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1634: The Galileo Affair: Chapter Eighteen

       Last updated: Saturday, February 7, 2004 00:11 EST



    As they left the end of the receiving line the Stones came over to Mazzare.

    “Father?” said Tom, “Do we, uh, mingle now?”

    It was all Mazzare could do not to break into laughter. Tom Stone was wearing a face that said Beam me up, Scotty—which completed the remarkable picture he made in the suit he was wearing. After their marriage, Tom’s wife Magda had fallen on the purple velvet drapes at Lothlorien, declaring them too good for mere curtains. How she had gotten a jacket and britches out of them was nobody’s business but her own, but the tie-dyed vest and canary-yellow shirt made the whole ensemble truly eye-watering.


    As nothing next to the Venetians. Nearly two months of the year were Carnevale to these people, and conspicuous consumption their national religion. Between the cloth-of-gold and other bright colors, the room looked like a mating dance for birds of paradise. Stoner, if anything, blended in fairly well with the other dowdy birds from northern Europe.

    If Tom had been used to being the most garishly-dressed individual in any given room, he was going down in purple-velvet flames tonight. “How are you bearing up?” Mazzare asked.

    “Oh, fine,” Stone said, frowning the question back at Mazzare.

    “Fine too,” said Mazzare, suddenly slightly embarrassed. “I thought you’d find this sort of thing, oh, I don’t know—” He waved a hand in the air, and was startled when a glass of wine was put into it by a passing servant.

    Stone snagged a drink for himself. “Formal?” He shrugged. “Sure. But, you know, folks seem friendly enough. And, frankly, once you’ve negotiated the hierarchies and pecking orders of a typical commune full of anarchists and individualists, this sort of thing—” He snapped his fingers for it, ducal display and noble hauteur and all.

    “I suppose it must come as something of a relief to have rules to follow.”

    Stoner grinned. “Sure, man. Hippies take vacations from disorder in the army. Two weeks of drill and discipline and orders and we’re refreshed and ready for another year of letting it all hang out.”

    Jones had walked up to catch the tail end of the joke. “Speaking of things hanging out, I just got taken aside by one of the Sestieri’s men.”

    “Who?” Stoner asked.

    “Henchman of one of the—well, I guess ‘town fathers’ does as well as any other way to put it. He wanted a word about the boys. Frank, to be precise.”

    Almost as one, they all looked down toward the bottom of the room where, spared the ordeal of the receiving line, Stone’s three sons were surrounded by a crowd of younger folk and were keeping the waiters busy.

    “What about the boys?” Magda asked, suspicion in every syllable.

    “Ah, well. That, ah, that is to say—” Jones began to color slightly, realizing that he was speaking to the boys’ stepmother.

    Stoner began to look worried, and Mazzare realized his own suspicions were building to match Magda’s. The comments that Bedmar had passed were falling into place in Mazzare’s mind with a certain lubricious inevitability. He narrowed his eyes. “I think you’d better overcome your embarrassment, Simon.”

    Jones took a deep breath. He was now a fairly fetching shade of pink. “It’s like this. You know we asked the boys to come here with us as much to keep them out of mischief as anything else?”

    Nods went around. It had, in point of fact, seemed like a good idea at the time. Mazzare could feel those words in the air, just as damning an indictment as ever they had been.

    “And, ah, Frank asked if he could bring a date?”

    The penny dropping with Magda was almost audible. “Schweinnerei,” she murmured.

    Mazzare was impressed. It was far and away the strongest word he’d ever heard her use. Stone put a hand on his wife’s arm. “Now, Magda, let’s not leap to conclusions—”

    “I am not leaping to conclusions, Thomas,” she hissed. “I am making a reasonable inference from the data as reported to me.” She glared at him.

    Mazzare winced. That one seemed to be common to all marriages he had seen in action. Hanni gave fair warning that she was about to go nuclear with Gus by quoting theology and scripture at him. Magda used scientific jargon. In a moment of utter whimsy, he wondered if Stoner had learned any classical philosophy to use in his turn when—

    He lost the train of thought to what Jones was saying—”but mostly the Venetians seem to be upset because she’s not wearing red shoes.”

    “Red shoes?” Mazzare said, realizing that for a supposed diplomat he was altogether further behind this conversation than he ought to be. “That means—oh.”

    Magda’s expression was a sight to scare children.

    “Tom,” said Mazzare hastily, in the faint hope of smoothing this over before the mushroom cloud erupted, “will you have a word with Frank? Not so much about embarrassing us a little—”

    “Speak for yourself, Larry,” Jones cut in, “but I am more than a little embarrassed.”

    “Quite. Tom, I think we may have a problem here. We just brought three country boys and turned them loose in a city which is famous for its, ah—”

    Magda muttered a very old-fashioned word in German.

    “I was going to say courtesans, actually,” Mazzare said firmly. Not only had he heard what Magda had called the girl in question, but he’d also heard it used of women who’d been perfectly respectable before, and gone on to be perfectly respectable after they’d played out the bad hand of cards they’d been dealt. Clear moral categorizations were double-edged things, in his view. The world had some very tight corners in it. That was no life for a woman who wanted any self-respect, and he figured the alternative had to be very hard indeed to get her there. The last one he’d spoken to had narrowly escaped burning as a witch.

    Then the incongruity hit him. “Hold on,” he said. “I thought I recognized that young lady.” Maybe two-thirds of the people present were wearing at least half-masks, and most of the people who were masked were wearing full grotesques of one sort or another. The various diplomatic parties were bare-faced, though, as were the Doge and his retinue of city dignitaries. So was the girl accompanying Frank, which hardly fit—

    “What’s the huddle for, guys?” Sharon asked, walking up.

    “Hello, Sharon.” Mazzare nodded in the direction of the Stone boys. “Do you know anything about Frank’s date?”

    Sharon grinned widely. “Someone told you?”

    “Yes, someone told us,” Magda said. She was looking serene now, Mazzare noticed. Perfectly composed, serene and smooth. Like the flawless concrete curve of a mighty dam.

    “Oh.” Sharon caught the mood. “I was just talking to the Spanish bishop’s guy—more like, he was talking to me—”

    “The Cardinal’s Gentiluomo,” Mazzare murmured.

    “Whatever,” Sharon said. “I already think of him as Feelthy Sanchez. He’s an old lecher.”

    Magda barked once, a “Ha!” that summarized her current opinion of the male of the species.

    Sharon tilted her head to one side a moment, thoughtful. “Well, maybe I’m being unfair. He was kind of twinkly, really. I bet he’s pushing sixty.”

    “Nothing wrong with being mature,” Jones said, his face as innocent as all get-out.

    “Reverend,” Sharon said, “this guy is ripe. Anyway, he was saying Frank had done well to get himself fixed up so quickly.”

    “Ha!” Magda barked again.

    “Oh, Magda honey,” Sharon said, suddenly emollient. “It’s not so bad. Courtesans are nearly respectable around here. Of course, I didn’t realize it was something anyone did part-time.”

    “Part-time?” Stone looked confused.

    “Well, she was working at the embassy this morning.” Sharon said it matter-of-factly.

    Mazzare suddenly realized why the girl had looked familiar. “One of the chambermaids at the palazzo? That’s who Frank brought?”

    Mazzare decided the conversation had gone far enough. It also finally occurred to him that perhaps everyone was jumping to conclusions. Venice, he was beginning to realize, was a contagious sort of place. The kind of city where think no evil is a laughable motto and rumors are guaranteed to be as wicked as possible.

    “Let’s not get into any more detail, everyone. It may be the girl is just what she seems to be—to anyone except Venetian gossips, at least. Or, well... okay, maybe not. If not, we raise the chambermaids’ pay so they don’t have to, ah—well, you know.”

    “Quite,” Jones said.

    “On the other hand,” Stone said, “I think I need to have a talk either way with the guys. Like you say, they’re young men abroad in a big city for the first time and I think they need to be warned—”

    He trailed off, clearly reminiscing. “Heh. I remember the first time I went to San Francisco. The Haight was past its prime, but it was still—” He cleared his throat, seeing the look Magda was giving him. “Well, never mind.”

    “Did you wear some—” Jones began, but Mazzare waved him down.

    “Only you, Simon,” he said, “could take that conversation downhill. People, let us mingle. We are supposed to be diplomats. Be nice, listen, give a friendly impression and go easy on the sauce.”

    “Speaking of which,” said Jones, “where’s Gus?”

    “Unfair, Simon.” Mazzare frowned. “Anyway, I left him with the Monsignor who’s the state theologian here. Gus doesn’t usually get to hobnob with the rich and famous, so he’s knocking himself out. Anyway, raus, the lot of you. Mingle.” He made shooing gestures, and as they broke away he saw the first of many coming to pay him their regards.

    Mazzare found he didn’t even have to think about it. Whatever the other Americans were doing, he was kept busy being affable—easy enough, the company was all witty and polite—to a constant stream of people. He’d done similar duties in the past, and had learned the trick of the thing. Sip only, because otherwise helpful people come along and freshen your drink without you noticing, and before you know it you’re paralytic.

    He was barely an hour in, on perhaps his fiftieth how-do-you-do of the evening, when he realized that perhaps he should have passed that tip on. Especially to Jones, who had no capacity for booze and—but he’d surely been—

    With an effort of will, he forced himself to stop worrying.

    “Still worrying, Monsignor?” The mask was the traditional Mask of Comedy, worn with a close-fitting hood and a cape and a merely moderately lurid doublet. The voice he recognized, and would have even if it hadn’t spoken in English.

    “Monsignor,” Mazzare said. “I had heard you were in Venice to receive short shrift from messer il Doge?”

    “Indeed. And I must also call you Monsignor now, yes?”

    Mazzare felt a sudden chill. He had last spoken directly to this man nearly eighteen months before.

    Canon Monsignor Giulio Mazarini, Nuncio Extraordinary, was a man who gave Mazzare great hopes and the shivering willies in about equal measure. He was another of the great names of history that Mazzare, and all the other up-time Americans, were having to grow used to sharing a world with. In Mazarini’s case, rather earlier than the events for which he was mostly famous, but shortly after his actual rise to prominence.

    In the time-line that had been, Mazarini had been a rising star in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps. Famous in his twenty-ninth year for rescuing the settlement of the War of the Mantuan Succession that had nearly been blown by Richelieu’s creature, Father Joseph. Fortunately for France, the manner of the treaty’s near-undoing was completely forgotten in the drama of its rescue. Mazarini had galloped his horse between two armies at Cherasco, waving a blank piece of paper and calling out that peace had been made. His flamboyant coup de theatre, founded in a flagrant lie, had convinced the near-combatants that there was a treaty just long enough for one to be remade in reality.

    Later in that timeline, after the time when the Ring of Fire had split the here and now away from what would have been, Mazarini had gone on to take service with Richelieu, and had become a naturalized Frenchman, changing his name to Jules Mazarin. On Richelieu’s death he had succeeded to the position of Prime Minister of France as Cardinal Mazarin, the architect of the absolute state of Louis XIV. There were monuments to the man in the Paris Mazzare had briefly played tourist in, even a Mazarin library.

    Grantville had not had a detailed biography of the man, but the basic facts were there in the better encyclopedias. Mazzare was fairly certain that Mazarini’s future career was known, for good or ill, in every quarter where the knowing was thought worth knowing. Mazzare himself, ordered by the Pope to report on the future, had listed the known details of Mazarini’s career, giving particular prominence to the man’s later support for the Barberini after their patron Urban VIII—born Maffeo Barberini—died and they began to lose faction-fight after faction-fight within the church. Not that they couldn’t have guessed at Mazarini’s future sympathies; he counted at least one Barberini cardinal among his close friends, by all accounts.

    The best bit was his key role in the Peace of Westphalia, the treaty that ended the Thirty Years War in 1648. That was important; Mazarini’s career, a few blips apart, was—had been, the normal tenses didn’t seem to work properly—devoted to the making of peace after peace. The man had been an inveterate diplomat throughout the life he’d led, and probably saved a good many lives by his efforts.

    Mazzare wondered whether Mazarini had fully digested any of it. Or if—no, but Harry Lefferts had come back to Grantville with the news that Mazarini had gone to Paris. If Richelieu had not used the knowledge of future history that he undoubtedly had to make Mazarini an offer, there was no hope at all for France.

    Was there a tactful way to ask?

    Mazzare realized that the moment was stretching and that Mazarini’s having called attention to his new title was in itself a message. Reminding the American priest that he was a diplomat himself now, that they were both at work in the practice of what was now their mutual trade, and there was no such thing as idle chit-chat for such as they.

    “Yes,” he said, “although that title is much less official than it was—or will be—back in my day.” He grimaced. “Doubtless you too have noticed the trouble that normal tenses have with these circumstances.”

    Mazarini chuckled. “One’s conception of oneself can be a little shaky, as well.”

    Mazzare had been braced, he had thought, but not for that. One could never be ready for that kind of revelation. He felt his pulse bound and then settle as he decided on a tactical misinterpretation. “Quite,” he said, smiling ruefully. “There I was, a simple parish priest in a simple country town, and now here I am an ambassador. Perhaps I could prevail upon our acquaintance to sit down with you for a few pointers from a professional?”

    Mazzare realized as he said it that he actually meant that. Whatever Mazarini’s final allegiances would turn out to be, he was actually a genuinely nice man. When first they had met, Mazzare had been at the bottom of a long, deep depression brought on by his doubts about his place in this time, and the church that represented God to its people and their world. Mazarini had said and done the right things to make Mazzare feel that there was some hope. It could have been a diplomat’s professional patter, of course, but then there had been the raid on Grantville by Wallenstein’s cavalry, and the bloody aftermath. Mazarini’s response had been too smooth, sustained and practical for anyone to believe that it was entirely or even partly feigned. The man cared, and seemed to have the natural touch of friendship about him.

    Mazzare had seen all kinds of faith in his years as a priest, throughout his career in the hierarchy. Some outstanding, in both scales as such things are measured. Most, the workaday belief of those whose faith is part of who they are and their family history. That was the reliable sort, Mazzare felt. A man whose trust in God fell with the dew, that he soaked up in warm spring sunshine and the mists of autumn was a man you could depend on.

    The mask in front of Mazzare was nodding. “I would be honored, Monsignor.”

    “That is good to hear, “ Mazzare said. Mike Stearns had told him that listening was better than talking in these sorts of situations, something Mazzare had already known. He allowed himself a silent snort at politicians everywhere, for thinking they had a monopoly on the stratagems by which people could be induced to open their hearts to others. And for thinking that the only reason to use those stratagems was in conflict.

    Mazarini had the advantage, since behind the mask his thoughts were inviolate. Of course, with Mazarini, that was something of a moot point. His genial, ever-smiling face was the carefully-controlled instrument of a trained negotiator and card-player, as much a mask as the painted thing he wore. He knew it, too, and the apologetic tone sounded sincere. “I should take off the mask, Monsignor, save that I am not here.”

    Mazzare confined himself to raising an eyebrow.

    “Yes. Not here at all. The Doge has not invited me and it is strictly forbidden to speak with me.”


    “Forbidden. Perhaps this should be your first pointer from a professional? If, that is, Don Francisco did not instruct you.”

    Nasi had, but Mazzare let Mazarini go on, since doubtless he meant to pass on some other information.

    “The Doge is merely the mouthpiece of the Republic. Messer Erizzo is, perhaps, more effective than most such. He seems to have the Senate firmly in hand for all that he is no Foscari reborn. But he must still respect the formalities of the thing. My mission, you see, is a matter of etiquette and protocol. His Holiness sees the dignities of cardinals as an issue of the highest importance.”

    Mazzare nodded understanding. There was a joke about it, he had heard, that the three bees of the Barberini coat of arms had once been horseflies, a joke prompted by the numbers of Barberini and Barberini placemen that were now in Rome, taking their share of the church’s revenue. There were no less than three cardinals Barberini, and the Pope himself was another; he was yet to have the famous repentance of his nepotism. Between the current situation and that repentance in the old time-line was a near war over a failure to show the proper respect and to employ the correct etiquette in dealing with one of the Barberini cardinals. Part of that etiquette was the new title of “Eminence” for all cardinals, and their rank in protocol as princes. Both were Barberini innovations under Urban VIII, and part of Mazzare’s briefing had been about Venice’s refusal to acknowledge either.

    “Venice,” said Mazarini, “is—as it always has been—unwilling to knock its head on the floor at Rome’s bidding. This is a city that has laughed off Interdicts in its time. On the other hand, Venice wants Rome’s support in the matter of Cyprus. Let the Pope declare in favor of Venice, the Doge has said, and the Pope may have his cardinals addressed however he pleases. That may affect you, incidentally.”

    “How does that affect me?” Mazzare asked.

    “Because, Monsignor, Cyprus is part of the mercantile party’s holdings at sea. The sway of the island represents a powerful symbol for the merchants. With Cyprus in Venetian hands, and the Doge of The Most Serene Republic able to number ‘King of Cyprus’ among his titles, the merchant party can maintain their claim that the terraferma is of less importance than the seagoing trade.”

    “And so we deduce that those merchants are strong enough in Venice to procure that the Doge defies the Pope’s own nuncio extraordinary?”

    “Just so,” said Mazarini. “Quod erat demonstrandum.”

    “Ah,” Mazzare smiled. “You have picked up some of our scientific jargon as well—”

    He stopped. He had been about to turn the talk to the scientific mission Tom Stone was leading, as a way to turn the conversation away from potentially dangerous topics with some mild and harmless bragging, but he could feel the grin even through the mask.

    “Monsignor,” Mazarini said, his tone deeply and comically reproachful, “the scientific jargon is ours, not yours. I spent some hours in that wonderful library at Grantville. I found a number of interesting biographies in there and I see that two of the most famous natural philosophers of the twentieth century were born in this one.”

    Mazzare realized, watching those eyes twinkle through the eyeholes of the mask, that he must have let his bafflement show.

    “Newton, the Englishman, and our very own Galileo Galilei,” Mazarini said.

    Mazzare laughed, rueful. “Of course. And Germany’s Leibniz is from this time as well, and many give some of Newton’s credit to him. And Father Descartes, as well.”

    “Just so. But please, Monsignor, let me not keep you, for I suspect that messer il Doge will want to speak with you, as tete a tete as may be permitted him, before this function is over. I should be gone by then. Monsignor, if I may, I shall visit with you at the embassy before long.”

    “That would be a genuine pleasure,” Mazzare said, meaning it.

    “Seeya,” Mazarini said, and vanished into the plumaged crowd.

    It was a second or two before Mazzare realized that the parting word had been spoken in a West Virginia accent, and a fair imitation of Harry Lefferts at that.

    He kept the surprise off his face, he hoped. He took a quiet moment, then, standing alone in the crowd and listening to the faint strains of the musicians at the other side of the room playing something with a lot of strings in it; Mazzare was ill-equipped to recognize it. He tried to focus on the memory exercises to match names to faces in their proper pairings. Then the flow started up again, no important business to be done but introductions being made and pleasantries offered and returned in their turn. It was perhaps another fifteen minutes before the flow of introductions dried up again.

    Jones, who had been at his elbow throughout, took advantage of the lull. “What was all that about?”

    Mazzare chose to misinterpret the question. “I believe the last fellow was a factor for the Foscari.”

    “Larry.” The tone was reproach enough.

    “Didn’t you recognize him? Don’t say it, though, he’s not supposed to be here.”

    “Oh. Someone we met back when?” Jones was looking around, apparently trying to see if Mazarini was still present.

    “Back when, yes,” said Mazzare, resisting his own urge to rubberneck. “Gus mentioned that he was in town earlier.”

    “Sure. Not a popular man, in Venice. Got some nerve, showing his face in here. Or not, as it happens.”

    “Got some nerve, period,” Mazzare agreed.

    “What’s he doing it for, anyway? If someone recognizes him, he’s in big trouble. Blows whatever chance he’s got of getting on the Doge’s good side.” Jones had finally stopped looking around, and took a sip of his wine. Which was a full glass, and not appreciably lowered by the sip, Mazzare noted with a mixture of silent relief and self-admonition for not having confidence in his old friend.

    “His chances were slim and none anyway,” Mazzare said. “But if there’s one thing that man is down in the history books as liking, it’s a touch of the theatrical.”

    Jones simply chuckled, and then: “Eyes front, Monsignor.”

    The Doge was approaching, much in the manner of a ship under full sail in his robes—although, to American eyes, there was something faintly comical about the ducal cap. It resembled nothing so much as a smurf’s hat.

    The Doge was flanked and trailed, as everywhere, by a small retinue of Venetian nobility. Not so much an honor guard as a prisoner’s escort, the Venetian Constitution being what it was.

    There was a famous piece of architecture in Venice—Mazzare had read about it once in a travel guide—which tradition said was a gallows to hang misbehaving Doges from. The office was a strange one, so hemmed about with checks and balances and separations of power that Venice appeared to be governed in spite of the Doge, not because of him. In practice, the position carried a lot of influence that made up for the near total lack of power, an influence that the Venetians thought worth having and foreign diplomats had to cultivate. And, Mazzare thought, recalling their first formal meeting earlier that day, had to cultivate after climbing four flights of the Scala D’Oro to get to his receiving room.

    It was a classic Venetian trick, that. Classical, including the sense of bygone, greater days. The times when the Venetians were genuinely a power in the Mediterranean rather than just a major player among several were long past. Every year, still, the Doge symbolically married the sea. But the joke about him being cuckolded by the Turk was almost a century old by now.

    “Monsignor,” the Doge said.

    “Your Grace,” Mazzare replied, making the formal bow. Not being Venetian, he had no right to address him as plain old messer il Doge, without salutation. And in these years of declining power and waning influence, of shortened profits and rising costs, the Venetians clung to every little artifice of power and petty trick of haughtiness they could. Method acting in reverse, you might call it. They acted like haughty patricians granting audience to unlettered barbarians, in the hope—fond hope, really—that their audience would come to believe in the reality of it.

    Especially, Mazzare thought, after that four-story stair climb.

    “It will, we are sure, be a pleasure to receive your formal embassy. The Gran Consiglia meets in three days’ time. Doubtless one of our secretaries will deliver your invitation tomorrow. We look forward to increase in trade and friendship with all who would truly be our friends.”

    Mazzare resisted an impulse to add warm praise for sunlight, motherhood and apple pie, or whatever dessert the Venetians favored. Doge Erizzo, it seemed, spouted meaningless hot air like a hairdryer, at least in public. The meeting earlier had consisted largely of a similar speech. Mazzare looked past the Doge at the halo of attendants around; he could put names to some of the faces, but not all, and they seemed to be arrayed to give truth to the polite fiction that the Doge was first among these equals.

    Francisco Nasi had told him not to trouble himself about what stood behind the Doge, though. He was to deal with the Doge as if he were really the Renaissance prince he assumed the styles and airs of, and further to assume that every senator he met was one of the Ten. Every single one, bar a few misfits, reported to at least one of them.

    Mazzare satisfied himself that he could not in fact pick out any obvious members of Venice’s shadowy ruling council—no tattoos on foreheads, alas—and reflected on Nasi’s advice. The Ten were the real government of Venice, when they could agree. Certainly there was not one item of Senate business that that anonymous, unrecorded body would not have carved up in detail before the Senate met to vote on it, with the result that every vote of the Senate was nearly unanimous. There would always be three or four dissenting votes, of course. Venice, as everywhere, had its leavening of misfits and the occasional downright lunatic among its governing classes. The Ten was one of the many compromises and anomalies by which the Most Serene Republic of Venice actually worked. It was an oligarchy, true enough, but one which allowed for democratic decision-making among the oligarchs themselves.

    The Doge might even be one of the Ten himself. Since the Ten was not officially part of the Venetian constitution, there was room for more than a modicum of doubt about who was saying what in its councils.

    But, as Nasi had said, from the outside at least, the Doge was a prince. Sometimes, it paid to focus on the illusion and ignore the reality. Nasi had then proceeded, with malice aforethought, to use words and phrases like interface and interaction metaphor. Mazzare was sure that Nasi made those things up just to enliven dull briefings, after having been mightily amused by twentieth-century management-speak as recorded in the few MBA texts Grantville had had. The man’s sense of humor was oblique and bizarre. Both Jones and Mazzare had laughed about his account of the Ducal promises that governed the Doge’s role in Venice’s government. The one about his being obliged to buy five ducks for every adult male patrician in the city as a New Year’s present had especially entertained them.

    At the time, Mazzare and Jones had assumed the story was one of Nasi’s embroideries—until they’d arrived in Venice and discovered that it was actually true.

    The pleasantries concluded, with no mention of ducks for good or ill, the Doge moved away.

    “We’re not in Kansas any more,” Jones murmured.

    Mazzare smiled, and looked around. That left only—but no, the entire French party were visibly and pointedly giving Mazzare their backs.

    The rest of the soiree passed quietly.

    For Mazzare, at least.



    Frank thought it would probably take surgery to get rid of the cringe he was feeling.

    Tom Stone had a truly awful way of reaming out his sons. Perfectly reasonable, calm and polite, his soft-spoken admonition littered with hippie ethic and the wisdom of the nineteen-sixties. That was why Giovanna looked thoroughly bewildered. As well she might. She’d been born and brought up in seventeenth-century Venice, and on the wrong side of the tracks at that. So the sight and sound of a twentieth-century hippie deploying his thoroughly weird parenting skills in a lecture on the rights of women, sexual politics, and Respect For Cultures Not Our Own was completely outside her experience.

    Frank didn’t feel that it helped any that his father, hippie that he was, still referred to women as “chicks” despite being nearly three centuries away from the sixties.

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