According to the Bard, the night before the big battle, Henry V went among his men, disguised in a borrowed cloak to see how they fared and what they were thinking. His reasoning being that they would not know him without the trappings of his rank and would thus give a more honest response. Of course, not everything he heard was to his liking, but such are the perils of going incognito.
It would make sense that most of the men in that army would not know their king by his face, because there were many of then and only a few would have occasion to see him save on the battlefield, when he would be fairly obvious. One might have thought it would be harder to remain incognito here in Awenia. It is not a huge realm and both Gwyneth and I are not prone to hiding in our castle. Nevertheless, it is, apparently, possible.
Gwyneth and I had arranged to go out for dinner. Partly because we like to spend time together occasionally, as married couples do, and partly because we wanted to see how the eateries in town would deal with visitors in advance of us opening the realm. And so, we arranged to meet and eat.
Unfortunately, I arrived a little late, delayed by official business and by mistakenly going to the wrong restaurant at first. Now, I had expected a fairly informal, intimate dinner, and had dressed appropriately – what I gather is known as smart-casual, so I was somewhat surprised to find her there in full regalia, speaking to the kitchen and wait staff. I took it in my stride, complimented her on her beauty and commented that I felt woefully underdressed next to her.
Now, while I do not lack a sense of humour, I am not overly given to cracking jokes, however, this remark sent the entire restaurant staff into hysterical laughter. My beloved wife seemed equally amused, and even more so by my apparent bemused expression. I am not quite sure why, since bemused seems to have been my default state of mind since she entered my life.
We took our seats and perused the menu. After a few moments, she took pity on me and explained. Apparently, she had also dressed down for the occasion. The waiter who was supposed to be attending our table had somehow failed to recognise her and had been most insistent that this table was reserved for important guests and refused to allow her to sit. He had also told her that she was woefully underdressed for the establishment, which explained the laughter when I had applied the same description to myself. Apparently, he had insisted on standing his ground, continuing to refuse her, and continuing to not recognise her, despite the portrait on the wall, until she changed the glamour to appear in her full regalia.
The poor man was mortified to say the least, and tried begging her pardon. Which, I am sure my darling Gwyneth will grant him, eventually. In the meantime, she decided that he could be better put to work elsewhere and gave him into the tender care of Bran, suggesting that he might serve well as a footman. I cannot blame the man entirely, as he is apparently relatively new to Awenia and may not yet be fully familiar with its inhabitants or its leaders. And I have to give him credit for doing his job, albeit while labouring under a misapprehension. And, he provided some measure of entertainment too, even if I missed most of it.
After that, we had an excellent dinner, and the staff, no doubt wishing to avoid future careers below stairs at the castle, performed their tasks most efficiently. I am tempted to have a quiet word with Bran and suggest that he makes sure that establishments are fully briefed before we go out to dinner again, to avoid repetition of this embarrassment. On the other hand, that might deprive us of future amusement and the opportunity to hear what the people think. Of course, with the latter, there is the risk that we, like Henry, might hear things not to our liking. I am not sure how I would feel about that, or how Gwyneth would like it either. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go.