Home Art About the Artist Architecture Maps Modern English Cities Atlantis Children's Corporate Contact


M. Nacrion

(written in 2394)

Having failed to find a position on the Grand Commission, the Duke Enrillio feels compelled to draw on the Duchess D’Aprolia for support, safe in the knowledge that she will have to accept his amorous overtures at last.

The next morning, furious with the duchess for having said so little in the face of so much, our poor duke, undeterred by the fact that he had only recently been admitted to the Earl of G-'s Court, and indeed emboldened by the thought that this act of apparent rashness would better serve to draw the rest of the court's attention to his plight, should it become generally known, resolved to make the seduction of his beloved his sole object over the following months. As if consumed already in the flames of his passion, now at last openly admitted to his own heart, the duke sank into oblivion at his bureau, committing to paper a new letter to the duchess of D'Aprolia.

 “My gracious Lady,” it began, “if I dare to write now in words which all too clearly betray my hitherto suppressed anger, I hope I shall nevertheless be allowed to suffer your comprehension, if not your much-sought compassion. For the events which have lead us both thus far, all those fortuitous encounters, the delicate negotiations, the deceits and the lies have all embroiled too many now in this tangled plot for us to consider turning back now. Only yesterday, the Baron of Darne lowered his defences enough for me to realise just how swiftly we must now act. Of this, however, more in due course. First, it is my duty to remind you, my dear Duchess, of the imperative nature of our mutual undertaking here in the Court, and of the extent to which our future may and probably will depend on it. Do not underestimate the power that old Gyrril wields over our young Heroine, nor the depth of love she still feels for him. Had we planned for it and contrived it to happen just thus, we could never have imagined it as perfect as the situation we now have, and to cast all this away even as the whole affair is falling into place would be not only a foolhardy act but an act (and forgive the strength of the language) bordering on insult to me, your ever-loyal servant in all this grand scheme.

“And why an insult? Why indeed should I, merely the impoverished duke of Sambadan, feel thus moved by your sudden inaction? Ah, my Lady, have you forgotten already the sums I owe and the favours I have asked of any whose help might aid our plans? Have you forgotten already since your visit to my halls the sorry state of my apartments, the echoing suites bare of their once-opulent furnishings which I had to sell to raise new funds? My embarrassment at the situation was, I am sure, clear for all to see when I received yesterday's impromptu visit from the baron of Darne and his entourage, and indeed I believe his evident pity for me is what led him to say what he did.

“You know well the Baron; his happy penchant for talking was yesterday far from dampened by the inclemencies of the weather, and after only a few minutes of his arriving at my doorstep, with only a day's notice that he would be coming, there he stood, telling me of all that seemed important to this old minister, still locked in the repercussions of intrigues which shocked the Court a half-century ago! Within the time it took for my man-servant to have fetched the baron some refreshment, and for us all to have proceeded from the atrium into the second salon (as I, still contrary to this Court's etiquette, maintain befits a gentleman of the baron's status), we had conversationally already covered ground involving the marquis of Ferrail's erstwhile mistress, the duchess of Parraguine and her torrid affair with the odious camberman of Orlavi, the sordid habits of the late and much-lamented earl of Kreschen, and how these were now manifesting themselves in the way that old Gyrril has brought our young Heroine into his confidence, and thereby onto his side.

“‘Ah yes?’ I enquired, all innocently, ‘the young princess Semina is won, then, would you venture, baron?’ The old man laughed, as if (and I'm certain I could sense this in his knowing regard) he had suspected all along that my attentions were directed towards our Heroine (though even should he know, his voice counts for nothing here in the Court!). Then he said:

“‘Why, my dear chap, it is as good as accepted among the great and initiate of this court that Semina has long been wooed by the venerable lord Gyrril, and that his intentions, whilst undoubtedly dishonorable at heart, remain ultimately above suspicion.’

“So you see, my Lady, as you must already know, it is absolutely essential that we act now, before this rash couple consummate a union against our wishes. And  forgive my own rashness, my Lady, in couching my thoughts in this language of such ill-disguised wrath; I proceeded with this all-too forthright missive in the hope that you might better comprehend the urgency with which we must act!

“I beseech you accept these vows of respect from your most faithful and humble slave, etc...

       Enrillio, Duke of Sambadan”

© Copyright Paul David Holland 2017