Johan Frey was enjoying the day. It had been a cold, wet week, but now the clouds had broken and it was a lovely fall day. He and Watchman Thomas Weiss were sitting outside the watch headquarters. Their main activity was waving greetings to the passing crowd. “Public relations” up-timers called it.
Johan called it “knowing the city and its people.” He had even carried a table outside so he could catch up on the report he was doing for the council, but he wasn’t accomplishing much work. Well he was making the watch noticeable and to use Anse Hatfield’s phrase for resting, “charging his battery.”
He thought back to last week’s harvest fair. Like a lamb to the slaughter, that’s what I was. But what a lovely slaughter it was. He was thinking about his dances with Marie Ziegler. He had avoided any romantic entanglement his whole life. Now he was rushing headlong into one.
His pleasant memories were brought to a halt by the sight of Watchman Gering running across the square. “Come quick, Captain! There’s been a shooting in a tavern!” Gering called out. “Andreas Guenther is down. We need help.”
“Which tavern?” Johan asked as he sprang to his feet. Andreas Guenther was his youngest watchman and just a part-timer.
“The Rutting Bear, Captain,” Gering gasped between deep breaths.
“Stay here, Weiss, and send any watchmen who come in to the tavern,” Johan ordered as he started to trot. “Gering, catch your breath and follow as soon as you can.”
When he got to the Rutting Bear, Johan found three watchmen gathered outside the door. None of them were Guenther. Luckily, one was Wachtmeister Jost Braun.
“Report, Jost. What happened?”
“We, that is, Andreas and I, were walking a normal patrol when the tavern pot boy stopped us and said they had a mean drunk who was breaking up the place and beating the tavern owner. The pot boy said the man had two friends with him. We moved in and Andreas went to the drunk at the bar and I went for the two friends. When Andreas said he was the watch, the man just shot him. He had two pistols and was waving the other at me, so I backed out the door. Andreas is still inside. The man’s friends came out and surrendered. Hans has them over there.”
Johan looked around. Obviously the other watchmen had been drawn by the commotion. Hans Weiss was guarding two men with his short sword drawn. “Does this place have a back door?”
“Ja. I have two men covering it.”
Hell and Damnation. With just cudgels and short swords, his men were overmatched. If they tried to rush the door—a narrow door at that—the man inside could wound or kill at least two of them.
Then he scanned the gathering crowd. Ah, just the men he wanted to see. He walked over to where Anse Hatfield and Gary Reardon were standing. “Herr Hatfield, Herr Reardon, the watch needs your assistance.”
Anse’s hand dropped to the butt of his.45 auto. “Say the word, Johan. Andreas is a friend.”
“Nein, this is watch business. I just want to borrow your pistols. My men will take any action required.”
Hatfield drew his pistol and offered it butt-first. “It’s cocked and locked with one up the spout. Click off the safety and it’s ready to go. Seven shots. You know how to shoot an auto.”
Indeed, Johan did know how to shoot an automatic pistol. Better yet, he had shot this automatic pistol. He turned to take Reardon’s offered pistol.
“It’s a revolver,” Reardon explained. “Double action, just point and pull the trigger. Only five shots though.”
Five shots and he says only, Johan mused. “Danke.”
Johan walked back over to Jost Braun, a pistol in each hand. “Jost, I’m going into that tavern. Want to come with me?” He held out the revolver.
Jost held out his hand. “Ja, Captain. I need to get my partner.”
You need to get revenge, but so be it, Johan thought as he handed over the revolver.
“Wait until I ask him to surrender and then follow me in. Remember, that is just a pistol, not a shield, so be careful.”
“If I was careful I would still be a tanner and not in the watch. But, as you order, sir.”
Johan had a plan. He would call for surrender. Then have the watchmen guarding the door try to pry open the shuttered window. That noise should distract the gunman enough for him and Jost to rush the door. It might even work.
“You, inside the tavern. I am Johan Frey, Commander of the city watch. Come out and surrender.”
Johan had not finished the word surrender when Jost ran toward the door. Shit. Johan ran behind him. Jost hit the closed door with a crash and went through. Johan heard a shot and a grunt from Jost. Then he saw the gunman raising his other pistol. Wheellock, he thought as he raised the automatic. Beside him he sensed that Jost was also raising his pistol.
The tavern rang with the thunder of gunfire. Johan lost track of the number of times he squeezed the trigger.
Finally, the man went down. Johan realized that the slide on the auto was locked back. He had fired all seven rounds. He looked to his left. Jost still had the revolver pointed at the fallen gunman. “Gently, Jost, hand me the pistol. Then go and check on Andreas.”
When he got the revolver, Johan kept it pointed at the gunman’s head while he checked for signs of life. No pulse, the man was dead. Johan would have gladly hanged him . . . hanged him, hell. He would have gladly had him flayed before drawing and quartering him, but now the man was just dead.
Jost got his attention. “Andreas is dead, Captain. So is the tavern owner.” Jost’s left side was wet with blood. He had taken a hit.
“Watchmen, to me! Bring a stretcher! Bring three stretchers! Hans, bring your prisoners in here,” Johan yelled. Then in a quieter voice, “Jost, sit down. You were shot.”
“It’s a scratch, Captain.” But Jost collapsed into a chair.
Two hours later
“You and your men did good work this morning, but while personal bravery is desirable in a watch commander, it can be overdone.”
For the last hour Johan had been listening to Councilman Cornelius Klett critique the morning action at the Rutting Bear. Now the man was repeating himself.
The two prisoners had identified the dead man as Hans Fischer, a mercenary on his way to Italy. They claimed innocence in the death of the tavern owner, but their skinned knuckles said otherwise. They were lodged in the watch cells awaiting trial.
Jost was wounded worse than he’d thought and was probably not going to return to street duty for a long time. Andreas was still dead. And this wind bag was making speeches to an audience of one.
Johan had heard enough, more than enough. “Herr Klett.” He interrupted the councilman’s monologue. “I came to see you with a simple request. I want my men armed with pistols. Today I want permission to allow them to carry any pistol they can find. Within the week I want permission to buy, at city expense, enough pistols to arm the whole watch.”
“Now, I don’t . . . “
“I have one watchman dead, another who will not return to duty for months, and then only as a desk man. And the rest of the watchmen are angry. You don’t want to see what happens when the watch is angry. Herr Klett, I am going to arm the watch with pistols. You are the head of the committee that oversees the watch. Will you take it to the city council? Or will I have to make my request in front of the whole council, in an open meeting?”
It was the open meeting comment that swayed Klett. He was always posing as a modernizer for the people. And there was an election coming up.
“Your men may carry privately-owned pistols, Captain. The city laws require they be armed. Swords are traditional, but ‘armed’ is all the law says. I will present your request for the city to buy pistols. Bring me a list of the pistols you want and prices. Oh, Suhl-made pistols only.”
“Thank you Councilman. And I am sure the men will thank you. I will tell them it was your idea.”
The next morning was as bad as Johan had expected. The men coming on duty were angry, as angry as he had ever seen them. God have mercy on any thief caught today. The watch won’t.
And they were armed; armed with a mixture of weapons, like Johan hadn’t seen since his early days as a mercenary officer. Three of the watchmen were even carrying the rifles they carried as militiamen. The Weiss brothers had matching wheellock double-barreled carbines. The rest of the day men had restricted themselves to pistols, but what a range of pistols.
The largest was a two-foot-long double-barrel carried by Wachtmeister Meusser. The smallest was a tiny pistol designed for a lady’s pocket carried by Watchman Jorg Klett. In between those extremes was every size of pistol known to man, most large smooth-bores.
One man even carried a short pistol whose barrel looked like keg. Johan recognized it as a volley pistol that fired seven balls from one shot. That was what spurred him to action.
He blocked the door. “No rifles or carbines. Last night I told you pistols and pistols only. Stack them in the back office. You can take them home after your shift. Meusser, that’s a cannon not a pistol, so it goes in the back office too. Rocke, that volley pistol would take out a whole crowd, so back office. Klett that toy is cute, but I don’t want any thieves to die laughing, back office.”
After his inspection he had only seven watchmen without pistols. First in line was Thomas Weiss. “Weiss, you’re on desk duty, so you don’t need a pistol. Go to work.” Next was Weiss’s brother. “Hans, get the five pistols in the evidence cabinet and pass them out.” Johan reached under the back of his jacket, drew his own flintlock and passed it to Meusser. “I want that back, so find a suitable pistol before tomorrow.”
Johan knew he couldn’t let the men go on the streets in the mood they were in. “All right, all of you. Listen to me. You’re angry about Andreas getting killed. I’m angry about it too. But the man who shot him is dead. We are the city watch, not an occupying army. You know how the city feels about, and will react to, occupiers.”
That drew a growl from the men; six of them had helped remove the former garrison. “So, remember you are the watch. We work for the city. Remember that. Treat the people of the city as our employers and any visitors as guests. Be as courteous as they will let you be. If you want to make a statement, tie a black ribbon over your arm band in memory of Andreas. Now go to work.”
The men filed out, calmer, if no less angry. But hopefully it was a controlled anger.
The last outgoing watchman hadn’t cleared the door when Jost Braun came in. Jost looked terrible, pale and obviously in pain. “Reporting for duty, Captain.”
“Go home, Jost. You’re on leave, paid leave. You’ve done enough this week.”
“Nein, Captain, I can man the desk. You’re going to be short one man, I won’t make it two.” Jost waved Weiss out of the chair behind the front desk and sat down. He looked like a rock . . . a very stubborn rock.
Johan realized that the man’s pride was at stake. “Very well, but you stay in the office, understood?” Jost nodded.
“Weiss, get your carbine out of the back office and loan it to Jost. Then you and I will take a walk.”
Out in the street, Weiss looked questioningly at Johan. “Where are we going, Captain?”
“To my father’s home to get you a pistol.” Johan saw Weiss glance at his own waist. “Oh, all right. I’ll get one for myself also. Afterward I want you to patrol the square by the watch office. And I want you to check in often and keep Jost from doing too much. I’m going to see Pat Johnson.”
“What kind of pistols do you want, Johan?”
Pat Johnson had just asked the big question. J ohan had been surprised to find Johnson wearing a black ribbon on his arm and the whole shop staff was wearing ribbons. Then he remembered that Andreas worked here part-time.
Johan thought a moment. Jost Braun had used the borrowed revolver with no problems, fired four shots in fact, all hits. He, on the other hand, had not been able to totally control the big automatic. Five hits out of seven shots weren’t good enough. If the gunman had gotten the small wheellock pistol they had found in his sleeve into action, Johan would be sitting in a surgeon’s parlor, or lying in the morgue.
Johan answered the question. “Up-time revolvers, cartridge revolvers. I want thirty cartridge revolvers that weigh no more than a watchman’s short sword.”
Johnson was shaking his head. “It’s not possible, Johan. I can’t make up-time revolvers and there aren’t thirty pistols to be had in Grantville that match. I assume you want matching revolvers. And I don’t make cartridge cases . . . the ammunition. What I can do is find you some cap and ball revolvers.”
Johan was shocked. He had been sure Pat could fill his request. “Cap and ball?”
“Yes. Caplocks. They use percussion caps like the French rifle, only six caps, one for each shot.” Pat walked over and opened a cabinet. “Here, I’ll show you a couple. I watch the competition.” Pat was smiling, the first smile Johan had seen on his face today.
Pat laid two revolvers on the desk one large and one tiny. “These are H&K—Hokenjoss and Klott—revolvers, improved copies of a Remington design. The big one is their Army model and the smaller is a pocket pistol. They are made in Zella-Mehlis, but my boys can copy them. I’ll pay them a license fee, but that’s just business.”
Johan studied the pistols. The small one was a joke; it was smaller than Klett’s toy from this morning. The larger showed promise though. He picked up the pistol . . . no, the revolver. He had noticed that Anse and now Pat always made a distinction. It was close to the weight of a heavy horse pistol, maybe a bit lighter.
“This will fire every time I pull the trigger, for six shots?” Johan asked.
“No. That’s a single action. It has to be cocked for each shot. The pocket model only has five shots.”
“Herr Reardon’s revolver fired with just the pull of the trigger. It was easy for Jost to use.”
Pat nodded. “Yep. It’s what we call a double action; one pull of the trigger cocks the hammer and fires the pistol. I can’t match it with anything I make now. But there is this.” Pat went back to the cabinet.
When he sat back down he had a large revolver in his hand, a very large revolver. “This is an experimental design. It’s a copy of a Smith and Wesson Model 29. It’s a caplock . . . notice the nipples are almost fully enclosed for safety. I designed it so the spare cylinders could be carried loaded and capped. Fire your six shots; swing out the empty cylinder, pull the empty off the crane pin and replace it with a loaded cylinder. Close it and you’re ready to go with another six shots.” Pat demonstrated the action as he talked. Then he held the big revolver out to Johan to try.
Johan hefted the revolver. “It’s heavy, heavier than a short sword.”
“Yes. I can’t match up-time steel alloys for strength. So I added a little bulk. Too much, that’s why we didn’t market it. I had fun with the design though.”
Johan recognized a real love of firearms in Pat’s voice. A love he didn’t understand or share. They were just tools. Useful tools, deadly tools, but just tools.
He laid the big revolver next to the toy from H&K. Looking at the two side by side he had an idea. “Herr Johnson, could you make this one smaller?” He touched the big revolver. “Make it five shots like the little one; but a bigger caliber?”
Pat studied the two guns. “Yes. Say a.40 caliber . . . make the cylinder a bit longer for more powder . . . it’s do-able.” Pat was reaching for paper. “Hum, make it a six inch barrel . . . no four inches; weight, remember the weight. Give me a week and I’ll have a design, two weeks to a prototype. Then I’ll be able to give you a price. Thanks, Johan. This looks like a saleable design.”
Johan took that as a yes and left Pat Johnson bent over his desk drawing revolvers.
The funeral was bad. Andreas had been the favorite of the watch. Most of the men thought of him like a little brother. And most of the watchmen were there. Only five of the night men were missing. They were covering the city, filling all the posts of the day men. They had drawn the short straws this morning when Johan had insisted that someone had to patrol. There were a good portion of the city craftsmen and their wives present. All were wearing black ribbons. The gun-makers led the procession; Andreas was a journeyman gun-maker after all. But all the crafts were represented. It seemed the boy had relatives in every craft, or maybe just friends. Boy . . . no. He had been a man, a good man; a man who was liked by everyone who knew him.
Johan noticed that even the less reputable city dwellers had come out for the funeral. Near the end of the procession there were a number of street thieves and cut-purses. At first Johan thought they were working the crowd, then he noticed they were mourning. Even they had liked Andreas. One young roof creeper even came over and offered his condolences. He said that Andreas had been the only watchman that was his equal on a roof, and that he would miss him. Andreas had once arrested him.
Johan almost broke into tears at the end when Oswald Guenther, Andreas’ father, handed him the short sword Andreas had carried on his last day. “Take this, Captain. Give it to a new watchman. I made it for my son, but he would want it to be used. There is no use for a sword in heaven.”
Six days later
Pat Johnson looked over the crowd. He had called this gathering and was pleased by the attendance. Most of the big name Suhl gun-makers were here. Both Ambergers, three Kletts, and Eckolt from Ziegler’s were in the front row.
Pat was nervous. This was the first time he had addressed a crowd. And many in the crowd, most in fact, were his competitors. None, except for Ruben, were close friends and some were enemies.
“Gentlemen, fellow craftsmen, gun-makers of Suhl . . . I know that as the newest gun-maker in Suhl and the newest citizen in our ranks, it is presumptuous of me to call this meeting. But I have an idea, an idea that will make you money.” That should get their attention.
“Many of you have complained about not having new products to sell. Some have complained about flintlocks driving wheellocks off the market, and complained about me making flintlocks.” That caused a few mutters. “Well, I’m going to give you a new product. That’s right. I said give.”
Rudolph Amberger rose from his seat. “And what is the inspiration for this generosity, Herr Johnson?”
Pat smiled, perfect opening. “Why, you are, Councilman Amberger, or the needs of the council. A week ago Captain Frey of the watch came to me for help. He wants Suhl-made revolvers to arm his watchmen. But no revolvers are made in Suhl. I studied the problem and designed a revolver that perfectly meets his needs. But when I figured the production cost it was fifty guilders of silver to produce.”
He walked over to stand by Amberger. “Tell me, Rudolph . . . tell us all . . . how you would price a product that cost fifty guilders to produce.”
Amberger didn’t look happy. He knew most of the gun-makers would check his figures. “I would add the shop profits and a profit for myself. Pay for my journeyman and suppliers. One hundred and twenty-five guilders would be a fair price . . . maybe one hundred if I thought I would sell a large number.”
“Exactly. Now, can the council afford to buy thirty revolvers at that price? Not want to buy; we know the council wants to support the watch. But can the city afford that price?”
“Nein. The city can afford to spend no more than sixty guilders for each revolver. Fifty would be better.”
Pat worked hard to keep the grin off his face. It helped that everyone knew Amberger was his biggest competitor. It helped more that he had taken him into his confidence before the meeting. He walked back to the front of the room. “There you have it, gentlemen. I have a design for a revolver, a better revolver than any made today, but there is no profit to be made.”
Claus Will, one of the small gun-makers, rose from his seat. “Herr Johnson, was the cost figured on contracting out parts? And did you think of a larger market than just the watch?”
“No is the answer to both questions. I had Ruben Blumroder check my figures; and I used one man making one gun for the base.” Pat waved to the crowd. “But Herr Will has seen the point of my calling this meeting. How many of you have started contracting out small parts and stocks? How many are dividing up production between teams of gun-makers? How many of you are buying bolts and screws from Gary Reardon over at Reardon Bolts? And how many want another product to sell outside of Suhl ?”
The gun-makers stirred and murmured among themselves. Pat continued, “I will give any gun-maker who is willing to make revolvers for the watch at fifty guilders each a copy of my drawings and plans. I plan to have a model and ten sets of gauges ready in the next two days. You are free to study the model and I will give you a set of gauges when you commit to making three revolvers—at cost—for the watch. Note, I said ten sets. That’s enough to make the thirty revolvers requested. US Waffen Fabrik will make five revolvers to bring the total to thirty-five, to cover breakage.”
Pat started to sit down, then bobbed back to his feet. “Oh, I also have production drawings of two caplock rifles. One is an improved version of the French Cardinal and the other is lighter and cheaper to make. I’m giving those to any gun-maker that makes watch revolvers, on delivery.”
Pat was finally able to sit down, then Ruben Blumroder started a fiery speech about Suhl ‘s place in the world of gun-making and how its products were second to none. It didn’t spoil the speech that he was waving an up-time revolver and declaring that in ten years a Suhl product would be better.
Pat’s attempt to follow the speech was ended when Cornelius Klett tapped his shoulder from behind. “Show me those drawings, Herr Johnson.” Klett pored over the drawing for a minute then pointed to the side plate cut. “How do you plan to make this cut?”
Pat whispered back, “Gary Reardon has a foot-driven drill press that is perfect for it. I have three in my shop. Send one of your apprentices around tomorrow and I’ll show him how to use one.”
“You would help train my apprentice?”
“Only if you approve, Herr Klett. If you like, after the meeting you can stop by and I’ll show you. Then you can train the apprentice.”
Klett sat back with a huff.
At the center of the room Ruben was finishing up by declaring he was ordering his shop manager to be first in line to get a set of gauges, because there would be a great demand for revolvers in the luxury trade.
Perfect, Ruben. Lead them by the nose into the future. Pat knew a lot of votes to send Ruben Blumroder to the State of Thuringia-Franconia legislature had really been votes to get him out of the luxury gun business. The man was the best at engraving and inlaying firearms Suhl had ever seen. Still, the old-fashioned, reactionary gun-makers would have to make revolvers or be forced out of the luxury trade.
After the meeting adjourned Pat found two men waiting for him, Klett and Johan Frey.
Frey was busy explaining to Klett that he knew nothing about Pat’s plans. Pat noticed that Johan was political enough to be wearing a Klett-made wheellock pistol.
“Good evening, Johan. Did you hear my little speech? In a month you’ll have your revolvers. That is if Councilman Klett can work the city council to get the votes.”
Pat could tell the councilman hated to be put on the spot. But finally he answered, “Well, Commander, you have Amberger’s vote. Blumroder will get you two more, maybe three. So you need only one or two votes for a majority. Of course, since I have agreed to present your request I will vote for it. So I would say, yes, you’ll get your revolvers.”
Klett turned to Pat. “Herr Johnson you were going to show me a machine at your shop?”
As the two men walked toward Pat’s factory, Klett continued to talk. “Herr Johnson, Patrick, if I may, we are not in competition. I make luxury items and you make guns for the common man. So why aren’t we friends?”
Pat thought for a moment. “I don’t know. My flintlocks killed your market for match locks. But that was just a sideline for you. And I know you are making flintlocks now. What do you think?”
Klett stopped walking. “Ruben Blumroder is my chief competitor, he is a partner in your business and he was your sponsor for citizenship. Your methods of gun-making are not the traditional methods I learned as an apprentice. You introduced the concept of contracting major assemblies such as locks from non-gun-makers. You have unskilled workers—I won’t say craftsmen—assembling rifles. I learned to make a lump of metal into a fine pistol, a piece of art. Your ‘factory’ makes tools.”
“Fair enough, Cornelius, and mostly true. Ruben is not my partner though he is a stockholder. He owns about four percent of the company. He was a great help in setting up the deal and his shop is the US Waffen Fabrik sales agent in Suhl. And he is my friend. As for the methods, all true. I make, all I want to make, are what we called up-time ‘behind the door’ guns. A gun a poor man can afford to buy, use and pass on to his son.”
Pat smiled. “I like beautiful guns. Shoot, I like your guns. You are a true artist in metal. But I can make fifty plain ‘tools’ for the price of one of your pistols. With that said, are you going to make any of Johan’s revolvers?”
“But of course. I will also make more revolvers, engraved and inlaid with silver, revolvers. I will make Ruben sorry he ever heard the word revolver. But from this moment on, Patrick, you are my friend if you want to be.” He held out his hand.
Pat smiled and took the offered hand. “Cornelius, my friend, I have a big revolver to show you.”
The Next Day
“Are you going to contract out any parts for this new revolver?” Pat stared across the table at Claus Will. “I ask because that is the only way some of the smaller shops can participate in this program.”
Pat had been surprised when Will and Oswald Guenther had joined him at the tavern where he was eating lunch. Now he was hearing their reason.
Guenther nodded in agreement. “That’s right, Herr Johnson, and we want to help the watch. Claus and I discussed this last night after your meeting. Our shops are both too small to make three revolvers at cost, but we can make barrels and parts. Besides, we have a personal reasons. Andreas was my son and he was engaged to Claus’ daughter, so we want to help arm the watch in his memory.”
“And there is the point that revolvers are the wave of the future,” Will interjected. “We may be old, but we’re not locked into the old ways.”
“Ja, show us what you need and we’ll make it.” Guenther added with pride. “You know how I trained Andreas; he worked in your shop after all. I know a few tricks he never learned.”
“We may have concentrated on weapons for the rich, and one-off fancy guns in the past, but we can make anything,” Will added.
“Claus is the best barrel maker in Suhl, and that means the best barrel maker anywhere.” Guenther commented. “We don’t have your fancy machines, but you know our work.”
Pat could only agree. “Okay, you’ve sold me. I’ll need five barrels and various other parts in sets of five. Stop by the factory and I’ll get you a list. Beyond that I can’t make any promises, but I’ll talk to the Kletts and the Ambergers so you might get a bigger order.”
Pat was surprised when Cornelius Klett agreed to his proposal immediately. Klett sensed his surprise and smiled. “Patrick, I would love to throw some business to Oswald and Claus. To be sure they are both in the luxury trade and my competitors, but I did my apprenticeship in Claus’ shop and Oswald taught me to engrave. Besides some of the parts in your lock work are finicky little things. A flintlock is simple next to this. So I’ll buy all they can make.”
Ruben Blumroder was packing to return to Bamberg when Pat caught up with him. “Contract out the barrels and small parts?” Ruben stood with a jacket in each hand, Pat thought he looked and acted more like a politician every day. “Ja, why not? Oswald is a cousin and my shop manager, Horst, is his nephew. Besides, didn’t you tell me that a rising tide lifts all boats. You need to find a better turn of phrase to use with people who have never seen the ocean, but I understood. Anything that encourages trade will help all businesses.”
Pat caught Rudolph and Caspar Amberger at dinner. Caspar answered for both, “Ja, we will both buy barrels from the smaller shops. Patrick, this is going to be bigger than you know. Every gun-maker who makes pistols wants to start making revolvers. This arming the watch and your design are just the starting point.”
His brother, Rudolph, held up his hand. “I predict that within a year, no one will want a simple pistol, and all we will be able to sell are revolvers. And I want your model after everyone has studied it.”
Pat gave him a questioning look.
Rudolph smiled. “Patrick, you may be better than me at making revolvers, but I am better at making money. I’ll take your first revolver and give it to Guenther and Will and have them put the fancy touch to it. You’ll like what happens to it.”
Four weeks later
Johan watched the delivery of the “Suhl Watchman Revolvers.” There might not be a gun-makers guild in Suhl but the craftsmen made it a formal occasion. Councilmen Klett and Amberger headed the procession across the square. Behind them walked every gun-maker in Suhl. All of the men were carrying cases that contained revolvers and all were dressed in their finest.
Rudolph Amberger and Klett walked together to face Johan. He thought they must have practiced, they did it so well.
Amberger, as senior councilman, stated, “Watch Commander, the gun-makers of Suhl are proud to present the city watch with their new arms.” He held out an open case that contained two revolvers. They were rather plain, but deadly-looking in their simple browned finish. No maker’s marks were visible, but Johan knew that under their grips, out of sight, each held the mark of a proud gun-maker. The only visible mark was the word Suhl inlaid with silver on the barrel. Oswald Guenther had insisted that he be allowed to mark each one after it was inspected, at no charge.
Cornelius Klett held out a second, smaller case. “There are thirty-six revolvers, not the thirty-five agreed on. This is the number one Suhl Watchman. We, the gun-makers of Suhl, are giving it to the watch. It is to be awarded to the winner of a shooting contest at the winter fair. All entry fees to go to maintain the watch.”
Johan studied the revolver, it was engraved and inlaid with silver. Every surface was covered with either decoration or the mark of a gun-maker. Every maker’s mark was present since it was everyone’s masterpiece. Where the duty revolvers had the word Suhl in silver this one had Watchman Andreas Guenther Commemorative inlaid in gold.