1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 08

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 08

“At least in regard to politics,” Terrye Jo said.

“Yes. Of course. As for the rest . . .” he settled himself in a creaky armchair and flipped a page in the book in front of him. “There is much I could teach you, Signorina, if you would merely open your mind to science.”

It was an old argument, and she bit back a reply. Him chiding her about science was . . . typical, if absurd.

“Why do you think that the duke wants to contact Paris?”

“Haven’t you heard?”

“Heard what? I didn’t take breakfast this morning. Wasn’t hungry.”

“We have a guest. His Highness Gaston Jean-Baptiste de France, and his lovely wife Marguerite de Lorraine. Come to pay his sister a visit.”

“Gaston.” Terrye Jo knew the name, but wasn’t up on the politics. “Monsieur Gaston, except they always call him Monsieur Gaston. The king’s younger brother.”

“Estranged brother, I daresay,” Baldaccio said. “He is in exile from France for his intrigues. Yet, for all that, he is the heir to the throne, since the king appears . . . disinclined to produce one of his own.”

“So he’s the next king of France? What’s he doing here?”

“I would not venture to say. But I suspect that your — instruments –” he gestured toward the disassembled antenna strut in front of Artemisio. “They might have something to do with it. The prince is here to make use of them.”

“Huh. But . . . you said he was in exile.”

Baldaccio sighed. He leaned back, making the chair complain. “Foolish girl. Monsieur is in exile, but not all of his friends are so disadvantaged. He is here — but his friends are there.” He folded his hands over his ample belly, looking satisfied — like a snake that has just enjoyed a particularly filling meal.

She ignored the foolish girl, though she had an image in her mind of stuffing the words one letter at a time down his throat. “I got the impression that Duke Victor Amadeus is a friend of the king of France. You’re suggesting that he’s part of some intrigue with Monsieur Gaston.”

“I am not suggesting anything, Signorina, and will deny any imputation of the sort. I am merely employing logic, which is a key to science, as –”

“As you’d teach me if I’d only listen. I understand.” She sat on the bench next to the antenna. Artemisio, who had remained silent through the entire exchange, joined her at once. “I’ve got work to do. Maybe later.”


Monsieur Gaston’s reasons for visiting his sister were made clear to Terrye Jo a few days later. She was in the operator’s room, a cubicle below the tower that was built into the ceiling above the workshop; it was accessible by a staircase made of new, unfinished wood.

It was dusk, the shadows from the mountains lengthening across the valley. She was trying to pick up a broadcast signal from Magdeburg when she felt, rather than heard, the tramp of boots. When they came into the cubicle, she had taken off her headphones and stood up to see who had come to visit.

“Mademoiselle Tillman.”

The man who addressed her was young — about Terrye Jo’s age — and richly dressed in the latest fashion. He had a piercing gaze with deep blue eyes and a smooth, clear voice. The four men with him were also well-dressed, but were clearly no more than ornaments for the one who had spoken.

“Monsieur,” she said, standing. Her Italian was better than her French, and this man was a native speaker.

“No, please sit. I am François de Vendôme, at your service.” He offered a courtier’s bow. “And you are the most distinguished up-time . . . er, radio operator.”

“Yes. My Lord,” she added, realizing it was appropriate and he’d be expecting it.

A tiny smile appeared on François de Vendôme’s face. “My father is César de Vendôme, Mademoiselle. I am in Monsieur Gaston’s company, and at his direction I have come to . . . inspect your facility. With the permission of His Grace the duke, we will require some extra work from you.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Terrye Jo said. She had decided to remain standing, rather than sit in the presence of this nobleman. “Extra work?”

“Yes. Some communications. Do not worry, you will be paid well for your trouble.”

On vous paiera bien de vos travaux. It sounded very nice in French. “I am always happy to hear that,” she said. “I would like assurance that it is with the permission of the duke.”

Louis looked over his shoulder at his companions, then back at her. “Do you have any doubts, Mademoiselle?”

“The . . . no, Monsieur. My Lord, I do not doubt your intentions, but this equipment is in my care, and I am obligated to the duke as an employee. If anything were to happen it would be my responsibility, no matter who is operating it.”

“It would be you, surely?”

“Not necessarily. There are a dozen people qualified to run it at the moment,” she said. “But it’s me in charge regardless of who –”

“You are quite right to be cautious, Mademoiselle, but it would be His Highness’ wish that for his communications that it would be you, and only you, at the instrument.” He held up one hand, the lace cuff hanging limply at the wrist, as if to forestall any response. “Your ability at teaching the skills are not in question. I can assure you –”

“I am sure you can.”

“What do you want? Exactly?”

“I think written permission would be helpful. A note with Duke Victor Amadeus’ signature and seal would do, indicating that I should be selected to do what a dozen people at the Castello del Valentino can competently handle.”

The little smile disappeared. For a moment, Terrye Jo wasn’t sure whether she’d stepped across some line with the man. Then she decided that she didn’t care — this was her gear, and she was responsible. Getting bullied by some French prince, or duke, or whatever he was, wasn’t going to work.

“I assume that there won’t be any problem with that.”

“You are a very determined young woman, Mademoiselle. Is this a characteristic of all up-time females, like . . . trousers?”

She smiled. Her working clothes weren’t exactly what someone like François de Vendôme was used to.

“Only the tough ones.” She smiled, and François’ expression softened slightly. “I don’t know about the others.”

“In the instance that I obtain this permission I will expect that you will provide the service that Monsieur Gaston requires, and that you will keep all that you see — and send over your radio — in confidence. This is most important, Mademoiselle. Many things, and many people, depend on your care in this matter.”

“I know how to keep secrets, My Lord,” Terrye Jo said. “You can ask the duke and duchess.”

“Yes,” he answered. “I already did. You are highly regarded. Particularly by the duchess.” He looked her up and down, from the fierce smile to the trousers and work boots. “Otherwise we would not be having this conversation.”


This entry was posted in 1632Snippet, Snippets. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top


16 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 08

  1. daveo says:

    So Gaston continues his career of (jncompetent) conspiracy. Who does he intend to contact in France? And how will they contact him without radio facilities? And how do they expect that Richelieu won’t know everything he or his buddies says?
    It’s not as if he can keep secret anything that goes out or in over the airwaves

    • Escape Zeppelin says:

      It’s 1636, radio receivers are reasonably common and the Gazettes say they can be bought in most cities in Germany. Radio transmitters, albeit not high powered ones are probably available for anyone with a lot of money since they can be built by hand. Transmitting from Savoy to reasonably close in France won’t need a massively powerful system. And so far nobody said they were trying to contact him, just him getting a message into France.

      And as for intercepting signals, encoding messages has a long tradition and just got a huge boost from Grantville texts. There are several types of code that could be used that would take a computer to crack within a reasonable timeframe.

      • John Cowan says:

        Indeed, if there is a copy of David Kahn’s The Codebreakers (1967) in Grantville, then pretty much all communication can be secured beyond the ability of anyone without a computer and the ability to program it to break. In particular, the German ADFGVX cipher was designed for secure field communications, and it took a cryptanalytic genius to break it — he succeeded mostly because the Germans insisted in using stereotyped beginnings. The cipher is insecure by modern standards, of course, but ADFGVX-cracking software isn’t exactly standard equipment on home PCs or Macs either.

        • Stewart says:

          Let’s hear it for Alan Turin and the Benchley Park Crew.

          1) Although IIRC the Vatican’s encryption has not been cracked yet (at least not publicly)

          2) The Brit’s secrecy laws kept most of the Benchley Park story hidden until the 1990’s (50 years) so there’s a chance some of the books were in the Grantville library, but only if there were some crypto-nerds to order the books.

          — Stewart

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        Good point. Personally I just hope whatever Gaston is planning is competently executed enough to disrupt Richelieu’s plans to manufacture an illegitimate heir for France. Not that I care about the Crown of France, but adultery pisses me off/depresses me, particularly when it’s orchestrated by a Cardinal of the Church. Yuck. In so very *many* ways, yuck. Also ew. Toss a *shudder* in there for good measure, too.

        • Vikingted says:

          Adultry done for the good of France!

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            I will admit that made me chuckle. Nicely done. Seriously though, when has an illegitimate heir ever been anything but BAD for the nation whose throne that illegitimate heir stands to inherit? Yes, that was a mouthful. Serious…okay, semiserious…question though. What the frack is Richelieu thinking?

            • Drak Bibliophile says:

              For one thing, he’s thinking that the resulting son will be believed to be legitimate.

              Now, I’m not saying what will happen. [Grin]

              • Cobbler says:

                1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
                2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
                3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

                Genesis 16:1—3

                If it’s good enough for Abraham, it’s good enough for Louis XIIII.

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                To Cobbler: Did you read the rest of that passage? Because, just a reminder, Abraham and Sarai had a kid after that incident, and the child of Abraham and Hagar (along with Hagar herself) was cast out. Left, essentially, to die, because (to greatly oversimplify) of Sarai’s jealousy and desire to protect the “legitimate” heir’s inheritance. Not sure we can say honestly that “it worked for Abraham” considering all that. Or rather, “it worked for Sarai” because in that scenario, Sarai, not Abraham (Ann, not Louis, if the parallel were accurate) was the jilted, cuckolded (or equivalent term) one. Either way, the point is that the end result was violence, heartbreak, blood, and tears. In Louis and Anne’s case, the result will be (if they go through with it, of course) inevitable heartbreak, if only for Louis, and -almost certainly- a devastating civil war/war for the throne, and all the horror and bloodshed that entails. If I’m right, that is. I’m probably wrong. Man I bummed MYSELF out writing all that. Sorry. ;)

            • Steve says:

              Apparently Flint is working off of historical evidence that Louis XIII was either gay or bisexual with a strong preference for men and either way didn’t have any sexual interest in his wife Anne of Austria, the implausibility of the real-world official story of Louis XIV’s conception (Louis XIII got trapped with Anne one night, had sex with her for the first time in years, and miraculously she got pregnant with the first child she was able to carry to term that wasn’t stillborn), and a set of real-world historical rumors about Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin including one that they secretly married after she was widowed and one that he was actually the father of Louis XIV (and presumably his little brother). Of course, back in 2012 the French press reported that DNA tests of the remains of Henry IV and Louis XVI showed patrilineal descent and Henry IV was Louis XIII’s dad, so… it isn’t something Eric Flint’s completely made up out of whole cloth.

      • daveo says:

        It’s really really difficult to carry out a conspiracy without at least some back and forth contact between conspirators. Particularly between the sort of malcontents who will support
        Gaston. You assume that any of these people are smart enough to use a good encoding system. I do not. I think if you look at the sort of people who can be persuaded to support Gaston, they do not have nearly as much intelligence as arrogance. And I was not talking about transmitting from Savoy but to Savoy. Yes it’s possible from nearby in France, however most of the strength of any conspiracy has to be from a lot further away.
        And don’t forget, Richelieu is a lot smarter and has lots better resources than Gaston and his ‘friends”/

        • Vikingted says:

          I would expect if anyone is plotting to do away the good Cardinal, they better do it in a lone gunman style.

          • It has already been revealed that in this AH Gassy manages to have Richy assassinated, which would make it more plausible for USE to slip North America out from under France. Whether that is what will happen remains to be seen.

  2. Randomiser says:

    I read a short story very recently, whose title of scapes me, about an immigrant from Paris setting himself up in Granville as a freelance cryptanalyst. Wel outsourcing the Swedish government’s work mostly. The premise was that mail interception, codes and cryptanalysis were all standard government ploys of the time. It was also suggested that certain classes of book were an exception to the general freedom of information policy. Guess which kind! Unfortunately the authorities were somewhat overlooking fiction as a source of tradecraft.

    • Randomiser says:

      I read a short story very recently, whose title escapes me, about an immigrant from Paris setting himself up in Grantville as a freelance cryptanalyst. Well outsourcing the Swedish government’s work mostly. The premise was that mail interception, codes and cryptanalysis were all standard government ploys of the time. It was also suggested that certain classes of book were an exception to the general freedom of information policy. Guess which kind! Unfortunately the authorities were somewhat overlooking fiction as a source of tradecraft. Oh, yes, it was “Venus and Mercury” by Kirt Lee from GG VII.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.