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The Great Sir William de la Plange Hatchenswip III - Christine Perl

Sir William de la Plange Hatchenswip III was reclining in his fine leather armchair made expressly for him by the most exclusive chair designer in London. He was deep in thought. With a pensive air, he passed his pale, smooth fingers over his clean-shaven chin. "A man of action am I, a man of adventure, a man of…" A sip of cappuccino, steaming below snow-white cream delicately powdered with Sri Lankan cinnamon, interrupted his reflections. He was suddenly overpowered by the need to escape his mundane existence. "Oh, what a difficult life I must endure," he concluded as his servant, impeccably dressed in a dark uniform appropriately matching our hero’s mood, refilled his plate with petites madeleines and poured more of the aromatic brew. The hand gesture that dismissed the servant told of the Sir William’s languid impatience to discover something more, a certain je ne sais quoi to add spice to his life. Something like… prestige, honour, glory, something that would provide him with a good getaway for the holidays. But what could that something be? A post in a Real Estate Agency, perhaps? But, no, that would not do.

He contemplated the foam on his coffee as it floated along and lapped against the side of his Rosenthal cup. Then, just when he took a nibble from his petite madeleine, inspiration bobbed to the surface of his brain. Yes, he was now in possession of the word that would define his destiny: Conquistador!

With the same iron determination of the captain of the Invincible Armada, Sir William unfalteringly made his decision. But at the moment when one is on the precipice of a new life, what are the basic necessities that one absolutely must have? Our hero pondered this conundrum a moment and with the expertise of an adventurer who has practiced his profession since birth, in fast succession he jotted the items down with his gold-tipped fountain pen: a map, a gold-plated compass, matching Leica binoculars and camera, tea rations. And, of course, he would also have to make an appointment with his tailor to procure the appropriate wardrobe (beige shirts, knee-length trousers, a helmet...)

But then a small concern invaded his ambitious reverie. What distant land would he discover and conquer? The Congo? No, he suspected that it had already been subjugated. A tiny isle in the Caribbean perhaps? No, too humid, and he rather disliked their music. One thing became all too clear; this enterprise was much too much for one man. The hour of fate had arrived – it was time to dash off to his travel agent.

The next day, Sir William de la Plange Hatchenswip III, full of assured vigour, called for his chauffeur with the words that had graced the lips of many an explorer before him: "To the Travel Bureau, my good man, and get on with it." Once arrived, he leapt out of his Rolls and forged through the door that awaited him. Greeted as he was by the adventurous prospect of conquering exotic lands, he was nonetheless left dizzy by the hoards of options before him. Like Huns on the loose, they clamoured for his attention. Would it be an Alaskan cruise? A voyage to Switzerland (two-way ticket and three-night stay in an alpine chalet included)? Or a Safari to EuroDisney perhaps? It required a man of exceptional qualities, which Sir William de la Plange Hatchenswip III certainly was, to be able to choose a destiny from this jungle of possibilities. He finally arrived at a decision (a cruise in the Mediterranean) when, alas, our brave adventurer discovered that the life of a conqueror is no easy affair. As Columbus before him despaired, floating for weeks at his own peril without catching sight of land, our conquistador received a grave report from his travel agent: "I am sorry, sir. There is no room left in first class." A cold blizzard of death buried his explorer heart as he sat unsteadily in a chair and looked on as his destiny was dashed against the rocky shoreline called life. Disconsolate, he returned to his Rolls and went to dine at his club.

Alas, now you know, my dear readers, of the odyssey of the greatest, most prestigious adventurer the world never knew.

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