“. . . so since he also holds the rank of prince étranger because of his descent from the ruling house of Brittany before it was incorporated into the territories of the French crown, Papa is not only entitled to be formally addressed as ‘Your Highness’ rather than ‘Your Grace’ . . .”
Carey Calagna winced, forcing herself not to give a frazzled pull at her straight brown Dutch boy bob. She and Kamala Dunn cut one another’s hair these days, and the kids’ hair too, with a little home barber kit that she wouldn’t sell for a fortune. Well, maybe, if they didn’t get electricity in Besançon in the next few years, and she was faced with paying college tuition, she would sell the clippers out of it for a fortune . . . though the kit as a whole in its original box would be worth much more to a collector than an individual piece and maybe she could wear a braid . . .
“. . . although the up-timers in general do not appear to have learned this, but he also has the right to wear a hat in the presence of the king at receptions for newly-appointed ambassadors from other countries. Thus he is of precisely equal rank to General Turenne, who is a cadet of the house of La Tour d’Auverne—his brother is still the independent ruler of Sedan, although not for long, if the king has his way—and Papa also has a hereditary claim to Bouillon in the Spanish Netherlands.” Marguerite ended her lengthy disquisition on the finer points of court protocol as they applied to the ducs de Rohan in a rush of words.
Bernhard, born a duke of Saxe-Weimar and now by conquest and self-aggrandizement the Grand Duke of the County of Burgundy, had hired Carey to explain to his bureaucrats how up-time government worked. She wasn’t entirely sure that the grand duke understood precisely where her unfinished college major in business administration and prior employment as Grantville’s probate court clerk after the Ring of Fire had placed her in the overall hierarchy of “up-time experts.” However, she had been what he could get and he paid well, not to mention that after the conviction of her ex-husband, Norman Bell, for fraud and embezzlement, she had decided their four kids would be a lot better off not growing up in Grantville.
So she and Kamala Dunn, whose kids had been taking a lot of flack at school because of what their father Johnny Horton had done at Suhl, had resumed their maiden names, packed up, and moved to Burgundy. Kamala had been more successful with her medical and public health duties than Carey with her instructional ones. Only a few of the grand duke’s staff had either the time or inclination to listen to her. Only a couple of them had both, considering that she had arrived in 1635, and the Lorraine political crisis and threatened plague epidemic hit almost right away, while now, over a year later, they were spending a lot of time thinking about the developing chaos in France.
She had not expected to learn as much as she taught, if not more than she taught. Or, since she had vaguely expected that she would learn a lot of new stuff, she hadn’t expected it to include a practical survival guide for the courtiers who surrounded the kings of France. Nor, when the duc de Rohan’s marriageable daughter made it out of France and out of the grasp of the new King Gaston’s matrimonial machinations, had she expected to be transferred to the status of combination English and up-time government tutor and senior chaperone for said daughter. But Rohan, in exile from France for several years for leading yet one more Huguenot rebellion, was now one of the grand duke’s senior administrative deputies, so Bernhard had handed her over.
At the recommendation of Gerry Stone, that little red-haired mischief-maker! It was supposed to be temporary, until the duke’s sister arrived to serve as the female head of his no-longer-bachelor household.
She’d been 32 when the Ring of Fire hit. Add another five and a half years—she hadn’t expected to learn the new stuff from a girl who could easily have been her daughter, if she’d started popping out kids as soon as she graduated from high school. As it was, Dominique was only five or so years younger than the perpetually chatting Marguerite, duchesse de Rohan. Dominique was now a lady-in-waiting for said duchesse, along with Kamala’s daughter Shae Horton. That was supposed to be temporary, also, until Marguerite’s aunt could sift through the competing claims and desires of various prominent Huguenot families while trying to eliminate candidates who might be planted as agents for the benefits of their families—or, to be more honest, those who would be more so than usual, since all ladies-in-waiting were essentially agents put in place to further the interests of their families. In another illustration of the proverb that things are lonely at the top, the preferences of the lady upon whom they would be waiting rarely had anything to do with who was chosen.
When Carey resurfaced from her internal monologue, Marguerite might have finished with court protocol, but she was still talking, having moved on to the ever-fascinating (at least to a lot of people, both up-time and down-time, but not to Carey) discipline of genealogy. “Our senior line of Rohan descends from René I de Rohan who died in 1552 and held the titles of vicomte de Rohan, prince de Léon, comte de Porhoët, seigneur de Beauvoir and de La Garnache. In his day the feudal holdings in Brittany had not yet been sold off—even Papa was born at Blain . . . .”
The chatter continued non-stop until Marguerite yawned. “I have to go to bed. Ever since M. von Bismarck startled Papa by proposing to him that I should become Rohan for myself, the very idea frightens him so much that now he expects that I will come to him for two hours every morning, right after he rises and before breakfast, to receive lessons on being Rohan. Since Papa rises three hours before dawn, I suppose I can only be grateful that there is hardly any social life in Besançon.”
Grand Duke Bernhard’s decision to live in the Hôtel de Champagney in the Battant Quarter, on the right bank of the Doubs River, outside Besançon proper but still inside the city walls, had been taken mostly on practical military grounds. If he wanted to be near his soldiers, then it was either the Quartier Battant or the Citadelle, the second of which he regarded as highly impractical. The Bonvalot family had not been thrilled, even though they had received a fair price for their house—nearly new, after all, built only 70 or so years earlier!
It also meant, though, that Rohan’s former quarters had been a little cramped for his suddenly-increased household, given that they consisted, at the time Marguerite arrived, of two rooms in the former Hôtel Jouffroy, which over time had become the Inn of the Green Lion, one of which had provided sleeping quarters for him and his secretary and the other of which had been a parlor, library, office, and general all-purpose room. Unsurprisingly, he ate out. He had been fond of his view, though, which included the old Roman bridge across the river that gave access to the city proper.
Two rooms would not do when he had a daughter in residence, for a daughter involved a chaperone, a couple of ladies-in-waiting, a couple of maids at a minimum, a kitchen, a cook . . . His mind had boggled, so he had called in a real estate agent, and they were now occupying half of the Hôtel de Buyer in the main part of the town, at an utterly exorbitant rent. But it was, at least, a modern house, built during the previous century in the Italian style, far less drafty than the older medieval ones. Moreover, he had a private study to which he could retreat when the level of female chatter became unendurable. He had left his secretary in his old rooms in the Green Lion and used those as his office. Early morning walks were beneficial to an aging man’s health, after all, and he found the thought that the up-time encyclopedias said that he would be dead in two more years rather discouraging, even if Bernhard did keep repeating that he had, after all, been killed in a battle that there would be no need to fight in this version of God’s creation.
Security, he thought. The followers of Ducos would not, perhaps, be indifferent to the chance to attack him, and by extension attack him through his household members. He added six footmen to the household staff, two to be on duty at all times. As he was not required to make an elegant appearance for court society, he did not hire matched sets of well-built young men, but rather unmatched sets of recently retired non-coms from Bernhard’s army. What they lacked in elegance, they would probably compensate for in vigilance.
Marguerite’s arrival had not been the only cause for the restructuring of his household, though. “I,” he had announced one day at dinner, “have decided to write a treatise on up-time assumptions and attitudes.” In the comparative peace of his new study/library, he had been thinking about this for several weeks. Being far too busy a man to go visit Grantville and study his subjects in situ, he had asked the grand duke for some of the up-timers already in Besançon to supplement his reading. Using Marguerite’s arrival as a rationale, the grand duke had generously complied by transferring those he had determined were, for his purposes, least useful—namely Madame Calagna and a couple of female children—keeping the specialists in medicine and the mechanical arts for himself.
From Rohan’s perspective, those least useful to the grand duke turned out to be the most useful to him. As Marguerite had explained to Carey, by appointing up-timers who were, if not Calvinist, at least not Catholic (like the down-time dressmaker, Susanna Allegretti, who had come out of France with her) to his daughter’s household, the duke could, for the time being, manage to not offend all the families of French Huguenot nobility who thought that such appointments should go to their wives and daughters equally, but none of them particularly, and thus not exacerbate rivalries among his potential supporters should something happen.
Something, Carey suspected, was the revocation of the ducal exile. She personally thought, just based on reading the newspapers, that something might happen when hell froze over, but so far no one had asked her opinion on that matter.
It didn’t hurt, of course, that the up-timers now resident in the ducal household could help elucidate the deeper meaning contained in the collected works of Dr. Seuss.
The two Dr. Seuss books requested by Gerry Stone for Marguerite had arrived the previous month. She read them, with assistance from Shae and Dominique, with mild interest; her father read them with much deeper interest. Since Ruvigny and Bismarck were back on active military duty for Grand Duke Bernhard, they wrote hasty thank-you notes to Gerry saying that they’d be sure to take a look at Yertle the Turtle when and if they got back to headquarters and had time. In the meantime, Yertle, which had arrived in the same package as the other two, reposed in the study of Henri duc de Rohan, who read it with utter concentration and the utmost fascination.
Then he hired a researcher in the SoTF State Library to find out more about Seuss and his works: how many books? how many copies of each book? where had they been located prior to donation to the State Library? how many more copies of each (non-donated) might be in the town? at what rate had they been checked out of libraries before the Ring of Fire? how many had been in the schools? etc. He bought copies of those for sale (damn the cost!) and hired an illustrator to make hand-produced copies of the rare ones, exact in dimensions and colorations. He requested information on reprints, multiple editions, variant editions if any, scholarly studies that had been made of the genre up-time, etc. His researcher had eaten well for several weeks.
Both Grand Duke Bernhard and the duc de Rohan had assured Carey that her position as Marguerite’s chaperone was temporary. Toward the end of November, Rohan’s spinster sister, Marguerite’s Tante Anne, would arrive to become the female head of her brother’s expanded, no-longer-bachelor, household.
Well, errr. She was supposed to arrive. What actually arrived was a letter. It appeared, according to Marguerite’s report, that Uncle Soubise also requested Tante Anne’s services and she opted to stay inside the borders of France and help him hold the Rohan banner high. Tante Anne had, in fact, rather ranted about Papa’s imprudence in having taken Marguerite to Burgundy, because while her personal safety was one consideration, if the family was to maintain its standing and influence at the court, its members have to be at the court, whichever court it may be, and the family needed to decide which direction they would throw their support to in the matter of Gaston’s troubles. This might be the only subject upon which she agreed with her sister-in-law. This had been followed by a dozen questions—had Rohan been in contact with the king in the Low Countries, did he know where Anne of Austria and her son were, had he heard what Mazarin was currently up to and . . .? “Well, also,” Marguerite said, “she wrote something unflattering about the Maman and Candale and whatever they are up to. Papa did not read that part to me, but I will find out, I assure you. Then she finished by saying that Papa should rely on his brother and sister, and it was much more important for them both to be in Paris than for her to come here.”
Rohan said to Carey, rather ruefully, that his sister was very stubborn – this referencing her willingness to accept imprisonment after the defeat of the Huguenots at La Rochelle rather than be included in the amnesty, and her several years of captivity, along with their equally stubborn mother, at the Château de Niort in the aftermath. Under the circumstances, he requested that she and her family, along with Dominique Bell, remain in his household for longer than the original appointment.
Carey, just as ruefully, agreed. It had dawned on her that refusing the requests of dukes, unless one had a very good reason indeed, simply was not done. Certainly not when one was living this far from Grantville and being paid by a down-timer. Kamala Dunn agreed to keep Ashlyn, who was almost the same age as Kamala’s Shaun, along with little Kylie and Joe, who had been born after the Ring of Fire, in what had been (and, she hoped, would again be) their joint household as long as Carey kept paying her half of the rent and three-fourths of the wages of their full-time babysitter. At least Shaun and Ashlyn were in school most of the day or going to individual tutors for music, or dancing, or riding, or all the other miscellaneous stuff that respectable middle-class down-timers taught their kids, and the town was small enough that they could walk.
“I think you would have liked Tante Anne if she had come,” Marguerite said. “Just like Grand-mère Rohan was, she is very highly educated and knows several languages, including Latin, of course, and less Greek, but even while she was in prison after La Rochelle, she found some wandering Scotsman to tutor her and used the time to learn English. She is still very strong and healthy, even though during the last weeks of the siege of La Rochelle the inhabitants were reduced to living on four ounces of bread per day or less, and many people there got sick and died. She is talented and brave, a patroness of Mademoiselle Schurman in Utrecht. She writes poetry, too, although in my estimation it is far from being the best poetry in the world. In fact, it is not very good. But some of it is interesting, especially the poems she did for her sister, Tante Henriette, who died about a dozen years ago, back when she was in love with the duchesse of Mantua-Nevers.”
“With the duke?” Carey asked cautiously, still a bit uncertain of rapidly-spoken French.
“Oh, no. With the duchesse,” Marguerite answered with good cheer. “It is called Sapphic love. Tante Henriette was quite heartbroken when the Duchesse Catherine died.”
“I, ah, see.”
“When we go back to Paris, because surely we will because Tante Anne is right that I cannot stay in exile permanently if Rohan is to maintain its position in France, I will take you and Shae and Dominique. Then you can come with me to the salons, because I like femmes savantes much better than Maman does, and meet many interesting intellectual ladies.”
That evening, Carey commented to Kamala Dunn that she was less than enthralled by any such prospect. “I signed up for Burgundy,” she said, “not Paris.”
“Ask Marcie Abruzzo and Matt Trelli,” was Kamala’s answer. “I think they’ve learned that when you work for Grand Duke Bernhard and Archduchess Claudia, you go where you’re sent. It’s along the same lines as the up-time proverb that if the army wanted you to have a wife, it would have issued you one. It’s probably pretty much the same when you’re working for Rohan. They issue the orders and you obey them.”
“Honestly, Marguerite, I’m surprised you didn’t have a crush on Ruvigny,” Dominique said.
“Oh, umm. That you didn’t think you were in love with him. Since, you know, he was really the only young guy you actually knew and all that sort of thing.”
“Oh, then, I did have a crush, for years and years. He had been wounded when he came to Venice. I was 12 years old. I thought it was very romantic. I thought about him with hearts and flowers in my head, dreamed about him as my hero, and wrote, ‘Mme. de Ruvigny’ in the margins of my cahiers when I was studying languages.”
“What made you stop? Or have you stopped?”
“Yes, I stopped.”
“Did you, umm, find out that there was something wrong about him—something that made him unsuitable to be a hero?” Shae asked.
Marguerite shook her head. “Henri is brave. His wound was from a duel. He fought several duels when he was a young Royal Guardsman, but I do believe that he has outgrown it now. He has good sense and honor; he is upright and prudent. I stopped dreaming that dream the day I became old enough to realize that even if by some improbable constellation of the stars, my father gave permission for me to marry him and the royal court concurred, there would never be a ‘Mme. de Ruvigny’—that anyone who married me would have to become Rohan. And, well . . . I’m pretty sure that he wants a wife who can be, will be, ‘Mme. de Ruvigny’ for him. In many ways, he is very conservative.” She smiled slyly. “Does somebody else here have a crush, perhaps?”
“Not me!” Dominique disclaimed in a hurry, pointing a finger at Shae. “Her!”
“Someone else?” Marguerite asked. “Bismarck, maybe?”
“Oh, no, no,” Dominique said. “I want to be a doctor. Since I’m too old for school now, I follow Kamala Dunn around when I’m not being your lady-in-waiting and learn as much as I can from her, and the Padua doctors when they will let me. But to become a real physician, I’ll have to go back to Grantville, to work some of the time at the Leahy Medical Center while I do the course at the University of Jena, and I’m not sure that I’d have a very warm welcome there.”
“It sounds to me,” Marguerite proclaimed, “as if Grantville is a very narrow-minded, petit bourgeois, kind of town.” She drew a deep breath and looked at Shae. “You can forget about Henri de Ruvigny, too, unless you just want to waste as much time sighing as I did.”
“Because, if he’s going to make a successful career, he needs a wife with a dowry, and I can just hear your mother now. ‘A dowry? They expect me to bribe some guy to marry my daughter? If he doesn’t value her for herself, he can simply go to hell!’ ”
Shae winced. “Yeah, I can hear her now, too. But why does he need a dowry?”
“His family are the least of the noble ranks. Petit noblesse, untitled, just as one speaks of petit bourgeoisie, the small shopkeepers and such in towns rather than the wealthy merchants and bankers. His father was Daniel de Massué; he held three estates, from which their designations as seigneur derive. I have read quite a bit in the histories of your up-time world. Together, the three, Ruvigny, Renneval (or Raineval) and Caillemotte, which came to them through Henri’s mother, who was a lady-in-waiting to the duchesse de Sully and a widow when she married Daniel de Massué, would not altogether make a single ranch in the beautiful Colorado with all the mountains larger than most of the Alps. He lives on his army pay now, and on it he can barely support the style of life expected of a captain. But because of his sister Rachel’s extraordinarily amazing remarriage to the important English Lord Southampton, which is the only real, true, and genuine fabulous love story I know of, Henri can become an officer of higher rank or leave the army and make a career as a diplomat, but only if he has the money to support it, you understand. So he must have a dowry. Preferably a dowry that has a nice girl attached to it, because we all love him, wish him well, and hope that his marriage will bring him happiness. But there simply must be a dowry—a large dowry.”
“Okay.” Shae rested her chin on the heel of her hand, her face gloomy. “I can see that. To tell the truth, even if Mom didn’t freak out at the word ‘dowry,’ she’d never be able to come up with one that size. A lot of people think that all the up-timers are rich, but we aren’t. The grand duke pays her a really good salary, but there’s housing, food, saving for our education—all that. With Dad executed for treason, there’s no way I’ll ever qualify for a scholarship in Grantville, any more than Dominique will. She’s nearly eighteen now and unless Carey can come up with the money to send her to Prague, she’s in a bind. My brother Shaun will be ready for university in a few years—some university other than Jena, which is too tightly tied to Grantville now . . .”
“Stop!” Marguerite waved a hand in front of Shae’s face. “Tell me, why are the Grantvillers so upset about Suhl and your dad? Or Dominique’s father and that money he embezzled? Honestly, there probably isn’t a noble family in France that doesn’t have at least one member who has been beheaded for treason, or imprisoned for malfeasance, at one time or another. That’s just a normal part of participating in politics. Some other member of the lineage will come into the king’s favor at the next turn of events. So, explain!”
Shae couldn’t even think where to start.
Dominique managed a save. “The grand duke hired my mom to explain American government to his staff,” she said. “I think you ought to ask her, since the duke works for the grand duke and you’re the duke’s daughter and she’s temporarily your chaperone. Maybe you should ask her about Bill and Monica and impeachment, too, since we’re even younger than Gerry Stone and remember even less about it than he did.”
Marguerite nodded solemnly. “Yes, I should make a special appointment with Carey, just for this. I honestly do not understand this ‘impeachment’ at all. Especially not for having sex. It’s not as if it was your president who was wearing the blue dress and the beret. People have sex all the time and she, this Monique, wasn’t even from an important family of the opposition party.”
Dominique grinned. “I’ll put it on your calendar. And I want to listen in, just to see how Mom gets through this one.”
“Me too,” Shae said.
Carey heaved a deep sigh. Explaining Monica Lewinsky to a seventeenth-century French noblewoman, aged 19, had been easy compared to explaining Dr. Seuss to a seventeenth-century French nobleman, aged 57. Le duc de Rohan, carrying through on his decision, had tackled the challenge of obtaining originals of the more common works and down-time copies of the more obscure works. Every book that Seuss had written, as far as she could figure out, had been in Grantville at the moment of the Ring of Fire, in at least one copy. Most were there in multiple copies and the most popular in multiple, multiple, multiple copies. Once they hired a researcher at the State Library to track the things down systematically, Dr. Seuss outranked even Harlequin romances. The duke had been delighted.
She wasn’t proofreading. Her French was nowhere near that good. She was stumbling through Rohan’s rather academic French, trying to understand how he thought about the whole matter. He had entitled it Les Futuriens, with a subtitle of A treatise on these people from the future (ces gens du futur) and how their ideas and philosophy of life may be expected to influence our times.
It would not have occurred to her to discuss the Ring of Fire by starting with an introduction on “The Role of Aesop’s Fables in the Development of Western Culture.” Nonetheless, that was where Rohan had started, so that was what she was reading. The premise upon which he based this was that, “a culture can best be understood by way of the values it inculcates, via incessant repetition, into its youth.” Followed by, “Theodore Seuss Geisel, the Aesop of the Futuriens: A Brief Biography.”
That was as far as the duke had gotten as of this morning. At the rate she read French, it was more than enough to last her the rest of the week.
Rohan waved a letter. “It looks as if this household is about to have uninvited guests.”
“Can they just come?” Carey asked. “Without an invitation.”
“The letter is from my sister Anne in Paris. It appears that she has invited them on my behalf. Her former English tutor, a man named Robert Traill, is now a most formidable Scots Presbyterian clergyman, a grim Geneva minister. At the time he had already graduated from St. Andrews and was in France to study at our academy in Saumur. Her tutor’s brother is also employed as a tutor and is currently shepherding a young Ulster nobleman around Europe on his grand tour – not his first enterprise, since he’s already been around the continent a couple of times, once with a son of Lord Brook and again with a son of Lord Carlisle. This boy is a couple of years older than he should be for such an experience: the original intent was that he should come in 1633, but he is an only son and his father delayed his departure because of the troubles with the League of Ostend. They’re basically on their way home, now, but the tutor wants to get his charge out of France, so they will detour in our direction and finish their trip through the western USE.”
He glanced at the letter again, threw it down, and screamed “Non!”
Carey said nothing.
“The father, the Scotsman, is one of those who defrauded Con MacNiall O’Neill of most of his lands thirty years ago. This is not an accident. The tutor and this . . .” He looked at the letter again. “. . . this Hamilton have been lurking in Paris, waiting until the conclave was over and Owen Roe O’Neill and his associates were well out of Besançon. Anne, also, never does anything without some motive, some reason. I need to know more about these people.”
He picked up his newest toy. He had read about “ringing for” a servant or secretary, but one of the up-time mechanical artists had told him that the cost of installing such a system in what was, after all, a rented house would be more expensive than it was worth. As he was frowning, his daughter’s young dressmaker had asked, “Why don’t you just get a cow bell?” So he had. No one could hear it from more than a room away. Then Ron Stone had sent, from Grantville, a genuine long-handled 19th century brass school bell. The din that arose when he shook it brought a footman into the room at a rapid trot.
Rohan tossed the letter to him, though he was still talking to Carey. “My sister says they are coming so that this young Hamilton can obtain an understanding of what Grand Duke Bernhard is organizing here in Burgundy and a comprehension of the issues in regard to the occupation of Lorraine. I don’t believe it for a minute.” He turned to the servant. “Take this to my secretary at the Green Lion and tell him to find out what is going on, as fast as you can—what is on their minds and what is on Anne’s mind.”
The man backed out, holding the letter as if it might catch on fire at any moment.
“So,” Rohan said, “these juvenalia, Madame Calagna. What do you think of them?”
Carey raised her eyebrows. “No Latin here, Your Grace. No Latin at all. Well, maybe a few words, but they all have to do with probate law.”
“These books designed for young children just learning to read.” He reached under his chair and fished out Fox in Socks, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Hop on Pop. “In this last, for example, we have information regarding up-time family structure and the relationship expected to exist between a father and his children. Thus, although normally one would not consider them to provide insight into the up-time culture, I have concluded that they can be useful for understanding the up-time cultural milieu and the up-timers’ mentalité. I do believe that there is such a thing as a mentalité of a group, a people, or a nation. If I did not, I would scarcely pursue this project.”
He smiled. “Not to say that some will be of considerable utility for Europeans of our own day when faced with the bewildering nature of English pronunciation, both contemporary and du futur. As an appendix, I will include this poem, “English is Tough Stuff,” provided by one of the English teachers at Calvert High School along with a copy of Oh, Say Can You Say?, even though that book itself will deserve only a short notice in a footnote. It says something about a culture if its own members can laugh at themselves.”
Before she could answer, his secretary called him to a meeting with several members of Grand Duke Bernhard’s Kloster. She wasn’t surprised. He didn’t usually expect her to answer a rhetorical question along the lines of What do you think? as contrasted to very specific questions such as What is this thing? accompanied by a finger pointing to one of the illustrations. For the second kind of question, the duke expected very specific answers indeed.
Before they made the trek up to the Citadelle, Carey had thought there was really no reason to do this in the dead of winter. Surely a public dedication ceremony for the new central heating and intercom systems in the garrison’s barracks and mess hall could have been postponed until . . . um . . . somewhat . . . better . . . weather. Everyone invited, at least everyone who accepted, which for a grand ducal invitation was almost everyone invited, was arriving on foot. Grand Duke Bernhard refused to allow his horses to be taken out unnecessarily in this minor storm, which certainly said something about how the ghastly stuff falling from the sky today related to the rest of the winter yet to come. So, as the grand duke was walking, they were all walking.
Once the Rohan household managed to climb up the steep, winding, path, in spite of sleet borne by the prevailing wind, she sent a mental apology to the grand duke, and also to his soldiers who had endured the first couple of months of the oncoming winter without central heat. And also, she thought, all of last winter up here, too. It was like being on top of a windswept mesa. In the Arctic Circle. The only thing missing was a hungry polar bear.
At least the number of invited guests had been limited, so the ceremony was in the mess hall rather than outdoors. The grand duke, his important officers including Rohan, and the technical staff, both up-timers and down-timers who had completed this job successfully, headed for a set of temporary bleachers at one end. When Carey looked around, Marguerite was shrugging off her furs and the other girls draping their cloaks and hoods over large wooden pegs set around the walls.
The speeches didn’t keep them long. The technical staff undoubtedly appreciated the complimentary nature of the comments, but, as the grand duke said, he was pretty sure they would appreciate the bonuses for coming in ahead of schedule and under budget even more. The expressions on their faces when they opened the envelopes he handed out indicated that his assumptions were quite correct. Within two hours, everything, including the remarkably terse and concise remarks by a few town officials (the grand duke tried to be nice to the city fathers, given that he had stolen their status as an imperial city right out from under them) and the refreshments, was over. The grand duke had said that it had better be over on time, given how early it got dark this time of the year, because he didn’t want anyone falling and putting himself out of commission by breaking a limb on the way back down to the town and the Quartier Battant.
The invited guests moved across the drill field and down the path as a group. The grand duke, the Kloster, and Rohan were spending the night in the barracks as guests of the garrison commander and would hold a review of the troops in the morning, weather permitting. Marguerite stopped just as they reached the door and ran back to make a curtsied good-night to her father, so the rest of them paused. By the time they came out, they were several yards behind the last stragglers among the other invitees. Then Dominique called, “Where’s my tote bag?” They stopped again, while she, with one of the footmen, ran back inside to retrieve it from the peg where she had hung it.
Carey drew a relieved breath when she spotted the outline of the Church of St. John the Baptist ahead. It was getting dark fast now, but once they reached the church, the worst of the downward slope would be behind them, and the path would turn into a street—a narrow street, but at least paved.
“Watch yourselves,” the footman in front called back as they walked around the little bend where the path skirted the steps into the church. “Just as soon as you get to the paving, this sleet has frozen hard and you’ll be trying to walk on ice.” Then he called again, “Wait a minute, everybody. Stop now.” Past the church, toward the archbishop’s residence, there was a small cart overturned, blocking the center of the street, with two donkeys standing on the right side, tethered to one of the cart wheels, and no driver in sight.
Marguerite tried to stop, stepped forward just enough to put a foot on the paving stones, slipped and grabbed for Carey’s arm. Both of Carey’s feet went out from under her. She landed hard on her rump, pulling Marguerite down with her, also rump first. Shae, close behind, tripped over Marguerite and landed on her face a little to the left, her arms thrown out in front of her. They would have been in the ‘over her head’ position if her head hadn’t been pointed along the downward slant of the path.
Then a man came running out of the archbishop’s winter-dead gardens, slipped when his feet hit the pavers, and tripped over Shae’s arms. The footman who had been walking in front of them turned around in time to see a second man who held in his left hand something that was glinting in the bit of light that came out of St. John’s doors behind the group. He started to move, but was defeated by the rain that was freezing on the now-upward slope he was trying to traverse. He fell on top of the man who had fallen on Shae.
Dominique, still standing on the rougher path above the paving stones, yelled, “Ride ‘em, cowboy!” swung her tote bag by its long handle at the second man, and let it fly. He dodged back a little, slipped, and fell.
The footman at the rear of the party managed to stay on his feet long enough to come forward six feet and deliberately sit on the second attacker.
Carey shook her head. “What happened?”
Marguerite blinked. “I don’t have the slightest idea.”
Three of the watchmen who were responsible for security on the archiepiscopal grounds showed up. Two helped Rohan’s footmen. The third did not exactly run, but at least minced cautiously around the overturned cart and down the narrow street in search of the city guards. Carey and Marguerite scooted backwards onto the rougher path where Dominique was still standing and managed to clamber up without falling again. The two footmen stood up cautiously, holding onto the attackers with the help of the watchmen. Once the attacker who had tripped over her arms had been pulled part-way off her body, Shae tried to push herself up, screamed, and vomited all over him.
The city watch arrived with bags of sand that they strewed in front of themselves before they put a foot down, which Carey, now huddled with Marguerite and Dominique in the vestibule of St. John the Baptist and drinking hot mulled cider sent over by the archbishop’s cook, decided was the most sensible thing that anyone in Besançon had done all day. The archbishop’s housekeeper sent out heated blankets to put over Shae. Kamala, moving very cautiously, arrived with her medical bag and several more members of the city guard bearing mantle lanterns and even more sand. She diagnosed a triple break in Shae’s left arm, one in the forearm, one right above the elbow, and another not four inches above that. The first, she said, probably was a result of the fall, but the other two were caused by the attacker’s accidentally stomping on the arm with his heavy boot when he tripped.
She put splints on right there in the street and then looked around.
The watch sergeant shook his head. “There’s no way we can take her down these icy streets on a stretcher tonight, Madame. There is too much danger that we will fall while we try to carry her and hurt her even worse.”
The archbishop’s housekeeper had arrived with more hot blankets to go on the stretcher before they carefully rolled Shae onto it. “Bring her inside the palace,” she said.
One of the watchmen looked a little worried. “Will Archbishop von Rye agree to that?”
“Well, he’s not home. He’s in Dôle this week. But if he was, he certainly ought to,” the housekeeper answered, “since he’s supposed to be a Christian man. His uncle the late archbishop certainly would have agreed, which I know because I had the honor of serving in his household for nearly forty years before he died last summer.”
Rohan’s footman nodded. “Hard to argue with that.” He picked up the front end of the stretcher, with two of the archbishop’s watchmen on the back.
“But why?” Marguerite asked the next morning. It was closer to noon, actually.
“Grand Duke Bernhard’s people are questioning the attackers,” Rohan answered. At first light, they had sent a footman up to the citadel to let him know what had happened and he had come down immediately. “It appears that they are supporters of Ducos, the man who led the assassination attempt on Urban VIII. The first one, that is—the one in Rome that the Stone boys and their associates averted. These two men have been in the city since last summer, doing casual labor. Their original purpose was to disrupt the conclave, but apparently they never found a suitable opportunity. Or, possibly, their astonishing incompetence became so obvious that Ducos’ other supporters excluded them from their counsels. Neither man appears to be a clear thinker. They both rant, making odd connections between hating popes, and hating up-timers because they prevent the death of popes, and hating me because I sent my brother Soubise to England in an effort to bring their leader to justice—or, as they think, in an effort to persecute their leader for heroically attempting to rid the world of popes. They do not appear to have had any contact with Ducos himself, even by way of correspondence, for nearly 18 months, so they can’t provide us with any good intelligence as to where he may be.
“So far, it is not clear whether the attack was aimed at any specific one among you, or at all of you, or had any determinable purpose at all. They certainly did not take into account that there isn’t a single one of you who has ever so much as seen a pope.”
“This Hamilton’s father began life as nothing but a schoolmaster,” Rohan’s secretary reported, “the son of a Presbyterian minister, who in turn was the illegitimate son of some minor ‘laird’ as the Scots name their untitled nobility, but still just a schoolmaster who went to Ireland fortune-hunting and opened an academy in Dublin, thereafter becoming associated with the founding of Trinity College there. A cunning fellow, by all reports, but still just a schoolmaster. Then, in the service of King James of Scotland as he weaseled his way onto the English throne, the father became first Sir James Hamilton when he was 50, after he had acquired a lot of Irish land by more than dubious means, and then, some dozen or so years past, Viscount Clanboye. Thus the young man coming is the heir to a title of nobility. A new title, a minor title, an Irish title, but still a title. All this comes, of course, from my recent brief and hurried visits among the Scots officers in the service of Grand Duke Bernhard and is hearsay. Or gossip. Still . . . The father holds a lot of land in County Down, acquired by defrauding Con MacNiall O’Neill, one of the most powerful of the native Irish chiefs, but still a lot of land, with his title confirmed by the English monarch when said King James of Scotland became King James of England, and more granted to him by the same King James elsewhere in Ulster. Old man Hamilton is past 70 now, but still very much alive and healthy—he divorced two childless wives before he took a third. She is Welsh and some thirty years younger than he is. Her father bought one of the baronetcies that King James put on the market for money; her brother now holds it. This boy is an only child, so one can only assume that Clanboye puts a lot of faith in the lady’s virtue by believing that her son is his.”
“Or was so anxious for an heir that he was willing to accept any son born in wedlock,” Marguerite interrupted.
“Little cynic.” Rohan smiled. His daughter rarely bypassed an opportunity to make a snide reference to her illegitimate maternal half-brother, Tancrède.
“I would say,” the secretary commented, “that the precise relationships among the dates of the boy’s conception, his father’s second divorce, and his parents’ marriage appear to have been somewhat obfuscated.”
Rohan rapped his knuckles on the table. “This O’Neill you mentioned—what relation is he to Owen Roe O’Neill who was here in the summer?”
“Was, not is. Brother-in-law. They were also multiply cousins in varying degrees, of course, but that is the closest connection. Con MacNiall O’Neill left two sons also—when he died in 1619, they were just children. They were taken as wards of chancery, raised in England as Protestants, and are currently both serving as officers in the Low Countries. Thus far, neither of them has married.”
“So the Hamiltons will be in feud with Owen Roe?”
“Certainly, and with the Montgomerys as well, who did the first level of fraud against Con MacNiall and then old man Hamilton pulled a favor from King James and got a third share of the whole of the Clanboye lands. Hugh Montgomery did the work of breaking O’Neill out of prison at Carrickfergus and then Hamilton cut himself in on the payoff.”
“As the second element, I believe . . .” Rohan paused for a sip of coffee. “When I first tasted this beverage, Madame Calagna, I thought it to be surely the most horrid substance that any person ever voluntarily took into his mouth. Yet, within the week, I tried another cup of it. Then another, a couple of days following. Now every morning, and occasionally, as now, in the evening. It is quite insidious, so enlivening for the mind, rather than the dullness that ensues from hot cider.”
Carey nodded. She had no objection to drinking coffee at the duke’s expense. It still cost quite a lot.
“As the second element, I believe I will focus on this And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The analysis must inquire what was, or will be, the role of simple entertaining imagination in up-time culture. In this book, we see the encouragement of a child’s imagination as the imagery becomes ever more elaborate, while simultaneously warning that he should never lose his hold upon reality, as indicated by the final passage in which he goes back to the plain horse and wagon before he replies to his father’s question. This, too, as in Hop on Pop, can possibly be tied to the nature of relationships that the up-timers assumed to exist between fathers and sons.
“I think ‘relationships that most up-timers thought ideally ought to exist between fathers and sons’ would be closer to the mark.”
“He hulks,” Shae said.
The guests, Mr. Hamilton and his tutor Mr. Traill, had arrived.
“He’s disgusting,” Shae said, “and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Twenty years old, twenty pounds overweight, too much hair, and the expression on his face only manages to go from pout to sulk and then back again. For all the world, he looks exactly like some over-entitled WVU frat boy trolling through the evening in search of a girl who’s stupid enough to swallow a doctored drink.”
“Mom’s a nurse, and she’s a realist. They may not have roofies down-time, but they’ll probably come up with something else, so she’s made sure I know all about what some guys do. All he does is grumble and gripe.”
“Well, I’ll grant that.” Dominique giggled. “First he gripes that he hasn’t had any fun at all on his European tour, stuck with this tutor, meaning Mr. Traill, who was recommended to his father as ‘a very learned, discreet, and religious master.’
“I’d love to go to Italy, myself, but Hamilton just said, ‘We went to Florence and Rome, first, which involved a lot of art galleries and language lessons.’ Then he griped, ‘After that, he made me go to Geneva, of all the dull spots on earth that he could have found. We were there much longer than I had any wish to be, because Mr. Traill decided to qualify for his ordination and receive it there, in the home of Calvin himself. We have duties of piety at the beginning and end of each day. Once we got to France, I got to start my day, after prayers, mind you, at 7 a.m. with two hours study of French or Latin, then classes in dancing and fencing, then oral French, followed by an hour of translation, followed by logic and mathematics.’
“On he goes, blah, blah, blah.”
“Dominique, you are a wicked mimic.” Shae grinned.
“I tried, honestly. I said that surely Mr. Traill gave him some time for entertainment and off he went again. ‘Only if you think that literary salons are entertainment. Or, while we were in Geneva, sermons.’ ”
“Then what’s he doing here?”
“Well, according to Susanna, who heard it from the cook, who heard it from one of the footmen, who heard it from Hamilton’s manservant, while they were in France, he and Mr. Traill heard the gossip regarding a search for a husband for Marguerite. Given the troubles in England, Scotland, and by extension Ulster, Hamilton decided that it’s probably not smart for him to put all of his eggs in the basket his father manipulated his way into, and that he, being definitely not only Protestant, but Presbyterian, and not quite a nonentity, clearly qualifies as Marguerite’s future husband. So they weaseled their way into getting the duke’s sister to send them here. It looks like Marguerite has a suitor on her hands.”
Hamilton did not like Shae and Dominique any more than they liked him.
He was outright rude to Susanna.
Hamilton and Traill had not been in residence for a week when a package arrived from Marc Cavriani, “wherever he is at the moment,” Susanna said. Her face was cheerful enough, but Dominique thought that the bright tone in her voice was more than a little forced.
The girls all started pulling off the wrapping paper right there in the entryway.
“Oooohhh!” Susanna screeched with delight. “It’s a little nativity scene such as the Italians make. He must have ordered it all the way from Naples. Unless he’s back in Naples, of course.”
Traill’s voice came from the door leading into the salon. “Destroy those idols at once.”
“No!” Susanna screeched, hugging the box to her chest. “It’s mine!”
Hamilton, following Traill into the entryway, reached out and snatched the box out of her hands. He was about to pull the little carvings out and smash them on the floor when Shae and Dominique each grabbed one of his wrists, Dominique with both hands and Shae more by poking her good arm through the crook of his elbow and tugging.
“Give me back my crèche!” Susanna’s voice, echoed and amplified by the tile floors, resounded as far as the duke’s second-floor study.
“Mom,” Dominique screamed. “Mom!”
“Marguerite,” Shae yelled. “Ms. Calagna!”
The footman stationed by the front door looked on rather helplessly, not at all sure what his duties might be in a situation where dissension arose among his betters in the household in which he had taken service.
“Give her back the crèche,” Rohan said as he came down the stairs, followed by Carey.
“There can be no toleration of idolatry,” Traill screamed.
“There obviously is,” Rohan pointed out. “In spite of the storms of destruction that our co-religionists visited upon stained glass windows, statues, and paintings in the previous century, very large numbers of them do still survive. Artists create more day by day. I would think that you would have noticed this during your various tours of Italy. I see no real sign that God is busily striking them down.”
“Not in a Reformed household, though,” Hamilton said, trying to shake the girls off his arms. “In Ulster, we have been very scrupulous about repressing the mistaken practices of the surviving natives.”
“This Reformed household,” Rohan said, “happens to be mine rather than yours.”
He beckoned the footman, who, with some relief at having an order he should clearly obey, took the box away from Hamilton and then looked around blankly, wondering what he should do with it. “Give it back to the girl.”
Rohan waved in Susanna’s direction. “Take it up to your bedroom and leave it there.”
Susanna curtsied and backed out of the hallway as fast as she could.
Rohan looked at his uninvited Scottish guests. “Has either of you, perhaps, ever heard the name ‘Leopold Cavriani?’ ”
“It’s very hard to focus on serious scholarship in the middle of all this domestic turmoil,” Rohan said. “However, in regard to the third major section of Les Futuriens, I believe I will subdivide it into several subsections. The first will be headed: Underlying Moral and Ethical Presuppositions. I will begin with this subsidiary story about Gertrude McFuzz and the repudiation of worldly vanity.”
“It was scarcely universally accepted up-time any more than it is down-time,” Carey commented. “This can be documented by the amount of time that girls spent in shopping malls. Susanna . . .” She paused. The duke had a lot going on. “Do you remember who Susanna is?”
“The little Italian Catholic girl whose nativity scene caused such a fuss.”
“Yes. Well, her reaction, when she read the story with your daughter, Dominique, and Shae, was very hostile to the whole underlying premise. Well, after all, she is a court dressmaker. After objecting, she requested permission to draw copies of some of Gertrude’s more fantastic feathers, which she planned to send to M. Cavriani for forwarding to the silk weavers of Lyon, thinking that they might make lovely designs for brocades.”
Rohan cleared his throat. “I have recently paid some of Marguerite’s bills for various feminine fashions. My household was much more economical when I lived in two rooms and her mother paid her bills. Conclusion: the moralists of the up-time had no more success with this premise than those of the Hebrew prophets, those of classical antiquity, or those of our modern day, although this record of unblemished failure did not keep them from trying.”
“My Lord Duke,” James Traill began. His voice was quivering with barely restrained outrage. “My young master”—he gestured at Hamilton—”has observed that you permit your daughter’s dressmaker to leave this house on the Lord’s Day in order to attend the blasphemous Catholic mass. It is bad enough that the Grand Duke has not closed all of the Catholic churches in this city but rather permits them to continue to be used for this unacceptable purpose. It is worse that he allows his wife to have a Catholic confessor and to maintain a private chapel in their residence itself. But he is a Lutheran, and therefore, what could a person expect in the way of zealousness?
“However, it is worse that you, a professor of the true Reformed faith, do not require this young woman to attend the Lord’s Day observances in your own household in order that she may hear scriptural sermons and be informed of her errors.” His general squawks of outrage continued for quite some time.
“If we want la religion prétendue réformée to be tolerated in France,” Rohan commented, “which for my part I most certainly do, I think it behooves us to extend some toleration to the practices of others.”
“Certainly not!” Hamilton exclaimed. “It is one thing for us to require that errorists tolerate truth, but quite another for those of us who hold to the truth to tolerate error. Just let me tell you a little about the superstitions of the native Irish peasants with whom my father has to deal.” Which he did.
“I assure you that the lands of this Irish Catholic chieftain that my father claimed—for that matter, also the ones that Hugh Montgomery obtained and the ones that Con O’Neill kept—lands in Upper Clandeboye, more around The Great Ardes and around Castle Reagh, were entirely desolate and gone to waste.”
“I don’t suppose,” Rohan asked, “that their condition might have in any way have been the result of the English wars against the Irish during the fifteen years preceding your father’s settlement? Non?”
“Well,” Hamilton answered, “the Irish had resisted all the prior efforts at Protestant settlement, so the condition of the land was their own fault. Queen Elizabeth’s agents had to put down the resistance, obviously. The region was almost without population. Therefore it was only right for the king to confirm grants to men such as my father who were willing to bring in Protestants from Scotland, settle them, and once more assure a flow of rents to the landlords and taxes to the royal treasury.
“In fact,” he barreled on, “I believe that it would be only fair to say that the successful efforts of my father and some other Ulster entrepreneurs served as the pattern that encouraged King James to authorize the plantation of Jamestown in Virginia and other ventures in the Americas. Therefore,” he beamed at the up-timers, “your nation and your very existence were?, are?, will be?, actually the result my father’s enterprising nature. Part of what Mr. Traill has made me study is the nature of the “Scotch-Irish” settlements in West Virginia. My opinion is that all of you owe due gratitude to the Hamiltons.”
“A little bit full of himself, maybe?” Shae asked later that day.
“What I would like to know,” Dominique didn’t answer directly, “is why he has been spying on Susanna closely enough to know that she goes to mass. Isn’t he supposed to be listening one of Mr. Traill’s properly Calvinist discourses on Sunday mornings?”
“He’s probably trying to trap her and rape her,” Shae said. “That’s what villains always do in novels. They ravish the maidservants.”
“I don’t think so,” Susanna said. “Young Master Hamilton is following me around, but I believe that he is looking for my nativity scene, so that he can destroy it. He did force his way into the bedroom where I sleep, but I wasn’t there. Neither was my crèche. I hid it better than that.”