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1634: The Wars for the Rhine: Chapter Two

       Last updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 18:28 EDT



Cologne, Hatzfeldt House
May, 1634

    Hiding behind the curtains in a noble lady’s bedroom while she was undressing! Father Johannes bit his lip to keep back a totally inappropriate giggle. During his stay in Grantville he had read a few of the so called “Romances” the Americans had brought with them, and this was straight out of one of them. There were differences: he was not a young nobleman in trouble, but a middle-age priest and painter in trouble. And the lady in question was not a beautiful and willful young virgin, but a very competent spinster his own age. A very handsome spinster in Father Johannes’ opinion, but there really wasn’t that much similarity between the adorable Annabella of Love Conquers All and Sister Maximiliane, former Countess von Wartenberg.

    Sister Maximiliane had come from Bavaria to Bonn the previous winter to nurse her cousin, Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne, during an illness, and she had accepted an offer to stay and take charge of the Hatzfeldt household in Cologne, as the four Hatzfeldt brother’s feud with their step-mother, Margaretha von Backenfoerde, had left them with no one presently capable of the task. The house was an old and worn complex of buildings acquired from the Nassau family by the brothers’ father, Imperial Knight Sebastian von Hatzfeldt, and left in his will to his third son, Franz. It was a shabby residence for such a prominent family, but after Crottorf, the main castle of the Hatzfeldt family, had been invaded by the Swedes in 1631, causing the death of old Sebastian, it had been decided to shelter as many family members as possible behind the defenses of Cologne. Bishop Franz had for that — and other — reasons contacted Father Johannes in Grantville the previous autumn, and hired him to transform the old Nassauer Hof into something worthy of the name Hatzfeldt House.

    At the moment only Sister Maximiliane and a few servants had arrived in Cologne, and all in all it should have been the best time for Father Johannes to do a bit of snooping around. Not that he wasn’t free to enter any room during the daytime, but what possible reason could he give for taking down a picture in Sister Maximiliane’s bedroom, and searching both front and back through a lens? Only — time had slipped away from him, and Sister Maximiliane had come back from Evening Mass before he’d had the time to get out. Now all he could do was to wait for the maid to leave and Sister Maximiliane to go to sleep.

    “I wish thee would come forth.” Sister Maximiliane’s voice was sharp and firm.

    But the maid had just left! She could not have seen him. He had not left open a hole to peek through. Or moved.

    “It is thee behind the curtain I’m talking to. If I shall have to leave my bed to come pull thee forth, I shall be most annoyed.”

    Father Johannes moved the curtain slightly to the side and saw Sister Maximiliane sitting in the bed staring straight at him.


    “It’s only me, Sister Maximiliane.” Father Johannes took a few steps forward and bowed. “I most humbly apologize for intruding on your privacy, but assure you that I intend you neither harm nor disrespect.”

    “Hmpf! Father Johannes.” Sister Maximiliane frowned. “I’m not in the habit of holding evening levees, but come sit on the bed and give me an explanation.”

    Father Johannes sat as he was told. “I just wanted to study the painting on the wall. The Heavenly Madonna. I believe it’s by Paul Moreau. Do you know him?”

    “You put it back upside down.”

    “Oh!” Father Johannes half-rose to turn the picture.

    “Never mind that. Just what are you up to with that young whipper-snapper Franz von Hatzfeldt?”


    “Father Johannes, Franz might be the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg these days, but I have known him all his life. He’s only seven years younger than I, a friend of my brother, Franz Wilhelm, and our families have known each other since before the Deluge. He’s up to something.” She shrugged. “So is just about everybody else these days, but in my estimate Franz would just about sell his soul to get his diocese back from the Protestant occupation. With the Americans being the blank shields in this cabal, and Franz hiring a painter straight from their town — not to mention giving you free-hands and an open purse — I would have to be dumb as a door not to suspect something. And no one has ever called me stupid, Father Johannes.”

    “N-No, Milady. Quite the opposite. S-surely.” Father Johannes swallowed and tried to gather what was left of his wits. Sister Maximiliane was unsettling enough when being the formal grand lady, but once she dropped her formality, she was absolutely terrifying. He could either try to play dumb or confess everything, and hope for her kindness. And he really wasn’t that much of an actor. And Sister Maximiliane was better known for her competence than her kindness. “My commission from the p-prince-bishop is quite genuine; a written contract filed with the authorities here in Cologne, money for my payment as well as expenses deposed with the bankers. It’s a very generous agreement, but then I am well known within clerical circles. A-as a painter, I mean. ”

    “Certainly. I cannot say I approve of all the uses you have made of your gifts, but I do not deny they are great. So, what is not in the files?”

    Father Johannes swallowed nervously. “Everybody wants to know about the Americans, Milady. My patron just wants me to tell him about them. W-when he comes here to visit his family.”

    “Father Johannes, no one is that ingenuous past the age of twenty. You are making me angry.”

    This wasn’t working. “Sister Maximiliane, I’ll be putting my life in your hands.” Father Johannes dropped his cringe and looked Sister Maximiliane straight in the eyes.

    “It is already there, Father Johannes.” Then Sister Maximiliane’s stern face eased in to a little smile, “but if it’s any consolation to you, I consider you far too talented a painter to waste.”

    “Your cousin, Archbishop Ferdinand, felt the same way about my friend Paul Moreau. So after he faked the evidence for Paul’s trial, your cousin ordered his torturer to spare Paul’s hands and arms and concentrate on the lower part of his body. I do not find your words much of a consolation.” There was absolutely no answering smile on Father Johannes face.

    Sister Maximiliane gaped, then pulled herself together. “Are you absolutely sure of this? My cousin is politically ruthless, that goes with being part of the ducal family of Bavaria, but this!” Sister Maximiliane took a deep breath. “To spare the hands of a talented painter would be a kindness. If the man was guilty, the evidence genuine…”

    “Not a chance. Paul’s mother was a friend of my mother, and we have often studied and criticized each other’s paintings. Four or five years ago Paul was accused of painting votive pictures for the Black Mass. Three years ago I was in Bonn just before going to Magdeburg to paint the propaganda broad-sheets for that campaign. By accident I saw those evil pictures attributed to Paul. And he never painted those. I recognized the work of Alain van Beekx, a painter from Holland. Van Beekx is known to work for Felix Gruyard, your cousin’s torturer and executor.”

    “I’ve met Gruyard.” Sister Maximiliane looked up at the Madonna painting. “You saw the protocol as well? No chance Gruyard acted on his own? Faked the evidence without my cousin’s knowledge?”



    “The record for Gruyard’s expenses included a very large fee to van Beekx, and your cousin signed personally for full payment. Paul later managed to escape somehow and disappear.” Father Johannes looked up on the picture too. “I didn’t do or say anything at the time. Closed my eyes and told myself I could do nothing. None is so blind as him who will not see.” He looked back at Sister Maximiliane. “My stay with the Americans taught me that there is so much — even in the mortal world — that I’ll never understand. That all a man can do is to put his faith in God, and try to do what is right. I want to find my friend and help him if I can. Bishop Franz might be planning to double-cross your cousin. Or they may be up to something together. I don’t particularly care. The Madonna on your wall is painted by Paul, the greenish blue of the sky is a shade Paul was developing when I last met him, and the motive is Catholic. It is recent, but it is not something a Calvinist like Paul would ever willingly have painted.”

    “It was a gift from my cousin.” Sister Maximiliane sighed. “Ferdinand was very ill last winter. With stomach pain and vomiting blood. Gruyard tried to convince him it was poison. My life in Münich had soured on me, so I came to nurse my cousin, and a diet of very bland food solved the problem. I had admired the picture and he gave it to me as thanks, but …” Sister Maximiliane stopped and frowned at Father Johannes. “The picture was hanging in my cousin’s bedroom in Bonn — so that he could see it from the bed. At night when the pain was especially bad, he told me to take it down and remove it from the room. Shouted at me when I wanted to wait for the morning. I took it down myself, and when he was well, he told me to keep it. I fear your story is true, Father Johannes.” She looked up at the painting again. “You need not fear I’ll tell anyone of this, but please let me think now. We’ll talk tomorrow.”



    The next morning Sister Maximiliane came into Father Johannes’ major workroom with the painting of the Heavenly Madonna in her hands. The room would eventually become the biggest parlor in the house, but on this bright spring morning it was filled with craftsmen and work-tables loaded with paint and fabrics.

    “Good Morning, Father Johannes. Could you find the time to examine this picture for me? I wonder if the wood is beginning to crack. Just store it until you can find the time.”

    “Good Morning, Sister Maximiliane, I promise mine shall be the only hands to touch it.” Father Johannes bowed and took the picture.

    “Thank you. Just take your time. I think I’ll find something else for my bedroom, as I find I no longer like it as much.” Sister Maximiliane nodded her thanks; she looked tired, but no emotions showed in her stern face. “Bishop Franz is expected to arrive from Bonn any day now. I would like to examine his rooms.”

    “Certainly, Sister Maximiliane, the bishop’s bedroom and study were finished as the very first rooms. Only the new carpets have not yet arrived.”

    In the study Sister Maximiliane sat down behind the carved oak table and looked at Father Johannes. “When Franz arrives I’ll find out if he knows anything about what happened to Paul Moreau. I’ll also write to Cousin Ferdinand in Bonn for any information he has about the painting and the painter. I’ll pretend I worry about the wood it’s painted on being faulty. There’s no reason for him not to help me. But just what did the interrogation protocol tell about your friend? Any indication he was hurt enough to die?”

    “No, and I found some private correspondence as well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Gruyard must have kept — probably stolen — letters. Letters with potential for blackmail.” Father Johannes moved restlessly around the room. “Paul survived for at least four months after the interrogation. Archbishop Ferdinand had ordered him moved to Bavaria. Paul was to travel up the Rhine and then over land with a troop of mercenaries going to Würzburg. From there Bishop Franz would arrange the rest of the transportation. But the troop of mercenaries was scattered by a Protestant attack near Aschaffenburg, and when they reached Würzburg their leader, Captain Eltz, claimed that Paul was nowhere to be found after the attack. Paul might have managed to escape, but Eltz is a distant cousin of the Hatzfeldts, and used to serve in the army under Bishop Franz’s brother, General Melchior von Hatzfeldt. Eltz had been hired by Bishop Franz to strengthen the defenses at Würzburg against the approaching Swedes. I don’t think your cousin — or Gruyard — know where Paul is, but I think Bishop Franz might know something.”

    “Franz´s archives are here in Cologne. Both his personal files and what he managed to save from Würzburg. They are stored in the muniment room together with the archives from Fulda.”

    “Huh! I’ve seen the sealed crates, but why are Fulda’s archives here?”

    “The Fulda monks, who brought the archives — and the abbey’s treasure — with them when they fled here from the Swedes, find that they cannot agree on what to do with them. Prince-Abbot Schweinsberg of Fulda has made a deal with the Americans, and while my cousin might not have the power to excommunicate Schweinsberg, he is not obliged to help him either. Cousin Ferdinand has always disliked Schweinsberg, it’s an old quarrel, so …” Sister Maximiliane shrugged and smiled wryly at Father Johannes. “The monks have kept the treasure among themselves, but most of them are noble-born and probably think archives are for clerks. Franz’s sister, Lucie, has just become a widow and is coming here to stay. Like me, she is very good at administration, and I think I’ll suggest that she and I sort all those Würzburg and Fulda crates this summer. We are very good friends and while she would not betray her brother’s trust, she’d certainly be willing to help me by noting anything in connection with your friend Paul.”

    “Lady, I’ll be forever in your debt.”

    “I want my Madonna back on my wall, Father Johannes, but I find I cannot enjoy it now. Perhaps I’ll be able to do so again, when your friend has been found.”

    “If not, I swear I’ll paint you another, Sister Maximiliane, to the very best of my abilities.”

    “Thank you. I might want to accept that. And please call me Maxie. ”



    A very talented painter, as well as a Jesuit priest, Father Johannes Grunwald had come to Grantville while fleeing from the inquisition after the atrocities at Magdeburg had made him rebel against his superior’s “Holy War” campaign. He had settled down among the Americans as a teacher and painter, while waiting to see what his church would do about one of their most important propaganda painters thus running off — and while making some adjustments in his own faith and beliefs.

    His faith and trust in his God had been the first to heal, and the quiet stability of Father Mazzare had shown him that it was perfectly possible for a Catholic priest to be both a human with mundane interests and joys, and yet still be deeply religious and virtuous. However, in one area Father Johannes had not been able to take Father Mazzare for a role-model: Father Johannes’ abilities as a painter made him an important tool — and weapon — for the princes striving for power — both inside and outside the church. Of course, as a Jesuit priest, obedience to his superior should have been of primary importance to him, and he should just be doing what they told him to, but Magdeburg had taught him never, ever to place his talent under the control of anybody else.



    The Americans too wanted to use him, and as Father Johannes walked through the early morning streets of Cologne on his way to Claude Beauville’s Emporium of Fine Arts, he enjoyed the peace away from the constant hustle and bustle of the Hatzfeldt House, and thought about his talks with Don Francisco Nasi the previous autumn. The young head of the Abrabanel family’s financial network in Germany had also become the unofficial head of the Americans’ information network, and after Father Johannes had accepted Franz von Hatzfeldt’s offer of employment, Father Johannes had also agreed to pass along information about the situation in Cologne to Don Francisco. Not due to pressure or in return for money, but because Father Johannes shared Don Francisco’s belief in the benefits of the American influence.

    Father Johannes stopped and looked at the new Mocha House; during his two years in Grantville, he had grown used to the American habit of drinking coffee in the morning, but this was still too early for the coffee shop to be open, and it was still the only one of its kind in Cologne.

    The Americans had brought so many changes in so few years; from a new budding empire to the habit of drinking coffee. Still — fads and empires had always come and gone, what lasted was the ideas that grew from and in people’s minds — and the American had brought an unbelievable treasure of those. Father Johannes smiled a little bitterly as he continued his walk: officially Bishop Franz von Hatzfeldt had hired him to oversee the restoration of Hatzfeldt House, unofficially the bishop had wanted Father Johannes to tell him about the American ideas in return for a pardon for Father Johannes’ rebellion at Magdeburg, but privately Father Johannes was certain that the bishop’s ultimate goal was to get his diocese back, and never mind the cost. That Father Johannes had a private line to negotiations with the USE, might eventually be of more value to the bishop than anything else. And in the mean time Father Johannes had no qualms at all about keeping Don Francisco informed about Archbishop Ferdinand’s intrigues. Ruthlessness was expected of a man of power, but the uses the Archbishop had made of his personal torturer, Felix Gruyard had gone way beyond what was acceptable.



    Claude Beauville’s office was fully lit when Father Johannes arrived. The Beauvilles had once been an important family in Toulouse in Southern France, but the collapse in the woad dye trade had brought the family to near ruin. Monsieur Claude had since done quite well for himself by trading in all kinds of dyes as well as paints, paper and fine textiles, and his new emporium occupied an entire house in the center of Cologne. Father Johannes had bought a lot from him during his years with the Catholic army, and now, since Father Johannes had started working on Hatzfeldt House, he had gone to the emporium at least once a week to use the Beauville family’s many contacts to acquire the materials he needed — and even to order a few of the exiting new colors from the Americans. The business didn’t usually open this early, but the night before a note had arrived at Hatzfeldt House: the American cargo had arrived under the aegis of Herr Moses Abrabanel, and if the honored Father Johannes would come as early after dawn as convenient, he would be given first choice among the many fine marvels.

    So Father Johannes had risen before dawn, and as he stood admiring the new smooth glass in the windows shining in the first rays of the morning sun, he considered exactly what to say to Moses Abrabanel. The general situation was well known: most of the dioceses in the Rhine Valley — also called Bishops Alley — had been conquered by the Swedes in 1631, and most of the exiled bishops were now in Bonn planning heaven-knows-what with Archbishop Ferdinand. Prince-Abbot Schweinsberg of Fulda had defected — made a deal with the USE — and was back in Fulda, but with little of his former power and riches. And Archbishop Ferdinand’s fury at the defection made it totally clear that Schweinsberg had burned all his bridges behind him.

    During his meals with his sister Lucie, Maxie and Father Johannes, Bishop Franz had talked freely about his fellow refugees and about his host in Bonn. The bishop of Trier had quarreled with Archbishop Ferdinand and left, so the most important clerics remaining were Archbishop Anselm of Mainz and Maxie’s brother, Bishop Franz Wilhelm of Minden. According to Bishop Franz, his old friend Franz Wilhelm seemed to be patiently waiting for something, but Archbishop Anselm was visibly chafing under the patronizing charity of Archbishop Ferdinand. None of this was really secret, and could readily be picked up among the gossip at The Mocha House, but at least Father Johannes could send confirmations of those rumors back to Don Francisco. And perhaps Archbishop Anselm of Mainz was ready for an approach from the USE.

    In the end, though, it really all depended on the most powerful cleric in the area; what was Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne going to do? A treaty between him and the USE could mean peace along almost the entire western front of the USE, greatly strengthening the chances for at least an armistice with the Spanish occupation in Holland, hinder the French in stirring up trouble, and generally add greatly to the USE’s security. For the Archbishop it would be a chance to save what he could before he was negotiating with a knife on his throat. Or at least with a USE army coming down the Rhine from Frankfurt.

    On the other hand the archbishop was a member of the strongly Catholic and ambitious ducal family of Bavaria, so was he instead planning to re-conquer the lost dioceses? The French agents had been sniffing around all spring, and according to Bishop Franz the newly arrived dragoons at Bonn had been paid for with French money. Officially the dragoons were a warning to Wolfgang von Neuburg, Duke of Jülich-Berg, never the safest of neighbors, but considering Duke Maximilian of Bavaria’s upcoming marriage to a Habsburg princess, the Holy Roman Empire might also get behind an attempt to push the USE away from the Rhine — with Richelieu stirring up troubles on the sideline.

    No one expected Father Johannes to actually spy to discover military plans — not least because the archbishop lived in Bonn and Father Johannes was in Cologne — but Bishop Franz had come from Bonn to watch the progress Father Johannes was making on the house. And incidentally to delivered to Father Johannes the promised full pardon for his “momentary loss of reason” at Magdeburg. In return Father Johannes had answered as many questions about the Americans as the bishop had cared to ask.

    Father Johannes sat down on the horse-plinth outside the entrance to the emporium’s office to consider a point: what Bishop Franz had really been interested in was, what kind of people had gained power — and how — in the American’s home world. In fact the only here-and-now political or military subject the bishop had asked about had been Fulda and the American team there. Why no questions about Würzburg, the bishop’s own diocese? The Americans were there too.



    One other question Father Johannes had not been able to answer was just what Bishop Franz was planning to do? The bishop had the backing of his wealthy and powerful family, so in Father Johannes’ estimate Bishop Franz wasn’t likely to settle for anything less than a major part of his former power and riches. He certainly wasn’t likely to accept a powerless return like Prince-Abbot Schweinsberg’s. And if Bishop Franz wanted better terms, he’d had to have something to offer the USE in return. A peaceful deal for the entire Cologne area might involve something for Würzburg — and Bamberg too given the bishop’s strong connections to that diocese as well — but Bishop Franz had not asked who to approach for an official peace conference. Which fairly much left him either double-crossing the Archbishop to gain favor with the USE, or riding the Archbishop’s coat-tails on a military campaign and hope to win back his diocese that way. The ladies, Lucie and Maria, had asked far more directly about Bishop Franz’s plans than Father Johannes ever could, but received only evasions.

    Claude Beauville personally opened the door beside the window. “Ah! Bon Matin, Father Johannes. Monsieur Abrabanel is here and would like a few words with you in private about the materials available.”



    The muniment room in the basement of Hatzfeldt House was packed with crates and leather-wrapped bundles. Not much light entered from the windows high on the walls, but several bright lamps turned the big table in the center of the room into a suitable place for paperwork. Thick pillows and a sheepskin were heaped in a big armchair to support the crippled hip and back of Lucie von Hatzfeldt. The young widow had gladly accepted Maxie’s suggestion about sorting and listing the many papers in the crates and now spent several hours each day in the silent, whitewashed room — usually with one of her husband’s children sitting by her feet to run errands.

    Lucie had been the last of the nine children of Sebastian von Hatzfeldt’s first marriage, and had been born only a few weeks before her mother’s death. Four years later her father had acquired a papal dispensation to marry his cousin, Maria von Hatzfeldt-Wildenburg, a widow with a son and two daughters from her first marriage, and Sebastian’s second wife had simply added all Sebastian’s children and wards to her household and raised them absolutely equally with her own children.

    Sebastian’s third marriage — to Margaretha von Backenfoerde, widow of the wealthy Franz Wilhelm von Hatzfeldt-Merten — had been much less fortunate for his children, and despite Lucie’s handicap, all her four brothers had flatly refused to place Margaretha in control of the new Hatzfeldt House. That Backenfoerde Woman had her widow’s seat at Zeppenfeld, and that was all she was getting from this branch of the family! Margaretha was a great favorite of Archbishop Ferdinand, who had arranged her marriage to Sebastian, so Franz had been less vocal than his brothers in his denunciations of his stepmother. His asking Sister Maximiliane, who was nursing her cousin in Bonn, to come to Cologne and take command of the household had been an almost Solomonic solution that pleased everybody — except of course Margaretha.

    Normally it would have been Lucie, as her father’s only adult daughter, who had taken command over her unmarried brother’s household, but she had suffered a carriage accident after her wedding to a fellow officer and friend of her brother, Melchior, and had never healed beyond the ability to limp slowly and carefully with the aid of a cane. As she healed, she had patiently handled the papers and finances of her husband’s estates in Jülich, while overseeing the upbringing of his increasing brood of illegitimate children. Melchior — her favorite brother — had at first violently protested this arrangement and even challenged his friend to a duel, but Lucie had told her family that she didn’t mind the arrangement: she liked children, but apparently the damage to her back and hip made it impossible for her to carry a child to term. Less than a year ago her husband had been killed in Bohemia, and she had now left her estates in the hands of Johann Adrian von Hatzfeldt-Werther, her distant cousin and her father’s former ward, and moved to Cologne with all her husband’s five surviving children.

    Father Johannes liked her. She seemed a bit dull next to the impressive Maxie, but Lucie’s ready sense of humor and genuine kindness had brought back much of the joy and mischief Father Johannes had lost during his years with the Catholic army. It might be a bit hard on his dignity that she sometimes seemed to regard him as just another of the children she was caring for — she was after all more than ten years his junior — but all in all it was nice to be teased a little again. And she did take his worries about Paul Moreau completely seriously, and told him every little bit in the papers referring to painters.

    “Lady Lucie? Your stepmother Margaretha has arrived with her daughter Dame Anna and her niece Lady Sophia von Backenfoerde.” Father Johannes came into the muniment room to aid Lucie in rising from her chair. Normally the child on page duty would have done that, but a Spring Fair was held today, and all the children had been allowed to go there with Thomas, the old head groom.

    “Thank you, Father Johannes.” Lucie lifted a cat from her lap, stretched slowly and looked down on the papers on the table. “This is slow work. Everything was just gathered helter-skelter in Fulda as well as Würzburg, and mixing the two lots in this room haven’t helped. We have only just managed get the origin of the last bundles identified, and some of the papers my brother has asked for don’t seem to be here. I’m sorting the Würzburg papers first, but there is nothing so far about your friend.”

    “Is Captain Eltz mentioned?”

    “My brother hiring cousin Bobo and his men to defend Würzburg is all I’ve found so far. Bobo was killed there by the Swedish attack, you know.”

    “Yes.” Father Johannes walked slowly beside Lucie along the basement corridor pushing away the cat trying to twine around the lady’s legs. “Did you know him well?”

    “Not really. A rowdy, young boy. He was very eager to become a soldier, never really wanted anything else. The war didn’t seem to bother him the way it does my brothers, Melchior and Hermann. They are good fighters, competent officers, but dislike the violence and gore of the battles.” Lucie climbed the stair, one step at the time. “Bobo on the other hand once told a story about the rats on a battlefield. He found it funny.” Lucie shuddered. “Talking about rats: have you seen Otto Zweimal lately?”

    “In Bonn, on my way here this winter. I think, he was just leaving for Bavaria. Why?” Father Johannes stopped on the narrow stairs and smiled down on Lucie; she really was a nice woman.

    “Zweimal does Franz’s dirty work the way Felix Gruyard does Archbishop Ferdinand’s. Having Franz mention Zweimal and Gruyard in the same letter makes me smell rats. Dirty little rats scuttling around behind the panels.” Lucie whacked her cane against the wall before hoisting herself up the next step. “Some kind of pamphlets against the Americans and Hesse. Drawings were mentioned, but nothing about your friend. By the way, has Sobby had her baby yet?”


    “Lady Sophia. She’s Margaretha’s niece, and expecting her first baby within the next month. The two of them are staying at the old Wolfer Hof. Sobby doesn’t just cry over spilled milk, she turns it into a major passion-play. Complete with fireworks in the end. My maid told me there was a fire at Wolfer Hof last night, but if Sobby is going to stay here — not to mention Margaretha — I think I’ll have my future meals in the muniment room. Care to join me?”

    “With the greatest delight, Lady Lucie.”

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