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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Fifty Five

       Last updated: Saturday, December 17, 2005 23:11 EST



Monita Paterna

Landvogt’s Office, Riehen, outside Basel

    “It is Herr Wettstein, finally. It has to be.” Susanna had her nose pressed to the window pane. “A man arrived on horseback, and just the way the other men here are gathering around him and talking to him, he has to be the boss.”

    “Don’t get overexcited. We’re probably not the first on his list, by any means,” Marc said stoically. “It may be a couple of days before he gets around to thinking about us.”

    It would have been, normally. But Wettstein’s clerk happened to mention that he had sold a ream of ledger paper to a young man, Cavriani, and would need to order a replacement from Basel, since they would be running short fairly soon.

    At the name, Wettstein raised his head. “Where?” he asked.

    “In the reception room. They weren’t really prisoners, even though the militia brought them in. We didn’t have anyplace else to put them.”

    “They? Them?”

    “Cavriani. And the kid he has with him.”

    The conversation did not last five minutes. Recalling that Horn had, by placing a substantial portion of his army between the landing field and Bernhard, also placed it between the two members of the Cavriani family, Wettstein issued safe-conducts, assigned a guide, accepted an IOU for food and lodging, and shooed them off. Not that he wouldn’t have enjoyed getting to know Leopold’s son under other circumstances, but at the moment he had a very full schedule.

    “Who’s the boy,” he asked idly.

    “Don’t think I ever heard his name,” the clerk answered.

    General Horn’s Camp, outside Rheinfelden


    At the sound of this urgent cry, Cavriani turned quickly away from Frau Dreeson and her incessant grumbles. Two young men, escorted by a couple of members of the Riehen militia and followed, or possibly chased, by two of Horn’s soldiers, were running toward him. He ran toward them.

    “Papa, what luck to find you still here. Herr Wettstein was afraid that you might already have left. I’m completely out of money; I spent the last of it on paper to draw up my report on iron ore in the Wiese river valley. Herr Wettstein’s clerk didn’t charge a lot for it.”

    Marc handed his father five neat copies of the iron ore report which he compiled while stuck in the Landvogt’s office in Riehen, but didn’t stop talking. “I was almost out of money before I bought that. We had already figured that between where we were when the Bavarian captain started to chase us-that was before, somehow, the Bavarian captain started to chase us with part of Duke Bernhard’s army in tow-and when we got to your bank in Basel and I could draw an advance, we wouldn’t be eating much that we couldn’t find growing along the roadside. If we ever had time to stop and eat, that is.”

    Marc was tanned, dirty, disheveled-and abundantly alive and healthy, totally unharmed. Leopold embraced him heartily, with a kiss on each cheek.

    “And, I see, you have found a companion in your mischief.” He gestured toward the other young man-boy, really, at closer range.

    Marc squared his shoulders. “Ah, yes. Papa, this is Susanna. Susanna Allegretti.”

    Leopold Cavriani had spent enough time in Grantville to be fully aware of why “A Boy Named Sue” was considered to be a joke. There weren’t any boys named Sue. Or Susanna. He turned.

    “Frau Dreeson,” he called. “Veronica.”

    Veronica became somewhat distracted from her catalog of grievances. What she said was, “See, I was right. No need for you to write your wife and make her worry. None at all.”



    Marc was not sure what might be coming next.

    “A fascinating tale of adventure. But such a sad absence of chaperones,” his father said at dinner, after Marc and Susanna had narrated their way through everything that had happened since Munich, usually in turn, but sometimes in chorus. “Two unrelated young people, boy and girl, scampering every which way through the countryside. Presumably, we should now remedy the situation by marrying you off to each other.”

    “That’s fine,” Marc said.

    “No,” Susanna said at the same time.

    Marc looked at her a little reproachfully. In response to Veronica’s urgent note, sent back via the Riehen militia and Herr Wettstein, Diane Jackson had checked through her closet for clothes she could spare-the State Department had given her a clothing allowance for the Basel venture-and sent Tony Adducci across the bridge to Riehen with a package. Wettstein had forwarded it to Horn’s camp by courier. Susanna was dressed as a girl again. Sort of. Marc had never seen anything even vaguely like a turquoise satin cheong sam embroidered with red and green dragons before. He had never even imagined that such a garment existed, but he certainly appreciated the effect when Susanna wore it, as she was doing for the evening meal. The cream-colored turtle-neck sweater and the blue jeans embroidered with butterflies on the back pockets were rather nice, too. Diane did not go in for down-time fashions.

    “No?” Leopold Cavriani raised an eyebrow.

    “No. I like Marc, but I won’t be married to him and go to some Calvinist city where everybody wears black broadcloth. Or black gabardine. Maybe with a white linen collar if they are feeling very cheerful. Not even if they would have me! We didn’t do anything wrong. We don’t have to marry each other. I got this far. Somehow, I can get to the Spanish Netherlands. I will go back to my lady and make beautiful clothing with velvet and satin and brocade and lace.”

    “Ah. Professional pride, I see. That is understandable. Certainly, we can see to it that you arrive in the Spanish Netherlands safely. Perhaps Potentiana’s cousins in Lyons....”



    “At least,” Frau Dreeson said, after they had told the men good night and gone to find the tent that General Horn had assigned to them and go to bed, “you are thinking about the problems. Which is more than Dorothea and her young man were doing last spring. That only means, of course, that they will have to deal with it after they manage to get married.”

    She scowled ferociously and added with her usual level of cheer, “If, of course, they managed to get to Grantville. If they were not killed by bandits along the way. If neither of them has died from some ordinary disease. If Dorothea does not die in childbirth-it is her first, and that is always the riskiest one. Indeed, if the two of them did not starve to death during the trip. Mary and I were kidnapped before I could arrange a bank draft for them.”

    “Who is Dorothea?” Susanna asked, feeling a little disoriented.

    “My late husband Johann Stephan’s idiotic niece. After marriage, it is certain to be more awkward. When they look at one another across the baby’s cradle, for example, and then start discussions about whether the baptism will take place in a Catholic or Calvinist church, which, if she does not die and the baby is born alive, they will do this month or next. You are quite right. It is undoubtedly difficult to yoke a Catholic and a Calvinist together in marriage. Though, of course, Dorothea is such a little fool that she may not have strong opinions about the matter. She may just change over if her husband tells her to.”

    “I,” Susanna said firmly, “would never do that. Not ever.”

    Veronica smiled, even if somewhat sourly. “Precisely what I thought. Although, believe me, having a Calvinist and a Catholic united in one marriage cannot possibly be as awkward as playing host to a Calvinist and a Catholic united together in your own mind, soul, and body. Damned Bavarians. Not that Duke Maximilian was responsible for the fact that I host a Lutheran to keep them company. The Counts Palatine managed that without his help.”

    Susanna had never thought about that problem. She looked at Frau Dreeson a moment and said so.

    Abruptly, Veronica asked, “Since you seem to recognize the problems, why are you even thinking about marriage to the boy? Though at least you did have enough sense to refuse his father’s suggestion.”

    Susanna’s eyes flew wide. “Because I want to kiss him. I really do. I’ve been thinking about kissing him since the first time I saw him. Maybe not quite since the first time I saw him, but even when he was just an ironworker repairing the house next to the English Ladies on Paradise Street, I was thinking... Oh, well, at least, definitely, since the first time I really looked at him. And, well, other stuff.”

    She blushed. “I have dreamed about it. I never really wanted to do that with any other man I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t even imagine really wanting to do those things when the other seamstresses talked about it. It was just something, I thought, that you had to put up with in order to get married. Then I looked at Marc in the baggage park outside of Munich and I started to think about it all. When I was a boy, it was a very peculiar feeling. But he never gave me a boy’s name. When we were alone, he always called me Susanna, and when we were with other people, he never called me anything at all. And he did say, once, that he thinks that the way that all my parts are put together is cute. And he doesn’t mind that my eyelashes are short and straight and blond. That’s a good sign, don’t you think?”

    Stop it, she told herself. You are chattering to this dried up prune of an old lady who is part Calvinist. She will not approve of you at all if you say such things.



    “Did you have to agree quite so fast to sending her on to the Spanish Netherlands?” Marc asked after Veronica and Susanna had left the supper table. “I’ve known you all my life, Papa, so don’t try to look innocent. You could have thought of something to keep her here, if you wanted to.”

    “But you did nothing wrong?” Cavriani’s eyebrow was up again.

    “We did nothing wrong. We did not even come close to doing anything wrong.” Marc smiled rather ruefully. “Papa, I am afraid that all those lessons that I was given by all those tutors whom you hired actually did have an effect. I find, when I examine my conscience, that I disapprove of fornication and adultery and-umm-almost all the other things that the ministers hope that a young man will grow up to disapprove of. Apostasy. Arrogance. Flattery. Freemasonry. I could compile a whole alphabetical list.” Now he grinned. “Which is a shame, honestly, considering that Susanna really is the loveliest girl I have ever met, and doing something wrong would have been a lot of fun. Especially in the fornication area.”

    Cavriani laced his fingers across his chest, leaned back, and contemplated his son. With his eyes, he saw that the incorrigible curl had escaped once more and was hanging down right in the middle of Marc’s forehead. That rebellious curl would remain with them-if Marc was, by the grace of God, granted a long life-until a receding hairline took care of the problem.

    He contemplated Susanna with his mind. Blondish, but really light brown, straight hair, a little wispy-check. Eyes of no particular color, somewhere between gray and hazel-check. Nose present, but rather narrow in the bridge-check. Teeth present, but if she had been an up-timer, she would have been given ‘braces’-check. Mouth quite a bit wide for the rest of the face, smiling readily, but the lips were thin rather than full - check. Clear skin-check, and remind Potentiana’s cousin to bring up the topic of seeing a physician in the Spanish Netherlands for one of these new vaccinations with catpox to ward off the smallpox. Tiny in both height and girth. If a Grantviller were to rate her buxomness on a scale of one to ten, possibly a one, if the man doing the rating were in a generous mood.

    There were, he thought, two possibilities. The first was that Marc was not fully in the possession of his senses, to categorize this as, “the loveliest girl I have ever met.” Cavriani did not believe for an instant that his son was not in possession of his wits.

    The second was that this was the girl whom, Catholic seamstress of luxury clothing or not, Divine Providence had predestined to become his daughter-in-law and that God, therefore, had providentially instilled in Marc a due appreciation of God’s gracious gift of a good wife, whose worth was above that of pearls and rubies.

    Clearly, it would be more prudent to act, for the time being, on the basis of the second hypothesis. Cavriani had considered the parents of Romeo and Juliet to have behaved in a remarkably stupid manner ever since the first time he saw the play.

    “Susanna has explained to us,” he began, “why she is not currently enthusiastic about the idea of marrying you. However, if you listened carefully, none of her reasons contained any objection to you, as a person. Merely to the circumstances. Also, you are both still very young to be considering marriage-given, which I will grant as a presupposition, that you have done nothing wrong and there is no urgent cause for you to take precipitous steps.”

    Marc was listening intently.

    “We have closed no doors. You mother’s cousin will have her address, once she is safely brought to the Netherlands. There is no reason why you could not write to her. I gave her our firm’s main address in Geneva. For business reasons, clearly. Still, there is no reason why she should not address a letter to you there, if she should wish to do so. I am sure she is aware that it would reach you, eventually. I gave her no reason to think that I am inclined to behave like an irrational parent in a tragic play, I hope.”

    Marc caught the reference. “I don’t think,” he commented, “that anyone has ever considered relocating the site of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to Geneva. Or to the Tirol, which is where Susanna’s parents still were the last she heard from them. Papa, you should send them a message to say that she is well. And maybe mention what a fine young man I am?” He winked.

    Cavriani assumed a supremely dignified expression, ignoring the interruption. “Since she has explained her reasoning about not wishing to live in a Calvinist city in a quite coherent manner, then perhaps we should make the effort to find out whether it would be possible for you to live in a Catholic city, or if it would cause you unbearable discomfort. Or, at least, if such an arrangement were to be permanent, whether you could settle in a city in which the majority of the population was Catholic and the predominant forms of dress and public display were formed by that fact and would allow Susanna the suitably-paid exercise of her talents. Without causing you unbearable discomfort. On condition, of course, that such a city granted Calvinists liberty of worship.”

    Cavriani pursed his lips. He had not explained the logic of his thought processes as clearly as he might have wished. “Surely, within the next five or ten years, there should be several such cities to choose among. If things go as we hope.”

    Hope had become the dominant expression on Marc’s face.

    Cavriani continued his musings. “Or, possibly, living in the Netherlands, it will dawn upon her that Frederik Hendrik and his courtiers do not limit their wardrobes to black gabardine with white linen collars. The court maintained by the House of Orange does not dress quite as flamboyantly as that of Savoy, for example, but there is still quite a lot of satin and lace present. However, we should not rely too heavily on that possibility.”

    Cavriani rose and looked out the window. “The Americans have a lot of lovely proverbs to be added to the classical store that we find in Aesop and others. One of my favorites is, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ So, after we have been to Geneva and allowed your mother to assure herself that you are in splendid health, I will arrange for you to experience living in a Catholic city. Events in Naples have not been developing as quickly as I had hoped. I think-indeed, I am sure-that you should plan to spend the next year, or perhaps two, in Naples.”

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