Madame’s earthly affairs had long been largely in order, but this latest bout, lasting weeks, came at a bad time. Events in England had erupted. Her incapacity had tragic consequence for Thomas’ dear nephew, Adam, who she loved as dearly as if he had been her own. She was now recovered sufficiently enough to give him her full attention. Given her condition—not to mention his—she dared no further delay. Perhaps the matter could yet be repaired.

The sweet child now stood at the door. “Come closer, dear Adam, so Madame can see you.” Adam did so. “But the years pass so quickly. You are no longer a boy. Such happy years they were.”

“Madame fares better?” English accent, with just a touch of Parisian.

“For today, child. But Madame forgets her manners. There is wine. Will you pour for us both?”

“Of course.”

“And if you would also, to mine please add a measure of the medicine that you will find in the drawer to the left.”

Adam opened the drawer and examined the medicine closely, tasting a bit. It was mercuric, and of high quality, the medicine of a syphilitic. Beside it, a spoon. “One of this measure, Madame?”

“Yes, thank you.” She watched him stir the medicine into her wine.

“Madame finds the medicine more agreeable with wine?”

“I am French, child. If I wished to take hemlock, I would mix it with wine.”

As he started to put the medicine back, she added, “Do take as much as you like for yourself, child. I’m sure you are at tight ends lately.”

He paused. “Madame?”

“Wicked tongues delighted in bringing Madame this news.”

Adam knew word would get around soon enough. Still, he had hoped it would not happen quite so quickly. He would have spared his late Uncle’s paramour this news. He gave her the cup, and sat without speaking.

“Tell Madame how this occurred.”

“Does it matter now?”

“Speak.”

“Madame knows of events in London?”

“On most days, Madame is uncertain of events in her own chambers.”

“Charles Stuart ran amok, tossing accusations of treason with abandon. Father is dead, his estate confiscated. When the news got about, I was courted. I needed friends, so I consented. When a chancre appeared, I knew what it was.” Adam had seen enough syphilis chancres. He had come to Paris to study medicine. “My ‘friend’ accused me of infecting him. It was quite a scene. He told the faculty at University, and they expelled me.” His tone was a bit flat.

“You were had, child. The wicked man who sent word of your infection to Madame was one who sought revenge. He wishes to see that I suffer in my last days, but dared not attack one whose cousin is so close to Le Cardinal. Thus, he struck at you, while grief and need left you vulnerable. It would have been easy enough to find a desperate young man in need of medicine, willing to do such work. It was simple cruelty, well aimed.”

“Name him. I will kill him.” Adam’s tone was still flat.

“You will not.” As usual, Madame seemed quite certain of herself.

Adam stared sullenly.

“Obey me child. I have other purposes for you.”

“Can I kill him and still fulfill these purposes?”

“He is Madame’s privilege. Assassination has never been my way, but I have no time for more gracious means. He would soon have you killed, of course, since he will assume I have told you how you came by the syphilis. He will fear you will seek revenge. He will expect you. This is a matter for professionals, not revenge.”

“Your privilege, Madame,” Adam conceded.

Madame now studied him in a way he would have found ominous when younger, but now found pleasing. Whatever she planned for him, he would find it worthy.

“In the other drawer, you will find papers, some bound. Look first at the bound set.”

Adam retrieved them. Next to them was another bottle of medicine, a year’s supply at least, perhaps two, and a bag clearly filled with coin. He opened the bound volume.

“Sonnets: Bacon. Marlowe. de Vere. Others.”

“Just so. You know them?”

“I do. The usual parlor amusements for those with the right training.”

“And the rest?” Madame asked.

“More sonnets. Correspondence regarding business. I see little in them, Madame. More parlor amusements?”

“Another method is also present. Examine the last two pages.”

He did. “An interesting variation . . . clever . . . it would be more compact. Certainly more laborious, but one could conceal more with it.”

“Just so. Memorize the method, child, then toss those parts in the fire.”

Adam needed but a moment, then the papers burned.

Madame continued. “It was a method Bacon shared with few. It will unlock all but the first three sonnets in that binding. Use the better known method for those, though you’ll find little of interest in them. As you say, they are mere parlor amusements. I’m uncertain how many know the more difficult method. Some, I’m sure, but I would not know who. I am the last of my own acquaintance who I am certain can read those. “

“And what will I find in those, Madame?”

“Scandal.”

“Scandal?”

“Scandal, and more, some of which will still be of fresh fifty years from now. Some date as far back as the reign of Elizabeth and concern Raleigh, Walsingham and others. Madame has added some work of more recent vintage, detailing some events in France. All the sonnets contain something in the simpler method. Most conceal something in the more difficult method. This is a lesson that will serve you well in life, child. Always keep some lesser coin where a thief can find it, but not too easily. Keep the better coin better hidden.”

“True wisdom, Madame. And you wish me to . . . ?”

“To keep them safe. They are historical documents. One day, scholars will drool over them, smearing the ink. Madame would not have them lost, or the method forgotten. Who could I trust other than my dear late Thomas’ nephew? Will you undertake this, and see that they are not misused?”

“I would be honored. But I must remind Madame, I share her malady.”

“You must pass them down, as they were passed to me, as I pass them to you. Add to them if you wish.”

“I would be honored, but . . . yes, I will undertake it.”

“Good. Now examine the other papers.”

He did, and as he did, grew perplexed. “Travel papers. Who is John Smith?”

“You are. Madame has done many favors over the years, and knows where many bodies are buried, if you take my meaning.”

The old bird looked quite predatory. He wondered how many stories he would find in her papers. Too few, he was sure. Bacon’s methods were flexible, but not thrifty.”Why would Madame wish me to go to Basel?”

“Read on, child.”

“This man in Basel is to provide bank drafts and papers for me to travel to Grantville.” He paused. “You mean for me to go to Grantville?”

“They have begun a medical school you know.”

“Yes, it was all the talk among faculty and students.”

“And why would I wish you to travel to Grantville, Adam?”

“To study medicine?” Light dawned. “Oh. Chloramphenicol.”

“Unobtainable elsewhere. It is said to cure syphilis, not merely alleviate it. A student might have better access.”

Adam considered. It was true. And he had no other prospects.

“The money is yours, whatever you choose. I have no heirs of my own. Take it, before the lawyers get it.”

“I will do as you say. And I will see if I can find enough of this chloramphenicol for two.”

“I may be no longer in need of it by then. In truth, it has become a rare day when I am so lucid. My concern now is for you, and for those papers. Take care of yourself, and them, and Madame will be well rewarded.”

“Yes, Madame.”

“Good. It is best you start soon. Tonight. Do not return to your rooms. Take up the coin and the medicine, then one last thing, before you go. Take down the sword above from the wall, please.”

He did, looking closely. “It was Uncle’s. He wore it on special occasions.”

“It is a near match to the dirk your uncle gave you when you were twelve. The dirk was made for you. The sword is older.”

“Uncle left it with you, Madame?”

“Yes. It was my father’s. I gave it to Thomas. I wish you to have it now.”

Adam bowed.

“We take care of our own, child. Never forget this. It is possible that you will find a new circle of friends in this Grantville. I cannot imagine a town of that importance without such prospects. Choose carefully. You now carry a great historical treasure, so give some thought to the future, and be watchful for opportunities.”

“Yes, Madame.”

“Go with God, Adam. Your uncle loved you, and so do I.”

Madame received a kiss on the cheek, and the lad was gone.

****

A servant entered shortly after.

“Adam’s visit was noticed, Andre?”

“By no one now living, Madame,” Andre answered.

“Very good, Andre. Please gather up half of mother’s silver from the basement. Take it to the Savoyard. Tell him the rest is his if the brings me the head of the Burgundian Stork before morning. Be certain he understands: Madame will only give the rest if she can see the head, and know its face. He must not mutilate the face.”

“Yes, Madame. The Savoyard will be pleased.” Andre looked pleased also. But then, he had always been fond of Adam.

For the first time in her long life, Madame would now be a killer. She rested more easily now, satisfied.

****

Adam left the house, looked at the sky, then started walking. With each step, he retreated deeper into himself.

A robot named Adam walked to Basel. Inside, a young man named Adam noted every house, every window, every cobblestone. He expected never to see them again.

****

The robot named Adam had walked into Grantville. Inside, the young man named Adam resented every intrusion from the world outside.

He had read the words hidden in the archive of Madame, finding Bacon, Walsingham, Raleigh, Elizabeth, the Stuarts, the Valois, the Bourbon. It was beyond price. He wondered if it might be the only such archive outside the hands of monarchs.

Likely it was not, but being its custodian kept Adam alive. In that, as in all her efforts, Madame knew her business. He could not bear to think of such papers being lost or abused.

The robot now sat in a small examination room in Leahy Hospital awaiting a doctor. Safely inside, the young man watched with curiosity. How would the examination differ from those he knew? Would he be cured? Would he be tossed out? Fascinating questions.

The door opened and a man came in.

The man stared at Adam’s sword hanging by the door, then at Adam. He looked at Adam’s paperwork, and smiled oddly.

“Good morning, Adam Tyrrell. I am Doctor Balthazar Abrabanel.” Mildly cheerful, English accent. There could only be one doctor by that name, with that accent. “I don’t believe we’ve met, but would you be Thomas Tyrell’s nephew?” Abrabanel pointed to Uncle Thomas’ sword.

The robot was gone. The young man remained, naked. Abrabanel had served the court in England. He may have done intelligence work. Which factions, which sides had he been on over the years? What was he doing here? The voices of his elders flashed advice though his imagination.

From Father: Kick him in the stomach and run, boy!

From Uncle Thomas: Trip him up. Find the medicine. Then run.

From Madame: Offer him wine. Converse.

Then Adam got advice from himself: Father never would have known this man, so try Uncle’s advice first. Then Madame’s. Hold Father’s in reserve.

“Madame Rossignol sent me,” Adam said.

The smile left the doctor’s face. Nothing took it’s place. “Beg pardon?”

“Madame Rossignol.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You knew her.” It wasn’t a question, and Adam emphasized the pronoun.

“I knew Henri Rossignol well enough, but long ago. He was close to your uncle. Why would Henri send you?” The doctor emphasized the pronoun and the name.

“Chloramphenicol.”

“I’d heard he had syphilis. He was the last of that circle, since your uncle died.”

“Not quite the last.”

Abrabanel digested that, then passed over it. “I understand your uncle fell at Breitenfeld?”

“Yes. He preferred an honorable end to a demented one.”

Abrabanel digested that, too. “More syphilis?”

Adam nodded.

“What can you tell me of Henri’s condition?”

Adam rendered a description that would have gotten a fair mark from a professor.

“Have you been studying medicine?” Abrabanel asked.

“Two years in Paris.”

“You know the prognosis?”

“She may already be dead.”

“Perhaps. We might get the medicine to him while he still lives, but you must understand . . . At best, it would only stop the disease from causing further harm. The injuries already done would remain. From your description, he would not live much longer in any event.”

“I suspected as much, sir.”

“But you had to try anyway. I understand. In your place, I would do the same.”

“There’s more, Doctor.”

“Yes?”

“I have it, too.”

“Syphilis? What symptoms have you had?”

While the doctor examined Adam, Adam examined the doctor’s instruments. They were marvelous up-time devices. He was intrigued to find he understood most of them. He made a mental note to try to learn more about their construction.

When it was done, Abrabanel said, “No signs of it just now, but the university doctors are good. You can put your clothes back on.” There was still no expression on his face.

“You can cure this?”

The doctor nodded.

“I have coin. A legacy from Madame.”

The doctor ignored that. “You’ve been taking mercury?”

“Yes.”

“Stop. It’s nearly as bad as the malady. Give it to me. We’ll use chloramphenicol, but it’s short just now. Sieges breed epidemics, so we sent much to Amsterdam. Emergencies only at the moment. In three weeks, perhaps four, we’ll have more.”

Adam deflated. He would live.

Uncle had walked into a block of pikes, and died. Adam had walked into Grantville, and would live. He considered that a moment, and decided it might be good to live. It would make it easier to preserve Madame’s papers.

“Thank you. Should I apply to medical school elsewhere if I mean to continue my education?” Adam surprised himself. He hadn’t known he would say that.

“We can speak of that later.”

“I’ll be grateful if you can just rid me of the syphilis.” Yes, It felt good to live.

“Chloram will fix that, well enough. Do we need to discuss anything else at the moment?”

“No.”

The doctor took a piece of paper and wrote. “Very well. This is my prescription until then. Where are you staying? “

“I’m at the Y.”

“Your uncle was a very talented man, Adam Tyrrell. Henri more so. I will send word to you at the Y when we have the drug.” As he left, the doctor looked at Adam’s sword hanging by the wall. “Do keep it sheathed, lad.”

Perhaps he meant the sword. Perhaps. There was no trace of humor in his voice.

Adam looked at the prescription. The top was typeset:

“From the desk of Balthazar Abrabanel, MD. Prescription:”

Below, handwritten:

“Essay a composition on the book And The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts, to be found in the Medical Reading Room, third floor, Leahy.”

Curious title. Likely a morality lesson.

Adam returned to the front desk and asked where he might find the reading room.

****

Adam had an early lunch in the Leahy cafeteria before going to the reading room. where he presented his “prescription.” The librarian seemed to find nothing odd about it. He received the book, and settled in a comfortable chair by a window. A laudably quiet up-time clock behind the librarian’s desk showed the time just before noon.

He made many trips to the dictionary chained to the desk.

Much later, he stopped and closed his eyes. It was dark outside. He had not finished the book, and did not care to continue just now. He could see that this project was big. Four weeks might do. Maybe.

Early the next morning, he stopped at the stationer across from the downtown library. He bought a folder, filled it with paper and chose a partly used up-time pencil. He did not care to mix bottles of ink with priceless books.

He noted that the up-time lady ahead of him had brought in a handful of well used pencils with no erasers. She left with two fresh pencils with erasers, muttering angrily. He filed this away in his growing collection of anecdotes.

At Leahy, Adam started the book fresh, this time using the dictionary more carefully. He learned new words, and new uses for old words. He wrote down references to other publications. He marveled at the index in the back. He seldom spoke to anyone. Others politely left him to his work.

Inside the book’s cover were notations and a pocket indicating that it had once been in the collection of the high school. Adam checked with the librarian, and learned that yes, that meant it had been freely available to any adolescent in town. The book did not look well used. He added this to his list of curiosities.

Had the University of Paris possessed this book, it would have been heavily restricted, solely for professional use. The entire faculty would have had apoplexy over the author’s presentation of sodomites, but on no account would it have been discarded.

It was not a medical book, but a popular account of the AIDS epidemic, written by a journalist.

What was Abrabanel’s purpose in assigning it to Adam? Surely the man knew what was in it. The parallels to syphilis were glaringly obvious. He wanted Adam to learn a practical lesson, to go with moral teachings. But the rest?

Whatever moral or professional lessons Abrabanel was offering, another thing was clear enough: the doctor needed help with this, whether he knew it or not. As a gay syphilitic, Adam had a certain perspective on this topic.

He learned that up-time attitudes toward sodomites had been evolving, amid great social contention. There was a Sodomite movement! Sodomites had attacked police outside an American tavern, and boasted of it!

Madame would never have approved. Uncle Thomas? A more interesting question, but he was no longer around to ask.

Adam added a problem to his notes: how to discretely research sexual topics.

He preferred handling leaches to that book.

****

Adam left a note for the doctor: How many cases were there in Grantville?

The answer: One known, now deceased. More were very unlikely. The note offered no further comment.

****

Adam did more reading at Leahy when he finished the Shilts book, then shifted to the other libraries. The Leahy reading room had been decorous. The SoTF State Library, though, was a mob scene. The wait for the encyclopedias, in particular, was lengthy.

Periodicals were easier to browse at leisure, and the collection included more than two decades of Time Magazine. Adam’s notes from Shilts included some references from that publication.

Time was eclectic. Politics. War. Entertainment. Science. Medicine. Business. People. Even the very price on the cover suggested new lines of up-time research, as it increased over time. Amazingly, it was vastly cheaper if home delivered. Down-time, these magazines were treasure beyond even that carried by the Spanish Caribbean fleets. Up-time, they had been as disposable as an old man’s apple core. He could write one hundred learned commentaries, and still only scratch the tip of this one collection of magazines.

Adam added to his growing list for future research. The Cold War. Republicans and Democrats. Punk rock. Disneyland. Oil sheiks. Gates, Wozniak and Jobs.

Most of the world, including Europe, seemed to have lost its aristocracy. The noble families were covered in the same pages as theater and music, rather than politics. It was a stunning world, but in the pages of the magazines, it seemed as ordinary as a woman beating a rug in Southwark.

His most shocking discovery? Grantville was a rural backwater. Certainly that was common knowledge, but after a few dozen issues of Time Magazine, Adam knew it in his bones. He did not see it merely in terms of technology or history. He saw it in terms of culture and society. These vaunted up-timers would have been judged backward by the twentieth-century sophisticates of New York City or Paris.

He started going through the Time collection issue by issue, starting in 1980, just before the AIDS epidemic was discovered. He made a fast note of each title and topic as he went, regardless of relevance to this assignment, building his own index. He slowed only to read the articles relevant to the AIDS epidemic thoroughly and abstract them. Time enough for the rest later.

More paper. Another pencil. Always another puzzle on the next page.

Shilts had died in 1994. Some important material dated after his book had been published in 1988. Adam saw that the story could not be understood from the book alone. Had any down-timer done this additional research yet? The up-timers must already know the story, but AIDS, far more than syphilis, was a disease of pariahs. Would this blind them to its lessons?

****

The library never closed and was always crowded. Even in that busy place—no, especially there—people began to notice that Adam was on a quest. Finally another researcher approached him.

“You seem to find the magazine collection useful. Perhaps you are compiling an index. If so, I would find ways to be grateful if you would share it.”

Adam made a noncommittal answer, but began to surface from the magazines and books more often to take notice of his surroundings. After a day of that, he stopped and just looked at where he’d been working.

Some patrons, especially up-timers, just seemed to be reading. Others, both up-timers and down-timers, read and wrote more furtively. This was made easier by the rows of carrels, almost booths, for the researchers, Without that added privacy, the situation would have been intolerable. Some cast challenging glances at any who looked too closely. Many, very many, shielded their materials from others. A few of the researchers had men with them, humorless men, who seemed to be there only to keep prying eyes at a distance. Other researchers acted like spies from a poorly written comedy.

These men were not hiding their work from the authorities so much as from each other.

Adam had never seen a library with a bouncer before. This library had more than one.

Adam speculated that the cloak check at the entrance collected blades for reasons beyond preventing patrons from using them on books. The stakes were high indeed. Monarchs paid some of these researchers, seeking to gain some advantage of history or technology over their rivals. The outcome of wars might be decided in these rooms.

He was sure it was the largest collection of learned spies ever assembled. Certainly it was the most industrious—and most ironic. What they were “spying out” was free for the taking!

What did this say about the authorities who permitted it? It couldn’t be stupidity. It must be a statement of strength, or perhaps of arrogance. Or was there some deeper game here? Adam was accustomed to deeper games.

From the door, a woman’s voice called out, “Roach coach!” The midnight meal wagon had arrived. People began drifting outside. Some left a friend behind to guard their work.

Uncle Thomas would have loved this, had he only lived to see it. Madame would have set up court in a corner, reading romances while directing her mignons in their research. Adam wished for their advice.

Yes. It felt good to be alive, and more so each day.

****

“Pizza. Italian food!” A young man, Tuscan by his accent, smiled at Adam. “An excellent choice.” He sat next to Adam uninvited, but not entirely unwelcome. They ate outside the library in darkness broken by gas lights.

“I grew weary of sausage and sauerkraut.” Adam’s conversation skills felt rusty. For weeks, he had avoided conversation.

“My card.” The young man handed it to Adam.

Stephano Vasari

Grantville Library Research

Specializing in History & Biography

Best Rates—Can you afford not to ask?

“I’m Adam. How’s business, Stephano?” Adam was genuinely interested in the answer. If he were judged morally unfit for medical training, he would need other work.

“The usual for a freelance researcher with no great or wealthy patron. Castoff questions not wanted by researchers with better sponsors.” Stephano assumed a bored voice: “How will my children fare? Should I invest in Virginia? Will the siege of Amsterdam destroy the tulip market, or create a shortage? Is there anything I should know about Lord Him or Lady Her which will help me gain favor? They seldom phrase that question so baldly, but it’s clear what they want. All very predictable. I hope one or another of them will be so pleased with my answers as to refer me to a patron with real money and better questions. I’m seldom so lucky as to find an inquiry from someone who is in the encyclopedias. I seldom even bother to cover my work. I should have listened to my mother, finished my education, and become an attorney.” Stephano rolled his eyes to indicate his opinion of that option.

“It all sounds terribly tedious.”

Stephano shrugged. “It can be. The speculation is that you are compiling a magazine index. If you are generous with it, you might find many willing to share information or hire you in times of need, but be advised, few are willing to share patrons. Of course, you may already have one—not that I would pry.”

“Actually, I’m at loose ends. I intend to petition to study medicine.”

“You invest your idle days shrewdly, friend.”

“So I’m learning.”

Stephano finished his pizza. “And now, back to work. I have to find a way to tell an abbot in Campania that I can not find for him the current whereabouts of Prester John. I fear he will not pay well for that news, if he pays at all.”

Adam decided he liked Stephano. Perhaps it was the charmingly downscale American Western garb. It might have been fun to prowl Southwark with him. He made a mental note to watch for Time Magazine references to Prester John.

Adam remembered Stephano’s remark about “Italian food,” and made another note in his future research list, adding “Hamburgers, “French Toast” and “French Fries.” Americans and their culture, even their food, were the proverbial child of a thousand fathers.

His research list was getting long. He was not sure of a market for it.

Adam had enough material for his commentary on AIDS. The epidemiology aspect was obvious, but he would write a much longer paper. He began writing it the next afternoon. It would have been a much shorter paper without the magazines.

****

Several days later, he dropped the essay off at Leahy for Dr. Abrabanel. He was told it would still be a few days before the doctor had his medicine, so he went back to the library. Stephano had recommended music by The Village People, so he signed up for a CD player.

The Village People lyrics were suggestive, and the costumes more so. Adjust for period and Adam could imagine those Village People fishing the piers of London—with their hooks baited for sailors. But Adam found he could “stop the music” and did. The librarian suggested Steeleye Span, which turned out to be more agreeable, and quite fascinating to an Englishman.

Adam had several references to The Village People in his Magazine index. He gave the dates and page numbers to Stephano without comment. The Village People were gay icons.

Adam wondered when gay had replaced somodite in his mind. Recently, to be sure. The change had not happened easily, but he now found that he occasionally felt “uppity.”

****

Adam lay in his bunk, listening to a dozen neighbors breathe, snore, and turn. They didn’t keep him awake. Something else nagged him.

The lady with the pencils.

Erasers. Ballpoint pens. Light bulbs. A child bawling over a deflated bicycle tire. Amid this, monarchs moved spies through the libraries like chess pieces.

He got up, dressed, and stepped out into the night. Clear sky. Gas lights.

Gas lights. Not electric.

He went to the library, and sat at a picnic table near his usual gas light. Within the building, Prometheus.

Instead, Stephano emerged. He must have been sitting near a window, watching. This pleased Adam.

“Pondering the night, Adam?” he asked.

“One should, from time to time. Will you walk with me, Stephano?”

They meandered quietly from one gas light to the next, never very close to the lights, never very far.

After a time, Adam spoke, “Grantville.”

“Yes,” Stephano replied. “Grantville.”

“They are Prometheus, Stephano.”

“Bringers of light. Yes.”

“And you know what happened to Prometheus? Look in the library, Stephano, and see the vultures.”

“Grantville isn’t bound yet. They still stand defiant. But look again, Adam. When I see Grantville, I sometimes see the city of Rome. You know what they say of Rome these days?”

Adam shook his head.

“I would render it poetically: Where barbarians failed, Barbarini prevailed. Today’s Romans use the monuments of the Caesars as quarries.”

“I’m afraid I’ve never been to Rome, Stephano.”

“I would love to show it to you some day, Adam. But here, have you seen the streetcars? The airplanes? The APCs? They had none of it when they arrived. All of it, quarried from whatever they found in their pockets. How long can they do this?”

“I’ve been so buried in my own affairs. I hadn’t noticed. But yes, I see it now. And it’s of a part with all the frantic work. Steel. Chemicals. Guns.”

“Have you heard of their Granges, Adam? One of their major works is preserving their stock. They have refined seed and livestock breeds, but some of it hangs by a thread. There are not enough of the cattle, for instance, so they must breed carefully.”

“The large horses, also?”

“Yes.”

“The vision of Prometheus came to me earlier. But there was more to it, Stephano. Look closely at the vultures feeding on the liver of this town, and what do you see? Indigestion.”

Stephano considered a moment. “Yes, it is true. It is such a delicious irony, such a magnificent jest. The Grantvillers could not be more clear than if they had hung a sign over the door. ‘Heads I win. Tails you lose. Take what you like.’ It must be galling.”

“Look deeper still, Stephano. Have you studied the nations of their world? There’s not an important monarchy remaining except maybe in Arab lands.”

“True. Galling indeed.”

“And how did that happen, Stephano?”

“That’s the big question, my friend. You’ll hear it discussed among researchers, if you sit at the right tables for lunch.”

“It almost doesn’t matter. Whatever did it, it’s right there in that library, being copied and spread round the world by the very spies who seek to stop it. An information plague, like one of their computer viruses. That’s why they keep the library open to all.”

Stephano went dumb. Then it sank in. “My God! Can this be true?”

“I’m sure of it. I think I may even have some grip on the details.”

“Adam, you’re a very rich young man if you do.”

“Rich? Did Cassandra prosper? Stephano, to understand what they do, it helps to study epidemics. Look closely and see this one spreading. The CoCs. The Granges. The Ram and the Ewe. Religious toleration. Women in pulpits. Jews in Prague taking up arms and tearing down ghetto walls. They’re spreading a cultural contagion that touches anything, everything.”

“And the library is the center of all this? I don’t buy that, Adam.”

“The people take part also, just by the way they speak and carry themselves, Stephano. The library is how they persuade the great and mighty to steal it!”

“You may be right, friend. It would explain much. But forgive me if I keep some skepticism.”

“Not at all.”

They walked more.

“Did you expect all this when you set out for Grantville?” Adam waved around.

“No. I met an up-timer in Rome named Harry Lefferts, who spoke of the medicines. I came for chloramphenicol and stayed for the library.”

“I’m on the chloramphenicol waiting list. Soon, I hope.”

They stopped and looked at one another, each waiting for the other to speak first.

After a very tense moment, Stephano suddenly grinned rakishly and sang. “YYYYY-EMMM-CEEE-AAAAAA.”

A dam burst inside Adam. He fell to the ground convulsed in laughter.

Stephano stood looking down at him. “Damned gas lights,” he said mournfully. He then winked brightly. “But as Grandmother always said, chloramphenicol first.”

When Adam’s laughter had run its course, Stephano helped him up. “Adam, when I went in for treatment, I got Doctor Nichols. He’s not an easy man to fool.” He paused a painful moment, then said, “So they know about me. Hang around me too much and . . . I suppose I should go now.”

“Wait.” Adam considered a moment. “Adam and Stephano. I like the sound of that. Do you?”

Stephano smiled. “I do. You make fine company, Adam.”

That was what Adam had needed to hear. “I think we need to find a more profitable line of work.”

“How?” Stephano asked. “As researchers?”

“In a manner of speaking. I need to know if you’ve been working for anyone, Stephano. Will anyone object if you strike out on your own?”

“There’s nothing I can’t clean up in a few days, then I’m free. I’m tired of living on the castoffs of others. And you?”

“The same, and worse. I’ve no family, no home. I will adopt this place as my home if I can.”

“Agreed. I would not leave the libraries willingly. Have you found a patron, Adam?”

“No. We can do better than that, I think. I have enough money to get us started.”

Stephano shrugged. “May I hope for intrigue, danger, excitement?”

“I mean to reach high, Stephano.” Adam stared at him appraisingly.

“Adam, talk to Stephano.”

“Wait till you see some of the things I’ve found in the library.”

“Adam, should your Stephano be worried now?”

Adam was pleased to see that his Stephano looked worried, a bit, but very interested as well.

“I’ve been working on some essays I’d like you to read, Stephano. Perhaps they’ll attract the desired attention.”

They were still plotting when the sun rose.

****

Days later, Adam and Stephano stepped out of the library.

“I’m tired of the roach coach,” Stephano complained. “I hear they have excellent lunchtime entertainment at Cora’s lately: improvisational comedy from a female impersonator who calls herself Veda Mae Culpa. Shall we research it?” Veda Mae Haggerty, Grantville’s loudest gossip, had become a running joke with Stephano.

“That sounds fine, but she’s a lady, not an impersonator.”

“I mean to check her for an Adam’s apple. Either way, she’s no lady.”

“She’s had no apples from me,” Adam said, virtuously. “I need to stop by the Y on the way.”

At the Y, Adam found a message waiting for him. “It would seem I’m going to Leahy this afternoon. They have the curenstoff.”

“We’ll eat first. Trust me, it will be good for your nerves. Then we’ll go to Leahy.”

“We?”

“We.”

Adam didn’t argue. He’d be glad of the company.

The Veda Mae Show helped his nerves. Stephano’s rather loud donkey impressions helped more, since Veda Mae seemed oblivious of their intent. In the end, they agreed that it would require a medical examination to pass judgment on whether that was an Adam’s Apple on her throat.

The walk to Leahy did not last long enough for Adam’s taste.

****

The door to the examination room opened. Dr. Abrabanel entered.

“Good afternoon, Adam. I have your medicine.” Abrabanel placed it on the table. “You swallow it. Again, you understand that there’s a small risk? One person in several thousand dies of it. I have not yet seen this happen. I judge the risk favorable, compared to your illness, but the decision is yours.”

Adam solemnly took the medicine.

“I’ll want you to visit every third day for three weeks, to monitor your progress. Now, I’d like to discuss your commentary on Shilts.”

“Certainly.”

“Let’s allow the hospital to have their examination room back. We’ll speak in my office.”

Adam’s essay was in Abrabanel’s office. The doctor took it up, and glanced at the first pages.

“I keep an easy schedule these days. Some teaching. Some patients. You’re not the first I’ve assigned this book. I see that you’ve noted AIDS as an epidemiological example. From there, most students go on to write about the disease itself. You’ve included some of this. Like most others, you’ve compared AIDS to syphilis. You’ve also compared that epidemic to the epidemics of our own time. At this point, some students append sermons. You haven’t. Instead, you continue to study the course of the epidemic well beyond the period covered by the book, almost until the Ring of Fire.” The doctor looked up.

“The magazines ran out at that point, with no cure found.”

“Just so. You’ve noted that it first came to light in a pariah population, and that distaste for homosexuals hampered early understanding and efforts. You note that homosexual distrust of authority was also a complication in controlling the disease, even when it was better understood. You recount the development of organizations to help those with the disease, and the rise of protest movements. I find it interesting that you invested several paragraphs on a description of the American tradition of non-violent civil rights movements, and how the AIDS movements followed in that tradition.” The doctor looked up again. The doctor pronounced homosexual like it was an unfamiliar diagnosis. At least he wasn’t using sodomite.

“It’s an integral part of the story, sir.”

“Yes. I’d heard some of this from the up-time doctors and staff. If any students found that material, they didn’t include it. Only you wrote of it as anything other than a sermon. You expressed no opinions.”

“I found the subject awkward, sir.”

“I can imagine. Would you care to express an opinion now, Adam?”

Adam had rehearsed several answers to that question, should it arise. But what came out was, “It made me angry, and frightened.”

“A physician is required to control his emotions.” Abrabanel gave Adam a professional look.

“Of course, doctor. But have you seen a food riot?”

“Not up close.”

“Nor I, up close. But I ask myself what happens in an epidemic when the chloramphenicol runs out.”

“Then we will do what we can. I’ll expect you back in three days, Adam.”

Adam rose to leave, then hesitated at the door. “You gave me chloramphenicol.”

“Yes.” The doctor looked up at Adam.

“It’s scarce. Someone else didn’t get it. That person may die in my place.”

“If there were more urgent need, I’d have waited to treat you.”

“I’m no longer sure I wish to study medicine, doctor. Perhaps later, if they’ll have a former syphilitic.”

“There is no record of your infection. And as for the cost of the medicine, it would seem I lost some chloramphenicol in an accident. Clumsy of me. That was good research, lad. You earned it. Return in three days. And while you wait, consider your life, Adam Tyrrell. Do not travel the road of your uncle and Henri Rossignol.”

“Yes. Chloramphenicol may not always be available.”

“I mean . . . consider marriage.” The doctor returned his attention to some papers on his desk.

****

Adam found Stephano in the cafeteria. As they walked, Adam spoke. “It would seem the doctor disapproves of sodomy.”

“Does he know about you?” Stephano asked.

“He counseled me regarding marriage. It may merely have been his idea of fatherly advice, being as I’ve no family now.”

“Kind of him,” Stephano said.

“He offended me,” Adam replied. Which felt odd, considering that the doctor was also saving his life.

****

When Adam returned for his first follow up, he gave the doctor a short paper on the economic troubles of the United States in the last quarter of the twentieth century as reported in Time Magazine. On his next visit, he gave the doctor a paper comparing the development of the microcomputer industry to various enterprises in Grantville, including the role of four up-time teenagers in the development of a sewing machine industry. Adam had been careful to emphasize the role and nature of geeks in both developments.

Adam repeated this brand building process until his last follow up visit. On that day, he first visited the library to verify that a certain science fiction book was still on the shelves and in the catalog. He then went to Leahy and gave the doctor his commentary on the book. Afterward, he returned immediately to the library, where he found the book gone, along with its catalog entries.

He collected Stephano from a carrel and took him outside.

“I’ve dangled the bait. He—or apparently they—took it,” Adam reported.

“I watched a librarian remove the book. So, we wait?” Stephano asked.

“We wait.”

“If it goes bad, do you think they will let us share a jail cell?”

“Let’s not wait to find out. The doctor pronounced me cured. Take me home,” Adam said, adamantly.

“At least that part of the waiting is over,” Stephano smiled.

****

Later, in Stephano’s rooms, Adam felt himself retreating back inside the robot again. This frightened him, but Stephano was patient. Flesh is stronger than armor.

****

The next morning, they went to the Y to collect Adam’s belongings. He was moving in with Stephano. As they walked, Adam said, “It would seem that no ruffians broke down our door last night.”

“I had thought they wouldn’t. Door breaking doesn’t seem common here,” Stephano said. “But I’m never certain with these Americans. Just when I think I know them, I find they still surprise me.”

“Political weather changes, even in their world. Consider their Ku Klux Klan, their McCarthy hearings, which they even called ‘witch hunts,'” Adam said. “And let’s not forget their military was still witch hunting gays up until the Ring of Fire. The up-timers are under great stress here in Grantville. We need friends. Somewhere here, there are people of great subtlety. Finding and courting them may take some time, but I judge that the up-timers prefer spirit to servility. Let us start boldly, and see how it goes.”

“It’s worth a try,” Stephano agreed.

At the Y, Adam found a message waiting for him, asking to him see Doctor Abrabanel at Leahy. Adam didn’t have much to move, so they did that first. They both wanted that to be done, to be made official. Then they went to see Dr. Abrabanel. They entered the doctor’s office together.

“Perhaps your friend could wait for you in the cafeteria,” the doctor suggested pleasantly.

“If this is about my treatment, I’d prefer that Stephano stay. If it’s about that last book report, I insist he stay.”

Stephano closed the door from the inside, not making a move to leave.

“He’s read the book?” The doctor asked.

“And my report,” Adam answered. “I gather that the librarians don’t take science fiction seriously. This was a large book. Huff-duff, and how to recognize a huff-duff antenna by its movements. Radio intercepts. Signal traffic analysis. Computer assisted cryptanalysis, with some hints regarding early computer design. The Pearl Harbor intercepts. The Yamamoto killing. The battle of the Atlantic. Pseudo-random number generation for one time pads by way of Riemann-Zeta functions, with suggestions how they might be computed without electronic assistance. Hints about proper generation of random numbers and other cipher keys. Large number factoring. Allusions to game theory, information and coding theory. Operational security. Portable radios that can reach from Naples to London. Names of cryptographers, some real. You might wish to remove the Alan Turing biography. I found it fascinating, also. Mostly it was just hints, but there was enough detail for years of research.”

“I liked the part about allowing a ship to be captured with its code books so they could replace some codes so that the Germans would not guess that the English had learned by cryptanalysis that the codes were compromised. With a little more work, the author might try writing a history of the de Medici,” Stephano said wistfully, in his thickest Tuscan accent.

The doctor looked pinched, but said nothing.

Adam looked at Abrabanel. “Who is the last survivor of Madame Rossignol’s circle?”

“How much did they teach you, Adam?”

“Enough. Lord Bacon himself was among my teachers. I remember him fondly. Would you believe it? I used to puddle in his lap when I was small. Are you qualified to test me?”

“That could be arranged,” the doctor said, sitting back.

“Cipher cracking is a rare skill, Doctor,” Adam pointed out.

“I know it,” the doctor acknowledged.

“And you have much need of it here, given the activity in that library,” Adam added. “You’d need the largest Black Chamber in Europe to handle that much suspicious mail.”

“Understand this, Adam Tyrrell. They have a constitution here that guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. Opening mail without a warrant is a serious crime. The up-timers won’t want their fingerprints on that. It would be politically dangerous.”

“So there are rules. It still needs . . . ” Adam stopped. Fingerprints??? That would be another up-time expression, and one with some real meaning. He made yet another mental note, then continued, “It still needs the largest Black Chamber in Europe just to handle the ones known to be working for hostile powers.”

“You wish to offer your services?” Abrabanel asked.

“Will that buy us protection from official harassment?” Adam spread his hands in an inquiring gesture. “In Paris and London, I’m a known homosexual. That information could easily arrive here. My boyfriend . . . ” Adam pointed a thumb over his shoulder. ” . . . is known here, in Florence and perhaps Rome as well.”

“Maybe Rome,” Stephano shrugged. “Definitely here. Dr. Nichols is an insightful man.”

“We need the usual assurances regarding official harassment and blackmail,” Adam finished. “Delivered in person by someone of convincing rank.”

This protection was Adam’s true goal. It would make it possible to stay in Grantville, near the precious libraries. He and the doctor stared at each other for a moment, appraisingly.

“I will make inquiries,” the doctor finally said.

“Are we done, Adam?” Stephano asked, adding, “I’m hungry.”

“Yes, I think so. Doctor? The usual assurances, given in person by someone of very convincing rank?”

“I’ll get back to you, Adam.”

****

As they left, Adam said, “Speaking plainly feels good.”

“Yes,” Stephano agreed. “But let’s not do it often, shall we?”

“It’s hardly necessary. The idea of gay liberation is in the same libraries along with all the rest of the stuff they’re spreading. They can’t erase it any more than they can expunge references to Elvis Presley.”

“Do you think they’ll go for our ideas?”

“Whoever ‘they’ are, I think they’ll at least test me. Truly, I’ll be satisfied if they merely leave us alone. Now, I need to do some research. I think I’ve overlooked something.”

Fingerprints.

****

Stephano hadn’t been allowed in this room.

The man behind the desk had the look and manners of a clerk. The man behind the man behind the desk looked more like some nightmare from Scandinavian mythology. Adam resolved to make no sudden moves.

“You are Adam Tyrrell, of London, son of William Tyrrell of London, until recently medical student in Paris,” the man read, droning. Definitely a clerk, and either a very good sport, or very dangerous. The clerk’s Swedish accent and the troll behind him argued for the latter. “You claim past association with Francis Bacon, Henri Rossignol, and Thomas Tyrrell, all late of the Black Chamber of Francis Bacon during the reign of James Stuart, King of England and Scotland.”

“And before that during the reign of Elizabeth. Does the gentleman there speak English?” Adam pointed to the . . . uh . . . man.

“I’m not certain he even speaks Swedish. Definitely not English. Ignore him. You claim to be a cryptanalyst, trained by the above named persons.”

“That’s correct.”

“Describe those persons, Mr. Tyrrell.” The clerk took up a quill, clearly not as bored as he pretended.

“In what manner? Their appearances?”

“In whatever manner you please, Mr. Tyrrell.” No, he was not bored. He was displeased.

Adam described their appearances, also adding some description of their homes while the clerk made notes.

“Examine these papers, Mr. Tyrrell.” He pushed them across the desk with a grim smile.

Adam took the papers. Most contained jumbled letters and numbers, apparent cipher texts. “May I ask who you are?” Adam asked.

“I am a clerk. Do what you can with those. Paper and ink there. I will return with lunch and to examine your progress.” He might have offered a pencil, rather than ink. The clerk got up and walked to the door, then gestured to the troll.

“Come!” the clerk barked at the dangerous one.

Adam began to examine the papers more closely.

“Stand! Stay!” the clerk pointed the troll to a spot just outside the door before closing it. “Stay!”

Nice theater that. Adam resolved not to need a chamber pot until the clerk returned, then made a note to find his own troll someday, should he be lucky enough to live so long. He turned his attention back to the work, choosing the easiest looking ones.

The room had none of those wonderful up-time clocks. Some indefinable time later, the door opened and the clerk entered. “Your lunch. Show me your progress.”

“Thank you.” Adam took the food and pointed to his solutions so far, then decided this was a good time to ask after the pot. The troll accompanied him without obvious instruction, causing Adam to nearly dry up. When Adam returned, the clerk was glowering at his work. He left without comment. Adam went back to work.

It was late afternoon when the door opened again. An obviously higher ranking man led the clerk back in. The man sat behind the desk. The clerk stood to one side. The troll stayed outside. Adam pegged the new man as a Swedish officer.

This man, who had a badly crippled arm, looked Adam’s work over. Then he looked at the clerk and said, “That will be all.”

The man stiffly left, causing Adam to remember advertisements for something called Preparation H, the last of which was rumored to rival chloramphenicol in price. The clerk looked like he could use some.

The man with the crippled arm sat back and grew something that might pass for a smile. “I remember the statuette of Harmodius and Aristogeiton in Bacon’s study. It was quite unique, an inspired piece, but also slightly embarrassing. They needn’t have been portrayed quite so . . . affectionately. But I remember no black Japanese vase featuring women with umbrellas.”

“The doomed but triumphant lovers. I loved that piece. You must have visited after May, 1620, when I broke the vase,” Adam relaxed into his chair a bit. “I’m not likely to forget that date. My father had the vase glued back together and placed in our parlor as a chastisement.” Adam grimaced at the thought, then wondered if Hand knew that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were tyrannicides. “I’ve never broken a bit of pottery since.”

“A hard lesson. I visited in 1622, as I recall. I will also confess that I was at first quite fooled by ‘Madame Rossignol.’ I was trying to place ‘her’ in the Rossignol family tree and wondering if all their women had such large Adam’s apples.” The man indicated that item on his own throat.

“The up-time term is ‘drag queen,’ sir, and I’ve no idea where they got that term. More politely, they use ‘transgendered.’ Madame is a cousin of Antoine Rossignol, Cardinal Richelieu’s cryptanalyst. Or perhaps was his cousin. She was dying when I last saw her. Please understand that Madame was not affiliated with any faction of King Louis’ court. She was of the circle of Francis Bacon, as was her lover, my Uncle Thomas. They retired to Paris when Bacon fell from favor, where they lived private lives, not caring to choose among the various factions.”

“That matches my information. Can you recommend replacements for two of my codes?” The man waved a couple of Adam’s solutions in the air.

“Certainly, sir.”

“Good. Now, what am I to do with Adam Tyrrell?” He stared fixedly at Adam.

“I have some suggestions, sir, but . . . ah . . . I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“Colonel Erik Haakenson Hand, at your service.”

“A colonel?”

“What, you expected maybe His Majesty’s cousin?”

“Oh, not at all. I am seeking someone who can . . . ah . . . “

“Who can protect a sodomite from the law?” Now that definitely was a smile, twisted, but nonetheless a smile.

Sometimes speaking plainly was more frightening than fun, but Adam managed to keep an even disposition. “Yes, Colonel. I seek protection for myself and any associates.”

“Well then, how about His Majesty’s cousin?”

“Probably such a man would do, if he’s not out of favor. But can you make such an introduction?”

“I just did.” Yes, a very twisted smile. The colonel had a refined sense of humor.

“Oh.” Adam realized he was in the Swedish Consulate, sitting across a desk from His Majesty’s Royal Cousin. He mentally filed this under “Be Careful What You Ask For.”

“So I ask again, what is His Majesty’s Trusted Kinsman to do with Adam Tyrrell?” Hand was a man who could insert Capital Letters into his words, without raising his voice.

“I . . . uh . . . have a list of . . . suggestions right . . . uh . . . ” Adam found it, “right here.” He handed it to Hand. It was several pages. “Have you read my other essays, colonel?”

“I have.” Hand began reading, nodding, hmm-ing, then chuckling. Then . . .

Damn!” He had reached the fourth page. “Fingerprints?”

“Fingerprints.”

“And Black Chamber personnel may be leaving fingerprints on letters they read?”

“The books say they should. Fingerprint references are all over the library: encyclopedias, dictionaries, novels . . . especially detective stories. I begin to believe that to remove all sensitive references of that sort, not just regarding fingerprints but huff-duff for example, would gut the library. If the fingerprinting idea isn’t known widely yet, it is only a matter of time. Gloves will soon be standard in all Black Chambers. Notice also that the books say the prints may linger for years. So those who have kept their correspondence might dust their collections. In that paper, I describe how the fingerprinting of incoming correspondence might be used as a sort of device—like the up-time passive sonar—to probe the existence, sizes and interests of mail opening operations around Europe. It seems a simple enough process, but then, one might think the same of the airplanes. I hear that the airplanes are not as simple as the books make them sound.”

“What is passive sonar?” Hand glanced through the pages, looking for it.

“It’s not in that paper. It’s a device for listening for submarines, which can give the direction of any noise heard. I have taken some notes on it if you wish to see them, Colonel.”

“Yes, please. Who else have you discussed this with?” Hand asked.

“Only my friend. He helped do the research. The library is rather large.”

“They think it is small, Adam.” Hand resumed reading Adam’s proposal. When he reached the end, he put the papers down, looked across the desk and said, “Adam Tyrrell, if I truly am the first you’ve spoken to regarding this material, you have earned some protection already.”

“And my friend as well?”

“Yes. The Lefferto is to be part of this project?”

“He is, and we may need to hire others. They may or may not know that the work has intelligence value.”

“And you mean this to be an independent espionage research and development firm, rather than a governmental Black Chamber?”

“Yes sir. I suspect the up-timers had such firms. I believe we can make it pay by publishing surplus library research in a magazine format, which will also serve as a legitimate business cover.”

“So you need no money from me until you have results?” Hand raised an eyebrow.

“Probably no money, Colonel, but we will need legal protection. Also, a computer, instruction in its use, access to any cryptography books that they may have taken off the shelves, and assistance learning the up-time math. If things progress well, we may need consultants in a variety of fields, such as radio or chemistry.”

“I can’t promise a computer, but could press for it. The books may not be difficult, at least for me. The math instruction is routine. And this magazine you propose to publish, it can also be used to disseminate propaganda?”

“Oh, yes, sir! That’s part of the fun.”

“This fingerprint game sounds intriguing, if it works. I see I have two choices, Adam Tyrrell. I can hire you to keep you from working for someone else, or I can lock you up to keep you from working for someone else.”

Adam nodded—sagely, he hoped. “May I ask, Colonel, if anyone else had already reached that conclusion?”

“Doctor Abrabanel seemed to think you should be taken seriously, otherwise, no.”

Adam felt mildly offended. Perhaps it showed.

“Understand this, Adam Tyrrell,” Hand said in his best Stern Colonel voice. “His Majesty is a deeply Pious Man who will Not Approve of you and your friend. But His Majesty is also a Practical Man who understands that sometimes the Needs of the Realm have their own logic. Results Matter. You will not allow me to regret helping you. You and your friend or friends will Be Discreet. Practice discretion, and I may be willing to offer assistance if needed. You understand?”

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Colonel?”

“Let me be very, very clear. I do not ask. I insist. You Will Tell Me these things, so that any problems can be nipped in the bud. Do You Understand, Adam Tyrrell?”

“Of course, Colonel.” Adam said, relieved to finally find someone who spoke his language.

“And since you must stay in Grantville to do this, we will have to bring the up-timers in on it. They control the computers in any event. Where I might settle for an oath, they may insist on more, perhaps citizenship. Also, they are very strict about mail privacy. Any mail you open will be your own, or given to you at my direction.”

“Of course, Colonel.”

“You will have a Swedish assistant.”

“As you wish, Colonel.” Adam imagined a troll.

“I hope you like blonds.”

“Beg pardon, Colonel?” Adam shook his head to clear it.

“He’s blond. Also, his loyalty is beyond question. He was to learn radio soon, so we’ll just bring him here early. It will take a couple of weeks. He will find lodging in your quarters. Did I mention you are advertising for a lodger?” The colonel had a sweet smile when he wished. He was almost displaying it now.

“Our quarters are not large, Colonel.” Adam hoped he didn’t look as taken aback as he felt.

“Then perhaps you are also seeking larger quarters. But that would be none of my affair.” Then the colonel sat up straight with a sudden inspiration. “On second thought, it is my affair. You will work where you live, and someone trustworthy will be there at all times. I will arrange rooms for you and the Lefferto—and for your new Swedish friend—in a very nice, modern building, with excellent plumbing. You and your friend will like it very much.”

The colonel sat back with a look of pure pleasure. “It’s about time someone lit a fire under some dithering asses in this town. Your project sounds like just the spark. After all, you managed to cut through the red tape this far.”

“Uncle Thomas was better at it, Colonel. I wasn’t sure I had succeeded at all.” Adam was now wondering if he was pleased to have succeeded.

“You nearly didn’t. May I ask why you bothered? With your Rossignol connection, you might have gotten a good offer in Paris.”

“They didn’t have chloramphenicol, and their library isn’t as good.” Adam paused for emphasis. “Besides, the factions there have a way of getting a bit rough, even inelegant. Here, I have some hope of staying aloof from any factional fighting, although Stephano and I were rather concerned about the up-timer tendency toward witch hunting. Finding some patron of high rank seemed prudent.”

“Witch hunting? They’re adamantly against the practice!”

“They no longer believe in witches, sir, so they substitute others. In the 1950s, it was Communists. Homosexuals are a traditional target for some, especially in their military. The victims even call it ‘witch hunting,’ though there are no witches. The analogy is exact. I suppose the practice is common to all peoples. I’ve been working on a essay on the subject if you would like to read it.”

“Yes, please.”

“Have you heard the way they use the word ‘faggot,’ especially around the 250 Club?” Adam shrank a bit.

“Oh. Them.” Hand sneered.

“We hear it elsewhere, as well, but it’s more frightening from that lot,” Adam grimaced.

“So you are scared of them.”

“Sometimes, Colonel. But more often, I just feel sorry for them,” Adam said.

“Sorry? Why?” The colonel looked closely at Adam.

“They’ve lost everything, sir. It’s quite pathetic. The stress must be intolerable at times.”

“Bear in mind that I can get you out of jail far more easily that I can get you out of a lynching. Bring your friend tomorrow morning,” Hand said, waving dismissal.

****

“How did it go?” Stephano asked.

“It would appear we have caught a big one. A Swede, not an up-timer,” Adam said dryly.

“How big?”

Silence.

“Adam, talk to Stephano . . . “

“He will find us larger quarters. We will live and work there, with a blond Swedish friend.” Adam shifted on his feet nervously.

“Adam, you frighten Stephano . . . “

****

The Up-time Reader’s Monthly

Volume 1, Issue 1

Editor-In-Chief: Huckleberry Finn

Chief Researcher: Tom Sawyer

An eclectic monthly compendium of snippets and observations gleaned from the up-time libraries of Grantville, Thuringia (formerly Grantville, West Virginia) with an emphasis on a larger understanding of the culture and times of the up-time world that was and will now never be, presented for the educated reader.

Limited copies of this, our debut edition, are distributed free at USE Embassies and other select locations. To purchase extra copies and subscriptions see back cover.

Free referrals to reputable researchers and copyists on request, but the Editors cannot assume responsibility for private transactions.

In this issue:

The Stark Depiction Of War In Up-time Literature

Reviews of three famous up-time novels of war: The Red Badge of Courage, All Quiet On The Western Front, and The Cruel Sea, which depict the progressively greater horrors of up-time war through tales of the nineteenth century American Civil War and the two World Wars of the twentieth century.

Fields Of Study

We begin our taxonomy of up-time academia with brief descriptions of the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Economics. In future editions, these and others will be examined in closer detail, with discussion of sub-fields.

When You Come To A Fork In The Road . . .

In this first installment of our examination of colorful American expressions, we consider the wit and wisdom of up-time sportsman Yogi Berra.

The Reference Desk

Descriptions of the famous Grantville collection of Encyclopedias, with usage notes and sample passages. In future editions, we will present commentaries on other valuable reference books such as Roget’s Thesaurus, and Robert’s Rules of Order.

Historical Notes

In this issue, we outline the unification of the Germanies during the 19th century. In the next issue, the Italian Unification.

Letters To The Editors

In future issues, we will print reader comments on our articles and essay answers to some of your research questions.

****

Adam and Stephano each had a couple of magnifying lenses and wore silk gloves to avoid adding their own fingerprints to any which might be found on their mail. They added each letter to indices by date, name and subject. They debated while opening the letters. It was the old argument.

“All of the research in the first issue is yours, so I must be The Editor,” Stephano insisted, while examining an envelope.

“Remember that I paid for this issue, so that means I’m The Editor. Besides you’re doing more of the research now,” Adam reasoned.

“Very well, I’m Tom Sawyer. And I’m starting a new column called The Picket Fence.

“You’ll paint that column yourself. I’ve read that book,” Adam said, peering through his strongest magnifier.

“We have a new order here,” Stephano said, reading a letter he’d just extracted. “Fifteen additional copies of Issue 1 plus nine subscriptions, all from the same person. Someone named Reubens in Haarlem.”

“Mail gets to Haarlem fine. Reubens works for the Cardinal-Infante. Put it in the boast stack. I mean to brag about it. And we’ll definitely want to check that one for fingerprints.”

Stephano opened the next one, and whistled. “One hundred first issues plus fifty subscriptions from Morris Roth in Prague.”

“All for himself? He must be forwarding them somewhere. And we’ll have to check that one thoroughly for fingerprints as well. Roth will want to know if anyone, like Wallenstein, is reading his mail.” Adam examined another letter for signs that he was not the first to open it, then carefully opened it. “I have another research request for you in this letter, Stephano. Someone wants an explanation of baseball.”

“Already written,” Stephano waved dismissal. “We can put in The Editor’s Reply in the next issue. I expected that one.”

Adam held up the next letter. “And here, Stephano, I have another request for a copy of The Cruel Sea.”

“Another anti-submarine warfare researcher.” Stephano moaned. “They do take the long view. I’ll send him a note saying that he can buy a printed copy next month. Better yet, we’ll just put a notice in the next issue. Perhaps we could start a ‘Recently Republished’ column.”

“We should demand kickbacks from the printers,” Adam observed.

“It’s called ‘paid advertising.’ And we should also charge them to review the books they are reprinting. Ah! I have a research request just for you, Adam!” Stephano looked cheerfully mischievous.

Adam looked across the table glumly. “Let’s hear it.”

“It would seem there’s an abbot in Campania looking for Prester John.”

“Him again? Perhaps we can refer that to someone. Do you suppose Veda Mae would be interested in moonlighting as a researcher?”

“Why not? She’s the reason Prester John fled to Ethiopia in the first place.” Stephano logged the letter and placed it in the finished stack, with an exaggerated gesture of finality.

Life for Adam was good again, but he did wish Madame and Uncle Thomas were around to share it. They would have so loved Stephano. Across the table, Stephano was frowning at the next letter.

Yes, it was very good to be alive.

In the back of his mind, Adam considered some nagging cipher problems from Colonel Hand’s most recent bundle.

****