Excerpt from
The Ashes of Bohemia

 
(Anna and Joseph are leaving the large town square, where a bloody massacre has just happened. Her Highness, The Queen had sent her army to quell the peoples’ many protests, and many men, women and children have died.)

“Our neighbors, our countrymen lie dead in the street, while our Queen! our Queen’s army! fights us and kills us like butchered animals,” Joseph struggles to tell his wife, Anna.

“We’ll go home Joseph! We’ll live to fight another day,” she tells him, trying to calm him down.

“Unlike those who have already sacrificed,” he tells her sternly.

“Come Joseph. Let’s hurry! Please!”

The two make their way down the long narrow cobblestone alley way with the sides of many tall buildings on both sides of them.

“You’re limping Joseph,” she says, looking at him worridly.

“It’s not a bad hurt, my sweet,” he tells her.

“Come then, lean on me, but please let’s hurry before we run into trouble.”

Going through back alleys and dark corridores Joseph and Anna make it safely to their home, that is dimly lit with only a few small windows to let in the light.

“Let me check your leg, Joseph,” Anna tells him, kneeling by his side.

Joseph tells her desparately, crying, “Our Queen Maria Theresa threatens to starve us to keep us docile then charges nearly half of our grain production for her taxes. They kidnap our children to work in their spinning mills making cloth by day and turning them into whores by night. We can’t even worship the God of our fathers, Anna.”

“Hush, Joseph. Not now. We don’t need to talk about it any further right now.”

“But Anna, the children…”

“I know Joseph. We need to keep fighting for them. And we will. But it’s been an awfully harsh day. Let’s not prolong it anymore today. Please.”

“Your right, I suppose.” He bows his head, his chin to his chest and closes his eyes, bewildered and exhausted.

Suddenly Anna is shaken by a loud pounding on her neighbors door, soon followed by shrieks of terror, as she rushes to the small window to watch to see what’s going on.

“No! No! Bring him back!” Anna’s neighbor, a woman, is crouching down on the ground in emotional pain, crying, while a second man is holding her husband, struggling to free to himself.

“Your family is being declared unfit and your child is being declared an orphan and must come with us.” A rough looking man lies, as a third man is roughly forcing the boy with him.

“Joseph!” Anna whispers. “Three men are taking the neighbor boy, claiming Karolina and Pavel are unfit to raise him.”

Joseph sits up in his chair, “We know the neighbors well, Anna. Never before have two more capable mother and father raised children so well,” he tells her loudly.

“Not in Bohemia alone are the peasants uprisings to be feared,” the fifty-eight year old ruling Queen of Austria and Bohemia is writing. “But also in Austria and Moravia. At our very doors, here at home, they create the greatest impudences. The consequences for themselves and for many innocent people,” she means herself and the other European royalty, “are to be feared.”

She sets the pen from the ink well down on her desk, on top of the letter she has just written, and looks at it and ponders its meaning for the leaders and peoples of the towns

Not very tall and plump, the lavishly dressed Queen in a frilly lace dress, with short curly white blonde hair and serious tone rises stately from behind her desk at Schonbrunn Palace in Austria, looking tired from stress and poor health and coughs deeply several times.

Her State Chancellor, three members of the High Nobility and three knights, her advisors who make up the Council of State, walk into the room.

The opulent space with its high ceiling has stone and marble statues built into nooks in the stone walls along rows of candelabra’s for light, with enormous colorful paintings, ornate furnishings and long, fine flowing tapestry. “Sit down,” she offers them, after they bow to her.

“There are many things I want to discuss,” she tells them wheezing, slowly walking around the large square table.

“Among them, the many uprisings in my lands and what we are going to do about them. Particularly the latest misfortune in the town square of Ceske Budejovice, in my beloved Bohemia.”