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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Thirty Five

       Last updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 22:59 EDT



Planegg, Bavaria

    Duke Albrecht gave the guard’s brother a reward. A substantial one.

    Then he took the information to Mechthilde, whose first thought was that Maximilian would try to take her sons.

    Albrecht started to protest; then agreed.

    “It’s so damned frustrating, Tilda. A lifetime of loyalty, erased as if it meant nothing. He hasn’t even asked me if there might be some other explanation than the one Richel is giving him. Every order he issues just feeds into another. But even if he arrests all of us, there’s no evidence that could lead to a conviction. None.”

    “There is my connection to the English Ladies.” Mechthilde gestured to the note that the guard’s brother had delivered. “They can build on that; will build on that.”

    “It’s not enough.”

    “There are the two women from Grantville.”

    “He can’t prove a connection.”

    Mechthilde lifted her chin. “I provided refuge in our apartments in the Residenz for Dona Mencia de Mendoza. From the night the archduchess’ disappearance was discovered; she came that evening. I had a place prepared for her. She remained for some time.”

    Duke Albrecht choked.

    “She remained until we came to my brother’s funeral. She came with us. She is here.”

    He looked at her, frozen. Then, “It is far too late for turning her over to Duke Maximilian to do us any good now. The game is too far in play. Why in hell did you do it?”

    “I didn’t assist the archduchess to leave. But I knew that she planned to. I wanted her to.” She gripped his wrist fiercely. “For the boys, Albrecht. For the boys.”



    He issued orders. Tomorrow, the ducal party would hunt. They day after, they would return to Munich.

    The servants started packing.

    He consulted with the chief huntsman. He wanted to take the boys along, he said, so he would prefer small game. A reasonable number of beaters.


    “No, I don’t think so. Not so soon after Landgrave Wilhelm Georg’s death. Just a private family party. But a nice one. The duchess will accompany us. A picnic lunch, please. Plan on a full day.”

    The carriage for the duchess?

    “No, she will be riding with us. But, yes, bring the small carriage. Some of the ladies in waiting may not wish to ride.”



    So it was decided. They were going. The question was, where? Which way? He sat down to figure that out.

    Austria was not possible. Not only would it be hard to get there-most routes between Bavaria and Austria involved mountain passes at which Max’s troops could cut them off-but also they would not be particularly welcome when they got there. Ferdinand II was not happy with Maximilian at the moment, but he wasn’t particularly happy with any Bavarians.

    Additionally, if they went into Austria, that would put Dona Mencia de Mendoza into the emperor’s hands. They could not hide her forever. The simplest solution would be to have the old woman strangled, but he was incapable of ordering that.

    Letting the old woman fall into Ferdinand II’s hands would be equivalent to ordering her strangled. Except that Ferdinand, without doubt, would have her questioned first.

    If he ordered her strangled, to be just, he would have to order Mechthilde strangled. She was far more culpable. And she was his wife.

    The old woman, he was certain, knew what had happened. Where the archduchess had gone, and why. He had not asked her; it was something that he did not want to know. She knew that Mechthilde had been, at least, marginally involved. If they went to Austria and Ferdinand II had Dona Mencia questioned, it would have the same eventual effect as if he ordered Mechthilde strangled himself. Or as if they just stayed here and let Max arrest and imprison them.

    Austria was impossible.

    Tirol was too far; same problem anyway-mountain passes. The same for Salzburg.

    Passau, no good. First, Max’s troops could cut them off at the choke point; second, the bishop was Ferdinand II’s son.



    To Dachau. Then over to the Isar, through Freising and Landshut. To the Danube. Across. Into that neck of the Upper Palatinate that reached down toward Passau. Across it; into Bohemia.

    Wallenstein. The King of Bohemia. Right now, Wallenstein offered the only possible sanctuary. The only one within reach. There was no time to feel him out first; no time to make and offer and receive a counter offer.

    He could only hope that Wallenstein would consider that having all of Bavaria’s heirs within his control was a sufficiently important diplomatic edge that he would leave them alive.

    Albrecht had no illusions. If Wallenstein did not consider it important enough, they might all die at the end of that route, too.



    The hunting party rode out. A half hour later, all of Duke Albrecht’s household guards rode out, as well. And waited.

    Two hours later, the hunting party arrived where the guards were waiting. They had not yet reached the copse where the beaters had been setting up the hunt.

    Albrecht looked at Landgrave Wilhelm Georg’s head huntsman a little apologetically.

    “I can’t leave you and your men here. I’m sorry.”

    The huntsmen were completely unprepared; the guards made short work of the business.

    “Leave their bodies here. Perhaps their deaths will spare their families back on the estate the attention of my brother’s troops.” He was not counting on that, though. Not at all.

    They headed northeast, down the Isar. Bishop Gepeckh’s men let them through. That saved a lot of time.

    The hunting carriage, never built to take the punishment of traveling so far at so fast a rate, had to be left outside of Landshut. The guards commandeered a sturdy market cart with two good horses. It was better than nothing.



    “They weren’t there. We arrived at the estate and they were gone. Hunting, the steward said. Hörwarth isn’t home, of course; he’s been called to Ingolstadt. Duke Albrecht’s servants were packing their baggage, to come back to Munich the next day. At first, the captain thought it was routine enough. They’d ordered a picnic; the beaters had been called out. First, the captain just told us all to dismount and wait, so we did. It was when we went to take the horses to the stables that we noticed.”

    “Noticed what?”

    “All the horses that Duke Albrecht’s guards ride were gone. And so were the guards. The sergeant went to tell the captain. And they didn’t come back.”

    Richel was having unusual difficulty in thinking clearly. “Didn’t come back?”

    “From the hunt. Not Duke Albrecht or his wife or his sons. They’re gone. And some of their household, plus the guards.”



    When the beaters came in, the captain questioned them about the planned route of the hunting party. The next morning, they traced it out. Only to come upon a local Pfleggerichter and his men investigating six corpses. A local farmer’s dog had given the alarm. Freiherr von Hörwarth’s huntsmen.

    It was little comfort to Duke Maximilian’s captain that everyone present except himself and his men-the Pfleggerichter, the village mayor, the local peasants-seemed to assume, without question, that a contingent of the duke’s troops on their way to reinforce Ingolstadt had just happened to come across a group of lightly armed men out in the open, found them annoying in some way, and killed them for the hell of it. Because they could.

    The mayor said, “They do it all the time. We’re less than nothing to them, and this was just a little country estate, belonging to the Freiherr. They weren’t in a fancy livery or anything, to show that they worked for someone powerful. Just countrymen.”

    Which provided no answer to the question of where the remainder of the hunting party might be. The captain sent a rider back to Munich.

    The Pfleggerichter had suggested the possibility that hostile raiders, perhaps out of Regensburg, had kidnapped Duke Albrecht and his family and were taking them into the USE as hostages. The captain conscientiously reported this theory, but added that he did not think that this was the case. Although the ground was hard, there was no indication that there had been a large number of horses at the scene. Not more than would be accounted by Duke Albrecht’s household and guards.

    Large numbers of horses, stopped in any one place for any length of time, left traces of their presence other than footprints.



    Most of the local farmers were standing around looking at the corpses.

    One young man, the oldest son of the village mayor, was making his way to Regensburg. The family had relatives there. They had not always been Catholic; some uncles had left rather than give in to the late Duke Wilhelm’s conversion campaign. They kept in touch.



Munich, Bavaria

    “Pursue them,” Duke Maximilian ordered. “Prepare the men to ride as fast as possible, as little extra weight as possible on the horses. And bring me my armor.”

    “Your Grace,” Richel exclaimed. “You cannot. What if . . .”

    “Do you think that I have not ridden with my men before, Dr. Richel? Or that I am no longer capable of doing so?” The graying black eyebrow went up.

    “Er, well, no, Your Grace, of course not, but....”

    “But you are afraid that if I am killed, then you will have to face Duke Albrecht. Which you will. But there is one other think that you need to think of, if you plan to keep the position into which you have clawed yourself.”


    “There is only one person in Bavaria who outranks Albrecht. He is still the heir. He has not been indicted for any crime; we have merely lodged charges against him. Not tried; not convicted. Which means that if someone is going to countermand any order that Albrecht has given, I am the one who must do it.”

    Maximilian moved his arms so the valet could help him put the armor on. “Are you thinking, Richel?”

    “Yes, Your Grace, most certainly.”

    “Then think that I am the only person in Bavaria who can order my brother’s execution, if it should come to that. Remember that he can order yours. And ask yourself if you really want to dissuade me from riding after him.”

Amberg, the Upper Palatinate

    Duke Ernst looked at Eric Haakonsson Hand. “What do you make of it?” The information that came into Regensburg had been relayed to them by Brick Bozarth, the UMWA man who was dealing with the city council there.

    “By itself, not much. With all the other information that has been coming out of Bavaria, actually, I’m inclined to believe it. What Duke Maximilian has been doing is like a witch hunt that isn’t a witch hunt. It’s not impossible that it has expanded to take in his own brother’s family and not impossible that they would be running, if they got wind of it in time.”

    “Witch hunt that isn’t a witch hunt?”

    “It’s working the same way. That’s how the persecutions go. They start with one or two little things, minor, a lot of the time. Then some local official decides that they are serious enough to merit an investigation, so he questions some witnesses and turns in some reports. Mostly, it never goes beyond that. But, sometimes, someone at a higher level picks it up. The witnesses and the accused are questioned again, under torture, until they name others. Accomplices, other witches. Then those are arrested and investigated and indicted and tortured. It can keep expanding and expanding until hundreds of people are involved. That’s what seems to be happening in Munich, as far as I can follow it. Except, I think, that no one at all seriously believes that Veronica Dreeson is a witch, much less Mary Simpson. But it’s growing the same way, and coming from the highest level, the duke himself, down. He’s the one who is weaving all the separate threads together, seeing patterns. Or, perhaps, Richel or Forer or Golla, which amounts to the same thing. The impetus is coming from the very highest level of the duchy’s administration, so there’s no one who can put a stop to it, no one who can call a halt. A witch hunt without witches.”

    “Anything to the report that they appeared to be coming this way?”

    “Dashing down the Isar, he said. He last heard that they had passed Landshut. Unless, when they get to the Danube, they all climb into a boat and head for Passau, they have to be coming this way. And if they were heading for Passau, there wouldn’t be any reason at all for them to go so roundabout. They’re mounted.”

    Hand looked at Duke Ernst, considering for a moment. After all this time, nearly two years now, he still wasn’t sure that he had the man’s measure. “What are you thinking about doing?”

    Duke Ernst smiled. The leprechaun smile. “I believe that they are headed for Bohemia. I’m going to let them through.”


    “Unless you, as the king’s, ah, emperor’s cousin, veto me.” He winked. “You have read the up-time fable also, I am sure. ‘All animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others.’ Or something to that effect. The cousins of kings or emperors are always just a little more equal than ordinary dukes.” He paused. “Not that it hasn’t been a pleasure working with you, Colonel Hand.”

    Hand decided not to comment on this. “How do you plan to let them through?”

    “Warn the boatmen and the Grenzjaeger that they are coming; have them watch the most likely crossing points, let them cross, make sure that they keep moving, and that they keep on a northeast course, which will land them in Bohemia rather than Austria. Herd them a little, if they seem to be veering to the south.”

    Duke Ernst reached up and rubbed the back of his neck. “I certainly don’t want to end up with them here. Let Wallenstein deal with the political headaches. I have too much else to do.”

    Hand thought about it. “Not a bad solution.”

    He thought again. “What if Maximilian sends pursuers across after them?”

    Duke Ernst smiled again. “Then we will see what our boatmen and Grenzjaeger have learned during all of their training.”




    It was well after dark, but the moon was approaching the full. Duke Albrecht was cursing. There were supposed to have been more boats; he had sent two of his guards ahead to Isarmuend, riding fast, to arrange for boats. But the rest of them had been slowed down; an officious bailiff at Dingelfing. God be thanked that Maximilian had not sent riders ahead of them. He had managed to pull rank, of the “I am the duke’s brother and you are going to be sorry about this” type. But they had lost two hours; some of the boats had left the meeting point.

    Which meant that they were not going to be able to take everything across. He had planned on putting the carriage, or cart, now, with its team, on the large raft that the guards had procured. They would have to leave that behind, in favor of taking more of the horses. Even then, they left some of the horses behind. And a half-dozen guards. Not enough to check pursuers, but enough to make a lot of noise and disturbance; maybe even slow them down a little.

    Under the circumstances, the crossing went better than he had expected. On the north shore, he rearranged the riders; some of them would have to double up, others follow on foot and attempt to delay any pursuit. Fifty miles, more or less, to the border.

    Dona Mencia, knees and all, was going to have to get on a horse. Well, be put on a horse. Two of the guards lifted her on; then tied her there. They put a protesting Sigmund Albrecht up in front of her; his father had to swat him to get him to cooperate. Vervaux, the tutor, on another horse; Maximilian Heinrich in front of him. Duke Albrecht told Vervaux to keep hold of Dona Mencia’s reins; Sigmund could hold on to the pommel. The rest of the women were told to take children in front of them, starting with the youngest. There were only a half dozen women in addition to Mechthilde and Dona Mencia; not a lot of children, but enough to slow them down. Better to risk them on the flight than to leave them behind, he had concluded.

    Pursuit would come from behind; Duke Albrecht put only a couple of guards to the front; then the women and children. Moon or not, it was not safe to gallop. They started out cautiously.

    On the south bank, there were shots. Maximilian’s troops must have been gaining on them all day. He could count on their being across very soon. Somewhere, they would find boats.

    They continued along the road. It was starting to get darker. The moon was still out, but now occasional clouds had started to scud across its face; then more and more, until it was cloudy more of the time than they had moonlight. The changes made it harder for their eyes to adjust.

    The guard who was taking the lead pulled up his horse. Planted at a fork in the road, there was a board, whitewashed. Turned to face the moon. With large letters, and an arrow. “That way to Bohemia.”

    Duke Albrecht grunted. “It seems that we are expected. I hope that they are telling the truth.”

    The guard pulled up the signboard and turned it face down.



    “They’re across. Duke Maximilian’s men.” One of Duke Ernst’s boatmen slid into a group of Grenzjaeger. “They had to go downstream about a mile, but they found where the boats that didn’t wait for Duke Albrecht were tied up. Right outside Isarmuend would you believe, fastened to the piers just like it was a perfectly ordinary night with nothing going on. Rousted them out and came across. Now they’re trying to figure out where Duke Albrecht landed, just by riding upstream toward Deggendorf.”

    “Too bad they didn’t ride downstream towards Aich. Quirin, you, go down to Aich and bring back the men we left there. Wish we were allowed to cut them up a bit.”

    “Not here. Not unless or until they get too close to the first bunch. The fighting will be farther up. Some guys get all the fun.”

    “Want us to stove in their boats while they’re gone?” the boatman asked hopefully.

    “Hell, no. Duke Ernst doesn’t want to keep them. He hopes they’ll give up and go back where they came from.”

    One thing that the Grenzjaeger had not counted on was that a couple of Maximilian’s men were from this part of the Upper Palatinate. Maximilian had combed through the soldiers he had in Munich, before he left, looking for such men. One of them knew a shortcut. Not an easy one, but the pursuers were not having to take women and children into account. They bypassed the road fork where the sign had been posted and those of Albrecht’s men who were not on foot had been waiting to delay them. After two hours, the men realized that something was wrong; they started to follow Duke Albrecht again.



    Duke Albrecht looked back. He thought he heard something.

    The guard farthest to the rear was waving a white handkerchief, easy to see since the moon was out again, for a moment. Maximilian’s troops had caught up with them. He turned back to position himself with the guards.

    The pistols weren’t doing much good. Not with the clouds coming and going. It was mainly swords. Quiet, for a fight. The road was dusty; there was grass growing on the edges. Old leaves. His guards were more than holding their own.

    A horse peeled back from the front of the column. Oh, please God, not. Karl Johann Franz. Too old, too big, to be doubled up with another rider. On his own horse, with his sword out, plunging into the thick of the fight. Not quite sixteen, and nowhere nearly as skilled as he thought he was.

    “Karl,” his father shouted. “Get back. Get out of there. Go back where I left you; back where you belong.”

    Too late. The boy was down, his mount running.

    Duke Albrecht spurred his horse, trying to reach where his son had fallen.

    Toward the front of the column, a shriek of fury. Mechthilde. She had turned; she had seen Karl fall. No, no, no. He watched helplessly

    Mechthilde, spurring her horse at the Bavarians, riding into the melee. Unarmed in any conventional sense, using her horse itself as a weapon. She had always been a fierce rider in the hunt. She rammed her mount into the side of the one ridden by the soldier who had unseated Karl; knocked them hard enough that the Bavarian’s horse slipped on the dewy grass and fell. Rearing up, she brought her own horse’s front hoofs down on the man.

    Several of the Bavarians turned toward her. One of Albrecht’s men tried to grab the reins of her plunging horse. She pulled away. Albrecht desperately tried to reach her.

    A moment of moonlight. The oncoming rider was clearly visible. The armor. Maximilian himself? Oh, surely not, but so recognizable, so very different from the standard issue of the regular troops. Mechthilde, screaming, screaming, driving her horse toward him.

    Reflexively, Duke Maximilian brought up the lance mounted at the side of his horse. She impaled herself on it and fell.



    Johannes Vervaux had passed this way before on one of his trips to the collegium in Amberg. He recognized it, even in the imperfect light. He could not predict the outcome of the fight; his responsibility was to his pupils and to the future for which they were destined. Gathering up the reins of the horses carrying himself and Dona Mencia, he turned off the path that the group had been following. Not northeast, but west. He pulled them away to safety as two of the guards anxiously hurried the other women and children along the determined path, as fast as they dared.



    “What do you want to do about it?” one of the Grenzjaeger stationed along the side road that led toward Regen asked anxiously. “This wasn’t covered in our orders.”

    “Stop them and take them back to the rest? Duke Ernst doesn’t want to keep Duke Albrecht’s party.”

    “Right into the middle of that cut, hack, and slash? A priest, an old lady, and two kids?”


    “He’s got priest clothes on. I could tell that, even by just the moon.”

    “No point in sending lambs back to the slaughter. Let ‘em go. What difference can it make?”

    “Second thought.”


    “We’re not doing anything else here. Let’s make sure they get away.”

    “Hey, Franz.”


    “It’s starting to rain.”

    “I noticed.”



    After Mechthilde fell, the Bavarians pulled back, briefly. Maybe it was the sudden dark again; maybe the rain starting up. Albrecht decided to take advantage of it. “Turn and ride. Keep up a rear guard fight if we have to, but our main concern is getting across as fast as we can.”

    The guards followed him. They were almost a half mile behind the lead party, which eventually came to a white sign that read, “Turn here to follow the Kleine Regen.” A guard pulled that and laid it face down as well. Yet another sign directed them to the pass. The signs were telling the truth. The next town they reach was Suzicz.



    Duke Maximilian halted his horse; looked down at Mechthilde. She was dead. He had seen enough dead people to know.

    “Your Grace.” A very young rider.

    “During the fight, Your Grace. A priest took the young dukes and an old lady away from the rest. Sir, when you sent us to the landgrave’s estate the first time, you said that the young dukes were the most important. Sir.”

    The duke looked at him. “You are to be commended for good thinking.” He gestured. “Lieutenant. Take five men and go after them. They can’t have gotten far.”

    Maximilian looked down again. Two of the young dukes. Karl, like his mother, was dead.

    “Wait here,” he directed the rest of his men. “The most important thing is to ensure that I have control of Bavaria’s heirs.”



    A half hour later, the lieutenant was back. With three men and two lamed horses.

    “There are wires across the path in the dark, Your Grace. And traps on the road. I don’t see any way that the priest could have set them. They were, ah, professional. If I do say so myself.”

    “Do you have an explanation of why the priest and the young dukes did not encounter these supposed wires and traps?”

    “Ah, Your Grace, I suppose that they must have been put up after they passed by.”

    Maximilian glanced up. It was still raining, but the clouds were patchy. The moon was coming out, a cloud sliding away from it. In the sudden light, there was a flight of arrows out of the trees on either side of the road. Aimed at the horses. Several neighed and reared; none down, but some would be lame.

    Then, from behind them, a volley of shots, also aimed at the horses. These brought some of them down.

    The moon disappeared again; the rain gathered force.

    “Those of you with horses, head back to the boats in good order. Those without, follow us as best you can.”

    He turned his own horse; his two regular bodyguards appeared at his side.

    Duke Albrecht’s guards who had been coming up the path on foot evaporated into the woods; the Grenzjaeger let them. Once the Bavarians were out of hearing, the guards returned to the path and started to follow Duke Albrecht. The Grenzjaeger permitted that, as well. Duke Ernst did not want to keep Duke Albrecht’s party. The lieutenant of the Grenzjaeger was very pleased that the guards had not seen any of his own men.



    Half of the boats were gone. Not as bad as it could have been, since nearly half of the horses were gone, as well. Maximilian’s men loaded them and pushed out into the river.

    Duke Ernst’s boatmen looked after them wistfully. Maybe it had been against orders. They had been told not to destroy the duke’s boats, but nobody said, well, not directly, that they shouldn’t just hide them.

    “Wish the main fight up there had lasted a little longer. We could have disappeared them all and had some fun here while they milled around.”

    The scout from the Grenzjaeger slid in among them again.

    “Don’t go into mourning too soon, Matzi. There’s a batch more coming on foot.”

    The boatmen settled down to wait. To finish the business. Leaving half of Matzi’s men behind to clean up, the scout led the rest northeast to find the others.



    At dawn, the Grenzjaeger came out of the woods, onto the scene of the skirmish. You couldn’t call it more than that.

    “What do we do?”

    “With the soldiers? Just collect their weapons and armor, clothes, shoes, knives, anything useful. Then start digging. A couple of you see if any of the horses are worth saving. If not, put them down. I’ll send Heinz the knacker and his boys to collect them. I hope he appreciates the bonus.”

    “Good. I don’t want to think about digging graves that size.”

    “What about them?” The first man gestured toward the woman and young boy.

    “Hell, I don’t know.”


    “Yes, Matzi.”

    “I’ve seen her before. She wasn’t so old, then. But it’s the landgravine. From Leuchtenberg, up by Pfreimd. I’m sure of it.”

    “What in hell was she doing with a bunch of Bavarians?”

    “Married one of them. You know, how they marry off princesses. The family picks somebody important and she doesn’t have a bit of say about it.”

    “Damn. Wish it was that simple with my daughter Anna. Mule-headed, determined that she’s going to have Endres the fisherman or nobody.”

    “Nothing really wrong with Endres. Better let her have her way, or she’ll make your life miserable. So what do we do with them?”

    “If they really do belong up at Pfreimd, we’ll send them there. Fancy family, they’ll have a tomb or a crypt of something to put them in. Go to that town up to the west and call a teamster to bring a couple of coffins out.”

    “Tell him to bill it to Duke Ernst.”



    Vervaux had been moving slowly, saying a rosary of thanks that, apparently, no one had seen them leave the fight. Now it was getting light. There was a town ahead. Dona Mencia and the boys were too exhausted, from the flight and the fight, to ride through to Amberg. They needed to eat, to stop and rest. He had enough money for an inn, though innkeepers were more used to having people show up at dusk rather than dawn.

    They lost their way. Always a good, reliable, excuse. How to travel? The boys weren’t wearing anything fancy, just hunting clothes, thank goodness, but still they were obviously from a very wealthy family. The old ploy of a man traveling with his elderly mother and two young sons clearly would not do, if only because he himself didn’t have any secular clothing.

    Simple, Johannes, simple. Two young men on their way to the collegium in Amberg, accompanied by their grandmother and their tutor.



    Which was, in fact, where they went.

    Jakob Balde notified Duke Ernst of their arrival. And of their identity.

    Ernst Haakonsson Hand howled with laughter. “Remember what you said. ‘I certainly don’t want to end up with them here. Let Wallenstein deal with the political headaches. I have too much else to do.’ So much for plans that are all too clever.”

    “How did they get here?” Boecler asked. He scribbled a note to himself: “interview all involved.” His Historia Ernesti Ducis, he thought, was coming along very well. If only people kept on doing such interesting things for a while longer, eternal fame would be within his grasp. Plus, since Duke Ernst was only thirty years old, there should be a second volume. At least.

    “A little self-help and initiative. On the part of Vervaux,” Hand answered. “And a certain tendency to interpret their orders freely by some of our Grenzjaeger, I’m afraid. Who didn’t have the slightest idea who they were, of course, so I decided not to discipline them too hard.”

    “Have you heard anything about Duke Albrecht?” Duke Ernst asked mournfully.

    “Yes, he did make it into Bohemia with the rest of his party. Didn’t realize that his sons were missing until dawn; still doesn’t know where they are.”

    “So all we have to worry about are the boys.”

    “Well, not exactly.” Hand grinned and handed over a piece of paper.

    “Cardinal Bedmar, in the Netherlands, would appreciate it very much if we would reunite him with his sister. This wish is endorsed by the Cardinal Infante. Or the prince formerly known as the Cardinal Infante. Don Fernando, in any case. Accompanied by a personal communication from my illustrious cousin asking us to do just that.”

    “Bedmar’s sister?”

    “The old lady Vervaux brought in with the boys.”

    Duke Ernst rested his chin on the tips of his fingers. “Archduchess Maria Anna’s chief personal attendant?”

    “Got it.”

    “Rheumatic knees.”

    “I have it on the best authority that Grantville is sending a diesel truck.”

    Boecler took notes steadily.

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