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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Fifty Six

       Last updated: Saturday, December 17, 2005 23:10 EST



Mars gravior sub pace lacet.

General Horn’s Camp, outside Rheinfelden

    There were safe-conducts for the whole road from Basel to Lyons; a whole file of safe-conducts. One from the margrave of Baden-Durlach. One from the Basel Landvogt in Riethen. One from General Horn. The last one, improbably enough, from Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar. Marc had seen them for himself as his father placed in the case. What’s more, they were all quite authentic.

    And a couple of French ones, probably not quite so genuine, that Freinsheim had produced when Margrave Friedrich asked him about it. Papa had once more reminded Marc never to look gift horses in the mouth. On the other hand, they might possibly be real. Richelieu had sent a minor diplomat, who rejoiced in the rather excessive name Michel l'Esclavon, duc d'Espehar, marquis de Choses-sans-Valeur, vicomte de Lavion, seigneur de l'Haleur, chevalier Sanscourage de Contre-Ours, to Basel to make a very stiff diplomatic demand to Margrave Friedrich V for the return of Freinsheim. Espehar had managed, by following Wettstein out of the city, to finagle a position inside Horn’s camp from which he had actually seen, close up, the Gustav take off carrying Don Fernando and the archduchess. He might have been sufficiently impressed to thank his impromptu guides by signing a couple of documents.

    There was a carriage, also, and guards. Duke Bernhard had offered to provide the guards, on the pragmatic grounds that most of Susanna’s route would take her through territory that he held. Marc looked at the captain of the guards uneasily, then suspiciously. It was the Bavarian who had chased them so relentlessly.

    Raudegen looked down. “I’m a professional, boy,” he said. “I cut my teeth on the Hungarian frontier. I’m in the duke’s service now. When he says capture her, I try to capture her. When he says protect her, I use everything I know to protect her. Not just as far as your relative in Lyons. All the way to Brussels. Advantage is advantage; if Duke Bernhard can’t use her as a pawn for exercising pressure on the archduchess, he will harvest whatever gratitude there may be for delivering her safely to a mistress who values her services. He does not practice cruelty for its own sake. Nor, for that matter, do I.”



    For traveling, Susanna was wearing the cream-colored turtle-neck sweater with a pencil-slim, ankle-length, mahogany brown velvet skirt. The side of the skirt was slit to above the knee, which would allow for such functions as walking or climbing into carriages. She had her left hand thrown back, carrying a matching jacket over her shoulder. The sweater outlined her tiny breast. Marc tried conscientiously to keep his eyes focused somewhere in the region of her nose.

    He took her right hand. “Ah, good-bye. Good wishes. It has been a pleasure make your acquaintance.” He tried again. “I hope it all works out well for you.”

    “Kiss him.” Marc heard Frau Dreeson’s voice coming from behind him. “See if it’s worth all the speculation you’ve been devoting to the matter. If it isn’t, it will save you a lot of bother in the long run.”

    Susanna looked at her, startled. Then she dropped Marc’s hand, stood up on tiptoe, threw both of her arms around his neck, pulled herself up a little farther toward his face while bending his neck down a bit, and kissed him.

    Their noses bumped, but they managed to rearrange things. After a while.

    “Enough,” Veronica interrupted. “There’s your food for thought, girl. Time to get going.”



    Margrave Friedrich V of Baden-Durlach had somehow managed to persuade both the Basel city council and Duke Bernhard that he should be allowed to move freely between the city and General Horn’s headquarters. By noon, he and Leopold Cavriani were having a nice chat about development funding for the iron ore in the Wiese Valley. The margrave’s father was, after all-if Duke Bernhard went away again, now that he had so conveniently removed most of the Austrian garrisons from the region and was no longer serving the French-the legal overlord of most of the iron-bearing seams that Marc had identified.

    Leopold gave him a copy of Marc’s report before forwarding two on to Jacob Durre. One through the regular post; one by special courier. One, of course, he had left with his regular banker in Basel.

    He took the last one along when he and Marc left for home the next day.

    Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia

    Ed Piazza worked his way through a long radio message that had just come in from Jack Whitney, reporting from Horn’s headquarters that he would be starting back toward Grantville the next morning, a combination of coming in for debriefing and escorting Veronica Dreeson.

    “I know you are buddies with Leopold Cavriani,” Whitney had said, “so I thought you might want to know that he and his son left for Geneva right after lunch. Cavriani mentioned, sort of casually, that you might be interested in knowing that he’s going to send the kid to Naples for a couple of years.”

    Casually? Leopold never did anything casually. Naples?

    Ed jogged down the hall toward the radio room. Mike needed to know this. Preferably yesterday.


    “It is not,” Louis XIII said, “that we currently have any options. Not that there is anything that France is in a position to do about it. Of course, it is in the interest of France to have the Netherlands divided from the other Habsburgs.”

    “Possibly not in the long run, Sire,” Cardinal Richelieu replied. “Not if the two of them have a dozen healthy children. Don Fernando is calling himself ‘king in the Low Countries’ and ‘Netherlands’ is a quite expansive concept. Much of the coastline of northern France is quite low-lying.”

    “The coastline of northern Germany,” the king of France pointed out, “lies even lower. I hope that this thought keeps Gustavus Adolphus awake at night, damn his hide.”

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