Monday, October 1, 2007
Some Progress At Last, And Some Revelations!
My, but its been an interesting fortnight! Again, where to begin. Even though I am constantly making notes in my journal, of necessity they are often abreviated and I am much more comfortable when I can transpose them into somewhat coherant thoughts over a glass of my favorite nectar as I sit by the fire. Its my belief that to present you, my Dear Readers, with an understandable account of the events of the past fortnight, I should enumerate them as precisely as possible, so, to begin:
(1) I was "requested" to report to Paris for an "informal appointment" with Louis and his advisor's no later than the eve of the sabbath, the 15th of September. Naturally, knowing that Louis is not to be ignored when he "requests", young Shaw and I, along with the Lady Katherine, who wished to do some shopping in Paris, set out upon our journey. Upon arriving at the Palace, and sending Lady Katherine on her way with our coach for her errands, young Shaw and I were immediately shown into Louis' private appartments. It seems, Dear Reader, that the Duc de Lyon, along with some other petty nobles and landholders, are concerned with my presence in M'Eudail. They damned well should be concerned! To calm poor Shaw, I sat through most of Louis' tirade and his advisor's clucking and whining for the better part of an hour; all without refreshment I hasten to add. When finally Louis appeared to have vented most of his fury, lackey's finally appeared with spirits and food. Its my belief that they had been hiding in an ante-chamber the whole while waiting for Louis to pause for breath! At any rate, it finally resolved that the real concern had to do with money and rumors that Louis was hearing of my planned army. The local functionaries had convinced the gullible sod that I was personally going to "bankrupt France, and that I was selling my loyalties to foreign powers while supping from Louis' cup". As if I, or anyone else, could ever bankrupt France after Louis' efforts had failed! Well, to keep my tale as brief as possible, I said all the appropriate things while young Shaw echoed them sincerely, and we both promised to be more mindful of our relations with our neighbors. The only good to come of our trip to Paris, other than the stunning ensembles that lady Katherine acquired, was that Shaw had an opportunity to meet with several individuals whom he knew at the Paris depot, where he discovered a virtual treasure trove of uniforms and weapons in storage. It seems that Louis was in the process of re-equipping the majority of his army, an odd sort of behavior for a King who just lost a war. At any rate, Shaw's friends were able to be persuaded that certain quantities of these items could be purchased, at a fraction of their original value, and routed to M'Uedail, for a nominal handling fee. Well, enough said on this matter, the bargain was struck and certain sums exchanged, along with the promise of additional funds, and I now had uniforms for roughly two-fifths of my new army. Many would need new linings and cuffs, and certainly the odd hole repaired here and there, but Shaw assures me that we obtained these for roughly a quarter of what new uniforms would have cost. And with our Guild tailors to make the needed repairs, I had just made a spectacular arrangement. This whole affair obviously set young Shaw's mind to spinning, as within a matter of days after our return to M'Uedail, he had made similar material acquisitions in both Baden and Milan, and thereby had provided the raw material for our entire Army, with suitable repairs and modifications to be sure. It seems that the end of wars such as our recent one often create such a stockpile of accoutrement. Indeed, young Shaw says that he can foresee a time when certain merchants will band together to sell nothing but this "War Surplus" as he calls it. I personally think the idea ridiculous, but I do so hate to dampen young Shaw's enthusiasm, especially when it benefits me!
(2) Following our return to M'Uedail, and while young Shaw was about his shopping. I received a communique from my future Italian Brigade Commander, Don Carlo Luciano, requesting that I attend a conference that he had arranged in the mountains at some sort of hostelry, if it pleased me to do so, for the purpose of meeting all of my primary subordinates. It seems that Don Luciano is quite versed at arranging this sort of conference, and the mountains are a favorite location for them, something to do with privacy, which I understand that Don Luciano has something of a fetish for. Well, I enjoy a trip to the mountains as well as anyone, and was of course very curious to meet my new subordinates and see what they were like as a lot. I accepted Don Luciano's offer, with the admonition that all future "offers" of this nature should, by rights, be made by myself or young Shaw. The conference was to take place over the week following the Sabbath on Sunday, 23rd of September and last til Friday, the 28th of September, and we barely had time to get there by fast coach. So, young Shaw and I bundled our somewhat wrinkled travel clothes and uniforms into the coach once again, and off we went. What an affair! I am indeed surrounded by a splendid, and splendidly rogue, assortment of individuals. I am still forming my personal assesments of each of the officers that I met, and of couse I have that silly set of documents that Shaw had those two skalawags prepare for me, which I refused to read unless completely besotted. It shall have to wait for a later post for me to examine each of the new officer's in any detail, but I will summarize them briefly here:
My resident Scotsman, Connery, is the epitomy of the Highland Brigand! The entire group of Irish, most especially that rascal O'Toole, are a hearty, loud, boisterous group who would probably defend you to the death in a tight moment, then steal your last shilling or sous to buy a drink! The Germans, to a man, will drive a man to drink with their constant heel-clicking and formality, but put them in the same room with the Irish with a tapped keg or two, and they'll soon be singing old marching songs and buying rounds, which the Irish NEVER turn down. The leader of the German contingent is the wunderkind, Guderian, and I have to admit that he does leave an impression on one. Especially that chap Rommel, who I'm told is a brilliant cavalry commander in his own right. Guderian kept trying to pull me away from the proceedings to show me charts and diagrams that he had with him, all having to do with some creation of his that he insisted, "would change the future of warfare forever!" I managed to forestall this presentation to a later date, and I do believe "Little Heine", as the Irish have taken to calling him, would have broken down then and there had not Rommel taken him aside and pointed out that we had larger issues to deal with at this time. And finally, my "Italians". I now see the method to the Duc di Milan's generous offer. It seems that by and large, the majority of my "Italians" are actually Sicilians. As a result of the recent war, when Savoy and Sardinia threw their support to the young Austrian Queen, the Isle di Sicilia had been ceded to them in reparation by the Austrians, all with the support of His Holiness in Rome, of course. That the Sicilians had never been consulted on this was obvious, as was their displeasure with the arrangement. No matter, they are a sinister looking lot, often remaining quiet for hours at a time, then suddenly breaking into heated discussion and boisterous displays. Shaw tells me this is very typical of the Southern Italian, and especially the Sicilianos, and should not overly concern me. I will say this, they are to a man a handsome lot, with their swarthy complexions and black, wavy hair. And there are two or three, I believe named chaps named Corleone, di Niro and Pacino, who can fix a man in a stare that will chill the very blood in your veins! However, there is one odd man out in this dark and sinister group, a young Capitano of Cavalry from the North of Italy who is fair haired and sings like a lark. Every time I turned about at the gathering, this young lad was breaking into glorious song, and I should add that most of the tavern wenches were quite taken with him as well. His name is Gionatta, which I am told is John in our tongue, Bongiovi, and if he can wield a saber as he wields his vocal chords, he should be quite something to see in battle. I will have to tell Lady Katherine to warn the mothers of the Duchy though. As if bringing these lusty Irish and Sicilian lads into the Duchy didn't pose enough of a threat to feminine virtue, young John can seemingly separate a maid from her undergarments with just a twinkle of his eye and a quiver to his voice. No, I will swear to it! After one rousing performance that he gave in the Great Hall of the tavern, there were actually women's undergarments scattered about the performance area, quite as if by accident. The Irish are quite jealous of this gift, as you can imagine!
(3) The one thing of Guderian's that I took away from the conference, and which my senior staff had an opportunity to review and comment on, was an Order of Battle for our new Army. It is quite an impressive document, and I hope an achieveable goal. I have published it above for your edification, Dear Reader, but do not be overly suprised if changes do not take place at some point in the future. I did express my concerns to my Staff before leaving our pleasant mountain retreat, but with several knowing looks and nods to each other, they assured me to a man that it was not only possible, but that it would come to pass. Indeed, Connery spoke for them all when, assuming what looked for all my life like a playactor's pose on the entry stairs of the tavern, "So let it be written, so let it be done!" I commented in the coach to young Shaw that Connery certainly had taken a striking pose when he issued his statement and inspired great confidencein me, and that he certainly had a most charming and commanding personality. Shaw shocked me to no end when he expressed the vehement opinion that Connery was, "nothing more than another out of work playactor, overplaying the part as usual." Indeed, young Shaw, who was quite the worse for wear from drink I fear, went on to say that he could envision Sean being more appreciated for "pretending" to be an Irishman, an Arab or the King of England if he wasn't careful of his future behavior. Odd for young Shaw to be so put out by a fellow Scot, and especially one as personable as Connery appears to be, but I've already learned that our young Mr. Shaw can be a bit petulant when he wishes. He also warned me, just prior to passing out from his consumption of drink, to beware of my "Sicilian Mob", as he called them while making an odd gesture of bending the end of his nose with his pointing finger. Ah well, time will out, as someone once said. Well Dear Reader, my quill grows dull, as does my wit, and my drink is long consumed, so I will leave you at this point for slumber. And to examine some of the finery that Lady Katherine returned from Paris with. It seems that everything she purchased was not for daily wear, and she did procure these items in Paris!
Respectfully, Sir William