Tuesday, November 14, 1634

 

“Kat, remember that the Bibelgesellschaft meeting after school needs to end on time,” Georg Meisner reminded his sister after they got off the bus at Calvert High. It was mostly students who called Calvert Calvert. Most people called it Grantville High, as it was the only high school in Germany.

“That wasn’t entirely my fault,” Katharina protested. She shivered as a particularly strong gust of wind hit.

Georg grinned. “Not entirely, no. But I’m sure it was amusing to confound the rest of the Bible society with Joe Jenkins’ distinction between determinism and predestination.”

Katharina grinned in return. “Very, as a matter of fact. But I’ll try to stay on topic today.”

As they funneled toward the front doors of the school, the student ahead of them slapped one of the pillars holding up the weather awning. Georg smacked the pillar as he passed by. Katharina heard the impact as the student behind them hit it, too. Those were the pillars Hans Richter had taken out with a school bus during the Croat Raid. Once they had been replaced, a tradition had developed that any passing student should hit them. Pacifists, including Anabaptists like Georg and Katharina, were generally held to be exempt. But Georg had been hitting the pillar for a while now.

“Mother would have a fit,” she pointed out.

“Don’t tell her.”

“I don’t plan to.”

“Just remember that I’ve got forensics training at the police station instead of keeping an eye on the clock for you. If you miss the late bus, it’ll be a long walk home. And it’s going to be a cold night.”

Katharina figured that if the Bible society meeting really did run over again, Dr. Green would almost certainly give everyone a ride home. But Georg had a point—they really ought to end on time, if for no other reason than that Dr Green didn’t get enough time with his family as it was. Driving everyone home would just cut into it further.

“It’s already a cold day. Should I also not tell Mother exactly what you’ll be doing at the police station?” she asked.

“Fingerprints.”

“Oh, good. She likes that better than blood spatter. Even though you did use blood spatter to show that nobody really died in that alley in Erfurt last summer.”

Georg shrugged. “I have to learn everything if I’m going to be of any use to the police. They can’t afford to hire a specialist in every area. That means blood spatter, fingerprints, chemical analysis, and even ballistics.”

“She’s definitely not going to want you firing a gun.”

“I’m not entirely comfortable with it myself.”

****

Katharina had made sure to schedule gym for last period again this year. Going back to class after being run ragged in the middle of the day held absolutely no appeal. Plus last-period gym meant last-period science lab or study hall on the non-gym days—which was clearly the most useful time slot for a study hall. Finally, as her brother had pointed out, it was getting cold. Last-period gym meant a couple more minutes of hot shower before catching the bus home. There was hot water at home, of course, but in the Anabaptist settlement up in the hills it was limited in both temperature and quantity.

“Kat, you’re going to be late,” Marta Engelsberg called from the locker room.

“I’ll be there,” Katharina shouted back from the shower.

“She’s just trying to avoid sitting in the middle of the Kat Meisner Admiration Society,” Alicia Rice stated.

“I heard that!”

“The what?” Marta asked.

“Come on, Marta, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that Horst Felke and Johannes Musaeus both have a crush on Kat. Your brother, too, but he’s a lot more couth about it.”

“Alicia!”

“Well, it’s true. Do you really think it’s an accident that they get there first but never seem to find seats until you walk in? Then they just happen to land on either side of you?”

Katharina sniffed as she dressed. “Horst is Catholic. Johannes is Lutheran.”

“Jeans?” Alicia asked.

Katharina had donned jeans instead of her usual skirt. She looked up from fastening dark cuffs over the sleeves of her blouse. “As Georg was reminding me this morning, it’s going to be a cold ride home.”

Alicia smirked. “If you’re cold, you could try sitting closer to one of them.”

Katharina glared at her. “It’ll be a really cold day before that happens.”

Alicia laughed. “Kat, the expression is ‘it’ll be a cold day in hell.’ ”

“Yes, well, um . . . ” Kat left off and concentrated on rolling her hair into a bun.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Kat. You really don’t like it, do you?” Alicia sighed. “Pants, cuffs, hair bun, and those glasses—if you’re going for the new-time librarian look, you’re got it down. But Kat, it’s not going to work. Just as soon as you start talking about manuscripts and variants, well, your fellow nerds will get all excited. C’mon, we’ll sit next to you.”

“Alicia, you and Nona are in the Bibelgesellschaft too,” Katharina reminded her. Then she realized that Nona hadn’t said anything at all. That wasn’t like her.

“We’re wannabe missionaries,” Alicia pointed out. “It’s a completely different subset from you manuscript geeks.”

“Ri-i-ght.”

****

The girls arrived in the Greek classroom to find the guys already in mid-discussion.

“So even you Catholics don’t object to translating Luke 2:14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will’ and you don’t object to it referring to the elect? Even though Erasmus advocated the freedom of the will?” Markus Fratscher asked. The Flacian Lutheran’s tone conveyed careful inquiry, not criticism.

“Yes, the reading eudokias ‘of good will’ is better supported,” Horst Felke responded. “Manuscripts Aleph, A, B, D, W . . . . So it’s the Alexandrian and Western text types against the Byzantine.”

“Well, that’s not quite the whole story, is it?” Joseph Engelsberg looked up from his Greek New Testament. “The nominative eudokia, Wohlgefallen, ‘peace, good will to men’, is supported by the Byzantine texts and manuscripts F and G from the Western, and the Caesarean—if you believe that’s a separate text type.”

“So you’re going with Luther’s reading even though you’re an Anabaptist?”

“Cheap shot, Horst. I’m not picking a text type because of my theology. As Brother Green keeps saying, no doctrine rests solely on a variant reading.”

“Maybe not. But you have to admit that the oldest and best manuscripts . . . ”

Katharina slid into an empty chair. Nona and Alicia took the seats on either side of her. All heads turned toward them.

“Peace on earth?” Katharina inquired sweetly.

“Yeah. We’re all agreed on that part,” Joseph confirmed. “We’re just working on the good will.”

Katharina stifled a smile. Joseph had a dry sense of humor, but you had to be paying attention.

Dr. Green spoke up for the first time. “Would you all take a couple minutes to pray and then we’ll get started?”

A couple minutes later, Green looked up and announced, “We’ve received another letter from Patrick Young.” He opened a folder and removed a letter with official-looking seals on it. “It’s in Latin, of course.” He passed it to Father Athanasius Kircher.

Kircher began reading, translating into Amideutsch as he went.

To the several members of the Bibelgesellschaft,

I beg leave to inform you that upon the order of His Majesty Charles, by the Grace of God, King of England, France, Ireland, King of Scots, Defender of the Faith, etc., one William Laud has been attainted for treason. His goods and properties have been seized and escheated to the crown.

Accordingly, I have examined the library lately belonging to the traitor Laud and have discovered a manuscript of the Holy Scriptures. It contains the Acts of the Apostles in a diglot, with the Latin upon the left-hand side and the Greek upon the right. It is in the uncial style, with each line containing but one to three words. It has come to his Majesty’s attention that the manuscript was becoming identified with the traitor. Therefore, it is henceforth to be known as Codex Carolianus. It is requested that this designation be entered upon your catalog of the manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures.

I am your humble servant,

Patrick Young

Royal Librarian

Al Green surveyed the room with a grin as everyone burst out talking at once. Several rifled through reprinted Nestle-Aland Greek New Testaments, seeking the list of manuscripts in appendix I. Katharina didn’t. She reached for one of their few copies of The Text of the New Testament by Metzger, one of the editors of the Nestle-Aland. She disagreed with almost all of Metzger’s conclusions but his descriptions included the manuscript names and not just their Gregory numbers.

“That dolt Charles wants to rename this codex after himself?”

“It’ll be a cold day in . . . ”

“Ahem!” Dr. Green interrupted.

“E!” Katharina exclaimed. “Codex Laudianus is manuscript E!”

“Is that Gregory number 07 or 08?”

Horst located it in the Greek New Testament’s appendix. “08. It’s Acts 1:1 through 26:28. Sixth century. In the up-time it ended up in the Bodleian Library.”

Father Athanasius Kircher spoke up. ” England is doing well for itself. Alexandrinus, Bezae, and now Laudianus or Carolianus. At least there’s no British Museum to get its hands on Sinaiticus yet.”

“We ought to keep it that way,” Horst muttered.

“What’s notable about E?” Johannes Musaeus asked.

“It’s the oldest manuscript with Acts 8:37 in it,” Katharina answered after another quick look at Metzger’s book.

Five minutes later, Magister Kircher curtailed the discussion of the significance of that. He had spent the time reading the discussion of Codex Laudianus in Metzger’s book. “Between this manuscript having been in Laud’s possession and having Latin and Greek on opposite pages in such short lines, identification is almost certain. However, as scholars we ought to confirm it. We should send Master Young a list of distinctive readings.”

“Absolutely,” Dr Green agreed. “Second-year Greek class, you can assume upcoming homework will be to choose a series of verses whose readings when taken together will be unique to Laudianus.”

Horst glanced over at Katharina. “Let’s see who can demonstrate positive identification with the fewest verses,” he suggested.

“You’re on,” Musaeus agreed, also with a glance in Katharina’s direction. “Uh, Dr Green, I assume you’ll want those of us not in second-year Greek to do the same.”

Green nodded. It probably made it easier to keep a straight face, Katharina thought sourly. She did not want to get involved in a competition—especially since it was the guys’ way of flirting. Then she remembered something her brother had said.

“Georg was telling me about how fingerprints were used in the up-time. Police officers did the same sort of things we’re going to do. They didn’t follow every line to make an identification—they looked for memorable features. If enough of these points of comparison matched, they could say that the fingerprint came from a certain person. Six or seven was considered a probable match, but they really wanted ten or more. Just to be sure.”

“A good comparison,” Kircher acknowledged. “These seals show that at a minimum Charles’s advisors, if not necessarily the king himself, approved this letter. They may have even told Master Young what to write or what not to write.” He held up a hand as speculation began. “My point is merely that lawyers were involved. So it would be a good thing to have more points of comparison than strictly necessary.”

“In that case,” Horst said, “let’s modify the challenge. Positive identification with the fewest possible points but with enough additional points to convince even a lawyer.”

“Perhaps a whole second set of proof texts,” Johannes agreed.

Katharina carefully avoided making eye contact with anyone at all.

“Are you in, Kat?” Horst asked.

She desperately tried to change the subject. “I was just thinking. This gives us A and E 08. We know where Aleph, B, and D are. We should make sure they’re being protected.”

Johannes went back to appendix I. “Aleph should be at St. Catherine’s monastery. We need to meet with the Orthodox priest at the Russian embassy and see if he can contact his fellow Orthodox. B is in the Vatican . . . .”

“I’ve been assured it is safe,” Kircher said. He sounded quite certain.

“D?”

” Cambridge,” Joseph said.

“What about C?” Marta asked. “We skipped it.”

“Ephraem Rescriptus,” Kat supplied as she looked it up in Metzger. “It’s a palimpsest. The biblical text was erased, and the pages were reused for sermons of Ephraem the Syrian. It’s in . . . Paris.”

“How did that happen?”

She read on. “I don’t believe this. It was part of Marie di Medici’s dowry when she became queen of France.”

“So Richelieu has it,” Johannes muttered in obvious disgust.

“Yes, he does,” Katharina said slowly. “But does he know it? And should we tell him?”

“What do you mean?”

“The men who studied it—the ones who are listed here are Tischendorf and later. I can’t tell if anyone knows it’s a palimpsest yet.”

“Why include it in a dowry if it’s not a Bible?”

Kat remembered to check the clock. It was time to wrap things up.

“I don’t know.”

Dr. Green had followed her glance. “Well, that will make a good project. Everyone see if you can find out if anyone besides us knows that C is actually a biblical manuscript. But—don’t let anyone know that we know. Also, be prepared to discuss whether or not we should tell Richelieu and why.”

Just then the door burst open and a student who attended St. Mary’s rushed in. “Father! There’s been an excommunication!”

Earlier that afternoon

Edgar Neustatter leaned against the wall as Astrid Schäubin gave him her weekly report. Things were going well for Neustatter’s European Security Services.

“So,” he summarized, “we’ve got enough cash right now to hire two more men but not enough cash flow to guarantee them payroll, ammo, and feed for the extra horses?”

“That’s correct,” Astrid told him.

Neustatter shrugged. “Then we’ll wait. We haven’t had the third team all that long anyway. Everyone will be just as happy if I don’t have to switch the teams around again already.” He pushed away from the wall. “I signed us up for the evening business class at the high school so we’d learn how the up-timers thought and to make contacts. But it’s actually pretty useful in its own right.”

“Last night was a very important lesson about property taxes,” Astrid noted.

“You asked around?”

“This morning I called a few other businesses that belong to the Chamber of Commerce. Everyone agrees that property taxes will go up, most likely by the maximum allowed by the county government.”

“And our landlord will raise our rent by that amount and a little bit more.”

It was Astrid’s turn to shrug. “What do you expect? That’s just good business.”

“We need to find some more assignments to pay her, then. Ditmar’s team should be back from Schleusingen in a day or two. Escorting shipments of guns to the Thuringian backbone and the Elbetal is steady income, but now that the Ram Rebellion is over, that’s going to be just one team from now on. Let’s start at Cora’s for information and then stop by the stock exchange.”

Astrid put on her coat and then her gun belt.

****

It was a cold enough day that there were fewer people than usual in the streets. On the other hand, Cora’s Courthouse Café was more crowded than usual. Neustatter and Astrid found seats at the counter.

Marlo broke off a conversation with the patrons at one of the tables to take their order.

“Coffee, black.”

Astrid didn’t know how Neustatter could drink that stuff. She ordered beef broth. When the waitress returned with their order, Neustatter asked, “What’s new, Marlo?”

“Well, Hans Dietrich Mueller says the pastor of that storefront church is back in town. The Lutheran one that’s here but ain’t s’posed to be. Leastwise that’s what Frau Piscatore, Pastor Kastenmayer’s wife, says. You go there, too, don’t you?”

Astrid had to struggle to keep from looking at Marlo. Instead she watched Neustatter.

“Yes, we do,” Neustatter said calmly. “I hadn’t heard Pastor Holz was back. We should stop by later and pay our respects.” But Astrid saw that the look in his eyes was his professional business expression.

After Marlo moved on to another table, Astrid quickly asked, “What is it, Neustatter?”

“I saw Hans Dietrich Mueller yesterday. He and Wilhelm Trauber delivered the kegs of small beer and picked up the empties.”

Astrid nodded. Much of the new construction in West Virginia County had city water, but many of the down-timers (and not a few up-timers) preferred small beer. With the ban on daytime traffic downtown, there wasn’t a practical way to take beer home in quantity. A few enterprising souls had noted the existence of paper routes and garbage routes and set up a beer route. Grantville proper got deliveries early in the morning. The development where Neustatter’s men lived was on the Monday afternoon route.

“Maybe Pastor Holz just got in last night,” Astrid suggested.

“Maybe.” But Astrid could tell Neustatter didn’t believe it for a minute.

They found no leads on new security assignments at Cora’s. The exchange was little better, but the stock market was having a good day.

The Street says it’s a post-war boom,” Neustatter told Astrid. “The Ostend War, the Ram Rebellion, and the Dutch War are all over. I don’t know how they distinguish that from the fact that times have been good ever since we’ve come to Grantville. Probably since Grantville showed up.”

Astrid frowned. “The only thing I notice is that the Dutch guilder has gone up.”

“That makes it easier for the Dutch to buy goods here,” Neustatter said. “If they come here to buy, they’ll come with their own security. But if they’re ordering from a factor here and additional shipments are being sent, that could work out for us. If I understand correctly, it should help tourism from the Low Countries, too.”

“But tourists bring their own security,” Astrid pointed out.

“Yes, they do,” Neustatter agreed. He shrugged. “I’m glad everyone here is having a good day, but there’s no reason for us to stick around. ”

“You want to go to the church.”

“Yes.”

****

As they approached the church, Neustatter spoke softly. “Two men, outside the door.”

“Neustatter, those look like sentries.”

Ja. If Pastor Holz needs sentries . . . ”

“Why didn’t he call us?” Astrid finished. “That’s Martin Rausch.”

“And the other one is one of Schlinck’s men.” Neustatter sounded disgusted, and for good reason.

“Seven contractors in town and Pastor Holz called Schlinck?” Astrid asked.

“Well, they’re cheap. And if all you need is people shoved out of your way, they’re effective.”

“They’re also responsible for half the incidents of ‘liberated’ items that led to all the government paperwork security contractors have to file,” Astrid reminded him. Quite unnecessarily, she was sure.

Neustatter raised a hand in greeting as they drew near.

“Martin. Are things well at the machine shop?”

Rausch didn’t answer. Neustatter ignored the rudeness and turned to the mercenary.

“I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Neustatter.”

“I know.”

“Please tell Captain Schlinck I said hello.”

“Wait here.” The sentry went inside.

Neustatter and Astrid looked at each other. “Schlinck’s inside.”

The sentry was back in a couple minutes. “Tell him yourself,” he said.

Neustatter opened the door for Astrid. She stepped inside. The door opened right into the back of the nave; the storefront church wasn’t very big. A semi-circle of five men were waiting for them.

“Pastor Holz. Welcome back.” Neustatter began greeting them. “Captain Schlinck. Herr Krause. Herr Bruenner. Herr Ziegler.”

“How did you find out we were here, Neustatter?” Bruenner asked.

“I didn’t know you were here. We heard Pastor Holz had returned and came to pay our respects. Clearly we’re interrupting something, so we’ll see you all at the service on Sunday.” Neustatter turned to go.

Astrid was pretty sure he had no intention of actually leaving. She noticed Holz and Schlinck exchanging glances. The mercenary nodded slightly.

“Just a minute, Neustatter,” Holz said. “This concerns you.” He held out a rolled parchment and slit the seal. Unrolling it, he began reading through a proclamation in Latin. Astrid had no idea what he was saying.

Holz finished reading and looked at Neustatter triumphantly.

“Well now, Pastor, you said this concerns me but I reckon I don’t know anyone who would want to write me in Latin,” Neustatter said in distinctly twangy Amideutsch.

“What it says, Neustatter, is that true Lutherans are not allowed to do business with heretics. In particular, you are forbidden from accepting contracts from heretics who want to change the Holy Scriptures.”

“On whose orders?”

“Tilesius.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re heretics, Neustatter. They are trying to change the Holy Scriptures.”

“So are you and Tilesius trying to forbid all Lutherans from signing contracts with any and all heretics or are y’all just trying to disrupt NESS ‘s contract with the Bibelgesellschaft?” Neustatter asked sharply.

“Any Lutheran is forbidden from signing any contract with any heretic,” Holz replied. He sounded quite pleased with that prospect. “It will be official as soon as it is posted on the church door.”

“Have you really thought this through?” Neustatter asked.

“We have, Neustatter, and there will be no exceptions. So you will not be working for this so-called Bibelgesellschaft,” Holz stated.

“Miss Schäubin?” Neustatter asked. “Last time we guarded the Bibelgesellschaft, who hired us?”

“Markus Fratscher did all the talking,” Astrid answered. She had a pretty good idea where Neustatter was going with this.

“Ah, young Master Fratscher. A fine young Flacian scholar who’d really like to enroll in university in Wittenberg,” Neustatter recalled. “Of course he’s not old enough to sign a binding contract.”

“Dr. Gerhard signed the paperwork,” Astrid supplied.

“I’m confused, Pastor Holz,” Neustatter drawled. “Are you sure Tilesius means to tell Dean Gerhard that he’s not allowed to hire us?”

Holz’s face turned an alarming shade of red. Ziegler sputtered and coughed.

“That’s enough, Neustatter. These are binding orders.”

“And if I refuse?” Neustatter’s question came out in an Austrian-accented drawl.

Astrid cringed. She knew what it meant when her boss sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger playing John Wayne. But Pastor Holz wouldn’t be familiar with up-time culture . . . . Too late!

“Then I will put you under discipline,” Holz stated flatly. Alas, he had missed the signs.

“So that’s how it’s going to be?” Neustatter asked.

“That is how it is,” Holz answered.

“Are you trying to force me to drop the Bibelgesellschaft contract or all contracts with non-Lutherans?” Neustatter asked again.

“All contracts with non-Flacian Lutherans.”

“Pastor, I cannot possibly stay in business if I limit my client base to no more than every sixth or seventh—or tenth—person in Grantville. Captain Schlinck will have the same problem.” Neustatter turned toward the mercenary. “Guarding the misdemeanor prisoners on the road crews and at the tannery is still one of your big contracts, isn’t it?”

“It is, and it’s a contract you won’t get anytime soon,” Schlinck replied.

“Of course not,” Neustatter agreed. “I don’t have enough men to bid on that contract. But what I’m wondering is whether you realize that the partners who own that tannery are all Philippists. Or you, Herr Krause. Your employer is Catholic and employs everyone from Calvinists to Anabaptists. Or you, Herr Bruenner. Stockyard Number Three is a joint venture with Jews, and you keep the whole operation kosher because it’s less of a hassle that way. If anybody’s got a problem with it, you just tell them to buy meat tagged from Stockyard Number One or Number Two. What are y’all going to do with this order from Tilesius?”

Bruenner and Krause glanced at each other uneasily.

“This doesn’t apply to situations like those,” Holz stated.

“Why not?” Neustatter asked. “They’re all heretics.”

“It doesn’t apply,” Holz repeated stubbornly.

“Then it doesn’t apply to NESS and me, either,” Neustatter stated.

“Since you refuse to comply, Neustatter, I hereby . . . .”

Neustatter cut him off. “I excommunicate you, Pankratz Holz.”

“You can’t do that!” the pastor blurted.

“I just did. And Schlinck . . . eh, there’s really no point in excommunicating you, is there? Meine Herren.” Neustatter touched his hat. “Miss Schäubin, you’ll be going now.”

Astrid shook her head to clear it, then realized Neustatter wanted her back at the doors so she could cover him. Holz and Schlinck were both shouting. Their words didn’t register; she was still thinking through the ramifications of her boss excommunicating the pastor—starting with whether that was even allowed. But she pushed the door open—the one on the left, blocking Schlinck’s man. Then she stepped right, bumping into Martin Rausch.

Neustatter backed out the door a couple seconds later. He swept the door shut with his left foot and braced his boot against it. Simultaneously he leveled the.45 in his right hand at the mercenary while drawing the mercenary’s own pistol with his left. He passed it over his shoulder to Astrid.

“Miss Schäubin, meine Herren, please stay clear of the door,” Neustatter directed. “I had to excommunicate Holz. Schlinck didn’t take it well. He is armed and may do something rash.” His words were punctuated by a thud. Neustatter removed his boot from the door and jumped clear. With a second thud, the doors burst open, and Schlinck sprawled onto the ground. Neustatter quickly relieved him of his pistol.

Another man cautiously stuck his head outside.

“Ah, Herr Ziegler,” Neustatter said. “Miss Schäubin and I are leaving now. We’re going to set these two pistols down . . . say at that pine tree just past the bend in the road. Would you be so kind at to retrieve them for Captain Schlinck and his man? Good day. Miss Schäubin, if you’d watch for cars, I’ll watch our backs.”

Astrid and Neustatter quickly crossed the street and headed back toward NESS. Neustatter kept an eye on the men at the church, but they showed no inclination to follow. When they reached the pine, Neustatter removed the caps from Schlinck’s pistol and laid it at the base of the tree. He set the caps on top of it. Astrid did the same with the other mercenary’s pistol. It gave her something to concentrate on.

“Neustatter,” she managed, “I think we’re in a lot of trouble.”

“Possibly.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to excommunicate pastors.”

“Well, I already did. But I agree we need to find out all the implications. We will go back to headquarters and tell the men what happened. Then I want you and Hjalmar to go talk to Pastor Kastenmayer, Herr Gary Lambert, and someone in the Bibelgesellschaft. Fratscher, if you can find him. Or Dr. Gerhard or Musaeus if either of them are in town for today’s meeting.”

“I understand.”

“Now, what do you think of what I just did?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Astrid told him. “I’m Lutheran, Neustatter, but what Pastor Holz just tried to do is unfair.”

****

“I thought this sort of nonsense was over,” Hjalmar muttered.

“My parents named me for Melanchthon,” Phillip pointed out. “I don’t really care what a Flacian pastor has to say. Meaning no offense to the rest of you.”

Karl Recker was more reserved. “The eight of us who fought together in the war are all Flacian. We just want a quiet church with a pastor who tries to help us. We can adapt. But Wolfram and Stefan have families. Their wives are Flacians, too, and they haven’t had to deal with priests and pastors and chaplains all telling them what to do.”

Neustatter nodded. “I don’t want to make trouble for the families. Hjalmar and Astrid are going to go find out more information for us.”

****

A brief visit to St. Martin ‘s in the Fields established that any Lutheran on bad terms with Pankratz Holz was welcome in Pastor Kastenmayer’s congregation. Kastenmayer suggested that Holz may have said a good bit more than Tilesius had written. Someone needed to get hold of the exact wording.

“Let’s skip Herr Lambert for now,” Astrid suggested. “We’ll need to hire a Latin translator. We can probably get one from the Bibelgesellschaft.”

“Do you think Neustatter will be okay with that?”

Astrid looked at her brother. “Did any of you learn Latin during the war?”

“No.”

“I didn’t learn any at home, either.”

“Can we afford it?”

“We can pay cash if we have to,” Astrid answered, “but I’m going to offer to credit it against the next time the Bibelgesellschaft hires us as security consultants.”

****

Katharina was grateful that Athanasius Kircher restored order. His own Catholics found the story of the excommunication highly amusing. But the Lutherans were getting defensive, and the other Anabaptists looked worried. For that matter, Katharina was worried herself. In her admittedly limited experience, trouble for one or more of the larger denominations inevitably meant even more trouble for Anabaptists. They were theoretically safe in the State of Thuringia-Franconia. That made this intra-Lutheran problem seem that much worse. Illogical, she knew, but it didn’t change how she felt.

“Most of you have a bus to catch,” Kircher prompted.

Just then someone knocked on the door.

“Astrid!” Katharina exclaimed.

“Good afternoon. May we ask you about excommunication and some Latin translation?”

Katharina knew Georg wanted her to be on the bus. But this . . .

“I think that if it’s a, uh, professional matter, rides home could be arranged,” Dr. Green observed.

After a couple minutes of discussion, Green started giving directions. “Let’s put Richelieu on the back burner. Lutherans of either persuasion, I don’t think it would be a good idea if you were seen bringing back this notice to NESS. So you get the analysis work afterwards.”

Johannes Musaeus, Guenther Kempf, and Markus Fratscher reluctantly agreed.

Kircher coughed.

“You have a suggestion, Athanasius?” Green asked.

“About Lutherans taking down an announcement from a church door? I have no comment whatsoever,” he said absolutely deadpan.

Al Green choked. “You’re right. That won’t do. And we can hardly stand there and discuss it. We’ll have to copy it.”

“If I may?” Hjalmar Schaub interrupted. “I believe what we need is a team leader, a couple swift copyists, and a security element.”

Katharina wondered how they’d decide who was in charge.

“And a driver,” Alicia Rice contributed. “In case you need to make a quick getaway.”

Once assured they’d get a blow-by-blow account tomorrow, most of the students caught a bus, Marta with instructions to tell the Meisners and the Engelsbergs that Katharina and Joseph would be dropped off later.

****

Dr. Green had the only car. “I suppose that makes me the getaway driver.”

“You can pray, too.”

“Great. Getaway driver and the radio man,” he grumbled good-naturedly.

Katharina found herself squeezed in the back seat of Dr Green’s car between Horst and Astrid. Hjalmar and Joseph were in the back cargo area of the station wagon.

“What if Schlinck still has guards at the church?” Astrid asked her brother.

“If there is more than one of Schlinck’s men, we abort the mission,” Hjalmar answered. “If there’s only one, I can keep him occupied. You’re close cover.”

“Herr Schaub,” Athanasius Kircher said from the front seat, “since the role of team leader seems to have fallen to me, if I decide we need to leave . . . ”

“Absolutely,” Hjalmar agreed. “If I’m facing down a guard, I won’t be in a position to make that decision.”

A couple minutes later, Green slowly cruised past the storefront church.

“No guards,” Hjalmar observed. “That makes it easy.”

Green pulled over to the curb and popped the back hatch. Everyone piled out and hurried toward the door. Hjalmar made sure he got there first and tried the door. It was locked. He took the sidewalk to the right and motioned Astrid to watch down the sidewalk to the left.

****

“Joseph, you’re tallest,” Kircher said. “Start at the top.” He tapped a paragraph about a third of way down. “Horst, start here.” He tapped another paragraph lower down. “Katharina, you have from here to the end.”

The three students started hurriedly copying. Fortunately there was a gas streetlight just a few yards from the door. They got in each other’s way a bit, and looked around a few times. Katharina shivered—just from the cold, she told herself.

“This is not the time for Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Kircher reproved. “Trust your, ah, security element.”

“This isn’t something I can sight translate,” Katharina murmured.

“That’s the Lutherans’ job,” Joseph reminded her.

“Almost done,” Horst said. “How are you doing?”

A few minutes later, Katharina heard a car engine.

“That’s just Dr. Green,” Kircher told them.

“Last line,” Katharina said.

A couple minutes later, they all piled into the station wagon.

“I realize it’d be appropriate to burn rubber,” the Baptist pastor said, “but as there’s no way to replace tires, I trust you’ll forgive me.”

“That went remarkably well,” Kircher stated.

“Yes,” Hjalmar agreed. “Astrid, you said Schlinck was there earlier and had one of his men and Martin Rausch standing guard?”

“Yes.”

“And they weren’t expecting you and Neustatter.”

“No, they weren’t.”

“So why did they need that kind of security then and didn’t have anyone around the church tonight?”

Green dropped off Kircher and Horst and drove back to the high school where they handed off their copies to the Lutheran students. Johannes Musaeus promised to make sure they all caught the evening bus back into Grantville. Green then drove Joseph and Katharina home.

Both Frau Meisnerin and Frau Huber were in the kitchen when Katharina came in. The Meisners and the Hubers shared the house.

Katharina’s mother was not happy. “Katharina! Where have you been? You were out without a chaperone!”

“I had the pastor and two security guards with me,” Katharina protested.

Frau Huber sniffed.

Georg came downstairs. “Katharina! Did you miss the bus? Oh! Astrid! Hjalmar. Dr. Green.”

“Hi, Georg,” Astrid returned. Enthusiastically, Katharina thought.

“I apologize, Frau Meisnerin,” Hjalmar interrupted smoothly. “But our firm needed Latin scribes on very short notice. My sister was assigned to Katharina’s protection. You remember her from the Jena and Erfurt trips.”

That mollified Katharina’s mother to an extent.

“Katharina was very helpful, Frau Meisnerin,” Pastor Green said. “But I should get Hjalmar and Astrid home before it gets any colder.”

****

Alicia Rice hurried down the hallway. She was curious about what Holz’s proclamation said. But she knew she could get the full account from the others in the morning. If she stayed, she was going to spend much of her evening translating Latin. She didn’t mind translating in and of itself. Translating the Bible into one of the Native American languages would be really useful, for example. But translating a proclamation from Latin to German when any reasonable person could have and should have written it in German in the first place would just be annoying.

Plus, something was bothering Nona. She’d been really quiet lately. Alicia had tried to sound her out a couple times but it hadn’t worked. Nona hadn’t even helped tease Kat earlier. And then she’d left the Bibelgesellschaft meeting even before Magister Kircher had started shooing people out the door.

So Alicia was trying to catch up. Nona had a head start, but she’d be headed for bus 79. Alicia usually rode bus 68—she lived across town. But not that far away. It’d be a cold walk home, but it was for a good cause. She turned up her jacket collar as she passed through the school doors.

And Nona Dobbs walked right past 79.

Mystified, Alicia kept following. Nona got on 73.

So did Alicia. The older students liked the back of the bus. Alicia found the third seat on the right empty and quickly sat down before Nona could reach the back of the bus and turn around. Alicia pulled out a textbook that she pretended to read while she covertly watched everyone who got off the bus.

As the bus came to a stop near the Presbyterian church, Alicia saw Nona’s green coat out of the corner of her eye. She let everyone in the aisle file off first and then stood up at the end of the line. Belatedly she wondered exactly how to go about tailing her friend.

It turned out to be easy. Nona headed straight into the Presbyterian church. That was weird. The Dobbses were Baptists. In fact Nona’s aunt was the youth group leader. What was she doing here? Alicia and Nona had met Pastor Enoch Wiley when Dr. Green had brought him to a couple BGS meetings. He struck Alicia as straight-laced, stern, and needing to loosen up a little. She assumed Nona had much the same impression. She couldn’t imagine why Nona hadn’t asked her to come along. For that matter, she couldn’t think of any reason for Nona to go see Wiley.

Alicia opened one of the doors. There was a church service in progress. Late Tuesday afternoon in November? Why was anyone holding a church service now? She frowned. A funeral, maybe? That would explain why Nona had been so quiet. Alicia peeked into the nave.

Those weren’t Presbyterians! There was a . . . monk? . . . up front chanting something. Three more monks and a handful of other people were responding. Alicia spotted Nona sitting a few rows behind the others.

What were monks doing in the Presbyterian church? And were these guys really monks? Their robes looked generally monkish, but their heads were shaved except for a ponytail-like thing right on top. Alicia would have pegged them as eastern—Buddhist or maybe somebody out of a kung fu movie—except that they were clearly European. Besides she was pretty sure Enoch Wiley wouldn’t allow non-Christian services in his church.

The front door of the church opened, and Alicia jumped. A tough-looking down-timer stepped in. He was wearing a buff coat.

“Guid day tae ye, lass,” he said.

“Uh, ah, good afternoon,” Alicia stammered.

The Scotsman entered the nave.

Alicia caught the door before it swung shut. She listened closely to the chanting. She could make out enough of the words to realize it was Christian. And it sounded kind of nice.

Monks, chanting—that probably narrowed it down to Catholic. Alicia couldn’t quite see Wiley allowing Catholic services in the Presbyterian church, either. Besides that, why would they want to? They already had St. Mary’s and a chapel at the refugee center.

After a little while the service concluded. People gathered up their coats and greeted each other. Some of them filed out. A couple stood around talking to one of the monks. Alicia recognized one of the Riddles. Martin, she thought. That was a bit of a relief. She didn’t know them other than to say hi, but the Riddles were good people. Whoever these monks were, they were probably on the level.

Nona hadn’t gotten up yet. One of the monks went over, and they started talking. It looked like the conversation might go on a while. Alicia shifted back and forth.

” ‘Scuse me, lass.”

Alicia jumped about a foot. The Scotsman who had come in late was standing right there at her elbow.

“Oh! Um, hi.”

” Ur ye waitin’ fur yer friend thaur?”

“Yes.”

” Ur ye wonderin’ whit she’s gotten herself intae?”

“Well, yes.”

“Lassie, welcome tae th’ selic kirk.”

“The what?”

The Scotsman started explaining.

“Wait, wait,” Alicia interrupted. “I think I’ve heard some of this. St. Patrick, Iona.”

The Scotsman beamed.

Before their conversation could go any further, someone pushed against the door Alicia was holding. She swung it open.

“Alicia!” Nona exclaimed.

“Nona Dobbs, what are you doing here?” Alicia blurted. She flushed. “I just sounded like both our mothers, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you do. Please, please, don’t tell anybody,” Nona begged.

Alicia eyed the Scotsman suspiciously. “We need to get home before we’re both in trouble.”

“Aye, an’ Ah hae a commander fa thinks much th’ sam way. Guid forenicht.” He tugged on his cap, nodded briskly, and went on his way.

“Let’s go,” Nona urged.

Alicia didn’t argue; they could talk on the way. Halfway down the block, Alicia demanded, “Okay, out with it. Why are you secretly going to church there?”

Nona sighed. She took a few more steps before speaking. “It’s peaceful,” she said finally.

“First Baptist isn’t peaceful?” Alicia asked.

“Is the Methodist church?” Nona retorted.

Alicia snorted. “No. It’s not like it’s violent or anything. It’s just loud.”

Nona actually laughed. “And you’ve just got Reverend Simon and Reverend Mary Ellen.’

“That’s nothing,” she told Alicia. “We’ve got Brother Green and Brother Underwood who doesn’t like him and we’ve still got about two-thirds of the Anabaptists.”

“I can see how that would be loud. But is that a good reason for leaving? I got the short version from that Scots soldier. Your Celtics sound like they’re pretty close to Catholic, really.”

“I was talking to Brother Aidan about that,” Nona said. “Which is why you can’t tell anyone. My parents, Aunt Carole, Brother Green, and Brother Underwood would all lose it completely. Not to mention all the old ladies. It’d be a cold day in hell before they let me go to the Celtic Church.”

Alicia coughed. “So anyway, it’s peaceful. The Celtic church, I mean.”

“And I like the music,” Nona added.

“It was kinda nice,” Alicia agreed.

“We’re not allowed to sing anything modern at First Baptist,” Nona continued. “It’s all stuff from the 1800s. Played slowly.”

“Whose idea is that?”

“Brother Underwood and the old ladies, of course. Well, Brother Green might actually agree with them on this.”

Alicia shuddered, and not just because of the cold. “No modern music. Just stuff from two centuries from now. Someone should tell Brother Underwood that to a down-timer that’s not really very different than playing Christian rock.”

Nona giggled. “Feel free to go tell him. Just let me know first, so I can be over in the next landkreis.”

A couple minutes later, she said, “I got through my first two doctrine questions. That’s what I was talking to Brother Aidan about.”

“And?” Alicia prompted.

“They believe in Jesus,” Nona said deadpan.

Alicia smacked her. “Okay, you got me.”

“Here’s my street. We can talk about this tomorrow.”

“Later, Nona.”

“Later. And, Alicia . . . thanks.”

Alicia smiled and hurried home.

****

The next morning, Georg walked past the breakfast table and stuck his head out the door.

“I think it’s warming up,” he said. “It doesn’t feel as cold as yesterday.”

“Oh, good,” Katharina said, coming downstairs. “We won’t freeze on our way to NESS. Or do you think Neustatter will come to school?”

“I think Neustatter and either Hjalmar or Astrid will show up at school,” Georg said.

Katharina smiled. “You hope so, anyway.”

****

Once at school, Katharina headed for the language wing with Barbara and Marta in tow.

“Why are we getting dirty looks from that group over there?” Barbara asked quietly.

“They’re all Flacians,” Marta whispered. “Word must have gotten around.”

“Interesting,” Katharina murmured.

“I think the word you want is ‘threatening,’ ” Barbara corrected.

“No, it’s interesting,” Katharina insisted as they kept walking. “They’ve obviously been told what’s going on but Holz didn’t have a meeting of the whole church last night.”

They found the BGS’s Lutherans in one of the language classrooms. Johannes Musaeus had stayed overnight in Grantville, Katharina noted with annoyance.

Guten Morgen, Katharina. Barbara. Marta.”

Guten Morgen.”

“We’ve got the translation,” Guenther Kempf said. The Philippist sounded weary and grim. “Here’s a copy.”

Katharina held the translation with Barbara and Marta reading over either shoulder.

“We’re pretty sure this isn’t really a ban on doing business with non-Lutherans,” Johannes Musaeus added. “It’s a series of theses. We think it’s probably the positions Tilesius intends to take in the next Lutheran colloquy.” He sighed. “Yes, we’re going to have to have another one that includes Saxony. After the war everyone expects next year.”

“Gary Lambert and Jonas Muselius are still going to hit the roof,” Guenther said. “Prohibiting church members from doing business with people from outside the congregation is completely out of line, and it could backfire on the Flacians.”

“We telegraphed a summary to Dr. Gerhard,” Johannes told them. He was about to say more, but first bell interrupted him.

“Regroup at lunch,” Katharina directed.

****

Johannes caught up to Katharina as she was on her way from German to biology.

“Katharina!”

“What is it, Johannes?”

“We’ve been checking with Flacian Lutheran students. Holz and the leaders of the congregation came to their houses last night. I haven’t been able to find Markus Fratscher yet.”

“This isn’t good,” Katharina said. “But I’ve got to get to class.”

****

Mrs. Bellamy had given the geometry class a few minutes at the end of the period to start their homework. Katharina was working on proofs of various angles when Mrs. Lynch’s voice came over the intercom. Most of the announcements were routine. A number of the usual suspects were summoned to Vice Principal Kolb’s office. Chess club was canceled this afternoon. Die Bibelgesellschaft, please report to the conference room. Katharina gathered up her books and left.

Herr Principal Saluzzo was waiting in the conference room with Edgar Neustatter and Astrid Schäubin. He waited until most of the students in the BGS had filed in.

“I’ve approved this meeting under the guidelines for students with a job,” the principal said, “since I understand Herr Neustatter has hired you. Don’t abuse the privilege and please get back to your classes as soon as reasonably possible.”

“Thank you, Herr Principal,” Horst said for all of them.

“Here’s the translation.” Johannes handed it across the table to Neustatter before Saluzzo was out of the room.

Danke,” Neustatter said. He started reading.

“Herr Neustatter,” Markus Fratscher said, “Pankratz Holz and the leaders of his congregation were going from house to house last night, telling Flacians not to do business with heretics. Or with you. They told me to quit the Bibelgesellschaft.”

Katharina gasped.

“Not to worry,” Markus said. “Pastor Holz overplayed his hand. If he had said that I had to quit the Bibelgesellschaft and left it at that, I think Father would have made me quit. But he ordered Father to drop some of his business contracts. Father said that when it became known that Cardinal Richelieu had been sending money to the Captain-General, the Flacians hadn’t raised a fuss about it. Pastor Holz got really mad, and I think you’ll probably be seeing us at St. Martin ‘s on Sunday.”

Neustatter looked up from the translation. “Good work,” he told them. “That’s exactly what they were doing. They came to our houses to tell us to stop doing business with you. That’s what Schlinck’s mercenaries were for—Holz had no intention of confronting us by himself.

“They went to Kirchenbauers and Kuntzes first,” Neustatter growled. “Instead of coming to see me. Kirchenbauer and Kuntz are both married. Stefan has three children. Wolfram has one. Their families share one of the new houses east of the high school.”

“It’s just like yours, Georg and Katharina,” Astrid put in. “New construction. Two families to a house.”

Katharina nodded. That was fairly common in West Virginia County.

“They panicked Ursula and Anna. Kirchenbauer is on assignment. Wolfram was on duty at Leahy Medical Center. Then they came over to the apartments where the rest of us live. They went to Schaubs first. No one was home—Ditmar is on assignment, and Hjalmar and Astrid were with you. They found a copy of the proclamation on their door when they got home last night. Then Holz came next door to where Recker, Brenner, Heidenfelder, and I live.”

Katharina worked through those names. Karl Recker was the big one who’d gone to both Jena and Erfurt with the BGS. Otto Brenner was the plain one who could blend into crowds. Lukas Heidenfelder was the one who’d caused trouble in Erfurt. The three of them and Neustatter . . .

“The four of us had Holz, Schlinck, and his goon outnumbered. Krause, Bruenner, and Ziegler aren’t really men for a confrontation. I had to explain to Holz that as I’d already excommunicated him, he was wasting everyone’s time trying to tell us what to do,” Neustatter rumbled. “He seemed to think otherwise.”

Neustatter leaned forward. “Look, our village militia got added to Mansfeld ‘s army just before the battle at Dachau Bridge. Several men from the village were killed. The rest of us got absorbed into Tilly’s army. We didn’t really have any choice in the matter. We got shuffled around a lot and ended up in Wallenstein’s army at Alte Veste. We were captured again and got to come to Grantville. We’re all Lutherans but we’ve had quite a bit of practice pretending to be Catholic. I got really tired of people telling me what to do and what to think. Our pastor back in the village—the one who was there when we went off with Mansfeld—he’d tell us what we were supposed to do, too, but he’d try to explain why it was important.”

“Then you should leave that church,” Nona Dobbs blurted out. Everyone looked at her. “Well, you should. You’ve already excommunicated your pastor. What are the chances that you’re going to be able to kiss and make up?”

Neustatter barked a laugh at the English expression.

“Nona is a Baptist,” Guenther said carefully. “Dr. Green has told us that up-time, particularly in Baptist and independent churches, people would sometimes stop going to one church and start going to another, particularly if there had been a major disagreement within the church. There are some, ah, weaknesses to this arrangement, of course.”

Neustatter looked interested. “If they had a falling out with the pastor, they would just go to a different church?” he asked.

“Yes, apparently so.”

The security consultant considered that. “So Holz does have a point about anarchy and chaos.”

“He does,” Markus agreed. “But here is one of the central points. Holz has fallen into the same trap himself.”

“What do you mean?”

“There is a Lutheran consistory in each territory. Some tend to have Philippist pastors. Some tend to have Flacian pastors. But it’s all one Lutheran church. I know Herr Lambert suggested to the Flacians that we withdraw from the state church—which is now a not-a-state church—but so far, we haven’t. All duly constituted Lutheran churches belong to one of the consistories. But Holz’s isn’t duly constituted. He’s acting as if the Ring of Fire falls under one of the consistories in Saxony. It doesn’t. It’s just an unorganized area right in the middle of the Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt consistory.”

Alicia interrupted. “A lot of people think there will be a war with Saxony next year. Won’t claiming Saxon jurisdiction be seen as disloyal?”

“It’s the Saxon church that’s claiming ecclesiastical jurisdiction, not the Saxon government claiming legal jurisdiction,” Markus explained. “There is a difference, even though in Saxony, the Lutheran church is the state church.”

Horst shifted in his seat. “As much as I don’t like Pankratz Holz, it wouldn’t be fair to accuse him of being disloyal to the USE just because his theological allies are in Saxony. We Catholics get accused of disloyalty because the pope is in Italy, and a lot of people see the wars as primarily a conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Usually by people like Holz, so it just kills me to defend him on this.”

“Well said,” Joseph told him.

“I want to expand on what Markus said,” Johannes Musaeus declared. “Holz is claiming that Tilesius’ consistory has issued this proclamation as binding on all Lutherans under their jurisdiction, but we’re pretty sure that’s not the case. There’s a lot of ‘Lutherans ought not to associate with’ in this document, and not nearly as much ‘and we’ll throw you out if you do’ as Holz claims there is. We think that this is actually Tilesius’s starting position for the next colloquy, the one we’ll have to have after the war with Saxony. So this proclamation isn’t the Lutheran church speaking, and it’s not going to be recognized as binding by anyone outside Holz’s congregation. Probably even Tilesius intends it as points for debate rather than orders.

“That leads to the other central point. Since there is no consistory above Holz, he can do what he wants. If he wants to insist that no one in his congregation do business with non-Lutherans and enough of the congregation goes along with it, he can probably kick you out.”

“Just like Deacon Underwood caused the general Anabaptists to leave First Baptist Church,” Joseph said. “It’s abuse of authority but it’s an internal matter. Part of not being in a state church means that the government doesn’t get involved in internal church matters. To West Virginia County and the State of Thuringia-Franconia, it’s no different than if the Elks and the Moose decided that their members couldn’t do business with members of the other organization.”

Katharina nodded to herself. The Engelsbergs had left First Baptist with the other general Anabaptists—those who believed that Christ died for the sins of everyone. The particular Anabaptists had stayed because they actually agreed with Deacon Underwood that Christ died specifically for the sins of the elect. Dr. Green had put forward the proposition that Christ’s death was sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect and had taken heat from both sides for his trouble. It was too bad that Joseph and Marta didn’t go to the same church she did anymore. At least they were getting some good teaching from Joe Jenkins, even though he had turned over as much teaching and preaching as possible to the Anabaptist elders. But Johannes was saying something important.

” . . . the other hand, since Holz isn’t under a consistory, none of the Lutheran churches in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt or Jena are going to pay attention to his proclamation. His congregation is effectively an independent Lutheran church. Ecclesiastically, it’s no different than First Baptist or First Methodist. It is a church of one congregation. Holz has effectively done what Herr Lambert advised the Flacians to do back at the Rudolstadt Colloquy. What that means for you, Herr Neustatter, is that you and your employees can attend any other Lutheran church. St. Martin ‘s in the Fields is the closest. Pastor Kastenmayer is a Philippist but there are a number of Flacians who attend. They’re waiting for St. Thomas ‘s to open.”

“Ah, St. Thomas the Apostle Lutheran Church,” Guenther said.

“You sound skeptical,” Neustatter observed.

“Well, there is a reason it is already called Doubting Thomas Lutheran Church,” Markus admitted. “But Johannes is right. And next Sunday there will be one more family of Flacians at St. Martin’s. Mine.” He looked around the table.

“Thank you,” Neustatter said. “I think that’s probably where we will be, also. Wolfram and Stefan’s families will probably find that most comfortable under the circumstances.”

“Herr Neustatter,” Johannes said. “I feel bound to point out that your excommunication of Pastor Holz isn’t ecclesiastically valid. You’re not actually allowed to do that.”

Neustatter smiled. “But I already did. And as you’ve pointed out, Holz’s congregation is an independent church. Schwarzburg and Jena have no jurisdiction to tell me whether I can excommunicate the pastor or not.”

Katharina struggled to keep from smiling. Johannes clearly hadn’t thought of that.

“I’m pretty sure Martin Luther wasn’t technically supposed to excommunicate the pope, either,” Neustatter continued. “But he did.”

A few members of the Bibelgesellschaft squirmed in their seats. But none of them said anything. The bell rang.

“Astrid tells me she hired you as a credit against the next time you need security specialists,” Neustatter said. “If that is still acceptable?”

The students exchanged glances. Mattheus Beimler, the BGS treasurer, answered. “That’ll be fine.”

Neustatter nodded. “We may need to consult with you again in a week or two.”

They shook hands all around. After Neustatter and Astrid had left, Katharina’s brother Georg observed, “A lot can happen in one day in Grantville. Even a cold day like yesterday.”

****