Eric Flint: 1635:The Dreeson Incident

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Eric Flint 1635:The Dreeson Incident
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1635:The Dreeson Incident

Eric Flint

Virginia DeMarce


August 1634


United States of Europe

Don Francisco Nasi, spymaster for the United States of Europe, pushed his glasses up his nose. "Michel Ducos moved on quickly, even before Peter Appel notified the Frankfurt authorities. He'd been gone a couple of days before they got the news to me. We can't just move in and arrest his lieutenant Guillaume Locquifier. Partly because then we'd lose the trail, but jurisdictionally because the crime didn't happen on USE soil and we don't have an 'arrest on sight and extradite' from the Papal States. It's better just to keep Locquifier under surveillance. Frankfurt says that he isn't doing anything active right now-just huddling in the back parlor of an inn with a few other men."

Ed Piazza scowled. Once a high school principal in Grantville, he was now the president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. The SoTF, whose capital was Grantville, was one of the largest and most populous provinces of the United States of Europe. Ed was in Magdeburg for a few days consulting with Mike Stearns, the Prime Minister of the USE. "It's your call, I guess. Personally, I'd be happier if they were in jail, considering that mess at the Galileo hearing."

Sitting behind his desk not far away, Mike Stearns shrugged. "Mazarini cleaned up the mess around the assassination attempt on the pope very efficiently. Politically speaking, I mean-he didn't wash the blood off the floor of the church or dig the bullets out of the plaster himself, of course. Frank, Ron and Gerry Stone were all in big trouble right after the assassination attempt and things could have turned out a lot worse if he hadn't put in the fix."

"Nevertheless," said Nasi, "once they realized that Ducos was not really a member of the Committees of Correspondence, but had been using them for his own purposes, the Stone boys acted decisively. The assassination might very well have succeeded had it not been for them. Therefore they interest me."

"Tom Stone told me that his son Frank and his new wife Giovanna are staying in Venice," added Mike. "Frank's going to keep working with the Committee of Correspondence there. Maybe try to develop some in other places in Italy. In the Italies, I should say. It's as bad as 'the Germanies.' A patchwork of little duchies and principalities, the Papal States in the middle and the Spanish in the south in Naples."

Piazza shook his head. "Where's Garibaldi when we need him?"

"Not born yet. Never will be, in this universe," Nasi said practically.

"Tom and Magda are staying in Italy, too. His lectures at the Padua medical school are really catching on, and she's done very well negotiating the purchase of a lot of things we need for industrial development in the USE. But Tom's other two sons, Ron and Gerry, are coming back to Grantville when Simon Jones does. They're traveling with him and with the mother of Jabe McDougal's girlfriend. The painter. Artemisia Gentileschi. The mother, I mean-not the girlfriend."

Nasi smiled and looked at Ed. "I would appreciate an opportunity to speak with Signora Gentileschi, should one arise. She has been living in Naples, working for the Spanish. Her father is in England. She has ties to both the Barberini and the Tuscan court in Florence. Let me know when they get to Grantville. If she isn't coming to Magdeburg, I believe such a conversation would be worth my while, even if I need to make the trip to Grantville to have it. Jabe goes back and forth, I believe."

"Will do. I'll radio you as soon as she shows up. What about the boys?"

"How old are they, exactly?"

"Ron graduated from high school in 1633 on the accelerated program, right before they all left for Venice. He'd turned seventeen in December, so that would make him eighteen, now. Eighteen and a half. Gerry…" Piazza stopped and thought a minute. "He should be turning sixteen this month. Gus Heinzerling was supposed to be tutoring him while they were in Venice, so he didn't fall behind. But I'm told that he's not coming back to high school in Grantville. He's decided to finish up at the boys' school in Rudolstadt. I'm not sure why. But if they're willing to admit him over there, it means that Gus really did keep his nose to the grindstone, at least as far as Latin was concerned."

"Too young for my work, and he will be too busy. Gerry, that is," Nasi said. "Would the older one have anything to contribute?"

"You can debrief him, of course. If he's willing to talk to you. He's a legal adult, so he can make his own decision on that. Tom Stone's always been a little… anti-authoritarian. More than a little. Magda's a straight arrow, though, and she has that incredible Lutheran sense of duty. Well, she grew up in Jena, with all those theology professors in the town. She's been their stepmother for close to three years now, and they like her. So maybe… I can't make any promises on his behalf."

Nasi dug into his briefcase and drew out a sheaf of papers. "He submitted a written report to me. Voluntarily, sent in the diplomatic pouch from Venice. Detailing all of their contacts with Michel Ducos while he was posing as a member of the Venice Committee of Correspondence. It's retrospective, of course. Written with all the benefits of hindsight. He does not spare himself or his brothers. Perhaps, he is even too harsh in his judgment of them. We sent them out with very little training and with no expectation that they would encounter the developments that occurred. Bedmar, d'Avaux, Ducos. The boys were, as your baseball commentators would say, 'way out of their league.' But, the self-condemnation aside, his analysis of what happened is certainly competent. More than competent."

"Tom and Magda seem to agree with you," said Mike. "On the competence issue, that is. Karl Juergen Edelman will stay available for consultation-Magda's father has a keenly honed sense about the importance of following the money-but he has his own businesses to run and he's tired of being on the train between Jena and Grantville every week and sometimes twice a week. So Ron's going to be managing Lothlorien for them when he gets back. Not just the Farbenwerke, but the pharmaceuticals end of it, too."

Piazza nodded. "I'll keep an eye on him."


"Signora Gentileschi and her daughter arrived from Rome last night," the doorman reported. "They send a message that they are prepared to leave for Grantville as soon as the rest of you can pack up. Unless there is some delay here, they do not plan to unpack more than they will need for a night or two."

Simon Jones stood up, taking the note from the porter's hand. "Please let them know that all I still have to do is put the clothes I wore yesterday into my saddlebags. The rest of the stuff is ready for the men to put on the pack horses any time."

Magda smiled. "I think the boys are ready, too. More than ready."

The doorman bowed slightly and backed out of the room. They'd never been able to break him of that habit.

Simon looked at the note again and frowned. "Sometimes I wish that Larry and Gus hadn't had to stay in Rome. Who's Joachim Sandrart, and why is he with the Gentileschis? Why is he traveling with us, that is?"

Magda shrugged.

"Who would know?" Simon frowned. "If he's someone who could be a problem, I should warn Ron and Gerry to keep their lips zipped when he's around."

"Signora Gentileschi is an artist. Perhaps he is another one. An. .. associate?"

Simon had no trouble interpreting Magda's disapproving tone. Cardinal Antonio Barberini, by way of Mazzare, had warned them. By the standards of a respectable Lutheran from Jena, Artemisia Gentileschi's past was as colorful as her canvases. It was by no means certain that her younger daughter, the one she was bringing with her, was the child of her husband.

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