Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 22


“The only thing I really hate about this marriage,” Claudia said the evening before the ceremony, “is having to leave the children behind. They belong in Tyrol, of course, but still… It was hard to leave Vittoria behind when I married Leopold. She was only four years old. But I knew there was no way that the Tuscan authorities would let me take her. As a special kindness, they allowed me to keep her with me during my widowhood, but I was living in Florence at the time–in a convent, under my family’s direct supervision. As a girl, she doesn’t inherit Urbino, but she does inherit the private fortune of the della Rovere family, and has been betrothed to my nephew since she was eighteen months old. They won’t let her out of their hands if they can possibly help it, but at least she’s with my mother.

“Now…to do it all over again. They are six, five, four, and three. Isabella Clara is so sweet and lively. Leopold used to call her ‘Pumpernickel.” No grandparents with them; no aunts or uncles. I can visit them, of course. That’s written into the provisions for the new regency council. Once a month, using the Monster. Maybe, when the boys get older, they can visit me for longer times. It would be logical. They should get to know their Swabian territories…”

Matt Trelli nodded. “It’s the way things go, though. Say what you will, Your Grace, people up-time had to leave their kids behind sometimes, too. Steve Salatto and Anita Masaniello left their little girls in Grantville with their grandparents when they were sent down to Würzburg in 1632. If Marcie and I had gotten married earlier and had kids, I’d have had to leave them behind all the time I was deployed in Franconia.”

“Men always leave their children behind,” Marcie said. “Always have and always will. That’s one of the prices that we’re paying for equality. Now women have to leave their kids behind, too. Remember the Gulf War?”

Claudia stood up. “I only wish that I hadn’t let them talk me into putting Isaac Volmar on the regency council. Yes, he is a lawyer, doctor utriusque juris and all that. Yes, he hates the French, if that’s a qualification. Basically, though he does not agree with this marriage. He will be a disruptive element. He will do everything in his power to alienate the other regents from me, and to make difficulties with the USE and with Herr Piazza when he comes to assist with the changes that are necessary under the new constitution.”


 Marcie undid her braids. That’s how she was doing her hair these days–braided and twisted into a chignon–long was really easier than short down-time, unless a person was the type for a pixie cut, which no hairdresser outside of Grantville itself was willing to tackle, anyway. “Now see, Matt, she’s brought us along on her staff, so you’re in Swabia where you wanted to be and can go fight plague to your heart’s content. Aren’t you glad, now, that you didn’t blow up at her after the first meeting back in February.” She started brushing ferociously.

Matt fought down his irritation. Sometimes he got a little tired of Marcie’s relentless practicality.

She kept talking. “You know what, though? “I get along fine with the regent, but Duke Bernhard gives me the chills. It must be something like marrying that character Marlon Brando played in The Godfather. This is a man who looks like his motto ought to be ‘Damn, but I’m good,’ if ever I saw one.”

“He is good.” Matt reached for his toothbrush. “From everything I’ve been able to pick up, he is good, in precisely the way you mean it. Very good indeed. Maybe better than is good for him. Or for us.”


“It’s not going to be a very impressive wedding ceremony,” Bernhard said. “There just wasn’t time to arrange for large numbers of internationally prominent guests–or even for delegates from them. Nils Brahe is dashing over from Mainz to represent Gustavus Adolphus. The queen of the Low Countries will be here, since she was coming to Nancy in any case. Since the papal dispensations for you have been flying along on the radio waves, the archbishop of Mainz is coming with Brahe to represent Pope Urban VIII. My brother Albrecht and his wife. That’s about all, though.”

Claudia patted his hand comfortingly. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not as if it’s the first time I ever got married. My wedding to Leopold had all the splendor anyone could have asked for, but he borrowed almost all of it from either the Fuggers or Bavaria and I didn’t enjoy the bear-baiting that was included in the entertainments.”

Bernhard looked a little disconcerted. “Even so…”

“We wouldn’t want to give a bad example by having a big gathering, when we’ve forbidden them for other people because of the plague. What would it look like to your average town mayor if his daughter is required to marry quietly at the church door, with no guests but immediate family, and then the grand duke himself held a huge party?”

“Even so…” He swallowed.

“Also, it wouldn’t be fair to the residents of your capital for you to put on a really impressive ceremony here at Schwarzach. That’s aside from the problem that even if we packed the monastery and every house in the town to full capacity, Schwarzach just doesn’t have room for hundreds of prominent guests with their entourages. The Rhine river bottoms in the spring are not a favorable location for pitching elaborate tents. And, as soon as it’s done, we have to leave–we have to go to Nancy for the negotiations. When guests travel a long distance, they expect to stay for a while.”

He took a deep breath. “Even so…”

“After the negotiations are over, we can do a formal and spectacular ‘entrance’ into Besançon. That will be a good substitute. We can do it at some later date when we have the time and the city has had a chance to make preparations. Really superb public celebrations don’t occur spontaneously. There’s a lot of planning involved.” Claudia’s voice trailed off…

Bernhard developed hopes of completing a sentence.

“In the autumn,” she resumed. “September or October are good months for ceremonial events. We can do an ‘entrance’ then, if the plague has abated. I’ll mention it to Moscherosch. He can include it in the press releases.”

“Will you pay attention to what I am about to say!”

Bernhard could achieve a truly impressive voice volume when he was in the mood.

Claudia blinked.


“It’s really hard to make much out of this,” Moscherosch complained. “What am I supposed to write?”

The grand duchess told the Abbot Georgius of Schwarzach that if he knew what was good for his monastery, he would conduct a Catholic ceremony. He knew what was good for his monastery. The grand duke told his chaplain Daniel Rücker to conduct a Protestant one following that. Rücker, being Lutheran, appeared to be actually happy that the grand duke did not consider the Catholic ceremony sufficient. The grand duchess, presumably, then went to confession and told her own chaplain that she had, for reasons of political expediency, willingly gone through a Protestant ceremony, after which, also presumably, he assigned her some kind of penance.

“Honestly, that’s not exactly what the reading public is waiting for. They want fairy tales. Romance.”

Kanoffski laughed. “You could try adding that the groom wore his best leather buff coat, the members of Der Kloster having persuaded him that full body armor would give the wrong impression altogether, and the bride wore the best dress she had with her, which went surprisingly well with that red hair, given that it’s pink. He pulled some of the gems and jewelry out of his hoard, more or less at random, to decorate her with, too.”

Moscherosch looked at him with utter disgust.

“A bet,” Reinhold Rosen said. “A bet Fritz. I’ll lay you a thousand USE dollars that she’ll be pregnant within three months. Well, make that conditional on his not having to hare off on campaign somewhere.”

“Sorry, but I’ve already got a wager going with Erlach. Find another victim.”