Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 52

This book should be available now so this is the last snippet.

Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 52

Kanoffski leaned back. “Would, or could, Grand Duchess Claudia provide credit from Tyrol?  Or are the regents there holding too tight an oversight to the budget? Would there be additional complications now that the county is a province of the USE?”

“It’s not just the regents,” Bodendorf said. “There was something about auditors.”

Bernhard laughed. “Tyrol has hired some auditors from the State of Thuringia-Franconia. Up-timers, or trained by up-timers. Mme. Calagna says that they don’t use the auditor title as quite what it meant up-time. They do check whether or not the books are balanced, but generally they function more like what would have been the ‘Office of the Inspector General’ and they are fierce. She has started a general examination for the purpose of rooting out corruption and graft, not just in the County of Tyrol itself, but in the Swabian and Alsatian holdings.

“My lady informed me, after her meeting at them at the SoTF headquarters during her last stop in Bamberg, that the three ladies who head it may be most fruitfully compared to the three furies of classical Greek myth. She was brimming over with glee and anticipates the rolling of quite a few heads as a result of this enterprise. Because of it, though, I don’t think there’s any prospect of credit from Tyrol right now.”

Ehrlach contemplated the probable results on any principality of a visitation by furious auditors. “You’re probably right. Hell, you are right.”

“Could we raise any significant funds from the French Huguenots?”

Rohan was right there in the room. “No. My brother Soubise is in Paris, but it is all he can do to keep the family’s private assets and estates safe from Gaston’s predatory hands. It’s impossible, right now, to arrange any general campaign for raising funds from the Huguenot community as a whole.”

Basel

July 1636

Diane Jackson, from Basel nagged Bernhard constantly about plague. There were and hotspots of plague scattered through Switzerland, which worried her.

Claudia went to meet with Diane, taking the plague doctors along. She was delighted (the doctors were scandalized) to find out from Tony Adducci that there had been no such custom as the mandatory seclusion of new mothers for six weeks after childbirth up-time. That, in fact, Tony, who was studying his way zealously through a kind of, as he put it, off-campus seminary program, had never even heard of such a thing as the churching of women.

The grand duchess also had her first encounter with Frank Jackson, who arrived for what he said was a “long visit, if you can figure a couple of weeks as being long.” It was the first time they had seen each other since the ambassadress came to Basel two years earlier. “Honestly,” he said, “I never expected it to drag on so long. You’re busy and before you know it, it’s been a week and then a month and then a year.” While there had been plenty of radio messages back and forth, the up-time militia general (which was how Claudia interpreted being a general in the National Guard of the State of Thuringia-Franconia) admitted that he “wasn’t much for writing letters.”

The general brought copies of the new German translation of the complete works of and up-time author named A. Conan Doyle as gifts for Diane’s friends at work.

Claudia snagged one for Bernhard, who loved the stories. After she got back home, they began a custom that when both were present, she would read a chapter to him each evening.

Besançon

July 1636

Grand Duke Bernhard grumbled to his wife that he had a ghastly shortage of Lutheran connections just now. Obviously, Gustavus and the USE were a lost cause when it came to subsidies. He had put out tentative feelers as to whether his brother Wettin and the Crown Loyalists, now that they had lost the election and Ed Piazza was USE prime minister as of July 1636, might be interested. He had even suggested that perhaps their publicists could work with a slogan along the lines of, “We are holding the line and raising the flag in the west by supporting Grand Duke Bernhard while the emperor is preoccupied in the east” if such funding became public knowledge.

“A lot of the Crown Loyalists still have money. The question in my mind, when I wrote, was whether or not they would they be willing to risk it on Burgundy. Or, more pertinently, risk having Gustavus find out, somewhere down the line, that they had risked it on Burgundy?”

“What I got for my troubles…”  He kicked a wastepaper basket across the room. “What I got for my troubles was letters from all three of my brothers to the effect that, you have dug yourself into this pit, baby brother and you are going to have to find your own way out of it. Ernst put it more nicely, but that’s still what he meant. Albrecht pointed out that the family funds are both limited and already committed. Wilhelm added a veiled allusion to the fact that when Joseph landed in a dry well, his eventual rescuers carried him off to become a slave in Egypt.”

An inkwell followed the wastepaper basket.

“I’m not giving up on the USE. I do have Lutheran connections with bureaucrats of lesser rank. With theologians, through my old tutors. I’ve written Hortleder. He was here for the conclave in May–as, he puts it, an obscure functionary standing anonymously in the second row of those following Johann Gerhard around. I’m sorry I missed him; I always did rather like the old man. I’ve written to Nihus. Not Ratze, because he’s working directly for the SoTF government now. I’ve asked about the up-time Lutherans, even though there weren’t very many of them. I don’t recall that any of them are known to have made a lot of money, but they might know someone who knows someone who knows someone. What was the name of the man who didn’t come for the smallpox vaccination campaign? Lambert? Leahy? “

“His name is Gary Lambert, my lord,” Claudia said mildly. “Their famous hospital, which he heads, is called Leahy. But may I suggest Gerry Stone.”

Bernhard slammed his fist on his desk. “They sent that squirt Gerry Stone for my smallpox campaign instead of Dr. Nichols. Instead of Lambert. A kid.”

“Who is at the University of Jena, studying to become a Lutheran pastor.” Claudia modulated her voice even farther. “Ron Stone, the duc de Rohan’s friend. Tom Stone. Dyes and pharmaceuticals. Money. Quite a lot of money.”

Bernhard spun around. “Not enough money to subsidize as many regiments as I need, but still–no source of money is to be sneezed at. Maybe I should have been more polite when I greeted the kid.”

The next day, Rohan was not shy in pointing out that the grand duke should have been more polite when he greeted the “the Stone kid.” 

“Where is he, anyhow?” Bernhard griped. “Isn’t he supposed to be doing something about smallpox vaccinations?”

“There was a glitch,” Kamala Dunn reminded him.

“Oh, the glitch. That glitch.” Bernhard reminded his secretary Michael John to send another stern memo to the glitchers and light a fire under somebody.

“Gerry Stone is in France just now, I believe,” Rohan said. “He went with Ruvigny and Bismarck after you loaned them to me to go get my daughter Marguerite. Without, as far as I am aware, either the knowledge or approval of his family.”

“Why?” Michael John rarely interrupted his superiors, but the question burst out of him. He had a little boy of his own and a baby girl, now. “In the name of all that is holy, why did you let him go wandering off to France in the middle of…of…of all that’s going on?”

Kamala Dunn shrugged her shoulders. “He’s a kid. He’s a teenager. He’s a good-natured kid, not a mean bone in his body, but that’s the answer. Kids do strange things if you leave them to themselves. That’s why they need parents.” She thought a minute. “Preferably parents who aren’t off in Padua or Prague, being very busy. Tom did a good job bringing up those three boys, but if you ask me, he’s quit too soon for it to be good for Gerry. Ron’s older and Frank went off to stir up a revolution, but Gerry’s sort of gotten the short end of the stick. You have to stay right on top of it, every single minute.”

“Too harsh,” Carey Calagna said.

“I’m sticking by my guns.”

****

Bernhard tried to think of anything else in the Germanies that might be sneaked under the table where Gustavus couldn’t track it? Maybe by way of Johann Moritz in the Province of the Upper Rhine and his improbable wife, Henriette of Lorraine, in Phalsbourg? Except that Johann Moritz was so conscientious and diligent about his position as deputy governor… But Henriette–wasn’t, exactly. Smart, clever, but her scruples left something to be desired, and now that those two were married… However oddly married… That would take some more consideration.

Somehow, as he thought about wasn’t, exactly in the context of Henriette, inspiration came. If there was nothing to be had directly from Fernando, might some funds, some way, come from the prosperous northern Netherlands via Frederik Hendrik, sort of sneaked under the table? By now, the “second gentleman” of the Low Countries might not be averse to pulling a bit of wool over the eyes of his southern overlord.

And if that were the case… Hey, might there be some chance of a subsidy from Christian IV in Denmark. His position in the revived Union of Kalmar must be grating on him a bit. He also, by now, might not be averse to pulling a bit of wool over the eyes of his overlord by passing some money under the table. Der Kloster was passing a small book, a collection of up-time aphorisms, around among its members. One read, Laws are made in order that people in authority might not remember them. Cynical, but the compiler had been applying it to a set of regimes there whose written constitutions were prescriptions for impeccable adherence to human rights, whereas the rulers had violated them frequently and with impunity.

Maybe he could send a couple of secret envoys? Who would be best? Not anyone from Der Kloster. All of them were too well known as Bernhard’s men. Their very faces appearing in The Hague and Copenhagen would proclaim that something, very probably something nefarious, was afoot.

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2 Responses to Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 52

  1. Ed Thomas says:

    Book’s not Amazon or Baen. Any suggestions on where I might try?

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