1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT — snippet 30

 

1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 30:

 

 

            “In the front row with the Bürgermeister.” The city council secretary had a list, by which he was lining up the order of march.

            “I have never entered some of these neighborhoods in my life,” one of the councilmen muttered.

            “Maybe it will do you some good. You can learn how the other half lives.”

            He started to sputter; then decided that sputtering at the grandmother of the “hero of Wismar,” right at this moment, was not the best idea.

            The Grantville mayor was on the left hand of the Bürgermeister. On his right hand—the unhappy councilman grimaced—was the Danish woman who had disrupted the council hearing. And, behind the civic officials, the orange uniforms of the Fulda Barracks Regiment.

            Henry looked around and yelled, “Jeffie?”

            Jeffrey Garand looked rather anxiously at Derek Utt. “Derek? Uh? I mean, Major Utt?”

            “Go on.”

            Jeffie ran to the front line.

            “Is that your flute, you’ve got there in your hand?”

            “Ah, yeah, Mr. Dreeson. It’s not standard, I know, for one of the sergeants to double as a piper, but, well, I’ve got it, and we’re not quite fully staffed, so…”

            “You were in the marching band, weren’t you? In high school?”

            ‘Um-hmmn.”

            “Can you still play ‘Hey, Look Me Over’?”

            Jeffie sighed. “In my sleep.”

            “Then get on up here with the drums. We’re stepping out.”

            The Frankfurt municipal drum corps was good. They caught on to Jeffie’s rhythm in no time.

****

            Soubise and Sandrart, watching the preparations, made particular note of the three companies of orange uniforms at the rear of the procession.

            “Pour encourager les autres, I presume,” the brother of the duke of Rohan remarked.

****

            Nathan Prickett felt obliged to march with one of the militia companies, seeing as how he’d provided the arms for most of them. On the other hand, since he wasn’t actually a member of the militia, he didn’t feel obliged to march in the front rank. So he more or less hung around in the third rank. Close enough to “show the flag,” not close enough to get hurt—well, not likely—in case the would-be pogromists in the taverns decided to fight back.

            Some of them did fight, in fact, including the ones in the tavern that Nathan’s company marched against. But it was a pretty lame sort of thing. You might almost call it desultory, except there was nothing desultory about the man dying in the doorway of the tavern. He’d been the first one shot, as he came rushing out with an old musket, and it took a while before he stopped howling in agony. He’d been shot three times, all the wounds coming low down in his hips and abdomen. One of the militiamen might have shot him again just to put him out of his misery, but the other anti-Semites in the tavern had chosen to pour out of a side door and that had distracted the company.

            The first three of them got shot dead, too, but they were killed almost instantly.

            The rest surrendered. One of them, it seemed, had piled up a few too many grudges over the years. The militia company just plain refused to accept his surrender and shot him about half a dozen times. The others got off with nothing worse than a fair-to-middling beating with gun butts before they were marched down to the city’s jail. Well, what passed for a jail. Back up-time, the SPCA would have screamed bloody murder if you’d stuffed rats in that hole.

            After checking around later—Henry Dreeson had a really good eye for these things and so did Sandrart, oddly enough—Nathan concluded that the experience of his militia company was about standard. Middle of the road experience, anyway. Some company had a tougher fight, but some didn’t run into any opposition at all. Their targets just ran off.

****

            “Maybe we ought to hold off on the popular revolution for a little while,” the chief theorist of the Frankfurt CoC said the next day. “Pay a little more attention to some of the stuff that Spartacus is publishing. Maybe we can work out a modus vivendi with the council. After all, if Gretchen Richter’s own grandmother marched with members of the city council… not against them.”

            The others nodded, including the chairman.

            There was no way for them know why Veronica had marched. Or that Gretchen hadn’t known anything about the plan, much less approved her grandmother’s participation in the activity.

****

            It was impressive, Soubise wrote to his brother. I have been, to some extent, surprised by the effectiveness of the Grantville mayor during this political tour. It was, after all, no more than a provincial town before the Ring of Fire. Not even a provincial capital. Nonetheless, he, in cooperation with Constantin Ableidinger, has proven to be effective in encouraging the successful integration of the former Franconian territories into the SoTF.

            His wife, of course…

            After that paragraph, he stopped to think again.

            De Ron has not managed to gather any additional information in regard to what Locquifier may be planning. I still have hopes that continued observation of the men staying at the inn Zum Weissen Schwan will provide us with information as to where Ducos has gone to ground.

****

            Dear Ruben, Nathan Prickett wrote to Blumroder in Suhl.

 

            I expect you’ll already have heard about all the excitement last night before this letter gets to you, so I’ll stick to what’s important. The new guns that the firm provided to the militia performed really well. I was real pleased with the results. Even though it was damp and toward the end of the evening it started to drizzle, there were hardly any misfires.

            Two of the militia lieutenants lost their jobs over it, but since we’ve been working through the city council and the captain, that shouldn’t affect sales.

 

            He figured that it wasn’t worth wasting postage on a letter to Don Francisco. He was bound to hear all about it from a lot of other people. But someone else was sure going to expect a personal report from Johnny-on-the spot. He picked up another piece of paper.

 

            Dear Chandra.

 

 

Erfurt

 

            Simon Jones spread the various newspapers out on the table, sorting them by date. “I’ve got to say,” he commented, “that it seems to have played really well in Copenhagen.”

            It certainly had.

            Any reporter worth his wages could see the drama of a Danish woman, a Danish commoner, showing the way to the patricians of an imperial city; more, showing the way to the up-timers; to the officials of the United States of Europe, even. Jason Waters was worth his wages, and more.

            Headlines, and then more headlines.

            It didn’t quite salve the pride of Denmark for having been forced into a second Union of Kalmar. But it sure helped.

            Christian IV would present a medal to Dagmar Nilsdotter, wife of Sergeant Helmuth Hartke of the State of Thuringia-Franconia’s own Fulda Barracks Regiment.

            More headlines.

            The same regiment that had, a short while before, heroically rescued Wesley Jenkins, the State of Thuringia-Franconia’s civilian administrator of Buchenland, and his wife, his down-timer wife, from durance vile. (No need to mention that the jailers had already fled, leaving them nothing to do but unlock the door. Picayune details remained picayune details).

            Even more headlines.

            Christian IV would award the medal as soon as Dagmar could travel to Copenhagen, that was. She was expecting a baby in November.

            The heroine was not a virago, not a masculinized Amazon, but an honest Lutheran wife and mother.

            Gustavus Adolphus, not to be outdone or upstaged, would award a medal as soon as Dagmar Nilsdotter could travel to Magdeburg.

            Christian IV announced that he would travel to Barracktown bei Fulda and present the medal in person as soon as the mother-to-be had recovered from the travails of childbirth.

            Gustavus Adolphus, very busy but always alert to a good PR opportunity, announced that Princess Kristina would travel to Barracktown bei Fulda and present the medal in person.

            Christian IV announced that he and his future daughter-in-law would fly to Fulda together and present the medals simultaneously.

            Derek Utt and Wes Jenkins, after contemplating the topography of the immediate region, sent off a brief radio message that said, in essence, “not unless they intend to parachute out of the damned plane, they won’t.” To the distress of the politicians, the pilots agreed with their assessment.

            Erfurt, then. Christian IV and Kristina would fly to Erfurt and proceed the rest of the way in a motorized vehicle.

            That was where things stood at the moment the latest of the papers had gone to press. The reporter’s breathless prose ended with: “Stand by for further announcements.”

            Ron Stone nodded his head. “Ain’t radio communication grand?”

 

About Eric Flint

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