There were still two hours until his appointment at the city hall. Istvan Janoszi was walking around Grantville at a rapid pace, watching it wake up on a Saturday morning. He had been thoroughly briefed before he came, so he knew that the pace of a Saturday should be somewhat different than the pace of Monday through Friday. Still, to some extent, the place bemused him. How could a city function without a marketplace? But it seemed to be that the market just spread throughout the town. Instead of gathering in one convenient, designated, and duly licensed spot, women were setting up their tables on the grassy spots around the houses—just on some of them, but not on all of them—and putting out their wares. Other women were gathering around them, prepared to bargain.

How did they find out who is selling what and where the vendor will set up? he wondered. From near one of the tables, a young child ran toward the paved street. A woman, heavy with late pregnancy, turned from the piles of second-hand clothing and said a few sharp words, calling her back. Istvan thought, almost, that he recognized the words. But no woman from his home village was likely to be here, among these Americans. It had been nearly twenty years since he'd been there himself.

He had never wanted to go back to that village in Slovakia. He walked on, deciding to take in the Saturday sermon at the Calvinist church before his meeting.

* * *

Two men came into the Leahy Medical Center. The receptionist knew the first man. He taught physical education at the grade school her two sons attended. Since she knew he was a Scot, she said, "Good morning" instead of "Guten Morgen." Then she asked, "May I help you?" And she beamed with pride.

"Wonderful, Maria, wonderful!" Guy Russell said with approval. "Your English is very good now. Just keep coming to the adult education classes." From the confusion on her face, he concluded that this was not one of the answers that she had been taught to expect when she memorized her dialogues.

She repeated her question. "May I help you?" Then she tried the rest of her repertoire. "What do you want? Is someone sick? Is someone hurt? Do you have an appointment?" To her obviously great relief, the last question was the correct one.

"We have an appointment. We are here to talk to Nurse DeVries."

Several simple declarative sentences later, they were sitting in a small office that Guy Russell was sure was a cubbyhole, but which he had learned that the up-timers called a "cubicle," waiting until the nurse came in. Mrs. DeVries was not, he thought, perhaps the right specialist for his companion's problem, but she had an inestimable advantage over any other of the nurses in the hospital. The man accompanying him was originally from Cleves, and Nurse DeVries spoke Dutch. Indeed, she was Dutch. There might be some hope of mutual understanding.

The man with Guy was named Endres Elstener. Or maybe Andreas Aelstener. Or possibly Anders van Aelsten. It had depended on the mood of the company clerk: all three appeared on the records of the mercenary unit to which he had formerly belonged and he answered to them all, although he preferred the last one. The Grantville Bureau of Vital Statistics found this very annoying. One apprentice clerk sat there all day and did little else than cut pieces of paper into rectangular slips, all the same size to go in drawers, and write down the different ways to spell the same person's name on them. Guy didn't know how what official or bureaucratic alchemy they used to decide which one was the "right" way. It would be too complicated to ask.

Anders knew the teacher because his son, also, attended the school. Nurse DeVries came in. Anders explained. At first, his problem seemed simple enough. His woman was within a month, he was sure, of delivering a baby. He wanted to have an up-time midwife when the time came. This would be the last baby, he expected. His Barbara wasn't young any more. They had been together a dozen years, and she was no young girl a dozen years ago. Between the ten-year-old in school and this day there had been four babies, born in camps and along roadsides. Only one still lived— a three-year-old girl.

"Just bring her to the hospital when labor starts," was Henny DeVries' first answer. "We always have a nurse midwife on call. Even better, bring her in for one or two prenatal checkups, first."

That was when things got complicated. "There can't be four walls," Anders said. "Barbara screams a lot when there are four walls around her." He looked at the nurse's expression and said defensively, "I didn't do it. I don't beat my woman. She doesn't need beating. Walls made her scream when I found her."

* * *

Up-time, Henny DeVries had been a psychiatric nurse. She didn't really want to contemplate the events in the unknown Barbara's past that might have brought her to the point of screaming if there were four walls around her and a roof over her head. "Where did you, ah, 'find her'?'

"In Bohemia. When I was fighting in the Crazy Halberstadter's men. She was by a roadside, with a shovel, trying to bury an old man. She wasn't strong enough to dig. I took the shovel and buried the man. Then I took her back to camp with me. She is my only woman. I am her only man."

"Full name?"

"Barbara Hartzi. Or Barbola Harczy? Maybe Harssy? Near that. I can't spell Bohemian. Anyway, I don't think she was born in Bohemia. Farther east. Maybe—Ungarn?"

"Hungary."

"Or maybe Transylvania. Perhaps Croatia. She knows what the village name was, but she doesn't know where it was. But she was not very small when her family fled into Bohemia. She was almost grown to a young woman."

Henny sighed, then asked, "Does she speak any German?" It was far too much to hope that she would speak English.

"She has learned some of mine—the Platt from Cleves. But she does not speak the German from around here," Anders replied.

Henny contemplated the problem of delivering a baby, outside of the hospital, to a possibly Hungarian woman who had, over the past ten years, learned to speak a little Low German, but would almost certainly forget it in the stress of hard labor. We do not have problems, she reminded herself. We have challenges and opportunities. Although, most of the time, she admitted that the Mormon women who volunteered at the hospital were worth their weight in gold, there were times that she wanted to strangle them. Those times were mostly when they recited that "challenges and opportunities" jargon!

Then something occurred to her. "If she can't stand walls, then your family can't be in the refugee housing. Where do you live?"

"In a camp. Up in one of the 'hollows.'" Anders smiled proudly. "I made it myself. I invite you to come and see. We have made a good home, my woman and I."

Henny looked at Guy. Guy looked at Henny. She asked, "Your woman? Or your wife?"

Anders frowned. "My woman. Who would authorize a marriage for such as us?"

Guy looked at Henny. Henny looked at Guy. "It's Saturday morning," he said. "I'm not doing this because I work for the school. I'm on my own time." Thinking, he added, "Cleves is Calvinist."

"Let's go, then." Henny stood up, the men following her. As she led them through the entrance, she stopped. "Maria. I am on call. I am not on duty. Clock me out for two hours, please." She looked at her wristwatch. "It is nine o'clock. I will come back in two hours." She checked as Maria recorded this on the chalkboard; then said, "Thanks."

Henny had been at the hospital, if not on duty, for three hours already. When she stepped outside, she said, "I do not believe this." The sun was shining. The sky was blue. The only clouds were tiny, white and puffy. The breeze was warm. It was May. It might not last for long, but for this one day, it was spring. She whirled around in her white sneakers, clapping her hands. Then she remembered to go back inside, take off the sneakers, and replace them with heavy walking shoes. She cast a wistful glance at the bicycle rack, but there was no point in outdistancing the others. They walked.

* * *

Earlier that morning, the driver of the freight wagon that stopped in front of St. Mary Magdalene's Catholic Church had also been happy for the good weather. It was not fun to unload wagons in the rain. The crates that he brought were very heavy. It took four men to unload each one of them. Father Augustus Heinzerling, who signed for the delivery, had run back to the rectory for a crowbar and pried one of them open, right there on the sidewalk. His prayers had been answered: Auserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesaeng (Cologne, 1623). They had arrived safely, even though the press was outside the borders of the CPE, in enemy territory. Now he had enough copies of the most modern, up-to-date, and popular hymnal that the German Catholic church published to supply every member of the choir and scatter them out among the congregation as well. He could have danced for joy. He did jump around a little and give a few shouts. After all, it was spring.

Once the crates were all open, the freight wagon was long gone. Father Heinzerling didn't have four men to carry them the rest of the way, so he intended to leave the containers outdoors and carry the books a few at a time with the help of his sons. Unfortunately, Heinzerling discovered that while he was going for the crowbar, the teamsters had become too efficient. Two of the crates did not have hymnals for St. Mary's but books that clearly belonged to someone else and had been removed from the wagon by mistake. He thought about what to do with the others. The crates were very heavy. He called four men who were just walking past and had them lift them onto the pushcart that the parish used for moving tables and chairs. He pushed the cart down the street and out onto the highway. The Presbyterian church was on the outskirts of town.

* * *

Everybody arrived at their goal at once. Since the entrance was temporarily blocked by Father Heinzerling and his pushcart, Guy paused to take a good look.

The scene was very strange. The old church, covered with tar-paper shingles and with a peeling tar-paper roof, still stood where it had been for years, unchanged. Around it and over it, a new brick church was being built. Guy remembered that last Sunday, the outer shell of walls had been about as high as a man's waist. This morning, they were twice as high as a man's head and the bricklayers were up on scaffolds. The window openings had been carefully measured to match those in the existing church. Eventually, the windows with their precious uptime glass would be moved to the new walls and inserted, with the remaining openings in the larger building simply shuttered until the congregation could afford the elaborate finishing touches. After the roof was put on, the men in the congregation would carefully dismantle the existing church building, piece by piece, so that as much of the woodwork and flooring as possible could be reused in finishing the interior of the new one. The unusable bits would be carried out the front door, beam by beam, and made available to other people who needed building material.

Instead of a dying congregation of mostly quite elderly Free Independent Presbyterians, the Reverend Enoch Wiley now ministered to an extraordinarily mixed collection of parishioners that included nearly every variety of Calvinist in Europe. Henny DeVries, although she had lived in the United States for many years before the Ring of Fire, was Dutch by birth and Dutch Reformed. The Scots in Mackay's company had almost all been Church of Scotland and most of them did attend church when there was one available. There was an occasional German Calvinist, who, like Anders van Aelsten, came from one of the former mercenary companies. Occasionally, there were Swiss Reformed, of both the Zwinglian and Calvinist varieties (although Guy was not sure what most of them were doing in town, he had his suspicions). Now and then there was a French Huguenot, or a passing Calvinist exile from the Spanish Netherlands, or someone from the Calvinist churches of Bohemia or farther to the southeast in Europe. There were even, of all wonders, a few of the snobbish PCUSA type American Presbyterians, although those mostly held themselves back or, worse, in the Reverend Wiley's opinion, went to the prayer services that had been organized by the Episcopalians.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff