Paris, spring, 1633 An Art Studio in Saint-Germain-des Prés
“Walls, walls, and more walls!” An overcast dreary day did little to illuminate a wall-sized canvas with large swaths of fabric still untouched by paint, and even less to brighten Paul’s grumpy outlook. “I’m sick of painting bricks. Jacques, switch with me. I want to paint dirt for a bit.”
Jacques Moillon looked up and said, “The floor is stone. There is no dirt to paint.”
The lanky apprentice rolled his eyes. “It’s a floor. There is always dirt on a floor.”
“Not right after it’s cleaned. And I don’t think our noble patrons want their portraits painted standing on a dirty floor.”
The third boy, Calvin, looked up in interest, “We are painting nobility? I thought the patrons were guild-masters.”
Paul sneered at his cohort’s hopeful expression. “Guild-masters or nobles, what does it matter? The master will be painting all the portraits and we will be stuck painting stone walls until the end of time!”
A chorus of groans greeted this pronouncement, followed by a quick flurry of motion as the supervising journeyman glanced in their direction.
Jacques snickered and bragged, “You guys will be painting stone walls, but it’s less than a fortnight before I go to Grantville. I’m sure the magicians there have magical ways to paint backgrounds without the need for apprentices to go cross-eyed from staring at painted bricks. Maybe I’ll be nice and tell you the secret when I get back.”
Jacques smiled slightly as he watched his pompous pronouncement being received with scornful and envious glares by the other boys. “No way they will tell master-level secrets to a mere apprentice. And a bad one at that, just look at that boring molding he just did.”
“Oui,” Calvin agreed cheerfully. “He paints like a girl.”
“No,” Paul smiled slyly. “He paints worse than a girl.”
Jacques stiffened in anger and replied with the most obscene gesture he knew.
The boy on his right instantly responded by punching Jacques in the arm. Unfortunately it was his painting arm and the brush was loaded with exactly the wrong shade of paint.
The supervising journeyman instantly left his own canvas and materialized behind the trio. The master would hold him responsible if the canvas was damaged. Watching the boys, keeping them busy and out of trouble, was his responsibility, after all.
“Paul, wipe that up before it sets.”
“But Jacques is the one who smeared the canvas,” the boy protested.
The journeyman snorted. “Only after you jostled his arm, therefore the mess is your fault. Be glad you were only painting background. Eyes on your work now, and no more horseplay.”
Paris, the Moillon home
“Damn it? Why me?” Jacques demanded of the universe. Even after coming home, he still had work to do and errands to run. “‘Fetch your sister to dinner!”‘ he snarled. “Anyone else, you could call up the stairs, and they’d come down. But not Louysa. No, not my famous sister with her oh-so-important paintings!” Jacques clomped into the studio and called her name. “Louysa, food is getting cold.”
The intently-focused young woman at the easel ignored him as she carefully adjusted the highlights on a furled leaf. Jacques glared at the disgustingly perfect wood grain in the painted table. He knew from previous paintings the tabletop would end up almost entirely covered in fruit but it was still perfect and incredibly detailed. Just like every other perfect bit of his perfect sister’s perfect paintings.
“Louysa, it’s time to eat already. Louysa!” Jacques’s voice rose as he tried to get her attention. Annoyed, the teenager finally resorted to tapping her shoulder lightly. She jumped and a few small flecks of paint landed on the canvas.
“Jacques, why did you startle me?” She stared in dismay at her work. “You ruined it.”
“Ruined it?” His incredulous voice broke embarrassingly on his rebuttal. “You call those little speckles ruined?” Suddenly he could stand no more. He knocked the canvas off the easel and kicked the frame apart. Canvas is too strong to tear by hand, even by adolescent fury. But it will burn quite well if tossed into the fireplace. As he watched the flames lick higher, Jacques softly commented, “Why did the Lord waste so much talent on a girl?”
Grantville, 1633, early summer
The door chimed in the pre-dawn twilight and Lyman Seeley staggered blearily into his art gallery. His assistant, Samuel Franklin, folding up the couch bed, smiled cheerfully. “Good news. It looks like the clouds are wonderful today.”
Lyman glanced in his direction and articulately replied, “Guh . . .”
Samuel nodded to a bowl-covered breakfast plate on the desk. “Melle left you breakfast.” She cooked for Samuel every morning before heading to her day job. “I’ll fetch you a cup of coffee. You have just enough time to finish eating before the sun hits just right.”
Lyman’s latest painting of his beloved Oldsmobile was of the sunrise reflection in the gallery window, but the weather had been gray and overcast for the last few days.
Lyman sat at the desk to eat while Samuel rearranged some paintings to better complement each other when he hung two more irreplaceable parts of the old man’s collection to replace yesterday’s sales, the first in a week. Then he checked the two easels and the assorted painting supplies. Lyman would be painting outside this morning. Samuel set his own blank canvas up indoors.
Lyman swallowed the last of his coffee and packed the empty dishes to the sink in the back room. On the way to the back, Samuel was arranging the coffee table with flipbooks for sale. Lyman paused and looked the book collection over. Samuel could almost see the gears turning in the old man’s head. “The dragon copies are running low. Looks like I need to order up some more prints. Sammy, how many do you think I should order from the printer?”
“Go ahead and order up a run of two hundred,” Samuel replied. “I’m going to hire the flip-book kids to color them instead of doing it myself. I want to finish working up my next flipbook.”
Lyman scowled, “A new flipbook? Why waste your time on that when we got a waiting list for paintings?”
The young man smiled. “Everyone on that waiting list specifically requested you. My last two canvases are still hanging on the wall waiting for you to fill in portraits and we can’t keep the flipbooks in stock.” Samuel could see the conflict in the old man’s eyes. The artist in Lyman wanted to continue arguing but, retired or not, no accountant can argue against cold, hard sales figures.
Samuel laughed. “We can talk more later. Sunrise is starting and you’ll miss it if you don’t hurry.”
Lyman gasped and quickly grabbed his brushes and palette. On the way out the door, he turned back to his young assistant. “Don’t start the next canvas yet. Go ahead and make your flipbook.”
Soon after, despite Lyman’s opinion of appropriate hours to be to receiving customers, a man, one woman on his arm and a second one in tow, came in, ignoring the hours posted on the door. Samuel had been through it before. They would argue that since someone was there, the gallery was obviously open. After all, the door was not locked. One woman and the man immediately began intently scrutinizing the paintings. The other young lady simply drifted listlessly around the room. The novelty of time-traveling paintings seemed to hold no more appeal than the bland white walls for her. Samuel started to show her the flip books as he would a bored child when she stopped in front of the canvas on the easel with rapt longing.
Samuel quickly put down his sketchbook and prepared to make the easiest sale of the month. He wondered which painting he had mistakenly placed on his easel but . . . no. His memory had not lied. All the paintings were properly hung and the canvas was blank.
“Louysa,” the lass on the man’s arm called out in what Samuel recognized as pure Parisian French. When he had been a mercenary the fellow he had learned French from had been a snob about it. This was different however. He would later find out that was because it was proper French and a far cry from the rude and crude language of the camps. “Come away, dear. Be polite. That is not your canvas.” It sounded almost condescending, as if she were talking to a dimwitted child.
“But Odette,” Louysa complained,” It has been weeks since I’ve gotten to paint and it’s all ready to go.”
Mischief twinkled in Franklin’s eye. “I’ll sell you the blank canvas,” he offered.
Louysa snatched up a pencil and started sketching on the canvas before the haggling even commenced.
Pierre Le Blanc looked at his wife and sighed. Odette shrugged. The trip had been going so well. Something was bound to happen. Odette did not take her eyes off her sister.
“Louysa!” A very stern, authoritative, no-nonsense, male voice reverberated across the room.
Odette could clearly tell that Louysa was oblivious. He might as well be talking to the canvas as to her sister. There was a time the young Louysa had been known to put a brush to any unattended work in progress. When she absolutely would not stop, no matter how strongly or how harshly she was admonished; her father gave in and got the young girl an easel of her own. In short order, the family learned to see to it that she always had at least one blank canvas available, especially when the girl’s paintings proved marketable.
Her husband sighed again. He had argued that taking Louysa away from Paris was a mistake. Other than going to church, Louysa never wanted to leave the house, which, considering some of her odder ways, was a good thing.
Pierre turned to Samuel, “I am so sorry for the inconvenience. How much for the canvas my sister-in-law has spoiled.”
Samuel named a price. It was clear to Odette that he expected to be bargained down.
“You have me at a disadvantage,” Pierre said. “But that is way too high and you know it.”
“Well, it includes the loan of the easel, the palette and studio space. But I guess I could come down a little.”
“But,” Pierre countered, “when she’s done, you will have a painting to hang in your gallery by a famous painter.”
“She’s famous?” Franklin queried.
“Yes! She is listed in your library.”
“In the encyclopedia?” the man could not keep the respect out of his voice.
“No, we are told she is not there. She was named in a book on women in the arts.”
“Oh.” Disappointment tinged his voice. “The truly famous are in the encyclopedias. Still, being named at all is impressive.”
Samuel knew that a book on women in the arts would be one of the books the high school art teacher had donated. She was of the opinion that women’s contribution to the arts throughout history were under-reported. With the world flocking to Grantville’s libraries, she wanted to change that as much as she could.
Samuel had spent quite a bit of time in the library going through any book dealing with art. He glanced at the canvas and took note of the outline of still-life peaches. With that piece of the puzzle, added to their being from France, and this being 1633, Samuel asked, “Do we have the pleasure of hosting Louysa Moillon?”
“Oh, then you have heard of her! Surely, having one of her paintings hanging in your gallery is worth some consideration.”
“Well, if you’re leaving us a finished painting, I guess I can let her have the canvas.”
“On consignment, of course.,” Pierre insisted. “So I should be paying something for the canvas.”
Samuel’s momentum was broken and he let the canvas go at just over twice what it cost. A price he did not think adequately reflected the loan of the palette or the studio time.
“But tell me,” Pierre asked, “do you have any paintings in the gallery that are actually finished?”
Samuel smiled in understanding and went to the stash of educational books Lyman had brought to the shop. Very early on in his acquaintance with the up-timer, he had asked much the same question, “Why was no care given to hide the brush strokes that interfered with or detracted from the realistic image on the canvas?” Passing over two coffee table books, one on King Tut and the other on James Bond, Samuel chose a National Geographic magazine. Putting the rest back, he handed the magazine to Pierre. “Open it and take a look.”
Samuel watched Pierre’s face and told himself, Do not play poker with this man. The Frenchman’s strong body language of disdain and condescension that manifested itself when he asked his question did not change. Only his dilating irises and the pinking of his ears gave Samuel any sign as to what was going on in the man’s head. At last the Frenchman asked, “Why are these in a book instead of in frames?”
“Because, they are too common to be valuable. The up-timers had machines capable of capturing an exact likeness and then printing thousands upon thousands of copies.”
The Frenchman reached out a hand and lightly caressed a glossy image of a lily. “How much to buy this?”
Samuel gently shook his head, “This book is not mine to sell, but there were many, many photographs that came back through the Ring of Fire. Even now, there are several places in town selling them.”
The art dealer nodded in acknowledgement and asked, “And the machines to make these images?”
“Those were less common and are priced much higher, but it would do you little good to own one without the special chemicals to make it work.”
“So, it is one of the lost arts of the future, a wonder that will not be seen again.”
“No, quite the opposite. The exact mix of ingredients was a carefully guarded secret, but not the ingredients themselves. Apparently, it is only a matter of figuring out the precise measurements in order to make more. The experts predict someone will figure it out and have new photographs for sale any time now. When that happens, there will be no reason for artists to spend hundreds of hours duplicating what a machine can do in mere heartbeats. In the future, painters decided their job was no longer to simply record. The painter’s job is to interpret. He seeks to show what a person is thinking, who the person is, not simply what a person looks like.”
The Frenchman frowned. “Yes, meaning and allegory have always been the purpose of art. But even so, shouldn’t a painting be finished?”
“How long does that take? Do you put in the time to capture the perfect likeness just to compete with a camera? Even when the camera does it better, faster, cheaper? I read about one fellow up-time who did not even use a brush. He slathered on paint with a palette knife and wads of paper and did his paintings in mere minutes. Even though his finished works looked nothing like a real tree, people could still recognize it as a tree. Morris Katz liked to say, ‘No one can afford a Rembrandt, but anyone can afford a Katz.’ ”
“You have nothing like that here!”
“True. What Monsieur Katz did was classed as modern art. Master Seeley does not appreciate, nor buy, modern art. If you want to see photos of it, go see the high school art teacher’s collection of books. There are also some artists in town who are experimenting with the modern art form.”
Pierre gently closed the magazine and sighed heavily. “My problem is that I cannot sell what you have here. No one in Paris would buy it, because they will see it as unfinished.”
Samuel handed him a flipbook. “Fortunately, we do not need to sell our collection in Paris. It is enough that there are rich people here who want to own a painting created three hundred years in the future. Most of what we sell are souvenir portraits where we paint people in Grantville and flip books.” He pointed at what he had just handed the Frenchman.
Pierre looked through the book one page at a time and was unimpressed. “These are not paintings! And they are not these photographs. They’re printed line drawings of wood-carvings, and not of the best quality, either!
Samuel took it out of his hands, closed it, and then flipped it, causing the dragon to land and spew fire. Pierre jumped back. Then immediately he grabbed the book out of Samuel’s hands. He flipped through the book several times, speeding up and slowing down. He stopped to look at pages one at a time. Along the way, his face cracked. Awe and wonder fought with fascination. What he did not do was ask, “how is it done?”
“You make these?” It was more of an accusation than a question.
“How much?” Pierre demanded.
Samuel named a price.
“The lines are printed. Then someone added color. How much for one hundred, uncolored and unbound?”
“That is a question you will need to put to Master Seeley, though I would appreciate it if you would wait until he comes in. He is busy painting the sunrise now.”
Sunrise was nothing more than a vivid memory by the time Lyman put down his brush for a much-needed break. The well-waxed black paint and polished chrome of the Oldsmobile had needed only subtle color accents to finish. More obvious was the brand-new wash of intense color filling the gallery window and windshield. Because he was facing west, the sky was less dramatic and really needed the brilliant purple and pink cloud formations for proper balance. Lyman had painted sunrises before, but never with his back to it. The old man was enthralled by the unusual perspective. His palette was full of carefully-organized hues and he had even taken the time to write some notes. Not as good a reminder as a snapshot would have been, but it would have to do.
He stepped back to admire his work and nearly tripped over two teenagers who had been quietly waiting for him to finish. “Graham, you almost gave me a heart attack! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”
“Sorry, sir,” Graham Piazza apologized. “I didn’t want to cause an accident while you had a loaded brush.”
Lyman nodded in approval at this explanation and gestured for the boys to help him carry the easel back inside. “Why are you here so early, anyway? Don’t you have school, young man?”
“Our first class isn’t until next period so Otto wanted to see if you’d sold his flipbook yet,” the boy explained.
The old man laughed. “The cheerleader animation? We only bought it yesterday. It’s not had time to sell yet.” Lyman opened the door and paused to let his eyes adjust. “Then again, Samuel is dickering with someone. He might be selling your flipbook right this minute.” Lyman walked over to the cashbox and pulled out the accounting books. He loved being there when a sale was made.
A strange woman was busy using Samuel’s easel. The boys wandered over to take a look. The still life on the canvas barely had any paint on it yet.
“Mr. Franklin,” Graham asked Samuel quietly, “Why is someone else using your easel?”
Samuel Franklin smiled in pride and announced, “She is one of the one percent.” Everybody who came to Grantville got around to seeing if they were remembered in history. They almost never were. The number was actually far less than one percent. “She is none other than Louysa Moillon, the best French still life painter alive.”
Otto stared at her with round eyes. “She has an encyclopedia article about her? Wow!”
Samuel shook his head slightly. “She’s not quite that famous, only a mention in Woman’s Art History.”
“That is famous enough!” Graham replied. “Hardly anyone that comes to Grantville actually finds themselves remembered. My father has stories about some of the hissy fits people throw when they find out history forgot about them.”
Samuel bowed in appreciation of his point and turned to explain the Frenchman’s offer to Lyman. After the multilingual haggling for the unbound flipbooks finished, Pierre said, “Thank you for the tip about photographs. I’ll see how many I can buy.”
Samuel responded, “If you are planning to frame the individual pages, ask to buy damaged magazines. That way you don’t have to worry about destroying one of the few remaining complete copies.”
The art dealer laughed. “And the prices will be lower as well!” He headed for the door with no other thought than the profit he could make on selling Grantville photographs.
Odette pouted. “Don’t I get a goodbye first?”
Pierre stared blankly, remembering that he was now a married man. “You aren’t coming?”
“Louysa is painting. I need to stay here and chaperone her.”
“And I was so looking forward to seeing the wonders of Grantville with my darling wife,” Pierre lied.
Fred, the treasurer of the animation club, ran breathlessly to a small tree in the schoolyard. Two other members of the club were already waiting on him. “Sorry I’m late for the meeting, the halls were crowded.” Normally an official meeting of school clubs would be in a classroom, but even the broom closets were booked solid a semester in advance. There was no place for an emergency club meeting.
Club Vice-President Elke Schmidt smiled. “You’re not late. Anna hasn’t come back from the printers yet.”
Graham Piazza, Fred’s best friend (and the only non-officer present), freaked out, “That means there is a problem! She would only be late if there was a problem.”
“Chill out, Graham. There’s not a problem.”
“Of course there’s a problem! There has to be a problem. No other printer in town will touch printing flipbooks. There are too many drawings, which means too many woodcarvings to do for each flipbook. Too many lines in my animation to carve properly. I should have used fewer lines.”
“You couldn’t use fewer lines! It wouldn’t have looked right,” Elke protested.
Fred slung his bag to the ground and sighed. “Relax, man. The prints of your airplane flipbook are going to sell great. We’ve already got five pages of pre-orders. And look. There’s Anna. Can you stop freaking out now? Please?”
“Got the proofs,” Anna Holt said as she arrived.
Graham grabbed them, stared in disbelief, and freaked out again. “This is not what I drew!” The young man was loudly adamant, heart-broken, and angry. More angry than anything else.
Anna winced and said, “I know it doesn’t match your animation but it’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad! The runway looks like a drunk driver drew it, and the plane is wobbling so hard its flapping its wings!” The irate boy kept flipping the book over and over in hopes that the right speed would improve matters slightly. “My animation was an absolutely perfect rendition of the Las Vegas Belle taking off. I spent weeks at the airport to get the details accurate, weeks of fighting the crowds for the best spot, and weeks of every noble or merchant there insisting on being the one to buy the original. I only started the pre-order list so they would stop interrupting me!”
Elke said, “He is right you know. We can’t sell them this print when they all saw the original in progress. We will have to do hand-drawn copies to fill the orders on the list. We’ll just have to tell the woodcutter we can’t pay for this.”
“Sorry,” Anna, the president of the club, said, “but I already ordered a print run.” Three identical expressions of shocked disbelief echoed in the silence.
“I told him to use a cheaper grade of paper, so we can still sell them at the beginner club member prices and still make a bit of profit.” Three more identical expressions of suspicion stared back at her.
“But it’s not what I drew!” Graham’s face looked like he was in physical pain. “It’s horrible.”
Anna looked at him. “You’re going to get paid the same per copy as you would if it were perfect.”
Graham’s face froze.
“In the end it will be a whole lot more than selling the original and it will keep right on selling,” Anna added.
Graham’s face softened.
“You can still take the original to Mr. Lyman at the gallery. The print run is extra money you wouldn’t be getting otherwise.”
“That’s true,” Graham replied, mollified when he started thinking about money instead of art. “I guess it’s all right.”
“At least you can tell it’s an airplane!” Anna said, hoping to mollify her cohorts. “The quality is at least as good as the Brillo stories we have the beginners start with these days. And I bet airplanes will sell just as well as that stupid sheep does.”
Fred bit his lip and considered the prints again. “Eh, this would be pretty good for someone’s first animation. Worth selling at least. I second the vote to have him start carving Bad, Bad Brillo prints next. Besides, all the beginners in the club are getting tired of drawing Brillo and want to move on to more difficult stuff.”
Elke giggled. “Almost all the beginners, anyway. I think Resi will be happy to keep drawing the adventures of that stupid sheep for the rest of her life.”
The club president nodded decisively and said, “Okay. From now on, we’ll take the best Brillo stories and have them made as woodcarving prints. Sales proceeds will go to the woodcarver until he’s paid off, and a flat fee to the original animator for the idea.”
“Why from now on?” Elke asked. “The club already has a ton of Brillo animations to pick from.”
Anna blinked in surprise. “How? Didn’t we already sell all the originals?”
“We sold the finished, inked copies, not the original sketches,” Graham explained. “How can you have been in the club for almost a year and not know that?”
Anna rolled her eyes. “Honestly? My eyes just glaze over when everyone starts numbering their pencils and passing colors around. I don’t care! Get back to the part about copies and originals.”
Graham looked ready to either explode or laugh. Elke wasn’t sure which so she decided to plow ahead with an explanation. “Anna, the animations are easiest if we use very thin paper so you can see the previous frames behind the current drawing. We also use pencils, so it’s easy to erase mistakes and adjust lines. But the pencils smudge, the thin paper doesn’t flip well, and by the time you finish a flipbook animation your drawings are usually a mass of scribbles. So, once we finish, we ink the completed animation onto fresh paper. That paper is the thick, expensive paper that flips well and looks good. The original sketches are then thrown away or filed as keepsakes. Depends on how much the artist liked it.”
Anna tilted her head in calculation. “So every ‘original’ animation we’ve ever sold is really a copy? How hard would it be to make enough ‘original’ copies for everyone on the pre-order list?”
“Well, it’s not like tracing a clean copy takes very long. Especially with a light-box. Problem is that the school art room is booked solid and there is no way to get more time.”
Yeah,” Graham agreed. “That’s why I always do my clean copies at my grandma’s house instead of at school.”
Fred whipped around and glared at him. “Your grandma owns a light-box and you never shared?”
“Not a real light-box. Just a glass coffee table and a small lamp underneath.”
“A whole table of glass?” Fred replied in awe, “I bet we could fit half the club around it at once!”
“No way.” Graham shook his head. “Grandma won’t stand for tons of kids piling into her living room every day. I might sweet-talk her into allowing it for day or two, but not for the weeks it’s gonna take to fill five pages of orders!”
“That’s ok,” Anna said. “We don’t need the room—just the table.”
Odette looked up as the doorbell rang. A young redheaded woman accompanied by the most appetizing smells entered the store. She exchanged smiles with Samuel Franklin as she arranged the food on the table. Noticing the stranger dressed in Parisian fashions sitting on the couch and a second stranger painting, she said, “I only brought enough for three. Would you like me to get you lunch too?”
“Yes, thank you, and for my sister as well. I don’t want to leave her alone and I really don’t want to interrupt her painting.”
Soon Melle returned bearing an abundance of cuisine for the already delectable repast on the table. Odette waited until her sister’s brush was empty and then gently called out, “Louysa, lunch is ready.”
The young woman startled and lost her grip on the palette. It easily evaded her clumsy grip and tumbled to the tile floor, smearing paint all down the front of her skirt in the process.
“Don’t worry,” Samuel said. “It’s hardly the first time paint was spilled on that floor. It will wipe up easily enough.” His reassurance was unable to halt the flood of tears coming from Louysa as she stared at the mess on the floor.
Melle exchanged a long glance with Samuel. In the mercenary camp they had both seen this response many times. The up-timers had simply given the name “PTSD” to a phenomenon that was already unpleasantly well-known.
“Excuse me,” Melle asked, “but did you run into soldiers on the road?”
Odette bristled. “What business is that of yours!”
“We’ve seen this fear before,” Samuel explained. “Many of the refugees and soldiers coming into town act fearful or angry. The up-time doctors say it is because their mind is injured and, like a physical injury, they can get better. It’s possible they can help your sister.”
“No,” Odette said sharply, thinking to end the conversation. “The trip was routine.”
“Then did she lose a child?”
“No.” Melle pushed, but her tone of voice and body language led Odette to the conclusion that this redheaded provincial from Brittany wasn’t just being nosey. She really did care.
Sensing a chance to share a burden kept always inside—even the family hardly spoke of it—Odette opened up. “But either would seem to be a reasonable guess. My sister has been acting like she was raped or lost a child from before we left Paris. But . . . it was only a painting! Worse still, because she never leaves the house except to go to church with the family, the neighbors would think one of the men in the house was the rapist. Once a rumor like that gets started, nothing we could say would ever change it.”
“A painting?” Melle asked. “What do you mean by that?”
“Our brother, Jacques, was supposed to be coming on the trip as an apprentice art dealer. But after he destroyed Louysa’s current canvas in a childish fit of jealousy, Papa decided he wasn’t going anywhere. Not until he had put enough paint to canvas to pay for what he destroyed, at least. I talked the family into letting Louysa come instead. After all, she would just sit around staring off into space unless Jacques was in the room. Then she would tremble and shake like a leaf in the wind.
“It was just a painting! I don’t know why my sister is acting this way.”
Samuel shrugged eloquently, “You can injure a foot with a cannonball or a cobblestone. Either way, you cannot walk until it is better, but the cobblestone injury will heal faster than a foot shattered by a cannonball.”
Odette laughed. “If the shattered foot heals at all! But I see your point. Whether a painting or a child, a loss is still painful and requires time to heal. I’ll try to be more patient with my sister.”
In no time at all, everyone in the animation club—and a day later, the town—knew about the famous, exotic French painter who seemed to have taken up residence in the art gallery. The kids started coming around after school to see. They were admiring, full of enthusiastic comments and praise. Louysa had never really heard comments on her work from non-family members. Family comments were low-keyed and tended to be critical. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of her adoring fan club. All of that positive energy was a bit of a distraction. For the first time in her life, she found something she had trouble ignoring.
“Mademoiselle Moillon?” Tanja asked as she peered over Louysa’s shoulder.
The French girl kept right on painting as if she had not heard.
Undeterred, Tanja asked again, “Mademoiselle Moillon?”
Still the French lass ignored the younger German girl.
Melle, from where she was sitting on the couch chatting with Louysa’s sister, Odette, spoke up in German. “Tanja, Louysa is the only name I’ve ever seen her respond to. I don’t think she thinks of herself as Miss Moillon. If you want to practice your French, try calling her Louysa.”
The painter looked up from her work at last. “Oui?”
“Why do you only ever paint fruit?”
Louysa shrugged. “When I started painting, Papa said to paint fruit.”
In a softly-spoken aside on the couch, Odette commented to Melle, “Papa told her to paint fruit because no one would sit for a portrait by a little girl.”
“Oui,” Tanja said. “But why just fruit? Why don’t you paint something interesting like pizza.”
“What is pizza?” Louysa asked.
“You don’t know what pizza is?” Tanja exclaimed. Turning to the kids with her, she translated the conversation into German and then finished with the surprised remark, “She doesn’t know what pizza is!”
“So?” Tanja’s sister, Anna Marie, responded. “You didn’t either before we came to Grantville.”
“Hey, Fred!” Tanja called out to where Lyman was paying for the flipbooks he’d just bought. “Louysa has never had pizza. How can she paint a pizza if she has never had one? You’ve got the money. Let’s take her down to Marcantonio’s.”
Anna Marie spoke up, “Your treat. We’re broke.”
Fred looked at the money in his hand. He was feeling rich at the moment; one of the purchased flip-books was his. “Sure. I can do that.”
“Mademoiselle Louysa,” Tanja switched back to French, “it is time you found out what pizza was. Put the palette down.”
“We won’t be that long.”
“Fred’s buying. Come on.”
Odette, on the couch, chimed in. “But—”
Melle said to Odette, “You can see Marcantonio’s from here.”
“They’re good kids.”
Melle said very firmly, “It will be all right.” Then she called to Tanja in German, “Be sure to bring her right back.”
The kids hustled Louysa out of the gallery and down the street. Odette stood and watched them go.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Odette worried. “I should go after her.”
“Odette, let her grow up. You can stand right here and watch the front door of the pizza place. The back door is through the kitchen, so she’s not going anywhere else. Let the girl grow up.”
“Lyman,” Melle called out, “bring the desk chair over here so Odette can sit down while she watches Marcantonio’s front door.”
Lyman brought over the chair. Odette looked at it and not wanting to be rude, in spite of her better judgment, she said, “Merci,” and sat down. Then she started to stew and fidget.
In due time, the kids returned Louysa to the gallery.
“How was the pizza?” Melle asked.
“Show me the flip-books,” Louysa answered.
Odette watched her sister look at each of the books the gallery had on hand. When she was at an end, Louysa said, “Odette, get me some of the right kind of paper, please. I’m going go back to painting, now. We need the money. But I want to try my hand at doing a flipbook. The children said they were fun to do and I think they’re right.”
On the day they were scheduled to leave Grantville, over breakfast—out of nowhere—Louysa dropped a bombshell. “Pierre, you are going on to Berlin and elsewhere. Let me stay here and paint. You can pick me up when you’ve made your rounds looking for something to buy.”
“But you would need a guardian,” Pierre objected.
“We could ask Master Seeley to take me on as a short-term apprentice. I trust the man. He feels like Papa.”
“That might work,” Pierre said. “Still, if you are his apprentice, it implies that there is something for you to learn from him. Would we want to imply that someone in Germany would have anything to teach us about art?”
“You can’t say there is nothing we can learn here. There are those flip books you bought. . . .” Louysa answered. Pierre was surprised. As absorbed as she had been in painting, he didn’t think she even noticed his flip book purchases. “I know you, Pierre. You are going to want to sell original books, not just the copies you bought. I bet you’re planning to have Jacques color them before binding.”
“Yes, I most certainly will have your young brother color them. We need something out of him to make up the loss for what he destroyed. The Good Lord alone knows if he’s ever going to produce a canvas I can hang.”
“He’s only fourteen,” Odette objected. “Not everyone can start selling paintings when they’re nine. Let him grow up. His friends were taunting him about Louysa being remembered when he isn’t even mentioned. Not like any of them were remembered either. But—”
“Yes,” Pierre admitted. “I can understand why Jacques was driven to a jealous rage.”
Odette spoke up and voiced something all of Paris, all of France, had been thinking. “If Grantville really did have anything to offer, surely the Lord would have sent it to France. If I didn’t know it was impossible, I’d be wondering if the Lord’s aim was off.”
Pierre shrugged. “With all the marvels we’ve seen here, I’ve been wondering that myself.”
He turned to Louysa. “You could paint small works to cover the extra expense of staying here. The little ones always sell the quickest. More people can afford them. What do you think, Odette?”
“I really don’t see why not. And you are right. She will need a guardian. She will also need a chaperone. I should stay with her. I would be worried sick if we left her here alone.”
“Berlin is no closer to home,” Louysa continued to attack an argument she had already won.
Pierre replied, “If Master Seeley agrees, we will need to find the two of you more affordable quarters. Unless your apprenticeship will extend to your housing, and considering where Samuel sleeps, that is unlikely.”
Anna stepped into the gallery, out of the rain, somewhere around about three thirty in the afternoon, as she did almost every day. Samuel was hanging Louysa’s first finished painting on the wall. It had only been a mere three weeks since she started it. Her speed had always been amazing. This time it was exceptionally so and she had already started a small ten-by-ten canvas on the easel. Odette was sitting at the roll-top desk, trying her hand at drawing a flip-book. If Samuel was painting, you could count on Odette being on the light table. Lyman was sitting at the desk, reviewing the books to no purpose other than the pleasure it brought to the accountant’s side of his soul. Without a word of greeting, the old man said, “Anna, I need a typewritten copy of all the articles about Louysa Moillon. Include proper citations, with special care to publishing information, particularly the dates and places. We’ll get it notarized and sealed like we do the authenticating letters for the up-time paintings. It’s got to be hanging on the wall next to her painting, so make it look professional. Can you do that?”
“Sure,” Anna replied, running a list through her mind of who she could get to do it. She found herself wishing she knew how to type so she didn’t have to hire it done and wondering whether she should run this through the club. “I can get that done for you.” Anna named a price.
Lyman just looked at her.
The price came down and Lyman still didn’t say anything.
Anna dropped the price again. “And that’s what I’ll be paying the typist less the ten percent for the club. I don’t think I can get it down any cheaper than that.”
Lyman smiled. “That’s fine. Can you get it here tomorrow?”
“That depends on whether I can find the typist today. If I can’t, I should have it here day after tomorrow.”
“Well, don’t dwattle. We need it to justify the price we’ve got on it.”
“Mr. Lyman? Does dwattle mean ‘to be slow’?”
“Yes, I guess it does, mostly. Don’t bother learning it, Anna, nobody but us old farts ever use it anymore, even up-time.”
Of course, being told not to learn it guaranteed that she would never forget it. And knowing it, she used it, often. Dwattle became an in word amongst the animation club and filtered out from there. With that one admonition to forget the word, Lyman Seeley serendipitously saw to it that a dying word, found only in the dialect of the Appalachian Mountains and its colonies, would live a new life in the developing Amideutsch language. In the distant future, some would argue that the new language, along with the culture and ideas it spawned was Grantville’s greatest contribution to the new world in which it now made its home.
“No!” Lyman looked in despair at the second painting Louysa made. As always with Louysa’s paintings, it looked like you should be able to reach into the picture, pull it out and take a bite. His mind was supplying the taste, the feel, the warmth, the aroma. A photograph could not have captured it as well. But why did she paint a piece of pizza? It’s not like she ever saw an Andy Warhol print or something. It was good. It was damned good. But, by definition, because of the content, as far as Lyman was concerned, it was modern art. And, Lyman detested modern art. He’d turned down requests to show paintings—good paintings—on consignment because the artists were trying their hand at modern art. He had almost been tempted to take in an impressionist work because it was so good it almost won him over. Was impressionism modern or classical? Until he saw the work he almost let the fellow hang in the gallery, he defined impressionism as modern. Lyman did not like modern art. He had never liked modern art. He was sure he never would like modern art. And he was not about to change his opinion. He would not hang modern art. But now this!
“Damn! What am I going to do? How do I tell the lass no?” But, he couldn’t, in good conscience, be true to himself and say yes.
He stood there trying to think of what to do, of where she might be able to hang it for sale, when the door chime rang.
With Lyman standing there so intently, the couple coming through the door, followed by a servant carting multiple packages from the dress shop next door, approached to see what the old up-timer found so fascinating.
“Look, dear,” the excited man said. “Pizza!”
The wife smiled. Their servant had three different recipes from three different places, including the kitchen of the lodge just outside of town, to take home to the cook. Now there was a picture showing what it should look like.
When Lyman realized he had a hot prospect for the embarrassing canvas, he went to the end table by the couch and got a copy of Louysa’s information sheet which had worked so well in moving the first work she had painted. He handed the sheet to the man. “About the artist.” Lyman said.
He passed over the scant English copy of what the library had to say about Louysa and read the Latin translation.
“Hannah, it says here that the painter will be famous in the future.”
His wife smiled. “If you like the painting, maybe we should buy it.”
“Maybe we should. It looks so real I can almost taste the pepperoni!” How much are you asking for it?” he asked Lyman.
Lyman had a per-square-inch price figured out from selling the first work. He added fifty percent and he named a price.
“My wife likes it,” the nobleman said with a smile, blaming it on his wife. “But, that price is too high.”
“That’s what it’s worth,” Lyman insisted.
Late the next day, when the servant came back to purchase it at the asking price, Lyman was still dithering about putting it on the wall.
Pierre pushed opened the door to the gallery in Grantville after having been gone for nearly two months, noting appreciatively, as he always did, that the door was all one piece of glass. The almost-bell sound which clearly wasn’t a bell happened right on cue, announcing that he was where he wanted to be.
He noticed two things at a glance. First, he noticed one of his sister-in-law’s paintings of a fruit plate hanging in pride of place, the first thing anyone would see upon walking in. He certainly couldn’t complain that they were not aggressively marketing her work. Secondly, that the room was oddly empty of people. His sister-in-law was not there painting; she wasn’t in the rented room either. He knew this because he’d left his bags there. The third thing he noticed, upon inspection of the painting, was the asking price. “Merde!” It was not only a shout, it was an aggrieved and righteous shout.
“What? Who’s there?” To the sound of flushing water, the old man poked his head out of the back and smiled. “Pierre, you’re back! The girls were missing you. Woops. Forgot you don’t speak English. Guten Abend, Pierre. And . . . let me see? How to say the rest of that in German?”
Two disappointing and exhausting months of travel had taken their toll on the French merchant. Being smiled at by the conniving swindler taking advantage of his wife and sister-in-law was simply the last straw. Pierre exploded.
His rant was long, loud and thoroughly profane. It was also entirely in French. Lyman kept smiling and waiting for the young man to realize his wife had entered the store not long after he started his tirade. She had been in the shop next door and recognized her husband’s voice through the wall. Finally, Odette took matters into her own hands.
“Dear, what is the problem?” she asked.
“The price of the painting is the problem! It needs to sell so we can pay the expenses of staying in Grantville! We do not need it hanging here just to bring in customers to look at it so they will buy portraits and flip books!”
“Your purchasing trip did not go well?” It was more of a statement than a question.
“That is irrelevant. The painting needs to be priced to sell.”
“Darling, how many of Louisa’s paintings do you see?”
“One! And it needs to be sold!”
“Where are the other two?”
“That is the third one she’s done. The other two have already been sold.”
“You jest?” Pierre’s volume control started kicking in.
“But that price? It’s outrageous!” His voice held more awe than anger.
“When the first painting was done, Lyman asked what we would get for it in Paris. I told him. It was about what he was asking for paintings from the future. He said no. He said it was the best painting in the shop and the price had to reflect that. So he doubled the price, but it was gone in only three days. When the next painting was done, a little ten by ten like this one, they figured the square inch cost of the first painting and raised it fifty percent. That one sold in a day and a half. So they raised the price on this one another fifty percent.”
“Someone really paid that much? That price is far too high.”
In response, Odette reached over and tapped on the framed parchment next to it. “Not for a painting by an artist who is going to be remembered, and hung in art museums all over the world for centuries to come. It’s an investment in the future.” The parchment was witnessed and sealed by a notary. “One of these will get hung and given away with every one of her paintings they offer for sale. The painting is pleasant to look at and it is guaranteed to go up in value.”
Pierre grew quiet and calm while he did the math to figure out just how much, after the gallery’s commission, his wife and sister-in-law got for the first two paintings. A pleased smile—a very pleased smile—spread across his face. It was a damned good marketing tactic.
Odette interrupted his happy reverie, “Have you read it yet, Pierre?”
“No, do I need to? It is in English, dear.”
“Louysa’s mention was so small they included a Latin translation to fill up the page properly. I want you to read it.” She waited as her husband quickly scanned the lower half of the page. “Such a short article and yet they felt the need to mention her children. One martyred and the other two forced to flee the country because of persecution.”
“She left Paris?” He raised an eyebrow.
“No, this was in Paris,” an adamant Odette replied.
“Right under the nose of the king? Who would dare?”
Odette’s eyes glistened as she said, “Everyone would dare. The next king revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685.”
Pierre paused to consider the political ramifications, and nodded slowly. “That would be all it would take. Even with royal decree, we Huguenots are barely tolerated in the provinces. Did the history books say how bad it got?”
By now tears were running down Odette’s chin. “It wasn’t a matter of simply removing protection. The king set his army to chasing all heretics out of France. I read that more than five hundred thousand Huguenots fled the country. No one knows how many were killed or involuntarily converted.”
Pierre hugged his wife fiercely. “My treasure, why are you crying? That was fifty years from now in another world.”
“Everything is happening faster this time, Pierre.” By now Odette was sobbing so hard it was difficult to make out her words. “And . . . and even if it doesn’t happen in our lifetimes, it will happen in the . . . in the lifetime of my sister’s children. In the lifetime of . . . of our children.”
Lyman, watching quietly from the corner, became concerned and wondered if he should go find Samuel or Melle.
Pierre was confused. Why was she so upset over a tragedy that would probably not happen at all now that it was known to have happened in Grantville’s history? Louis XIII didn’t even have an heir yet! Pierre shifted position so Odette’s elbow would stop digging into his ribs. Odd. She wasn’t hugging him back. Instead her hands were clutched protectively over her stomach. No. Not her stomach. Her womb.
The realization hit him like a thunderbolt. “Darling. Are . . . are you pregnant?”
A radiantly teary smile answered him. “Yes.”
“Are you sure?”
She laughed and suddenly all was right with the world. “You’ve been gone for two months now. Plenty of time to be sure.”
“Dieu merci. Is that why you are afraid of going back to France?”
“Not afraid. Just . . .” She sighed. “In France we are simply tolerated. Here we are truly welcome. It doesn’t matter if we are not loyal Catholic citizens. They do not care if we are Calvinist. They would not care if we were even Arminian. And I don’t need to apologize for Louysa here. My sister is respected and valued in a way she never was in Paris. Grantville is good for her.”
Odette squeezed her husband’s arm. “And you are not going to believe this, but, there are men here who are interested in her.”
“She is being courted?”
“As they count things here? Yes. Once Melle pointed out that she was being noticed, my sister actually started flirting back! For the first time in her life, she’s interested in what she wears beyond simply insisting that it be soft and loose.”
Pierre was well acquainted with his sister-in-law’s indifference to the womanly arts. “Sounds like she likes it here.”
“Yes, she wishes to stay.”
“But her family is in Paris,” Pierre answered.
“Not if we all move here. Look around you, Pierre. Look at the prices. This town can easily support another art gallery.”
“True. Seeley sells only his own collection. Louysa is the only other painter sold here, but she is far from the only artist in town. Why do the other artists not hang their works here?” Pierre wondered.
Odette smiled. “I am told the first artists to ask were experimenting with the ‘modern’ style of art and Lyman Seeley subjected them to a long rant on how that wasn’t real art. The next artist was painting full sized copies of the tiny photos in art history books. If anything, the rant on how ‘copies are not art’ was even more blistering.”
Pierre raised an eyebrow. “How else do apprentices learn but by copying the masters?”
Then the French Art dealer noticed the old man politely ignoring the young couple. “Ah, I should probably apologize for my outburst.”
“Yes, you should.”
“Where is Louysa, by the way?”
“Next door, being fitted.”
Pierre blew up again. “In that dress shop?! They make dresses for nobility! It’s unseemly for someone of our station in life to wear a dress like that!”
“Melle convinced Louysa that she needed some new clothes. What she’s having fitted is a pair of jeans-cut slacks and a blouse.”
“She’s what?” It turned out that Pierre had a much greater reservoir of volume and anger than he had already tapped.
Lyman, who was trying to pretend he was not in the room, flinched at the raised volume.
The volume stayed the same but the anger roiled and overflowed. “We’ll put a stop to that idea right now!” Pierre announced sharply, “She is not wearing men’s clothes! I forbid it! The Bible forbids it!”
“Pierre, what she is getting are not men’s clothes. A man’s blouse buttons left over right and a woman’s right over left. The jeans for women are cut differently than a man’s, and again they close right over left. Now, give me your arm. We will walk down by the river where you can be as loud as you want and we can still be private.”
Pierre did not budge. “It is a complete waste of money. She certainly is not taking them home with her to Paris.” He crossed his arms over his chest putting an end to the conversation. He was the man. He had spoken. “Did you just leave her there alone?” He growled.
“Melle is with her.”
“I don’t like leaving Louysa alone.” He rumbled, trying, and mostly succeeding at keeping his rage under control. “This Melle sounds like a bad influence.”
“Not at all, dear.” Bees could learn a thing or two about making honey from Odette’s voice. “Quite the contrary. She is one of the best things to ever happen to our Louysa. Have you ever known her to be interested in fashions?”
“We need to get her back to Paris!”
“Why? So she can hide in the house and scamper from room to room to garden, making paintings on three and four easels at once? Paintings that aren’t worth a quarter of the price she can get here? Are you just going to find her a husband and make her quit painting?”
“Well, we need to find her a good Huguenot.”
“There is a Scot Calvinist we met at church. He can’t keep his eyes off of her. She knows it. When I pointed it, out she dismissed it. When Melle agreed with me she listened. Then Melle gave her detailed instructions on how to flirt. She even practiced in front of a mirror!”
Pierre lost it and roared, “He’s not French!”
“He’s a Calvinist. Moreover he’s a devout man of faith.”
“He’s a mercenary!”
“He is well-regarded and is being considered as a potential deacon of the church.”
“Can he support her?” The shock of a Scotsman as a potential suitor for Louysa distracted Pierre from his anger.
“Yes, he can. But if need be, she can support him.”
“Not when she’s keeping house and taking care of children.”
“So, she could hire Melle to be her companion and keep house. And if Melle isn’t available, then she can hire someone else.”
“This Melle? I don’t want to think of what kind of influence a camp follower is having on Louysa.”
“How about thinking on what kind of influence Louysa is having on a camp follower? Melle hasn’t been to mass since arriving in Grantville. Yet she’s gone to church with us every Sunday since you left. What is her soul worth, Pierre? Even if she isn’t French?”
Pierre pulled his arm loose from his wife’s hand. “I don’t think it is a good idea!” He crossed his arms over his chest with a slight huff. His body language and face were set in stone. “We’ll talk about it when we get home.” Of course by the time they were back in Paris, it would be too late.
“Louysa has calmed down a great deal ever since the flip-book children adopted her. You know how she would rush from one easel to another at home. Well, here she’ll be painting away, actually sitting on the stool in front of the easel, when she’ll suddenly stop, pick up her drawing board, and work on a flip-book in her lap for a bit. Then she’ll quietly set it down and go back to painting. Grantville is good for her.”
“I said, we’d talk about it later!”
Odette knew from experience that later was never. It was a phrase Pierre used to end the discussion when he’d made up his mind and wasn’t about to change it. “You really must see her flip-book pages. Samuel is awestruck. Master Seeley says he should frame them individually. But,” Odette sighed, “it would be a shame to break it up when she’s done. The movement is so smooth and lifelike. It’s only a line drawing, but it’s good.”
“Yes. Of course it is good. Louysa did it. I know!” The words spewed forth with a bitter load of venomous emotion.
“Why, Pierre LeBlanc, I do believe you’re jealous.”
Pierre sighed. “You know I’ve always been jealous of people who can paint.” He wanted to so badly, and he tried so hard but, his canvases were mechanical. He did not have the gift. And, in his opinion, anything less than a gifted painting was not worth the time spent looking at it, much less the time spent making it.
“I have always wondered why the Lord wasted all of that talent on a woman when she really can’t use it. Seeing someone else get four times as much for her painting as I could . . .” Pierre paused. “Yes. I’m jealous.”
“And that is the point!” Odette pounced. “Here, she is not a waste. Here, she would not have to stop working when she gets married. She doesn’t even have to get married unless she wants to. There is no need for Papa to try and find her a marriage simply to save the family from embarrassment. Here, she can be an independent woman with an independent income.”
“And that is exactly why we need to get her back home, where she can be looked after and properly taken care of. It almost sounds like you think she should stay!”
“Kept under control, is what you mean,” Odette answered in a sweet voice, swallowing the emerging anger and resentment over a woman’s place, something she had simply accepted before spending time in Grantville.
“Well, yes, I guess that is part of it,” Pierre said.
Odette continued in her honeyed voice, “You want to dictate what she wears, and who she marries and then he will insist that she stop painting to raise his children and keep his house.”
“We’ll talk about it later.” Pierre sucked in a long breath and admitted, “I’d hate to lose the income off of her paintings.”
“You will more than make it up on flipbooks. You will not believe the price the gallery in Paris is getting,” Odette answered. “We received a letter from home last week. Jacques is busy coloring the ones we shipped home. There is a waiting list of buyers. We’ve already shipped another hundred copies.
“I’ve been working on a flip book myself,” she continued. “Samuel says it is quite good. Lyman agrees. He has offered to take any I make on consignment. But we can get a better price for it in Paris.”
Pierre’s focus suddenly shifted. Suddenly something was very not right with the world. The idea of his wife being a creative artist raised hackles on his neck. She was carrying his child. That was her job. She had no business talking about being an artist or making money. Making a living was his job. What he said was, “We’ll talk about later.
“Right now we need to go back to the gallery. I really do owe Lyman that apology.”