The letter came earlier in the day than Niles had been expecting. He thought he would be able to rise, deal with his morning customers and perhaps even have lunch. He should have known better. Instead, the letter arrived before he’d barely had his coffee. The messenger delivered the letter quietly, no noise to prepare for the arrival of what would certainly be a life changing day. Merely a knock upon the door that caused Niles to spill his coffee down his shirt.
Although he had been expecting this auspicious summons, for it was indeed that, for some time now, he had hoped that he was being smart enough to keep what he was doing quiet for a while longer. He needed more time.
Naturally when he’d opened shop here, he knew he would get attention from many different people. His chocolates were divine, that was certain. Word spread like wildfire and he’d not had much rest since arriving two weeks ago to Drottningholm. He wanted this summons, but not yet.
Cursing at the hot beverage poured over his chest, he considered changing it before appearing at the door. Not particularly expecting the importance of the messenger awaiting him at the door, he merely shrugged and proceeded to answer it. In retrospect, he probably should have changed. Nothing to do about that now.
He knew it was just a matter of time before he would receive just such a letter as was laying on his kitchen work table. This letter changed it all. This letter reminded him why he was truly here. Niles had grown to love this town already but it wouldn’t be too difficult to start over somewhere else. Although he had invested so much here already. He must stay. He had plans that needed to be fulfilled. Leaving would not see those plans through.
He should have known better than to set up shop so near the palace anyways. His chocolates were well worth the time of anyone on earth who desired to try them. It wasn’t that he was cocky, just confident.
This craft, this living as a chocolatier had been passed on for generations. He held secrets that his grandmother’s grandfather had passed down from his grandmother before him. It was grueling work, yet vastly fulfilling. To see the looks on everyone’s faces when they first had a taste of the decadent substance that was usually only available to the royalty and vastly wealthy, it was what made Niles tick. He could be dead tired after staying up until the wee hours of morning, fashioning the most elaborate truffles and candies; until that one small child passed his window, the one that he knew could not afford one of his treasures. They would stand there for a moment, face pressed to the glass, marveling at the mouthwatering treats set out on display. When they would notice Niles watching them, they would jump, guiltily as if he knew their deepest secrets. He would just smile and beckon them inside. Ask them which they would like to try and sent them out the door, with a smudged face and a grin from ear to ear. He could never turn any of them away.
He charged enough for the boxes of decadence that the wealthy ladies and gentlemen came in to purchase to cover the stray goodies that sneaked their way out the door. Chocolate should not be hoarded he felt, but shared. It was part of his atonement.
The thought of atonement brought him back to the present. He should be frantic, trying to put together an order to fit the standing of his current client. He looked back at the letter. The letter he had laid out upon his well-worn work table, the one his grandmother had used to fashion her chocolates upon. The table he took great pains to cart with him from town to town, working his way ever closer to fulfilling his plan.
This letter, laying upon the worn table, bore the royal family crest. It could mean great things for most men. Most men would be shaking in their boots. Niles was not most men, although he had more to fear than they in an interview with the King.
By Appointment to
The King of Sweden
Niles Gunderson, chocolatier, is summoned to
to present his wares before
King Gustaf VII
and his royal court.
Please arrive at the appointed time below.
4th September, 1798
3:00 in the afternoon