1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT — snippet 10

1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 10:

 

 

PART II

 

September 1634

 

Under amazement of their hideous change

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

Grantville

 

            Ed Piazza looked at the packet of papers that Martin Wackernagel had just dropped directly into his hands.

            Wes Jenkins was very conscientious. He hadn’t sent them by SoTF government mail. Like Henry Dreeson, he thought of this project as a “politicking trip,” Ed supposed.

            And he wouldn’t have wanted to put them in the mail. That was probably prudent. The mail was a great thing for inquiring after the health of your great-aunt Gladys, but the fact remained that under the postmastership of Johan van den Birghden, the USE postal system was not exactly impermeable to snooping. Any more than the imperial system under the Thurn und Taxis family was impermeable to snooping.

            So Wes had paid a private courier, like almost everybody else who wanted to be as sure as possible that confidential or sensitive information got from here to there without an intermediate detour into the hands of someone else’s spies.

            “He paid you at the other end?”

            Wackernagel nodded and smiled.

            Ed thought that he’d never let that smile anywhere near his daughter. How the man had managed to remain a bachelor this long, in a world that didn’t have effective contraceptives and did have shotgun weddings…

            Ed might be as straight as a stick himself, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t recognize a guy with the masculine equivalent of come hither when he saw one.

            The courier waved and walked out the door. Ed waved absentmindedly in return.

            Now all they had to do was talk Henry into going on a tour of Buchenland and coax it into a solidly pro-Fourth of July Party stance before Mike called new elections. Which they should be able to do. The news had arrived a couple of days ago that Mary and Veronica had reached Basel and were safely in the USE embassy with Diane Jackson.

            Plus, the word from Franconia was that the Ram Rebellion had pretty much wound to its end with the face-down of Freiherr von Bimbach by Anita Masaniello.

            Which left the problem that some group of unknown recalcitrants had kidnaped more than half of the SoTF administrators in Fulda, including Wes Jenkins himself.

            Which was where Henry would be going.

            Wes must have sent the paperwork before they got him.

            Ed got up and walked over to the window.

            Nothing he could do about Wes and the others from here. Anyway, the folks over in Fulda had already managed to get Harlan Stull and Roy Copenhaver back. They’d radioed that in yesterday. Plus Fred Pence and Johnny Furbee. That had come in this morning, barely in time for him to get a news release out.

            Ed would have to work on faith that they’d do as well with Orville and Mark. And Wes and Clara. And the abbot. He’d spent a lot of time these last few years doing that—working on the faith that the people he’d sent out to do an impossible job would accomplish it.

            If Derek Utt and his people didn’t find the others. Well, then Buchenland would need something like a visit from Henry Dreeson more than ever.

            He picked up the phone. “Chad, can you get hold of Joe, Tony, and the rest of the crew? See if we can meet with Henry for lunch? Somewhere quiet, so not the Gardens. Not Cora’s. See if the back room at Tyler’s is free.”

****

            “Basel’s better than ‘somewhere in Bavaria,’” Henry admitted. “But it’s still not exactly ‘right here in Grantville.’”

            Arnold Bellamy, who was twirling his knife in his fingers, said, “You’re weakening.”

            “I’ve talked to Tony Jr.,” Tony Sr. said. “Well, we’ve sent a lot of Morse Code back and forth since he first raised up Bernadette and told her that the ladies were there.”

            “Not a little bit proud of that boy of yours, are you?” Joe Stull grinned.

            “Not a ‘little bit,’ no,” Tony answered agreeably. “He’s pretty sure we’ll be able to get them out of Basel. So I figure,” he looked at Henry, “that we might as well go ahead and do the planning for your trip. Then, when we get the actual news that Horn or somebody else on our side has collected them, you’ll be ready to go ahead and start out.”

            Henry pushed his plate back and leaned forward, elbows on the table and fingers steepled. “I’ve still got that house full of kids to deal with. Jeff and Gretchen are still in Amsterdam and I don’t mind saying that I’m getting sort of exasperated by the whole thing. Not that Will and Joey and the older ones aren’t pretty well behaved as kids go, but they’re her job. Not mine. Not Annalise’s. And really not Ronnie’s.” He leaned back. “Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…”

            “How’re you going to handle it?”

            “Well, with Ronnie’s niece staying with us now, it’s a different kettle of fish than it was a couple of months ago. Thea and Nicol are grown-ups. In their twenties and married and expecting a baby. So they can house sit. Babysit. Plus, I’ve talked to Enoch and Inez. They’ve agreed to supervise. Sort of at a distance, with Nicol and Thea on the spot. Since the Cavriani girl staying with them is Annalise’s best friend, they’ll have plenty of excuses to drop by and sort of cast an eye over the way things are going.”

            Arnold started twirling his knife in the opposite direction. “Knew you were going, didn’t you?”

            “Yep.” Henry nodded. “Even before I admitted it to myself, I guess. Haven’t done any traveling since the Ring of Fire—never been farther than Jena—and it’s sort of a pity to waste what amounts to my first and only trip to Europe, I suppose. I’d better go see something outside West Virginia County and the middle of Thuringia before this hip gives out, if I want to see it at all.”

****

            “Good news about Orville Beattie and Mark Early.”

            Ed smiled broadly. “I really enjoyed that phone call I made to Lisa this morning. And I have to admit that I stood right there while Tanya radioed it into Mike Stearns’ office in Magdeburg, pretending that I could hear Susan stand up and shout. I was principal when Mark and Susan graduated. Three years apart, but my stint covered them both. And all three of Orville and Lisa’s kids. Shane—he’s the youngest—was finishing his sophomore year the spring that the Ring of Fire hit and I had to turn things over to Len Trout.”

            He paused a minute.

            Arnold raised an imaginary glass. “Absent friends.”

            Ed nodded. “So, yeah, it felt real good.” He looked at Arnold. “Real, real, good. Thanks for coming down from Magdeburg to back me up on handling this. Did Tanya get the press release out?”

            “First thing. And I phoned Henry. Any word about Wes and Clara? Or the abbot?”

            Ed shook his head. “No. Well, not yet.”

            “Do you think we really ought to let Henry go if things don’t calm down over there in the next couple of days? The people who did this—some of them, at least—could still be in Buchenland County. Could make another try. The mayor of Grantville would make a tempting target.”

            “Right now, I don’t think we could stop him. He’s gone into his old-fashioned stump speaker mode. Even…”

            “Even what?”

            “Tried to talk young Muselius from over at Countess Kate’s into going along to translate for him. Henry’s not one to overestimate the quality of his German. Muselius can’t go. The beginning of the school year is too busy. But he’s persuaded one of Kastenmayer’s sons, Cunz, the one who’s about to finish up his law degree at the University of Jena, into doing it. Muselius also talked the boy’s exam committee into accepting a paper analyzing the trip as his honors thesis in constitutional law under Arumaeus, so he won’t have wasted a semester.”

            Bellamy shook his head. “I’m not surprised. I’ve met Muselius, several times. Golden-tongued, that young man.”

            “Is young Kastenmayer?”

            “What?”

            “Golden-tongued?”

            “The boy knows a half-dozen different languages, they say. That wouldn’t mean he’s a good public speaker, necessarily. But going into law, with his dad a preacher… he might be. The way they do the schools here, he’s at least bound to have had a lot of debate practice. Disputations, they call them.”

            Ed nodded. “If so, he can double up as the PR man. Run the press conferences.”

About Eric Flint

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12 Responses to 1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT — snippet 10

  1. Alejo says:

    This could use some zesting. It’s reading like a Grantville Gazette issue. If that’s a soap opera episode, this has to be a movie. Therefore, it needs that little extra something to spice it up. Bit humdrum at the moment.

  2. Alan says:

    I’m afraid I agree. It’s also sticking to the deeply unlikely idea that the prime minister, not the emperor, calls elections. Okay, these are matters of authorial choice, but readers get to judge for themselves why Gustavus Adolphus would ever agree to such a thing and how realistic it is for the USE parliament to be the only legislature in their world or ours where the prime minister can dissolve without reference to the crown.

    Even in 20th century monarchies the prime minister has to at least get formal consent to a dissolution from the crown. In parliamentary republics the prime minister has to get consent from the president. It’s the political science equivalent of allowing the development of transistors and computers about 3 weeks after the RoF and about as realistic.

  3. Stephen says:

    It’s entirely possible that Gustavus Adolphus has the formal authority to call the elections, but that ‘everyone knows’ he’s relying on Mike’s advice on the timing, so the uptimers are speaking rather casually.

  4. A. J. Nolte says:

    As I recall, The Bavarian Crisis started slow as well, but did pick up eventually.

    I still want to know what the platforms of the two parties will be. I mean, the mechanics of the election will be interesting, but I’d really like to see where Stearnes and Wettin go with their respective political programs.

    Actually, the issue of who gets to call elections could be one which divides the Crown Loyalists from the Fourth of July types. I’m assuming that Fourth of July will come down on the side of a supremacy for the house of commons while the Crown loyalists will want to divert more power into the hands of the king directly?

    We really need to see a USE constitution…

    As for the Prime Minister calling the elections…uh, we all remember that time when Stearnes sorta kinda not really held Princess Christina hostage right? Letting Stearnes decide when to call the election this first go-round might have been part of the deal. And I doubt he’s going to act here without Gustav’s approval.

  5. Alan says:

    Two possibilities. (1) The pm gets to call the election without reference to the emperor. (2) The pm gets to advise the emperor to call an election and the emperor makes the final decision.

    (1) means Gustavus Adolphus is either an idiot or prepared to concede powers that every other prince in his time retains firmly in his own hands. Legislatures were actually quite common in Early Modern Europe. In France the estates-general last met in 1614 before its revival at the time of the Revolution. Even in Spain the Castilian cortes met 8 times during the reign of Felipe IV. The Swedish riksdag was ative thought the period. Apart from anything else, there’s likely to be constitutional contagion between the USE, the combined Scandinavian monarchy, and Sweden itself. It’s hard to see what Gustavus Adolphus would gain by agreeing to demands in the USE he would then have to face in his other two governments. It’s a charming conceit that a local union official from West Virginia out-manoeuvred one of the most experienced, activist and intelligent monarchs of the time, but really…

    (1) is ridiculous. (2) is not what the chapter describes. Even in the 20th century, prime ministers are very careful about describing the process and make a point of saying they are going to ‘advise’ an election.

  6. Alejo says:

    Well, whatever they decide to do with the politics, I sincerely hope the book doesn’t revolve around it. My god, a political science fiction book just might drive me insane. Intrigue, now, that would be something. Intrigue need not be political or, if it is, it sure is more exciting than a bunch of old country boys holding secret meetings in someone’s house with coffee and cookies. Bloody conspiracy, intrigue, murderous plotting, that’s the stuff I want to see. Where’s Borja? How about a clandestine chapter of the Spanish inquisition loose in Germany? Trumped up witch hunts. Something. Anything.

  7. Alan says:

    I miss Borja and I miss Richelieu) I’m even quite attached to the Barberini.

  8. Alejo says:

    Tell you what would be interesting is something big to do with the Ottomans. Secret ottoman spies in Grantville. Capture of Grantville personnel to be smuggled to Constantinople? Perhaps Francisco Nassi can be a bigger character than heretofore. A rival of his might emerge who pulls strings from Constantinople and arranges a strike at him or his capture or something dramatic like that. Western Europe’s powers are very small comparison to those of the Ottomans and Mogulss. Richelieu intrigued with the latter already to show them how the British would exploit the subcontinent in the future. What of China? Why restrict the story to central europe and western Europe?

  9. Janedb says:

    Speaking of the Barbarini – where’s the pope at this time? Is this after the capture of Rome and his flight with the Americans?

  10. Alan says:

    The Pope was last seen in Venice and it’s been far too long since we heard anything about a situation that should be earthshaking.

  11. Mark L says:

    Borgia captures Rome in 1635.

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