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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Eight

       Last updated: Thursday, February 3, 2005 23:13 EST



Pia Desideria
Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia

    It was Ash Wednesday. Athanasius Kircher, S.J., substituting for Father Larry Mazzare at the parish of St. Mary’s, had made a place in his schedule, on one of the busiest days of the church year, for the three women. When Bernadette Adducci had called for an appointment, she had asked specifically that it be on Ash Wednesday. Not, as the up-timers normally asked, for an appointment on a certain day of the month. She had referenced the liturgical calendar.

    He had made it his business to find something out about each of the three women who would be coming. Between running the parish, even with three curates to assist, now, and teaching at the high school, he did not know Father Mazzare’s parishioners as well as he should. It had been-impressive. It appeared that among the up-timers, families of the middle classes, ordinary businessmen and sometimes even manual workers, educated their daughters as carefully as the down-time high nobility. Granted the absence of Latin and Greek-one always had to make allowance for the absence of classical languages among the Grantvillers. He looked out the window. There were four women coming.

    “Miss Adducci, Miss Constantinault, Miss Mastroianni, and...?”

    “Noelle Murphy, Father Kircher. I made up my mind to come along at the last minute since I’m in town. I’ve been working down in Franconia. But I’m not one hundred percent sure about this.”

    Kircher noticed that Bernadette Adducci had a book in her hand. Presumably one of her own, that had not been wanted for the national library, or that she had needed for her daily work. Kircher refreshed his mind. In her mid-forties, she worked for the police department as their “juvenile officer” specializing in transgressions by, and against, children. She had an advanced degree, not in any field that was a subject of university study in his day, but she was a magister. Magistra? The word fell strangely on his ears. Her brother, Tony, the state treasurer, he knew fairly well.

    She handed him the book. Over a hundred pages. Several entries on each page; for each a picture of a woman in a habit and and short description. Women’s religious orders as they had existed in the United States of America in-he flipped to the front-the 1950s. A half century before the Ring of Fire occurred. The four women sat quietly while he looked at it.

    Finally, Miss Adducci spoke. “I entered the Daughters of Charity founded by Vincent de Paul when I was twenty years old; I left, not because of any scandal, when I was thirty-three.”

    She had not said, “St. Vincent de Paul.” Did she think that Larry Mazzare would not have shared the original name of Grantville’s parish with his assistants?

    Her next question confused him. “Have you read any of Simon Jones’ detective stories?” He assured her that he had read several.

    “There was-is-a series that I love. An elderly nun who was a detective. Sister Mary Theresa Dempsey. I can lend you a couple of the books, if you might possibly have time to read them. I mostly borrowed them from the library, when I was working in Pittsburgh, but I bought a few in paperback that the library never got in.”

    Kircher noted the wryness of her smile. She was continuing. “There was one young nun in that house, among the elderly women. In one book of the series, she remarked that when she entered the order, one of her relatives had commented that she was ‘climbing aboard a sinking ship.’ The women’s religious orders in the United States were a sinking ship. It happened in a half century, between when that was published,” -she gestured at the book in his hand- “and the time the Ring of Fire happened.”

    He maintained his silence. After a pause, she continued.

    “Do you want to know why?”

    He nodded.

    “I can’t answer for everyone. In part, probably, it was that there were other opportunities-the same reason that fewer women were going into elementary school teaching and nursing. But. I entered the order wanting to give a hundred percent of what I was capable, or more. By the early 1980s, though, so few young women were entering that the superiors seemed to be afraid of frightening them away. They never seemed to require more than eighty-five percent. Oh, I might have found it somewhere else. I could have asked for a transfer. In Calcutta, I am sure, Mother Teresa could have found a sufficiently strenuous job for me. But I was American; it was selfish, perhaps, but I didn’t want to go so far from my family. So, what did I do? I left the order and went into social work. In social work, I assure you, Father Kircher, a person can give more than a hundred ten percent for a lifetime and still see a gaping black hole of unmet needs before her.”

    Kircher wondered idly what a “black hole” might be. A pit, perhaps? An abyss? Miss Adducci appeared to have said all that she intended to say. Miss Mastroianni gestured, an understandable request for permission to speak. He had noticed that many of his students used the same one and she was a teacher, a woman about thirty. He nodded.

    “We’ve never had a house of sisters in Grantville, Father Kircher. The town could use one, now. Not the kind you’re used to; women enclosed inside walls. Not contemplative. The active kind that Bernadette is talking about. All we’re asking is that you think about it. If you could look at the book-see what sisters did? There’s so much that we could do.”

    Kircher’s fingers met one another. He placed his chin on them. “And the four of you are doing nothing now?”

    One of the younger women rose. Miss Constantinault; just appointed the chief of staff of the state court system for all of the state of Thuringia-Franconia, trained as an administrator and, to some limited extent, in the law. She looked at him sharply and said, “Not as a group-as a unit. And not,” she pointed to the “AMDG” motto on the wall of his office, “to the greater glory of God.”

    The youngest girl said, with some suddenness, “That’s why I came along. Because that is why we should be doing things.”

    “I will,” he heard himself saying, “look at your book. Carefully.”

    The four women rose. “We know that you have a lot to do today,” Bernadette Adducci said. That is all we ask. Shall we plan to meet again after Easter?”



    “There is no reason why I should not go now. There are many reasons that I should go now.” Veronica Dreeson looked at her husband. Not mulishly. She did not want to look stubborn. She wished to look calmly determined. She wanted an expression of serene dignity. Her prematurely wizened face strained with the effort of assuming one.

    All her life, at need, Veronica Schusterin, verw. Richter, verh. Dreeson, had been willing to argue with others when it was needed. Last fall, in Magdeburg, the Abbess of Quedlinburg’s approach to life had struck her as a blinding revelation – the elegance of it. The Abbess almost never argued with anyone, because she simply assumed that no one would contradict her wishes and acted upon that assumption. Even amid the sorrow of her grandson Hans’ death, Veronica had filed away in her mind the general usefulness of this approach to getting one’s own way. If one could manage it.

    Another tactic. “I have a letter of recommendation from the king of Sweden himself. Or,” she added conscientiously, “at least one with his signature on it, though that may have been added by one of his secretaries. It introduces me to his regent in the Upper Palatinate. It requests him to assist me in obtaining a resolution of our just claims to Johann Stephan’s property. So, clearly, I should go while the regent whom he named is still holding the office.”

    Then, to clinch the deal. “We need the money.” She sat quietly. Henry could not argue with that.

    Henry was doing what he called “cogitating.” Ronnie let him cogitate. He knew the truth as well as she did. His salary as mayor was not large; before the Ring of Fire, when it had been only what they called a “part time” job, his salary had not existed at all. He once had a pension, a Social Security; it was gone. Fortunately he had saved money for his retirement; like any city councilman down-time, his civic service had been premised on having sufficient income to “get away from the office” and serve the public good.

    The savings had come through the Ring of Fire, but they were gone. Oh, if there had been only the two of them, with his salary, her business, and the little coming in here and there from the real estate, there would have been plenty.

    There were far more than two of them. Gretchen, amazingly enough, was famous now. But fame, especially fame gained by giving speeches urging other people to revolt against their superiors, did not pay many bills. At the beginning, Jeff and his friends had helped. But Jeff, Gretchen, and, presumably, Jeff’s pay from the army, were now in Amsterdam, far away in the Netherlands. If Jeff’s pay was not arriving in Amsterdam via letter of credit, Veronica did not have the slightest idea how the two of them were paying for their food, and rooms, and replacing shoes that wore out, and all the other necessities that came with prolonged travel, but it wasn’t something that she could do anything about. Jimmy was in Amsterdam too, presumably with his pay also arriving there. Eddie was a captive in Denmark; she didn’t know where his pay was. She hoped that the navy bookkeepers in Magdeburg were saving it for him. Larry and Hans-she blinked quickly-had died bravely. But they weren’t being paid any more. Neither of them had had legal dependents.

    The other children, from Annalise on down, were still in school. She felt her face tightening into a slightly grimmer expression, in spite of her efforts to remain tranquil. What was more, Annalise would stay in school. Annalise, no matter how much she protested the matter, was going to college. She would be a member of the first class of the new women’s college at Quedlinburg. And her grandmother would, somewhere, find the money to pay for it. Veronica had learned a lot, these last months, about the cost of tuition at such a school for the daughters of the elite and wealthy, the patricians, the great merchants, and the nobles. It was only reasonable that Johann Stephan’s property, if anything were left of it, should pay for his granddaughter’s education.

    The question of who would pay for the education of the other children as they grew older, and how, could rest for the moment. If Gretchen and Jeff returned from Amsterdam-that was an if; she would not delude herself that it was no more than a when-then she could give that problem back to them. If they did not return... She looked across the room at Henry. He shifted in his chair. His hip was bothering him again, she could tell. If Gretchen and Jeff did not return, she hoped that the schools would be doing very, very well in another ten years. She would need every Pfennig of the income from her business.

    Veronica leaned over the side of her arm chair, reached into her widely recognized tote bag- “Come to Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” it proclaimed, with a large picture of a harlequin in costume. “I have an answer from the lawyer to whom I wrote earlier. It is going to be complicated. I want to retrieve anything that I can. I want to ensure that whatever is sold is sold for the maximum price. At least, for the most I can get. The economy is recovering very slowly south of the Thueringerwald. After all, Henry, it is peaceful there now. It is likely to remain peaceful there throughout the summer. Everyone says that this year’s action will be to the north. In the Baltic. Where the king of Sweden is.”





    “We will open the normal school next fall.” Mary Simpson, sitting in the conference room of the Magdeburg offices of the Leek family’s new down-time IBM corporation (manual typewriters and mechanical adding machines), put only the slightest emphasis on the word “will.” “Teacher training is a project that we just have to get started.”

    Vanessa Clements nodded; so did Livvie Nielsen. Carol Ann Washaw, universally addressed as “Tiny” by the Grantvillers, a nickname which derived not from her present comfortable girth but rather from the size of the preemie she had been back in 1934, who was trying to acquire a library for the project, looked more doubtful.

    “There isn’t any money to open the normal school next fall.” Carolyn Rush, Ben Leek’s daughter and office manager, shook her head. Carolyn brought a lot of perspective to this project-fifteen years as an administrative aide in the Marion County public school system on top of an undergraduate degree in American history. “Normal schools just aren’t glamorous. You can excite the upper nobility rich merchants about opera, about ballet, libraries, even about these new women’s colleges at the Damenstifte. Those have eye appeal. What’s the prospect of getting them excited about re-treading hundreds or thousands of middle-aged widows and one-legged or one-armed soldiers into grade school teachers? Zilch.”

    Mary Simpson shook her head. “There are some. I just need to talk to the right ones. Preferably, in person. Look, Carolyn, you have been working on this long enough now to have gotten over the idea that all of the down-time wealthy get their kicks out of being oppressors of the oppressed.”

    “I still don’t think that we’re going to get money for this one. Definitely not any tax money.” Carolyn shook her head. “Even a lot of the people back home in Grantville think that it’s the wrong way to handle the problem. Once we get past the crunch of these first few years, they’re thinking of college-age kids; of full university educations, like the medical school in Jena. A lot of them lived through the years when the school reformers forced women who just had the two-year normal school degree out of the system. There are women in Grantville who were forced out of the system that way. They see it as a step backwards; not just gearing down, but giving up and saying that we’re not going to make it; admitting that we really won’t be able to make this work.”

    “It’s not, really, a lot different than the teacher training program they’re starting at the middle school, now that they’ve finally faced up to the fact that their existing teachers aren’t immortal and they’d better start getting some new ones into the pipeline,” Vanessa pointed out.

    “Notice that they aren’t calling it a normal school. There’s a lot in a name,” Tiny answered

    “Well then.” Mary smiled sweetly. “Think of another name. That’s the next assignment for the marketing department. That’s you, Livvie. Community college; teachers’ college. Pick it. Just make sure that the curriculum stays aimed at turning out grade school teachers, K-8. And plan to open on a shoestring. Get Otto Gericke to let you use any unfilled space in the new building for the Magdeburg Gymnasium next year. Admit more people than he gives you space for, to show that the demand is there. While you do that, I’m going to find some money. Real money.”

    “Where do you intend to get it?” Carolyn raised her eyebrows.

    Mary smiled. “From the Wettins; or, at least, through the Wettins, since it appears that we can’t get it from parliament. Through the right Wettins. I’ve been talking to William Wettin’s uncle, Duke Leopold of Anhalt-Koethen. He’s been very much involved with education reform projects for twenty years or more. Some of them went all the way up to the Reichstag, the Imperial Diet.

    “And he,” Carolyn pointed out, “couldn’t ever get any money appropriated for them, either.”

    “He says that William might be some help, at least with the publicity. The two of them can get the members of their Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft-in spite of ‘by their fruits ye shall know them,’ why does a name like “Fruit-bearing Society” strike me as hopelessly absurd?-to write letters and poems and such. Newspaper articles. Create a favorable attitude among the intellectual elite.” Mary Simpson was not easily swayed.

    “Intellectual elites are not noted for having large amounts of excess capital to donate to worthy causes.” Carolyn smiled, but it didn’t take the sting out of her words.

    “They’re tutors to the children of people with excess capital; private secretaries to people with excess capital. Atmosphere helps, too. It will contribute to creating the milieu in which the normal school becomes a charity with eye appeal.”

    “Let’s create a milieu in which we have enough money to pay the faculty their first month’s wages.” Carolyn had a relentless sense of the practical.

    Mary pulled another letter out of her purse. “Yes, let’s. I just heard from Veronica Dreeson. This summer, she is going to the Upper Palatinate to try to retrieve anything that she can from her first husband’s estate. The regent there, Duke Ernst, is William Wettin’s brother. Everything that I’ve been able to find out about him says pretty much one thing. For all his life long, the slightest whiff of chalk dust acted on him like the aroma of Chanel No. 5. He was attracted to proposals for educational reform the way moths are attracted by mating pheromones.”

    “Let me guess,” Carolyn said. “Ronnie Dreeson is afraid that if she goes on this trip by herself, Duke Ernst will want to keep her in Amberg to discuss early childhood education rather than letting her get on with the project of getting her money back. She has invited you to come along and talk schools.”

    “Precisely. And I’m going. As I told John, there’s absolutely no reason to expect any problems. Everybody says that the action this year will be to the north, against the League of Ostend.”




    There wasn’t any more chaos or racket than was customary in a grade school, but it was seven o’clock in the evening rather than the middle of the day. Keith Pilcher paused in the corridor. There were tutoring sessions in the library; after-care in the gym, and some group was holding a meeting in the cafeteria. There were third-quarter parent-teacher conferences going on in some of the classrooms; in the art room, there were high school girls conducting craft projects for the children whose parents had to bring them along to the conferences because they couldn’t find, or couldn’t afford, sitters. There were no pipe cleaners; no one was manufacturing crayons yet; but the paper-mill in Badenburg now collected the water with which the Stones’ dye works cleaned out its pots. Construction paper had made a comeback and there was plenty of glue.

    Maxine’s classroom was at the far end. She had left for school before dawn this morning; he had dropped the kids off on his way to work an hour later. Now she was leading a whole squadron of middle-aged German women in . . . “You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you put your left foot in and then you shake it all about.” Traditional methods of teaching foreign languages had been sacrificed to Grantville’s acute need. People learned to speak English painfully slowly when presented with books and rules; they learned English, at least enough to function on a daily basis, remarkably fast when put through nursery rhymes, simple songs, children’s games, and other group activities in which any one person’s occasional mistakes were neither apparent nor humiliating. “And that’s what it’s all about.” Maxine finished dancing the hokey-pokey, saw Keith at the door, tossed her shocking pink plastic whistle to Dionne Huffman, and said, “take it from here.”

    Dionne looked like she still had enough energy to keep going for a couple more hours. She washed the whistle with soap and water at the sink, shook off the excess, said, “All right, everybody,” and popped it into her mouth. Its shriek quieted the room. “I’m a little teapot . . . .” The class was back into shape in less than five minutes.

    Keith shook his head as he draped his arm around Maxine’s shoulder. Unlike Dionne, he thought, his wife looked worn out. They passed through after-care, collected Megan and Joshua, and headed for home. He had stopped at Cora’s to pick up something for supper; starting to cook a meal “from scratch” at eight in the evening was not a bright idea when people had to be up by five or six the next morning. Cora was into creative cooking again, but at least it wasn’t zucchini quesadillas. It was some kind of whole-grain barley salad with bits and pieces of vegetables in it, marinaded in oil and vinegar. Weird; not bad, though, with the rye bread from the bakery. Cora’s results varied.

    The kids went to bed right after supper. They got their homework done in after-care, these days. Keith cleared off the dishes; there were rarely any leftovers to worry about. Maxine was still sitting at the table; he walked up behind her and she lifted her head, resting it against the buckle of his belt. He looked down. Maxine had hated it when her favorite “autumn copper” hair coloring had run out and she had discovered that the hair under it wasn’t just the plain mousy brown that it had been when she started using the tint back in high school, but had gone at least half gray. Keith didn’t mind; he thought that Max looked fine this way. Thelma had given it a cut that was sort of short and perky. That was the best that he could describe it. She was too skinny, though. She’d always been thin, but now she was way too thin. Probably because she danced the hokey-pokey with German housewives for three hours after school every day. She didn’t need what was coming next.

    “Max,” he said. “Ollie’s sending me on that trip.”

    She turned, buried her face in his stomach, and moaned.

    “Hey, honey, it’s to your credit, ‘cause you made me go and sing German nursery rhymes night after night.”

    Maxine moaned again.

    “We’ve got to have more iron. We’ve got to. For guns; for rail; for all the other stuff that will help us hold against the League of Ostend. Every machine shop, up-time and down-time, needs more steel than it’s getting, and it doesn’t matter how much steel-producing capacity we build up unless we have the raw material for the mills. The mines around here are producing just about as much ore as they can, as fast as they can, with the technology we’ve been able to give them so far. We’ve got to get some of the old mines that were destroyed in the war back into production, and that means the Upper Palatinate. That’s where the next nearest chance to get our hands on more iron is. At least, the nearest that’s pretty securely inside the USE.”

    Maxine squeezed her arms around his substantial waistline.

    “Come on, honey. It’s just a business trip. We have a lot of stuff to offer them. Pumps and stationary steam engines to run the pumps. A bit of explosive to open the closed shafts. Improved rail design for the carts, to bring it out faster. I won’t be running into any trouble.”




    Ed Piazza started for home, saw who was on the bench outside his office, grinned, and said, “Leopold. I didn’t know that you were in town.”

    “I wasn’t until this afternoon,” Leopold Cavriani answered, leaping up to shake hands. “Be flattered; this is my second stop. The first was to entrust my oldest daughter to the Reverend Wiley and his wife. Idelette is sixteen, now. This spring and summer, she will learn your language and ways; the next two years, she will go to school. Then, if all is well, she will train in the office of a businessman. Probably with Count August von Sommersburg’s factor. The count has a permanent office here in Grantville, now. His factor has been among you Grantvillers long enough that he is willing to have a daughter of a business partner as one of his apprentices. At least, he says so now. If he does not say so then, why, we shall be flexible.” He grinned.

    Flexible. Flexible could be the Cavriani motto, Ed mused. Aloud, he asked, “So what is our friend the noble concrete bandit up to now?” Sommersburg was not only making a mint from the slate quarries that he owned on the Schwarza river above Grantville, but was also up to his neck in cement, concrete, and related construction projects in Magdeburg.

    “Diversification,” said Cavriani happily. “Quite a lovely word. I like it almost as much as ‘facilitator.’”

    “Diversification into...?”

    “Mining,” said Cavriani. “Mines involve moving so much rock, you know. The count is financing one of your entrepreneurs in an effort to obtain more iron supplies from the Upper Palatinate. That will involve a lot of rock, of course. The count hopes to develop ways in which to make a profit from the by-products of a mining enterprise. By-products that the miners themselves find uninteresting. Waste products.”

    “‘Waste’ products that down-time miners find uninteresting, but that might, just possibly, find a market in up-time technology.”

    “Possibly, just possibly.”

    “Well,” Ed said, “come on home with me for dinner. I’m sure Annabelle can find something extra to put on the table.”

    As they went down the stairs, Ed asked casually, “Which entrepreneur”?

    “Ollie Reardon. He is far too busy to go to the Upper Palatinate himself, of course. He will be sending one of his trusted co-workers. A man named Keith Pilcher. I haven’t met him yet. I’m looking forward to the trip. We will be stopping in Nürnberg to pick up my son Marc. He is coming with us. This should be an excellent chance to give him his first real experience in negotiations. A routine matter, to be sure, but he will have a chance to meet some influential people, both up-time and down-time. And the Upper Palatinate seems to be settling down very nicely under Duke Ernst. He can get a first-hand view of how rapidly we can hope for economic reconstruction to proceed once a region is no longer a war zone.”



    “Bernadette,” Maxine Pilcher asked, cornering the juvenile officer in a booth at Cora’s during lunch. “What is this all about?”

    Bernadette looked at the newspaper. Maxine’s attention was fixed on a legal notice which stated that Mrs. Veronica Dreeson had appeared before Judge Maurice Tito with a petition for the legal emancipation of her granddaughter, Miss Anna Elisabetha Richter.

    “What is that woman up to now?”

    “Don’t hope for scandal,” Bernadette answered. Grantville had been considerably enlivened for the past three years by occasional flare-ups when the divergent educational philosophies of Ronnie Dreeson and Maxine Pilcher came into conflict. “It’s no Hardesty-type case. I’d call it a bit risky, but it’s perfectly prosaic and she probably knows the girl better than anyone else does. Annalise is going to be running the St. Veronica’s schools this spring and summer.”

    “Annalise is what? Seventeen?”

    “She just had her seventeenth birthday. Last week, in fact. Ronnie petitioned to have her emancipated so that she can make binding contracts. And she’s providing Annalise with a full power-of-attorney to handle all of her affairs while she’s gone.”

    “Gone where? And why not Henry?”

    “As they headed out of the courtroom after Maurice granted the petition, I heard Ronnie say, ‘ask Henry if you have any questions, but remember that he’s a very busy man, so don’t bother him unless you have to.’ Which is, I presume, why Henry isn’t being stuck with the schools. On top of everything else that he has to do.”

    “But,” Maxine asked, “where is Ronnie going? For so long, anyway? I know that she travels around to visit her ‘schools.’ They’re springing up all over the place, like mushrooms.” She grimaced. “Or toadstools. But she could visit them all and still come back to town, in between. Magdeburg is the farthest away.”

    “She’ll be gone much longer this time. Not day trips, not week trips. She’s heading off to the Upper Palatinate to see whether she can get anything from her first husband’s estate. There are a whole batch of Grantville people with business there this spring, plus the Voice of America is sending back a batch of newly trained down-time radio operators to Duke Ernst and Mary Simpson is going. There’s no reason to expect any trouble, of course, but Admiral Simpson and Mayor Dreeson apparently thought that it would be better for the ladies to travel with some military escort. And, of course, Ollie was just as happy to include....”

    Bernadette had been about to add, “Keith and Mr. Cavriani.” And to ask, “hasn’t Keith mentioned it to you.” Clearly, he hadn’t. Bernadette realized why.

    “Ooooooh, nooooooo,” Maxine howled. “Keith is not traveling with that woman.”

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