"As the years march inexorably forward, and the frailty of the body weighs upon mere mortals as does a stout anchor restrain a great ship of the line in the strongest gale, what greater pleasure can advancing years hold than enjoying a bottle of fine claret, a game of chance with with elegant and witty company, and the sun shining warmly down upon our cherished coterie as we take our ease in the chateau gardens, accompanied by the gentle sounds of the mighty Rhine as it flows by the splendid lands of St. Vignobles?
Such was the contentment that I felt this warm and languid afternoon, that I am again tempted to take up the quill and, should it be the will of the Almighty, continue my account of those tumultuous yet glorious days. Days that saw our beloved monarch in his youth, ably assisted at the helm of state and war by such celebrated luminaries as the M. de Saxe. And, if I may say it, by a host of loyal subjects such as myself, eager and willing to give all for the Duty and Honour of France.
Amongst my cherished guests this day was that most worthy gentleman, M'Lord Henry Fetlock-Nosebridle, Lord Withers. Always fond of a generous meal and fine wine- and a daunting opponent at vingt-et-un- he is currently given to some degree of stoutness and is afflicted with gout. Yet in his youth he had the physick of an Apollo, and was one of the most celebrated horsemen in Europe.
While fate ordained that we were to serve our respective masters on opposite sides of the bloody meadows of war, he always behaved with great courage and with the honour and dignity due to a man of high station. We have always remained firm friends, despite having crossed swords on a number of occassions in the battles that ebbed and flowed over the unfortunate Flanders plain.
Having paid me the felicitations due to my astute choice of wine with which to accompany our dish of braised pheasant and aubergines, he happened to remark on the fine quality of the porcelain from which we were dining, and enquired as to its provenance.
"Ah," said I; "For that we have to thank my old rival and implacable foe; a man who coveted the fertile lands of St. Vignobles relentlessly, a ruthless and determined fellow who gave me reason for much apprehension concerning the future and security of my house. Of course, I refer to none other than Hertog Karel-Willem van Tippelkranken, the Stadtholder of Nassau-Knijperbrug."
My old companion and I settled into our armchairs, and I called for brandies and clay pipes as I began to relate my tale..."