Grantville, March 1635
Pam Hardesty squatted down next to a set of encyclopedias in the National Research Center. Tuesday. Cross-training for would-be librarians. Someone, somewhere up the food chain, had decided that they would be better prepared to help researchers in the future if they had some research experience in the present.
"Missy, can you come over here?"
"Have you ever heard of this before? Some guy wants Grantville to provide him with the dates of the Age of Gold, Age of Silver, Age of Bronze, and Age of Iron."
Missy frowned, leaning down over Pam's shoulder. "There actually was a Bronze Age and and Iron Age. We studied those in middle school—seventh grade world history, I think." She reached out. "Try 'P' for 'prehistory.'"
"What about the other two?"
"Umm. I thought it was a Stone Age before the Bronze Age. Not a Silver Age. I don't remember a Silver Age." She turned around. "Mrs. Bolender, can you come over here?"
After she had read the letter from the scholar seeking knowledge, Elaine Bolender laughed. "You're not going to find dates for the Age of Gold and Age of Silver in the encyclopedia. Try . . . " She looked around at the shelves. "Over there. Bulfinch's Age of Fable."
A few days later, Pam stood outside her apartment, looking blankly at the envelope she had just pulled out of the mailbox. What on earth? Why would Mom be writing her a letter? Mom hadn't written her a letter since she got married—again—last fall and went off to the Netherlands. Her stomach tied itself in knots. Her hands shook as she opened it.