The Rathaus Chamber was in an uproar as the Marshal Francois Noailles, together with his small escort of six troopers, clumped through the unguarded doors. The Marshal recognised at once Reverend Warisburg giving voice from the podium. Presumably it was his turn to speak, but he was not having it all his own way. Every sentence, every phrase, was greeted in divers parts of the Chamber with cheers, cries of 'Hear him, hear him!' and more than the occasional 'No-o-o-o!'
'Now is the time!' foamed the Reverend, stock askew and hair dishevelled in his passion, ' Now is the time for the idolaters, the ungodly, the unchosen of God to be expunged from this new-found Republic! Let them answer for their treacheries, let them be judged for their betrayals, let them be sentenced for their iniquities, and, sirs, let that sentence be ... death! Let us not lick up the vomit of tolerance, let not the Amalekites live; smite them as Jehovah commanded Saul! Execute the men, banish their families, destroy or confiscate their estates for the Cause. Destroy them all, say I!'
|The debate at the Zerbst Rathaus|
'...And you, sirrah!' as the speaker, made aware of the clumping of cavalry boots upon the floor of the Chamber and the sudden hush that followed, observed the Marshal. 'What hast thou to say, sir Marshal, to charges of treason? Treason, sir! I so charge thee in the name of the Republic and this Chamber. I say treason, for surely treason it was to allow escape the godless minions of Belial when thou hadst them in the hollow of thine hand. Thou hadst but to stretch forth thine arm, and they were ours!'
'Godless minions, sayest thou,' quoth the Marshal, his lip curling with the revulsion he felt. 'Methought the army we had just defeated were fellow followers of Luther and Calvin. But no doubt thou knowest best. But I beg leave to wonder how it is thou know'st ought of whether the Army of Altmark-Uberheim was even within reach of our arm. Was not the Reverend Warisburg seen at the crisis of the day, slinking furtively from the field of battle?' The insult was calculated and deliberate. The Marshal now knew who was at least one of the perpetrators of the crime without. The others would soon be known. Vengeance would be swift.
|The debating Chamber, where Marshal Noailles|
has his encounter with Reverend Warisburg.
'Thou shalt not interrupt me sirrah!' bellowed the Reverend, ruddy with rage, 'Thou shalt be brought before the justices to be appointed by this Chamber - '
'No doubt you will be one of the panel,' murmured the Marshal, not so sotto voce that those within a few feet of him couldn't hear.
'- to answer to charges of treason, peculation, trafficking with the enemy. The prisoners taken at the late battle will be brought before the Council to be executed -'
'I will do no such thing!' The Marshal's voice had been well honed to cut through Northern sea gales as well as the thunder of battle. As a well travelled sea-going merchant as well as a seasoned soldier, his roar cut through the Reverend's tirade like an axe.
'Sirs! Burghers of Zerbst! I saw outside something I thought never to see in this Republic. A gibbet in the street, with dependant corpses. Executed for no crime - no crime I say!,' Reverend Warisburg made to speak and was silenced. 'Were there a crime, the charges would have been laid, witnesses sought for the prosecution and defence of the accused, a trial convened with judges, counsel, and a jury of the defendant's peers. Even the laws of our enemy, His Excellency Cornelius, demanded as much of jurisprudence.'
'Seven days ago, those people - some my friends and colleagues, sirs - were guiltless of any crime against this republic. No one had a word to say to their discredit. That at least some were of the Catholic faith was neither here nor there - indeed , against considerable provocation by some zealots, harboured no ill-will towards the revolution we are endeavouring to achieve. All were doing as asked to finance our war effort. Their quarrel, as ours is, was against Bishop Cornelius's attempt to profit from our suffering in the recent famine. They deserved no such end as they suffered.'
'They were traitors and idolaters!' shrieked Warisburg, 'Out of their own mouths were they condemned! '
'Out of their own mouths?' rejoined the Marshal, 'Now, why would any of them have made any such confession, and it were not true? Couldst answer me that, Your Reverence?'
|The Committee of Public Sanctity conducts its 'treason trials'|
Warisburg made to answer but Noailles overrode him. 'I daresay they had their reasons, compelling reasons, urgent reasons. I dare equally say that witnesses were brought forth to offer testimony against the accused. Incriminating documents no doubt came to light, overheard conversations, stories of diabolical practices, secret murders, foul deeds - one has to admire the zeal with which such a compendious volume of evidence was processed, examined, their evidential value assessed in a mere few days... My, my, someone has been working with excessive diligence, that the accused were to be found hanging in the square with such dispatch!' That the Marshal's charges were mere conjecture didn't stop him. He know how these things went. His Huguenot ancestors did not stint in the telling of their stories of persecution in the heretofore.
'The Committee of Public Sanctity was authorised and charged with the responsibility to act, and act decisively!' quoth the Reverend. Noailles noticed that he was starting to look around the Chamber in mute appeal for support. But the hush in the Chamber was complete, as the Burghers, testing the wind, found it was blowing against Warisburg, and like to carry him off. No one seemed inclined to intervene in his behalf. The Marshal had rather hoped he could discover Warisburg's accomplices by their speaking up. Never mind. He wasn't finished yet.
'So the accused are condemned, and executed,' dropping his tone, he continued into the silent chamber. 'Now, what of their properties? Their goods, their livestock, their wealth, h'mmm? Did I hear mention as I entered this sacred Chamber, mention of their wholesale confiscation or destruction? What was the fate of their families? Were the wills of the deceased read? Let me be enquire, gentlemen: under what laws were these trials and executions carried out? '
|Pile of Shame. Nothing at all to do with the narrative. |
Work in progress for the Ulrichstein Campaign.
'They were carried out with due process of martial law!' Wariston said flatly, 'Their wills were declared void, their estates confiscated and their families expelled from the Republic.'
'By whom and by what authority was martial law declared?' demanded the Marshal, 'I was neither consulted nor indeed informed. Martial law is as a rule administered and policed by the military, which, I perhaps too credulously believed, I commanded. I repeat: under what authority were these executions, confiscations and banishments enacted? Under what law?'
A figure hidden some rows behind Warisburg spoke up. 'The exiguous situation demanded action!' Ah! The Marshal hid a satisfied grin. Dear old Waldo Scheisterbeck. Sheisterbeck et Sons, Merchants. He must be getting on in years, but still good for a bit of double-dealing, fraud and lifting of unregarded trifles like other people's wealth. It could not have fallen out better. There was his leverage. He could now go after Warisburg, and the others could wait. They wouldn't have to wait long. A week maybe.
'What happened to the confiscated estates? Who administers them? How are they to be disposed of?'
'A special Committee was set up by the Council, all according to procedure.' averred the merchant, defiantly, 'The Committee of Public Sanctity. It was all legal and above board...'
'So it carried out its functions under no law,' the Marshal was as implacable as stone, and when a clamour arose in response, 'To contradict me is to contradict the facts: these banishments were criminal; the confiscation of estates, theft; the executions, murders. All disguised, I'll wager, under a thin veneer of hearsay evidence, extorted confessions, forged documents and bogus affidavits.'
|More pile of shame. Recruiting Heavy Horse for the|
Herzogtum von Rechburg, a small realm that lies on the
western border of Ulrichstein.
'I will not have it!' The Marshal's voice thundered across the room. 'No, sirs, I will not! Shall it be said that the Church of the Republic takes no delight in unbloody sacrifices? It shall not! Nor shall it be said that Bishop Log was superseded by Reverend Stork. I will not have it that merchants profit by fraud, murder and theft under the protection of soldiers fighting for better and nobler causes! Sirs! This ends now!'
'Hypocrite! You would set yourself up as dictator?' Warisburg was game enough, thought the Marshal. But he was disinclined to admire his pluck.
'I did not accept command of the Army of the Republic to seat in power a buzzing of zealots, nor a conniving of merchants, much less myself,' returned the Marshal. Let the Burghers of Zerbst remain for the nonce an interim Council of Governance, to maintain existing laws and ordinances, and to draw up a Covenant or constitution of rights and responsibilities for all the people of the Republic!
'See you,' he went on, 'The Revolution is not yet over; the War is yet to be won. It ill behoves us to presume upon events as yonder Reverend is wont to do, along with his friends. There is a battle to fight, we need all the resources we can call upon. Speaking of which brings me to this: I charge the Reverend Warisburg with treason, murder and theft.'
|The pile of shame deepens. Imperial Cavalry: |
Birkenfeld and Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers,
and Kalnoky Hussars.
'I deny all charges!' the Reverend's voice rose to a shriek, 'I appeal to this chamber! Count Schimmelfardt, Lord Schlurrp - surely as fellow Committee members you will vouch for me? Herr Radishoven, Boncke, Strudel - friends! Wouldst bear witness in my behalf?' Silence greeted these appeals. Everywhere he looked, Warisburg saw nothing but the cold eyes of denial. Too late, he realised that by naming names he had left himself without a single friend in the room. Within the day he would have none left in the city.
'I ask for no trial,' after a space, the Marshal resumed speaking, in a tone quieter than formerly. 'The man stands before this Council - the highest Court in this land - condemned out of his own mouth. A guilty verdict must be inevitable,' the Marshal paused to let that sink in. When the few tentative dissenting voices died away, he continued. 'I ask two things. That whatever sentence is passed upon his Reverence, he be placed in my charge. I am reminded that after the late battle, First Brigade is badly in need of replacements for the good men lost.'
'A man of the cloth may not wield blade, spear nor firearm, ' wailed the abandoned Warisburg.
'So the man of the cloth instead wields the thumbscrew, the rack, and the gibbet,' sneered the Marshal. 'Perhaps His Reverence is not aware that in my youth I, too, was destined for the Church. You will not sway me or anyone else by any such specious argument. You claim a zeal for the Church: what better employment could that zeal ask but to wield a sword in its cause?'
|The quondam Reverend Warisburg being|
escorted to the recruiting office at Corneliusstrasse
'Sirs, the Imperial Army lies but a few miles to the south of this place, with the Herzog's wisp of an army between. I go now to meet this enemy with, let me tell you, no guarantee as to the outcome. Deal justly. The Committee of Public Sanctity might well continue its function with newly elected or appointed members, its first task to investigate those named just now by his Reverence, and the former Committee members. Redress for the wrongful harm to citizens of this country must be sought, gentlemen! For myself, I shall march forthwith to join General Raunchfester and face the enemy. Come along, Your Reverence...'
'Take this person,' he said to the senior officer of his escort upon leaving the Chamber, whence he could hear the uproar of unruly debate begin anew, 'to Corneliusstrasse, and the recruiting office there. This recruit is to begin training at once...'
|What awaits Rev Warisburg at Corneliusstrasse.|