Historically Well Preserved

Grantville, July 1635

“I arrived in February,” Robert Herrick said politely.

Mistress Sophie Thomas, her eyes fixed on the refreshment table, walked between him and Mistress Alannie Clark, bearing a tray of sandwiches and coffee.

He sent a mental prayer of thanks in the general direction of the deity for this timely interruption of the conversation and looked down at the cup of coffee in his hand. He loathed coffee. He loathed the custom of congregating over coffee and pastries for an hour of what amounted to ecclesiastical baby-kissing after the services. He hated baby-kissing, literal or metaphorical, political or ecclesiastical. A bachelor, almost forty-five years old, he was quite content with that status. The fragments of poems that constantly fluttered around in his mind were often addressed to mistresses, but his Julia and Anthea, his Amaryllis and Corinna, even when he was acquainted with their models, were purely imaginary creatures who, clad in diaphanous draperies, danced barefoot through the sparkling diamonds of May’s dew-studded grass.

It was very satisfactory of them to remain imaginary. Real women—the “fellowship room” on the ground floor of the church, under the sanctuary was, at the moment, occupied by too many of them—weren’t sufficiently . . . ethereal. His glance swept the room at floor level. They were more likely to wear sturdy shoes and trudge through slush in January or mud in July.

If he had been able to hibernate in the libraries, as he had originally planned when he began this journey . . . . Still, he had learned some things of use. He would eventually become a published author—in another fifteen years or so. That was some consolation for not being a published author as of the present Anno Domini. But Grantville was an expensive place to live, even if one lived simply.

He glanced around and then shoved the cup of coffee behind one of the curtains on the windows. Services were held above, accessed by a rather attractive flight of double, curving, stairs that were almost modern in their design.

Modern by the standards of Europe in 1635, that was.

The city historian had explained the design to him. The founder of the parish had been all too aware of the proclivity of the creek that ran through Grantville to flood more or less regularly, so he had insisted that all the more expensive aspects of the building be placed as high as possible, well out of the reach of muddy waters.

Mistress Thomas said something to Mistress Clark.

As soon as her attention turned away from him, he ducked quickly behind a portable flagpole on which the USE flag was mounted before another overly-zealous member of the Daughters of the King Ladies’ Society could thrust a replacement cup of coffee into his hand.

This time, he remembered to avoid the huge hole in the floor (there had been an unfortunate incident one Sunday when he forgot about it. The vestry had determined to install a temporary railing, but so far hadn’t located a carpenter who was willing to work for what they were willing to pay). The historian told him that it had been excavated during a period of time when the building had been rented by a heterodox body called the Church of Christ that practiced the baptism of adults by total immersion. When there had been a proper carved white marble font still in place upstairs! Anabaptists! Generally speaking, heretics had no common sense at all, even aside from their theological idiosyncrasies.

Babies! Kissing babies! He winced. One had only to look at Mistress Riddle’s granddaughter to realize that she would shortly be inflicting a quite unavoidable christening party upon him.

Surely, in a world absent the effects of original sin, it would have been possible for a poet to earn a living without becoming a clergyman.

Eve had a lot to answer for.

At least, the up-timers were so focused on time and time schedules that after weekday Morning Prayer, they had the good grace to depart at once—if they came at all, which most of them did not. Weekday Vespers services usually consisted of himself and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Price Riddle, with their granddaughter assisting the old man. On Sunday, however, a person couldn’t get St. Alfred’s parishioners out through the doors with a shovel, as Mistress Thomas remarked with appalling good cheer every time he brought the topic up. They stayed and they ate.

Mistress Clark, undeterred by the reprovisioning of the refreshment table and the flagpole, zeroed in on him again. “So, you came in February. So what?”

Herrick raised an eyebrow. “I agreed to provide this church with regular services and sermons for a space of six months in return for my board and room while using the libraries.”

“And?”

“I still plan to leave next month.” Mentally, he inserted a thankful, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation. The content of the up-time hymnals was one of the few ameliorating aspects of his stay in the up-time city. He had dropped suggestions here and there among the members of the parish that one of the hymnals would be a welcome, much-appreciated, farewell present. He should also mention to the bishop, when he got home, that a praise service dedicated to the memory, if that was the right word under the circumstances, of one Miss Catherine Winkworth, now-never-to-exist, once-upon-a-time-nineteenth-century, zealous-and-indefatigable, translator of German religious lyrics into English, might not come amiss.

He shook his head to collect his wandering thoughts.

Mistress Clark, although she had only been acquired into the parish “by marriage” as the up-timers put it, bade fair to become a most formidable organizer. “Has anyone done anything to get a replacement for you?”

“I’ve written to Archbishop Laud,” Mistress Veleda Riddle said, manifesting from the other side of the flagpole. “Again, as I’ve said plenty of times before, I really want a bishop, but a person would think that now he’s in exile, living off the charity of Fernando and Maria Anna in the Netherlands, he’d have at least one impoverished chaplain around who would be happy enough to come to Grantville for a while. He’s very slow at answering his correspondence.”

Herrick smiled politely.

If he were an archbishop, he would delay replying to letters from Mistress Riddle, too.

****

“I’m to the point that I don’t care if someone is a Durchlaucht or an Erlaucht or just a plain, ordinary, everyday lout.” The pen flew out of Mallory Parker’s fingers and across the room.

Mary Kat Riddle caught it. “Hey, be careful. These calligraphy pens are expensive.”

“You don’t even have the excuse that we went to high school together for drafting me into this. I’m five whole years older. I was out before you were in.”

Mary Kat laid the pen gently on the desk, next to a stack of best-quality cream-colored paper with matching envelopes. “The only excuse that I needed was that I saw you were in town for a week to visit your sisters.” She grinned. “I did at least overlap in high school with Nina and Chelsea, if that counts.”

Mallory leaned back. “Not to mention that I’m Methodist. We’re Methodist. All of us Parker girls are Methodist. Why me, O Lord? Why not Nina and Chelsea?” She picked up the compilation of titles and appropriate forms of address that Mary Kat had borrowed from the chancery in Rudolstadt and slammed it shut. “Nor am I into diplomatic protocol.”

“You’d better learn to be, since Anton wants to get promoted.”

Mallory sighed and shifted uncomfortably in the swivel chair. Before she married the Rudolstadt city council’s clerk, he had omitted to mention that he had ambitions to rise higher. Much higher. He had an application in with Ed Piazza’s office in Bamberg. And one with the office of the secretary of state in Magdeburg.

If he got either job, she would have to quit her job teaching English in Jena.

But since she was pregnant anyway . . .

“Open the book, Mal,” Mary Kat said. “Chelsea and Nina aren’t on vacation. You are. Grandma’s on the warpath about raising funds to renovate Grantville’s dilapidated little Episcopalian church. Every envelope gets a letter; every recipient gets the proper form of address. Most illustrious, just plain illustrious, or not illustrious at all. Or a plain, ordinary, everyday lout, if he also happens to be a rich lout. They’re addressed as Herr.”

“I can’t see that there’s a desperate deadline. Seems to me that it would be easier if you all just gave up and joined the Methodists. They call us ‘Methodist Episcopal’ after all—or, at least, they used to, before we turned into ‘United Methodist.’ Will you even be having services once the temp she found goes back wherever he came from?”

“Who knows? We may be back to lay readers and prayer services. That’s what we did before he came.” Mary Kat, considerably more pregnant than Mallory, stood up and rubbed her lower back. “To work, minion. There are roofs to be re-shingled, cracked stained glass windows to be repaired, fresh leading for the windows to be obtained, water-damaged woodwork to be replaced, floors to be refinished, organs to be built, and therefore money to be found.” She grimaced. “Not to mention grimy old asphalt siding to be removed and replaced with something more attractive, I hope.”

“And your grandmother to appease.”

“That, too. Be sure to hold out the letter you address to Archbishop Laud in Brussels. Grandma wants to put a personal cover letter in the envelope with it.”

****

“Where’s a squire when ye need one?” Thomas Welford paused on the bridge at the three-way intersection, looking along the street to where Grantville’s St. Alfred the Great Episcopal Church perched at the very end, four blocks away, as far from the creek as a building could be sited without running into a shale hillside.

Richard Tomkins nodded solemnly. “Yep. Where’s a squire when ye need one?”

Ordinarily, Welford and Tomkins would not have taken it upon themselves to call upon the wife of a respected barrister.

Of course, back home in Herefordshire, they would just have been very insignificant members of the parish. The squire would have worried about things like this. Or the local gentry who served as trustees of the parish endowment. Or the vicar, who was likely the squire’s younger brother. Or the rural dean, who was probably the nearest baron’s younger brother. Or the bishop, who might well be the nearest earl’s ex-tutor.

If they had never become soldiers, they could have spent their Sunday mornings until the day they died figuring out ways to skip services in the village church without being disciplined for it by their betters.

In Grantville . . . Well, there weren’t very many adherents of the Church of England.

They could have taken this as a license to skip church for the indefinite, nearly infinite, future, without the risk of incurring any discipline at all, since Grantville’s authorities didn’t care in the least whether or not they conformed to the established communion.

Instead, somehow, they had ended up feeling . . . sort of fond of the town’s tottering little parish. Responsible for the well-being of this remote outpost of the Anglican Communion, as the up-timers called it. While it wasn’t home, it was as close to home as a lad from Herefordshire was likely to find in Grantville. One of Thomas’ passionate defenses of the establishment had recently gotten him into a brawl with a Scots Presbyterian at the Thuringen Gardens. It hadn’t been the first time and probably wouldn’t be the last time.

He shook his head, which still had a lump from the fight. “There’s a downside to this up-time idea that all men are created equal. It appears to require the created to do a lot of work that they could otherwise have left to their betters.”

Tomkins nodded. “That’s us, now, me lad. Equal and stuck with it.”

“Mr. Martin Riddle could have been more cooperative. Even if he is now of a different religious persuasion, he’s still the lady’s grandson. It would have been more appropriate for him to approach her. What did we get for our pains?”

“He laughed until he choked and said, ‘Time to belly up to the bar, boys.'”

****

Veleda Riddle pursed her lips.

Tompkins sort of liked it when the old lady did that. When she pushed her mouth out, it made her look even more like the sheep named Ewegenia on the Brillo pamphlets. Helped a man forget that she was the wife of a highly respected barrister.

“It came to me this morning while I was shaving, Missus,” Welford said. “It just came down and landed on top of my head, like the tongues of fire at Pentecost, or something. I really like that front window in the church, by the way, now that the carpenters have pulled off those old sheets of plywood that were hiding it.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t caused by that blow to your head?” Herrick asked.

He found a vestry board that included two common ex-mercenaries to be a very distressing phenomenon. Of course, they were doing well—far better than two sons of common farm laborers ought to be doing, if anybody in Grantville had requested his opinion on the matter, which nobody had. The parish had held a celebration—small and discreet in a time of public mourning—when Tomkins, after the anti-vaccination riot of the previous March, had been appointed “Head of Security” at the firm manufacturing the vaccine. The man had not only learned his letters but also obtained the famous “GED.” During the process, he had developed an annoying mannerism of pulling his spectacles from the pocket in his doublet, carefully placing the hooked ends of the frames behind his ears, picking up the agenda of the vestry board meeting, and saying, “Humph.”

The spectacles were a product of the “vision screening” to which all GED candidates in Grantville were subjected and were also the reason that the man had finally been able to learn his letters. He was all too prone to wax eloquent in regard to the epiphany the Lord granted to him when the “apprentice optometrist” handling the machines announced cheerfully, “No, you’re not a dunce, whatever they told you twenty years ago. You’re just farsighted. Go to McNally and get this prescription filled before you start classes.”

Welford had learned to read and write, but did not yet have the “GED.” One of the up-timers in the parish was tutoring him in first-year algebra, which appeared to be the sticking point. He was one of the night watchmen at the vaccine firm, but had a promise of heading a squad at the Leahy Medical Center once the GED was in hand. The commander was holding the position for him.

Why, just to command a squad of guardsmen, did the man need to know even first-year algebra? By the time the rowdy brawler—he just could not seem to pass up a fracas in his free time—passed this course, if he ever did, he would know more higher mathematics than most professors at Oxford and have no use for it at all. The up-timers’ view of the necessary components of education for what some of their books called the “working class” verged upon the insane. Why didn’t they just call a peasant a peasant and a laborer a laborer? It was as if, in their minds, academics and gentry did no work. Requiring the “GED candidates” to learn to swim might make some sense, but why algebra?

Herrick looked at Welford closely. Why him? Surely there must be a more appropriate candidate for promotion in this city. Hadn’t St. Paul said something applicable? No. He was thinking of “neither a borrower nor a lender be,” and that was from Polonius, not from Paul; from Will Shakepeare’s Hamlet, not the Bible. Still, one could surely derive “neither a brawler nor a . . . some word starting with the letter ‘l’ . . . be” from Paul’s admonitions on the necessary qualities of a bishop. Or a member of a vestry board. Couldn’t one? His mind drifted toward the composition of a satirical epigram. What word would work that began with “l”? He had heard Mistress Riddle’s grandson use the term “limp noodle” in conversation, but that lacked a certain poetic ambiance. Moreover, no one had been willing to provide him with a precise definition. It didn’t scan, either.

It hadn’t been so bad when he arrived. The vestry board had been headed by the chief justice of the SoTF Supreme Court. But then, after the election, Mr. Charles Riddle had moved to Bamberg. If the admiral and his wife were only here . . . but they were in Magdeburg, so he might as well wish for the moon. The Holcombs were in Magdeburg. Almost every up-time Episcopalian of any social distinction was . . . somewhere else.

Which left a seven-person vestry board consisting of . . . Mistress Riddle. He could think of her, if he tried hard enough, as a representative of her husband, who was becoming increasingly feeble. Mistress Wendy Thomas, from the Technical College faculty. She had been divorced, but the first husband had been left up-time, thank goodness, so he could consider her a widow. But remarried, now, to a Lutheran, which was a most undesirable state of affairs. Mr. Kitt—thank the Lord for Mr. Kitt. Mistress Christie Penzey from the high school faculty, also divorced, but with her husband thankfully left up-time, so another honorary widow. Mr. Edgerton, also from the high school faculty but, alas, like Thomas Riddle, far from young. And two rather crude ex-mercenaries.

Rather crude? He took a mental red pen to his composition. Very crude.

A vestry board on which there were women? Almost as many women as men? Herrick shuddered. If Mistress Thomas could be induced to resign in favor of her brother, who was also an academic, husband of the overenthusiastic coffee purveyor . . . Yes, that might work. That left the problem of Mistress Penzey. Who else was there who might replace her? Mr. Clark, perhaps, though he was young for such a responsible position and away so much of the time . . .

Well, he was going back to England, so it wasn’t his problem any more. Herrick dragged his attention back to the conversation.

“We’ve been to that village in Gloucestershire once,” Tomkins said more practically. “With the cowpox people. So we know how to get there. And how to get back with a group of people in tow, if Vicar Barneby is willing to come with us, which is more to the point. If we leave now, we can get there before winter. If we leave now, we can get back with them before winter, and then St. Alfred’s won’t have to depend on visiting priests who come to see the libraries and are willing to hold services for a while, but spend more time in their homilies reciting poetry than they do quoting the Bible.”

He gave Herrick a rather fishy eye. “Not that you haven’t improved the way we speak,” he added grudgingly. “We know many more words now than we did a few months ago, not to speak of a few years ago. Not that most of them come in handy for anything practical.”

Mistress Riddle raised her eyebrows. “What makes you think that Mr. Barneby would be willing to come?”

“Uh,” Welford said. “Well.”

That was the problem with sudden inspirations. It was hard to explain why you thought they would work.

One of the problems, anyway.

“Vicar Barneby seemed like a very fine man,” Tomkins said. “His wife seemed to be a very good lady. They have five children. If they bring their servants, too . . . ” He beamed. “It would practically double the size of the regular attendance at our services.”

“That’s not,” Welford grumped, “why the idea came to me.” The eye he gave Herrick was more evil than fishy. “One thing, though, Vicar. You stay put until we get back. No haring off for greener pastures ’til we find someone to take your place.”

“We should write Vicar Barneby . . . ” Veleda started.

“What’s the point?” Tomkins asked. “We can get there as fast as a letter can. Just write it and we’ll take it with us. Anyway, even if a letter might get there first if you sent it as far as Amsterdam by air post, there’s no point in giving Barneby and his wife time to think up reasons to refuse. That’s not the result we want. It’s a lot harder to say ‘no’ to someone’s face.”

Herrick smiled suddenly. “Mistress Riddle.”

“Yes?”

He looked at Welford and Tomkins. “May I suggest that we bring in front of the vestry a proposal to divert enough of the funds now on hand for the purposes of renovation to send . . . ” He paused. ” . . . to send these gentlemen themselves as far as Brussels by air post. It would save considerable time, so perhaps I would be able to depart as scheduled.”

Tomkins turned white.

“But the building . . . ” Veleda sputtered.

Tomkins looked at her hopefully.

“Ah,” Herrick said piously.

He’d heard Mary Kat call it his “stained glass voice.” She had loaned him a very irreverent book with the title How to Become a Bishop without Being Religious. Irreverent, and it dealt with Methodist heretics, but still, the sheer practicality of many of its recommendations had been . . . eerily accurate . . . such as the advantages that a young clergyman derived from marrying a girl who wanted to marry a minister and the even greater advantages that came with marrying a girl who had an impressive dowry . . . ideally, by marrying one who combined both qualities.

“Ah,” he said again. He looked at the ceiling. “But is it not more important to ensure that the flock is fed with the Word of God than to worry about their having a well-fenced pasture?”

She frowned.

“Anyway,” he said briskly, “we can send a round-robin letter to the absent parishioners who are prospering—prospering very well—in their diaspora, explaining the situation and requesting a special contribution to replenish the fund.”

Slowly, she nodded. “We should send them via Brussels, though, not Amsterdam. That way, they can speak directly to Archbishop Laud about the parish’s concerns.”

Welford turned as white as Tomkins.

Where was a squire when ye really needed him?

Brussels, The Low Countries, late July 1635

William Laud had only himself to blame. He had asked his secretary to locate, sort by date of arrival, annotate, and deliver to his desk a compilation of all the requests he had received from Mistress Veleda Riddle of Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia, since their arrival in Brussels.

This would not be complete, of course, but under the circumstances of his departure from the Tower of London, no one could blame him for having left the earlier ones behind in the archdiocesan archives in Westminster.

He tapped his fingers on the desk.

Thomas Wentworth did not have to display quite such a level of hilarity over the idea that a building no older than Grantville’s St. Alfred the Great Episcopal Church (constructed in 1897 and thus barely more than a century old at the time of the Ring of Fire) might merit funds for something called historical preservation.

His secretary—William Dell had made his own dramatic escape from London in order to join his employer in exile—was responding with even more hilarity in regard to the enclosed pamphlet (illegally liberated from the Grantville City Hall’s archives; please be so kind as to return it) describing the up-time National Trust for Historic Preservation and another (illegally liberated from the Grantville City Hall’s archives, but we have quite a few copies, so you can keep it) describing the up-time West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office.

These pamphlets asserted that any building over fifty years old counted as historical up-time. Mistress Riddle derived from these an extensive argument that in a properly organized world, St. Alfred’s should be eligible for federal matching funds, if only it had any funds on hand for the federal government to match.

“I believe,” Wentworth commented, “that to the best of my knowledge, the parliament of the United States of Europe has had more urgent calls on its time than the maintenance of historical buildings. If the up-timers are so solicitous of historically significant structures, why did they blow up the Wartburg?”

“I believe,” Dell said, “upon the basis of several close readings of the material . . . ” He cleared his throat. “I believe that it was their general propensity to blow up historically significant buildings that led to the passage of this legislation. Can you even imagine a world in which structures were replaced so quickly that one that endured a half-century was considered to have attained a significant age?”

Laud picked up another broadsheet. “What is a ‘New Deal’ and why is it important that they have a mural from it in their post office? For that matter, what is a ‘Preserve America mini-grant’?” He handed it over to Thomas.

Wentworth looked at the illustration dubiously. The shiny paper was of marvelous hardness and astounding whiteness; the colors of the reproduction were superb. Why had anyone gone to the trouble? “The muralist, presumably, was a local amateur,” he commented. Frowning, he looked at it again. “What are these mechanical devices pictured in it?”

“I have no idea,” Dell answered. “But I am quite certain that we barely have enough money to pay next month’s rent on our quarters here in Brussels and certainly not enough to repair this Mistress Riddle’s church building. Shall I draft a refusal? Polite of course, with a recommendation that she would do better to seek a wealthier patron?”

Laud nodded. “That’s the first pile. Now as to the second . . . she wants a bishop?”

“If we didn’t need our diplomatic contacts here in the Low Countries,” Wentworth commented, “we could always move to Grantville ourselves and provide her with one slightly tattered Archbishop of Canterbury for her greater convenience.”

“When she first presented her request, the main reason was that she perceived a need for there to be someone on the continent who could ordain clergy. For now—although, I most sincerely hope, not for long—that is scarcely an issue, since I am on the continent and can perform any needed ordinations myself. Still, because I hope that our sojourn will not be long, there is some merit to the request. Grantville by itself certainly isn’t large enough to deserve a bishop, but it might be feasible to appoint a bishop to cover the entire Anglican diaspora in the United States of Europe.”

In partibus infidelium, I presume,” Wentworth commented sardonically.

Near Gloucester, England, July 1635

William Barneby drew up his horse, handed the reins to his groom (who was also the family’s gardener, general man-of-all-work, and footman). Dick Badger fell well into the category of “jack of all trades and master of none,” or, at least, not quite master of any, but he was willing, cheerful, and strong, which made up for a lot of other lacks. Will the Younger hopped off the sturdy Welsh pony they had borrowed from Squire Albright for this expedition to the cathedral town.

Grace came out and kissed them both, the younger children trailing in her wake. “Is it good news? Is he accepted?”

Her voice was a little anxious. They were far from wealthy. If Young Will, with his angelic voice, could become a chorister at the cathedral, his education would be assured and they could husband their resources for the schooling of Benedict who, alackaday, croaked like a bullfrog, even at the age of eight.

“Accepted,” Barneby said. “But . . . .” He looked around. Dick had a lot of gossips at the village tavern and the girls might chatter with their friends when they went to take lessons with the governess that Squire Albright employed for his daughters. They would mean no harm, but Mistress Warren was inclined to repeat all that she heard. “Later.” He nodded toward the house.

Grace turned and led the way into the hall. The stone-built vicarage was old-fashioned. It had stood for well over two centuries and might well have sufficed for a celibate Papist vicar before the reforms of King Henry. She wished she had a modern parlor into which she could welcome her friends without having everyone else passing through on errands. The four chambers were not adequate, although Dick slept over the stable and Betty in the loft. William had taken one for his study; they shared one, the boys shared one, and the girls shared one. If guests came to stay, she and William had to give up their chamber for the sake of hospitality and sleep on cots in the hall. The kitchen, cellar, and brewhouse were in a separate building and she should not complain, because apart from Squire Albright’s manor house, it was certainly the largest and most comfortable in the village.

With a nod, Barneby dispatched Dick to the stables. With another nod, Grace dispatched Betty to the kitchen. She told Young Will to change and take the other children out to the kitchen garden to weed, since weeding was a task never done.

“Accepted.” Barneby resumed the conversation they had started outside.

“But?”

“But I am not certain that I want him there. The bishop . . . “

“What has Godfrey Goodman done now?”

“His tendencies toward Papistry are becoming more and more pronounced. Not in superficial things such as Archbishop Laud encouraged, such as the vestments and music. Those are, ultimately, adiaphoral, which is what the Puritans fail to understand. Goodman is deviating from the Thirty-Nine Articles in matters of doctrine and faith. While I am far from counting myself as a Puritan and like an afternoon of bowls and archery after the Sunday service as well as any man . . . .”

Grace nodded. “There is such a thing as a proper balance. A good, sturdy, Anglican faith is what England needs. But where else can we place him? Gloucester is near enough that he could come home regularly. Worcester? The King’s School is there for the choristers and Thomas Tomkins is a truly outstanding musician.”

Barneby shook his head in the negative. “With all due respect to Thomas Tomkins, there is the matter of the bishop. I will place no son of mine under a man who may well have committed bigamy.”

Grace smiled. Bishop Thornborough’s tangled matrimonial history, with a divorce case of scandalous proportions in York while he was dean of the cathedral there and his taking a second wife in Ireland while he was bishop of Limerick there with the first still alive in England, had provided the ladies of the region’s gentry with much entertainment, even if it all happened thirty years in the past and the man had married and buried a third wife since then—he being her third husband as well. It was all as fresh as ever in the recollection of Squire Albright’s widowed mother. Her eyes would gleam as she recited, “And then the second wife was accused of providing the poisons that the Countess of Somerset used to poison Sir Thomas Overbury, and . . . “

But . . . She pulled her thoughts together “You’re quite right. In any case, he is much too inclined to tolerate the Puritans. Bishop Thornborough enjoys saying that he has outlived several men who expected to succeed him in his see. If the old man isn’t careful, he will find that he has outlived his diocese and will see his cathedral vandalized, his choir abolished, and the organ torn to pieces by fanatics before he dies. So not Worcester. But, where?”

Barneby stood up. “God will find a way, Grace. And I have a sermon to prepare.” He kissed her absently and headed for the small chamber where he kept his books safely away from a rambunctious household full of small children.

She watched him until he closed the door and then started to see how the children were doing in the garden. But instead of starting down the path, she leaned against the gate, watching them.

God was causing life to contain so many repetitions of “but” since the appearance of the visitors from Grantville who had come looking for cowpox and departed with vials of horse pox two years earlier. She would never have thought that the pamphlets about such things as clean water would cause such concern. It was not because anyone objected to clean water. Even in rural England, there were proverbs that presumed a reasonable level of cleanliness.

In the morning when ye rise
Wash your hands, and cleanse your eyes,
Next be sure ye have a care,
To disperse the water farre.
For as farre as that doth light,
So farre keepes the evil spright.

But that was sheer superstition. There were no sprites, no fairies, elves, brownies, or gnomes to be kept away by tossing a pan of water or attracted by serving a saucer of milk.

Both the bishop’s officials and king’s, from the lord lieutenant down to Squire Albright as the local justice of the peace, had taken undue interest in the pamphlets brought by the vaccine hunters. So far, all was well, but if they tried to place Will at a cathedral farther away than Gloucester, where they were still comfortably secure because the persons in authority knew them well, it would bring down more attention, probably from strangers, very possibly with less favorable outcomes.

They would have to do something. But what? Go someplace. But where?

But when? The answer to that was, soon.

But who would have them? But how would they get there?

She didn’t even have to ask herself—But why?

The pamphlets came from Grantville, after all. The men who now controlled the king, since Her Majesty’s much-grieved death and His Majesty’s unfortunate injury, did not care for items and ideas that came from Grantville.

Everyone in the vicarage, right down to Betty—everyone who had met the travelers, even poor little Peter and his father who had been called in and interviewed—was . . . What did the pamphlets say about smallpox? Contagious. What did they call unclean water? Contaminated.

What did Grantville’s pamphlets say about the source of contamination?

Find it and eliminate it.

It was only a matter of time before someone, somewhere, drew the logical conclusion from that recommendation.

Brussels, August 1635

” . . . two members of the vestry board of St. Alfred the Great Episcopal Church in Grantville,” Dell said as he escorted the two men into Archbishop Laud’s overly-small study.

In the course of the next hour, Welford and Tomkins gave the three men gathered there a rather shocking introduction to new-time Episcopalianism, in Grantville of the here and now, as viewed from the hop fields and orchards of Herefordshire and the battlefields of the continent. Somehow, the communications from Mistress Riddle had omitted to mention that she actually served on the vestry board, as did other women from the up-time.

Laud had assumed that she stood to the parish in the role of a prominent benefactor, which was, of course, quite acceptable. He had never heard of a parish that was loath to accept benefactions from wealthy women.

But for a woman to be not a patroness of the church, but one of its administrators . . . ?

“St. Alfred’s was built originally by a nineteenth-century coal baron who immigrated to the United States of America from Cornwall, with his own private funds,” Tomkins said.

“I thought that the up-timers did not have barons.”

“It’s just what Herrick would call a figure of speech,” Welford answered. “They didn’t have titles of nobility. It just means that he was rich as hell.”

“Like a squire,” Tomkins added helpfully.

“Rich-as-hell and made his money from coal mines. Most of the rich-as-hell people who used to live in Grantville did. They also had ‘railroad barons.’ The up-timers, I mean. ‘Cattle barons.’ Umm . . . Any others?”

“Not that I can think of.” Welford grinned. “His wife, they say, was very pious. The coal baron’s wife, I mean. Now, there’s come to be something else on my mind, most respectfully speaking, that Mistress Riddle has not directed me to say.”

A concerned look crossed Tompkins’ face. This had not been planned in advance. Welford’s sudden inspirations were becoming worrisome.

“About schools . . . “

A half hour later, Welford waved his hand. “The way the Dutchies do it, you know.”

The handwave was broad enough that it clearly encompassed not only the Netherlanders—Dutch in civilized English—but the ramshackle Germans—Deutsch, as they called themselves.

“How?” Wentworth asked with some curiosity.

“Well, they do it with a school in every parish—just enough schooling that the children learn their letters and numbers.” Tomkins frowned. “That won’t work in England. The parishes are too big, and quite a few of them are in the wrong spots. There are churches where people used to live a long time ago, way back in history, and no churches where a lot of people live now.”

Welford grinned. “‘Follow the money,’ as they say in the detective stories. If it has an endowment, then it has a clergyman. If not, not. Ye gentlemen and lords”—he nodded at Wentworth—”aren’t likely to send your younger sons into a position that won’t support them in the style they want.”

Wentworth squirmed uneasily.

“Ye need more sons of poor men going to the universities and becoming clergy,” Welford plowed on. “Ye need more scholarships, more grammar schools such as young King Edward of lamented memory founded. Had he only lived . . . “

“So what do you suggest?”

“A school in every village. Make the parents send their children, girls as well as boys. How ye make them do it, I can’t tell ye. Among the Dutchies”—Tomkins waved again—”’tis the city councils and gentry that force the farmers to send their sons and daughters. In England, ’tis the gentry who want to keep us unlearned. Ye’ve got to make the squires make the farmers do it until it’s just a . . . custom, like it is in the Germanies. Once that’s done, we can discuss the building of more grammar schools.”

“Daughters!” Laud sputtered.

“Daughters.” Welford grinned maliciously. “Ye should visit Grantville, Your Excellency. Mistress Riddle is not alone. There are many more like her. Many more to follow in her footsteps. Mistress Clark, for one.” The grin reached his ears and his hairline. “Ye should meet the lady I hope to wed once this task is done.”

“Lady?” Wentworth quirked his mouth.

“In Grantville, they’re all ladies unless they don’t act like ladies.” Welford paused. “It’s not like back home.”

“What is Mistress Riddle like?” Laud asked.

“Past eighty years old, they say,” Tomkins began.

Laud’s expression brightened at the thought that this nemesis might not continue to harass him for many more years. His cheer did not survive the next comments.

“But a lady of good health and great energy. She is, as they say there, very well preserved.”

Tomkins nodded. “Much better preserved than St. Alfred’s. Of course, she was not so neglected during her middle years, nor allowed to fall into decay.”

Laud sighed and picked up the funding request. The purpose of the audience he had granted to the two unlikely vestrymen was to discuss that—not these other, most unsettling, concepts.

Grantville, August 1635

” . . . a reasonable number of contributions for the renovation project as a result of the last set of letters,” Veleda reported with satisfaction. She beamed at Vicar Herrick, Christie Penzey, Wendy Thomas, and Marshall Kitt. “Now about the christening . . . “

Herrick did not wince. Mistress Riddle’s granddaughter had produced a son the previous evening. By the wonders of radio, the child’s father, off in the Rhineland, had determined the infant’s name, to include that of both grandfathers.

Nasty continental influence, that. It was one thing for these Germans to baptize babies with double and triple names, but in England, they received one. One. John, Richard, or Henry. Agnes, Alice, or Joan. One Christian name was quite enough. The Grantville up-timers were a mongrel lot of foreigners, of course. How could a pack of immigrants from everywhere between Norway and the western coast of Africa regard themselves as being descended from a set of English colonies?

Mistress Hawkins, the French teacher, had told him a “colonialist joke,” about up-time children from Algiers and Morocco, in the midst of the twentieth century, sitting in their schoolrooms and reciting, “Nos ancêtres les Gaulois,” the first line of their introductory history textbook.

It wasn’t that funny.

Nevertheless. He would pass young Charles Roger Utt across the font on Sunday morning with all the courtesy he could muster.

Mistress Mary Kat wanted to ask her friend Mallory Parker, the wife of the Rudolstadt city clerk, to stand as the godmother, but the woman was a heretic. How could one ask a heretic to vow before God to see to the religious training of a child in a different faith than her own should he lose his parents?

The Clarks would be godparents. The christening would occur in proper form.

Which would be followed by food.

And by coffee. The inevitable coffee. Why not sack?

He wondered how well Tomkins and Welford were succeeding in Gloucestershire.

****

The father, a heretic, wasn’t present at the christening party. He was assisting with an effort to contain the spread of black plague, somewhere in the Rhineland. The grandparents weren’t at the christening party. They were in Bamberg, that being the new capital of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. The great-grandparents were present, with one uncle, also a heretic, and his family. The father’s sister had moved to Magdeburg, taking her children, to join her husband, whom Herrick had never met. She, too, in any case, was a heretic.

What would it be like for the child to have such a small body of relatives?

Herrick had been not even three when his father cast himself from an upstairs window and died of the fall. Not that the event had made much difference to him at the time, since he was still placed out to nurse and far too young to understand the rapid legal maneuvers by which his uncles managed to avoid a verdict of suicide and the consequent confiscation of his property as a self-murderer. His mother had taken his sister and the baby to live with one of her sisters and then remarried, but he had scarcely been lonely. When he was old enough, he and his brothers grew up in his Uncle William’s house. With eleven cousins. Plus the cousins provided by his other ten Herrick aunts and uncles. Plus the relatives on the Stone side—all of the Soames and all of the Campions. In a London townhouse. An ample townhouse, by London standards. A chaotic pit of hell by any other. His tiny room at Oxford had come none too soon to save his sanity. A man could live far more content amid a few good friends, whom one saw when one chose, than amid a seething mass of relatives.

Or a seething mass of parishioners. One of the up-timers had quoted a proverb to him. “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.”

You couldn’t choose your parishioners, either.

There was Mudge, back in Dean Prior.

Mudge every morning to the postern comes,
His teeth all out, to rinse and wash his gums.

Horne, back in Dean Prior.

Horne sells to others teeth; but has not one
To grace his own Gums.

Personally, he had a toothache today. He would set up an appointment with the dentist tomorrow. It wouldn’t be long before he left Grantville, so indulging himself in a prudent amount of up-time tooth repair shouldn’t be postponed.

Just why was he planning to return to Dean Prior?

Oh, yes. The income that supported him.

The infant’s great grandfather pulled himself upright with his walker and raised one hand to propose a toast.

How many more weddings and christenings would he have to attend before he died? The population of Dean Prior was about four hundred persons, total. Of those, perhaps half were children or elderly. Two hundred persons made one hundred couples. Couples or potential couples, since some adults were currently unmarried. Say, sixty married couples. Weddings, perhaps two to four a year. Those always had parties. Baptisms, perhaps twenty per year. Funerals with wakes, perhaps ten in a normal non-plague year. One of the few good things that could be said of plague, perhaps, was that there were no wakes for those who died of plague. The up-time encyclopedias said that he would live almost forty more years . . . .

How many toasts did that make?

How many of those toasts would be proposed by Mudge?

He raised his own glass to wish young Charles Roger Utt a prosperous future.

Gloucestershire, August 1635

“They’re back,” Peter said, catching himself with one hand on the doorpost of the vicarage kitchen.

Betty looked up from the hearth. The urchin was panting. His face was flushed, his bare feet were muddy. It was raining—again—so his hair was drooping over his ears.

“Who?”

“The cowpox hunters. Not all of them. Just the two Herefordshire men. I saw them in the village.”

“If you saw them, then so did everyone else. Not everyone, maybe. But everyone who saw them will have run off by now to tell the rest.”

“I need to go on and tell Pa.”

She handed him a mutton turnover. “Run by Squire Albright’s first and make sure you tell him directly. I’ll go in and let the vicar know.”

He swallowed two bites before he turned around.

Betty let the vicar’s lady know. Mistress Barneby could handle telling the vicar.

****

Richard Tomkins looked at the group gathered in the vicarage orchard.

There wasn’t room for them all in the house.

Barneby had said that he didn’t want to use the church. Not for this discussion. It didn’t feel right.

Tomkins and Welford presented the offer from the Grantville parish, with a cover letter signed by Archbishop Laud himself.

If, the squire pointed out, he was still an archbishop.

“He is in the eyes of God,” Tomkins said. “He was consecrated. A king can’t undo that. He can take away the temporalities of his see, but he can’t take away that God’s made him into a prophet. Like Elisha. Or was that Elijah? Jezebel could persecute him, but he was still a prophet of God.”

“Not to mention,” a voice called from the back of the little crowd, “that God sent Harry Lefferts to save him from the Tower. With fireworks as bright, from all I’ve heard, as any lightning that Elijah called down on the priest of Baal. Who, it sounds like to me, are on their way here. Or, probably, first to Gloucester and then to here.”

“That’s what it amounts to,” Squire Albright said. He rubbed his hands together, not around and around as if he were wringing out wash, but briskly up and down, as if he was dusting them off. “I can do some things—a few things—to slow down any circuit riders they send out from London. But I can’t stop them from coming, nor persuade them what to think after they’ve come. I’m sorry, Barneby, but since these men”—he waved at Tomkins and Welford—”have returned, it’s all too likely that they’ll reach the conclusion that you’ve been corresponding with the enemy all along. They’ll be bringing soldiers with them, since that’s the finding they expect to make, even before they start to hear the evidence.”

“How can we prove that we haven’t? We’ve had nothing to do with the Grantvillers all this time and didn’t know that Tomkins and Welford were coming again?”

“Ye can’t,” Welford interjected. “Something I learned in the GED classes. Algebra and such-like. Ye can’t prove a negative.”

Barneby opened his mouth.

“S’true,” Tomkins said. “That’s why to make a case in court, there, you have to have enough evidence to persuade the jury that the criminal did it. They figure that even if he didn’t do it, there’s no way a man can prove he’s innocent. He can claim an alibi, but unless he was singing a hymn in plain sight of the judge, in which case he wouldn’t be charged, well . . . Everyone knows that friends will lie for each other. I don’t think that a ‘reasonable doubt’ plea will work with Boyle’s lackeys.”

“Before they came . . . ” Grace Barneby also waved a hand at Tomkins and Welford. “Before they came, already, I was asking myself when. I didn’t finish it even in my mind to ask when we would leave, but when we would do—whatever had to be done. I was asking myself where we would go—when the time came to do whatever it was. Who would be willing to receive us. How we would get there, how we would live. I thought about the Netherlands. If King Charles hadn’t sold the American colonies to the French, I would have thought about Massachusetts.”

Barneby stared at her.

“You don’t have time, Mr. Barneby,” she said. She might call him William in private, even term him ‘my dearest and most darling Willikin’ in enthusiastic moments when they were alone, but it would be disrespectful of his office to do so in front of other people.

“You don’t have time to think out into the distance. You have to think about the work you do, while you’re doing it. Sermons don’t write themselves and you have to pay attention to getting the right verses in place and such. Putting up plum preserves from morning to evening on a long summer day leaves a person’s mind emptier. Open to considering different possibilities.”

Barneby nodded slowly. He had never put up plum preserves, but he had picked plums often enough as a boy. Plums, apples, pears, damsons. It did leave the mind free to consider other things. Things such as, in his case, getting a scholarship like his older brother Henry and doing something other than spending the remainder of his mortal days picking fruit in the orchards.

He looked around. If they left, he would miss the benefits of those carefully preserved plums.

God had placed the parable of the rich fool in the twelfth chapter of the book of Luke just for men who harbored such thoughts. How often had he preached on it? Perhaps an abundance of plum preserves in the pantry was not quite the same as having “no room where to bestow my fruits,” but it represented an excessive attachment to material things, nonetheless. And Squire Albright was clearly warning that if he now chose to remain here, take his ease, “eat, drink, and be merry,” he was all too likely that the king’s men, if not God directly, would ensure that, “this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” And he would be that fool.

Not just on his own behalf, but for Grace and the children. It was unlikely they would receive mercy.

Everyone had heard of the treatment meted out to Oliver Cromwell’s family. Cromwell was just a simple country squire himself when that happened. Not a powerful threat to the Stuarts in any way.

“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

He nodded decisively.

“I accept your offer, gentlemen. And given that we have no royal license to remove ourselves out of the kingdom, it would probably be prudent for us to leave as soon as possible.”

“I’m coming with ye,” Betty said.

Dick Badger stepped up next to her. “Aye.”

“Us,” Peter’s father said. He nodded at Welford. “If the likes of him can study as deeply as any university man, if Tomkins there can learn the law, why not my sons, too?”

By the time the village sorted itself out, Welford was griping that they hadn’t expected to be moving half the neighborhood, and there was no way that everyone and their gear would fit onto the little boat that had brought the pair of them into Bristol.

“My cousin,” the vicar said suddenly. “My mother’s nephew. If he isn’t in port when we get Bristol—he’s married to a Dutch woman and goes back and forth along the coast, so he probably won’t be—there will be captains who know him enough to trust that we will pay. He has two half-brothers on his mother’s side who are fishermen and three half-sisters who are married to seamen as well.”

Squire Albright smiled a little sourly. “God will provide, eh, Vicar? Ye go and leave me here with the mess.”

“Come along,” Grace suggested.

“Nay. It should not be that bad. In any case, as my uncle who did so well for himself in the cloth trade in Worcester used to say each time that his brother-in-law sailed off for the Levant, ‘Someone has to stay home to mind the store.'”

Grantville, August 1635

It was a memorial service, Herrick told himself firmly.

He was not conducting a Christian funeral for a heretic whom he had never met.

He was bringing comfort to Mistress Riddle’s granddaughter, whose husband had died in the service of his country.

Mary Kathryn Riddle was a faithful member of the Anglican Communion.

She was also the widow of Derek Utt, the deceased.

The up-timers were taking with entirely unsuitable enthusiasm to the foreign continental custom by which women did not, as they should, assume their husband’s name at marriage.

It had been a perfectly legal, valid, and sacramental marriage while it lasted, though.

He had checked.

With the up-timers, he had learned, it never did to take anything for granted.

They were using the church building that belonged to the Methodist heretics, because so many people wished to attend.

That was better, in all truth. It made it even more a memorial and less a service of Christian burial.

There were other memorial services for the man, elsewhere, being conducted simultaneously. The one in Bamberg was being conducted by a layman, Mistress Riddle’s son, the chief justice of the supreme court of the state of Thuringia-Franconia. By the dead man’s father-in-law.

There was no ordained Anglican minister in Bamberg.

The one in Magdeburg was being conducted by a Methodist heretic, also a layman.

There was no ordained Anglican minister in Magdeburg.

He looked across the chancel.

The organist was Roman Catholic, and female.

He gritted his teeth. It’s a memorial service, he told himself again.

Men had been called upon to do worse things than this in the service of the Church of England since the days of the eighth King Henry.

English Channel, August 1635

The waves were choppy.

Richard Tomkins was cheerfully not seasick.

William Barneby was quite the reverse. Seasick and wretched. He had sailed with his cousin at times, but never out of sight of the coast. Never on a fishing boat permeated by the odor of cod oil.

Grace’s brother, Augustine Ashmead, who had appeared on the dock in Bristol as if this journey had been planned well in advance, held Barneby’s head.

“S’alright, Vicar,” Welford assured him. “Tomkins is fine now, but just wait until we get on board the plane. You should have seen him between Grantville and Brussels.”

“Plane?” If it had been possible, Barneby would have turned greener.

“Just you and your household. The rest of these hangers-on will have to find their own way beyond Amsterdam, no matter how deeply Ashmead here is convinced that the Grantville high school needs a teacher of classical Greek and it is his destiny to supply that need.”

Ashmead cocked his head. “If we take a boat all the way, up the Rhine and then as far as possible up the Main and the Kinzig, I understand we should arrive in time for the start of the fall semester.”

“You understand from whom?”

“Why, that would be telling.”

Grantville, late August 1635

Robert Herrick turned around to wave goodbye.

At this point, it couldn’t hurt to be polite just once more. He had survived the farewell pulled pork barbecue, not without some stomach pains resulting from the sauce. He was on the trolley. The trolley would take him to the train. The train would take him some distance before he had to rent a horse which he would ride until he could get upon a boat, which would get him as close as possible to Brussels.

He would rather have gone by way of Amsterdam, but the vestry board had given him a sheaf of papers, a number of verbal remonstrances to be delivered to Archbishop Laud, and a little extra money in addition to the much desired, possibly even much coveted, up-time hymnal about which he had dropped so many hints. Discreet hints, he hoped. So.

Symbolically, he should shake the dust of Grantville from his sandals.

Practically, he was wearing a pair of very well-made and highly polished Calagna and Bauer boots, so the gesture didn’t seem very appropriate.

Veleda Riddle waved in return. Then she took William Barneby by the elbow and said, “I’ve scheduled a vestry board meeting at 4:00 p.m., so we’ll have plenty of light in the fellowship room. We’ve been having some problems with the wiring at St. Alfred’s, so the electricity is turned off for the time being. I don’t want to risk having the whole building burn down after all the work we’ve done. That will affect the overall estimates in the restoration budget, of course.”

She shoved a packet into his hands. “You’ll have just enough time to familiarize yourself with it before the meeting.”

The plane from Amsterdam, called the Monster and monstrous it truly was, a modern leviathan, had encountered some delays. By the time it got into Grantville, Tomkins and Welford had hurried him to the trolley station barely in time to see his predecessor’s departing face.

He had no idea where Grace and the children were.

He had no idea when he would find out.

Two women hurried onto the platform. One threw her arms around Tomkins. The other threw her arms around Welford.

“Ah,” Tomkins said. “Our fiancées, Vicar. Meet Misty and Jessica. They will be in need of instruction. Misty is Welford’s. Misty Zeppi. She’s a beautician. Her family’s Italian, or they were before they came to America. She’s a Roman Catholic. She’s divorced. Jessica’s mine. She’s never belonged to any church, so you’ll have to start by baptizing her.”

Barneby made a slightly strangled sound.

“She’s a drill sergeant,” Tomkins announced proudly. “At least, she used to be. Now she’s adjutant of the SoTF forces training battalion?”

Barneby recovered and greeted both of them.

“Aye,” Tomkins continued, squaring his shoulders with obvious pride. “Her name is Jessica Hollering and she deserves the name. She can yell louder than any drill sergeant I ever met while I was in the army. We’ll be back for the vestry meeting.”

The four of them vanished.

“What,” Barneby asked Mistress Riddle, “is a ‘beautician’?”

Drill sergeant was a concept well within his grasp.

A massively tall and blond young man came dashing up to Mistress Riddle and, without waiting for introductions, shook Barneby’s hand. “Hi, I’m Dane.”

“You are Danish? Like the late King James’ queen?”

“No, not a Dane. Dane. That’s my name. I get that question a lot these days. Dad’s assigned me to show you around. He’s on the vestry board. My wife Jailyn’s getting your wife and kids organized at the house we rented for you. If you don’t like it, we’ll look for something else, but Herrick was perching in one of the Riddles’ guest rooms and we figured that wouldn’t work for a family.”

****

Barneby arrived promptly at 4:00 courtesy of the carillon in the tower of what he did not yet recognize as the middle school. In the interval, he had recovered his family and been presented with a colored map of the town and surrounding area.

“What,” he had asked Dane, “is a Chamber of Commerce? Or, at least, why is it donating expensive maps to newcomers rather than engaging in commerce?”

There were several people in the room. The man of middle years, by elimination, had to be Dane’s father. There was an elderly man. In addition to Mistress Riddle, there were two other women.

Tomkins and Welford grinned broadly.

“We may have left a few things out of the letter we took along when we went to fetch you,” Tomkins said.

It occurred to Barneby that in his brief glimpse of Herrick as the trolley bore him away from Grantville, his predecessor had been smiling as broadly as the two Herefordshire men were at this very moment.

Brussels, late August 1635

Robert Herrick swallowed hard.

The exiled archbishop of Canterbury forged onward, leaving no opportunity for interruptions or objections. “Truly, I think our friend Wentworth’s suggestion in regard to this is inspired, since you have the necessary diplomatic background from your time as chaplain on the Duke of Buckingham’s 1628 expedition, not to mention that you already have experience in dealing with the up-timers. They, in turn, should welcome you as a choice because your father was a working goldsmith rather than a noble lord. You were apprenticed to the trade yourself, under your uncle, and did not go up to Cambridge until the age that most students are preparing to leave, but nonetheless, you are university educated and have spent several years in a parish. Your brother’s contacts will be important in the merchant community on the northern coastal cities—not to mention the Cavrianis. Yet, since your uncle has been knighted, you will be acceptable to the majority of those Englishmen of gentle birth who are serving the King of Sweden, as well.”

William Laud leaned back and smiled. “Just be grateful that I am not assigning the remainder of the European continent to your jurisdiction as well. Thomas suggested it, but that would involve a truly immense amount of travel.”

Herrick blanched. Yes, he had pastoral experience, and not only in Grantville. During the last few years before he came to the continent again, stuck away in a country parish in “loathed Devonshire” in the diocese of Exeter, he had longed for London. He had not, however, longed to become rector of a London parish, discussing roof repairs with a vestry board. He had longed to move once more in the city’s sophisticated literary circles, among the other writers who considered themselves to be the “Sons of Ben.” Writing the occasional scathing epigram about one’s somnolent and inattentive parishioners was nowhere nearly as satisfactory.

“Grantville . . . ” he began tentatively. There were salons in Grantville. Interesting visitors.

“Magdeburg,” Wentworth said firmly.

Herrick closed his mouth. Magdeburg might not be so bad. It surely couldn’t rain more there than it did on the edge of Dartmoor, “the dull confines of the drooping West,” and the capital of the United States of Europe would certainly have fewer sheep than Devonshire. There was some hope that in Magdeburg he could create a parish board whose members included Admiral Simpson . . . whose wife was a patron of the arts . . . and . . . he wouldn’t have to worry about tenants on the glebe farm. There wouldn’t even be a glebe farm. No, perhaps it would not be so bad.

Even though it was certain that the men who now controlled the king would not allow the export of his other annual forty pounds of income that came as interest on his inheritance. They hadn’t allowed it when he left, which was why he had taken the parlous little support offered by St. Alfred’s. They were unlikely to change their minds. Some groveling sycophant of the Royal Almoner . . .

What about churchwardens? Was there a building available? One would scarcely need them if there was no church fabric for them to maintain. Overseers of the poor? Who cared for the poor in Magdeburg? In Grantville, it had not been the responsibility of the parish . . . In any case, he was not gifting Laud with the hymnal, now. It would hold a place of honor as the first item in his new cathedral library.

When his mind came back to the conversation, Laud was saying, “Of course, there is no endowment to support such an office, but I will attempt to raise funds to at least match the income you have been drawing from the parish of Dean Prior, since it will be necessary for you to resign that living. Or, perhaps, not necessary. Since you received it in the king’s gift, Charles may very well simply take it back once he finds out that you have accepted an appointment from me.”

Match the measly little income from Dean Prior? Forty pounds per year? Forty pounds disposable, at least—there were obligations such as the curate’s salary that nibbled away at the gross. For a bishop? Had the archbishop ever stopped to think just why he had found himself taking that temporary appointment at St. Alfred the Great to support his months in Grantville?

“What about Greene, my curate?”

“He who does most of the work?” Wentworth smirked. “Fills out the church registers, signs them, sends them to the bishop every year? At least you are not being as difficult as the famous bishop of Hippo whose would-be flock had to drag him into the cathedral by his heels to get him consecrated, while he screamed and tried to get a saving grasp on each pillar he passed as his head and shoulders bumped along on the floor. When we speak of a vocation, that’s what I perceive as a genuine matter of being called into the service of the Lord as opposed to volunteering.”

Laud frowned. “Behave yourself, Thomas.” He turned his eyes back to Herrick. “I will do what I can do see that he is not deprived. Perhaps your friend Weekes can undertake something on his behalf, since he is a Devonshire man.”

Laud, or perhaps Dell, seemed to have prepared an answer for every objection that Herrick could raise.

And as if that was not bad enough . . .

The archbishop’s eyes twinkled. “Now. Next. One of the biblical qualifications for a bishop is that he be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2), which implies that you should acquire a suitable wife with more than deliberate speed.”

Herrick countered that this passage was normally interpreted by Protestants to mean that the bishop should not be a polygamist, rather than as requirement that a bishop be married—omitting altogether the Papists’ twisted view that it meant that a bishop should be married to the church, and thus celibate in regard to earthly marital ties.

“Be practical, Herrick,” Wentworth answered. “A bishop needs a wife in order to deal with all of the social obligations that are attendant upon the office, particularly since your new headquarters will be in Magdeburg and your role will include a lot of . . . ” He paused. “How did Harry Lefferts describe it? A lot of schmoozing with important figures in the USE government as well as coaxing your parishioners into contributing the money to build a church and, perhaps, subsidize whatever income that William can provide for you. Indeed, 1 Timothy 3:2 requires that a bishop not only be ‘vigilant, sober, of good behavior’ but also ‘given to hospitality’ as well as ‘apt to teach.'”

If the issue was practical rather than theological . . . “Elizabeth, my widowed sister-in-law? She and her children have been with me for a half- dozen years,” Herrick ventured hopefully.

“Adequate for a rural parish, but not the same—though, of course, should they wish to join your household again, they would doubtless be welcomed in Magdeburg.” Laud nodded solemnly. “Herrick, you need to marry, with dispatch. Luckily, we have a couple of suitable candidates available right here in Brussels, clerical widows, both of them. Quite pious.”

He smiled mischievously. “One, Mistress Carey, is some years older than yourself. She not only has a substantial independent income, which her connections in the Huygens and Crommelin families managed to get out of England and into the Netherlands, but is also in excellent health. As I understand they say in Grantville, she is very well preserved.”

Herrick flinched.

To add insult to injury, the archbishop turned around and asked his secretary to bring them a pot of coffee.

Where was a glass of good sherry when a man could really use it?

****

About Virginia DeMarce

Virginia DeMarce update photo v2

Virginia DeMarce was born in Missouri and lives in Arlington, VA. She is retired from the federal government, where she was a historian for the Office of Federal Acknowledgment.

She received a Ph.D. in early modern history from Stanford University in 1967, which is less obsolete than would be the case had she been in a scientific field of endeavor. She proved unsuited to an academic career, although she taught at the college level for fifteen years, since she was plagued by an irresistible desire to know more and more about more and more, rather than about less and less.

Her most persistent hobby is genealogy. In 1988-1989, she served as president of the National Genealogical Society.

She has been married to James DeMarce since 1962. They have three children and a varying number of grandchildren.

Previously published works by Virginia DeMarce are:

“Biting Time,” Ring of Fire

“Motherhood and Apple Pie, While You’re At It,” “Common Sense,” Bypass Surgery,” “In the Night, All Hats are Gray,” “Who’s Calling This Race,” “A Nightmare Upon the Present,” and, cowritten with Eric Flint, “The Ram Rebellion,” 1634: The Ram Rebellion

1634: The Bavarian Crisis, cowritten with Eric Flint, was released in October 2007.