Weimar, June 1633
When Adolf Graube entered his mother and father’s house, he always stopped in the doorway and breathed deeply. It was a scent that brought back the feelings of his childhood. His mother was in the kitchen. She turned when he entered, and hugged him. He was taller, so she had to reach up to put her arms around him.
“Ach, mein Bube,” she said, “it is wonderful to see you! You don’t come home enough. Does the duke really keep you so busy you can’t come see your poor old mother and father every so often? Are the hunting dogs really more important than us?”
Adolf took off his coat and hat and hung them at the door. His mother bustled into the kitchen and his father led him into the main room where the table had been set for dinner.
“Sit, sit,” his father said, and Adolf sat in the place he used to use when he was a boy. “Tell me how things are at the schloss, mein Herr Hundeabrichter.” His father grinned.
“I am not a master dog trainer yet, and you know it, Papa, just a regular worker with the dogs. Someday, maybe,” Adolf said. “Well anyway, we are getting the deerhounds ready for the fall hunt, and that takes time,” Adolf began. “And we have just had a new litter in the kennel. One of the Hubertushund bitches. I sort of like the new name Bluthund that the Americans call them.”
Dinner went well. As they were relaxing over a beer, Adolf’s mother cleared her throat.
“Adolf, you are twenty-five years old, and you have a good job. It is time to start thinking about getting married.”
“Ach, Mama,” Adolf said, ducking his head. “I am not yet ready to marry. I want to be the Jagdmeister before I marry. As a simple dog trainer I am not ready. I do not have a house, and I cannot afford to buy one.”
“But the wife will bring enough dowry to afford a house, perhaps,” his father said.
“And I have some very nice girls I want to have you meet,” his mother declared.
Adolf sighed. There was a small silence.
“Well, then,” his mother said, “will you be able to come for dinner again next Sunday?”
“I think so, maybe,” Adolf said.
“Good. I will invite a young lady from a good family and her parents.”
“Oh, Mama!,” Adolf groaned. “I have to get back to my dogs.”
“We will see you next Sunday,” his mother said, sweetly, savoring her victory.
Weimar, August 1633
“Ein feste Berg ist unser Gott!”
Adolf sang lustily, but not, he knew, well. His voice was loud but he had difficulty carrying the tune. So he sang the first verse with everyone else as loud as he could, and much more quietly during the remaining verses.
This had been the first Sunday in several weeks that he had been able to attend church with his mother and father. He had gone to services near the duke’s house because he needed to be near the dogs. Now that the bitch he was working with had whelped, he didn’t have to be there all the time.
On the way out of the church, after the service, Adolf’s mother steered him to a family standing in the nave.
“I want you to meet this girl, Adolf,” his mother said in his ear. “All you have to do is to say hello.”
The young woman turned around. She was blonde, well-built and very pretty. She smiled nervously. Adolf smiled back, and nodded his head.
“Adolf, this is Gertrude Schmidt, and her parents, Herr Schmidt and Frau Schmidt.” German women didn’t take their husband’s last name, Adolf mused, so her family must also have been Schmidt. Adolf shook his head and brought his mind firmly back to the present, and to Gertrude.
“I am pleased to meet you all,” Adolf said. He was staring at Gertrude, and she was staring right back.
“Um,” Adolf said, “may I walk you home from church? If that is all right with your parents, of course.”
“I would like that,” Gertrude said, as her father nodded. “And please call me Trude.”
“Trude. I like that,” Adolf said, with a big stupid grin on his face, offering her his arm.
The parents, both sets, stood watching them as they walked down the hill toward the Schmidt house.
Frau Schmidt smiled. “I think this will work out nicely,” she said to Adolf’s mother. “Nicely.”
Weimar, November 1633
Adolf looked at the calendar Duke Albrecht had brought back from Grantville. He was almost afraid to touch it. The pictures were so very real. Not like woodcuts or etchings, or the paintings in the duke’s house here in Weimar.
Duke Albrecht lived relatively simply in a townhouse because the schloss had burned down several years before and was being slowly rebuilt as the Wettin family could afford to do more work. But there were still enough beautiful things in the duke’s house to make a poor young man wide-eyed and amazed.
It was also amazing what changes the Ring of Fire had made in just a few short years. Duke Wilhelm had abdicated, for heaven’s sake, and was now something called the “leader of the opposition” in the Reichstag of a brand-new empire, run by the king of Sweden, also for heaven’s sake. Duke Bernhard was off probably fighting against the empire that his brother was probably going to be prime minister of. Duke Ernst was governor of a “state” not a duchy. And Duke Albrecht kept saying he was “ceo” of the Wettin companies. Whatever a ceo was. Adolf had heard it pronounced “see-ee-oh” but he didn’t think it was quite right.
Adolf always said his head began to hurt when he thought about those things. Adolf knew dogs. In fact, he had just gotten promoted. He was now one of the dog masters at the schloss. For years now, he’d helped keep the ducal hunting dogs. There were many different kinds of dogs in the ducal pack, depending on the kind of hunting they were expected to be part of. Adolf was mainly in charge of the large-game hunting dogs. These were the dogs that the Wettin family and their guests took hunting boar and deer and even a bear once in a while. It was easier to think about the dogs, and how to care for them, how to breed them for better hunters, and what was for dinner that night.
Practical, dogs were, Adolf knew. Dinner, sleep, fun, companionship. That was what was important to the dogs. It wasn’t a bad way of looking at things, Adolf often said, both to himself and to the dog masters.
Duke Albrecht had come back from Grantville with a calendar. It didn’t look a lot like any calendar Adolf had ever seen, and it was for a year that hadn’t happened yet. The duke had given it to Adolf and said, “The Grantvillers have books on dogs, and the many breeds of dog that have been made in the future. But there is only one dog I am very interested in. It is named the Weimaraner, the Weimar dog.”
The duke went on, “It would be excellent to have a Weimaraner dog, but there were none in Grantville when the Ring of Fire happened. I couldn’t get the Grantville Library to let me have the book I saw, but I found somebody who had saved a calendar of pictures of up-time Weimaraner dogs. So I’ve brought you the calendar so you can see what they looked like. Do you think we could breed them up ourselves?”
Adolf looked at the pictures. The calendar had pictures of ghost-gray dogs forming the letters of the alphabet. On the cover was a wide-eyed hound balancing three children’s blocks, A, B and C, on his head.
He looked at Duke Albrecht. “They look something like a cross between a Saint Hubertus hound, what the Americans call blut hund, bloodhound, and that dog that is coming out of Hungary. What is its name? The Vizsla, yes, that’s it. Let me think on it, Highness, for a few days.”
Duke Albrecht nodded. “Here, keep the calendar until you are finished with it. You will need the pictures, yes?”
“Sicher, Your Highness.” Adolf bowed. “Of course. I will take as good care of them as I do the dogs.”
The duke laughed. “In that case, Adolf, I know this project is in good hands.”
Adolf took the calendar to his room in the kennels. He sat on his bed, turning the pages and turning over what the duke wanted in his head.
He got up, and went to the dog run. He called his favorite bloodhound out of the run. “Hilde, komm her!” As the bitch ambled over to the gate of the run, he looked at her. She had the mark of the hound. She was mostly grizzled with black, white and gray coat, and brown patches barely visible through the coat. She was tall and fit, with a muscular deep chest that just screamed, “I can run all day!” He let her out of the run, and she leaned on him, as hounds do. Adolf scratched behind her ears and she made a deep rumbling noise that he often thought was what a huge cat might make, purring. If, that is, the cat was a dog.
Weimar, November 1633
Adolf went to see the chief huntsman, and showed him the calendar the duke had given him.
“Where can I find a Vizsla?”
“What’s a Vizsla?” Gerhard, the Jagdmeister, asked.
“You know, the brown hound that comes from Hungary.”
“Ach, so,” Gerhard said. “Why do you care?”
“Duke Albrecht showed me a book he got from Grantville, that shows dogs called Weimaraners. He gave me the copy he had made for him there. We don’t have a dog like them. He says he wants us to breed him some.”
“Is the Vizsla for this?”
“Yes. The dogs in the pictures look a lot like a stockier, taller Vizsla. I’ve seen a couple of them, but I don’t know where to buy one,” Adolf said. “And they are gray.”
“Who? The Vizsla? I thought you said they were brown.”
“No, no, huntmaster, the Weimar dogs in the book. They are gray, like they were ghost dogs.”
“Well, I will see what I can do. Do you want a dog or a bitch?”
Adolf thought. “I think I want a dog. Two if I can get them so I can pick the best of the two for stud.”
“You don’t ask for much,” Gerhard grumbled.
“It isn’t me,” Adolf said, a little defensively. “It’s the duke.”
“I don’t know what we can do. Aren’t we at war with Austria?”
“I think so,” Adolf said.
“Isn’t Hungary part of Austria?”
“Yes, I think so. But isn’t part of it conquered by the Turk?”
“Do you see the problem?”
“Yes, but I have to have an answer for the duke! Can we make this Weimaraner dog or not?”
“Well,” Gerhard finally harrumphed. “I will see what I can find out.”
Max, who was responsible for the pack dogs, the fox hunting dogs, and the rabbit dogs stepped into Gerhard’s little office. “I couldn’t help overhearing. The duke wants his own Weimaraner dog, eh?”
“Ja, das ist richtig,” Adolf said. “That’s right.”
“Well, if you can’t get a Vizsla, why don’t you think about using a chien-gris?”
“What, you mean the dog from the French king’s kennels?” Adolf said. “Don’t you think we might have the same problem as with the Vizsla? We’re at war with the French too, nitwit.” He play-punched Max on the shoulder.
“Yes, but perhaps my lord Bernhard might be able to help us there,” Max said. “You could see if Duke Albrecht would write him and ask him.”
“Fine. That’s what we do, then,” Gerhard stood, signaling an end to the discussion. “I’ll see if I know anybody who might be able to get us a Vizsla dog. Adolf, you talk to the duke and see if he will write to his brother. And we will see if we can make us a real Weimar dog.”
Weimar, November 1633
Adolf found himself thinking about Trude. He thought about her a lot. He was fascinated by her smile, her laugh, and her eyes that always seemed interested in him. He continued to be surprised that she liked him, but he was getting to accept it as a gift from God to an unworthy man.
He’d invited Trude to come and visit the kennels and meet some of his favorite dogs. He was hoping that she’d like them, and what he did for the duke. And he’d been right.
Trude sat happily on the floor of the kennel, with wriggling little balls of fur with feet in her arms, in her lap, and on the floor around her. As one of the little puppies licked her nose, she giggled.
“Do you like my dogs, then?” Adolf asked.
“Oh, yes, I do!” Trude said, smiling widely. “And these little things came from that big one there?” She pointed vaguely at Adolf’s favorite bitch, Hilde, who raised her head and stared at her. Trude looked away.
“Yes, they are hers,” Adolf said, rubbing behind Hilde’s ears. “They are just a day old and I thought you’d like to see them.”
“Oh, my,” Trude said, and then stopped. “You must think me a very silly girl to be gushing like this over just a dog.”
“Trude, there is no such thing as ‘just a dog,'” Adolf said, sliding over to her on the floor and taking her hand. “Dogs are wonderful parts of God’s creation. They give love unconditionally, and all they want is love and food in return.”
Trude nuzzled the little brindled puppy she was holding. “All you want is love, eh? I bet you want your dam’s milk too.” She rose to her knees and handed the puppy off to Adolf, who set it at Hilde’s teats. The little puppy latched on easily even though it didn’t have its eyes open yet, and began to eat.
Trude gazed at Adolf with a speculative look in her eyes.
Weimar, Mid-November 1633
“Come, my sweet, we have thinking to do.”
Adolf unlatched the kennel and let Hilde out into the kennel yard. He headed toward the gate, the big bloodhound at his heels. “And we are going visiting,” Adolf said. Hilde woofed softly.
It was a crisp, cold day as Adolf and Hilde walked down the hill from the duke’s hunting lodge where the kennels were. They crossed the plaza and turned into the street where Herr Schmidt had his shop and home. Adolf knocked, and Frau Schmidt came to the door.
“Guten Abend,” Adolf said. “Ist Trude zu Hause?“
“Yes, she’s here. Wait,” Frau Schmidt said. “I’d invite you in, but you have that huge hound with you!”
“It’s all right, Mama,” Trude’s voice came from the stairs. “We are going for a walk. The dog doesn’t have to come in.”
Frau Schmidt grumbled. “I don’t know why that huge thing has to go around with you, Adolf. After all, it’s just a dog!”
Trude pulled on her wrap, and she and Adolf laughed as they started off down the street, Hilde on the outside, guarding the pair. “Just a dog! Imagine that, Hilde!” Trude said. Hilde woofed.
“Where are we going?”
“To the kennels. I have something I want to show you.”
“A booklet from the future! It is a calendar,” Adolf said.
“From the future? Oh, you mean from Grantville! I haven’t ever seen a book from Grantville. What does it look like?” Trude said.
Trude sat on the floor of Adolf’s room with Hilde’s head in her lap as he paged back and forth through the copy of the calendar from the future that Duke Albrecht had given him. He paused on each page so he could show her the things that made these dogs different from all the downtime dogs he’d ever seen. The calendar had enough pictures, twenty-six of them to be exact, two on each page and one on the cover and back, and several different Weimaraner dogs in each one.
Adolf thought there were four of them, two dogs and two bitches. He went through the calendar’s months from A to Z quickly and then he slowly went through each page. As he did, Hilde’s tail thumped contentedly on the floor. Trude watched him quietly, as she stroked Hilde’s head.
“These are photographs?” Trude asked. “They are marvelously detailed, even better than stone lithographs!”
“Yes,” Adolf said, turning a page. “According to the duke, the man who took the photographs is a—was a—famous artist in the up-time. Wilhelm, no, William, Wegman, his name was.”
“They are beautiful, absolutely beautiful dogs,” Trude said. “Look at their faces. You’d think they could speak.”
“Yes, they look very intelligent. And those light eyes. I wonder how I will find a dog like that to breed to,” Adolf said.
“Doesn’t the duke have any dogs with light eyes?” Trude was surprised.
“No, it isn’t usual. Most dogs have the brown eyes, like Hilde here.” Hilde thumped her tail, pleased to be talked about.
“But I have heard of a dog that comes out of Hungary that has the short and shiny coat like in these pictures, and the chien gris dog from France sometimes is light-eyed. The Hungarian dog is supposed to be a very old breed, too. They call them Vizsla.“
He scooted nearer to Trude on the floor, so that their heads touched as they poured over the pictures. Trude smiled. Hilde’s tail thumped, and she woofed softly.
Weimar, April 1634
“So,” Adolf’s father said, “Have you decided that you want to marry Trude? You have been stepping out for several months now.”
Adolf tried to change the subject. “I’ve been given a project by Duke Albrecht himself,” he said. “I’ve been working on breeding a new kind of dog. It was bred by the up-timers in the Weimar of the eighteenth century, for one of Duke Albrecht’s descendants. The duke says he wants to make a real Weimar dog now. A real Weimaraner.”
“What is the dog supposed to look like?” his father asked.
“They are gray, almost like a ghost, and they have light eyes.”
“Well, we’ve always had gray dogs!”
“Yes, Papa, but they don’t look exactly like the Weimaraner from the future. The duke wants a pack of those.”
“What are you getting for this project?” his father said. “Surely the duke promised you a reward.”
“Nothing other than my wages, father,” Adolf said.
“You should go to the duke and ask for a reward, Adolf. You will never get anywhere unless you put yourself forward!” His father slapped the table to emphasize the point. It was an argument that was old and well-worn.
“It will be a long while before I can present the duke his new dog breed,” Adolf said. “I will have to give him something before I can ask for a reward, Papa.” Adolf’s answer never varied.
“And I don’t know about marrying Trude, either!”
Weimar, Late April 1634
Adolf, Max and Jagdmeister Gerhard sat looking at the duke’s calendar from Grantville for the umpteenth time. “Well, it’s got the shape of a Viszla,” Gerhard said, “but it looks much larger.”
Max pointed to one of the pictures. “It’s got the head of a Viszla, though. Look at the difference between these pictures and the St. Hubertus dogs, even the ones we get that are occasionally gray.”
Adolf thought. “One thing we know, though. We have to breed two grays together to get grays. Otherwise we might get lucky, or we’ll just get brown puppies.”
“What you’re saying, then,” Max said, “is that we need to breed the Viszla in, but select for the Viszla head and a coat that is very smooth and shiny like the Viszla’s but a gray coat. That’s going to take some time.”
“Well, we have a couple of those French bitches, the chien gris. We get mostly gray puppies from them. There’s a male from one of those litters that is just about ready to breed by now.”
“And look at the eyes in the pictures. They aren’t brown! How are we going to breed that in? Do we even have a light-eyed dog?” Max wondered.
“That I don’t know yet,” Adolf said. He turned to Gerhard. “How are we coming with getting a Viszla? It sounds like we really need a male, maybe two.”
“I have asked Duke Albrecht to write to a man he knows in Austria, Janos Drugeth, who is from Hungary and who is powerful in the court of the emperor. We have not heard back from him, yet,” Gerhard said. “But you know how the nobles are—they trade dogs back and forth all the time. They all seem to be looking for the perfect hunting dog.”
“And we don’t?” Adolf shot back.
“Ja, ja, ja! Sure we do. Nicht wahr?” Gerhard nodded.
“While we’re waiting, I want to see what we can do with the stock we have,” Adolf said.
Weimar, May 1634
“Come on, girl. You can do it!” Adolf coached his beloved Hilde as she delivered her litter of pups. Adolf had bred her to a chien gris dog who had a very gray coat. So far, she had delivered five pups, and three of them were mostly gray. There was a male and two females in the litter. “Good girl, Hilde!”
The puppies looked a lot like the pictures in the up-time book, except they had brown eyes and a slightly rougher coat. Their heads were more like the bloodhounds and they had the “mark of the hound” in their coats, too. The undercoat had some brown in it on the three gray ones.
As usual, Trude had come to the kennel to meet the new puppies.
“See, Trude,” Adolf said, handing her a puppy. “This is what I am trying to make for Duke Albrecht. “This is as close as we can breed yet to the up-time Weimar dog.”
“A real Weimaraner,” she said.
“Yes. That’s what they will be.”
Trude held the little gray puppy close. The tiny bitch puppy had just opened her eyes, and she looked at Gertrude with her big, brown eyes.
Adolf fetched the book they’d poured over together before. “This is what they are supposed to look like,” he said, pointing to the cover, with the wide-eyed gray dog balancing three alphabet blocks on his head. “I still have to figure out how to get the light eyes.”
“What are you thinking?” Trude asked. She seemed very interested. Adolf wondered if she was interested in what he was doing, or just interested in him. It really didn’t matter. He liked Trude a lot. More than he liked Hilde, which was saying a lot. He thought Trude liked him back. He hoped she did. He prayed she did.
“I’m thinking we should give Hilde back her puppy, and go. I can walk you home.”
Trude bent and laid the puppy back in the whelping box, where she immediately sought and found her dinner. Trude straightened, and smiled at Adolf. “I’d like that,” she said.
The couple walked arm in arm out of the kennel and down the cobblestoned street. The street was very narrow, in some places almost too narrow for two people to walk abreast. The street smelled.
“It will truly be nice,” Trude said, “when they get the new sewer finished.”
“Oh, yes. And it will make the stables and the dog runs smell better, too, when we get the pressurized water hoses the Duke’s engineers are making.”
Adolf and Trude had been stepping out now for about eight months. Adolf sucked up his courage.
“You know that I like you very much, Trude,” he began.
“Yes, and I like you too.”
“Do you think it could be more than ‘like’?”
Trude turned to face him, taking both his hands. “Yes, it could. In fact it is. Silly man. I’ve been waiting for you to make up your mind.”
“I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t know how I could support you.”
“I have a decent dowry,” she said. “That will help. We can get a house together.”
“Will you marry me?”
“Of course, silly man,” she said.
He bent his head and kissed her to seal the proposal.
They walked arm in arm to her parents’ house. She invited him in. Adolf swallowed hard, sucked up his chest like a soldier, and prepared to meet the firing squad. Well, at least her father.
Trude’s mother hustled her away, as soon as they entered the house. Her father motioned Adolf into the kitchen.
“Sitz,” he said. Like a good dog, Adolf sat.
“So, young man, what are your intentions toward my daughter?”
“Herr Schmidt, my intention is to marry your daughter, if you will give me permission. We care for each other, and we think we could be a good match. I have prospects. One of these days, Gerhard is going to retire as jagdmeister, and I think I will be able to get the job.” Adolf stopped because he knew he was babbling.
Schmidt sat there looking at him. He didn’t say anything for a while. Adolf felt like trying to melt through the floor.
Finally, Schmidt said, “Well then. I should speak to your father about posting the banns.”
Adolf found that he’d been holding his breath. He let it out in a huge sigh.
“Now it is late, mein Sohn,” Schmidt said. “and you should take yourself off to your bed.”
“Danke schö n,” Adolf said as he went out the door. “Gute Nacht!”
Gyulafehérvár, Transylvania; July 1634
George I Rák-czi crumpled the letter in his fist. The prince of Transylvania sat back in his chair and tapped the table with the fingers of the hand that was not clenching the paper.
“So, they don’t want to concede to me my title or the lands they’ve stolen, but they think I will do them favors?” He cursed the Habsburgs, as he regularly cursed them. Not that his curses appeared to have any effect.
“What do they want, Lord?” his secretary asked.
“The so-called emperor of Austria and Hungary, which territory includes, he claims, the land of Transylvania, damn his eyes! He would like to have me gift some of my dogs to a damn German duke, who isn’t even a subject of his!” Prince George pulled his beard several times as he often did while thinking hard.
“Fine. I daren’t refuse the request, since it is reasonable, and might put the emperor ever so slightly in my debt. But here’s what we are going to do. Istvan, I’m putting you in charge of this,” he said to his secretary. “Get the huntmaster to pick the viszlas to send, and have him pick the scrawniest, most pitiful two dogs in our entire kennel. Send those to this Duke Albrecht of Saxe-Weimar. We will see what he does with them.”
“Yes, Lord,” Istvan bowed and started to leave the room.
“At least Albrecht is a Protestant. That’s one saving grace. But by the time Ferdinand finds out, if he ever does, that the dogs were wrecks, we will have been able to say we complied with the request of our brother monarch. There’s one in the eye for him! Write the letter for me to sign, Istvan!”
Istvan left and went out to the stables. He found the huntmaster at work training a dog.
“The prince wants two of your poorest specimens of Viszla dogs to go to some princeling or other in the Germanies. Pick the two worst and let me know when you are ready to ship them and I will arrange it,” Istvan said.
“Hmmm. I have just the ones. They are from a litter of only two, and they are very strange-looking. They have the eyes of the Devil—they are blue and very light, not the warm brown of our good dogs. We can send them tomorrow.”
Istvan said, “I will have shipping papers drawn up. Build them traveling crates and put some food together for them. It will be a long trip to Weimar.”
Weimar, April 1635
Hilde’s little gray puppy wasn’t either little or a puppy any longer. She was curled around the legs of the cradle that Adolf and Trude’s brand-new son, Gerhard, was in. Trude said that the gray bitch had appointed herself assistant mother to their son.
Adolf came in the door, stamping the snow off his shoes as he entered. Gretchen raised her head and thumped her tail two or three times on the floor in welcome. Adolf had named her after the famous Richterin, the head of the Committees of Correspondence. Adolf and Trude both belonged to the Weimar branch. Duke Albrecht didn’t seem to mind, especially since his brother Ernst and die Richterin were, if not friends, then respectful acquaintances.
Trude turned from the cutting board to her husband’s hug and kiss. “You’ll never guess what happened today,” Adolf said.
“No, I probably won’t,” Trude said, irritated. “And I won’t know until I hear it, silly man. So what?”
“We got a shipment of two Viszla dogs from Hungary, actually Transylvania, today. They are a miserable pair, though. They are a little short, and they both are scrawny and undergrown. One has an undescended testicle, so he’s probably useless. But they both have the light eyes I’ve been looking for.”
“So what is next?”
“I think that Gretchen is about to have a boyfriend,” Adolf said. “She should come into her heat next month, and I will breed her to the Viszla that has two balls. His name is B éla.”
“Will that give you the dog you are trying for?”
“Maybe, but probably not. The heads are still not quite right, and those light eyes—” Adolf moved closer to his wife.
“You will not get what you are trying for,” Trude said, laughing and fending him off, “until after dinner and der Bube sleeps. So save your ardor!”
Weimar, Late August 1636
Gretchen panted. Adolf stroked her head. “You are doing fine, little girl. Any minute now, and they will come out. I think I feel four or five little ones in there, girl. So let’s get busy and get them out here where we can see them.”
Gretchen pushed and the first puppy emerged. She licked it clean, and ate the afterbirth, as the second pup made its appearance. Soon all five puppies were nursing, their little eyes screwed shut.
“Trude, look!” Adolf shouted, as he saw Trude and Gerhard coming into the kennel yard. Gerhard was just toddling, and Trude hoisted him into her arm while she held a basket in the other. “Five of them! Five! Three boys and two girls. And they are all gray!”
“They are beautiful,” Trude said. “Look at their coats, how shiny and smooth!” she went on, as she let Gerhard down. He toddled purposefully over to Gretchen, and patted her on the head.
“Good job, Gretchen,” the toddler said. “Lunch now, Mama?”
Adolf picked him up and swung him onto his shoulders. “Lunch now,” he said, as he and Trude made for a trestle table and benches in the kennel yard. Trude unpacked the basket.
“So,” Trude said as she poured the small beer into two stoneware mugs, “how close will these dogs be to the magical ‘Weimaraner’?”
“Pretty close, I think. It depends on what the eyes look like when they open them. The pups have finer heads than I was expecting, and they should have the large chest but lean flanks that B éla has, and be a little shorter than Gretchen,” Adolf said, between bites of the meat on a slab of bread concoction that people were beginning to call ‘sandwich’ in Amideutsch. “If the eyes are light, like his, we will have our first generation we can call Weimaraners.”
Duke Albrecht swung down from his horse in the kennel yard. “Gerhard said you have something to show me?” he said to Adolf.
“Yes, Highness, I do. If Your Highness will please wait right here,” Adolf said, and bowing, turned and began to go into the kennel building. A sound from the duke stopped him.
“Highness?” Adolf said.
“It is cold and it is starting to snow,” the Duke said. “Couldn’t this wait for a nicer day?”
“I will be but a minute, highness,” Adolf said, ducking into the kennel.
He came back leading five gray dogs, with light-yellow eyes.
“Highness,” Adolf said, “your Weimaraner dogs.” He took each dog in turn and walked them around the kennel yard, showing the Duke what they looked like.
Duke Albrecht stood there, his eyes wide, the cold and the snow completely forgotten.
“And they seem to have the personality that the up-timer duke bred for, too?” the Duke asked.
“Jawohl, Hoheit,” Adolf said. “They are people dogs, but they are hunters too. No cat is safe in this yard.” His gesture took in the snow-covered kennel yard and the road as well.
Bystanders had gathered now, to see the duke’s reaction to Adolf’s work.
Duke Albrecht said, “I like them. How old are they? What have you named them?”
Adolf said, “They are eight months, hoheit. I named them from the calendar, highness. This one is Ahh, this one is Bay, this one is Cee and those are Day and Ey.”
The crowd laughed, as did the duke. “I think I shall take Ahh with me for a while, then. Come, boy.”
He mounted his horse and turned it around in the kennel yard. Adolf took off “A’s” leash and “A” seemed to understand as he moved to stand just behind the Duke’s left stirrup. The others sat when Adolf told them to, watching.
“Let’s go, boy!” The duke prodded his horse into motion, and he and the Weimaraner headed down the snowy hill to the house.
He stopped just as he was about to pass through the kennel gate. “Adolf,” he called.
“Yes, Highness,” Adolf said, noncommittally.
“Gerhard is retiring in six months, and he has asked that I make you his successor as Jagdmeister. Is that acceptable to you?”
“Oh, yes!” the new Huntmaster of Weimar replied. To himself, he said, “It’s not just a dog.”