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A Witch to Live

Walt Boyes

A. M. D. G.

He looked at the letters he'd just written at the top of the page. "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," he breathed. "To the greater glory of God." He calmed himself as he had been taught in his novitiate, and began to write.

"Father Friedrich von Spee, of the Society of Jesus, to His Excellency, Mutius Vitelleschi, Father General of the Society," he wrote.

* * *

Branches slapped her face, roots grabbed at her feet. Veronica ran, exhausted and terrified. The forest was dark and there was no moon. She could hear the baying of the dogs behind her. Were they getting closer? She couldn't tell. She ran on. Her breath was tearing in her lungs. The pounding of her heart felt like hammer blows throughout her body. Behind her, the baying grew louder.

Suddenly she broke into a clearing. She had been braced to push branches out of her way and their sudden absence sent her sprawling. She spat the dirt and leaves from her mouth and scrabbled to her feet, swaying. She turned and faced back the way she'd run. Her face shaped a rictus of terror. She slowly backed up as the first dogs broke through the brush into the clearing.

She put up her arms to try to defend herself against the fangs of the dogs and kept backing up. She started as her back came up against something. It was the stump of a tree. She whirled around it, trying to keep it between her and the dogs. The stump was thin, only about a foot in diameter, and broken off just above her head. It was too small to hide behind, and too short to climb. The dogs snapped and snarled around her.

Voices and then horses and men carrying torches burst from the forest. A troop of cavalry surrounded the clearing and a couple of troopers took their crops and beat the dogs off the woman. The packmaster collected the dogs to one side of the clearing as two of the riders dismounted.

"Well, Father Eberhardt, what have we here?" The taller of the two spoke. He was tall, run to fat, and wearing a back and breast that could have used a polish. His pot helmet was still lashed to his saddle horn. "The witch, as I live and breathe!" In the torchlight, she could see the grin on his face, and her heart stuttered in her chest.

"Veronica Junius; the witch indeed," Father Eberhardt replied, pulling out his prayerbook. "Get her tied up and we can take her back."

"What for? We've got a nice stake she's hugging there. Let's burn her right here and get it over with."

"Captain, please," the priest bridled like a banty rooster. "There are forms we must follow. She has been found guilty of witchcraft, yes. But only in an ecclesiastical court. She must be relaxed to the civil arm, tried again and then you can burn her. Tomorrow. In Würzburg."

"What? And give that damned Jesuit, Von Spee, a chance to try to get her off? You heard what he wrote in his devil-inspired book, didn't you? She's a witch! She needs to burn! You know what she knows! We will take her to Suhl!"

Eberhardt spluttered as the soldier's fist grabbed his soutane and lifted him partway off his feet.

"Do you want to try me, priest? I want her dead, and His Excellency wants her dead. I have my instructions from the bishop. We will take her to Suhl, and burn her there. She has no friends in Suhl." The priest nodded and the captain released him and turned away.

"Get ready to move out!" he commanded. "We've a long way to go!"

The priest and the captain mounted. Two burly troopers muscled the woman onto the priest's horse behind him, and tied her to the saddle. The packmaster busied himself rounding up the dogs.

The troops dressed lines, and the captain motioned them forward.

* * *

Father Spee was still writing. "It is with a chastened heart that I accept your rebuke, Father General. I will amend myself so that in the future I will keep better control over such writings as Cautio Criminalis so that they are not printed against my wishes. But, with respect, Excellency, I must tell you that nothing in the work is false. I have attended the confessions of over two hundred witches up to now, and I have never heard one confess except after torture and the rack."

Von Spee put his pen down. He stood in his bedroom. It was spare, small and had a simple crucifix on the white, stuccoed wall as its only decoration. There was a bed against one wall, several shelves of books and papers, and the desk at which he had been writing. He stretched his neck, thought about sitting down and completing his letter, and then decided against it. He went to the bookshelf and took down a thin, well-thumbed volume. He looked at the title, Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius Loyola. How many times in his forty years of life had he read the book, done the exercises? He could not count.

"Eternal Lord of all things," he read, "I make my oblation with Thy favor and help, in presence of Thy infinite Goodness and in presence of Thy glorious Mother and of all the Saints of the heavenly Court; that I want and desire, and it is my deliberate determination, if only it be Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all injuries and all abuse and all poverty of spirit, and actual poverty, too, if Thy most Holy Majesty wants to choose and receive me to such life and state."

Friedrich von Spee closed the book, put it back on the shelf, and taking his breviary, went down to the chapel to pray and to reflect.

The chapel was dark, with only a few candles and the Presence lamp lit. Through the tall, narrow, stained-glass windows, the late afternoon sun made colored pools on the floor. Von Spee breathed deeply as he entered. He loved the smell of the chapel. The scent of years of melting beeswax and incense was to him the odor of sanctity. He moved quietly down the main aisle, paused before the altar to genuflect, and knelt at the altar steps. As he knelt, he began to relax his mind, as he had been taught, and prepared to pray. He was grateful for all of the years of the discipline of the Society and the Spiritual Exercises. His mind quieted, and he grew still.

Von Spee remained kneeling motionless before the altar for several hours. He really did not notice the passage of time. In his mind, he saw again the images of the trials of the witches he'd seen. He saw the brave, the timid, the intelligent and the foolish all reduced to terror by application of the proper instruments of persuasion. He heard again the confessions to the judges. He saw the victims, for that is what he knew them to be, as they went to their deaths. He heard again many of them cursing God as they died.

"Lord Jesus," he prayed silently, "give me the strength to continue. Give me the courage to witness, and to comfort these poor innocents."

As he prayed, a sense of calm, of peace descended on him. Finally, he felt a sense of release. He stirred, stood, genuflected, and walked briskly down the aisle. He signed himself as he pushed open the heavy chapel door. There was the sound of activity coming from the gates. Curious, he moved to the top of the stairs.

The courtyard gate opened to admit a party on horseback. It was dark, and the group was preceded by linkboys with torches. As they moved into the courtyard, the light from a torch illuminated the face of one of the riders.

"Johann!" Von Spee rushed down the stairs into the courtyard. "My friend, I have not seen you in too long! What brings you to Würzburg?"

"It is you I have come to see, Friedrich." The man swung down from his saddle, and gripped von Spee's forearms in greeting.

"Come in, come in, then. We are just sitting down to supper, have you eaten?"

"Not yet. I was hoping to beg a meal and a bed from you this evening."

"No begging needed. We can talk during our meal."

Von Spee motioned to a young man in the robe of a novice.

"Albert, this is His Excellency Johann Philip von Schönborn, from Mainz. Father von Schönborn is secretary to the prince-bishop. He is an old student of mine from when I taught at the seminary in Trier. Have his horses and his party seen to, please. I will show him to his room."

The novice motioned to the guardsmen and the servants to follow him. Attendants took the horses off to the small stable on the first floor of the residence. The guards closed the courtyard gate after the linkboys were paid and sent off.

Von Spee turned and ascended the stairs, von Schönborn behind him.

Supper was light, as was common in a Jesuit residence. There was a plate of meat and some vegetables, some bread and a light wine, followed by fruit and cheese. Although born to noble families, neither priest missed the extravagant meals of court life. Both were spare and thin, Father von Spee to the point of gauntness.

"I have been using some of your hymns in the services at Mainz, Friedrich," Johann said around a slice of apple. "You have a way with words and the people seem to enjoy singing them. When will you print them in a songbook?"

"Probably never. They are simply scribblings, of no real account." Friedrich carved a piece of cheese, and stared at it. "And besides, I've just gotten into trouble for a book that was printed." He popped the piece of cheese into his mouth.

"Ah, yes! The Cautio Criminalis."

"Yes, that."

"You know, Friedrich, pardon me for saying this, but you are not looking well. How old are you now, forty?"

"Yes, yes, I am forty."

"Yet your hair is already gray, like an old man! And you keep yourself fit, too. So what is the problem, my friend?"

"It is the witchcraft trials, Johann. I do not know how much more of this I can stand."

"What do you mean?"

"It is regret that has turned my hair all gray," Friedrich said, looking at his hands, "regret that I have had to accompany so many witches to the place of execution and among them I found not one who was not innocent."

Johann stared at his older friend. "Not a single guilty one?"


"I have read your tract. Do you really believe that it is the torture that gets them all to confess? And that they are confessing false things to keep from being tortured again?"

"That is what I believe. It is not possible that so many people of stature, such as the nephew of the bishop of Bamberg, and the chancellor and several burgomasters there, could all be witches!"

"Do you not believe in witches, then?" Johann asked, his winecup poised.

"Of course I do! The Bible says they exist, and the Church says they exist, and I firmly believe they do exist. It is just that . . ." Friedrich's voice tailed off. He looked past Johann to a point in space.

"That what?" Johann prompted.

"I do not see how hanging someone from the ceiling with weights on their feet and bouncing them at the end of the rope can possibly be used to tell if they are lying or not!"

"Yes, I don't like the strappado either. Or the screws. Or the rack. But what else is there to do?"

"Look, Johann, you were good at logic when I taught it to you," Friedrich leaned forward intensely. "Is it logical to assume that someone who is being tortured will eventually tell the truth if they are tortured enough, or is it more logical to assume that they will say anything, anything at all, simply to stop the pain?"

Johann looked away. The silence grew intense. Finally he spoke.

"Have you heard about this new city that has appeared in Thuringia? It appeared like magic, they say, and is filled with warlocks and witches."

"You can't catch me out like that." Friedrich laughed, finishing his wine. "I have been writing to a friend of mine who is at the University in Jena."

"You have Protestant friends?" Johann said, eyebrow raised.

"Of course. How else to know the enemy?" Friedrich replied, smiling. "The city is called Grantville, which is English, and the people call themselves Americans and claim to have come from a time in the future when the New World is highly populated. Professor von Muenster, in Jena, has even been there, and says that though the things they have, and their works, are marvelous, they are artisans of great power, not warlocks."

"How did they come to be in Thuringia?" Johann replied.

"None of them knows. It is considered by them to be a miracle. Von Muenster writes that they have a very clear set of laws, and they are a republic, like the Dutch."

"What do they think of witches, then?" Johann asked.

"They don't believe in them," Friedrich said starkly. "They don't believe in them at all."

He paused, sitting still for a moment, then he turned to his friend.

"Johann, what if they are right? What if there are no witches? What if all the people we've burned are innocents? I have seen more than two hundred people burned! How can I face Almighty God with that on my soul, if there are no witches?"

"Ach, Friedrich," Johann said. He paused, then he breathed deeply.

"Now I must tell you the reason for my visit," he said slowly.

Von Spee looked at him, horror slowly dawning in his eyes.

"Eberhardt, the bishop's inquisitor in Bamberg has chased down the daughter of that man, Junius, who was the burgomaster of Bamberg before he was burned. He is taking her to Suhl, and will be trying her again there. He aims to burn her in Suhl because she has too many friends in Bamberg. My master the prince-bishop was informed of this by one of his intelligencers. He has sent me to ask you to go there and make sure that the trial is conducted properly."

Von Spee rubbed his face with one hand, and pushed back his hair.

"Why me? I am not in good odor with either the bishop of Bamberg or my own father general at the moment. You know his true mind, what does the prince-bishop expect me to do at Suhl?"

Johann looked at him, light from the table candle glittering reflected in his eyes.

"He too has read your tract. He is concerned as we all are, that innocent people may be suffering the vilest torture. And even though the Protestants also hunt witches, he is concerned that these trials are giving the Holy Office a terrible reputation. The Church, he says, should not compel its children to obey out of fear of torture."

He met von Spee's eyes. "He is a good man, Friedrich. He needs you to go, and report to him."

Von Spee straightened in his chair. He looked off into space for a few moments, and then sighed deeply.

"Very well, I shall go to Suhl. But I am going for myself, not for the prince-bishop, or the Society of Jesus. I am going for Friedrich von Spee, nothing more. And if she is innocent, I will not let her burn."

Johann nodded. "I think," he said slowly, "that my master will be pleased."

Von Spee blew out his breath. He rose.

"I must see to some things, if I am to leave in the morning, Johann."

"I believe that I and my guards will ride with you. We will have access to extra horses, and we will keep you safe," Johann said. "In the morning, then."

"In the morning, Johann."

* * *

Friedrich von Spee sat at the outside table at the Inn of the White Swan in Suhl, watching. He and von Schönborn had arrived earlier that morning. Von Schönborn was at the episcopal palace, delivering papers and seeing to the guardsmen. Friedrich had taken a walk through Suhl. They had arrived before Eberhardt, for which he was grateful.

An enormous American officer leaned over the left fender of a big metal vehicle and wiped his wet rag on the glass. The big metal wagon was standing in front of the inn where they were staying. Von Spee stared at it, thinking that it reminded him very much of the woodcuts he had seen of a Bohemian war wagon. There was another officer, not so large, using a brush and a bucket filled with soapy water on the wheels and the sides of the wagon.

The huge soldier had taken the armor off so he could wash the curved glass window in the front of the wagon and get the mud and smoke and guck off it.

"Hey Tom," the other soldier called, "Want a beer?"

"Sure, Heinrich, I'm just about finished here. We've got us a nice, clean APC. Just gimme a minute to put this back." Tom lifted the huge metal plate and set it gently down over the window of the war wagon. Heinrich tightened the bolts on the right side of the truck, while Tom did those on the left. "Tom" had an unusual accent but his German was fluent, von Spee noted, while "Heinrich" was clearly a native speaker. The only word von Spee could not understand was "aaypaysee" but it was clear that it was the name of the war wagon.

Finished, the two American soldiers strode to one of the other tables outside the inn and sat down not far from von Spee. Von Spee had his breviary out but was not reading. Fascinated, he just sat and listened. The barmaid brought beer, smiling.

"I'm glad you did that, not me," Heinrich said, blowing the head off his beer and taking a drink. "You are stronger than two oxen! And I hope to the Good God that you don't ever get mad enough at me to forget I'm your commander!"

"Me? Violent?" Tom slurped his own brew. "How could you ever think that? I am wounded, Captain! Wounded!"

"You are a big bullshitter, Tom Simpson. After you picked that one drunken bastard up and tossed him right through the door of this very inn, you can say that to me?" Heinrich declaimed.

"Yeah, well." Simpson drank his beer.

"You know, Heinrich, this garrison duty beats the hell out of marching around, and it sure beats fighting, but it is awful damn boring."

"Ja, Tom, but you know, it isn't going to be boring forever."

"You think they'll come through Suhl?"

"I don't know, but it is a good bet."

"When will they come?"

"Who knows? Don't get all, how do you Americans say it, all stressed out, ja, that's it . . . don't get all stressed out over it, eh? They will come when they come. It is our job to be ready."

"Yeah, well, I guess I ought to go out and see how the breastworks are coming."

"Tom, stop. Listen to me. Our men know what they are doing. You know that. What do you think they will do if you keep going out and looking over their shoulders?"

"I guess they'll think I'm nervous."

Heinrich nodded. "That's right. And you are. But you can't let them see it. So have another beer, and let's finish cleaning up the APC."

"Hauptmann Heinrich! Captain!" One of the sentries at the breastworks was running toward them. "Soldiers! Some soldaten coming are!"

"Who are they?" Heinrich asked.

"Don't know," the runner panted. "They have no banner. It is a small troop, but they have dogs and a woman with them."

"A woman?" Heinrich asked. Von Spee tensed, knowing who the soldiers and the woman must be.

"Ja, Hauptmann! She is riding behind one of the men."

Abruptly, Heinrich stood.

"We will come. Tell them to keep them at the gate. But do not fire on them!"

"Ja, Hauptmann!" The runner tore off back toward the American emplacements.

"Good, now Tom, let us go finish our beer, and then make an appearance."

"I see," said Tom. "It wouldn't do for either our men, or our visitors to believe that we were too anxious. Did I get it right?"

"Right in one." Heinrich smiled.

"Should we take the APC?"

"I don't think so. Let us walk."

"Suits me, Captain," Simpson said.

Von Spee waited until the two officers had gotten a couple of buildings down the street, and then he stood and tucked his breviary into the sash of his cassock, and quietly followed the soldiers.

The commander of the troop of soldiers was arguing with one of Heinrich's guards when Heinrich and Tom arrived at the gate. The American troops stood, and saluted as Heinrich walked up. Von Spee stopped, and stood in a doorway far enough away so he would not be noticed.

"What is going on, Sergeant Massaniello?" Heinrich asked, pleasantly. Simpson stood behind him, a little to one side.

Sergeant Massaniello, the soldier in command of the detachment, reported.

"This gentleman wishes to enter Suhl, sir!" Massaniello spoke in heavily accented German, obviously a courtesy to the strangers.

"And why does he wish to do that, Sergeant?" Heinrich asked, also in German.

"It appears that they have caught themselves a witch, sir, and they want to bring her in and put her on trial."

Tom Simpson began to look very angry. Von Spee sharpened his gaze, and looked closely at the huge American. Simpson started forward. Heinrich held up his hand. Simpson stood still. Heinrich thought, then he moved forward.

"Guten Tag," he said. "Good day."

"I am Captain Wolfgang, Ritter von Brun," the mounted commander replied. "I am the Commander of the Guard of His Eminence, Bishop Friedrich von Hatzfeld, of Würzburg-Bamberg. This is Father Joachin Eberhardt, the bishop's inquisitor."

Heinrich smiled. "I am Captain Heinrich Schmidt, of the Army of the United States. This is Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, and Sergeant Lawrence Massaniello. Welcome to Suhl, mein Herr Ritter. May I ask your purpose in coming here?"

"Father Eberhardt and I would like to use the courtroom here in Suhl, and the town square."

"For what?"

"We have apprehended a notorious witch, already tried before the ecclesiastical court in Bamberg, and we want to relax her to the secular authorities and burn her."

Von Spee noticed that all of the Grantville men were standing now, intent on von Brun. Each of the American soldiers appeared to be carrying an odd type of arquebus, small, and very light. Friedrich saw that all the guns were pointed at the incoming troop.

"Fine then," Heinrich said. "You may safely leave her with us. It appears that you may not have known Suhl has been accepted as one of the United States. It is very recent, so. We will have her sent to Grantville for the trial. You need not accompany her further, if you wish." Von Spee found himself moving forward, slowly, almost without his own volition. He stopped himself and stood still. No one had noticed him standing there.

"What do you mean, you will have to send her to Grantville? The woman is guilty, and she must burn. We will stay with her until this is done."

"Perhaps Father Eberhardt would like to come with her, but there is no need for you to trouble yourself further, Herr Ritter."

"Why are you interfering? All we want to do is to burn this witch! Why is this causing a problem?"

"It is not our policy to permit armed troops of foreign princes on United States soil, Captain. If you wish to enter Suhl, you must do so unarmed."

"This is preposterous! If I wish to enter Suhl I will enter Suhl. I am the Ritter von Brun. I don't have to give up my weapons to any jumped-up peasant in rusty armor!"

"But I am not a jumped-up peasant," Heinrich said, still pleasantly. "I am a sovereign citizen of the United States. Suhl is now part of the United States. And in the United States, Herr Ritter, my blood is as good as yours."

"Then perhaps we should do something about this United States of yours. Stand aside. I will enter Suhl." The Ritter was incensed.

"Your pardon, Herr Ritter, but unless you agree to disarm, you will not." There was steel in Heinrich's voice. Von Spee watched as unobtrusively each of the troopers had moved into positions of high alert. The Bamberger horses stamped and neighed nervously.

"I see six of you, and there are more than a dozen of us," Captain von Brun declared.

"I would think again," Heinrich began.

Friedrich would always remember how suddenly it happened. It was like a hot rock dropped into a cooking pot.

Veronica began to struggle with the priest she was riding behind.

One of the Americans raised his rifle. A Bamberger trooper pulled one of his horse pistols, fired at the American and missed. The American fired back and didn't miss. Von Brun drew his saber, preparing to ride Heinrich down. Even though Von Spee was standing directly behind Heinrich, he felt paralyzed.

A small hole appeared in von Brun's forehead as the back of his head sprayed away on the trooper behind him. Tom Simpson held a squarish silver handgun with smoke coming from the hole in the muzzle. The Ritter von Brun slid out of the saddle. Von Spee vomited. He'd seen death before, but usually in the hospitals where he regularly served as a nurse. Never before had he seen such an explosion of violence.

"Everybody stand still!" Heinrich ordered. "You," he pointed at one of the Americans, "get the woman. You, take the priest. Bring them along. Tom, make sure that these soldiers are disarmed and find housing for them. Oh yes, and see if any of them would like to join the United States Army."

"Jawohl, Captain!" the enormous lieutenant replied.

"And find someplace to bury the Ritter von Brun."

Heinrich snorted, turned and strode back down the street into Suhl toward the inn. He immediately ran into von Spee, still paralyzed, standing over the puddle of his vomit in the street.

"Who are you?" Heinrich demanded.

Von Spee shook himself. He wiped his mouth with a handkerchief from the sleeve of his cassock, hawked, spit into the handkerchief, and met Heinrich's eyes.

"I am Father Friedrich von Spee, of the Society of Jesus. I have been sent to Suhl by the prince-bishop of Mainz to witness the trial of a woman from Bamberg. I believe that is the woman, there." He pointed to Veronica. "It is my charge to see to it that no innocents are burned as witches any longer." He held his head proudly, and stared at the American captain and at Father Eberhardt. Eberhardt glared back. Heinrich slowly nodded, thoughtfully.

"Come along, then."

* * *

By the time Simpson and Massaniello had sorted out the bishop's soldiers, and brought Father Eberhardt and the woman to the square in front of the inn, a large crowd had gathered.

Heinrich had brought together the tables from the inn and moved them out into the square. He was sitting, waiting. Von Spee sat beside him. The crowd parted and Johann von Schönborn and his guards marched to the table. Along with him was the burgomaster of Suhl. The burgomaster sat next to von Spee at the table.

The American troops lined up at one side of the table, and the prince-bishop's guard, unarmed but in armor, took the other side. Tom Simpson walked around behind the table and stood at Heinrich's side. Von Schönborn stood just behind von Spee. Eberhardt and Veronica Junius stood before the table facing them.

Heinrich nodded to the burgomaster, who began to speak.

"We have not yet learned to be truly Americans," he said. "But I have been studying the Constitution very hard, ja. And it is part of our new Constitution that nobody can be forced to confess against his or her own will. Since Fraulein Junius has been tortured, we must assume that her confession to the crime of witchcraft was forced. Captain Schmidt has suggested that it would be best if we sent this woman to Grantville where she can be tried again according to our new laws, and I have agreed. So be it done."

Eberhardt began to protest, but it was soon obvious that no one wanted to listen to him.

"Massaniello, take Fraulein Junius and Father Eberhardt to Grantville and turn them over to Dan Frost and Father Mazzare." Heinrich spun around, pointing and giving orders. "Tom, take the bishop of Bamberg's guards back to the checkpoint and send them on their way back to Bamberg, as soon as His Excellency here can have a copy of his judgment ready for them to take with them."

He turned to von Spee and von Schönborn. "And what will you do now, Reverend Sirs?"

Johann smiled, and looked at Friedrich. "I must be back on my way to Mainz immediately, Captain."

Von Spee looked at his hands thoughtfully. "I have a letter to finish," he said, "but I think I will accompany Fraulein Junius to Grantville if I may." He looked at Heinrich for permission.

"Yes," the American captain said, "I think that would be wise."

* * *

"Father, Father! Father Mazzare! Where are you?" The elderly woman, with von Spee behind her, barged into the garage of the rectory. There was another one of the metal vehicles, with a man's legs sticking out from under the front part.

The man started, banged his head on the underside of the vehicle, muttered some words Von Spee didn't understand, then came out from under the vehicle. Von Spee stood in the doorway watching as the man, covered with grease, sat up on a peculiar rolling cart.

"What is it, Mrs. Flannery?" The man—Father Mazzare, apparently—rolled off the odd, low-slung cart and got to his knees, holding his head.

"Oh, Father," Mrs. Flannery gasped, holding her palm to her mouth. "What happened?" She ran to him and helped him up.

"Nothing, really. You startled me when you came in, and I banged my head on the engine mount. I'll be fine in a few minutes. Yeah, fine."

She muttered to herself.

"What? I didn't hear you, Mrs F," Mazzare said.

"I said that it just isn't seemly for a priest of God to be getting all dirty and greasy working on the underparts of cars. That what I said! And that's what I believe, too!" Her glare was trying to melt him into a puddle on the floor.

"Yes, well, so you've said before," Mazzare sighed, and pushed himself to his feet.

"But what brings you looking for me, Mrs. F? I thought you were too angry to be here."

"This gentleman here asked me to come fetch you for Dr. Adams. Sergeant Massaniello has brought in another one."

"Another one?" Mazzare looked nonplussed. "Oh, you mean another poor woman who's been accused of witchcraft. I'll get changed and go. Is she at Dr. Adams' office?"

"Yes. But Father, what are we going to do if one of these days we get a real one? A witch, I mean."

"Mrs. Flannery, I'm surprised at you. There's no such thing as witches."

"Not in our time, maybe. But there must have been witches back in this terrible time. After all, they were burning a lot of them. It seems to me that there just has to be some truth to it."

"I've never heard of any," Mazzare replied, shaking his head. "Please tell Dr. Adams it'll be about an hour. I need to take a shower and shave, and get dressed."

"You'll wear your cassock, Father?" the old woman encouraged.

"Yes, I'll wear my cassock! The poor woman who's been accused will probably have a hard enough time believing I'm a priest without it."

"Well, then I'll go tell Dr. Adams. Good night, Father."

"Good night, Mrs. Flannery."

Mrs. Flannery turned and shepherded von Spee before her. Friedrich said nothing, and turned obediently back into the rectory. As he and the old woman moved down the hallway to the door, he heard the American priest singing, horribly off key.

"I am I, Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha! My destiny calls and I go!"

Friedrich von Spee smiled as he puzzled out the words of the song. He had always enjoyed the exploits of the Dubious Knight. He was beginning to feel even a stronger kinship with the addled old hidalgo. Or was it more likely a kinship with Sancho Panza? He hurried to follow the bustling old woman out into the night.

* * *

Massaniello paced the front room of Dr. Adams' combined house and clinic. At the sound of the knock, he strode to the door and opened it.

"Hi, Father, come on in."

Mazzare entered and shook the big coal miner's hand.

"Sit down, Father," Massaniello offered. The priest sat in one of the armchairs in the sitting room. Massaniello sat down, too.

"How is she?" the priest asked.

Massaniello took a deep breath.

"Well, she was running to Grantville when they caught her," he began.

"She wasn't running very fast, I'll bet." A deep voice interrupted from the door of the clinic.

Mazzare turned toward it. Dr. Jeffrey Adams strode through the door into the parlor with his hand outstretched. The messenger Mazzare had seen at the rectory entered the parlor behind him. Chief of Police Dan Frost came in last of all.

"Father Larry, how are you?" Adams greeted him. Frost nodded at the priest.

"I'm fine, but what about our newest immigrant?"

"She's under sedation. She's been hurt, badly. She has really been through the ringer, Larry. I never thought I'd actually see what happens when you put somebody on the rack. Oh," Adams added gesturing toward von Spee, "this is Father Friedrich from Würzburg. He came with Fraulein Junius. My German is still horrible, but I think he is her defense attorney."

* * *

Von Spee shook Mazzare's outstretched hand, his brow furrowing at the strange legal reference. His spoken English was really terrible. He could read it, but had never had the chance to speak it much. He wasn't sure what "attorney" meant, but he had decided to be her defender, so he kept his questions to himself.

"Who is this woman, Father Friedrich?" Mazzare asked.

Von Spee was folding and refolding a piece of paper in his hands, like it was a worry stone. Mazzare spoke slowly, and von Spee had very little problem understanding what Mazzare wanted to know.

"She is Veronica Junius, daughter of Burgomaster Junius from Bamberg," he replied.

"What happened?"

"Well, Burgomaster Junius got accused of witchcraft about four years ago, along with some other high officials in Bamberg. They all confessed and were burned. So the bishop seized Junius' property and she wound up in the gutter. She went to Würzburg to try to start over, but she fell into hardship there."

Massaniello took up the tale. "After the burgomaster determined what the facts were, he sent her back here to Grantville to be officially retried under our laws. Captain Schmidt sent me with her." He looked at the Grantville priest. "We had a chance to talk a little on the ride back from Suhl. Heck, she could be my daughter."

"How did she come to be accused of witchcraft herself?" Dan Frost inquired.

Von Spee replied, "I don't know all of the . . . how you say it, details? Yes, details. Somebody found out who she was, and told Father Eberhardt, the bishop's inquisitor from Bamberg. He came to see her in Würzburg, and accused her of all of the usual things they accuse witches of doing. She says she denied doing any of it, but of course, he wouldn't believe her."

"And . . ." Mazzare cocked his head, wincing a little.

"Just so. They put her on the rack until she confessed. But one of the guards was friendly, and didn't think she was guilty, and looked the other way while she escaped. She appears to have been running to United States territory when they caught her."

Frost spoke. "As soon as she is well enough, we'll have a hearing. This Father Eberhardt from Bamberg is insisting on it. Father Friedrich here is, too. But she isn't in good shape, physically."

"I imagine she isn't in a great mental state, either," Mazzare said, shaking his head.

"Not after what they did to her." Von Spee said, "She tells me that they tried her under torture for three days before she could escape. Of course, each day worse than that before."

Mazzare turned to Adams. "Can she talk to me?"

"I think so. Come with me."

Adams turned and led the way into the clinic, with everyone trooping in behind him. It was a small white room, with two beds and some medical equipment on stainless steel carts.

The woman was in one of the beds. Her face was swollen and it was full of lacerations. Von Spee thought the newer scrapes probably came from the woman's dash through the woods to Grantville.

"Do you understand me well?" Mazzare asked in hesitant and newly learned German.

"Ja. And I can ein wenig English speak," said the young woman.

Mazzare took a deep breath. Von Spee could see that Mazzare was not comfortable with the idea of interrogating someone accused of witchcraft.

"I am Father Mazzare, the Catholic priest in Grantville here. How are you called, and from where do you come?"

The odd constructions of German made Mazzare sound stilted to his own ear, but Von Spee realized that it was easier to understand the English words when Mazzare used German-like grammar.

"I am Veronica Junius, and I come aus Bamberg," she replied.

"Why were those men chasing you?"

There was silence. She looked away.

"Veronica," Mazzare said softly, "were you accused of being a witch?"

She looked at him. The pause lengthened. He held her gaze.

"Ja . . . I mean, yes," she said softly, finally.

"Were you practicing witchcraft?" Mazzare asked.

"Sheiss no!" she retorted, animated for the first time. "I'm not a witch, I'm a whore!"

Behind him, Massaniello broke up. He tried to stifle his snigger, but failed, miserably. Dr. Adams started to chuckle, then Mazzare, and finally Veronica did too. Von Spee looked a little blank, parsing the statement in his mind. His English was poor, yes, but he finally got the joke, and he smiled.

"Well," the American sergeant choked out, "at least, in English, it starts with the same letter!"

As the laughter died, Mazzare gestured for focus, and went on.

"What did you do that got you accused?"

Veronica tossed her nondescript brown hair. "It was not what I did," she replied, "but who my father was, that got me into trouble."


Her story came out in a rush. "Ja, my father was Junius the burgomaster of Bamberg. They . . . they burned him. But he was innocent! He never was a witch! I swear it! And I never was. After they killed him, and the bishop took our house and our business, I went to Würzburg. But I didn't have any money, and the families I knew didn't want to know me anymore."

"So you became a prostitute," Mazzare said quietly.

"Yes." Her language, Mazzare noted, was becoming better and more educated by the minute, like she was taking off a disguise.

"That is all right, my child," Mazzare said. "We sometimes have to do very terrible things in order to survive. God, I am sure understands."

Suddenly, von Spee pushed forward, and handed her the paper he'd been folding and refolding.

"I kept this for you," he said.

"Oh, Father Friedrich," Veronica said, "thank you. I thought it was lost. And then nobody would believe me."

She handed the paper to the Grantville pastor. Mazzare looked at the shaky German handwriting. He looked around the room.

"Father Friedrich, can you read this?" he asked. "It is hard for me to make out."

"Ja, I can read it," von Spee said. "Please excuse my English. I speak much better Latin and Italian." He cleared his throat.

" 'Many hundred thousand good-nights, dearly beloved daughter Veronica. Innocent have I come into prison, innocent have I been tortured, innocent must I die. For whoever comes into the witch prison must become a witch or be tortured until he invents something out of his head and—God pity him—bethinks him of something.' "

Friedrich somehow kept reading, slowly, and in almost a monotone, punctuated by the sobbing of the woman in the bed. He read on and on, until the end.

" 'Dear child, keep this letter secret so that people do not find it, else I shall be tortured most piteously and the jailers will be beheaded. So strictly is it forbidden. . . . Dear child, pay this man a dollar . . . I have taken several days to write this: my hands are both lame. I am in a sad plight . . . Good night, for your father Johannes Junius will never see you more. 24 July, 1628.' "

There was silence, except for Veronica's sobbing.

"You see, Father," she said through her tears, "he was innocent. There is a scribble in the margin, Father Friedrich. Can you read that, too?"

"Ja. 'Dear child, six have confessed against me at once: the chancellor, his son, Neudecker, Zaner, Hoffmeisters Ursel and Hoppfen Els—all false, through compulsion, as they have all told me, and begged my forgiveness in God's name before they were executed. . . . They know nothing but good of me. They were forced to say it, just as I myself was . . .' "

Veronica looked hard at Mazzare.

"They had a chance to steal a fortune," she said. "So they accused rich and powerful men, and tortured them until they confessed, and stole their goods and homes. And their families were put out in the street like me."

"And even then it wasn't enough, Father. They sent Eberhardt to find me. He tracked me down from Bamberg to Würzburg, and arrested me for being a witch. I told him I wasn't a witch but he wouldn't listen.

"But Father, even if it damns me to say this, I must. That Father Eberhardt, I'd put a spell on him, all right, if I could, but I don't know any."

"I see," Mazzare said.

Mazzare brushed his hair back from his face with both hands. He sighed, and said, "Veronica, you're safe here. We don't burn witches in Grantville. We don't believe in torture in Grantville. We don't really even believe in witches in Grantville! We will have a trial, as soon as you are well, and then you will go free."

Von Spee stared at him.

* * *

Mazzare morosely sipped his tea and read his breviary at the kitchen table in the rectory. He'd invited von Spee to spend the night at the church, and the two of them had said an early mass and come back into the kitchen for tea. Neither man spoke much as they waited for Hannelore to fix breakfast.

The screen door banged, and Mazzare looked up. Simon Jones barged into the kitchen, smiling. Mazzare's friend, fellow auto mechanic and the town's Methodist minister began pouring himself a cup of tea.

"The Good Lord knows I hope we can talk the Turks into selling us more coffee beans," he said, by way of greeting. "They are still pretty expensive for coffee every morning."

"The Good Lord is getting more help along those lines from the Abrabanel family, from what I heard," Mazzare replied. Von Spee' eyes widened. Like every Jesuit, he knew his politics, and he knew who the Abrabanels were. It was not widely known that they were supporting the United States. Interesting, he thought, very interesting indeed.

"I hear you were out late last night with a beautiful woman," Jones needled.

"That's not very funny, Simon!" Mazzare said. "You know Vincent de Paul? The guy this church was named for? Well, he is still alive, campaigning over there in France to keep priests out of the whorehouses, did you know that? The Church in this time has much to answer for, I think."

"Whoa, there, my friend," Reverend Simon Jones put up his hands. "Easy. I was only kidding."

Jones noticed von Spee. He smiled at him, and looked questioningly at Mazzare.

Mazzare said, "Father Friedrich, this is Simon Jones. He is a Protestant minister here in Grantville, and my good friend." Wondering, but remembering his own friendship with Professor Muenster in Jena, Friedrich shook Jones's hand. Mazzare was continuing to speak.

"It's this whole darn witchcraft thing. We got another one last night. A young woman named Veronica Junius from Bamberg. It seems her father was burned for witchcraft, so they assumed she was a witch, too, and they were all set to burn her at the stake! For real! Tom Simpson shot the leader just as he was going to put his sword through Heinrich Schmidt's head."

"Yeah, they did it a lot in this century, here and in England. And in America, too . . . remember the Salem witch trials? It wasn't just the Catholics, you know."

"Well, we've got to do something about it, Simon." Mazzare looked straight at his friend. "It's like the Church thinks that every woman is the 'wicked witch of the west' nya-ah-ah! Too bad we can't get them to think about Glinda the Good Witch instead."

"Um, why can't we?" Jones said, slowly, thinking.


"Well, you have a tape of The Wizard of Oz, don't you? Why don't we have Becky show it? And we can have a discussion afterward with young Miss Junius and Melissa and maybe Gretchen or one of her friends from Jena."

"Okay," Mazzare said. "That works for inside the United States. Now we have to figure out what to do outside the United States."

Friedrich von Spee was completely confused by the back and forth. He had no idea what the two Americans were talking about. He started to interrupt, but Mazzare suddenly stiffened, and rose half out of his seat.

"Wait a minute," he said.

Mazzare got up and went into his study. He returned with a large volume.

"Catholic Encyclopedia," he said. "I want to look something up. Let's see. 'witchcraft' . . . yes, here it is. I thought I remembered it."

"What did you find, Larry?" Jones stood and peered over his friend's shoulder.

"This. Look here. 'Friedrich von Spee: a poet, opponent of trials for witchcraft . . .' He sounds like a pretty good guy. I think we need to find him."

"Um." The sound came from von Spee.

The two Americans looked at him. He came forward, and as he did so, they noticed he was shaking.

"May I please see that book?" Von Spee's voice quavered, and he took the book from Mazzare.

He looked at the cover, then he turned to the page Mazzare had been reading from, and read haltingly aloud.

"Friedrich von Spee. A poet, opponent of trials for witchcraft, born at Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, 25 February, 1591; died at Trier 7 August, 1635." Friedrich swallowed heavily, and kept reading. " . . . During the storming of Trier by the imperial forces in March, 1635, he distinguished himself in the care of the suffering, and died soon afterwards from the results of an infection contracted in a hospital. He was one of the noblest and most attractive figures of the awful era of the Thirty Years' War . . ."

He looked at Mazzare and Jones.

"It . . . it is not every day that a man gets to read the judgement of history upon him," Friedrich said.

The two Americans sat, staring at him.

"I am sorry not to have properly introduced myself last night, Father Mazzare," he continued. "I am Friedrich von Spee."

* * *

Friedrich von Spee crumpled up the letter he had started to write so few days before. He went to the window and stared out of it, at nothing.

"Not my will, but thine, almighty Father," he said to himself, softly.

He returned to his desk, took out a new piece of paper, lifted his pen, and began to write.

"AMDG. Father Friedrich von Spee, of the Society of Jesus, to His Excellency, Mutius Vitelleschi, Father General of the Society," he wrote. "It is with a chastened heart that I accept your rebuke, Father General. I did not intend the Cautio Criminalis to be published. But, with respect, Excellency, I must tell you that nothing in the work is false. I have attended the confessions of over two hundred witches up to now, and I have never heard one confess except after torture and the rack.

"I have just returned from the new town of Grantville, which I am certain you have heard of by now. I am now convinced that all of the witches I have seen burned have been completely innocent.

"I have brought back with me to Würzburg copies of some books that were given to me by Father Mazzare, the priest in Grantville. They have a marvelous machine that flashes a strong light at the pages of a book and produces an exact replica without a printing press. Father Mazzare showed me the workings, and explained them so far as I was able to understand them. It is an entirely mechanical device, and nothing of witchcraft. Father Mazzare himself is a scientist and artisan, I believe. I have put together a package of some of these copies to include with this letter.

"I am asking for your permission to publish the Cautio Criminalis in my own name, and with official imprimatur. I am certain that your permission will be forthcoming once you have read these books.

"Father General, I beg you to permit me to continue as I have begun, for as a priest of God, and a theologian, I can do no other."


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