Grantville, Spring 1635

“What are they?” Hedy Beasley asked her husband.

“Bed sheets. King size. Fucking worn out bed sheets that won’t even fit our mattress. Just like everything I get to bring home from the laundry is so worn out that the person who brought it in doesn’t want it any more. Damn, but I hate hand-me-downs. Always did, even when I was a kid. Never fit right. Always a couple of years behind what everyone else in your class has.”

Hedy frowned. “They aren’t worn out. This one just has a hole in the middle and the ”˜elastic’ has died. If I cut it down the center, cut off the elastic, sew the side edges together, trim the new outsides until they are even and hem them, then . . . ”

“It’s worn out, Hedy.” Jarvis didn’t have much patience with the domestic arts. He finished his current task and looked down at what baby Viana had just accomplished. “Cut it up and use the edge parts for diapers. The way she’s going, we could sure use more.”

Hedy looked doubtful. “Dark red diapers?”

“Camouflage.” Jarvis handed Viana over to her mother and sat down to drink his beer.

****

Hedy turned both of the dark red pillow cases into baby dresses. Viana needed them, she was growing so fast, and it was hardly any work, since they were already hemmed and had side seams.

She salvaged what she could from the “bottom sheet” with the hole. Since Jarvis had complained, she thought he might notice if she sewed the two sections together into a new sheet and put it on the bed, but he would never notice new curtains. She was very proud of her new kitchen curtains. She had a “valance” and “tie backs” and “ruffles,” with narrow ruffles edging the wide ruffles. It was as close as she could make to what she remembered she had seen when she was cleaning Frau Donna Bates’ house, before Frau Brandy made everything there so stinking plain.

Plain was for people who couldn’t afford fancy, in Hedy’s humble opinion. Not that anyone would ask her.

She laid the “top sheet” away in a drawer. It was a truly magnificent amount of fabric. The center was worn thin, but didn’t actually have a hole. She could cut around the thin spot. Perhaps she could make herself a whole dress, suitable for wearing to a fair. She would love to go to the Badenburg fair wearing a red dress. Before Jarvis, her clothes had been either sort of tan or sort of olive green or sort of drab blue. She had never aspired to red.

She would love to go to the Badenburg fair with Jarvis. If, that was, she was ever again allowed to leave the confines of West Virginia County to go to a real kirmess. The “fair” in Grantville was more of an industrial exhibition now, full of mechanical gadgets and competition for investors and funding. It wasn’t really fun.

Grantville, Summer 1635

The emperor invaded Saxony.

Hedy thought over what Judge Tito had told her the previous spring and made a call at the West Virginia County Courthouse to ask him whether or not it was safe for her to go to a fair, now that John George and his Saxon officials and his Saxon laws probably had other things to worry about than whether she was a bigamist.

She received informal judicial advice that it was better to be safe than sorry.

At that point, she called on the Freedom Arches.

She received informal political advice that until the Saxon-administered districts in Henneberg got themselves sufficiently together to throw the rascals out and make it stick, it was better to be safe than sorry.

On the way out, she stopped to look at the CoC bulletin board.

The advice “To be sung to the tune of ”˜O Tannenbaum’ from Suhl County” headed one sheet of paper.

Not that this was unusual. It seemed to her that half of the anthems rendered by CoC members in their more expansive and liquid moments were sung to that tune. It seemed to be everywhere.

There were English words in the first column. Hedy passed over those. She couldn’t read English yet, but presumably the strange letters that said The Red Flag meant the same thing as the sensible Fraktur letters that everyone knew how to read and which said Die Rote Fahne.

The people’s flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyr’d dead
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts’ blood dyed its ev’ry fold.

Dark red. Blood.

Dunkelrot. Blut.

Refrain:
Then raise the scarlet standard high,
Within its shade we’ll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

Here? Grantville didn’t need a red flag, even if someone got above himself and called it a scarlet standard. But Henneberg. Henneberg could use a dark red banner. Judge Tito and the CoC leaders agreed. She couldn’t go to a fair until Schleusingen threw out the Saxons. That would, possibly, require, red and blood. Maybe even martyrs. As Jarvis often said, “shit happens.”

Red, she could provide. The rest would be up to her fellow Hennebergers.

 

Look round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise,
In Moscow’s vaults its hymns are sung,
Chicago swells the surging throng.

Moscow. She thought that Frau Brandy’s husband Vladimir came from Moscow. In fact, she was sure of it. He was a prince, though, so why would he want to sing a revolutionary hymn? But that was his problem and not hers. Henneberg was certainly German.

It waved above our infant might
When all around seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.

There was one thing to be said for the up-time dyes. They rarely faded. If she made a red flag, it was unlikely to change its color.

It well recalls the triumphs past;
It gives the hope of peace at last:
The banner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right and human gain.

Ahrensbök. Gustavus Adolphus’ new victories this summer. Triumphs. The Council of Copenhagen. Peace, but it hadn’t lasted. Maybe next time. Surely attending the Badenburg fair qualified as a human right, even if she had to go in her old tan skirts.

It suits today the meek and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place,
To cringe before the rich man’s frown
And haul the sacred emblem down.

She frowned. The meek and base must be the Hennebergers who did what the Saxon administrators told them to because they wanted to be rich. Because they wanted to be appointed to this or that position, wear gold chains of office around their necks, and march toward the front of town parades.

Dark red.

Revolution.

Henneberg.

The Badenburg fair.

Without hesitation, Hedy sacrificed her dreams of a red dress to a higher purpose.

****

The “king size” top sheet would make a really big banner.

The center was very thin, so Hedy reinforced it, on both sides, with pieces of white sheet, about four feet by five feet, whipped onto the stronger cloth at the edges.

Then she started to make appliqués through all three thicknesses. She appliquéd every revolutionary symbol that anyone in the Grantville CoC had ever mentioned to her. There were adders on all four corners with the motto that said, “Don’t tread on me.” She embroidered portraits of Brillo and Ewegenia and placed them next. There was a hammer and sickle toward the bottom center.

That was just one side.

The other side started with a Bundschuh in the center and went from there.

By the time she finished, the white fabric was practically quilted and stood out stiffly with the flimsier wide red edges fluttering around it. She thought it would be very nice for being carried as an ensign on a long, long, pole.

She folded it up. She stopped at the Freedom Arches and painstakingly copied out Die Rote Fahne. She put that on top, wrapped the package carefully in oiled cloth, stopped at the post office, and mailed it to “Head of the Committee of Correspondence, Schleusingen, Henneberg (Saxony).”

She did not include a return address. The revolution might succeed. But then, again, it might not. Nobody can say that Hedwig Altschulerin has ever been anybody’s fool, she thought with satisfaction.

Schleusingen, Henneberg, August 1635

Wolfgang Heilman—almost always called Wolf, whether by exasperated parents and teachers when he was a boy or friends and enemies in the present—looked at the contents of the package he had just opened.

No, there was nothing else. Just the banner and the poem.

He knew “O Tannenbaum,” of course. Everybody in the Henneberg CoC knew the tune. As chairman, he was expected to lead a lot of the singing.

With heads uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall.
Come dungeon dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.

According to the newspapers—if a man could trust them—the emperor’s campaign in Saxony was going well. John George would soon be on the run. He’d better call a meeting of the committee.

That evening, he looked at the people gathered around his mother’s kitchen table. Four women, including his formidable mother Hildegard, were crowded onto the high-backed bench. Albrecht Mack’s wife Anna Gerlichin, too pregnant to sit comfortably, was standing up. The men made do with three-legged stools. All of them were staring at the banner with fascination. Clearly, this was A Message From On High.

Hildegard touched the top edge. “It’s genuine up-time fabric,” she said with awe. “So expensive. So rare. I’m amazed that they consider us worthy of it.”

Thomas Jehn turned it over so they could look at the other side.

“I thought we were going to use a Ram banner when the time came,” Albrecht complained. He could always find something to whine about.

“There’s a Brillo on this.” Barbara Wermann stabbed a finger at the image.

“Only on one side.” Albrecht could be relied upon to focus on the cloud that surrounded every silver lining. Maybe it was because he was a tanner and spent his days among vats of curing leather in a constant fog of urine and ammonia.

Wolf decided to let them talk themselves out. That was the easiest procedure—consensus by exhaustion and hoarse voices. He motioned to his mother not to refill the beer pitcher. Thirst was also a powerful motivator when it came to getting a meeting to come to some kind of a conclusion.

Paulus Weigel cleared his throat. “It was mailed from the post office in Grantville itself. That is significant.”

“But who sent it?” Barbara’s brother Bartholomäus had a tendency to ask uncomfortable questions, often along the lines of, “Just who is paying for this?”

“Someone delegated by the central authority.” Weigel’s voice oozed confidence. “That is clear. Possibly it is from Spartacus. Perhaps from die Richterin herself. But certainly, it is a message. They don’t want us to play nice any longer.”

Dorothea Kästel nodded.

“It’s obvious what it means,” Catharina Sommer added. “Get a move on. It’s time to throw the rascals out! Things like that.”

This time, Hans Leibner nodded. So did Wolfgang’s brother Philipp—generally known as Lips.

When Albrecht opened his mouth again, his brother Dieter rapped him on the top of his head and his wife gave him that look.

“Will the Suhl CoC take an interest?” That was Bartholomäus.

“Take an interest and probably take us over,” Albrecht grumped.

Wolf frowned. That last was uncomfortably close to the most likely outcome. Since the Ring of Fire, the balance of power on the south slopes of the Thüringerwald had tilted in favor of Suhl.

“Who’ll be our major problems here?” That was Bartholomäus again.

Paulus pursed his lips. “Matthis Wilde is still the first Burgermeister and there’s never been anyone more pigheaded.”

“He’s not really in charge,” Bartholomäus pointed out. “How will Herrengossenstädt react?”

“John George’s overseer?” Wolf pulled at his mustache. Owing to his position as second to the militia captain responsible for defense of the southern walls, he had seen more of the Saxon administrator than any of the others. “Ludwig Ernst Marschalck von Herrengossenstädt is brave enough, even if he did take his family and dash off to Nürnberg in 1631—what else could he do, under the circumstances? Plus, he’s taken an oath to Saxony and when he gives his word, he takes it seriously. It’s unfortunate—unfortunate that he’s brave, I mean. If the town was about to be raided by Croats, I’d be delighted to have him in charge of the Schloss. In a situation where we’re the guys on the outside who are trying to get in, I can only wish that he was someplace else. He’s sure not likely to join us, considering that he named his son Johann Georg. Make a list, Barto. You and Paulus.”

“Anna, too,” Paulus said. “She worked for the apothecary’s wife for years before she married Albrecht and now old Amthor is the second Burgermeister in place of Johann Scheuner.”

Anna nodded. “I heard a lot. Overheard.”

“Eavesdropped, more likely,” her husband corrected. “I’ve never met a nosier woman.”

“Stop complaining. Right now, that’s a good thing.” Bartholomäus threw a piece of chalk at him.

Anna smirked. “Amthor might be reasonable. Schott, the new city council clerk, now he might be one of your problems. Stubborn as an old goat and worked in the Leipzig chancery office until they sent him over here. Don’t expect any real support from Ittig, even if he does say sympathetic things. Funk at the tax office will dig his heels in. And . . . ”

“Take it to the other room. You three, the slate, and the chalk.” Wolf waved toward the door. “Come back when you have the list.”

Anna looked back at him from the door. “Do you want the ones who might work with us, too? Like Hans Gratias at customs? He didn’t move here from Arnstadt until a couple of years after the Ring of Fire, so he knows people in Grantville, and his wife’s a sister of the new mayor in Badenburg who married an up-time woman.”

Wolf blinked. He hadn’t thought of that. “Sure. For that matter, I can put together a list of the other militia officers who won’t go out of their way to interfere with us.”

Schleusingen, Henneberg, September 1635

Albrecht Mack looked at the pole. “Do we have anyone strong enough to carry this thing? To bear it onward till we fall takes on a whole different meaning with a banner this size. It’s as heavy as I am. Heavier, probably.” Albrecht was on the scrawny side.

“Maybe we don’t,” Barbara said, “but that blacksmith who came over from Suhl with Jorg Hennel has enough heft to weight it down at the bottom.”

“Do we want an outsider at the head of our column?” Anna asked. “This ought to be a movement of Hennebergers for their own freedom.”

Thomas Jehn sucked on his teeth. “Until the last count died, which was before I was born but my dad remembers it, Suhl used to be part of Henneberg, just like Schmalkalden.”

Schleusingen Hennebergers,” Barbara specified.

Her brother ignored her and answered Jehn. “Not just like Schmalkalden. That belongs to Hesse-Kassel now. At least, Hesse-Kassel is administering it, which is why there are some Calvinists down here.” Bartholomäus’ day job was as a clerk in the canon law section of the Lutheran church’s superintendent’s office. He had his doubts about the wisdom of tolerating Calvinists, but had resigned himself to it as one of the CoC’s articles of faith that sometimes coexisted rather uneasily with his prior beliefs and convictions. “Suhl’s a county in the SoTF because it went to the other Wettins, the ones in Saxe-Weimar. That damned Crown Loyalist now-I’m-a-commoner-so-I-can-be-a-prime minister. Sneaky as hell. You’d think that the least that nobles could do is stick to their born-to-be-better-than-thou principles.”

“So we can count the blacksmith as one of us?” Dieter Mack asked.

Paulus Weigel grinned. “If he’s willing to volunteer to be martyred. The flag has to be right in front.”

****

“Hell, yes. I’ll carry it.” Tönnies Kummer laughed. “Can’t carry a gun at the same time, though.” Tönnies face reflected his dissatisfaction. “Not and manage this thing, even with the socket and neck strap that your tanner cobbled together for me to use. Too bad. I’d love to get rid of a couple of Saxon oppressors. Hang a few and shoot the rest, I always say.”

Jorg Hennel sighed under his breath. Gretchen Richter may have reamed out Tönnies and Lorenz Schmuck for shooting into Ruben Blumroder’s manufactory a couple of years earlier, but she hadn’t managed to change their personalities. They were still hotheads, both of them.

Moreover, they were his hotheads. He was the one who would get blamed if they did anything stupid this time.

“Why not just throw a scare into them and let them run?” Barbara asked. “It would be sort of satisfactory to watch them flee in cowardly terror. That’s what you did in Suhl last spring after the Dreeson assassination. You guys killed Pastor Abesser, the old witch finder Zehner’s son-in-law, during the Krystalnacht, but you let his wife and kids run off.”

Hennel shook his head. During the first six months of 1633, he had learned quite a bit from the organizers that Gretchen had left behind in Suhl to assist the CoC there and he’d been trying to put it into practice in the two years since then. “Most of the Saxon officials in Schleusingen won’t flee. Where can they go? Think about it. Henneberg’s entirely surrounded by the SoTF, and the SoTF, except on the east, is entirely surrounded by the USE. Margaretha Zehnerin ran off to Saxony, which isn’t exactly a peaceful place at the moment even though Gustavus Adolphus took it easily enough. Even if they’re Saxon dogs, corner a mutt and he’ll fight.”

“We could just arrest them and then wait until things calm down with the war and let the USE send in people to relieve them of their offices.” Bartholomäus tended to be considerably less militant than some other CoC members.

Jorg opened his mouth, but Paulus Weigel beat him to it. “Won’t work—not if we want influence in the town after the Saxons are gone. If we wait for the USE to move, now that Wettin is prime minister, they’ll just install some of the old guard who were willing to cooperate with them. Not us. Not CoC. Not Fourth of July Party. Unless you want to see old Amthor move up to First Burgermeister and keep things pretty much the way they’ve always been, we’re the ones who have to get rid of them. That’s why Grantville sent us the banner, I’m sure.”

“What I say,” Schmuck proclaimed, is ”˜kill all the nobles, lawyers, local officials, church administrators, and their families too’ before they get themselves organized and kill us. Does anybody really think that’s not what the Crown Loyalists are planning to do? Wettin may not be saying it, but a lot of his toadies are thinking it, for sure.”

“Oh ducky, our own private little Reign of Terror right here in Schleusingen.” Bartholomäus sighed. He had read quite a few translations of up-time history books.

“What’s a ”˜reign of terror’?” Tönnies Kummer inquired with interest. Schmuck perked right up.

Wolf Heilman decided that he needed to get control back, in a hurry. “They’re not that nasty, most of them. Not as individuals. If you look at it one way, they’re just doing their jobs. They’re enforcing an existing legal and political system on a day-to-day basis. Sure, we hate the system and we need to get them out of office. There are a few we need to get completely rid of, but I want to emphasize ”˜a few.’ Killing them all would be overkill, if you will excuse the very bad pun.”

“I’m not so sure of that,” Paulus answered. “Think of what Machiavelli said about cutting off the head of a viper . . . . Maybe we do need to take out anyone who might spearhead a revenge movement later on. That would at least put a stop to endless local feuds before they start.”

Practical planning gave way to one more theoretical discussion as endless as any local feud.

****

Wolf looked around.

The courtyard behind Thomas Jehn’s knife-grinding shop was a fairly good place to meet if you had more people than would fit into Hildegard’s kitchen. Which there were, since a dozen or so more of Hennel’s Suhl people had arrived, plus the chairmen from Schmalkalden and Meiningen and a delegate from Hildburghausen. The guy from Römhild had come on his own—the town didn’t have a real CoC chapter yet.

At some point, probably a couple of hundred years earlier, this had been a much more prosperous and fashionable part of Schleusingen. The wall was a good eight feet high and topped with sharp barbs. Dieter Mack had climbed up and was sitting in the one spot where the barbs had rusted out, acting as a lookout.

Someone, a long time ago, had stuccoed the inner walls. Large sections had peeled off, letting the bricks show through and giving the whole thing a scabby appearance. Still, they caught the sun’s warmth during the day and shared it in the evening with anyone who was sitting outside.

Jehn’s wife had closed the back door to the house, trapping the children inside. She’d given the oldest boy, who was about eight, a rare permission to play his drum indoors. He was taking full advantage, which would probably take care of any eavesdroppers on the street side. She and Barbara Wermann perched on the shallow stone stoop.

There was an open shed on the north side where Thomas kept his equipment. Next to the house, the two rabbit hutches and the chicken coop didn’t make the area smell any better, but it was still preferable to the Mack brothers’ tannery yard.

He was about to call the meeting to order when there was a disturbance in the house. Jehn’s oldest boy squalled for his mother. Osanna yelled back that she was nursing the baby, so would somebody else please get the door. Barbara hopped up off the stoop and ran inside. The next thing was that she hollered for Wolf and Thomas to come, because some guys were trying to break through the front door.

Everyone in the courtyard reached for a weapon.

Wolf reached the door first and looked through the peephole just as a sledgehammer splintered the middle plank. Thomas had veered away to shoo his children up the ladder and into the loft.

****

“How dumb can you be?” Jorg Hennel asked with disgust. “The four of you aren’t even supposed to be here. You’re supposed to be home in Suhl.”

“We got to thinking, after you’d been gone for a few days,” Martin Grobben said. “We thought that maybe you and Tönnies and Lorenz were being detained against your will—that the whole thing had been a ploy by the reactionaries here in Schleusingen to get their hands on the leaders of the revolutionary movement in Suhl.”

Hennel groaned. “Sometimes I wish that you would just refrain from thinking. Nothing good ever comes out of it when you think for yourselves.”

“So we came over,” Caspar Trott said. “We asked around at a few taverns . . . ”

“More than a few, the way you smelled when you arrived at Jehn’s house. Why in hell did you batter the door down?”

“The kid wouldn’t let us in,” Werner Streitling answered. His face assumed a solemn, if somewhat simple, expression. “We had to assume the worst.”

Baltzer Motz nodded. “That’s when we started to break through the door. How were we to know that the Schleusingen CoC chairman and a girl were on the other side of it? I’m real sorry that I broke her arm.”

“You ought to be even sorrier that you broke Heilmann’s collarbone.”

“Why? He was trying to keep Baltzer and the rest of us out. Damn it, Jorg, we were coming to your rescue. And anyway,” Streitling continued, “Tönnies and Lorenz are right. They’re a batch of wimps, all of them. What this situation calls for is direct action.”

Hennel waved his hands in exasperation. “I wish you had never learned that sentence. What this situation needs is for you to have stayed in Suhl where I left you. Do you remember when Richter came back to Suhl and made you all apologize to Blumroder? Do you?”

****

Herrengossenstädt had refused to surrender the Schloss peacefully.

Wolfgang Heilman, his right arm in a sling designed to relieve the pressure on his collar bone, stood at the back of the square and assessed the Bertholdsburg for one final time. It wasn’t a fortress, precisely—not the kind with battlements, but the few windows on the ground floor were very small. The low stone walls were easy enough to climb on a day that nobody was shooting at you from out of the windows.

It was a sure thing that people would be shooting at them from out of the windows today. Herrengossenstädt had succeeded in arming not only the small Saxon garrison but also most of the members of the city council and their sons, a lot of the wealthier guildmasters with their journeymen and apprentices, and a fair number of the town’s dregs who were just in it for the money.

In a different way than the council members and the guildmasters, who were also pretty much in it for the money. Their money, their prestige, their honorable offices that they wanted to keep.

If the CoC succeeded in setting the Fachwerk story at the top of one wing on fire, that would provide a distraction.

If they succeeded, that was.

If they could cover the front lines until they managed to make it up to the gate next to the shorter, square, tower.

A couple of the dregs inside had agreed to open the gate if the CoC forces managed to make it that far.

“Follow the money” wasn’t a process that only went one way. Even dregs had their uses. They could be bribed. The only problem was keeping track of who had bribed them last.

At best, it wouldn’t be pretty.

At worst, it would be a fucking disaster. He’d managed to bring together just over three hundred men, and a few really militant women, but the Bertholdsburg was a honking big building.

****

Wolf winced. Somehow, Herrengossenstädt had managed to get a three-pounder up to the top level of the half-octagon tower. The blacksmiths were almost all with the CoC. The farrier from the castle stables must have dismantled it and then put it back together once the garrison’s soldiers got the pieces upstairs.

The only mitigating circumstance was that the square tower interfered with the gunner’s line of sight. He wouldn’t be able to direct the balls at the CoC men once they reached the gate and clumped up to wait for the dregs to open it.

He could certainly direct them at the CoC men as they headed for the gate.

The first shot missed the men. It landed on the cobblestones and broke up. One of the stones flew into the air and brought Tönnies Kummer down. The banner pole tilted sideways right along with Tönnies. Albrecht Mack, of all people, caught the pole and managed to hold the flag upright until a couple of other men dashed to assist him. Without the leather socket, which was still strapped to Tönnies’ body, it took all three of them, Albrecht, Thomas, and Paulus, to stagger toward the gate with it. But the banner stayed up and the CoC men followed it.

The three-pounder got another shot off. More cobblestones went flying.

Wolf jerked his head up. The gun must have exploded inside the confined space of the top floor tower room, because roof slates were flying. So much for Barto’s idea that once they won, they should mount the flag on the rooftop there. If they won, they’d have to mount it on the top of the old round tower at the corner.

A few flames started licking out of the Fachwerk, which meant that his guys on the other side of the building, shooting incendiary rockets, had done well, but most of the building was stone, without really a lot of wood, not even in the interiors. It wouldn’t burn well. Even the interior courtyard’s balcony railings were stone rather than wood.

****

Ludwig Ernst Marschalck von Herrengossenstädt died at his post. One of the dregs, who had been called to bring in a pitcher of water for the commander, shot him in the face with a small replica of an up-time pistol that Jorg Hennel had brought from Suhl.

The other officers in the room killed the dreg, but . . .

****

Paulus Weigel and Thomas Jehn recruited some helpers to drag the banner and pole up to the top of the square tower.

Albrecht Mack was dead by then.

Wolf managed to get inside in time to keep some kind of order as the CoC people took the castle’s garrison, staff, and impromptu defenders prisoner.

While he and Hennel managed the situation in the Schloss, Schmuck and the other four hotheads from Suhl hanged Matthis Wilde on an impromptu gallows in the square.

Their argument, when they were later required to justify their actions, was that they did it, more or less, because the First Burgermeister was a symbol of the unreconstructed old regime—plus, he refused to apologize for his offenses when they demanded it, on the grounds that he didn’t believe that he had committed any.

Anna Gerlichin and the other women in the Schleusingen CoC rescued old Amthor, the Second Burgermeister, from their Suhl allies in the nick of time by storming the gallows, armed with frying pans and fireplace andirons. They bundled him off to safety, making sure that the rest of his family got out of town, too. Anna had worked for the apothecary’s family for years before she married and thought he’d been a pretty decent employer. It wouldn’t be fair to hold a grudge against him because Albrecht got killed in the fight. Men who ran right out to get shot at ran the risk of getting shot. That was the way of the world.

When Thomas Jehn saw what Schmuck was doing, he sent his oldest boy into the castle to get help. Hennel, Heilmann, and the rest of the Schleusingen CoC people removed Schott, Ittig, and Funk from Schmuck’s custody. They made do with a public ceremony in the shadow of the gallows in which the three former Saxon officials knelt, abased themselves, and apologized.

****

The men who would go down in CoC legend as the Schleusingen Martyrs—Tönnies Kummer, Albrecht Mack, a blacksmith’s apprentice named Hans Patzer, and the dreg who killed the castle commander, whose name turned out to be Claus Volhart, received a state funeral.

The Red Flag of Henneberg was large enough to drape over all four of the lined-up coffins, shrouding them all.

****

“It’s not fair,” Hildegard proclaimed at the funeral dinner. “They”—she didn’t specify they, but her listeners knew who they were, namely Jorg Hennel and his associates—“insist that they’re still going to call it Suhl County. If they won’t hyphenate it to Suhl-Schleusingen County, the least they could do is agree to turn the name back to Henneberg County, since that’s what we used to be instead of keeping it as Suhl County just because they joined the SoTF first over there to the east. Bunch of glory hounds, if you ask me. ”˜Suhl County’ indeed!”

“But now your son is interim mayor of Schleusingen,” Anna Gerlichin pointed out.

“That’s better than nothing, but people come and go. Nobody can promise me that he’ll win the election when we have it. Places last a lot longer than people. I think we should put the county name on the ballot next election—the general election, not the special election for local officials here.”

“Suhl District has more voters than Schleusingen District,” Barbara Wermann protested.

Anna frowned. “But if we can somehow get Schmalkalden away from Hesse and back to Henneberg, then there would be more voters here in the west. The people in Schmalkalden wouldn’t want to be in something called ”˜Suhl County’ either.”

Hildegard nodded. “What we really need to do is get all the parts of the old Grafschaft Henneberg back and make it into one county that no foreigner has anything to do with, whether he’s Saxon of any stripe or Hessian or Stolberg, or . . . ”

Barbara opened her mouth. “We can’t just keep out foreigners. The new citizenship laws . . . ”

“They say that the Crown Loyalists will revoke those, so . . . ”

“Hille!” Anna waved her hands with exasperation. “We’re supposed to be supporting the new laws. Remember, it’s the opposition to us that wants the old ones back.”

****

Back at work for the first time in three weeks, Bartholomäus sorted through the Lutheran consistory’s case files on top of the chest next to his podium desk. Now that the superintendency was no longer under the Saxon state church, which ones should be considered active? Which ones were obsolete?

When he reached the one with the label “Altschulerin, Hedwig,” he paused.

His task was to sort.

In the eyes of God, no doubt, the woman was a bigamist. Her prior betrothal had been valid and the Bible regarded betrothal as being as binding as marriage. Mary had only been betrothed to Joseph, but when he found out about her pregnancy, he would have had to take legal action and put her away quietly to free himself from the bond. Hedwig Altschulerin had not been divorced by her former, if vanished, fiancé, nor had she gone through the established procedures for petitioning the consistory for a decree of nullity.

The up-timers and now, through them, the matrimonial legislation recently passed by the legislature of the SoTF seemed to have little concern with how things might appear to God’s eyes—especially not in regard to the equivalency of betrothal and marriage.

Sometimes, he wondered why he had joined the CoC. Really, though, he knew. After all, every evening at Vespers, along with every clergyman in Schleusingen and those lay people who appeared at optional services, he chanted the words of Mary the mother of God:

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

The up-timers weren’t the only people who often didn’t stop to think how their actions might appear in the eyes of God. There had been the witchcraft persecutions, sporadic since their own counts died out, worst in the Lutheran districts but the Calvinists in Schmalkalden didn’t have clean hands in the matter, either. There had been massive executions between 1628 and 1631. The Stolberg officials in the Schwarza district had been the worst, but twenty years ago, old Superintendent Zehner right here in Schleusingen had preached sermons intended to heat up the congregation against witches. He and Barbara had been forced to watch the execution of old Hildegard’s sister Juliana—Wolf and Lips’s aunt. He should repent the joy he had taken in hearing that the Meiningen Centrichter Siebenfreud was one of the victims of the late unrest. Wolf, that had been—the son. Too bad that Niclas, the father, was already dead and missed the experience. And . . . And that had not been a sentiment that a good Christian should feel. You shall not permit a witch to live, the scripture said, but Siebenfreud’s victims had not been witches within the meaning of that statement. Souring your neighbor’s milk or drying up his cow, even if the accused person actually did it, which was usually questionable, was scarcely in the same category as raising the spirits of the dead.

Damned absentee landlords—John George especially, whether for himself or as guardian for the boys in Saxe-Weimar—who had let the witch hunters get out of hand because Henneberg was far away and not all that important to him. His officials never should have let Siebenfreud charge the prosecution costs to the families of the victims. If they’d stuck with making the village or town councils pay the prosecutors and executioners, they’d not have put up with the idiocy anywhere near as long as they did.

What would be the applicable scripture? Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s? Bringing the Altschuler woman to repentance would now, at least for the time being, be the task of her pastor rather than that of the Schleusingen consistory.

He sighed and placed the file in the third, “dormant,” stack. Like the girl-child Tabitha raised from the dead by the Lord, she is not dead, but only sleeping.

Grantville, October 1635

“No, I didn’t send any kind of flag to the Schleusingen CoC.” Andy Yost stared at the newspaper the Rudolstadt CoC chairman was waving at him. “Not red, not green, not pink with purple polka dots. No poem, either. Nobody in the Grantville chapter did.”

“Well, neither did we, and neither did Jena, because Rudy asked around.”

“It wasn’t us,” Yost repeated. “We didn’t do it.”

“Nobody from Magdeburg sent it or told anyone else to send it. I’ve checked with Spartacus. Hennel from Suhl says that the package Heilman got had a Grantville postmark, so . . . ”

“I tell you on my honor, Walther. It wasn’t us.”

Badenburg, October 1635

Hedy and Jarvis, who carried Viana in a back sling that Hedy had made out of the last few remnants of the old bed sheets, had a wonderful time at the Badenburg autumn kirmess.

****