Two Men Walk Into A Beer Garden And . . .

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Luck always seemed to find Danel Nahon—that is up until five years ago.

He entered his home and found his wife in the kitchen mending one of their daughters' dresses. "I'm returning to Grantville in a week with Javier for business."

Dora barely paused in mid-stitch. The set of her mouth that made her lips seem to disappear was a familiar expression that told him everything he needed to know what she thought about his plans.

But now he needed to return to the present. "I said that I'm going to Grantville."

"I heard you. Do you know that Javier can provide his wife new clothes whenever there's need?"

He braced himself. "My endeavor gives us what we need." He didn't want to begin an argument, but he was also the head of his household.

She sniffed in disgust. "Hmmmph."

Danel quickly left the house before anything else was said, congratulating himself that their conversation went rather well. At least she didn't remind him of his lack of business sense—the fool that he was for not considering Javier's proposal any further. Business sense! He was a fine merchant! Both up-timers and down-timers loved any merchandise he sold—especially oranges! And it gave his wife and three young children all the necessities! In spite of everything, he held on to his memories of his first excursion to Grantville.

****

Danel got out of the carriage and waited for the driver to take down the two trunks. He looked around at the little insignificant speck of a town, Zaborstadt. He would be surprised if it was on anyone's map. If this is what it was to be in the USE, then he just wasted money and time. Would Grantville be any better or were all the stories he heard about the city no more than fantasies?

The long carriage ride after being on a train added to the soreness from an old horseback riding injury. He paid the fare and waited for his friend and business partner, Javier Ferres, to emerge through the doors of a building that should have been immediately familiar to him if it weren't for the Church's influence.

He stared at the building. And stared. At the words inscribed over the door. And then . . . Wait. Is that what I think it is?!? Does the USE allow our people to observe so openly? He was about to get a closer look at the building and felt a sudden twinge of pain going down to his left heel. Heavens, he missed using the up-timer's train! The right side of his mouth creased to a slight smile—a smirk really—when he realized how quickly it took him to be spoiled. Of course having to stop three times in search of Javier's business acquaintance didn't help his soreness, either.

The doors opened and Javier looked rather triumphant as he exited with three men.

"Danel, this fine gentleman is Mr. Henryk Meller . . ." Mr. Meller and Danel exchanged a bow. ". . . whom I told you about. He's graciously welcoming us into his home for Shabbat." Then he gestured to the other man on his left. "And his nephew and now associate, Jozef, will be taking us the rest of our journey to Grantville." Jozef and Danel bowed to one another. "And this is Michal, Jozef's brother." Bows were exchanged a third time.

Meller? He must be very wealthy to be allowed a last name and not to be a Gentile. Or he was originally from Spain and his family changed names when they settled here.

Michal began talking rapidly while Danel waited patiently for Javier to translate. "They're very interested in our importing business and would also strongly consider trading with us—especially," Javier raised his left eyebrow in emphasis, "for our oranges," He cleared his throat. "And they are familiar with my cousin, Yahushua, and his family."

"Please tell Mr. Meller ‘Thank you' for welcoming us. It's been a very long journey, and we still have farther to go before we reach Grantville. Please ask him, would his wife like one or two oranges for tonight's meal perhaps?"

Henryk Meller tried to conceal the quizzical expression but also seemed to want to be polite as well to the two strangers as Javier translated what Danel said and then waited for the reply.

"He says, ‘Yes, thank you for your generosity, but it isn't necessary. As Abraham instructed, he's only doing what is correct.' "

Speaking for them both, Javier said, "We insist. Please." Then to his friend, "Danel, would you give this fine gentleman two of the oranges?"

I must learn their language if I'm ever going to successfully trade, Danel thought.


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