Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Majorca Couriers

Alcúdia (Majorca), 15th April 1714

--A heavy responsibility is going to weigh upon you, dear Sir Dalmau --tells Princess Elisenda to her interlocutor, while examines him attentively. Still in his early forties, Sir Sebastià Dalmau is a determined-looking man, a successful businessman who in the hardest days of war didn't hesitate even a minute to spend a fabulous sum in financing the Principality's war effort, besides of raising a cavalry troop of his own --the renowned Faith Dragoons Regiment. Once war finally came to an end, Dalmau transferred his regiment ownership to the General Deputation and went back to civilian life. He had in mind some kind of banking enterprise, but a surprise proposal from Princess Elisenda seduced him.

The man draws a slight smile and assents with elegance: --I do assume the burden, Your Highness. Please correct me if wrong: I am expected to build and run a Courier Company joining both private and public invest, whose main task is to be keeping a permanent sea link among the Principality, Majorca, Roussillon and Sardinia. Our ships will be allowed to carry and trade other kinds of cargo, provided that Mail is given absolute priority. Our headquarters are to be in Palma town, and the most immediate target of the new company consists in setting two sea lines; the one linking Palma to Barcelona town and Collioure in Roussillon, while the other will connect Palma to Cagliari in Sardinia. Eventual profits will be partaged between Majorca's Gran i General Consell and myself. Is it so, Your Highness?

Pleased, Princess Elisenda smiles too and assents: --I wouldn't be able to explain it better in so few words, Sir.

Dalmau nods slowly and starts speaking in a low voice, as if thinking aloud: --Such courier ships must be fast, faster than average. I have already spotted a couple of good xebecs that would be perfect for the job. Purchase agreements are nearly closed, but I thought it compulsory to let you know first. On the other hand, such Courier service will require some... er... protection.

Princess Elisenda assents expectantly.

--Honestly, I'm reluctant to risk ships speed by overarming them. For I was thinking of just 8 guns, or 10 at most; such is the maximum armament our xebecs would tolerate without a speed decrease. This means that waters safety should be granted by anyone else, Your Highness. --he wisely adds.

--I've been thinking about this, too --Princess Elisenda replies--. Majorcan authorities have agreed to build a galleys fleet in a reasonably short term, but meanwhile we'll have to dip defense resources from anywhere. A small galliot is to be purchased in the next days, with the aim of putting it under the Courier Company direct management. This will be my humble contribution to the Company.

--Great, that will help for sure.

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