"Wilhelm, come in, come in. See who is here!" Willy's mother called excitedly. "Your Uncle Johannes has come, all the way from Hamburg!"
Willy carefully kept his face expressionless and looked at his father. Uncle Johannes' visits were exciting—filled with tales of the far off places he'd gone and the strange sights he'd seen. But Willy knew how much his father detested Uncle Johannes. Hermann Lutz sat glowering across the table from his brother-in-law. Inwardly Willy groaned. Uncle Johannes's visits meant trouble.
"What a little scholar you've become!" Johannes Fraze smiled warmly at his nephew. "You'll be a professor the next time I see you. A big, important professor with a solemn stare and clusters of students clamoring for your favor. You will be much too important and much too busy to see your poor old uncle."
Willy shook his head. He could feel his ears getting warm and knew he was blushing at his uncle's teasing. "No, Uncle Johannes, I'll never be too important to see you. I'm not really much of a scholar so I'll never be a professor."
"Come now, boy! I seem to always find you reading some textbook or another."
Willy looked up, startled. "This isn't a textbook, Uncle Johannes. I borrowed it from another boy in school to practice reading English."
"There you are! You've learned to speak and read English like one of these Americans. And you're learning Latin, which is the language of scholars. These are not minor accomplishments, my boy. If you don't wish to be a professor, then you can be a merchant. Merchants need to know languages, too."
"How many languages do you know, Uncle Johannes?" His uncle sometimes claimed to be a merchant but Willy's father never believed his claims. Smuggler, thief, or cheat Uncle Johannes might be, but not a merchant. Willy's mother always defended her brother vigorously, attributing Johannes's lack of money to robbers and dishonest merchants who didn't pay him for his goods.
"Oh, several—my Polish is very good, so is my Spanish. I can make my way through France without trouble and I've enough Italian to get by on. But English I've never learned. Here, tell me what it says under this picture."
"It says," Willy did a quick translation in his head, "that it is a picture of Herr Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamen."
"All these up-time things are very interesting. Do you know if any of the up-timers are teaching the making of photographs?"
"No, but the teachers at the high school would know."
"Ah! I think I must ask them about this and other things. There are opportunities here for a merchant." Uncle Johannes stroked his chin. "You say that they have classes to teach English? Classes that anyone can attend?"
"Yes, they have them at the high school. Some are in the evenings so people can work and still go to them."
"I think this might be an excellent time for me to learn English. There are good profits to be made in English goods . . ." Uncle Johannes's face was solemn but his eyes held a glitter and kept darting to the pictures in Michael Tyler's notebook.