Grantville, January 1635

” . . . start planning for Jonas and Ronella’s wedding,” Carol finished. “I can hardly believe that we got them officially engaged. Finally. They sit around staring at each other. Jonas, as if he can’t really believe his luck. Ronella, as if she can’t really believe that she’s actually managed to snag the man. Even with her father’s assistance, no matter how reluctant. Talk about painfully honorable.”

“Well, yes. He is rather . . . ” Salome Piscatora, the wife of Pastor Kastenmayer of Saint Martin’s in the Fields Evangelical Lutheran Church, admitted. “I guess the first question is whether Ronella wants an up-time style wedding. This will be the first one Ludwig has performed at Saint Martin’s where the bride is an up-timer. All the brides have been down-timers, so far. So are the big batch we have coming up in April. So . . . that’s first. Will Ronella be content with a wedding on the porch, or does she hope for a walk down the aisle to the altar?”

“The aisle and altar, I’m afraid. White gown and all. Wedding march from Lohengrin. With bridesmaids. Have you seen one . . . ?”

“Oh, yes. We were invited to several weddings at the Methodist church last summer. I went to the ones I thought were . . . ” She stopped, floundering.

” . . . important for maintaining cordial relations with the local community,” Carol supplied.

Salome beamed. “Exactly. That was what Jonas said. Ludwig didn’t feel that he could attend, of course. Heretics in the first place, and with a woman for a pastor. He’s a Philippist, of course. But even for a Philippist, that’s far beyond the permissible. If he had gone and any of the Flacians had heard about it, I don’t think that even Count Ludwig Guenther would have been able to save him from the hellhounds.”

“Flacians!” The tone of Carol’s voice implied something between “dregs of the universe” and “sewer slime.”

“With another one of them coming, now that Saint Thomas the Apostle is opening over on the Badenburg Road. That was the agreement that came out of the Rudolstadt Colloquy, of course, so we have to put up with it. As if Pankratz Holz isn’t a sufficient cross for poor Ludwig to bear!” Salome sighed and handed Carol Unruh, wife of Ron Koch and mother of the bride, a cup of hot cider. Hard cider. A liquid which was rapidly loosening the usually very discreet and tightly-reined-in tongues of both women.

“Well, it wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if Count Ludwig Guenther and his wife hadn’t been away for a lot of last year. Oh, I know that the pan-Lutheran colloquy in Magdeburg was important for the USE as a whole. Then when they did get back, he was worried about the election, of course. And Emelie’s pregnancy. It must come as a bit of a shock to him, being a father for the first time at his age.”

“It’s not as if he has to change diapers. He gets to admire his son when he’s all clean, fed, and happy.”

Carol blinked. “There’s a saying: ‘The rich are different. They have more money.'”

They sat for a moment, contemplating the place of dirty diapers in the universe.

“It’s one of the places the theologians go wrong,” Salome said. “Focusing on the pain of childbearing itself as Eve’s punishment. It goes to show that they don’t stop to think about everything else involved. Laundry in the winter, for example.”

This time, Carol laughed. “Laundry in the winter probably wasn’t such a problem in the Holy Land, considering the climate.”

“It’s nothing to laugh about. They’ll turn it around,” Salome predicted darkly. “Sound all pious and annoyed. Claim that Ludwig has not been supervised closely enough because the count and his consistory were distracted by the colloquy. When, in fact, Holz is the one who came into Grantville last month without any permission from the Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt consistory at all.” She put her cup down. “He’s a spy for Tilesius. I’m sure of it?”

“For, uh, whom?”

“Melchior Tilesius, of course. The superintendent in Langensalza. He was born in Mühlhausen—the imperial city up in the northern part of the SoTF, not the one in Alsace.”

“What makes you think so?”

“Well, for one thing, Holz was born in Silesia, which is where the Tilesius family came from, originally. He’s about forty-five years old, I think. He left Silesia for Saxony in 1617, already. I remember that very well, because he was already in Saxony for the centennial of the Ninety-Five Theses. I met him at one of the celebrations.” She paused. “That was quite a party—it went on for three days.”

“Punctuated by sermons, I presume?”

“Oh, of course. Sermons were the ‘feature attraction’ as they write on the board at the Higgins Hotel for the Friday evening movies. Ludwig and I had only been married four years then. I had never, except for a couple of visits to Erfurt, been out of the county of Gleichen. Hardly ever out of Ohrdruf since we got married. He took me to Wittenberg and I had the most wonderful time. I got to see the actual church door where Luther posted the Theses. It was a real thrill. And I was introduced to the reformer’s grandson, Johann Ernst Luther. He’s still alive, you know—he was born right down the road in Weimar and lives over in Saxony, at Zeitz. He’s an old man now—he must be about seventy-five. I hope he doesn’t get hurt, or killed, or turned out of his home this coming spring.”

Her face clouded. “In fact, I hope that the soldiers don’t ruin Wittenberg when Gustavus Adolphus invades Saxony. Everyone says that he’s going to, and we have to remember what happened to the Wartburg.”

“I’m sure that the emperor will protect the town,” Carol said. “He’s very pious.”

“I know. Things happen in wartime, though, whether the commanders want them to or not. But in regard to Holz. They threw him out of Silesia after he entered into a series of controversial pamphlet exchanges in which he accused the Lutheran district superintendent of laxness in supervising the theological orthodoxy of the clergy.”

“That happens,” Carol said. “It still happened, up-time.”

“He wasn’t any easier to get along with while he was in Saxony. The year before the Ring of Fire, he was deprived of his living there, by the Dresden consistory. Leipzig wouldn’t accept him, so he came into Thuringia and went over to Langensalza, where he’s been ever since as one of Tilesius’ hangers-on.”

“Errand boy.” Carol nodded.

“Leipzig,” Salome said absentmindedly. “On that trip, in 1617, we stopped in Leipzig, too. Ludwig introduced me to all of his first wife’s relatives. There were a lot.”

“As a treat?”

“I think . . . ” Salome paused. “I think he meant it to be. But Holz. The ‘errand boy.’ Tilesius sent him to the Rudolstadt Colloquy two years ago, as an observer. By last spring, he was professing to be horrified by Ludwig’s views and actions. Pamphlets again. Not, I think, connected with the pamphlets that you found on the steps of Saint Martin’s on Christmas Eve, when Jonas and Ronella got betrothed. They’re quite different, but still they are pamphlets.

“So he took advantage of the way the Grantville authorities do not control religion . . . “

“I suppose that it does seem a rather laissez-faire approach to you.”

Salome shook her head. “I don’t speak French, Carol. I never had a chance to learn it.”

“Oh, sorry. We use that phrase almost as if it had become English.” They digressed for a few minutes.

“Fine,” Salome said. “Yes. Laissez-faire does describe it well. So he came into this town, with no official sanction from the consistory at all, and established a little ‘ultra-orthodox Lutheran’ movement, to gather together, before the opening of Saint Thomas the Apostle, as many as he could of those who are not happy at Saint Martin’s. He’s not married, so he doesn’t have the burden of a family to support. He’s managed to finance this by taking on some part-time jobs, such as tutoring. In my heart, I am sure that when the new pastor arrives at Saint Thomas, Holz will be sitting on his doorstep with a list of grievances against Ludwig. If he isn’t over in Rudolstadt, waving them around right now.”

“Tilesius’ ‘gofer.'”

Which led to another digression on vocabulary, until Carol said she had to go. “I get tired of these internal squabbles.” She picked up her coat. “I got tired of them up-time. Do you know what they remind me of? The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat.”

“Which is?”

“A child’s poem, by Eugene Field. We have an illustrated copy of it at home, I’m sure, in a box of old children’s books that Ronella and Jake had when they were little. I’ll drop it off for you to look at, the next time I come over.”

Salome stood up, too. “Do you suppose it would do any good to talk to Aegidius Hunnius down in Altenburg?”

“About what? And why him?”

“About protecting old Herr Luther. And Wittenberg. Things like that. He’s the superintendent there. Maybe he could get Duke Johann Philipp to talk to the emperor. He’s probably the closest I come to knowing anybody influential. And he was born in Wittenberg, so he ought to care. Maybe. I hope. It’s not a very good chance.”

February 1635

“It’s pronounced ‘greep.'” Ronella Koch thumped her coffee mug down on the table.

“Are you sure? Seems like it should be ‘gripe.'” Anne Penzey, who was waitressing this frosty Saturday morning, was totally unashamed about eavesdropping. Especially, of course, since her mother helped run the Geology Survey and anything that involved Saxony tended to impact mining.

So Ronella grinned instead of glaring.

“At least, I hear an awful lot of people are griping about the appointment.” Anne grinned back.

“According to Orrine Sterling, who’s teaching English over in Rudolstadt, that griping includes most of the members of Count Ludwig Guenther’s consistory.” Natalie Bellamy, being the wife of Arnold in the Department of International Affairs, had a definite “in” when it came to collecting regional political gossip.

“It’s still pronounced ‘greep.’ The name is Oswald Griep.” Ronella nodded firmly. “That’s Oswald with a ‘v’ sound: ‘Ossvald. I’ve met him already. Georgie Hardegg is rhyming it with ‘creep’ as a mnemonic device. Mary Kat Riddle thought that up.”

Her friend Maria Blandina Kastenmayer, generally called Dina, blinked at the thought of anyone being on close enough terms with the rather pompous young attorney Johann Georg Hardegg to address him as “Georgie.”

Ronella kept going. “Georgie’s sister Christiana is married to a printer in Leipzig. He’s another Krapp. There are dozens of them and not all of them are lawyers, no matter how it seems sometimes. He says that Elector John George’s Saxon officials have been pulling all sorts of political strings to get this guy appointed to the second Lutheran church right outside the Ring of Fire. They think that Pastor Kastenmayer is subversive.”

Ja,” Dina contributed with a sigh. “Papa is a Philippist. Pastor Griep is a Flacian.”

Natalie Bellamy started to stand up, but then sat down again. “Of course, the man’s related to a bunch of people connected with Waffler, Wiesel, and Finck, too. Mrs. Griep is Rahel Waffler. Her younger brother Friedrich is a junior partner in the Weimar office. Her even-younger-than-that brother David is an associate in the Jena office. They’re the main competition with Hardegg, Selfisch, and Krapp for down-timer legal business inside the Ring of Fire, so no one could expect Herr Hardegg to be enthusiastic.”

“You do all know that Mama was Blandina Selfisch, don’t you?” Dina’s expression radiated the thought that is a given—everybody knows that.

Nobody at the table knew it. Speculation about the maiden name of Pastor Kastenmayer’s first wife just wasn’t a staple of dinner-table conversation among Grantville’s up-timers. Most of them didn’t even realize that he had been married twice.

Her next contribution brought the conversation to a temporary halt. “Herr Selfisch in Hardegg, Selfisch, and Krapp is Mama’s younger half-brother.”

“Y’know, Mrs. Bellamy.” Anne, who was supposed to be refilling coffee cups, butted happily into the conversation. “You’d better ask Dina to go over and talk to your husband. This could be complicated.”

Ronella chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip. “Dina and her mom have enough to do getting ready for her wedding, on top of everything else. Isn’t there someone else Mr. Bellamy could ask?”

Natalie Bellamy started to fish around in the bottom of her purse, looking for change for a tip. “What about your own wedding? Have you set a date, yet?”

“We’ve narrowed it down to ‘after Easter and before school gets out.’ So, some time in May, I guess. Mom and Salome are still negotiating. It has to be after the huge group wedding that Pastor Kastenmayer has scheduled for April. And at least a week before Dina’s, so she can be my bridesmaid, because she and Phillip are moving to Jena right after theirs, but Jonas and I will be in town until after graduation, so she can’t be my maid of honor after her wedding but I can be her matron of honor after mine.”

The audience, being female, had no trouble at all following this convoluted explanation.

Ronella went back to thinking about the preceding question. “Especially with those scurrilous pamphlets about Pastor Kastenmayer and his wife coming out of Saxony.”

“My sister,” Dina said. “Ask Andrea. She started everything by eloping with Tony Chabert. They’re in Erfurt and he works for the government. A person could almost say that it’s part of her job to tell Mr. Bellamy about it. She’s not helping with my wedding, because Papa hasn’t forgiven her for marrying a Catholic. Yet.”

“Yet?” Natalie raised an eyebrow.

“She’s expecting a baby in July. Papa’s snit doesn’t have any hope of surviving the arrival of his first grandchild.”

“Pastor Kastenmayer’s going to be a grandpa? That’s cool.” Anne was prepared to join in this discussion for the indefinite future, but Cora Ennis looked over the counter and yelled, “Table Ten,” so she had to go. Not without a regretful glance over her shoulder. Table Ten wasn’t offering any good prospects for current and future news.

****

“It came to me in a dream,” Salome said. “Just like to people in biblical times.”

“I have to quote my son Jake. ‘Awesome, man. Truly awesome.'”

“We don’t know any influential men. But we do know the Countess Emelie. And her sister-in-law. Who is the president of the Tugendhafte Gesellschaft. Who founded it, way before the Ring of Fire happened. Almost all of the influential Lutheran ladies in the upper nobility are members.”

Carol’s mind was spinning. “I know Ronnie Dreeson. Not well, but I know her. She knows the abbess of Quedlinburg, who knows everyone in every Lutheran Stift in northern Germany. Ronnie’s Catholic now, but she was a Lutheran once upon a time. Before she was a Calvinist, I think, but maybe after.”

“And Bitty Matowski has met William Wettin’s wife . . . ” Salome added. “She is Catholic, too, I know—Bitty, not Duchess Eleonore, who's Lutheran, of course. However . . . .”

“What about the League of Women Voters?” Carol frowned. “I know it’s a church door, but it’s a worthy cause. Up-time, I read something in the paper once. The government wanted to give a historic preservation grant to a church—in Boston or Philadelphia, maybe, someplace important because of the American Revolution—but the ACLU objected because it still held religious services. But maybe . . . I can talk to Veleda Riddle, at least.”

Magdeburg

“Before you go, Lennart,” Colonel Nils Ekstrom said, “I have something I want to show you.”

General Lennart Torstensson obligingly followed him down the corridor of the imperial palace.

The colonel opened a door. Upon a harried secretary surrounded by overflowing bins of paper.

“Colonel, sir. We received three hundred two more letters just this morning. That makes a total of nine thousand five hundred twenty-six. If you can possibly spare me a couple more clerks . . . Just to send the acknowledgments.”

“What on earth?”

“Just tell me, Lennart. Have you been planning to attack the door of the city church in Wittenberg? The one that Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses on?”

“It hadn’t featured in my strategic options, no.”

“I’m delighted to hear it. Let’s just say—don’t.”

****

“It’s important, Caroline,” Bitty said. “I really need to talk to the princess. I have a great big favor to ask her.”

“A lot of people would like favors from the princess.” Caroline Platzer smiled. “Very few of them come out and say it quite that forthrightly.”

“It’s not a huge gigantic one,” Bitty said. “And it won’t cost any money. I just have a couple of letters that need to go to the emperor and King Christian of Denmark. She’s in a better position to see that they actually read them than anyone else, I guess. I thought, seeing how much she likes the Brillo ballet . . . “

****

Kristina put a slightly grubby hand into the pocket under her skirt. “Papi Christian, I have a letter for you. It’s important. About not shooting cannon at the door of the castle church in Wittenberg when the USE attacks Saxony because John George has been so awful to Papa.”

Christian IV read it solemnly. “It’s good to know that so many people are concerned.”

Kristina nodded. “What Martin Luther did was important.”

The king of Denmark regarded his future daughter-in-law. Lessons should not be limited to stuffy classrooms. Take advantage of all opportunities. What would the lovely Caroline Platzer with the superb teeth call this? Ah, yes. A “teachable moment.”

He shuddered at what he had learned of that other world, in which this child, grown to a woman, never married, converted to Catholicism and abdicated her throne. Abdicated and converted, in reverse order, but that was the gist of it.

In this world, a disaster waited for them all if anything of the sort should happen.

“Yes,” he said. “Very important. You were very right to bring this letter straight to me. In the politics of the Union of Kalmar, even more than the USE, it’s going to be very important to protect the position of Lutheranism. No matter what we think, personally.”

He looked at the pilot in the front seat. “Let the plane circle the city a couple more times.”

The plane began to circle again.

Then he looked at his future daughter-in-law. “Now even though, personally, I may think that many of the doctrinal positions of the Calvinists make more sense, I would never be so imprudent as to leave the Lutheran church, the way your uncle, the elector of Brandenburg, has done.”

A half-hour later, he was certain she understood why. Her mind was superb.

“And as for the door of the castle church in Wittenberg . . . I will speak to your papa myself. You should come with me. We will speak to him together.”

Kristina nodded.

He looked ahead at the pilot again. “Let the plane come to a landing.”

Dresden

Hans Georg von Arnim, commander of the forces of John George of Saxony and, in his own mind, the probable upcoming scapegoat in an inevitable, unavoidable, disaster, looked out the window, his hands crossed behind his back.

Holk, again. When everything needed to be focused on the west, he once more would have to send a regiment at least to the southeast to control Holk’s depredations among their own people. Which would probably make things worse, since that regiment, too, would need to forage.

He moved back to the table, picked up the latest intelligence report from the USE, and moved back to the window.

At the moment, the best option for the army of Saxony would appear to be to remove the door of the castle church in Wittenberg from its hinges and carry it along with them into battle, as the ancient Israelites had done with the Ark of the Covenant. At a minimum, that tactic should make Gustav’s artillery non-functional in Saxony. Maybe he’d send those regiments against Brandenburg.

And as for the elector’s safety? The safety of his family in Dresden? In the southeast, where Holk's depredations had brought much of the population to the point of fury?

Arnim smiled, as whimsically as he ever did.

His personal preference at the moment would be to send John George to Zeitz, to move in as roommate with an elderly clergyman named Johann Ernst Luther.

Back to serious options. He returned to the table.

Grantville

“Ronella really does want the wedding march from Lohengrin,” Carol said.

Jonas Justinus Muselius opened his mouth to say something about the limited performance capabilities of the limited number of musicians who provided the accompaniment at Saint Martin’s services with the limited array of instruments at their disposal.

Carol thought she knew what he was going to say. “Oh, yes. I know. Even up-time, a lot of Lutheran pastors didn’t approve its use for weddings. Because it’s from Wagner’s Ring Cycle.”

He opened his mouth again.

“Pagan. Norse gods and all that. Thor, Odin. So if you don’t think that Pastor Kastenmayer will let her have it, then we could always go with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. That would probably be the best option, if . . . “

Jonas eventually got a word in edgewise. “Let me investigate a little, please, Carol. Perhaps something can be arranged.”

****

“Yeah, I’ve heard it,” Errol Mercer said. Now one of Saint Martin’s musicians, he was also one of the pack of seven up-time fiancés whom Pastor Kastenmayer would confirm and marry off to their chosen, and Lutheran, brides in April, just before Easter.

“I’ve heard it, and I expect one of the organists has the music, not that Saint Martin’s has an organ yet, but I don’t know the words. Or, at least, the only words I ever heard weren’t the real ones. A sort of—joke, supposed to be funny.”

“A parody.” Justus nodded his head. “A well-known literary form.”

“If you say so. Whatever you say. But Ronella won’t want to march down the aisle to somebody singing

Here comes the bride,
Fair, fat and wide.”

“You’re going to have to do something about the words,” Errol said. “Something different. Not pagan.”

Muselius nodded.

Somewhere . . . There was that sermon Martin Luther had given at his niece’s wedding, in praise of the sanctity of Christian marriage.

Someone in Jena was bound to have it. He’d go up and see Dean Gerhard. Turn it into verses that fit the meter of this “Wedding March.”

As appalling as the music was, from what Errol had hummed to him.

If Ronella wanted it, she should have it. Anything for his bride. The bride he had, so contrary to all rational expectations, attained.

If, in the process, he could Christianize some pagan paean, so much the better. Luther himself said there was no reason that the devil should have all the good tunes. Or, given the musical quality of this wedding march, all people’s favorite tunes, at least. He couldn’t call it “good.”

****

Pastor Ludwig Kastenmayer, in a downtown storefront, specifically in the Laughing Laundress, owned by Vesta Rawls and currently with Mitch Hobbs, another of Saint Martin’s current up-timer fiancés, confirmands-in-the-making, and would-be grooms, baptized Viana Beasley, daughter of Jarvis Beasley and Hedwig Altschulerin.

In a storefront, because Hedy, the focus of a major jurisdictional controversy between the State of Thuringia-Franconia and Saxony over the validity and status of her marriage, had been strongly advised by Judge Maurice Tito not to leave the boundaries of West Virginia County, formerly known as the Ring of Fire, for the time being.

Saint Martin’s in the Fields was just outside the ring, still in the SoTF, but in the County of Schwarzburg Rudolstadt. This part of the County of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. There was another fragment of it up north of Erfurt.

Just as Count Ludwig Guenther’s cousin, who was the head of the County of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, had a piece of it down here, over west of the Schwarzburg castle.

The newspaper published a notice of the baptism.

Pankratz Holz, who was running his own storefront church Lutheran operation in Grantville, published a series of outraged pamphlets.

****

“Cappuccino?” Anne Penzey asked on Saturday morning. “I’ve figured out a way to froth milk.”

“Honestly?” Ronella grinned.

“As frothy as the mouth of a rabid dog.” Anne stopped. Her mother was a science teacher, after all. “Maybe that’s not the best comparison, here in a restaurant. It involves attaching a wire hand whisk to my curling iron. As frothy as the mouth of Pastor Holz when he gets going about something. Not that there’s a lot to choose from, between him and a mad dog.”

“I’ll try one,” Dina said. “You?”

“Me, too. Where’s the best man? We’ve got strategy to coordinate.”

“Oversleeping, probably. He got back from Jena really late, last night. But he got off the trolley and stopped at the rectory to say that he officially asked Herr Hortleder for Anna Catharina’s hand and was accepted.”

“Your dad’s going to be presiding over a wedding epidemic.”

“Not this one. They’ll get married in Jena. That’s where she lives. In August, he said. It’s too soon to get it in before this summer’s war, considering that she’s an only child and her mother wants to make a big fuss over it. Wedding banquets and things. The campaign should have quieted down by then.” She paused. “Topic change. Jonas is coming, too. He went up to Jena with Gary and he’s gotten your music worked out. So that’s one thing you can check off the list that your mom doesn’t have to worry about any more.”

When Jonas came, it was to report that he had achieved acceptable words for the desired wedding march. “That’s marvelous,” Carol said. “That means we can use Ode to Joy for the recessional, then. You’d better have someone arrange it for the instruments we have, so the musicians can start learning it.

“If I’d known,” Ronella said, “If I’d really known what planning a wedding involves, before we got started, I think I’d have gone to city hall and let Mayor Dreeson do it.”

“At least it will be in May. You won’t need to make artificial flowers.”

Carol looked at Dina with dawning horror and pulled out The List. “Flowers!”

“Flowers,” Dina said. “And scheduling weddings around the king of Sweden’s wars.”

****

“Another spate of pamphlets.” Salome picked them up. “Some are from Holz. I recognize his style by now. But some of them aren’t.”

“Griep?” Carol asked.

“No. Ludwig has known Oswald Griep for years. They don’t agree about anything, which means that I’ve read a lot of incoming correspondence and annotated it for Ludwig, to make it easier for him to draw up his replies. These are nothing like his writing style, which is pretty pompous. The new ones—” She waved several of them, as if she were fanning herself. “—aren’t quite like the ones that showed up on Christmas Eve, either. It’s the same typeface and I think the same artist did the woodcuts. But they’re more aimed against the up-time Lutherans in Grantville than they are against Ludwig and me. Against you and Ron. And Gary. Especially Gary.”

“I know,” Carol said. “Poor Gary. Even if he is Missouri Synod and as stubborn as an ox about it, he doesn’t deserve this kind of filth.”

Grantville, March 1635

Oswald Griep stood looking at the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle.

A New Testament saint, of course. Those were perfectly all right with Lutherans, unlike the jumped-up modern saints with which the papists indulged themselves.

Some people referred to Martin Luther as a saint, of course. But that was doctrinally incorrect. The need to pursue and extirpate superstition wherever it raised itself among the ignorant was unceasing. Which was one reason that he had his doubts about what might be going on over at Saint Martin’s in the Fields. Martin, even the original one, was not a New Testament saint. He had shown up as a bishop somewhere during the media aeva, giving his cloak to a beggar, and become the object of a cult.

Cults were also to be extirpated. That was as much an article of faith with Griep as Carthago delenda est had been for Cato the elder. Not that he had as much practical experience with cults and sects as Tilesius had accumulated. In theory, though, sowing them with salt would be a splendid solution, if only it could be managed in these parlous modern times.

Saint Thomas the Apostle. Otherwise known as Doubting Thomas.

Count Ludwig Guenther, somewhat frivolously, told him that he had chosen the name because, originally, he had harbored some doubts as how to best deal with Grantville and its people when it appeared within his lands.

There was a lot still to be accomplished. Interior finishing. Construction on the school was behind schedule. The war would draw day laborers away, probably. They were generally an unruly lot and prone to become soldiers. The skilled craftsmen would stay, though. Count Ludwig Guenther paid generously for competent work.

But the bricks . . . He wandered across the site to inspect the piles of bricks, neatly laid out on pallets. The bricks were magnificent.

The school before the rectory. Rahel and the children were comfortable enough with her brothers in Jena.

They needed the school by fall. The rectory could wait until next year, if it had to.

Rudolstadt

“We’ll postpone the dedication for six months,” Count Ludwig Guenther said firmly. “As a matter of respect to Mayor Dreeson and Reverend Wiley. We should not be sponsoring a festivity so soon after their deaths.”

“I was hoping to start services much sooner than September,” Oswald Griep said. At his most stiff-necked.

Which, the count had learned through trial and error, meant that the man’s feelings were hurt. He sat silently for a few minutes. “Go ahead and do that. There’s no regulation that requires the dedication to take place first. Just keep it . . . low key.”

****

Griep knew that the consistory in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt harbored suspicions over why Saxony had been so active in pushing his appointment, until they had no graceful way to avoid it. But there was more to theological life than worrying about the aberrations of Ludwig Kastenmayer, aberrant though they might be. Aberrant though they certainly were.

Holz had been with Tilesius for several years, now. The consistory in Dresden considered it much more important to keep tabs on an influential ecclesiastical politician such as Tilesius than on Kastenmayer, who was, when one came down to it, just an ordinary parish minister. Even if Tilesius, too, was a Flacian. Especially though Tilesius, too, was a Flacian. The bible itself provided the warning. “For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” Micah 7:6. Once a town had decided to call a Flacian minister, then—which one would it call. A former student of Jena, or of Leipzig? A former junior minister in Erfurt or in Leipzig? The Philippists were merely opposition. Tilesius, even at his age, was . . . competition. So.

Griep looked at the pamphlet the head of the Saint Thomas board of elders had just brought him. Not one of Holz’s, as unpleasant as Holz was. Not “low-key,” either. He paged through it again.

He knew what Count Ludwig Guenther wanted. No more “stress” in Grantville in the wake of the demonstrations, the deaths.

Not one of Holz’s, but still—stressful.

The count had, no matter how reluctantly, consented to his appointment at Saint Thomas.

He went downtown to the law offices of Hardegg, Selfisch, and Krapp.

Johann Georg Hardegg sent the pamphlet, with Griep’s comments, to his sister Christiana in Leipzig. Who gave them to her husband Georg Friedrich Krapp—the printer, not one of the multitude of Krapp jurists. Who, as requested produced an analysis of what firm had most probably done the printing and sent it all, as he had been asked to do, to Georg von Werthern in Dresden.

Who was the patron of the parish Oswald Griep left when he accepted the call to Saint Thomas the Apostle in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. The same parish Werthern had thrown Pankratz Holz out of some years previously, immediately before appointing Griep.

Dresden

The people in the room grouped themselves by age. Without anyone organizing it. By the book cupboard, Zacharias Prüschenk von Lindenhofen. He was about twenty-five, von Arnim thought. Next to him, Georg von Werthern’s two boys, Dietrich and Wolfgang. Both in their early twenties, only a year apart. The elector’s two oldest sons, Hans Georg and Augie, who matched Dietrich and Wolfgang precisely in age, year for year. They had all been educated together.

On the other side of the room, Saxony’s most prominent theologian, Matthias Ho’ von Ho’negg, who was forty-five now, and Georg von Werthern, much the same age and Saxony’s chief minister of state for the past two years. Werthern, with the assent of the two young dukes, was effectively setting policy, now. The elector was . . . incapable most of the time.

In the middle, Nikolaus Gebhard von Miltitz and Johann Georg von Oppel, both in their mid-thirties and well aware that when catastrophe hit, the two of them, as working diplomats, under Werthern, would get the task of negotiating to save whatever might be saved out of Saxony’s shattered ruins.

Presuming that any of them were still alive when the time came, of course, von Arnim thought. If not—then someone else. That fell within the providence of God.

Benedikt Carpzov, next to them. Same age. The best lawyer they had available.

By the door, looking like they were not entirely sure they should be present, Carpzov’s younger half-brothers, both in their late twenties. One a lawyer, the other a theologian.

And himself, of course.

By age, he belonged with Ho’negg and Werthern.

By temperament, too. He had worked with both men for years. One theologian. One civilian councilor. One military man.

In agreement.

Von Arnim glanced across at the young dukes, who with Werthern’s sons were flanking Prüschenk. Then at the diplomats. “Saxony can’t afford the hatred he is stirring up,” he said.

Carpzov started to say something.

Von Arnim looked at Ho’negg.

“The pamphlets are not about serious doctrinal issues. The rest of you don’t need to worry about Holz—the church will take care of him, in time. These, though, have become Zacharias’ own personal vendetta against the up-timer. Because the daughter of Chancellor Hortleder chose the other man. Thus standing in the way of his ambitions.”

The youngest Carpzov, the theologian, started to say something.

Von Arnim nodded at him.

“Zacharias hadn’t actually made an offer to Anna Catharina’s father, yet,” he said. “He was still weighing whether it should be Friedrich Hortleder’s daughter or the daughter of the mayor of Naumburg, Dr. Romanus. Which of the two matches would bring him more advantages. He almost offered for Gertrud Romanus more than two years ago, but then he made the acquaintance of the Hortleder family and held off.”

Von Arnim looked at Werthern.

“The jurisdictional issues in regard to the Altschulerin woman, the wife of Jarvis Beasley, are negotiable. The Henneberg inheritance is an exclave, an outlier, now within the State of Thuringia-Franconia. They have naturalized the woman. Saxony can afford to lose her. It has lost many more subjects than one during this war.”

Von Arnim looked at Prüschenk. “Do you agree to be silent? In voice and in print?”

Prüschenk looked back. “No. It is an abomination and I will not hold my tongue. Nor will . . . ” He stopped abruptly.

Von Arnim raised his eyebrows at Carpzov.

“One more step, I think.”

“In the best interests of our father . . . ” Duke John George the Younger started.

” . . . and in the best interests of Saxony,” Duke August continued.

Dietrich and Wolfgang each moved forward and took one of Prüschenk’s arms.

” . . . we order your arrest and internment on charges of high treason.”

Prüschenk looked at Carpzov. “Are you here to represent me?”

Carpzov shook his head. “As a member of the Leipzig Schöffenstuhl, I am here to issue the warrant. No hearing is necessary. He looked at his brothers, who began to produce paperwork out of the leather folders they were carrying.”

“This is contrary to proper procedure.”

“No it isn’t,” Carpzov said serenely. “Perhaps you missed my new book. It just came out. Practica nova imperialis saxonica rerum criminalium. Lovely title, if I do say so myself. I am now the premier authority on Saxon criminal law practice and I concur with the measures the general has decided to take. As do the consistory—” He gestured toward Ho’negg. “—and the elector’s council—” He gestured toward Werthern. “Or, perhaps I should say, the sanior pars of both.”

Von Arnim nodded. “Let him be interrogated in regard to that ‘Nor will . . . ‘ please.”

Carpzov nodded.

“Then, if you will excuse me, Your Graces,” von Arnim bowed to the young dukes, “I must return to the war we are trying to fight.”

“We’ll follow you in less than an hour,” Duke August said. “With Wolfgang and Dietrich. We have to consult with our mother before we leave.”

Grantville

Holz’s next spate of pamphlets, directed at Kastenmayer, focused on the proposed confirmation of seven up-time men, betrothed to girls at Saint Martin’s, without, Holz argued, sufficient instruction.

Particularly in regard to Mitchell Hobbs.

Who managed the laundry.

Where Kastenmayer had baptized the Beasley child.

Where Hobbs’ fiancée worked. Who belonged to Saint Martin’s even before she became betrothed to the up-timer. And came from the village where Jonas Justinus Muselius had taught school before the Ring of Fire happened.

Muselius, who was now betrothed to the daughter of the up-time woman who had spoken as an equal at the Rudolstadt Colloquy. And who, in spite of 1 Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence,” was now providing instruction in a heretofore unknown discipline called “statistics” at the University of Jena.

Where Muselius had once been a student. That was before the Ring of Fire, of course, but it probably showed something. A premonition of future decay of biblical standards, probably.

Wasn’t another up-time woman, also teaching, the one at the medical school, actually living in the household of Dean Gerhard of the theological faculty?

The general theme ran along the lines of, “something wicked this way comes.” There was certainly a conspiracy. Even if Holz couldn’t figure out precisely what it was, he issued a ringing call for the orthodox theologians of the Universities of Wittenberg and Leipzig to call the lax and incompetent figureheads now usurping positions of trust at the University of Jena back to order.

****

Griep kept busy. He pounded the streets, assuring the new and potential parishioners of Saint Thomas the Apostle that Holz was behaving in a sectarian manner, had no congregation to which he was properly assigned, and should not be in Grantville at all. If they were dissatisfied with the situation at Saint Martin’s, they should not turn to Holz. They should join Saint Thomas, where they properly belonged.

He had five hundred copies of the decision reached at the Rudolstadt Colloquy reprinted and distributed them for free. He also bought space in each of the Grantville papers to have the decision republished on full-page spreads with borders around them.

Which required a significant subsidy from his juristic brothers-in-law of the firm Waffler, Wiesel, and Finck.

Which also, when it appeared in the National Inquisitor, caused a considerable amount of merriment among the regular readers.

April 1635

“I postponed the dedication, just as you instructed me,” Griep said. “Nevertheless, they had a really big party at Saint Martin’s last week. It wasn’t low-key at all.”

Count Ludwig Guenther thought. Then thought a little more.

“It has been more than a month since March fourth,” he said finally. “The public announcement to postpone the dedication at Saint Thomas came at the right time. It was received well. The families have been preparing for these seven weddings for a long time. The grooms are all up-timers, whose relatives participated, so it did not leave an impression that we, the down-timers, as a whole, were ignoring the grief of the . . . original Grantvillers, shall I call them here? Their grief at the deaths of the mayor, the Calvinist minister, the policeman.”

“I thought you wanted to avoid this ‘stress,'” Griep said stiffly.

“Sometimes, a celebration can also relieve stress,” the count said.

“At least I tried,” Griep said. “Holz has made no effort to relieve stress. Is it my place to ask what you propose to do about him?”

“He isn’t within my jurisdiction. Or within that of my consistory.”

“Whose jurisdiction is he in?”

“No one’s, technically. There is no Lutheran organization within the Ring of Fire. Practically . . . “

“Yes?”

“If he’s with anyone’s jurisdiction, he’s Tilesius’ problem. But that is personal, not geographical.”

“Are you sure that Tilesius thinks of him as a problem? Not as a weapon aimed to, in time, destroy the authority of the consistory of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. And, through that, and through you, to destroy the ability of Gustavus Adolphus to impose some kind of unity among the Lutherans of the USE?”

The count looked at Griep sharply.

He shrugged. “Your role in the colloquies has been a prominent one. If the compromises you have forged among Lutherans in the USE fall apart, how is Gustavus to control the Lutherans in the Union of Kalmar?”

Ludwig Guenther raised his eyebrows.

Griep shrugged again. “Ecclesiastical politics is still politics. Especially for an emperor who insists on having a state church. Who knows what Saxony will look like after everything that has happened, will still be happening, this spring?”

****

“Pastor Kastenmayer.” Liz Carstairs, interim mayor of Grantville and West Virginia County and, in practically everyone’s opinion, mayor-presumptive as well, since she was likely to win the upcoming special election, ran down the steps of city hall. “I was going to phone, but then I looked out the window and saw you. Do you have any idea what this is about?”

She handed him a piece of paper.

“I have received a similar letter from the Erfurt city council. Just this morning, protesting that Ezechiel Meth is active again. Being harbored again by the dowager countess of Gleichen-Tonna within the jurisdiction of West Virginia County. I have no doubt that Pastor Griep has also received one, and Count Ludwig Guenther as well.”

Pastor Kastenmayer paused, which was just as well, since Liz barreled right along.

“Who is Ezechiel Meth and why do we care?”

Kastenmayer raised his eyebrows while his mind groped for a tactful reply. That was certainly a question that opened up possibilities in regard to the issue of cults and sects—cultists and sectarians. Of which the lady mayor was one. Not just in his personal opinion. Certainly in the opinion of every down-timer who had received a copy of the Erfurt protest. In the opinion, for that matter, of all the up-time Lutherans who had been transferred by the Ring of Fire.

Henry Dreeson had been a Presbyterian. A Calvinist. Comprehensible to the mind or ordinary men. Liz Thornton verh. Carstairs was what other people called a Mormon. They called themselves by a much longer name. He would have to look it up. Shortened to LDS. She might not even care that the followers of the late Esaias Stiefel showed signs of becoming active again. This would require careful handling. Delicate phrasing. Coffee.

He looked around. They were almost directly in front of Cora’s.

“Shall we go in?” he asked politely. “I’m buying.”

He hadn’t explained anything at all yet, but Liz knew that whatever it was, she wasn’t going to like it.

Cora thumped the cups down.

“Have you ever heard of Schwärmer?”

She shook her head.

He searched his English vocabulary and found it wanting. “We need Jonas. Whatever am I going to do without Jonas once he leaves to become director of the normal school in Amberg? Not that it isn’t a splendid promotion for him and that we aren’t all proud and happy.” He stood up. “Gracious and most kind Cora, may I use your telephone, with most hearty thanks?” He moved behind the counter.

Anne Penzey, waiting tables on another Saturday morning, leaned over and whispered into Liz’s ear. “Isn’t he cute? I bet his eyes were blue when he was young, even though they’ve faded to a kind of greenish-hazel. It’s amazing that he doesn’t have to wear glasses at his age.”

Liz took a look. The pastor wore his wavy hair long, at shoulder length. It was mostly gray, with some lingering brown strands. No receding hairline, but it had gone thin on top. The goatee that covered his chin was even grayer. “Cute” was not precisely the adjective she would have chosen. “Amazing,” she agreed. That seemed neutral enough.

They were well through their second cups of coffee by the time Jonas arrived via trolley.

“Enthusiasts. Spiritualists. Perfectionists. Sectarians. Chiliasts. Cultists. Heretics. ‘Enthusiasts’ is probably the most direct translation into English, but it does not encompass all the connotations.” Jonas paused to think. “People with really, really strange religious ideas. Not all the same strange ideas, of course, which is why most of the groups are small.

Liz nodded. “Yeah. Those ”˜rapture' people and all that. Or Jim Jones.”

“Esaias Stiefel thought that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and a lot of people agreed. You would think that they would have changed their minds when he died. That was, um, about eight years ago. But some of them didn’t. Meth did reconcile with the Lutheran church, but Countess Erdmuthe Juliana, the dowager countess, never gave up her strange faith. If Meth is with her again . . . ” He looked at Kastenmayer, a little uncomfortably. “We probably ought to call Pastor Griep, too.”

“Ah, how did he die?” Liz asked.

“Peacefully in his bed. In the municipal hospital in Erfurt. Gispersleben, where the cult was centered, belongs under that jurisdiction. That’s why the Erfurt council is involved, I guess, if it seems to be reviving.”

****

Waiting for Griep to get downtown from Saint Thomas’ on the trolley had the rest of them into third cups.

It didn’t help that he walked into Cora’s and said, “Too late.” Before he even sat down.

“What’s too late?” Liz asked.

“It was Tilesius in Langensalza who alerted Erfurt. So he’s bound to have notified Pankratz Holz, too. It’s going to be a big mess. Tilesius and the Stiefelite controversy go back . . . at least thirty years. Not quite before my time, but almost. I was in my first year at the university when they held the set of hearings that led to Stiefel’s first recantation.”

“First?”

“Yes, ma’am. There have been several.”

Liz had an impulse to say, “But I thought they just burned heretics in this day and age. This sounds as long-drawn-out as up-time legal proceedings.” She managed to stifle it. Instead, she said, “All right.”

Griep was frowning. “I don’t want to cause you stress,” he said carefully. “But perhaps we should also ask your chief of police to join our discussion.”

****

Preston Richards listened carefully. “Look,” he finally said, addressing both of the pastors and Jonas, “It sounds like you think we didn’t have that sort of folk up-time. We did. Just let me tell you about the Hare Krishna people who were right up Route 250. The Ring of Fire didn’t miss their conference center by much. Then you’ll have something to thank God for. Namely, that they aren’t here with us today.”

“But what are you going to do?” Griep asked.

“Unless they start making trouble? Nothing.”

“Well,” Liz said. “I’ll send a polite letter back to Erfurt, I guess. Thanking them for their concern. After that—like Press says, unless they actually make trouble, there’s nothing we can do. It’s not against the law to have what Jonas calls ‘really, really weird religious ideas.'”

She smiled at him. “So go finish getting ready for your wedding. And Dina and Phillip’s. At this stage, you probably have a list of two dozen things to do that Carol and Salome think are more important than . . . what did you call them?”

“Stiefelites. Or did you mean ‘enthusiasts’ in general?”

May 1635

“I met Superintendent Tilesius,” Dina said at the rehearsal dinner. “The year before the Ring of Fire, he put on a really big celebration for the centennial of the Augsburg Confession in Langensalza. Three days long. Papa took us all. I had a wonderful time.”

Ronella swallowed. She was Lutheran, but . . . “You had a wonderful time celebrating the centennial of when a great big thick theological book was published?”

“It was great,” Jonas said. “I was there, too. We took the whole Quittelsdorf village school on a field trip.”

“It does sound like it would have been fun,” Gary Lambert said. “If the Ring of Fire had only happened a year earlier, we could all have gone. We’re both too young to remember the bicentennial celebration for the American Revolution, but my parents used to talk about it. Just about every town in the United States put on a bash.”

“You wouldn’t have needed to go that far—as far as Langensalza,” Friedrich Hortleder said. “We had a big celebration in Weimar, too. Just as good as the one Tilesius put on, if you ask me. In spite of the marauding armies. Sometimes people need to focus on what’s really important in the long run, no matter what’s happening all around them.”

“I agree,” Salome said. “By the way, Carol, have you noticed that lately we’ve only been getting Pankratz Holz’s pamphlets. They’re basically topical attacks. The personal attacks on Ludwig and Gary aren’t coming any more.” Nor were the personal attacks on her, but she was too modest to mention those.

“We always sort of thought that the worst ones—like the Christmas Eve set—were coming out of Saxony. Maybe the distribution network has collapsed because of all the military activity. If so, it’s the only actual blessing of war I’ve ever heard of,” Ron Koch commented.

****

“Two weddings down,” Carol said. “A week apart. Oh, my aching feet.”

“Have another cup of cider,” Salome suggested.

Carol grinned. “At least they got Ron to church two weeks in a row. That hasn’t happened very often in our lives. He was born a Lutheran, of course—well, baptized as one, when he was just a baby—so that’s what he is, but he doesn’t actually work at it very hard. A lot of the up-time Germans I met were like that. Most of his friends thought I was a little odd because I actually went to church.”

Rudolstadt

“Well, of course. If they won’t do anything about Ezechiel Meth, they won’t do anything about Pankratz Holz, either. This ‘storefront church’ of his is usurping a great deal of what should be Saint Thomas’ parish. The Philippists have kept going to Saint Martin’s. Of course, Kastenmayer has known that Saint Thomas’ would be opening since the beginning, so their budget has allowed for this. He’s shrewd enough to have determined the leanings of most of those who were attending there because they didn’t have an option, yet.

“For Saint Thomas, though, Holz is splitting the Flacians. Which means that we have obligations, bills to pay, but can’t count on the number of members I expected.”

“I will take up the question of a transitional subsidy with the consistory. However . . . You wanted this appointment, Pastor Griep. You went to a great deal of effort to secure it. All I can really recommend now is that you use persuasion to bring your flock into the fold. I certainly can’t herd them there.”

“But can’t you do something?”

Count Ludwig Guenther, once more, pointed out that he and his consistory really did not have any jurisdiction over the ecclesiastical situation in West Virginia County. No more in regard to Holz than in regard to Meth. “Which,” he finished, “only confirms my prudence in having erected both Saint Martin’s and Saint Thomas’ outside the boundaries of the Ring of Fire, within my own lands.”

****

“It will all be to do over again, dearest. You do realize that?” Count Ludwig Guenther beamed down at his young wife. In accordance with the best medical opinion, both up-time and down-time, she was breast-feeding little Albrecht herself.

“All what?”

“The theological colloquy. The one we held in Magdeburg last year, at the emperor’s insistence. I told him, at the time, that there was very little point in trying to achieve some lasting settlement without the participation of Brandenburg and Saxony. Especially Saxony. But he just wasn’t to be deterred by the power of reason. When he makes up his mind that he wants something, he wants it right now.”

“So, when?”

“Not this fall, I think. That will be too soon. But, after things have rested a while during the winter. I predict that we will be going back to Magdeburg early in the spring of 1636.”

Emelie giggled. “More days on a hard bench? So the delegates can’t fight about who has a right to bring in what size or shape of cushion? You have mentioned the hardships of presiding over colloquies several times.”

The count steepled his fingers against his mouth. “My explorations of Grantville have taken me into several of the up-time churches. Two of them have a device called an ‘upholstered pew.’ This obviates the cushion issue.” He nodded decisively. “Our treasury can afford it. If I am called back to Magdeburg to preside over yet another theological colloquy, I shall have the benches upholstered—all of them—before the sessions begin.”

Emelie giggled again. “Maybe you should have the upholsterers arrange things so the padding is removable. Take it away from the most long-winded and obstreperous ones. The longer they talk, the thinner the covering on their sections of the benches will become during the night.”

He beamed down again. His wife. His baby. “Dearest,” he said. “I’m really glad that you are on my side.”

She reached one hand up and took his. “Always.”

June 1635

Holz addressed the question of the Koch-Muselius wedding in three separate pamphlets. The first dealt with sumptuary issues such as the processional, recessional, bridal gown, bridesmaids’ dresses, and a level of expenditure appropriate for none but the upper patriciate and nobility. The general thrust of the matter was “not the way we’ve always done it.”

Since most down-timers figured that the up-timers in general belonged to the patriciate, if not to the nobility, they yawned. Even Oswald Griep said, to anyone who asked, that the issues were adiaphoral.

The second dealt with the music, which was, Holz proclaimed, awful. Since almost all the down-timers agreed, but there was no law anywhere, civil or ecclesiastical, against having bad taste in music, this did not resonate widely, either.

The third addressed the theology of Kastenmayer’s having agreed to conduct a wedding ceremony before the altar. Which gave at least an appearance of creeping papistry, since marriage was not, in the Lutheran scheme of things, a sacrament. Baptism, except in emergencies, took place at the font, before the altar. Communion took place at the altar. Marriage. No.

That was a more serious allegation. A lot more serious. Oswald Griep really wished that he had thought of it himself.

Wherefore his comments on the pamphlet were tart.

Holz’s response was intemperate.

Truth be told, since their viewpoints on most matters were quite similar, they had only small grounds for disputes. Which caused them to hold onto those small grounds even more tenaciously, magnifying them as large as they dared.

Increasingly, the longer he was at Saint Thomas, Griep became territorial. Resentful of the intruder.

His pamphlet accusing Melchior Tilesius of attempting, from Langensalza, to extend undue influence into what was properly the superintendency of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, was bitter.

****

“Well, there they go.” Ron Koch slapped Gary Lambert on the back as they watched Ronella and Jonas set out for Amberg and a new life in the Upper Palatinate. “Every way we looked at it, going over to the trade route, down to Nürnberg, and east on the Goldene Strasse is still the easiest way to get there. Not the fastest, but the easiest. And with Jonas only having one driving hand . . . “

He looked after the wagon that was heading out on the Badenburg road from where it joined Route 250. “There were times last fall when I thought the girl was just going to pine away with longing. Go into a decline or something.”

Carol swatted him lightly. “Ronella’s not that kind of a wimp. She would have gotten him, one way or another. Eventually. Don’t you think, Gary?” She turned her head. “Pastor Kastenmayer?”

They both agreed.

Gary took a deep breath. “Guys, while we’re all here . . . Not in the middle of a bunch of other people.”

“What?”

“Um.” He stopped, clearly uneasy. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t love each and every one of you. But now that Jonas has left . . . He was my best friend. What was tying me to Saint Martin’s really. Since he’s gone. Uh, doctrinally . . . ” He stopped again, then motioned toward the tower a quarter mile beyond the boundary line. “Okay. I’m switching my membership to Saint Thomas. Theologically, I’ll be more comfortable there. And I know that Anna Catharina will be. Her dad’s pretty conservative. So I’m going to go ahead and do it. Get it over with before the wedding. But I wanted to tell you before I talked to Griep about it.”

He searched their shocked faces. “I still want to be friends, but . . . Well, I guess I’d better be getting to work.” He turned around and climbed on the trolley that was just about to start for the other side of the Ring of Fire.

“More changes,” Carol whispered. “More of them, all of the time. Creeping up on us, after so many changes already the past few years.”

July 1635

“Anne.” Natalie Bellamy stood up and waved. “Anne, I want toast, please.” She sat down again. “There’s so much babble in here this morning that a person can’t hear herself think.”

“It’s another ‘creeping papistry’ pamphlet,” Orinne Sterling said. “It landed on the news stands in Rudolstadt day before yesterday. Before the distribution here.”

“What is Holz going on about now?”

“Well, you know that Pastor Kastenmayer and his wife took some time off,” Carol said.

“Since it’s the first time in two years, they deserved it.”

“Nobody’s arguing about that. But they went to Erfurt. Not for some kind of a church thing, but because Dina’s sister had a baby. Andrea and Tony Chabert. You know Tony—he was one of the guests at Tom and Rita Simpson’s wedding. He joined the army right away and has stayed in. They had a boy and they named him Ludwig. Ludwig Anthony, even before the Kastenmayers decided to go visit.”

“Maybe that’s why he decided to go visit,” Anne said, delivering the toast.

“I haven’t seen the pamphlet,” Carol said. “I guess I’ll have to read it. Bring me my bill, please, Anne. I’ll stop and pick one up on the way home.”

“She looks sort of worn thin,” Natalie said.

“With Ronella gone and Jake in Augsburg, I guess they call it ’empty nest syndrome.'”

“Whatever reason,” Orrinne said, “Holz is declaring that for a Lutheran pastor to visit a Catholic son-in-law who doesn’t show any immediate signs of converting, and go to the baby’s baptism—Tony had it done in a Catholic church up there in Erfurt—is a sign of . . . well, something doctrinal that’s bad. Even if he just watched and didn’t go to communion or anything. What Holz wrote, in the English translation, is ‘unionism,’ but I can’t imagine what it could possibly have to do with the Civil War. Or workers’ rights, either.”

Neither could anyone else who was still at the table.

****

“It doesn’t matter what you think, Pastor Griep.” The head of the board of elders elected by the congregation (confirmed male members, of course) of Saint Thomas the Apostle stood there stubbornly. “Well, it matters. We took it into consideration. But we’ve voted. We know you don’t like using the names of modern saints who aren’t in the bible, but that’s just too bad, I guess. We’re naming the school for Saint Guenther of Thuringia. He was the patron saint of the count’s family for seven hundred years or more. Even if he’s been de-patronized, so to speak, he’s still in heaven and we expect he still has considerable interest in what’s going on around here. It was his job for a long time.”

It was becoming clear to Oswald Griep that shepherding his new congregation into a fully reliable doctrinal stance might be a long-term project. At least he would have Gary Lambert’s help.

He wrote a pamphlet and a flyer aimed at the vacillating Flacians of Grantville and West Virginia County, stating in no uncertain terms his views that Pankratz Holz was an unauthorized trespasser, engaged in stealing the Lord’s sheep.

September 1635

“Ron and I went to the dedication,” Carol said. “Just as guests, of course. As you did. But you were honored, up on the podium. We were sort of lurking in the back, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.”

Countess Emelie laughed. “You must be happy that Holz is now so angry at Pastor Griep that he has stopped writing pamphlets about Pastor Kastenmayer.”

“I can’t be glad. Not really.”

“How come?” Count Ludwig Guenther asked.

Carol opened her purse. “I finally got this done. I had to have the illustrations copied by hand and with the move to Bamberg, Lenore Jenkins has been so busy that it took her forever to finish, and then I had to wait again until someone at the University Press had time to bind it. It’s for your little Albrecht Karl. The book I was telling you about. The poem. Eugene Field. It sort of says how I feel about all these disputes. I don’t want to tell you. It all bothers me too much. You can figure it out for yourselves.”

The count leafed through it. “It’s a lovely book. We are very grateful. The stuffed animals, the printed fabrics in the pictures, the floppy blue ears on the dog and the perky yellow ones on the cat are charming.”

****

“What do you think she meant, dearest,” Emelie asked after she had gone on her way to Jena.

He flipped the book to the last page and read in the excellent English he had acquired in Oxford on his grand tour so many decades before.

“The truth about that cat and pup,
Is this: they ate each other up.

“I have been called to the next colloquy. Sometimes, though, I start to think that the wish of Gustavus Adolphus, to achieve doctrinal unity among all Lutherans, is close to being Don Quixote’s unattainable dream. Your friend Carol may think so, too. I suspect that she has become . . . discouraged.”

Emelie reached up and took his hand. “All you can do is try.”

****