"Damn the Margraf for his ill-timing!"
Grand Duchess Irma looked over the tops of her glasses at her husband as he paced their private sitting room. It was late at night, and the lamps glowed softly, too softly now for her tired eyes. She laid aside her needlework and folded her hands in her lap. "Is there ever a good time to have a war, my dear?" she inquired gently.
Her husband frowned then gave a snort of laughter. "No, I suppose not. But the new fellow's timing could not be more awkward, what with the imminent arrival of Reich Duke Wilhelm and the Cavendarian ambassador about to present his credentials. Most of my council members are away in Kimmelsbrücke or they'd be able to help organize things."
"At least we have the new monument to Duke Wilhelm the Bold built and ready for inauguration. You could ask his namesake to dedicate the structure."
"I could! What an excellent suggestion, my dear."
Irma smiled to see the lightening of her husband's countenance. "You do have so much on your mind, dearest; it's hardly surprising that sometimes you cannot see the wood for the trees. That's why I've taken it upon myself to see to a few details."
She gestured and one of the servants brought her notebook. Flipping the pages she pursed her lips. "Ah, yes. The kappelmeister tells me Herr Wömfondlach has written a new opera, Der grüne Ritter, in honor of the Reich Duke's visit. We have several recently purchased works by Scaldcatti and Dogbreathio in the National Gallery which should serve to keep both him and the ambassador entertained. I know it is few weeks until Die Ostern Parade is held, but the Ducal Corps de ballet is sufficiently far along in rehearsals for Der Tanz der Blumen that they can put on a charming display. If the weather continues to improve, they can perform in the Grand Park. Philip did leave instructions for a splendid firework display before he left." She peered up at her husband, who looked slightly stunned. "All in all, we will not disgrace ourselves in showing such hospitality."
"Indeed not!" He beamed at her and crossed the room to take and kiss her hand. "My dear, I am tempted to go off on a prolonged shooting holiday and leave the entire running of the country in your capable hands."
"Oh, tush!" She smiled nevertheless. "Men say such things but never act upon them. You know we'd make too good a job of it and leave you all redundant!"
Karl smiled down at her. "Perhaps you're right." He looked out of the window. "I just wish I knew what was happening in Kimmelsbrücke."
Just then the chamberlain entered bearing a silver salver, upon which lay a sealed envelope. "A message has arrived from Dr. Knappenberger, Your Grace."
"Dr. Knappenberger, by God!" Karl exclaimed, hurrying to take the envelope. "Do excuse me, my dear."
Irma waved away his apology and watched as he opened the message. After his eyes had scanned a few lines he grinned and slapped the paper. "What an excellent fellow Dr. Knappenberger is!" He handed the letter to her. "The Margraf's claim is null and void!"
Irma pushed her glasses up and read.
'Any claim made on behalf of Grafin Ursula under Sacro Illiac law was rendered null and void by the simple declaration of Quia ego sic deco by Archbishop Wolfram upon his relinquishing his claim to the throne.'
Karl smiled. "Of course, since Grafin Ursula took her own steps to remedy the situation, the matter is now of academic interest only. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to have the point confirmed by so eminent a legal personage as the good Doctor."
"I'm so glad!" she said but her husband was already hurrying for the doors.
"Forgive me, but I must be on the wing, dearest, to ensure this news is spread far and wide," he cried.
Irma watched his departure with an air of resignation then turned her thoughts to the prodigal daughter of her brother in law, who'd appeared so suddenly upon the scene to such effect. I wonder what she's like?