The Prime Minister and the Imperial Ambassador in a quiet corner of state banqueting hall. A large gaggle of courtiers were gorging themselves at a long table, while a small string ensemble played unnoticed at the other end of the hall. The chair at the head of the table where Queen Pirouette normally sat was vacant. Although she was no longer prostrated by grief, her tendency to remain sequestered in her private suite continued unabated.
“What would it take,” asked the ambassador slyly in a hushed tone, “to convince you to advocate on our behalf with the Queen to sign the peace treaty between our two great nations?”
Suppressing the urge to laugh in the ambassador’s face, The Prime Minister saw Lady Abigail Hoffenhoff rising from the table. “Lady Hoffenhoff! Would you please come and grace us with your presence?”
Doing her best to feign disinterest, Abigail approached the two men with only a hint of a smile on her face. “Good evening, gentlemen,” she said as she curtsied. “How may I be of service?”
“Our friend, the Imperial Ambassador,” is trying to bribe me to use my influence on Her Majesty to sign the peace treaty. What do you think of that?”
Abigail giggled. Deploying her fan, she demurely held it over her face. “First of all, my lord,” she addressed the ambassador, “If you were to give our Prime Minister any money, gifts of art, what have you, Her Majesty would know about it within five minutes. Secondly, I don’t believe there’s a man alive, certainly not in this court, who can outfox her. Hers is the most acute mind that I’ve ever encountered.” Snapping her fan shut for emphasis, Abigail said, “Any mischief making on your part will have you packing your belongings and returning empty handed to your master. If you want my advice, just do your best to reason with her.”