1635: THE CANNON LAW — snippet 104

 

1635: THE CANNON LAW – snippet 104:

 

 

            Ruy beamed like a high-school teacher about to award a straight A. Then grew serious. "It is not certain of success, I must remind you. It may be that the other buildings will be searched. But those who you place in the other hiding places can say they were always hiding there."

 

            "It's better than what we got," Frank said, mentally kicking himself for not thinking of that. Of course, Giovanna had chewed him out so badly for suggesting she hide outside the city that he hadn't stopped to think that she might hide close by. Then he realized she probably wouldn't go for that either. Perhaps if he asked her to lead the second site?

 

            Ruy was looking around. "You have no wounded, as yet?"

 

            "No," Frank said, "Yet." And that word was a world of depression all on its own. There were going to be wounded, no question.

 

            "May I be permitted to offer some small suggestions?" Ruy asked, fanning himself with his hat.

 

            "Sure. I'm not what you'd call a military genius. I need all the help I can get, here."

 

            "First, the soldiers had orders to capture you, not kill you."

 

            "That's kind of what I was afraid of." The Inquisition had had their hands on Frank once. Only briefly, true, and it had all worked out okay in the end. But the experience had still been enough to scare him out of a year's growth. And he'd been a prisoner under the eye of a whole lot of powerful and influential people, who'd pretty much wanted to see him walk out of that cell alive and unharmed. He didn't think that this time he was going to be so lucky. There was a lot of shooting going on down by the Vatican and the Castel Sant’Angelo, and Frank figured they were probably in for a change of pope real soon.

 

            "Indeed," Ruy said. "A sojourn in the hands of the Inquisition is no laughing matter. But "—he held up a finger—"these soldiers are Spaniards, and regular troops, not mercenaries. They have no love for the Inquisition."

 

            "Eh?" Frank would have thought the opposite would be true.

 

            "The Inquisition is at the very least a nuisance for most of the common people of Spain. They torture few and execute less, but they meddle everywhere, and there is hardly a family that does not have at least one member's name hung up in the parish church as a heretic. It is an embarrassment, a source of shame, and the shame is very nearly permanent. So, Frank, make your women and children safe, and resist valiantly, but not too valiantly. Shoot with your enemy at long range, throw your bottles of oil early so that no man has to listen to his comrade burn to death, but can withdraw in good time. And then surrender. Honorably. Demand a parley. Demand to give your parole and keep your sword. Once that is done, you are a military prisoner, and may not in honor be harmed unless you break your parole not to fight against His Most Catholic Majesty. Many officers will regard surrendering you to the Inquisition while under parole as dishonorable. Play upon the fact that you are not a Christian—much less a Catholic—were never baptized, and so cannot be accused of heresy. Explain this to the officer who holds your parole, and that any action by the Inquisition would be plain and simple abuse of a paroled prisoner."

 

            "Ruy, everyone else in here is Catholic," Frank said. "That won't wash for them."

 

            "Good treatment for your men is a standard term of parole. Insist that as far as you know, they are all good Catholics, and no accusation of heresy has been made. I will wager that the only name they have on their list from the Inquisition is yours, Frank. And possibly your wife's, although she should escape. They will assume that all others here were servants, and ignore them."

 

            "You think this will work?"

 

            "It is the best I could think of while I was clearing aside the trash in the cellar to get in here," Ruy said, with a smile of disarming candor. "In truth, I think it your best chance, if you cannot find a way to sneak out by night. You might achieve that, with the help of God, but the moon will not be dark for another two weeks and there have been few cloudy nights lately."

 

            Frank shrugged. "We can hope. We can at least get the women and kids and the invalids out of here. How many soldiers out there?"

 

            "Forty at least, perhaps fifty. I could not count accurately. More have been sent for, although they will not be here in numbers for some time. The troops in the city so far were advance parties, sent to seize particular places. The main body was at the Palatine when I left them, and will be across the river by now. You have a little time, perhaps half an hour."

 

            Frank nodded. "Everyone at the Embassy get out OK?"

 

            Ruy smiled. "I would imagine that Borja will be disappointed by what his men find there. I remained behind to gather intelligence; the last of our people departed the city half an hour before the advance parties began to arrive."

 

            "Good to hear," Frank said. "I guess we'd better get on with it. Give my regards to Sharon and everyone."

 

            Ruy flourished his hat in salute. "I wish you every joy of the day, Senor Stone, and when next we meet, I crave the honor of buying you all the drink you could want."

 

            Frank waved a salute back. "Look forward to it," he said, trying hard to feel as confident as he managed to sound.

 

            A little while later, while he was helping get an old lady down the ladder and into the cellar that he was damned well going to watch a whole lot better from here on in, he realized that Ruy had meant that offer as a real salute to what he was doing.

 

            And if Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz thinks I've got cojones to be doing this, it's got to be good and crazy. Seems like marrying a Marcoli turned me into one.

 

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