1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 39:
“So,” Veronica said at lunch, “it seems that I must beard the Jesuits in their den. In the company of Elias and my lawyer, of course.”
Keith and Cavriani were off somewhere, talking about iron at what was undoubtedly tedious length. A very high percentage of Amberg’s male population appeared to be interested in discussing iron.
Duke Ernst was tied up at the moment with administrative affairs, and Herr Böcler, of course, was with him and tied up as well. So, they were being hosted by Gustav Adolf’s cousin, Colonel Hand, and the public relations man, Zincgref.
Veronica glanced at the cousin. She almost wished that she could have brought Annalise along. Even with the injured arm, exposure to this man might distract her from that silly infatuation with Heinrich Schmidt. Too old for her, of course, but distracting. Tall, blond, lanky. Well . . . Swedish. Mary’s comment had been that Erik Haakansson Hand would have looked right at home on a ski jumping team at the winter Olympics. Veronica had no idea what either ski jumping or the winter Olympics might be, but she did get the general idea that Mary, also, thought that Hand merited compliments on his appearance. Zincgref did not, but, then, he was also married, so it made little difference.
Hand offered to accompany her to visit the Jesuits. Veronica accepted graciously.
“I suppose I need to arrange an appointment first, rather than just dropping in. I’ll send a note. Herr Böcler kindly furnished me the name and address of the rector.”
“Who is he?” Mary asked.
“Father Hell. Father Caspar Hell.”
Mary looked at her, almost choked on a bit of salad, and collapsed into helpless laughter.”
“Why are you so concerned with the Amberg property?” Hieronymus Rastetter, Veronica’s lawyer, asked her. “It is, after all, really the smallest part of your late husband’s investments. The properties that he inherited around Grafenwöhr are considerably larger.”
“And they are,” Elias Brechbuhl added pointedly, “still bringing in an income. Unlike a lot from which the building has been razed. Uncle Kilian just took the one-time payment for that and ran with it, so to speak.”
“I have no intention of forgetting the Grafenwöhr property,” Veronica said forcefully. “Nor, do I intend to forget what you”—she nodded at Brechbuhl—“have discovered about the way that Kilian has handled it.”
Elias Brechbuhl had been very busy amid the tax records of the Upper Palatinate for the past several days.
“But, I think, we need to know more before we make any definite moves in Grafenwöhr. Things that we can’t find out here in Amberg. The most complete records will be there, in Grafenwöhr itself. We need to check the town’s own books.”
“They have a new young man as the town clerk, Gerichtsschreiber,” Rastetter said. “You may know him, Brechbuhl, or at least his father. Nicholas Moser, the name of father and son alike. His father is settled in Bayreuth; that is where they went into exile. The boy has only been there a few months, but he seems very competent and conscientious, not to say clever as well.”
Elias nodded. The older Nicholas Moser was a prominent man among the Palatine exiles.
Veronica ignored the interruption. “And we need to talk to people, Elias. The way my brother-in-law Kilian had your Elisabetha and her sisters excluded from the inheritance was straightforward enough. He declared on oath that they were heretics who had chosen to go into exile, and that he was the next heir. Which they were; which he was.”
Brechbuhl nodded. So did Rastetter.
“But us. Anton’s children and their mother and I.”
She paused for a moment.
“I have read the copy of his petition, the one that you”—she waved toward the lawyer—“got for me from the chancery. The one in which he petitioned to have us declared dead.”
Rastetter stroked his beard.
“It says nothing to the effect that we disappeared in the turmoil of war and that our whereabouts were unknown. It should have. He filed that petition less than a year after we were taken from Amberg. Why was Kilian so sure that we were dead?”
“Yes,” Rastetter said gravely. “Yes. That question has occurred to me too, on occasion, since I received your first letter from Grantville. It is not as if mercenaries always kill their captives. Often, true, but it is not universally the case. It concerns me.”
Kilian Richter was also meeting with his lawyer. “You could,” he suggested, “file an allegation that the woman and her alleged step-grandchildren are imposters.”
Augustin Arndt just looked at his client. “If she had appeared two years ago, I could have done that. Immediately after they surfaced in this Grantville. I could even have made it sound plausible. Camp followers from nowhere, emerging in a town that claimed to be from the future. At a minimum, it would have caused a significant delay in the proceedings. A delay during which you could have continued to collect all the income from the property.”
“So why can’t you do it now?”
“Because I have no desire to look stupid. The woman is famous now. I understand that she arrived with a personal letter of introduction from Gustav Adolf. Hans Richter is even more famous. He is the reason why she arrived with a personal letter of introduction from Gustav Adolf. The allegation would be thrown out as frivolous.”
Kilian gave him a sour look.
Arndt went on. “Additionally, she is here with Elias Brechbuhl, who will undoubtedly be filing claims on behalf of his children and sisters-in-law. We can scarcely allege that the Nürnberg exiles are imposters. The paperwork already on file indicates that you have known where they were all along and that you merely based your possession of the properties upon the provisions of Duke Maximilian’s various edicts in regard to landholding by Protestants. It is my duty as counsel to bring to your attention that these provisions are no longer in force. Although Gustav Adolf’s regent has not automatically invalidated all claims to property made by Catholics, he does not give them precedence over claims by Lutherans. Or by Calvinists.”
“You know,” Kilian said. “This could get to be a problem.”
“You are understating the dimensions of what you are facing, Richter,” Arndt replied.
Kilian looked at him. “If you do not come up with a way to manage this, it will not be what I am facing, but rather what we are facing. Remember that, Arndt. I do. You were there. If I go down, I will certainly take you with me.”
Arndt flinched, remembering the “mercenaries” he had employed on Richter’s behalf, several years before. His life would have been so much simpler now if another group of mercenaries, real ones, had not interrupted their work.
Duke Ernst found his first conversation with Mary Simpson considerably more relaxing than that with Veronica Dreeson. They talked about education. They talked about cultural patronage. They talked about the cost of education and cultural patronage. Finally, they talked about money. Most of it was quite familiar ground. Any member of the higher nobility was constantly besieged by requests to extend patronage.
The concept of a normal school was not familiar. It was a fascinating idea, that of training teachers specifically for village schools, rather than leaving them to be taught, catch as catch can, by a miscellaneous patchwork of junior pastors, sextons, widows, impecunious students who had run out of money half way through the university, former shoemakers with good intentions and a little learning, failed theological students, or any combination of the above.
What would the curriculum for such an institution be?
The appointment ran overtime.
He had Böcler schedule several more appointments.
Money would be a problem. He was not, personally, a wealthy man. He would have to think about money.
Art and culture, however, he could provide at very little cost. Amberg was really a quite beautiful town. It had benefited greatly from its years as the official residence of the various counts and regents. He sent Mrs. Simpson on a guided tour, conducted by Böcler, and settled down to work his way through his inbox.