The day had begun badly for Matti. First, as his cavalry troop broke camp, one of the ties that was supposed to hold his bedroll on his saddle broke; and then the spare broke, too! So, by the time he finally got his gear stowed he had to join the rear of the column instead of being at the front in his usual place as a scout. And now, as they were charging up the hill to attack the Croats by that odd-looking building, after working hard to get back to his rightful place near the head of the column, his horse had stepped in a hole, broken its leg, and thrown Matti head over heels to the ground. But that didn't seem to be the worst; Matti had just finished putting his horse out of its misery when a bush had risen out of the ground and aimed an arrow at him. An arrow nocked to one of the strangest bows Matti had ever seen. An arrow three of whose companions were protruding from the backs of three dead Croats not far away.

For the first time in his adult life, Matti Antinpoika, of Captain Gars' troop of cavalry, felt like crying.

"A bush," Matti said to himself, "can't aim an arrow at anyone, so this must really be a person . . . I hope." By this time the bush was making an unmistakable motion for Matti to raise his hands. Not being a fool, hands and arms went as high into the air as he could reach.

Behind him Matti heard his brothers in arms make first contact with the Croats with their cries of, "Gott mit uns! Haakaa päälle!" In front of him he saw that the arrow was no longer aimed at him.

It was the noise that roused Curtis Maggard from a sound sleep. The whuffing, grunting sound of a hog at the slops trough. Except Curtis and his mother had neither trough nor hog. Curtis lay there for a moment, then, as realization of what he was hearing penetrated, he flew out of his bed with a shout. "Mutti, in unserem Garten war ein Wildschwein!" Curtis got the front door of the house open just in time to see a curly tail disappearing into the woods on the other side of their garden as dawn was breaking over the hilltop.

"Damn and blast! Three months getting that garden up to Mom's standards, and now it's all gone in one night." As he surveyed the damage, Curtis marveled at the amount of damage one boar could do. He also decided there would be a substitute to the menu in the Maggard home for a while. Pork for veggies!

As Curtis put on what he thought of as his tree suit, he considered the irony of life that had returned his mother and himself to the land of their birth. Even if it was almost four hundred years early. He also thought about how much better his mother's state of mind had become now that there were so many people to whom she could talk since, for whatever reason, she had never been able to comprehend the English language and very few people in Grantville could converse with her in German. The Ring of Fire had wrought a great change in Hilda Maggard's life.

We're very sorry, but this content is only available to current subscribers.

Perhaps you just need to log in.  If you're already logged in, please check if your subscription has expired by looking here.

If you're not already a subscriber you need to know that our columns and editorials are free, along with a few other items, but almost all stories and all downloads are paid only.

If you want to read the entire gazette, you need to either subscribe here, or purchase a download of any single issue at the Baen Books e-book store  or at

- The Grantville Gazette Staff