Cloak And Dagger

It was a dark and stormy night. I wrapped myself in my cloak and took my dagger, and I crept through the dark insalubrious alleyways until I came to a doorway. I pushed it open and entered a room full of smoke and mirrors. Through a glass darkly, I hatched a plot.

It was a complicated, secret, and fiendish plot, and if it succeeded, crowned heads would topple. If, on the other hand, it did not succeed, and I was caught in flagrante, then the only head likely to topple would be my own. I was fond of my head. Like Neville Chamberlain’s, it was oddly-shaped, but it was my head, the only head I would ever have. I was keen for it not to be toppled, and so I went over and over and over the details of my plot with my co-conspirators, in the room full of smoke and mirrors.

We tested the plot for flaws. Whichever way we looked at it, it seemed sound. It could perhaps have been slightly more dastardly than was the case, and that would have been a boon, but we did not wish to unleash the hounds of uncertainty. I had been pursued and attacked by these hounds in the past, and had been lucky to escape with my head. It was Lloyd George, I think, who said Chamberlain’s head was odd, though now I check my sources I see he said it was a “wrong-shaped head”. Mine, I would say, is odd, but not wrong. It is of standard human head shape, more or less.

Seen through a glass darkly, however, my head becomes distorted, as things will do when seen through dark glass in a room full of smoke and mirrors. I try not to let this upset me, reminding myself that it is merely a visual trick, and the real head, the solid one perched on my neck, is not so distorted, albeit it is a trifle odd. And I have to say that, in comparison to the heads of some of my co-conspirators, my head is well-proportioned and nearly flawless.

The plot, though, now that is absolutely flawless. We have plotted and plotted and plotted and we cannot spot a single flaw in it. At dawn, we will lie in wait for the prince behind a splurge of shrubbery. As his carriage passes, we will leap out, in our cloaks, and plunge our daggers into him. Those are the bare bones of the plot. From what I can gather from its depiction on postage stamps, the prince’s head is neither odd nor wrong-shaped. It is a pretty average princely type of head, though wet behind the ears.

Dawn, then, will bring not just a new day, but a new era of world-shuddering revolution!

NOTE : The narrator of the above piece failed to spot the obvious flaw in his plot. The prince had an extensive network of spies, ever on the lookout for bands of ne’er-do-wells wrapped in cloaks and wielding daggers, meeting in rooms full of smoke and mirrors in dark insalubrious alleyways. That the ne’er-do-wells all had odd and wrong-shaped heads made them all the more conspicuous. They were arrested shortly before dawn, and hurled into oubliettes, where they languish still, forced to lick postage stamps showing the beauteous head of the prince.

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