1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 2:
Somewhere in Switzerland
“If he pontificates at me one more time,” Ron Stone said, “I think I’ll gag. I don’t see how Gerry can stand to listen. Hour after hour, after hour.”
“Your brother isn’t listening, really. He’s just… not bothering to avoid Joachim.” Artemisia Gentileschi smiled patiently.
“How much more do we need to know about him? Hell, we already know more than enough.” Ron grabbed onto the reins with one hand and waved the other in the air. “Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, jabber, pontificate, talk some more. We’ve already heard that he was born in Frankfurt, that his family are Calvinists who fled from the Spanish Netherlands because of religious persecution, that he apprenticed with Soreau and Stoskopff in Hanau and can’t face a future limited to still-lifes so he’ll probably have to work for Catholic patrons mostly, that he learned print making in Nürnberg, that the engraver he worked for in Prague advised him to specialize in painting, that he learned to paint from Gerard van Honthorst in Utrecht, that he toured Holland with Pieter Paul Rubens, that he worked at the English court for a while with Honthorst, that he has not only seen Florence, Rome, and Naples, but also Messina and Malta, that he thinks the war has ruined the career prospects of most German artists, that…” He stopped. “If I hear one more word about the trials, troubles, and travails of the ‘Frankenthal exiles,’ I think I’ll spit. What’s worse, the guy talks in capital letters.” He groaned with disgust.
Simon Jones, riding on his other side, laughed out loud. Joachim Sandrart did talk in capital letters. He didn’t speak, he orated.
He was doing it now.
“Time and again Queen Germania has seen her Palaces and Churches, decorated with splendid Painting, go up in Flames, and her Eyes are so darkened with Smoke and Weeping that she no longer has the Desire or the Strength to pay Heed to this Art: Art that now seems to want only to enter into a long and eternal Night and there to sleep. Perhaps a man may find a short Contract with one Ruler. But as the Scene of War moves, so, perforce, does he, leaving his Efforts unfinished. And so such Things fall into Oblivion, and those that make Art their Profession fall into Poverty and Contempt. They put away their Palettes and Easels. They must take up the Pike, the Sword, or the Beggar's Staff instead of the Paintbrush, while the Gently Born are ashamed to apprentice their Children to such despicable Persons.”
Are you planning to do anything about it, man? Ron thought sourly. Like maybe try to end the war? Or do you just plan to complain and complain and complain?
“Gently born?” Ron asked Artemisia Gentileschi. “Is the guy noble?”
“No.” She twisted her lips. “Joachim is far more gently born than I, to be sure. The family was Walloon, certainly one of the more prominent commoner lineages in Hainaut. His father was—is, if he is still alive, but I haven’t heard recently—a merchant. Very wealthy, but still a merchant. His mother was from a merchant family, also. Joachim’s a cousin of Michel le Blon. Still, even in Frankfurt Laurentius Sandrart achieved some status. Certainly among the Walloons, if not among the native-born. Even though he was an immigrant into a city where the Lutheran council does not precisely make Calvinists welcome—they refused to grant permanent resident to Sebastian Stoskopff, which is why he went to Paris when he left Hanau.
“However, I’m sure that Joachim would not object if, some time in the future, a ruler chose to ennoble him for his many services to the cause of Art. Services which he has yet to perform, though I don’t really doubt that he is capable of performing them. If he hadn’t decided to return with me, Count Vincenzo Giustiniani in Rome had made him a very generous offer to manage his collection. So he should do well as an art dealer and promoter, at least, even if his own canvases do not display an immense amount of promise. Merely a high level of workmanlike competence. Both of my brothers, after all, have made their way quite successfully as dealers and agents. As has Hainhofer in Augsburg. The art world needs its intermediaries.
“Nor, I’m sure, would Joachim object if a ruler who employs him as a painter should also choose to utilize him as a diplomat, as the rulers of the Spanish Netherlands have done with Rubens. Everybody knows that his cousin le Blon—he’s an engraver and goldsmith, a good twenty years older than Joachim, I think—operates out of Amsterdam as an agent for Oxenstierna.” Artemisia frowned. “Of course, le Blon is a religious nut, too, quite taken with the writings of that Silesian, Jacob Böhme. Just because a man is successful in one field, it doesn’t necessarily that he has common sense in any other.
“Joachim is an ambitious man. He is unlikely to become as great an artist as Rubens, but he doesn’t lack high aspirations.”
There were several Denises in town. She kept going.
“Denise Beasley, hey there!”
She slowed down, then stopped her motorcycle. Someone was running after her.
“Denise, if you’re going downtown, can you give me a lift? Drop me off at the middle school. I’m going to be late for practice.” It was Missy Jenkins, who worked in the “State Library” part of the libraries housed in the high school these days.
“What are you practicing?”
“I’m not. I’m coaching recreation league girls’ soccer. I don’t usually mind the run; it’s only a couple of miles and good for me. But we had a VIP tour this afternoon and I got away a half hour after I should have.”
“Sure. Climb on behind.”
Missy did. “There are days that I would give my eyeteeth to be able to ride one of these. If I had one, that is.”
Denise was a little surprised. “Compared to horses?” A lot of the girls her own age were totally horse crazy. A lot of the older ones, too, for that matter.
“Horses don’t speak to me,” Missy said.
“I can see that. Horses don’t speak to me, either. I don’t speak to them, if I can avoid it. Do you mind if we stop at the funeral home first, for a second? I’ll take you all over and get you there on time.”
“No problem. But why?”
“Minnie Hugelmair garages her cycle there, behind the hearse. It’s more secure than the old shed behind Benny’s house. They had a few problems. Some vandalism and at least once somebody tried to break in and steal it, we think. At the funeral home, there’s always someone up and around, every day, all around the clock. It’s safer, and Jenny doesn’t charge much.”
They headed down Route 250 in silence.
Until Missy, the wind whipping through her hair since she didn’t have a helmet, asked, “Would you teach me to ride this thing? We could figure out the costs of the lessons. Your time, the fuel, wear and tear, all that.”
Joe Pallavicino sat in the principal’s office at the middle school, cleaning his fingernails while he waited to talk to Archie Clinter about their common problems. Denise Beasley had gone on to high school this fall. There had already, less than a month into the academic year, been trouble in regard to a boy who tried to hit on her after she told him to beat it. Senior on freshman. He’d recover.
It looked like Minnie Hugelmair would probably finish sixth grade by Thanksgiving, according to Tina Sebastian. By spring, at this rate, she would get her eighth grade diploma—earlier, if she tested out. Then, if she went to summer school and Denise didn’t, she’d finish ninth grade in August of ‘35 and they’d both be sophomores the fall of 1636. In the class of ‘38.
There was no question that Minnie did her own school work. She wasn’t in ESOL at all any more. She seemed to regard textbooks as obstacles on a course she was running and scaled them with determination.
There was no question that she still attracted trouble like a magnet.
Especially given the increasing level of “anti-Kraut” muttering here and there around Grantville. Considering that she was still best friends with Denise Beasley. Considering that Denise’s uncle Ken owned the 250 Club, which was the center of most of the muttering.
High school was one of the ages that started a lot of the trouble, with up-time and down-time boys competing for the attention of the same girls.
Minnie was not a beauty. She probably hadn’t been before the riot in Jena. With the addition of the scar and the slightly mismatched artificial eye, she never would be.
But Denise was. She always would be. At the age of ninety, if she lived that long. Somehow, she managed to combine her mother Christin’s delicate build and brunette vividness with Buster’s sheer vigor. Trouble also, if a different kind of trouble. With Minnie there to take her part, next year. And there were too many up-time kids who would classify any retaliation by Minnie as “Kraut trouble.”
Minnie wasn’t likely to be as gentle as Denise herself had been. Denise never did more than was necessary to make her point.
Of course, any boy who wasn’t a total idiot knew that she would, in a pinch, call on her father for backup. Buster Beasley was an ex-biker whose seventeen-inch biceps were only partly obscured by the tattoos that covered them. He constituted significant backup for a girl.
Some boys, on the other hand, were total idiots.
Joe decided he’d better talk to a few people besides Archie. Benny and Buster. Preston Richards at the police department. Lisa Dailey and Vic Saluzzo at the high school. Henry Dreeson and Enoch Wiley. Mary Ellen Jones, maybe. If they had some lead time, maybe they could arrange things so that Denise and Minnie could finish high school without triggering some kind of mudslide.
Words and music came wafting up the high school corridor.
“You know,” Victor Saluzzo said, leaning against the library circulation desk. “I could have lived my life a lot more happily if Benny Pierce hadn’t decided to teach Minnie Hugelmair that old turkey of a song and she hadn’t spread it to our incoming freshmen.”
“School days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule days.
Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick…”
Missy Jenkins giggled. She was there on temporary loan from the state library for a couple of weeks while the school went through the agonies of starting a new semester. “I hope you know that Minnie herself has every intention of finishing sixth grade the first semester and showing up on your doorstep before Christmas.”
Pam Hardesty, also on loan from the state library, grinned. “Then you’ll have both of them, Victor. Not just Denise, but Minnie, too. They do sort of have a tendency to cut out of school on the slightest excuse, don’t they?”
Victor shook his head. “The real problem is that they’re both bright enough to do it without really hurting their grades. But a lot of other kids aren’t that smart, so it’s a bad example.” He paused. “Maybe we should try providing them with mentors.” He pushed himself upright. “If anybody comes looking for me, I’ll be down in the guidance counseling office.”
Pam watched him go and sighed.
“What’s the matter.”
“Reproaching myself, I guess. When he mentioned Minnie, what hit me first was Schadenfreude. And that’s terrible. Taking pleasure in somebody else’s troubles. But, honest to God, Missy. The great Velma Hardesty soap opera continues. Given the way Mom’s been behaving lately, hanging around with that gorgeous garbage man… You’ve seen him, haven’t you? Jacques-Pierre Dumais? I guess it’s sort of comforting to realize that other people have troubles, too.”
“Yeah. Like Winnie the Pooh called honey. ‘Sustaining.’ You’re not alone, though. Neither is Mr. Saluzzo. Think of what Mr. Dreeson has to deal with, every single day.”