Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
For All Nails #81a: Youth of the Coronation

Bogotá, Kingdom of New Granada
15 June 1974

Considering that he was about to be crowned King of New Granada, there was
surprisingly little for Don Fernando to bother with.  Colonel Elbittar's
people had done all the planning, and all Fernando really had to do was show
up at the Church of Santa Clara and let the Archbishop of Bogotá put the
crown on his head.

In the meantime, Fernando was relaxing in a courtyard of the Presidential
Palace, seated on the edge of a fountain as he enjoyed the view from the
verdant heights of Cerro de Monserrate.  The Palace was starting to fill up
with all the people who would take part in the procession, and even the
Colonel's highly efficient subordinates were starting to have trouble keeping
order.  Fernando had retreated here to collect himself and mentally prepare
for the impending set of rituals.

His solitude vanished when he heard a voice exclaim in English, "Oh, I'm
sorry, I didn't know there was anyone about."

Standing to his right, about a quarter of the way around the circumference of
the fountain, was a woman his own age, or perhaps slightly older.  She had
dark hair curled into elaborate ringlets, and was dressed in a light blue
gown that matched her eyes perfectly.  Her accent was English rather than the
North American he was familiar with, and as far as he knew the only English
people presently in the Palace were the King and Queen of Great Britain, two
of their children, [1] and a handful of their servants.  Fernando doubted
that the Colonel's people would allow a mere servant to wander unaccompanied
about the Palace, so that left...

"That's all right," Fernando replied in English.  "Would you care to join
me?"

"You're sure it wouldn't be a bother?" said the woman.

"No bother at all," Fernando assured her.  As she seated herself next to him,
he added, "I'm Ferdinand, by the way."

"Sophia," she answered.  "Any idea when this whole do is set to start?"

"The procession is supposed to set out at eleven, so we can reach the church
at noon."

"If it's anything like my father's coronation was, we'll be lucky to set out
by noon," said Sophia with a roll of her eyes.  "And probably not reach the
church until two at the earliest."  Eyeing the courtyard, she added, "It's so
peaceful out here.  Astonishing when you consider what a madhouse it's
becoming back there."  Her ringletted hair bounced as she nodded back towards
the rest of the Palace.

Fernando smiled.  "That's precisely why I'm here.  I imagine relaxation is
going to be hard to come by in the next few hours."

With a sudden giggle, Sophia said, "Well, if it's relaxation you're after,
I've got just the thing."  Reaching into the cleavage of her gown (and
leaving Fernando faintly scandalized thereby), Sophia produced a thin,
handrolled cigarillo and a small box of lucifers.  Striking one of the
lucifers against the stone of the fountain, she quickly had the cigarillo
alight.

Raising an eyebrow, Fernando said, "Isn't marijuana illegal in Britain?"

Sophia was silent for a moment before finally exhaling.  "It is now, yes.
Bloody Nats [2] banned it five years back.  Militaristic prigs.  Would you
like some?  It's jolly good stuff, Dahlgren's Delight from Chiapas."

Marijuana was also illegal in the CNA, though that hadn't kept Fernando's
classmates at the University of New Orleans from making frequent "road trips"
across the border into the USM.  Fernando had experimented, but saw little
point in acquiring an illegal vice when there were so many legal ones
available.  Still, it was legal enough in New Granada, and if there was ever
a time when he needed to relax, now was it.

Accepting the cigarillo from Sophia, Fernando inhaled briefly.  It had been
too long, though, and he began to cough.  Sophia quickly offered him her
handkerchief, and he nodded his thanks.  When he was done, he was momentarily
unsure whether to hand the cloth back.  She waggled her fingers and said,
"Keep it.  I've plenty more back at our rooms.  I'll take the banger, [3]
though."

As Sophia took another drag on her cigarillo, Fernando found himself gazing
at the handkerchief.  It had a lion-and-crown insignia, above the monogrammed
words "confido in fabulositate".  The phrase didn't make a great deal of
sense in Latin, and made no more after he mentally translated it into Spanish
and English.  Faith in stories?

Before he could ask her about it, though, the two of them were joined by a
third person.  "Ah, Serjeant Gomez," Fernando greeted the new arrival in
English.  "Have you met Her Highness, Princess Sophia of Great Britain?"

Fernando was amused to see that Sophia had already disposed of the cigarillo
by some mysterious means and was smiling cheerily at Gomez.  "No, Don
Fernando, I have not," Gomez answered as he frowned at the British princess.

"We were just comparing my coronation with that of her father," Fernando
explained.  Turning back to her, he added, "Did you know that Colonel
Elbittar is actually using your father's coronation as a model for mine?  It
turns out he's quite the Anglophile."

"Speaking of the coronation, sir," Gomez interrupted, "the procession is
beginning to form up.  If you and your guest could just follow me?"

Fernando stood, and offering his arm to Sophia, followed Gomez from the
courtyard.  It was time to go claim his kingdom.

Notes:

[1] The Prince of Wales has remained behind in Great Britain, of course.

[2] The National Renewal Party.

[3] Strictly FANTL usage, origin unknown.