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1634: The Galileo Affair: Chapter Eleven

       Last updated: Monday, January 5, 2004 16:20 EST



    “Tom?” Mazzare put his head around the door. Within was the kind of controlled chaos that Tom Stone either liked or just seemed to generate by his mere presence. The man still clung firmly to his relaxed sixties-era hippie ethics, principles and aesthetics—although he now owned the biggest and most profitable coal-tar dye works in Europe.

    Which was to say, the only one. So far, at least. Years of recreational pharmacology on top of a nearly-completed masters’ degree in the real thing made Tom Stone—also known as Stoner, for reasons which were not hard to deduce—the leading research, industrial and medical chemist in seventeenth-century Europe, if not the world. Not much in the way of spectacular dyeing chemistry was “scheduled by history” to happen until after the Napoleonic period—which meant that Stoner had better than a two century lead on his competition. In their old timeline, dyes along with soaps had been the first real make-money-hand-over-fist branches of chemistry. So Stoner had a very profitable business ready-made once circumstances—and Magda and her money-minded father—had rubbed his nose in it.

    For that matter, the man could probably be making a second fortune in pharmaceuticals, since he was also the principal manufacturer of the new medicines the Americans had introduced into the world. But on that subject, Tom Stone had drawn the line—quite firmly, too, despite the mild squawks of his wife and the loud splutters of protest from his father-in-law.

    Medicines, Tom Stone made at cost—and, even there, tried as much as possible to cover his costs through barter rather than money. Given that the electricity he used which was produced by Grantville’s huge power plant was essentially free anyway—the power plant produced far more electricity than Grantville could possibly use—he was in effect subsidizing his own pharmaceutical business.

    As Tom Stone put it, he was not about to become a bloodsucker on the misery of others. Just about everyone agreed with Stoner’s wife and father-in-law that he was a hopelessly impractical man, to be sure. But it was no accident that he was also becoming one of the most popular people in central Europe, especially with the poor German immigrants who were still flooding into Thuringia. If anything, he was even more highly regarded by the rapidly-growing population of Magdeburg, the new capital of the United States of Europe rising out of the ruins on the Elbe.

    There was even a rumor that one village in Catholic Franconia was petitioning the Pope to declare him a saint. Not even a rumor, really—Father Mazzare knew it was true, although he’d seen fit to keep the knowledge to himself. No point in disappointing the villagers prematurely, he felt, with such picayune details as the fact that canonization was reserved for dead people. And had never been extended to someone who was not only not a Catholic but whose religion—such as it was—revolved largely around mandalas and alternative states of mind.

    “Tom?” the priest repeated.

    Again, Stone didn’t hear him. Mazzare wasn’t surprised. Frau Stone was somewhere in the background marshalling Frank, Gerry and Ron, a couple of shanghaied soldiers and what looked like a platoon of chambermaids—where had they come from?—into arranging the medical mission’s quarters. Although more of a blue-stocking than Hanni, Magda conceded the dreadnought-class hausfrau nothing in haus-pride.

    Tom stood in the middle of it all holding a small stack of books with the air of a man who would definitely remember where he meant to put them in but a moment. He regarded his wife’s drill-mastering of the all-out effort to get order out of chaos with blatant bemusement. He had explained to Mazzare, once, that chaos was not always disorder and dirt not necessarily mess. The natural order of things, per good organic principles, could be persuaded to suck in the gut and make itself useful, but could never be hammered into line.

    Magda hewed to a different line, though. The “hash ranch” as the Lothlorien Commune was oft known had looked uncommonly neat and tidy since she moved in.

    Finally, Stoner saw Mazzare standing in the doorway. “Hi, Father!” Tom called out, his face a sudden plea for rescue.

    Mazzare repressed a smile. “Tom, could I have a word?” He led a relieved Stoner out into the corridor.

    Stoner closed the door behind him, leaned on it and sighed. Then, shook his shaggy head. The hair was graying now, but just as thick and bushy and disheveled as it had always been. “I had me some bizarre domestic arrangements in my time, man, but this just about beats them all. I am o-fish-ully boor-jwah now, hen-pecked and everything.”

    “Stoner, that’s kind of why I’m here to talk to you.”


    “Yeah, it’s Hanni.” Mazzare chewed his lip a moment. “I, ah, promised her—”

    Stoner frowned. “The boys were saying that they might go out for a drink or two with Gus, after he dropped by. I kind of wondered.”

    Mazzare nodded. It was no wonder Stoner knew. News from Hanni tended to get around fast, and everyone knew Father Heinzerling. It was obvious to anyone with more brains than God gave a rabbit what he suffered from, as well. Even by the standards of a time when drunkenness was the norm, Gus could put it away. And, left to his own devices, he did. It was Mazzare’s guess that without Hanni all these years, he would have wrecked himself long since. Not as fast, perhaps, as he would have without Jesuit discipline, but still wrecked. For all his playing of the long-suffering hen-pecked husband, he actually clung to Hanni like the rock she was.

    “Tom,” he said, “I promised Hanni I wouldn’t let Gus hit the sauce too hard. Now, I persuaded him to persuade the boys to cool it for a few days, since I’m sure they’re planning to contact the CoC here in Venice—small as it probably is—but I don’t think it makes sense to keep everyone grounded for the duration.”

    Tome smiled. “Wouldn’t work, anyway. Not with my kids. Chips off the old block.”

    Mazzare managed not to wince. “So, could you ask the boys to keep an eye on Gus? Keep him talking, at least, since that seems to keep him from drinking so much?”

    Stoner nodded. “I’ll tell them. They’re good about that sort of thing. And they like Gus, since they consider him a superannuated jock but without the attitude.”



    Mazzare walked back down to the embassy reception room in a thoughtful frame of mind. On the way, he turned the corner on the staircase and bumped into a small, dark-haired man wearing a pointed yellow hat. Literally bumped into him, since it seemed neither of them was paying much attention to where he was going.

    “Please, forgive me,” Mazzare said, “Can I help you?” The man was short and slight and looked—yes, Jewish. He was wearing a distinctly lawyerly gown and had a tooled-leather briefcase under his left arm. That would mean he was—

    “Signor Luzzatto?”

    “Ah, yes,” said the little man. “Benjamin Luzzatto, at your service. Might I assume that you are Father Mazzare, of Grantville?”

    “Indeed. Were you at the ceremonies earlier today?”

    “No, Monsignor. Jews were not permitted to be present at that. I watched from a window. Do I find you settling in here?”

    Mazzare frowned. “Should I take it up with the Doge? I mean, if you’re to be our permanent man here—”

    Luzzatto waved a hand. “Oh, please, Monsignor, take no trouble on my account. We must live apart, and are thus subjected to severe overcrowding in the Ghetto, but otherwise we suffer only minor disabilities in Venice.”

    “Really? I thought the restrictions on Jews were severe.”

    “Perhaps I should restate the matter. Yes—officially—the restrictions are indeed severe. We are required to live in the ghetto; may not pursue many vocations; are required to lend money at unprofitable rates. Oh, indeed, it goes on and on.” He shrugged. “In practice? They like to pretend that they have no Jews in La Serenissima, but so long as we are discreet and the pretense is maintained, we are usually left unmolested. In business matters, ‘being discreet’ simply means finding a Christian partner to be the, ah, what is the expression—?”

    “Front man,” Mazzare provided, using the English term.

    “Yes, precisely.” Luzzatto smiled wryly. “Such a devious language, your dialect of English. I have grown quite fond of it. As I was saying, so long as we are discreet the Venetian authorities ignore most of it. For all their pretensions at nobility, you know, the Casa vecchie are merchants before they are anything else. To tell the truth, other than the overcrowded conditions of the Ghetto—which makes it very bad for us in times of epidemic—the only regulation which causes real aggravation is the requirement”—he gestured at his headgear—”that we must wear yellow hats or veils.”

    Here, his good humor seemed to slip. “For quite some time now, we have petitioned to have that color changed. It sometimes causes unpleasantness for our women—my own wife was solicited, just yesterday!—since prostitutes are also required by Venetian law to wear yellow veils when practicing their trade on the streets.”

    “Oh.” Mazzare thought on that a moment, and decided to drop it for the time being. “Come, let us go to the reception room. There are some people I should like you to meet.”

    “That would be the Reverend Jones and Father Heinzerling and Dottores Stone and Nichols, yes?”

    “Yes, and some others.” They walked back down the stairs. “Are you from Venice originally?”

    “No, I was born in Oporto, where my father was a doctor. We left when I was eight years old, for the City, after the great pardon freed him from jail. Then when I was eighteen I came to Italy to study law at Padua. Ever since, I have been a lawyer and a commercial agent here in Venice.” Luzzatto smiled. “Much less exotic than your own origins, of course.”

    “Well, I don’t know,” said Mazzare. “Until two years ago I was nothing more than an ordinary small-town priest. Here we are.” He opened the door.

    Back in the reception room, some more of the delegation had finished unpacking and had come down to wet their whistles. “Everyone!” Mazzare said loudly. “This is Maestro Benjamin Luzzatto, the man Don Francisco picked to advise us once we arrived.”

    Luzzatto gave a little half-bow to the people there.

    “I guess it’s introductions all round, then,” said Mazzare. “We decided that the thing to do was to hand off as much of Grantville’s knowledge as we could, to help Venice be as effective a trading partner as possible and to give an earnest of our good faith. We’ll be advised by you about that, of course, but for the time being we have a few people with us who’re going to be able to help. Doctor Stone, as you call him, is still upstairs getting settled in. No doubt he’ll be down later. With him is—ladies first—Sharon Nichols. She’s really our doctor here.”

    Sharon nodded solemnly, as she had done everything for the past months. The statuesque young woman was not wearing “widow’s weeds,” true—and never had—but she was still grieving deeply over the death in battle the previous autumn of her fiancé Hans Richter.

    “Sharon’s a doctor of medicine where Tom Stone is a doctor of chemistry.” That was something of a fib, designed to augment her status. Sharon wasn’t an MD. She wasn’t even technically an RN, although she had the equivalent training and experience—even real expertise, when it came to battlefield traumas. But Mazzare had learned early on that nursing when it wasn’t done by nuns was regarded as low-rent scut-work in this day and age. Even the nuns only did it as a sort of self-mortification in most places. Besides, given the state of seventeenth-century medical knowledge and practice, a mostly-trained twentieth-century nurse was considerably better than a doctor by local standards. A lot better, in Sharon’s case. She seemed to have inherited her father James’ skill as well as his very dark skin color.

    If the Jewish lawyer was surprised to see a Moorish woman in their midst—and he probably wouldn’t think of Sharon as anything else—he gave no sign of it. “An honor to meet you, Dottora Nichols,” said Luzzatto, half-bowing again.

    Sharon nodded. “Charmed, Maestro Luzzatto.”

    Mazzare thought for a moment about how to continue. Then: “As well as the medical side of the health mission we have brought with us, we propose offering some of our learning in the matter of public sanitation. Venice has a unique position in this regard, having the lagoon to drain into, but there is a deal more that can be done. The experts in these matters in Grantville are of the opinion that improved health begins with improved public sanitation, which is why Herr Mauer has come with us. Ernst has spent the last two years as one of the lead contractors in the reconstruction of Magdeburg’s sewer system.”

    Mauer stood up straight from his habitual slouch and made a half-bow of his own. “An honor, Maestro Luzzatto.” The greeting was one of the few bits of Italian that Mauer had reliably learned; half of the challenge in his passing anything to the Venetians would be the translation. Mazzare didn’t think the translator would be worked too hard, either. Mauer was, at his most voluble, a laconic man. He was, however, a man with a reputation as a civil engineer. A master builder before the Ring of Fire, he had leapt at the opportunities offered by the rebuilding of Magdeburg and grabbed them with both hands. He had not been the only one to do so, but he had been the first to specialize, and had the kind of detailed mind needed to plan and execute a huge sewer system. Over six months he had educated himself in sanitation engineering and the English language, found his metier and laid the foundations of a modest fortune in civil engineering.

    “Next,” said Mazzare, “it was thought by our principals in Grantville that advances in shipbuilding might usefully be communicated to the shipwrights of Venice’s Arsenale. Perhaps some of those advances will prove less than useful, but we anticipate a great volume of trade through Venice. If it can be carried in improved Venetian hulls there is a greater opportunity for the merchants of La Serenissima to profit. Hence we have with us Lieutenant Ursinus from our naval yards at Magdeburg. He has brought plans for a number of different kinds of vessels and has experience in building several types of craft. The young officer standing next to him is Lieutenant William Trumble, part of our Marine escort.”

    Billy simply nodded. Conrad Ursinus made appropriately polite noises, and Mazzare wondered again how he would go over with the Arsenale. The guildmasters and workers there were said to be notoriously jealous of their skills and prerogatives. Young as he was, Conrad Ursinus was as senior a man as the ferociously busy Magdeburg shipyards could spare, and another trained down-timer.

    He was also a man who had grabbed opportunities; in his case, three of them. First, he was an officer in the growing U.S. Navy. Second, he’d parlayed his nearly-completed carpenter’s apprenticeship into a job as a shipwright and then as a slip foreman, and had the beginnings of credentials as a naval architect. On top of that, he had been part of the first wave of baseball players when the sport had gotten going in Grantville. The heavily plebeian and often-radical German population of Magdeburg had also adopted baseball, with all the ferocious enthusiasm with which they adopted most things American. Conrad was one of the stars of the Magdeburg Yard Dogs, for whom he played first base—and his friend Billy was the team’s star pitcher.

    Whether the two of them would succeed in introducing the sport to Venice was another question. Mazzare knew that baseball was a popular sport in up-time Italy, if a minority interest, but it was as nothing to the Italian national religion of soccer. The Stone boys were enthusiasts for that sport, and Mazzare knew they had plans to introduce it in Italy. They might well succeed, despite Conrad and Billy. Mazzare could remember turning out for a game or two when he’d been in Rome, and the sheer mania that a Lazio crowd was capable of...

    First, of course, they’d have to figure out where to play either game. Venice was not exactly a city with lots of parks and open space—and Mazzare had already firmly explained to all the young men involved that the Piazza San Marco was strictly off-limits. He foresaw enough problems, without having to deal with a Doge aggravated by a baseball or a soccer ball breaking one of his windows. Or, worse yet, one of the windows in the Basilica.



    He shook his head and went on with the introductions. “Captain Lennox here—”

    “Good day to ye,” said Lennox. He had a glass in his hand, and was visibly trying not to stand at attention.

    “—is head of our Embassy guard, which is a function our Marine Corps discharges for reasons of tradition. We also have with us my good friend and colleague the Reverend Simon Jones--”

    “Please to meet you,” said Jones, raising his glass.

    “Who is one of the ministers at Grantville’s Methodist church. And this is my curate, Father Augustus Heinzerling. I believe you’ve already met.”

    Heinzerling nodded a greeting, and Luzzatto gave another half-bow in return.

    “Forgive me,” Luzzatto said, “for I may not understand the Christian religion perfectly, but I understood that your Methodist church was Protestant, Reverend Jones?”

    “It is, yes,” said Jones, clearly anticipating the question. “If you’re wondering whether that means Father Mazzare and I should be enemies, the answer is no, not in the twentieth century. Our churches never settled their differences of doctrine, but outside of a few troubled places and a few small minorities of troublemakers on both sides, Catholic and Protestant never do more than chide each other for their lapses in doctrine. As to our being friends, that is a happy accident of our having shared interests outside our respective religions.”

    “Indeed,” said Mazzare, “a happy accident.” He smiled. Jones had learned Italian fairly well in the months they had had before leaving Grantville, but he hadn’t quite relaxed into the language. It was bizarre to hear the plain-spoken minister suddenly start talking in that grammatically-perfect and excruciatingly-pronounced way, in slow and measured sentences, after hearing him in voluble and homey eloquence all these years.

    It was a question of practice, of course. Mazzare had grown up with Italian from his parents, refreshed it with a two year stint in Rome, and was both fluent and colloquial in the language. The twentieth century version of it, at least. He had had no difficulty with the Venetian dialect once he had attuned his ear to it, but Jones was still having trouble. Indeed, very few people hereabouts could understand his twentieth-century formal Italian, since it was a language hardly anyone in this time actually spoke.

    “That is—interesting,” said Luzzatto, looking introspective for a moment. Mazzare had an idea that he understood the Jewish lawyer’s surprise. Luzzatto had lived most of his life in a place where there were hardly any non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians were formally and punctiliously discriminated against.

    Mazzare realized he was being remiss in his duties as host. “Can someone get Maestro Luzzatto a drink? And one for me, as well.” He pointed to one of the bottles on the sideboard. “That one—we have some others, too—was sent to you personally from Don Francisco. He asked me to assure you that it was prepared according to the laws of kosher—ah, kashrut.”

    Heinzerling moved to the sideboard, but Luzzatto intercepted him quickly and smoothly.

    “Please,” the lawyer said, smiling at the burly Jesuit, “allow me.” Luzzatto opened the bottle and poured himself a glass, murmuring something as he did so. Mazzare didn’t catch the words but assumed it was a religious blessing. Heinzerling seemed a bit surprised at the notion of a guest serving himself, but make no objection. He simply poured a glass for Mazzare and brought it over.

    Mazzare noted with approval that Gus did not take the opportunity to refresh his own glass. But, mostly, he was chiding himself. He’d forgotten that Nasi had explained to him that maintaining kashrut required that the wine not be handled by anyone except observant Jews from the time the grapes were put into the bin to be pressed to the time it was poured into the glass.

    He sighed inwardly. This was just one of the many ways in which one Larry Mazzare, small town American priest, felt inadequate to his new assignment. Grantville’s only Jewish family, the Roths, had been Reform Jews and late twentieth-century variety at that. Dealing with seventeenth century Jews was another matter altogether. No matter how sophisticated, cosmopolitan and well-educated they were, the traditions and customs of Judaism were so deeply ingrained in their attitudes that it was easy to blunder into a minefield without realizing it.

    That was even true, in many ways, with non-observant Jews like Mike Stearn’s wife Rebecca and her father Balthazar Abrabanel. To Mazzare’s way of thinking, it was odd. But he was Catholic, not Jewish. He knew that where Christians tended to see theological doctrine as the defining issue of their faith, Jews placed far more emphasis on matters of ritual, tradition and customs. Rebecca had been willing to marry a gentile, and her father had not objected. But Mike had told the priest that, very early on, he had learned to respect and accept the fact that Rebecca kept a kosher house and continued to observe Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.

    He’d told that to Mazzare one evening in the Thuringen Gardens, as he munched on a ham sandwich. “Only time I ever get to eat pork any more, when I do it on the sly outside the house.” But he’d said it cheerfully enough. “What the hell. If Paris was worth a mass to Henry IV, keeping my wife happy is sure as hell worth a few changes in my diet and habits.”

    Luzzatto came back over to Mazzare’s side and held up the glass. “Please pass along my thanks for the wine to my cousin Don Francisco, Monsignor Mazzare.” He had a slightly impish half-smile on his face. “The Nasis are quite famous for it, you know.”


    “Yes. The Nasis are even famous for it in the City.” The word the City contained a freight of meaning. As if there was and could be no other city in the word comparable to Istanbul. “Until quite recently they were sole suppliers of wine to Topkapi palace. The business is still substantial, despite Emperor Murad’s recent prohibitions.”

    “I’d think that would be a bit risky.”

    Luzzatto shrugged. “Simply living in the City has its risks. But it was the great shelter for the Sephardim after the Spanish drove us out of Iberia. Truth be told, the risks are small provided one does not wave the matter under the nose of Murad the Mad. Like most Ottoman Emperors, he really does not care much what Jews or Christians do in his capital, as long as they do it quietly.”

    Mazzare took a sip of his own wine, which had also come from Nasi. Francisco had ordered several barrels sent to the embassy at his own expense. They’d already been here when the mission arrived.

    The wine was good; full-bodied and with a sweet undertone that wasn’t sickly like so much of the wine they got in Germany. “Delicious,” he pronounced. “I must remember to thank Francisco when I send my first message home. Speaking of which—”

    He broke off, remembering the need for security. Smoothly, understanding his quandary, Sharon Nichols stepped forward and engaged Luzzatto’s attention. Mazzare took the opportunity to move away a few steps and speak softly into Heinzerling’s ear. “Gus, how are the radio people doing?”

    Heinzerling put his glass down. “I can find out,” he said. “I left them untangling wires in the attic.”

    He spoke as softly as Mazzare. No one really knew if all the capabilities of Americans with radio were still a secret from Europe’s princes. But so long as there remained the possibility that the USE’s enemies still thought that enormous towers were needed for the devices, they would do their best to keep the knowledge limited. Although Melissa Mailey and her party were imprisoned in the Tower of London, they still had the means to communicate with home. If Charles I—the Earl of Strafford, more likely—ever got wind of the full capability of American radio...

    He would surely have their quarters in the Tower subjected to a rigorous search—something he had avoided doing so far.

    “Please,” said Mazzare. “Tell them there’s no pressure, I should simply like to know if I can send a message in tonight’s transmission window or whether it should wait.”

    Heinzerling left, padding with that silent gait which went so oddly with his burly physique.



    Mazzare moved back to Luzzatto’s side. “Speaking of negotiations, do we yet have a program of discussions with Messer il Doge?”

    “Ah.” Luzzatto set down his glass and pulled his briefcase from under his arm. “It was for this reason I came to visit.” He took out papers and began sorting through them.

    “Perhaps we should take a moment to read through...” Mazzare broke off, when he saw the amount of paper involved.

    “No, Monsignor. These are simply notes, of my own. I find I grow absent-minded as I age.”

    Luzzatto gave a dry little chuckle. Mazzare hoped he was joking. As well as being small and narrow, the lawyer was remarkably baby-faced, giving the impression that he was in his twenties. The life story Nasi had given Mazzare, though, put Luzzatto somewhere nearer to forty.

    “Ah,” Luzzatto went on. “I am absent-minded again. There are some matters for you to attest as plenipotentiary for the United States, the rental of this palazzo and so forth”—he set aside a bundle of documents—”and I shall leave these for you to examine at your leisure. There is no rush before the beginning of Lent, which is some time away yet. Then it will be needful to have your contracts signed.”

    Mazzare nodded, although he did not relish the thought of reading that pile of legalese in what was rapidly becoming his fourth language after English, German and Latin. Perhaps better to get onto a more immediate subject. “I understand that the diplomacy begins this evening with a reception at the palazzo ducale?”

    “This is at once true, and not true, Monsignor. The reception will be to allow the members of the consiglia to take a look at you and for each to pass some moments, perhaps, in conversation. Nothing can be done or will be done without a vote, and they dislike to act on any vote that does not have a majority of seventy or so.”

    “Seventy?” Jones had his eyebrows raised. “We have to convince seventy people of everything? I thought it was the Doge and a few councillors—ten, wasn’t it?”

    “Again, Signor Jones, this is at once true and not true. The government of Venice is a complicated thing, and different kinds of decisions require different decision makers. Messer il Doge can decide very little himself; he has influence, not power. Many other decisions require him to act with various other bodies, depending on whether it is to do with the Rialto, the city, the terrafirma, or foreign matters. There are differences for the Empire and for foreign Christian princes. I could not possibly explain all of these conveniently now, Signor, although perhaps we might spare a few days at some point?” Luzzatto looked as though he meant it. Mazzare began to speculate, briefly, how much a top-flight commercial attorney in the up-time U.S. would charge to devote his time to a client like this, and that led him to just how deep the Nasi and Abrabanel commitment to the USE actually was. They were spending money like water.

    Mazzare wrenched himself back to the present. He was vaguely aware that Jones had made some polite noises about how it sounded a fascinating prospect, but perhaps he might decline to fix a date just now, and Luzzatto was speaking again.

    “—and so for diplomatic matters of this character it will be several votes of the Gran Consiglia to test the waters on particular matters and then a final vote to empower il Doge to enter into the treaty. They will turn out in full for that, and I should expect to see perhaps a hundred and sixty votes cast. If they believe more than a few will vote against or abstain, they hold off voting. It is safe to do very little without consensus in the most serene Republic of Venice.”

    Luzzatto was smiling ever so slightly, his eyes twinkling. Mazzare had the distinct feeling that the irony had been intentional and intended to convey a very real warning of weirdness ahead. It was a warning of another kind, too: that they were in a town where it paid to be oblique about politics if you were opening your mouth anywhere near money or power. That was a kind of town that had been mercifully rare by the dawn of the twenty-first century, but was all too common in the seventeenth. Even diplomatic immunity was no sure guarantee; the Spanish ambassador Bedmar who was supposed to be back in town had had to get out of Venice one step ahead of a lynch mob.

    Luzzatto was shuffling his notes, apparently preparing for a more formal presentation. Mazzare decided to prompt him. “Maestro Luzzatto, what are our chances of a favorable settlement here in Venice? I trust Don Francisco sent you a briefing on what we hope to achieve?”

    Luzzatto cleared his throat. “Monsignor Mazzare, I will say in summary that the chances are good, with perhaps some reservations. Don Francisco has been instructing several of us here in Venice, in the ghetto and the Rialto alike, in rumors and information to feed to various interested parties. We have, I think, been successful in making the case for a strong commercial tie with the United States of Europe as it has now become. Venice has been in a precarious situation for some years now, and came close to crisis with the Mantuan war, for there was great risk of losing the French alliance, such as it is. The designs of both Spain and France on Venice and the money it represents are obvious and long-standing. Spain is perhaps not so great a threat as once it was, but France has grown powerful in recent years. And while the Habsburgs in Spain and Austria are strong enough to contain them, the terraferma party in Venice have been worried. The maritime party is also concerned; for all that they pretend to care little for any wealth that comes from the land and to cleave to the view that Venice will make all its wealth from the Levant trade, they know that without the landward ties they are less powerful. In this, at least, the two parties see eye to eye.”

    Murmurs of understanding and assent went around the room. They had all sat through briefings from Nasi.

    Luzzatto went on. “I believe that this interest is well-recognized to be served by trade with the United States and the commercial opportunities it represents. There is no prejudice about trading with Protestant states, after all. The Dutch and the English have for some years had significant customs concessions here and the merchant houses are grown used to dealing with such. One of the current matters of debate before the Consiglia is the admission of an Englishman to farm the customs on certain goods here, such is the presence of the English in this town. You will doubtless meet this man, Sir Henry Hider, although his interests are in dried fish and cloth and so your commercial aims will not cross with his to any great extent.”

    Heinzerling came back into the room and padded over to Mazzare. Politely, Luzzatto moved away and began chatting with Sharon, allowing the Father and his curate a moment for a quick and private exchange.

    “There is good news and bad news,” Heinzerling whispered. “The good news is that the radio will soon be functional. Tonight, they say.”

    Mazzare nodded. Then, braced himself. Gus Heinzerling did not use the expression “bad news” lightly.

    “The bad news is that Joe Buckley was just spotted, entering the building next door. With luggage.”

    It was all Larry Mazzare could do not to groan aloud. As if things weren’t complicated enough already!

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