The Party at the Castle.

Sally came to the hotel at six o’clock. I met her in the hotel lobby. Now, instead of the shorts that she had worn to drive the pedicab, she was wearing a red and yellow dress. I thought she looked very pretty in it.
“Hello, Sally,” I said, “I like your dress.”
“Hello, Alex, thanks. Are you ready to go?”
“Sure. Are we going in your pedicab?”
“No way. It’s a very steep road up to the castle, and there’s no rope tow. So we’ll go by funicular. You’ll enjoy that. Let’s go.”
We went out of the hotel and strolled along the river bank. We looked at all the boats on the wide river. There were water taxis, and lots of small sailing boats, and one ▀oating restaurant.
“That’s the most deluxe restaurant in the Capital,” said Sally.
“I don’t understand ‘luksu’,” I said.
“Oh, sorry,” said Sally, “ ‘luksu’ is a slang word meaning luxurious. Slang words are not proper Loglan, but we often use slang. You have to learn correct Loglan, though, don’t you.”
Sally laughed and linked her arm with mine.
We walked along for a quarter of an hour, and then we arrived at the lower station of the funicular. We went into the station, which was built at the bottom of a cliff.
“Where do we buy tickets?” I asked.
“You have to buy tickets at a tobacco kiosk,” Sally replied. “But no problem. I’ve got plenty of tickets. The same tickets go for buses and trams, and the metro and watertaxis. You should buy a book of tickets, that’s much cheaper. One ticket costs just Ůve cents.”
Sally showed me her book of tickets.
“And if you’re going to be staying in the City, you should get a monthly ticket,” she said.
We stood on the station platform and watched the funicular coming down from the upper station. The funicular track sloped up at 45 degrees. The funicular car was made of ornamental cast iron, with lots of glass windows.
We entered the sloping car; the ▀oor went up in steps. Soon it started off with a loud squeaking. The lower station slowly disappeared from our view.
We came out of the upper station onto the wide square in front of the castle. In the middle of the square was a large statue of a man on horseback.
“That’s King Otto the Eighth,” said Sally. “It was him that built the castle. And this square is called Otto Square.”
There were a lot of people in the square, some sitting at tables outside several cafes, some walking and talking with their friends. A lot of dogs were running about and playing in the square. The castle was situated at one end of the square; it was a high building, decorated with a mass of ▀ags. On one side of the square there was a low wall, from which there was a view of the river and the whole city.
“The Ůreworks will be starting when it gets dark,” Sally told me. “Let’s have a beer and watch the sunset.”
So we went to a cafe with red umbrellas outside, which proclaimed, “Coca Cola refreshes you best.” When we reached the cafe, some people sitting at one table called out to us.
“Sally ! Hi ! Come and sit here with us,” said one of the people.
“Hello, Elvis,” said Sally, “Nice to see you. This is my foreign friend, Alex.”
Elvis was a tall young man with tortoiseshell glasses. He looked very intelligent.
“Hi, Alex,” said Elvis. “Have a seat. Where are you from? Do you speak Loglan? What d’you want to drink? This is Xanthippe, and this is JohnWayne, and this is Gromkhlitch, and this is BabyJane....
“Shut up, Elvis,” Sally interrupted. “Just one question at a time, and let Alex answer.”
“Sorry, Sally. I’m very pleased to meet your foreign friend.” Elvis turned to me. “Please take a seat, Alex.”
“Thanks,” I said, but there weren’t any chairs. Three dogs lying under the table wagged their tails.
Sally greeted Elvis and the other people sitting at the table. Loglanders greet each other by rubbing their noses together, and patting the other person’s bottom with their hand. And they say, “You smell nice.” It’s because Loglanders base their behaviour on that of their dogs. I have already explained that Loglanders are very fond of dogs.
I didn’t quite know how I ought to greet these people. Should I shake hands with them, or should I try to do the Loglander greeting? In fact it wasn’t a problem; I shook hands with the men, and kissed the women on both cheeks, like we do in France.
When we greeted each other, the Loglanders said their names. Xanthippe was a large woman with beautiful red hair. JohnWayne was a small thin chap with very thick spectacles. Gromkhlitch was an athletic-looking man, with short hair and big muscles. And BabyJane was a very sexy woman with black hair.
I shook hands with Gromkhlitch, and said, “You have a strange name. I’ve never come across it before.”
“Gromkhlitch is an old Xian name,” said Gromkhlitch. “I can’t pronounce it the old way. All my friends call me Grom.”
We ordered Smiling Planet beer all round, and we sat down on two chairs that Elvis pinched from the next table.
“To your health,” we said, and we drank.
“Where are you staying ?” asked Xanthippe.
“At the MacIvor Arms Hotel,” I replied.
“That’s an excellent hotel,” said Gromkhlitch, “Have you bathed in the mineral water pool?”
“Not yet,” I answered.
“Oh, really? It’s a famous pool. There’s a hot water spring right under the hotel. The water’s very good for you. There are lots of minerals in it that protect the body. But don’t drink it; it tastes disgusting.”
“Grom is ever such a strong swimmer,” said BabyJane. “He won the River Race, where they have to swim from Reichenbach Falls to the City. It’s a distance of 30 km.” BabyJane smiled ▀irtatiously at Grom, who blushed.
“Why is it called the Reichenbach Falls?”, I inquired.
“The Ůrst books that were translated into Loglan were the stories of Sherlock Holmes. We all read them at school. Sherlock Holmes was very clever and logical. Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles ?”, said BabyJane.
A group of dogs ran into the cafe and sat down near us, barking softly. The three dogs lying under our table looked at the humans as much as to say, ‘May we go and play with our friends?” Elvis and Grom made a sign to the three dogs, who ran off with their friends, towards the middle of the square.
The western sky was turning red. There was a band walking across the square towards the cafe. They were playing a traditional gypsy tune on a violin, a guitar, an accordion and bagpipes. Some people were dancing in the square.
The dancing was strange to me. Men and women did not dance in pairs, but the men stood in a circle, stamping their feet, and the women spun round very rapidly in the middle of the circle. From time to time a man would leap in the air, clapping his hands with a loud cry.
“Let’s dance, Alex,” said Sally.
“Oh dear, I don’t think I can dance like that,” I replied.
“What d’you mean, can’t. Be brave, Alex,” said Elvis, “What you need for dancing is a bit of fuel, yeah” And he called to the waiter, “Hey Janos, bring a jug of dancing fuel.”
The waiter came back to our table and put down a small jug and six tiny glasses on the table. Elvis poured the clear liquid into the glasses, full to the brim. We all lifted our glasses.
My Loglander friends shouted, “One, two, three, and bravely burn!!” And we all drained our glasses in one gulp.
“Great,” said Elvis. “How d’you like dragon’s piss, Alex ?”
I coughed, and said in a hoarse voice, “Wow !!”
Elvis reŮlled the glasses and we took another swallow of Ůre-water.
“Right,” said Elvis, “Now we’ll dance.”
We joined one of the dance groups and I found that the men’s dance was not very difŮcult. But the women’s rapid spinning did look hard.
After we had been dancing for about Ůfteen minutes, it started to get dark, and all the people in the square moved towards the wall that went along one side of the square. We waited for the Ůreworks to start.
The Ůreworks lasted about thirty minutes, and ended with a great red dragon drawn in the sky.
“Apparently dragons are very important to Loglanders,” I said.
“Yes,” said Sally. “A red dragon is the national emblem of Loglandia, and there is a dragon on our national ▀ag. It’s because in our country there are a lot of hot springs. Did you know that the Lojbandian mountains are an extinct volcano? Our industry uses steam that comes from the ground. Geothermal energy is very useful. Even several hundred years ago all the houses in Loglandia had hot water.”