Arcanum 1780: A New World
Tales - Negotiating Terms
Bartholomew Grondheim the Third idly picked at a loose thread on his dress jacket. He found himself, once again, sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a stuffy room, barely big enough to contain the large oblong table, surrounded by ambassadors and diplomats. To his left, the English diplomats sat in their rigid robes, a staggering array of paperwork stacked in front of them, as though they intended to build a wall. To his right, the lone Spanish ambassador sat in a loose, almost informal uniform, his hands resolutely folded in front of him, resting on the table. Everyone present looked to Bartholomew, waiting for the signal that the discussion would begin. Being descended from royalty had some benefits – the deference, the money, the reverence, but the obligations that came with the noble blood were the most onerous. Being one of the few nobles of German lineage had undoubtedly influenced Bartholomew’s selection as one of the King’s diplomatic arbiters. An unfortunate side effect of his perceived neutrality was the requirement that he sacrificed most of his afternoons in these fruitless trade discussions.
He sighed and let his head drop in boredom, which the lead English bureaucrat interpreted as a symbol to further try his patience.
“This is an utter affront to our glorious country, to go through the extensive effort of preparing for and scheduling this trade discussion with the government of Cuba, only to have them sling mud in our faces by sending a mere perfunctory aide to sit at the table! They mean to insult us, of that there can be no doubt! There is simply no use in continuing this charade further. I move that we terminate this meeting immediately.” The man’s nasal voice drove a sharp pain in Bartholomew’s ears, but he smiled inwardly at this sliver of hope. Perhaps he could salvage this afternoon and be able to take his Gertrude for a ride through the meadows.
As he started to open his mouth, he found himself quite rudely interrupted by a stream of what sounded like conciliatory Spanish, followed by slow and deliberate English from the Spanish ambassador.
“My most honored gentlemen, please accept our traditional apology. It does not translate well to your tongue, but suffice to say I feel I must apologize profusely for the absence of Governor Luis de Unzaga. He sends his regrets at being called away from this meeting with your most esteemed selves, but he had been summoned to a meeting he simply could not avoid attending.” The Spaniard offered as small a bow as he could without standing. Bartholomew’s eyebrows quirked upward slightly – his grasp of Spanish was rudimentary at best, primarily due to the ineptitude of his language tutor, but there had nothing conciliatory about the wording of the man’s original apology. Still, the diplomats seemed sufficiently mollified, enough to allow the Spaniard to continue.
“Suffice to say, I have been fully briefed by Governor Unzaga, and am empowered to negotiate on Cuba’s behalf.” This caused a stir of smugness from the English side of the table – they smelled blood. Surely with their years of experience and legal knowledge, they would be able to gut the terms Cuba had wanted and bully the soft spoken ambassador into accepting these newer, unfavorable terms. Bartholomew smiled – this may not be a waste of a lovely afternoon after all.