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El Pip

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A trifle late in my literary review, for which I do apologise, but I am delighted to see the works remain of an excellent calibre. The adventures of the Vicomte remain exhausting to read such are the Olympian heights of his prose, yet well worth the effort. Edward Bear settles well in Greece and is apparently dragging other bears with him, I look forward to the intervention from Rupert who is doubtless serving as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. And of course the Loyal Greek Newspaper continues to avoid being shut down, though why would it because it is so very clearly loyal? ( ;) )

On the voting, well here is a conundrum. Technically our score on this decision is;
* Iron Fist - 1
* Velvet Glove - 0

As only The Loyal Greek Paper got a vote. But this may well be because everyone forgot to actually vote (I am being generous here and assuming there are any readers beyond just the newspaper authors). On the off chance this is true I will push the deadline back to the weekend, just in case there is a flurry of votes now people have remembered that this is an option.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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So far it seems Sir Edward is on the fast track to greater and higher office, Viscount Paddington is a shoe-in for the next premiership, and the Duke of Nutwood, Rutherford Rupert Bear (relation to Edward, naturally) is an old and insane warhorse-er, warbear. Popular with the party (no idea what the party is), popular with the (still somewhat illicit press) and voters. View him as a counterpart to Wellington. Still thinks we are at war with the French etc.

I would say from the last paper that the British would prefer the Ottomans do as little as possible in Greece and essentially withdraw and let the Greek peoples be free...to sell themselves to the British.
 
2nd Decision - The Result

El Pip

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Despite a large amount of utterly unintentional extra time for voting, for which I can only profusely apologise, there is still no hint of a result. Indeed there is a tie between our two options with 1 vote each (this voting by reaction idea has not taken off at all has it?)

I therefore fall back on the old 'counting the number of publications' solution to break the tie, which produces a victory for "Velvet Glove". This is becoming a pattern, which is what you would expect when there is only one newspaper on the Ottoman side (the Loyal Greek paper, who's loyalty is unquestionable) and two which are not.

Because I am enjoying the newspapers, and because at this rate the Ottoman Empire will soon collapse, let us continue.
 
3rd Decision

El Pip

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The Consequences of Decision 2;
Under the instruction of the Sultan negotiations are entered with Ali Pasha, to determine his position. It appears he also desires independence, though like his colleagues in Greece he is prepared to accept an entirely nominal Ottoman suzerainty, as long as it is merely a paper thin sham to allow us to save face while having no practical impact on Eprius. On which note Alexander Ypsilantis is getting impatient and is asking if we will hurry up and surrender so he can get on with building a free Greece.

Decision 3 - Internal Politics - May 1821
With diplomatic negotiations continuing as well as can be expected, the Eunuchs in the Topkapı Palace have received an envoy from the Janissaries. They are somewhat concerned at the constant choice of diplomacy over firmer options and wish the Sultan to perhaps reflect on the benefits of considering an alternate strategy. Also if he doesn't get a grip on things and stop the Empire falling apart they will march on Constantinople and impose someone who will. Should a firmer line be adopted to ensure the stability of the Empire, or do the Janissaries need to be reminded of their place?

The Sultan must decide, after he has read the papers.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Because I am enjoying the newspapers, and because at this rate the Ottoman Empire will soon collapse, let us continue.

Hilarious, isn't it?

Under the instruction of the Sultan negotiations are entered with Ali Pasha, to determine his position. It appears he also desires independence, though like his colleagues in Greece he is prepared to accept an entirely nominal Ottoman suzerainty, as long as it is merely a paper thin sham to allow us to save face while having no practical impact on Eprius. On which note Alexander Ypsilantis is getting impatient and is asking if we will hurry up and surrender so he can get on with building a free Greece.

Sir Edward has been lauded in the British press for his handling of the situation. He is quite confused about what situation they mean, but quite glad that it seems to have worked out alright in any case.

The british government meanwhile has sent another fact-finding and diplomatic party to Greece. This time they forgot their trowels but made up for it with crates and crates of ammunition, guns and cannon.

With diplomatic negotiations continuing as well as can be expected, the Eunuchs in the Topkapı Palace have received an envoy from the Janissaries. They are somewhat concerned at the constant choice of diplomacy over firmer options and wish the Sultan to perhaps reflect on the benefits of considering an alternate strategy.

Certainly, it seems reading and listening purely to what the foreign press has to say about things doesn't seem to be working out too well.

Or rather, it is working out fine for the forgieners. But not the sublime porte!

Also if he doesn't get a grip on things and stop the Empire falling apart they will march on Constantinople and impose someone who will. Should a firmer line be adopted to ensure the stability of the Empire, or do the Janissaries need to be reminded of their place?

I think its rather clear at this point that the ottomans are down and out in Greece, as much as they are in Egypt. So a military coup at this point would perhaps not be unwelcome by the british, provided of course that they buy all their supplies from us and take our point of view regarding a few incidental and non-consequential matters. Like the Russian Black Sea fleet and whether or not the French should really be allowed in Egypt at all.

Nevertheless, of course, Sir Edward is sure to remark upon the matter and more or less give HM government's view on things. With a pinch of salt. Or five buns.
 
The Loyal Greek Newspaper - #3

HistoryDude

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The Loyal Greek Newspaper:

There have been rumors of a revolt by the Janissaries. One would think that if the Janissaries were actually planning a coup, then they wouldn't be so obvious about it as to attract the attention of the entire empire, but what can one expect from a legion of slave soldiers? They do their jobs well, so subtlety isn't normally needed.

Indeed, their lack of subtlety is very good news. As we are loyal subjects of His Majesty, the Sultan, any usurpation of his authority should, naturally, be prevented. The Sultan is the best ruler in these trying times...

Greece is a loyal land to His Majesty, so autonomy is only natural as a reward for this loyalty. However, the Ottomans should take a firmer stance if their authority continues to crumble. After all, they have allowed us autonomy, but our lack of full independence is actually a blessing. It ensures that we have a protector from... certain other people. After all, autonomy under the Ottomans is far better than enslavement under our fellow Europeans.

A collapse of Ottoman authority would also lead to the world being engulfed in war. The Ottoman lands - or former Ottoman lands, our editors suppose - would become the chief battleground between other powers. Greece is amongst these lands. Brother will fight brother, and parents may even fight their children. Uncles and nephews may well cross on the battlefield. What madness would that be? Why should we allow Greece to be torn apart for the ambitions of other powers?

The Ottoman Empire cannot be allowed to collapse. However, our newfound autonomy can't be compromised, either. A firm line should be established in the future, yes - but not toward Greece, which has always been loyal to the Ottomans...

If the Janissaries insist on war with the Greeks, then they should reminded their place. But the Sultan must also be reminded of duty. He must protect his subjects. Why should he kneel to the powers of Europe? Was there not once a time where they feared him? If the Sultan's ancestors could see his current weakness, they would be ashamed. In that, at least, the Janissaries are correct.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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After all, they have allowed us autonomy, but our lack of full independence is actually a blessing. It ensures that we have a protector from... certain other people. After all, autonomy under the Ottomans is far better than enslavement under our fellow Europeans.

France and England have their noses pressed to Greece's office window as they write this...

A firm line should be established in the future, yes - but not toward Greece, which has always been loyal to the Ottomans...

So let them go, but then please don't collapse any further because we'll be dragged into it?

Sounds very reasonable...
 
Travels in the Land of the Greeks - Book the Thirty-Sixth (Tales of Antonia #1)

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MASTHEAD.jpg


AN ORIENTAL DISPATCH
News from the Porte gives fearful suggestion of disorder among the highest echelons of Ottoman government, which presently remains embattled against several disturbances to the general peace in the Levant. The French opinion, such as it is, favours a strengthened Ottoman state at all times, so long as it is favourable to stemming the re-emergence of Russian interests in the region – a most regrettable outcome!

By way of colourful illustration of the present turmoil which threatens the peace in the Near East, our intrepid correspondent in the Orient, the good M. le Vicomte de la Roche Saint-Michel, has relayed a fresh dispatch from Greece, detailing a lamentable tale of tragedy and woe.



Travels in the Land of the Greeks

by

Jean-Maxence-François-Chrétien,
V
ICOMTE DE LA ROCHE SAINT-MICHEL

~ ❦ ~

BOOK THE THIRTY-SIXTH

PART THE FIRST: THE BEAUTIFUL ANTONIA

I now come to a great and tragic episode of my life, which carries no shortage of pain for me within its associations, and which I bear in my breast sadly still after many years of sorrow. The tale of which I speak concerns a youthful love; the love I held, and hold still, for a woman of whose like I have never known elsewhere, and whose grace never shall I see in the soul of any other! O! attend well, reader, this: the tale of Antonia, my true love, cruelly snatched from me by devilry most foul!

To lay our scene, I must first give some account of the circumstances of my education, which was conducted, following the fearful years of Revolution, in the schools of Vienna, where I learnt, in accordance with the assiduity demanded of the station to which I was born, divers truths in the arts of science, of music, of philosophy, and of letters; this humble work being itself the result of this finest of schoolings!

On one occasion, having taken leave of an evening of the various demands of my tutors, in the company of a small group of fine gentlemen, whom I was privileged then to know as friends, I embarked for the opera, where there was to be a performance of a new work by the famed Slovenian master Kzransjek. In those perfumed days of my high youth, the city of Vienna was enraptured no end my the beguiling works of this Slavic master, whose theatrical delights were then the nectar by which I was able to rally my faculties into action for the prosecution of my own studies! And if the Master Kzransjek was the nectar, then there was no question of in what form lay his most prized flower: the sweetest of gems, the most radiant Antonia!

O! to be transported once again to those conducive uplands of artistry, which did so bestir my soul as to render me quite incapable of clear-headed thought, which otherwise is my singular waking domain! Glorious Antonia! darling nightingale of my heart! woe that I might hear your song again!

It was the first night of a new work by Kzransjek, which now has passed into operatic lore, so well renowned is its masterful quality that I need not rhapsodise any further as to the specific attributes by which one might measure the full breadth and scope of its singular genius, except by way of giving brief mention to its hallowed name, which is this: The Baker of Mredljevo, that most indomitable of comedies, a
meisterwerk in nine acts! And on the occasion that this famous opera was to have its début on the Viennese stage, and indeed, its début under the eyes of the world at large for it was then hitherto unknown, which is to say that it had not yet been performed for the benefit of the public connoisseur, who was to play the starring role of Ljudljeva the Pastry-girl? Why! none more fair than my darling Antonia!

The limits of my talents as a man of letters, humble though they be, would be rent painfully apart, exposed for all to read plain, were I to attempt anything so crude as to capture, within the terms of mean prose, the qualities of her beautiful soprano, which that night did so envelop my very soul, binding me at once to her, rendering us inescapably entwined for all eternity! Thus I will pass instead to give account of the night we passed but the following eve:

Having sat in wonder the previous night under the spell of joyful Ljudljeva, whom my Antonia had brought so painfully to life through the olympian heights of her song, I resolved that I had to act: I would declare my love for the girl Antonia! Making good my excuses to my companions after out day of tutelage, I ventured out into the Viennese night under my own direction. My destination: the stage door of that most excellent opera house, where I had passed the night but the previous day, which I knew to hold behind the most beautiful girl in all of Austria! I waited by that door, keeping my lover's vigil, for six and two quarter hours, which in precise terms was the duration of that greatest of opere, Kzransjek's Baker of Mredljevo. And at last! my patience was rewarded, for no sooner had the clock of some nearby church tower struck three than the door flung open, and the fair Antonia stood before me!

I endeavoured at once to compose myself according to the best of my abilities, which rent low by the blow of love were at that instance not altogether titanic; nevertheless, dared I then to speak my love to this incomparable beauty? Aye! Fair Antonia, I announced: I must impart to you my deepest, most tormented amorous feelings!

At this, the unrivalled Antonia was all at once taken aback, and for some moments she stood quite still, the only thing to escape her sweet lips her performed breath, falling upon the crisp night air. And then, after an age! she spoke these words: If it is love you hold for me, Sir, then you will do me the honour of returning, one night hence, that you might repeat this declaration that you have made to me.

And thus I bade her goodnight and returned to my bed, though hardly could I sleep, so consumed was my mind then by the task which lay before me. I would prove my love to this tender woman, whatever it may be that she requested of me!

I returned the next night, making good on my word at that self-same spot; and lo! Antonia greeted me once again, by the very same stroke of the very same church clock. See you now the sincerity of my affections? asked I. I do see it, said she: I see quite well the truth in your claims – but not yet was she satisfied! If your affection be love, she said, then you will return again, tomorrow night, and you will bring with you a flower from every tree that you pass on your way from your room to this door. Then not only will I see that it is I that you love, but I will sense it, also.

Thus I returned again the next night, a woven basket on my arm so that I might contain all of the flowers that sweet Antonia desired. I brought them to her as she asked, and at the appointed hour she appeared to claim them. Sense you now that what I hold for you is love? asked I. I do sense it, said she: I sense quite well that it is love that you hold for me – but, again, she would have me prove myself further still! If your love be strong enough that it burns to the exclusion of all others, she said, then you will return again, tomorrow night, and you will bring in your voice the song of every bird that you pass on your way from your room to this door. The not only will I sense that it is I that you love, but I will hear it also.

Thus, again, I returned! And I worse a scarf of fine silk around my neck, so that in the cold night air I might reproduce each song as sweetly as my voice would allow. And at the appointed hour, the finest bird of them all appeared to claim her songs, which I sang for her for hours without end. And as the sun rose above the street outside of that opera house, my voice straining with the fullness of my love for Antonia, I spoke the words which now had become so familiar to me: Hear you now that when I speak in your presence it is love that lifts my voice? I do hear it, said she: I hear quite well that it is love that you hold for me, and I know you to be sincere. And I know that it is me you love to the exclusion of all others who might lay claim to your heart. Thus I will make one final demand of you, you whom I have learned to call My love: Return to this door one final time tomorrow night, and bring with you no treasure but your love for me; I promise to you now that I will bring for you a treasure in kind, by which you too will see the depth of my affection; and you will sense it also, and hear it from me and me alone.

And so one final time I made that sacred pilgrimage of the heart, which was by now imprinted within the very soles of my feet, and by which I marked daily the fortitude of my love for this heavenly creature, my dearest Antonia! And I waited once more by her door, keeping that vigil which by now had become my most treasured of routines. And again, at that blessedly accustomed hour, she appeared before me, more beautiful than I had ever known her, which I had never before believed possible. I rushed to embrace her, to wrap my arms around this woman who had so entirely annexed my heart for herself; but she did not speak: she regarded me deeply, and I saw then that she held in her hands a small box of the deepest blue, which presently, in solemn ceremony, she did open.

And in the box was the beautiful ring of simple gold, unadorned, but perfect to me in its simplicity, for I saw then that it represented the singularity of my love for her, and of hers for me, which was without extravagance, but in its whole form enough to express that which I knew: that we were to love each other for all time! Before I could speak, still silent Antonia took the ring of gold and placed it upon my finger; and though fashioned from the finest metal, it did not strike me cold, but rather filled me with the most profound and lasting warmth, which I sensed then to be the fullness of my love for her, and of hers for me which consumed us both entirely, and cast its benevolent heat into the furthest reaches of my very soul! And then, at last, she spoke: My love, said she: you who have fulfilled all that I could have asked of you, I make of you now one final request: that you will be my husband, and that we might be entrusted unto each other for all time.

And I heard then, truly, that not only was she the sole object of my admiration and my desire, but that I, too, was hers; and thus we were to be married at once, and scarcely was it possible to find a happier man on God's earth than I! …
 
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Travels in the Land of the Greeks - Book the Thirty-Sixth (Tales of Antonia #2)

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Travels in the Land of the Greeks

by

Jean-Maxence-François-Chrétien,
V
ICOMTE DE LA ROCHE SAINT-MICHEL

~ ❦ ~

BOOK THE THIRTY-SIXTH

PART THE SECOND: ANTONIA'S ECCENTRIC FATHER

Attend, dear reader, for here the tale of my happy engagement with the heavenly Antonia acquires its tragic character! Having declared our mutual love for one another, I returned at once to my room so that I might sleep, in anticipation that the next night Antonia and I would be wed. Alas! I could not have foreseen the difficulties by which I would be beset herein!

Exhausted from my vigil of five nights, in bed once more I slept the contented sleep of one whose soul is without a single ill feeling; so relieved was I that my affections had been reciprocated, that my efforts had been not in vain, that I had been truly exhausted, and once adrift in the land of dreams, I could not be retrieved; for when at last I came again to the land of the waking, and I was once more greeted by the light of the Viennese sun streaming through my humble window, I could scarcely believe that one full day had passed in between times; which is to say, that I had slept for twenty and four hours! O! how my soul swooned when my manservant relayed this unhappy news to me, for in my slumber I had missed my crowning appointment with the dear Antonia, whom I was to have wed that very night, with the blessing of the priest from that church whose tower had kept me company on my lover's vigil!

O! how I lamented the cruelty of fate, which had brought me so close to my beloved, only to have rent us apart at the very last; and how I wept further still when I learnt what had befallen by sweet Antonia, who stood waiting all those hours in the draughty church, and quite overcome by the absence of me, her beloved, had fallen into a state of great sadness, and from this sadness had fallen further still into the grip of cold, brought on by sorry grief: for what could have kept me from our sacred appointment, save for my untimely demise! Thus convinced of my death, Antonia foreswore all further engagement with this waking world and slipped into a terrible slumber of her own; and waking from this slumber some days later, she found that she was confined to her father's home, and furthermore forbidden from leaving by this man for the good of her health!

Antonia's father, an aged man by the name of Herr Rath Krespel, was a man I had not met at that time, but his reputation across Vienna was well established, for he was a maker of exquisite violins, and held the esteem of the
cognoscenti in the rank of no lesser than the finest craftsman of these instruments in all of the Empire! But his prize he kept well guarded, for alongside his genius there strode a streak of eccentricity (the two often being quite likely bedfellows, it is true!), in this case manifesting itself in an excessive protective instinct with reference to his daughter, which is to say: my beloved Antonia.

Thus how distraught I was to receive, some seven nights after our fateful missed encounter, a letter in Antonia's hand – though I remain unconvinced that it was of her devising, for reasons which will soon become quite clear – for this was a letter of rejection! Sweet Antonia, having awoken from her
folle d'amour, had, it appeared from this fell missive, taken it upon herself to reject our association in its whole! For these were the words that I read in her hand:

Esteemed Sir—
I write to you to express my regret that our engagement cannot persist, for I have come to realise that our alliance would be quite ill-judged.
Please make no attempt to contact me henceforth.
Yours,
Miss Antonia Krespel
O woe! that I should have had the misfortune to lay eyes upon these devilish words; how certain I was that they had not come from the sweet mind of my beloved, but had instead been contrived by her jealous father, who sought to retain control over his daughter, who was all that he knew in this world by way of family, his poor wife – sweet Antonia's mother – having perished some twenty years previously; which is to say shortly after the birth of that fair woman whom I knew as my true love!

I resolved that I would seek out Antonia and make sure of my suspicions, that she was being held now against her will, and that her father had schemed to put an end to our alliance. Thus, emboldened, I had my manservant, in those days a young man by the name of Niklaus, ready my coat and my hat, and also my gloves; and so attired I quit my lodgings and made for the house of the Master Craftsman Krespel.

And what terrible news greeted by arrival at that place! For no sooner had I set foot at the threshold of that august property than did I cast my eyes upon a light in the window of the neighbouring house. And I did notice also the shape of an old woman behind the curtain, who seemed quite anticipatory of my presence; and having so anticipated that I would come, she had awaited my coming; and having come, she signalled to me to make for her door, which presently she opened.

This woman, it transpired, had been employed as young Miss Antonia's nursemaid, some decade previous to that date on which we met, she and I; and she was quite well appraised of Herr Krespel's vicissitudes, and was sympathetic also to the knowledge of the lamentable fate of her former ward, with whom still at this time she was acquainted. Her name, she told me presently, was Fräulein Merina, for she had never wed, but she supported herself through some modest inheritance from a late uncle, through which she had been able, in the years of my darling Antonia's majority, to purchase for herself this house where now I stood in conversation with the woman; and furthermore, derived an income with thanks to the talents of a nephew in Milan – for by her manner I could tell that she was of Italian extraction! – who was engaged as a milliner in the service of a Duke. Fräulein Merina related to me the following course of events, through which I would come for many years to be separated from the sweet nightingale Antonia:

In the first instance, I was appraised of the tragic history of Antonia's mother, the late Frau Cremona Krespel, who in her day had been the greatest talent of the opera to be found in Vienna, or indeed in any other city an amateur might care to mention from Paris to St Petersburg, so general and sincere was her acclaim! Some months after the birth of the lovely Antonia, Frau Krespel had been engaged to perform the role of Giovelita in Maglibacci's famous production of
The Neapolitan Cloth Cap. No sooner had she finished in her masterful delivery of the climactic aria, "Gold runs the thread across my bonnet", than she collapsed on stage, there before her adoring public!

A doctor was summoned, a mysterious man by the name of Doctor Miracle, known for his specialism in working with the vocally gifted; but there was nothing to be done! Miracle announced that Frau Krespel had succumbed to a grave illness of the heart, long dormant but ever-present within her, which had been triggered by a surfeit of amorous excitation. She was rushed to her bed, but it was to no avail, for there, that night, she died, leaving only golden, bittersweet memories of those years during the course of which she had set aflame the opera houses of the Empire!

Some years hence, upon the discovery that his daughter had inherited that same gift of song which had burnt with such gay passion in the breast of her mother, Herr Krespel made all attempt to sequester his daughter within his own control, mortally frightened that one day she, too, would fall victim to that terrible ailment which had snatched her celebrated mother from the mortal realm. Thus he built a house under this own design, instructing the masons to lay the bricks all at once, according to his exact wishes, and only stopping to fashion doors and windows once the walls had been completed to his satisfaction, by way of cutting holes in the bricks where he desired.

But Antonia's gift could not be held from the world, for this would be a crime far graver than any death! This was the opinion of all of the leading impresarios in the Empire, who called upon Herr Krespel one by one to implore the he let his daughter sing for the world. After several years, Herr Krespel, relenting somewhat in his fear for the girl's health, consented to have Antonia inducted into the company of the Baron von Bombenburgen, whose reputation among the
cognoscenti was second to none. But Antonia was given over to the good Baron under the strictest of conditions: that never would she be allowed to perform in tragic or romantic roles; thus over the next four years was her fame secured as a soprano masterful in the delivery of comic roles, and no woman in all of the Empire brought more joy to the hearts of the public than she!

This arrangement persisted quite happily until my intervention, for this was the first time that Antonia had known true love, and after her episode in the church, Herr Krespel was sent into a mania, convinced that he had been quite mistaken in having allowed his daughter the liberty of performance, and realising how close he had come to awakening that fell demon which surely lived inside of her breast, which unchecked might one day claim her as it claimed her mother before!

Thus he resolved that Antonia was not safe in Vienna, and furthermore decided that my arrival was a foul signal from the pits of Hell, that the Devil had come to claim his due: for rumours swirled, quite unsubstantiated, that Frau Cremona had won her voice in a bargain with the Devil, who had named as his price that she would never know true love, on pain of death! Imagining me to be an agent of Satan – a fanciful notion, to be sure, and proof only of Herr Krespel's eccentricity! – he undertook to find work in the Orient, where a grand Pasha had offered him the sum of ten-thousand golden florins for the repair of a prized viola, fashioned without seams from one stretch of the finest rosewood. This Pasha lived on an island some fifty leagues from the coast of the Peloponnesian peninsula, and here he had offered to make a grand house for Herr Krespel, that he might occupy himself with the work of the Rosewood viola in total peace and seclusion.

And here, too, Fräulein Merina disclosed to me, was where Krespel had taken the sweet Antonia, who was now to spend her days as her father's prisoner, quite isolated from the rest of the world, and from me, her true love!

Hearing this tale, I knew that there could only be one course of action: I would journey to Krespel's island, even if it took me twenty years more, just so long that I might be reunited with my beloved Antonia; for knowledge that she remained out in the world, quite alone and apart from me, and that I was forbidden from laying my eyes once more upon her sweet face, was enough that I could have died then and there!

I thanked the Fräulein for her candid account of this sorry intrigue, and returned at once to my room, where I collected some small provisions for my journey, and called also upon my faithful servant Niklaus. As two, we set out into the night, vowing that we would not relent until we had found Krespel – and more: Antonia! …
 
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El Pip

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I must know what happens to the Vicomte and his dear Antonia. His tale of love, loss, opera, mad fathers and the views of the cognoscenti is enthralling, almost nothing to do with the notional purpose of the project but absolutely enthralling nonetheless.

Write on my dear Vicomte, your audience demands it!
 

DensleyBlair

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I must know what happens to the Vicomte and his dear Antonia. His tale of love, loss, opera, mad fathers and the views of the cognoscenti is enthralling, almost nothing to do with the notional purpose of the project but absolutely enthralling nonetheless.

Write on my dear Vicomte, your audience demands it!

All will be revealed – soon!

(Equally, we will find out whether or not I can steer this tale satisfyingly towards its allegorical conclusion…)
 
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Travels in the Land of the Greeks - Book the Thirty-Sixth (Tales of Antonia #3)

DensleyBlair

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Travels in the Land of the Greeks

by

Jean-Maxence-François-Chrétien,
V
ICOMTE DE LA ROCHE SAINT-MICHEL

~ ❦ ~

BOOK THE THIRTY-SIXTH

PART THE THIRD: JOURNEY TO THE ISLAND OF THE GREAT PASHA

Some twelve months did it take Niklaus and I to reach the land of the great Pasha who had offered refuge to Herr Krespel; and some twelve months more did it take to make the acquaintance of a sailor who would transport us those fifty leagues across the sea, for these waters off the coast of the Peloponnese were known to be fearsome, and the local people were not in the habit of traversing them, except to travel out a mile or so in order to fish; for as the waters were deadly, so too were they plentiful for marine life, the absence of boats encouraging the steady growth of the aquatic population.

This sailor I found was a man of odd character, but such I deemed quite necessary for the journey that lay ahead: no man in full possession of his faculties, after all, would so much as contemplate casting off into that wine-dark sea! Yet leaving aside his peculiar manner, this man inspired within my breast a deep confidence, which struck me then as if he had me under some sort of charm, so deeply was I convinced by the extent of his mastery of the seas, which were after all unparalleled in that land.

Because of his rare abilities, the man-sailor related to me that he could not disclose his name, for the Pasha had forbidden navigation of his seas by any vessels except his own, and thus to expose himself to me so fully, by offering me his name – which after all is the source of all a man's power! – was entirely beyond the pale. We would thus have to trust each other, he and I, and Niklaus also, as nameless comrades in our quest to reach the Pasha's island; and a state of mutual trust thus having been established, our man-sailor instructed that we call upon him again only after seven days had passed, for only then would he be able to inform us whether or not the seas were ripe for crossing.

Swearing our oaths that we would not set eyes upon each other until such time had elapsed, Niklaus and I returned one week later, to that small house which our man-sailor did call his domicile, living as he was under the constant suspicion of the local village; for any man who dared sail the Pasha's sea was worthy of suspicion!

But our return was for naught, for our man-sailor had seen no signal that the seas were yet ready for our passage. Thus he sent us away again; and this he did five more times after, until a period of seven whole weeks had elapsed, and on the seventh week I returned once more, with Niklaus, to consult our man-sailor.

Finally, on this date, he was of the opinion that we could sail, for the skies at last had broken into an auspicious formulation, which was to say that we would not be sailing under the glare of a full sun – which would easily have alerted any enemies as to the true nature of our intentions – nor were we to sail under the cover of rain, which on this most perilous of seas would have proven tantamount to a sentence of death! With the climate thus lying open for our crossing, at last we embarked.

And what a strange craft it was! Black, as if under a thick layer of pitch, but quite without any hint of sheen or lustre; and yet so smoothly did it glide through that formidable sea that were I more sure of myself in matters scientific, I would have contended that we were not passing through the sea at all, but rather that the boat was wicking away all obstacle to our passage, and that we three were travelling under the auspices some unknown locomotive force.

All through our journey, our man-sailor said not one word, but kept his eyes fixed at all times upon a shining white point upon the horizon. After some while (how long exactly I could not say, perhaps anything from one hour to one full week) this albine point emerged suddenly as if awakened by the very spring, and grew at once – or so it seemed to my eyes! – into a great palace of the finest marble; and then I knew that we had arrived at the palace of the Great Pasha!

Our man-sailor directed our boat into a small cove at the foot of the palace, out of the view of any inside who might have wished ill to any intruder. He instructed that Niklaus and I disembark, and gave word that he would stay behind; for the penalties for being caught in having smuggled people across the Pasha's sea were grave indeed, and he had no desire to jeopardise his very life in the service of a cause which was not his own.

I, meanwhile, had no such reservations, and having come so far, tasting on the very air a sweetness which only could have betrayed the presence of my dear Antonia, I would have given my life then and there that I might have seen her once more! With Niklaus at my side, I made for the palace; and just as quickly as we had left the sea, we were at the threshold of this mighty edifice.

The outer wall of the palace was built according to the manner of the Ancient Greeks, of strict hypostyle construction, and thus there was no bar, now that I had made it to this fragrant terra firma, to my entry; for who could have thought it necessary to have built traps and towers with so indomitable a sea between this island and that land we had left behind! Thus I slipped quite easily from rom to room, with no hint of any soul about, in frantic search for my beloved Antonia.

And then, lo! carried aloft on the sea breeze I heard the sweet strains of a voice like no other: Antonia! And she was singing! How happy my heart was to know that she was alive, and what is more: that her father's terrible interdiction had been lifted!

Therefore, how defeated my spirits were when they were met with the sight that was then shortly to befall them: the Pasha, lying across on a beautiful gilded chaise, playing none other than the Rosewood viola!

O! how cruel, that this glorious instrument should mimic exactly the voice of my angelic Antonia! So crushed was I by this revelation that I lost all will to live, and at the very spot where I stood, I collapsed to the ground!


*​

Some time later, I revived to find myself lain on a sumptuous bed, quite unlike any I had known, even during my infancy at the Château de la Roche Saint-Michel. And there, at my side, was Niklaus; o! faithful Niklaus! It was he, he told me then, who had rescued my sleeping body from discovery by any who might wish us ill, chancing upon a bedroom just a few paces away from the spot where I had fainted, and delivering me to the empty bed he found there, so that I might gather my senses in the safety of seclusion.

We were fortunate further, for disguised under the mellifluous strains of his viola, the Pasha had heard none of our commotion, and thus our presence in the palace was quite unknown to all who lived there.

But wait! At that moment, just as I began to put behind me the terrible arousal that had led to my temporary demise, there came the sound of footsteps from around the corner; and quite before either Niklaus or I had had any time to conceal our presence, a figure emerged at the threshold of that room we had taken for our rest.

A shaft of white sunlight bathed our new companion, and therefore I had no way of ascertaining whether we had fund friend or foe; there was nothing to be done, except to await the revelation of this figure. Then, all at once, the light shifted, and I saw then the face of the visitor, whose room surely I had annexed for my own recovery. Yes, the sight was entirely clear, and o! how my heart leapt once again with the joy of one thousand men! For there, quite unmistakably, robed in the finest white linen, her hair garlanded with sweet flowers, all arranged in an enchanting exotic manner, was the precious Antonia! …
 
Travels in the Land of the Greeks - Book the Thirty-Sixth (Tales of Antonia #4)

DensleyBlair

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Travels in the Land of the Greeks

by

Jean-Maxence-François-Chrétien,
V
ICOMTE DE LA ROCHE SAINT-MICHEL

~ ❦ ~

BOOK THE THIRTY-SIXTH

PART THE FOURTH: DOCTOR MIRACLE'S TERRIBLE RETURN

O! how gladly we embraced each other then, as we realised that fate had led me directly to her chamber! and that after all these years, we were reunited at last! How she looked to me then, sweeter in that Greek clime than at any time that I had ever known her previously, as if the very soul of joy ran through her! And Antonia declared that it was as if no time at all had passed since that last occasion on which we had seen each other; indeed, that we must have loved each other so strongly as to have moved outside of time itself!

And at that point I discerned that that sweet noise I had heard upon my arrival at the palace, and which I had mistaken for the song of my beautiful Antonia, had now stopped. And presently I heard the sound instead of footsteps upon the marble floor outside of Antonia's room.

Not one minute later, the Pasha himself appeared at the threshold! And, his expression all taken aback at the discovery that the palace now played host to two unknown persons, he inquired of Antonia, who after all held special favour as the fair daughter of his most prized craftsman, as to my identity, and that of Niklaus.

It is my true love, Sir, she explained, her voice entirely calm: after two years and more apart, in spite of the cruel direction of my father, that we should not see each other, fate has brought us together once more.

The Pasha asked: And why, if you are truly so fated to be together as you express, did your father wish to keep you from each other's company? Is this man a knave? A rake? A scoundrel?

He is none of those things, Antonia protested: he is all that I could wish in a man, and I declare that there is none in the world so gentle as he, may I be struck down this instant if I tell a lie!

Antonia, my loving girl, was not struck down, thank God! Thus the Pasha could see that she was telling the truth, and that I was in fact genuine; and thus after a moment, she continued:

We were engaged to be married in Vienna, but fate intervened and kept us from each other on the night that was to have been our wedding. So distraught was I that we had been so betrayed by circumstance, that I fell into a terrible delirious state, and my father feared that I too would fall victim to the fate which claimed my mother some two dozen years past.

Here, the Pasha interrupted, for he was a man of great cultivation and considerable learning, and he was well acquainted with the fashions of the European cities; thus the sorry history of Frau Krespel was well known to him, and he was able to relate Antonia's account to what had passed all those years before: O! child, he began: your poor mother, who died for the sake of love. Yes, I can well see the cause of your father's worry.

But, he continued, I see also that fate has brought you together once more, and knowing of the journey required to reach this place, I can divine that the bond between your two souls must be considerable; for only a truly fated bond is powerful enough to render navigable the waters which separate this island from the shores of Greece. Therefore, by my decree, you are to be married at sunset, and let no mortal power interfere with the successful conclusion of this joyous union, on pain of death!

Elated, I could hardly contain my joy: but, alas! I could not have foreseen in that instance what then was yet to befall us, Antonia and I. For no sooner had the wise and great Pasha given his blessing and assurance to our happy union than did Herr Krespel enter the room, attracted by the happy commotion which was the result of our good fortune.

Upon laying his eyes upon me, Herr Krespel knew at once what had occurred, and he at once became all overcome by emotion: O! woe! he lamented: Dear God, am I to see my daughter claimed by that same evil which took from me my beloved wife?

After a short while, he composed himself, and taking himself to sit upon the bed, where not an hour before I too had regained my strength, and then he explained to us what had driven him to such great extremes of arousal.

Engaged as I was all morning in my workshop, he began, making adjustments here and there to a small viola on which I am working at present, fatigued by the heat of the sun, I set down my work and took myself off for a brief rest.

But I was denied peace: for no sooner had I drifted from the waking world to the world of the dreamers than I was beset by foul visions! I dreamed that my darling daughter Antonia had resumed her career in the opera, but that she had exerted herself too greatly; and there to attend on her at the moment of her weakness was Doctor Miracle himself, who, having twenty years ago been banished from the medical fraternity on account of his nefarious involvement in the death of my late wife, had smuggled himself into the opera-house under false pretences as the driver of a horse and carriage! And who had accompanied him as his passenger, but that man who now I see before me: he who calls himself Antonia's beloved!

Having conducted the beloved to the opera, and having thus doomed Antonia to a grave excitation of passion, Miracle presented himself upon the stage right at the moment of my lovely Antonia's decline, where then, under the cover of his fell doctoring, he executed instead his true design: the harvest of Antonia's very soul!

For it is well known that this Miracle is no Doctor, but instead a sinister agent of the Devil himself, who in his business collects as trophies for his master the many talents which God has given unto the people of Earth; and no more exquisite a prize could be found anywhere on Earth than the voice of my daughter!

And so too is it well known that only when in the rapture of total ecstasy is Miracle able to strike; thus he preys upon those whose souls have only lately achieved completion: which is to say, those who have been so blessed as to have known true love!

Here, the old craftsman collapsed anew in fresh tears; and through great sadness he said: Awaking from this terrible dream, I came at once to Antonia's room, for I knew then that my vision could only bear one interpretation: that my daughter had been reunited with her true love, and thus that she was soon to quit this world for the realm of the spirits!

The Pasha here interjected that this could not be the case, for unless this Doctor Miracle had come in the form of my manservant (which, Niklaus promptly assured the eminent man, was not the case) then we were quite alone in the room, and so long as we stayed on the island, then the marriage between Antonia and I would be quite secured against evil-doing.

No sooner had I opened my mouth to concur with the wise Pasha than we were disturbed in our deliberation; there at the threshold was our man-sailor, who having kept himself quite hidden this whole time had now emerged to survey the scene for himself.

Forgive my intrusion, he began, but having come all this way, I surmised that I could not live with myself if I neglected to seize the opportunity to see the Palace for myself.

And who might you be, Sir, to trespass upon my palace grounds? the Pasha demanded. And I explained that this was my man-sailor, who had conveyed me to this place so that I may be reunited with Antonia.

At this revelation, Herr Krespel began to wail loudly, for he grasped in an instant the implications of what I had disclosed; and surely enough, he looked up from his chaise and declared: Why, that man is no sailor, unless his ocean be the very depths of Hell!

For Herr Krespel was indeed correct, alas! And liberating himself from that dark shroud, which on our voyage he claimed had sheltered him from the winds and the spray of the sea, it was now quite clear: here before us was Doctor Miracle! …
 
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Travels in the Land of the Greeks - Book the Thirty-Sixth (Tales of Antonia #5)

DensleyBlair

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Travels in the Land of the Greeks

by

Jean-Maxence-François-Chrétien,
V
ICOMTE DE LA ROCHE SAINT-MICHEL

~ ❦ ~

BOOK THE THIRTY-SIXTH

PART THE LAST: THE PENSION-KEEPER'S TALE

O! that I could at that moment have undone that which I now see was my great error: entrusting this man with my passage across the Pasha's sea. For I saw at once what I had therefore done: granting him protection under the power of my love for Antonia, and of hers for me, that he might overcome the hostility of the waters and make his way to the palace, brooking neither let nor hindrance! Miracle apprehended that no power could have prevented the boat's crossing so long as it carried me towards Antonia, and thus, by recourse to low deception and evil trickery, he profited.

Confronted with this man – nay, this animated shade! – as he regarded me in Antonia's boudoir, I could do not but freeze as I stood! And all the while, Miracle, driven by whatever fell powers may have motivated his ignoble deeds, set to his terrible work. He produced from his cloak a peculiar form of black philtre, which once unstoppered had not an amorous but a stupefying effect on we the entire congregation; and no sooner had I regained the exercise of my faculties than I turned to see Miracle gone – and with him, Antonia!

O! never in my life did I anticipate that it would aggrieve me so – so torture my very bones! – as to hear that sound which next I heard: Antonia's sweet soprano, illuminating the walls of that radiant palace and giving form to the very breeze! For I knew as I heard its gentle strains, sure enough, that there could be no question now that Miracle had claimed his terrible reward; and so overcome was I by this whole affair that I collapsed once more into the deepest of slumbers.


*

When at last I did eventually stir, it was not that golden island light which greeted my waking eyes; for I apprehended after one minute, or else two, that it was not within those palace grounds that now I lay; and Niklaus – brave Niklaus! – at my side (for this I noticed around the same time, that Niklaus was keeping watch over me) explained what had occurred:

Upon arriving in the Peloponnese, we had engaged a local sailor to conduct us across the Pasha's sea in the hope of reaching his grand palace, where Antonia and Herr Krespel lived out their seclusion. But no sooner had we embarked than the weather had turned against us, and with the Pasha's sea known for its ferocity under the calmest of conditions, our sailor begged that we allow him to turn back, and that we would try again the following morning.

I, Niklaus relayed to me, had been in no mind to turn back, but after the entreaties of our man-sailor, I had been forced, after some struggle, to relent in my insisting, and the weight of this great disappointment sent me into a terrible state, which the moment we arrived back on land took me into its grip in the form of a tortuous fever!

Niklaus – o! faithful Niklaus – took it upon himself to secure for me safe lodging at a local pension, kept by a beautiful but taciturn old woman, who was shrouded all in the weeds of a mourning widow. Appraising that I was in quite considerable an ill state, this hospitable widow allowed Niklaus and I use of her room at no charge; and later, when I emerged from the gloom of my slumber, returning to the land of the waking, I met this kind woman for myself, and while she did not say a word (which I took only as recognition of the barrier of language which must surely have separated us, for at that time my Greek was not at all accomplished) she made indications that I must rest as long as I felt it necessary; for I believe that she saw in my person one who had been through great turmoil of the soil, and I believe that her breast, too, hung heavy with the darkness of loss.


*

Some days later, when my spirits were revived enough that I might go about my business, writing down certain details of our expedition and great lamentations for my beloved Antonia, whom I was soon to see once more, this woman my host came in to change the sheets upon my bed, and I remarked for the first time – surely this I had seen before, but I had not been in any state to make good of my recognition! – how the room in which I lay had been decked out in the trimmings of mourning, which is to say that black ribbons had been affixed to the bedpost, and certain coverings had been placed over the pictures which adorned the walls, as was the custom in accordance with a local superstition.

I enquired of my host, in terms which I imagined she might comprehend, what was the occasion of this public grief. Imagine my shock when this woman, who hitherto had been silent as the grave itself, broke forth in meticulous French, which evidently she had learnt from a particularly enlightened speaker, for she spoke as if she were the very life and soul of the chaussée d'Antin!

And imagine further how fast my surprise morphed into deep pain, when this
grande dame explained to me that the occasion of her mourning was the death of a young woman, local to this region, who had arrived only two years ago, but who had been confined to a sorry existence within the grounds of the Pasha's palace, where her father was engaged as a craftsman in the work of restoring a Rosewood viola!

I did not need to listen as my host related how this woman, a girl of barely two-dozen years, had been known once throughout the Empire of the Habsburgs as a great soprano, and a great beauty besides; o! how my heart cried when I knew it to be true: that Antonia was dead, and that never again would I see her face, nor hear her sweet voice, except as a companion within the land of my dreams!

But what had been the occasion of her death? I summoned the fortitude to make the enquiry of my host, who related how the girl had been confined by her father, who had disapproved of her engagement to a young and noble poet, fearing that she would leave him as the girl's mother had left him some twenty years prior, when she, also an opera singer of considerable regard (although this, alas! I knew to be true already) had succumbed to a sudden and tragic illness at the height of her fame. In his excessive concern for her well-being, and also that she should not be free to exercise her independence of him, the girl's father had driven his daughter to her death: for her heart was so smothered by his protections that it could beat no longer!

O! woe, to have been able to have abandoned the living realm then and there! But I could not, for I knew at once that I had to confront Krespel, whose suffocating designs had robbed our world of his sweet Antonia! But my host went on, and so I too continued in furnishing her with my attention: She explained that she had taken it upon herself to deck out her house in the garlands of mourning, for she did this in all cases where there was no other who might mourn the dead. But what of her father, I asked. And this was her reply: He is dead; taken by that same heartbreak which surely took his daughter, having realised that he alone had driven her to her grave.

Thus I was left in that land without a purpose, save to mourn my beloved Antonia. I revealed at once to my host the true implications of my identity: for I was that very poet who had been engaged to the sweet departed girl, Antonia; and it was now my lot to carry the light of her soul in the realm of the living, until again we might be united in the land beyond.

My host knew this to be the case already, she announced, for she had recognised in my condition all of the signs of heartsickness, which many years ago, as a young girl in Paris, she too had known; and she had retired to Greece following the death of her lover, a servant in the employ of her father, who was in fact the Duc de Villentros, and who had so disapproved of his daughter's liaison with this boy that he had him thrashed until he was half dead. The remaining half of him that lived, my host the Comtesse recounted, had expired that very night, from shame and from sadness; and she had taken her revenge upon her father by fleeing, for alone among his children she held the key to his affections, which after all had been the real cause of the dispute in the first instance; and her departure left the Duc only with sons whom he despised, and who within the year of their eventual inheritance had reduced this noble family, through indolence and ill bargaining, to a state of irremediable indigence.

Having entrusted each other with our true identities, and further with our own lamentable histories of misfortune in the domain of love, I stayed with my kind host the Comtesse until the close of the season, at which point, with Niklaus at my side, I secured passage back into the Habsburg realm.

But in Vienna I could not resume my life as it had been before, so gay and buoyed by the love I held for my sweet Antonia; and now, so gravely haunted by her absent shadow. Thus I returned to Paris, where I abandoned my studies and took instead to the art of letters, which I knew offered alone among all of the professions open to a man of my station the possibility of reconciliation with the death of my Antonia, and further more gave me means by which I might prolong her life in this living world, until that time when we are reunited in the land of shades.

And what of that evil figure, the fell Doctor Miracle? I cannot admit, I must be certain, that I did not conjure him from the very depths of hell myself, so overcome had I been in my state of amorous delirium, that any humble and innocent figure in the street may have appeared to me at that time as the lieutenant-in-chief of Beelzebub himself!

Yet there remains one curious incident which I must relate, apposite as it is to this lamentable tale which I have recounted hitherto, which concerns a meeting many years later, after I had established my fame as a poet, on an afternoon when I was taking tea in the Salon of the Marquise du Tronc as her honoured guest.

For much of the afternoon, the conversation had been most convivial, as it is often singularly on social occasions such as these, and few dark thoughts intruded to dampen the spirits of that esteemed crowd of
cognoscenti who had been gathered together to enjoy the famous hospitality of the good Marquise.

Nevertheless, just before I had been due to take my leave, for that very evening I was to deliver a recitation of my verse at the hotel of the aged Duc d'Ourgand, the young Mademoiselle de Quebré relayed to us the news that, recently, a young star of the Parisian stage had been claimed one night by a sudden and mysterious illness, which had struck right as she had made her preparations to sing that particular work's crowning aria.

Despite the best efforts of a doctor, who was by chance that night in attendance at the opera, the young starlet could not be revived, and later that evening she perished, much lamented by those who had noticed in her the growing seeds of a promising career on stage.

Since my tragic encounter with my eternal Antonia, I had foresworn all involvement at the opera, and thus this news was quite shocking to me, not only in its base character, but for the old and terrible memories which it did stir in my ageing breast! I marked in particular one detail, quite inconsiderable within the grand scheme of the young Mademoiselle's account, but which nevertheless lingered in my own mind long after I had left the company of the Marquise du Tronc later that evening: the character of the doctor who treated this unfortunate, of mysterious origin and unknown locally, clad all in black, and with a face that none who were present that night could later call to mind. ●
 
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El Pip

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Bravo sir, bravo. A virtuoso piece of writing and one you have seemingly dashed out in but a handful of days.

I feel I should say more, that the quantity of the praise should match that the quality of the prose, but what else is there to say? I am not the man you should look at for literary criticism and fine discussions on technique, I just found it an enthralling read that swept me along to highs and lows and was generally excellent.
 

DensleyBlair

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Bravo sir, bravo. A virtuoso piece of writing and one you have seemingly dashed out in but a handful of days.

I feel I should say more, that the quantity of the praise should match that the quality of the prose, but what else is there to say? I am not the man you should look at for literary criticism and fine discussions on technique, I just found it an enthralling read that swept me along to highs and lows and was generally excellent.

Thank you Pip. It was indeed dashed out, which is why it is riddled with typos and continuity errors which I have been going back to amend as I spot them. But I am glad that you enjoyed it. A very fun detour into the Vicomte's past for me to write, I have to say. :)

The tale itself is very, very loosely adapted from E. T. A. Hoffman's "The Cremona Violin", sometimes called "Rath Krespel", which I have never read in its entirety (as will be patently obvious to anyone who might be familiar with the Hoffman story), but I do know it from the Powell and Pressburger adaptation of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman. (So only a little bit mangled, then.) Antonia turns up as Hoffman's love interest in the film's third and final act (although Offenbach intended for it to be the second Act of the opera – he died before the premiere.) As soon as I saw the film I had the idea to nick it for the Vicomte, and of course the whole 'overbearing paternal authority' theme has a great deal of allegorical potential given the situation at the Porte in this case. Whether or not the French reading public will get anything out of that side of it (or even the Porte for that matter…) Just so long as it's entertaining.

The Vicomte's next adventure will, I have no doubt, be much less lengthy. I am conscious that he has rather monopolised the thread on this occasion.
 

Idhrendur

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Thank you Pip. It was indeed dashed out, which is why it is riddled with typos and continuity errors which I have been going back to amend as I spot them. But I am glad that you enjoyed it. A very fun detour into the Vicomte's past for me to write, I have to say. :)

The tale itself is very, very loosely adapted from E. T. A. Hoffman's "The Cremona Violin", sometimes called "Rath Krespel", which I have never read in its entirety (as will be patently obvious to anyone who might be familiar with the Hoffman story), but I do know it from the Powell and Pressburger adaptation of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman. (So only a little bit mangled, then.) Antonia turns up as Hoffman's love interest in the film's third and final act (although Offenbach intended for it to be the second Act of the opera – he died before the premiere.) As soon as I saw the film I had the idea to nick it for the Vicomte, and of course the whole 'overbearing paternal authority' theme has a great deal of allegorical potential given the situation at the Porte in this case. Whether or not the French reading public will get anything out of that side of it (or even the Porte for that matter…) Just so long as it's entertaining.

The Vicomte's next adventure will, I have no doubt, be much less lengthy. I am conscious that he has rather monopolised the thread on this occasion.

Said monopolization was so very pleasant, however. Less pleasant for him, but that's the shakes when you're a fictional character.
 

DensleyBlair

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Said monopolization was so very pleasant, however. Less pleasant for him, but that's the shakes when you're a fictional character.

Thank you! It was, alas, a sorry tale for the Vicomte. But that is, indeed, just the way it goes – especially when you're a Romantic poet wandering Europe at the turn of the 19th century.
 
The London Gumption

TheButterflyComposer

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The London Gumption

pnoofwz4j


A Special Message from His Grace, the Duke of Nutwood

Glad tidings and good hunting, fellow scholars of that Grand Majestic theatre we call Eng-ger-land. I am marching with great energy as I dictate this missive to you all. My mind has been churning of late of the wickedness of our mortal enemies, or as some call them, the Rest of the World.

The French once again have managed to maintain their spectacularly poor pantomime of peace. Yet again our leaders have had the stuffing pulled over their eyes by ridiculous oaths insisting we are not at war and have not been for some time. Bollocks, of course. I go further. Damn bollocks, if you pardon my French filth. The lot of them should be shot and put in prison to work! And I would have done it myself in my tenure as premier, were I not certain the lazy little weasels would have used it as an excuse to loiter about at the British taxpayer’s expense!

What? No, I – oh dash it all, alright.

My secretary has rudely interrupted my important news to insist I disclose what the brownboots at N.O. 10 wanted me to say. What was it? Ah yes.

For too long, the French have managed to-what? I’m getting to it. For God’s sake Hamish, let a man speak! And don’t alter my words. It is a moral crime to adjust the words of a man of quality. Moral, and legal. I’ll have you deported to Swansea. What do you mean, that’s still in England? It isn’t in London though, you dirty little whore! No, I hate you. No. No…no, let me talk-can you just let me talk about the-yes…yes…hmm. Alright. Yes, marmalade please. Hunny? Excellent.

Anyway, as I was saying, the British Government wish to express their deepest concerns with the state of affairs in the Ottoman Empire and would like to strongly urge all involved, with all the seriousness they can muster, that they are looking into things and finding them. We don't want to touch your smelly, rotten sultanate, but we will.

And Napoleon probably is behind everything, short stubby little fu-

Editor’s Note: We bring you this special report, with our profoundest apologies
 
3rd Decision - The Result

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
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Dec 13, 2005
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As this session reaches it conclusion I note that but a single vote has been cast and that was mine. As luck would have it this coincides with what is probably the general tone of the press, that the Ottomans should pull their finger out and stop conceding everything.