1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 62:



            Duke Maximilian heard the words Schloss and Amberg and regent. He was a man who read the reports submitted by his intelligence agents with great diligence.


            Tight-lipped, he issued his order. “Let the women be released at once.” The guards complied.




            Mary managed to stand up by herself; the guards had to assist Veronica. Her feet and legs were completely numb; her arms little better; her hands swollen; she felt miserable. The guards pulled out the rags with which they had been gagged


            Mary bit her tongue hard to get enough saliva into her dry mouth that she could speak again. She stood up straight and smiled. First, at the gray-haired and stiff-faced man in the black clothing. She wasn’t sure where she was, but it was obvious that he was in charge here. Then at the woman the bargemen had been yelling at. Then at the man next to her; then at the second woman. She spoke in English.


            “My name is Mary Simpson. I am a citizen of the United States of Europe, and have been abducted from within its borders while conducting legitimate personal business in the Upper Palatinate.” She repeated the words in German.


            The man in black looked down at her. Then, replied in German. “There is no United States of Europe. Its claimed emperor is an usurper of the rights of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Upper Palatinate, of which I am the duly recognized elector, is legitimately a province of the Duchy of Bavaria.”


            Mary’s smile wavered slightly. She was rapidly figuring out where she was, although she still had no idea why she was there. “Hostage” was the first word that came into her mind. John, whatever you do, don’t let them give in to this. I’ve lived nearly sixty years. Tell Ronnie’s damned Bavarians to go fly a kite. Her smile steadied.


            Veronica still couldn’t stand by herself, but she had been opening and closing her hands. She managed to bend her right arm. Fumbled at the neckline of her dress. Pulled out the pouch; retrieved her teeth. Her mouth was dry. She put them in anyway. Without them, she was just an old hag of a German camp follower standing here. With them….


            “My name is Veronica Dreeson. I am a citizen of the United States of Europe and have been abducted from within its borders while conducting legitimate personal business in the Upper Palatinate.” She was following Mary’s words exactly. That was a relief.


            A woman with a leather water bag hung around her neck came forward from the side of the street. She must have been selling water to the crowd. She had a ladle, and offered each of them a drink. The odds were one hundred percent that it had not been boiled; they drank it anyway.


            The younger woman leaned down from her horse and gave a coin to the water seller. For a moment, Mary’s admired her dress and her poise. Considerably more poise than the older woman to whom the bargemen had been speaking.


            Mary waited for the man in black to make the next move.


            Veronica opened her mouth again. “I am the wife of the mayor of Grantville, the city that came from the future. Hans Richter, who destroyed the Danish ship at Wismar, was my husband’s grandson. Gretchen Richter, who organizes the Committees of Correspondence, is my husband’s granddaughter. And you, whoever you are, are going to be very, very, sorry about this.” She turned to glare at the bargemen who had brought them here.




            Forst and Becker were already feeling very, very sorry. When asked, they did confirm the identity of the two women. The town authorities, pending future developments, had arrested them for vending flowers without a license. Landgravine Mechthilde was not doing anything about it. So much for Schutz und Schirm and unswerving loyalty to the House of Leuchtenberg.


            The constable removed them to temporary quarters in the Freising jail.




            “Let the women be taken into custody.” That was Duke Maximilian speaking to the captain of one of his guard companies.


            Bishop Gepeckh cleared his throat and brought up a certain matter of jurisdiction. This was, after all, the prince-diocese of Freising. With all due respect, the duke had no authority to order the women taken into his custody. It was also within the limits of Freising proper. The town had a city charter, which also gave it certain jurisdictional rights. It would be necessary to obtain a legal opinion. Preferably several. From the best universities. Eichstätt, certainly; Dillingen. Perhaps any disposition of this case should even be delayed until after the siege of Ingolstadt was resolved one way or another, so that the faculty of the law school there could offer its advice.


            Duke Maximilian glared.


            Bishop Gepeckh offered the hospitality of the episcopal palace in order that the issue could be discussed in greater comfort.


            Duke Maximilian’s steward reminded everyone that there was a procession scheduled. While, indeed, providentially, they were scheduled to spend the night at Freising in any case, it would nonetheless be prudent not to deprive the onlookers and vendors of having them complete the route. He muttered about both popular unrest and financial losses. It was not good to disappoint people who were expecting to be entertained, and had made preparations. There were greetings to be received; poems to be recited; flowers to be presented. An hour’s delay was nothing; such things happened all the time. The people would wait. If the procession did not appear at all, however, problems could arise.


            Maria Anna moved forward.


            “Perhaps there is a solution, Uncle Max. Since the bishop has so graciously offered his hospitality to us,” she smiled at Gepeckh, “I will offer to take these women temporarily into my household.”


            She nodded her chief attendant. “Doña Mencia can leave the procession now and take them to the quarters in the palace that the bishop has reserved for me. That way, for the time being, they will be in the custody of neither Bavaria nor Freising. And we can complete today’s route as,” she nodded again, “your steward as reminded us that it is our duty to your subjects to do. That will allow time for discussion of the jurisdictional issues by the proper officials this evening.”


            Duke Maximilian glowered. Then, grudgingly, agreed. Of all the things that he hated, an interruption to his scheduled routine came very high on the list.


            Doña Mencia guided her horse to the side of the street, motioning the guards to follow her with the two women they were holding. She waited until the remainder of the procession had passed; then ordered one of the stablemen at the rear to bring a litter.




            Mary and Veronica had no idea who she was or, really, what was happening. But they were taken to quite luxurious rooms. Where there were maids. And tubs for hot baths. And beds.




            Doña Mencia spent the afternoon sitting, watching over the archduchess’ sleeping guests. Outside, she could hear the noise of the procession as it moved stage by stage along its convoluted route through the town. The odors of roasting pig and mutton, sausages on the grill, poultry on the spit, frying fish, and dried beef being boiled back to edibility came in through the open windows. The bishop had arranged quite a feast, both for his guests of high degree and for the townspeople. She heard hawkers crying their wares: “fruit for sale, souvenir programs, waffles, get your waffles here.”


            She sat there, watching. And thinking about the last letter she had received from her brother, Cardinal Bedmar, just before she left Vienna. He had been smuggled from Venice through the United States of Europe—by Gustav Adolf’s own agents—so that he could directly advise Don Fernando in the Spanish Netherlands.


            She thought about the implications of the attempt to assassinate the pope.


            The implications of the appointment of the up-time priest as cardinal protector of those United States of Europe.


            So many things, complicating Maria Anna’s Bavarian marriage. Things that had not happened when Ferdinand II agreed to it.


            And there was a personal note from Don Fernando stating that he still considered the option of a marriage with Archduchess Maria Anna to be the best one.


            So much to think about. She had not mentioned Don Fernando’s note to Maria Anna. It had been water over the dam.


            But sometimes, Doña Mencia had heard, when there was an earthquake, the rivers ran backward for a time.


            Sitting. Watching. Thinking.




            Susanna Allegretti spent the afternoon sewing. She was, after all, still the most junior of Frau Stecher’s apprentices, and therefore the one who was being deprived of the privilege of attending the feast outside.


            She did not mind. She was hastily altering two of Doña Mencia’s older gowns to fit the archduchess’ guests. A woman from up-time! And Hans Richter’s grandmother! The Battle of Wismar had been in all the newspapers. This woman’s grandson had flown in a machine in the sky! She would get to see them. Be in the same room with them. Help dress them when they woke up. She was so excited.




            Every reporter who had been in Bavaria to cover the marriage ran for the Freising post office, scribbling madly as he went. Every observer for a foreign power did the same. The mail went out the next morning. A day to Munich; a day to Neuburg. Three days to Amberg; three and a half to Nürnberg; three or four to Venice and Vienna, in the summer. It would have been a week or more to Rome and Magdeburg; two weeks to Paris, the Netherlands, and Madrid.


            It was still two weeks to Paris and Madrid. Venice, Nürnberg and Amsterdam had radio, now, though. From those three cities, it went almost at once to every other city that had radio, as soon as a transmission window opened up. First and foremost, to the new radio station in the capital of Denmark, where the Congress of Copenhagen was now well underway.


            A lot of the stories were garbled. However, they left no doubt that Mary Simpson and Veronica Dreeson had surfaced in Freising, of all improbable places. Bishop Gepeckh was soon to be the subject of more discussion than had been the case since the day he was finally confirmed in office. In the cases of Mike Stearns, John Simpson, Henry Dreeson and Keith Pilcher, by people who had never heard his name before.