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1635 The Dreeson Incident: Chapter Nineteen

       Last updated: Friday, September 19, 2008 21:41 EDT




    Simon Jones stood at the livery stable next to the still-under-construction St. Thomas the Apostle Lutheran Church, right outside the Ring of Fire, on the main road to Badenburg. Really the not-yet-much-more-than-a-foundation St. Thomas the Apostle church. With winter coming on, it would probably keep that status until next spring.

    They had come into Grantville from the west. The trip back had been shorter. The Duchy of Tirol had granted them safe-conducts. It seemed that among the changes in the political picture, the duchess-regent there, who was Italian, was sending out feelers to the USE. Probably nervous about Maximilian of Bavaria.

    Coming through Bavaria would not have been prudent. Not at all. Swabia was still really uneasy, too. So they’d gone northwest through Switzerland, and then down the Rhine. Whatever else Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar might be up to, he was keeping the river open for commercial traffic. Then, up the Main to Frankfurt, the Imperial Road to Erfurt, and then the Erfurt-Badenburg-Grantville route.

    The crews had done a lot to improve the Badenburg-Grantville road since the embassy left for Venice last winter. Of course, Thuringia had been through another prime road-improvement season since then. Now the road was not only graded and ditched, with a single wagon-width of gravel for bad weather, but macadamized on a double track, starting right where Route 250 came to an end and going all the way to Badenburg. Same thing from there up to the trade route.

    After he had transferred the Gentileschis’ luggage, he looked down toward the trolley stop just inside the Ring of Fire’s border. He was very glad to be getting off a horse and onto a trolley. Very. He understood the priorities that were pushing the railroad north past Magdeburg. It would be great when a spur went west. It would be worth a big detour not to have to travel from Erfurt by horseback.

    Pushing it south was so far off that there wasn’t even any point in dreaming. He’d probably be dead before people could get on the train in Nürnberg and get off again in Grantville.

    Ron and Gerry Stone, ignoring the trolley, were starting off for Lothlorien on foot. He looked after them, a little wistfully. Thirty or forty years ago, he would have had that much energy, too. At the age of fifty-two, he welcomed a seat on the trolley. A seat in which he could sit and worry about Gerry until he got home and finally saw his wife and kids again.

    The trolley station had a pay phone. Not one that accepted coins. You paid the station attendant and got to use his phone. Simon called Mary Ellen and told her that he was on the very final leg of the trip back.

    She said that she would let everyone at First Methodist know. And call the Nobilis and let Prudentia know that her mother was on her way.

    He would really rather have gotten a good night’s sleep before facing a reunion at First Methodist. He had been a minister for years, though. He realized that it wasn’t feasible. He would say hello to everyone at church, eat a potluck dinner, and sleep later. Or, maybe, be too tired to sleep. Or, with better luck, not be too tired to sleep. He had really missed Mary Ellen.



    Ron and Gerry left the hired horses they had ridden in on at the livery stable. They left most of the baggage there, too, in the lockup. Ron told the manager that he’d send a cart for it in the morning. The shouldered their backpacks and headed up the road to Lothlorien.

    “Are you going to get a horse of your own now?” Gerry asked. “I won’t need one, in Rudolstadt, and I can always take the train back and forth between school and home. But to get back and forth between the dye works and town, you might need one.”

    Ron shook his head. “I hadn’t really thought about it. There’s no hurry and I really don’t like to ride, just for its own sake. It’s really almost as fast to walk back and forth, and if I have things to carry, I can always hitch a ride on a delivery wagon if I remember to schedule my meetings right.”



    “Look, Minnie!” Denise yelled over the sound of the motors. “It’s Gerry! He’s back.”


    “Stone. Well, maybe you didn’t know him. You didn’t start school until the fall of ‘33 and you were over in the ESOL classes then. He left for Italy with his folks the next January. But it’s impossible to miss him when you do see him. Carrot top. Freckles.”

    “Should I run over him for you?”

    “No! He’s almost the only boy who was ever nice to me, back in elementary school. Polite nice, I mean. He was one year behind me, before I got sick and lost a grade—had to do it over, I mean. Since then, we’ve been in the same class. And he stayed nice. Not trying to grope me after I got into middle school and started to develop. Sort of absentminded about it. I don’t know whether he meant to be nice to me but, he’s not a pain. And he knows more chemicals to play pranks with than the average person would ever dream of. Picked the right targets. Not afraid of a fight if someone tries to hassle him. He isn’t afraid of guns, either, but he’s not a very good shot. You can’t have everything, though. I want to offer him a lift up to Lothlorien. You can haul the other guy.”

    Minnie considered the matter. She did recognize the Lothlorien name. The dyes; the medications. All she had heard about the old hippie man and his three sons.

    She nodded. If Denise thought this Gerry counted as a friend, or even as “not a pain,” she was willing to haul the other fellow along, whoever he was.

    The other fellow, who turned out to be Gerry’s brother Ron, didn’t have the carrot top. He was just sort of there. Not at all in the category of, “impossible to miss him when you do see him.” Nothing remarkable, nothing dashing, nothing piratical. As the hero of a ballad, Minnie thought, he would have been a total loss. He seemed to be polite nice, too, which was good in everyday life but didn’t get a hero far in a ballad, either. She lost what little interest she might have had if he had been more like Denise’s friend.



    Pastor Ludwig Kastenmayer of St. Martin’s in the Fields Lutheran Church was finding the conversation somewhat confusing.

    But one point was clear. The youngest of the three sons of Herr Thomas Stone, the now-wealthy proprietor of the well known dye works, had chosen, with the consent of his father, to attend the Latin School in Rudolstadt rather than the high school in Grantville. He now, at the age of sixteen, wished Pastor Kastenmayer’s assistance in being admitted in the midst of the current semester, with perhaps tutoring for some remedial work he would need to do to qualify.

    While in Italy with his father and stepmother for the past nine months, he had devoted himself to private preparatory study under the guidance of two Roman Catholic priests, one of them a Jesuit.

    In order to enter a Lutheran school? With the intention of further study at the university of Jena, also a Lutheran institution? Preparatory study which, apparently, the two priests had willingly provided to him?

    “Actually, though,” Gerry said, “they didn’t know that I was going to study Lutheran theology. Because I didn’t know it myself, until the very end.”

    Pastor Kastenmayer’s little piece of the earth stopped shaking under his feet.

    “You may change your mind yet, before you get that far,” the other young man said. That was his older brother, Ron.

    Gerry ignored him. “Not until after I shot Marius while Ducos and his people were trying to assassinate the pope. He was one of them. He had a gun. I was right in front of Marius. I shot him in the throat. Blood splattered everywhere. His head almost came off in my arms. I didn’t really mean to do it, but I killed him. Marius wasn’t normal. Not quite right in the head. He had a gun and he was dangerous, but mentally he wasn’t all there. If I hadn’t done it, he would have killed the pope. Yeah, I get that. He was a little simple minded, but he would have killed the pope. Now he’s the one who’s dead instead, and I’m the one who killed him. Did I say that his head almost came off in my arms? And I knew there was nothing I could ever do to make up for it. Until Magda explained that I didn’t have to, because God already had. Atonement. It was the greatest thing I ever heard of.”

    Kastenmayer shook his head and fastened on one clear fact. “Magda?”

    “Our stepmother,” the older brother said. “She’s the daughter of Herr Karl Juergen Edelman in Jena.”

    Kastenmayer knew Edelman. The small piece of firm ground under his feet expanded a bit.



    “She’d already baptized us,” the red haired boy was saying. “Right after she married Dad, when she found out that nobody ever had done it.”

    A third of them are heathen rang through Kastenmayer’s brain. That’s what Jonas had said about gathering converts from among the up-timers. A third of them are heathen.

    “And she’s Lutheran, so I guess that she meant to baptize us as Lutherans.”

    “A valid baptism is a valid baptism,” Kastenmayer said firmly. “For any variant of Christianity, whether truth or heresy, orthodox or heterodox.” Some points of doctrine might be in dispute among Germany’s Lutherans, but he would have given that reply if total strangers had roused him from a sound sleep at three o’clock in the morning and demanded to know the answer.

    “She used water. And she said, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    “It was Magda,” Ron said grumpily. “In the greenhouse. With the garden hose.”

    Pastor Kastenmayer, whose acquisition of knowledge about up-time culture had not yet reached the game of Clue, ignored him. “That would be quite sufficient. But I really should get it recorded in the church registers. When did this sacramental act take place?”

    The two young men agreed that it had been the spring of 1632. That was before Kastenmayer had been appointed as first pastor of St. Martin’s in the Fields. Before the parish had been established. He would have to get Rothmaler in Rudolstadt to enter the three baptisms into the registers there. He made a note.

    “But after I killed Marius by accident and felt so awful about it, then she told me about all of the rest of it. She had this book with her. It’s called Luther’s Small Catechism.”

    “I’ve heard of it,” Kastenmayer admitted.

    “Through it, I have come to understand the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. To accept all that I owe to the overwhelming mercy of God. I am certain that I have a vocation to the ordained Lutheran ministry.”

    Kastenmayer stared at the boy’s freckles. All of his efforts to obtain “payback” for the up-timer who had married his daughter Andrea by converting other up-timers to Lutheranism paled before this opportunity. This young up-timer, of wealthy family, coming to him. Voluntarily.

    God was humbling him, he knew. Man proposes, God disposes.

    The older of the two cleared his throat. “It’s awfully early for Gerry to be making a final decision. Really, all that we’re sure of is that he wants to go to school this winter in Rudolstadt instead of here. We thought that if, maybe, you could give him a letter of recommendation to the school there…”

    “My mind is made up. All the way.”

    “Look, Gerry. You can’t study to be a Lutheran preacher until, at least, you’re a Lutheran. Magda said that herself. She could baptize you, but she couldn’t confirm you. Theologically, you’re still somewhere out in left field.”

    This was confusing. “Your father does not consent to theological study?”

    “He didn’t say no. He’ll pay for it,” the younger boy said. “Magda thinks it’s a fine idea. And she said that I could get confirmed at the school.”

    “Many men do not make an immediate decision in regard to their life work,” Kastenmayer said soothingly. “Consider Dean Gerhard at Jena. He completed two years of the university medical curriculum before committing himself to another path.” He prudently did not add that the other path had led Gerhard to the deanship of the theological faculty, since that appeared to be a matter of some contention between the two brothers.

    Kastenmayer had spoken, over the past decade and a half, with many decent young men, scarcely more than boys, who had been dragged as soldiers into these incessant wars. Some became brutes. Others could be redeemed, keeping their consciences in the face of the things they had done. This was familiar ground. “Come into my study. I’ll prepare a letter to the rector in Rudolstadt for you.” He paused. “While you,” he said to the other one, “may and will remain out here.”

    God had never promised him that things would be simple.



    Ron was thinking much the same thing, in a more secular manner. Sometimes, since the events of last summer, his younger brother Gerry had seemed more alien to him than Mork from Ork. Before, he’d at least been able to understand adolescent testosterone overload. This religious kick…



    After hearing Kastenmayer’s summary that evening, Jonas Justinus Muselius chuckled and wrote to Pastor Johann Rothmaler in Rudolstadt, with an additional quick note to the rector of the Rudolstadt Latin School along the general lines of “we’ve got us a hot prospect here, so don’t do anything to mess it up.”

    Some days were definitely better than others. Occasionally Jonas felt very tired and started to worry that he was the only person around Grantville who had really faced up to the challenge that assimilating these new immigrants from up-time was going to present for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt.

    It would probably be even more difficult, in the long run, than absorbing the Austrian exiles into Bayreuth or the Bohemian exiles into Saxony had been, even though there were far fewer of them. What was the English word? Oh, yes. “Diverse.” They were far more diverse.

    He was so glad that Ronella Koch was already a Lutheran. Not that anyone of her status would ever be allowed to marry a crippled schoolteacher. But nevertheless, he was glad.



    Ron heard motorcycles coming up behind him, which meant Denise and Minnie of course. Or probably. Not many motorcycles appeared on the road out to Lothlorien.

    “Want a ride?”

    “Sure. Thanks.”

    She pulled off her helmet.


    The other girl also. Not Denise and Minnie. Pam Hardesty. Tina Logsden’s half-sister. He’d been in class with Tina until he’d been accelerated. Then he came back and heard that she’d drowned at the graduation party last spring, while he was in Italy. And—of all people to be on a Harley!—Missy Jenkins. Chip’s sister.

    Ron hadn’t seen much of Chip the last few years. He knew in theory that Chip had gotten involved in the Committees of Correspondence and done a bunch of stuff in Jena, but in Ron’s mind he was still a high school jock. Enemy of the people, in so far as the people were geeks, nerds, and hippies–categories which included the three Stone brothers, in varying proportions.

    Not to mention that the Stones had been a family of disreputable hippies and the Jenkins family was about as close as a West Virginia town like Grantville ever got to aristocracy.

    “I’m stopping here, Missy,” Pam said. “I’ve got a cramp in my leg that I need to walk off. Then I’ll go back. I’ll tell Christin that you went on up to Lothlorien, so she’ll know about when to expect you.”

    “Why don’t you wait for me here? I won’t stop; just drop Ron off and do a turnaround. I’m scheduled to work evening shift.”

    Missy pulled her helmet back on. “You’ll have to ride behind. Buster doesn’t think we’ve gotten good enough to try balancing with the sidecars on yet.”



    “Not exactly where I would have expected to see you perched, Dumpling,” Ron said.

    “Call me that again and I’ll put you back down on the ground.” She was noticing, really noticing, that his arms were around her. Not doing anything improper; just there, holding on.

    “All right. You haven’t really deserved to be called ‘Dumpling’ since you were in sixth grade. Whatever you did that summer between sixth and seventh was a big improvement.”

    “It was called puberty and included a waistline.” The same waistline, she thought, that he was holding onto. Not a particularly slender or dainty one, but functional for dividing her body into an upper half and a lower half. “Why don’t these things come equipped with riding whips? Useful for putting impertinent people in their place and things like that.”

    “Why the motorcycle?”

    “I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn. Not since the Ring of Fire. We’re having to stretch a lot, all of us, or there isn’t going to be enough to go around. Horses don’t speak to me. There aren’t that many full-size cycles in town, but maybe some day I can get a dirt bike of my own. And anyway…”


    “It’s the people who are trying to keep things exactly the way they used to be who are having most trouble getting along with the way things are now. And also…”


    “Once I had my first ride, behind Denise, I had to. Talk about a rush!”

    “Do you suppose they would give me lessons? I’m not that fond of horses either. It’s more fun here on the pillion than it was in the sidecar with Minnie. Did you say that dirt bikes are for sale?”

    “You have to keep your eyes peeled, but every now and then there’s one available. Mickey Simmons sold Kevin’s after he died in that horseback riding accident last spring. I didn’t have the money to buy it, though. And it wasn’t the kind of thing I could ask my parents for.”

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