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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Fifty Four

       Last updated: Saturday, December 10, 2005 14:09 EST



General Horn’s Headquarters, Rheinfelden

    “It looks like they pulled it off,” Jesse Wood said.

    “I don’t see them bringing any wounded.”

    “We didn’t hear any shots, either.”

    “Swords are always an option. Arrows. Clubs. Rocks.”

    “Get back to work, guys,” Jesse said. “Since they are here this afternoon, we’ll have to get the Gustav ready to climb off the ground in the morning.”

    “If the fuel comes.”

    “Sure, if the fuel comes. One or the other of the convoys is bound to make it.”



    “Tell the infantry to take position,” Horn said, “between here and where we know Bernhard to be. Don’t go into Riehen. I don’t want to cause unnecessary controversy with the Basel city council. Between Rheinfelden and the Riehen boundary markers. Knut has the diagrams for all the emplacements we worked out.”



    “How much baggage?” Jesse Wood asked. He was trying to calculate whether he could possibly get back to Mainz the next day even if neither of the fuel convoys appeared. “I hope you warned them that there’s not a lot of room. Mary Simpson should know that, anyway.”

    “They don’t have any,” Jack Whitney said.

    “Two women with no baggage is beyond belief.”

    “They walked into Basel with the clothes they were wearing, Diane said. Plus, each of them had some extra underwear, socks, and towels in a little satchel. They rode out the same way. She spent some embassy money to get them better clothes. The ones they were wearing when they got there had sort of bit the dust while they were riding and walking from Ulm to Basel. Those outfits are what they are wearing now, but they rode out of the town without much more than they walked in with. And tomorrow morning they plan to leave everything they aren’t actually wearing with Ronnie Dreeson. Mrs. Simpson says she can give it away. Or whatever.”

    Jesse eyed the sky. “Lord,” he said, “I do most sincerely ask your pardon for having ever doubted that miracles still do happen.”



Landvogt’s Office, Riehen, outside Basel

    “Do you suppose that this Herr Wettstein is ever going to show up?” Susanna asked for the eighth time that morning.

    That was a record, since they had not yet finished their breakfast. The first repetition had been before she even ran her hands through her hair.

    “I have no idea at all,” Marc answered, also for the eighth time. “All we can do is wait. We’re warm, we’re dry. You have a bench to sleep on. I have a nice wood floor to sleep on. It is not a damp, dank dungeon. They’re feeding us. No one is chasing us. Once things calm down, we can go into Basel and get some more money from Papa’s banker.”

    “But we don’t have anything to do,” Susanna wailed.

    Marc had been waiting for that. “Oh, yes, we do,” he said cheerfully. “I spent what money I did still have to buy a ream of paper, two pens, and some ink from one of the Landvogt’s clerks last evening. Clean paper. Last night, after you settled down on your bench, I started writing up a report on iron ore in the Wiese valley. I kept at it until it got dark. Now that it’s light again, I’ll go back to that and you can start making five clean copies. A ledger a day keeps boredom away.”

    Susanna looked at him, poised between objecting that she didn’t want to make five copies of a report on iron ore and really wanting something to do other than look out the window and whine.

    “Be nice and do it,” Marc said winningly. “Sit on the floor and use the bench as a desk. Think of it as a birthday present. I’m fairly sure that this is the thirtieth day of September. If so, I am nineteen.”

    “Why do you get presents on your birthday?”

    “Well, because I do. At least, we do in my family. And something good to eat. Something special.”

    “What do you do on your saint’s day, then?

    “Saint’s day?” Marc asked.

    “The festival of your patron, in whose honor you have your baptismal name. Mine, Susanna, is from the Apocrypha. Susanna and the Elders. Your name, I suppose, is for the apostle.”

    “No. Mine is for Mama’s uncle, Marco Turettini. Calvinists don’t have saints.”

    She looked at him, scandalized. “Surely you must have a patron saint. Who watches over you? Who protects you from harm.”

    “God,” Marc said. “And my parents. It’s enough.”



General Horn’s Headquarters, Rheinfelden

    “Not everyone reads Cervantes, then, Mrs. Simpson, if I understand you correctly. But he was still well known as an author in your world.” Gustav Horn looked down the table, to make sure that he was not ignoring his other guests. He was having an unexpectedly good time at the supper he was hosting. His profession did not often bring him into association with people who were truly interesting conversationalists with a wide knowledge of literature. His acquaintance with the admiral’s wife was an unexpected pleasure.

    “That is quite correct, General,” Mary Simpson said. “Although I think that it is safe to say that probably more people in our country became familiar with Don Quixote through . . .” She suddenly stopped, caught her breath, and clapped her hands.

    Everyone else interrupted their conversations, turned, and looked at her.

    “I have it,” she said. “Your Majesty,” she said to Don Fernando. “Your Highness.”

    “Maria Anna,” the archduchess said. “For you, Mary, I am still and will always be Maria Anna. What do you have?”

    “The perfect wedding present from the United States of Europe. I know how much you enjoyed The Sound of Music, and I am sure that you will arrange to have it produced in your new home. But there is something else. It will take a little time, but I know we can do it. From Magdeburg, I will arrange, rehearse, costume, send you the world premiere production of Man of la Mancha for the Brussels theater.”

    She turned back to Horn. “Thank you so much, General. Without your literary interests, it would never have occurred to me.”



    “Ah, Herr Woods,” Maria Anna asked. “Is there any way that you can tell when this plane will cross the border into the Netherlands?”

    “More or less. It isn’t as if the borders are marked on the land. Why?”

    “It is protocol, you know. When a bride enters the land of her new husband, she is stripped of the clothing she is wearing and reclothed freshly with garments from her new home.”

    “I am afraid that we will have to forego it,” Don Fernando said rather apologetically. “I did not bring any Netherlandish clothes with me.” He leaned back as far as he could in the cramped seat, looking at Maria Anna from head to toe. “However, I would be quite willing to conduct the first half of the ceremony, if you think that would help,” he offered brightly.

    “Will anyone be waiting with another set of clothes when we land?” Maria Anna asked pragmatically.

    “Not as far as I know. I forgot all about it, we were in such a rush to leave.”

    “It is not exactly warm in this airplane. I think that I will keep my clothes on right now, thank you. If I do step out and we find some great noblewoman standing at the foot of the ladder with her arms full of fabric, that will be time enough.”

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