Foreign Minister Blackridge found the temperatures in the Sea-Landian capital of Xi oppressive. The architecture of the ancient city was impressive, and the bright red tiled roofs alien to him, he having been raised surrounded by thatch or grey slate. The official Xi military escort brought him to a blue tiled building from which flew the Purple Rose banner of his own kingdom.
After a few moments of pleasantries with the Xi official who had met him at the port, he exited the sedan chair and approached the Embassy. As he mounted the steps, two uniformed Lancers snapped to attention, and the ambassador, Sir Cuthbert came to greet him.
They made their way to the ambassador’s office, where cold drinks were already waiting, and a servant operated a fan by means of a pulley system.
“Sir, Cuthbert,” the minister began. “I have travelled all this way because the king wants your honest appraisal of the Far-landian claims of neutrality.”
Cuthbert being sure to have his back turned to the pig-tailed fan operator held a finger to his lips and said, “The Xi are a truly amazing and upright people. Their word is as good as gold, My Lord.”
With that he picked up his glass and dropped two pieces of ice into it. “You look tired and well – over-heated, My Lord. Perhaps we should sit in the cool breeze of the garden?”
Blackridge was in no mood to get up and move about again, but he noticed the slight wink the ambassador gave him as he handed him a drink.
“Very well,” the senior official said, and he followed Cuthbert through an arched doorway into a well- tended garden.
They passed several well shaded benches, much to the Foreign Minister’s annoyance, and came to a large pool into which plunged a waterfall which tumbled over an artificial cliff. Sir Cuthbert, sat on a ledge at the edge of the pool and motioned to a large rock which was next to him. Irritably, the minister sat.
“What is the meaning of all this?” he demanded.
Leaning in towards the minister, Sir Cuthbert said in a voice barely audible over the waterfall, “Sorry My Lord, but the Xi have the embassy building riddled with passageways and peep-holes. The servants, though vetted by us, are nonetheless Far-landians, and I was honest in the appraisal that their word is as good as gold, until someone offers them platinum.”
“Ah, I see,” Lord Blackridge said.
“We have found that the only place we can securely speak candidly is here next to the falls. There are no tunnels, and the waters, as you can see, stop our words from carrying. It is what we like to call, ‘The Secrets Garden.”
(454 Words, 26 minutes)