1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 10
Magdeburg, central Germany
Capital of the United States of Europe
“Thank you, Jenny,” said Rebecca Abrabanel, as she passed her daughter Kathleen over to the young governess and housekeeper. The child was barely one year old, so the transfer did not disrupt her sleep in the least. She was quite accustomed to the care of Jenny Hayes, anyway, since she spent more time with her than she did with her mother. Rebecca had adopted some of the attitudes of the Americans, but when it came to child-care she was still firmly a woman of the seventeenth century. If you had the money to do so — which she now certainly did — you hired nannies to take care of the tedious portions of child-raising. Which, at Kathleen’s age, was most of them.
About the only concession that Rebecca made to up-time custom was that she still breast-fed the girl herself, instead of employing a wet nurse. But she did that mostly because continuing to lactate was the most effective birth control measure available to her, other than keeping track of her monthly cycle or using condoms. Neither she nor her husband Michael wanted to be bothered with that miserable rhythm business. As for the condoms which had been introduced into the market some months earlier, Michael didn’t like them and she didn’t trust them.
Rebecca enjoyed her children and planned to have at least two more. But she also enjoyed her political career and had no desire to see it crushed flat under the pressure of child-raising.
Being well-to-do helped a great deal in that regard. While Rebecca and Michael were not what anyone would call wealthy, they enjoyed a much larger than average income because of his salary as a major general. And if she finished her book on schedule, the income that derived from its sales might very well double or even triple their income.
Rebecca had been born a Sephardic Jew, and still maintained most of her religion’s customs and rituals. When it came to theological matters, though, she tended to share her father’s attitudes. Balthazar Abrabanel was not exactly what the up-timers meant by the term “free-thinker,” but he came awfully close. He still considered himself a Jew even in doctrinal terms, but there were plenty of rabbis who would dispute that claim. The rabbinate of Amsterdam, which was notoriously harsh and reactionary, had even gone so far as to declare him a heretic.
On the other hand, Prague’s rabbis — who had considerably more prestige than those of the Dutch city — maintained friendly relations with him. They did so partly, of course, for political reasons. Balthazar’s brother Uriel was the spymaster for Morris Roth, who was by far the wealthiest Jew in Prague and was also one of Wallenstein’s closest advisers thanks to his leading role in repelling Holk’s attack on Prague two years earlier.
Whatever her doctrinal doubts and questions, however, on one matter Rebecca was a staunch monotheist. Nannies had been sent down to earth directly by the hand of God.
After Jenny left the vestibule with Kathleen, Rebecca turned and went to the door leading to the room on the second floor of the town house that she used for her political meetings. It was a very large room, in keeping with the town house itself. The three-story building wasn’t quite what one could call a “mansion,” but it came close.
That was a good thing, too, given that the building also served the Fourth of July Party as its informal national headquarters.
As usual when a meeting was in progress, she could hear Constantin Ableidinger’s booming voice before she even opened the door.
“– think we can make such an assumption. As much as I dislike the prime minister’s reactionary political views, he’s just not the sort of human material out of which ruthless counter-revolutionaries are made.”
By the time he finished, Rebecca had passed through the door and closed it behind her. She headed toward her seat at the head of the table. Series of tables, rather.
“No, Wilhelm is not such a man,” she said. “As a human being, he’s actually quite a decent fellow. But Wilhelm is no longer running the show. Axel Oxenstierna is.”
She pulled out her chair and sat down. There had been a time when there had been only four tables in this very large room, arranged in a shallow “U” which allowed everyone to see out the windows. That was no longer true. There were simply too many important leaders of the Fourth of July Party who needed to be present at this meeting. So, there were now eight tables in the room, lined up two abreast and four wide. In effect, a single huge meeting table had been created, measuring about ten feet by thirty feet.
Rebecca’s position at one end of the arrangement, facing down the double row of tables, gave her a good view of everyone present. It was also a subtle indication of her position in the party. Officially, she was simply one of the members of the USE parliament elected from Magdeburg province. Unofficially, especially in the absence of her husband Mike Stearns, she was one of the FoJP’s most prominent and influential leaders.