GrantvilleJuly, 1634

Father Nicholas Smithson stood by the side door and shook hands after early mass at Saint Mary's Catholic Church. Father Athanasius Kircher was greeting parishioners coming out of the main door, but some always left by the quicker route.

He smiled as he saw three faces that had been missing for a month. "Lolly Aossey! Welcome back! How did the twins take to the field session?"

"It's good to see you, Father Nick." Lolly Aossey sent a tired look back at her older children. "Mimi and Larry are both teething." Cathy and Matt were each holding a plump baby. Behind them beamed Jim McNally, the proud paterfamilias, a hand on the shoulder of each teenager. If Nick knew anything about the older McNally children, it was to keep them from bolting.

Lolly brightened. "Since I'm back, come to dinner after the last mass? Jim's apprentices should be back from Countess Kate's by then. It'll just be the usual summer fare, but I'd love to tell you what all happened."

"I'm sorry, but there are a couple of out of town visitors I want to see. Otherwise, I'd very much like to." Nick's regret was real. The conversation and the cooking at the McNally house were usually both lively.

Jim McNally smiled. "Bring them along. The more the merrier. That's what the Sunday usual is for."

Matt rolled his eyes. "The usual has got to be better than Cathy heating up one of Aunt Dina's casseroles."

"Ha! As if we'd want to eat your scrambled eggshells again!" Cathy's tone was sharp enough to cause the baby in her arms to stir.

"Let's go home, kids. I doubt Father Nick is interested in your unsupervised culinary attempts. If you want the usual, y'all have a bit of chopping to do." Jim pushed the kids out onto the sidewalk. "We'll see you and your visitors at two, Father."

Nick sighed as he waved farewell. Jim was right. After his visit last month, he'd had no further interest in the culinary attempts of either Matt or Cathy. Fortunately, today's dinner promised to be more interesting.

****

Nick regretfully decided that eating another bowl of the berries and cream would be gluttonous. There were still the remains of the wheaten salad and mutton pastries on the table. Across from him, Lion Gardiner and Henry Gage were enjoying the delights of fresh tomatoes with salt. Several conversations buzzed around.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff