The tangled web virginia DeMarce

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Window of Opportunity


Section One: In the beginning . . .

The morning and evening of the first day
Mainz, March 1634

Eberhard was asleep. Rather, he had been asleep until the drumming started. "What in hell?"

Tata stood up on the bed and poked her head through the tiny third-story window of the Horn of Plenty. "Just some soldiers."

"They're not for me. I'm not late. The world may be full of sunshine, but it's my day off and I don't even have a hangover." He reached up for her wrist and pulled her back down.

She plopped onto his stocky body, wriggled, and told him to quit it right now because he might have the day off, but she didn't.


Reichard Donner's wife Justina also heard the drum. She looked out the front window of the main floor, more than a little warily. Her husband wasn't famous for his attention to submitting paperwork in multiple copies or keeping track of the details, so she thought that her wariness was fully justified. The Horn of Plenty had a record of too many times that its proprietor hadn't, quite, complied with those abundant city regulations designed to ensure good order and civic peace.

"What events do we have scheduled for the coming week?" Anything that will cause problems with the Polizeiordnungen?

"Nothing unusual," Reichard answered from behind the bar. "The two wedding parties are the largest functions. I have the written authorization from the city council for both of those. Well, it's almost approved. Everything will be ready by Thursday, certainly. Since both the groom and the bride's fathers for the Koster-Backe reception are local artisans, the families are bringing in a lot of the food and drink themselves, which is making a bit of trouble with the pastry shops and our regular sausage vendors. Fifty guests approved. Up to thirty guests permitted for the Biel-Braun wedding. I have the extra military paperwork for that, since Jost Biel is a soldier and so is the bride's father. It's . . ."

Reichard scrabbled around in his piles of paper. "Well, I did have it, right here, somewhere . . ."

Justina nodded. Marcus Pistor, Brahe's Hessian chaplain for the Calvinists in his garrison, would perform the Biel-Braun ceremony here at the inn, in the public room, since Mainz had no Calvinist church or chapel and they were all, in this family, good Calvinists from the Palatinate, subjects of the unfortunate Winter King's heir. May Elector Karl Ludwig's soul be preserved from the influence of those Spanish Papists in the Netherlands who took him prisoner, she thought. Chaplain Pistor will have made sure that Reichard received the permissions. Now, if he hasn't misplaced them . . .

Reichard, who hadn't even glanced up, was still talking while he sorted more paper into various piles. "Here it is. Right here, under the receipts. Everything's in order. Why? Is there a problem?"

"Lift up your head and listen. There are soldiers headed our way. That's what the noise is. Hear the noise?" She turned around, waving her hands at him. "There are four or so of them, Colonel von Zitzewitz's men from the uniforms, with a drummer. Also with a corporal and probably they're not just looking for a drink at this hour. What regulation have we offended now? Well, at least the children are at school, so I don't have to worry about having them mouth off and cause trouble. Except for Tata, of course; she's home. Anyway, four soldiers aren't enough to do too much damage, usually."

Kunigunde Treidelin, Justina's widowed sister and the tavern's main cook, came out of the kitchen, complaining as usual about a world in which a woman could live for half a century and still not be permitted by the authorities to finish out her waning days in peace and tranquility. "It's your fault entirely, Reichard, for getting involved with those Committee of Correspondence people and letting them meet here. The Swedes and the city council both keep a sharper eye on the Horn of Plenty than they would otherwise, just because of that. You know that as well as I do."

"I am the chairman of the Mainz CoC," Donner pointed out rather mildly. "It would be rather ridiculous if I didn't let the group meet here. According to the theories of Althusius, since—"

" 'The Mainz CoC'—as if that means anything. It's not as if you have anything like they do in Magdeburg, with toughs and enforcers. You get all the grief and what do you have to show for it? Nothing. It's not as if there's a CoC-raised regiment anywhere near Mainz. They're all up north with the emperor. We've got Swedish regulars, German mercenaries, and maybe a dozen soldiers scattered among them with even the slightest interest in politics. Hah!" Kunigunde turned her head. "Something's boiling over." She stomped back into the kitchen.

Tata, more formally known as their daughter Agathe, who had pulled on her clothes and come down instead of going back to bed, took her place at the window. "Pffft. That's Corporal Hertling. You know him. He's been here often enough. He's in Eberhard's company, so it shouldn't be a problem, whatever it is."

Walther Hertling motioned for his little troop to stop and rapped sharply on the door.

Tata waved her parents back, opened the door, glared at him, and asked, "Why are you bothering us?"

"Look, Tata, it isn't my fault."

Justina relaxed. Interventions by one's social superiors that were likely to lead to measures of harsh oppression were rarely accompanied by plaintive apologies or the use of nicknames.

"It may not be your fault, but you're here. With your goons."

"They aren't goons," Walther protested, looking as firm has he could. Which, considering that he was barely twenty, was not particularly firm. He had gotten his rank because his father had once upon a time been Duke Eberhard's father's bootblack. "They're . . ." He tried to think of some term more martial, impartial, and less embarrassing to his captain than babysitters. "They're, uh, the Captain Duke's personal Leibkompanie. Bodyguards, sort of."

Lorenz Bauer, Jacob Kolb, Ludwig Merckel, and Christoph Heisel strove mightily to look as un-goonlike as possible. Since all four were long-time mercenaries in their thirties, with the scars to show for it, this was not particularly easy. Still, if Corporal Hertling, otherwise known as the immediate conduit to their now-reliable paymaster, urged them to look harmless, the least they could do was try.

"Eberhard says that he's off today."

"That's not the problem. At least, the problem isn't about anything he's not done. It's about something he's supposed to do next. It's, uh, about Hartmann Simrock."

"Theobald's friend?"

"Yeah. Uh, Theobald Pistor took home a copy of some of the speeches that Simrock has been giving here at the CoC meetings."

"Ouch. Dumb, dumb, dumb, stupid. University student or no university student, Theo has no sense at all. I can't believe that he's Margarethe's brother."

"And, of course, he left them on the breakfast table where they're quartered. At least, that's what Margarethe told Lieutenant Duke Friedrich. He left them on the breakfast table where their father, Chaplain Pistor, found them. And read them. Especially the one about . . . well, you know. He is a military chaplain, after all, so he took it to someone on Brahe's staff. And we've been ordered to investigate."

Reichard swept up his various piles of receipts and stuck them into a cubbyhole under the bar. " 'We' being?"

"Uh, well, the captain's company. Him. Us. And his brothers."

Hertling wasn't worried about Donner, but he was a little intimidated by Frau Justina, so he turned around so he could talk directly to her. "Uh, that wasn't the brightest thing Simrock could have done, you know. Calling for the equivalent of a Ram Rebellion in Mainz and the Rhine Palatinate. Especially not criticizing General Brahe the way he did. Captain Duke Eberhard has the highest respect for the general's military talent and bravery. So it's just lucky that . . ." He stumbled, not quite sure how to phrase what was coming next in a manner that might be interpreted as mildly tactful.

Merckel was less concerned about tact. ". . . damned fucking lucky that the captain is actually fucking Tata here, or you'd all be in a deep pile of shit, you stupid assholes."

Justina winced. It wasn't that Reichard was unhappy about the attraction that led the young German officer on General Brahe's staff to regularly attend meetings of the Committee of Correspondence at the Horn of Plenty, in the company of his brothers and then spend the night, even though he had finally been allotted a much nicer room in the new unmarried officers' quarters. He was perfectly aware that Eberhard's interest did not lie entirely in the realm of radical political theory. Or even primarily in the realm of radical political theory.

No, Reichard was a practical man. His comment on the arrangement had been that this was the greatest stroke of luck the Donner family had ever had and was ever likely to have.

Still, there was such a thing as tact. Maybe not where Merckel was concerned, though.

Besides, with increasing exposure, Eberhard was gradually becoming more interested in the political portion of his evenings. Still, though, the Horn of Plenty's primary attraction for him had a neat figure rather than a lot of economic figures. Feminine cooperation rather than the need to establish a purchasing cooperative was the crucial element that led to the extension of the captain's regular presence at the inn and the protection that resulted from that presence.

It was protection that they needed, in Justina's opinion, as long as Reichard kept flirting with those radical CoC ideas. She intended to take full advantage of it as long as there was a window of opportunity. Which meant, in effect, as long as Eberhard remained interested in their daughter. Which would be long enough, she hoped, to get the protection in some way institutionalized and make the continued existence of the Horn of Plenty and the Mainz CoC somewhat less precarious.

"Uh," Hertling said. "The captain will have something to say about it, I suppose, once he talks to the boy."

The subject of their discussion, having dressed somewhat less hastily than Tata, wandered into the taproom. Duke Eberhard of Württemberg yawned. "Which one of the boys is in trouble this time? About what?

Hertling duly saluted the square-faced, brown-haired, slightly long-nosed young man. Personally, he thought that his noble captain looked more like most people's idea of a sturdy peasant than a dashing cavalier, no more aristocratic than anyone else on the streets of Stuttgart or Mainz, including, for what it was worth, himself. That wasn't an opinion he was given to sharing with other people, though. Der gute Walther was prudent for his years.

"Neither of your brothers, sir. Simrock. If you could come down to General Brahe's headquarters with us . . ."

"I suppose that's not a request?"

Tata's eyes followed their departing backs. "So much for the idea of taking a boat down the river to Bingen with Friedrich and Margarethe and looking at Castle Ehrenfels today."

"Castles," her father said. "Castles, bah!"


Reichard Donner surveyed the room. The view was depressing. Mainz just wasn't a hotbed of revolutionary fervor. Perhaps he would have been better advised to move to Heidelberg. However, to be practical, there hadn't been an inn for him to take over in Heidelberg, whereas, in Mainz—owing to a fortuitous series of childless marriages and deaths from smallpox and plague, not to mention dysentery and measles, running through several imperial cities and tying all the way back to his long-ago godfather, one Reichard Wackernagel, belt-maker in Frankfurt am Main, husband of Justina's Aunt Maria—the Horn of Plenty had become available.

Even so. In addition to the two students, Pistor and Simrock, the attendees were not politically promising.

Pistor's sister Margarethe only came because her brother and her boyfriend did.

Philipp Schaumann, perpetual belt-maker's journeyman, aged about sixty-five, the hapless and hopeless perpetual suitor of his sister-in-law Kunigunde, came because Kunigunde lived here as well as because he was the younger brother of Justina and Kunigunde's late uncle's equally deceased wife. Also, he had been an acquaintance of Reichard's own late godfather back when they were both journeymen.

Sybilla Binder, about fifty and never married, was a friend of Kunigunde and the unhappy daughter of a belt-maker. She faced being thrown out of work when her father retired or died—one of which was certain to happen soon—and had no wish to spend her declining years spinning in the municipal hospital.

Ursula Widder, about fifty, Sybilla's friend, also never married, was the equally unhappy daughter of a tanner who had died and left her no option but to go into service. So she was now Kunigunde's general maid-of-all-work in the kitchen of the Horn of Plenty. It wasn't as if she had to put forth much effort to attend the CoC meetings.

Plus four soldiers and a corporal who were definitely not from a CoC-raised regiment and who attended because they were tasked by Gustavus Adolphus's commander in Mainz to see what they could do to prevent problems with . . .

 . . . three very young dukes of Württemberg, one of whom was sitting with his arm around Tata's shoulder and twirling her reddish-tawny hair and fondling the various bits and pieces of her rotund body that he could conveniently reach.

The rest of his children were already in bed, which was some comfort.

"It's not an up-time idea," Simrock was insisting. "It's in Montaigne's Essays and they've been around for, oh, at least fifty years." For Simrock, not quite twenty himself, fifty years was ancient history. "How did he put it? 'No matter that we may mount on stilts, we still must walk on our own legs. And on the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.' "

Theobald shook his head. "I don't think that Montaigne thought it up all by himself. He probably swiped it from the Greeks or Romans."

A revolutionary's lot in Mainz was not a happy one. Maybe he could trade the Horn of Plenty for an inn in Magdeburg.

Bonn, Archdiocese of Cologne, March 1634

"We simply can't do what you want us to," Walter Deveroux said. "You're out of your fucking mind."

This wasn't the most prudent thing to say to the personal confessor of the archbishop-elector of Cologne, said archbishop-elector, Ferdinand of Bavaria, brother of Duke Maximilian, being at the moment the man who was paying them. Walter Butler sighed. It was true, though. The idea that they should take their dragoons on a razzia through Hesse, or if that route would not work, past Mainz and Frankfurt-am-Main, up the Kinzig valley to Fulda, was ridiculous. Absurd. A recipe for disaster.

Now the Capuchin was suggesting that just the colonels go in. Some of the Buchenland imperial knights were far from being happy at being placed under the administration of the up-timers. Upstarts, it was more accurate to say. They could provide a couple hundred men. Ferdinand's confessor got up. "You're the professionals. The archbishop wants to damage the prestige of the USE administration in Fulda. Figure something out and let me know what you decide."


"The Irish colonels, after consulting with Franz von Hatzfeldt, have accepted his suggestion in regard to kidnapping the abbot of Fulda," the Capuchin said. "It will be attention-getting, the sort of thing that will bring a lot of bad publicity down on the up-timers, but still not wasteful of manpower if Your Eminence should need for their regiments to take the field any time this coming summer. They believe they can coordinate it fairly easily with the imperial knights in Buchenland, and manage the matter with only local, on the ground, assistance. It should be a fast 'in and out.' They'll pick up as many of the up-time administrators as they can, take Felix Gruyard along to question them, but only bring the abbot out—maximum disruption for minimum cost."

Ferdinand of Bavaria frowned. "What about Wamboldt von Umstadt? Fulda is really under the jurisdiction of the archbishop-elector of Mainz. He may have something to say about this plan."

The Capuchin shook his head. "He is a refugee in Cologne. Under those circumstances, I feel sure that he will allow himself to be guided by your wisdom, Your Eminence."

Johann Adolf von Hoheneck cleared his throat. "I am not so sure of that. Archbishop Anselm Casimir is close to the Jesuits. Closer than he is to you Capuchins. He's particularly close to Friedrich von Spee, who has been in Grantville. Even if he has taken refuge from the Swedes—even though he has been in Bonn since the winter of 1631—I'm afraid that his sympathies might not . . . Well. Additionally, as provost of St. Petersburg, on behalf of the Abbey of Fulda, I really must stipulate that whatever you do in the matter of the current abbot should not be construed as adversely affecting the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the abbey itself."

"Your concern for your fellow Benedictines is admirable, I am sure," the Capuchin said. "It would be more so if you did not have hopes of becoming Schweinsberg's successor as abbot."

Ferdinand of Bavaria waved a hand. "Make it happen. But I want the questioning to be effective and efficient. It's all very well to say that since the Irish colonels speak English, they will be in a better position than any of my other subordinates to question the up-timers, but make sure that they take Felix Gruyard along."


"Father Taaffe and Father Carew are setting up for mass." Dislav stuck his head into the room. "Dislav" was the nickname of Ladislas Dusek, a servant who had been with Walter Butler's wife since her father assigned him as the footman to serve her nursery on the day she was born.

"Coming, coming." Butler stood up. "Thick-headed, impertinent Czech," he grumbled to Robert Geraldin. "I'd never let any other servant get away with being that rude. Once Dislav found out that I started as a common soldier, he got it in his head that I'm utterly unworthy of a noble Bohemian lady. He seems to think that I'm a wicked uncle and that he has to protect Anna Marie from me."

"You do have a temper," Deveroux pointed out. "And you did start out as a grunt, even if the commander of the Irish Legion was vaguely your relative. Besides, he thinks that you shouldn't have brought her with you on this drag all the way across southern and western Germany. Either one of her married sisters would have been happy to have her stay with them."

"How the hell am I supposed to get her pregnant if I'm in Bonn and she's in Vienna?"

"Touchy this morning, are we?"

"It's not that the news has been good all spring. God, but I loathe Swedes."

"Still feeling the pain after that little matter of Frankfurt-am-Oder? Lord, Butler, it's been three years."

"It was . . ."

"Yes, a trifle embarrassing to be taken prisoner. Look, it happens to all of us, just about, one time or another. In any case, we're all in this together, now. Since Wallenstein found out that all of us were involved in the plot to assassinate him—well, not just a plot, since we actually succeeded—in that other world, you have to admit that our career choices are limited. We're lucky to have been hired by the archbishop of Cologne." Deveroux stood up. "We're due at mass. MacDonald?"

"Leave him there," Geraldin said. "He's already drunk. Or still drunk. He was carousing with Borcke and Browne until all hours of the night. He's getting to be less than useless."

* * *

"When I married you two years ago," Anna Marie von Dohna said, "I did not bargain for becoming a camp follower. How does Father Taaffe describe this place? 'Several wagons and a large number of dragoons.' This tent is not exactly a well-designed country house. I have precisely two servants and am paying them from what little gold I managed to bring with me. I did not bargain for this. When I agreed to marry you, you had every prospect of promotion and estates from Ferdinand II, two excellent ones, Hirschberg and Neuperstein."

"They were also in Bohemia," Walter Butler said sourly. "We ran into a little problem the year after that. Remember Wallenstein? Remember that he found out that I was a rather prominent participant in his assassination-that-did-not-happen-in-this-new-universe?"

"I was better off as Bartolomeus's widow than I am with you. I would at least still be at home."

"You didn't think so at the time. You were greedy; you made your bed; now lie in it."

If Butler could have slammed the door, he would have. Unfortunately, the tent did not provide a door he could slam.

The morning and the evening of the second day
Mainz, March 1634

"So that's the status of the Mainz Committee of Correspondence headquartered at the Horn of Plenty tavern. Chaplain Pistor is not happy with the way Captain Duke Eberhard handled his complaint about Simrock."

"What would he have preferred?"

"A hanging for treason would have suited his mood nicely. Moving along to the next agenda item, we have yet another complaint from Georg Wulf von Wildenstein about the Americans—Thuringians—whatever one wants to call them—and their policies in Fulda." Johan Botvidsson shuffled the papers in front of him.

"The complaint concerns?" Nils Brahe asked. Gustavus Adolphus's chief administrator in Mainz was more than a little irritable.

"I believe the best description might be 'Catholic coddling,' " Botvidsson replied calmly.

"That's something von Wildenstein sees everywhere," Brahe retorted. "Everyone knows the man. When the king appointed him as chief administrator in Bamberg after Horn took the city in February 1632—that was months before he turned Franconia over to the Americans—almost the first thing that the man did was order the holding of Calvinist worship services in the Jesuit church. It was so egregious an offense against any kind of reasonable policy that even the Lutheran chaplains filed a formal protest. Why me, O Lord, why me?"

"Johan had me read the letter too," Mans Ulfsparre commented. "At the moment, he seems particularly outraged because the Franconians, Fulda included, have voted to become an integral part of the NUS complex, which will now be calling itself the 'State of Thuringia-Franconia.' That makes it now the largest province in the USE, in addition to having provided Stearns as prime minister—not only the largest province, but one with a significantly large Catholic population, whereas the king came into this war as the champion of Protestantism."

"He should be happy to have Stearns as prime minister. The man is, officially at least, a Presbyterian. A Calvinist." Erik Stenbock, the other junior member of the inner circle, like Ulfsparre all of age twenty-two, grinned. "The highest-ranking Calvinist in the new imperial administration. Even higher than the landgraves of Hesse, Wilhelm and Hermann."

"Ordinary common sense has very little to do with the way that von Wildenstein reacts to things." Brahe's mood remained sour.

"Why?" Ulfsparre asked.

"I'm not sure," Botvidsson admitted. One of the causes of his outstanding success as a quartermaster-cum-aide-de-camp was his willingness to admit what he did not know. "More and more, I'm coming to think . . ." He paused and looked at Brahe. "We have too many Swedes on this inner council and not enough Germans. Swedes are fine for setting and carrying out military policy, but when it comes to understanding why these people do some of the things they do—and how—we need more information. Or, at least—" He paused and looked at the stacks of paper on the table. "Different information."

"The same's true for the people in Fulda," Ulfsparre said. "One of Wildenstein's points really is valid. What do we really know about how they plan to handle the Ram Rebellion? Almost nothing. Their president in Grantville is in regular contact with Magdeburg, sure. But what about here? Should we be setting up a closer liaison with them? So far, we've almost ignored them."

Stenbock grinned again. "Why not solve two problems at once? Send the three young, most unfortunately radicalized, Württemberg dukes up to Fulda to spend some time under the supervision of their military administrator. That will get them out of your hair for a couple of months, at least. Letting them cool their heels for a while after this last confrontation can't hurt. Perhaps you could send Pistor—the chaplain, not the student—with them, as a response to Wildenstein. Not that it will help, given that he's a rabid Counter-Remonstrant and was right in the middle of things in 1619 when the Dutch exiled the Arminians, but it will get him out of your hair for a couple of months, too, with luck. Assure Wildenstein that he'll be monitoring the situation very closely. We don't have to tell him that right now, the main situation that Pistor is interested in keeping an eye on is the one developing between his daughter and young Lieutenant Duke Friedrich. Do we?"

Brahe actually smiled. "Use the radio. Ask for an immediate response."


"What did this man Jenkins in Fulda say?" Brahe asked several meetings later.

Botvidsson picked up a sheet of paper. "It is possible that you are not the only administrator who has young men who are difficult to control on his staff."


"Jenkins's military administrator, a man named Derek Utt, writes that he will be happy to send a couple of his people down to Mainz to, and I quote, 'meet-and-greet your youthful delinquents and judge as to whether Fulda is prepared to host them or not.' "

The morning and the evening of the third day

Their drummer rattled his sticks in a "make way, make way" rhythm.

"That's one more thing," Lieutenant Duke Friedrich said. "Why do soldiers take drummers when they're just out on ordinary errands? I can see why they use the drums when a whole unit is marching through a town, to warn carters to move their teams and wagons, and vendors to pull their carts to the side. Otherwise, there wouldn't be room on the streets for six men abreast, row after row. But we're just walking. Why should the people of Mainz have to move apart for us on this particular morning?"

"If you're asking why we do it," Corporal Hertling said, "it's because all the other units do it. Do you really want to trip over—"

The rest of his answer came in the form of the body of a sturdy, middle-aged woman hurtling through the door of a shop, followed by a male voice screaming, "impudent bitch!"

". . . bodies," Hertling finished. He had intended "dogs and small children," but this seemed to preempt the rest of what he had planned to say.

"That one's not going to be moving out of our way any time soon," Friedrich said, "drum or no drum."

Ensign Duke Ulrich ran ahead of the others. "It's Sybilla," he said, leaning down. "One of the old ladies who come to the CoC meetings."

"Why?" Corporal Hertling started to ask.

He was interrupted by scowling man who followed the body through the door. "Talk to me like that, will you? We're legally quartered in this district. We're legally quartered in this house. What matter is it to you that we've taken the good bedroom and the good bed? Aren't we in the service of His Majesty of Sweden? Aren't we protecting you Germans from the Catholics? Ah, forgot, didn't I. You are Catholic, off to a papist mass every Sunday. Why should I care if sleeping in an unheated attic is making your father's lungs worse? Why?"

"I know you," Hertling said. "Sybilla's complained about you before. You're Rohrbach."

Captain Duke Eberhard made a gesture that everyone present understood. Bauer, Kolb, Merckel, and Heisel moved.

"We'll need a surgeon," Ulrich said. "She's broken something."

"Her neck, it looks like," Merckel had seen worse, but this was bad enough. "Not much point in paying a surgeon for that."

"Arrest him," Eberhard said to Hertling.

"Arrest me!" Rohrbach made a quarter-turn and boxed Kolb's ears. "Why arrest me? She's the one who was talking rebellion. She's the one who was saying that she shouldn't have to put up with having soldiers in her house. She's the one who was talking about Boston and the constitution of the United States of America, and that in a just world, soldiers would not be quartered on the civilian population, eating their food and dirtying their sheets, making work. She's the one—"

"Arrest him," Eberhard said again. Kolb, still shaking his head, pinned Rohrbach's arms behind him.

"What unit does he belong to?"

"Von Glasenapp's, I think."

"Hell." Ulrich stood up. "Another of the Pomeranians, as if our own darling Colonel von Zitzewitz and von Manteufel weren't bad enough."

"He's a Mecklenburger," Friedrich said. "Rohrbach, that is."

"Pomeranian, Mecklenburger, what's the difference?"

"We'll take it up with Brahe's headquarters," Eberhard said. "The Swedes are responsible for the behavior of regiments stationed in the city, even if the commanding officers are mostly German."

"Should I stay here," Ulrich asked. "Should I call Herr Donner? Should I, umm . . ." He waved at Sybilla's body. "Do something? Call the watch? We can't just leave her here in the street."


"The whole thing was disgusting. It was like von Glasenapp didn't even think that Sybilla was . . . well, like he didn't think that her death was worthy of any respect." Lieutenant Duke Friedrich was not happy. "He's not even going to have Rohrbach flogged."

"That's probably because he didn't think that her death was worthy of respect," Ulrich said. "He wouldn't even agree that his regiment should contribute toward her funeral expenses. He'd have been more upset if he'd had to put down a good horse."

"Who is going to pay for her funeral? Old Binder sure can't. He's more than half dead himself, the way he coughs and rasps and rattles."

"Simrock's going to take up a collection."

Ulrich spat on the floor. "Glasenapp. Von Glasenapp. What right does that stupid Pomeranian have to call himself a noble? He's just a provincial easterner. His ancestors were probably Slavs. He doesn't act nobly. When Montaigne is writing about the quality of mercy, he suggests that to avoid civil conflict, the nobility must become like the peasantry and submit to a higher authority. He said that roturier soldiers, from the middle classes, were often braver and more honorable than those from the nobility."

"Montaigne wasn't a real noble, either," Eberhard pointed out. "Not even by French standards, much less German ones. Not noblesse d'épée. He was a country gentleman, well-mannered and well-educated, certainly, but his great-grandfather made a fortune in commerce and bought the estate and the title. His mother's family were still in trade. And the quartering system isn't all bad. If we hadn't been quartered at the Horn of Plenty when we first arrived in Mainz, I'd probably never have met Tata."


"I'm not so sure that's a good idea." Ensign Duke Ulrich eyed his beer.

"Why shouldn't I renounce my title?" Lieutenant Duke Friedrich slapped his little brother's arm. "Look at me, not at that stein. It's not as if anyone pays attention to it any more. Brahe certainly doesn't. Between Horn and Bernhard, not to mention the emperor's dispositions in regard to our supposed welfare, we can't even stick our noses into our supposed duchy. Also, for heaven's sake, I've joined the CoC. I'm a flaming young radical, right in there with Spartacus. I'm not supposed to be a duke any more. And I certainly don't want people to think that I sympathize with people like von Glasenapp."

"Among other things," Captain Duke Eberhard pointed out, "under our house laws, you're not of age yet, so you can't. Not legally."

"There must be somewhere that I can. Remember the newspaper articles about that reception in Magdeburg last fall, when Gustavus appointed Stearns as prime minister? All those young aristocrats came up to him and said they were renouncing their titles."

"It was in November. There was a whole list of them in the paper. I only noticed one single duke among them. Below that, not even a Freiherr. A couple of fifth or sixth sons of imperial knights was about as high as it went. Practically all of them were untitled, mediatized, rural von This or von That, just like your much-admired Spartacus. He's the third son of some untitled Saxon Niederadel. What did younger sons of the lower nobility have to lose? Effectively, nothing. What did they have to gain? They got to speak with the new prime minister, which was possibly worth something. Maybe they can carve a career in the new government's bureaucracy somewhere, or get a chance to run for the new House of Commons and represent the interests of their fathers and older brothers there. They probably figured that the now-Wilhelm-Wettin knew something they didn't, but I haven't seen many Hochadel following his example. They're waiting to see if the 'prime minister comes from the House of Commons only' idea lasts."

Friedrich's expression brightened. "There's an idea. You give me permission to renounce my title and I'll run for the House of Commons for you, one of these days."

The morning and the evening of the fourth day

"I could scarcely have humiliated von Glasenapp front of a group of junior officers," Brahe said. "He would lose all of his authority and he doesn't command very much respect as it is. Most of his men despise him."

"True. But . . ." Botvidsson shook his head.

"I humiliated him in front of his fellow colonels. Sufficiently, I believe, that there's not likely to be an equivalent occurrence among the soldiers under him in the future. Or among the soldiers under the others, for that matter."

"I'm afraid that's not going to be enough."

"It isn't, but it has to be. Sometimes one finds oneself in such a situation."


"I wasn't about to have Rohrbach flogged publicly," von Glasenapp muttered. "Not when those infernal Württembergers and Donner were howling that I had to."

"Might have been better if you had," von Zitzewitz said. "I have to deal with them—Captain Duke Eberhard and his brothers. They're on my staff. Probably as retribution for my sins."

"I had him flogged privately. Hard. Not that Brahe left me any option. Don't tell those boys, though. I'm not willing to give the impression that I'm a man who caves in to public pressure. If I see an article in the newspaper even hinting that I had Rohrbach flogged, I'll be looking for the leak until the day I die and the leaker will be sorry."

"Might be better if I did tell them. Quietly, of course."

"I mean it, Zitzewitz. Don't tell them. Let junior officers think that they can influence you and that's the end of military discipline. That goes double and triple for junior officers who have a higher rank in the nobility and their own ways of getting the ear of General Brahe."


"What are you doing, Reichard?" Justina looked at the market order her husband had just drafted. "We won't need a lot of food for Sybilla's wake. She didn't have many friends. She was a whiny, unpleasant woman, even if she was a loyal daughter to old Hans and a CoC member."

Ursula Widder nodded. "She was only fourteen when her mother died. She took over keeping the house and assisting in the shop. Most of her parents' friends are dead. Her younger brothers and sisters are dead or gone. Married or not, she never had any children. Old Hans can't afford to hire mourners. There won't be many people."

Donner shook his head. "It will be a big funeral. Simrock and Theo are getting other students to come. Boys that age eat a lot."

"Reichard," Justina said direfully. "Reichard, what are you up to?"

"Recruiting, my darling treasure. Recruiting."


The newspaper came out early that morning, well before the funeral was due to begin.

Somehow, the lead story featured the brutal death of a native daughter of the city, an honorable and faithful daughter of the city, also the hard-working only caretaker of her aging, invalid father.

Yes, the brutal death of a native daughter of the city at the hands of an equally brutal soldier quartered upon its civilians. A brutal soldier from Mecklenburg, a province which was far distant from the Rhineland, not to mention full of brutal Lutheran heretics.

In passing, the reporter mentioned, just in case his reading public had forgotten, the Swedes were all Lutheran heretics, too—Lutheran heretics who had confiscated the historical Johanniskirche to use as their own.

"Damn you, Simrock," Reichard Donner exploded.

"I said I'd get a story in the paper for you," Simrock protested. "A story that would get the people aroused. Mainzers by and large just don't get very aroused by Spartacus's theories. Sorry about that. My cousin wrote what he thought would work. My uncle was delighted to publish it. You want a crowd, you get a crowd."

"Simrock, you have no common sense at all. The last thing we need is a religious riot. The Committees of Correspondence advocate religious toleration, remember. Repeat after me, twenty times, toleration. Have you gotten that word into your head?"

Simrock shrugged. "My uncle's not exactly a fan of the CoC. Sometimes you have to take what you can get."


". . . sorry we weren't here when you arrived." Reichard Donner distributed another round of beers. "We were all at the funeral." He waved toward Kunigunde and Ursula, who were sobbing at a corner table as they made quick work of the contents of their mugs.

"The riot," Eberhard added.

"Paying our respects to the dead and debating Montaigne," Theo added.

"Dodging flying rocks." Justina glared at the boys. "Evading the city watch. Running for our lives."

"You've read Montaigne, of course," Simrock said to their guests from Fulda.

Jeffie Garand's response was, "Errr . . ."

Joel Matowski, somewhat more articulately, replied, "I don't believe that I have."

Joel actually didn't believe that he had even heard of anyone named Montaigne, but didn't think that it would be tactful to say so right at the moment, since the author, whoever he might be, was clearly near and dear to the hearts of the Mainz CoC, who seemed to talk about him a lot more than they talked about Spartacus and the other people who were writing pamphlets for Gretchen Richter.

"But you're up-timers," Simrock protested. "You have all those books. Everyone's heard about your libraries. Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essais has been in print since 1603. That's thirty years. Longer than any of us have been alive."

He looked over at the senior Donners—parents, aunt, and the aunt's friends. "Longer than most of us have been alive. You must have read it."

Reichard Donner intercepted the glance. "Eat up, everybody. There's plenty of food left from the wake."

"The wake that didn't happen," Justina said. "The wake that didn't happen because somebody . . ." She glared at Simrock. ". . . somebody planted an article in the paper that caused a riot and the city council called out the watch and the soldiers to put it down and they wouldn't let anybody at all come to the Horn of Plenty afterwards."

Jeffie was still thinking about Montaigne. "I think the people who stuck with Mrs. Hawkins's French classes at high school until the fourth year read something by that guy. They read it in French, though."

"So you have read the Essais."

"Well, no, I didn't take French. I took Spanish. It was kind of complicated. My dad came from Baton Rouge and was Cajun and he and Mom were divorced, so she didn't want me to learn French."

Theo, sublime in not caring that he was no more familiar with the concepts "Baton Rouge" and "Cajun" than Jeffie Garand was familiar with the Essais, turned to his sister and whispered, "Montaigne also wrote, 'I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.' Maybe that's the variety of up-timer we've got here."

"Well," Simrock said, "it's still true whether you've read the book or not. Every person, no matter how high-born, is still what one of your up-time writers called a 'work in progress.' You're not finished until you're dead. As Montaigne wrote, 'How many valiant men we have seen to survive their own reputation!' In your world, Gustavus Adolphus seems to have acquired a remarkably bright and shiny reputation. It remains to be seen what he's going to end up with in this one."

Both Duke Eberhard and Corporal Hertling shifted a little uncomfortably and looked around. Aside from the two up-timers, though, only the regulars were in attendance. Reichard's recruiting scheme had proven to be a singular failure.

"Montaigne also says that ambition is not a vice of little people," Friedrich said. "Ambition isn't necessarily a bad thing. 'Since ambition may teach men valor, temperance, generosity, and justice . . . ' "

Eberhard hoped that his brother was just trying to be helpful, rather than to fan the flames. He himself found political debates a little unsettling, even though his tutors had, obviously, trained him, as a future ruler, to take part in them. And, of course, Montaigne himself had written, "There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees."

Jeffie Garand leaned over and whispered to Joel, "Remember that musical we did in high school about the English girl? The one where she sang about the two guys who talked all the time and finished up, 'I'm so sick of words?' I think these guys have got a words monopoly."

He picked up a stack of flyers that were lying on the table. "What are these?"

Corporal Hertling moved over to the up-timers and looked over Jeffie's shoulder.

"Cartoons by Crispijn van de Passe," Simrock said. "The older Crispijn, that is. He's famous. He's been working out of Utrecht for the past several years."

"He's also as old as the hills," Reichard griped. "He must be nearly seventy. Can't you kids ever talk about anyone modern?"

"I've heard of his daughter," Joel said. "Magdalena. She works for Markgraf and Smith Aviation, the ones who are building the Monster. She's Dutch, I think."

"Oh, yeah." Jeffie nodded. "I've heard about her, too. Never heard of her father, though." He frowned at the cluttered design and dark, heavily hatched background of the engraving. "Not exactly Doonesbury. Not even L'il Abner. I don't like it."

A declaration of Arminian principles at a conclave of Counter-Remonstrants could not have caused a more violent eruption of indignation. The up-timers learned far more than they had ever wanted to know about the scene that van de Passe had most recently depicted—the archbishop-elector of Mainz, the archbishop-elector's conflicts with Nils Brahe who was Gustavus Adolphus's military administrator, the archbishop-elector's attempts to mediate some kind of an ecumenical version of religious tolerance with a man named Georg Calixtus.

Theo, upon noting that neither Jeffie nor Joel had ever heard of Calixtus, was profoundly struck by the glaring gaps in their education. "He's a professor at Helmstedt, of course. For the last couple of years, he's been advocating religious discussion between representatives of the various confessions based on the Holy Scriptures and the proponents of Catholic doctrine. He seems to think that if people just went back to the early church, before Constantine, everything would work out and the world would be full of sweetness and light. He's even been to Jena, lobbying Gerhard and the other orthodox Lutheran theologians."

Chaplain Pistor would have been proud of the disgust dripping from his son's tongue.

"He's a Philippist," Simrock's voice was mild. "An extreme Philippist. The Flacians hate him."

"And Helmstedt is what and where?" The derisory tone of Jeffie's voice was designed to disguise the fact that he really didn't have the vaguest clue.

"I'm not so sure that Montaigne had the right of it about peasants," Theo whispered to Margarethe. "They just plain haven't been educated sufficiently at all."

Hertling looked over Joel's shoulder. "Who are the two guys so loaded down with olive branches that they're staggering under the weight?"

"Well, one of them's the count from Rudolstadt, over by Grantville." Jeffie grinned. "You can tell him because he's wearing a gimme cap with the bill turned backwards. I don't know the other one."

"Heinrich Friedrich von Hatzfeldt," Margarethe said. "He's the oldest brother of the prince-bishop of Würzburg. The Catholic bishop of Würzburg, in Franconia, where the people just voted to join the up-timers." Margarethe's voice was much calmer than her brother's had been. She was sitting in the taproom looking like a misplaced, very small, medieval Italian madonna, with dark brown eyes, straight dark brown hair, and a perfectly oval face.

Simrock interrupted. "Their mother's a von Sickingen. Their father worked here for the archbishop of Mainz most of his life in various kinds of administrative jobs. He's a canon at St. Alban's—you can look him up, if you want to, because he's right in town still. He didn't leave when the Swedes came in. Franz, the bishop, is in Bonn with the archbishop—this archbishop—and Ferdinand of Bavaria, that's the other archbishop, most of the time."

"They don't call this part of the Rhineland 'priests' alley' for nothing," Reichard Donner muttered.

Margarethe tossed her head. "This man, the bishop's brother, goes back and forth. People say he's trying to broker some agreement for Franz to go back to Würzberg and work along with the up-timers, sort of like the prince-abbot did in Fulda."

Walther Hertling grinned. "I don't suppose the archbishop—the Mainz archbishop, not the Bavarian in Cologne—would complain if the Swedes let him come back to Mainz, either."

Joel turned around and looked at Hertling. "Don't hold your breath. For the deals to get anywhere, they'd both have to do what the abbot did—drop the 'prince' part out of their titles."

"In that case," Duke Eberhard said, "I certainly won't hold mine."

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