1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 31:



Chapter 17



Frankfurt am Main


            Guillaume Locquifier pinched the candle out and lay on his pallet, thinking.

            They should have taken out the Stone brothers when they had the chance. Lackeys or not. Everything that had gone wrong in Rome had been the fault of those… He couldn’t think of a suitable epithet. The sons of Tom Stone were in a category beyond epithets, whatever Michel said regarding their insignificance.

            The woman Veronica. The security surrounding her in Frankfurt had not been tight, except during the march itself. That had only been an artifact of the security surrounding the important civic officials.

            In one way, though, Antoine was perfectly correct. She was only important because of her relatives. There was no reason on earth for Richelieu to order her assassination. No reason for anyone to order her assassination.           

            Except, perhaps, her own family. If the reports that Gui and Fortunat had given about her general temperament, as they had observed it on the barge from Mainz to Frankfurt, were correct, then it would seem quite possible that almost any near relative might wish to see the end of her. But that would be personal, not political.

            Symbolism. Antoine wanted symbolism. When Antoine wanted it, Michel ordered it.

            Richelieu, once, had sent the Croats against Grantville.

            An assassination in Grantville itself? Everyone would blame that on Richelieu at once. Which would be…very satisfactory.


            Piazza perhaps? He was their president. The same office that Stearns had previously held, which would be a clear symbolic link.

            Or a down-timer? Ableidinger when he was in Grantville. He came, occasionally, to consult with Piazza.


            He fell asleep.


            “It is clear to me now.”

            The other four men looked at Locquifier.

            “It came to me in a dream a few days ago. The riot against the Jews. The riot here in Frankfurt that did not happen. That is something we can do.”

            “Here in Frankfurt?” Deneau looked puzzled.

            “We have a guest.” Locquifier opened the door and beckoned to de Ron, who showed another man in. “I would like to introduce Vincenz Weitz. He has a proposal for us.”

            Brillard knew the man. By reputation, at least. Weitz was a teamster. He spent most of his time going back and forth from Frankfurt into the little jigsaw puzzle that Nils Brahe had turned into the Province of the Upper Rhine the previous summer, hauling wine. He and a half-dozen or so like-minded friends had been prominent among the anti-Semitic mutterers after the explosion at the Sachsenhausen redoubt. Not from Frankfurt, most of them—other haulers of heavy freight. A useful occupation. They were men who were regularly on the move from place to place. It did not attract any special attention from city authorities when the came or when they left.

            At Locquifier’s invitation, Weitz began talking. He was arguing that it would be a major propaganda coup if they could destroy the synagogue in Grantville, thus demonstrating that the up-timers were either unable (too weak) or unwilling (thus hypocritical) to maintain in practice, right in the center of their power, the religious freedom that they advocated putting into the proposed constitution for the entire United States of Europe.

            “This will destabilize Richelieu how?” Brillard asked.

            Locquifier smiled. “By angering Stearns so much that he drops his opposition to the more punitive aspects of the treaty that Gustavus Adolphus intends to impose on the French.”

            Brillard blinked. That was… really quite good.

            Ancelin nodded. “Such an attack would enable us to take propaganda advantage of the entire controversy going on between the Fourth of July Party and the Crown Loyalists on the topic of the level of religious toleration and the issue of a state church.”

            Ouvrard jumped up. “He is right. Everyone has heard of the Grantville’s synagogue. Of their anarchist ‘freedom of religion.’ We must destroy that synagogue. Wipe out the ghetto that exists like a worm in the heart of their little radish.”

            Brillard stifled a smile. Clearly, Robert had not forgotten an unfortunate event that had marked the previous evening’s supper. It was rare for de Ron to serve bad produce. He bought through a local grocery wholesaler name Peter Appel. Yesterday night, however… After Robert’s experience, the rest of them had used their knives to cut their radishes in half before eating them. Which had proven to be a prudent precaution. Clearly, a field somewhere had an infestation of worms. Which was not immediately relevant, other than to the production of bad metaphors and similes, perhaps.

            “They don’t have a ghetto,” Ancelin said. “The synagogue is right out on an open street in the heart of the town. Close to the meeting of two bridges, which is the closest thing they have to a decent market square. I’ve seen it marked on my map of the Croat Raid.”

            Weitz spoke up again. “So much the better. We will show that the up-timers cannot even protect their own pet Jews. They have built no palisade for them, leaving them open to random attacks.”

            “Their lack of city walls was not precisely a problem during the Croat Raid,” Ancelin pointed out.

            Brilliard leaned back, chewing on his upper lip. Neither Ducos nor Delerue had anything against the Israelites. Nor did he, himself. Clearly, God, for some incomprehensible reason, did not want the Jews to become Christian. If He wanted them to, they would scarcely have an option, no matter how stubborn and hard-hearted they might be. God was, after all, omnipotent.

            Still, Weitz was right about one basic fact. There was a synagogue in Grantville. That might work as a starting point.

            “There are five of us,” Deneau said. “Five. One, two, three, four, five. I’ve organized riots and demonstrations before. How can our small group possibly attack two major targets at the same time, Weitz? At least, with any hope of success. We could, I suppose, lie down in front of the buildings and offer ourselves to be arrested on a matter of principle.”

            “The attack will succeed this time. I will plan better than the Croat leader did. We will…” Weitz paused.


            “I have allies. Aschmann, from Hesse; Meininger, from Schleusingen; Heft from Bamberg; others. All of whom have their own ties. You will only need to provide a distraction somewhere else. Draw their police forces away from the synagogue. Only then will my men advance.”


            Once Weitz had left, Ouvrard frowned. “I still don’t like it. There are so few of us.”

            “We can give ourselves time to bring in some of our other men from La Rochelle,” Ancelin said.

            “So we write to Chalifour. Who will he send? Not Marin Girard—in her last letter, Jeanne said he had gone out of town with Etienne Lorion. Olivier won’t part with Piquet or Marchant. Who does that leave? Léon Boucher. Georges Turpin, perhaps. Why would we want them?” Deneau threw his hands up in the air. “Even if he sent Plante and Baudin also—so we have nine men instead of five. How much does that help?”

            “Jeanne shouldn’t be writing about whether they are in town or out. It’s none of her business,” Ouvrard griped.

            “How can she keep from knowing? They sleep in her attic. They eat in her kitchen. When Chalifour doesn’t have jobs for them, they work in her brother’s knife-grinding shop.”

            “Even if she knows, she doesn’t have to tell you about it.”

            “I’m her husband.”

            Locquifier stood up. “We can hire others for the distraction. They don’t need to know what is going on. Ordinary street thugs. Mauger has an informant in place in Grantville. He can organize that.”

            “Not the school. The Croats failed in their attack on the school, because…” Ancelin started to unroll his map. He truly loved his map of the Croat Raid on Grantville. He spent hours studying it.

            “We must not let Mauger’s man in Grantville know about the synagogue.” Locquifier shook his head. “That would make it necessary for us to let him, whoever he is, know too much about our overall goals and purposes. We will use hired thugs for only one. Only for the distraction, but Mauger’s man must not know that it is a distraction. He must think it is all we are planning. Fortunat and Vincenz must take direct responsibility for the synagogue.”

            “Is it a good idea to keep Mauger’s agent so far out of the loop?” Ancelin asked.

            “We must,” Locquifier said. “It is policy.”

            Mathurin Brillard leaned against the wall, remembering Delerue’s “Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” It was pretty hard to argue with that one. Although given the complexity of what Guillaume was now planning, the “wheels within wheels” of Ezekiel 1: 15-17 might be more appropriate.

            Ouvrard looked over Ancelin’s shoulder. “What should we tell him to target, then, if not the school? ”

            “There are three schools.” Ancelin pointed. “But the building they call the ‘middle school’ is very near the synagogue, so it would not be of any use at all. The police could easily see from one to the other and move to the second disturbance.”

            Not any of the schools. For one thing, somewhere during the discussion, they had decided on March 4. A Sunday. In the morning. The schools would be empty.

            Ancelin studied the map for a few minutes more. “The hospital. The one with the famous Moorish surgeon. It’s far enough away. Since the other attack is to be on the synagogue, it is all to the good that they permit Balthazar Abrabanel to practice there, since he is Jewish. And the father of Stearns’ wife.” He moved his finger. “Perhaps we can actually do them enough damage to please Michel.”