'"At this stage, our forces had yet to encounter any of those of the enemy, a condition of battle particularly suited to the Vulgarian way of war. Colonel Offte-Ruthe ordered Throte's Horse forwards to cover the centre of the battlefield, whilst the three companies of Pandurs moved swiftly up the right flank towards a small farm. The farm itself seemed to have within its bounds either some sheep, or some very short, very old peasants, bending over. First to reach the farm were the skirmishers thanks to their agility and also the frequency with which the rest of the column seemed to halt to "do up their shoebuckles," buckles which seemed, in any locale remotely in the vicinity of the enemy, to come loose with remarkable frequency. Colonel Offte-Ruthe's second-in-command, one Captain Janke, recounted after the battle his conversation with his light troops as they first espied the contents of the farm's fields. Within it, there were some sheep, but also some other creatures that caused the light troops some puzzlement:
'What do you mean "Are those sheep?'" asked Janke, in reply to a question from a soldier. 'What do you think that they might be?'
'I think that they might be sheep, sir,' replied a Pandur. 'I mean - I'm fairly sure. I don't think that they're horses because we tried riding one and it didn't work.'
'So your definition of a sheep is anything that isn't a horse?'
'It's quite a general definition, sir, but you'd be surprised how often it's right.'
'I certainly would,' replied Janke sighing. He then asked of the soldier: 'You're not acquainted, then, with the Enlightenment and associated principles such as the application of reason?'
'Oh no, sir. I have some acquaintance with lights, obviously, though I try not have them near me when I happen to go courting. But I've certainly never tried raisins.'
'Well,' replied Janke,' and leaving aside your spurious reference to dried fruit; I have some acquaintance with reason, and one of its key principles is the application of evidence. So, if we apply this to our current situation. The first point of evidence is that sheep have four legs, whereas these creatures have two.'
'But we haven't got any currants at all,' said the Pandur, confusedly. 'But then, is that why we have to apply raisins instead?'
'What? No, no, no! Reason. We apply reason. So, if we apply it to ... this situation then the first point of evidence is that sheep have four legs, whereas these creatures only have two.'
'But,' said the Pandur. 'I have two legs.'
'I'm a sheep?'
'Or ... ?'
'Or ... I'm a horse?'
'Could one of your companions ride you?'
'I wouldn't like to say, sir.'
'Very well, a second clue would be that sheep go 'baaaa,' whereas, if I'm not mistaken, these "sheep" are actually making a mysterious quacking sound. Which might mean that ....?'
'These sheep are slippery customers, sir, and know how to throw us off.'
'Or ... ?'
'Or ... these are ... are ... not sheep?'
'So, they're not sheep.'
'Notsheep? Well, I've never encountered Notsheep before.'
'But,' sighed Janke, 'I'm presuming that you've encountered ducks, no?'
'Oh yes,' replied the Pandur. 'Obviously. Everyone knows what a duck is.'
'So ... ?'
'These damnable sheep are pretending to be ducks?'
'It's close enough - take them as well,' added Janke. 'Oh,' he added, seeing a pig. 'And take that ... horse ... as well.'"
Prince Dimitri quaffs contentedly, waiting for the orchestra to cease a particularly vigorous triangle solo. 'I sense another victory in the offing!' he says delightedly.
Loon gestures placatingly. Raising his voice to cover the sound of the triangulist, who is now trying to destroy his instrument by bashing it into the ground, he continues 'We shall soon see, my lord. Let me continue with the report.'
(Above) 'Van Rentall goes on: "The farmyard related antics perpetrated by our Pandurs were interrupted by the sudden arrival of four companies of Wurstburp's Infanterie Regiment No. 1. By "sudden arrival," of course, I mean that their presence had been evident for an hour or so, but that the Pandurs' attention had been focused on watching what they regarded as the miraculous sight of sheep that paddled on water. Still, Colonel Offte-Ruthe nevertheless was able to form a skirmish line behind a nearby hedge. Using the fire from these troops, and the stern threat posed by Throte's horse, the remaining Pandurs began to retreat with their sheep. At this point, the centre column of our forces had arrived upon the battlefield."
Loon interrupts his reading of the report and shows Dimitri one of the woodcuts. 'See, sire, if you look at this woodcut (above), behind Throte's Horse and to the right, one can espy the left-most of the Vulgarian centre column, which consisted of four companies of the regiment Blasco commanded by Prince Bishop Brad von Schnail und Planck and a captain named Heinz Erich von Meyer-Fleischwund.'
The Prince wrinkles his nose. 'And no one recognised him as the actual Prince Bishop Brad von Schnail und Planck?' (Below).
'Apparently not, sir: seemingly it was assumed that he was just another Prince Bishop Brad von Schnail und Planck who, presumably, spent much of his life embroiled in socially awkward situations caused by the remarkable similarity that his name bore to the repellent, and often semi-naked at gatherings, form of Prince Brad, son of Count Ivan.'
'And also, of course,' adds Dimitri, 'the problems of looking exactly like the actual Prince Brad, as well as being, in addition, actually Prince Brad.'
'Well yes, sir. That too,' says Loon, looking searchingly at his feet. 'I suppose so. But as the report indicates. Meyer-Fleischwund did have some suspicions. As the report indicates .....'
'"Noticing the remarkable similarity that his new commander bore to Prince Bishop Brad von Schnail und Planck, the captain asked searchingly: 'Are you Prince Bishop Brad von Schnail und Planck?' to which his commander replied: 'No - I think you'll find I'm taller.' Reassured, the captain set about helping Prince Brad deploy the troops at their disposal. With the arrival of the Wurstburp regular infantry, it seemed expedient to lay out our troops in a blocking position on a low hill. This was soon completed, Prince Brad apparently commenting: 'Excellent! And now, at the opportune moment, I shall order these Vulgarian troops to run away, thus handing victory to Wurstburp.' The captain thought that this was an odd thing to say, but, his eyes streaming from a dose of snuff, it was some time before he was in a position to interrogate the Prince with a perceptive 'Um, that's an odd thing to say.' The Prince, apparently, replied: 'Just joking,' and also 'You know that's not snuff, right? Those are raisins.' At this point, with the enemy beginning gently to probe the front of our position, and the captain probing deeply into his nose for dried fruit, there came from the left of the enemy line the sound of galloping horses "'
'Hmmm,' says Dimitri. 'That's never good ....'