Sunday, October 10, 2010

The galley

Monte-Cristo, 7th August 1713

The Marquis of Vilana was sitting in a comfortable rocking chair, enjoying the shadow under the Hostel porch, when Lieutenant Leibnitz came close to him: -Glad you're back again, my young friend, he said.

-I beg your pardon for having been sick these days -Leibnitz politely answered. He had slimmed down a bit, and his face was paler than usual, for fevers had been strong enough to have him in bed a couple of weeks. The Monte-Cristan officer Claire Baizanville, who was accompanying Leibnitz, sweetly put her hand on his arm and added: -You should rest a little more, Friedrich. You aren't in your best shape yet.

-I do agree -Vilana observed.

-Oh don't worry my friends, I'm actually quite recovered -the young officer quickly answered- Any further, this morning I went for a walk to the harbour with no effort. By the way, at harbour I noticed... well, something worthy to be known, Sir.

-The galley, you mean? -Frowning, Claire asked. Apparently she was already aware of the matter.

-Yes, a Spanish galley.

-I was persuaded you would notice it too, Friedrich -then, Claire turned towards Vilana, who was paying his most attention to the news-. Yesterday in the morning, a Spanish galley anchored in port. Her name is "Intrépida", and belongs to the Cartagena Squadron.

-I'd wish to have been acknowledged before -The legate inquired with concern.

-I believe so, Sir -Claire responded-, but I wouldn't like to have alarmed you unnecessarily. Not before getting... some further information.

-And?

-The galley brought the Marquis de Ordoño, Sir.

The Marquis of Vilana kept silence for some moments, lifting his hands up to the face and their palms together, as if praying. The Marquis de Ordoño in Monte-Cristo... it wasn't any good news. Ordoño was perhaps the most out-standing element of Spanish diplomacy, the one who lead the legacy of Philip d'Anjou at Utrecht... He envisaged a lot of problems for their mission from that very moment on. However, Vilana thought, the arrival of Ordoño in Monte-Cristo could also be read otherwise, for it would mean that their own job was being fruitful enough to get Madrid seriously worried about them... In the end, it meant the Catalan Legacy was on track -Well, it seems they're anxious to counter-attack -he simply said-. Alright, we must give them no time to breathe. Did you say to be in good shape, Leibnitz?

-Tell me, Sir.

-We must perform in advance to Ordoño. Try to arrange a meeting with French diplomacy as soon as possible; meanwhile, I'll try and prospect someone close to the Sublime Porte... A risky option, but at least it will keep them busy.

Following Vilana's instructions, Leibnitz was going out when Claire followed him. At the exterior gates of the Hostel, the beautiful Monte-Cristan officer stepped forward and stopped him: -There is more about the galley, Friedrich. Our agents have known the ship is full of soldiers.

Leibnitz shrinked shoulders and answered: -What's the matter? Our own ship also brought a military detachment, as you know, for protection of our Legate. These soldiers you say must be the personal escort of Marquis de Ordoño, I can't see any...

Claire then insisted: -A whole company of Royal Walloon Guards? They outnumber your Legate guard by 8 to 1! No, Friedrich, this is not merely an escort.

Leibnitz paled intensely, but resumed the march side by side with one of his soldiers. Claire chose to stay at the hostel, but after a discreet gesture of her, two Gardes de l'Etrier in civilian clothes started following both Catalan military from a safe distance.

7 comments:

Jordi said...

For now a galley less in front Galatan coast. Not are all bad news.

abdul666 said...

A whole company of Guards entering our harbour unannounced? This is... rude. Monte-Cristo is neutral and peaceful, but if they try to land without invitation, the reception will be even more... rude.

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

Not entirely unannounced, I guess. Only that Marquis of Ordoño would have neglected specifying what total number of soldiers the ship was carrying, besides of his own escort...

Perhaps I'm wrong (and if so, I should apologize for my error), but I was persuaded a galley would *always* carry an infantry detachment, for their firepower was quite limited -usually, a couple of cannons at bow and stern only- and their use was basically ramming and aboard fighting... so that I supposed that, in the eventuality of a visiting galley, it would be considered normal among port authorities that there would be a military crew inside.

So that I also supposed as normal the ship would be assigned a pier apart and would be imposed some landing restrictions, no else.

Therefore, the agents' surprise would have been at knowing that the military crew at least doubled the usual -which I guess to have been from 20 to 50 men.

I guess the ship is being kept on a pier apart, from even before suspicions began falling upon it, and permission to land would have been given only to the Legate himself and retinue.

If even slightly suspected this might have been wrong or disappointed you, I would have for sure asked before. My most sincere apologies if so.

Lluís

abdul666 said...

Luis,
no problem, your post is neither wrong nor disappointing, on the opposite it's perfectly likely and logical. The only unexpected point is indeed the unannounced overstrenght of the Marquis of Ordoño's military 'escort'. This, and this only, is resented as 'rude' and as a cause of suspicion by the Presipapal Palace.
Since the coming of the Spanish legate was not arranged in detail in advance -contrary to de Vilana's arrival- the Spanish galley was -as any foreign warship- assigned a pier apart, with the picket of Carabiniers mounting guard, and the modalities of disembarking the crew and not-diplomatic passengers will be worked out: it's just the routine practice in such a case, to ensure the security of the visitors as well as our own. In this case, the crew and Guards will be allowed to disembark, of course -a galley is pretty cramped, smelly and uncomfortable- but only by turns of, say, 20 at most at the same time. The soldiers will be asked to come in uniform and with their sword only -the immediate escort of the Legate will be allowed decorative halberds.
Of course some soldiers may disembark in sailor clothes, but then without any weapon. If 'Wallons' is more than a traditional name of their regiment, they would speak French, but with an impossible to miss accent.
Anyway, as soon as foreigners are concerned, any Monte-Cristan above 10 is a potential police informer.

As a gesture, the xebecs which carried to Monte-Cristo the Mehter Takımı we invited to the music festival -and the two companies of Roberd de Nard - trained Nizam~Cedit which escort the band- were moved to be moored on either side of the Spanish galley.

abdul666 said...

The current alertness of the BSN has another reason: Friedrich Leibnitz' fever. Oh, it had all the symptoms of a perfectly normal illness, and the young Lieutenant had danced, drunk and sweated a lot during this whole festive night -rather cool at the end. No sign of poisoning at all -but the 'Service' is not stranger to 'biological weapons' (in Monte-Cristo, the BSN Operatifs use more expeditive methods). Everything the Galatans drink and eat is constantly checked from the cellar / fisherboat / farm to the table service. Our best chemist oversees this aspect of our guests' security. This was not the case of what Friedrich took that night, and Claire was specially vigilant: she judges totally unlikely that someone, carrying a very rare biological contaminant, would have followed the lieutenant without her noticing -she's excellent at her job- and then infected precisely a drink or meal he was to take. This would require an as yet undiscovered group of agents of incredible skill: nonetheless this possiblity -perhaps because of some form(S?) of personal involvement / guilty feeling?- she decided to suggest to her superiors, just to play safe. The BSN is routinely paranoid, but is now *frantic*.

The reservists of the Carabiniers and Cohorte Urbaine are recalled for an 'unscheduled exercise of mobilization'.

Archduke Piccolo said...

One imagines that the 'maritime soldier' crew of the vessel would stay on board until the visiting dignitory had requested their being allowed ashore for rest and recreation.

Bu the Royal Walloon Guard is a whole different ball of wax: so far as I know, that corps is infantry, not marine, and a fairly elite one at that. On the other hand: a corps very appropriate for this occasion.

At that, Ordonjo might have had the tact to mention his escort and request that at least some of them accompany him ashore (the remainder doing the R&R thing). If there are questions in respect of their numbers - about a hundred I dare say - might have bee excused by Orsonjo's "having been given to understand that the situation was extremely volatile and obscure." Apparently the place was being filled with refugees, renegades and all kinds of riff-raff escaping the violence in Catalonia. In view of this situation in Monte-Cristo it had seemed to him wise to bring with him a sizeable escort...

Convincing? Persuasive, at least?
Cheers,
Ion (Archduke Piccolo)

abdul666 said...

Monte-Cristo is proud of the safety it offers to his visitors, specially when used as 'neutral ground' for diplomatic exchanges. To suggest that the situation in the Presipality is not perfectly under control would be insulting; besides, everybody here can testify that the atmosphere here is as merry and relaxed as usual. Actually very few Galatan refugees came here: those few who could escape the mainland went to the Balearic Islands or Austrian-owned Italy.

And we did not ear -as yet- of a spurt of piratical activities from the Barbary Coast (though we think it may come soon, but in the form of raids against the Hispanic shore, from the Costa del Sol to the Costa Blanca....).
And we simply cannot believe the Marquis de Ordoño feared to be intercepted by the Galatan Navy...

Not even persuasive, then (but it's true that, as guardians / warrants of a 'sacred neutral ground', we have to be paranoid).