1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 55



Chapter 25




Pam Hardesty looked at the newspaper. Blinked, and looked again.


That’s what it said, all right. Under the column headed MARRIAGES:


MAUGER, Laurent, of Haarlem, Netherlands, and HARDESTY, Velma, of Grantville, at City Hall.


The groom wore a scarlet satin suit with a lace collar and black patent leather boots. The bride wore a lavender vinyl wrap dress and matching backless, toeless high-heeled slip-on sandals. They exchanged rings. Official witnesses were Jacques-Pierre Dumais, formerly of La Rochelle, now of Grantville, and Veda Mae Haggerty, of Grantville. The groom is a wine merchant well-known as a frequent visitor to our town. The bride was most recently employed as a waitress at the 250 Club.


"Goddam her," she hissed, half under her breath. It would be just like her mother Velma to get re-married without even bothering to mention it to her own children.


Pam grabbed the telephone. There was no way to reach her half-brother Cory Joe Lang quickly, but she could at least reach her half-sister Susan Logsden. That was more important anyway, since Susan was still a teenager.


"Grandpa Ben," she wailed. "Have you seen the Times? Page three, column four. I’m at work, so I’m going to check in Principal Saluzzo’s office for her class schedule, find Susan, and tell her before some spiteful little bitch does. In the meanest way possible, of course. High school is the pits. You and Grandma Gloria better come, too. Yeah, I know it’s too far for her to walk. Take the trolley; everybody else does."




"I could scarcely believe she wore that dress. And talk about a pair of slut shoes." Veda Mae swallowed the last of her spinach pudding.


Jacques-Pierre had scarcely been able to believe the dress at all. Much less that anyone would wear it. However, who was he to question Madame Hardesty’s sartorial preferences? They had served their purposes – and, more to the point, his purposes. The happy couple had already departed for the Netherlands. With even the slightest amount of luck, he would never be obliged to speak with Velma Hardesty again.


"Mauger seemed to have a favorable enough view of her choice."


"How would he know what’s good taste or not? Satin and lace on a man. I remember those clothes people wore when Schmidt from Badenburg married Delia Higgins’ daughter Ramona. Stupid little whore. Trousers blown up like balloons. They have to have stuffing inside. What is he, a fag?"


Jacques-Pierre reviewed the progress of the match he had initiated, from introduction to, presumably, consummation. "I seriously doubt it."


Veda Mae snorted.


"Mauger and his first wife had several children."


"What does that tell anybody? You have no idea how many politicians they used to catch, back up-time, with perfectly nice wives and children, from the pictures that the papers published afterwards, doing what they shouldn’t in men’s restrooms at truck stops or lay-byes on the highways."


He nodded.


"This so-called emperor of the USE. Have you seen some of the clothes he wears? Purple. Silver embroidery. Ruffles on his cuffs. And he’s left his wife up there in Sweden by herself for years at a time, now. That tells you something, doesn’t it?"


Jacques-Perre sipped his coffee, thinking rather abstractedly that Madame Haggerty was in rare form, tonight. As loquacious as always and spiteful to boot. Now, what more fruitful topic might he introduce into the conversation?


"I have heard that one of the Kelly Aviation planes has been taken on a test flight."


"By Lannie Yost, that stupid sot. With Keenan Murphy, who can’t shoot at all. And Buster Beasley’s kid, Denise. Bob Kelly has to be nuts to send up a crew like that."


"There are some rumors that he didn’t approve the flight in advance."


"Probably too henpecked."


"His wife approved it?"


"Not that I know of. Kelly and his wife are outsiders, you know. He was here in Grantville working on a construction project. They got stuck. And stuck-up is what Kay Kelly is. Serves her right to have to spend the rest of her life in some little hick town. Which is how she sees it, I’m sure. That’s probably why she accepted the nomination."


"What nomination?"


"To run against Chad Jenkins on the Crown Loyalist ticket. For the seat that Kraut wife of Mike Stearns is giving up. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel – they managed to find someone lower than von Drachhausen. Bottom of the barrel for both parties. When Chad served a term as county commissioner, up-time, he was a real fizzle."




"But I suppose there’s one bright spot. No matter which of them wins, at least it won’t be a Kraut."




He could scarcely ask Madame Haggerty to give him a good reason for someone to demonstrate against the Grantville hospital.


She gave him one, without his asking. Truly, the woman was a free gift.


It came in the course of a long recitation of her quasi-medical grievances against what he had learned was called "the establishment." In this case, "the medical establishment" and the physicians whose diagnoses had denied her late husband’s right to receive certain benefits for "black lung disability" prior to the Ring of Fire. Madame Haggerty was quite certain that he had been entitled to them, no matter what the doctors claimed that the x-rays showed.


Her specific complaint in this matter escalated into resentment of the medical profession as a whole. Particularly the portion of it that managed the Bowers Assisted Living Center, where she worked.


It would not have occurred to Jacques-Pierre that such a manifest benefit as the prevention of smallpox would have been controversial among the up-timers. However, she brought him a group of "alternative medicine" pamphlets she had found stuffed into the drawer of a lamp table in the vestibule of the assisted living center. By, Madame Haggerty said, somebody who obviously understood "what those quacks who call themselves doctors are up to."


The pamphlets had been very valuable in allowing him to develop the medical rationale that would be used by the protesters at Leahy Medical Center.


He wondered what the Canadian Chiropractic Association had been. Canada, to the best of his knowledge, was very sparsely populated by French settlers, but these pamphlets had been printed in English. The members of the organization had, in any case, been vociferous in their opposition to vaccinations, inoculations, and immunizations. Since the up-time doctors, through the new medical school in Jena, were at the forefront of a campaign to introduce these ways of warding off smallpox, the discovery that there had been up-time opposition to the practice was a delight.


Yes, given his current assignment from Mauger, it was a delight and a comfort to learn that not all up-time influence would be pulling in the same direction. After some questioning, he had discovered that there were a few, though not many, Grantvillers who shared this philosophy.


He took the pamphlets to the Grantviller who called himself a chiropractor. That did not turn out to be very rewarding. The man did not agree with their contents. But his usual presentation of himself as a humble seeker of enlightenment had been quite successful. The man had shown him other materials of the same type that he had collected at "conventions." These appeared to be equivalent to diets or parliaments, but conducted by "professional associations," which were not the same as guilds, but in some ways comparable. The materials had confirmed the existence of differences of opinion.


He notified Mauger.


And Duke Henri, of course, although the duke had never displayed the slightest interest in the topic of vaccinations, pro or con.


He duplicated a couple hundred copies of the anti-vaccination pamphlets for use in central Thuringia. Mauger wrote, saying that he should mail a couple of copies to Frankfurt for printing and distribution from there.


They would soon be circulating quite widely throughout the USE. No one would be surprised when protesters inspired by their contents appeared in Grantville.