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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Thirty Seven

       Last updated: Saturday, August 6, 2005 21:10 EDT




    The truck rumbled into Grantville. Someone had bent the rules about motorized vehicles; it was allowed to come directly to the presidential office. Followed, naturally, by any number of curious people who were wondering why the exception had been made.

    The ramp came down. First, the soldiers who would be trained as radio operators. Fully outfitted as soldiers, at the moment. Duke Ernst was quite thrifty; they had served as the guards on the way. Not that guards had been needed; the drive had been monumentally uneventful.

    Then Keith Pilcher, escorting an elderly woman. A down-timer. Not someone whom any of them recognized. Ed Piazza, coming out to greet her. Very respectfully. An influential down-timer, then.

    The truck pulled away, toward the funeral home lot. Cora, in the coffee shop, got on the phone. Maxine, first; then Mary Lou; then call the second St. Veronica’s to notify Felser’s widow.

    Annalise answered the phone.



    Annalise Richter, as it turned out, was just the person that Dona Mencia wanted to talk to.

    “Since I was coming in any case, you know. The Amberg Jesuits understand from Herr Hieronymus Rastetter, Frau Dreeson’s lawyer, that the granddaughter holds a full power of attorney. And, of course, I should thank Herr Dreeson, if possible. For the use of his chair. A true miracle of comfort. Not just the back that retreats. Not just the footrest that comes up. But, above all, the lever that lifts the seat beneath me when I must stand once more. I owe him great gratitude.”

    “The mayor will be delighted to hear it,” Ed Piazza replied. “He likes the chair himself.”

    “It is a settlement offer in regard to the land upon which the Amberg collegium is partly built,” Dona Mencia explained. “In short, Fraeulein Richter. Your grandmother wants the value of the land, they think. The land itself would do her very little good, since the former building was razed. The collegium’s dining hall sits directly above where your grandfather’s printing business was once located; its library on the floor above that.”

    Annalise nodded. She had seen a lot of redevelopment. Grantville had been undergoing constant redevelopment almost since the day she arrived.

    “It was the library that gave them the thought,” Dona Mencia continued. The other lady, Frau Simpson, talked a great deal about schools while the trade delegation was in Amberg. I did not meet her there . . .” Dona Mencia was very precise in her use of words; not for nothing was she the sister of a diplomat.

    “I did not hear what Mrs. Simpson had to say about schools during her visit to Amberg, that is. However, it is generally understood that both your grandmother’s schools, the St. Veronica’s Preparatory Academies, and this ‘normal school’ that Mrs. Simpson wishes to found are in the greatest need of books. Not so much for the children, but as training for the teachers? Am I correct?”

    “You are,” Annalise said, “right on the spot.”

    “The Jesuit order teaches. That is its primary function, though it also does many other things. Its members have written many pedagogical works, suitable for the training of teachers. They are, however, all in Latin; thus, not suitable for people who are teaching very young children and village schools, people who often have no Latin at all. For whose training you do not plan to make Latin a requirement?”

    Annalise inclined her head. “We feel that while Latin will be a great advantage to the students, for the time being, it would be counter-productive to require all the potential teachers to acquire expertise in it. If we had suitable pedagogical works, they can teach many subjects at that level in German.”

    “So.” Dona Mencia segued into the subjunctive. “Would it be possible to reach an accommodation by which the Jesuit collegium in Amberg retains title to the land on which it is built, recompensing your grandmother by translating all of the pedagogical works of the order into German and printing them for the use of your schools in training their teachers?”

    Back into the verb forms of normal discourse.

    “It so happens that at present the Amberg collegium has an unusually high number of fathers in residence and an insufficient number of pupils to occupy them. In other words, they have a lot of spare time right now. That means that they could produce the translations quite quickly.”

    “By September?” Annalise asked. “That is when Mrs. Simpson wanted to open the normal school. If so, I will accept the settlement offer.”

    Dona Mencia knew where they were, now. This was a young woman who knew her own mind. Decisive.

    “In hopes that we could reach an understanding, two of the fathers have already begun translation of the titles most useful for understanding the ways in which small children learn. Only three, but that should be sufficient for a beginning. Those three can be ready by September.”

    “How many different books in all? For what age groups?”



    “I understand that Frau Simpson was finding some difficulty in locating space for this school in Magdeburg.”

    Annalise raised her eyebrows. How had the Amberg Jesuits found that out? Through the grapevine, presumably. She had noticed, as a faithful member of St. Mary’s, that the Jesuits who now provided most of its staff seemed to have a really healthy grapevine, roughly the diameter and height of Jack’s beanstalk. Or maybe Mrs. Simpson had told Duke Ernst when they were talking about it.

    “I am not directly involved with the normal school project,” she said rather carefully. “But, yes. I understand from the members of the committee in Magdeburg that there is no affordable space in the city. They had hoped to use part of the Gymnasium building this first year, but it is already over-enrolled. We would have to consult the committee there for further information.”

    “Which, presumably, we can do, this very evening, using the radio?” Dona Mencia smiled at Ed Piazza. “You see, I have brought a second offer. And I rode from Amberg to Grantville, in the mayor’s wonderful chair, in the company of a half dozen young men who wish to become radio technicians. They are all very enthusiastic about their newly chosen trade. I found myself becoming greatly enlightened about how radio works. And when it works.”




    “It isn’t,” Carolyn Rush pointed out, “what Mary Simpson planned. On the other hand, Mary isn’t here, hasn’t been here for several months, and nobody knows where she is. ‘Last heard of in Bavaria’ isn’t much help.”

    “Exactly what does this offer that Annalise Richter radioed up to us involve,” Vanessa Clements asked.”

    “Well, back to money.”

    The rest of them nodded. Carolyn always had her priorities straight.

    “Mary went off to try to pry some funding out of this Duke Ernst, Wilhelm Wettin’s brother. Apparently she made some impact on him, at least. According to this offer that Dona Mencia de Mendoza brought to Annalise, and it’s in writing, mind you, Duke Ernst agrees to provide funding for a normal school, but only on condition that it is located either right there in Amberg, where he is being Gustavus Adolphus’ regent now, or somewhere in the Saxe-Weimar hereditary lands, rather than Magdeburg. ‘So he can take a more personal interest in it,’ he says.”

    “Will a normal school in either of those places work?” Livvie Nielsen asked.

    “The real estate costs are likely to be a lot more reasonable than they are here in Magdeburg,” Carolyn answered. “Even without the sweetener.”

    “What sweetener?” That was Tiny Washaw.

    “There’s a Jesuit college there in Amberg with more room that it needs. Annalise has negotiated a deal for the normal school to use their extra space for five years, with access to their library as well. There’s a young man running it, right now.” Carolyn paused to leaf through the sheets of transcribed Morse code that had been delivered to her that morning. “Balde, that’s his name. Annalise says that he swallowed pretty hard when she stipulated that the normal school would be co-ed and they had to let female students into the library on an equal basis. Not to mention that it was nondenominational and they had to let Protestant students into the library. And all that stuff.”

    “Mary wanted something glorious,” Livvie said. “Not a sort of cobbled-together thing that’s located in a very provincial city about as far away from here as a person can get and still be in the USE.”

    “There is nothing to say,” Vanessa said rather slowly, “that the USE will only have one normal school as time goes on. And, since we can’t get in touch with Mary, we have to decide. She also wanted the normal school to open this fall. I think we all know that before this deal dropped in our laps, it just wasn’t going to happen. No matter how hard we had been working on it. Nobody ever claimed that Fairmont State was Harvard, but it managed to educate most of the people in Grantville who have college degrees.”

    Carolyn frowned. “Mary can work on glorious when she gets back. We’ve done the best that we can, without her political influence and without her contacts with the powers that be. If Gustavus Adolphus decides that he wants to have a normal school in Magdeburg once the war is over, he can provide the funds for it. For that matter, if the USE parliament as a whole decide that they want one in Magdeburg, they can provide the funds for it. Some day. Right now . . .”

    “Right now,” Tiny interrupted, “it looks to me like a bird in the hand is a bird in the hand, and I don’t see any bushes.”

    “Very well,” Vanessa said. “I think we have reached a consensus, so are we ready to vote?”

    The formalities taken care of, they got down to work. Recommended library holdings, course offerings, curriculum organization, lesson plans. Everything, all the things that they had worked on all summer. To be copied and sent to Duke Ernst as fast as possible.

    “Hey,” Carolyn said suddenly.


    “Who’s going to be running this operation?”



    Father General Vitelleschi looked rather disbelievingly at the contents of the mail bag from Amberg. Which, he noted from the routing, had not been sent through the provincial house in Munich.

    A non-Catholic establishment for the training of elementary school teachers, male and female, to be located within the walls of a Jesuit collegium, was not something that he, or the Jesuit order as a whole, had planned for. It appeared to be something that, henceforth, they would have to deal with. He had better bring the matter to the attention of Cardinal Barberini; and Cardinal Barberini; and Cardinal Barberini. Not to mention to the attention of the pope.



    Keith and Maxine Pilcher were hovering a little anxiously. Jeff Adams was examining Dona Mencia’s knees, shaking his head. “We just don’t have anything that would help. No cortisone. We can send aspirin with her, for the pain. It will also reduce the inflammation somewhat.

    “Y’know Doc,” Annabelle Piazza said. “I don’t like to hear that.”

    “I don’t like to say it, either. It’s just the way things are.”

    Keith looked at Adams as he finished with Dona Mencia. “When is one of those likely to hit Grantville, Doc? A diphtheria epidemic, I mean. Do we have quarantine plans, something like the lazarette that the Jesuits set up in their collegium? If it hits here, we can’t be bringing contagious people into Leahy. Half the other patients won’t have had it. Do you know what someone said to me at Cora’s yesterday? ‘It wasn’t even plague.’ What did he mean, ‘it wasn’t even plague?’ What do they mean when they say, ‘it wasn’t even smallpox?’ They were burying two or three kids every day, plus a bunch of adults, for nearly a month. Amberg is not that big a town. Not as big as Grantville is, these days.”



    “Okay, Ollie,” Keith said. “That’s it. The cartel is down; this is the list of the masters who want to open and rebuild; this is the technology they’re going to need to make it profitable again; these are the proposed investment agreements that I’ve negotiated. Wish I could have done more, but that epidemic took a good chunk out of the middle of it, and then Cavriani and his kid hared off hunting for Mary and Veronica, Felser died, and I just had to sort of muddle through at the end.”

    “Don’t worry about it. All anybody can do is the best he can.”



    “Max,” Keith said. “I just don't see what you're getting so bent out of shape about. There’s no point in tying your underwear in knots. Just because I’m the only person who went out with the trade delegation who has come back. Well, except for Toby and Lambert and I guess you’re not counting them. So some sort of odd things happened -- so what? I got things started so that the iron will be coming back into production. That’s what Ollie wanted. That's why I went.”

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