flowers there, and if we run out of room again, then I shall speak to the Grand Prince about allowing flowers into the grounds of the Celebont Palace.”
Looking at how few flowers were really spread about inside the Cathedral and outside as well, Gerald knew that Peter Reynders, for whatever reason, did not want a lot of flowers about. The Archbishop easily could have allowed ten times as much. The Synagogue of Beth El was also on the square. Gerald would speak to the chief Rabbi about it. He had just been reacquainted with the man and was sure the Rabbi would be amenable to a suggestion of displaying flowers to honor Reginald.
When Gerald had been an Infantry officer, he had been the commander of the army’s security detail during two High Holiday weeks of service for the Jews of Steilenberg. It had taught him a good deal and he had met the Rabbi during the planning of the event and the several days that his men provided security. Gerald had been in command of a Company of men though at any given time only one Platoon was on duty. He knew that some anti-semitic General had deemed the Temple be given such little aid. At Christmas and Easter two regiments of men were assigned to the Cathedral, and the other churches of Steilenberg.
That would change, Gerald decided. Ten months on when the High Holidays came again, the Jewish temples would have as many guardsmen as they needed to keep them safe. Religious intolerance was another one of the things he had to work on, and he had mentioned that to Krabe to include in his plans. As well as the Guards for the Temples at the end of summer.
Gerald continued the speech written by Catherine Keller “…I speak to you not only as the man who has to take Reginald’s place, his cousin, just a simple man who wants the best for us all, but I also speak as a fellow mourner. I shall not take up a great deal of your time. The Archbishop will speak much more eloquently than I on how God the Father will look to my cousin in heaven. I want to talk to you of the loss of our innocence.”
Gerald paused and met the gaze of some in the chairs, some walking into the Cathedral and shuffling in the line to see the casket. There were so many outside, that they would have to keep the line going all night.
Another issue that irked Archbishop Reynders.
“We Almondians know war. We know war better than Germans or Frenchmen. Better than the Flemish, or the Dutch, and certainly better than the Swiss. We have been sending our men, our boys to fight for almost seven hundred and fifty years. You will remember it was to avoid a fight that the Castle Snatch came here.” Most FitzRoy Perry’s did not call their ancestor that in public. It was not the way Catherine Keller had written it, but Gerald remembered that Michael the VII had called their ancestor that, and many had remarked on it with favor at the time.
“We have fought here in Almondy, as well. We have shed blood on this very soil and now we are fighting here again. An enemy who does not want to be found, an enemy who is cowardly and who is afraid. Well Almondy has always beaten such men before. When they are afraid of us, they run. When they have been cowards, they have been defeated. Our enemies have always been found and destroyed. We shall do so again this time. Our army is up to the challenge. Our constables are hard at work to uncover these murderous traitors. The Grand Prince has asked me to lead this charge. I told him I would of course, and that I would bring all of Almondy with me to the task. Thus I pledge to find and bring to God’s justice, my cousin’s murderers. All our Gods’ justice.”
Gerald paused and swept his gaze again across the people in the Cathedral. Some of the monks of Saint Maximian nodded to that. Not all sitting to hear Evensong, Gerald was sure, were Roman Catholic as he was. He was sure that the Archbishop did not nod. Though Reynders did work with the ecumenical council, the Archbishop was always under pressure from Rome to make the church the sole representative in the principality.
Gerald pressed on, “I won’t tell you something foolish like I won’t rest, for I do need rest. I will just pledge to you to catch these men and to bring every resource of the Crown to find the killers of our Reginald. I pray here that I have all your help and support to accomplish this task.” Then he was supposed to say his thanks. That seemed a little weak. He changed what Catherine had written for him once more.
“I so pledge.”
He nodded and his eyes fell on Krabe and Sir David, and the other officers. Dain, his second aide, then the sergeant of the Guard as well as that lieutenant, all in a cluster near the front row where his other friends and a few of those he had met with that day had come to sit.
The constable major who was to brief him after the service, and the other constable who was working on the investigation. Actually there were ten constables close by to see to his safety as well as the Guards.
He said again now, louder, “I so pledge!”
There was a commotion as he gathered the papers of the speech that Lady Keller had written. Sir David had stood. “I so pledge!” He shouted it so loud that near everyone in the Cathedral must have heard.
Krabe rose instantly also “I so pledge.”
And then all the other officers that were sitting together rose also. “I so pledge,”they said in near unison.
Gerald stopped what he was doing and looked at these men. Then a monk who was nearest the casket said, “I so pledge.”
Lord Keller rose and so did his daughter and his wife, “I so pledge!”
The other ministers and the constables were rising and so were scattered members of the congregation. Others who already stood, in line, or having seen the casket were announcing their own pledge. Even members of the press, there to cover his first official appearance in public as Crown Prince were rising to pledge. Not all in the hall did rise, but so many had that you could barely see who did not rise. Gerald did not know what to do, but he placed his right hand up as if he were to wave, but he left it motionless.
Then others raised their right hands as well. It was tilted and his fingers were open. Raised as if greeting someone. Some waved at him but he just kept his hand raised and then when he knew enough had emulated that, he smiled and bowed his head. That was the time to finish it and he stepped down from the Speaker’s podium. Relinquishing it to the Archbishop. Reynders did not look happy. Most likely from Gerald’s remark about all the religions. But when Gerald stuck his hand out as was a custom after speaking to the congregation and giving the hall back to the priest, Reynders gripped it.
“The Jews fine, but the Protestants? His Holiness will have my short hairs!” the Archbishop jested.
“True, but it will be my fault and you were made a Cardinal by Pius. Who is ever going to argue with that?”
The Archbishop laughed and Gerald hoped he had him on his side. Best not to push the issue of the flowers, though. Gerald returned to his place in the Nave for he and his party had decided to sit surrounded by all of the worshippers.
The congregation was sitting down, and Gerald motioned to those closest to him to sit also. He would listen to their review of the speech and how he had given it later. He had practiced reading it twice through when they had taken the carriage to the Cathedral. There were forty members of the royal guards, men vetted by Schweppen and the man he had made a lieutenant, Joubert. Sir David had talked to them as well, and twenty men from the cavalry had augmented the Guard detail. Each door was covered by two men and there was little chance, he was told, that another attack would occur.
One of the pieces of information that gave credit to that was that the bomb throwers only had attacked Reginald when there were not a lot of people around. The anarchists or foreigners did not want to create sympathy by killing innocents, Gerald believed. He also knew from the work he had done with the Chief Rabbi of Almondy that sixty men to guard him at St. Albans was not near enough. The Cathedral was so large that more than two companies should be assigned to the task. He would talk to Sir David about that later, and then they could start dealing with the incompetent Guard officers. They already had one meeting with General de Poitier.
The General had been smart enough to know not to protest over the two Guards Officers who had been placed under arrest by Gerald. De Poitier did not like that Gerald was critical of the Guard. He had a son in the guard. The General had been in the Guard’s Regiment at one time. When Gerald had brought up wanting to see the plans of the general staff for invasion by the Germans or the French, he knew that de Poitier was further distressed.
The following day Gerald was meeting the rest of the ministers individually, and then as a group. Prepared to speak to all of them and to take counsel on the government. He would also review the details of the funeral and investiture plans. Such plan which he was now planning to review with his own advisors and select military officers. He had to find those men amongst the ministers and officers that he could trust. He had to find men willing to do the work to prepare the country and the army to be ready for invasion. Even half a million soldiers he did not think would be enough to invade anyone else.
Lady Catherine Keller seemed to appear at his side. “You changed some of the speech.” Gerald was near the front of the Cathedral as his guard assembled and he was to process out.
He felt sheepish in front of Lady Keller. He should have the right to change the speech. It was his mouth that were saying the words. Eventually the principality would know that he had help writing the words he spoke. They were his sentiments given detail and definition by Lady Catherine. She had changed clothes for the occasion. He was still in his uniform though he had added a sash of the Order of the Griffin. The Grand Prince had sent it to him earlier in the day and he had to don it. Only twelve members of the country wore it, one always being the Grand Prince. Another the Crown Prince.
Usually a fancy investiture ceremony would take place but the Grand Prince must have heard that Gerald’s uniform lacked a great deal of ornamentation. Gerald also now bore the Lion’s Claw symbols of a Colonel as well on his epaulets. The Grand Prince had sent around a signed promotion order. Just like the ones that Gerald had been signing that day.
Lady Keller was in a very dark burgundy dress. Appropriate for attending services, and more so since there was a casket at the front of the Nave focusing all attention on Reginald. The camisole was cut high, but he could see that the corset did justice to what was an excellent figure. Her hips flared from a waist that was certainly made smaller by the corset. He had remembered his father having the need of one before he had died while Gerald attended his officer training, now seven years before. The old prince, for they had called his father Prince William that, though he did nothing very princely, had gained a good deal of weight in his last years and he used a corset to pull his gut in.
Ladies, Gerald knew, used the corset to decrease the size of their waist but also to showcase their bosoms. Something he found he appreciated a great deal. Something he really did not see often at the farm, and since he did not always go into Splatz on market days, he could say he did not even see a nice looking bosom each week.
Thinking along those lines caused Gerald to struggle to think of anything but Lady Keller’s bosom, which was quite near. He knew his eyes did not stray to it, but his mind did. Talking back to her would stop that idle thought. Fortunately all this happened in his own mind in a fraction of a second.
Gerald said, “Yes, I should have spoken to you about it. I did not know that it would have such an effect.”
“No, highness please. Never apologize. We start with what you want to convey. I will add to it with the anecdotes that you give me of your life, with quotations from the great scholars and thinkers, and former Princes of our realm. Then you, if you see something that you want changed, must do so. I can not create the direction to take our country through these words I write. You speak them and you take us where we need to be led.” She was graceful in her understanding.
Gerald noticed her eyes and her hair as she spoke. That was good. He was not looking at her figure. William Glau had already told him that she was being courted by some dilettante. Besides Gerald had no time for a dalliance. He knew that he was going to have to marry for the sake of state. That had come up when he had met with Lord Valette, the Foreign Minister. The man had let slip that he had been pushing for a bride for Reginald, and a French one.
That gave some credence to the chatter the spies had heard about a few extra German agents in the city. When Gerald clarified this with Lord Valette, he found that the Grand Prince thought that the heir might also marry Princess Margaritte. Lord Valette no longer was calling the Heir, Reginald. Which meant the Minister of the Foreign Office was transferring the idea of such a marriage alliance to Gerald. Princess Margaritte was surely in the audience in the Cathedral, and Gerald knew that he had seen her, even as recently as the previous week when he had been in Steilenberg.
Gerald said to Lady Catherine, “Thank you lady Keller, I shall remember that, and even though you do not admonish me, I do myself. I shall try to inform you of any changes I will make to our speeches. For I may come up with an idea and your advice and good instincts may save me from a blunder that I could make. You must know, I have spent five years with my closest conversant, a cow. I am bound to say the wrong things. Especially as a cow doesn’t often speak back.”
“Often?” She smiled. It was a very nice set of teeth.
“Well, when they do give heed to their monologues it surely can put you to sleep for I know when they are done speaking I am always starting awake.” He smiled and she surely must have found it infectious for she did also. Very pretty. He continued to try not to think of her bosom and the rest of her figure. She was a striking young woman.
Then he saw that he had to leave and nodded his goodbyes.
As he did stride out his eyes found Princess Margaritte, who was staring back at him. Not that she shouldn’t. A great many starred at him. She though smiled when she caught his eyes. Margaritte must have known that she was a contender to become Grand Princess. It was obvious. She wore a dark colored dress as did Lady Keller, but her bosom, also helped by a corset, was being shown to great advantage for no camisole covered her cleavage. A sight that men would kill to possess he was sure. Sir David or William Glau would know better than he about the Princess.
If she was a smart women and knew she could one day be the Grand Princess, she might be showing her charms, but never would let any but the Crown Prince have access to them. If she had let another man sample her charms then she would be worthless as a prospect to become Grand Princess. Henry VIII may not have been civilized when he had beheaded his wives for infidelity, but those same laws were statutes in Almondy. The Grand Princess and other ladies tied to the royal family, chastity was sacrosanct with regard to the accession.
The Grand Prince could have as many lovers as he could keep track of, a Grand Princess could have but one, and that was the man with the crown. Gerald allowed himself to be whisked from the Cathedral for his next meeting. Krabe already handing him a portfolio. “Well Krabe, do you wish to continue in this duty? It has been a day since we met. A great deal has happened in that time.”
“If you will allow me highness, it is the greatest honor and of course, it shall be my great pleasure to continue as your aide,” the man said.
Gerald nodded and then opened the portfolio. The meeting with the two constables was next with what they knew of the bombing. Then a chance to eat something. Last his friends were to meet him with the information about the monies that Reginald had, and where that money was now.
They reached the Celebont Palace quickly for the Guard efficiently made it’s way to South Street and used that as a mean to transport the him safely back to the Palace. Then the constables, who had been at the cathedral, were able to deliver their findings, saying that by protecting the scene of the crime, and then looking carefully at everything, they had found several ideas for leads. They were getting the support of Chief Constable Grosbarts but did recommend that the constables and the Royal Guard work together for the protection of the royals.
Gerald agreed and Constable Major Williams suggested that if the Prince was so inclined, that another special division of the constables be created. It was a poor use of resources for the guard to cordon off many streets if the Prince or Grand Prince were to be visiting an area. Constables could do much of the work and that the Guard could come just for the most needed part. Constable Major Williams and Constable Georgescu said they knew the perfect man for the job and that Chief Constable Grosbarts would become Gerald’s friend for life should he choose the man.
That alone made it worthwhile and as the two seemed to know what they were on about, he had Krabe hand him a promotion order and was poised to fill it out. They told him with smiles, that the man they thought of was Grosbarts own son and making him a Constable Major would ensure that Grosbarts gave both new divisions of the constabulary all the backing that was needed.
“You have me playing politics already I see.”
Constable Major Williams was first, “Well yes, but still of all the precinct chiefs and their seconds, this is the best man. He was in the Royal Guard as a Lieutenant, but as the son of the Chief Constable he was never going to rise. So Grosbart brought him back to serve here in Steilenberg. He would work well and made a Constable Major, he shall be a good appointment.”
Georgescu said, “Some of the precinct chiefs will think you play politics, but most know that Randall is a good man and when they then don’t have to work with the Royal Guard, more’s the better. Beside I think that there are going to be a few Royal Guard officers who will be looking for work soon, if the papers are correct. Randall will hire ‘em and make them perform. No doubt of that. I think you would find he is a lot like you, highness. Do your job and get rewarded. Don’t and you’re out.”
Gerald nodded and made it so. Krabe already was drafting a second set of orders to create the new entity within the Constabulary. When the men had left, he went to where that day’s newspapers were and tried to find where articles about the Guard were.
His food brought in, he had his dinner, having Krabe and Dain join him. They discussed how to divide the work, and then how to bring in others should the work cause such a need. Additional aides Gerald might notice, but if they needed more men, they should take care of that problem. Lord Ramm of the Treasury was to meet with him the next day and he would learn what monies he had to pay for the things he was doing.
After Gerald finished dinner he had a half hour before his friends arrived. He continued to read the papers. When his friends came their news was not as satisfying as the stories in the papers. “At least fifteen million crowns. That is a great deal of money.”
“The Crown Prince has had an annual allowance of one million crowns these last years. Further, those like my brother,” William Glau said, “paid him an honorarium for doing certain things, like arranging the army to buy weapons from the family.”
“But you are the only weapons factor in all of Almondy.”
“Precisely. Though I expect that my brother used his connections to crush any competition,” William said.
“Talk to your brother Louis. Have the most radical of his engineers leave his employ and apply for loans from me to start their own firm to prototype new weapons. We need new ideas if a war is coming and if your brother has let anyone go, better still. You understand, you have so much that a little competition should not even be noticed and if one of these men develop something that will help against an enemies machine gun… You can see how we would want that in our arsenal,” Gerald having been a soldier helped with such ideas. He also noted he was still in his army blouse. “I must wear something else tomorrow.”
William nodded. “I will talk to him, and I will make him listen. He does not want us beaten by the Germans or French anymore than anyone else.”
Henry said, “Well that money is harder to get at then you might think. Reginald died with out an heir. You’ve been acknowledged heir of the Crown, but not necessarily Reginald’s heir. It should then all go to his nearest relative which is the Grand Prince. Who is in reclusion. Who has turned over his authority to you in nearly all things.”
Francois then said, “And so we talked to the bankers. They have turned over three million to an account for Prince Michael Alan with you as the trustee, the rest though is in the hands of their counterparts in Switzerland. We went back to their offices after Evensong. They have been cabling all day to Switzerland and those men do not want to release the money.”
Gerald nodded. “I am afraid you will have to go back to the bankers and tell them that tomorrow the press shall be advised that strong evidence points to Swiss involvement in the murder of Reginald. That I am planning to mobilize several Regiments, despite it being the end of Autumn to our southern border. That I will close the border, and of course have to freeze all Swiss Assets here in the Principality. I believe they have a great deal of assets don’t they. Our elite send their money South to their banks, but the Swiss come back North and invest in real hard assets. Ownership in companies, the purchase of buildings and lands. Probably well worth hundreds of millions.”
“I have money in Switzerland. My brother has money there,” William said.
“You may both be inconvenienced for a short while. You go back to the bankers. Krabe, summon the Swiss Ambassador. I should like him here in the next twenty minutes? That should be more than enough to make him see the urgency. Damn Swiss getting themselves involved in the murder of the Crown Prince.” Gerald wasn’t grinning but his friends were as they nodded.
“Time to flex our muscles,” Gerald said to Krabe when the Swiss Ambassador was shown in not too much later. It was getting late in the evening as well.
“Highness, on behalf of my government I would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy in the loss of so great a man as Prince Reginald.”
Gerald did not nod or speak. Instead he pointed to a place that he wanted the ambassador to stand. Then he said, “No Ambassador you may not express anything. Not until we clear up a problem your nationals are creating for our government. Reginald had money in Swiss Banks. Money that should be available now to the Grand Prince. At his instigation I am trying to administer many of the duties that the Grand Prince is responsible for, and this is one of them. Have you heard anything about these accounts today.”
The man was about to open his mouth, “Just nod or shake your head. I shall allow you to speak, but just now I wish you to understand our position.” The man nodded. “You know about these accounts.” He nodded again.
“Good, now your bankers are being obstinate. I expect all that money to be transferred to our banks tomorrow within an hour of all banks opening. And with a fee for the inconvenience that they have caused us. Else here is what is going to happen.” Gerald told him of his plans with the army, the papers and seizing all Swiss property. “Of course there is no evidence. I think of you as our closest friend and I am sure you think of us as the cushion that shall protect you from the rest of Europe. Our people suffering death and destruction before your people are even threatened by such. That comes with a price and this is it. We do not ask for something that is not ours, you will note, only what is ours. Now you may respond,” Gerald said.
“Highness this is highly irregular. I do not know that I can influence these bankers…” Gerald stopped his since the Ambassador wanted to play the game of politics.
“Every crown and 100,000 more per day that they try my patience. I need that money to defend this realm from France or Germany. I remind you that should Almondy perish, those powers will see an opportunity to invade you from your north.”
The ambassador swallowed, “I shall speak to them, highness.”
Gerald nodded. “Good. I am sure once this has been successful then you and I will start a very close and friendly relationship. I believe you did not have such with my cousin. I do not expect that you will provide men to any mutual defense pact, but I was in the army. I guess I am again. I can see from your perspective how if I share with you certain information about those other powers, how appreciative you might be. I am more than prepared to include you, and your armies high command into what information I find that would be of mutual benefit. Provided we are both on the same page and start this relationship on the right footing.”
“Highness, I shall be sending telegraphs all night! Tomorrow, one hour after the banks have opened, I am sure that all shall be as it should.” The Ambassador left with some energy.
After that, the clock showed it was just past ten. A time well past when he would have put the cows to bed and himself as well back at the farm. “Krabe, each night I am sure I am going to need reading to catch up with all that is required to manage the realm. Let us start compiling that and I shall take it with me when I retire. Now, though, since I had so little sleep last night, I think it best for me to go to bed.” Krabe and Dain both nodded, and Gerald did retire.
The next morning his eyes were open at four. Gerald then turned on his side for another hour of lying in bed, even if he did not return to sleep.
As he struggled through the day, he felt much better physically, having had enough sleep. The Swiss had met his threat and responded by sending him all the monies that Reginald had sent from the country. They even sent the 100,000 Crowns as a gift they said to honor the former Crown Prince and the new one. He had pushed and did not back down. Perhaps the Swiss saw that things were now different.
The newspapers could see that things had changed. ‘I So Pledge’ was the headlines of two of the three papers. The other just ran his name in large print. Reginald was not even buried and they were focusing on him. Krabe and Lady Keller drafted letters to the owners of the papers reminding them that it was still a time to focus on Reginald, not on Gerald.
With the money from Switzerland, he had in his coffers all the money he needed should Lord Ramm complain they did not have funds to pay for the changes he was making to things. The new constabulary units were able to be paid for, though when Lord Ramm met with him and found that Gerald had the money, he said so too did the Constables budget. They easily had enough money allotted from their budget. The Grand Prince had made some adjustments after his son had been killed and money for security had been increased.
As Gerald reviewed the budget, he asked pointed questions, “Can any of these funds, even one bit in a hundred, be made the responsibility of the Assembly to allocate?”
“Sire, that is not something that the Grand Prince has ever contemplated.”
“Let me ask this another way, over one part in five of the budget is allocated by your office. The Grand Prince just says to you, as you have just told me, spend that on the people. Those were the words you told me. Why not allow the Assembly to know that they are responsible for managing this and these are the programs that get such funds? That the historic allocations are such and see what they do with it. Surely you trust that some of these men are nearly as intelligent as you or I?”
“Sire, you would be giving away your power,” Lord Ramm pointed out.
Gerald said, “Lord Ramm, you may remind me of that when I forget it. Reginald and other monarchs are dead because they do not give away their power. Kingdoms that do so seem to have a lot less trouble with those who throw the bombs? Do you think our Assembly does not know they argue about esoterica to little avail since our Grand Prince has kept them as his father did. Little but a society of men that can vent their spleen. Do you not think this has contributed to the attacks?”
Lord Ramm was nodding so Gerald assumed that the Treasurer of the Principality did think that. “Let me ask another way. How much longer do you think the house of FitzRoy Perry will continue if we do not do anything soon?”
Ramm said, “I agree that something must be done, but are you sure this is the right thing? Shouldn’t the Grand Prince know of it…”
Gerald shrugged, “He is not planning to join us when we meet, for he remains in seclusion. I tried this morning to see him, and he waved me away after three minutes. He thanked me for the speech I gave for Reginald at Evensong and then said for me to go manage the realm. You and I shall go to him with this proposal and see what he thinks. He will have a drink before his dinner at a quarter of seven. Can you be available?”
Lord Ramm said yes and when they approached the Grand Prince all he said was, “Money for the arts, and hospitals. I care little for such things. If Ramm would let them, the Assembly can muck it up as well as he has these years. Now if you have nothing else, these plans for the funeral, I do not want to shake anyone’s hand or spend longer then I must. And I do not need to attend your investiture. The Archbishop and Chief Rabbi and all the others can take care of that. When I am dead I won’t be at your coronation. You take care of that without me. It is too much. I’ll dress in my uniform for the ceremony in St. Albans. Have everyone seated and then as soon as it is over, I shall leave. Athelstan can accompany me there and back.”
Gerald told the Prince’s Council the same with Ramm nodding. “He is grief stricken and this will not pass. So tomorrow is Saturday, but I will address the leaders of the Assembly at a breakfast, Krabe has already made the arrangements. Then after the Investiture I shall speak to the full Assembly.”
“Sire,” Lord Winter, the chief minister said, “We have all heard of this plan and really wish to suggest that the majority of us advise that you reconsider. Do you want to share power with the Assembly?”
Gerald said, “I explained to Lord Ramm my thoughts about this. The Assemblymen really have to be involved in our government. Not a veneer, but deep into the roots. They do not know me, nor I them. But I know something about our people. It is time to allow them a say in things. I shall be the Captain of the ship. I shall look ahead to the horizon and order where the ship needs to be steered. I shall think of the future of the country. Perhaps we need an upper and lower house to help in these endeavors and I shall pose that to the Assembly as well. Do I care if cart sellers need to pay an extra tax or get an extra credit as we pave roads for these automobiles?
“By the way we must encourage the manufacture of automobiles here. I am willing to fund some of that and I think we should find other rich men as well to fund such a company.” Krabe wrote that down. So many ideas came to him, he did not know how they had run the country before, but they should have started their own manufacturing company for automobiles a long time ago.
“Sire, you are opening Pandora’s box,” Winter continued.
“According to legend that box was opened in the ancient Greek times. We are very late in exploring democracy here. And I should not want any more revolution. We shall give them this one plum and if they devour it and choke, we shall give them no other. If they divide it so all may partake of the fruit, and plant the seed for a new tree, then we have made the right decision. Krabe, that analogy, ask Lady Keller to see if she can work it into a speech,”
Lord Keller nodded. His daughter was proving very march a part of Gerald’s government. Lord Keller said, “Lord Winter, it may be twenty percent of the budget but you must agree, in the five years I have been on the Council we have never been concerned with the items that are covered in that money. It is why the Grand Prince delegates Lord Ramm to take care of it. It is a good experiment. If you are truly concerned, Highness, why not have the Assembly make up a committee. They allocate the funds, the full Assembly votes on it. If they adopt it, they send it to you for final review.”
Gerald nodded, “Then I look like an idiot if I do not like it. Better were I to be invited to the committee and share such power with them. I have a voice in the allocation of the money but only one of the committee.”
The other councillors nodded then, “That might work well.” Soon they were consumed with the idea. In the end they proposed that the Assembly committee meet with Lord Ramm, Lord Keller because he had spoken, and Gerald to represent the Grand Prince, but giving the Assembly this new power.
That taken care of, they covered the plans for the funeral, and soon enough it was Wednesday and the funeral actually was occurring. Athelstan was to give the eulogy for his brother, and Gerald had a few brief words on behalf of the Grand Prince. Who as he said he would, came, sat and then left as soon as he could.
Soon enough Gerald’s days were structured around meeting after meeting after meeting. Krabe showed him that even after his Investiture, the next action on his agenda, there would still be a great many meetings. “There must be a way to end this madness. So much of it seems like items we have discussed before.”
“Unfortunately sire, you keep adding things to the agenda. You have to meet with the Glaus, Renards and all the other industrialists for you have decided we must work to the modern age. That is half of your next three weeks. It was most difficult to even begin a social agenda for you.”
Gerald knew he had a blank look on his face. Captain Dain then said, “You commanded that you had best get acquainted with the marriage plans for the Crown Prince, so we have created opportunities for you to meet the ladies who were being considered for his highness Reginald. Also to apprise you of the reason these ladies are important. The first though is easily arranged for it is the night of your investiture and the Lord Mayor has made the Guildhall available for the celebration.”
He nodded remembering that. The Guildhall dated back to the fourteen hundreds and had been enlarged so that it was used as a banquet hall often. More people could be accommodated there than at the Celebont Palace. “Yes I had forgotten. Well let us see if we can arrange a block of time when I can just sit and not spend an afternoon in a meeting. I must get out and see Steilenberg. I must see more of Almondy.”
They worked towards that, but it would be weeks after the Investiture and then Winter would be nearly on them. Too much to do and too little time.