The terrified servant handed the message to Johnny von Sachsen as he and his younger brother, Augi, entered the elector's palace in Dresden. It was terse and to the point.
Come to my bedchambers. Now.
In their father's handwriting. John George I, Elector of Saxony, was not a subtle man.
"Wonderful." Johnny heard the disgust in his voice. He handed the note to his brother. "Simply wonderful. What have you done now, Augi?"
"Me?" hissed Augi. "Why does it always have to be me that our father is unhappy with? You're the one who got us into this mess, with your record players and American radios."
Johnny looked at his rotund brother and shook his head. "It can't be that. Maybe he's heard about your indiscreet comments to the French ambassador. Calling him a drunken pig and a disgrace to Saxony was just too much."
"Wait a minute. You started it with your comments about how ashamed you were of him. I was just following your lead!"
The two young men continued their bickering all the way to the elector of Saxony's bedchambers.
When they entered there were only three people in the room. A bad sign. Worse was the presence of their father's personal guard dogs, Fang, Dagger and Granite. The boar-hounds were each two hundred plus pounds of dark gray fur and muscle. Granite growled at them as they entered and the elector clouted him on the head.
"You can't eat them just yet, Granite. Shut up."
John George the First looked at his court dwarf, Maximilian, and motioned him out the doors. Johnny felt the boom of their closing like a knell of doom.
The elector's blond hair and beard were beginning to gray but his broad shoulders were still firm and muscular. With the toe of one foot he pushed a jumble of wire and wood in the direction of his sons. "Do you know what this is?"
Johnny took the initiative. "Wood and copper wire?"
The elector snorted and took a swig from his beer mug. "Tell them, Benedict."
The other man in the room stepped forward. Benedict Carpzov was one of the Elector's most trusted privy councilors and an expert in German and Roman law. "Crystal radios, as I am sure you both know. Confiscated right here in the palace."
Carpzov looked at John George, then back at Johnny and his brother. "The elector is not amused. You were responsible for stopping the influx of radios into this area. Yet you cannot even keep them out of the palace!"
"We tried!" Augi threw his hands in the air. "But they are too easy to make! Everyone wants to listen to the broadcasts. Every time the soldiers capture or confiscate radios, the parts, or those pamphlets at one point on the border, they pour through at another. It's impossible!"
"Bah," spat the elector. "Tried my sainted ass! I'm tired of your useless whining! Benedict will now be in charge of this task, and you will assist him in any way you can. We may be at war with the fucking Swede and his pet Americans by next spring and we don't need our people listening to the enemy's mindless blathering. Get this done, and do it quickly."