Previous Page Next Page

UTC:       Local:

Home Page Index Page

1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Twenty One

       Last updated: Monday, May 9, 2005 19:00 EDT




    Papa and Mama, Cecelia and Mariana, were gone, back to Vienna. The wedding procession moved slowly toward Munich, the days punctuated by the ringing of bells calling people to prayer, the dismounting of everyone in the procession in response to the bells, and the recital of the liturgical offices. In between, it moved through villages that offered pantomimes in honor of the marriage; towns that had decorated their market squares. Every mayor welcomed her; every Latin school had a teacher who had written a poem in her honor; some towns had organists or choir directors who had set the poems to newly composed music. There were allegorical pageants, some classical and some biblical. Not to mention flowers presented by the children. Always, there were children with flowers; always, there were prayers that this marriage might prove fruitful.

    Every evening, they stopped as guests of one or another prominent nobleman. Maria Anna was beginning the process of learning all the names; connecting the names to the proper faces. Making polite conversation, she commented on the beauty of Bavaria’s children, elegantly comparing it to the beauty of the flowers they gave her.

    The courtier to whom she was speaking at the moment was Don Diego Saavedra Fajardo, a Spanish diplomat and literary figure who had been in residence at the Bavarian court for some time. He replied that he was most glad that the future duchess duly appreciated that children were one of God’s greatest gifts. He mentioned that one of the most drastic of the witchcraft persecutions in Bavaria in the preceding generation had occurred when it dawned on Duke Maximilian’s father that his son’s first marriage was going to be permanently barren. Duke Wilhelm had decided that witches had hexed his daughter-in-law and set out to make them sorry.

    The court chancellor, Johann Christoph Abegg, was standing next to Saavedra. Quickly, she reviewed what she knew about the man. Another jurist-Uncle Max, like Papa, gave positions of great honor to the nobility but tended to rely upon his academically trained advisers when it came to administration. Abegg had been in his position since 1625; he could probably stay as long as he wanted to, if he didn’t go too near to the edge. For a couple of years, he had teetered on that brink. In 1626, a relative of his wife, married to the town clerk of Eichstätt, had been executed as a witch. Many considered him to be an enemy of dealing firmly with the witch problems. On most matters, however, he was now neutral.

    Casually, quite matter-of-factly, Abegg assured her that if she was not fertile, he expected that the pyres would burn again.



    The geography of Bavaria made it somewhat difficult to go from Passau to Munich by land. True, the procession generally followed the course of the Vils, and would then cut across to the Isar at Landau. Still, the route involved crossing a number of small streams. Everything had been prepared in advance at the fords, and for those that could not be conveniently forded by a procession of elaborately dressed people, ferries had been procured, but every ferry crossing ensured that the procession moved slowly. First a group of guards crossed; then the duke and his entourage, which, of course, included his brother’s family; then the cardinal and the bishop with theirs; then Maria Anna and her attendants; then the courtiers and officials who were not in the duke’s own entourage, with their wives; higher servants; lesser servants with the baggage; finally stablemen with remounts, followed by another troup of guards. Then the procession would re-form and move to the next village or town where a reception had been arranged.

    By the time they reached Freising, of course, everybody was talking about the attempt to assassinate the pope. And that the pope had appointed an up-time priest, an Italian, Mazzare was his name, as cardinal-protector of the usurping United States of Europe, cardinal-protector of a principality ruled by a heretic, by the Swede.

    Duke Maximilian was not in a good mood. The privy council met every evening, cutting the ceremonial banquets short. Each meeting began with a rosary, thanking God for preserving the pope’s life. No matter how-it appeared that it was a Scots Calvinist who had interposed himself between His Holiness and the gunman. How embarrassing.

    That appointment of a cardinal-protector. How infuriating.

    Richel, it appeared, had successfully infiltrated an informant into St. Mary’s in Grantville, in the guise of an apothecary who had come to learn from one of the up-time parishioners. The parishioner was Italian, one Agostino Nobili; it was difficult to account for the presence of so many Italians in this up-time community, but, of course, Italians went everywhere. For the past three and a half centuries the peninsula had provided all of Europe with an unending stream of artists, architects, engineers, scientists, teachers, jurists, and military commanders. If this town truly came from the future, there was no reason to presume that Italians would have ceased to be the intellectual leaders of the world three and a half centuries from now.

    That aside, according to Richel’s informant, this up-timer had a phrase that he used to describe himself. “More Catholic than the pope.”

    “It is possible, My Lord Duke,” Richel commented, “that this is a signal to us. We may entering an era in which the work of God must be carried out by the secular rulers who serve Him; in these last days, it may be, the papacy itself will be corrupted by demonic forces.”

    Duke Maximilian stroked his goatee. At the next evening’s meeting, he omitted the rosary.

    The council members were treading very lightly in the duke’s presence. Each day, he rose well before dawn and withdrew to his oratory, heard mass, withdrew to his oratory again before reading the despatches and preparing for the procession.

    Father Contzen heard the duke’s confessions, of course. Anxiety showed on Contzen’s face, no matter how he tried to control it. That made everyone else uneasy.

    And the news from Ingolstadt was not good.




    Forst and Becker felt a profound sense of relief. When they arrived at Freising, the procession had not passed yet; it was due the following day, when there would be the most magnificent of all the receptions yet held.

    Not, of course, that Freising was part of the duchy of Bavaria; it was merely surrounded and enclosed by the duchy of Bavaria. Its bishop was a prince-bishop, legally, if not de facto, an independent ruler. De facto, if not legally, dependent upon the duke, yet to some extent capable of conducting an independent foreign policy and exercising jurisdiction within his own lands.

    Festivals and receptions were always chaotic, with too much going on for the local inspectors to keep track of. The two Leuchtenberger found out where the procession would pass. Placed the barrels on a corner. The landgrave’s steward had given them a little money toward expenses. They bought some decorative bunting from a vendor who had set up his shop early; flowers from a peasant woman with an apron full of nosegays. They bought all the nosegays, to re-sell; the peasant woman, delighted, made another trip to where she had parked her cart outside the walls and refilled her apron. By the time the men were done, they thought that their little flower stand looked fairly pretty.

    The second man stopped a passing artist carrying his charcoals and chalks, ready to sketch visitors; had him write “Long Live Leuchtenberg” on the bunting. They would jump up and down; yell the slogan at the top of their lungs. If they were lucky, Landgravine Mechthilde would slow her pace and wave; maybe even pull up her horse. That would be their chance.

    They sold nosegays for two hours, at quite inflated prices. By mid-morning, they had recouped their investment and made a little money. Nobody had asked to see their vendor’s license. So far, so good.



    The procession was here. The duke had already passed; that meant that the main attention of his guards was directed ahead, at whatever dangers might be coming next; not at what was already safely behind them. Becker gathered the rest of the nosegays into a small pile; Forst pulled the tacks that held the bunting from blowing off the barrels, reached underneath, and loosened the lids. Duke Albrecht was coming; the crowd was yelling his name. With his wife, their lord’s sister, Landgravine Mechthilde herself. They waved and yelled. “Long Live Leuchtenberg.”

    She pulled up her horse; smiled at them graciously.

    They tipped the barrels and rolled them in front of her.

    The guards coming behind started to advance; people in the crowd started to scream; Duke Maximilian’s guards half-turned to get a look at the disturbance.

    So did the duke; then he turned his horse. The iron general of the Catholic League was not likely to be frightened by a minor disturbance during a civil festivity.

    The two bargemen dumped the barrels out at the feet of Mechthilde’s horse.



    Maria Anna, quite aware of both the possibility that barrels sometimes held explosives and the certainty that not all subjects adored their rulers, had prudently reined in when the men started to roll them. Now, she pushed forward. What on earth? Two old women?

    She and Duke Maximilian arrived on either side of Albrecht and Mechthilde simultaneously.



    Forst and Becker started to explain. It was, from Mechthilde’s perspective, a total farrago of nonsense. Her brother, an agent in Amberg, overcharges for ore barrels, delayed deliveries of ore barges, a mysterious attack on the two women when they were picnicking. The men said they knew that their lord had paid them to watch the one old lady, that they had not known what to do when it happened. Then, when they crossed the Danube, the steward said that the landgrave was sick but they hadn’t known that.

    Mary Simpson was gradually straightening herself out. Since the pause at Prüfening, she and Veronica had been back in the barrels for several days now. Not, it was true, without being provided with food and water. The bargemen didn’t want them to die. However, ever since that break, they had been given food and water in the barrels. Always when the cart was in some location with nobody else around. With threats that if they tried to scream while their gags were off, there wouldn’t be any more. They had eaten and drunk.

    She got her legs unflexed; they were still tied together. Sat there, wiggling her feet and ankles, while people shouted over her head. Wondered if there was any way she could get up. Not without help, with her hands tied behind her back. Veronica was in the same plight, except worse. Her hands were not only tied, but her arms were roped to her body; her legs not just trussed at the ankles, but the ropes wound all the way up her legs.

    They were both filthy, stinking, dirty again. Mary was stiff. Every muscle in her body ached. She was furious.

    It was safe to assume that Veronica shared her attitude.



    Mechthilde was not in a very good mood, either. Impatiently, she motioned to one of her guards to release the women’s ropes.

    The two bargemen threw themselves between her and the smaller one-the one who was more tightly tied. They were screaming protests that the woman was a witch; that they had undergone many hardships after they captured this witch that the landgrave was interested in. That had been in Grafenwöhr. They had not known, then, that she was a witch, but she must be very dangerous; the landgrave must have been worried that she was plotting against Leuchtenberg. They had been watching her for a month, they said.

    She had actually been living in the Schloss in Amberg, under the direct protection of the regent placed in the Upper Palatinate by the ursurping Swede. Well, both of the women had, but they thought that this one was the main witch; the other was only her assistant. Surely, the bargemen insisted, there had been a plot against Leuchtenberg, which they had averted at great danger to themselves.

    In the time between the incident at Grafenwöhr and this day, they had speculated so long and hard, and told one another possible variants of the story so many times, that they now believed it.



    Duke Maximilian heard the words Schloss and Amberg and regent. He was a man who read the reports submitted by his intelligence agents with great diligence.

    Tight-lipped, he issued his order. “Let the women be released at once.” The guards complied.



    Mary managed to stand up by herself; the guards had to assist Veronica. Her feet and legs were completely numb; her arms little better; her hands swollen; she felt miserable. The guards pulled out the rags with which they had been gagged

    Mary bit her tongue hard to get enough saliva into her dry mouth that she could speak again. She stood up straight. She smiled. First at the duke; she wasn’t sure where she was, but it was obvious that he was in charge here. Then at the woman the bargemen had been yelling at. Then at the man next to her; then at the second woman. She spoke in English.

    “My name is Mary Simpson. I am a citizen of the United States of Europe, and have been abducted from within its borders while conducting legitimate personal business in the Upper Palatinate.” She repeated the words in German.

    The man in black looked down at her; replied, “There is no United States of Europe; its claimed emperor is an ursurper of the rights of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Upper Palatinate, of which I am the duly recognized elector, is legitimately a province of the Duchy of Bavaria.”

    Mary’s smile wavered slightly. She was rapidly figuring out where she was, although she still had no idea why she was there. “Hostage” was the first word that came into her mind. John. John, whatever you do, don’t let them give in to this. I’ve lived nearly sixty years; tell Ronnie’s damned Bavarians to go fly a kite. Her smile steadied.

    Veronica still couldn’t stand by herself, but she had been opening and closing her hands. She managed to bend her right arm. Fumbled at the neckline of her dress. Pulled out the pouch; retrieved her teeth. Her mouth was dry. She put them in anyway. Without them, she was just an old hag of a German camp follower standing here. With them....

    “My name is Veronica Dreeson. I am a citizen of the United States of Europe and have been abducted from within its borders while conducting legitimate personal business in the Upper Palatinate.” She was following Mary’s words exactly. That was a relief.

    A woman with a leather water bag hung around her neck came forward from the side of the street. She must have been selling water to the crowd. She had a ladle; offered each of them a drink. The odds were a hundred percent that it had not been boiled; they drank it anyway.

    The younger woman leaned down from her horse and gave a coin to the water seller. For a moment, Mary’s admired her dress. And her poise. Considerably more poise than the older woman to whom the bargemen had been speaking.

    Mary waited for the man in black to make the next move.

    Veronica opened her mouth again. “I am the wife of the mayor of Grantville, the city that came from the future. Hans Richter, who destroyed the Danish ship at Wismar, was my husband’s grandson. Gretchen Richter, who organizes the Committees of Correspondence, is my husband’s granddaughter. And you, whoever you are, are going to be very, very, sorry about this.” She turned to glare at the bargemen who had brought them here.



    Forst and Becker were already feeling very, very, sorry. When asked, they did confirm the identity of the two women. The town authorities, pending future developments, had already arrested them for vending flowers without a license. Landgravine Mechthilde was not doing anything about it. So much for Schutz und Schirm and unswerving loyalty to the House of Leuchtenberg. Then the constable removed them to temporary quarters in the Freising jail.



    “Let the women be taken into custody.” That was Duke Maximilian speaking to the captain of one of his guard companies.

    Bishop Gepeckh cleared his throat and brought up a certain matter of jurisdiction. This was, after all, the prince-diocese of Freising. With all due respect, the duke had no authority to order the women taken into his custody. It was also within the limits of Freising proper. The town had a city charter, which also gave it certain jurisdictional rights. It would be necessary to obtain a legal opinion. Preferably several. From the best universities. Eichstätt, certainly; Dillingen. Perhaps any disposition of this case should even be delayed until after the siege of Ingolstadt was resolved one way or another, so that the faculty of the law school there could offer its advice.

    Duke Maximilian glared.

    Bishop Gepeckh offered the hospitality of the episcopal palace in order that the issue could be discussed in greater comfort.

    Duke Maximilian’s steward reminded everyone that there was a procession scheduled. While, indeed, providentially, they were scheduled to spend the night at Freising in any case, it would nonetheless be prudent not to deprive the onlookers and vendors of having them complete the route. He muttered about both popular unrest and financial losses. It was not good to disappoint people who were expecting to be entertained, and had made preparations. There were greetings to be received; poems to be recited; flowers to be presented. An hour’s delay was nothing; such things happened all the time. The people would wait. If the procession did not appear at all, however, problems could arise.

    Maria Anna moved forward.

    “Perhaps there is a solution, Uncle Max. Since the bishop has so graciously offered his hospitality to us,” she smiled at Gepeckh, “I will offer to take these women temporarily into my household. Dona Mencia,” she nodded at her chief attendant, “can leave the procession now and take them to the quarters in the palace that the bishop has reserved for me. That way, for the time being, they will be in the custody of neither Bavaria nor Freising. And we can complete today’s route as,” she nodded again, “your steward as reminded us that it is our duty to your subjects to do. That will allow time for discussion of the jurisdictional issues by the proper officials this evening.”

    Duke Maximilian glowered. Then nodded. Of all the things that he hated, an interruption to his scheduled routine came very high on the list.

    Dona Mencia guided her horse to the side of the street, motioning the guards to follow her with the two women they were holding. She waited until the remainder of the procession had passed; then ordered one of the stablemen at the rear to bring a litter.

    Mary and Veronica had no idea who she was or, really, what was happening. But they were taken to quite luxurious rooms. Where there were maids. And tubs for hot baths. And beds.



    Dona Mencia spent the afternoon sitting, watching over the archduchess’ sleeping guests. Outside, she could hear the noise of the procession as it moved stage by stage along its convoluted route through the town. The odors of roasting pig and mutton, sausages on the grill, poultry on the spit, frying fish, and dried beef being boiled back to edibility came in through the open windows; the bishop had arranged quite a feast, both for his guests of high degree and for the townspeople. She heard hawkers crying their wares-“fruit for sale, souvenir programs, waffles, get your waffles here.”

    Sitting. Watching. And thinking about the last letter she had received from her brother, Cardinal Bedmar, just before she left Vienna. He had been smuggled from Venice through the United States of Europe-by Gustavus Adolphus’ own agents-so that he could directly advise Don Fernando in the Spanish Netherlands.

    The implications of the attempt to assassinate the pope.

    The implications of the appointment of the up-time priest as cardinal protector of those United States of Europe.

    So many things, complicating Maria Anna’s Bavarian marriage. Things that had not happened when Ferdinand II agreed to it.

    And a personal note from Don Fernando stating that he still considered the option of a marriage with Archduchess Maria Anna to be the best one.

    So much to think about. She had not mentioned Don Fernando’s note to Maria Anna. It had been water over the dam.

    But sometimes, Dona Mencia had heard, when there was an earthquake, for a time after an earthquake, the rivers ran backwards.

    Sitting. Watching. Thinking.



    Susanna Allegretti spent the afternoon sewing. She was, after all, still the most junior of Frau Stecher’s apprentices, and therefore the one who was being deprived of the privilege of attending the feast outside.

    She did not mind; she was hastily altering two of Dona Mencia’s older gowns to fit the archduchess’ guests. A woman from up-time! And Hans Richter’s grandmother! The Battle of Wismar had been in all the newspapers. This woman’s grandson had flown in a machine in the sky! She would get to see them. Be in the same room with them. Help dress them when they woke up. She was so excited.



    Every reporter who had been in Bavaria to cover the marriage ran for the Freising post office, scribbling madly as he went. Every observer for a foreign power did the same. The mail went out the next morning. A day to Munich; a day to Neuburg. Three days to Amberg; three and a half to Nürnberg; three or four to Venice and Vienna, in the summer. It would have been a week or more to Rome and Magdeburg; two weeks to Paris, the Netherlands, and Madrid.

    It was two weeks to Paris and Madrid. Venice and Nürnberg had radio, now, though. From those two cities, it went almost at once to every other city that had radio, as soon as a transmission window opened up.

    A lot of the stories were garbled. However, they left no doubt about that Mary Simpson and Veronica Dreeson had surfaced in Freising, of all improbable places. Bishop Gepeckh was the subject of more discussion than had been the case since the day he was finally confirmed in office. In the cases of Mike Stearns and John Simpson, Henry Dreeson and Keith Pilcher, by people who had never heard his name before.



    Even for the heir to the duchy of Bavaria, it was practically impossible for a man to have a private word with his wife in the middle of a formal wedding procession traveling through the countryside. True, the room that Bishop Gepeckh had assigned them was quite luxurious, the walls covered with tapestries, heavy brocade hangings on the bed.

    They were also sharing it with wall to wall cots. A personal attendant for each of them; their three sons, their sons’ tutor, and a number of bodyguards. The bodyguards did not have cots and did a remarkably good job of staying awake throughout their shifts. All of which explained why the duke and duchess were sitting up in the middle of their bed, the hangings drawn closed in the middle of a hot July night, whispering to one another.

    They couldn’t even check silently to see if the guards were trying to eavesdrop. Every time one of them moved, the ropes that supported the mattress creaked.

    There was a lot that they needed to talk about.

    First Landgrave Wilhelm Georg’s physician had written to say that his death was expected momentarily. Although he had lived several months beyond the reasonable expectations of his doctors, his time of grace was drawing to an end. The physician asked where the young landgraves might be.

    The answer, for Maximilian Adam, was “somewhere south of Ingolstadt.” Phillip Rudolf, unfortunately, was in Hungary, touring defensive installations facing the Turks in the company of Ferdinand II’s son. Duke Maximilian had not been happy when he took service with the Habsburgs. There was no way that he could get back before his father’s expected death. There was no way that either of them could go to Leuchtenberg.

    That meant that within the week, the subjects of the landgrave, enclosed as they were within the Upper Palatinate, would be free from their oaths of allegiance. Everyone had heard what the up-timers had done in Coburg when the duke died-oathed his former subjects to their constitution before the Wettin heir could get there. It seemed likely that Duke Ernst would do the same in Leuchtenberg. Not that all of the landgrave’s subjects had been outstandingly loyal to begin with; for over a generation, even before the Swedes came, a lot of them had been inclined to cross the borders into the Upper Palatinate to attend Protestant church services. But having them oathed elsewhere would mean that they were released from all obligations of loyalty to their hereditary lord.


    Mechthilde insisted that they were going to have to interrogate those two bargemen.

    Albecht pointed out that they were in the bishop’s custody, not theirs. He was furious with Wilhelm Georg for landing him in this pickle. Mechthilde’s brother was, after all, for all practical purposes, a penniless exile living in Bavaria by Maximilian’s grace. It was outrageous of him to have been conducting what amounted to an independent foreign policy without having consulted the duke and the privy council.

    Mechthilde pointed out that her brother had been sick for months and in no position to arrange any such plot. She reminded him with fury, all the stronger for having to be whispered, that for the past half-year, at least, although her brother’s body had been present on earth, his mind had been quite vacant.

    Reluctantly, Albrecht admitted that she was right.

    Then what had led up to this? Mechthilde returned to the idea of interrogating the two bargemen.

    Albrecht reminded her that they were in the custody of the Freising city authorities-not of Bavaria and most definitely not of Leuchtenberg.

    Then, Mechthilde said, interrogate the women.

    Even more reluctantly Albrecht pointed out that they were in the custody of Archduchess Maria Anna, who was still, in spite of the ceremony at the border, an Austrian, and would be for another fortnight.

    Mechthilde was not in a good mood.



    Neither was Duke Maximilian when he summoned the two of them into his bedchamber the next morning. Before breakfast.

    Prudently, Mechthilde tried the truth first-that she knew nothing at all about it and was sure that her brother had nothing to do with it. Nor did his sons.

    He clearly was not going to believe the truth.

    So Mechthilde explained it all. Starting with the bargemen’s “witches” presumption, she created an elaborate fiction involving secret informants, witch plots against her brother that had begun over a year before and sucked the mind from his body, involvement in the conspiracy by the highest authorities of the usurping United States of Europe who were sponsoring the witches, and accusations that Duke Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, the regent of the Upper Palatinate, was a warlock himself.

    It was a good story, which had the minimal merit of being somewhat more plausible than the truth. She concluded by demanding that the two witches be removed from the custody of the Austrian archduchess and placed in her own, stating that if they were allowed to be with the future duchess, they would certainly take the opportunity of placing an infertility spell on her.

    In a last moment of inspiration, she stated that all the other things had probably only been done to give the two women that opportunity.

    Maximilian just looked at the two of them. On the note pad in front of him, he scratched the date at which Landgrave Wilhelm Georg’s illness had begun, the date of Elisabeth Renata’s death, and the date upon which the arrangements for his second marriage had been concluded, and the date, retrieved from the intelligence reports, upon which Mary Simpson and Veronica Dreeson had arrived in the Upper Palatinate.

    He raised one eyebrow and dismissed them without further comment.

    The women might be witches. He would not dismiss that possibility. But Mechthilde was lying through her teeth.

    The Freising city authorities had already interrogated the bargemen, whose names proved to be Valentin Forst and Emmeram Becker. They had asserted under the most strict questioning (properly authorized by a judge, with the requisite number of witnesses, and a clerk present to record the testimony verbatim) that they had not been employed to observe the Dreeson woman until after the privy council had pushed him into agreeing to remarry. Both men were from the Landgraviate of Leuchtenberg.

    Who would benefit most if the women were witches and they did successfully put an infertility spell on his niece?

    For that matter, who would benefit most if they were not witches, but if a sufficient uproar could be raised now about their presence in Maria Anna’s household that his niece was tarred with the “witch” brush? Enough of an uproar that the marriage had to be cancelled?

    He had no wish to remarry. Elisabeth Renata, my wife. Neither, however, did he hold any grudge against his sister’s daughter, who could not in any way be blamed for being, at this moment, in Freising on her way to the Munich Residenz; who could not be blamed for having been sent to marry him. She was a good daughter, obedient to her father’s wishes.

    In another world, the encyclopedias said, the girl had borne him two sons and been a good regent. Perhaps she would do the same in this world. That was in the hands of God.

    Who would benefit most if she did not?

    Regretfully, he added his brother and sister-in-law to his list of people who were not to be trusted. He was sorry to do it; he and Albrecht had been close since they were children. The list was a long one, however. There were very few people whom he could trust.



    Bishop Gepeckh agreed that Duke Maximilian could take the two foreign women to Munich, as long as they remained in the custody of the Austrian archduchess. That was a purely face-saving provision, of course. He was, diplomatically and militarily, in no position to retain them against Maximilian’s wishes, no matter what conclusion the legal consultants might eventually offer. Within ten days, Maria Anna would be married to the duke and they would be effectively in his custody. There wasn’t anything that Gepeckh could do about it.



    The wedding procession moved on to Munich. Mary and Veronica traveled under guard, but among the members of the archduchess’ personal household. Compared to the past few days, they considered spending two more being carried in a sedan chair with its curtains drawn to be a restful interlude. They were also able to talk quite freely, given the general level of noise surrounding the procession.

    Neither of them had the vaguest idea what had happened between the time they were attacked at the lock and the time they came to on the barge, which was disturbing.

    Veronica’s best guess was that Kilian Richter, who was well-known to be a Bavarian collaborator, had sent the three men who came down the deer path with knives to force them backwards toward the lock, where the bargemen, who were Bavarian agents, were waiting for them. So, they presumed, the instigator of the snatch must have been Duke Maximilian. They explored Mary’s hostage theory at some length and concluded that it was the most likely explanation. Everything else that was going on was probably some diplomatic face-saving for the duke.

    If they had a chance, the first thing they would do would be to smuggle out a message to Henry and John insisting that the reply from the USE to any concession that Maximilian demanded should be, “Keep them and be damned.”

    Then they took another nap. The litter was big enough and they were both still exhausted.



    Maria Anna rose early. She was conscientious about continuing her regime of devotional reading, even within the excitement of the worldly activities that surrounded her. If she was currently choosing to read works published by the spiritual advisors of her future husband-well, she also needed to familiarize herself with the nature of the Bavarian court.

    Father Jeremias Drexel, S.J., was certainly the most famous preacher in Munich. Not to mention the most famous author. Father Lamormaini had given her this book; had told her that in Munich alone, more than a hundred thousand copies of Father Drexel’s works had been printed. This was one of the most recent, less than five years old. The School of Patience. Dedicated to Prince Radziwill, the great magnate of Poland. The illustrations were beautiful.

    In the course of earthly existence, each person has his assigned role in the play, whether king or beggar, allotted to him by God. Yet none of them should forget, whether he is given the role of learned man or peasant, that it will last only as long as his temporal life endures. Each should play his part on earth well, so that the play may go on. If you have been assigned the role of prince, do not pride yourself in it, for it is only a part you are playing at the will of the director. If you are assigned the role of beggar, then play that person slyly and artfully. For, whatever the role, no one, in these times of crisis, will pass through life without sorrow and suffering.


    What is life?

    Life is a flower, passing smoke, a shadow, the shadow of a shadow, a bubble on the water, a piece of dust in a sunbeam, a bit of foam on the sea, a raindrop on the roof, an icicle, a rainbow, a spring day, the uncertain weather of April, one note in a melody.

    Life is a wax candle about to gutter out, a sack full of holes, a broken pitcher, a decrepit house, a passing spark, a spider web, a treacherous fog.

    Life is a thin thread, a helmet made of straw, a golden apple rotten at the core.

    Life is a short comedy, a sleep, a frivolous dream, the parable of the wealthy man who built ever larger barns in which to heap up his riches, yet his soul was taken from him that night.

    She read on, until Dona Mencia entered the room to remind her that it was time to dress for another day.

Home Page Index Page




Previous Page Next Page

Page Counter Image