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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Forty Nine

       Last updated: Monday, October 31, 2005 23:07 EST




    “Marc,” Susanna whispered. “Marc, wake up.” She shook his shoulder. “Marc!”

    He turned his face in the other direction.

    “Marc. Wake up; wake up now.” She looked around the stable loft, spotted an ancient bridle hanging from a peg, and flicked his shoulders with it.


    “Wake up. Now, Marc. Right now.”

    He sat up.

    “Susanna, it’s still too dark to start out. What on earth?”

    “I had to go downstairs, Marc. To use the latrine, before any of the stablemen come around. Behind. There are more stalls than we saw last night, behind where the ladder comes up here. They have horses in them. One of them is the horse that Bavarian captain was riding when he passed us when we were on the way here, I think. I’m not sure. It was just a sort of ordinary horse.”

    Marc frowned. “A roan gelding. Very distinctive markings and a nice gait. Old scar on the left shoulder, but no sign of crippling. The way he moved I wouldn’t mind riding him myself.”

    “Well, go and look, then. Maybe you will be surer than I am.”

    Marc climbed down the ladder sleepily and reluctantly. He climbed back up a lot faster.

    “You’re right.”

    “We had better get our stuff and get out of here,” Susanna said anxiously.

    “That’s the last thing we want to do. Let him leave before we do.”

    Two hours after dawn, the roan horse was still in the stall. Reluctantly, Marc concluded that the captain had business in Donaueschingen. He and Susanna headed for the southern gate.



    Raudegen was sitting on a bench that evening, catching his breath as he talked with the last of Donaueschingen’s various innkeepers.

    He had been asking about the two, the man with the curl of black hair falling on his forehead and the nondescript boy, all day. People said that they had been making the rounds of the inns in Donaueschingen just the day before, asking about a man traveling with three women. Two older women and a tall, young, brunette.

    Raudegen asked about the party of four also. The answers were still what they had been the first time he came through Donaueschingen. Nobody had seen them. That’s what they had told the man and boy, also, everyone said.

    The man and boy? No, they had not stayed at any of the inns the night before. It was not likely that they had left the city so close to dark, though, the host at the Silver Star said. It had been nearly dusk when he talked to them.

    Raudegen went back to his own inn. Too late to make the rounds of the gates, tonight. He would talk to the guards at each of them tomorrow. Once he knew which way they had gone, he would have some idea. But if the archduchess and her party had not been her, how would they decide how to go?

    At supper time, he was cursing himself. His man reported that last night the two had been sleeping in the stable loft behind this inn-they one where they were staying themselves. With the slightest luck, he could have caught them.



    “This isn’t going to be easy walking,” Marc warned. “We’ll have to cross the high hills of the Black Forest to get into the Wiesental. Then we can just follow the Wiese River down to Basel. They’re not like the Alps that you had to climb when you went to Balzano and then to Vienna, but more than enough hills, and some of them steep. The guard I talked to at the gate yesterday told me how to get to Hüfingen. He’s worked there, he said. It’s belonged to the Count von Fürstenberg since 1620 and there’s an administrative district headquartered there. We’ll be all right that far, and can ask someone there how to go on to Löffingen. Someone is bound to know. It has nearly five hundred people and it belongs to Fürstenberg, too.”

    “Being anywhere that’s in the jurisdiction of the count of Fürstenberg,” Susanna said, “does not make me feel better at all. Let’s walk fast and try to get out of it.”



    “Yes,” the guard said to Raudegen, “I talked to the man yesterday. He was asking about directions to Hüfingen.”



    “We are,” Susanna said, “completely and totally lost.”

    Marc looked around. “Not lost, exactly. Just on the wrong path. It’s pretty. Look at all those layers of rock. But there is no way that anyone has ever managed to bridge that gorge in front of us. We’ll just have to turn around and go back to the other road.”

    “How much time have we wasted?”

    “Two or three hours coming, I think. So it will be that much again, going back. Most of a day.”

    The leaves were turning. He reached over, broke off a couple of small branches, put them on her head, and looked at the effect.

    “You look good in autumn leaves. Some day, you ought to make yourself a dress that color. If you were a bride in golden yellow and orange-red, you would put all the rest of the girls to shame.”

    Susanna pulled the twigs out of her hair. There wasn’t any point in keeping them. The leaves would turn brown before she could press them. She tossed them down, but first she looked at them carefully, memorizing. She almost never forgot a color. Matching colors, she knew, was one of her strengths as a designer. Even if she went to a store without a swatch, she would return with a length of fabric that perfectly complemented the one left behind at the palace.



    “That has to be where we made the wrong turn.” Susanna started to run. Marc put his hand on her shoulder to hold her back.

    She frowned. “What is the matter?”

    “I smell iron.”


    “Ore. In the ground. Either there are mines, which I have never heard of in this place, or it is close to the surface.”

    “What difference does it make?”

    “We must be coming into the Wiesental, now. That has to be the Feldberg, over there. I don’t see how we missed seeing it this morning when we made the wrong turn that ended up next to the ravine. If there is iron here, I need to take notes. For Papa and for Jakob Durre, my master. Where there is a little iron, there may be more. If there is enough to make it worthwhile and if they can get options on the right to open mines, of course. I wonder who this valley belongs to? Who has jurisdiction, that is; who holds the regalian rights. I’m sure we’re out of the Fürstenberg lands by now.”



    “Todtnau,” the old man said. “This village is called Todtnau. We belong to the archdukes of Austria, here. For a long time. Since the time of the grandfather of my father’s grandfather. That’s as far back as I know. A big battle there was, people say, and after that we were Austrian. Not that a lot of people wouldn’t like to turn Swiss.” He gave an impudent, if toothless, grin. “Wouldn’t mind it myself.”

    Their talk wandered off onto the topic of iron ore. “It is around,” the old man said. “You ought to talk to the smith. He never buys a pig of iron. He works it out of the ground himself, just on the forge. Slower, he says, but cheaper, too. What else does he have to do when he doesn’t have any customers?”

    The two of them wandered away from the road, in the direction of the smithy. The smith, the old man said, was his niece’s husband.

    Susanna was getting impatient. She would have liked to talk to the old woman, but she could not understand her accent at all. The people spoke Swabian around here; it was almost a language in itself. She wandered to the side of the house. She was looking at the herb garden when she heard the hoofbeats. She sank down behind the trellises, peeking through.

    Apparently the Bavarian captain could not understand the old woman, either. He raised his quirt in a threatening manner. She called into the house; a middle-aged woman came out. She repeated the old woman’s answers. Susanna could understand her words. The two men rode on.

    Susanna got up and came around to the front of the cottage where the two women were still standing. “Thank you,” she said. “I am very grateful. I do not know why you lied for us, but thank you very much.”

    “She did not lie,” the younger woman said. “She has not see the young man pass through the village, because he has not passed through. He has gone to the smithy with my husband’s father. She has not seen a boy with him, because you are a girl. The man knows that-you must have heard him say so later on-but when he asked the question, he asked my mother-in-law if she had seen a boy with the curly-haired man. She has told the precise and exact truth because it is never good when someone on horseback is looking for someone on foot. Especially not when he carries a whip and raises it against old women. We in this village are among those who go through life on foot. Would you like some fresh cheese? We have perry to drink, also.”



    “At least,” Marc said, “we are behind them.”

    “This may not help,” the old man said. “He will be asking in every village. In Gschwend; that comes next. Then in Schoenau, which is about five miles from here. In Zell. If they all say that they have not seen you, he may turn around and retrace his steps. Then there you will be, perhaps meeting him on the road. The road through this valley is not so wide that you can easily go to the side of it and hide yourselves.”

    “We have to get to Basel,” Marc said.

    “Not today,” the younger woman answered. “Spend the night here. My husband has gone south, to find out where the soldiers are. You should wait until he comes back.”

    Marc looked at Susanna, who was sitting at the rough table, blinking rather slowly. She had not known that she should cut the perry with a lot of water. She was not used to it. Even though there would still be a couple of hours of daylight, maybe they had better stay. Then the word “soldiers” struck him.


    “Yes. There are soldiers between here and Basel. My husband has gone to the Amtmann to find out which ones. If they are friends, that is, if they are in the Austrian service, perhaps things will not go too hard with us. Mostly, they will just take things that they need, as soldiers do. But if they are French or Swedes, the villages along the road will need to move as much as possible up into the hills, because they will burn and kill as well as steal.”

    The old man frowned. “It is bad having soldiers come in the fall. It is worst when they come after harvest. In the fall they can steal everything after we have done all the work, leaving us to starve through the winter while they feast on our chickens and cabbages.”



    Someone knocked on the door. It was the smith and a younger man whom Marc did not recognize.

    The younger woman put her arm around Susanna’s shoulders and laid her down on a bench next to the fireplace. Then she put her mother-in-law to bed on a pallet.

    The four men started talking about iron and soldiers; soldiers and iron. The younger woman came back and sat with them at the table.

    Her husband had been quite a way to the south. “Soldiers,” he said. “Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar. He is occupying all the Austrian territories in the Breisgau at least, or that is the story. Most people have not decided whether or not it is true that he abandoned the French, but it is quite true that he is here.”

    There wasn’t anything that they could do about the soldiers tonight. The man and wife went to bed. Marc and the smith sat up late, talking about iron. “There is some iron here at Todtnau,” the smith said, “but not a lot. There is more a few miles to the south, at Hausen.”



    Susanna winced. Her head hurt when she woke up and the sunlight seemed miserably bright. The younger woman laughed, gave her a big drink of water and a piece of dry rye bread, told her to keep walking, and advised her not to drink any more perry, “you being such an innocent little thing and all that, which I was not sure of when you first came here wearing those trousers and a boy’s shirt.”

    The smith came with them as they walked south from Todtnau to Hausen. He and Marc talked about iron as they walked, and talked even more about iron after they got there. The smith had trained in Lörrach, a little piece of territory that belonged to the margraves of Baden in between the Austrian lands. The Baden Amtmann there knew that there was iron in these hills; he had sent reports to the margraves. The Amtmann believed in iron. Gold, he said, was pretty and all that, but mankind could not live without iron. Everybody needed iron. If there were mines here, iron would bring wealth to the valley. Even to the farmers, who had a hard time wresting a living from these rocks. Miners would need vegetables. The high pastures supported cattle; miners would need meat and cheese. The forests would provide charcoal.

    Everyone else thought that he was a dreamer, the smith said. Everyone else said that no one would invest the capital that it would take to bring mines to the valley during these decades of war. Certainly not the exiled margrave, who had served the king of Sweden for more than a decade now; probably not his son in Basel. He had no money; it took money to open mines.

    At Hausen, they left Susanna with a cousin of the smith’s first wife and went up into the hills. After the noon meal, the Bavarian captain came into the village from the south, asking questions.

    The people of Hausen, Susanna found, were tellers of truth, very like those in Todtnau. The only strange young man any of them had seen, they said earnestly, had come this morning with the smith from another village to see about some iron. In any case, they continued, they did not have time to worry about strange young men, because they had received notice that soldiers were moving through the land not far to the south. That would mean that villages would be burned, the terraces for the grape vines destroyed, the fields trampled. And disease, certainly disease. Disease followed a soldier as if it were his twin brother.

    The Bavarian captain raised his quirt.

    “You can hit me,” the woman who was speaking to him said. “But you cannot make it otherwise.” He lowered the whip.

    Shortly after that, Marc and the smith returned. The smith went back toward Todtnau; Marc and Susanna started walking south again.

    “Do you really like iron?” Susanna asked with real curiosity.

    Marc looked at her. “Yes. Yes, I do,” he answered. There was some surprise in his voice. “I didn’t, particularly, when I started apprenticing with Jakob Durre, but I do now. It’s really interesting. And challenging. Just look.” He motioned toward the Wiese with its shallow, rocky, channel. “To bring iron out of here in any quantity, either this stream would have to be fitted with a series of locks and dams like the ones I saw on the Naab in the Upper Palatinate last spring, or else a canal would have to be dug parallel to it. That might be best, because with a deeper draft, the water could power the wheels and the mills.” He turned around and pointed back toward Hausen. “Did you notice, while we were there, that the villagers have already cut a partial channel, a short one, to run their sawmill and the grist mill? To make the most of these shallow mountain creeks, you really have to harness them. Have you ever seen the Pegnitz at Nürnberg?”

    “No, I’ve never been to Nürnberg,” Susanna answered. She listened carefully. If Marc really liked iron, then there must be something more to the matter than she had ever thought. She would find out what it was if she listened. Even if she didn’t ever like iron, she liked having Marc talk to her. The better she listened, the more he would talk to her.



    Between Hausen and Todtnau, Raudegen pulled his horse into the shelter of a small thicket, gesturing for his man to do the same. “We will wait here,” he said, “and see what may be learned from the two men who are supposedly interested in iron.”

    He was quite interested to see that only one man was walking north toward Todtnau.

    The smith from Todtnau resisted Raudegen’s questioning for quite some time. By the end, however, the captain had the information he needed, although he did not yet quite comprehend just how a young man with an apparently profound and sincere interest in iron ore had come to be involved with Archduchess Maria Anna’s servant.

    He did not bother to kill the smith. If the man managed to drag his way back to Todtnau, he might even heal, in time. It was not likely, though, that his hands would ever again swing a hammer.

    Raudegen was mildly annoyed. He didn’t enjoy this sort of thing, the way some men did. It would be easier if civilians would just provide soldiers with the information they needed, straightforwardly and without evasions. He wished he had time to make an example of the lying women in Todtnau and Hausen, but he could not afford to right now. He turned south again. The pair who might lead him to the archduchess could not be far ahead of him.



    Just above Schopfheim, Marc and Susanna took to the trees. Soldiers. A good-sized detachment, riding north. Foragers, probably. Marc thought that they were Duke Bernhard’s men. They waited for them to pass, then started running.

    Schopfheim, when they got there, was nearly burned out. Susanna stared. The smith had told them that this town had walls and gates; they had planned to spend the night. The walls and gates themselves were smoldering, where they had not been broken down. The party of soldiers they had passed on the road farther north was not large enough to have destroyed this town, which meant that there must be others, many more, quite near.

    There was nothing they could do. There were no survivors here, outside. Inside, the embers were still far too hot for people to go in. They hurried around it as fast as they could, trying to ignore the smell. If Schopfheim was burned, there was no reason to expect that the smaller places the smith had mentioned, Steinen and Brombach, would still be standing. It would be ten more miles to Lörrach, where the Todtnau smith had trained. They started running, occasionally slowing to a walk to catch their breaths; then running again, as fast as they could for as long as they could.

    Then it came in sight. “Oh,” Susanna said. “Oh, no.”



    Raudegen recognized the lieutenant commanding the foraging party with some relief. If Harsch were here, that meant that Duke Bernhard was somewhere fairly close.

    “Yes,” the lieutenant said. “The main force of the army is not much more than ten miles to the south. The duke has taken headquarters in Lörrach while the rest of the army catches up the vanguard.”



    “So that is as far as I got, Your Grace,” Raudegen said. “The two men I sent on may have found information about where the four left the convoy, but I took the risk of following the girl once I realized that she was in the archduchess’ household. I assume full responsibility for the decision.”

    “It wasn’t all that bad,” Duke Bernhard said, leaning back in his chair. “You have, of course, been back in the hills for quite some time.” He tossed a copy of the Basel newspaper across the table.

    “You are clearly correct,” Raudegen answered after a moment. “I am seriously behind the times, according to the Basel Daily Intelligencer. My apologies, Your Grace.”

    “No apologies necessary. I am impressed, in fact, that you came so close to the truth. Your alertness ensured that I remained in the vicinity of the Swiss border. I am, in fact, currently on the way there in hopes of making the archduchess’ personal acquaintance. Peacefully, if possible; martially, if necessary. The Basel city council having been so kind as to immobilize her, I propose to reap the fruits of their misguided efforts. ‘Swiss independence.’ What an absurdly inadequate use for a presumably fertile imperial daughter.”

    Duke Bernhard stood up. Raudegen took a step a back.

    “Take a dozen men, captain. Continue your pursuit. If this girl, whoever she is, was a part of the archduchess’ household, as you say, she may yet be of considerable value to me if you can catch up with her. A bargaining chit, perhaps, if the archduchess is not inclined to cooperate with my plans.”

    “Yes, Your Grace.”

    “Hear me, though. Right now, I do not want any incidents with Basel. We are in the midst of some rather critical negotiations. If you can take them this side of the border, use whatever means necessary. If not, it would be more loss than gain to me, right now, to have a diplomatic incident.”

    “Yes, Your Grace.”

    “If they should try to double back, though, into Austrian lands, . . .”

    “Yes, Your Grace?”

    “Pursue them. I am not longer recognizing Vienna’s or Bozen’s lordship over the Habsburgs’ Swabian territories. Former Habsburg territories in Swabia, I should say.”

    “Yes, Your Grace.”

    “Ah. Don’t kill the girl. Don’t even risk it. She would do me no good under those circumstances and it might well irritate the archduchess if she ever found out, so try not to harm her. Some women become attached to their servants.”

    “Yes, Your Grace.”

    “Very good. I am delighted to have staff who clearly understand my instructions. Major Raudegen.”



    “You know,” Marc whispered. “After these past few hours, I don’t think that I’ll ever take a fun vacation in Lörrach. I think that was what the stories call ‘being in dire peril.’”

    “That,” Susanna answered, “is a really sensible decision. Never again in Lörrach. But at least we are through it now. It can’t be much farther down to Riehen. Not more than three miles.” She poured the pail of water she had been carrying into a leather bucket.

    “Not,” Marc said, “more than several thousand more soldiers to sneak past once we get out of this corral. Since Riehen is the Basel border and all that. Though I have to say that your idea of grabbing a couple of halters that were already on remount horses and sticking ourselves into a long line of other guys who were leading remount horses by halters wasn’t a bad one.”

    “At least none of the soldiers between here and there will know us,” Susanna said. “Maybe we could find somebody’s armor and put it on,” she said a little hopefully. “Disguise ourselves, you know. I’ve designed lots of costumes for masques and pantomimes. That’s part of what a seamstress does, you know.”

    “You can think about costumes now? Here?” Marc was sloshing two buckets of water for every one that Susanna managed.

    “I can think about costumes anywhere. Anytime. That’s what I do. Sort of like you thinking about iron ore.”

    “Oh.” Marc was going to have to think about that when he got a chance. “Well. We might find some armor that fits me. But not you.”

    “Maybe I could disguise myself as a stableboy or something. Since we’re in the place they pen up the cavalry horses.”

    “You are disguised as a boy. You have been for weeks, now. Stableboys aren’t any different from the rest of them, really.”

    “Oh. Yes, that’s right. I’m getting used to it, I suppose. Being a boy. So I keep forgetting that I am one, a lot of the time. Did you ever give me a boy’s name? I don’t think so.” Susanna looked around. “But I was wrong, I think.”

    “About what?”

    “When I said that at least none of the soldiers between here and Riehen would know us. Look there, by the tent. It’s the Bavarian captain and he definitely seems to be looking for someone. Us, maybe”

    “Us,” Marc said. “Ten to one, us. Run. It’s usually a bad idea, but right now, run.”

    “Don’t run,” Susanna said. “Steal a horse.” She looked at him. “You can ride, can’t you.”

    “I can ride, but...” Marc was going to say that he didn’t think that this was the best option, but it was too late. Susanna was mounted. So he stole a horse, too.

    At least, the captain was on foot. He would have to find a horse. They would have a head start. Maybe this hadn’t been such a bad idea.



    The Riethen militia was patrolling the marked boundary stones. So far, none of Duke Bernhard’s troops had violated the line. The news was that the duke was negotiating with the city council; that he had promised that if they turned the Austrian woman over to him without incident, he would not invade the city’s territory.

    “Riders,” one of them called.

    Two riders. Behind them, not more than the width of the market square in Basel behind them, a dozen more. Not shooting. One of them was speeding up, trying to cut the boy off.

    The Riehen militia stood silently, unmoving, until the riders passed the boundary stones. Both riders reined up, or tried to. The man stopped and dismounted. “Get off,” he yelled at the boy, who was having more trouble reining in. He finally slowed the horse, turned it, came back, and jumped off.

    The man slapped the rumps of both of the beasts, sending them back across the border. “Just borrowed,” he cried at the soldiers. “No offense meant.”

    The oldest militiaman looked at them. “What is this all about?” he asked.

    “I was supposed to be meeting my father,” Marc said. “In Basel.” That was safe enough to say. It was also true, which he found vaguely comforting. “We had a little trouble getting through Duke Bernhard’s camp around Lörrach.

    “Things are sort of upset, right now.”

    “Really. We hadn’t noticed,” Susanna piped up. At the look Marc gave her, she closed her mouth again.

    “What do we do with this smart-mouthed kid, Matti?” a younger man asked

    “They’re the Landvogt’s problem. Both of them. That’s obvious. We can hold them for a few days. Maybe a boundary violation, maybe a customs violation, even though they sent the horses back. They don’t have their baggage, so they probably don’t have passports. If they have undeclared foreign money, it could be a currency violation. If they’ve been with army over there, it could be a quarantine violation. The city council doesn’t want plague being brought in.”

    “But Herr Wettstein is in Basel.”

    “They’re still his problem. Take them down to the administration building and put them in a corner, somewhere. He won’t have time to see them right away.”

    “It he’s in Basel, why not send them across into the city to him?”

    “Bridge closed. The council closed it at sunset. It’s not going to reopen until they finish negotiating with Duke Bernhard.”

    “We haven’t had time to declare any currency,” Susanna protested. “You haven’t even asked us to.”

    Marc was pulling a case out of the inside pocket of his doublet. “We do have passports,” he said.

    The oldest militiaman was still unmoved. “You’re still Herr Wettstein’s problem. Not ours. You’ll just have to wait until all this is over.”

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