Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by DELETED32084


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New York City, Rebel American Colonies - 1836

"That is time gentlemen, you may fire when ready." Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, clicked his watch shut and nodded to the slew of officers who had been waiting patiently for this moment.

"The signal to fire, if you please, Mr Wills." Captain John Ledsham had turned and snapped the order to a junior Lieutenant who saluted, slipped the knot holding the signal halliard in place, and quickly began to haul it hand over hand into the sky. The flags caught the wind and snapped out in a flash of colour.

Mere seconds passed before the first of the bomb ships fired, the heavy mortar sitting in the belly of the boat roaring as it hurled a shell in a high ark before it plunged toward the city beyond. The sound had barely faded when another mortar fired, then another, until all twenty of the squat looking vessels were shuddering with the heavy concussion.

"By god it makes a man proud to be British don't it?" An officer growled nearby and the Admiral had to agree as the first of the massive battleships began to tack and turn so that its guns could sweep the half finished fortifications that might have prevented the British attack.

He could see blue coated soldiers running to the few guns that had been mounted when word of the approaching British fleet had first reached them. "Fools..." They would barely make a dent in the warships that crawled toward them on the flood tide, a steady breeze filling the huge sails.

The first of the ships opened fire, the rolling thunder of the massive broadsides completely drowning out the heavy thud of the mortars. The rebel defences vanished in a cloud of dust, falling masonry, and a combination of canister and round shot. The rebel flag, mounted on a freshly limbed tree trunk, toppled almost instantly and vanished into the maelstrom below. Cochrane fancied he saw a cannon hit plumb on the barrel go flipping through the air like an Indian tomahawk.

It didn't take long, by the time the third man-of-war had emptied its broadside into the fort a single man stumbled into view and began to frantically wave a white flag. The fourth ship fired one shot before its guns fell silent and a minute later a launch filled with red-coated marines pulled away toward the island.

The first of the outer works had fallen but the city governor had refused to surrender and so now New York must suffer; the mortars fired on.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dinh AaronMk
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Dinh AaronMk my beloved (french coded)

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As as it is, it is said that history happens twice:

First as tragedy.

And second as farce.

The small of candle smoke and fine dinner weighted heavily on the air. In the Palais des Tuileries sat the cast of government. The ministers of state, headed by the Comte de Polignac, Jules Auguste Armand Marie de Polignac on the right of the king. And to the left the array of ministers of the Chamber of Deputies who held notability in that vast council. The king, Charles X, the elder soldier statesmen of the Bourbon Family say hunched in his chair, face pallid and gray; face shrunken, and mouth stooped as he presided over a delicate meal like a ghost. His rapidly thinning hair a dusty crown atop a liver spotted hair and a dying spirit in his eyes. The ministers and statesmen around him spoke eloquently and rapidly as they gestured over plates of duck and ham and thirty kinds of wines and freshly baked breads and fruits and vegetables. The smell of spices of herbs were heavy in the room's bouquet. But glancing to the king those who were astute would think he hardly took in any of the effect in the room.

And it was in his capacity, the Comte de Polignac's duty to keep those among the ranks of deputies distracted to the king. Quietly under the table he would dash signs to servants and royal attendants to keep the king looking lively, to come over and gently touch Charles X by the shoulder which prompted him to spring alive suddenly and eat. Taking in mouth fulls of food and chewing them like a youth; messy and with gravy dripping from his lips. A servant would come and wipe it away with a deft hand as to prevent the indignity hidden. There were after all more than state dignitaries here. Forever flirting for favor on the continent were the representatives of continental powers; Prussia restored to its throne and the Austrians as were the Papal authorities who were here to remain in communique with issues of the church. And the British, who held the kingdom by its purse strings for the years of torment wrought by Napoleon.

“I think you fail to realize the disposition of the peasants,” pleaded a deputy to Comte Polignac, “For the past several years the harvest in the countryside has been poor, and if there is no relief from the burden of taxation they will turn to riot. I can not in good faith abide a levying of additional taxes upon them: the country can not give more than it has.”

“Carrying it they will have to, it matters not to me. They subsist on stolen land. If they can not abide additional burden they should simply surrender their lands to their superiors. They are not of the class of peers that can appreciate the patriotism and sacrifice as the old land owner.” argued the Comte, “France has a great mountain of debt to clear.”

“We understand, but if the occupation of Algeria will put an end to the piracy as this court claimed; then by now we would expect the revenues to flow again through our ports. Choking back the country to pinch a few pennies will carve the wounds deeper. My king,” the deputy turned to address the king personally, “You have to intervene. Put Jules Marie in his place!”

Charles X starred up at him. His slowing head turning at the request. But now included in this conversation he felt an answer come to mind. But just before he could raise his voice to give a substantial response, the Comte de Polignac burst out: “You will answer me with respect!” he roared, offended at being called by his name. His composed pale boyish face glowing red. A Scottish rage blooming in his eyes. “I speak for this government.”

“And the king is the state!” answered the deputy.

“Leave the peasants as they lay. We can extract the revenues from elsewhere.” Charles said with a low weak voice, barely captured by the ears of the assembly. The count sought to pretend he had not heard him and tried to press on, but was relieved of his argument by Joseph de Villèle who, having retired from the ferocity of the Chamber allowed himself to appear as an aide to the court and its ministry.

The arguments in the chamber went on like this for some time. In time ending and moving to some other subject. But Charles X felt himself go tired, and let his mind drift. He came to on a thought, and his eyes lit up and he rose in his seat and said softly, in a long groaning voice, “We should cut the bonds.” he announced, having just remembered a cabinet meeting from several months ago. The men at the table, who were in the midst of a discussion of the Americas stopped.


“Cut the bonds. The interest payments are really too much.”

“Your majesty I am sorry, we can not cut payment on the interest of the rentier. It is simply too much to pay.” an embarrassed cabinet member said. Realizing his error, the king returned to rest and the chamber moved on.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by TheEvanCat
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TheEvanCat Your Cool Alcoholic Uncle

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Tehran, Persia
Summer, 1836

The shade of the palace walkways offered little respite from the summer heat that beat down upon the imperial capital of Tehran. Mohammad Shah Qajar, sweating below the thick imperial robes he wore, wrinkled his nose at the stench of hot garbage and waste wafting up from Tehran’s neighborhoods. The city below had changed dramatically since the installation of the Qajari government. While Tehran had been a small merchant town with only a citadel and bazaar of note, the decades-long expansion of Qajari bureaucracy and government systems had led to an explosion in its population to staff offices, government buildings, and educational centers for all manner of sophisticated administrative techniques now fielded across the empire.

He made a note to himself to engage with the man responsible for Tehran’s sanitation, lest they become no better than the filthy, sand-covered, and unwashed Afghans to the east. Meetings within the crown city increasingly included public health physicians and engineers, trained in France, who advocated for a sewer system like what was being proposed for European capitals. Although Mohammad Shah had his doubts about the complexity and necessity, the smell of Tehran increasingly bothered him. Besides, Grand Vizier Haji Mirza Aqasi had mentioned that Istanbul had constructed a sanitation system during Byzantine times. Despite the Romans accomplishing this feat, Mohammad Shah similarly did not want to be outclassed in his crown jewel city by the Ottomans.

He continued through the exquisitely ornamented halls of his palace, now inside and out of the weather. Lines of Persian soldiers stood at the walls, clad in their Napoleonic uniforms – constructed with a lighter material for the heat – and holding muskets ready at attention in European drill posture. He walked past them proudly, having idolized the Persian soldier’s transformation since birth. The uniforms were smart and professional, a far cry from the tribal garb that his eastern vassals still maintained. He had summoned some of them from the east for precisely this reason, as his previous orders to modernize had obviously been ignored. Mohammad Shah was certain that the mullahs held more power than himself in those regions, frustrating him.

The seat of imperial power, the Peacock Throne, sat in the center of Mohammad Shah’s palace. Inside his court, a wide array of characters had assembled for his planned meeting. As he entered, the men bowed in deference to the Shah, remaining submissive as he marched to the throne ahead of them. The doors to the court shut, and Mohammad Shah called the session to order – something he had become enamored with from French judges. He thought it sounded more official than the raucous meetings of the past.

“My friends,” Mohammad Shah began. “Thank you for traveling such far distances to convene here.”

He eyed the vassals from the eastern provinces, standing out in their dress from the fashionable Tehranis closer to the throne. He made no further comment about why they were there: that would come later.

“I was informed by my foreign minister that our French counterparts have an interesting proposal,” Mohammad Shah said. “I am looking forward to hearing about it.”

From the crowd, Mohammad Shah’s foreign minister emerged with a French advisor. Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi had been loyal to Mohammad Shah’s grandfather, the venerable Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. A cunning diplomat who had successfully retaken the Armenian and Azerbaijani territories from Russia during the wars of a decade prior, Mirza Abolhassan had delivered diplomatic success to Fath-Ali Shah. Despite the turbulence of succession, Mirza Abolhassan remained loyal to his Shah’s grandson and avoided the purge of officials who had defected to the pretender. To his side, a distinctly European man in a suit clasped his hands behind his back. This was Pierre Amédée Jaubert.

Jaubert had been described to Mohammad Shah as the favorite orientalist of Napoleon himself. Mirroring Mirza Abolhassan, Jaubert was the French architect of Napoleon’s alliance with Fath-Ali Shah. He had managed the professionalization of the Qajari military, rotating hundreds of French instructors and officers through Fath-Ali’s forces while sending trusted Qajari leaders to French military academies. When the time came for Napoleon to thrust into Russia, Fath-Ali finished his famous reconquest of the Caucasus. Fath-Ali had taken a liking to Jaubert and, with his counterpart General Claude Matthieu, they stayed in Persia to advise the court on Western techniques. Indeed, they had even married Persian women of influential court families and settled down on luxurious estates gifted to them by Fath-Ali Shah.

“My counterpart, Monsieur Jaubert, has informed me that there are a great many rumors about the health of King Charles,” Mirza Abolhassan said. “I know these have been circulating for many years, but they have intensified over the last few months. The French people are convinced that their monarch is going to perish soon.”

Mohammad Shah stroked his beard, leaning on an arm of the Peacock Throne. “I have heard these rumors, yes, but why do you believe that they are more relevant now?”

“Mohammad Shah,” Jaubert said, his Persian accent coming through as incredibly sterile and academic, “I still retain contacts from the old regime in Paris who are deeply skeptical of the Bourbons. Charles has not been seen in public in many months, and those who are still inside the government report that he has not been involved in policy decisions lately. Truly a man on his deathbed, if I were to predict these things.”

Mirza Abolhassan nodded. Aqasi similarly tutted in agreement while turning to Mohammad Shah: “Your grandfather was, despite our best doctors’ work, in a similar state before his passage.”

“I have taken the liberty of messaging my counterparts in our territories east of Africa. Many of them are good friends of myself and General Matthieu. As you may well know, these men were instrumental in reestablishing control over these territories during King Napoleon’s return. They were sold out by the French before and have no desire to become traded to the British for a one-time payment again.”

“Yes, Mohammad Shah,” said Mirza Abolhassan. “The French governors have all expressed interest in continuing their business under the Qajari banner. Minister Jaubert and General Matthieu have all extolled your generosity to the comrades of Napoleon. They would be honored to further our cause.”

Mohammad Shah raised an eyebrow. “Truly this would disrupt what little relations we have with the Bourbon regime. What benefit would this gain for us?”

“Mohammad Shah, while the Indian colonies are a mere shadow of their former selves, they provide us with financial opportunities in terms of their factories there. More importantly, there is a substantial income that comes with the island colonies. While some of them grow coffee, tobacco, and other exotic crops that you cannot find in your kingdom, the true value lies within the East Indies trade route. Ships of all flags must stop at some of these islands where the governors there tax provisions, crew rest, and maintenance. We may even see business from the British, if the Egyptians follow through with their threat to close the Sinai to British overland transfers.”

Aqasi leaned in to Mohammad Shah’s ear. “There are accountants working on the total amount of profit, if you care for the details.”

“I do not,” handwaved the Shah. “But it sounds like a tempting opportunity.”

He turned back to the court ahead of him. “Do we have any predictions of how the Bourbons will react?” he asked Mirza Abolhassan.

“I suspect they will be too embroiled in domestic turbulence to do much about it, besides economic means. But, it is better to become self-sufficient than to keep ourselves tied to Europe. In their own words - mieux vaut être seul que mal accompagné.”

Jaubert smirked, but remained silent in the court. He composed himself: “Mohammad Shah, if you give me the approval, then I shall send a clandestine message to the governors to prepare for Charles’s death.”

“I agree,” declared Mohammad Shah. “Make your preparations.”

He waved away Mirza Abolhassan and his French advisors, who politely bowed out and shuffled to the rear of the court. Mohammad Shah turned back to Grand Vizier Aqasi: “I would indeed like to visit one of those islands, perhaps next spring.”

“Absolutely, Mohammad Shah,” Aqasi replied. “Now, let us attend to the Khorasanis.”

Mohammad Shah, from the Peacock Throne, dismissed the foreign minister and his French counterparts. As the court rearranged itself to allow for these men to leave, the eastern vassals trudged forward to Mohammad Shah’s feet and stood, bracing for the admonishment that they were about to receive. As the doors closed behind Mirza Abolhassan and Amédée Jaubert, they could hear the faint sounds of the Shah shouting. But what happened behind closed palace doors was none of their concern.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Dinh AaronMk
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Dinh AaronMk my beloved (french coded)

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Thionville, Department Grand Est

The young Charles stood at the doorstep of Number Sixteen, Rue de la Paix clutching his hat in his hands. Broad and stocky he betrayed a severe athletic appearance. The bright summer sun fell across the wide shoulders of his long summer coat and across his crown of thick curly hair and ruddy, dark complexion, almost peasant like, as a field hand and not the son of a respected lawyer. His eyes, typically sharp were dulled by the fear and anxiety of what lay behind the door of Number Sixteen. He knew it very much. It was not hard to summon him back home. A stern letter of condemnation and a demand by the eighteen year old's father had lit under the boots of the young man the sense that there was an impending doom for him. Now the young bohemian, whose chin was graced with the first short carpet of a man's beard shuffled uncomfortably before the home of his father as the pedestrian traffic meandered by under the clear summer's day. The hooves of horses thumped dully off the packed clay streets as carriages of the promenading casual class passed by. All of them ignored him as they went on, though a few neighbors recognized the return of Charles Levi and greeted him warmly. He reciprocated their welcomes uncomfortably, with a stiff German “bonjour” before working up his confidence and stepping in through the door.

Inside, the harsh brightness of a mid-summer's afternoon was dulled through the curtains of the respectable romantic home. Its high wallpapered walls, printed with wrapping and meandering floral patterns rose well above reach to the aging yellow plaster of the ceiling. Here and there a few oil lamps burned to cast better light for the dimming eyesight of Charle's father, Heinrich Levi who sat in a dark green high-backed armchair reading the papers. At the table besides him stacks of books pertaining to his law practice or his philosophical interests rested; Charles remarked quietly to himself that some of these would certainly have him arrested for sedition, Voltaire, Diderot, Kant, and the newly minted Comte. Walking carefully across the floor he approached his father, hat in hand and halfed bowed to him, making a sound in the back of his throat.

Heinrich immediately dropped the paper, folding it and placing it in his lap in a swift movement of his hands. He looked like much the mirror of Charles, but aged. His face had widened and skin loosened. He wore a thick beard and the old man's hair had thinned and receded back across his face. A pair of wire-thin spectacles sat on his nose. He looked up coldly at his son in the cool blue light of high-noon and invited him to sit in a nearby chair. Charles took an immediate seat, holding his hat in his lap to fuss with the brim as he did, anxiously looking away from his father, only to immediately realize he was and to look at him.

Half raising the paper to look at a article discussing the state of Charles X, and to announce a run of paper bans in Paris he asked distractedly, “How are your studies?”

Charles fumbled, “They are...” he began.

“I don't need you to lie.” Heinrich said, “How are your grades? Just say it.”

“Well... They could be better.”

“Oh yes, indeed. They well could be.”

Charles sat quiet. Heinrich as well. Neither spoke and waited for the other to speak. Charles for his part not wanting to indict himself. His father waiting for him to make an admission. But at last it needed to be said and in a low booming voice Heinrich said, “I am preparing to send Louis to school and I hope he will not develop the same problems in society as you have done. He is already, compared to you a far better pupil in the public schools. I am complimented daily on the quality of his studiousness. Even the rabbi complements him when Henriette takes him in, he knows Yiddish well. Charles, do you remember even a speck of it?”

”Zhiker” Charles responded, naturally

“Henriette has already a fine husband waiting back in the old town, back in Trier. A fine young man of your age, just a little older, studies well in Bonn. And what do I have? What do I have but a son who spends his time drinking in Metz when he should be studying! You started so well, but I get monthly concerns from the professors, 'my dear Monsieur Levi, you detect in your son an untapped brilliance and capability, but daily he fails to meet those expectations and can not keep pace. We fear it is the drink.” he exclaimed, holding his hands up to the heavens as if to beseech God. “Do you have anything to say for yourself? To defend yourself here?”

Charles sat defenseless, his eyes downcast and away from his father. He continued, “I spend on you up to eight hundred francs a month on your education, room, board, tuition, your general living expenses. At the whole I imagine the wealthiest of the department don't spend more than five hundred francs a month on their children when they send them off. At the rate you spend, in this state of the economy, you alone will fast bankrupt us. If you have nothing to say for yourself I do not believe there is any way I can save you here in Metz. Before you send the family into ruin on your drunken escapades in the city a change of life has to be made. I am forced to consider you for the army, or to seek another option.”

Charles' attention was gripped by this, “Please, not the army!” he begged.

“I figured as much” Heinrich said

“I don't know if there is any way I can say it that has your confidence,” Charles finally began, “But I enjoy my studies greatly. I enjoy the academy, the fulfillment of the education and the lively academia. I do wish to graduate and to make something of myself in the future. In the army I would just be a no body, I would go from one grueling deployment in Algeria to another being the whipping boy of the noble above me. And were I to win a career there, how am I to rise any further than a simple petty officer when the nobility now has such a monopoly on the upper ranks? I will not be able to rise and do right by you and your honor as a father's son. I implore you to consider an alternative than to surrender me to the army.”

“Yes, but the army at the least will feed and board you and clothe you. It is in their ability to do that for all the soldiers. And perhaps you might make a sound artillery officer or a good square infantryman there. A sure place for you. Why not?”

“Because is the goal to not make me a partner of yours in the office?”

“Hardly a thing that will happen if you are to study poetry!” Heinrich scoffed, “At the least study numbers and do accounting if not to study law, as I demand of you. But on into your second year and it's still all poetry and fiction. Are you not better than that?”

“I am better than that!” Charles pleaded.

Heinrich scoffed, leaning back in his chair. In the corner a sound could be heard, the bending of a floor board. Charles glanced over to see his moth, tall and blonde like a proper Dutch woman, but her face homely a gray, as a Hebrew wife. She smiled patiently at him as she dried her hands in her apron but said nothing of the conversation.

“Then how many chances does a father need to extend to his son?”

Charles was hit with a profound and existential demand of him. In a flash he recognized in the tone alone that the wrong answer would end this exchange in the worst way for him, to be cut off from his father's allowance and shutter his academic career, “One more, may I have one more?” he pleaded.

Heinrich chewed on his tongue as he thought it over. And then nodded sagely and relaxed in his chair. “I thought as much.” he said, rising somewhat off the cushion as he reached behind him. He produced a crumpled envelope and passed it to his son. Charles took it, and looked down at it curiously, hesitantly holding a hand up as his hat dropped to the floor before stopping thinking he should not open it here and yet.

“No, no. Open it.” Heinrich invited, Charles did so and produced a sheet of paper.

“Since last winter I corresponded with friends of ours in Germany and Prussia and managed to secure a position for you to continue your studies in Berlin. It is clear that Metz is so far too liberal for you, as I feared Paris would be; let alone expensive. It took a lot of patient negotiation and planning. But on your behalf I enrolled you in the study of law there. I am hoping that under the watchful eye of the Prussians you will find some discipline within you to do your father proud. Afterwards, you can return and apprentice under me and you may take the bar. This is a longer gambit, but one that I pensively hope you can do.”

Charles looked up, ”Berlin, wirklick?”

”Ja, es ist weit weg. Aber ich bin sicher, dass du es akzeptabel findest – dass ich es akzeptable finde.”

“But, would it be incompatible?” Charles asked, in French.

“Napoleon saw to it that it wouldn't. That I am sure of. The House of Hohenzollern certainly would not be able to do that no matter how much they try. I ask only you limit your drinking. I will only be supplying you an appropriate stipend of 400 francs a month this time, I will not answer any requests for more money. If you need more money, I fully expect you to find a way to make it yourself. Please, do not embarrass me. I have my good name on this adventure, do not let it destroy the family.”

Charles was joyous at the prospect. Or rather he thought he should. But also the idea of going to Prussia for this filled him with a sense of dread and emptiness. It would have been much more liberating to go to Paris and partake in all the activity there. But Berlin? It was a backwater city in comparison he felt, what could he find there that would keep him busy in his idleness. But perhaps that was part of the plan, he imagined. Never the less, he swallowed his pride. “I see your point, I have no reason to reject it. To Berlin I will go.”

Heinrich smiled, his face filled with relief, and the otherwise dour darkness that had filled his expression faded and with it the entire room itself seemed to go brighter, “My child you do a father proud. Perhaps if you turn out well I will have to send the rest of my children to Berlin.” he said with a laugh.

Turning to his wife who had stayed lingering in the corner, in the threshold to the kitchen and the living room he asked, “Do we have anything to eat? I believe at the least we should celebrate the wisdom of the folly of youth?”

“I can see what we have.” she said in her thick Dutch accent, she had never fully rid herself of it, and at times would have to communicate in Yiddish to simply get through to her husband and children.

“Excellent.” Heinrich proclaimed, standing. Suddenly he stopped and remembered something, “You'll have to rent a carriage, I've arranged this already,” he said absent mindedly as he turned to his side-table to look for something, “Which means you will have plenty of time.” He pulled a book from the stack, the small volume of Comte, “Have you read this?” he asked.

“No.” Charles said

“Then you will have time.” he said with a smile, “Just make sure it's hidden, of course. The Prussian police I imagine won't be sentimental to this sort of writing. If they know at least enough French. I am impartial, but he has only just begun printing on the secret presses. Hard to find, unless you know where to look. The King's ministers like to suppress this sort of work. So of course never take it to Paris. But you should be fine in Berlin.”

Charles Levi flipped through the pages and absently played with the book, “I don't know if I should give you my old legal notes at all, if those will help. I so do want to help on this renewed lease on life. They are so hard to come by.”
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Yam I Am
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Yam I Am Indefinitely Retired

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St. Petersburg

Late August, 1836

Saint Petersburg stood as the Pearl of the Baltic, doubly as the Tsar's most important city. She was a hub of commerce since the days of Varangians and Teutons, Swedes and Urgians, and for a city so busting in life and love did she harbor their tales amiably. Like cities so antique as her, she had held many names and had many betrothed unto her, for her divorce from her hands unto yet another happened such many times. And that's exactly what made it so nerve-wracking to be a Petersburger in days such as these.

Gospodin Jura Pasternak was a reasonably successful businessman hailing from a small town in the Volynian Governate. He spent most of his life studying in Warsaw, learning the family trade from his forefathers before him, under the auspices of many of his glaring contemporaries. His lineage had descended years before unto the history of the Old Commonwealth, where his father had run the small town banks with many his friends and all until their identities long eclipsed them as the years went on - his mother was Jewish, proud and headstrong, fierce of temperament and hailing from Vilna. His travels brought him to the Capital with great frequency, connecting the accounts from across the Baltics and throughout the western reaches of the Empire.

"Gospodin!" A quaint, familiar voice called out from a muffling crowd. A middle-aged woman, brown of hair and demure of stature, rushed up to him. Jura Pasternak recognized her; Mrs. Emma Konstantinova Gagarin. Widowed.

Pasternak had presided in Saint Petersburg for about five years now, and had only made Mrs. Gagarin acquaintance from her late husband and his departed friend. He was shot after the war riots in 1834.

"Oh! Mrs. Gagarin!" He greeted, removing his hat for his introduction. Her face seemed rushed, flushed and red from a lack of air. Jura tilted his face, offering up a comforting smile.

"How are the state of things?"

"Things?" Emma Gagarin responded, aghast as she barely caught her breath just with the one-word response alone. "'Things', good gospodin?"

Mr. Pasternak was taken aback by her sudden display. His feet shuffled about, finding their way even through the awfully crowded street behind them while people buzzed and bemused their ways about their day.

"Yes, madame - how are you? I mean, madame: What are these things that cause you such flight?"

"Oh, great and terrible things, Gospodin," the woman exclaimed, "The Revolutionaries are coming. Mister Voroshilov tells me he even saw the Jacobins organize in broad daylight."

"Vtorak is being held for trial." She panted. A worried pause followed, looking her companion dead in the eye, "And the Tsar will kill him."

His brow cracked in amazement at her news. Jura was perplexed - deadly so, the gravity pulling along his weary face until his cheeks drooped to the cobblestone street.

"Vtorak?" he pushed an intrigued look upon his face. He seemed familiar, the name calling him like a mother to her child. She looked back at him, dumbfounded and irate.

"Yes, Gospodin: Alexei!"

His eyes shot back up at the repetition.

"Alexei Vtorak? He was hanged last week - was he not?" His words were exclaimed and rushed, like the blinding sunlight as one opened the door too quickly. Mrs. Gagarin hurriedly nodded.

"And he is...being hung again?"

"No: The Tsar has ordered him to be shot by six men in the Square of Fotanka."

"Oh...i'm so sorry, Gospodina." he offered, "...if it is any consolation - and it may be crude to say madame - but with that shall his suffering be slight-"

"No! It cannot!" Her words were frantic, hurried and stern like a bull too young to kill, and too quick to stop, "Vtorak has had his trial; He was hung before the mass! And he yet lived!"

It all flashed back to Mr. Pasternak, now: The soon-to-be late Alexei Vtorak was once a well-respected author of local report, a frequent patron of the Griboedov Bank, he recalled. The tsar's men had found him guilty of insurrectionist activity and ordered him to be hung with the rest of the Decembrists.

Vtorak was strung up tightly on that fated day - the 31st of July - neatly in tow with his brothers in coffins, and when he was dropped to the ground, his rope came neatly down with him. Alexei had hit the ground, much worse for wear, and neatly laying beside him was the snapped noose before him, and the screaming of five bewildered executioners.

"Gospodin -" Emma's words were stern, serious, cracking and on the verge of tears almost religious in its experience, "The Tsar has dolled his punishment unto Vtorak, and he has lived. God himself has ordained this man to stay on Earth - can you not see?!"

And in everything went unsaid, she spoke in a soft tone, hushed beneath the busy pattering of feet around her:

"And what shall it say in these days should the Tsar go against the will of God...?"

Jura couldn't hear her speak - and he heard her words move across her lips as she spoke through that congested Saint Petersburg avenue.

He could not - or, perhaps always felt more clearly, would not - do anything to Vtorak once. But perhaps, now, now there was still the chance for justice to be had.

But for the grace of God.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Letter Bee
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Letter Bee Filipino RPer

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The Hedjaz, Summer of 1836

The Saudis and their heresy had angered the Ottoman Sultan, and for once, he shared common cause with the Governor of Egypt, his over-mighty subject. Now Tusun Pasha, a younger son of said Governor, marched south to enforce both their wills, with an army of conscripts and volunteers, young men chasing glory or dreading punishment. With them were the superior weapons and tactics of the 'Frankish' Christians, adapted for use by righteous Muslims, which the Pasha and his family most assuredly told them that the Wahhabi Saudis were not.

To Khalid al-Misr, newly-promoted officer in the army marching south to save the Hashemites of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina from the heresy of the House of Saud, it also meant advancement, promotion, and eventually, a chance to let the seeds of 'Nationalism' planted in the fertile soil of his soul blossom.

He owed the elder Pasha everything; his plucking from the madrasas and their stagnant teachings, the training in the arts of war and the awakening of his mind to the beauties of science, technology, and philosophy... And his realization that for thousands of years, Egypt was not ruled by its own people, but by foriegners. Imagine; the one he owed his life and fortune to was also the one who continued put his people under a yoke!

But as he rode his horse, leading the platoons of infantry behind him to the new camp set up near Medina itself, where the House of Hashim's men were already sending fresh supplies and provisions, Khalid realized that he needed to be patient, that men twice his age would have fallen into intrigue and conspiracy at the moment of realization... and failed.

So he would continue to serve Ibrahim Pasha, until like most foriegn dynasties who had set themselves up in Egypt, his seed and the seed of his family dried up. After all, he was yet young - Twenty-five was a young age when an officer in this sort of army. Besides, there were Wahabbis to slaugther.

Cairo, Summer of 1836

"Send a message to the secret police; have them put an end to the rumors that we're closing overland transfers through the Sinai to the British," Muhammad Ali Pasha, Governor of Egypt, said to his aide as he sat on the Governor's chair, a chair which would have been a throne if he had his way. "And if there is any truth to the rumors, have a contingent of cavalry sent to arrest the local governor. Now... for the next object of business."

Into the audience chamber of the Citadel of Cairo, the site of one of his greatest triumphs, walked his eldest son, Ibrahim. Without any sign of disrespect, but with every sign of confusion, on his face, his favored child, the Hero of Konya, bowed before him and said in a puzzled tone, "Why are we sending 6000 men and a siege train to Ethiopia? They won't be enough to hold the lands of the Christians there, even if they slaugther every army which comes their way. Add the risk of heat and disease -"

The Pasha, the Governor of Egypt, who wished the title of Sultan one day, answered in a wry tone, "They're not coming to conquer, they're keeping the infidel's rightful Emperor on his throne."

Ibrahim looked up, his eyebrow raised, "Gigar the powerless?"

He shook his head and said, "The current Emperor is one Sahle Dengel, a heretic denounced by his own sect. We will break him free from his regent, a man whose own beliefs are inconsistent and unclear, and put him on the throne in Gondar, on the condition that once order is restored in his 'Empire', he will dedicate his personal lands to the plantating and harvest of coffee, which he will sell exclusively to us at a price high to him but low compared to the world market."

His son still had doubts, "This will be seen as perfidious; we must move swiftly lest the Europeans catch wind of our actions; the latest news from France and Russia risks paralyzing our protectors against the British and their damned fleet. Then again, what do they know of Ethiopia?"

Muhammad Ali Pasha nodded and said, "Very little, and that is our defense."
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Dinh AaronMk
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Dinh AaronMk my beloved (french coded)

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Charles Levi sat in his dorm. On the floor before his bed laid an open trunk, packed; his clothes and his books and other odd accouterments he might need when leaving for Germany. His dorm room was mostly barren, save for the complimentary furniture and linens of the university. Those he had left where they were, or piled the used sheets in a corner of the room as he meditated on the final touches of his emigration.

Many of his belongings he had consigned to sell, especially his unwanted books, which took up considerable space and made his rather modest trunk heavy. He did not have many clothes, but they were packed tightly together alongside folios of notes and writing instruments. All of it was packed haphazard without regard to their specific safety of the items. To hell with his clothes! They could crease and fold as much as they will, they will work themselves out in the end anyways! But much of what he had in his dorm he had sold off rather quickly to make a quick franc, which he hoped would be more helpful to him on his long journey than the individual garments and effects. He had found many a freshman student who for their curiosity and interests greedily went for the opportunity to have an underused copy of the poems of Ovid or Homer, though he had kept a book of Euclid as a reference to Latin, it was well marked in the margins.

But now in his empty dorm, short of things to take to Germany, and having nothing he figured he should do away with to lighten his load. He thought to finally read all the papers that his father had packed for him in the envelope. He turned about and started to distribute everything onto the bed. The first thing that caught his eye was a French passport that was not his own. He furrowed his brow examining it. The name on it was for a “Karl Marx” and the biographical details were all the same as he, save for the place of birth which was Metz proper. He remembered in the moment, that Marx was his grandfather's name and he put it away in his wallet.

Second was the receipt for the stage coach trip to Berlin. He would by tomorrow leave from the center of Metz, and make a series of trips north-east through the German Rhineland, across the Elba, and finally to Berlin with stops in Trier, Koln, Dusseldorf, Bielefeld, Hanover, Brandenburg, Potsdam, and finally Berlin. The coaches would change in these cities and he could rest somewhere other than the road for several hours. On arriving, he would have to somehow make his way to the Frederic Wilhelm University. The distance of his trip sent the young man in a dizzy of vertigo. In just about a week, if the winter was well he would be expected to travel nearly across an entire country to reach his destination and it made him feel a bit sour. But it would be this, or it would be service in the army, and despite the apprehension in his soul he had to swallow his fear.

The third item in the envelop was a letter from a friend of his father's in the old home town or Trier, addressed to his dad, but all the same discussing Charles. It read:

“Faithful friend and old colleague,

“It is possible to establish your son in the university in Berlin and I have started work to make it possible. I will keep you up to date on how the admissions go. Let it be known I operate on your behalf, I will send any updates henceforth to you. In this way we may be able to avoid the gaze of the Prussian police.

“To make the security of your son possible however, I would advise against sending him as-is. Since the handover at the end of the wars, the State has seen to it to make several reversals on the Hebrews in the country and they are not only firmly locked out of public office in this country but are often scrutinized in the country. It may not be possible to successfully enroll Charles in university here were it known or suspected he professes the Jewish faith, even if impractically as you. As a colleague in law and philosophy, the best course of action would be a change in identity for him so he can pass through Germany without suspicion. He need not be entirely Germanized I don't think, but to act and profess a Christian to make his public life easier.

“As per other concerns, as an emigre the Prussian state can not conscript him for military service, but if he is to remain in Prussia for longer than his studies he may be confused with a natural citizen and obliged to join the army. I understand this is not preferable to you, so I would advise him to not stay in Germany for longer than is necessary to get his degree.

“It has been too many years since we have engaged in conversation, friend. Perhaps we might see one another again someday or I might see this son of yours you speak of.

“With love and admiration, your friend,

Charles was familiar with a Ludwig, a friend of his from when they lived on the right banks of the Rhine. That had been perhaps a decade ago, maybe more. He recalled who he was and smiled to himself. The letter helped explain why it was he would be traveling under an assumed identification.

Earlier, he had tagged his luggage with his name, and where he would be. Knowing now that he would not be in Germany as Charles Levi, he hoped from his bed and knelt over the trunk, removing the paper tag that read his name and tore it up, disposing of it in the waste paper basket near the head of the bed. He got a new tag, ripping it out from an empty note book and wrote:

Karl Marx, Frederic Wilhelm University.

He tied it to the handle with a piece of cotton yarn, and like wise changed out a tag in a metal sleeve on the front should the other be torn off. Finishing with this, he became satisfied and he shut the lid on the trunk and clasped it shut.

Finishing with it, it felt strange to now sit in his empty dorm room. He could hear his heart beat off the walls of the tall cavernous room. The summer sun heating it, so he removed his outer coat as he laid back in his bed and thought about his last adventures of being in Metz.

It had been a whirlwind of socializing, of joining the German social clubs on the French bank of the Rhineland. Parties drinking beer, and arguing and debating loudly the merits of politics of the time and their professional concerns. He had at nights eloquently described Mary Shelly's modern piece of art, Frankenstein and its place among the canon of European literature, reading aloud passages in a French translation. Only for the next night, after raucous drinking argue to decry the rule of the Bourbons, to summon the spirit of the Republic to come forth and do again what it had in the previous epoch.

In these reflections in reflected that perhaps yes: he had not entirely satisfied any academic commitments. But they had been a riot. He would miss these men he drank with. He'd have to conspire to write to them from Berlin.


On the windows rain fell. In one of the salons of the Palais Royal the wine was poured. Sparkling like the sun across dark seas, the light of the fire places that warmed the space in the rainy afternoon glittered and gleamed off the Atlantic-dark red wine; watered down appropriately for lunch. But none of the men sitting at soft high backed recliners or at reclined sofas ate at a formal table. Instead servants served them at coffee tables and end tables as the men in their frock coats smoked their pipes delicately and sipped their wine. A maid servant went through the room and laid out small plates of delicate macaroni and cheese.

Standing at the head of the room by the fire pit, flanked on either side by the tall windows through which the apocalyptic dark storm clouds outside shone stood Émile Pereire, tall and lithe with a slight ruddy complexion, and thin but wild hair. The collar of his shirt rising up to gently frame his sharp jaw. “The damn disposition of this government.” he swore, thumb hooked into his vest, “Every passing quarter they frustrate the financial development of this country. Of the future industrial progress of France. My brother and I approach the King and his ministry with a plan to build a railroad as the British do, and they twiddle their thumbs and direct us elsewhere. So we take it up with our peers in the Chamber of Deputies, but then the damn Chamber of Peers forecloses it because, 'what if it were to trample the rights of privileges of the canals and the roads?'” and now we are again forced to step back another ten years. Before long we will be right in the 1600's and concerning ourselves with war with the Germans for fear of Protestantism. We will be none the more developed, perhaps less so. All of France lesser to that of the Dutch, who like Britain takes at every moment five years of progress for every one. And I may even obtain British financing for my brother and I's endeavors, if it were not the Crown that refuses to give us right.”

Émile drinks angrily from the glass of wine in his hand and the maid servant offers him some food, “Yes dear, you can put it on the table I'll see to it when I'm done sulking.” he says in a low agitated voice and she does so.

Louis Philippe sits alone in his own couch, one leg crossed over the other and with a detached look on his face. Antithetical to his Bourbon relatives on the throne, he does not wear the uniform of the nobility of the last century. His suit is tailored and smart with a wide collar and a velvet vest over his shirt. On the table next to him sits his top hat. He says nothing to the complaints of Émile but he sympathizes with the man.

Over the last several years he, like the rest of them feels that as much as the rule of Charles has degraded so has the morale of the liberal opposition, of which he has cultivated around him and become much a part of, even from the first Restoration. He dearly loves his cousin Charles still. But is more the frustration by the reluctance of he and his ministers to govern. They rule, but they have since ceased functioning as governor. The lack of energy in his cousin and his ministry has for the years since their retreat from public eye sapped the energy from he and the Marquis de Lafayette through total inaction.

Gilbert du Mortier, the Marquet de Lafayette himself was also present. Severely advanced in age, his hair long gray, face shallow, body weak. He had swelled in his late life, and was no longer the dashing soldier of his youth of the American War, or the Revolution. He still however bore himself with dignity and pride, wearing at this gathering of the minds his old American uniform and decorations. But though he sought to sit strong it was unmistakable, he was a tired old man and the wear of Austrian prison. And the wetness of the summer was clearly affecting him. He sat close to the fire to keep warm, but in his breath it was easy to tell: he was having difficulty breathing. Still he spoke: “It is a shame” he said in the softened voice of an old man, “I did not believe that as a man I could see two failures to my own legacy dealt so swiftly.”

“Things may not be at all over.” said a low voice. It was Jacques Laffitte, the typically conservative silver haired deputyman, “The Chambers do not meet again until near September, and we have a month yet to organize something to encourage the government to at the least move.”

“Ah, right.” Gilbert said, his face lighting up. The old banker shifted in his seat, putting down his plate of macaroni and rising.

“If I may, monsieur?” he said to Louis Philippe.

“Go ahead.” he invited.

“Émile, the work of you and your brother and superb. I respect the small empire you have built for yourselves. And I acknowledge that for the future development of France we will need to break from the outmoded canals and roads of the nation to develop into the modern era. On the conditions that the Ministry has proven itself not only slow, but entirely unwilling to development – let alone rule itself – I offer a proposal. I trust, monsieur Marquis that your societies are alive and well.”

“Despite the press bans, they are.” the Marquis said proudly, referring to the Aide-toi.

“I assure those of us here today that in the Chambers there are deputies as frustrated with the lack of progress and of governing of the Crown, though they may not be as outspoken of it now as I. With all do respect to the honorable King Charles, he is a man who has surrounded himself with dishonorable ministers. Because of the court's inability, I believe we may dare to try and impeach the king, if not the ministry.”

“The King has the right to dissolve the Chambers.” Louis Philippe reminded him, drinking from his wine, “It has been the response of d'Polgniac to threaten to disband the chambers the moment the voice of discontent has risen.”

“Yes, and more than ever d'Polgniac retreats into discussing how the Virign Mary comes to him every Sunday night to impart the wisdom of the benevolent savior to him.” Jacques said, “As a man he is not right in the head, and we may test his mental capacity and the fortitude of the King with an earnest and real vote of no-confidence. D'Poligniac has only two possible reactions to being voted out: and that is he retreats to pray for a positive outcome and we reject his government, or he and Charles issues orders to dissolve the whole of government and we beat them in the election. In the later, I will be more than willing of quitting the government to come over in full to the Cause.”

“Are you not already for the Cause if you are here?” Émile said with a wry smile, finally taking his seat and reclining back. He smiled knowingly up at the head of the Bank of France.

“I agree on the principle there has been a lack of sound government and I would like to see one formed.” Jacques explained, “I wish to move forward with France and to cut this congealed mass. I do not think the body is dead, but it has become arthritic and lighting a fire under it is all we need for it to move straight. To send it to the sauna and limber it again. I believe it is safe to say that is the very minimum all of us here want to do: for Charles to recognize he needs to respect the will of the Chambers, and that those Chambers need to act in accordance with maturity and modernity. As opposition, you – we – have not been offered the respect we deserve.”

“Yes, I agree” said Gilbert.

Louis Philippe nodded and Émile rose his glass with a toast.

In a corner a door opened and the men looked to see who it was. It was Louis's sister, Adélaïde
flanked by a maid servant bringing in a platter of oysters. “I'm sorry gentlemen, if I'm barging in.” she said apologizing.

“No, you are not, madame.” Gilbert said with reverence, “Though may you have not asked?”

“Is it not also my house?” she said sternly. But she followed it with a polite smile as she came forward and took a position behind her brother, standing far enough back so as to not be as if a part of the salon, but all the same within the boundaries so she may offer input.

She was a fair, middle aged woman. Now fifty-nine her face heavy with graceful age. She was never married, and at her advanced age never would. But this didn't bother her, for she devoted herself to her sister-in-law the wife of Louis, Maria Amalia and to her brother himself as adviser and head of the household.

“We are trying to decide on what we should do with the king.” Gilbert said.

“Well, you all know me. We should get rid of him.” she scowled, “My brother may love him, but I have no such tolerance of the man. His norms are not up to the period. And if the time comes, I will be the first to wear the cockade.”

“That is the problem.” Jacques said, “We do not want to bring the Republic back.”

“Oh, far from that. That is what killed father. Anarchists have no place in rule. But the guidance of a firm liberal king is enough. One to check the passions of the Masses, but with the propriety for modern government.”

“I agree.” Jacques and Gilbert both said.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by TheEvanCat
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Saint-Denis, Réunion
Autumn, 1836

Pierre Jaubert emerged from the cramped deck of the primitive merchant ship to feel the fresh, salty ocean air against his face. He had traveled long and far aboard the rugged and unadorned sailing vessel for weeks, stopping at each of France’s colonial possessions along the East African coast. It helped to break up the journey, and he had gained a newfound appreciation for the sailors who endured the arduous trade routes between Europe and India. Jaubert had mused at dinner with the captain a few nights ago about Napoleon’s proposed canal through the Sinai. They proposed wild and drunken figures about how much they thought it would cost, and how many men were needed to dig. Both of them laughed off the reality of the proposition: a crazed native Egyptian was in charge of the land and there was no possible way they could engineer a project of that scale.

The Shah’s proposal to raise the Qajari flag over the Seychelles and Isle-de-France had been received by Jaubert’s colleagues on the islands. Réunion, being the southernmost territory, was last on his trip. Saint-Denis was a quaint European-looking town that sat nestled in the hills of the island’s north side. Merchant vessels of all countries were docked on the industrial side of the port, loading up on stores of provisions to continue their journeys to India. Crews of expatriate European sailors, Africans, and Indians made up a diverse population along the seaside districts. Captains would rotate their men for rest, taking on new crew to keep sailing. Beyond the peaceful port of Saint-Denis, plantations of sugarcane dotted the rest of the island.

A man by the name of Cecil Montauban ran Réunion island. Jaubert knew that the administrator was an ardent capitalist, so he had plenty of time to prepare a sales pitch to the island. The Shah had not indicated any desire to buy out the small island, as that would require negotiations with the Bourbon regime in Paris, but Jaubert was convinced that he could get Montauban to turn it over without a fight. After all, money talks, and the Shah had opportunities to make plenty. Jaubert was led up to the administrator’s mansion atop a hill in Saint-Denis, past the nice-looking quarters for the French personnel on the island. Carefully hidden from view were the slums of the indigenous and migrant workers. He remarked to the guide that it looked like a little piece of home.

Montauban greeted Jaubert at the door with a firm handshake. Clean-shaven with long sideburns, he dressed down in lightweight attire to better acquaint himself to the tropical conditions. Jaubert had clumsily forgotten to pack his lighter clothes and was wearing only the heavier garments needed for Iran’s autumn season. He had been sweating through them for the entirety of the trip and no doubt would have smelled horrible if not for the copious amounts of perfume he had been using to mask it. “Good afternoon, Monsieur!” he said to Montauban. “May I enter?”

“Of course, sir,” Montauban replied, waving him into the mansion. “I have heard you’ve traveled for a long time.”

Montauban gestured to a servant. “Fetch this man some food and tea. Surely he needs something more substantial than ship’s rations.”

Jaubert removed his hat and ran a hand through his sweaty hair. He thanked Montauban for the offer of food. “If I have to eat another damned tin can of salted beef, I will lose my sanity entirely. Industrialization is killing the art of cuisine.”

Montauban laughed. “Well, we have plenty of that here for the merchants, my friend. I’m afraid that your vessel will be restocked with canned foods for the journey home. After all, you’re only halfway done.”

Jaubert grimaced and shook his head. “Don’t remind me.”

The Frenchmen entered an elaborately decorated dining room where a long table had been prepared with silverware for the both of them. It looked as if it was usually used for larger meetings, but the two plates were just for Jaubert and Montauban. Montauban sat at the head of the table and invited Jaubert to come next to him. A servant, Indian by the looks of him, filled up ceramic glasses with steaming hot tea. Montauban barely acknowledged the presence of the worker and smiled at Jaubert instead. “I hear you are coming straight from the court of the… Persian king?”

“Well,” Jaubert said, sipping contentedly at the fresh beverage, “the Shah has an offer for you.”

“Seychelles and Isle-de-France have already accepted. Word travels fast.”

“Yes, it does,” Jaubert replied. “Do you feel that it is time to leave France behind for good?”

Montauban scoffed. “The Bourbons have maintained the status quo, I have not had any issues with them. And besides, what are they going to do? Sail out and arrest me for insubordination?”

“It is far more likely that they will sell you to the British again. Charles already does not like those of us who have stayed overseas in the empire colonial. He thinks we are disloyal. Napoleon is no longer here to protect us, you know this.”

“Talk of disloyalty from a man who is in the employ of an oriental king is an interesting thing, monsieur,” Montauban said pointedly.

Jaubert frowned and crossed his arms. “Would you rather be British, or work under a man who we have basically colonized in reverse? Mohammad Shah loves us. He loves all things French. You have no idea of the special privileges he has granted Frenchmen who own companies in his kingdom. There are dozens of mines producing coal for the Iranians and riches for their French owners. They all live in mansions along the Caspian Sea that makes yours look like a shack.”

Montauban frowned. “Are you here to mock me or offer me a choice?”

“The latter, my friend. Pledge loyalty to Mohammad Shah Qajar and you will be rewarded beyond anything France will do for us. The Muslims are not savages, they are an untapped market of wealth sitting right under our noses. Flying the flag of Mohammad Shah will grant you tremendous opportunities to profit from trade with the Arabs, Indians, and even African kingdoms. The routes are shorter, we will have more say in the value of our goods, and the political situation is much less tenuous. Not to mention now that the rest of the French positions have switched sides, you will be integrated into a much more tax-friendly network.”

Montauban sat back in his chair, stroking his chin. “I never imagined this day would come,” he lamented. “Napoleon offered us a path to greatness. We were even close to destroying the British, for God’s sake! And now we are led by a cripple. And even ‘led’ is a strong word… nobody has seen that senile old man for weeks! Even we know this out here.”

“Exactly,” Jaubert said. “Mohammad Shah is eager to exert himself. He is young but driven. Some may even say the ghost of Napoleon himself lives inside him.”

“That’s rather dramatic,” Montauban chuckled. “But I see your point. It is just unconventional, never in my life did I think that the Muslims could mimic even a fraction of Europe’s power.”

“The Muslims had a golden age while we were struggling with the dark ages. And the Persians were the first world empire, eclipsing even the Greeks or Romans in their prime. I think we as Europeans simply don’t want to think about the concept of oriental power. I have lived there for almost three decades, monsieur, they have a fire burning within them. They just needed some help.”

The meal arrived. Chicken, rice, and vegetables raised all from local farms on the island. The chicken had been seasoned with a uniquely Indian spice that had come from the traders stopping by Réunion. Had Jaubert not been living in Persia for so long, he would have been uniquely surprised by the taste. The eastern colonies had more in common with the Iranians than they believed. Jaubert and Montauban enjoyed the meal, making small talk about life in Persia. Jaubert told him of the history and ancient sites of Shahs past, while Montauban asked questions about the culture.

“So you mean to tell me that the Persians have alcohol?” he asked incredulously, sipping on a glass of imported French wine. “I thought they forbid it entirely,” Montauban proclaimed as Jaubert chuckled at his comment.

“Well, the Muslims do not,” Jaubert explained. “But luckily through my connections, I have a fine cellar of Armenian brandy in my home. See, they are the oldest Christian nation in the world and their alcohol rivals even French bottles!”

“Preposterous!” Montauban laughed. “I may need to put out a request for a few of these bottles of Armenian brandy, then.”

“Absolutely, monsieur!”

The pair ate and drank their way into the night. The topic changed from alcohol to tobacco, to women and their beauty, to the traditions of Persia. Montauban was amused by the Iranian holidays, particularly jumping over the fires during the festival of Charshanbeh Suri. It had been long past the sun setting on Réunion that Montauban offered a guest room to Jaubert. “Monsieur,” he slurred drunkenly. “Tell Mohammad Shah that Réunion accepts his offer. It will be difficult for me to transition, but as long as things are kept running smoothly then I think we fit better with you than the Bourbons.”

Jaubert bowed to Montauban and smiled, almost stumbling when he lost his balance briefly. “Thank you, monsieur. You will not regret this decision.”
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Dinh AaronMk
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Dinh AaronMk my beloved (french coded)

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Charles Levi had got up in the long morning hours. The sun still slept behind the horizon. Overcast clouds grayed the light. In the empty city square no one moved in the still unborn light of morning. There was only the gentle breath of a wind hinting at the humid rainy day yet to come. Stood before the Cathedral of Metz, Charles waited sitting on his trunk nodding off.

He had stayed up late the night before celebrating his departure with his university friends at a beer hall. There under the golden glow of candles and fires they sang to his departure and drank and drank. He admonished them with his praise and wished them well. Telling them about where he would be going. Hiding that he was afraid and even embarrassed to leave for Berlin, when it should have been Paris of all places.

It went on late into the night before it came to an end and Charles stumbled his way back to his dorm. There, finding it empty save for his bed and trunk he realized that this was not a place for him anymore. That it conditionally accepted him. And between this feeling and the alcoholic excitement and the anxiety of leaving he could not sleep. He barely fell to sleep before jolting awake and looking out the windows to see the night sky still black, and the hazy light of the réverbère in the streets. Finally, after short fitful attempts to fall asleep and failing, he gathered himself, got dressed, and dragged his trunk to the square before the stage coach could even arrive.

And there, wrapping himself in his coat he sat waiting, nodding away as the feelings of last night began to fade and was replaced by the dull nauseating headache of late drinking.

He was woken from his dozing by a roll of distant thunder jolting him awake. Off over the city, a wall of black thunder clouds rolled slowly through the low hanging gray over cast skies. He felt suddenly concerned for himself, before he heard the tell-tale clopping of a team of horses and the jerky rocking of a wagon. He looked the other way to find coming down the Rue d'Estrées a black diligence stage coach, its roof empty. The driver pulled back the horses, “Woah.” he cried from his prominently high vantage, looking down at Charles over the back of his seven horses. He was protected by a projecting cabriolet roof

“Good morning, monsieur!” he called out to the young man, his voice low and German, “What are you doing out here so late?” The coach was impressive in size, two tiers high with great windows along the side. A great leather tarp was thrown over the roof, at the corner of the cabriolet roof a single fat-oil lamp cast a soft eerie light on the driver, old bearded, and wearing a heavy gray coat and a tired looking feathered top hat.

“I'm traveling to Berlin, and I could not sleep.” answered Charles, hoarsely.

“Well I do believe I am headed in that direction. Are you with the company?”

Charles took the ticket out from the pocket of his coat and up to the driver. The man inspected it in the dim light and nodded sagely, “You're in luck then. Looks like it's going to rain. We'll help you get your trunk onto the roof and you can step inside.”

Charles was pleased with the invitation. Though he was too hung over to show up. Standing up caused his stomach to swim and he paused. The driver was down on the ground and walking around the back of the stage coach, two other men had joined him. Charles had regained his composure, and the four of them hoisted the chest onto the top deck the coach. “It feels like you've packed a body, monsieur!” the driver called excitedly, laughing.

“You could say as much. It's all of me.” Charles responded, voice low, intolerable. He felt exhausted. He ignored whatever else the driver had to say and disappeared into the wagon.

Its interior was rather spacious, but bare bones. Sets of leather padded wooden benches facing each other filled the dark and creaking interior. The two other crew men sat inside. After having taken one piece of his anxieties off the list, he threw himself down onto the bench, laying his head on his arm and surrendered to his exhaustion. But his rest was not totally complete. His restless stomach urged him to wake. When it began to rain the sound of the storm on the wood and glass and leather tarpaulin sounded like an angry tempest. And finally the first passengers after him arrived. A young couple with an infant, crying of terror from the thunder. Several old women sputtering delicately on about the tempest outside. Their steps into the coach and their luggage being loaded rocked the entire vehicle and Charles's stomach rolled even more. A nudge at his fest forced him to ball up tighter as someone took a seat next to him.

At last the church bells rang, which must have been their signal to move because the whole coach jerked forward, throwing Charles against his bench. The sensation of movement did not make him feel the more comfortable and he pulled himself sickly up and towards the window where he stared with vacant indifference the passing of the city in the summer rain. Men and women with umbrellas or coats thrown over their heads went about the streets. The rain pulled up from the streets dirt and turned the roads thick and muddy.

Riding, he found he could open the window. The stuffy moldy interior, stinking of mud and of leather was already becoming too much for him and he unlatched the window to hang himself outside in the cold rain. To his delight he found it relaxing and his mind could settle. His stomach rested, only for in a moment to roll again.

Two things happened.

The wagon hit a large but shallow bump, forcing it to roll. The second was a newsboy spotted him and ran up holding out rolled newspaper, clearly getting soggy. Running up to and alongside the stagecoach he asked in a loud voice so as to be heard over the wheels, “New edition! New edition! Le Moniteur Universal! Would you like to buy?”

Charles could not take it, he could not hold in his stomach. He vomited out the window, stunning and shocking the paper boy as it sprayed onto the paper and down his arm and onto his leg. The child stopped and was soon left swiftly behind, screaming revolting profanities after him as he disappeared somewhere off in a vaguely northern direction.


The Académie Royale de Musique concert hall at Salle Le Peletier was like being in the great golden mind of a god. Illuminated by chandeliers the size of barges, innumerable candles and lanterns among its halls and galleries it sparkled and glimmered in dazzling baroque amber and gold. Though it was made of wood, and had been for over a decade considered temporary until someday a permanent opera could be built, stand it did. Over the stage hung a portrait, commissioned personally by the king of his slain son, Charles Ferdinand d'Artois, who had been assassinated at the opera. That building had long since been demolished, and a chapel built in the prince's honor, and the theater had moved into this building, intending to move again, but the funds for the proposed project never materialized.

High in the box seats, one could look out over a cavernous amphitheater. A show was on tonight, and the floor was filling with feet as the cheap tickets filled in; they were forced to stand. Men took off their hats to fan themselves in the heat of the theater, but talked jovially among themselves. Higher up, in the well-to-do seats the members of Parisian and French high society gathered to sit, some accompanied by servants who would feed and water them with cheese and wine. Others produced pipes of tobacco and lost themselves in conversation. If the floor could be described as a ocean of conversation and mingling looking up were the stars that shone down on the rippling surface, incandescent power and prestige cast out separate from the low and the poor to proclaim their brilliance. But all the same: severed and broken off from the mass currents below.

But, there was one star who outshone them all, though dark.

Nearest to the stage at the highest point a single box seat was occupied by the Court. Dressed supremely fine, they would be unmistakable on the streets. But for reason of security of the king and of his ego, it was not declared here in the theater. In the box high military officers and ministers drifted and chatted. Several ambassadors had been invited to join them. The opera of the evening was a re-performance of Fromental Halévy's La Juive and when informed of this Charles X's eyes lit up from his aged stupor and he exclaimed, “Ah yes! The Jew! The Jew from Rome!”

Jules d'Pogniac took his seat, holding in his hand a glass of wine. He wore a fine dark blue frilled coat and jacket. Elegant silver lace trimming a dark-blue officer's uniform with sash and medals. He took off his cape as he sat and used it as a blanket to cover his legs as he leaned delicately over to get a better view of the massing theater, though he was a distance away. Next to him, draped in dark robes and covered in blankets was the aging and silver-haired Charles X who looked vacantly out into the middle of the room. And likewise nearby his grandson, the dauphin Henri, duc de Bordeaux, comte de Chambord, dressed more modestly in the latest fashion.

“God bless it is a full house!” d'Polgniac exclaimed excitedly, “Pray to the Virgin Mary that there are no scouring journalists.” he intoned with a smile and leaned back, looking over the gallery seats.

“Your majesty it is a good day for the opera.” he smiled. Charles X did not produce for him an answer and instead continued to gaze out into the abyss.

Still feeling the need for conversation, the prime minister leaned forward in his chair and looked to Henri and asked, “My dear god-given dauphin, if I may ask: how is your uncle Louis? I am sad that he could not join the family affair.”

The young Henri, sixteen looked over, a polite smile forming in his pleasant round face and he said, “He is well. But he volunteered himself to see a military display at Versailles.”

“Oh a shame, but all is good!” d'Polgniac cheered and leaned back in his seat. He gazed out again over the box seats and someone caught his eyes. Concerned, curious he summon a servant to retrieve his opera glasses and they were produced. Raising them to his eyes he looked out across the theater to the gallery to the box he had his eyes on. There, seating themselves directly opposite from the royals were the Pereire brothers and their families. Jules d'Polgniac felt his blood boil that the two men he felt the most disloyal had the guile to make themselves present. And what's worse: they sat close to the edge and were visible to all! How dare they. He felt even more mad, because he knew them to be Jewish.

He summoned his servant again and said to him, pointing across the theater to the Pereires: “I would like it if you could get the attention of the master of the theater to see to it those men over there that they are moved!” he demanded, “I do not know why we need to suffer the view of Jews here tonight. But see to it they are removed!”

The servant, obedient nodded and with a hushed, “Yes, you're honor.” he hurried out the door and disappeared.

He breathed a sigh of relief, sound in the thought that perhaps those high Jews would be certainly removed. Though the very knowledge of their presence agitated him. Delinquently, he rose his glass of wine and took a deep drink. It was fine, smooth, best fit for delicate sipping but his nerves had been scoured. He cautiously looked around to ensure no one had noticed when a soft voice said something behind him. He turned to see the ambassador from the Austrian court by his side, a squat Hungarian man wearing a large beard. Though d'Polgniac respected him, he could not stop but quietly remark privately to himself he looked much like a Mongolian.

“Your honor: if I may sit next to you? I have tidings from Metternich and the court of The Grace of God, Emperor Francis of Austria.”

The presence of the Austrian court in France illuminated much of d'Polgniac's darkened mood and he invited him, “Yes, do – please sit!”

The ambassador's name was Németh István, the son of a minor noble who was stationed in Paris as part of his Emperor's ongoing diplomatic mission in France. As he pulled forward a chair and took his seat the opera began, the orchestra coming out into the pit and began tuning their instruments. “I would like to first begin by complimenting you, dear minister: France has never been more stable. It's people never more righteous, and the glory and prestige of the monarchy never the more shining and brilliant. May the Bourbons last a thousand more years, sir.”

“Yes, thank you.” d'Polgniac said beaming, looking over to Charles who seemed to not notice. Henri looked over, leaning slightly forward to observe.

The ambassador noticed, and with a polite and eloquent smile invited the young man over. “I see no reason to leave the family out of this.” he said pleasantly, if accented. Henri picked up his chair and moved it over. Almost immediately another minister took his spot, as if afraid to leave the kind alone for any length of time.

“Thought well standing France is as a friend to common stability in Europe, I am afraid that Metternich has seen it fit to call upon the nation. To put things bluntly.” he continued.

“Yes, I've heard about what is happening in Russia.” d'Polgniac stated plainly.

“I too have been keeping up.” Henri said, “Things are published as fast as they come from Poland in the presses. It is a worrying revolution.”

“Exactly. And as all God fearing gentlemen know: there is a delicate order in Europe. And Metternich and His Grace himself the Emperor of Austria Francis I has decided to convene Europe. His enlightened ruler of the Russians, the Czar has henceforth been incapable of containing the Revolution, and so it was decided that if intervention in Russia does not occur: then the delicate Concert of London may be broken. We thus have to appeal to the defenders of European order to bring to heel the disorder in that country.”

“I would be honor to commit French men and resources to the cause.” d'Polgniac said without reservation. Henri was shocked at the sudden commitment of the minister but himself decided to agree with a stunned pause.

“Ah, very well! I thank you and your government's commitment.” István said with a smile, “And when the rest of Europe responds, we will bring the Czar back to his enlightened glory.”

“Shall France be committing anything to the cause now?” asked Henri

“If you do, I would say it would be unilateral. Minister d'Polgniac, would you be sending anyone to Venice to answer this invitation?”

“Certainly!” d'Polgniac answered boisterous, “I'll have a letter dispatched to our ambassador in Vienna to begin work with Metternich immediately after show. But this holy and God-driven endeavor deserves a stronger show I do think.”

“Perhaps we should send Prince Louis to meet.”

“Excellent.” said István

“I can leave for Versailles to meet with him tomorrow, deliver the news.” Dauphin Henry said, energized at the thought of this grand moment unraveling before his eyes. Below, the orchestra had finished, and was just beginning to play the first opening movement of the opera. The actors came on stage but by this time, none in the royal box were paying attention in truth. They turned their attention to the conspiracy on Russia being planned there in the box.

By the time the servant who had been dispatched earlier to try and clear out the Pereire returned. He had met with the master of the house, and issuing the orders to expel the brothers and their family failed resoundingly in doing so. He was told that they were paying and honorable guests. That he could no so much as move them. It would have been rude. But returning to the box with it in full discussion on Russia and Vienna and Austria the servant had the thought that it was no longer important, and stayed quiet. When he returned to d'Polgniac with an ice plate of fresh oysters for the guests it was not a matter even raised, he was simply ignored. The chatter, low and delicate as it was was energetic. Somewhere in it the words, “and perhaps this will dispel the Doctrinaires, another grand Algiers mission!” were uttered.

Across the theater, having been tipped off to the presence of the House of Bourbon's presence Isaac Pereire looked through the opera glasses up at their box. He could see the small court bustle about the ambassador and minister, their faces barely visible over the railing of their box.

“What's happening?” Émile asked.

“They're with the Hungarian, the one from Vienna.” Isaac said, leaning on his arm. He lowered the glasses and scratch at his side. The threads of his suit itchy and annoying. It was an ill-fitting suit, one which he would have to have re-fitted later on. “This might be worth keeping an eye on.”


The next day

Thee gilded carriage rolled down the road through the rural countryside around Versailles, trundling through farmer's fields. Distant, though hidden behind woodland lay the vacant hull of the Chateau of Versailles and the largely vacant commune at its front gates. But though empty and abandoned since the Revolution, it was not a place forgotten. From time to time, the aristocracy made pilgrimages in honor of the Ancien Regime and the days before the Republic and the Restorations. It was a nook for romantic journeys backwards in time, and for other things.

Guided by riders, the carriage came on a fenced area and was interrupted by sentries on the road side. Walking up to the carriage words were exchanged, and it was allowed to diligently pass to the fields beyond where emerged discrete military fortifications and settlement in the country. Outside men drilled in formation, and more distantly on a green hill an array of balloons lay in the grass. The carriage and its outriders made for the formation of balloons without hesitation and pulled up nearby.

“Since the Revolution the advantages of aeronautics has been at time and time proved.” a high Russian voiced preached, loudly in skilled French, “Since even the revolution, when the balloon was first deployed to observe Austrian movements and to respond accordingly, they made themselves proof of the superiority of the air.”

Out of the carriage stepped Prince Henri, who was dressed for the occasion in an officer's uniform. Junior officers on the fringe of the demonstration noticed, and turned to salute. The young prince disarmed them with a tip of the hat and they dropped their hands and turned back to the Russian.

“The superior advantages accredited to armies by balloons is an untapped field of the military sciences.” he continued as Henri walked up to and stood besides the war minister Louis-Auguste-Victor, comte de Ghaisnes. Louis-Auguste, too invested in the dawning demonstration did not notice the dauphin as he stood there, folding his hands in front of himself and joining in. There too was Henri's uncle, the prince Louis who was also interested in the Russian's demonstration. The Russian continued: “With the ability to find great advantages in height over the opposing forces they are more capable than any observation tower that could be built on the tallest hill in observing enemy movements at a distance, in a clear day able to allow a trained observer to watch over hundreds of thousands of desyatina.

“But what is most notably ignored in their ability is their use as a firing platform!” he exclaimed, turning to look over the crowd with a dramatic flourish of his hand and a wide beaming smile. He was dressed like a business man about the town in Paris, a white dress shirt with a black vest, neck wrapped, top hat on. His eyes looked over the heads of the assembled military personnel before he found prince Henri. “Ah, welcome your majesty!” he said in a hurry and bowed low. At that moment the war minister turned and saw him and his eyes went wide and he bowed, removing his hat.

“Your majesty, had I known I would have prepared!” he said.

“Your majesty.” prince Louis said, also bowing.

“I am sorry had I known I would be with so many esteemed guests I would have prepared good vodka and seen to it there was food.” the Russian joked nervously, “Would you like me to start over?” he asked weakling, looking from the princes to the war minister.

“No, carry on Vasiliy.” Louis-Auguste ordered.

“Yes- so, to continue,” Vasily stumbled, “What has been left unexplored in ballooning in their capabilities has firing platforms! Tethered or free floating they are a unique position from which to engage the enemy, at an altitude unaccounted for in military strategy. To this moment in all human and military history commanders have sought the winning advantage of the high ground, but never have they been able to summon them into being at will!”

With a motion of his hand he turned to the arrayed corp of balloons resting on the hill a distance behind him, and men dressed in Imperial Russian uniforms ran to their baskets and began to engage with preparing and launching their vehicles. As the canopies were inflated Vasily continued loudly, with a booming voice now: “It was during Napoleon's invasion of Russia that engineers working with the Tzar sought to turn the humble observation balloon into a threatening gun platform! However the speed at which the Little Corporal moved through Russia, and the failures of the project did not bless it! Though the designs have been abandoned, I have not forgotten them. And while the engineers who worked in holy service to his god-given and grace holiness, the Emperor of Russia and all its people envisioned a battle ship of the skies, I appeal to you a more modest arrangement!

“Equipped with two-pound cannons, the field commander who deploys armed balloon platforms will be able to engage the enemy at further range than before, laying down suppressing anti-personnel fire at the great distances that height affords, and to even bypass the field cover that an army in the field may use to avoid the shots of the enemy!” behind, the balloons began to lift off, ten in all. Sticking out from the sides of their baskets sat small gun barrels that could scan the distant horizons in any direction. As they lift off, crews on the ground held ropes to help anchor them in place.

“The vision of the emperor in the surface to the defense of Russia was to attack Napoleon and his men from such an unassailable position as these platforms can reach and fire down upon them before they can even reach the field of battle, breaking the resolve of the enemy before they arrive.” as the balloons reached their maximum, the cannons onboard fired, and over the distant hills the subtle gray whiffs of smoke signaling the bursting of canister shot echoed. Many of the men attending were stunned or humored, and applauded the work of the Russian and his men. Both Louis stood back, with-holding their congratulation as they regarded the ballooning platforms with mutual skepticsm.

The platforms continued firing their cannons off into the distance and Vasily approached the war minister and asked eagerly, his face glowing red with excitement: “So what do you think, minister?”

He was silent for a long time, “Just a two pounds?” he asked, flatly.

“Well I'm afraid anything heavier would be a bit much for agun. After all it's early in design. Surely: with some investment from the government I could afford research into something much better. You could send up five pound, ten pound. Think for a minute even: seventeen pounds. There may be a future when siege cannons can be lifted up to the heights to rain fire down on fortified enemy positions. There would be no hiding of the enemy then! Why, the face of warfare would be changed forever!”

“Yes, but these can not move.” Prince Louis pointed out.

“Rest assured, in the field of science there is study of how to move the balloons. True: they are only at the mercy of the winds and how much gas they contain. But money: that is honestly the important truth here gentlemen. Were there money invested in the endeavor then research could proceed much faster and there might be entirely steerable balloons.” Vasiliy sensed still more hesitation and he added: “Armored, perhaps. Battleships of the sky. Airships, if you will.”

“We will need to consider,” War Minister Louis said, “It's something that I would need to talk to Francois-Régis about.”

“Oh, please do.” Vasily said, nodding excitedly, “Enlighten him about the glories of the modern sciences. There is much ground to be made in all places of the physical science.”

The two stepped away from Vasily, and made to Henri.

“Great nephew, what brings you here?” Prince Louis asked

“I come from the opera last night, where great transformations were made on the world stage.” Henri said with a smile, “Myself and d'Polgniac had an enlightened discussion with the minister from Austria, and we are invited to the court in Vienna to decide to make an end to the Decemberists in Russia. I'm here to say that you've been invited to join the French delegation, dear uncle.”

Prince Louis became annoyed, he stuttered. He wanted to shout, “and why me, and why at this time?” but knew he could not raise his voice so much to the Dauphin. Instead he measured himself and asked, “And what did father say?”

“He agreed.” Henri lied. Charles X had no input in much of anything, and when asked began talking about Marie Antoinette.

“Your name also came up, Louis-Auguste-Victor and if you would like: then you too may go and join the delegation. The glory of the French army must be represented.”

Minister Louis-Auguste-Victor rose a brow, and kicked at the ground a little and turned to the Prince Louis. “If it's ministerial and royal command,” he said, “I guess I could go as well. I have after all commanded the ministry by correspondence before. So what harm is there.”

Henri smiled wide, “I'm glad I can reach accommodations.” he looked up at the balloons, who had stopped firing into the wilderness and were being pulled down, “How might I catch a ride on one of those?” he asked. The two older men's faces went pale as the flag.

"If I may," Vasily said, inserting himself, "If France is to go to Russia: perhaps we could discuss a deal." he smiled.

"We'll discuss it later." Louis-Auguste-Victor said with a stern voice
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The Society of the Colonies, or La Société Des Colonies was hardly an official organization. It was in fact a club, a salon that met in the private residences of one of its members. It's body was made of the various sub-ministers of the government that had become disgruntled at the lack of governance by their superiors, and whose boundless ambitions had elevated them to the realm of imagination. They had learned in the intervening years that though they held no strong presence in their organizations, that with enough of their own collective effort they can make things happen. If they were a ring of spies and revolutionaries, they were at the least protected by the anger of the government by their insubordination by admiral and minister of the Navy and the Colonies, hero of the Greek War the elderly Admiral Henri Daniel Gauthier, the comte de Rigny; who from time to time patronized the meetings himself, but other times chose to stay aloof.

In the late evening of the private quarters of tonight's patron host in the winding alleys of the Sentier district the men gathered. The room, small and dimly lit by the warm glow of lamps and candles was awash with tobacco smoke and the smell of brandy and wine. It was decorated with taste and good care with dark mahogany furniture; actually purchased second hand from a Dutch supplier, and oak wainscoting and pine skirting on faded yellow wallpaper. The host, Henri Conte-Therry decorated the walls with maps and small landscapes he had collected over the years. On a mantle over an unlit fireplace sat a plaster statue of a woman draped in only a light cloth that accentuated the shapeliness of her bosom and butt as she lay reclining in an equally plaster recliner, this in most times was hidden by a velvet curtain which was today open for the edification of the guests.

“The rumors have it that the Prime Minister and the Minister of War took prince Louis to Vienna.” said a tall man with a high nasal voice, due probably in part to the long hooked nose he had. As a boy in the private academy his family sent him to in the country-side – if to avoid the Revolution – the kids had picked on that and made fun of him for being a suspected Jew. He had become self conscious about it from those days, and to try and hide it he grew a beard and mustache to alter its proportions relative to his face. His large wide eyes gazed out through spectacles to the outside world, the dimming haze of evening was falling on Paris and the effect of her street lights was beginning to show.

The host, Henri producing another bottle of wine from a cabinet said, “Yes, it's true. I personally saw them leave from the palace today. They went out in three full coaches and what looked like a company of Swiss Guard on horse back. It was rather splendid, though they were quick about it; I don't know if they're anxious of being seen to work, or if they are simply terrified of Paris.” that last statement may be true. Henri was broad shouldered, athletic and powerful; a soldier once, officer. Clean blonde hair swept back across his head, a wedding ring glimmering finely in the lantern light of the salon's room; proud, prominent. He looked side to side with blue eyes, seeming to ask wordlessly who wanted some wine. The answer was of course a unanimous yes, a proper Frenchman would not forego his evening red.

“It's a 1827 vintage, a good year. Avignon.” he said, describing it.

“It should be a good year then, and a good place. Avignon! The wine is thick with papal blood then.” said another man, long haired and dandy. His eyes glowed with an enthusiastic and ambitious fire.

“Steal yourself Jacques, Catholics though they may be they are still members of the right honorable Holy Catholic Church of France. No matter what the Pope in Rome says. The men of Avignon are countrymen all the same.” the host chastised.

“I only mean to play.” Jacques said with a laugh.

“Besides, nothing has happened in Avignon for a long time.” another man said, square, slightly dark in complexion. “They were no Lyon.”

“Now there is a cursed name.” said the host.

“Never-the-less, what was that about the Duc de Polgniac leaving, Henri?” said the squared man.

“Yes, well as I said simply: they left the city and headed East. If I were to guess it might be related to what's happening in Russia.”

“I think you're right. I was reading the Le National and a story was published in the inner pages about the court playing host to the Austrian Ambassador at the opera. They speculate that the ministry is on the war path yet again.” Jacques said.

“They must be going by way of Stuttgart.” the tall hooked nose man, Pierre mused to no one in particular.

“Yes, we've been warned in the ministry offices. Apparently several of us are being secretly selected to follow to Vienna soon.” the man said with the large nose, turning from the window, “The word is that yes indeed: we will be going to war in Russia. It's just a matter of formalities to assemble a coalition.”

“Who might be the coalition?” Henri, the host asked.

“The usual suspects: the British, the Czar, the Prussians and the Ottomans. And who ever else might come in through the door looking to leverage the moment. If the Ottoman Turks show up we can be certain Pharoah Muhammad might send a man to castigate the whole lot over who knows what.”

“Speaking of, Pierre, have you heard how people are talking he might close the Sinai?” Jacques asked, “I read about it in the papers. What a spectacular blunder I believe that would be!”

Pierre, the large nose nodded. “Yes, so I've heard. I've personally had to deal with credit lenders who have simply 'stopped by' to ask what position the government has if he does.”

“And your answer?” Jacques asked.

“That there won't be an answer from the government until it's done.”

“Oh, that's a shame.”

“Well, we do talk about it is if he will and then we ask what the Prime Minister does with the memorandum when he receives them. We hope he's not sending them to the Pope for comment.”

Le roi règne mais ne gouverne pa” the room opined, [i]The King reigns but does not rule[i]

“Charles and de Polgniac will jump for war with Russia, but won't ever give a moments thought if Egypt disrupts trade with the west!” Henri protested. As he did, others gathered. “Good evening, gentlemen.” he said to them as they made themselves comfortable at the chairs.

“Who are we discussing? The Russians or the Egyptians?” one of them asked.

“One or the other.” Henri said.

“What do you think, of either of them?” one of the new guests asked, “Or rather should I ask: which is more important?”

“Honestly, if war with Russia: the summons of Metternich then they might be more pressing.” Jacques said. Pierre agreed.

“However if I may,” one of the new men interjected, “war in Russia may be a time off yet, and we may have time in the night yet for them. But you mention Egypt also, and what Egypt brings to mind is cotton, and what cotton brings to my mind right now is the English. And whether or not there is war in Russia I wonder about the British. It doesn't sit right to me that we leave the British with dominion over one of the largest suppliers of European cotton; I refer of course to the United States. True: US Cotton does continue to flow but only under British permission and practically: British export. Between them and India they have the bulk of the market.”

“What are you getting at, Maurice?” asked Henri.

“Well, namely, the source of cotton in France needs to be re-diversified in the event a war with Britain re-arises or at least more heated competition with them.” said the man, Maurice, red hair and short. He cleared his throat and added, “Namely perhaps we should concern ourselves with French-controlled sources. As it stands our options are instability or the immense vacuum of the China trade. Were it in our power, we would have to grow it here, or in our overseas territories.”

The men in the room looked at each other. “Come to think of it, he may have a point here.” Pierre said.

“Exactly. And I have friends in commercial investment. They're uneasy too. Though it may not be continental bloodshed yet we do not see the Americas as being stable for long. What are we to do if European cotton dries up? Or French access to cotton, at least. It would devastate industry!”

“Yes, but what do you propose? We go to Egypt?”

“No – but also yes – France should begin diversifying our source of cotton. But we can't just begin buying from Egypt.” said Maurice, “Not while we have the time to plan things. That's the conclusion I and my credit friends have come to. No: we shouldn't, but if the Egyptian government is willing to sell us their cotton at a lower rate than in England: Yes. But for long: no. We have to reach long term solutions. The government's tariffs see fit to make no one all that appealing unless anyone can dare leverage a lower retail rate. And between Brazil and China the costs are markedly higher than British cotton, if not much more at the least. So the real long-term goal to any cotton project would be for a native source of cotton to France, one which can avoid the tariffs. There are also preferential tariffs to compete with the British, but by and large it may amount to a subsidy, and we are still put at foreign mercy.”

“Out of curiosity: what makes Egypt a not long term solution?” Henri asked.

“Namely that he is a warlord from Greece. We have all observed the Ottomans as of late, and their state is not looking healthy. Muhammad Ali may be the Ptolemy to Mahmud II's Alexandrian Empire. And so Ptolemy went, so will he in time. Us or the British will be his Rome to someday end the project, but I am digressing.

“Given the erratic actions or intentions of Muhammad Ali, we shouldn't trust him in the long term. The Navy already holds him at canon's reach. There are so many planks and mast timbers destined for French ships that we can afford to sell to him and not inflame the British glands. If at least they are willing to sell lower, than the fact remains on this front at least we can encourage the British to themselves sell lower.”

“So wait, I think I missed the point of your suggestion: we buy from Egypt to force British suppliers to sell lower?” Pierre asked.

“Yes. But that is only the temporary option.” Maurice explained.

“So what is the long term?” Henri asked.

“French grown and processed cotton.” Maurice reminded them, “Well that we have all this empty land overseas that we are not using. We met before and talked about Algeria and I have not stopped thinking about Algeria. But those lands are already occupied by the native Moslems. Over time they can be bought out or forced off the lands by the military. But I hesitate on seriously calling for that based purely on the long-term military expenditures. It is as it stands at the least a gradual process of the colons introducing modern civilization to those lands we may find ourselves in the position to use Algeria to cultivate cotton. This is the most severe of long-term goals, and the possibility can be examined with time from Algiers to Oran; who knows what will happen.

“I and my associated have also examined other plans that we think are more interesting-”

“And the others?” Jacques impatiently asked.

“Well simply: we put the men imprisoned in Guiana to use and oblige them to grow cotton for the kingdom! There may be some technical expertise needed, but I've come in touch with Albert Gallatin. We all remember him, don't we? The old American fellow with the Swiss accent that came over to get away from the British at the conclusion of their War. Apparently he may know some people who can get us in touch with some groups out of country that can provide some aide.

“In particular he dropped mention that General Jackson would know of some men, so I wrote to him and he recommended some names, most of them still in the Americas, but have since moved outside of the grip of the British. There's a man with the name Houston he seemed to recall as being notable, came from Virginian stock I guess but also a Tennessee man like General Jackson. But like many men, he had to flee further west to avoid reprisals from the occupying force. I sent a letter to seek him out, but I suspect it might be some time.”

“Over eager, aren't we?” laughed Henri.

“All for the god of the kingdom!” cheered Maurice, “Besides, I'm very curious of the man and his cause. If at the least it is information I may forego if anyone is willing to offer me any money.” he added, laughing.

“Maurice Lachelle does more governing than the king does in a week!” joked one of the other recent arrivals.

Laughing Maurice said, “Thank you Damiens, but anyways: the other option might be to just rely on the West Africans. Senegal is flush with slaves, and from what I understand the business of growing cotton is very slave intensive; it is why we considered the prisoners of Guiana. If not us doing it directly, it would be our trading posts off the coast of Senegal directing our influence towards it. And since deposing the Barbary nomads in the area, commercial activities have only been allowed to expand. It's a growing area with a lot of potential. The dynamism is ripe for new industries. The business of trading in peanuts and gum-arabic has produced substantial capital that we would be fools to not have re-invested.”

“Fascinating options, Maurice.” said Henri, impressed with the little man, “How though should we consider them?”

“Well, with a little private funding and some manipulation of regular ministry operation, of course.” he said with a smile. “At worst we may be able to get away with one in full. Two at best, depending on how deals with Americans go; for them it may just be as simple as starting a new life and allowed to have some capital. We certainly can not do all three. The government does not have the energy for that sort of thing. Algeria in particular is a gentle thing to bake. The abandonment of the country by the Dey has seen to that. If it is not French citizens at risks by the Barbary, it is themselves.”

“But wait, you left out Brazil.” Damiens added, somewhat distantly, “Would Brazil be responsive?”

“Yes well, Brazil I think is sketchy. But if for some reason their plantation men are willing to engage in a bidding war then so be it. But the Brazilian countryside from what I hear leaves much to be desired for transiting goods. Besides maybe the palace in Rio, they are more backwards than Portugal.”


The band began playing marching songs before the lighter reached the shore. Departing from the steam ship that carried them, now parked at lane a distance from the shore the newly appointed commander for the Algerian occupation made his approach. The man whom he would be replacing, Amédée-François-Régis de Pérusse des Cars stood at the ready at the docks, a Berber servant holding an umbrella up to shield him from the harsh Algerian sun. He saluted his peer as the boat came up to the docks and the man from the mainland stepped off onto Algeria propert.

“Good after general François-Gene Buellant, and welcome to Algeria.” Amédée said with a loud voice.

“Thank you, sir. Thank you.” François said unsteadily as he stepped to shore. His body still rocking from the steamer journey, short as it was. He had not been to sea much in his life and every moment he had been at water was broken by years of on land. He was not a man for such voyages, and he relished being on dry land once again. He looked around at the old Moorish port, the old city, and the band. Every man's face here besides the Moors looked to be baked cherry red in the sun. The light of the desert day blinding him even. With a knowing signal Commander Amédée, Viscount of Cars summoned an attendant who held up over the new man's head an umbrella to shield him.

“I'll be glad to show you around Algiers, but I'm afraid first we have to meet with the Grand Colon.” Commander Amédée said, “But we'll have wine and bread with them all the same. Please, with me general: I have a carriage waiting.”

François was lead brusquely with his few attendants away from the docks of Algiers onto a carriage while the band still played. Stepping into the shaded carriage he was despondent to find that it was hotter inside than it was outside. “Don't worry, once it begins moving and the air comes through it gets much more tolerable.” Amédée told him. Francois was sweating under his uniform and he added: “It was a poor decision to come dressed in your parade uniform.” he said it knowingly, teasingly.

“By God it's so damn hot.” Francois bemoaned, tugging at his collar. He looked over Amédée finding that the older man was dressed in a lighter uniform. He allowed himself to wear his jacket unbuttoned and he had wrapped a neckerchief around his neck to collect the sweat. He wore his forage cap, and not the usual shako. The carriage began moving, slow at first. But as the horses picked up speed the air did begin to flow through the windows and a amount of relief came to the new general.

To the discredit of François he had chosen to land in Algeria in the full regalia of the general officer, with feathered shako and heavy multi-layered uniform. He had underestimated the weather of the North African coast. A man from Normandy, he was too familiar with milder weather, of gray skies and misty dewy mornings. His severe Norman face was rapidly melting in the heat, turning a man in his late thirties to a sopping wet rag of someone fifty or older. A need for water was darkening his blue eyes and the blood felt hot through his entire face. He ran his hand over his mustache, finding it wet with perspiration and sweat already and finally removed his shako to relieve his thinning blonde hair.

Amédée laughed at the discomfort of his peer and slapped him in the shoulder, “Such is the mistake of all men who come to Algeria. Here it is not so insulting to dress so heavily. Many of my men and officers go to war in work-shirts and forage caps, with nothing else besides their red pants. On most days they are indistinguishable from the native levees we raise.”

“Is that so?” François asked.

The older commander nodded. “Les zouaves are our men of necessity in this hostile country, they're mostly locals with rivalries of the tribes we have to fight. From the tribe of the same name. And they taught us well how to dress out here. Without care and plenty of water a strong man can expire from exhaustion before lunch is even served to them. You'll learn it fast, as you are now.”

“I will note that.” François said. He turned exhausted to look out the window and watch the city pass by. He observed the many Arab faces in the crowd, the men and women both in lose robes and veils to protect themselves from the heat. They pressed themselves back as the carriage and the mounted entourage before and after them passed.

“The country was in chaos as soon as the Dey surrendered and went into exile in Sicily.” Amédée explained, “The campaign was not long, only several weeks. I believe it was all over before any news got out. Even I was surprised. I was charged with taking Oran and as soon as the city surrendered after several days of fighting I learned the Comte de Bourmount had secured the surrender of the government and the city was rooted through. As he said the opposition was smashed and their spirit broken. It was a month by the time the whole coast from here to Morocco was brought to heel. Apparently Duperre's Sphinx had been the first to arrive and shell Algiers before the Algerians could even assemble their ships for battle. She and the Vanguard were here for days raiding along the coast. I'm sure you read the stories.”

“How is the food and wine here?” François asked.

“The wine?”Amédée answered, “Awful. The vineyards are just starting. No one has figured the terroir out. The food however is fine. You will not miss for home but you will not be praising it over it. I am convinced the interior tribes persist on dry unsalted meat.”

“Oh dear.” exclaimed François.

“Quiet. But cosmopolitan civilization will soon arrive to them.”

“Anyways, commander I would hate to make small talk,” François went on to say, “But what thoughts do you have on your new deployment?”

Amédée laughed, “I can not say I will appreciate the redeployment if the congress makes a resolution, nor will my men. Russia will make a staggering change in pace. And we will arrive to the country late.”

“God preserve you.”

“God preserve us all.” Amédée agreed, the carriage was pulling up to a palace.

The palace Dar Aziza and its complex of buildings at the heart of Algiers was a magnificent building, even despite the scars of the invasion that still lingered on it. For its ornateness and classical nature, as well as its centrality and proximity to the port of the city the French military authorities had taken to settle within its walls. The carriages came to a stop within a courtyard in front of the buildings, surrounded by a galley of white-washed walls and coiled scrolling columns. White as a pearl, it stood gleaming in the sun and blinded François as he stepped out of his carriage, and he was forced to hold his shakko up against it to protect his face and as he looked at the mosaic of the court yard floor. There to greet them at the great geometrically patterned wooden doors was an entourage of officers and attendees who stood in the shade, welcoming the men as they approached. Behind, the carriage of François's own men arrived, and deposited those men sweating out into the sun.

Swiftly retreating inside, they realized they could cool off in the interior. The halls were tall and open, air moved effortlessly through the palace. Young boys came forward with bowls of water the men used to cool their brows and wipe away the sweat with rags. Another appeared, bringing them wine and they took their glasses.

“Welcome to Dar Aziza.” Amédée said, welcoming François and his men. “God and King willing and conditions allow this will become your residence in the city. You'll also be sharing the palace with the bishop, who attends to the spiritual men, the colons, and the people nearby. The bishop is a profoundly good man, and a gentle roommate to your staff. But he administers by other missions.

“Though we reside here, this is not where the Dey surrendered from. He had another palace not too far from here, built atop a hill. But it was partially shelled, and we left it to be abandoned for the time being. On his surrender he took much of his belongings and women and left for Naples, and in the time since we have redecorated this space at least.”

True to his statements, the palace halls were decorated with flags and paintings of officers in the Algerian military government, and landscape scenery of France. Here and there Parisian couches and armchairs were positioned around delicate coffee tables were men sat drinking coffee or chocolate. There was an interior courtyard that they pass through, but with the plants growing in it and the water fountain at its middle, as well as the closed in walls it was not as hot or intense here as it was outside the palace's walls. François saw in here a spectacular magic that he had not seen before throughout Europe, and he walked slow to admire the building, forcing Amédée to pause and wait. “We shouldn't keep them waiting any long than we have to.” he'd say, impatiently.

On the far side of the palace they came to an open room with windows opened out onto a walled garden just outside. Silk curtains rolled gently in the breeze, and sitting on couches and chairs in the room were various men. Military officers in forage uniform, civilians men in casual dress, and several old Berbers.

“Gentlemen,” Amédée said, giving a slight bow, “I would like to introduce you to the new commander of the Algerian mission.”
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