1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 12
Bernie moved in and settled. It took several days to get his stuff and the other gear that Vladimir had sent. They were also putting together a load of goods to go the other way. Boris wanted to make one more trip to Grantville to make sure the path he’d set up was in good working order both for mail and for goods. That had little to do with Bernie, which he was perfectly happy with. He’d already run into one mine field and didn’t want another. It turned out Natasha was very interested in women’s rights, a subject that Bernie had only a vague knowledge about. In order to hold off her questions a bit he had said, “Look, Natasha, I didn’t mean to have you burn your bra in Red Square. It’s just the way things were up-time.”
Natasha, being Natasha, had come right back with, “What is a bra and why would I want to burn it?”
While Bernie was more than willing to talk about bras and their disposal with servant girls, it wasn’t a place to go with the boss. Which, it had turned out, Natasha was, in fact if not in title. Especially when she had a whole retinue of men at arms who gave Bernie hard looks any time he got within twenty feet of her.
Talking to noble ladies about their undergarments was definitely chancy territory. Bernie got his revenge in a way by directing her to a barmaid who could answer her questions. Brandy Bates was a friend of his who worked at Club 250, where Bernie had drunk until the Gardens got its own building. Bernie talked her up a bit because it seemed like a good idea. Who knew? Maybe the barmaid had something to teach the princess.
Besides, the truth was that Bernie didn’t like the way the peasants were treated here and now. Bernie didn’t think it had been near this bad in Germany. He had to remind himself quite often that he wasn’t here to fix the soul of Russia, just the plumbing. He didn’t like it but he kept his mouth shut. So let the princess learn about bras from the barmaid. Maybe she’d learn something else as well.
Natasha was at her desk, at last. There were several letters to write. She, as was her nature, started with the hardest.
To the Up-timer Citizen of Grantville, United States of America, Miss Brandy Bates,
I make free to write to you at the suggestion of your fellow up-timer, Bernard Zeppi. I hope that this missive finds you in the best of good health.
Natasha hated this part. She was a regular correspondent with several women of Russia and even a few men. But writing to someone new was always a challenge, especially someone from a foreign country. Worse, in this case, because the up-timers probably thought of everyone from this century as barbarians. But she really did need an answer to this question.
Let me apologize if I have failed to include the titles appropriate to your station. It is not with the intent of insult but from simple ignorance. Goodman Zeppi informs me that you are a woman of great accomplishment and considerable status among the up-timers. Also that you are of good family and possessed of a G.E.D.
I gather that the G.E.D. is a title? But I confess my ignorance in how it is to be applied to a salutation. Mr. Zeppi professes ignorance of your other titles, not being a student of heraldry.
I fear this may be a delicate matter to broach on first acquaintance, but what is a bra and why should one burn it in the grand market square?
Natasha filled in the context of the discussion then added her signature. Princess Natalia Petrovna Gorchakovna
Natasha knew she should be saying more, introducing herself more clearly, but she was uncertain of what degree of formality she should use in writing to an unknown up-timer. She set the letter aside and started working on the next. It would go to Vladimir, and would discuss the Grantville Section of the Embassy Bureau and the agreements reached between the family and the government.