Description: In his search for a favorite family painting, Dudley comes to the home of Herr Sabrewulf, where he has an interesting chat with the eccentric aristocrat.
The mid-afternoon sun shines down upon southern Germany basking the alpine forests of Bavaria in a welcoming glow. The travel made through such woods is likely a pleasant one, atmospherically, while presenting those that look for it glimpses of autumnal blooms and wildlife going about their usual daily business.
The land that falls under the name of Sabrewulf might appear to have a more wild appearance. The woodland has become more grown up with foliage and undergrowth. Wildlife that would stay away from more human-habited lands has begun to encroach and trespass and dwell. In the middle of it all, with but a simple and barely used unpaved road leading to the heart of the land, stands a historic-looking old Bavarian Mansion.
The grounds, thus kept behind no fence or wall, are tended, yet only just barely. The windows are all mostly dark, even graced by the illumination of the overhead sun, and the building looks otherwise forgotten and gloomy. It must be the Sabrewulf Estate, though: the emblem on the front doors is the symbol for the Clan. Each door bears a heavy weighted knocker. To one side is a cord that one can pull for a doorbell -- a literal mechanical system for ringing bells to announce calling -- and while the place might otherwise be grand, even in the light of day, lack of consideration or cleaning makes for a poor first impression.
The place is not falling in or in a state of disrepair, however. No windows are broken. Things simply look forgotten. The road itself leads nearly up to the front door in a cul-de-sac driveway that affords plenty of space for parking where parking does not seem to be available otherwise. No other vehicles are present, but a relatively new addition to the estate nearby is a parking house that does not seem to have had much use at all lately. A Gardener could do wonders for the overall appearance of things. Normally those of nobility possess such employees.
A green SS Jaguar 100 rolls through the woods, headlights on to cut through the dense foliage of its surroundings until reaching the Sabrewulf Estate. The two seater antique roadster is impeccably maintained, and for good reason: it belongs to Dudley, Britain's heavyweight boxing champion, and inheritor of his own estate. Everything he owns is kept in pristine condition out of familial pride, which is also the reason he is currently driving (with boxing gloves on) to the gloomy castle.
The car slowly approaches the Sabrewulf Estate, and Dudley parks in the cul-de-sac driveway, getting out and looking around at the state of things. It was all rather eerie. He checked his hair in the rear view mirror of the car, and making sure he looks presentable, approaches the doors. It was here he hoped to find an heirloom that, among many others, was sold off to various buyers when his family's business tanked and they were reduced to near poverty. Painstakingly, Dudley has been returning the family to fortune, but even with the restoration of their prestige, some items remain lost. Such as a painting by an old English artist that his mother enjoyed.
At the door, he grasps one of the doorknockers and raps it firmly on the doors. He feels it is suitably 'old school' to do so, as they say.
The time between announcing presence at the door and the door being answered certainly allows one a chance to better absorb the scenery. While it is not necessarily the Mansion that Time Forgot, there is still an air about it that is, so noted, eerie indeed. The heavy wooden door eventually opens with a mild protest from its hinges revealing an aging gentleman snappily dressed in a white pressed dress shirt, a double-breasted orange waistcoat with a brown silk-lined back, dark gray pantaloons, black leather laceless shoes, with a gold monocle chain clipped to his lapel and another gold chain attached to a vest buttonhole extending to a small side pocket for a watch. The face that greets the visitor is lined with middle-age, accented by a smile, and framed by mutton-chop styled sideburns with a thick mustache. He does not have the appearance or posture of a butler.
"Ah! Guten Tag Ihnen," greets the man in German saying 'good day to you'. The door opens further. "Herzlich willkommen." There is a beat, then a practiced, "Varm velcome. I assume sat you are Herr Dudley, ja? I am Freiherr Konrad von Sabrewulf, but feel free to call me Konrad." With the introduction is also offered a hand for shaking. His grip, if tested, is firm but not cruel. That hand of his is not the hand of a fighter or a laborer; it is simply the hand of an aging Baron.
"Come in, come in; I trust sat your trip vent vell? Enjoy se sights?" After all, the Alpine peaks are hard to miss. "In a few veeks time se broadleafs explode into beautiful colors amidst se nefer-changing efergreens. Wunderschon." At first he steps to the side with the sweep of an arm to allow his guest entry, but his eyes fall upon the noble steed parked out front. "Mein Gott, a magnificent fehicle!" The tone alludes to a genuine compliment; it is not simply lip-service.
The area beyond the front door, so extended, is the main entryway. What appears to be a coat room is to the side and, beyond that lies the grand foyer and main stairs leading upward. Proper lighting exposes the details of the antique-aged furnishings. Things feel empty despite all of the wonderful decor, but that probably has to do with a lack of staff. Otherwise, the rich ornamentation and interior decoration, although looking to be a page from something centuries old, certainly grants a sense of sincerity of one who would come to possess a prized work of art.
Dudley waits patiently, listening to the sounds of nature; it reminds him of his own home, though the place could use a bigger garden, in his opinion. The doors open and he is greeted by the German noble. He seems to have similar fashion sense as Dudley, which he instantly approves of. "Good day to you as well, Herr Sabrewulf," he replies in his perfectly clipped, Received Pronunciation British accent. He looks down at the hand, then in a swift motion, presses one glove against his chest and pulls his hand out. He grips Sabrewulf's hand and shakes; his grip is firm, and his arms are powerful.
"Yes, the Alpines are quite lovely this time of year. I shan't miss out on seeing the colors of Autumn." He steps into the mansion, pausing when his car is complimented. "Ah yes. Thank you, it is one of my favorites." Not THE favorite, but close. Thoughts of the true missing car enter his mind and causes his brow to furrow briefly. Well, something to dwell on another time. Not here.
Dudley, wearing a green jacket that matches his pants, takes it off and puts it on one of the coat racks, before putting his glove back on. He takes in the foyer and its decor, and an idea of the possessor of his painting starts to form. Well, this wasn't someone who'd throw it in the attic, that was for certain. It makes him feel a little less anxious.
"I can see vhy. It makes a bold assertif statement und sometimes it is best for uhsers to know sat you are one of great taste und are not afraid to show it. You do not need my approfal, but you haf it anyvay, ha ha ha." There is a light squeak from the door before it 'thoomfs' into place with a punctuation from the latch catching. Riding the social levity, Konrad slips into the foyer with a gesture toward the hallway leading into the mansion's left wing. "If you vould follow me sis vay, please." Only part of the foyer bears carpeting leading toward the stairs. Otherwise, footsteps will no doubt clap against the design of hard wood and stone tiling. "I vas surprised to hear anysing about se painting. It vas gifen to me as a gift years back by an old acqvaintance and I nefer had anyvhere to put it sat brought out se detail in se texture of se strokes."
The main hallway extending from the foyer is graced with carpeting, however, which greatly dampens the sound of walking which might otherwise echo in its volume of space. "By se vay, if you vould like to freshen up after your trip, ve haf facilities right here," so gestured is a door to the left no doubt containing the WC. "Two doors down more, on se right, opens up into se dining room. Se natural light in sere better offers, I sink, a more fitting reunion, ja?" As before, so the same: it seems Konrad has no staff available right now. Then again, Konrad is an older guy and he clearly has sizable liquid assets. He can afford to be a little eccentric, right?
Dudley's dress shoes clack against the tile as they walk. "Yes, the painting. A bit difficult to track down, this was, despite me combing through the auction records. I am looking forward to seeing it again after so long." He thinks back to what he knows. "Helen Allingham, 1848 to 1926. Famous for her watercolors. My mother enjoyed watercolor painting, so Lady Allingham was one of her favorites. 'The saucer of milk'...it reminded her of her old country home."
He looks towards the washroom, then back down the hall. "Pardon for my asking, Herr Sabrewulf...but are you the only one living in this mansion?"
Konrad's own footsteps, though muffled by the carpeting, fall completely still in turn. "Ha ha, no need to apologize. It is obfious. Se answer is: at se moment, yes." Relaxedly, the older man tucks his thumbs into his waistcoat pockets with a half-turn to regard his guest politely. "My staff und I had a bit of a falling out, you might say. Grandfahsered in vis se change of rulings here in Deutschland, recognition of nobility und se aristocracy is often a matter of confenience. Serefore, vhen a House or Clan stumbles on a matter sat vould be uhservise taken care of in a few veeks, it now stretches into a nightmarish tangle of bureaucracy und taxes. I haf potential staff I am villing to hire, but I cannot do so until se audit is complete."
The Baron removes his right hand from his lower vest and places it over his chest. "I assure you, from se bottom of my heart, sat se estate is under no sreat of sale and se assets serein are perfectly safe. Sere is, ha, no papervork attached to se painting. Vell, sat is, aside from se certificate of ausenticity vhich has been ferified, signed, stamped, all prior to se renewal of insurance on it."
"If sis is somesing sat vorries you, please let me know. I vill be happy to call and have somebody come out."
Dudley pauses in the hallway as Sabrewulf makes his declaration, listening intently to the man's words. "I believe you are a man of your word, Herr Sabrewulf. To be frank, years of dealing with paper trails, bureaucrats and various scoundrels wishing to leech off my family's fortune is wearisome, and I fear I won't be seeing the end of it anytime soon. But you are clearly of fine aristocratic cloth, and so I can say no papers will be necessary. You said that the piece was in the dining room, correct?"
"Yes, but of course." The man clasps his hands together before himself before turning to once again gesture, "Two doors down from here, on se right. Se first door on se right is se kitchen." Konrad turns back and gives a short bow of his head. "By all means, take your time, relax and freshen if you vould like. I shall go prepare sings." He starts to turn away again, then stops suddenly. "Oh, by se vay, do you prefer coffee, tea, vine, or beer, und vhich style? Und how do you take it?"
"Tea, please," Dudley promptly answers. "Black tea if you have it." Sabrewulf was certainly accomodating, which he admired. Not like these new money types without any shred of manners or etiquette. "With milk, please, but no sugar. Unless you have Stevia." The boxer then makes his way to the dining room, stepping in to finally see the piece he came for. He pauses, looking on the gentle watercolored 'The saucer of milk', depicting two English ladies at the doorway of a country cottage, serving milk in a saucer to a black cat. Dudley sighs, memories of home flooding back.
The dining room, a room easily able to seat enough for a feast, has a section of the table hosting a wide variety of things each displayed and covered with domes of clear glass. There is a platter of various small sandwiches: butter and cucumber, ham and mustard, roast beef, cheese and pickle, and tuna. Scones that are plain, with fruit and cream, or with cheese. Also amongst this selection of goods is a plate with iced buns, a stand bearing a marbled coffee cake, and another stand bearing a lemon tart. Notable and obvious is the fact that none of those dishes are German; they are all traditional selections for British afternoon tea: An activity that would likely happen around the current time, albeit a little early. Certainly the situation is not lost upon the guest: A man of an Old World Germany family offering accommodations for tea to such an esteemed guest from a very differing history in familial ties.
Aside from the obvious showing, the details of the dining room, much like the foyer, has an atmosphere to it that speaks much of the history of the building and those whom have walked within its walls. Unlike the appearance of the outside of the mansion contrasting against the wild wilderness around the grounds, the inside may not feel nearly as eerie. However, it may exude a sense of loneliness indoors almost as if haunted by a very sad presence. Bereft of much use, the ornate chairs sit tall and well padded. Plates are set for use, along with utensils required for cutting, slicing, and eating. And the painting: it sits on a stand on the far side of the room beyond the table, nearest the windows, and requires unveiling of a protective sheet to see it fully. The angle of light streaming through the tall windows from a sun high in the sky provides a bright yet soft spotlight to bring out the features distinctly without risk of direct light falling upon it for any extended period of time.
Konrad von Sabrewulf leads the way, allows his guest the comfort of freedom from his hosting, and steps away from the dining room, through a door, into the kitchen in order to prepare tea. "Make yourself at home." As such a task will take a few minutes to properly do so, this allows Dudley time to take in the settings both of the present and of the past at his own leisure.
Dudley stares at the spread of food laid out for him. "You certainly spare no expense for guests!" he remarks. He realizes, then, that Sabrewulf must not receive guests quite so often...he puts his thought in the back of his mind as he delicately takes a small plate for a scone - despite the fact he's wearing boxing gloves, he manages to do all this without even spilling a crumb. He takes a seat facing the painting, quietly partaking of the scone while admiring the painting. Still, the feeling of something forlorn throughout the room, and indeed the mansion as a whole, persists. It is a bit disconcerting, to Dudley. He at least has his trusted butler, Mr. Gotch, and a small retinue of maids and butlers under Mr. Gotch's command. But to live like this? Dudley can't fathom it. He would go mad.
Making tea, of course, is not purely a British custom. Konrad may not often use his wealth of knowledge of etiquette in entertaining guests, especially with tasks that would otherwise fall to others to complete in his stead, there are some things that are remarkably easy to accomplish with little effort.
As such, a teapot is prepared, water is put on to boil on the gas range, and a tin of dried loose leaf black tea is pulled from the adjoining pantry. Part of the heated water is used to warm the teapot swirled about within it before being dumped away into the sink. A measured amount of leaves are placed into the pot which possesses a strainer leading into the spout. Just enough time is spent to allow the boiled water to drop just below boiling point by a few degrees before it is added to the pot with leaves. The pot, in turn, is placed upon a tray along with two teacups, each upon a saucer, and each having its own teaspoon.
From the refrigerator, a surprisingly new model to contrast with the old-fashioned appearance of most of the rest of the mansion's rooms (the kitchen actually has a number of modern conveniences, because why wouldn't it?), a container is removed. It is not milk, but cream, so hopefully it won't be too heavy for his guest's desires. A measure of it is poured into a cream boat. This is also placed upon the tray. He also includes a small bowl with sugar cubes; although Dudley does not care for any, Konrad will likely use some himself but without the cream.
When the Baron reappears in the dining room it is with a tea tray in hand. "My apologies for se vait. No milk, I'm afraid, but I haf cream. Hopefully sat vill suit your palate?" It doesn't take much keenness of observation to detect precisely what Dudley has, of course: it's a very different kind of lifestyle. Surely the man could have a third party caretaker and instead live in a smaller house during the alleged bureaucratic proceedings, but there's something to be said for those stubborn and set in their ways. When you've lived your entire life in one house, even if it's a really large house, it's hard to simply move on...even for a short while.
The tray is placed upon the table and the tea-things are separated and placed in order nearest the spread. There is no obligation, but it's nice to have things available. As the tea needs a short while longer to steep properly, he does not pour any just yet. Instead, Konrad's eyes turn to Dudley and the painting. "It really does mean a lot to you, se painting, doesn't it? I suppose sat answers se question of vhy I could not find a proper place for it here -- and not for lack of trying! I must haf tried at least six places." All by himself, no doubt. He shrugs. "It's good vhen sings sat do not belong find a place und purpose, ja?"
"Cream is fine," Dudley replies. Though it is not spoken, Dudley is all to familiar with the difficulty of letting go. It is what drove him to train harder to box to ensure his family legacy was salvaged. He takes short, measured bites of his scone using a fork properly, gripped in his glove. While they wait for the tea to steep, they converse. "Quite right, old boy," he states. "It is not so much the having of the item, as it is...bringing it home. Ensuring all things are as they should be. I am not a materialist per se, but there are some things whose worth extends beyond mere material value. Someone else might overlook this painting for your, let's say, Rembrandts or your Van Goghs or other big name artists. But to myself, they do not compare to this painting, not even close."
"Naturlich," agrees von Sabrewulf as he walks over to gaze upon the watercolor image, taking a moment to slip his monocle into place, then loosely clasps one hand around the other wrist behind his back. With an appraising eye, the detail is viewed while thoughts turn within his head. "Ultimately, we only haf ourselfs und our identities, our goals based upon our histories, und our memories se only beliefable record of vhat ve haf experienced. Sometimes ve must consider mofing on, leafing behind vhat ve know, sat vhich is most comfortable to us, in order to become better or to better learn more about who ve are. Howefer, I am a firm beliefer sat you must alvays stand by who you are und defend your motifes -- efen against yourself -- in order to stay true, stay firm, and stay whole. If ve efer lose sight of who ve are, no matter how impossible it may seem to hold onto vhat ve are, sen vhat ve become...is a fictim. Fictimized only by our own lack of villpower."
"Are you villing to temper se steel of your wit vis your own blood visout compromise und visout cruelty?" Konrad inclines his head slightly while turning his gaze to peer sidelong over at his guest. The soft indirect sunlight offers a glow to the gold rim of the monocle resting before his right eye.
Dudley sits and silently listens to Sabrewulf's words, gazing at the painting, then out the nearest window of the dining room, the light shining across his chiseled features. "Good fellow," he says. "When I was growing up...everyone told me I was too small to be a boxer. Even my father, himself a prizefighter, wanted me to find other pursuits. But I did not give up my dream: I knew I wanted to be a fighter. So I trained, and trained, even when it seemed like I would never compete. I made up for my lack of size by focusing on speed, and skill, over raw power. Through my own blood, sweat and tears, I made my dream a reality."
He pauses. "So...yes, I am quite willing."
A bare double-nod is given at hearing this response. "Good. Sehr gut." Baron Sabrewulf turns his face back to admire the painting. "In sis I can only be a serfing maid for you. Vherefer you roam, sere are hardships und tests of character und fortitude; many sings sat vould happily tear you down, make you compromise yourself und your goals for se sake of being easier. But, yet, sere are moments sat defy all expectation. Instead of hafing a boot tossed at you, you might find a saucer of milk as a gift vis no obligation in turn."
Konrad leans forward a bit and studies. "Mm, I vish I could get my roses to grow like sat," he comments. Abruptly, the German man takes a step back, monocle dropping away, while loosing his manual grasp at the small of his back and walks back over to pour some tea. As the black tea falls into one cup, the man clarifies, "Only, in sis case, I mean more san se dairy for your tea, ja?" He then pours the second cup for himself, puts the pot down, drops a single cube of sugar into the drink and lightly stirs until dissolved. He then takes a sip before putting it aside.
"Sat is settled, sen! Please, enjoy se food as you vill, relax, and I vill go and fetch se box for packing." Wait, no negotiation of sale? Konrad casually turns to wander toward the door leading out to the hallway.
Dudley finds this monologue all very curious, but he is invigorated nonetheless by the man's words of encouragement, so eloquently put. "Ah...hear hear," he agrees. Then Sabrewulf mentions roses. "If I might interject, I grow roses on my own estate. I can give you some guidance if you wish, on what fertilizers or seeds to purchase - the ones that have given me success, at least."
Dudley gently takes the cream boat and pours a little into his cup, over a stirring spoon, then blends it with the tea, and finally takes the cup and saucer up and sips. He manages to do all this with his gloves still on, not even dropped spilled. "Ah...that is refreshing." Then his host mentions boxing it up. "Already? Are we to not discuss price? I've brought my checkbook..." He raises an eyebrow.
The middle-aged fellow pauses at the door, one hand upon it, while tucking the other behind his back as he turns to look to his guest. Something about the lighting, his posture, his style of dress, and his solemn attitude might make him seem a bit more aged, and a bit more tired, than usual. He inhales deeply, slowly, holds the breath a few seconds before exhaling.
"Se painting vas a gift to me. I paid not a coin for it." Although, technically, he has paid to insure it. "But...I understand. It is going to make sings more neat for bose of us vis paperwork if sere is, at se fery least, a token amount paid." Again, sadly, this is a matter for the transferal of items of higher worth than normal. Red tape. "I vill accept four Euros for se effort of securing it, mofing it, retriefing packing materials for it, und securing it once more."
This might seem absurd, but it's a technicality. "Clearly I intend to part vis it as a gift. I don't know you und anysing you say to me could be a lie. You may not efen be who you say you are. But sat painting, try as I might, has been impossible to respectfully place here in my home. As it vas a gift, I do not feel at ease selling it. But, if it can find a proper home or purpose vis you, sen let its falue be an infestment made on my behalf to help restore what you haf lost in se hope sat your professed personal integrity is as uncompromisable and unbreakable as you say it is. Verstehst du?" While German, the last words spoken are said in a way that helps define what they mean through tone as he asks if his point is understood, albeit said rhetorically.
"Shall I go and get se box, or shall ve continue price negotiations?"
Dudley sits holding his teacup, the steam still rising off it and wafting into the air. He notices the man's posture, and is ever more curious as to this mysterious lord. "...I accept your terms," he finally says, reaching into his pocket to fish out some euros, once he sets the tea down. "I am grateful for your belief in my integrity, sir, and I assure you this painting will find an excellent home. Thank you, also, for your hospitality. You are clearly a man of strong character, and a philosophical one at that!" He sets the money on the table.
Baron Konrad von Sabrewulf smiles at this. "Consider sis a celebration, sen," he says regarding the things put out for tea. "I vill go and get se vooden box sat it came in vhen delifered to me. It should be easy enough to do. After it is secured, you do not haf to depart so soon if you vish to remain a time longer. I vould not mind listening to any tales you haf to share regarding your journey such as has brought you here, or perhaps...regarding your bouts? Ha ha, I only haf a fery basic understanding of such sport, so it should be easy to impress me."
Turning to the door and opening it, Konrad pauses in the doorway. "Also, since se sale should be trackable, if you do not vish to use a check I vill be happy to stop by my office and write a proper receipt on certified stationery. In se meanvhile, might I suggest a slice of se lemon tart?"
Out steps the Freiherr into the hallway before shutting the door behind himself.
Log created on 20:22:10 11/16/2018 by Dudley, and last modified on 01:59:37 11/17/2018.