1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 03

1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 03

***

Life moved on. Gradually, other villagers were brought into the plan, each one adding to the chance of discovery and making Stefan more nervous. He was still arguing for a small group. But Vera seemed to be assuming that the whole village would be coming.

“We don’t have enough wagons for the whole village,” Stefan insisted. “And if we start building wagons, everyone is going to know that something is up.”

“Well, think of something,” Vera said.

Stefan’s mouth fell open. What does she expect . . . ? Never mind. . . . He knew perfectly well what Vera expected. She expected him to come up with some device or plan so that the needed wagons would just appear when needed.

She gave him a hard look. “That’s your job.”

Grumbling, Stefan went off to think of something.

***

Izabella failed to notice the first period she missed. Her cycle wasn’t all that consistent. She had a tendency to notice them when they happened, but was able to mostly ignore them. When she missed her second, she stopped and counted back. Her last period was over sixty days ago. And she had had no appetite in the morning for the last month and more. She didn’t want to believe it, but she was adding things up and they were working out to a baby on the way. Izabella didn’t panic.

She started thinking about how she could get out of this mess. Papa wasn’t going to be understanding. Part of the reason she had started up with Yulian was that Papa was so busy trying to figure out where he was going to sell her virginity to get the most value out of it. That, and the fact that Mama was already fucking Yulian. She paused in her thinking. That, in a way, was good news. There wasn’t much Mama could do, considering that Papa would likely just send her to a convent . . . but he’d kill Mama. She mulled the whole matter over for a day or so, then went to talk it over with Yulian.

***

“Father Yulian?”

“Yes, my child?”

“You’re going to be a father.”

Father Yulian felt his eyebrows lift. Izabella had come over to relieve herself of lustful thoughts, so that she might free her mind for more spiritual matters and they had spent an enjoyable hour on that endeavor. She was lying on his bed with a blanket half over her and giving him a very straight look. This wasn’t the first time that Father Yulian had heard such news. For instance, it was fairly likely that Kiril’s daughter, Irina, was in fact his. But Irina’s mother was married, and so matters could be managed fairly straightforwardly. And Liliya, when she had realized, had quickly married young Makar, so that had worked out. But that wasn’t going to be an option in this case. Izabella was of the lower nobility and her father wasn’t a reasonable man.

“What do you want to do, Izabella? Don’t wonder what is possible for the moment. Imagine that everything is possible, and tell me what you want. We will work from there.”

“I’m not sure. I don’t think I can separate what I want from what’s possible. I want to not be pregnant, I guess.”

“That is possible, but dangerous,” Yulian said. He was reasonably well educated, had spent a couple of years at a monastery before he took up his duties here. He could read, write, and figure. He even had a fairly decent little library with no less than eleven books, including the Bible, of course. And for the past few years he had been reading every technical pamphlet that came out of the Gorchakov Dacha. There were pamphlets on medicine. “Some of the pamphlets discuss pregnancy and both what you need to do if you want to keep the child and what to do if you want to lose it. None of the options to lose the child are safe, not done here on our own. The techniques that are discussed in the pamphlets might work, but if something went wrong, you could bleed to death.”

Izabella shook her head. “It’s not that I am afraid, but as much as I wish I wasn’t pregnant, the idea of killing it. . . . No, I don’t want to do that.” She thought for a minute. “I don’t know what is going to happen when I start to show, though. Father is going to want to know who the father is.”

Yulian looked at the girl. She was vain and self-centered, but beneath that, of good heart he thought. More importantly, she was smart. Surprisingly smarter than either her mother or her father. And, in a way, her situation was just as perilous as a serf’s, if rather more comfortable. Bringing her into the conspiracy was a risk, but it might well be the least risky option. Besides, if she was on their side, there were opportunities there. He wasn’t sure what those opportunities were yet, but he could smell them. “There might be another option. I will need your oath that what we discuss will not be shared with anyone. Lives are at stake.”

She nodded and he explained about the plans to escape.

“But why?” she asked.

And, for a moment, Father Yulian really wanted to hit her. “You know about the factory and that many of the men were sent to work in it over the winter. You know that it decreased the cloth that the village could make.”

At each statement she nodded, but still looked uncomprehending.

“You know that the excess cloth the village produced was traded for things like food and boots, for tools, and vegetables that the children, especially, need to grow up healthy.”

The nod came more slowly.

“Because of that factory, half the children in the village are sick or have been. And the whole village is malnourished, often hungry. We are running because your father is treating us worse than animals — like tools to be used up and thrown away.”

“I didn’t realize.”

“You chose not to.”

***

As she walked through the village on the way back to the house, Izabella noticed the thinness of the villagers and the slowness of their movements. She had seen the same thing yesterday, but now she noticed it and — combined with her own troubles — it started a change in the way Izabella looked at the world.

***

Stefan, as instructed, thought of something. “Father Yulian, can we talk?” Sunday services had just let out and for a moment Stefan thought the priest would put him off. The colonel’s daughter, Izabella, was hanging back, probably hoping for some “private instruction.”

But Yulian must have seen something in his face. “Give me just a minute, Stefan.”

He went over and said a few words to Izabella, then to the colonel’s wife, and they headed back to the big house.

“What can I do for you, Stefan?” Father Yulian waved Stefan into the priest’s cottage.

“Vera wants me to make sure there are enough wagons for the village, but if I make the parts for a bunch of wagons it will quickly become obvious . . .”

“I understand. But how can I help you?”

“The factory we worked in last summer used a stamp press. That’s basically a big hammer that was cranked up and then let fall. It was very efficient, and much more flexible than it might seem. What it made depended on the shape of the dies on the hammer and the anvil. In Poltz, the dies made shaped iron plates, which could then be used to make the shells for oreshki, which were sold as far away as Moscow. But the same techniques could be used to make clamps and bearings and a variety of other metal parts needed to make a wagon.”

“Excellent, Stefan. But, again, what do you need me for?”

“I’m getting there, Father, but you need to understand how this works for it to make any sense.”

 

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6 Responses to 1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 03

  1. Randomiser says:

    Ok, so now they are not just going to run, they are going to ‘kidnap’, as he will see it, their lord’s daughter! He’ll never stop looking for them.
    Obviously Izabella doesn’t get on with her mother at all. Given her father and brother are away, her mother could probably organise a cover up and she could ensure her mother’s co-operation via blackmail, but she doesn’t even approach her for help.

    • Bret Hooper says:

      Now, Randomiser, your continuity error may be showing up after all; I may owe you an apology, and if so, I apologize.

      There still may be no continuity error: he may still have a drop hammer at home, and now needs a stamp press like the one at Poltz. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that a drop hammer could be converted into a stamp press. We may find out in the next snippet, which I eagerly await.

      • Randomiser says:

        Yes the next snippet may clear things up or confirm a problem

        Snippet one opens with Stefan operating a stamping device in Plotz. The word Press is never actually used. Thinking about what he would be doing at home ‘Then he thought about how fast he could stamp out various parts if he had a drop hammer.’ I assumed that meant at home since he is working a great big drop press at the time. Then he gets home and the narrative, set a month later talks about how his drop hammer has made his family relatively wealthy.

        Note he talks about being in the factory last summer when he was there in the winter.

        • Bret Hooper says:

          Yes, it is, at the very least, confusing. And you noticed an obvious error which I missed, “being in the factory last summer.” Good for you!

          I really wish they would let a few of us have early galley proofs to offer corrections on and ask questions about; surely the resulting finished product would be noticeably freer of errors.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    ““Well, think of something,” Vera said.

    Stefan’s mouth fell open.”

    …At such anachronistic insolence. But the authors don’t even try to portray the characters realistically, as we have plenty examples of that shoddy work in their previous books.

    “Izabella failed to notice the first period she missed.”

    …She’s nobles daughter. Not only now she is not a virgin, but also pregnant with a bastard…

    Idiots.

    “Her cycle wasn’t all that consistent. She had a tendency to notice them when they happened, but was able to mostly ignore them.”

    If she is so experienced i.e. well past puberty, why she is not married?

    “Papa wasn’t going to be understanding. Part of the reason she had started up with Yulian was that Papa was so busy trying to figure out where he was going to sell her virginity to get the most value out of it.”

    Again anachronistically modern outlook to the marriage. “Romantic love”? Bah – only in fairy tales back then. For a woman (especially – noble) good marriage was the only mean to “pursue a career” and, yes, many did just that. Romantic love had nothing to do with that. Where did she got that nonsense?

    “That, and the fact that Mama was already fucking Yulian.”

    Huff and Goodlett once again demonstrate how talented and masterful with the style they are. Truly, we have a paragon of literary art here! /s

    In all seriousness though – for already married woman to have an affair, while not getting caught is much less dangerous. And a potential child could always be “explained” as a legitimate one. But to do the same for an unmarried girl? Sheer folly.

    “There wasn’t much Mama could do, considering that Papa would likely just send her to a convent . . . but he’d kill Mama.”

    Why he’d do that? No, he will simply divorce her. Her mother is also a noble, who belongs to a certain family, probably of the equal (if not greater) status. To start a vendetta with them over such trivial thing? Not worth it.

    “Izabella had come over to relieve herself of lustful thoughts, so that she might free her mind for more spiritual matters and they had spent an enjoyable hour on that endeavor.”

    And that’s not the first time, I guess. She’s a noble woman – she could not visit him without servant entourage. Servants have the tendency to talk. By now (meaning – even months before that), they’d be reporting the whole “affair” to their master.

    Like I said – idiots.

    “Izabella was of the lower nobility and her father wasn’t a reasonable man.”

    As a daughter of one of deti boyarskie who had his name written down in the boyar book, she was not “lower nobility”, as I commented previously. Didn’t the authors themselves mention that thanks to Sheremetev’s patronage her father already rose in station (i.e. he became a colonel)? Now they contradicting themselves.

    But that’s nothing new.

    ““What do you want to do, Izabella? Don’t wonder what is possible for the moment. Imagine that everything is possible, and tell me what you want. We will work from there.”

    “I’m not sure. I don’t think I can separate what I want from what’s possible. I want to not be pregnant, I guess.””

    It’s so mind-boggling to read about two uptimers pretending to be 17 c. natives, yet talking and thinking like 20 c. native uptimers. OTOH – the authors don’t even try.

    “He was reasonably well educated, had spent a couple of years at a monastery before he took up his duties here.”

    Ah – he was kicked out. Because till 19 c. you could not legally (and voluntary) leave the ranks of monks once you were in. Those monks, who left monastery (no matter the reason) were buried in the potter’s field together with those who committed suicide. Monastery is not a place where you can just “hang out” some time.

    Next thing – we have a priest contemplating an abortion… What’s wrong with him?!

    “He even had a fairly decent little library with no less than eleven books, including the Bible, of course”

    That’s a big library for a parish priest.

    “And for the past few years he had been reading every technical pamphlet that came out of the Gorchakov Dacha”

    I know its too late, but calling Gorchakov’s sharashka “Dacha” was stupid mistake on behalf of authors. The term “dacha” did not exist in its present use back then.

    ““Some of the pamphlets discuss pregnancy and both what you need to do if you want to keep the child and what to do if you want to lose it

    Wait. Wait. WAIT!!!

    […]
    […]
    […]
    […]
    […]
    […]

    ^This is all new levels of “low” and “stupidity” you’ve managed to break with this one little phrase.

    An official brochure, produced by the state-affiliated/partially state owned enterprise, i.e. the one that MUST stay in the good graces of the Powers that Be, promulgates a way to commit a mortal sin?

    […]
    […]
    […]

    ^It keeps falling, breaking through new low levels of… “low”!

    “She was vain and self-centered, but beneath that, of good heart he thought. More importantly, she was smart”

    Hahahahahahahhahahahahhahahahaha!

    Oh, wait… You are serious?! Let me laugh even harder!

    “Besides, if she was on their side, there were opportunities there.”

    A plot device that NO ONE (with less than two brain cells to rub together) see coming. Trite and predictable for everyone else.

    ““Because of that factory, half the children in the village are sick or have been. And the whole village is malnourished, often hungry.”

    Absolutely typical situation for Russian village at that period. Why would a crook, lecher a potential heretic and unfrocked member of clergy turn oh so instant into someone who cares?

    “We are running because your father is treating us worse than animals — like tools to be used up and thrown away”

    Its not him really – it’s the authors, who don’t bother to learn about the serfdom of the time period.

    “As she walked through the village on the way back to the house, Izabella noticed the thinness of the villagers and the slowness of their movements. She had seen the same thing yesterday, but now she noticed it and — combined with her own troubles — it started a change in the way Izabella looked at the world.”

    The whole paragraph is unrealistic BS, but what really got me – she “walked through village”?! How, just how?..

    “In Poltz, the dies made shaped iron plates, which could then be used to make the shells for oreshki, which were sold as far away as Moscow”

    Again – where did they get the all the iron ore for that? It is 17 c. and Ural mountains are not prospected yet. And when the mineral wealth would be found there, then the first big factories would be contracted there, not far away in the European part of Russia. This whole factory makes NO SENSE.

    P.S. That’s a new breakthrough – Huff and Goodlett book jumps the shark in the very beginning of the book! I’m really, really enjoying this trainwreck!

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