The holidays approach, dear reader, and you know what that means. Chaos, havoc, and violence.
For the recent gratuitous eating holiday, it was our turn to host the family of my darling husband. (We do not mix my family with my husband’s family. Even for the von Hedwigs there is a limit to the chaos, havoc, and violence required to make one’s spirits bright.) So we turned the Schoneluft north and east to Prussia. We followed the Vistula toward the ancestral home of the vonHedwigs, and flew right over it, for it is not Mama von Hedwig’s year to host.
My darling is the sole male heir to his family. I don’t know if you know any of these large old feudal families, but the concentration of sisters seems to bring out the venom. As dear Rudyard would have it, the f. of the s. is more d. than the m. Therefore, each joyful holiday gathering requires months of careful diplomacy. We have agreed to dock in the nearby city of Thorn, on a charming medieval tower in the old fortifications. There’s something so comforting about fortifications, particularly when facing one’s in-laws.
The violence began cheerily enough, with the annual turkey hunting a few days before. Her von Hedwig and the older children took the runabout soaring over the broad Anatolian plain, driving flocks of the majestic beasts before them. Adolphus, who is rather addicted to sport, stunned the finest bird with his bolo. Phalen, his lab assistant and personal attendant Ulrik, and dear Philomena, home on holiday from the Academy, each succeeded with a net gun.
I only discovered some time later that Claire and Adolphus had a spirited discussion on whether or not fowl run about after their heads were cut off, as claims the popular simile. They argued over it, of course. They argue over most things, most days. With frightening exceptions.
Claire was furious not to have caught anything, but, as I rather cruelly explained later, that is the obvious consequence of spending every waking moment in one’s laboratory, never seeing the light of day, and never spending a merry hour playing battledore in the garden. She sulked for a day, then her mood mysteriously brightened.
I should have suspected something then, but was rather busy with my own preparations to please the palates of the onrushing kin. Herr von Hedwig’s concern was to have the ship in fighting trim and ready to be inspected by the eagle eye of the impeccable Mama von Hedwig. There were times when the children were not dusting, polishing, and pressing, but left to their own devices…
Read part two now!