1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 11:
Johann Conrad Kastenmayer, generally known as Cunz for all purposes other than his formal, legal, signature, was surprised that he had been invited to this meeting.
He had met Charles Jenkins the Younger, of course. He was the one who was always called Chip, much as he himself was called Cunz. Chip was also a law student at Jena. The law school was not really very large. All the students knew one another.
Now he was in Chip’s father’s parlor, with Chip’s sister holding out a tray and offering him a choice between coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and beer. He thought a moment. She was named Melissa, like the famous Ms. Mailey, but everyone seemed to call her Missy.
Really, he would prefer beer. Probably.
However, he had never tasted oriental tea and might not get another chance to taste it for quite some time. It was very expensive. The Kastenmayer household in the rectory at St. Martin’s in the Fields could not afford to do expensive, as the up-timer young people expressed it. Neither could the Kastenmayer sons in Jena afford to do expensive. So, in the interest of furthering his liberal education… He reached out and took a cup of tea.
In some ways, visiting Grantville was almost like taking a miniature grand tour. Which he would also never be able to afford to do, he supposed. As soon as he got his degree, he would have to find a job—take some of the burden off his father and start making a positive contribution. It was noble of his oldest brother Matthaeus to follow a vocation into the pastorate like their father. But it didn’t pay very much. Martin’s position as an assistant city clerk didn’t pay much more. And with Andrea’s elopement, which meant that this year the parish was going to have to pay for a second teacher in the primary grades, there was no prospect that Papa was going to get a raise. But this… Visiting Erfurt and Frankfurt didn’t precisely constitute a grand tour, but maybe a mini-tour. They were larger cities than he’d ever seen before.
One thing you could say for going into law, it usually paid pretty well. Cunz pulled his mind back to the conversation swirling around him. Only to discover that someone was asking him what he thought about it. Which was certainly not something for which he had prepared himself. It was much more surprising than his being invited in the first place.
What was the it about which he had been asked?
He uttered a few reasonably coherent sentences on the theme that Mayor Dreeson’s trip to Buchenland should have great value in making the former Franconian territories feel themselves more of an integral part of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. He added a few comments in regard to the outcome of the Ram Rebellion. He prayed that he hadn’t made a total fool of himself.
Apparently not. The man who had asked, Herr Stull, nodded and turned to someone else, who said, “He’ll do.”
Missy Jenkins, who had astonished him by sitting down between himself and her father as soon as she had distributed the beverages, leaned over and whispered, “Good save.”
He made a resolution to be attentive at all times for the remainder of this tour.
“There’s no reason at all to make that big a deal out of it.” Henry Dreeson, being a small town American at heart, with the resulting conviction that he really didn’t need any such thing as a bodyguard, or whatever the military types wanted to call it, was taking a stand. “I don’t need a fancy escort to make the trip over to Fulda. All I’m going to do is talk to a few city councils about my experiences in local government and then meet Ronnie. The government of West Virginia County has agreed to loan me an ATV and they’ll provide enough fuel to get me there and back, as long as the party’s willing to reimburse them for the expense. I’ll need to find a driver. My hip’s not up to driving any distance on these down-time roads. I won’t get lost, either. For one thing, we’ll be sticking to the main roads. In case we have to detour, I’m going to take Wackernagel, the courier, along with me in the ATV. He makes the circuit all the time, so he knows the roads well, and I’m pretty sure that he’ll have a hoot riding in a car rather than riding a horse for a change.” He smiled at everyone else in the room. “ Why, Wackernagel might even enjoy learning to drive.”
“Henry, what the hell!” Joe Stull practically exploded. “They’ve been taking our people over there prisoner!”
“Then Utt can give me a bodyguard once we get there. He’s got a whole regiment at Fulda. No point in dragging a bunch of people from here all the way over there.”
“Two ATVs,” Ed Piazza said. “It’s a rough road and if the one you’re riding in breaks down, we don’t want you stranded. The schedule’s too tight. The SoTF will provide the second one and pay for the fuel. And since it’s going, it might as well have people in it. The driver, you, Cunz, and Wackernagel in the first one. The driver and three other guys in the second one. And the army picks the guys.”
Henry eyed him. “What kind of guys?”
“Mechanics. Really tough mechanics.”
“You’ve got that ‘I’m the principal’ look on your face, Ed.”
“I am the principal. Or, at least, the president, even if that doesn’t give me quite as much authority.” Ed grinned. “Two ATVs or you don’t go, important politics or not.”
“Still no word about the abbot?” Annabelle passed over a dish of sliced pears.
Ed shook his head. “He seems to have dropped off the map. We don’t question people under torture, of course, in the SoTF. But Derek and his people sure have questioned those guys, the imperial knights like von Schlitz who were involved in the conspiracy. Up one side and down the other. They think that they genuinely don’t know where he is. But, probably, not in Fulda any more. The guys who took him were probably Irish mercenaries. Who knows who was paying them?”
“At least you got to spread tidings of comfort and joy about Wes Jenkins and Clara Bachmeier. Or are they Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, now?”
“She insists on the feminine form of her surname. On the grounds that she is not male. Trust me. I still remember my first interview with her very well. She’s as stubborn as Veleda Riddle. Just as ladylike and just as stubborn.”
“That’s… Well, I’m glad she’s on our side, in that case.”
“ I think that the word you want is ‘daunting.’ Or maybe ‘dauntless.’ She’s dauntless herself and it’s very daunting to everyone who gets on her bad side.”
“Odd sort of woman for Wes to marry.”
“Guess he managed to get on her good side.”
“It doesn’t sound like she’s even a little bit like Lena was.”
Ed thought a minute before he answered that one. “Maybe he learned something, the first time.”