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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Thirty Two

       Last updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 23:24 EDT



Munich, Bavaria

    Susanna knew where she was, even though it was starting to get dark. The next street would be Paradise Street. She turned into the alley behind it, intending to take a shortcut to the back door of the house.

    Marc saw her. All of a sudden, the most important thing in the world was that this girl should not fall into the hands of the inquisition. Or into the hands of the duke. Or into the hands of anyone who might ever, in any way, mean her the slightest harm.

    “Miss,” he called softly. “Miss, don’t.”

    She looked up. It was the young iron smith she had been noticing for several days. Up on a ladder, working on a grille on one of the back windows of the house next door.

    “Why not?”

    Marc wondered what on earth he could say to persuade her that he was one of the “good guys,” as Toby Snell would have called them.

    “The Ladies left this morning. I saw them go. But since then, men came. Guards. Two friars. They went into the house. They haven’t even posted a notice on the door. I think that they are waiting to see who comes. To arrest anyone who comes.”

    Susanna stopped.

    “What am I going to do now?”

    Marc climbed down the ladder. They weren’t speaking loudly, but he wasn’t certain that the house on which he had been working was still empty. Everyone lodging there had left in the morning for the play. He hadn’t seen any of them return, or heard them, but he had been working in the back. Better to be safe.

    “Right now, you can sit right here. Under the ladder, in the corner next to the cellar entrance. Once it gets full dark, I know a place where you can hide. But not until then. It’s where somebody inside the Ladies’ house, looking out the kitchen window, could see us. And I’m pretty sure that there is somebody standing there.”

    Susanna sat. Mark climbed back up the ladder and continued working until he couldn’t see properly any more. It was a very long hour. It was another long hour before he thought that it was safe for them to go into the shed.

    As he pulled open the loose hinge, he whispered, “Not the stuff of stories, where there are always gaily decorated tents or sylvan bowers available. But I’ve spent the night in here before. I can at least promise that there aren’t too many bugs.”

    They each took a corner. About midnight, it started to rain. The lean-to was not built on a foundation; the boards just met the ground. The roof leaked; not a lot, but some. Steady drips. The water draining off the cobblestones in the alley was worse; first a few trickles. Then little rivulets.

    “Move over a little,” Mark said. I’ll pull these boards down and make a platform to get us up out of the puddles. It won’t be comfortable. There aren’t many of them.” He managed to stack three short ones at each end and find two that were long enough to reach most of the length of the shed-all four feet of it.

    Susanna sat on her board, pulled up her knees, and wrapped her skirts around her legs.

    “It could be worse, you know,” she said.

    “It could?”

    “Yes. It could be October or November and the rain could be so cold that it was just almost freezing, but not quite.”

    “Yeah. Right.”



    “You.” Susanna shook Marc’s shoulder.


    “You. Don’t we need to get out of the shed before it starts to get light? Unless we want them to see us when we climb through the door?”

    “Lord, yes. Ooof. I can’t believe that I actually went to sleep. Wait a minute. I need to stack these boards back.” He was feeling of them, matching wet end to wet end. “No sense in leaving evidence that someone’s been in here. If someone just glances in, maybe he’ll just think that they got wet from a leak if it’s all turned on the same side. At least the leather hinges will have gotten soaked last night, so nobody will see at first glance that the rip is new.”

    He finished stacking the boards, wriggled out through the open space, and held it for her. The quickly crossed to the other side of the alley; hugging the backs of the houses, they went out into the street.

    “What next?” Susanna asked.

    “At this hour? Get something to eat. It will start getting light in a little while. Vendors will be setting up, to catch the workers coming to tear down the bleachers and clean up the sets and stuff like that. I don’t think we look too bad. Not sodden wet or anything. Maybe you should tie your hair back again, though.” Marc paused, trying to gather up the essence of all the wisdom his elders had been trying to teach him the last few years. It seemed to amount to this. “Whatever you’re going to be doing, always try to eat first. Things always look better after you’ve eaten. Let’s get over to the market.”

    “I don’t,” Susanna said, “have any money. None at all.”

    “I do. Not more than a workman should have, but enough to get some breakfast. So let’s go.”

    By the time they got to the marketplace, the first food sellers were setting up their stands. He ordered two equal portions and water.

    Susanna looked at him with amazement. She had eaten half of hers. He had eaten all of his and was now demolishing the rest of hers. He practically inhaled food. She smiled. “No dainty morsels, either.”


    “In the stories. When knights and ladies have gaily decorated tents and sylvan bowers, the food is always dainty morsels, too. Never pork sausages on rye buns, with kraut on the side.”

    Marc managed to swallow the bite in his mouth before he laughed.

    The sausage vendor looked at them. Young people, he thought. They never have a care in the world.



    “Next,” Marc said, “we’ve got to get out to where I’m camped. Through the gates. Better try the Schwäbinger gate. I’ve been coming in and out for several days. If the regular guards are on, they’ll sort of know my face.”

    “I ought to go out the Wuertzer gate. I told my . . . friends . . . to wait for me there.”

    “If your . . . friends . . . were on the guards’ list of people they’re looking for, too? Were they?” Marc asked.

    “Yes, probably,” Susanna admitted.

    “Then I hope that if they got out last night, they had the sense to keep going. And if they did, you’ll never find them. You’ll just be standing outside the Wuertzer gate by yourself with no money. Stick with me.”

    He headed for the Schwäbinger gate.

    Susanna fretted. “There are going to be a lot of people trying to go out this morning. More than they were planning on. I was by the Isar gate last night when the closed it up. Lots of people were turned back. It was probably the same at all the others. If you look around, an awful lot of the people look like they slept on somebody’s floor or in the streets. So the crowds will be bigger than they were expecting. We’ll just have to get in the lines.”

    They didn’t have any problems, aside from having to wait. Marc didn’t look a thing like any of the people the guards had been warned to watch out for. Susanna’s name was actually on their list, way down. But the description was only, “small woman, light brown hair.” That covered at least ten percent of the women in the crowd; possibly more, since it didn’t say anything about her age.

    There’s only so much that a guard company can accomplish overnight.



    The stuff was there. It was also, owing to Marc’s prudence with the oilcloth the previous morning, dry. He shook out the oilcloth and laid it down for Susanna to sit on.

    “Next,” he said, “I have to sell the horse.”


    “Papa and I rode down from Neuburg. He took his horse when he left. Mine’s still here. If we take him with us, it will draw attention; a horse is fine for a prosperous merchant, but not for someone dressed like I am right now. We can’t just leave him here, either; ordinary people don’t go off and leave their horses behind. It’s the sort of thing that people notice. Besides, we’re going to need the money. Just stay sitting here until I get back; you’ll be safe enough. The duke’s inspectors have kept the camp really well policed, clean and safe. If anyone does, er, accost you or something, just yell. A watchman will turn up in no time.”

    He sold the horse to the manager of the camp, explaining that his father had bought a cart with a team that was used to working together and he didn’t want to bother leading this one behind it. The manager wasn’t surprised. Unlike a lot of noblemen, who spoiled their horses, a merchant mainly just thought of them as a way to get his goods from here to there; bought one when he needed it, sold it when he didn’t. They dickered a bit, but it wasn’t a transaction worth a lot of dickering; Marc got about what he expected; the manager paid about what he thought the beast was worth and told a boy to go move it from the private tethering to the common paddock.

    “Harness?” he asked.

    “What was on him when Papa bought him. Plain bridle; the saddle is pretty well fitted. Decent saddle blanket, no holes.”

    The manager named a sum; Marc took it, stuffing the coins into his purse.



    Susanna sat on the oilcloth, thinking. She hadn’t been accosted. If she was, she couldn’t really yell. That would attract a watchman, sure, but then he might think that she was a fugitive and turn her over to the guards. She saw Marc coming back. She wondered what he was planning next.

    “That’s that,” he said. “Next, we need to pack this stuff and try to catch up with Papa.”

    Susanna looked up. She felt vaguely comforted. Never once, not in a single book she had read or play she had seen, had a villainous seducer started his campaign against the heroine’s virtue by announcing his intention to consult his father about the matter.

    Not that he seemed like he would be a villainous seducer. He would probably be sort of nice about the whole thing. But respectable girls didn’t let themselves be seduced. When respectable girls were old enough, they got married, which involved parental consent and marriage contracts and dowries and stuff. Seduction led to having a baby and losing your place at court and spending the rest of your life spinning rough flax in an institution for penitent magdalens and never, ever, getting to make beautiful clothing of velvet and satin, damask and brocade, again.

    “What’s your name?” she asked.

    “Marc Cavriani. Who are you?”

    “Susanna Allegretti.” She let out a torrent of Italian. “I’m a seamstress. I’m apprenticed to Frau Stecher. I’m from Florence but my parents are working in Tirol.”

    “I’m from Geneva. My father is a merchant. I was traveling with him. I have four little sisters.”

    Marc looked down. Little sister. That was a really good idea. He would treat her as a little sister; he could handle little sisters. If he didn’t treat her like his sister, well that sort of thing led to carnal temptation which led to fornication, which was definitely a sin, and fornication led to having a baby and having to get married years before Papa and Mama planned for you to, so that you couldn’t finish your training, and some of the guilds wouldn’t want your son for a member and other families looked at you funny and wouldn’t want their sons to marry your daughter and, well, bad things. Plus, she was a Catholic. Had to be, going back and forth to a house where nuns lived. Even if they weren’t very nunnish.

    “I’m an only child. And it’s my stepfather, really. My own father died when I was a little girl.”

    Susanna knew that she was chattering. Bad habit. She knew that. While she chattered, she was thinking. Geneva? That was Calvinist. He was a heretic? Well, why should she be surprised. After all, he had been watching the house where the two Grantville women had been held, and all the newspapers said that Grantville was a nearly demoniacal mix of every imaginable religious faith, most of them heretical.

    Marc could follow what she was saying, sort of, but the dialects of Italian that they spoke were even more variant than their German dialects. Her Italian was very Tuscan; his highly French-influenced. After a few minutes, they lapsed back into German.

    “Let’s pack. We’ve got to get going.”



    Some distance down the road, Marc spotted a hedge. A nice, thick hedge that would screen anybody behind it from the road. He steered Susanna to it.

    “We can’t go on the way we are. Not far. Not if they’re looking for you. And I think that they are.”

    “I don’t have anything else to wear.” Susanna shrugged.

    “We are,” Marc said firmly, “or we will be, a journeyman and apprentice. A newly qualified journeyman. A new, very young, very junior, and not very adept apprentice. An apprentice who is a boy,” he added, suddenly remembering that Susanna actually was an apprentice. There weren’t that many trades in which girls apprenticed. “At least, when they ask what we are, we’ll both be telling the truth.”

    “I do not,” Susanna pointed out, “have any boy’s clothing.”

    “Oh, lucky for you, I do. It won’t fit, of course, but that’s all to the good. Very junior apprentices are usually clothed in hand-me-downs that are droopy in some spots and hitched up with belts in other spots.”

    He started digging around in his rucksack. Some of these things, he had brought along from Neuburg in case it rained. Marc’s mother had always just hated for him to get his good clothes wet. Even now, supposedly all grown up, if he knew, or even suspected, that he was likely to get caught out in a downpour, he simply put on the oldest things he had – or, at least, the oldest things he had that still fit him. That could get tricky at times, remembering what was what. He was supposed to remember to give his clothes to the poor when they no longer fit; most of the time, however, he just stuffed them in the bottom of his chest. One old shirt (shapeless); one old pair of trews (droopy); one slouch hat. His razor. He rubbed his chin. No way was he going to try to shave without hot water. And a mirror. Papa took the mirror.

    “Sit,” he said. “Take your hair down.” The resulting haircut was just as bad as that of almost every other apprentice in the world – a fully satisfactory result. He tossed the hair that he had cut off well up into the branches of a nearby tree, hoping that nesting birds would find it and be grateful for the treasure trove, while simultaneously removing one more clue by which they might be traced. “Take these and go change.”

    “What are we going to do with my clothes?” Susanna asked.

    “Good question. If we leave them here, it will be like painting a sign saying which way we went. If we take them, though, and anyone finds them in our sacks, we’ll have an accusation of theft against us at the very least. Plus, somebody might investigate and figure out that you’re a girl.”

    “Double back into the city,” she suggested. “A fair number of the people who came into the city for the wedding will still be there. They’ll be busy all day taking down the sets and bleachers. With all the costumes, no one will be surprised to see people putting clothes into one of the prop bins.”

    “Done. Now get changed before somebody comes along.”

    They had no trouble getting into the city. None at all. The guards were fully occupied with examining the people who were leaving. Or trying to.

    On the theory that one attracts the least attention by being quite obvious, Marc walked down the street with the set of women’s clothing folded over his left arm. Within a quarter hour, they were close enough to the Schrannenplatz that they could see stagehands from the previous day’s entertainment moving around, taking down the sets. Calmly leaving the clothing on a rack and dropping her dainty little shoes into a bin, he moved on, skirting the square, Susanna behind him.

    Then he stopped. “This isn’t going to work,” he said. Not for going out through the gate again.”

    “Why not?”

    “Your feet are too small. It’s all right for me to be walking barefoot. My feet look like a guy’s feet. But yours don’t and you don’t walk right.” He leaned back against the wall of a house, digging in his rucksack again. “These are my oldest shoes. You’re going to have to stuff them and they won’t be comfortable, but you’ve got to put them on. I’ve got some extra stockings, too.”

    “Yes. And I’ll clump. The way boys clump.” Susanna clumped down the Gasse right beside him.

    Funny, Marc thought. I didn’t really notice how gracefully she moves until she started clumping.

    What he said was, “Let’s stop and get something to eat before we go back out. It has to be close to lunch time.”

    The crowds were a lot thinner. The guards examined Marc’s rucksack. There was nothing in it that was even vaguely interesting.

    The apprentice just stood there like a dolt, drawing pictures on the ground with the toe of his shoe and gnawing the last little bit of pulp off the core of his apple.



    “Where are we going?”

    “Papa went after the English Ladies. The last time I saw them, they were on the Nürnberger Strasse, heading north. So I guess we go that way. No telling that they won’t have turned off somewhere, though.” Marc paused. “You were going in and out of their house. Do you have any idea where they were headed?”

    “I heard one of them say, to Grantville. Well, overheard,” Susanna admitted.

    “Right general direction, at least. I guess the best plan is, we’ll try to catch up with Papa. If we can’t, I was supposed to meet him at his factor’s office. If we can catch him in Pfaffenhofen, that’s only about seventy miles. Even if he isn’t there, his agent should be and we can get some more money and find out what’s going on. If we miss him there and have to go on to Neuburg, about another fifty-five.”

    Susanna calculated. “That’s not bad. When I came from Florence to Bolzano, Bozen in the Tirol, that is, it was about two hundred fifty miles. Last fall, when I went from Bolzano to Vienna, it was about three hundred fifty. It shouldn’t take us more than a week to get to Reichertshofen.”

    But the roads going north were clogged with soldiers, far more soldiers than there had been when Marc and his father came south toward Munich. The privy council was moving every man who could be spared toward Ingolstadt. They moved very cautiously, also trying to avoid the hungry dogs that were rapidly going feral.

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