Pt VII. A rather jolly long ‘Pt’
The High Diplomat had never really had time for being Jolly. His job had been to make sure most folk were at least content, with a view to being happy. He accepted there were some folk who would never be so, and those who only pretended to be so because it was good for their social standing or careers. Now in view of The Peculiar & Singular Incident (he was keeping his options open) all manner of fractures were coming to various surfaces. Truth be known he could not resist a certain smugness, at least a lot of fool folk in Dingledong would now have insight into how he felt. He gazed at the pile of reports from within Dingledong, along with what was going on in Trundlealong, Hasselduff, Moochenmuch,Grunzelpratz and Turgidan (the very small chunk belonging to The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One, located where the borders of Dingledong’s four neighbours met). His plan to play one off against each other was quite redundant, since The Peculiar & Singular Incident, across the five kingdoms six and thirty major groups had arisen all with something (generally incomprehensible) to say about the event, resulting in about six and fifty different opinions. He did not bother with Chilbin, he knew what they thought without asking. His comrade The Chancellor of the Exchequer had confirmed there was queasiness in the trading markets and lack of confidence in the currencies, as a security folk were placing investments in The Lychee trade, even to the hysterical extent of trading in their gold and silver. While he shuffled markers about on his map he just hoped no one was stupid enough to…
A messenger came in, hot-foot and dishevelled from a hard ride of days and night and several horses.
‘King Jerbloom of Grunzelpratz has given way to an association of doctrinal bishops, three opportunistic dukes and one of his three singularly useless sons, in this case Kurntool and has allowed a True Holy Army to march upon Turgidan with a view to unseating the current The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One on the grounds of Blasphemy, Idolatry, Stupidity and Senility. Apparently Kurntool wanted to add some rather baser insults but was told to shut up, by the opportunistic dukes,’
… march upon Turgidan with a view to unseating the current The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One on the grounds of Blasphemy, Idolatry, Stupidity and Senility….The High Diplomat sighed.
At that juncture in breezed Princess Aureyborealice.
‘I am sorry to bother you High Diplomat, good sir. Is it true that an army out of Grunzelpratz led by an association of doctrinal bishops, three opportunistic dukes and one of King Jerbloom’s three singularly useless sons, in this case Kurntool marches upon Turgidan with a view to unseating the current The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One?’
‘My lady?’ he asked, trying not to stare hard at her and sound as if he were about to have her handed over to his interrogators. ‘How came you by this information?’
Aureyborealice gave out with a slight shrug and her famous cheery smile, she stepped about his chamber in such a light and flowing manner The High Diplomat wondered if she was going to explain by means of dance and a light song.
‘I hear things here and there,’ she replied and with a light laugh ‘As you do. Such as the massing of those very northern barbarians at the behest of King Vilfahengo with the intention of invading the aforementioned Grunzelpratz, which should ensure that if there were an army despatched by King Jerbloom and led by an association of doctrinal bishops, three opportunistic dukes and one of his three singularly useless sons, in this case Kurntool, it will have to stop invading Turgidan and march right back to defend its own lands,’ the next light laugh was downright disturbing ‘ It would be all rather amusing, save there will be blood shed in Grunzelpratz, in addition to that amongst the ranks of those following Bishop Twoodoodle. My brother and his spouse,’ The High Diplomat winced, bloodshed was never a problem, someone calling one prince another prince’s spouse was. Princess Aureyborealice seemed to care not ‘And I expect my brother-in-law Hanselfrendlesten will be swift in the despatch. They all seem so cross. Hanselfrendlesten wasn’t to begin with though he is now. I expect it is because he can’t take advantage of all the ruckuses and invade Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz and thus set up his own kingdom ahead of inheriting Trundlealong, with a view to gaining suzerainty over Dingledong as there would appear to be no heirs forthcoming. Hmmm?’
The High Diplomat was versed in the many forms ‘Hmmm’ could take. The girl was fascinating him in a troubling way. Finance and now diplomacy? He let the poor messenger ( hot-foot and dishevelled from a hard ride of days and night and several horses.) go and collapse somewhere, then gain refreshment. The High Diplomat bade the door be closed and guarded, along with the windows, the chimney and the basement beneath.
‘And why would these barbarians act at Vilfahengo’s behest, princess?’ he asked in his most coldly polite and with an undercurrent of grim humoured sort of way
Aureyborealice countered with one cheery smile most fearful in its disarmingness, backed by an undercurrent of what some lesser folk might think was as the result of an inventive imagination.
‘I suppose despite the best efforts of your agents to spread rumours of bad weather and chasing bridesmaids, King Vilfahengo (The Iron) of Chilbin has uncovered the true nature of the circumstance his son Hulstorm has found himself in. Thus is now very cross and intends to impose his will on all five nations to the south putting an end to this and several other situations he does not care for. He could, possibly, also be expecting a lot of support from the more grumpier or opportunistic folk within all five nations,’
She cocked her head, of course shrugged AND simpered.
‘Just a thought. But I must away now to be of support to my dearest Whinsome; Spouse By The Will and Wisdom of The Supreme Being, As Declared and Witnessed By The Arch-High Elect Supervisor,’ she said, quickly and coherently, twirling.
‘Your are walking into a cupboard door Princess,’ The High Diplomat warned, maybe, just maybe she was simply a giddy child with occasional intuitive insights and quick at picking up on the slightest of gossip. In response she twirled even more and grinned, opened the door stepping in, continuing talking, her voice beginning to echo and fade.
‘Gosh High Diplomat. Did you not know there was a triple access series of secret panels here allowing route between your offices and the various royal apartments? ‘Twas set up by your predecessor’s predecessor during the days of my Great Grandfather Ferrous (The Grim). Apparently the reason was….’
He did not hear the rest.
He’d thought there was only a dual access series of secret panels and now she’d not only trampled over but probably had snaffled some of his most secret papers.
Princess Whinsome could not help but feel very jittery about this meeting. The first two had not been so bad because thanks to dearest Aureyborealice (Spouse By The Will and Wisdom of The Supreme Being, As Declared and Witnessed By The Arch-High Elect Supervisor)’s character references and her experiences of Trundelalong’s own bishops she had been quite prepared, even if, on these occasions, she had not really had much chance to display her theological knowledge .
First had come the three of the sort who wanted to keep on the right side of The Arch-High Elect Supervisors for The Supreme One with a view of advancement and like many others also The Chancellor of the Exchequer. She had barely got her first statement out before they had said ‘Quite so. Quite so. You had no option child. Be on good(e) faith and all shall be well’ They didn’t elaborate, although did consume respectable amount of the cakes and wine prepared for the meeting, while making well-meaning but patronising remarks wherein the term ‘child’ was oft inserted. Whinsome had not felt particularly juvenile at the time but as advised by dearest Aureyborealice smiled inanely nonetheless.
Secondly along came two very grave men of sombre clothing and headgear, carrying tomes large enough to ensure the whole world knew how serious and studious they were. They listened intently to her, nodded a lot, then when she was out of breath, discussed the whole business to each other in opaque and verbose ways paying her no further attention until when they had got through all the wine and cakes on offer. Then they bade her farewell and ‘To be of good(e) faith and all shall well. ‘Tis complex,’. They had not passed comment on her perceived age. To pass the time she had sewn herself a small lace shawl.
Now came, as sweet Aureyborealice had termed them, The Grumpies. On Aureyborealice’s advice with a view to bringing them down to size Whinsome termed the trio as Ol’ Sour Fizzog, Baldy Pate, and Ancient Sniffy Nose. Baldy Pate a well fleshed man of dyspeptic continuance gruffly and in an inexcusable display of ill-manners refused both cake and wine.
‘This foolishness must cease princess,’ he asserted, being of the sort who feels sharpness takes precedence over fact or weight of argument. Encouraged by the sight of delightful Aureyborealice outside at a window to the rear of the three men and pulling the most inventive faces Whinsome took the rhetorical field.
‘I fear you have the advantage of me bishop. To what are we referring? If you are here to discuss the Marriage then I feel somewhat concerned for your soul sir. Are you inferring this foolishness you refer to relates to actions of Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One? If so you should address this directly to His Supervisory. The more I dwell on your statement the more alarm I feel. For is not His Supervisory blessed(ed) with the Voice of the Supreme One? I would urge caution bishop for there are those in these febrile times who would interpret your statement as blasphemy, which of course cannot be correct? Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cake?’
Baldy Pate’s face went an odd colour, he spluttered and turned about, Aureyborealice had ducked out of site, but the fellow was still distracted by view from the window, he felt he had seen for a briefest instant a single middle finger raised.
Meanwhile Ol’ Sour Fizzog advanced up Whinsome, his mouth turned down so far as she wondered his he could make it into a circle. His gaze harsh. When he spoke it was in the most lacklustre monotone she had ever heard, and through the attentions of Trundlealong’s bishopric and cleric society she had heard some wonderous cures for insomnia.
‘Dear Child,’ he began in a manner which suggested no discernible signs of charity or warmth ‘Art though blinded by thy natural vanity and weakness of flesh and will? Canst thou not understand this unnatural binding of man unto man and woman unto woman,’ Whinsome was sure he’d briefly licked his lips ‘Is repellent in the sight of Our Supreme One. For it is written ‘Marriage is a state holy and blessed. A wall against sinful acts, woeful lusts and base appetites. A sanctuary in which procreation shall taketh place,’ his mouth returned to its more than half circle and his eyes remained full of bale.
Over his bony shoulder Whinsome could discern Baldy Pate goggling at the brief appearance of one bare foot, the toes of which wiggled. He rushed to the window, by his confusion she guessed Aureyborealice had scooted off. Whinsome thus fortified spake(th).
‘Good Bishop,’ which she felt Ol’ Sour Fizzog wasn’t ‘ Indeed Marriage is a state holy and blessed(ed) and once entered into doth and shouldest act against base, sinful acts and so forth. Now when we come to procreation, the translation hath been open to debate for some time. For should a man and woman married in all due faith and love not produce children, art they in sin? If they are goodly by all other acts and benevolences, yet produce no children are they in sin? By their union and joy of love spread forth goodness into their community art they not procreating goodness? Hence I see nothing which I nor Princess Aureyborealice art doing differently. For under her guidance I understand charity and goodness unto those less fortunate. I see joy in The Supreme Being’s creation, and am happy moreso than ever, thus offer up prayers of gratitude and devotion unto The Supreme Being for His Devine Guidance and Henceforth am Safeforth in His Keeping,’
At this she offered him a cake. By his reaction of disgust she wondered (irreverently) if he belonged to a line of theological thought which felt cake was a frivolity which led unto sin. She did not pursue the matter. He was about to retort when up doddered Ancient Sniffy Nose who in his urge to say something nudged aside Ol’ Sour Fizzog.
‘Umm, child,’ he began in a quavering voice ‘If it were so. Which if it were, thence would there not be many folk both men and women, all in unions of men and men and women and women, and there wouldst be fewer children,’ he paused to sniff ‘And thus wouldst there be shortage of generations to worship and praise the Supreme Being, y’see?’
‘My Good Bishop,’ Whinsome began, generously and with a warm smile, because he reminded her of her great uncle Duke Runleson who she had always found amusing and kindly if somewhat vague ‘Surely the general disposition of men and women being what it is-‘
At that stage the bishop turned away looking to his associate (known to Whinsome) as Baldy Pate
‘Bishop Hylorididoda. Why dust thou gaze out of yonder window? Art there interesting butterflies?’ sniff ‘Or are the petunias in bloom not of normal shades?’ Cometh away from these whimsicalities and ,’ pause ‘Oh are those current cakes child? I have not seen such comely current cakes,’ he addressed Ol’ Sour Fizzog ‘What say you Bishop Humfelsteffstong? Have you seen such delightful offerings? Why thank you child. Yes I shall partake of one…Why yes two would be most gladsome….Now where were we?’ sniff ‘Yes to this business of butterflies. I feel you young women are too wont to adorn yourselves with images of them. They are all very good in the natural way, but to place lace versions in your hair,’
‘Quite so. Quite so,’ agreed Whinsome rapidly, seeing an opportunity to swerve the conversation right out of the playcourt, as it were ‘For doth not the Supreme Being delight in seeing his creations live in simplicity of their natural gifts?’ and smiled warmly at the old fellow. She would have to speak to Aureyborealice about calling him Ancient Sniffy Nose, it was a bit harsh. Though it was difficult to be cross with someone who could pull such magnificently funny faces behind the backs of the other two bishops
King Genially was talking to his lords about matters military and bringing the peasants sternly to order which was a bit of a shock to his lords. Not like the king at all. These thoughts evaporated when in burst Bishops Humfelsteffstong and Hylorididoda, the latter brushing crumbs off of his robes.
‘My good bishops,’ Genially boomed, not sounding the least bit jolly ‘How went your conference with my daughter and….her…ahem..with Princess Whinsome. And where is Bishop Quirrblelong?’
‘My King,’ grimaced Humfelsteffstong ‘ Bishop Quirrblelong has declared for them as quite harmless and is staying in their Manse because your daughter,’ he cleared his throat as if gargling with small rocks ‘Has said and I quote ‘You and Bishop Hylorididoda will be mean and nasty to, Dear old Bishop Quirrblelong and anyway he deserves cakes’. She then prodded me with a bishopric staff,’
A silence singular fell on the room.
Far away on a particularly chill and stormy day, the servants of Lady Frastreiayal wondered why their Lady was suddenly sniggering.
So was she.