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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Thirty Nine

       Last updated: Saturday, August 27, 2005 07:38 EDT



Bavaria, south of Ingolstadt

    The stream of refugees was slacking off. Those who were still passing through Pfaffenhofen were mainly, they said, going to stay with relatives. The body of the Swedish army was on the south bank of the Danube now. They had invested Ingolstadt itself from the south and constructed a body of counter-fortifications to keep the Bavarians at a distance. There had been two sizable battles, both to the east of Ingolstadt, when the Bavarians had tried to force their way through. The attacks had been repulsed.

    The Bavarians took the two day-laborers whom Leopold had hired to work on fortifications, so he re-sold the sedan chair to a family going south with a sick woman.

    He asked what was happening farther to the west, toward Neuburg. The answer was that the Swedes had built fortifications all along, the whole dozen miles from Neuburg to Ingolstadt. A “secured supply line,” they called it.

    To the east, the Bavarians were massing at Manching and Ernsgaden. Nobody knew for sure, but it was generally assumed that since they could not break through at Ingolstadt itself, they would drive west, south of the “secured supply line,” and try to break through at Neuburg. Nobody, well, no ordinary person, knew precisely when they planned to move, but it had to be soon. There was hardly anyone still in the expected path. The reason that the stream of refugees was slowing down was that Weichering was empty. So were Zell, Obermaxfeld, the villages and hamlets around them. Schrobenhausen had taken in so many refugees that there was, literally, room for no more. Even the villages further to the south had driven away any livestock that the foraging parties had left them and the people were prepared to run if the armies swung a few more miles to the south than people expected.

    At Neuburg itself, though, the Swedes were permitting traffic to pass in and out of the city.



    Leopold was inclined to stay in Pfaffenhofen, he said. To wait and see.

    Privately, he was beginning to worry. Marc had not caught up with them, even with the pause, and there was no indication that he was ahead of them.

    Mary Ward was not inclined to wait and see. He learned something about determination. Although he did not learn that she had addressed the College of Cardinals in Latin in defense of her order and her orthodoxy, he learned something about the personality that had permitted her to do that without flinching. Learned that she had, in her pocket, a letter from the pope that ordered her to Grantville.

    He could stay, or he could come, she said, but the Ladies were making a run for Neuburg and the bridge before an army marched between them and it. Twenty-five miles. Mrs. Simpson’s feet were largely healed. They would make a run for it. With him or without him.

    He came.



    Cavriani wanted to go through Reichertshofen. He was quite insistent on it.

    No way was Mary Ward going to take the time to go to Reichertshofen. Not even if the detour would be only five miles. Through Poernbach to Pobenhausen, to Weichering, to Zell, to Neuburg. Straight through.

    Mary Simpson’s feet were not as well-healed as Mary Ward had hoped. At Poernbach, scarcely six miles out of Pfaffenhofen, they started to slow down. Leopold said that he would detour to Reichertshofen, talk to his agent there, and catch up with them at Pobenhausen. By then, certainly, Mrs. Simpson would have to rest.

    Mary Ward did not like it, but neither did she have any authority over the man. “If you do not catch up with us by tomorrow morning,” she said firmly, “we will go on without you.”

    “I wish,” Veronica said, looking at Mary Simpson rather anxiously, “that we had kept the sedan chair. Four women could have carried you, easily enough.”

    She was on her knees, unwrapping the bandages.

    “Look here, Miss Ward. None of the new skin has broken yet. But it will, if she walks any farther, for all of your bandages and salves. And for all of your rosaries. Damned Bavarians. Take your Ladies and go on. I’ll stay here with her. When Herr Cavriani meets you at Pobenhausen, tell him where we are. The whole village is empty. We can find a barn or a shed, somewhere to stay.”

    “Impossible,” was Mary Ward’s response.

    “Believe me,” Veronica answered, “it will be better accommodations than an ore barrel. Just come and look at her feet and then try to tell me ‘impossible’ again.”

    “I cannot permit...”

    “You cannot permit?” Veronica stood up, swelling to her full, if not very impressive, height. “You cannot permit. Who are you to tell me what I may and may not do, Madam Lady, so Superior?

    Startled, Mary Ward backed up a couple of steps.

    Mary Simpson looked up at the two of them, then around. Someone was missing.

    “Maria Anna,” she called. “Maria Anna, where are you?”

    Everyone had been paying attention to the argument.

    “Maria Anna!” Veronica’s voice, schooled by the handling of Gretchen’s collection of orphans, managed double the volume of Mary’s.

    “Just calm down.” The answer came from behind a cattle stall.

    Oh, well, then. Not an emergency. Just, presumably, a call of nature.

    The archduchess reappeared around a corner, trundling an empty wheelbarrow in front of her.

    “I thought of it when you said ‘sedan chair,’” she explained. “That there might be one in the stall.”

    “Since when,” Veronica asked, “do great and gracious ladies have occasion to think that there might be wheelbarrows in cow byres?”

    Maria Anna looked at her mildly. “Since they, or at least this one, last accompanied her Mama when they inspected the dairy barns back home in Graz. Which was only, though it seems much longer, last summer. I didn’t spend all my growing-up time in Vienna, you know. Now, if you’re done with those bandages?”

    Mary in the wheelbarrow, Maria Anna pushing it, they proceeded on their way.

    After two miles, Maria Anna began to wish that someone else would offer to take a turn. The wooden handles were rubbing her hands raw; she had no gloves. Soon her palms would be as badly blistered as Mrs. Simpson’s feet. The right handle kept causing the golden rose underneath her skirt to bang against her thigh. Impatiently, she twitched the drawstring from which it was suspended a little to the side.

    It would help if she could wrap her hands in some of Miss Ward’s bandages.

    Miss Ward did not offer. She was profoundly offended.

    Nobody else offered to push, either. Except, for short stints, Veronica, who was determined, but not strong enough to manage the heavy, awkwardly balanced barrow for very long.

    The English Ladies were, after all, Englishwomen of good family. Gentlewomen by birth. Far more conscious of what they owed to their status in society than people who weren’t, well, English. Miss Ward had heard that the wife of Duke Hermann of Hesse-Rothenfels, now the USE Secretary of State, made cheese in the barns at their country residence, right along with her milkmaids, and claimed to be proud of it. Germans! Disorderly, the lot of them, and Austrians were worse.

    Austrians being farther from England, that was only natural, of course. That was probably why Ferdinand II had welcomed the school they established in Vienna so heartily. He realized, presumably, that his nation needed English schoolteachers if it was ever to become properly organized.



    “You are sure?” Leopold Cavriani said anxiously to Egli’s agent in Reichertshofen.

    “Yes, Herr Cavriani,” Lothar Mengersdorf said. I have remained here because I was expecting you. And him. He certainly has not come. And, I do not mind saying, I am very anxious to leave. I sent my family into Neuburg two days ago, already. This is not a good place to be. There is no one here at all except me and the runner I retained.

    Leopold looked at him. “You have a runner? Here?”

    “Yes,” Mengersdorf said. “He is very good, accustomed to taking messages a diligence, whether by foot or by horse.”

    “I need to use him,” Cavriani said abruptly.

    “Of course, Herr Cavriani. Naturally he is at your disposal. You pay him, or Herr Egli does. He is the man who takes your messages across to General Banér’s radio.”

    Cavriani was not aware of any specific messages that he had sent to General Banér’s radio, but he did not question divine providence. The runner was shortly on his way. Two messages. No, three. One to Egli, asking him to arrange safe-conducts across the Neuburg bridge for the English Ladies. An additional, very private, message, to be taken to Banér’s radio, for Ed Piazza, to be forwarded to Prime Minister Stearns. One for the man to leave in some obvious spot asking the English Ladies to wait for him.

    Mengersdorf looked at the departing man’s back anxiously. “Herr Cavriani, I really do believe that we, too, should leave now. There is nothing to be gained by staying. Nothing at all.”

    “A couple more hours cannot hurt,” Cavriani answered. “Just in case Marc comes.”

    They were interrupted by a “Halloo” from outside. Mengersdorf ran to the door. A young man stood there.

    “Zobel!,” he said. “What?”

    “The Bavarians will march from Manching before dawn, to invest Neuburg from the south and west. From Ernsgaden, they will try to force through the ‘secured supply line,’ breaking it. They have a company of engineers with them there, sappers. And this run has earned me what you promised to pay me for warning you.”

    “If you keep running,” Cavriani said, “to warn Neuburg and the Swedes, you will earn far more. Whatever General Banér gives you, I will double. And if Banér should give you nothing, I promise you triple what Mengersdorf paid you for the run from Manching to here.”

    He reached into his doublet. “Take this letter. At Neuburg it will get you through the gate to Egli. Egli can get you the commander of the city militia and to Banér’s staff.”



    Pobenhausen, finally. Thankfully. A light rain had started an hour before. Not a good kind of rain; enough that they left footprints on the dirt of the ruts, but not enough to wash them away. They had moved to the side of the road, walking on the grass, so as not to leave tracks marking their passage. Any group of Bavarian soldiers passing this way would necessarily be curious about a group of people moving north.

    Pobenhausen. Totally deserted. One set of tracks in the ruts. Recent; a runner headed toward Neuburg. No Herr Cavriani.

    Why stay in a barn if you could find some better shelter? Mary Ward sent Winifred Wigmore to investigate just how tightly the inn was locked up.

    Very tightly. The landlord clearly believed in locks, bars, and sturdy shutters fastened from the inside.

    Tacked to the door, a short note. “C. is behind you; wait.” No signature. Sister Winifred brought it back to her superior. So it would be the barn shed by which they were standing. The boards on the door were so shrunken that they could reach between them and slowly slide the bar back. A roof. If they were lucky, straw.

    “Somebody,” Maria Anna said, “has to stay outside to watch the road. Otherwise, he won’t know where we are. And I’m not inclined to tack another note onto the inn door describing our location to any group of passing strangers. This is just...” She looked around. It was the silence that bothered her. Villages were never silent. There were always chickens clucking, children crying, women calling to one another, cattle lowing in the pastures outside. Here, there was nothing. A few wild birds in the trees, a few insects. “Eerie.”

    “It’s not raining all that hard,” Veronica said. “If I stand under that tree, I’ll be dry enough. So I’ll watch. The rest of you go in and get some rest.”

    She watched. She was dry enough. The rain slacked off. In any case, she was an old hag of a camp follower. She had been out in worse rains, and she had found a protruding root to sit on, so her feet were resting. Surely, he would come pretty soon.

    The sun was setting. It wasn’t high summer any more, but the dusk would still be a long one. If he came pretty soon, they could still try to make Weichering this evening.

    Mary Simpson came out of the shed. They sat next to one another. It got a little darker.

    Maria Anna, slipping out quietly. “The Ladies are about to start the vespers liturgy,” she said. “I will watch for a while, if you wish to join them.”

    Veronica was feeling a little guilty for having been rude earlier in the day. Old hag of a camp follower she had been. Not proper Abbess of Quedlinburg style at all. The Englishwoman meant well. She couldn’t help what she was. She nodded and slipped inside the shed, her fingers groping at her waist for the twig-and-grapevine rosary that Miss Ward had so patiently made for her.

    “Don’t you want to go, too?” Maria Anna asked.

    Mary Simpson shook her head, smiling, “I am not Catholic.”

    Maria Anna nodded. “True. I understand that many of the people in Grantville are not. Lutheran? Calvinist?”

    “No. I am Unitarian.”

    A new word. “What is that?”

    Mary explained.

    Maria Anna stood transfixed, looking down at her. A Socinian. Common enough in Poland, where the sect had been tolerated for decades in the past century. She knew what the Socinians were. They...they denied the divinity of Christ. They, since they denied His divinity, did not honor His mother. Nor Anna, the mother of the Virgin. Neither of her patron saints. Although, oddly, the woman’s name was Mary. It had never occurred to her that a Socinian might carry the name of the Virgin Mother.

    “Oh,” she said.

    “I will not hide what I am,” Mary said. “If you tell them,” she gestured toward the shed, “I will understand. I won’t try to predict what they might do about it. Herr Cavriani knows, perhaps. But I am not sure. It is no secret, but there is no Unitarian church in Grantville. My husband does not share my beliefs, nor my son. They are Episcopalians, Anglicans, Church of England. English Protestants, of the same faith as the current king, as Archbishop Laud.” She smiled a little. “Rather high church Episcopalians, by ordinary up-time American standards, especially my son Tom. Very like Archbishop Laud, oddly enough.”

    She shrugged.

    The archduchess looked at her. “I will...” she said. Then she stopped. She stood quietly.

    Processing her reaction to this heresy, Mary presumed.

    What would the girl do? Mary could think of several things, starting with finding a representative of the inquisition and turning her over to it. The archduchess was, after all, a product of Counter Reformation Catholicism. Daughter of an unrelenting persecutor of Protestantism. Clearly, from her participation in the prayers that the English Ladies recited on such a regular basis, a pious and devout young woman, completely sincere in her beliefs.

    Maria Anna stood under the tree. Silently. Mary estimated that at least fifteen minutes had passed since that, “I will.” She thanked her lucky stars that no man was there. No man who would leap into the middle of it, lobbying, arguing, attempting to persuade. Men tended to do that. Even the best of them.

    She blinked. When John proposed, she had not said, “This is such a surprise.” They had, after all, been dating seriously for almost a year. She had said, “please give me time to think. Not about whether I love you, because I do. But about whether I have what it takes, or can learn what it takes, to be the wife of a man who has chosen the Navy for a career. It’s not what I ever, before I met you, thought that I might do.”

    He answered, “As long as it takes.” Which almost caused her to accept then and there. Instead, she had walked around like a zombie for a week, thinking about it. Death, injury, captivity, all part of your husband’s job. By the time she said “yes,” she had accepted what she was doing.

    This way, at least, whatever conclusion the archduchess might reach, she would “own” it. Whether she called off the whole project of the escape and went running to the nearest Catholic church for sanctuary rather than travel in the company of a Socinian, or worse. Worse from Mary’s perspective, at least. Or if she decided to continue traveling with them. Whatever she did, if she decided for herself, she would not feel that she was pushed into it, would not be resentful later.

    It was a long quarter- hour.

    “I will...,” Maria Anna said again, “I will get up a half hour earlier than is my custom every day for the remainder of my life, to say a rosary for your salvation. I will also dedicate two novenas per year for that purpose, as well as performing the Stations of the Cross for this purpose during Lent.”

    Whatever Mary had expected, it was not that. Her shoulders sagged a little; she put one hand against the tree trunk for support.

    A little tremulously, she answered, “That is a big commitment of time for a prominent political figure to make. I do know who you are, you know. Not Miss Ward’s niece who was told by her mama to come along with us. Knowing that you are doing that, going to so much trouble over me, will give me a very bad conscience, every time I think about it.

    Maria Anna smiled triumphantly, “That’s what it’s supposed to do.”

    She was far from sure that her decision was the correct one. She knew that Papa would not think so, certainly. Nor Father Lamormaini. Conscientia triumphata. Not conscience triumphant, but conscience being paraded, like booty in an ancient Roman triumphal procession, by her conquering affections. It was all too likely that she had allowed her growing liking for this up-time woman to take her conscience captive, against the requirements of strict duty and clear obligation. If that was the case, nonetheless, she had made the decision. She could discuss the matter with her confessor later. If she ever again got to a place where she could confess. Which seemed by no means certain at the moment. She let her right hand drop, feeling the flannel-wrapped golden rose that she wore beneath her skirt.

    She looked down the darkening street. “There is Herr Cavriani,” she said.

    He was running smoothly, followed by another man who was not running with anything like the same ease.

    “We have to go,” he said. “There is no more time. A messenger came to Reichertshofen just as I was about to leave; that delayed us, a little. The Bavarians will be marching out at first light, before full dawn. If we aren’t in Neuburg by then, they will overtake us. We sent him on, cross-country, to notify the Swedes. The USE. General Banér’s forces, in any case. With a request that as a quid pro quo, he is to beg that Neuburg opens its gates to us if we manage to arrive ahead of the Bavarians. Which means, essentially, if we arrive before sunrise. If, of course, they let him in to deliver the message. Or if he can find a patrol outside the walls that will believe him.

    Mary Ward, reluctantly, cut the vespers liturgy short. After Cavriani had said several things that were just what she would expect of a man who did not appear to be at all devout. He carried a rosary case, but she had never seen him open it.

    Neither Mary Simpson nor Veronica had seen fit to enlighten the mother superior about Cavriani’s background. Some things just were not necessary.

    The pudgy little man with Cavriani was still panting when they started down the road towards Weichering. Mengersdorf, he said his name was.



    They had been on the road for four hours when Mengersdorf fell. And had not even reached Weichering.

    He was just lying on the ground. Floppy.

    Maria Anna let loose the handles of the wheelbarrow, noticing that some of her skin stuck to them. Mary Simpson climbed out. Looked at him. Felt of him.

    No fever-if anything, he was chilly. He didn’t speak any English, nor did he appear to understand her German. Painstakingly, through Cavriani, she asked questions. No chest pain. No headache. But his limbs were like jelly, his whole body floppy.

    She stood looking at him, frowning. Thinking. Trying to remember. Tom, when he was about seven or eight. Always such an energetic boy. A day when he had been running and climbing, nonstop. They had been in the country, a creek with a swimming hole. Jump from the bank, splash, wade to the shore, run up the bank again, jump, repeat.

    Just before supper, he had fallen like this. What had the pediatrician said? “He has just used up all of his blood sugar. Give him something to eat; a couple of teaspoons of sugar, if you have it. Put him in a warm tub, keep the arms and legs moving so he doesn’t stiffen up. He should be all right in a couple of hours.”

    It had seemed such an unfeeling thing to say to a mother whose only child had collapsed. But she did it, and in a couple of hours, Tom had been ready to run again.

    “Ask him,” she said to Cavriani, “ask him what the last time was that he ate.”

    “Ate?” Mengersdorf looked bewildered. “Ah. I sent the food that was in the house with my family. When I sent them to Neuburg. I expected to follow them much sooner. Ate? Two days ago, I guess. Three days, counting this one.”

    “Are you accustomed to taking this much exercise?”

    “Exercise?” Cavriani was puzzled.

    “Does he usually run, walk, like this, for hours on end?”

    “What? Oh,” Herr Mengersdorf said, “no, no.”

    No sugar. No hot bath. Some food, though. She gave him a little jerky, some water, and said, “No help for it. He goes into the wheelbarrow and I walk.” They hefted him up from the ground.

    “He’s quite a bit heavier than you are,” Cavriani said. “Let me push it for a while.” He grasped the handles; felt the stickiness, let loose again.

    “Your hands,” he said sharply to Maria Anna. “Are they blistered? Are the blisters breaking.”

    She held them out; then realized that it was too dark to see. “They are raw; much of the skin is gone.”

    Cavriani swore. “How long have you been pushing this by yourself?”

    “Veronica helped.”

    “How long have you been pushing it?”

    “Since Poernbach, most of the time. But we rested in Pobenhausen, waiting for you. You know that. You found us. They weren’t quite so bad, then.”

    Cavriani shook his head. Then, to Mary Simpson, “If you have enough water, a little to spare, perhaps you could wipe off these handles. And pour a little on her hands, to rinse them. Who has the salve and the bandages? We don’t dare make a light; do the best you can by feel.”



    Past Weichering. Darker than ever, a steady drizzle. Without a moon, no way to guess how much time had passed. From Weichering to Neuburg, only seven miles. The Bavarians would be sending out patrols before the bulk of the army marched; mounted patrols, moving much faster than people on foot. The English Ladies made no complaints; they trudged on steadily. Neither did anyone else.

    Hoofbeats, behind them, following the road. It was still dark, just the slightest hint of a false dawn. No way to get the wheelbarrow out of the rut and out of sight. Mengersdorf looked, Cavriani thought, dead enough to pass for a corpse. The patrol wouldn’t risk a shot; if one of them paused to spear him to make sure-well, they would have traded one life for a dozen. The rest of them hid.

    The lead horse slowed a little; the patrol walked single-file around the wheelbarrow, in the other rut. They didn’t bother moving it from the road; neither did they bother examining the apparent corpse.

    I hope, Mary Simpson thought, that they go back another way. She could feel the new, tender, skin on her feet breaking through again, the gauze of the bandages grinding into the soles.

    Cavriani was pushing the wheelbarrow again.

    Dawn. A little village, to the left. “Zell,” Mengersdorf whispered. Two and a half miles to the Neuburg gates, perhaps.

    Hoofbeats again. Not the same patrol. Muffled, this time, slower. Closer than the first patrol had been when they heard it. No time to disappear; they moved to the side of the road. Stood. Refugees. “We are not worth your time, we are not worth your time,” Mary Simpson thought. “We are not worth your time.”

    Cavriani pushed her forward. A man with a horse and cart. They abandoned the wheelbarrow. She, Mengersdorf, Veronica, Sister Winifred with her bad ankle, onto the cart. The man turned the horse. The rest of them ran, trying to keep pace with it.

    “Tell me, Veit,” Cavriani gasped, “how did you do it.”

    Egli looked at him in some surprise. “Your runner arrived last evening, just before dark, so I knew you were coming. Bribed the gatekeeper; this is his cart. Let’s hope that he stayed bribed.”

    He had. Scarcely a testimony to the Neuburg city militia’s tight security procedures, but nonetheless welcome.

    Egli did notify the Swedes about it. After the people for whom he felt immediate responsibility were safely at his house.




    “I am not,” Maria Anna said, “going to Grantville.”

    Mary Ward looked at her. “You are,” she said, “my responsibility.”

    “You are not,” Maria Anna added, “my Mother Superior. Or, for that matter, my aunt. Nor am I your responsibility. I have traveled with you. I am grateful that you allowed me to. It has made my trip thus far a lot easier.”

    Easier? Mary Simpson looked at the archduchess’ hands. As bad as her own feet. She wondered exactly what Maria Anna had been expecting when she left Munich.

    “It is perfectly clear what you should do,” Mary Ward insisted.

    “You have instructions from the pope. Obey them.” Maria Anna paused. “They do not include me.”

    “I am sure,” Mary Ward said, “that if the holy father had the slightest idea that you would be leaving Munich with us....”

    “The fact remains,” Maria Anna answered, “that he did not. Nor am I sufficiently arrogant to believe that I can gauge his intent and desires when he is in Rome and I am in Neuburg. Once again. Your instructions do not include me. Is that clear?”

    Narrowing her lips, Mary Ward said, “I will check on Sister Winifred. And on the unfortunate man who came with us.” She left the room.

    Veit Egli rested his chin on his hand. His house was not large. Four rooms, which included the kitchen. Two up, two down. And, at the moment, very full, not that all of Neuburg was not very full. Right at the moment, he wished that he were somewhere else. There were all too many strong-minded women in one small space. “I believe,” he announced, “that I will take a walk. See if there is anything to see at the perimeters.”

    “Please check at every entry point,” Cavriani said pleasantly. “You know what I mean.”

    “Enjoy yourself,” Mary Simpson said pleasantly.

    Veronica’s contribution was, “Don’t get shot. There are a lot of stray bullets going up. You’ll be just as dead if one falls on your head by accident as if somebody deliberately aims one directly at your chest.”

    “Just a little ray of sunshine, this morning, aren’t we?” Egli retorted. He was seriously thinking about eating lunch out. Perhaps supper as well, if Herr Cavriani did not need him, of course. Herr Cavriani had gone to the bridge, to see if anything could be done to expedite the safe conducts for the English Ladies. The runner whom he had sent ahead had arrived and delivered the message, but had not been seen since. Egli hoped that he had crossed the bridge. Hoped that he had reached Banér’s radio. He had no real way of knowing. No one would admit having seen the man after he left Egli’s.



    At the moment, they had Herr Egli’s office to themselves.

    “Why not?” Mary Simpson asked.

    “Why not what?” Maria Anna returned the serve.

    “Why not go with them?”

    “I do not trust the Swedes. The Swede. The usurping so-called emperor.”

    Mary nodded slowly. Sometimes, she almost forgot that this energetic, shrewd, practical young woman, knowledgeable in the ways of gardens and dairy barns, was also the daughter of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. It occurred to her that Maria Anna probably never forgot that.

    Maria Anna was talking, rather slowly. “At the moment, I hope, General Banér does not know that I am with the English Ladies. In all of the newspapers that we have bought, there has not been any speculation at all that I left Munich with them. Some seem to believe that I have already returned to Austria but am being, as you say, kept under wraps. If I am not in Hungary praying for the defense of the border. Or somewhere else. If Herr Cavriani has not told the General...somehow, I do not believe that he has told the general. Then, in any case, there is no reason for the Swedish commanders here to take a special interest in one more refugee from the countryside.”

    “Honestly,” Mary said, “I don’t think that Mike-that Prime Minister Stearns-would agree to an effort to hold you against your will. I don’t think that the people in Grantville would let anyone imprison you, if you came to them voluntarily.”

    “Why not?” Maria Anna asked simply. “They are holding Princess Kristina hostage, aren’t they? No matter how politely and gently? Bars are bars, even if they are woven of spider silk rather than cast of steel. And I am not a young child, who is accustomed to having adults molding and forming her actions, limiting where she can go and telling her when, happy enough if her cage is fairly large. I am an adult, with a place I need to go and a task to complete. A place and a task that, I think, the Swede would try very hard to find out. They would, I think, feel obliged to put me under much tighter constraints than Princess Kristina, knowing that I ran from Munich.”

    Mary looked down.

    “No, you have no reason to be embarrassed. I don’t bear you any grudge, for it. It is just the reality of political power. If I put myself within Gustavus Adolphus’ control, he would be a fool not to grasp the chance to use my presence as leverage against my father. Against... never mind. And the king of Sweden has demonstrated, quite consistently, that he is no fool. I will go into the USE only if I am taken captive here in Neuburg and carried there. Tied as tightly as you and Frau Dreeson were tied when the Leuchtenberger dumped you out of the barrels before me.”

    “Then,” Mary said, “wherever you go when you leave here, I will go with you. Not on to Grantville with the English Ladies. As-as a kind of guarantee of our good faith.”

    “As,” Veronica added, “I will. We cannot leave you alone. I will stay too.” She cast around for a reason that would not make her seem a sentimental fool. “Henry would certainly not approve if I left you here alone.” Then, more slowly, “If Annalise were here, I would not want everyone else to go away and leave her by herself.” She shook herself. “And, of course, I can’t leave Mary by herself, either. I’m sure that both Mike and Admiral Simpson would be quite irritated with me if I did such a thing.”

    “Ronnie,” Mary said. “I hate to tell you this, but you do not have the ‘dutiful and compliant down-time woman deferring to the menfolk’ act down anywhere near as pat as you have the Abbess of Quedlinburg when you need her.”

    “Abbess of Quedlinburg?” Maria Anna asked.

    Since Mary Ward still had the rest of the English ladies upstairs, they started reminiscing about Magdeburg. The Hesse-Kassel soiree. Princess Kristina. The Abbess of Quedlinburg. And, somehow, the women’s college that would be opening there.

    Mary Simpson had serious doubts that Maria Anna, if and when she returned to some variety of being an archduchess, would be inclined to fund a college located in a Lutheran Damenstift, but the general principle of serious fundraising was that one just never knew. And, after all, there were also Catholic convents within the borders of the USE. She managed to get in a few words about the proposed normal school, as well.



    Cavriani came back with a packet of safe conducts. For Mary Ward and the remainder of the English Ladies, only.

    That was fine, of course, since they were the only occupants of Egli’s house who would be crossing the bridge today. But a little surprising. How did he know it?

    Mary Ward did not want to leave the archduchess behind. She did not want to leave Frau Simpson and Frau Dreeson behind.

    As formidable as she was, in the ensuing test of wills, Maria Anna prevailed. Hitting below the belt, possibly, by reminding the mother superior that one of the things that the Jesuitesses would have to take, if they were to be true Jesuitesses, was that additional vow of obedience to the pope, so they had better start practicing. But, then, it would be a pity to waste her own Jesuit education. She was aided, of course, by the deadline for crossing contained in the safe conducts.

    Mary Ward had simply expected to cross the bridge carrying their papers and start walking toward Nürnberg. With all the attendant hazards that might involve, if the Swede was sending troops south to reinforce Banér. Which she did not know. If he was, it had not been reported in any of the out-of-date newspapers they had been able to find.

    Of all things, she had not expected to see Father Rader and Father Drexel waiting for her. Father Rader looked exhausted; he was not a young man. “We have come,” Father Drexel said, “somewhat the long way around. By way of Regensburg and Amberg.” He handed her a piece of paper. A radio message, he said. From Grantville.

    “You are expected. Kircher.”

    That was all. It was enough.

    Father Drexel smiled. “He sent the wagon and team, as well. Prepaid. With a sufficiently large number of certifications signed by people in sufficiently high places that not even General Banér has dared to requisition them. So. Shall we be on our way? He backed the team and wagon from where it had been halted, rather skillfully. As he did so, he handed a newspaper to Leopold Cavriani. “The most recent I have been able to purchase on this side of the bridge. I thought that you might appreciate it.”

    Father Drexel looked at his left hand with surprise. He was still holding something. A small packet. Carefully, he placed it inside his robe.



    Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt was much more cosmopolitan than Nürnberg: the paper had a lot of international news. The lead article was on the Spanish Netherlands. Don Fernando had not made the mistake of trying to fight Gustavus Adolphus in the open field. Rather, he had in essence adopted the strategy that had worked for the Dutch during the past century. He had fallen back into the Netherlands. It was assumed that he was planning to force the Swedes and the USE to fight one siege after another.

    Cavriani took a closer look at the article. Somewhere behind this reporter, there was a fairly sophisticated military analyst. The level of Gustavus Adolphus’ weaponry-more advanced than anyone else’s to be sure, but still not enough, in terms of his main forces, to end any siege quickly. Evaluation of the flashy ones that he did have, such as airplanes, as, in the long run, not enough to make a decisive difference. Someone had been reading about the American Civil War and knew that sieges took a long time then, also.

    Then some discussion of whether Gustavus Adolphus would have anything to gain by such a series of sieges. The reporter, or the man behind him, concluded that Gustavus Adolphus had already, in regard to Denmark and France, gained his major objectives. It was fairly certain that Denmark would be forced into a new Union of Kalmar; there was some speculation about a possible marriage, in time, between Princess Kristina and Prince Ulrik.

    Ah, Cavriani thought. That would, what did Ed Piazza say, oh, yes, frost Axel Oxenstierna. Frost him but good.

    The French had been decisively defeated; there was little question that Gustavus Adolphus would force a punitive treaty on them, with huge reparations.

    The reporter asked whether, in view of the above, the Swedish king really had any desire to let Don Fernando drag him into a long, slow, bloody and protracted campaign in the Netherlands. Particularly in view of the big problems looming for the USE to the east. The article ended with a rhetorical question. Was it not likely that the king/emperor would like to settle the war with the League of Ostend as soon as possible.

    Yes, Cavriani thought, it seemed likely. He wondered who had planted the article. Nasi? Stearns? If so, Mike or Rebecca? Don Fernando himself? Frederik Hendrik?

    Leopold re-read the article. What had Ed Piazza called him once? A “foreign policy junkie.”



    “To the Spanish Netherlands,” Maria Anna said, as they waited for Cavriani to come back. She looked down at her bandaged hands. Sore, so sore. She was sitting in Neuburg. Hundreds of miles to go. Not much of her money left. On the strength of a note that Don Fernando had written months ago. How much of a fool was she making of herself?

    Mary and Veronica just looked at her. That was-um, a long way to walk. Farther, somehow, than either of them had expected when they promised to stay with her.

    How did she intend to get there, anyway?

    And why was she going?



    Leopold put his foot down. He was not leaving Neuburg right away. They were not leaving Neuburg right away. Any of them. Maria Anna’s hands had to heal; one of them was slightly infected and inflamed. It required regular cleaning with boiled water. Plus, he thought, considerable prayer, if the infection were not to spread into the arm. If it did . . . He watched it very carefully; so did Mrs. Simpson. They both wished that they had some sulfa, chloramphenicol, anything. Mrs. Simpson, whose feet also had to heal again.

    And, he declared, they would ride, not walk; ride if he had to bring horses from fifty miles away. Veronica accepted this dictum with minimum good grace.

    They would, he said, wait at least a week before trying to move out of Neuburg. In spite of all the risks of the war around them. In spite of Maria Anna’s anxiety that General Banér might find out that she was there.

    Which, since he had been forced to used Banér’s radio, he shared to some extent. The very private and personal message his runner should have transmitted to Piazza and Stearns by way of Banér’s radio had been so vague, though, that he wondered if Ed Piazza himself could make any sense of it at all once he deciphered it, much less anyone else.

    “The other three are with the rest. I am with them. L.” That had been, of course, the message that he had sent from Reichertshofen. It had been the only way he had of letting them know that Mary and Veronica, the archduchess, and the English ladies had escaped together and that he was traveling with them.

    He was sure that the packet he had sent with Drexel would make them less happy. The news that although the English Ladies were en route to Grantville, the other three were at present remaining in Neuburg for some time. Even ciphered, he would not risk that going through Banér’s radio.

    Not, Leopold was sure, that the general was not a fine man. But he fought to win. The archduchess would be a tempting prize.

    Mary Simpson had cleaned Maria Anna’s left hand again. For the last two days, she had been feverish, the red streaks starting to expand from her hand up her lower arm.

    Cavriani risked one more radio message. The runner took it to Banér’s camp again.

    “Packet of sulfa powder needed ASAP. Will wait. L.”

    The runner brought it back; Ed Piazza’s radioed reply had instructed the young medic from Grantville who was with Banér’s army to make it available to him at once; some of the precious chloramphenicol as well. No questions asked.



    Meanwhile, Leopold and Egli continued their patrols of the gates; their conversations with sentries; their casual questioning of refugees from different villages along the route from Schleissheim to Neuburg. No one had see him. There was no sign of Marc.



    Cavriani sent the runner north again; three days into the week, the runner came back. He had been called to Nürnberg, he said. The response to Herr Cavriani’s message, through General Banér’s operator, had been only: “Go to Nürnberg and wait.” He assumed this meant that there were additional messages for Herr Cavriani there that the senders did not want transmitted through General Banér. He had traveled both ways a diligence. He had not needed to wait long. Cavriani paid him accordingly. The packet was unusually thick. The runner brought the current Nürnberg newspaper, too.

    Something for everyone. An envelope for each of them. Ed Piazza had understood him. Both times. And more sulfa powder, a few more doses of chloramphenicol.



    Mary Simpson cleaned Maria Anna’s hand, sprinkled it with the powder, rebandaged it, made her take one of the pills. Cavriani didn’t give her the envelope until that was done.

    Maria Anna looked her two messages. Who would be radioing her from Grantville? Who, there, knew that she was here? As to how? She eyed Cavriani with considerable suspicion. Open them, open them.

    “The hills are alive.” She gasped. Dona Mencia. The identifier they had agreed upon between them, one evening when her attendant had been wrapping the lumps on her swollen, bumpy, knees. “In Grantville.” Was she a prisoner, a hostage? No. “Going to my brother.” Maria Anna sighed with relief.

    The other. “Go to Basel. Spanish Road. F.”

    She looked at it, a little confused. How was Don Fernando able to use the USE radio? Well, he was negotiating with Gustavus Adolphus through Frederik Hendrik in Amsterdam. Everybody knew that. It had been in the last newspaper, the one that Father Drexel brought, a long report. But the negotiations had been stalled.

    Nonetheless, she felt better. She was not a fool to have relied on that months-old note. He expected her to come; if she got to Basel, he would somehow arrange safe travel to the Spanish Netherlands via the Spanish Road. That made sense.

    She looked at the others. “When we leave, we will go to Basel.”



    The news in the Nürnberg paper did not make her feel better, though. “Serious Illness of the Holy Roman Emperor. Inflammation of Choleric Humors Feared.”

    Maria Anna excused herself. While the others discussed their messages and the news, she prayed. With tears, clutching her prayer book. “Papa, Papa.”

    Finally, she found some comfort. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” O, Papa. Mama, why can’t I be there with you? Papa.



    “Leopold,” Mary Simpson said the day before they were planning to leave, “you are worrying. What is bothering you?’

    Cavriani smiled. Not cherubically, as was his custom. Rather sheepishly.

    “I appear to have misplaced Marc. My only son. In a duchy in which the duke is running amok, a war has broken out around the appointed rendezvous points, and, in general, there is chaos.” He drew his brows together. “I really don’t know what my wife Potentiana is going to say about this. She is very fond of Marc.”

    For the first time since Mary had met him, Cavriani seemed less than fully sure of himself. “For that matter,” he added, “so am I.”

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