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For All Nails #63: How Many Germans Does It Take...

Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland, Outer German Empire
25 June 1974

" change an Edison light?" asked Frederick William Augustus
Hohenzollern, King of the Poles.  He was sitting in his bedchambers in the
Belvedere Palace, talking on the telephone.

"I have no idea," said his cousin William Frederick Karl Ferdinand
Hohenzollern, King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany.  He was, Frederick
knew, staying at his hunting lodge in Silesia.

"Two," Frederick answered.  "One to put in the new light, and one to shoot
the old light for dereliction of duty."

"I fail to see why two men would be required," said William with a touch of
puzzlement.  "Surely the same man could replace the new light and then shoot
the old one."

Rolling his eyes, Frederick said, "A very sensible point, Villi.  I must
remember to mention that to Herr Zielinski."

"Ach, Freddi, you've been spending too much time with that Zielinski fellow
lately," warned William.  "He's a bad influence."

"He /is/ my Chancellor, after all," Frederick pointed out.

"I don't see that that has anything to do with anything," said William.
"After all, Herr Markstein has been my Chancellor for twelve years now, and
you don't see me having tea with him every week.  As far as I'm concerned,
opening the Imperial Diet once a year is enough of an ordeal.  Frankly, the
man frightens me."

"Poland isn't quite the same as the Inner Empire," Frederick explained.  "I
have to take a much more active role in the government.  Besides, the people
here look up to me.  It reassures them to know that I take such an interest
in the country's affairs."

"Ha!" William barked.  "I remember when you used to complain all the time
about how stubborn the Poles were."  He added with customary lack of tact,
"It's all because those Ukrainians tried to kill you, you know. [1] The Poles
just decided they hated the Ukrainians more than they hated you."

"I'll admit, I was very touched by all the expressions of support I received
afterwards," said Frederick.

"Also," said William, "they all realized how close they had come to having
young Karl [2] ruling over them.  I'm sure that gave them pause to reflect."

"Karl's a good lad," Frederick said uneasily.  "He just ran into a few bad
patches, is all."

"Ha!" William barked again.  "And now that you're the apple of every Pole's
eye, you don't want to do anything to upset them.  Is it true what I've
heard?  Do you intend to let them start running multiple candidates for their

"Sejm," Frederick corrected his cousin.  "And what's wrong with that?  That's
the way they do it in the Inner Empire."

"Poland isn't quite the same as the Inner Empire, is it Freddi?  And you can
bet your last Reichsmark that Herr Markstein will have something to say about

"As a matter of fact," said Frederick, "I'll be coming to Berlin to meet with
Herr Markstein on Friday.  I intend to discuss the matter fully with him at
that time."

"Ach, then you have my deepest sympathy, Freddi.  Perhaps I'll drive up to
Berlin to help you recover afterwards."

"I'm not afraid of Herr Markstein," Frederick insisted.

"You will be," said William gleefully.  "You will be."


[1] See FAN #7: Uneasy Lies the Head.

[2] Crown Prince Karl Augustus Rupert Hohenzollern, Frederick's eldest son.