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1635 The Dreeson Incident: Chapter Thirty Two

       Last updated: Monday, November 24, 2008 07:18 EST



Grantville, December 1634

    "I hadn’t expected Lannie to crash the damned plane."

    Victor Saluzzo, elbows on his desk, steepled his fingers. That was pretty much a picture-book perfect Concerned Principal’s pose.

    "Well, I hadn’t. This time it’s not my fault that I missed a bunch of school." Denise Beasley stuck her chin out and looked at her father Buster for support.

    She hated parent-teacher conferences. Especially when they involved the principal. And the guidance counselor. And…

    She looked across the room. The police.

    Not that Preston Richards hadn’t been pretty reasonable, but he was still the police.

    "I expected that we’d fly down there, following the Saale, try to spot where the defectors were, turn around, and come back. I expected to be here for school the next morning. Honest, I did."

    Honest, she hadn’t. She hadn’t thought about school at all. But that didn’t seem to be quite the thing to say, right here and right now.

    "They’re giving her a hard time at school."

    Saluzzo raised his eyebrows at Buster.

    "Lots of hassling, needling, teasing. Even some significantly nasty threats. She’s handled it pretty maturely, I think, for a sixteen-year-old."

    Buster could play the game, if he had to. Denise hadn’t killed any of the creeps. Or even done them significant bodily damage.

    "Unfortunately," Joe Pallavicino said, "it isn’t the first time that she has missed a block of school." Or the second, or even the fifth, but it didn’t seem he was inclined to bring that up unless he had to. "I’ve been thinking that, perhaps, a mentoring program…"

    Denise didn’t stick her tongue out, and gave herself points.

    "I have spoken to some of Denise’s friends…"

    Denise frowned. She didn’t have any friends, except for Minnie.

    "Tom Stone’s youngest boy…"

    Denise’s forehead smoothed out. Yeah. Gerry actually was her friend. Unfortunately, he was going to school in Rudolstadt this year. Boarding over there.

    "…spoke to his brother. Ron suggested…" Pallavicino looked at Buster. "…since they already know one another, that perhaps Missy Jenkins and Pam Hardesty would be willing to act as big sisters for Denise and Minnie. On a more formal basis."

    Denise nodded. That wouldn’t be so bad. She liked Missy.

    "…with some adult supervision, of course."

    That didn’t sound so good.

    "So Gerry talked to Pastor Kastenmayer’s wife …"

    Denise grinned. The mental picture of the redoubtable Salome Piscatora dancing in seven veils to get Herod to chop off John the Baptist’s head had amused and occupied her mind through several tedious visits to St. Martin’s in the Fields in the company of Gerry and Minnie. Even if Frau Kastenmayer did insist she was named for another Salome, the one who had stood at the foot of the cross. She jerked her mind back to this… hearing.

    "…who suggested that, in the interest of cross-cultural understanding, it might be best if one of the adult mentors was an up-timer and the other a down-timer."

    Principal Saluzzo was nodding.

    "I am happy to say that Mrs. Wiley and Mrs. Dreeson have agreed."

    Denise stared at him, horror dawning upon her face.

    Buster was grinning.

    Daddy had known about this. The traitor. Denise resigned herself to her fate. Until she could figure some way to wiggle out of it.



    "I suppose it’s consular work, in a way." Wes Jenkins looked a little dubious. "The mission of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the way it’s written, is to assist SoTF citizens when they run into difficulties outside our borders. Jarvis Beasley’s wife is clearly inside our borders."

    "Physically," Henry Dreeson said. "She’s here, all right."

    "Jurisdictionally, then," Wes went on imperturbably, "the first question to resolve is whether or not Hedy Beasley’s problems count as being outside our borders. Physically, as you say, she is here. Geographically, her home village is certainly inside the borders of the SoTF. Now. On the other hand, when she was born in that same place, she was undoubtedly born as a citizen of Saxony. Then."

    "Has she ever been naturalized?" Noelle Stull asked.

    "Naturalized?" Wes blinked.

    "Yeah, like we set up for refugees coming into the RoF, way back when."

    "So long ago," Dreeson said. "Not yet four years and it’s ‘way back when.’"

    "No, no, pay attention." Noelle jumped up. "I’m thinking, guys. I was working for Deborah Trout back then. I know we’ve sort of lost focus on it since, what with annexations, like up around Remda, and places like Badenburg voluntarily joining, and then the whole Franconia thing. The only naturalizations I see listed in the Times these days are real foreigners."

    "And a ‘real’ foreigner is…?" Eddie Junker raised an eyebrow.

    "Drat it, Eddie. Behave yourself. You know what I mean. Walloons or Poles or -"

    "Hungarians." He gave her a teasing smile.

    "Not people from the USE. Definitely not people from the rest of the SoTF. But Saxony’s backed out of being part of the USE. That means that if John George’s delegate is right, and Hedy’s actually Saxon, not just born in a piece of the SoTF south of the Thüringerwald where Saxony has administrative jurisdiction, I mean -"

    Noelle stopped before her grammar got into a hopeless tangle; then started fresh. "If those old laws are still on the books…" She looked at Wes. "Those old laws are still on the books, aren’t they? Nobody’s taken them off in a fit of efficiency?"

    "As far as I know, they’re still on the books." Wes picked up the phone. "Let me check with Maurice Tito."

    "Well, if they are, let’s just naturalize her. Problem solved. Or, at least, we turn her into ‘entirely our problem’ instead of ‘partly their problem.’ Don’t we? What do you think, Mr. Dreeson. Saxony couldn’t extradite a citizen of West Virginia County, could it?"

    "Those naturalization laws were written when the NUS was a country of its own. They may still be on the books, but… I’m not actually sure that a county can naturalize somebody."

    "Then why are we still naturalizing Walloons, and Poles, and -"

    "- and the occasional passing Hungarian?" Eddie raised up the arm with a cast on it. "Hey, no fair attacking an injured man. Injured in the course of duty, no less. Noelle!"

    Wes looked up from the phone. "Hey, kids. Cut that out. This is a government office and you are both civil servants. Not a couple of first graders squabbling on the playground."



    "I thought it was a fair enough question. Why are we still doing naturalizations, Maurice?" Henry Dreeson picked up a cup of coffee. "Thanks, Missy."

    "The sheer force of inertia, I suppose. We were doing them and nobody thought to challenge it. I did call the Genealogy Club last night. They had some pamphlets about the history of naturalization. Put out for people to use who were looking up their ancestors, trying to figure out where they came from before they stepped off the boat. In the nineteenth century, in the back-time of the up-time so to speak, American naturalizations did run through the state courts and sometimes even the county courts. Not the federal courts. So we could claim precedent."

    "So we could go ahead and naturalize her," Chad Jenkins said. "Just not as a NUS citizen or a SoTF citizen or a Grantville citizen or a West Virginia County citizen, but as a USE citizen."

    "It could work," Maurice Tito said. "Maybe. Since Parliament hasn’t gotten around to passing any nationwide citizenship law. At the very least, that little village down in Henneberg would have to appeal it to the SoTF Supreme Court, for a judgment as to whether one county in the SoTF can naturalize someone born in another county in the SoTF. And, I suppose, once that decision came down, someone could appeal to the Reichsgericht in Wetzlar. It would eventually issue a decision. If it decided that it had jurisdiction, of course."

    Tom Riddle sipped his glass of wine. "By which time Hedy and Jarvis will have grandchildren playing around their feet."

    "Assuming that I get elected," Chad asked, "should I try at least to introduce statewide legislation, do you think? Get every county and county-equivalent in the SoTF on the same page when it comes to the question of what’s a valid marriage? Or do you think that parliament ought to do it? Ed, since as president you’re automatically the SoTF member in the Chamber of Princes, would you be introducing it there?"

    Tom Riddle shook his head. "Matrimonial legislation was a state matter up-time. No telling how the Crown Loyalists in parliament would weigh in on it. Personally, I don’t want to see the USE over-centralize. The SoTF congress would be a better place to handle it. In my humble opinion, of course.

    "Citizenship should, probably, eventually, end up being in parliament’s hands. When they get around to it. Which won’t be before the election, certainly. It’s not even in session. Everybody’s out campaigning. But Ed could introduce citizenship legislation. Probably should. We need to produce a draft we’d be happy with."

    Ed Piazza shifted in his chair. "Maybe we ought to let Wes look into this for a while before we make up our minds about introducing marriage legislation in the SoTF congress, even. Make sure that we have a majority of the delegates who see it our way. It could take a considerable amount of logrolling to be sure of coming up with the kind of statute we can live with. Or want to live with."

    Henry Dreeson nodded. "Sometimes it really is smarter to let sleeping dogs lie. But as for Hedy, specifically. Yep. She’s been living here plenty long to meet the residency requirements we put on the books. Get Noelle to give her the little citizenship class. I’ll administer the oath of allegiance myself. Take that, John George!"



    Henry Dreeson sighed. Thea hadn’t made it to the hospital. She’d produced her baby in the back downstairs bedroom of his house, which she and her husband Nicolas were still occupying, not having been able to find an apartment they could afford.

    She’d probably dragged her feet deliberately, waiting till it was too late to leave the house even when the hospital was just a few blocks away, not telling anybody. Down-time women didn’t like to go to Leahy Medical Center to have their babies. They wanted to have them at home, with midwives. That was probably just as well in a way. Given the size of Grantville these days, if all the women wanted to have their babies in the hospital with up-time physicians officiating, the deliveries would spill over into the parking lot and the town’s three doctors would be working nonstop.

    It caused a bit of tension, sometimes, between the doctors and the German midwives. Sometimes even between the doctors and the nurse-midwives whom Beulah McDonald was training. Maybe he ought to talk to Kortney Pence, and Beulah the next time she came up from Jena

    He brought his mind back to the tension right here. Nicolas was hovering next to Dorothea.

    On one side of the bed, the Reverend Enoch Wiley for the Calvinists. On the other side of the bed, Father Athanasius Kircher for the Catholics. In this corner, wearing a black suit; in the opposite corner, wearing a clerical collar…

    He’d married Nicolas Moser and Dorothea Richter himself, at city hall, to avoid the question of which kind of church ceremony they might have to pick between, so to speak.

    He didn’t think that even Grantville had a provision for anything you might call civil baptism.

    The way things were starting to sound, it might be a useful idea, though. He could suggest it to the county board. Maybe Jenny Maddox could do them at the funeral home. The chapel there was pretty nondenominational.

    A sort of generic baptism for those who wanted it, not committing the baby to anything specific in the long run. It could be filed with the birth certificate instead of in a church. That would be convenient, since the Bureau of Vital Statistics was still in the funeral home.

    Enoch advanced, defending the ecclesiastical allegiance of the father; Kircher countered, championing the faith of the mother.

    The proud parents were doing their best to bury their heads in the sand. Dorothea, literally, her head in the pillow. They didn’t deal with problems like this very well.

    Maybe it wasn’t the sort of thing that he really needed to run by the county board. He left the room, picked up the phone, and called Jenny.

    Mike Stearns and the "total separation of church and state" radicals in the CoC might want to haul him in front of a firing squad for this. At a minimum, there would be a lively controversy in the newspapers after it was announced. But Mike was in Magdeburg these days, and the CoC didn’t have the responsibility for keeping life in Grantville on an even keel.

    "Thea’s worn out," he said firmly. "I don’t want to be inhospitable, but everybody except Nicol ought to get out of the room. There’s coffee and cookies in the living room. Then, the rest of you, go home. She doesn’t need this right now."



    "He didn’t," Chad Jenkins said.

    "He did," Ed Piazza answered. "Right after supper, once he’d gotten rid of the rest of them, Henry had Ronnie bring a basin of water in from the kitchen and he baptized the baby himself."

    "Oh, Lord."

    "It’s a valid baptism. I’ve checked with everyone. Kircher, Kastenmayer, Jones, Wiley. All the ministers agree. Well, not Green, or old Joe Jenkins, of course, but that’s only because they don’t believe in infant baptism at all and insist on total immersion of adults. She wasn’t even a day old and Henry just dribbled some water on her forehead. The rest of them, though, except the Baptists, figure that the kid is now a properly saved Christian until such time as she reaches the age of reason. That gives Nicol and Thea another, oh, seven to ten years to decide which direction she’s going, ecclesiastically speaking. He named her, too, while he was at it, since Nicol and Thea couldn’t agree on a name, either.

    "What did he pick?"

    "Anna Elisabetha. For Annalise. He said that Annalise deserved a tribute, the way she bore up under everything last summer."

    Chad picked up his notebook. "Well, let’s start laying out how we’re going to play it as far as the campaign is concerned. Annalise was a good idea for a name, because we can bring in Hans… At least Henry doesn’t have any significant opposition. The Crown Loyalists, the few we have locally, thought they ought to run someone. Their caucus picked a down-timer, a guy named Hartmuth Frisch. He’s a friend of Tino Nobili and already on the county board, but he’s mostly known in town as Count August von Sommersburg’s factor. Henry should win in a walk, even if he has introduced ‘civil baptism’ sort of off the top of his head."



    Henry Dreeson pursed his lips and wished for the nine hundred ninety-ninth time in the past five hours - which was how long this county board meeting had been dragging on - that sixteen fewer people had voted for Tino Nobili. Or seventeen more people had come to the polls and voted for Orval McIntire. Or some combination of the above that would have kept Tino out of office.

    Henry was still the mayor, but it wasn’t a city council, any more. It was a county board, now. When the SoTF went to the county system, they’d decided that the make-do of a slightly expanded Grantville city council being the governing body of the whole RoF circle plus everything it had annexed since 1631 had to be scrapped. So they’d scrapped it and turned the whole area into an urban county. He was still the mayor. Partly because he’d been the mayor to start with. Partly because the down-timers had a good grasp on what a mayor did and hanging on to the familiar, when you could, wasn’t a bad idea. So instead of mayor/council or chairman/board, they had a mayor/board system now.

    For which Tino ran. And won. And just at this moment sat in a chair at the other end of the table. Bringing as many complications with him as the vain little Maizie bird in Dr. Seuss had stuck artificial feathers in her tail to make herself prettier. Till she had so many that they overbalanced her.

    The time when Tino’s pretensions overbalanced him and he fell flat on his face couldn’t come too soon. Right now… Well, it got complicated. What happened to having a world in which you could tell your players if you did have a scorecard. It was getting to the point that a man needed a cat’s cradle with diagrams on it to figure out the way things worked.

    Some ways, Tino was a good guy. A family man. Hospitable. The daughter of that Italian artist woman who’d come into town with Simon Jones and the Stone boys had been staying with them for quite a while, and the girl was going to marry Pete McDougal’s son.

    Pete was Fourth of July Party, of course. Good friend of Mike Stearns. Which you’d think might tilt things one way.

    But politically, on the board, Tino had hooked up with Hartmuth Frisch, who was running for mayor.

    Now Frisch, you’d think, wouldn’t be running on the other ticket. Not in a logical world. He came from the Palatinate - the one over by the Rhine, not the one over by Bohemia. A pretty reasonable man. He’d come into town at the end of a long, long, trip that had taken him all over the northern half of Germany, following the trail of his dead brother and trying to track his kids. Found them here, adopted by Orval and Karin McIntire a couple years before he caught up with them. Hadn’t made a fuss - Orv and Karin were Presbyterian, Calvinists like Frisch was, and the kids were happy. A lot happier than they would have been spending those years in an orphanage, somewhere. Frisch was a widower; he was happy just to be an uncle. He’d taken a job as a factor for Count August von Sommersburg’s slate quarries. Good businessman. Ed’s friend Cavriani had brought his daughter Idelette to town; she was living with Enoch and Inez Wiley and working for the guy.

    Sommersburg was Mike’s ally; Orv was Mike’s ally; Cavriani… well, he was friends with Ed Piazza and Ronnie liked him fine.

    So you’d think maybe that Frisch would join the Fourth of July Party.


    Frisch didn’t usually say much, himself. He didn’t need to. He had Tino, who was willing to say it all. Tino was a really conservative sort of Catholic. He thought that what Henry had done when he baptized Thea’s baby was an awful thing. Frisch was a really conservative sort of Calvinist. He thought that what Henry had done when he baptized Nicol’s baby was an awful thing.

    It was the same baby, of course. They seemed to forget that, from time to time.

    The only thing that ever shut Tino up was an emergency at the pharmacy. Then he forgot all about strutting in his artificial peacock plumage and dashed off to do what he did best.

    That was probably why Henry hadn’t ever strangled him.

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