Thursday, July 9, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard, Chapter II

Chapter II: Valtelline Diplomacy

     The diplomatic meetings are held in a series of rooms in the Place Dauphine on the Île de la Cité. The King’s Musketeers are in charge of security. The Musketeeers have cut off access to the streets surrounding the Palais Dauphine. This requires a large force and entails considerable disruption to the workers of the Ministry of Justice and to the businesses, churchs, and residents of the Île de la Cité, but it gives them control of the building and the area around it. To gain entrance, Guy disguises himself as a monk to scout out the Place Dauphine where the diplomatic talks are being held. But in the hall he sees a familiar, but unwelcome face – Père Joseph![i] Guy doesn’t think he is recognized, so he follows the Capuchin and observes him meeting one of the clerks who hands Père Joseph a note. This may be a lead, thinks Guy, Thank God he didn’t decide to talk to a fellow religious. I think I need a different disguise.
     Lucien in company with his fellow Musketeers takes turns escorting the foreign ambassadors to and from the Place Duaphine or patrolling the grounds outside of the Place Dauphine. While Lucien is on guard duty in the place in front of the building next to the statute of Le Grande Henri, a young street urchin named Bertin approaches him. Brertin attempts to be winsome; he offers to hold Lucien’s horse, spit shine his boots, hold his cloak, give him directions, or do any other task that the “brave Musketeer needs to have done.” Bertin follows Lucien around trying to make himself generally useful, helpful, and ingratiating. As the days pass, Bertin attaches himself to Lucien and he continually seems to show up whenever and wherever Lucien is on guard duty.
     Meanwhile Gaston spends his days frustratingly trying to reconnect with any current officers or men from his old regiment, the Picardy Musketeers. Without someone to hand it to, the Duke’s recommendation for promotion is just so much paper and ink. In between searching, he spends time practicing the sword at the salle of the Fraternity Sanct-Didier, riding outside Paris on his new horse to get used to riding and to practice with his new pistols, and writing a few new poems.
     The next day, Guy disguises himself as one of the many clerks supporting the Valtelline talks. On his way into the Place Dauphine he notices people in ones or twos in the crowd outside wearing read sashes. He asks one of the Archers about them, but the Archer knows nothing. Once inside the building, Guy joins the other clerks. Apparently he makes a very convincing clerk as he is selected by the French Secretary of State, Louis Potier de Gesvres Count de Tresmes, to act as a recording clerk for the day and, using his flawless Italian, to act as an interpreter. This allows him an excellent opportunity to overhear several private discussions. On the French side, the talks are overseen by Louis Potier de Gesvres the Count de Tresmes Secretary of State and Maréchal François de Bassompierre the marquis d'Haroué who was responsible for the most recent treaty with the Spanish. The four key diplomats who are actually conducting the talks are:
  • Charles de l'Aubespine (SR 13) marquis de Châteauneuf, Abbé and Experienced Ambassador;
  • Alvise Contarini (SR 11) is the Venetian Ambassador to Paris;
  • Cesare Alessandro Scaglia di Verrua (SR 11) – Abbé Scaglia and Savoyard Ambassador to France;
  • Freiherrn von Rhäzüns (SR 11) Baron Rhäzüns and Envoy from the Grey League.
     By eavesdropping on their discussions, Guy learns the answers that one of his patrons is looking for. Therefore he sends a letter updating Bishop Adolpho, the Archbishop for Genoa.

Your Grace,
I returned home safely despite an incident on the road that cost me all of my fine Genovese bolognas. Perhaps soon we can share some wine along with the full story of my travels.
In the meantime, I have researched your inquiry. There is a desire to proceed, dependent upon the cooperation of the states surrounding the issue in dispute. S__ is concerned that after commitments are fulfilled they will face additional complications from the southeast. Let us pray that all can agree to a mutually beneficial resolution of the matter in question.
Benedicat vos Omnipotens Deus
de B__

     On January 27th, Gaston finally reconnects with his old regiment. They are staying at L'Ours Dansant or the Dancing Bear Inn near the outskirts of Paris in the Faubourg Saint Marcel just inside the Porte Saint Marcel.[ii] The inn is being used as a mustering place for the new recruits of the Regiment de Picardie. Colonel Biron, the Regimental commander, is in garrison in the south with most of the Regiment, so only a few officers and men are in Paris. The Regiment’s second in command, Lt. Colonel Hyacinthe de Boisson is in command in Paris and is tasked to determine if, when, and where the Regiment will be deployed for duty or whether they will continue to remain in garrison for this campaign season. While in Paris, Lt. Colonel Boisson is to oversee the hiring of recruits.
     Gaston tracks down the Regiment de Picardie at the Inn of the Dancing Bear. He delivers his recommendation from the Duke DeMainz to become a lieutenant in the Regiment de Picardie to the officer in command, Lieutenant Colonel Hyacinthe de Boisson. Boisson is a social climber and is very impressed by a recommendation from the mysterious Duke. Since there are a number of vacancies he immediately approves Gaston’s commission as a Lieutenant. “Well, this should please the Duke,” he happily says.
      With Boisson in Paris are several officers some experienced and some new. Major Gerald Larocque is the experienced commander of the 1st Battalion. His primary job in Paris is to recruit soldiers – hopefully experienced ones – and train any new recruits. Gaston, as a new officer, will be under his authority. Assisting him with training is Gaston’s old friend, Sergeant Jehan Legrand. Larocque is responsible for several other new officers: Lieutenant Germain Daumier Chevalier de Villey; Lieutenant Rémy Janvier; Ensign Jacques de Rotondis, seigneur de Biscarrat; and Ensign Adrian Sannom. Gaston has a friendly relationship with Lieutenant Janvier, a mentoring relationship with the eager, but naïve Ensign Sannom, and a rivalry verging on enmity with Lieutenant Villey and his friend Biscarrat – both of whom think Gaston socially beneath them.
      The evening of January 27th, Guy attends a gathering at the Hotel Rambouillet. He sees Gaston’s friend, the Seigneur de Racan, who served with Gaston and Lucien against the Huguenots. He asks Racan about the red sashes and learns that red sashes are often worn by Spanish soldiers. From another, guest, Guy hears that the Baron Saint Giron is looking for him. When Guy heads home, he is especially alert and notices three men loitering outside his apartment. The three wear good cloaks that cannot hide the sabers or longswords they wear. Guy decides to avoid them and sneaks up the back stairs.
      The next day Lucien, on horseback, is with the King’s Musketeers on guard duty outside the Place Dauphine. His ‘shadow’ Bertin is at the front of the crowd. Meanwhile, Guy who is again dressed as a clerk heads across the Pont Neuf to the offices where the talks are being held. He again notices several men with red sashes in the crowd. Today Guy is assigned to help the Savoyard Ambassador. The day’s diplomacy seems uneventful until Fabre comes and warns his master of a noisy crowd forming on the Pont Neuf outside. Guy sends word to the Archers to bring reinforcements and for them to watch for men wearing red sashes “They may be Spanish spies.”
      Meanwhile, outside the negotiations a thin line of King’s Musketeeers faces the protesting crowd. The crowd is composed of townspeople protesting rumors of tax increases to support military action in the Valtellines or Italy. The townspeople are mostly unarmed, but quickly their protests turn to anger and the crowd becomes an enraged mob. Lucien, by example and word, inspires the Musketeers around him to try to hold the mob back without shedding the blood of the townspeople.
      The timely reinforcement by the Archers allows the guards to disperse the mob. In the process, alerted by Guy, the Archers manage to capture one of the red sash wearers who is taken to the Chatelet and put in jail. Later Guy interrogates the prisoner who reveals that he is a Parisian silversmith named Philippe Lefevre and that he was part of a group of agitators who arranged for the mob on the Pont Neuf. It also seems to Guy that Lefevre doesn’t understand Spanish. Perhaps my net has only caught a little fish. Still if I keep on fishing a whale may yet swim into my waiting net.
     Afterwards, Guy leaves a note for Lucien to update him then returns to his own apartment which he again enters via the back servants’ entrance. Inside he sees that his apartment has been trashed and possibly searched as well. His entire wardrobe is slashed and his other belongings destroyed. He wonders if this could be the work of last night’s watchers. Amongst the rest of the destruction, the vandals have spilled his gunpowder and Fabre’s flour together on the kitchen floor, ruining both. He checks the load on his pistol, Still good. “At least this will do for one of them,” he says to himself. Concerned that the vandals may be back at any time, he sends Fabre off to the Duke DeMainz for safety thinking, That should keep Fabre safe while at the same time, warning the Duke and maybe gain the Duke’s assistance without having to ask him for his help. Two birds with one stone. He uses a charred book to prop up a broken-legged side table. He sets his pistol on the table, rechecking the load one last time. Then he sits, depressed in the last unbroken chair next to a sputtering candle and waits for the vandals to return.

[i]     François Leclerc du Tremblay (b. 4 November 1577), also known as Père Joseph, is a French Capuchin friar and the confidant and agent of Cardinal Richelieu. He is the original éminence grise -- the French term ("grey eminence") for a powerful advisor or decision-maker who operates secretly or unofficially.
[ii]     (T10) L'Ours Dansant or the Dancing Bear Inn is located at grid coordinates [B14].

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