December 1636-January 1637
“Thank you, Bernhard.” Rohan watched the grand duke pace around the room, his hands clasped behind his back. “I know that it wasn’t convenient for you to send replacements to Lorraine or for these two to travel back here in this weather, for that matter.”
“It’s not as if we’ll be sending troops into the field for the next couple of months, so don’t bother to thank me. I think your concerns about Ducos’ people are perfectly justified. He seems to have an astonishing number of followers.”
“There are a lot of Huguenots in France.” Rohan pursed his lips. “Several million of them.” He twisted his mouth wryly. “We can’t expect them all to be rational men, particularly since many have lost family members, homes, employment, property, and the occasional body part to the policies of the crown since the death of Henri IV. If I had to guess, Ducos is drawing his few hundred from a possible pool of a quarter of a million.”
“So if they see a chance for what appears to be retaliation, they will take it.”
“That’s pretty much the case. Especially when they have found a leader who, no matter how undesirable we find his tactics to be, appears to have a great ability to attract and influence others. Charisma, Madame Calagna calls it.”
“She knows Greek?” Bernhard turned around. “Nobody told me that.”
“No, she just knows the word. Up-time English apparently had an approach to vocabulary that was very eclectic.”
Bernhard’s secretary stuck his head through the door.
Rohan picked up his stack of red-tape-tied bundles for another day of paper-pushing.
At the Hôtel de Buyer, Marguerite dashed down the staircase into the hallway screaming, “Henri, nobody told me you were coming,” and threw herself into Ruvigny’s arms.
“You will note,” August von Bismarck said to the astonished footman, “that he braced himself firmly in anticipation of this event, one leg extended and slightly bent and the other held to the rear to provide support and balance. A perfect fencing stance. Experience has demonstrated that since the young duchess reached her full growth, although she is still quite small, she has enough weight to overbalance a man standing with his feet together, especially when she moves rapidly and then leaps.”
The footman was far from sure what to make of this.
Hamilton, following Marguerite down the stairs, was quite sure that he didn’t like it.
Shae spotted the pout on his face and gave Dominique a perfectly demonic grin. This could be fun.
“You young people entertain yourselves in the dining room, since it has a fire going,” Rohan said that evening. “Play cards or something. Don’t destroy the furniture. I have reached a stage in my study of Les Futuriens that requires more consultation with Madame Calagna. Traill, stay and observe, but do not interfere unless there is danger to the furniture.”
Traill sputtered at being treated as an upper servant, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He might now be an ordained Presbyterian minister, but in reality, as a tutor, he was an upper servant. His obligation was just to Lord Clanboye rather than to Rohan.
“I am surprised,” Rohan said when they reached his study, that in I Am NOT Going to Get Up Today, even though the efforts to get the boy out of bed indicate familiarity with the concepts of duty and diligence and condemnation of laziness, the lazy boy is not duly punished for his defiance of authority.”
“Yeah,” Carey said. “There was a lot of that reaction going around up-time, too. I’ve heard fussing from more than one frazzled mom who thought the kid shouldn’t have been allowed to get away with it. When you come right down to it, there’s a great big anti-authoritarian component in some of Seuss’ books. A kind of sneaky sympathy for anarchy, maybe. But if you compare this one to The Cat in the Hat, the idea that Seuss was against discipline just doesn’t fly.”
They drifted off into a discussion of idiomatic English, but Rohan, who was not easily gotten off track, was back on Seuss within fifteen minutes.
“Is this Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? really part of the juvenalia? The language is very simple. The boy doesn’t want to go wherever he’s being sent by the adult figure represented by the hand.”
“It’s his father,” Carey interrupted.
“Why do you say that?”
“The hand has a father-type wristwatch. Up-time, men and women wore different styles in wristwatches. If you ever get to Grantville, I can show you the display that is up in Roth’s original little jewelry store, before he became a great grand pooh-bah in Prague.”
“What is a pooh-bah.”
“I’m not sure. We just say it to describe someone important. That makes one more item to put in my next letter to the researcher at the State Library.”
“Back to the boy Marvin. Within the limits of the rhyming and the small vocabulary, much of this is really ingenious. It never says where he is being sent, so each child can use his imagination, inserting the place where he would least like to be.”
“Probably bed,” Carey said. “Kids never want to go to bed, which is why it’s so hard to get them up in the morning. See the previous chapter.”
“But, whether mailing himself or shooting himself with a cannon; in this book, the boy does eventually obey.”
Carey frowned. “There was something else about this book. I honestly can’t remember. Maybe you had better ask one of the librarians in Grantville. It was something political, though.” She made a another note on her list for the Grantville researcher.
“Now we reach The Cat in the Hat. I will analyse it together with the sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Obviously, there is far more substance here.”
“Well, it was aimed at young readers who were a few years older.”
“The fish obviously objectifies the power of conscience: natural conscience as instilled into mankind at the creation, corrupted by the fall and original sin as part of our fallen nature: divine law in its three functions of mirror, curb, and guide.”
“Oh,” Carey said. “Really?”
“Obviously,” Rohan answered. “Thing One and Thing Two represent the corrupted nature of the two children, Sally and her unnamed brother, after the fall of Adam and Eve. The children’s disobedience to their mother’s authority, parental authority, with the girl as the lead actor, parallels Adam and Eve’s defiance of God’s command to avoid the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with Eve being the one who first plucked the forbidden fruit. The role of the anthropomorphized cat is ambivalent, to say the least, playing both the tempter and the one who calls to repentance. It will take extensive discussion to make this clear to my readers.”
“Sure, Your Grace,” Carey said. “If you say so.”
Christmas had come to Besançon. Or, more precisely, as far as the great majority of the people who were Catholic and the modest minority of the population who were Lutheran were concerned, Advent had come. Aside from the ever-mounding piles of baked goods in the marketplace, they wouldn’t get around to Christmas until late on December 24.
From the perspective of Traill and Hamilton, it might as well have been Armageddon. Traill would probably have preferred Armageddon.
Both men objected to the keeping of Christmas altogether, partly on the grounds that it was a pagan holiday adopted by the Catholic church and partly, in Traill’s case, because he interpreted the second commandment to forbid all religious festivals other than the Lord’s Day. Not to mention the connected train of argumentation which held that “every day is the Lord’s,” which he took to prohibit singling out any day in particular other than the Sabbath as commanded in Scripture.
“Your Grace,” he admonished Rohan. “In this city, which for all intents and purposes is so full of Catholics that it might as well be pagan, you, as the leading Huguenot, must be particularly strict. Because the grand duke is Lutheran and his spouse Catholic, the city, during the coming season, will be subjected to many non-scriptural celebrations. Incense. Pageants. Moreover . . .”
“Hah!” Shae whispered to Dominique. “He missed candles.”
“That’s because everybody uses candles all the year around, down-time. They’re not Christmas-y,” Dominique whispered back.
“Moreover” covered quite a bit of territory. Traill objected to the traditional church calendar observed by Catholics, Lutherans, and the Church of England. He objected to liturgies. He objected to “man-made hymns” rather than psalms, and he was being assaulted by them every time he stepped outside of Rohan’s door. He objected, in fact, to all worship practices not specifically commanded by Scripture, “man-made hymns” being only one of them. He digressed into the Scots’ quarrel with English episcopacy (and, for that matter, in the few moments when he had leisure to think about it, with Swedish episcopacy, Danish episcopacy, and the occasional German Lutheran episcopacy), not to mention Lutheran Damenstifte, which he described as barely disguised nunneries, and abbeys that had not been destroyed but turned into schools whose students were daily subject to the idolatrous stone carvings on their walls.
Rohan pointed out that Charles I had permitted foreign embassies from Catholic countries to maintain chapels in London. Traill’s view was that simply because one Protestant monarch had followed grossly erroneous policies, it did not follow that others should make the same mistake. Indeed, he complained, that Grand Duke Bernhard was not only permitting his wife’s private worship, as Charles I had done for Henrietta Maria, but was generally tolerating Catholicism in Burgundy—though, he said, he must admit, being a fair-minded man himself, that it did not appear that Bernhard was doing so with any great degree of enthusiasm.
At this point, Hamilton disagreed sharply with his tutor and made his own pro-royalist, even pro-Cork administration, position crystal-clear, saying that when it came to matters of political principle, he was quite as willing to quarrel with his tutor as with everyone else.
“The principle,” Shae said behind her hand, “being ‘what’s in it for me?’ I presume.”
Marguerite shushed her.
Traill reiterated his imprudent statements in regard to Grand Duke Bernhard’s allowing Claudia de’ Medici to have an in-house chapel and confessor. Rohan advised him very strongly that if he said such things where Bernhard’s men could hear him, he would be expelled from the Rohan household expeditiously.
Traill countered with indignation, being of the opinion that Rohan was in no position to consider himself immune to criticism, considering that he had not only permitted Shae to remain at the archbishop’s palace for several days following her accident, but had also permitted the other women in his household, including his own daughter, to call upon her there.
Somehow, Traill was by no means mollified when Rohan pointed out that Grand Duke Bernhard was also tolerating Calvinism, as demonstrated by his own presence on the grand duke’s staff and Traill and Hamilton’s own freedom to worship with the Scots soldiers on the Grand Duke’s staff who had founded a church in the Quartier Battant.
“Papa,” Marguerite asked in pursuit of a less controversial topic, “how is your treatise on Les Futuriens coming? What will it have to say about the views of the up-timers concerning religion?”
“As far as Dr. Seuss is concerned, it will have very little to say about religion in the up-time world. I may have to reserve a more detailed study of that topic until I have other sources. Only one of Seuss’ books deals with religion and it displays minimal concern with doctrine, indeed manages to discuss Christmas without a single mention of our Savior, and gives general approval of gift exchanges and feasting, with maximal concern for other people. Madame Calagna assures me, however, that the costume created by the Grinch is a veiled reference to the custom in the Low Countries of seeing Saint Nicholas of Myra as the patron of gift-giving.”
At this point, Shae and Dominique chanted in unison several rhymed sentiments about the noncommercial nature of the holiday when properly observed, and the proper size of charitable hearts, including those of fabled creatures such as this “Grinch.”
Rohan stared at them, once more confirmed in his growing conviction of the incredible significance of Seuss for comprehending the up-timers, as the two girls, backing up to the beginning, managed, without the slightest review, to render most of How The Grinch Stole Christmas with far fewer errors than most down-time adolescents made when called upon to recite their catechisms, whether said catechisms were of the Calvinist, Lutheran, or Catholic persuasion. Followed by an a capella vocal rendition, in which Madame Calagna joined, of You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, which necessitated an explanation of the TV movie and when it had come into existence.
“Oh, heck, I don’t know,” Carey said. “Before I was born, I think.”
There was one point on which the Grinch and James Traill were in utter concord. No matter what they did, the disgusting holiday known as Christmas, or rather, here in Burgundy, Noël, came every blasted year and there didn’t seem to be any way to get rid of it.
Traill was rather more prepared than the Grinch to dispute the undesirability of this recurring phenomenon. In place of a dog named Max, he had a degree in theology from the University of Leiden in the Northern Low Countries, as they were now called.
“Calvin himself,” he proclaimed, “in his own day, disapproved of the celebration of Christmas because its observation had been corrupted by Roman Catholicism.”
“He did not, however, forbid it as a violation of the second commandment,” Rohan countered. “Geneva in Calvin’s day originally observed the four great feast days, or festivals of Christ, that did not always fall on a Sunday, including Christmas. He accepted this practice.”
Traill countered with a discourse on the regulative principle of worship, with a relatively brief digression into the acceptability of special days of thanksgiving as modeled upon the Old Testament festival of Purim.
“For various values of relatively brief,” Shae whispered to Marguerite.
Rohan retaliated with the prescriptions of the Confessio Belgica of 1561 that had been produced to regulate Reformed practice in the Low Countries, the Heidelberg Catechism that came out of the Palatinate in 1563, commissioned by Elector Frederick III and written primarily by Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, and Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Confession, which expressed the position of the Swiss Reformed.
Rohan pointed out with some satisfaction that while the Heidelberg Catechism explained the second command as requiring that a Christian should, “especially on the sabbath diligently frequent the church of God,” it did not prescribe that such a Christian was to attend church “exclusively on the sabbath.” Nodding his head decisively, Rohan concluded, “For, as Bullinger said in the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566, how can we, if we profess the Christian faith, not take note of Christ’s passion as well as of his resurrection? How can a Christian ignore his ascension?”
Traill objected that the church does not have liberty to introduce into worship any element of worship besides those commanded by Scripture, which gave no place to the four great feasts as a part of congregational worship. Referring to the Heidelberg Catechism in his own turn, he insisted that God requires in the second commandment that believers should not worship Him “in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.” He reiterated the Scots interpretation that anything not specifically commanded was excluded.
“The Scots may choose to take exception to Bullinger’s formulation,” Rohan replied, “but no Reformed tradition on the continent does so. As long as Christmas is celebrated without superstition, that is, which Bullinger specified: ‘Moreover, if in Christian liberty the churches religiously celebrate the memory of the Lord’s nativity, circumcision, passion, resurrection, and the ascension into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, we approve of it highly.’ The crucial words are ‘religiously celebrate.’
“I will grant you that many of the English midwinter traditions to which you object appear to be of pagan origin, but they certainly have little to do with the observation of Noël in our French temples. Moreover,” Rohan drew in a deep breath, “when we come to the Church Order of the Synod of Dordt, adopted less than twenty years ago, it not only permits, but rather requires that the Reformed churches ‘shall observe in addition to the Sunday also Christmas….’ and it specifies precisely that such observance ‘shall be a public worship service on December 25 during which the minister shall preach on some aspect of the birth of Christ, usually and preferably the history as told in the Gospels, and the congregation shall praise God with appropriate psalms in congregational singing.’ Which you,” he pointed at Traill, “may do for us or we will find a Reformed minister who will.”
“I believe,” Rohan commented to Carey the morning after this marathon disputation, “that Mr. James Traill may have a famous future as a controversialist. If I had my preferences, however, I would prefer that he develop his reputation in some location other than my residence.”
She smiled. “Overall, Your Grace, I would say that you held your own.”
To Dominique and Shae, she commanded, “Forget the holly, the mistletoe, the stockings, Rudolph, and the Little Drummer Boy for this year, kids. Wipe them flat out of your minds. We’re celebrating Christmas the Huguenot way, yay, hooray, which means exactly that we get to listen to one more sermon by Mr. Traill, who will probably stuff it with a lot of Bible verses that he thinks prove that he shouldn’t be giving the sermon at all. That’s it. After the sermon, the duke will go over to his office, just like any other day.
“For that matter, forget the Christmas tree, at least here—Kamala can get a tree from one of the Lutherans who are sledging them into town. We’ll put it up at the apartment, cut out some paper snowflakes to hang on it, plink out a few carols on the Fisher-Price xylophone, and exchange our presents there.”
“Marguerite, my dear,” the duke said at breakfast.
“You have complained upon occasion that nobody really listens to you.”
She looked down at her plate. “I may have. Upon occasion.” Then she grinned. “Rare occasions.”
“It may ameliorate your distress to learn that in one matter, I have listened to what you say during our morning sessions, heeded it, and taken action.”
“Today, I will send a letter to your Tante Anne and Uncle Soubise. They are still in Paris, although things are very disrupted. It authorizes Anne to begin the process of searching for a suitable bride for your uncle, thus, should they find one and she prove fertile, removing some of the burden of Rohan from your shoulders.”
She jumped out of her chair and curtsied.
“This will take time,” he admonished.
“Mom?” Dominique asked as the rest of them were standing up.
“Why do we even celebrate Christmas—us, I mean. Kamala and Shae and Shaun are Disciples of Christ, but why do we? You, and Daddy before he went to jail, and us kids? None of us belongs to a church. None of us ever even went to church before you and I got trapped here in—um, I mean assigned to—the duke’s household.”
“I’m with the Whos down in Whoville, kid. When it comes to Christmas, bring on the tinsel and the roast beast.”
She looked at Rohan, who had an appalled expression on his face. “Apologies, Your Grace, but that’s the way it is.”
“From what I’ve heard,” Shae said after breakfast, “Your aunt oughtn’t take too much time looking for a bride for Soubise. Your uncle isn’t exactly a spring chicken.”
“Is Colonel Raudegen still with him?” Bismarck asked.
Marguerite nodded. “The grand duke has given permission for him to stay with Uncle Soubise indefinitely. Or, at least, until things calm down a lot.”
Dominique bit her lip. “The newspapers don’t seem to be hyping calm lately, when it comes to France.”
Ruvigny leaned back. “Have you . . .?”
“Well, have you heard any news in regard to what your mother and M. de Candale are doing?”
Marguerite shook her head.
“I can ask Marc if he’s heard anything,” Susanna offered. “The next time I write. My letters have to go through Geneva, so it isn’t fast, but I think . . .” She paused. “Well, I don’t know for sure, but I think, just from a reference he made in the last letter that came, that Marc is somewhere in France right now.”
“How?” Ruvigny was suddenly on the alert.
“He said something about talking to M. d’Espinay de Saint-Luc. Of course, I don’t know where he is either, but I would think it’s likely that he’s in France.”
“And he would probably know what Maman is doing,” Marguerite said. “If I remember all the gossip right, he was the lover she left for M. de Candale, the first time around, before we went to Venice and Tancrède was born.”
“This letter is completely fascinating,” Rohan said that evening.
“From the Grantville researcher. He spoke to one of the older librarians in regard to Marvin K. Mooney. She provided him with a handwritten copy of a newspaper column. The author was named Art Buchwald and it was published in a newspaper called The Washington Post. There is quite a bit of similar material, according to the librarian, in “a bunch of stuff from a folder that Tom Riddle kept in his filing cabinet.” He paused. “Who is Tom Riddle?”
Carey thought for a minute. “Chuck Riddle’s father. Chuck is the chief justice of the SoTF Supreme Court now. Tom’s a retired lawyer.”
Rohan nodded. “Ah, noblesse de robe.” Happy to have a mental category that worked for him, however irrelevant it might be to the actuality of up-time West Virginia, he went back to the letter. “In this newspaper column, this Mr. Buchwald took Seuss’ book and in every case substituted the name ‘Richard M. Nixon’ for ‘Marvin K. Mooney.’ This was, the librarian said, ‘less than a month before Nixon really did resign.’ The rest of this material pertains to something called the Watergate Crisis and the resignation of a president in the up-time United States. What do you remember about this?”
Carey just looked at him, her face blank. “The answer is ‘really, nothing’ because, for heaven’s sake, I was only six years old when Nixon resigned as president, and Kamala Dunn won’t be able to help you either, because she was just barely five.”
Startled, Rohan did some mental calculations. When Madame Calagna was six, if they had been in the same universe, he would have been . . . hmmn . . . 25 or 26. Thus Madame Calagna was actually . . . three or four years younger than his wife. But so different.
He picked up the researcher’s letter again, experiencing a sense of deep satisfaction at having ferreted out that the Seuss books really did have a far deeper political meaning than they appeared to on the surface. What should be put in the outline for Les Futuriens here? The phenomenon of public shaming? Possible connection to practices such as “shunning” employed by some religious groups such as the Mennonites? He shut out the rest of the world as his mind focused on the one thing of interest to him at the moment.
Carey leaned back in her chair and picked up a clipboard containing a list of fifteen things about up-time administrative practices that General von Erlach wanted to know right away. She’d have to send him a memo pointing out that “right away” was once more going to involve a letter to the researcher at the SoTF state library. Not Rohan’s researcher. Grand Duke Bernhard had his own researcher and Carey had become quite protective about the Rohan budget.
By the time they had another session with Dr. Seuss, the duke was hip-deep in political theory. “I can cross-reference The King’s Stilts to my own Treatise on War, with reflections on the Spanish Armada, since the island in this fable would appear to stand for England. Up-time, quite a mythos appears to have developed around the Armada. Then I can draw parallels with the up-time Battle of Britain as depicted by Prime Minister Churchill . . ..”
Carey, who had never even heard of The King’s Stilts before, just left him to it.
She enjoyed his interpretation of Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose considerably more, as he pronounced that “although this work may give rise to extensive discussion and many variant exegeses, my personal opinion is that for the foreseeable future, we should derive from it the thought that it would be unwise to push the up-timers too far, no matter how good-hearted and, sometimes, even naive they may appear to be.”
“This is particularly the case if one juxtaposes Thidwick with and compares it to I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sallew, which focuses so firmly on the presupposition that each person must face his troubles, whether they come from ahead or behind, rather than running away from them. It is particularly necessary to focus upon the lines regarding the bringing of a big bat and the narrator’s conclusion that he is now prepared and that in the future he will cause troubles for his troubles.”
“That does tend to be the way most of us look at things,” Carey said.
“The crucial aspect, never forget it,” Rohan said, “goes back to the original hypothesis of the treatise I am writing. ‘Most of you’ not only look at things that way, but you teach your children, very intensively, to look at things that way, so your perspective will continue into the next generation.”
“Up,” Bismarck said. “Out of bed. You were supposed to meet us in the Quartier Battant this morning for swordfighting practice. You didn’t show up. Again! We’ve had to walk all the way up here to get you.”
James Hamilton rolled over and groaned. “Up? Lord of Hosts! I am NOT going to get up today. Well, definitely not this early.”
“It is NOT early. There are only two more hours until breakfast,” Ruvigny said. “You just drank too much beer last night. Again. If you would cut down on it, you could get rid of some of that extra weight that slows you down.”
Bismarck raised his eyebrows. “Up and at ‘em?”
Ruvigny nodded. Bismarck grabbed Hamilton’s shoulders, Ruvigny grabbed his feet, and they swung him onto the uncarpeted floor with a thunk.
“Arrrgh! I’ll complain to my tutor. He’ll complain to my father.”
“No he won’t,” Traill said. “I’m standing right here in the doorway. After your third sequential refusal to attend your fencing lessons, combined with your sixth sequential refusal to rise for morning devotions, I’m the person who asked them to start hauling you off to the barracks in the morning. May I remind you about taking the Lord’s name in vain?”
“You may not,” Hamilton grumped. “At least not with my permission, as if that’s going to stop you.” He sat up on the floor and glowered at his tutor. “I’m too old to have a bear-leader supervising everything I do.”
“If you acted your age, your father would be less apt to think you need one,” Bismarck countered. “At least until you get back to Scotland, you have him and can’t get rid of him. He’s authorized to exercise discipline over you, so you might as well stop complaining and . . .” he took a mighty heave at the back of Hamilton’s shoulders, “get up, get dressed, get yourself out of this house and out of the hair of everybody else in it, and head for the Quartier Battant with us.”
“Every minute you don’t move is a minute of breakfast you’ll miss, because we don’t intend to cut your drill short,” Ruvigny said.
“And I, for one, get very cranky when I’m hungry,” Bismarck added. “You don’t want to fence with me when I’m cranky.”
The two young officers in Dutch uniform leaned against the wall of the room, watching the grand duke’s men and their assorted guests practice swordsmanship.
“It’s so nice to have friends,” one said to the other in their adopted language, after he had glanced around to make sure that no one was paying any attention to them at all.
“True. Good intelligence, confirmed two ways, entirely independently. From young Cavriani in Paris to General Turenne’s brother, to the Stadhouder, to us, giving us several weeks’ warning that he was coming here. Enough time for us to get leave. From the archbishop’s housekeeper, to the archbishop, to our uncle, to the Stadhouder to us, that he had arrived and exactly where he would be staying for several weeks. I do love radio. As soon as I get a little money ahead, I’m getting a better receiver.”
“You spend all your money, ahead or not, on that ‘techie stuff.’ ”
They watched a little longer.
“He certainly is a fatty pudding,” the first one commented.
“For his age. He wouldn’t be in bad condition for someone 30 years older.”
“Being brought up in England as wards in chancery wasn’t a total loss.” The second man reached for his cape. “There are occasions when it’s handy to be certified young Protestants in Fredrik Hendrik’s service. Let’s figure out how to get ourselves introduced to some up-timers. I understand they tend to be very happy to meet other people who speak English and there can’t be many in Besançon.”
Dinner, or, at least, the largest meal of the day, occurred about two o’clock in the afternoon.
“I hate French food,” Hamilton said, glowering at his plate. “I didn’t like Italian food, either. I want to go home.”
“Nobody’s stopping you except you,” Shae muttered to Ruvigny.
“And Traill,” he answered.
This entire exchange was, luckily, mostly buried under the rest of the conversation, which today centered around The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. This, according to Rohan, indicated that the up-timers taught the value of tradition to their children, the hat in question having belonged to Bartholomew’s father and grandfather before him. “It is also visually fascinating because of the mirror view of the same landscape from the king’s palace on the hill down to the humble peasant’s cottage, and from the humble peasant’s cottage up to the palace on the hill.”
“Wait! Wait just a minute,” Ruvigny said, looking up from his plate and waving his fork. He turned toward Bismarck. “Remember what Gerry Stone said to us, back in Paris last summer, about why up-timers have the stereotypes they do about the nobility? Some book with a picture of a castle on a hill containing a lord who was oppressing the peasants in a village at the bottom?”
Bismarck nodded. “Wait until after we eat. Gerry sent me a copy of that fourth-grade social studies textbook he was talking about then.” He asked one of the footmen to go down to the Quartier Battant and get the book from his storage and returned to the important task of eating enough mutton to see him through the rest of the day.
Rohan returned to the deeper meaning of the five hundred hats—the impossibility of the boy’s taking the hat off when the king demanded it, even though Bartholomew did his best to comply; then the several varieties of arbitrary punishment demanded by the boy named Grand Duke Wilfred, up to execution, for the self-replicating hat. What was the meaning of the friendly executioner in the dungeon—was it a veiled critique of the concept that certain occupations were inherently dishonorable? Was it common in up-time books to depict a weak king taking bad advice?
By the time he finished, nearly a half-hour later, the footman was back with Gerry Stone’s book. Carey, Dominique, and Shae agreed that, yeah, all of them had used a textbook with a picture sort of like that when they were in grade school.
“How old were you?” Rohan wanted to know.
“Umm. Nine or ten, probably.”
And now, Rohan said, “we find the set of beliefs reinforced by Dr. Seuss.” He started a verbal dissection of literary tropes and memes. The rest of the group focused on dissecting apple tarts.
“Delighted to meet you,” Lisa Lund said, shaking hands firmly. The Christmas market on the town side of the Roman bridge was crammed with people. She nodded toward a man standing next to a table on which toys were displayed, a few feet away. “My husband, Tom. He’s from the Palatinate. The bunch trailing him are my two kids and his younger brother and two younger sisters. This one here,” she pointed to the denim carrier on her back, “is ours. We met in Grantville. He has another brother who’s working in Grantville as a butcher and another sister who stayed there, too. She’s running the sales counter in Burckhard’s shop.”
The first of the two officers in Dutch uniform blinked, a bit startled by this torrent of information and pulled his hand back just a little bit too quickly for what he had been told was appropriate if one was being courteous to an up-timer.
The other stepped up quickly, offering his own hand. “Constantine here. You can call me Con. That excessively earnest, serious, and overly-conscientious young man next to me is my older brother Dan. Your husband works for Grand Duke Bernhard?”
The woman shook her head. “Nope. He’s a butcher, too, just like his brother. The grand duke made the guild let him open a shop because if he couldn’t, I wouldn’t come to Besançon. I’m the one who works for the grand duke. Mechanical support. I’m one of the bunch who put in the intercom system up on the Citadelle and stuff like that. You’re in uniform, so I’ll take a guess that you’ve already been up to see it.”
Con grinned and then grinned more broadly. “You know about radios?”
“I’m no specialist, though I can put the pieces together. You’ll want to talk to my first husband’s sister and her husband—they’re working here in town, too. And her husband’s brother; his wife’s local. They do phones more than radio, but they all love to talk shop.”
“I have died and gone to heaven. You are all of the up-timers who work for the grand duke? One extended family?”
“Oh, no. There are Kamala and Carey and their kids. Are you guys here on vacation? If so, just hang around with us for a few days and you’ll meet them. Tom’s a Calvinist and there’s a Scots preacher staying at the duke of Rohan’s house where Carey’s working now, so we’ve been going there to hear sermons because he preaches in English that we can understand. I was only starting to learn German when we moved over here and my French is still pretty much at the level of ‘how much does that head of cabbage cost?’ Your English is great, by the way. I’m in awe. Let me give you our address. Send us a note and let us know when you have some free time.” She handed him a slip of paper, gave a glance, noticed that her husband was moving on, and darted after him.
“My goodness,” Dan said.
“If we were Presbyterian,” Con answered, “we might be forgiven for suspecting that the success of our enterprise is foreordained. Predestined even.”
“Don’t mock the will of God. The best laid plans . . .”
“It’s sort of a pity,” Ruvigny said as they hiked their way across the Roman bridge to the Quartier Battant, “that the duke got to read this before we did. Gerry sent it to us, not to him.”
“He was here, Henri. The book arrived here. We were in Lorraine.”
“August, do you have to be so constantly phlegmatic?”
“Maybe it’s just my temperament. I’ve never had my humors analyzed. Why get excited about things you can’t do anything about?”
“All right, then, August, what does Yertle the Turtle tell us about the up-timers? The duke is bound to ask what we think.”
“I’m not sure about that. I do think it’s delightful, given the USE’s recent problems with Bavaria, that the discontented little turtle at the bottom of the stack is named Mack. Surely that should be Max? It must derive from Maximilian.”
“It certainly seems intended to ingrain revolutionary ideas in them from their earliest years.”
“They’re a bloodthirsty bunch. Their President Jefferson, the one who wrote the ‘Declaration of Independence,’ wrote in a letter that, ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.’ ”
“Have you been reading about revolutions? Is that what you’ve had your head in? All that reading you were doing while we were in Lorraine this fall?”
“It was something that my family’s possible descendant, the Prussian chancellor in their nineteenthth-century, wrote. I came across it by accident. It was something to the effect that if change is inevitable, it is better to make a revolution yourself than suffer through one that others make. So I wrote to the researcher I used before and asked him to send me some things about revolutions. Trust me—the French Revolution is enough to make a man’s blood freeze in his body, and not just in the middle of winter.”
On the day before Christmas, Hamilton made a formal offer for Marguerite’s hand, detailing to the duke, at considerable length, the many advantages of the match as he saw them.
Rohan, as politely as possible, reminded the young Ulsterman that he was not yet of age according to either French or English law, and thus was not authorized to make contracts. Certainly, Rohan pointed out, in a matter of such significance as marriage, he needed to consult his father and obtain his consent.
Hamilton expressed his belief that his father did not entirely grasp the immense dimension of the changes that were impending in Europe.
Rohan stated his conviction that the possibility of disruptions to the established state of things made it even more imperative for a young man to take into account the wise advice of his elders. He offered that if, after Hamilton had returned home, he should receive a renewed overture from the proper source, namely from the hand of Vicomte Clanboye, he would give it due consideration.
“Papa,” Marguerite said when he relayed the information to her. “You wouldn’t!”
“I said that I would give it due consideration. If I should receive any such proffer, I will give it precisely the amount of consideration that I consider it to be worth.”
“Well, that’s a relief.” She stood there a moment. “Maybe they’ll leave now.” She batted her eyelashes at him. “May I go to a party with Madame Calagna and Dominique and Shae this evening. It is at Madame Dunn’s apartment. Henri and August are going, and Susanna. The children will be there. It seems like ever since I got here, all I’ve done is study the lessons you give me. I haven’t gone anywhere except to formal receptions that involve politics, one way or the other. No balls, or dances, or plays, or theater, or . . .”
Rohan raised his eyebrows. “Is it remotely possible that this gathering might be interpreted as a ‘heathen practice’ in connection with Christmas?”
“It’s, well, I guess a person could say, more than remotely possible that that’s the way Mr. Traill would interpret it.”
“So it is safe to assume that Hamilton will not be among the guests.”
“As Shae would say, ‘real safe,’ Papa.”
He put a meditative expression on his face.
The corners of Marguerite’s mouth drooped.
“It might be that your absence from the house this evening would reduce the level of tension.”
The corners lifted a fraction of an inch.
“Yes, you may go.”
Marguerite loved the Christmas tree and the party was over in time for everyone to go home and get a good night’s sleep.
The next morning—well. The years during which France’s Huguenots had lived in a state of persecution had resulted in quite a few compromises with the Calvinist principle that church services should be public and take place in a properly dedicated house of worship. It had become, if not common, at least tolerated, for noble households to maintain chapels and chaplains if they so desired. Rohan had never so desired. The little Scots Presbyterian church in the Quartier Battant wasn’t a properly dedicated house of worship yet. It had once been a hat shop and shared its walls with two still-operating retail stores. Nor did it have a regular minister. Nor did the majority of its members believe in celebrating Christmas. Its door would be locked today.
Still, Rohan bowed to the theory of public worship. As long as he had an ordained minister as his guest, he placed notices of the times of the sermons to be delivered by Mr. Traill on his front door and opened that door to all who wished to hear them. At six o’clock in the morning, Thomas Wedekind and Lisa Lund, family and two guests in tow, appeared at the door of the Hôtel de Buyer to hear Mr. Traill’s Christmas sermon, along with a couple of dozen other resident and visiting Huguenots. Given the size of the foyer, it was standing room only. Given that the foyer was unheated, it was standing on cold feet. That was, however, quite normal in Calvinist churches in the winter, so no one complained (a few whining children excepted).
Introductions and socializing were minimal. As soon as the sermon ended, the duke thanked everyone for coming and left for work, taking Ruvigny and Bismarck with him.
He didn’t really have to. The grand duke, being Lutheran, had given the day off to everyone who was not absolutely needed for garrison duty and maintaining his residence. It was more a sop to Mr. Traill’s feelings. He even intended to eat in the general officers’ mess, just to demonstrate that he was not sponsoring anything that might superficially resemble a holiday meal.
“Ugh,” Shae said. “Oatmeal, and not even brown sugar to go on it.”
“Marvellous,” Hamilton said. “Oatmeal.” He was serious. His head still ached and his stomach really wasn’t ready for anything more demanding than porridge in the way of sustenance. After evening prayers with Traill the previous night, he had slipped out for more than a few beers.
As soon as breakfast was over, the girls stormed Carey with a wish to go out for a walk on the grounds that there was absolutely nothing to do. She couldn’t think of any real reason why they shouldn’t. It was cold, though, and she had no intention of going out if she didn’t absolutely have to. After standing through Traill’s sermon, she had every intention of retreating upstairs to the duke’s study with its nice little Franklin stove and putting her feet on a couple of hot bricks.
Still . . . three girls, four if Susanna got back from mass in time, and two footmen. People in the streets.
“Sure,” she said.
They got their coats.
Traill and Hamilton went upstairs.
About an hour later, Susanna ran into the study, her hands full of chips and scraps. “They smashed it,” she wailed. “My nativity scene from Marc. They smashed it.”
Upon investigation, Mr. Traill proved to be in the room he shared with Hamilton, reading. He protested that he had not in any way damaged the girl’s blasphemous idols, popish though they were.
Carey was inclined to believe him.
Hamilton was nowhere in the house.
“I’m going to look for him.” Susanna put on her cloak and was out of the house before Carey could say, “Take one of the footmen with you.” In any case, Susanna usually wasn’t accompanied by a footman when she ran errands in town by herself.
After about fifteen minutes, Susanna saw Shae and Dominique, with one of the footmen, headed toward the upper town. “We thought we’d watch a mass at St. John the Baptist,” Shae explained. “Just to see if they’re as naughty as Mr. Traill says. They weren’t up-time. We had joint Girl Scouts meetings at St. Mary’s in Grantville every now and then and nothing interesting ever happened at them. Except that the church had stained glass windows, which he thinks are abominations before the Lord.”
“Good grief,” Susanna said. “You could come to mass with me any time you’re interested.”
“It’s not exactly the same if we’re allowed to,” Dominique said.
Susanna looked around. “Where’s Marguerite?”
“She didn’t think she should come with us. Sneaking to a mass—if she did that and somebody found out, it could get the duke into real political trouble with his supporters. She stayed down by the Latin School. We’ll pick her up again on the way back.”
“But she’s not there,” Susanna said. “I just came by. She wasn’t there, nor her footman either.”
“She can’t have gone very far.”
Susanna threw up her hands and shrieked. “Ducos. Do you remember? Guys with knives! Look at your arm, Shae! It’s still in a cast! Do you mean to tell me that you let the little duchess wander off by herself? Are you insane? Are you fools? You’re ladies-in-waiting! That means that you’re supposed to stay with her absolutely all the time! Now where in this godforsaken pit of vipers is she?”
This tirade aroused the footman from his contemplation of the sky. “We’d better go look,” he said. “Now, young ladies, there’s no need to panic, but we’d better go look.” They started back down toward the main part of town.
They found her in front of the Convent of the Poor Clares, waving her hands at the footman who had stayed with her. Not a single assassin was in sight. Hamilton was sitting on the bottom step, holding his head in his hands, with one of the young men who had come to the morning sermon with Lisa Lund’s family standing over him. The other young man was standing further out in the street, obviously keeping an eye out for them. He waved them down.
Susanna pulled away from the rest of the group and ran for the Quartier Battant, to bring Ruvigny and Bismarck to contribute what they could to the general confusion.
Everybody started to talk at once, which didn’t help much.
“He was pressing unwanted attentions upon her,” the footman said tersely.
“He was actually trying to persuade me to marry him now rather than waiting for his father to write to Papa,” Marguerite screeched.
“Good grief!” Shae exclaimed. “As if! Whatever gave him the idea that you would even think about marrying him?”
“Marriage without consent of the parents is an old Scottish tradition, I’ve heard,” the man who had been standing in the street said. “Elope, have a blacksmith marry you over his anvil, and leave the families to deal with it, whether they want to or not.”
“But Marguerite doesn’t want to elope with him,” Dominique said. “And anyway, even if it’s a Scottish tradition, you can’t do that in Burgundy. Or in France. Or in the USE. Scotland is a long way away from here and, anyway, he’s Irish.”
“I am not Irish.” Hamilton recovered enough to lift his head and make that point. “I’m a Scottish Ulsterman. I will never be Irish.”
“That’s one thing you certainly have right.” The man who had been in the street looked down at Hamilton. He turned. “I’m Con, by the way. That’s my brother Dan over there, the one who isn’t talking. He’s a little shy about meeting new people. As for what you say, Mistress . . .” He nodded at Dominique, who hastily said, “Bell. Dominique Bell.”
“Neither are such marriages fully legal in the Low Countries, Austria, the Italian states, or the Spanish Empire, to the best of my knowledge. Nor, more practically, under the English law that governs Ulster, although the validity of clandestine marriages is still a matter of some controversy, particularly when one or both of the contracting parties is under the legal age of consent. The young duchess was expressing her opposition to the entire concept quite loudly. We heard the argument and came to the rescue, but were scarcely needed, as you can see from the condition of the young man’s head.”
“How did she do that?”
The question was reasonable, since Hamilton was probably double Marguerite’s weight.
“Jumped off the fourth step up and knocked him over by landing hard against his shoulders,” Con said cheerfully. “We saw the whole thing. He wasn’t expecting it and gave his skull a pretty good knock against that stone lion. Her footman kicked him to keep him down, but he dragged himself part-way up anyhow. He must have a pretty hard head.”
“Not for beer,” Shae commented. “He’s a sloppy drunk.”
“Not a drunk,” Hamilton grumped. “I stick to beer. I don’t like wine, nasty stuff, and Traill says that I can’t have whisky.”
Susanna came dashing back, Ruvigny and Bismarck in tow.
“Hi, Henri,” Shae said. “Hamilton insulted Marguerite. Don’t you have to have a duel with him now?”
“Don’t be stupid,” Marguerite said. “Henri has outgrown dueling.”
Ruvigny frowned at Shae. “I don’t have any intention of fighting a duel with him. I’ve fenced with him quite a lot in practice and he isn’t good enough to go through with a formal French duel to first blood. He has no finesse but he does have a lot of brute strength; no speed, but a pretty long reach. If we fought seriously, it would be altogether too likely that one of us might kill the other just because of his sheer incompetence.”
“But he insulted her.”
“I did not insult her,” Hamilton said to Shae. “She is the Rohan heiress. Thus I respect her and I want to marry her. Even if I had to carry her all the way to Scotland to find someone willing to perform the wedding, I would not so much have touched her on the way. After all,” he concluded, pleased with his own logic, “my future wife must be a virgin on her wedding night, and for me to violate her person before our marriage would make that impossible. I just wanted to make sure that there would be a wedding night.”
The rest of them stared at him, each in his or her own way enraptured by this feat of logic.
“Maybe he didn’t insult the duchess,” Susanna said in a low, menacing, voice, “but he did smash the nativity scene that Marc gave me. I found it when I got back to the house after mass. I left the scraps with Madame Calagna. Mr. Traill says that he didn’t do it, so there’s no one else who might have.”
“I don’t just admit that,” Hamilton said. “I take pride in my action, which follows in the footsteps of the great Presbyterian iconoclasts of the last century who were inspired by the sermons of John Knox.”
Everyone just stood there silently for a minute.
“You know,” Con said to Hamilton. “What you really need is a few whiskeys.” He looked at Ruvigny and Bismarck. “Things will obviously be unpleasant in the duke’s household if you return there with him right now.”
“Oh, yes,” Marguerite said. “Please, don’t anybody say a word about all of this to Papa or Madame Calagna. Papa will never let me set foot out of the house again.”
“Also,” Dominique added, “Shae and I will get in a lot of trouble for not being proper ladies-in-waiting and leaving you alone, and that will make trouble for Mom because she’s in charge of us, and she’s the one who said we could take a walk, and the duke might complain to the grand duke, and then he might decide that it’s just too much trouble to have up-timers on his payroll and Lisa and everyone could lose their jobs.”
One of the footmen started to open his mouth.
“Don’t,” Dominique said. “Whatever you’re thinking, just don’t. You would be in trouble, too.”
“Did anyone see you knock Hamilton over?” Bismarck asked Marguerite.
“Nobody was close. There haven’t been very many people out and about this morning. Not close enough to hear that we were arguing. All the Catholics and Lutherans are probably at church or at home having Christmas dinner or something.”
Ruvigny frowned. “All right,” he said. “Those of you who were out for a walk, just walk home like nothing unusual happened. August and I go back to work, giving a most virtuous impression of two men who are completely unaware that anything unusual has happened. These two”—he nodded at the other men—”will take Hamilton down to the Quartier Battant and give him a few shots of whisky. Tomorrow will be another day and we can figure out what to tell Rohan about all of this then.”
By first dark, after his fourth shot of whisky, Hamilton was snoring, his head on the table.
“I can see why his tutor doesn’t let him have it,” Con commented. “Shall we load him up and be on our way?”
Dan nodded. They shouldered him between them, just two friends walking another who had imbibed a bit too much in the way of holiday spirits to his bed. They were shortly joined by a half-dozen other County Down men who had come on this little expedition with them, flopped Hamilton over a saddled horse, and left town. They wouldn’t get far that evening, but the day after Christmas would be a great day for traveling, since most of the rest of that part of the world that might come after them would also be recovering from more than a bit too much in the way of holiday spirits.
The next morning, Traill reported that Hamilton’s bed was empty.
Rohan sent footmen out to find him. They returned, their hands also empty.
Ruvigny and Bismarck went to find Con and Dan, who somehow had never, they now realized, given their surname or the location of their lodgings. They also returned empty.
“The lying rascals,” Ruvigny said.
“They agreed to take him for a couple of whiskies,” Bismarck said philosophically. “I don’t recall that there was a single word to the effect that they would bring him back. So perhaps ‘lying’ is not the correct term.”
They eventually located the lodgings. The bill was paid up, so the landlord hadn’t taken any particular interest in his renters’ departure.
When the grand duke sent soldiers out on the hunt, they looked for a party of three, two of them Dutch officers who spoke English well and one a Scotsman; not a party of nine wild geese making their way back toward winter quarters, all the while chatting merrily in Gaelic.
James Traill’s reaction was deep concern about Clanboye’s reaction to the fact that he had misplaced his very valuable charge. Bismarck advised him to just write a letter to Ulster and then, given that he was probably correct in feeling deeply apprehensive about the consequences that would ensue if he returned to Ireland, inquire whether or not the church the Scots soldiers had founded in the Quartier Battant would be interested in having a full-time minister.
“It’s too late to be having second thoughts,” Con Oge O’Neill—Constantine, or Con the Younger—said.
His older brother Daniel frowned. “How long will he stay tractable? The boys did sort of put the fear of God in him, but still . . .”
“Just make sure he doesn’t get his hands on any money. Traill took care of all the practicalities for all of the grand tour, if I understand what he said. He has no idea how to survive on his own.”
“What will Uncle Owen think of this? For that matter, what will the Stadhouder think of this?”
“You might as well ask what the king and queen will think of it? Or Archduchess Clara Isabella Eugenia? We knew from the start that this little enterprise would be one of those situations where it’s a lot better to ask forgiveness than permission.”
“Well, what are we going to do with him once we get him back to the Low Countries? We could send a really flowery letter to Clanboye. I suppose.”
Con shook his head. “I’ve come to admire the terseness of radio style. Forget the flowers and flourishes. How about: ‘You have our lands. We have your heir. Shall we talk?’ ”
The repercussions of Hamilton’s disappearance seriously ate into the time Rohan had available to focus on the deeper meaning of the works of Dr. Seuss. It didn’t stop him, however. The Butter Battle Book necessitated a considerable amount of additional correspondence with his researcher in Grantville, given that it turned out to be an allegory of the up-time episode called the Cold War, but clearly had applications to the increasing size of armies during the first fifteen years of the current wars and the growing competition, arms races, for improved up-time weaponry. This competition, since it all involved metals and manufacturing, led naturally into the next chapter on The Lorax, with its discussion on the possible environmental impact of the industrial changes as brought by the up-timers on the European world. It turned out that Grantville harbored one woman who was, his researcher informed him, “green.” During the past five years, she had encountered very few people who were willing to listen to her convictions.
“No,” Kamala wailed to Carey. “Not Linda Jane Colburn. Surely the duke hasn’t sicced Linda Jane onto you. She’s the most boring person in Grantville. She’s obsessed.”
“The duke is fascinated by every pamphlet she sends.” Carey sighed.
Rohan pointed out that in this book, once more, Seuss echoed his constantly resounding theme of individual personal responsibility: unless the reader, or someone like the reader, cared about solving a problem, then it was unlikely that the problem would ever be solved, and the situation would not improve.
The weather stayed horrible. The girls mostly stayed indoors, Marguerite busy with lessons from her father, Shae busy with the final materials she needed to prepare for her correspondence course final exams to get a degree from Calvert High School in Grantville in June, and Dominique because her mother told her so.
In early March, Marc Cavriani wandered unheralded back into Besançon from wherever he had been. He refused to either confirm or deny that it was France, but spent quite a bit of time meeting with the grand duke. For Susanna, he brought the information that his father had found a perfect placement for her in the USE, in the household of Amalie Elisabeth, regent of Hesse-Kassel, Calvinist.
“She is politically influential and has many friends,” he said with enthusiasm. “Her surviving girls are a bit young yet, the two oldest being only 11 and 10, but within a few years, when you should be at the height of your abilities as a designer, they will be coming into society. In Magdeburg, you will have access to all the latest up-time fashion influences. And the landgravine is willing for me to use her household as a place to stay when I have errands in the USE, so we’ll see each other more. Part of the time you will have to follow her to Kassel, of course, but much of the year she is in Magdeburg, and Papa will try to persuade her to make you a permanent part of the establishment she maintains in the national capital.”
He kissed her several times and went back to wherever he had been.
“It would have been nice,” Susanna said dolefully, “if he had asked me if I wanted to go. He treats me like a package that needs to be delivered: pick it up here and drop it off there. I guess I should go, though, since his father has taken so much trouble over it.”
The follow-up letter from Leopold Cavriani was more polite, contained detailed information, and indicated that someone would be in Besançon in early May to act as Susanna’s escort.
The girls debated quite a bit as to whether the coming escort might be Colonel Raudegen, but as they had no data whatsoever on which to base their discussions, even that topic of conversation petered out and they went back to enduring a spring that promised to be just as dreary as the winter.
“I do sort of wonder who those young men were, and what they’ve done with Hamilton,” Carey said, as she worked her way through the latest completed section of Les Futuriens. The duke’s reflections on Green Eggs and Ham included notes on xenophobia when it came to foodstuffs, tied to reflections on the experiences of young gentlemen on the Grand Tour.
“I doubt he’s come to any harm,” Rohan answered. “As we continued to investigate, we found that one of them introduced himself to Madame Lund with his full given name as Constantine. And they were Dutch. We know that the Cavrianis are closely allied with the Huygens family, so the name may indicate that these two young men are in some way related to Constantijn Huygens. The grand duke’s intelligence analysts have therefore concluded that the whole matter had something to do with English politics, since Hamilton’s abductors also spoke English well and the Huygens have not only mercantile but also diplomatic ties in London.”
Thoughts of the Grand Tour led into a chapter on Oh the Places You’ll Go. Carey had done her best to explain backpacking and youth hostels, but had insisted that the book wasn’t just about going places and seeing them, or climbing mountains, but about making your own decisions, taking charge of your own life, and making what you want out of it.
The duke re-read the book several times before he concurred. Then he tackled the parallel treatise, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think. Thinking left, right, low, high—but the child had to make the attempt, to try, before he could succeed at it. He finished the chapter by returning to the book on places and its admonition that if a child stepped carefully, he was almost, if not entirely, guaranteed success.
“Any child?” he asked Carey cautiously.
“Sure. Boys and girls, rich and poor, really smart and maybe a little dumb. None of them will ever get anywhere unless they try it. Think of the Ring of Fire. When we got to the seventeenth-century, we could have just all put our heads in our hands and gone boo-hoo-hoo, and I’m not saying that a lot of us, including me, didn’t feel like doing exactly that, every now and then. But that kind of thinking won’t get you anywhere in the long run, so now I’m advising a duke. Hey, we even have a Latin motto for it, since down-timers are so fond of them. Illegitimi non carborundum. I’m so proud of myself for remembering that.”
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
“That makes no sense. None at all.”
“I’ll write the researcher in Grantville. He’ll likely be able to come up with some information about it.”
Gerry Stone, who for once had managed to get in two fairly uninterrupted semesters of study at Jena, wandered into town in late April to once more try doing his familial duty by representing the “face of Lothlorien” during Grand Duke Bernhard’s deeply desired smallpox vaccination campaign. He also brought frisbees—or, more precisely, one up-time plastic frisbee imprinted with an advertising slogan for the grand duke’s museum and numerous new down-time made frisbees, shaped of boiled leather and then covered with lacquer to keep damp from seeping in and changing the shape, for his friends to play with. His popularity soared.
The query in regard to illegitimi non carborundum brought Grantville reference materials about industrial abrasives, British intelligence services in World War II, Harvard University, and Senator Barry Goldwater in response. Rohan shuddered and took it all to the Latin School, where the teachers happily set their students the task of figuring out how a motto that said, literally translated, that outlaws are not silicon carbide could possibly have assumed the meaning that Madame Calagna had attributed to it. Latin gerundives and “false friends” when it came to translation problems had never before been so much fun.
The single longest portion of Les Futuriens focused on Dr. Seuss’ two most serious philosophical works. Horton Hatches the Egg obviously (“at least it’s obvious according to the duke,” Carey said to Kamala over lunch one day) required considerable consideration, not only of the importance of keeping one’s word faithfully, as spoken by the elephant, and irresponsible parenthood as demonstrated by Mayzie, but also of the sequence of Roman “good emperors” from Nerva through Marcus Aurelius and the concept of adoption as a means for monarchical systems to ensure competent successors. Rohan deliberated for some time about the tactfulness of bringing it up, but did finally add a paragraph in regard to the selection by Gustavus Adolphus of Prince Ulrik of Denmark as, for all practical purposes, his adoptive successor as well as son-in-law.
The second, Horton Hears a Who, brought, at least from Rohan’s perspective, a much matured and more sophisticated expression of the thoughts that Seuss had first presented in the much earlier treatise titled The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, emphasizing the premise that everyone in a nation, no matter what his or her legal and social status, was not only of political but also of moral significance and thus needed to be taken into account in the formulation of government policy.
The beginning of May brought a huge sack of mail with all sorts of news.
“So,” Carey said. “Your sister believes that she has found a suitable chaperone for Marguerite.”
“Yes. A Madame de la Rochefaton. The family is from Poitou, very old Protestant nobility. That makes her a good choice, in the sense that no other family will take too much offense at the appointment. She is a childless widow; her husband, who was from a cadet branch, served under my command in the 1622 campaign. Anne has also chosen three girls as ladies-in-waiting: de Brémond, d’Albin, and des Brisay—all very suitable and not of sufficient importance to threaten the status of anyone else. They should arrive within a month.”
“Kamala Dunn has made some decisions also. She is going to petition in the courts here to change the surname of Shae and Shaun from Horton to Dunn. That won’t change any facts, of course, but it will be far less in-your-face upon first meeting. Shae’s going to the University of Prague—she finished her Grantville high school equivalence by correspondence this year, even with her duties for Marguerite. Really, with the tutors the girls have had here, she’s way beyond Grantville high school equivalence in some areas, even if Kamala’s home schooling has barely kept her up to scratch in some other fields. She’ll be boarding with the Fodors. It will work out. Kamala’s sending Shaun to her parents in Grantville. He’s—well, let’s say that he’s never going to make a great academic success, and he has a temper like Johnny Horton’s. Growing up running in and out of the Clarence’s Pump Corporation will set him up for a decent job later on. All that means that she won’t need the nanny at all, any more, and it would be a real imposition if I asked her to keep supervising my kids.
“I’m keeping Ashlyn here—I’m just not ready to send her off to a boarding school, though I’ll have to eventually, I guess, in two or three years. For now, she’s doing fine in the day school for girls. So I’m going to have to find another apartment. Dominique’s going to Magdeburg, so she won’t be here to help babysit Kylie and Joe, or Ashlyn, for that matter. Between the Imperial College of Science, Engineering, and Technology and the American-built hospital there, she can get her medical degree without having to run the gauntlet in Grantville. It won’t be as prestigious as Grantville/Jena, but the stress reduction will be worth it.”
“Bring your children here,” Rohan suggested. “I’m going to have to rent the other half of this house in any case, with more people coming. My brother Soubise has managed to run down and collect a lot of the back rents and dues owing to us and forwarded a bank draft, so I can manage the expansion—just barely, but I can manage it.”
“Won’t Madame de Rochefaton resent that?”
“You aren’t here as my household’s chatelaine. You work for the grand duke. Your chaperonage of Marguerite was described as a temporary measure from the beginning. We will simply make that very clear to her. And I will locate your family’s apartments in such a way that she cannot imagine that you are in any way her subordinate. What is your term? ‘Gover?’ ”
“Gofer,” Carey corrected absentmindedly. “To go for something or someone. A runner of miscellaneous errands.”
He patted her hand. “See how impossible it would be for me to remain au courant in regard to the modern, post-Ring of Fire, world without my resident expert on all things up-time.
“Anne has been less successful in finding a prospective bride for my brother Soubise, however. She complains that there is a real shortage of marriageable daughters among Huguenot families of ducal and princely rank. She is almost hoping, I believe, that some suitable lady will soon be widowed in an untimely fashion.”
“Maybe she should cast her net wider. Too much inbreeding isn’t a good thing. You could tell her to look in the Netherlands, or look at some young women of less than ‘ducal and princely rank.’ Up-time we used to tell each other, ‘get your priorities straight.’ Do you want him to get married for prestige or do you want him to get married to have kids and have a lot of little Rohan toddlers to bounce on his knees?”
“Soubise toddlers,” the duke said. “Marguerite is the heiress of Rohan.”
“This last book is very different from the others,” Rohan said.
“It’s the same illustration style, but it wasn’t aimed at kids.”
The duke smiled, a little ruefully. “Cicero also wrote on old age. De Senectute. Since the beginning of time, I suppose, men have given thought to becoming ‘the creature that walks on three legs.’ But I would not have thought of You’re Only Old Once as a title.”
“It’s a joke,” Carey said. “It’s a lot more common for people to say that ‘you’re only young once.’ The idea is that you should make the most of it, whatever it is, while you have the chance.”
“That may be a commendable idea,” Rohan said. “Related to carpe diem, I presume. I am afraid, though, that after all this effort I am more inclined to embrace another of Seuss’ maxims: ‘They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!’ What do you say?”
“He wasn’t the first person to say that. And you’re not that old, either.”
Shae and Dominique finished reading the Futuriens treatise. “What do you think?” Kamala asked. “Since both of you are both veterans of ‘Dr. Seuss childhoods’?”
“Honestly?” Shae answered. “Well, basically, none of this would have occurred to me.”
“Often,” Carey commented, “an outside perspective is very useful. “Maybe it should have occurred to us what we were really teaching you when we read these books out loud.”
“I think,” Dominique said, “that you should keep on reading Dr. Seuss to the little guys.”
Rohan leaned his arms on the balcony, watching the young people in the courtyard.
“Aren’t they a bit old to be playing with beanbags?” Carey asked.
“There’s no tennis court—the grand duke really ought to build one. If it was just the boys, it would be swords—or in Gerry’s case, perhaps a firecracker or some other pyrotechnical device. They prefer the ‘frisbees’ that he brought, but they sail too far, and the leather is too firm for them to be safe to use in a small courtyard surrounded by windows. Still, there is nothing wrong with keeping a bit of childhood in one’s later life, I suppose, as Dr. Seuss reminds us. Since the girls are taking part in the fracas, beanbags are at least, for the most part, harmless.”
Marguerite, too short to have much hope of intercepting a beanbag thrown overhand from one person to another in mid-flight, ducked under Bismarck’s arm and snatched one just as it was about to arrive in his hand, tossing it into Ruvigny’s face.
“I—often thought,” Rohan said musingly, “until these last few years, I often thought, no matter what other marriage projects arose, that eventually, unless the crown interfered and prohibited it, I would marry her to one of her distant Rohan cousins from a cadet line of the family and continue Rohan in that manner. The Guéméné line would have been best. It is a pity that Pierre had no sons, for they would have been of approximately the right age. Hercule’s son Louis, from his first marriage, married when Marguerite was barely two years old, but his surviving sons are about fifteen years younger than my daughter. Hercule’s sons from his second marriage are also much too young.”
He sighed. “I had seen very little of her since she was a small child, and even then I was rarely in the same household. The military life is not conducive to what Madame Dunn refers to as ‘involved fatherhood.’ Yet, now that I have come to know her, I have grown to like her. Perhaps the members of their ‘Red-Headed League’ are correct. Perhaps she can become Rohan for herself.” He sighed even more deeply.
Carey pursed her lips and then said, with caution, “Your sister Anne is a most interesting correspondent.”
“True,” Rohan said. “Also a most loquacious one.”
“In one of the letters I received from her this spring, she mentioned in passing that the date of M. de Candale’s conversion to Calvinism was not shortly prior to your family’s sojourn in Venice in 1630, as Marguerite told us, but rather in 1616. She does not, by the way, believe that the gossip about his return to Catholicism is true.”
“As far as I know, she is correct in regard to those dates. Also in regard to his religious stance.”
“She wrote, also very casually, that in those years of 1616 and 1617, M. de Candale was a frequent visitor to your household.”
Rohan continued watching the beanbag game.
“However that may be,” he finally commented, “it is possible that it is not the worst of fates if I do indeed have a small elephant bird, which no one can ever know definitely, whatever Anne may hint. I will continue to teach Marguerite to be Rohan for herself.”
“He is most certainly not my son.”
After a few minutes, he continued. “With the troubles in France, which will certainly bring renewed unrest to Lorraine, I anticipate that my service to Grand Duke Bernhard will involve me in battles this summer and very probably next year, even if none of them will be precisely the same battle in which I was killed in your universe.” He grimaced. “Every battle or skirmish carries its own risks. I may well die ‘on schedule,’ and Marguerite still needs a husband—a Protestant husband.”
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