Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 33

Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 33

Claudia imagined that wherever he was in Lorraine, the grand duke was doing a lot of restless pacing, because the instructions arrived rapidly and regularly.

She noted idly that in the letters he wrote or dictated himself, he never used the formal “We.” He just wrote ich–the singular word “I.”

It seemed so personal somehow–as if he were a person rather than the occupant of an office. Almost wrong. It was hard to get used to.

She was to make it clear to every city within his realm that sick soldiers from the garrisons were to be admitted to the city hospitals and cared for as they would care for their own citizens; the grand duke would, if he perceived that they acted with good will in this matter, make every endeavor to see that they were repaid as soon as times became better.

If there were not enough funds to pay the officers and men in the garrisons regularly (consult with Rehlinger; pay schedule enclosed), she should compel the cities and rural districts to advance sufficient funds to satisfy the troops stationed for their protection. Although they might–indeed, would at least claim to–find these contributions painful, she should remind them that orderly contributions were preferable to having the troops mutiny and begin to plunder and forage amid the civilian population.

She was to have a pamphlet prepared on the impossibility of maintaining excellent discipline in an unpaid army. The pamphlet should point out that since the situation in Burgundy was now comparatively stable, with the army not just moving through the region, the men, once paid, would turn around and spend most of their money locally in any case, so the merchants and shopkeepers would get most of the contributions back. With this, the grand duke enclosed the draft of a press release produced by Moscherosch, “who insists that the term ‘mandatory advances’ is much preferable to ‘forced contributions,’ though I personally perceive no difference whatsoever.”

She looked at Knorr, one of the chancery secretaries, and asked, “What does the grand duke do for entertainment? How does he spend his leisure time?”

The man looked at her. “He doesn’t have any leisure time, Your Grace. Ever since I’ve been working for him, I’ve known that he sleeps very little. When he is in residence, when we arrive in the morning, there is always a pile of work on our desks that he has placed there overnight. He never signs a letter or requisition that he hasn’t read. As far as he can, he oversees absolutely everything himself.”

“Do you suppose he would enjoy equestrian ballet?”

“Not until such time as he doesn’t have to worry about remounts for his cavalry or sufficient teams for the supply wagons. The grand duke is a superb rider, but he looks upon horses as a means of transportation.”

Chapter 19

So Much Disease and Death

Fulda

May 1635

“…auch das sterben und kranckheit zimblich einreissen thut…”

“I can’t stay here, Major Ramboldt,” Joel Matowski said. “Not after the things I saw in Swabia. I’ve done my assignment. I brought Geraldin and McDonnell–the archbishop of Cologne’s Irish colonels–safely in for trial after what they did to Schweinsberg and the others. I’ve made my depositions. But we’re not done with what they left behind them. Think what’s going on over in the Province of the Upper Rhine, with the plague. They brought it and they left it behind the regular quarantine lines on the border.”

He stood up and turned around impatiently. “I’ve got to go over there. I’m just a supernumerary here–my company is still with the colonel. The least you can do is let me radio Colonel Utt for permission to go with the men he’s sending over there. General Brahe is sending another regiment from Mainz, too. Send me to rejoin my own unit.”

****

“Joel’s right, you know.” Andrea Hill looked at the SoTF administrator in Fulda. “Ask Nina, Mel. Ask your wife, who’s working down at the clinic. Remember her? She’ll tell you about the danger of a plague epidemic. We can’t just sit here, nice and safe. We need to go help.”

Melvin Springer steepled his fingers under his chin. “There is nothing in my job description which permits me to assign state civil service personnel to this kind of task.”

“Well, then, I am damned well taking a vacation. A long one, of which I have had none at all since December of 1632, because two weeks isn’t long enough to get to Grantville and back on what the state pays me, so there didn’t seem to be a lot of point in taking one and just twiddling my thumbs in my room. I have five weeks coming and I’m taking it. Going with Joel. Leaving tomorrow. Good-bye.”

Harlan Stull watched her go. “And I thought I had a temper.”

“She’s my mother-in-law,” Fred Pence said. “I can’t just let her go kiting off over there by herself. Kortney would never forgive me. So if it’s all the same to you, Melvin, I’m putting in for my accumulated vacation time.”

“Anyone else?”

Gus Szymanski, their EMT, raised his hand.

Merckweiler-Pechelbronn

“When are the extra men due?” Matt Trelli shook the frying pan over the campfire. There was a cafeteria at the oil field, but it was expensive and served the down-time version of cafeteria food. He could make a mean johnny-cake if he did say so himself.

“Last we heard, the men that Colonel Utt is sending will be here tomorrow.” Orville Beattie helped himself to a slab of nice, fat, salty boiled bacon, which tasted awfully good when the dew was still on, even if it was bad for your arteries. “The Fulda Barracks aren’t just a single regiment, now, so he’s not stripping Buchenland. He’s grown the original regiment up to almost four since those problems last summer, but none of them wanted to give up the identification, so they have Roman numerals. Barracktown is a pretty big military base. There will be about five hundred coming.”

“Marcie heard that some of the civilian administrators are coming from Fulda, too, to check the situation for themselves.”

“I hope they know that they won’t be able to go back until the epidemic dies down.” Orville reached for the bacon again. “That’s one of the rules. No going from a plague-infected region to a plague-free region.”

“If they don’t already know, they’ll find out when they get here.” Matt dumped the johnny-cake onto Orville’s plate and tilted a little of the bacon grease into the frying pan before pouring in the batter for his own.

Besançon

“Well,” Marcie wrote to Matt, “this is the first time since she hired me that I haven’t had the Duchess Claudia right here to back me up, and I’m finding out that it sure makes a difference. It’s been sort of like jumping right into the deep end. I don’t really know any of the other up-timers hired by Bernhard and they aren’t much help in learning how to cope here, because most of them only arrived in January, anyway. I’m sure glad that I didn’t bother to learn French in Grantville, because what the people here talk isn’t anything that Mrs. Hawkins would recognize.

“Kamala Dunn (she’s gone back to her maiden name and given the kerfruffle with Johnny Lee Horton, I sure don’t blame her) is now toting around the grandiose title of Assistant Director of Public Health Programs for the Grand Duke of Burgundy. Dr. Guarinonius, a down-timer, is the director, and I have to say that he seems very efficient at it. Sometimes I wonder if we up-timers aren’t too squeamish and qualm-y for the world in which we’ve been dumped.

“Carey Calagna is supposed to be giving Bernhard’s chancery officials a crash course in how up-time governments worked. Given that in Grantville, her government experience is that she was clerk of the Probate Court, I’m not sure how that project will pan out. They’re both eight or ten years older than I am and have kids who eat up all their spare time.

“The others are all practical mechanics or construction workers, including the two women. I expect I’ll be working with them later, when I’m trying to transform some of my ideas into applications, but currently they’re setting up a radio array and training down-timers to use it. It’s not the most modern–it’s based on the one that the SoTF sent to Amberg in the Upper Palatinate with our people nearly two years ago, with the Leiden jars for battery power and such. Big and awkward, taking up a lot of dedicated space, but workable. It makes a person suspect that someone around here has been talking to someone else: if not Grand Duke Bernhard to his brother Duke Ernst, since I doubt either one of them is into the finer points of radio technology, then along the lines of ‘I’ll have my people call your people.’

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