Whew! I made it! My Muse, Bubba sent more and more, but that will have to wait for the next chapter. I'll be able to retain it, Bubba. Now back to New York and the twenty-first century. I love you, Daniel. I love my readers. You know what usually happens, so don't be surprised by an update or two. Love ya.
Christmas Day came and we were at the church when the day came. It was interesting how this day evolved. This was a Christian country, yet it was interesting how many pagan traditions had mingled with a religious day. Really, many of the customs and traditions came from all over the area. In Denmark, Jul or Yule had been celebrated a while. The Christmas Tree! That came from Germany…so I was told. It was a tradition to dance around the Juletræet, the Christmas Tree. There was also Julemanden, the Yule Man that came in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and assisted by Julenisser (elves). Sound familiar? Santa Claus was now told to many children in the United States of America and other countries. We tell children in the United States that Santa has been around for hundreds of years…and he has! Over here in the older European countries, not in the United States. It was even outlawed in many parts of the United States. Christmas was against the law!? Yes! There was a great concern about those pagan rituals, so Christmas was illegal. Rotten Puritans.
Anyway, yes, there were pagan rituals here with Christmas! The solstice, kissing under mistletoe…there were so many traditions all crammed together…it was very nice! Yes, again, I was not raised in a typical Christian home. What is a typical Christian home? Am I a Christian? You are what you do. I knew what was said in the Bible and I accepted much of what it says. Was Jesus Christ the son of God? Witnesses that were there tell they thought He was. They claimed they saw miraculous things done by Him. They were there, not one of those priests, rabbis or even a Pope was there. Witnesses’ observations and history make statements and is accepted. Okay. I accept that, too. I, however have deep respect and reverence for what the Creator gave us. Life! I see the world and was taught to appreciate nature by my mother’s family and my father. Dad greeted each day with his smile and deep inhalation of air and gave a big sigh of satisfaction. It could be the middle of blizzard, but he had prepared! He woke up warm and had rested well, so he knew to say thank you. The Creator also gave me the capacity to see where I fit in the world. All the rules about how we were show appreciate, worship, what we eat and even who we love are made by Men, not the Creator. To be honest, I don’t really want that title. All the atrocities committed by men who claim they were Christians telling everybody they do what they do because God directed them to? I won’t deny who Jesus was even once. The apostle Peter denied even denied knowing who Jesus was three times! Never saying anything about believing in Jesus. And it wasn’t just the Catholic Church, though the horrors they did with the Inquisition was horrific! The Pilgrims, Puritans and many other groups claim you showed God how great a Christian you are by following these rules they said to follow! I am reluctant to call myself anything. I’m grateful for a great life and great parents. Actions speaks louder than any title or words. What title goes best then?
Okay, I’ll get down from the pulpit now.
The sleigh dropped Vincent and me off at Aunt Benedikte’s House…I need to stop thinking like that. I was allowed to live here and I shared it with Vincent. It was now home. Vincent and I were having Christmas Lunch again the next day…no, according to Dad’s watch and the calendar; we were having Christmas Lunch later that day. We would see them later.
When Vincent and I went back to the Palace. Some people hear Christmas Lunch and will ask, “So?” No, this was Julefrokost! It was not a meal you ate often. You would get fat! Quickly, there was herring (typically Scandinavian), shrimp, smoked salmon, fried plaice with remoulade, sylte (veal, pork and spices), Julefrokost wasn’t soup and sandwiches lunch. Being invited to party on Lillejuleatfent (Little Christmas Eve) on the 23rd, that told you something about how Denmark felt about you. Denmark saw you as important, but if you came for Julefrokost, that said how the Monarchy felt about you! This time, there were a few dozen.
“These are family and the closest friends of Mom and Dad,” Vincent explained quietly to me.
“Cousin!” A female voice greeted from the side.
Vincent turned and…well, he smiled, sort of, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Cousin.”
She was in her twenties. Her light brown hair was done up on her head. I didn’t really didn’t know a lot about women’s fashion, but what she had on wasn’t cheap. The dress was white, underneath. There was a sheer material over the dress that had a Christmas red that went around the bottom of her dress in drape-arches. The design of the red was in shapes of stars and they rose from the middle of those drapes up to her waist, but thinned out the closer the got to her waist. She had a belt of Christmas red and around her shoulders, revealing a good portion of her skin at her cleavage was a lacy, frilly “bodice” that circled her neck. You also couldn’t miss the small tiara in her hair, of the red jewels around her neck and hanging on her earlobes. Were they real rubies? She had to stand on her tiptoes to kiss Vincent’s cheek. Her lips never touched him. “Es ist schön dich zu sehen.” She looked at me and laughed. “My apologies, that was rude. I just said it was nice to see him.”
“Das ist vollkommen in Ordnung. Ich spreche Deutsch.“ I said and smiled telling her I spoke German.
“Good,” she said as her face fell a little.
Vincent smiled at bit meanly, but waved at her, “This is my cousin Baroness Matilda Hofer von Lobenstein." He smiled at her. “Tilda, this is David Richards, my school mate David Richards. The Ambassador from the United States to Denmark and Norway.” He shrugged, “Soon, all of Scandinavia.” He said proudly and looked at me. “How many languages do you speak now?”
I was embarrassed, but I knew what he was doing. “Several, not including English, Danish and German.”
“The American Cowboy Ambassador,” She nodded.
“This is Aunt Benedikte’s great granddaughter,” Vincent said pointedly.
“Oh,” I nodded. “I see.” And I did. It explained why she dressed like this. She was entitled! She now had a title, but she wanted to remind everyone by dressing to remind people. “Your grandmother had some…very good taste.” I said. “The house I’m living in is quite beautiful.”
Vincent’s cousin was shallow and knew she was born in a noble family. She was entitled by birth.
She smiled at bit looking at someone. “Ich sehe, dass der Apfel nicht zu weit vom Baum fällt.”
“The apple doesn’t fall far…” Vincent asked no one really as he didn’t understand. “What?”
I looked in the direction she was looking and frowned. King Fredrik was speaking with another man who stood pretty close to him. I had never met King Fredrik’s…lover Christian. To call him a boyfriend was so juvenile. Consort? What was I? I understood what Matilda said and didn’t like what it. I didn’t like Matilda. She was vain, petty and too sure of herself because of who she was. Her great, great-grandfather was king of Denmark. Her great grandmother was a princess and married a very wealthy man.
Vincent looked, too. I saw he got it when his face changed and I saw anger which he quickly stopped having been schooled to control emotions as king, or in Vincent’s case a future king. He turned to his cousin and the smile was cold. It was artificial. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. My father is a very good king for Denmark He needs good counsel from someone he trusts. Christian Hansen has been my father’s most trusted advisor for almost three decades. I hope I will be as good as my father when I’m given the reigns of Denmark. When I do, I pray David will be that counsel for me.” He threw is arms out slightly, “Hell, he is already! I made friends with him in school. He’s a graduate from Cambridge University for God’s sake. He is an American, but he is more Danish than many who were born here! King Fredrik and Queen Maregete has made him a part of our family. He’s honest, very smart and I would be a fool not to listen to him. He works hard and has made friends with three monarchs and will no doubt make more. Where do you have you’re degree? What function do you do?” He crossed his arms over his chest and…well, he didn’t glare exactly. A king wouldn’t do that, but his eyes were fixed on her.
Baroness Matilda did something she should never do. She turned her back and walked away without a word.
“Aunt Benedikte was jealous of her brother?” I asked Vincent.
He gave a shrugging nod, “I wouldn’t say jealous, but she was the eldest and first born of King Frederick VII. When her brother Frederick was born, she would never rule.”
I told you. They loved the name Fred.
“So,” I began, looking at his father, “Your father is what, he is the ninth?”
Vincent hurriedly shushed me and covered my mouth with his hands, “Don’t say that so anyone can hear!” Vincent said in loud whisper. “Especially my father! He hates that name! Granddad and Great Granddad mixed as well as oil and water. Great Granddad in the face when he refused to name Dad Fredrik officially.”
I frowned, “So, he isn’t the nineth.”
“No,” Vincent answered.
“The line was broken,” I shrugged. “At least he was named Fred.”
“Yes,” Vincent nodded. “Mom and Dad didn’t put it in my four names.”
Four names was not uncommon with royalty…and in some cultures. I knew them Vincent Albert Gyrth Harrison Henrick. I would hate for his mother calling him out for doing something he shouldn’t when he was younger. They used full names before scolding you. That was always a sign you were in BIG trouble. Everyone knows that. I think it’s in those genes they found in us. “I know it’s usually your grandfathers’ names, but Albert? Is that Cousin Vickie’s husband’s name?”
Vincent smiled, but it was too innocent, so I knew it wasn’t, “Is it?” He pointed at his father. “They refuse to answer the question and just said; that’s his name,”
I nodded like it was now a sudden discovery, “That explains why she’s so nice to you.”
Vincent smirked and sarcastically said, “Oh, ha, ha. You are so funny.” He threw an arm over my shoulder like we were the old pals we were. Chums. He stopped a moment, “Oh, I was expected to laugh.” He laughed. It wasn’t his natural laugh, but…he looked at me, “How was that?”
“Vinnie,” I grinned. “You can be such a pain in the ass, but I love you.” I love our antics. I jutted my head in the direction of Baroness Matilda. “Can I know her story? She’s a Baroness? How old is she?”
“Twenty-two,” Vincent answered. “She married Baron Karl Hofer von Lobenstein at seventeen.” Vincent shook his head, “He died two years later.”
I felt a pain of sorrow hearing that, “Oh, poor girl.”
“Yes,” Vincent nodded, “But he was forty-six. He never married before. No heirs legitimately or illegitimately and drank…a lot.”
“She was his trophy wife?” I asked. “You know, to show others?”
Vincent shrugged, “I don’t know.” He looked at me and held up the finger to make me wait for his point, “I do know she was smart enough to have him sign a contract the day before the wedding. She used her own lawyers and had her own witnesses.”
Vincent nodded, “She was to get full Baronial title, which she got and she was to retain that after his death. There was nearly four decades difference in their ages. It made sense.”
“How did he die?” I asked.
“He came home most night very drunk and fell down a flight of stairs in the house and broke his neck,” Vincent shrugged.
My eyebrows came together, “He managed to get home drunk and falls down a familiar staircase he took every day?” I asked as my left eye narrowed in suspicion. “And where was she?”
Vincent laughed, “At an Opera and then an Opera party. There were a lot of witnesses that said she was there. The Baron was found by a servant.”
“She could have hired someone to do it!”
He shrugged again, “Maybe, but the investigation didn’t find anything to confirm that, so…”
“The contract!” I objected.
Vincent gave another shrugging nod, “It made sense. He wasn’t in the best health and considerably older…”
“Fine, so what is with the attitude?” I asked.
“That is something she always had,” Vincent said. “She was jealous and picked on Annabelle, until Annabelle punched Tilda in the nose when Annabelle was eleven.”
“That made Tilda sixteen,” I said smiling at the image of Annabelle punching a bigger sixteen-year-old teenage girl in the nose. I could see her do it in my head. “Good for Annabelle!”
Vincent looked up and smiled as he father was waving us over, “I think Dad wants to introduce you to Christian.”
“I’d love to meet him,” I said,
As we were walking over I noticed a tall cage of gold about five feet tall and wide. A bird sat on a tree branch of a small tree. I was a little startled. It was a pretty bird. It’s feathers were a lovely brown below his neck, He had a white band that went around his neck like a collar, above the collar was a shiny blue to black, but his eyes had a red patch around each and white feathers went back from above his beak and went down the back of his head as a person might comb his hair back. The red on the eyes were very red. He didn’t seem bothered by all these people as he sat…I thought no! It was a pear tree! A partridge in a pear tree? When we got to King Fredrik I touched him gently and pointed, “Forgive me, Your Majesty and you sir, but that’s a Partridge in a Pear Tree, isn’t it?”
The king chuckled and nodded, “Yes, it is.”
The man with King Fredrik was handsome, about half a foot shorter then King Fredrik and his dark hair was graying in the temples as men do when they age. At least he had hair. I did notice a bald spot growing at the back of his head when he looked at the cage. I looked at him, “I really want to meet you, but…” I pointed at the cage, “I had to know!” The man just laughed. “I mean those other days; two Turtle Doves, three French Hens and four Calling Birds, you will need a bigger cage!”
The king was about to say something, but Vincent interrupted.
“Where’s Mom?” Vincent asked and then went on before King Fredrik could answer. “She always has those long pins and I want to be the one to pop this American bubble myself.” He grinned at me. “This goes with the horns on Vikings helmets. It’s not calling birds, it’s colly birds. C, o, l, l, y. O not an A.”
“What the Hell is a colly bird!?” I asked indignantly.
“It’s a black bird as black as coal,” King Fredrik said smiling.
“Okay,” I said. “I assume this can be proven, but what’s better about a colly bird opposed to a calling bird? Why?” I looked from Vincent to the king and then to Christian Hansen. They were looking at each other and smiling, but no one gave an answer. I nodded, “You gentlemen know what species it is, but not why they are included in the song.” I kept nodding, “I’ll stick with calling birds, thank you, until I find out what makes them so special. You’ll have a dozen birds! You need an aviary! And at least I’ll know my calling birds can sing!” I turned to Vincent, “And as far as the horns and Vikings are concerned, those raiding parties before Vikings were Pre-Vikings. They were Vikings!”
Vincent looked away a second, “I told you…”
Both the king and Christian were laughing. King Fredrik said, “Spare me just a moment and you can go back to this interesting discussion.”
“No, Uncle Fred!” I said happily to him. “Take as many moments you want to.” I held my hand out to Christian. “I want to know him.” I looked at Vincent, “We’ll continue this later.”
The man had eyes I couldn’t determine if they were blue or green. “Christian Hansen,” He said pleasantly. “I have wanted to meet you! Fredrik told me you are a Cowboy and an American Indian.”
I nodded, “I will confirm both statements. I am both. When my mother comes this summer, you’ll understand why.”
“He’s a genius,” King Fredrik boasted. “How many languages do you speak now?”
“I lost count,” I was embarrassed, “But I learn more every day! Like German, I speak German. Standard German. I learned there are three dialects of high, middle and low German.” I shrugged, “I thought surely they don’t think one is for the high class verses the lower class. No, the low dialect is Niederdeutsch because they live in the lower part of Germany near the North Sea and that part between us and them to the Baltic Sea. They have the Alps on the southern part and high German there. They even have this band in the middle for middle German.”
King Fredrik nodded, “We have that here, too. Ours is very bad. A man from west coast of Sweden speak Swedish,” He waved his hand at that, “We’ll lose them, I guarantee that. I won’t fight them about that. They’re Swedish. For Denmark, there are five dialects and a person from this island can’t go to…above Alborg and buy something without confusion…and they’re both speaking Danish!” He looked at Christian and smiled. “Sorry. I got caught up in the topic.”
“You always do,” Christian smiled at King Fredrik. ‘You always come back, too.” He looked at me. “More than half of Denmark speak English. Many of the schools teach English at an early age to students. Some children learn from their parents at home. It’s our second language.”
“Are you sure it’s more like seventy-five percent?” King Fredrik asked. He shook his head, “Anyway, this is my…special friend since we were teenagers. He’s never left my side and I will never leave his.” He lifted Christian’s right hand and pointed to a ring on Christian’s right ring finger. There is was, the Ring of Trust. Just like mine. I held mine up besides his.
“Mine won’t fit on my ring finger,” I admitted. “I don’t want to lose it.”
Christian nodded, “Oh, there’s Jeweler just a few blocks from here. He can do it while you watch.” He leaned in to me and stage whispered. “I wasn’t letting this out of my sight!” He looked up at King Fredrik, “While I was there I got him a ring to claim him.”
King Fredrik grinned and raised his left hand and I saw the wedding ring on his left ring finger, but on his left index finger was gold ring with a large dark stone. Black onyx I think and it was sort of square, but tiny diamonds ran around the edge of the onyx. It was nice ring!
I frowned, “You’re married.” I saw King Fredrik’s startled expression
“No,” Christian said quickly, “We never…”
I held up a hand, “I don’t mean you’ve done the whole church and marriage license thing. I mean, you’ve done the whole commitment thing in your hearts. You both have rings to say you belong to each other and how you feel. You are married.” I looked at Vincent. “Are we married?”
Vincent smiled and nodded, “Yes, we are.”
“This is the Pohogwe saying this,” I began and reached out to touch Christian, “That’s my Tribe as a Shoshone Indian, I am Shoshone. If you are born of a woman who is Shoshone, you are Shoshone. My Tribe is called the Pohogwe, my mother was Pohogwe, her mother was Pohogwe and the Chief Onacona, The White Owl, was her father and born of Kima, The Butterfly, gave birth to my Grandmother Chimalus, Bluebird, is Pohogwe. The Pohogwe celebrate marriages like ours and never consider it wrong or a sin. My Grandmother knew I was two spirited,” I looked at Christian, “You understand two spirited? I’m like you.” And Christian nodded, so I went on, “We hide our affection and like rats, scatter when light comes in, hiding in the dark so we aren’t killed like vermin.”
“The world is getting better,” King Fredrik said. “It meant a death sentence if you were caught in most of the countries including Denmark. The more progressive countries are working to decriminalize homosexual men and women, but men are usually the one considered a criminal. England has taken the automatic death sentence away, but still they face charges now.”
Christian smiled and nodded, “I would love to tell the whole world Fred and I are married or simply committed by love.” He shook his head, “But he is a king! I won’t be the reason he is taken from the throne. He’s a good king.”
I smiled a sad smile of resolution, “Yes, I know Vincent will be too,” I looked up quickly at Uncle Fred, “I’m not rushing you! I swear!” I said. “I want you be around for a long time! Do you understand that?” I watched as King Fredrik laughed and nodded. He knew I did not want him harmed in any way, “Queen Victoria has been Queen of England for what…thirty years or more? You can’t have your cousin show you up.” I found out, some of the things I said to King Fredrik and Queen Maregete would get a person thrown out of the palace by guards or even thrown in jail. But I didn’t always see them as king and queen, they were just people. When they were alone with just family, they acted like a family. Annabelle would kid her brother and Vincent tormented Annabelle. The both annoyed their father and mother, but it was all done in love. Humor as a family strengthened their connection. My comments were to Uncle Fred now and he liked me to treat him as a person. “I just met Vincent’s cousin and your niece, Baroness Matilda. Maybe Annabelle can punch her in the nose again.”
King Fredrik didn’t look surprised, Christian nodded knowingly.
“She said something to you about your relationship with Vincent?” Christian asked, frowning.
“Not directly,” I waggled my hand, “It was more of a veiled innuendo.”
Christian nodded understanding, “She did the same thing with me when she discovered my relationship with Fredrik.”
“What did she do?” I asked very concerned. “Why?”
“Just like with you,” Christian explained, “She never accused me of anything, but used innuendos and what ifs, but it was clear she was fishing for a confession.”
“To have something to have some control over a king,” King Fredrik said sadly.
“But she isn’t a Dane!” I gaped, “Her grandmother or whomever was, but she’s not a citizen of Denmark. Why? For power? She is a relative, but that’s it.”
Christian shrugged, “She’s a manipulator.”
“Inviting her here is the best way to keep an eye on her,” King Fredrik said and looked at Vincent, “She’ll do it with you, but never threaten you,” he looked at me, “But you will be.”
“She has money!” Vincent said in disbelief. “It’s not a blackmail for money.”
“What is she? Baron Hofer von Lobenstein was Prussian,” I said. “What country is her citizenship now?”
“German,” King Fredrik said. “She has a vast estate just outside of Berlin. She wants influence on my ruling when there is a conflict.”
Queen Victoria’s grandchildren did not get along. Everyone on this side of the Atlantic knew that. Russia’s and Germany’s alliance was over, Prussia was dissolved, Germany and Austria were more powerful because of that. There would be a war. It was inevitable. Imagine two boys who squabbled about everything, pushing each other and you knew her someone was going to punch someone sometime soon.
“Germany is backing her?” Vincent asked surprised.
King Fredrik shrugged, “Who knows? Using the familiar connection she has as family, she can get to the Government of Denmark. Me. They will not force me to ally with anyone when they are wrong. They usually are wrong.”
“What can I do?” I asked them both.
“Your situation is different,” King Fredrik smiled.
Christian chuckled, “I told her to show her cards. Take me to court and prove guilt. She saw me go into Fred’s room and stay all night. That can be explained easily. I am his trusted advisor. We could have had an all-night discussion about political matters. Or any topic. It’s no one’s business.” He held up his Ring of Trust. “This means I have access to the king any time. I also have the king’s trust.” He smiled at me. “You are here as an Ambassador for America by the President of the United States. You have backing from the king of Denmark, the king of Norway and the Queen of England!” He shook a finger at me and grinned, “I don’t know of anyone that has that. Do not answer yes or no to her questions or innuendos. Just tell her to prove it.”
I nodded, “Put up or shut up.” I smiled.
“You got it,” King Fredrik nodded.
Queen Maregete came over putting a hand on both King Fredrik’s back and Christian Hansen. She smiled pleasantly to both. She knew who Christian was. Annabelle said it to everyone how she knew about her Dad and Mr. Christian when she was ten. “Gentlemen,” the queen smiled. “They are serving the meal in a few minutes. I don’t want interrupt anything, but if you can conclude it now or promise to go to it again later; that would be best.” She looked at Vincent and me and smiled bigger, “Merry Christmas!” She hugged Vincent, then turned to me, “Merry Christmas!” She hugged me. I was fine with her hugging Vincent first. He was her child and she was supposed to like him best. I was happy she liked me at all. So, I was good!