Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chapter 4: The Benefits of a Royal Education

Interview with Roxy Smothers, 1973:

What did you say about zeppelins? No, I shouldn't say that I’d been around an awful lot of exploding zeppelins, not more than anyone else. You see back in those days, airships were simply everywhere, so you couldn’t swing a dead cat with exploding an airship with it. This was all due to the shortage of liftwood after the Great War. That would be the World War Number One, and don’t you dare ask me if I remember that one. Why I was just a chi -- a mere dream in my parents’ minds when it ended.

Of course, the good old US of A had a monopoly on helium at the time, so everyone else used any sort of lighter-than-air gas they could find. Dangerous hydrogen was the most common but there were others even worse; I think Siam had one that used the methane from zebu flatulence, for example.

So, you see darling, it really was nothing remarkable to have a flaming zeppelin falling on your hotel in the early hours of the morning. As it happened, we didn’t see much of the aftermath. Mr. Bogush trundled us off in a mail van, being careful to disarm us before we got in. Then we drove in circles around the city for several hours. At first I thought it was ruse to keep pursuers off our trail but then I realized that he was actually performing the morning mail delivery!

Around nine in the morning, Mr. Bogush finished his rounds and took us to the central part of Strelzov to the Ministry of War. Unlike the post offices in Ruritania, the Ministry was not very threatening, being an old palace of some minor member of the Royal Family from ages ago.

Bogush led us through several sentry points to a large vestibule at the rear of the building on the first floor. Now Bronislav, who was fairly brave, in a calculating, wouldn’t-stick-my-neck-out-unless-it-paid-me sort of way, was deathly afraid of heights. He used to get woozy from sitting in the Royal Box at the Opera - of course, he turned that one to his political advantage, saying he would much rather sit with the common folk in the regular seats than with all the hoity-toity upper class ones. Oh brother!

As we entered the vestibule, I saw that it was packed with young women who were ostensibly there to be interviewed for a job as Bronislav’s personal stenographer. That's when I knew things were pretty bad for the louse. Bronislav's favorite way of relieving stress was to carry on with young women and he used the excuse of interviewing for Ministry jobs. If they pleased him enough, he would occasionally follow through with a job. I seem to remember he fobbed one of his brainless floozies off on the Ministry of the Arts as a yodeling inspector or something.

By the number of pretty girls flocking about that vestibule in their best dresses and clutching steno pads, I knew Broni was probably feeling very low. Good! I thought I might get the pleasure of twisting the knife in his guts a bit.
Now in addition to the girls, there were several sentries, all heavily armed and dressed for field duty, instead of their normal dress uniforms. Last night's zeppelin raid must have really rattled the rat if he had even his ceremonial Walloon guards ready for combat.

I should mention that there were several Royal Guard units in Ruritania. The most prestigious was the Royal Walloon Fusiliers. It seems the original Ladislas Radziwill, who became the legendary King Vlad, when he made that famous wrong turn after Vienna in1683, had brought a regiment of Walloon mercenaries with him. Once an idea penetrates the thick Radziwillian brain, it stays there, so for nearly two and half centuries, the royal bodyguard was recruited exclusively from the more entrepreneurially violent elements of Belgian society.

Then I noticed Raoul, Broni's chaffuer, the man who filled me in on Broni's betrayal. You might think I would feel some gratitude to Raoul but I absolutely loathed the man. If Broni was a rat, Raoul was a weasel, in the weaselist meaning of the word. He never did anything from a good motive, always out for himself. Besides that, he smelled of lavender - I mean really how can you trust a man who smells of lavender?

He was tall and thin, and of an indeterminate ethnicity, which given the odd mix of population in that part of the world, was probably Eskimo, if I had to guess. He always seemed to be waiving a cigarette about in an arrogantly nonchalant manner. When he saw me, a crooked smile passed over his lips and I was suddenly assaulted by a wave of flowery odor as he brought his lavender impregnated hide over.

"Why, Ms. Roxy, it is so good to see you back in Ruritania," he virtually slithered, "But you do look like you've had some ...exertions? Some new conquest? No? What a pity.”

"Can it, cabbie, I'm not in the mood.”

“That was the excuse you gave me when you rejected my help in getting even with the Prince for his infidelities. I always regret that we did not develop a closer ... relationship at that time."

“Well, Raoul, getting even with Broni by having an affair with you would have been like taking strychnine to cure myself of a hang-nail."

I pushed past the beast and moved towards the door to Broni's office. I was stopped by Lemkocz. Lemkocz was Broni's aide, a humorless officious prig of a man with no lips or neck discernable. When he saw me, he immediately moved to block the door.

"Out of my way, I need to speak to your boss, Lem-crotch.”

“’Lemkocz,’ ma'am, it's pronounced... No, I shan't correct you; you would only pronounce it in an even more horrible form. His Royal Highness cannot be disturbed; he has important matters of state with which to deal."

I heard a series of giggles from inside Broni's office interrupt the Neckless Wonder. “Really busy, eh, Turtle Boy. Out of my way!”

I pushed past him, not realizing that the rest of our crew, which now equaled in numbers one of the smaller New York boroughs flowed in with me.

There was a girl in the office, of course, pretty and youthful with that enthusiasm and hope that Broni loved to destroy. One of my maids, Mrs. Villyach. when I was living in Ruritania, suggested that he might be part vampire. No not vampire, just plenty of wolf.

I booted the dame toot sweet.

Then my eyes came to rest on my ex-husband. Broni sat at an ornate desk with his head bent over what must have been a resume, saying “So, Miss Pupwikosh, you wike pina cowada’s and wong wawks in the wain...”

Now Broni, like all the Ruritanian Radziwills spoke with a most appallingly speech impediment, pronouncing all R’s and L’s as if they were W’s. This too, the famous “Radziwill Lilt,” was another legacy from King Vlad, who was noted for brainless courage and utter lack of verbal articulation.

“Where’s my money, you lousy two-timer!”

He jumped up in surprise but recovered quickly, “Weww, Woxy, what a pweasant suwpwise. What bwings you back to Wuwitania?”

“Well Broni, darling, in the US, there’s a little tradition called ‘alimony.’ I’m here to collect.”

“Fowtunatewy, Woxy, we awe in Wuwitania and siwwy ideas wike “awimony” awe simpwy not done hewe.”

“Yeah, well you still made me a promise and how to you think the King would feel about the loss of family honor that comes from breaking your word.

Lemkocz had sneaked in and decided to go into his usual toady routine, “I think the King’s intervention is unlikely. He is hardly aware of what day it is. Yesterday, he mistook the Prime Minister for bowl of oatmeal.”

“Weww, that weawwy is an honest mistake. The Pwime Ministew is vewy easy to mistake for a boww of powwidge. Huhuuuuu.”

I interrupted their levity, “Listen Buster, what if I tell him about how you tried to get me killed with that cockamamie plan to sneak me over the border.

“Now you awe getting hystewical, Woxy. I twied my best to get you hewe safewy. Why I sent one of my best agents to assist you.”

At this point, Zoya lept into his lap and began smothering him with kisses and endearments, “Oh, dearest, dear heart, dearest Snooki Pookie Umkins. How I missed you so. Aren’t you proud of the good job I did on my mission?”

With great difficulty he disengaged himself from the clinging ballerina, sliding her over into Lemkocz’s hands who hustled her out of the office.

“When’s the wedding, Bronislavushka?” She called over the flunky’s shoulder which connected directly to his head.

Broni’s frustration with all these interruptions had brought him very close to the edge now, his face bright red and the corner of his upper lip beginning to twitch so much that it threatened to give him a black eye.

Surprisingly, it was Skinny Shmengy who broke the tension.

“Hey Mister, will you stamp ticket?”


“I get ticket from postman says me and brother Yosh must report to Army or be shot. You in Army, right? You can stamp our ticket say we report like we supposed to, right?”

“Chicago, bang bang?”

Broni looked at them with such open contempt that I actually felt sorry for the annoying brothers.

“Defenistwate these mowons!” he called to his guards, ordering them to conduct the traditional Ruritania form of summary execution by throwing the victim out a window.

“But Your Royal highness, we’re on the first floor.”

Deflated, he sighed and said, “I know. But do it for me for the satisfaction of the tinkwing sound.”

So several of the guard came and tossed Skinny Shmengy through the large window behind Broni’s desk. It was an impressive throw; Skinny Shmengy skipped about three times across the lawn before being stopped abruptly by the garden wall.

As if to reassure us of the well-nigh indestructibility of Leutonian musicians, he called out, “Hey Prince, how you get grass so soft and even, it like warm, fleecy blanket.”

Skinny’s meditations on the lawn care were interrupted when his brother was propelled through the window after him. Or at least partially propelled, for the fat man got about half way through the broken window when he became firmly lodge in the building’s superstructure. A whole platoon of Walloons failed to propel him one way or another out of the wall. Eventually, several tanks from a light armored brigade were needed to pull him out.

Before all that, Lemkocz returned with a look more sour than usual on his face.

“Your Royal Highness, I fear I must report…”

“Spit it out, Wemkocz. I don’t have time to pussy-foot around.”

“You have a cat, too?” called out Skinny Shmengy from the garden.

“Shut up!”

“Well, Highness, it seems there were reporters at the King’s morning audience. “


“Foreign reporters.“


“One’s you haven’t bribed.”

“Oh. What did the King say?”

“They asked him about the assassination attempt on Marshal Rhododendron.”

“Good Woord, what did he say?”

“He said, and I quote ‘Whododendwon? Isn’t that a puwpwe fwowew? I hate puwpwe fwowews. Especially whododendwons. I didn’t twy to kill the evil weed, but I would wove to meet the ones who did, you just can’t find a good weed-kiwwer when you need one!’”

Broni seemed to shrink into his chair, “And thewe’s no chance the wepowtews figuwed out the King was talking about gawdening?”

“No, Highness, they thought it was an apt analogy for the current political crisis.”

Broni buried his head in his hands and he began shaking all over. It was wonderful. He suddenly stopped and spoke to Lemkocz without looking up

“Wemkocz, Woxy has a smug gwin on hew face doesn’t she?”

“Yes Highness.”

“I thought so.” He turned to me and shot a look of intense hatred at me. “I don’t know why you awe feewing so satisfied. Because of youw wittwe adventuwe, waw is almost guawanteed, a waw that will be a disastew for this countwy.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love Ruritania and especially its people…”

“Hey Prince, if there’s anybody you want me and Yosh to shoot for you, just let us know?”

“Shut up!”

“Well, I love MOST of the people. But I don’t think I have anything to personally worry about. I am a citizen of a neutral power.”

“You fowget, Woxy, you stiww have Wuwitanian citizenship and a connection to the Woyal Famiwy so you awe in this thing up to youw pwetty wittwe neck!”

“Well, Highness, perhaps some deal could be made with Graustark, some individuals could be sacrificed for the better good,” Lemkocz suggested.

“We could shoot them if you want,” echoed in from the garden.

“SHUT UP! You’we the fiwst ones who’we going to be sacwificed.

Von Schnitzel finally interrupted, “Don’t be too hasty, Your Highness. Appeasement has not worked to dissuade the Nazis so far. Perhaps, if you had a weapon of enormous power, one that would ensure your victory.”

“You awe the movie makew, yes? What kind of faiwy tawe awe you making up now?”

“Well, Your Highness, the Professor here has evidence that the Germans are desperately searching for an artifact of enormous power; one so powerful that they were willing to sacrifice one of their zeppelins and some of their most elite troops to find it. One that is in your possession already!”

Von Schnitzel prodded Wagsie into producing Dr Greun’s notebook. The Professor then went into a lengthy discussion of an ancient tribe, the Kurgans, who appeared out of the depths of Asia over 4000 years ago, building strange earthen mounds throughout the Ukraine and into the Balkans, into Ruritania. Little was known about them save that they worshipped strange, unknown gods with terrible blood sacrifices. At some point, these beliefs led to their destruction, having tampered with Things That Man Was Not Meant to Know. But it was clear that an artifact from the Kurgans was part of the Royal Regalia of Ruritania from the time of the nation’s origins in the dim past. It was taken by the Turks when they first conquered Ruritania in the Middle Ages and was returned to the possession of the Ruritanians by King Vlad when he liberated the nation. It was a chalice of simple design made from an unknown metal.

“But thewe is no chawice in the Woyaw Wegawia?”

Wagsie showed him the sketches in the notebook and Broni broke into a paroxysm of laughter. While trying to catch his breath, he showed the notebook to Lemkocz who looked at it with bewildered amusement.

“Why that’s the Golden Chamberpot of Saint Blekva! I hardly think this is some great mystical item. The Kings of Ruritania have been relieving themselves in it as part of the coronation ceremony for nearly three hundred years. A symbol of contempt for evil, that sort of thing.”

We tried to persuade them, at least, to investigate it but Broni was hardly convinced. Finally, Lemkocz suggested, “Highness, perhaps the Germans do have some interest in this item. Hitler is hardly a rational man. Perhaps we could use this item in our negotiations. The Regalia are in the Royal Museum in Zenda. Since Zenda is close to the Graustark border, we could take a look at it while at the same time arranging a surrender of undesirable persons that might resolve the present crisis.

“I wike youw thinking, Wemkocz. Two biwds with one stone, eh. Awwight evewone, we awe going on a wittwe twain wide.”

Once the tanks got Fat Shmengy out of the wall, we were taken, under heavy guard, to the train station. For an instant, I almost felt a degree of assurance for there was the big armored train Shmigly and puppyfaced Andrei on the siding, striding back and forth. He practically flung himself in front of Broni as we arrived.

“Your Royal Highness, I must protest your actions! How dare you imprison Miss Smothers, who is so innocent and beautiful and lovely and simply wonderful ..”

Broni looked slyly at me, “So found youwsewf a wittwe souveniw, eh Woxy?”

Then he turned on poor Puppyface, shouting “Wieutenant, you wiww shut youw mouth and obey owdews. Get this twain weady to twavew, IMMEDIATEWY!”

“I will, Your Royal Highness but not before I speak my mind. We Milnas are poor but we are a proud family, an old family. We came here as hussars with King Vlad. We may be poor but we are proud. Proud and poor. But not poor in our pride. And proud of our proverty….

“Wieutenant, can you give me the Weadew’s Digest vewsion of this?”

“Yes, I accuse you, Bronislav Radziwill of the dishonorable treatment of a lady and so I challenge you.” And here, the young dear actually struck Broni across the cheek with his gloves. It was absolutely wonderfully romantic! Of course, that only lasted for a moment for I realized poor Puppyface was doomed. If Broni didn’t just execute him, he would shoot him dead. You see Broni had been on the Ruritanian Olympic Team in ’36 for pistol-shooting and had scored a Bronze medal. Plus, he would probably make sure Andrei’s gun wasn’t loaded.

Broni fixed a steely eye on him. “Awwight, Wieutenant, enough funny stuff. Get this twain moving and when once we awwive in Zenda, considew youwsewf undew awwest.”

Puppyface saluted Broni and then turned and saluted me. “It was worth it… for you Roxy.” Then he turned and looked at Broni, “Until we meet on the Field of Honor, Sir!”

Wow, I thought. He really is an idiot.

Excerpt from The Sun’s Also Shiny, The Great American Novel, by Ernest Hummingbird:

The train rolled quickly through the heat of that summer day. A breeze fanned the Writer’s cheek as he jotted down his thoughts on all that had transpired. The notes were perfect.

As the miles rolled by, he realized that he hadn’t had a drink in some time. So he got up and went back to the command car, where the Prince and his entourage were. The guards knew not to stop him.

He went into the command car and found the Prince’s private supply. The writer began mixing drinks. The drinks were perfect.

The Prince and his aid were making plans. It was clear they didn’t believe the story about the chalice or the chamberpot or whatever it was. The only thing the writer knew was that if he ever got hold of the thing, he probably shouldn’t mix drinks in it.

The Prince planned on giving in to the fascists. He would surrender the musicians, harmless fools that they were. He would blame it all on the Actress, his ex-wife, claiming it was all a plan to discredit him. He would give them the artifact as a sweetener.

The Writer interjected, “How perfectly clever and ruthless. But your plan isn’t perfect.”

“Who awe you… say this dwink is wondewful.”

“It’s a Doble Daquiri. My favorite bartender in Havana, Constantio Ribaldiquin invented it just for me. I think the hint of maraschino liqueur is what gives it its unique fruity taste.”

“It is wondewful. But who awe you?”

“Just a simple traveler on the byways of life, and an occasional scribbler, Ernest Hummingbird is the name.”

“Why, I wead youw book, the one about the owd man and the big fish.”

“That’s right The Old Man and the Big Fish. I won the Pulitzer for that one.”

“But why do say my pwan isn’t pewfect?”

“What if they are right, that the artifact does have power? The Nazis won’t stop, they’ll just test their new weapon on your country. Care for another drink?”
The Prince slipped into silence, contemplating the Writer’s words. The Writer handed him a new drink. It was perfect.

“This one I call the Million Dollar Cocktail. It was first made by Ngiam Tong Boon in a small bar near Singapore. It was there I met her, her dark eyes shimmering with the excitement of our meeting. Either that or from all the drinks I had given her.“

“How do you do that? I mean you tuwn evewy wittwe discwiption into something that sounds so pwofound?”

“It’s easy, that’s how life is for me. I simply experience what I write and write about what I experience. We’re in one of my novels now.”

“Weawwy? How does that wowk?”

“Well, it’s simple actually. We sit here and speak of art and the coming war, all the while the train takes us inexorably towards our destiny. Soon the train begins to slow, the clouds of steam billowing in the humid air and the wheels squealing like Tura the Actor.”

The train had halted near a siding. They had arrived in Zenda.
General Hulka was waiting for the Prince. The General commanded the main army guarding the border with Graustark. Although nearly fifty, the General had a boyishness about him that came from all his years as a cavalryman. He was not deferential to the Prince.

“Radziwill, what’s this I hear about you relieving young Milna. He’s one my best officers and one of the few that knows things about machines and such. I want him back! He’s a good boy from a proud family. Proud but poor…

“Spawe me, Genewaw. I’ve heawd aww about his wineage. I wiww weinstate him for the duwation of the cwisis.”

“Good. Then I would be willing to act as your second for the duel after we’ve won against Graustark.”

The Prince did not look pleased at the mention of the duel but changed the subject to the strategy for defending the country in case it came to war, as looked increasingly likely.

“Well, Radziwill, I say hit em hard now! The war’s already begun what with assassinations and zeppelin raids. I can take my cavalry across the border and smash’em before they know what hit ‘em!”

The Writer was curious. “General, how will your cavalry smash the enemy tanks?”

“With our torpedo lances, of course. A big charge of explosives near the front of the lance, rammed home by my brave cavalry and Boom!. Excellent drink, by the way.”

“Wouwd you say that was a pewfect pwan, Mistew Hummingbiwd? Now you see my diwemma. Ouw nation wiww be destwoyed unwess I can avewt this stwuggwe. Sacwifices must be made.”

The Writer said nothing. The Prince’s logic was perfect.

Diary of Zoya Bupkis

August 29, 1939
Dear Diarushka

Well I must say that yesterday took the prize alright! Puppy puke and oatmeal! Sorry to swear like that but I am so angry!!!!

First there was the whole zeppelin and stormtrooper thing, so I didn’t even have time for coffee or to do my make-up that morning. Mr. Bogush didn’t even have any cookies.

Then we just kept driving around and around for hours, when all I wanted to do was see Bronislav.

Then when I finally get to see Bronislav, does he say how proud of me he is for completing the mission? No! He doesn’t even return my kisses or set a date for our wedding or anything. He just has Lemkocz whisk me out while he talks to Roxy! Catnip with hairballs! Sorry about that one too.

It got worse though. They put us back on the train and off we go to Zenda of all places! And do we get to stay in the Hotel Metropol? No! Or the Europska Hotel? No! Not even Mrs. Billyash’s Boarding House. I mean there we are in the oldest, most beautiful city in Ruritania and where does Bronislav put us? He has us locked into the Big Grey Tower in the old Palace.

We were in one big room without any furniture and only four big stained glass windows in the walls and a trap door in the floor which was the only way in or out. There were several unpleasant Walloons guarding the ladder making sure we didn’t leave.

There wasn’t any dinner and there was only a bucket and a blanket when we had to use the W.C. The Shmengys kept talking about how nice it was there. Stupid Leutonians!

I kept sending messages that there must have been a mistake, that I should not be a prisoner, I was Bronislav’s fiancée. The guards all laughed at that for some reason.

We realized that something bad would happen if we didn’t escape. That was when the Professor said that there was enough of a ledge on the outside of the tower for someone to be able to climb down. But that someone had to be small and flexible and know how to balance since the ledge was very small and the tower very high. Roxy immediately said I should go. And I thought how nice that she had such confidence in me!

The Professor pulled out a large diamond ring and quickly cut away some of the glass from the window. I noticed that it was one of Bronislav’’s rings. I also noticed that the Professor was wearing Bronislav’s watch. And necktie. And that he had the little jeweled Easter egg that Bronislav displayed in his office. And a lot of Bronislav’s stationary and his gold pen. And then he pulled out Bronislav’s key ring, the one that had all of Bronislav’s most important keys, like the one to the safe in the National Bank, and the one to the Royal Regalia Display, and … the one to the Big Grey Tower! He told me to climb down and then come back up and unlock the trap door from the other side.

It didn’t seem like a good plan at the time but it was about the only one we had.

So I went out onto the ledge and it was very tiny and I slipped a little first but I did a little ront de jambe and managed to get back onto the side of the building. The others were looking at me anxiously as I climbed down.

About halfway down, I began to think about the past few days and I started thinking bout how cross I was with Bronislav. Why wouldn’t he set the date for the wedding or at least announce our engagement or stop locking me up in prisons? Then I thought about how close I came to getting killed and then I realized that I probably wouldn’t have survived if Hozzenka hadn’t been there to help me and that Bronislav had wanted me to go alone. Wait this was all wrong! Could it be? Did he want to get rid of me?

I began climbing furiously back up the side of the tower to tell the others what I had figured out about Bronislav. They were still there watching me and frantically whispering something to me, probably to be careful. When I finally returned to the top, I shouted, “And I don’t think all those girls really were stenographers!”
Roxy smirked a bit and said, “Lights have been on a while, now it looks like someone finally got home.”

I had no idea what that meant but I poured out my heart to them about how Bronislav had used and betrayed me. All the while, they kept shushing me, probably not wanting me to upset myself so.

Finally, Roxy took me aside and said, “Look, sister, I’ve found the best way to get back at a bum is hurt him where it really counts. With Broni, that’s his pride in how clever he is. Well, now we can show that would-be Machiavelli that a couple of gals are way smarter than he ever was.”

“Who’s this Machiavelli? Is he the man who sells Italian water ices near the Palace?” I asked.

Roxy suddenly got angry and said, “Just climb down the tower and let us out!”
Well the second time around was much easier and I was down on the ground in a few minutes.

Suddenly, there was a guard standing there, pointing his rifle at me. Then he squinted at me and said, “You are one of the prisoner, I recognize you from your picture.” He pulled out a copy of that stupid swimsuit poster. “You belong back in the tower.”

“I know, that’s where I am going.”

“But how did you get out, you should be locked away up there?”

“I know, that’s why I am going back up.”

The guard mustn’t have been very bright for he seemed very confused. So after awhile I did a pas ballone and kicked the guard right in the coup de pied.
Then I went up and there was more confusion with the two guards at the trap door.

So I did a saut de basque and while I was flying over them, I kicked them both in the head. Now I know it’s not very ladylike but I was tired and hungry and angry.
After all the guards were knocked out, I let the others out of the Tower. The Professor and von Schnitzel dressed up in some of the guard’s uniforms and we all marched across the square.

I wasn’t sure exactly what we were doing until Roxy assured me that we were going to get even with Bronislav by stealing the Royal Regalia.

We ran into a Walloon Captain but von Schnitzel got very curt with him and began waiving a stamped envelope about and saying he was a postman and would do terrible things to the Captain’s family if he interfered with “Official State Business.” The Captain got very sheepish and left us alone.

We went into the part of the Grey Palace that was the Museum where a large man, though not as big as Mr. Shmengy the Clarinetist stopped us and asked our business. It seems he was the curator of the Museum.

Von Schnitzel yelled a lot at him too and held up the stamped envelope and said that the Prince had sent us. When the curator doubted us, the Professor pointed out that he had an order signed by the Prince, on his stationary and everything (which was sort of strange because I saw the Professor scribbling on that same piece of paper on the way over). He also showed him that he had the Prince’s keys and ex-wife and girlfriend so of course they were official business.

The curator grew very flustered and apologized for doubting us. Then he turned off the alarms and left us.

We went right to work and opened all the glass cases and took out all of the Royal Regalia, including the Big Puffy Crown and the Silver Throwing Disk but everyone seemed to be very interested in a rather plain old cup.

Then we left when we heard shouting and running and that sort of thing. I am getting quite used to that sound these days.

We ran across the palace grounds and into the streets. A couple of blocks away, there was an old abandoned factory so we went in there to hide.

We could see the Palace and soon, all sorts of autos pulled up and Bronislav got out of one and ran into the Museum. When he came out he looked very cross and was yelling a lot at everyone.

I felt so naughty then. Roxy even slapped me on the back, in a nice sort of way and not like when she had done so as I had begun to climb down the tower. It was wonderful.

The Professor said we should wait a bit before trying to leave. While we were waiting, von Schnitzel asked for a lighter. Professor pulled several out with Bronislav’s initials on them.

The Director waived the lighter inside the old cup and a strange bluish light shown out against the wall. The wall began to smolder from the heat of the beam.

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