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Titled? ~ 61

June 16, 2017 12:12PM

Chapter Sixty -One

Anna Margaret had not heard anything else about Philip’s interview except from what she had read in the newspaper, which was nothing but an announcement of the fact that it would be broadcast. She was also not as worried as Isabelle seemed to be. Philip might be surprisingly amusing to people who had never spoken to him, but perhaps Isabelle did not think that being amusing was befitting of his new role.

There were other things to keep her occupied. Some other government leaders wanted to meet. She quickly offered to host the meeting so she would not have to travel, but it would still keep her occupied for a few days until it had actually taken place. There would be a lunch, then a meeting and a joint dinner because they would not be leaving until the next morning.

Frederick did not have to show up for this kind of thing, which she thought he did not mind at all. He had never attended, not even formal visits, because they had all been planned more than six months before. Nobody had dared to suggest inserting him in those plans. In the case of new ones, though, he might have to entertain the spouses of the visiting government leaders or heads of state. It was the done thing.

To her surprise, however, he offered to come to the dinner with her. She could hardly reject that offer, because he might then never want to come again. And if he made the suggestion himself, she supposed he felt he could do it. The relative informality and the small size of the countries involved had sounded rather appealing for a foray into being the first gentleman.

He joined them only for dinner, as did Louis’ wife Fabienne. Their foreign guests had not brought their spouses. Anna Margaret wondered why Frederick found it so awful, because he managed well enough. He was well-dressed and well-mannered, and he could even converse with the most linguistically challenged of the guests.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked when they were on their way home.

“I was even prepared to stay if you had to go home. Sense of duty. I don’t know what happened.”

“At least one person told me how nice it was to see you.”

“I think maybe that was because I was the only one he could speak to fluently.”

“What did you and your neighbour speak about?”

“Getting one’s eyes lasered,” he answered surprisingly.

“All evening?”

“No, but that’s what I recall.”

“But anyway, see that it’s not that scary?” Anna Margaret said encouragingly, trying not to sound as if she was speaking to a small child, because she was not.

Frederick smiled.

“Are you considering getting your eyes lasered?”

“I might. I looked into it once, but the recovery time was much too long for me. No exercising for two weeks. I can’t do that.”

“No, you can’t,” she agreed. “Would you become very unbearable?”

“I have no idea. I’ve never tried. The clinic this man went to said two days, though. The difference is just too much. I’ll have to look into it.”

“Maybe they thought that the type of exercising he does didn’t require as much effort?”

The next day she discussed the outcome of her meeting with her ministers. Louis had already been with her, because any follow-up might come down to him alone and it would be useful for him to know what the other countries’ positions were. On certain issues the small ones had to stick together.

Questions were asked in parliament later, naturally. They were not all for her, but she felt she managed to answer quite well those that she did get. Certain MPs had to be reminded frequently that they lived in a very small country that could simply not take the lead in Europe, as much as they would really like to take what they called the moral lead. The moral lead, in its extreme form, was merely stupid, was Anna Margaret’s opinion. She was not alone in thinking that. There was sufficient backing from her colleagues, although the debates left her somewhat drained.

“I need a drink,” said the State Secretary for Immigration.

“Yes. I wish I could drink.”

“Yes, how could you not take five poor refugees into your house?” he teased, but with slightly frustrated undertones at the ridiculous suggestions that had been made.

“Oh, no. They want me to confiscate the Palace, for…I don’t know, fifty of them?” She had no idea how many rooms there were. Maybe it could even house a hundred.

“They could lead by example, but…”

“Yeah. Drink. Just one. Juice.”

“And you married money.”

“He doesn’t have as much as they think he does. He spent some on a large project,” she said. “So yeah, just one juice and no refugees in my home.”

A few others joined them as well. They walked to the pub they usually frequented. Anna Margaret sat down on a barstool. She did not want to stand even more. “Thanks,” she said when Constantin gave her a juice. “I’m really only doing the one.”

“I know. It’s on me. For surviving this temporarily.”

“Hey, I picked people who would survive,” she protested. “Who would stand firm and who would not be swayed by either the opposition or the fossils.”

“The fossils,” he replied, taking a large gulp of his beer. “Do they ever regret pushing you forward!”

“Why? Do they?”

“Don’t play the innocent. Look around. I know we’re not all here, but do you see anyone in their sixties? You’ve kept your team on the young side. Our friends from the coalition are a bit more conservative, which is reflected in their ages – for which I’m glad, or else I should have been the oldest. Isn’t that right, Sarah?” he asked when the latter leant past him to reach the bar.

“Is what right? That you’re not the oldest?”

“I’m not the oldest. Your side has at least one that beats me.”

“Wow. And it isn’t me. But why this observation?”

“I was just saying that the fossils probably regret pushing Anna Margaret forward, because she picked people who were immune to fossil pressure. So, she claims to have picked people for that reason especially, but then she claims not to know the fossils might not like that.”

Anna Margaret opened her eyes wide.

“See?” Constantin pointed with his beer glass. He looked unconvinced. “You’re a terrible actress.”

“Yes, I know.”

He spoke to Sarah. “They thought they could kill two birds with one stone.”

“True.” Sarah gave up trying to order a drink for the moment. “We discussed that internally.”

“What? What did you discuss?”

“Last year, of course. We discussed how they put forward a puppet, before we agreed to join forces with you. You have to know you were considered a puppet.”


“So obviously when the puppet didn’t play their game, they were a little put out.”

“I thought…” Anna Margaret said slowly. “They sort of came round to recognising I didn’t need my strings pulled?” Their attempts at involvement had certainly become less.

“People who have a need to pull strings never come round,” said Sarah. “In my opinion anyway.”

“I know that it was their objective, more or less, but I’ve never said I wasn’t going to do my own thing. I know they thought they could control me, but that it was clear that they wouldn’t?”

“But they didn’t take you seriously.” Constantin counted on his fingers. “Woman. Young. Good-looking. The reasons why they put you forward are exactly the reasons why they were not taking you seriously."

“That was certainly very apparent in the beginning,” she agreed. “They wanted to appeal to the younger part of the electorate, they told me. And it worked.” They had gone up in the polls and secured a small majority, which was nonetheless nothing like the absolute majority they used to have.

“It was a bold move, but it worked and it did not,” said Constantin, sipping his beer. “Depending on how you look at it.”

Sarah had managed to order two drinks. “They were never as keen on cooperation as you,” she nodded. “I mean, I’m not sure that fifteen years ago with the same allocation of seats I should’ve got this position.”

“I did receive one or two queries about that,” Anna Margaret revealed. “Giving the enemy one extra voice and all that. Not that they literally say enemy, but you know what is implied. So, you’d better not go against me.”

“Wouldn’t dare!” Sarah swung two glasses off the bar and went back to join whomever she had been talking to.

“Cooperation with the PSA is a bridge too far,” Constantin decided. It would certainly be an impossibility in his portfolio.

“At the moment. But I do see people come round. Not the PSA yet, but others. If people with republican leanings like the Pitbull can become more moderate…”

“Now that you mention it, I haven’t heard him nag about the monarchy for ages.”

Anna Margaret nodded. “That’s probably because I am now his direct access to answers. Without answers there’s more room to go wild. If you have a proper answer you just can’t keep up the random objections. Well, you could,” she said after a second. “But it wouldn’t be chic and I wouldn’t let you.”

“What sort of answers does he want? I only remember he nagged about illegitimate children.”

“Yes, that – and there weren’t any. And then there was something about a grass snake.”

Constantin tried to connect that to something that made sense and failed. “What the **** does that have to do with the monarchy?”

“It had to do with the widespread assumption that if a member of the family is having something built, they will obviously not have the required permits and they will not have needed to go through the channels an ordinary member of the public needs to go through. The grass snake activists simply approached an MP without checking the facts, or maybe they had planned to approach a newspaper, I don’t know. In any case, the Pitbull mentioned it to me and I referred him to Frederick and they sorted it out.”

“So what’s he building?”

Anna Margaret finished her juice. She wanted to leave soon. “Oh, a rowing course.”

“What’s that?”

“A channel. For rowing.”

“Goodness, but why?”

“To row on? Listen, I want to go home. I’m hungry.” She slid off the barstool. “Thanks for the drink. There’s Marc. He’ll talk to you when I’m gone.” There were more people too. There were two groups standing right behind him.

“I’ll find someone, thanks,” he assured her. “But a rowing course?”

“Yes. We met the Pitbull there one time and Frederick showed him a huge pile of paperwork, so there was nothing more to say. So my point was, if you show people the facts, they change their minds.”

“They may,” he corrected her.

Titled? ~ 61

LiseJune 16, 2017 12:12PM

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AlidaJune 24, 2017 01:59AM


LiseJune 24, 2017 09:45AM

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AlidaJune 24, 2017 10:32AM

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LiseJune 24, 2017 08:32PM

Re: Titled? ~ 61

MaryJune 24, 2017 01:39AM

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