1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 16:
Rebecca seemed a bit shame-faced herself, that night, after Ed raised the problem of her seat in the SoTF Congress.
“Yes, I understand. You may tell our people back in Grantville that I think it would be best if I simply resigned from the seat.” She glanced at her husband. “Michael and I… well, we do not wish to be parted again. And he must remain in Magdeburg. Even if he loses the election, as we expect, he will have to lead the opposition.”
She looked back at Ed. “So, we have decided. I will go to Magdeburg also. And if my father is willing, we will ask him to move in with us.”
Ed nodded. He didn’t ask about Mike’s mother, since he knew full well she’d be quite unwilling to leave Grantville even if she wasn’t an invalid. But that wouldn’t be a major problem, he didn’t think, with all the support she had in the town.
And it was none of his business anyway. The political issue had been resolved. “All right,” he said. “You might consider becoming active politically in Magdeburg.”
Mike and Rebecca both smiled. “As it happens,” Mike said, “Gunther Achterhof has been pestering us for weeks now to agree to let Becky run for the House of Commons from one of Magdeburg’s districts.”
Ed’s eyes widened. “The USE parliament?”
“Exactly what I said!” exclaimed Rebecca. Her hands fluttered much the way Gretchen’s had earlier than day. “I’ve never lived in the city—anywhere in the province. Only even visited just a few times. I could just manage to move there in time for the election. The idea seems absurd.”
Mike, on the other hand, was looking smug again. “Who cares? Gunther sure doesn’t—and he says nobody else will either. If we run Becky, he says she’ll win in a landslide.”
Nasi cleared his throat. “I have to say, I agree with Achterhof. Magdeburg province is even more—ah, I will say ‘July-Fourthish’ rather than ‘radical,’ just to avoid haggling—than the State of Thuringia-Franconia.” His eyes got a little unfocused. “I’m quite familiar with the subject, you know. I estimate she’d get at least two-thirds of the vote, in any district in the province. If she ran in the city itself, she’d almost certainly go unopposed. The Crown Loyalists have given up there, for all practical purposes.”
“I’ll be damned,” said Ed. He realized, not for the first time, that because he’d always remained in Grantville since the Ring of Fire that he had a tendency to underestimate the impact that the time-transplanted Americans were having on the seventeenth century. In some places, at any rate.
“Anything else?” asked Mike.
“No. Unless you’d like to hear the latest Grantville gossip.”
“Oh, horrors,” said Becky, leaning forward. “But start with something pleasant.”
“Pleasant, it is—at least, if you enjoy the exploits of rambunctious girls. You know Denise Beasley, don’t you?”
“Such a sprightly lass,” said Becky. “What did she do now?”
On the Reichsstrasse between Arnstadt and Erfurt
Wackernagel was doing explanations at the front of the first ATV. Cunz Kastenmayer was doing explanations at the back of the rear ATV. The drivers were standing by the doors, pointing at first one thing and then another. The soldiers, who were standing around, trying to look casual, were surrounded by a lot of boys and a few girls who had already had their turn in the vehicles but wanted to know more about how they worked.
Henry Dreeson was on a bench, leaning back against a tree, enjoying the shade and letting them have at it.
There hadn’t been this much excitement when they stopped in Badenburg, even though they’d done a press conference. The people in Badenburg saw various kinds of motorized this-and-that almost every day. Beyond there, though, even on the way up to Arnstadt, the first day out, this had happened every time Wackernagel called a stop. Which he did at about every good-sized village.
Henry didn’t mind admitting that he appreciated the frequent stops. Not just because his hip ached, even though it did. The prostate gland wasn’t what it used to be, either. Who used to sing that song? Rosemary Clooney. “This ole house…”
He hummed a couple of lines. That must have been fifty years ago, give or take a couple. Right about the time he and Annie got married. Before he understood in his bones what it was about.
Over by the ATVs a boy, ten years old maybe, blew the horn and let out a whoop of delight.
Henry had been surprised at how much interest there was in his tour. Wackernagel said that if he was doing a good-will tour, he might as well do it right from the start and all the way over. People in the villages, both between Badenburg and Erfurt and on the Imperial Road from Erfurt to Fulda, had all seen up-time vehicles going back and forth before. Lots of times. They had not, very often, seen one of them stopped, where they could take a closer look, with a driver who was willing to explain how things worked. Much less passengers who were willing to vacate the premises and let them climb in and out, let the boys put their hands on the steering wheel and go vroom for a while, or anything else of the sort.
It was sort of restful, as long as people were more interested in the cars than they were in him. He had a feeling that was going to stop once they got over into Buchenland.
Tonight they’d be staying in Erfurt. Probably no curious kids there—Erfurt had a lot of trucks, being the central supply depot for the army—but the city council was giving a dinner for him tonight and then he’d promised to do an interview for the newspaper. Newspapers. There were three, but Cunz had told them that they all had to come to the same interview.
The difference between an interview and a press conference seemed to be that at an interview, everyone sat around a table. At a press conference, he stood up in front and the reporters sat in a row.
Tomorrow morning, Wackernagel wanted them to make a stop at a little village called Bindersleben right outside the city limits. It didn’t make much driving sense to stop that soon after they got started, but apparently he knew people there and had promised some kids they could have a good look at the cars.
It was probably a good idea to do it this way, with all the stops. He was glad Wackernagel had come up with the idea. Good PR. Cunz was writing up a kind of trip diary saying what they did at every village and sending it back to the Grantville papers. It listed the names and everything of the kids who came to look at the ATVs. The Times had promised to send copies of the those issues to the villages, so parents could buy copies of the Grantville paper with their children’s names in it. Ed Piazza would like that. It would make people who didn’t have the time or money to visit the Grantville Fair to see machinery feel more connected to the government. That sort of stuff. It was a lot more personal than watching a truck on the road or looking up and seeing an airplane flying overhead, or even having a crystal set and hearing about it on the radio. Ed believed in personal.
Of course, Ed was thinking about the election.
And his driver was waving. On the road, again.
Someone had told him that Cardinal Richelieu had hemorrhoids. So bad that five or six years ago, when the king of France took down La Rochelle, they’d had to put some kind of a stretcher between the seats in a carriage so he could ride to the siege lying down on his stomach. Made that sort of pained expression on the man’s face in all the portraits people had looked up in the encyclopedias a little more understandable, he guessed.
He was going to have the same kind of expression on his own face before he got into a bed tonight. Even with an ATV that had padded seats to ride in. It was a hell of a good thing that he wasn’t trying to make this trip sitting on a hard wagon bench.
He grabbed his cane and heaved himself up.