1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 23:
And lovely is the rose
“It certainly is nice that so many people came to see us off, isn’t it?” Veronica Dreeson looked at the crowd with pleasure. “It is a great compliment to Henry, I am sure. And to John, of course.”
Mary Simpson, already mounted, looked out over the crowd. She preferred to ride in formal costume—jodphurs, coat, and bowler—even in the seventeenth century. The Grantville tailors were by now used to getting odd orders, but this…. Leonhard Kalbacher had just looked at her sketch, sighed, and gone to work with his measuring tape, thanking his lucky stars that the boots and hat were someone else’s problem. Mary Simpson’s stance on horseback was a tribute to what a young ladies’ finishing school could achieve when it deemed a skill to be truly life-essential.
“Mostly people from the city government,” she confirmed. “Some from the army; they are probably friends of the men who were being trained as radio operators for Duke Ernst. There are a couple of school classes.”
Veronica leaned around Mary’s shoulder for a better look. She sat on her mule with all the grace of a sack of rye draped over the back of a donkey for its final trip to the grist mill. Riding was not a skill that seventeenth century urban women ordinarily needed. She was less than happy about the decision that the group would go on horseback. Overall, she would much prefer to have walked. It wasn’t so far to Amberg, after all—certainly less than two hundred of the up-time miles. She had told them that she would rather walk.
It was much too far, they said.
“I walked from Amberg coming here,” she had replied, “and to many other places in between, when we were with the mercenaries.”
They had tried to put her on a horse in spite of it; the mule was a compromise. True, they had offered the use of a wagon, but that would have been just as uncomfortable and even slower, not to say, more expensive. It would have been cheaper to walk. And probably, given the personality of this mule, just as fast. This was one animal that would never die of overwork.
“They are the classes that Keith Pilcher’s children are in,” she identified them for Mary. “And the class taught by his wife. She is the thin woman, if you haven’t met her. The shorter woman next to her is Lena Buehlerin. She is married to Lambert Felser. He is a tinsmith from the Upper Palatinate. His apprenticeship was interrupted by the war. Ollie Reardon hired him. He is going with Keith, to assist him. To translate, if it is needed. They have married since they came to Grantville. Before, they did not know one another. She is from Baden-Durlach. Her first husband was a mercenary. One of those killed at Badenburg.”
“Can you identify everyone in town?” Mary asked.
“Oh, no, probably not all. But because Henry is the mayor, I have come to know most, certainly. That is Mary Lou Snell. Her son Toby is with us. She is very glad that he is being sent on this duty. Because there is no fighting. She was afraid that they would send him to Swabia.”
A tall boy, one of Jeff’s friends, was waving from the back of the crowd. She waved back. “Off to Amberg,” he yelled. “Have a nice time in your home town.”
“Ach,” she called back. “Amberg is just where we were living; where Johann Stephan had his business. My real home town is several miles beyond there. An easy day’s walk, farther up into the hills.”
“What’s it called?”
The boy was closer now and she remembered his name. “Oh, Matt,” she said. “It is just a little, tiny place. No American would ever have heard of it. It is called Grafenwöhr.”
She had no idea why half of the crowd, especially the middle-aged men, broke out laughing so hard that they threw their heads back. A couple of them howled. But it was nice to have everyone in such a fine mood for the start of their trip. It was a good omen.
Veronica marked off the days of the trip; from Grantville to Badenburg to Arnstadt, that was one day; from Arnstadt to Suhl, a second. They stopped there for two nights and a day, so that the men could talk to the gun manufacturers; she had been grateful for the rest. Then the only part that might have problems, from Suhl to Coburg; through Lichtenfels to Bamberg. Franconia was uneasy; the upcoming elections were an object of concern. But, no problems; they spent the morning in Bamberg, since some of the men had business with the people in the Grantville administrative offices there. Veronica rested. Mary wanted to go see the cathedral and a statue called the Bamberger Reiter; she said that they were very famous. The administrator sent two men to go with her. In the afternoon they made a very easy day to near Forchheim. The next day, even before the midday meal, Nürnberg came in sight. The road was busy all the way, full of horses, wagons, and people. After all, it was a main trade route. But none of them were fleeing, so it was quite different from what she remembered from three years ago. There were no wandering troops of mercenaries. She noticed that some of the burned villages were even being rebuilt.
The bottom half of the door was closed, to keep wandering cats and dogs out of the shop, but the top half was open to the morning sun. Standing at the clerk’s counter, Marc Cavriani was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.
Jacob Durre smiled at the boy’s impatience. He had enjoyed having this one to train. He knew the family well. His own wife was a cousin of Marc’s mother. The boy looked like his mother’s family rather than like the Cavrianis. That meant black hair, with a curl that fell into the middle of his forehead if not strictly restrained, and the bright blue eyes of northern Italy. Marc’s face was a little full, rather than thin like his father's; his nose was slightly pug rather than aquiline like his father's; his build was generally rather more square than angular. He had great endurance for such things as distance hiking, but he was never going to be a sprinter—his legs were too short.
They were expecting Leopold to arrive today. This would mark the end of Marc’s two years in Nürnberg. Now, for the first time, he would be going with his father on a trading expedition, even if only a very short one, no farther than Amberg. His père wanted him to observe the negotiations between the up-timers and men who controlled the iron cartel. Jacob knew that Marc was looking forward to this, very much. Negotiations were a valuable skill.
“Boy,” he called. “Get back to work. There is no point in going out to look. You could miss them on any street or block. Your father knows where you are. Wait. Exercise patience. If you do not, I will send you out to the mill on the Pegnitz to weigh spools of wire for the shipment going to Ulm, and you will not see him until tonight.”
Marc went back to work quite cheerfully.
That was a good thing about him, Durre reflected. Marc not only worked quite hard and conscientiously, most of the time—at least as much of the time as anyone could expect from a boy of eighteen—but he also displayed irrepressible good temper while doing it, even in the face of balances that refused to be reconciled for hours and shipments that did not arrive on schedule but rather were delayed for weeks and nobody knew just where they were.
Which was just as well, because it was past the noon sun before Leopold arrived. Marc ran out into the street, Jacob following him more sedately. He kneeled properly, as a son should kneel to his father; then leaped up and kissed him on both cheeks. The two started to chatter in French; then switched to Italian; then back to French.