Jill continued. “In this world, I would imagine the Arabs, not the Swedes, are exploring and settling the New World.”
“About twelfth century, do you think?” Ethan suggested as he carefully considered his surroundings. “About five hundred years less advanced than your Earth.” He spoke to Lars. “No knowledge of gunpowder.” Lars nodded but kept his mouth closed as he looked around.
“Now, don’t jump to any conclusions,” Jill interjected. “To begin with, advanced is such a subjective term. It is not really useful for establishing parallel dates. Second, I know of at least one group of European explorers who only brought enough technology, like bows and arrows, to be equivalent to the Natives Americans they faced to not scare them off. They hoped to establish an equal and friendly relationship.”
“Oh?” Ethan looked in her eyes. “And how did that turn out?”
“Many scalps taken,” Jill said and giggled and covered her mouth as if she just said a swear word.
“Only a quarter Cherokee?” Ethan asked. Jill nodded, and Lars caught up with the information and guffawed.
“Waiting, waiting, waiting! Everybody, please be waiting in speaking.” Ali Pasha interrupted them all, even as the women came back with trays of food and musical instruments of several kinds. A couple of eunuchs brought the drink, which at least in this Islamic world was none-the-less alcoholic, no doubt, because the water could not be trusted, and one man also brought a head covering for Jill which sported a thick veil.
“Eat. Quieting. I am thinking.’ Ali Pasha pointed to the food. He looked pensive, not upset, but like a man who was trying to digest too much all at once.
Jill did not fight the head covering, but immediately lowered the veil and tried some of the food. Ethan decided it must be all right, and Lars, especially, ate his share. Two women in a corner of the big tent strummed quietly on mandolins. A third woman blew softly on a flute in a rather European, almost Gallic kind of tune, and Ethan thought it was much nicer than the background music he was used to at his fast food hangout. The food was better too; not that he was surprised.
Ali Pasha spoke at last when he looked like his head was going to explode. “How is it Englanders and Sveedish come to this place? Is there many houses, cities inland we do not know? You say you coming from another world. But did you not spring from trees and scare my men?”
“No.” Jill spoke while Lars and Ethan filled their mouths with food. “We came from another earth, not a new part of this world, but a different world altogether.” She proceeded to go into a rather detailed explanation and repeated herself a couple of times when Ali Pasha and Lars had questions.
“Most daily decisions mean nothing. Most incidents echo across many worlds. The differences blend in and the mystery of life goes on,” she said. “It takes a major change, and often a series of changes to establish a new world-line, and even then they often run in parallel where they can for centuries—you know, like the same people falling in love and having the same children and so on.” She glanced at Ethan as she talked about children and the look in her eyes almost stopped his heart.
“Like if Alexander the Great got assassinated along with his father, that might have changed things.” Ethan suggested, out of a need to change the direction of his thinking.
Jill nodded slowly. “Like the Christ was born in my world, but I am sorry. I do not know if Mohammed was ever born.”
“No!” Ethan and Ali Pasha spoke together.
Jill nodded. “We don’t know any world where the Christ did not minister. Not my subject, but I understand it has made for some interesting theological discussions in some circles. But then, we don’t know anyone who traveled between worlds that early, except maybe one world.”
“But this is the world!” Ali Pasha insisted. He called to the eunuchs and had them bring both a map and a table. “This is the world,” he repeated as he got up from his seat for a closer look at the map and dismissed the female musicians. Shortly, just the four of them plus Manomar were looking over the medieval looking parchment. Lars said he liked the drawings of the dragons in the sea. Ethan was glad that this time he did not have to ask for a map. “This is the real world, even if not the only world.” Ali Pasha was getting it, but slowly.
Ethan let his finger trace the lines. “I would guess Charles Martel lost at Tours.” He said.
“He did, or it was a tie.” Lars nodded. “But his grandson made Aquataine and Iberia subject states, and Christianized them.”
“But not in this world.” Ethan countered. “Here, the Arabs and Moors went on to swallow up the territory of the old Roman Empire, including England.” Ali Pasha nodded. “I can’t tell about Ireland.” Ethan squinted.
“Allah’s curse.” Ali Pasha said. “No one can rule those barbarian infidels.”
Jill tugged on Ethan’s sleeve. “Did I mention I was a quarter Irish?”
“I suspected by your good right arm.” Ethan said. He stuck his chin out in a dare.
Jill responded by making a fist and putting it up to his face. “And don’t you forget it.” She grinned, as did he.
“Newlyweds.” Lars nudged the Arab who got a big smile of understanding.
“Mister and Missus Hill.” Ethan spoke quickly.
“Lucas.” Jill corrected him just as quickly.
“My name is not Lucas.” Ethan responded.
“Jill Lucas-Hill would work.” She shook her head. “How about Hill-Lucas?” He tried again. “Hill would work with Jillian.”
“When did you turn into a grunt?” Jill asked.
“Hey!” Ethan got a little sharp. “This marriage wasn’t my idea.”
“Fine! Then we’ll call it off.”
“Not in a million years,” he said softly as she stuck her fist in his face again and grinned.
“Okay.” She did not seem to mind the arrangement, and from the look in her eye, Ethan was led to hope that he was in way over his head.
“Definitely marriaged.” Ali Pasha sighed. “I have three just as stubborn, but rest are nice.”
“Ya. My Angelica has a mind of her own, but my Kirstie helps her Papa. Do you have children?”
“Twenty-one,” Ali Pasha admitted.
Lars whistled. “You must be a very rich man.”
Ali Pasha shook his head. “But a scholar must appear right.”
“Appearance.” Jill underlined the word and nudged Ethan
“The map.” Ethan interrupted them all and brought them back to task. “I imagine the Turks took Vienna early on.” Ali Pasha nodded again. After that, it was easy to see where the Moslems swallowed the world including several Mogul states in India and the descendants of the Khans in China, but they had all been converted to the Prophet.
“Where are the Lutherans?” Lars asked. He furrowed his brow, but Ali Pasha did not know the word.
“Christians,” Jill suggested.
“There are Christians in many places,” Ali Pasha responded with a wave of his hand across the map. “And many of them are not slaves. They have their own places apart for living.”
“The ghettoization of Christendom.” Jill named it.
“They do money well.” Ali Pasha nodded. “Helping this expedition, example.”
“And Jews?” Ethan had to wonder.
Ali Pasha looked serious. “I am thinking there are some few in Palestine. Simple peasants for sheep herding, I am thinking.”
“Face it gentlemen. This is a Moslem world.” Jill concluded.
“And five hundred years behind,” Lars said proudly, as if to suggest that the Moslem way was inferior.
Jill looked like she wanted to say something sharp, but held her tongue. When she finally spoke, Ethan figured it was a very edited comment. “Let us just say, given the level of technology, this is not a place where you would want to be stranded.”
“I agree.” Ethan encouraged her. “So now that there is light to see what you are typing, what say we move on?”
“No!” Ali Pasha interrupted with volume and a great waving of his hands. “I am not believing, but not disbelieving. Please. I am an inquirist. I come to this New World to study stars and natural things.”
“Shaman?” Ethan wondered.
“I am thinking disappointed because stars here are as home, and grass and trees are as grass and trees, but now you tell me about worlds and I know nothing. Please. Of one I do believing, that you are knowing much I do not know. These things I must be knowing also.”
Jill patted the man’s distraught hand. “I was about to say we can’t go anywhere until the transitional unit has time to recharge. Would you mind if we stayed a couple of days? We would hate to impose on your hospitality.”
“Manomar! Oh, you are being here already. Make for my womans friend and lucky man a tent, and for the big one, Mister Lars, make two tents.” He added some words in his native tongue, clapped his hands several times and gave more orders as people and faces appeared. There was a lot of excitement in the camp after that, but Ethan felt an excitement all his own at the prospect of getting Missus Lucas-Hill-Lucas all alone.