Article Category Archives: 1632 Content

Material from Eric Flint’s 1632 Universe

Fair or Foul: Part 1, Observing Temperature, Humidity, and Precipitation

Our up-time characters are in Little Ice Age Europe now, and hence neither their experience with twentieth-century American agriculture nor their limited literature on twentieth-century European agriculture are a completely reliable guide as to what crops will grow where. The effect of the Ring of Fire on climate is also somewhat uncertain.


Airship lift depends on the difference in density between the lift gas and the ambient air, and thus in part on their respective temperatures. So temperature is relevant to airship pilots, not just farmers.


We need to start making accurate records of weather conditions, and we will certainly be looking at temperature, humidity, and precipitation.






In Grantville, the most common form of outdoor thermometer is the liquid expansion thermometer. Most such thermometers will probably use, as the “thermometric liquid,” an organic liquid with a red or blue dye, but it will be common knowledge that mercury may also be used.


Mercury has the advantages of being opaque, easily purified, chemically stable, not wetting or chemically attacking glass, liquid over a wide temperature range (-38.8oC to 356.7oC, thus unlikely to evaporate at the top of the column), and having clearly defined meniscus, a high thermal conductivity, low specific heat (making it rapidly responsive to changes in temperature), and a fairly linear coefficient of thermal expansion. Unfortunately, it is poisonous, the expansion is small compared to alcohol, and in very cold climates it can solidify.


Several different organic liquids have been used, but the most readily available in the 1632 universe is ethanol, with a liquid range of -114 to 78oC. My prediction is that mercury will be used for a small number of precision reference thermometers and the actual weather stations will use ethanol thermometers.


Glass composition is also significant. It is not just the liquid, but also the glass, that expands as the temperature increases, and not entirely linearly (or at the same rate as the liquid). Also, after being first heated and then cooled, the glass bulb of some compositions did not return to its original dimensions, leading to a slow rise in the zero of mercury thermometers. In the late nineteenth century, Schott developed a series of more stable glasses, notably borosilicate (Pyrex(R) glass) (Vogel 21). Hard glasses are generally preferred (EB11/Thermometry).


Most modern meteorological thermometers have the stem, with engraved scale markings, inside a protective glass sheath, and there is a white enamel backing on the stem to make the liquid movement more visible. (Srivastava 96). My “hardware store” thermometers are unsheathed, and the scale is on a separate attached metal frame. The attached scale will “inevitably move slightly with time.” (Burt 116).


The first thermometers sensed air rather than liquid expansion. The first known drawing of a thermometer is from 1611. It shows an inverted flask with a long narrow stem, fitting into the neck of a short-necked flask, the latter partially filled with water. The bottom of the stem of the first flask is below the liquid surface. A rise in temperature caused the expansion of the air in the short flask, pushing the water up the stem. Alongside the stem there was a scale divided first into eight degrees and these each into six ten-minute intervals. Its inventor, possibly living in Rome, is unknown (Middleton 11).


The basic problem with unsealed air thermometers was that the expansion of the air was a function of pressure as well as temperature. In 1632 Jean Rey (1583-OTL c1645) dispensed with the second flask, and turned the first flask stem upward, creating a liquid expansion thermometer. However, the tube was unsealed so errors could arise from evaporation of the water (27). The sealed spirit-in-glass thermometer is attributed to Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and most likely invented in 1654. The first experiments with mercury were in 1657, but the Tuscan academicians deemed it inferior in performance (28-37).


Before leaving the subject of early temperature measurement, I wish to call the reader’s attention to Fitzroy’s chemical weather glass (1862), as is it the sort of curiosity that a resident of Grantville might have inherited, or picked up at a craft fair, before the Ring of Fire. It “consisted of a solution of camphor and certain inorganic salts in aqueous alcohol, sealed in a glass tube.” Negretti & Zambra used potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride. The salts formed crystalline dendrites, and Fitzroy claimed that when the crystals built up, the weather would get colder and stormier, and if they disappeared, it would be dry and clear. Studies by Mills have shown that the chemical weather glass is sensitive both to the current temperature and “any preceding regime of temperature changes.” It is thus a thermoscope. Mills comments, “A rapid fall in temperature associated with an approaching vigorous cold front could conceivably trigger … rapid crystal growth if observed at a fortuitous time, but in general any correlation between appearance and future weather patterns would be purely coincidental.”


Manufacture. In 1612, Giovanfrancesco Sangredo (d. 1620) made several thermoscopes, at a cost of four lire each. These had no scale, but the column height could be measured with a caliper. He apparently made use of “a wine glass with a foot, a small ampoule, and a glass tube,” and he could make ten in an hour.


The Grand Duke’s glassblower, Mariani, had incredible skill and was able to manufacture thermometers with a “50 degree range” (corresponding to the modern -18.75 to 55oC) with great consistency. He admitted, however, that he could not do this for the Medicean 100- and 300-degree range thermometers, because “inequalities could more easily occur in the larger bulb and longer tube” (Middleton 34-5). On the other hand, Middleton asserts that “workmen north of the Alps found it difficult enough at first to make a plain bulb and tube and fill it with spirit of wine” (132).

Roemer proposed that after forming the tube, it be examined for uniformity by examining the length of a drop of mercury as it passed down the bore. If the tube was found to be irregular, it was discarded, and if conical (the length increased or decreased at a constant rate), he took measurements and divided the bore into four equal volumes (67).


While in many thermometers the bulb was blown on the capillary tube, EB11/Thermometry recommends that it be formed of a separate piece of glass fused onto the stem.


Bimetallic Thermometers. In Grantville, there should also be thermometers with a dial readout. These have a strip with two different metals layered together, usually brass and iron. The metals have different coefficients of expansion and thus the strip bends toward the less responsive metal. The deflection is proportional to the temperature change and to the square of the length; winding the strip into a helix allows a long and thus more sensitive element to be relatively compact. A pointer is connected to the center. Generally speaking, they are less accurate than liquid expansion thermometers, and require weekly (if not daily) recalibration (Thermoworks), but they are the basis for the most common kind of thermograph.


Platinum Resistance Thermometers. These, known as RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors) rely on the change of electrical resistance with temperature. EB11/Thermometry provides formulae, circuit schematics, and comments on errors and corrections. The current levels must be kept very low (<1 ma) to minimize self-heating (Srivastava 135, 137).


In the twenty-first century, RTDs are available in two grades, “standard” and “industrial.” RTDs will not be found in Grantville homes or schools, but it is conceivable that the power plant has them (most likely “industrial” grade). The standard RTDs are used as primary reference thermometers. They have platinum wire of 99.999% purity wound in a strain-free configuration (MINCO). Unfortunately, the strain-free resistance element is extremely delicate (Ripple), so SPRDs are used in laboratories.


The industrial grade RTDs use platinum of lower purity and also have a simpler construction in which the resistance element is supported (or thick enough to be self-supporting). When calibrated, they have an accuracy of perhaps 0.01oC, an order of magnitude less than the SPRTDs. But they are also cheaper to make and calibrate (Fluke).


There is a small quantity of platinum available in Grantville in the form of jewelry, and it may be sufficient for experimentation. Commercial development of RTDs will have to await platinum mining (see Cooper, Mineral Mastery, Grantville Gazette 23) and purification. Developers will have to worry not only about platinum purity, but also about mounting the wire so as to minimize the strain caused by thermal expansion and contraction (Price).


Even if the wire is not subject to chemical attack, it is mechanically fragile, and the wire is typically protected from the medium by encasing it in a glass, quartz, porcelain, or metal tube (Patranabis 223). A plastic cladding might also work. In any event, the sheathing increases the lag time (Srivastava).

Platinum’s advantages are that it is a noble metal, with a high melting point, and that it has a very linear response over a wide temperature range. Copper is more responsive, and linear over the range -50 to 150oC, but subject to chemical attack. Nickel is even more responsive, and is chemically resistant, but there is no simple formula for calculation of its resistance (MINCO). One can scavenge the nichrome wire heating element from a defunct toaster or heating pad. However, nichrome actually has a rather low temperature sensitivity (Lemieux). My expectation is that the first NTL resistance thermometers will use copper wire.


Thermistors. In an automated weather station, there’s no one to go out and read the mercury (or spirit) level on a conventional thermometer. Hence, some sort of electrically based temperature sensor is needed, and the platinum resistance thermometer (RTD) is too expensive for most meteorological applications.


A thermistor is a resistor whose resistance is temperature-dependent. In 1833, Faraday discovered that the electrical “resistance of silver sulfide decreased dramatically as temperature increased;” i.e., it is a negative temperature coefficient (NTC) material (Wikipedia). The first commercial thermistor was Ruben’s (1930).


There are thermistors in Grantville; they are the sensing element in the digital clinical thermometer. They are ten times as sensitive as an RTD but their temperature response is highly nonlinear (exponential). Also, a single thermistor has a useful temperature range of not more than 100oC and their maximum temperature of operation is 110oC(Ripple) (so don’t take them into the desert). (Industrial RTDs can be used outside the thermistor range.)


I assume that one of the electrical engineers in Grantville has Dorf’s Electrical Engineering Handbook (2d ed., 1997). It discloses that NTC thermistors are “ceramic semiconductors made by sintering mixtures of heavy metal oxides such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron” (14). It is known that the automation engineering department in the power plant and public works department have copies of Instrument Engineer’s Handbook Third Edition, edited by Béla Lipták, and The Instrumentation Reference Book, Third Edition, edited by Walt Boyes. Both have extensive sections on thermometry and temperature measurement instrumentation. So that gives us a starting point, but I suspect that these must be purified to very high purity and we must also experiment to find which combinations provide strong temperature dependencies. The simplest type of thermistor to make is probably a bead; the metal oxide powders are combined with a binder (to be determined!) to make a slurry and this is applied to a pair of platinum alloy wires held parallel. The beads are dried and then fired in a furnace at 1100-1400oC to sinter the particles (Lavenuta). Given the infrastructure and experimental requirements, I am doubtful that a practical thermistor can be built before the NTL late 1640s.


Scale, Range, and Calibration. For the thermometer to be useful in meteorology, we needed to have a way of assuring the comparability of observations made with different thermometers.


If the scale were an arbitrary one, then the only way of calibrating the scale of a new thermometer would be to place it next to a reference one, expose them to several markedly different temperatures, and then mark the tube of the new one to correspond to the temperatures displayed by the reference one.


It was realized at a quite early stage that the temperature scale should be defined according to reference points corresponding to readily reproducible laboratory conditions. Then a reference thermometer is not needed at all. By 1702, Roemer proposed a scale in which 7.5 was the melting point of ice and 60 the boiling point of water. A decade later, Fahrenheit experimented with several scales, of which the final one had 32 as the melting point of ice and 96 as human body temperature (now known to be 98.6oF). He extrapolated that on that scale, the boiling point of water would be 212oF, and it was only later that others adopted that as the “hot reference” for his scale (Middleton 78-9). Celsius, in 1742, proposed the melting point of snow as the cold reference and the boiling point of water when air pressure was 25.25 Swedish inches as the hot reference, with 100 degrees in between. Other inventors proposed other scales, and a mid-eighteenth century thermometer featured eighteen scales.


The modern thermometers found in Grantville are likely to be marked in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and it is very likely that the scientists and engineers in Grantville will push very hard for one or both of these scales to be universally adopted.


The portion of the standard temperature scale that is marked on the thermometer is its range. Typically, the bigger the range, the less accurate the reading; for ordinary thermometers, an error equal to 1-2% of the maximum range is not unusual. The outdoor thermometers I own have a range of -50 to +50oC.


Calibration has three aspects: (1) marking the thermometer scale so as to correspond exactly to the reference scale at the two points and at least roughly at in-between points, (2) tabulating the remaining errors in the thermometer scale, and (3) checking the thermometer from time to time to determine the necessary adjustments for physical changes in the instrument.


When matter is changing phase (between solid and liquid, or liquid and gas, or solid and gas), as long as both phases are present, the temperature should remain constant. Hence, the melting point of ice and the boiling point of water are, at least theoretically, “fixed points.”


In 1777, the British Royal Society reported on “the best method of adjusting the fixed points of thermometers.” They had found that depending on the manufacturer, thermometers could differ by 3.25oF in their measure of the temperature of steam. Accordingly, they gave specific instructions as to the design of the vessel (a cylindrical pot with a cover and a chimney, the latter covered with a loose-fitting tin plate), the placement of the thermometer inside, the application of the heat, and the correction for atmospheric pressure. For the ice point, the Society called for the crushed ice to reach almost to the top of the column, and for provision to made for drainage of the meltwater (Middleton 128).


The vessel used in the boiling point determination is called a hypsometer, and there is a diagram and brief description in EB11/Thermometry. The boiling point needs to be corrected for differences in pressure from the reference pressure. Characters should not use the correction set forth in EB11, but rather one based on modern steam tables. (The power plant should have them.)


Some of the precautions recommended by the Society are now known to inhibit superheating, a phenomenon in which liquid water exceeds its nominal boiling point (Chang).


Modern ice slush and steam calibration baths can achieve accuracies of 0.002oC and 0.1oC respectively (Moore 614).


Even though we can use the Celsius reference conditions to define a scale from first principles, for meteorological purposes, the range -50 to +50oC is much more useful than one of 0 to 100. For that range, other reference points may prove helpful. (The accuracy that can be expected “without extraordinary attention to purity” is typically about 1oC for most of the transitions (although it is 0.05oC for melting gallium) (Moore). Unfortunately, only a few of the “standard” phase transition baths have temperatures in that range, and we don’t have access to gallium (melting point 29.7646oC) or indium (159.5985oC). Mercury is available and melts at -38.8344oC. We might be able to obtain p-xylene (13oC); this would involve isolating it from a natural source (perhaps wood tar) or synthesizing it from readily obtained chemicals. Most syntheses also produce its two isomers, which have different boiling points, and the separation isn’t trivial despite that difference.


Studying physical data on organic compounds (The CRC Handbook should be in Grantville), I have noted some common chemicals with phase transitions in the meteorological temperature range: the boiling points of acetone (56.2oC) and benzene (80.1), and the melting points of tert-butyl alcohol (25.7) or glycerol (17.8). In each case, you must be sure that the chemical is pure (so you can rely on the reporting values) and that both phases are present. In general, melting point determinations are better than boiling point ones, because the latter are also affected by atmospheric pressure.


I have also found reference to the use of crystal transition temperatures, at which a crystalline salt changes form (perhaps as a result of the loss of water of hydration). For example, the transition temperature at which both sodium sulfate decahydrate and anhydrous sodium sulfate coexist is 32.383oC (Middleton 57). Sodium sulfate (Glauber’s salt) is commonly used because its transition temperature is close to room temperature and it is easily purified by successive recrystallization. Another possibility, once we have access to chromium ores, is sodium chromate decahydrate, which transitions to the hexahydrate at 19.529oC (Magin; Richards).


Once the two reference points are marked on the scale, the intermediate points can be marked manually by geometric dividing methods (these are known to the down-timers) or ultimately mechanically by a “dividing engine.” Either way, a uniform division is achieved.


Unfortunately, the behavior of liquid expansion thermometers is not entirely linear. The liquid and glass may change expansion rates with temperature, and the bore might not be uniform.


Modern precision meteorological thermometers are calibrated by putting the thermometer in an alcohol, water, or paraffin bath that is heated to a series of set temperatures, say 10oC apart (Srivastava 108). Naturally that means that you need a calibrated and even more accurate thermometer for monitoring the bath temperature. The platinum resistance thermometer is excellent for this purpose. (Platinum resistance is highly linear over the meteorological range, Middleton 180) The NWS in 2014 uses an SPRTD (NWSRS 8), but our characters would have to settle for less. Even better, this thermometer is incorporated into a thermostat so that the heat is turned on or shut off as needed to maintain the set point temperature. A table is prepared showing the correction needed by the test thermometer to match the reference thermometer at each of these calibration marks, and the observed applies the correction as appropriate.


On early thermometers, the scale was drawn on paper that in turn was mounted on a wood board. Scales have also been engraved on metal, glass, or ivory back plates, or directly onto the thermometer tube (etched with hydrofluoric acid).


Even a calibrated thermometer needs to be recalibrated from time to time. For example, the residual strain in a glass thermometer eases slowly, causing the glass to shrink. Most of the change occurs in the first year (Bentley 2:98).


Recalibration involves carrying an “inspector thermometer” (precisely calibrated in the laboratory) to each weather station. The station thermometer and the inspector thermometer are exposed to an ice bath (the single calibration point is good enough for a liquid expansion thermometer, see Ripple) and the station thermometer’s correction table updated.


In twentieth-century practice, inspector thermometers are mercury-based. It may have a narrow bore, so the change in length of the column is greater for a different temperature change. The downside is that the inspector thermometer must either be longer than the norm, or have a restricted range (say 30oC) (Srivaslava 103).


Accuracy. Spirit thermometers typically have an accuracy of 1-2 degrees Celsius in the meteorological temperature range (Facts).


In 2014, for NWS land stations, current and maximum temperature must be measured with 1oF accuracy in the range -20 to 115oF, and 2oF in the extreme ranges -40 to 20oF and 115-140oF. Minimum temperature accuracy is 1oF for -20 to 110oF, and 2oF for -80 to -20 (NWSRS 7). The data is nonetheless reported to the nearest 0.1oF (9).


Interestingly, this performance standard is inconsistent with the WMO recommendation that in the central range the maximum error be less than 0.4oF; NWS comments, “in practice, it may not be economical to provide thermometers that meet this performance goal.”


The accuracy with which temperature is measured can be increased by using a panel of several thermometers. If the thermometers are equally inaccurate and there is no systematic bias, the average of four thermometers will be twice as accurate as just one. (The standard error is proportional to the individual standard deviation and inversely proportional to the square root of the sample size.)


Maximum and Minimum Thermometers. These indicate the extreme value since they were last reset by the observer.


EB11/Thermometry (836) describes three different kinds of maximum thermometers: the Rutherford (1790) type, in which the mercury in a horizontal tube pushes a steel (originally, glass) index and leaves it behind when the temperature drops; that of Negretti and Zambra, with a constriction in the horizontal tube past the bulb (the mercury expands past the constriction but the “column” breaks there when it contracts); and that of Phillips (1832) and Walferdin (1855), where the horizontal “column” is divided by a bubble of air that acts as an index. Note that the physician’s thermometer is really a maximum thermometer of the constriction type. The Rutherford type was “little used” by 1911; the problem was that the mercury tended to seep past the index (Middleton 152).


Rutherford also invented the favored minimum thermometer; again, a horizontal tube, but the liquid is amyl alcohol (originally, ordinary alcohol) and the index is made of porcelain (or glass).


There was also Six’ combination minimum/maximum thermometer (1782), a U-tube with a bulb at both ends. There is mercury in the middle and spirit in the legs, but one bulb also contains spirit and the other a mixture of air and alcoholic vapor.  The mercury merely serves as an indicator, the “thermometric fluid” being the spirit, and unfortunately the alcohol can wet the glass and pass by the mercury. (Middleton 161).


Thermographs. These provide continuous records of temperature, and thus reduce the utility of minimum and maximum thermometers. Note, however, that they tend to be less accurate than thermometers.  In essence, they couple a thermometer to a readout mechanism.


If the internal thermometer is of the liquid-in-glass type, the liquid must be mercury rather than alcohol, as the latter is too sluggish. The dominant design used a photographic readout; light shining around the mercury column onto photographed paper moved by clockwork (193). The temperature record was thus a negative image (black except where the paper was shadowed by the mercury), and the device evolved, taking advantage of improvements in light sources and paper. There were ingenious alternatives of uncertain practicability; one design balanced the thermometer horizontally on a knife edge; the temperature change shifted the center of gravity, and the tilt was recorded.  It is uncertain how this would fare in a strong wind.


The other major type was that in which a bimetallic strip is deformed in response to temperature change. The strip moves a stylus that draws on paper carried by a rotating drum; the rotation is driven by a clock mechanism inside the drum and thus protected from the elements (201-4).


I was surprised to discover that in general there wasn’t much meteorological use of thermographs featuring electrical thermometers.


Thermometer Exposure. It is not easy to expose the thermometer in such a way that it displays the true air temperature; the heat exchange between the thermometer and its surroundings is complex. The down-timers know that it is warmer in the sun than the shade, and in the mid-seventeenth century Medicean meteorological network it was initially standard for thermometers to be placed at the north and south windows of each station (Middleton 208).


For its Cooperative Observer Program, the National Weather Service advises that a temperature sensor be mounted four to six feet off the ground, in a level open clearing and away from obstructions and paved surfaces.


It is also customary for meteorological instruments to be housed in an elevated shelter (“Stevenson screen” or “Cotton Region Shelter”) that shades the instruments while providing ventilation. One shelter design appears in Popular Science (May, 1935). Typically, the shelters have louvers that slope downward and outward, are painted white to reflect solar radiation, and, in the northern hemisphere, the door faces north.


There have been a couple of thermometer designs intended to increase ventilation beyond that provided by passive air movement through louvers. One is the sling thermometer; a thermometer mounted on a frame pivotably connected to an axle that terminates in a handle. This evolved into the sling psychrometer, using two thermometers (one with a wet bulb), and used to measure humidity. The other is the aspirated thermometer; with forced convection from a suction fan. This, too, evolved into a psychrometer.


Temperature readings can be perturbed, not only by solar radiation and precipitation, but also by the observer’s own heat. Hence, readings must be taken expeditiously.


As of 2014, NWS Cooperative Observer Stations were equipped with a spirit-based minimum thermometer and a mercury-based maximum thermometer, and/or certain models of thermistor-type electronic thermometers. After the maximum thermometer is read, the tube can be spun in its mount to force the mercury in the stem past the constriction, joining the mercury in the bulb, and then it indicates the current air temperature (NWCSOM A-24).






Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. The warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold. Somewhat non-intuitively, increasing humidity decreases air density (because the water vapor molecules replace heavier air molecules). So humidity is relevant to airship operations.


Absolute humidity is the exact water vapor content of the air, whereas relative humidity is the current content compared to the maximum possible at the current temperature and pressure. The “dew point is the temperature at which airborne water vapor will condense to form liquid dew” (Wikipedia). The higher the relative humidity, the closer the dew point is to the current air temperature. The difference between the two is called the “dew point depression.”


To measure dew point depression (from which we can calculate relative and absolute humidity if the pressure is known), we need both an ordinary (dry bulb) thermometer and a “wet bulb thermometer.” The latter, which approximates the dew point, is a thermometer that “has its bulb wrapped in cloth—called a sock—that is kept wet with distilled water via wicking action” (Wikipedia). (Some inventors replaced the water of the classic wet bulb thermometer with a more volatile liquid; Daniell (1820) used ether.) The combination of the two matched thermometers is called a psychrometer, a type of hygrometer.


The thermometers can be ventilated by whirling (sling psychrometer) or by a fan. The so-called psychrometer coefficient (which relates the vapor pressure to the dew point depression) is 0.0008 for a naturally ventilated psychrometer inside a Stevenson screen, and 0.000667 for a force-ventilated one (Harrison 117).


Accuracy is typically equivalent to 5% relative humidity and response time to get a reliable reading is about a minute (122).


Crude gravimetric absorption hygrometers were designed by Nicolaus Cusanus (1450), Leo Battista Alberti (1470), and Leonardo da Vinci (1490). In essence, this was a balance with a hygroscopic substance (cotton, wool, sponge) in one pan and a water-repelling substance (wax) in the other. Under dry conditions, the pans are at the same level, but if humidity increases, the cotton absorbs water and that pan sinks lower (Robens 556).


Condensation (on the outside of a vessel containing snow or ice) was weighed directly by Grand Duke Ferdinand in the 1660s (Bentley 181).


Mechanical hygrometers may be constructed using a substance whose mechanical properties are altered by humidity. Such materials include hair, goldbeaters skin (also used for airship gas bags), and animal horn or antler (109). In 1614, Santorio Santorre (1561-OTL 1636) stretched a center-weighted cord between two fixed points; absorption of water vapor caused the cord to contract and lift the weight (Wiederhold 4). In 1664, Francesco Folli (1624-85) made similar use of a paper ribbon, but the weight was connected to the center of the ribbon by a cord running over a pulley, and the pulley was connected to a dial pointer. Later, ivory (de Luc 1773) and goose quills (Buissart and Retz, 1780) were used as humidity sensors (Zuidervaart).


A hair tension hygrometer was proposed by de Saussure in 1783 (Wikipedia/Hygrometer); hair increased length by 2-2.5% for a 100% change in RH. The response is not linear (but still better than the sensors used previously) and depends on the type of hair. At subzero temperatures, response time and responsiveness are reduced. The hair length changes more when humidity increases than when it decreases. Hair is very sensitive to contamination (dust, finger oils, etc.). A hair hygrometer is usually calibrated with an aspirated psychrometer. But in a pinch, you can wet the hair bundle to reach 100% RH (JMA). Likewise, to get to 0% RH, find an up-timer with a blow dryer. Trowbridge (1896) showed that the RH error didn’t exceed 3% if the true RH was 20-85%.


In the late twentieth century, hair hygrometers were still in use. In these modern iterations, a bundle of human hair of different types is used, the hairs are carefully cleaned, and in some instances the scale is nonlinearly divided (Belfort; Ambient Weather).


In a metal-paper coil hygrometer, the paper is impregnated with a hygroscopic (water-absorbing salt) and laminated to the metal. Its absorption of water changes the curvature of the coil in a manner analogous to how temperature changes the curvature of the strip in a bimetallic thermometer. Accuracy is perhaps 10% RH.


Electrical hygrometers detect the change in electrical capacitance or resistance of a sensor element as a result of the change in humidity. Typically, capacitance changes are easier to detect. The capacitance-type hygrometer (developed in the 1930s, Wiederhold 5) features a thin film of polymer or metal oxide (the dielectric) deposited between the electrodes. The change in capacitance is about 0.2-0.5 picofarads for a 1% RH change (JMA). I am doubtful that the electrical hygrometer can be made in the NTL 1630s.


Hygrometers are typically calibrated by sampling the humidity above a saturated salt solution (Potassium nitrate and chloride, magnesium nitrate, sodium and lithium chloride are all used.) within a sealed container at a controlled temperature (121).  An older method was placing the hygrometer inside a container with a known mixture of dry air and saturated air, or in air saturated at one temperature and pressure and then increased in temperature or reduced in pressure (Middleton 1960, 116).







Rain gauges date back at least to fourth-century BC India, where rain was collected in a bowl. A cylindrical shape facilitates the estimation of the volume of rainfall; such a shape was used in the Korean iron cheuguggi used from 1441 to 1907 (Strangeways). (I believe the volume was estimated by inserting a ruler and measuring the level of the rainwater.) A further improvement was made by Castelli (1639); he used a glass cylinder. The accuracy of the deduction of rain volume from level measurements of course is dependent on the goodness of the cylindrical figure, and the accuracy of the diameter and level gradations. Rain gauges of the recording type may use a float (connected to a pen), which moves with the water level in the gauge.


Rather than reading the level, one may place the rain gauge on a balance of some kind and weigh the rain. The pan in turn can be connected to a pen for recordation, or, as in the Fischer Porter rain gauge, to a punch that puts a hole at a corresponding location on a “ticker tape” at intervals.


With a standard rain gauge, if rainfall is heavy, you have to go out, measure the rain, and empty the bucket before it fills up. A single “tipping bucket” rain gauge was developed by Wren and Hooke in the late seventeenth century as part of a “weather-wiser” (a multiple element meteorograph!). The “tipping bucket” makes possible automatic operation; each time the bucket tips, the event is recorded in some way. Another self-emptying gauge design uses a siphon.


The modern NWS non-recording precipitation gauge comprises a large (8″) diameter overflow can with a small diameter measuring tube inside, and a funnel connecting the two. These are sized so that 2 inches of rain entering the funnel will occupy 20 linear inches in the measuring tube, making it practical to measure rainfall amounts to the nearest hundredth of an inch (A-6). The Fischer & Porter recording rain gauges used to have a mechanical weighing sensor and paper-tape recording assembly, but by 2014 all of the mechanical gauges were replaced with electronic ones (A-8). The NWS expects rain to be measured with an accuracy of 0.02 inches, and (melted) snow and sleet to 0.04 inches (11).


The biggest source of error for rain gauges is the wind catching droplets and wafting them away before they fall into the receptacle (or even causing eddies that remove them after they are below the lip of the container). This was combated by giving the container a funnel top (trapping the droplets) and surrounding the gauge with a wind shield. The NWS recommends that precipitation gauges be placed in a location “where the gauge is shielded in all directions (i.e., a clearing in a grove), but “the distance of the gauge to the nearest obstruction should be at least equivalent to twice the height of the obstruction” (A-5).


Snow is more difficult to measure than rain because (1) snow is more readily deflected by the wind and (2) snow compacts with time. Ideally, snow is melted by the gauge. It is not strictly true that ten inches of fresh snow is equivalent to one inch of rain. That is correct only if the temperature is 30oF, and all of the precipitation is snow (Schwartz).


The NWS requirements for measurement of rain is 0.02″ or 4% hourly accuracy, and 0.01″ resolution. For snow, it is 0.5-1″ accuracy, 1″ resolution




In part 2, I will look at measurements of pressure and wind (which is the result of pressure gradients).



Time May Change Me, But I Can’t Trace Time

Time May Change Me, But I Can’t Trace Time

By Charles E. Gannon, Ph.D., and David Carrico

(with props/apologies to David Bowie for the title)



(This is the first of several possible articles that will grow out of a series of discussions among the members of the Grantville Gazette extended editorial board.)


One of the interesting things about playing in Eric Flint’s 1632/Ring of Fire sandbox lies in thinking through all of the changes that can happen and will happen in the New Time Line (NTL) post-Ring of Fire (ROF) and how they will occur both earlier and differently than in the Original Time Line (OTL). Writers get rather excited about those kinds of story possibilities. There’s just one little hitch: most of the various 1632 writers are Americans, and we have a tendency to think that the changes are going to happen both more quickly and more easily than they probably will.


Unfortunately, they probably won’t. There are several reasons for this, the thorniest of which is cultural inertia (for lack of a more precise term).


Any of you who have overseas diplomatic experience, overseas military experience, or overseas NGO experience outside of Europe can testify to the incredible (to the American mind) tendency of other cultures to resist anything that is a “core” change. This is a fact of life in most cultures, and it’s one that will be in place in the NTL. Eric Flint and the Grantville Gazette editors are aware of this, and as a consequence rather firmly resist a lot of story ideas that are presented that ignore it.


In the OTL, the U.S. and its four primary Anglic allies (the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—sometimes referred to as the Five Eyes) are very deltaphilic: they tend to embrace change. (Interestingly and revealingly, the old world primogenitorial source, the UK, is often the one most likely to drag its heels.) The West, in general, has that tendency, but we would say that the US view is Futurist, while the continent is Modernist.


But in 1630, that Modernist trend was essentially a very narrow edge of very radical change that would not only widen in the decades to follow, but would ultimately transform European culture.


And yet . . . if that powerful anchor/inertia against change wasn’t still present, you wouldn’t have the basis of almost all the major nineteenth-century English novels (Oliver Twist, Far from the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure, etc.—as well as pretty much all of Blake’s and Wordsworth’s poetry). The drama and tension in each was a cultural push-me/pull-you: the impulse toward change was the source of the society’s energy vs. traditions as the source of its definition. Lots of humans got ground up in the process, and the way forward was never smooth, easy, or straight. These played out over decades in an already more-industrialized England that had been one of the major cultural imbibers of the various transformative concepts of the Age of Reason.


Now, jump to the continent, 1630 NTL. None of the cultural elasticity of Dickens’ and Blake’s England (as limited as it was) is present in any widespread or deeply-rooted sense. People are changing because they must, but culture doesn’t follow along.


To illustrate with an OTL example, one word:




In the mid-twentieth century, disease is fought, infant mortality plummets, lives are saved, happiness ensues—until culture-driven disaster strikes. Despite everything the sub-Saharan populations were told, were taught, were exhorted, they maintained the same birth rates and valued family size just as they have for centuries. And it really hasn’t budged much since.


It didn’t matter that 10-20% heard, learned, and believed that smaller family sizes made more sense now and would allow more emphasis on infrastructure, better education, etc., etc. They kept the same farming techniques, the same birth rate, the same cultural template—and their swift population increase overtaxed the land, led to widespread erosion, water shortage, and desertification.


We use that example because almost everyone is familiar with it to some degree. It’s still going on across the world, where what futurists call “culturally selective adoption” of technologies or methodologies continues to confuse and confound our planners. (You see this in the Secretary of Defense’s blue-sky direct report group, the Office of Net Assessment, all the time.) We Americans are profoundly driven by utility; receptivity to change is one of our legacy (albeit by no means ubiquitous) social values. We just have a higher proportion of it, and in our nation, forces of change tend to be strong enough to drag along those parts of the nation that are not so enamored of it.


But in Malaysia, India, Angola, Chile, etc.? No, not so much (understatement fully intended). Adoption of advanced techniques is a matter of cherry-picking, and the connection between those adoptions and a concomitant adjustment to culture is slim to non-existent. Which is why so many Western (and particularly U.S.) foreign aid projects and assistance programs generate skewed, sometimes disastrous results that utterly bewilder our ‘experts.’ The same ‘experts’ who rarely appreciate that the problem is not in what we deliver, but the cultural filters through which it will be received. We constantly apply projective models of how aid will improve another culture: models that are, in sad fact, based on what we see in the mirror, not the other nation. We rarely appreciate just how ingrained culture is, or how, in the face of obvious proofs, people will still press on with traditions that will kill more of their kids and will kill themselves earlier, all the while living lives of privation and uncertainty—because they will choose the certainty of the definition they feel in their old culture over the possibility of betterment that might reside in new change.


The British cultural scholar/analyst Raymond Williams retooled Antonio Gramsci’s cultural hegemony theories to represent this dynamic this way:


Culture is always a dynamic synthesis of three impulses:

  1. the emergent (change)
  2. the dominant (contemporary cultural formations)
  3. the residual (traditional components which hang on even if they are somewhat outdated or anachronistic in relation to the dominant)


The power of the residual in the countries we’ve been mentioning is, to our minds, a very close cousin to the forces that made the adoption of new ideas and technologies so gradual in the 1630s OTL. Many, many things are possible in the post-Ring of Fire 1630’s NTL—but many may be left lying fallow along the cultural roadside, just as they were in the OTL.


One of the reasons the Ring of Fire is such an exciting series for us to write in is the powerful tension and drama created by introducing ideas and technology from the late twentieth century into this environment, with several thousand persons present to not only export them, but to “live by example.” This is a tremendously powerful narrative and dramatic device. This process is also tremendously destabilizing to a culture. And widespread adoption will be slow and uneven—particularly if/where the leaders of these highly authoritarian conservative monarchies and guild structures see a threat to the status quo in these changes. And they’d be idiots not to. As Eric said early on, part of this story (and Mike Stearns’ objectives) is to do away with the tyranny of aristocracy, of some people feeling they are inherently better simply because of their lineage.


A world capable of rapid change, rapid adoption—even when driven by express, desperate need to embrace it—would be a world that no longer needed Mike Stearns’ crusade, the one that Rubens tellingly and shrewdly depicted in his painting of Mike, not as a peace-bringer, but a darker figure. (See 1634: The Baltic War, Chapter 10.) Because Rubens, with an artist’s oblique and instinctive perceptivity, partially sees and partially feels the storm of change following behind the man and what he represents. When the storm has passed, will it be a better world? In almost every objective measure, yes—but there will be losers along the way, and many innocent bodies from both sides whose blood is part of the palette from which Rubens worked his imagery unto the canvas.


This is not a particularly cogent bullet-point discussion, but that is, in part, a consequence of the topic: culture. And that’s where the series really does—and ultimately must—focus. The resistance to changes and innovations proposed by (understandably enthusiastic) newer authors is not a matter of engineering. (Although frankly, we don’t think you can quickly train the labor pool of the 1630s to the tasks being proposed—and shift so many out of food production into that industrial role—to be able to create the factories and mines and transshipment matrix that would be required to work so many changes in a single generation. The diversion of labor from agriculture in a low-tech culture needs its own discussion.) But to return: even if you could find enough workers, even if they were willing to leave the land that their families have worked upon for many, maybe dozens, of generations, even if you could push aside the guilds who see their end writ large in the onrushing leviathan of industrialization, there is this: most people won’t feel comfortable with it. It’s like a cuisine that might be far more healthful for them, might ensure stronger children and longer life, and yet—it just plain tastes funny. It’s not what they’re used to.


It’s not as wacky an analogy as it sounds. As this is being written, Charles is 56 and David is 65. Charles remembers when sushi arrived in this country (late 70s/early 80s in a few cities). In the mid-80s, when he was working TV in NYC, it was very chic and daring to eat sushi. (We kid you not.) Today, kids think nothing of it—and even if they don’t like it personally, they mostly don’t think their peers weird or questionable or alien for liking it. (Although you can still find plenty of pockets in the US where those reactions are alive and well—David has friends who still refer to it as ‘bait.’) The point is: you couldn’t find sushi as an option outside of a few cities until the early 90s. It expanded dramatically in that decade. And by 2000 it started showing up as a “take out” item in a few of the more daring supermarkets. Now, it’s a routine part of our foodscape. But that’s the progression of forty years—a full generation to simply implement a minor dietary change in one country.


Granted, there is so much more at stake with industrialization. But there was a lot at stake in Sub-Saharan Africa, too—and still, change lagged, and the Sahel spread south to create a persistent belt of misery. The odd, maddening, thing about culture is that while it is the solidity that anchors us in place, there is a flip side to that coin: it is also the weight that holds us back—and in both cases, that is an impulse that is strangely, even uniquely, resistant to appeals based on reason.


This is something that American writers—and readers, for that matter—have trouble getting their own heads around. (Arguably, that is yet another case of “cultural habit” seeming so inevitable that, to those in it, it feels like a law of physics, not a socially-ingrained habit of thought/perception.) We have a particularly hard time when it comes to tempering the expectations that arise from possibilities of engineering with an acceptance of the innate resistance of culture . . .and that may largely be because our own culture has embraced change like no other in recorded history.


The difficulty, of course, is that engineering responds wonderfully to quantification. Cultural assessment and analysis—eh, not so much. These are shades of grey. And ‘experts’ usually go wrong when they try to create explanations via tortuous theories of cause and effect—which usually don’t hold up. But if you put causality (and its natural affinity with quantification) aside for a moment, and just look at correlation, you’ll find that the examples we’ve used here are the tip of an iceberg. And just because we can’t resolve it to hard numbers doesn’t mean that, like the “weak” force of gravity, it shouldn’t still be one of, if not the defining force in the Ring of Fire universe/scenario.


Indeed, it not only gives the series its unique appeal and dramatic tension, but conforms to a realism that transcends mere numbers and metrics: it not only tracks with precedent, but acknowledges the diverse impacts of culture as a genuine and very powerful force.


From our perspective, that is the “other half” of the impediment to speedier change: there is techne, and then there is temperament. And you can change the former a whole lot faster than the latter—simply because temperament is where the will to change is vested.


SMC, Part 2



Mid-October, 1634



I wish I’d thought to bring a gavel. Pat Johnson had rented a room to hold the first official meeting of the consortium. The room contained a long table encircled with cushioned chairs. One side of the room contained windows providing enough light that lamps weren’t needed. On the opposite wall was a sideboard with pitchers, mugs, and a tray of Greta Issler’s pastry. Only a handful of people were present, milling about and talking. Many of the investors could not attend. The ones present, however, represented the core of the new company. Marjorie had brought the tray of Greta Issler’s honey rolls and someone had filled the three pitchers with broth, tea, and one of coffee. Pat wondered for a moment where the coffee had come from. He hadn’t found a source.

Time to get started. He took his revolver from his pocket, ejected its cartridges, and pounded the tabletop with the empty pistol’s butt.

“Would you all please sit down? Let’s get this show on the road.”

Not counting Pat, there were six present for the meeting. Gary and Gaylynn Reardon, Osker Geyer, Archie and Marjorie Mitchell, and Ruben Blumroder, who had just returned from Bamberg, sat around the table. Ruben was representing the gunsmiths of Suhl and some of other local investors.

“Thank you,” he said as the last board member sat down at the table. “I asked you here to give you all updates of our progress and to formalize our . . . consortium, for want of a better word.” He took one of the papers off the stack before him and passed the rest of them to Ruben. “Would you take one and pass the rest down the table, Ruben?” He waited until everyone had a copy of the document. “I had these copies of the project plan printed when I was in Grantville. I’ve included space to add more tasks to the plan as we discover something we’ve overlooked. Archie has already reminded me that we’ll need our own brassworks. As first order of business, I would like to propose a name for us. I propose we call ourselves the Suhl Consortium for the present. When we actually have some assets, I would like to incorporate ourselves and change the name to Suhl, Inc.”

“Suhl Ink?” Ruben asked.

“Suhl Incorporated, Ruben. It’s a legal term, an entity which owns the assets, makes the product, and takes the business risks.”

“Is that legal here?” Archie asked.

“Uhhh, I don’t know. I thought so, but . . .” He stopped and wrote himself a note. “First task for me.”

“It’s legal,” Gaylynn interrupted. “The Higgins Sewing Machine Company is incorporated.”

“Let me run the question by Judge Fross—see what he says,” Archie said. “Offhand, I think we’re okay, but it would be better to get an opinion from him.”

“Would you do that, please?” Pat gave a sigh of relief. “You scared me there for a minute, Archie. That reminds me, we need a secretary to take minutes. Any volunteers?”

No one spoke. Taking minutes was a thankless task and later, when the minutes were published, everyone would argue that he had never said what was recorded in the minutes. Nevertheless, the consortium—corporation—was going to be a busy and potentially a very profitable business. Minutes were needed.

When no one else spoke, Marjorie said, “I’ll do it but if I’m going to be the secretary, at least temporarily, we’ll need officers.”

“That’s on my list, Marjorie,” Pat replied.

“I nominate Gary Reardon as President, Pat Johnson as Operations Veep,” Marjorie said, not waiting for Pat to continue.

“Second!” Archie said, following her motion.

“Move to adopt the motion by acclamation,” Osker Geyer added. “All in favor say, ‘Aye!’ ”


“So moved,” Marjorie finished.

Gary sat open-mouthed for a moment. Pat had a surprised look on his face. Gary nodded. “Very well. I see you all had that planned.”




Pat had been leading the meeting, but with Gary’s election as President, he was content to let Gary take over. Gary stood and addressed the group. “I had two goals for my trip. Find someone who knows how to make our primer compound and get more funding.”

He paused, gathering his thoughts. In a moment, he visualized the project, a mental timeline from beginning to end. Now, how to explain it? Do I need to do that now?

“For the first, I went to Essen and talked with Nicki Jo Prickett. I had thought to hire one of her chemists from Essen Chemical. We may yet, but I was able to talk Nicki Jo into consulting with us to oversee our chemical plant, design the primer manufactory and develop the entire primer process—make it as safe as she can. She has ideas, too, for the physical layout of the site. She will be here in a week and bringing at least one of her people with her to help. I hope to hire some more of them to take over after Nicki Jo is finished. She’s signed a contract as a consultant for one year, with options to extend her contract if we mutually agree.”

“I’d heard that Nicki Jo wasn’t well,” Gaylynn said. Marjorie Mitchell nodded in agreement.

“She wasn’t at her best when I saw her. That explosion at her plant last year hit her hard. She lost several friends. This, uh, consultancy will hopefully be therapeutic for her. She was just coasting when I met her. Her . . . uh . . . friend, Katherine Boyle, and Banfi Hunyades, her chief chemist, encouraged her to take our contract. She had lost her motivation, so they said in Essen. They hope our project will restore it.”

Gary took a sip from the mug in front of him. It was a stalling tactic. His next remark could be a bombshell—or maybe not. These people had changed a lot since the Ring of Fire. “Nicki Jo and Katherine Boyle will need quarters when they arrive . . . joint quarters.” He paused again waiting for someone to comment. “They’ll be living together.” There. He’d said it.

“For heaven’s sake, Gary,” Gaylynn said in exasperation. “We know all about Nicki Jo. Marjorie and I will take care of that. Men! Get on with it!” She glanced at Marjorie who nodded. Nicki Jo’s sexual orientation was no secret. If down-timers didn’t make an issue of it neither would any up-timers.

Gary, somewhat chagrined, continued. “On my way back from Essen, I stopped at Magdeburg and saw some of the Abrabanel family. My intention was to see them for some referrals to some financiers who’d be willing to invest in our project. I was successful. The Abrabanels have agreed to be the liaison between the money people and us. We have access to 25,000 silver guilders, more perhaps, later, if we need it.”

It hadn’t been easy. The Abrabanels could usually be counted on to support any new technology. In this case, it wasn’t new technology that interested them; it was the use of mechanization that drew their attention. It was the mechanization and the production processes that would be developed to put metallic cartridges into production.

“Will we really need that much?” Ruben Blumroder asked. “That’s an enormous amount!”

“I hope not, Ruben,” Gary answered. “We will have access to funds as we complete certain milestones on our plan. They tried to impose some time constraints on those milestones but I was able to talk them out of that. And was that a struggle! I finally convinced them that tying the money to arbitrary deadlines would lead to failure. We have to be flexible, not rigid adherents of a schedule. “The first milestone is the delivery of the steam engines for Osker. The next is his hammer mill, and another is the production of hard carbon steel, a bonus if he produces tungsten carbide steel, too.”

“What are some of the other milestones?” Ruben asked.

“There are several, Ruben. The brassworks will be one as soon as I add it to the plan. The chemical plant is another. By the way, I did get a concession for a small release of funds when Nicki Jo finishes her plant design. That will help, with what we already have on hand, to fund the construction and clearing of the production site,” Gary explained. “Another is the first pilot production of primers—the list has more milestones. They are all included in your copy of the project plan.” The project plan had been created using the Grantville library’s PCs. The PCs helped determine the project’s critical path—those things that had to be done, in the order they had to be done, and what was required for them to be completed on time. The project plans helped convince the financiers the Suhl Consortium would succeed.

“Think we can make that one-year target?” Archie asked.

Gary looked at the others sitting around the table. Archie had asked the most important question, and it had a simple answer. He sighed, looked down at his notes and the plan, and then looked back up at the faces waiting for his answer.

“Yes . . . full end-to-end commercial production with a minimum of five production lines, one year from today, October 19th, 1635.”




Archie knocked on the study door of Suhl District Judge Wilhelm Fross. Judge Fross didn’t like the term office. He preferred the term study because the law required continuous review and contemplation—studying, in other words. He looked up and waved to Archie to sit at the couch before the Judge’s desk. “What can I do for you, Herr Marshal?”

“I have a question for you, if you don’t mind, Your Honor. A legal question.”

“And what is that question?”

“Does SoTF law allow for incorporation, the creation of a legal entity for a business? Is it legal? I’ve been told that incorporation is legal in Grantville, that the Higgins Sewing Machine Company is incorporated. Does the law concerning incorporation that is in force in Grantville, apply here in Suhl County?”

Judge Fross gave Archie a long look. He was continually amazed at some of the questions that came before him. “What a curious question, Herr Marshal, would you give me some context please?”

Archie repeated the discussion from Pat Johnson’s meeting earlier that day and the purpose of the new corporation. “As we grow, we know there will be legal issues. It’s inevitable. As we understand it, incorporation will protect individual investors from direct legal action for acts of the corporation. Do those provisions apply here in Suhl?”

“Have you been reading your newsletters, Herr Marshal?” The newsletter Judge Fross was referring to was published weekly by the SoTF court system. Most of the articles were reviews of legal decisions in the rapidly-evolving SoTF legal system. The rest of the newsletter contained occasional promotions and awards, and any reported movements of groups of armed men—both bandits and what seemed to be the last phase of the Ram Rebellion.

“Most of them. I may have missed one or two when I got busy. Why do you ask?”

“There was an interesting case in Grantville last month, Murphy vs. Murphy. It was a divorce case but that wasn’t the interesting part, from a legal viewpoint, of the case. The interesting part concerned the concept of full faith and credit. The decision from Murphy vs. Murphy was that full faith and credit with up-time law was applicable in the former New United States—in this case, for events that had occurred up-time. The ruling upheld the concept of full faith and credit, and that it was valid now under current law. Since the NUS constitution was used to create the SoTF constitution, and grandfathered the previous statues of the NUS, full faith and credit was, therefore, also applicable in the SoTF.” Judge Fross stopped and waited. He expected Archie to understand what he had just said. When Archie didn’t respond, he continued. “To answer your question, since incorporation is legal in Grantville, it is also legal in Suhl, in the earlier NUS and now in the SoTF.”

That settles that, Archie thought. “Would you be willing to put that in writing, Your Honor? An official opinion?”

Fross thought for a moment. Why not? It was established law, now, according to the summary in the newsletter. He would have to get a copy of the official decision from Grantville but that wasn’t difficult. “Have your lawyers make an official request for an opinion and we’ll proceed from there.”




Umph! The coach hit another pothole in the road and bounced sharply. Nicki Jo Prickett and Katherine Boyle had started their journey to Suhl the previous day. They had stayed overnight in an inn in Dortmund. Today, they were taking the northern route to Magdeburg and from there to Suhl. The troubles along the Rhine south of Essen made travel by a more direct route unwise. Colette Modi had hired a squad of mounted mercenaries to travel with them to Suhl. The war between the USE and the League of Ostend was over. Still . . . a little protection was nice. Colette was insuring her investment in Nicki Jo. For Nicki Jo, her .38 revolver, tucked inside a leather pouch at her waist, provided more reassurance.

Nicki Jo had the windows open, the shutters rolled up, to watch the countryside roll by. She was thinking about a trip she had taken with her parents a decade before. They had taken a family vacation. The good times . . . before Mom started drinking. They had driven first to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall before going to Washington, DC. She remembered sitting in the rear seat watching the fields and valleys, small towns and homes flow past the car. She let the memories flow. It was a demonstration about the discovery of nylon at the Smithsonian that had sparked her interest in chemistry.

Katherine was seated across from Nicki Jo. For Katherine, traveling was not an adventure. Most of her travels had been flights from unwanted futures. One such was her flight from her now thankfully deceased husband. Another flight was from the political scheming of her father and his machinations. Her father had planned to wed her to someone who would increase her father’s political strength. Katherine had declined her father’s request—forcefully. She would be no one’s puppet.

She was tired of fleeing from one place to another. The last two years with Nicki Jo had been . . . redemption, perhaps. A repudiation of her life as the fifth daughter of the Earl of Cork, the primary adviser to England’s King Charles.

Nicki Jo let her vision wander back inside the coach. Katherine was reading. What was it? She could barely read the title of the book. Twelfth Night. Shakespeare hadn’t been well known in the here and now before the Ring of Fire. His name hadn’t spread far from England’s shores. Now, everyone seemed to be reading him. Katherine must have picked up a copy somewhere for the trip.

She heard the driver talking to his hired guard. They were approaching an inn where the coach would exchange its horses during the layover. Whoever owned this coach line may have been copying the waystations used by the postal services. If so, she was glad he had. The waystations and frequent changes of horses had reduced travel time. Fresh horses made better progress than tired horses. Moreover, she needed a nature break and some lunch.

While she looked out of the window, Nicki Jo had also been mentally working through a process for the new primer compound. She didn’t want to put anything in writing yet. It would just be speculation until she had a lab set up and could actually do some experimenting. Nicki Jo was a visual person. She could visualize processes, each step, each task for making DDNP. Documenting that process was the difficult part for her. Not so for Katherine. Katherine could listen to Nicki Jo’s verbal stream of consciousness, make sense of it, and write it down in a logical fashion. That ability of hers was another reason why together they were better, more effective, than they were separately.

The inn appeared around the curve of the road. It suddenly occurred to Nicki Jo that she hadn’t thought about Tobias or Solomon since Gary Reardon’s visit the previous week. In fact, her thoughts had been completely occupied with the coming project. She was feeling the urge, once again, to experiment. With precautions of course, she reminded herself. She had someone who was dependent—no, not dependent—someone she was dependent upon and whom she didn’t want to disappoint. In her trunk was a large binder with all her notes from last year’s toluene experiments. She wasn’t going to repeat Tobias and Solomon’s mistakes.





November, 1634



Gary Reardon was standing before a window looking out upon the street and the passers-by below while waiting for the others to arrive. Suhl had had its first snow the previous day. Most of that snow was gone, melted, except for remnants in shadowed corners.

The consortium’s lawyers had filed the new company’s incorporation petition after receiving Judge Fross’ written legal opinion. They were waiting for the final approval. The headquarters now had a few permanent employees to handle the growing administrative tasks. Gary, Pat, Osker and Nicki Jo had private offices—spartan offices until the permanent corporate headquarters was finished at the soon-to-be corporation’s site, now being called “the Reservation.”

Today’s meeting, a lunch meeting, was upstairs in the Boar’s Head. Osker Geyer walked through the door accompanied by Pat Johnson. Nicki Jo and Katherine Boyle followed moments later. They had arrived in Suhl a couple of weeks earlier. After spending three days inspecting the Reservation and examining topographic maps, Nicki Jo disappeared into her office. She emerged several days later with her plant design in her hands.

When everyone had filled plates from the buffet provided by the inn’s kitchen and was seated, Gary opened the meeting. “Before we start, I have some . . . information for you. There is apparently a spy in Suhl, a stranger who is asking some very pointed questions.”

“Who is he?” Pat asked.

“I’m not sure. We know his name, Andres Zoche, and he’s staying at Der Bulle und Bär. He says he’s from Ingolstadt but no one believes him—his accent says Leipzig.”

“Who is he working for?” Geyer followed Pat’s question.

“Unknown at this time. Hart Brothers? Someone from Essen? Or Magdeburg? I just don’t know but I think we’re in a race now.” Gary was glad that Archie Mitchell was watching for strangers. Archie’s motive, so he said, was checking for known criminals on the run. Whatever his motivation, Archie discovered Zoche and asked the watch to keep an eye on him.

Gary’s opening was a warning to them all. Others were interested in what they were doing. A secret can only be held by one person. Too many knew, albeit bits and pieces, to keep their plans and objectives secret. Putting those bits and pieces together would reveal the consortium’s goals.

When no further questions arose, he returned to his agenda with a simple question. “Status?”

Geyer responded first. He always acted fast, whether eating or working. Speed, to him, was an imperative as if time was a precious commodity to be spent with extreme care. He had arrived directly from his foundry still dressed in his leather work clothes. He was a hands-on manager and took a personal interest in the foundry operation. He knew every one of his employees by face and name. “Please excuse my appearance. I had a problem at the foundry this morning.” He pushed aside his plate, placed some notes before him that he’d written earlier and continued. “The first four steam engines should arrive in a week or less. As we initially planned, two are for me at the foundry, one for the brassworks, and one for the final assembly plant. One of the smaller engines will drive my hammer forge. The rest are for the fabrication buildings and for Gary’s tool manufactory. The engines will arrive disassembled and should be up and running before the first of December. Schmidt Steam will assemble the engines on our site and will train our engineers to operate and maintain those engines.” Geyer glanced at his notes again. “Gary, your man will be a part of that training as well.”

Gary nodded and made a note for himself. While Geyer was talking, Gaylynn had been refilling cups of tea for the attendees.

“By the way,” Geyer said to everyone after taking a sip of tea, “I’ve altered my long-term goals but I don’t think the change will affect the plan. I can’t be a big steel producer like USE Steel or Essen Steel. I haven’t the infrastructure to ship my product . . . yet. Not until we get a railroad into Suhl or we dredge the Werra River and add canals around all the mills to allow flatboat and barge traffic. Instead, I’m focusing on quality not quantity, on specialty steel—hard carbon, carbide, and, if I can get sufficient ores, chrome for stainless steel. I may not be able to match up-time steel quality but I want to get as close as I can. I can’t match the output of USE Steel nor Essen Steel, but I’ll create a niche for us. USE Steel and Essen Steel can make iron and steel plate and rails; I’ll make tool and specialty steel.”

“What about the ore supply?” Pat Johnson asked. Iron and copper ore were available locally. The rest, like zinc, tungsten, and maybe molybdenum had to be imported from the Harz Mountain mines.

“We have contracts with the Harz mines for zinc and the other ores. We may have to extract the tungsten ourselves.”

The ore issue wasn’t surprising. Gary had been concerned about acquiring enough for their needs and had asked the Abrabanels for help. They had come through.

“There is one unexpected issue,” Geyer added. “We may have to improve the road, widen it, from the mines to Suhl, building or widening some bridges. The traffic over the road will be increasing four-fold. The mine owners suggest using their mine tailings as a gravel source. At a price,” he said with a smile. “They know how to squeeze every bit of money out of us they think they can get away with. At some point in the future we should consider making the road all-weather, macadamizing it.”

He continued, “We have local sources for iron and copper. They are not an issue.” He paused and took another sip from his tea cup. “I have also, on our behalf, bought controlling shares in a couple of silver mines . . . just in case we need more funding,” he said with a grin. “They’re low producers but once we start making tools, I think I can upgrade the local mines with drills, ore saws, mechanization, that sort of thing and make them much more productive.”

Gary was glad the consortium had another revenue source. It would help pay off their debt faster if Geyer was correct. Getting back to the agenda, he asked, “Got a date for your first tool steel production run?”

“Hard carbon by the first of January. Tungsten carbide will depend on how quickly we can extract the tungsten. I hope Fraulein Prickett will be able to advise me on that task.”

“Thank you, Osker.” Gary started to turn to the next member at the table, but Geyer had one more thing to say.

He reached into his pocket, withdrew a purse and threw it on the table. It landed with a thud. “This is the first revenue for our new corporation. One hundred silver guilders. I’ve a new profit line—making nails. The stamping machine has been working for a couple of weeks making nails for our construction teams. The stamping machine worked so well, I just let it run making nails of various sizes. I sold a hundred barrels of nails to a factor in Magdeburg, and the payment has just arrived. This is the corporation’s share after expenses.”

No one spoke, and then a grin spread across Gary’s face. That was followed by a yelp by Gaylynn. “Thank you, Osker. That is good news, indeed.” The one hundred guilders was not a large amount as it counted in the scheme of things, compared to their current debt. Their working expenses would make the contents of the purse disappear as if they were smoke. Nevertheless, it was a start. One more step to completion; one more product to be marketed.

Pat Johnson picked up the purse and hefted it in one hand. Coins faintly clinked. “Heavy,” he commented.

Time to return to business, the next agenda item. Gary chose the next member to give his update. “Pat?”

Pat put the purse back on the table and picked up his notes. He skimmed them quickly to refresh his memory and spoke, “We have completed the purchase of that plot of land I mentioned when we last met. We now own 2,000 acres, a little over three square miles, and we have an option to buy 1,200 more acres within five years if we need it. I had some topographic maps created when the surveyors were here. Nicki Jo has been using them to plot where to place the various units—storage bunkers, chem plant sites, primer manufactories, brassworks, assembly plants, and all the interconnecting service roads—not to mention plumbing and piping for waste storage and to the settling pools.”

Marjorie Mitchell wasn’t here to take the minutes but Gaylynn was substituting for her. Pat paused for a moment to let her catch up. When she nodded, he continued. “For security, we will be adding a berm completely around the production site, the admin building, and the bunkers. The berm won’t be anything close to being a fortress but it will give us a better defensive position if we ever need it. We’re ready to start on the initial chem plant and the brassworks. I’ve started making dies with the hard carbon steel that I already have on hand . . . enough for a pilot plant, I think. We’ll need more from Osker for the production plants.”

Pat had started clearing the Reservation in September. The wood had been sold to sawmills in Suhl in exchange for seasoned wood for the Reservation. Much of the work was hand labor. With the end of the harvest season, he had recruited additional workers from the neighboring farming communities. They appreciated the opportunity to make money when they ordinarily would be waiting for the arrival of spring. A tent city had grown on a flat parcel of the Reservation. Another piece of their initial funding had been spent buying tents and establishing a logistics chain to keep the new employees housed and fed. It was a cost of doing business and had been included in Gary’s project plan.

“Good. Nicki Jo?”

She stood and, with Katherine’s help, tacked a map of the Reservation on the wall. “As Pat said, I’ve started on the plant layout.” She used a pencil as a pointer. Whenever she described a building and its function, she pointed to its location on the map. “The manufactory sites on this side of the ridge are the easiest to place. I’m assuming one production line per building. I don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.” She moved to the other side of the map and pointed again. “I’m doing the same for the chemical and primer plants on the far side of the ridge. It’s hard to see the scale on the map, but they’re about a hundred yards apart with a berm in between.” She pointed to two buildings on the map, separated from one another. “They are here, and here.”

“What about the primer compound?” Gary asked.

She walked back to the table and sat. The presentation part of her report was over. The rest would be done verbally. “As for the primer compound,” she confirmed, “like you originally thought, I’m leaning towards DDNP. I’m still looking at lead styphnate because there are issues with either approach. However, DDNP is made from picric acid. We know how to make that. The issue is a matter of keeping contamin . . .” Her voice wavered briefly. She paused, took a breath and continued, “. . . contaminants out of our materials. We may have to do further refining and purify some of the ingredients ourselves to improve their quality and remove any remaining contaminants.”

That didn’t surprise Gary Reardon. Osker Geyer had discovered he needed to add ore extraction to his list of tasks. He had assumed there would be additional work for making the primer compound. Nothing was as easy as it was planned.

Nicki Jo paused to refer to her notes again. “There are clear-cut risks with either approach; however, I believe we can minimize workers’ risk by going with DDNP. The long-term plan is to have at least five primer production lines. Each line will be in separate facilities some distance from one another with berms around them. There will be three separate DDNP production lines placed along the same lines—separate buildings with berms around each production plant. I’m using the same concept for the final production facilities.”

“Do we really need that many DDNP fabrication plants?”

“I only had two, at first—for redundancy. But I had a discussion with Pat and Archie, and I think we can use any excess DDNP to make blasting caps and perhaps some industrial explosives.”

That surprised Gary and it brought him up short. Another product, maybe two. Useful ones, too, in more ways than one. “Good idea, Nicki Jo. Now, when do you think you can have a pilot plant for DDNP production?”

“Mid-January, assuming I’ve no issues with resources and raw materials, and we can finish the buildings in winter weather.”

“Thank you, Nicki Jo.”

The meeting had started an hour previously. Gary called for a short break before people’s butts overrode their capacity to remain attentive. He noticed Nicki Jo and Katherine, followed by Ruben, leave the dining room and turn towards the private lavatory downstairs where Archie and Dieter had once lived. One of the building staff entered with pitchers of hot broth and beer. The innkeeper’s wife arrived carrying a plate full of small pastries. Gary wondered for a moment who had planned that small courtesy; he hadn’t. It was probably Marjorie. She was known to arrange for small items such as this dessert even if she wasn’t attending in person. The tray included, especially for Nicki Jo, cookies freshly baked by Greta Issler.

When the innkeeper’s wife left the room, Gary and Geyer converged on the buffet table. Geyer filled a mug with beer and took two pastries. “I’m glad you thought of this, Gary. I always get hungry in the mid-afternoon.” Gary didn’t bother to inform Geyer the dessert wasn’t his idea. He usually worked through lunch. Food just wasn’t something he would think of on his own.

Ruben, with Nicki Jo and Katherine, returned, filled mugs and small plates of pastries from the buffet table. Gary noticed that Nicki Jo added a handful of cookies to her plate. Her reputation of having a fondness for cookies had followed her from Essen. When they were seated, Gary cleared his throat and restarted the meeting.

“Now for me. The Corporation. I expect to get confirmation of our incorporation by the end of the week. To join, members will have to contribute to the asset and financial pool. For some, that is buying stock. For others, like Osker, it will be transferring a portion of his physical assets to the Corporation. Others, like Pat’s U. S. Waffenfabrik, and myself will become subsidiaries of Suhl, Incorporated. We’ll own 49% of our companies. Suhl, Incorporated, will own the rest—our contribution.”

Gary took a sip from his cup. He had expected a number of questions but no one had asked any. Have I totally confused them?

“Ruben, how many others do you believe will be interested?”

Blumroder looked around the table and then back to Gary. “It will depend, Pat, on what they see as their benefit. I don’t see any of them becoming subsidiaries, I haven’t decided for myself, yet, but they do want to have access to your products. It’s an ongoing negotiation.”

“Do they understand the game plan?”

Blumroder laughed, “Not all. I don’t fully understand myself.”

Okay, how to simplify this? Gary thought. “Tell them Suhl, Incorporated, will be a holding company, a conglomeration of various Suhl industries—of all kinds, not just gunsmiths and weapon makers. Suhl, Incorporated, will not just be a factory. It will also be a marketing organization and will market the members’ products outside Suhl, across the SoTF and the USE. I had a conversation just a few days ago with a cobbler who was asking how we could mechanize his shop. He wants to bid on making boots for the army. He’s asked if we would be willing to work with him to help design and finance his upgrade. That request created another potential product for us—Process and Mechanization Engineering.”

He cleared his throat and took another sip from his cup. “We will be able to distribute expenses and risk equally across the members. Conversely, we will also distribute profits to the members of the conglomerate in proportion to their contributions. The same for stockholders. Conglomerate companies will be able to buy products from one another at cost and that should allow them to maintain and improve parity with their competitors outside the conglomeration. There are other benefits as well.”

Ruben appeared to understand Gary’s explanation. He looked to the other board members around the table, “Hockenjoss and Klott has said they will buy 10 blocks of shares. They want access to Osker’s steel and Gary’s tooling. They will be making a new model H&K pistol chambered for the .45 Long Colt.”

“That’s good news, Ruben. They’ll make a market for us, and we for them. Our first products will initially be cartridges in .45 Long Colt and the .45-70 calibers. We’ll wait for the market to tell us what other calibers to add later.”

“Well,” Blumroder said, returning to the conversation about a conglomeration, “many do not want to be a part of the . . . conglomerate? But they do want a business partnership.”

It was a valid question. Not everyone could nor needed to join. There would still be regular business agreements. “I think we can accommodate them, Ruben. The corporation will eventually become the elephant in the tent but we needn’t be arrogant nor a tyrant. These people are our friends and neighbors. Without them, we’ll fail.”

Gary scanned the faces around the table. “I’ve been expanding the construction company that Pat started for the next phase, to build the plant buildings. This is in addition to those he’s already hired to clear the land. I’ve started hiring carpenters and other construction workers. We’ll break ground as soon as Nicki finishes her design. Crews have already cleared the site for the plant admin building. We can use that building as the construction office for the rest of the buildout. Any questions? Comments?” Nicki Jo was nodding her head in agreement. Pat was smiling. Ruben . . . Ruben Blumroder retained his poker face. Gary knew he was excited by the light in his eyes, but Ruben wasn’t prepared to display that excitement in public. Hearing no comment, Gary closed the meeting.




Gaylynn followed Nicki Jo and Katherine out of the meeting. The previous week, the sisters, as Gaylynn thought of the three women—herself, Marjorie Mitchell, and Greta Issler, had greeted Nicki Jo and Katherine when their coach from Essen arrived.

They hadn’t known exactly when the coach would arrive. Marjorie had asked Archie to let them know when the coach entered Suhl. The gate guards were the eyes and ears of the city watch, and, by extension, of Archie Mitchell and Captain Eric Gruber of the Mounted Constabulary. When the coach passed through the gate with its accompanying squad of mercenaries, the guard sent a messenger to Marjorie. The sisters arrived just as the coach halted before the temporary headquarters of the consortium.

Marjorie had found a small house, with a cook and a maid, to rent for Nicki Jo and Katherine. Gary Reardon, reluctantly, agreed to have the corporation pay the rent. Nicki Jo should be worth the expense.

With evening coming on, the meeting had lasted most of the afternoon, Nicki Jo and Katherine were heading home with Gaylynn tagging along. “How are you doing, Nicki Jo? Is the house suitable for you?” Gaylynn yammered on. She was a talker, not one to allow silence to occur when a good conversation would do instead. “Marjorie found it but we really didn’t know what you needed so we guessed.”

“It’s wonderful, Gaylynn,” Nicki Jo replied. “I’m not much of a housekeeper. Katy is even less of one. It’s a bit big for just the two of us but I don’t think we’ll spend all that much time there but it’s really nice.”

“Well, I, for one,” Katherine said, “am looking forward to a nice hot bath.”

Nicki Jo laughed, “You can depend on Katy, Gaylynn, to have her priorities firmly in mind.”

“But, how are you doing, Nicki Jo. We’d heard . . .”

Nicki Jo didn’t immediately answer. Her mind had been elsewhere. She had changed, she realized. She had regained, well, at least she was regaining, her itch to do . . . something. She chose one of the three bedrooms in their house to be converted into an office. She had the maid clear it out, and Nicki Jo installed a table, to be used as a desk, a chair, some storage cabinets, and a chalkboard, a large smooth piece of slate. The room had a western-facing window, just right to catch the afternoon sun.

The three continued down the street and turned the corner. Nicki Jo and Katherine’s house was a block ahead.

“I’m doing well, Gaylynn. Truthfully, I’m doing better than I had thought I would. I really appreciate you, Marjorie, and Greta, helping us get set up—especially the house. I love it. It’s so much nicer than the one we rented in Essen.”

“I’m thankful to hear that, Nicki Jo.”

“You needed worry, Gaylynn,” she said, smiling. She realized that she had been smiling more. “I have Katy. She’ll watch over me. Do you know she once forbade me to eat cookies? She said I was too . . .”

“Not anymore,” Katherine interrupted. “You’ve lost enough weight this last year.”

“Hefty.” Nicki Jo finished. “You see, Katy and I have this cheese and chocolate company in Brussels, and one of its products is—”

“Ring of Fire cookies.” Katherine said.

“I love ’em,” Nicki Jo confessed. “I could eat my weight of them if Katy let me.”

Gaylynn laughed. “All of us, me, Marjorie, Greta, even string-bean Ursula, Pat’s wife, have to be careful when we’re around Greta’s pastries. They tend to . . . disappear.”

All three laughed. Nicki Jo leaned over to Gaylynn and whispered into her ear, “Do you think Greta could make Ring of Fire cookies?”




Late-November, 1634

RJ City


Gary Reardon and Pat Johnson walked through the devastation of RJ City, the name the residents had given the temporary tent city that had sprung up to house many of the construction workers. It had started as a small tent city in September.

The plan had called for some of the workers, when the site was cleared, to begin building wooden dormitories to replace the tents. The dormitories would house the workers over the winter. It was an ongoing task. Unfortunately, half of the workers still, or had, lived in tents . . . until the storm.

The storm arrived after a weeklong period of warm, sunny weather. Construction on the chemical fabrication building was the priority with the pilot plant milestone looming on the horizon. The process of moving those workers still living in tents to the sturdier and warmer dormitories, had slowed. Then, without warning, the skies turned dark and the near-freezing rain, followed by high winds, came and pounded the tent city.

Neither said a word as they walked. Clothing, ripped tents, broken tent poles, and scattered food littered the site. As they walked, Pat saw the remnants of a cook stove in what had been a mess tent. The remains of wooded trestle tables and benches lay like matchsticks. Their boots squelched as they walked through the mud and water-soaked turf, their trousers wet to their knees.

A large number of people from Suhl were present to provide aid where it was needed. Fortunately, no one died, although many had injuries. When the storm arrived, those living in the tents fled to the existing dormitories, some only partially finished, for shelter. Anything was better than staying in the tents.

“We should have foreseen this,” Pat said, angrily. It was their responsibility to see to the well-being of their employees and they’d failed.

“Yeah. My fault,” Gary agreed. “I was focused on meeting the pilot plant milestone. I just didn’t think—”

“About a storm.”


They turned and headed back towards the administration building passing a hastily setup aid station. “We were lucky,” Gary said. He saw Dieter Issler and the junior deputy marshals on the far side of the tent city. They, along with a handful of Mounted Constabulary troopers, were watching for looters and insuring nothing was stolen by thieves taking advantage of the disaster. RJ City was outside the jurisdiction of the Suhl Watch. Captain Gruber had assigned a half-dozen troopers to assure the people of RJ City that they would be protected while they recovered from the storm. Gary had planned to create a security force for the Reservation; it was too far from Suhl for the Watch to patrol it. He just hadn’t anticipated needing a security force this soon.

“Let’s ask Anse Hatfield if he can run a temporary bus service here from Suhl. It’d save some time all around, and Anse can bring in building material when he’s not hauling people,” Pat suggested.

Gary agreed. We need some security people out here from now on. The Constabulary can’t watch over us forever. “Think Anse and Dieter Issler could organize our security force, too? I had planned for one, just not this soon.”

Pat turned slowly in a circle, trying to encompass the destruction. “I’ll talk to them. I think they would. Dieter has a full-time job, but I don’t think Archie would object as long as Dieter only worked part-time and met his duties to the Court.”

The wind rose. Tent remnants flapped in the wind. “We must complete the dormitories, Gary. We can’t leave our people living like this.”

“Yes,” Gary agreed. “When we get back, I’ll call a halt on the plant construction and divert everyone to finishing the dormitories, mess halls, and the sutlers. If we don’t, we’ll lose these people. They’ll quit and go home. Then we’ll really be in a mess.”

Pat stopped, contemplating the situation and how it would be when the dormitories were finished. “We’re making a company town.”

Gary shook his head, looking down at his feet. Making RJ City an official village according to law wasn’t in his plans nor did he want to make it one. Nevertheless, if that was what had to be done, he’d do it. He took care where he stepped amongst the mess and mud. “Can’t be helped. I really didn’t want one. It has so many connotations . . .”

The subject of company towns was still a sore subject for coal miners and their families. That history—a bad history—had not been forgotten. The company towns were wholly owned by the mining companies and had been a tool to enforce control by mine owners over the miners by forcing them to live in company housing. Paying miners in company scrip restricted them to buying from company stores. Company towns, company scrip, company stores, all had been a method to keep miners in debt to the company—economic slavery. “No company scrip, Pat, no company stores. I won’t have it.”

“Agreed.” When people were paid in scrip, they could only use that scrip at selected locations, all owned or controlled by the company. No, no company scrip. Period. We may have to start some stores to tide us over but we’ll invite the merchants of Suhl to take over as soon as they can.

“I know we’ll have a company town,” Gary repeated, “but what can we do? There isn’t room in Suhl. Some of these people traveled a hundred miles or more to come here. They brought their families, too.” Suhl had grown over the last few years. Already, it was one of the larger cities in the region. The mines and local industries were attracting people seeking jobs. When Suhl, Incorporated, began production, sometime in the next few months, the revenue that would be created by the conglomerate would attract more people. Jobs create money and money, used wisely, creates more jobs. Suhl would grow, and it would be up to the city and Suhl, Incorporated, to ensure that growth is managed carefully lest it collapse like a house of cards.

“At least we gave families priority in housing.”

“That doesn’t help the singles. And many want permanent jobs and will bring their families if they have any.”

“The supply chain hasn’t been affected. We can feed them at least,” Pat observed. He watched some people stacking barrels of flour and other foodstuffs taken from the ruin of a mess hall. Should we have moved the mess halls into the new buildings first instead of people? Six of one, half-dozen of the other, he decided.

“We did lose much of the food on site. Everyone will be on tight rations for a few days but it shouldn’t last more than that.”

They had finished their inspection. The cleanup was progressing. Those who had been injured were being treated. More canvas had been ordered and should be arriving in a day or two. There wasn’t much more they could do here. Pat turned to Gary and said, “Let’s talk to Anse about his trucks and get more folks out from Suhl to help these folks. Then, I want to check with Nicki Jo and the others and see how this affects the plan.”




The Reservation’s administration building had been one of the first buildings completed . . . mostly completed. Some interior walls were still unfinished with the supporting studs still exposed. Gary and Pat arrived to discover Nicki Jo and Katherine already there examining the workflow and manpower diagrams.

“If we shift this work group to just the chem plant, we can divert the other two to work on RJ City. How will this affect the critical path?”

The hand-written project plan was fixed on three walls along with task-on-arrow diagrams. The critical path, the critical tasks, was underlined in red on the pages of the project plan. Gary, Pat and Nicki Jo were the only ones who really understood the full plan. A few of the construction foremen understood their portions, but only to the extent of how their work teams were directly affected.

“I can’t tell how the critical path will change right now,” Gary said as he reviewed it on the walls. God, what I’d give for a PC and Microsoft Project. “I’m going to have to redo it by hand and see where and how it’s changed. I know it’s changed . . . I just don’t know how much,”

“I’ll review the plant buildings,” Nicki Jo added. “I don’t want the DDNP mixture building in or next to the fab buildings, but I think we can delay putting up the dividing berms for now. Besides, the ground will soon be too hard for more digging until spring.”

“That would free up four work teams that we could use elsewhere,” Gary agreed

“Yes, but they aren’t skilled carpenters,” Pat pointed out.

“Maybe not but some can work under direction and do grunt work,” Gary replied. “That will help.”

They turned to review the project plan on the wall. Gary, without taking his eyes from the plan, said to Pat, “Zoche was hired to help build the dormitories. I figured if he worked for us, we could keep a better eye on him.”

“Good idea,” Pat replied. “Keep your friends close and . . .”

“Your enemies closer. Yeah.”

The four worked long into the night before they agreed where the workflow could be altered with the minimum impact to future milestones.





January, 1635

The Reservation



Nicki Jo and Katherine were testing another version of the primer compound. The original plan had called for a test lab, an enclosed building where the conditions of the test could be tightly controlled. After the storm in November, that part of the plan had been deferred leaving Nicki Jo to perform her tests outdoors, exposed to the elements. The current test lab consisted of a square of sandbags covered by a simple roof to shelter the testbed from rain and snow.

“What batch is that?” Nicki Jo asked Katherine.

“Number 20-12. It has passed all our tests successfully, heat, cold, shock, humidity, and pressure. I think we have it,” Katherine replied giving her clipboard to Nicki Jo.

The testbed was mounted on a sturdy wooden table in the middle of the space created by sandbags piled seven feet high. The entrance to it was through a dogleg designed to divert any effects of an accidental explosion.

Nicki Jo ran her finger down the columns of test results. “How many spent primers do we have left?”

A chill wind appeared, whipping around the sandbags and causing Katherine’s hair to swirl around her face. She pushed it back, out of her eyes and replied, “Approximately a hundred. Archie Mitchell may have a few more but not very many. Do you think we can try the new cups from the brassworks?”

Nicki Jo scratched her nose, heedful of the pointed pencil in her hand. “Yes, I think so. It’s time. We need to determine if the copper/zinc ratio is good, not too hard nor not too soft. Think we could borrow one of Archie’s revolvers to test the primers?”

Katherine grinned. “No need, Marjorie said we could use her Smith & Wesson. She’ll carry one of Archie’s single-action Colts in the meantime.”

Nicki Jo laughed. She knew how protective Archie was when it came to his, and Marjorie’s, firearms. “Okay. How many cartridge cases has the brassworks made?” Pat Johnson was having trouble with his presses. The process worked when manually powered. But, when steam power was added, it didn’t.

“A couple of hundred in all. The last test run of their pilot plant ran twenty-eight cases until one crumpled and jammed the press. Pat said he thought it was a lube problem and expects to have it fixed in a few days.”

Nicki Jo shivered. January in Germany was not a Caribbean vacation. Like Katherine, she wore a long woolen skirt over several petticoats. The skirt was usually warm enough unless there was a wind——like today. She had been tempted to dig out her flannel-lined jeans from her trunk. She had last worn them when she and her father had gone deer hunting up-time before the Ring of Fire. However, she didn’t want to scandalize her down-time friends. Suhl was not Grantville. “When does he think they’ll move beyond the pilot stage?”

“That’s up to Gary, how soon he can mechanize the presses. He said he’d like to use hydraulics to run the presses but he can’t find a good way to make hoses that will last. He redesigned the presses to be mechanically linked and belt- powered by the steam engine.”

“Let’s get back inside,” Nicki Jo said. She and Katherine gathered up the remaining DDNP samples and dropped them in a water bucket. DDNP wasn’t water soluble, very much anyway, but water would make DDNP useless if left in it long enough. They knew better than to carry a possibly unstable explosive in their hands, even the small samples they used in their tests. The walk back to the lab exposed them to colder temperatures and higher winds. “Will we make our milestone, Katy?” Nicki Jo asked, her teeth chattering.

“I think so if we can finalize the copper/zinc ratio for the primer cups.”

“Are we still on the critical path?”

Katherine thought the question over in her mind. She couldn’t completely visualize the plan as could Gary and Pat, but what she could see gave her an answer. “Not any more if you think 20-12 is ready for production.”

That answer relieved Nicki Jo. Everyone had been working hard after the destruction of RJ City. The chemical plant was only partially finished, just those areas directly involved in primer production. A third of the chem plant was still open to the elements. The primer fabrication building was enclosed but the interior was open, the workstations isolated by piled sandbags. It was a design change from what Nicki Jo had originally planned. However, the change worked well, much better, in fact, than she’d anticipated and she had let the change remain as it was. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Good, then we start hiring and training, she decided. “Who is Banfi Hunyades sending us, Katy, for the chem plant manager?” The wind picked up again causing Nicki Jo’s skirt to lift, exposing her legs.

“I don’t have his name. The last letter I received is that Banfi had a candidate but he didn’t provide his name. He’s sending Georg Rohn as a candidate for Chief Chemist.”

“Good, I think Georg will do. He doesn’t have the usual male egotism. He’ll listen to me.” They walked up to the chem lab and around the corner to the main entrance, “Let’s get inside,” Nicki Jo said. “I’m freezing out here.”

Katherine laughed. “Didn’t wear your woolies, did you? That’ll teach you about not being prepared.”




Archie Mitchell and Eric Gruber entered Der Bulle und Bär. Archie hadn’t been inside the inn since he and Dieter Issler had arrested Friedrich Achen the previous May. The excuse for him and Gruber visiting the inn was their habit of walking rounds in Suhl to help the local watch. That habit wasn’t required anymore. The watch had a new wachtmeister, and he had instituted a new training program and had training well-organized. No, the reason Archie and Gruber were here was to watch a spy, one Andres Zoche.

“There’s our boy,” Gruber whispered to Archie as Zoche walked in the door. Andres Zoche had been living in the inn since the previous autumn. He was working as a laborer at the Reservation but his wages were not enough to cover the cost of his room in the inn. He could have stayed in a dormitory at RJ City, but, he didn’t. Instead, he lived here, in Der Bulle und Bär, and made the daily two-hour commute on foot.

“Is he still asking questions?” Gruber asked.

“Yes, to people in the admin building and in the chem plant. He’s sent some large envelopes out via the post system . . . a private courier who takes them to Magdeburg.”

“And who does he report to, there?”

“I don’t know. Nasi’s replacement isn’t interested. I sent word to the Abrabanels, and they’re looking into it.”

“Has he sent any radio messages?”

“Yes, to Zwickau.”

That surprised Gruber. He could understand others in the USE being interested in the Reservation. It had become common knowledge that the consortium, Suhl, Incorporated as it was now known, would be making ammunition, a new kind of ammunition all sealed into a ready-to-fire brass cartridge. Few, however, knew how the new ammunition actually worked. Gruber didn’t. He was happy to just use them and not have to worry about rain and other weather-related factors that prevented the use of firearms.

Zwickau was in southwestern Saxony. Why would he send a message there…?

“And it was coded,” Archie added. “I’ve sent copies to some interested people who will try to break it.”

“Zwickau is in southwestern Saxony. From there it could go to . . . ”

“Anywhere. Poland, Russia, England, anywhere.” Archie said completing Gruber’s sentence.

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing . . . yet. Just keep an eye on him. He seems to be unaware he’s being watched.”

“You really think that?”

“No,” Archie said with a sigh. Zoche glanced at the two lawmen, spoke with the barmaid, received a stein of beer and walked up the stairs to his room.

“I know some people who can toss his room, and no one would ever know.”

Archie thought for a minute and said, “Do it.”




A week passed before Archie and Gruber met again over steins of beer. Gruber had one of his men, a former burglar, search Zoche’s room. He didn’t find anything suspicious except a small book of commentaries by Francis Bacon, the former Lord Chancellor of England. Gruber didn’t know why Zoche would have a copy until Archie Mitchell suggested it could be used for code keys. Gruber sent a radio message asking if a duplicate copy of the commentary could be found. It was unlikely, since few of the commentaries had been printed.

“I have discovered another spy, I think, Archie,” Gruber added to his report on Zoche. “He doesn’t appear to be allied with Zoche, more of an independent.”

That statement didn’t surprise Archie. He doubted that Zoche would be here alone. No, there would other groups spying as well. “Name?”

“Otto Mohr. He applied for a job with Gary Reardon’s Nuts and Bolts. He didn’t get hired so he applied next for a job at the brassworks.”

Archie Mitchell was the unofficial security officer for Suhl, Incorporated. Zoche seemed to be interested in the DDNP compound. Mohr seemed to be more interested in the mechanization of the process of making cartridge brass. “Was he hired?”

“Still pending, I think.”

“Okay. I think we need to talk to Gary and Pat. I’m more concerned with Zoche. He is more interested in DDNP and could cause us more trouble. Let’s finish this beer and go find Gary.”

The conversation with Gary Reardon was short. It was decided to hire Mohr but keep a close eye on him. They’d keep him away from seeing the presses unassembled. Assembled, much of the critical design was hidden. They’d let Mohr think he would be able to ferret out the secret of the presses while insuring he never had access to the details.





February, 1635

The Reservation


Nicki Jo was in her lab in the chem plant when Katherine walked in. “Nicki, there’s been an accident.”

“Where? Anyone hurt?” Nicki Jo asked.

“DDNP fab number two. Nothing serious, just some cuts.”

Nicki turned off her alcohol burners, halted the process she was working on, and followed Katherine quickly out of the lab.

They found Georg Rohn talking to one of the stewards at the accident site. “He’s lucky,” the shop safety steward was saying. “Idiot. He should have called for help. It’s in the protocol.” Georg Rohn hadn’t been on the job very long, and he was shadowing the production process with the safety steward. He needed to know exactly how DDNP was made and understand the process and protocol Nicki Jo had created for its manufacture.

“I didn’t expect this would happen when I wrote them,” Nicki Jo said as she was told how the accident occurred. “I’ll have to add another paragraph. At least he wasn’t hurt, and the damage was controlled,” Nicki Jo said

“Yes, the sand bags and steel plate saved him,” Georg Rohn replied.

“Run me through it again.”

“He was working through step twenty-three. He had just dipped some picric acid when he felt the sneeze coming on. Instead of following protocol and laying the ladle down, he froze. The first feeling subsided and then came again. This time he followed protocol, too late perhaps, and was lowering the ladle when he sneezed and shook the ladle. That set off the picric acid in his ladle. Fortunately, there were no sympathetic detonations and the sandbags around the picric acid crucible absorbed the shock.”

“Hmmm. Suggestions?” Nicki Jo asked.

“I think we should separate the individual workstations further and add more sandbags between stations,” the safety steward said. Further separation would add more isolation and help prevent one explosion from setting off a chain reaction down the other workstations.

“Isolate the stations more and add some blow-out panels,” Nicki Jo added.

The safety steward looked at the damaged workstation. Some of the sandbags were ripped open and others slid to one side as the sand ran out of the ripped bags. The steel armor plate had some scratches but the damage was minimal. The bags and steel plate were placed in a fashion to redirect the force of an explosion away from the worker, the workstation and, as much as possible, from the other chemical reagents. The design worked. The station could be back in production as soon as cleanup was finished. “I agree. We can fix the other fab buildings now, move to one and retrofit this one.”

Nicki Jo nodded. “Write it up for me and I’ll sign it. What about the worker? How is he?”

“Shaken, scared, embarrassed . . .” the safety steward answered.

“He should be.”

“And, he has a couple of cuts but none need stitches. I’ll have the plant medic paint the cuts with an antiseptic and bandage them where needed. I’ve put him on suspension with pay for five days per the safety rules. We’ll have the accident review in a couple of days. I don’t see any willful negligence. A lack of training?” he asked Nicki Jo.

She pondered the question. She hadn’t thought what could happen from such a simple thing as a sneeze. Picric acid was touchy, but it was necessary for the process to make DDNP. Could the formula be changed to make the picric acid less . . . …hazardous? No, not and keep the DDNP usable and meet the requirements for a primer. No, she decided, a change of the formula at this time wasn’t needed. Leave changes to formula version two, she decided, if there is one.

“Maybe. I’ll have Katy review the appropriate training plans.” She turned to the Safety Steward, “Recommendation on the worker?”

“Well, he makes a good training example. I’ll think on it but my first impression is that we should move him to a less . . . dangerous job.”

“He won’t like that,” Katherine observed.

“I know, Katy,” Nicki Jo said, “but we need to set precedent. We pay high scale plus a hazard premium for this job and will pay his family a large compensation if he is killed or disabled. But his monetary loss in future income will teach the others to keep focused on the job.”

“What was his rotation?” Nicki Jo asked the steward.

“He was in his second day. Week-on, week-off.” Job stress was a risk that had been discussed before starting up the DDNP fabrication line. The work schedule was six days on, Monday through Saturday, followed by a week off the production line. They would work in a safer job for a week before returning to the line. Workers needed time off, time to be with their families, time to de-stress from a potentially lethal job if the worker didn’t pay attention. Nicki Jo designed the fabrication process to be as safe and as reliable as possible. However, no job, no process, was idiot-proof. Fortunately, this worker wasn’t an idiot. He just sneezed . . . at a most unanticipated time, an unanticipated occurrence.

“Should we change that? Shorten the time-on to five or four days? Longer time off to de-stress?”

“No, I don’t think so,” the safety steward replied. “I’ll watch for stress buildups but I don’t think it’s a problem with this crew. Others . . . maybe, but we should wean out the weak ones during training.”

“Okay. I’m depending on you and the other shop and safety stewards to tell us,” she reminded him, “the management, whenever you think there’s a problem. If our employees kill themselves, or even get hurt severely, no one will want the jobs. We need good workers and we’re willing to take the steps needed to keep them.”

“I understand, and I’ll report this to the steward’s council at our next meeting.”

“Good.” Nicki Jo made one last inspection of the workstation and walked out. She had work to do.




It was time for their weekly meeting. Gary wondered how necessary they were. Everyone talked with each other almost on a daily basis. He had asked several that question, and their answers were unexpected. They wanted the meetings! Apparently, Gary’s staff meetings were the only time they were all together in one spot at the same time and able to receive information about the entire project. Without the staff meetings, they tended to isolate themselves in private fiefdoms. “Status reports. Pat, how are we on construction?” Gary asked. This meeting was in the new administration building. It was so new the smell of sawdust still hung in the air. The walls of the conference room were covered with diagrams of the plant site, drawings of the buildings, the down-time version of blue-prints, project diagrams, and task-on-arrow process flow diagrams. Gary had temporarily conscripted the conference room as a working room for the meeting because it was the only one with interior walls instead of exposed studs.

Most of the members of the board were present——Pat, Gary, Osker Geyer, Ruben Blumroder, and Archie and Marjorie Mitchell. Marjorie had her pencil and paper ready to take the meeting minutes. When everyone was seated, Gary began, “We finished RJ City in mid-December and were able to get back on the chemical and fabrication buildings. All the tents are gone, and everyone has a roof over their heads. Nicki Jo changed her process design and cut out a lot of work from the original plan. Still, we’re about a month behind from where I’d hoped we’d be.”

“The current issue is the jamming of the cartridge presses,” Pat continued.

Gary sneezed. The free-floating sawdust tickled his nose. Have to get this place cleaned. Wet rags should pick up all the remaining sawdust. Ahh, don’t get sidetracked.

“There were two causes for the jams in the presses. The first was the thinness of the cartridge walls. The second was the carbon-steel dies we were using. We replaced the dies with the new ones made from tungsten carbide. We had just enough on hand to make dies for the prototype presses. The new dies will leave a thicker cartridge wall. We have also improved the lube and cleansing system. Our last run made 1,200 cartridge cases without a stoppage. We halted the run because we ran out of copper cups.”

“What about the composition of the primer cups?” Archie asked.

“Well, Nicki borrowed Marjorie’s Smith & Wesson to test them.”

Archie glowered at Nicki Jo and muttered, “Without asking me first.”

“Marjorie’s Smith & Wesson Model 25 is stronger than Archie’s Colt single-action revolvers, so it was a good choice. We popped a hundred caps and only had one failure. That was a cap that had no anvil,” Nicki Jo responded. “There will be a QC check in the production system to watch for that.”

“QC?” Ruben Blumroder asked, clearly puzzled about the term.

“Quality Control, Ruben, finding manufacturing defects during production before they get passed to the customer,” Nicki Jo answered.

Ruben thought for a moment and nodded. Manufacturing defects, he knew. Looking, planning for them ahead of time was something he hadn’t considered. He silently berated himself for the oversight.

“Osker, how is the copper smelting going? Can you meet our production quotas?”

Geyer had had his hands full but he was still on schedule. His part of the plan was clear-cut: make steel and make brass. Once he had determined what needed to be done, it was easy to implement changes in his steel processes. Brass was easier than steel. “Short answer, yes. I’m still building stockpiles of ores and product but I have sufficient material on hand to meet your needs.”

“Does anyone have or see any issue that would prevent a full run of the pilot plant?”

“What is the target number again?” Ruben asked.

“One thousand primed cartridge brass per line per day. We have one line ready.”

“Let’s go for it,” Pat said.

“All agreed?” Gary asked. He waited. No one spoke. Geyer, Nicki Jo and Katherine were nodding agreement. “Okay. Let’s clean up the site first. Remove anything that might affect the test. How about . . .” He glanced down at his calendar. “. . . next Tuesday for the run. Objections? Issues? Alternatives?” He waited again. “So be it.”

They started to stand when Archie cleared his throat. “I have something to add——not about the test.”

“Go ahead,” Gary said.

“Our resident spy has applied for a job in the chem plant. I had his application put on hold. I think that approving him would not be a good idea. Gruber agrees.”

“Is he a danger?” Nicki Jo asked. She certainly didn’t need a saboteur in a place where he had explosives readily available.

“I don’t know, but it’s a possibility. We believe he is working for a foreign country, Poland or Russia.”

“I don’t want him around if he’s a danger. So far, we’ve been using him as a carpenter. The buildings aren’t a secret. It’s what is inside those building that is the secret. Let’s cut him loose.” Pat said.

“I agree,” Gary chimed in.

“There’s another factor. He’s been joined with four others. Four strangers arrived last week. One claims to have been a chemical student at the Imperial College in Magdeburg. According to the college, there was a chemical student at the College last fall. But, his description doesn’t match the man here.”

“What do you suggest we do, Archie?”

“First, make no formal decisions yet. If any ask about being hired, stall them. Second, Gary, get your security guards in the loop and start patrolling the grounds at night.”

“That’s doable,” Gary answered.

“And start mounted patrols of the perimeter. I assume that squad of mounted mercenaries that guarded Nicki Jo and Katherine are still around?”

“Yes, Anse Hatfield hired them to help train his security force.”

“Use them and have them train more mounted guards. In the meantime, we’ll keep watch on these five.”



Letters From Gronow, Episode 3




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


14 January 1635






1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs


1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Only noted expenses yesterday. Was dealing with message rejecting story.


No dreams last night. Don’t remember any from the night before, either.


Attended church today. With Christmas and Epiphany concluded, music wasn’t anything special. Did sing, but it was dull. Reading and homily weren’t much better. Missed Pastor Gruber. But still felt better after it was over.


Herr Gronow’s letter did not crush me like the first one. Guess having been hit once, the second time was no surprise, or something. Learning the writing is going to take longer than I thought. Just means I am more determined to see my story in Der Schwarze Kater. Will have to work harder, is all. Pinned both letters to the wall where I can see them all the time.


Read three pages from The City of God. May be starting to understand this. That kind of scares me. Johann still in Jena, so no one to talk to about it.


I am a writer—new-born, perhaps—or newly-fledged—and definitely not far along the path to success. But I will get there. Will sell something to Herr Gronow some day.


Recited evening prayers. And now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


15 January 1635




1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreams last night sort of pleasant. Met my guardian angel. Name’s Max. Carries an up-time style rifle like the broadsheets show Julie Sims has. Says modern demons require more firepower. That’s where I woke up. Wrote that down. Might could be a story someday.


Martin looked better at work today. Still way too skinny, but didn’t look so much like a walking skeleton. His hands were steadier. Spent some little time praying that he will be well, and that whatever made him sick does not come my way.


Herr Schiller looked at me closely when I came in. Said nothing, but I saw him look hard at me a couple of times in the morning. Finally asked him why. He said the last time I got a private message, I spent the next three days walking around and looking like someone standing ankle-deep in Hell with the tide rising, and he was wondering if I was going to do it again, because he wasn’t paying me for that.


Told him no, that I was fine and that nothing in the messages would affect me like the first one did. He raised his eyebrows. Told him the editor refused my story, but told me that I could fix it and submit it again. Herr S lowered his eyebrows and almost frowned, said I needed to do that. Told him I was. He nodded, turned back to his ledger, didn’t look at me again.


Spent most of evening thinking about story. Glad I have a copy this time. Think I can see a way to make it work better. Will have to rewrite almost all of it, though. Start over, in other words. That will not be okay, but it is what Herr Gronow was telling me to do. Sort of. I think. Yes.


Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


16 January 1635




2 wheat rolls 5 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreams last night. Think I talked to Max again, but don’t remember for sure.


Reviewed last week’s entries. No errors, which was good, since Herr Schiller and I did all the work last week. Martin started making cash entries again today. Let me get back to working on the contracts. Getting close to being halfway done with the reorganizing. Piles around the office and stuffed into drawers getting smaller. Good. Herr S kind of smiles when he looks around.


Stopped at Syborg’s Books tonight after work. Herr Johann was there, and Georg. Asked them if new Der Schwarze Kater book was on their shelves yet. They both laughed. Herr Johann said no, it will still be middle of February before it’s out. Georg said that it isn’t a book, that because Der Schwarze Kater is a magazine, they call it an issue, and this will be the third one. More up-timer weirdness with words, I guess.


So I have to wait another month, I told them. That’s not fair. I want it now. They laughed, and told me I’d have to get in line, that there were a lot more people, and a lot more important people, who wanted it just as much as I did. I said my two dollars was just as good as anybody else’s. Herr Johann laughed again.


True, though. Doesn’t matter if it’s me, or Princess Kristina, or Prime Minister Stearns, or Emperor Ferdinand, when we’re reading Der Schwarze Kater we’re all the same.


Still thinking about how to recraft my story. Ideas rolling around in mind, but nothing has settled yet.


Enough for today.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


19 January 1635




1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


No dreams last night.  Don’t remember any, anyway. Probably good, as I’m not sure I’d want to see Max three nights in a row. Too strange.


Found real mess in office today. Box back in back room had a bucket sitting on the lid. Martin picked up bucket and knocked lid askew. He saw papers, and called me.


Six contract files. Such a mess. Somehow they had gotten wet sometime before. Dry now. Pages were stuck together in the folders, moldy. Stunk. Eeeeough. Made stomach churn at first.


Called Herr Schiller to come see. He turned white when he saw the box, and even whiter when he saw the files. Old contracts, very important contracts, Master Gröning will not be happy if they are lost.


Green mold, not black. Could separate pages with some care. Have very thin-bladed knife in back room, old, not used for anything, but long enough to reach past mid-page of the contracts. Used it to pass between pages, gently gently gently to separate them. Got first folder separated, looked at mess. Herr Schiller gave me ten dollars, told me to go buy a bottle of Genever and some clean rags.


Came back with Genever, moistened rag, dabbed at page. Herr S told me not to scrub, it might rub the letters off. After several dabs, mold began to loosen and come off the page. Page is stained, but can read the words. Took close to half an hour to do one page front and back. Set it aside to dry. Whooph. Genever has strong odor, but is better than mold smell. Guess I know what I will be doing for several days. Herr S wasn’t so white after that, but he looked nervous. Kept looking at the door. Guess he was hoping Master Gröning wouldn’t walk in or ask for those agreements.


Tired when I got to my rooms. Didn’t try to start story writing. Just read parts of the second Der Schwarze Kater. After that, thought about story a bit, think I have way to start it.




Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


20 January 1635




2 barley rolls 4 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt in color last night. Max was in one of the dreams. His wings were blue. He still had his up-time rifle. Black rifle. Said he was sad because Julie Sims was a better shot than he was. Woke up at that, laughing.


Managed to get the first file’s pages cleaned up in the half-work day today. Should be dry by Monday, will be able to put file back together, start cleaning the next one.


Genever is strong. Herr Schiller says not to drink it. Wouldn’t want to. Hurts my nose just to clean the pages with it.


Started writing the new tale for my story today. Changed title to “Portia’s Lament.”


Started reading parts of the Bible again. Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Samuel, Kings, the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles. Those parts where there are story-like sections. Looking to drink in how Martin Luther would tell stories. Herr Gronow says that’s the mark I need to hit. Best I’d learn from the best.


Also read more of the second Der Schwarze Kater again. Really want third issue. At least three weeks. Bah.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


23 January 1635




1 sausage 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Woke up twice. No Max this time.


Finished cleaning second file. More pages, more moldiness. Took longer. Had to buy another bottle of Genever. Moldy parts of pages don’t look like the not moldy parts. Obvious stains. But can read the words pretty well. Must be good ink, soaked into paper. Will put second file back together tomorrow, start third file. Even more pages. Getting tired of smell of moldy paper and Genever. Herr Schiller glad to see this done, anxious to finish all of them. Can only do so much at a time.


Reading through Samuel. Strong stories about strong people. Think I’m starting to see why Herr Gronow told me to read the Bible. Herr Luther’s words simple, clear, but strong. Need to learn from that. Tell the story.


Wrote more on “Portia’s Lament” tonight. Trying to shape it like Martin Luther would. Not as easy as it seems it should be. Will keep working on it.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


26 January 1635




1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Woke up three times, twice panting. Think it was because I reread both Lovecraft stories from the first two issues of Der Schwarze Kater again last night. Really wish third issue was out.


Finished cleaning the third file today. Three more to go. This is taking a lot longer than I wanted, but Herr Schiller says it’s very important and needs to be all I work on until they’re done. He actually has been reviewing the daily work by Martin, so guess he’s serious. Old contracts, old paper is all I know. Must be something special.


Reached a place in “Portia’s Lament” where I saw why my first version didn’t work. Or at least one reason why. Thought about it all evening. Think I understand why. Will try to fix tomorrow.


Read the story of David and Bathsheba from Samuel tonight. Hard story. David was stupid. But people are stupid sometimes, even smart people and good people. So I need to think about that for stories. Heroes can’t be too good, or too smart, or too strong, or too anything, I guess, because real people usually aren’t. Even saints aren’t perfect. Think about that.


Enough for tonight. Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.



From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


29 January 1635




1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 fish stew 4 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Don’t remember anything, except Max was there. Funny how having a name can make something seem more real.


Never would have thought that Genever would be part of my work, but had to buy a third bottle today. Close to half-way through cleaning the fourth file. Not as much mold as the first three. That’s good. Getting tired of doing this. Ready to get back to regular work. And really getting tired of the stink of old mold and old paper mixed with Genever. Eeeough. Makes my nose itch.


Worked on “Portia’s Lament” tonight. Think I’m getting the story better. Have some ideas about how to make the copy I submit work better. Think my hand is getting finer. Spelling is good. Grammar . . . I need to be more careful.


Still reading in Samuel. David was a horrible father, his sons were mostly fools, and his wives weren’t much better. How did he get to be king? If I tried to write a story like that, would anyone believe it? Maybe, maybe not. From all accounts the Romans were just as bad, if not worse. Dear God, how can You put up with us?


Recited evening prayers. Twice. Once for me, once for the emperor. If Gustavus Adolphus is no better served than David was, he’s in trouble.


And now for bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


2 February 1635




1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Woke up sweating, so must have been a good one. But don’t remember it.


Finally finished the last of the file cleanup today right before end of day. Hurrah! Herr Schiller gave me five extra dollars with today’s pay, and thanked me for the hard work. That will pay for the next issue of Der Schwarze Kater, and then some.


Was on the fourth bottle of Genever. Herr S took that. Fine with me. I never want to see or smell that again.


“Portia’s Lament” is crawling out from under the tip of my quill. Slow, slow, slow. Think it is taking shape, though. Very different from “The Perils of Portia.” Having trouble believing what I wrote before, and thinking it was good. Eeeough.


Ash Wednesday before too long. Lent is coming.


February. New issue of Der Schwarze Kater should be out soon soon soon. Syborg’s Books is going to see me every day from now until it does appear. I’m ready.


Excited. Anxious. Hard to calm down. But must calm down.


Three pages of The City of God. That weighted me enough for tonight.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


4 February 1635






2 sausage 4 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs


1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

2 wurst 4 pfennigs

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs


No dreams last night.


Attended church today. Attendance was light due to the blowing snow. Music was about as good as usual. Sang with feeling. Reading was good and clear. Pastor Gruber did the homily, and talked about how the saints of old persevered in doing good, even when those around them persecuted them. Didn’t like that one as much as some of his others, because it was so general. Like it better when he tells a story that has a point.


Pastor Gruber talked to me afterward. Everyone else left so quickly that it was only a moment before it was just him and me. He asked me what I thought of the day. Told him the truth about the homily. He sighed, and said sometimes he had to preach what the Dom magister or the seasonal liturgy required, even if it didn’t make for an engaging homily.


We ended up talking about St. Augustine, and Pastor Gruber invited me to eat with him. We ended up in a better tavern than I usually eat at. Food was good. Discussed The City of God almost all afternoon. He helped me understand some pieces that Johann hadn’t been much help with. Enjoyed it.


Went home, spent more time with “Portia’s Lament.” Another page done.


Reread The Cask of Amontillado. Almost didn’t need to bother. Almost have it memorized, I think.


Ready for issue three. Now.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


7 February 1635




1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Woke up once for sure, maybe twice. Don’t remember dreams, though.


Work was regular. More time spent getting agreements and contracts sorted, filed, and labeled. Maybe three-fourths done. Herr Schiller likes what’s happening. Says the office looks like a master’s office should look, and he likes that I can find every contract in just a few minutes. Haven’t seen any extra pay yet, but might. Regardless, will make my job easier, too, so good from that side of the table as well.


Martin still looks fragile from when he was sick, but puts in his full day and doesn’t try to duck the work. Even when he is down he is better than Thomas was on his best days. Told Herr S that. He agreed.


Stopped by Syborg’s Books tonight, just like I did Monday and Tuesday. Wasn’t really expecting anything when I went in, but Herr Matthias waved me over as soon as I came through the door. Moments later, I was holding issue three! Swear my heart skipped beats. Dug out my two dollars and gave it to him, then left and ran back to my room.


Lit my candles, and settled in to read. Read Herr Lovecraft’s story first, The Statement of Randolph Carter. Felt the hair on my neck rising. Swallowed often. Found myself looking at shadows in the corners.


Then read Herr Poe’s story, The Pit and the Pendulum. Heart was racing when done. Could have sworn I heard a swoosh sound in the room.


Read both of them again. Just as good the second time.


Want to read again, but so tired. Can’t keep eyes open.


Recited evening prayers. Twice.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


8 February 1635



1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Really dreamt last night. Woke up four times, and was sweating from the first.


So tired this morning, but was worth it!


Thought of new stories all day. Not a good idea. Hard to focus on work. Don’t think I made mistakes, but need to make sure tomorrow.


Read both of the new stories again, plus another of the other stories in the issue. It was good, if not equal of Herren Poe and Lovecraft.


Made myself set issue three aside and work on “Portia’s Lament.” Hard. Mind felt like a bee was buzzing around in it. Got maybe half a page done. Probably not any good . . . will look at it tomorrow, suspect will have to do over.


Looked at the page about how to submit stories. Requirements list is longer. Looks like I am contributing to the magazine. Just not the way I want to do it.


Enough for tonight.


Recited evening prayers. Now for bed.





From Der Schwarze Kater, Volume 3



Black Tomcat Magazine Submissions



  1. Legibility is paramount. If we can’t read your story, we won’t buy it. To that end, we strongly recommend that your work be prepared with the new Goldfarb und Meier typewriting machine or something similar. If a true manuscript is presented, please use practiced penmanship and calligraphy. Standard Magdeburg and Thuringia secretary hands are acceptable.


  1. Please use octavo-sized paper no larger than eight inches wide by ten inches high. All pages of a story submission should be approximately the same size.


  1. If the story is typed, please insert a blank line between each line of lettering. If the story is written out, please space the lines about 3/8 of an inch apart. Either way, leave a blank margin of approximately one inch on all sides of each page. This facilitates both ease of reading and making comments or instructions on the page. Keep in mind that the easier it is for the publisher to read your work, the more likely it is to be published.


  1. Our manual of writing style is Martin Luther’s translation of Holy Scripture. All issues of grammar and word spellings will be decided in accordance with his practice. Note that familiarity with and practice of those guidelines improve your chances of having your story published. All things being equal, the story requiring the least amount of work on our part has the advantage.


  1. Format the first page such that your name, contact address, and word count of your story are in the upper left hand corner, the story title should be in the upper edge center, and page number in the upper right corner. Subsequent pages should contain your surname and abbreviated title in the upper left corner and page number in upper right corner. Page numbers are important. If your work gets dropped, we need to be able to put the pages back in the right order.


  1. We recommend you keep a personal copy of your story. All manuscripts become the personal property of the publisher upon receipt, and will not be returned, regardless of ultimate decision about publication. Allow for six months of mail and processing time before querying as to the publication decision.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


10 February 1635



1 sausage 2 pfennigs

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Really dreamt. Woke three times, last time confused as to where I was. Took a little while to realize there was no pendulum in my room.


Quiet day at work today. Got most of the remaining contracts reviewed and filed and labeled. Maybe one more day to be done. Not sure what I’ll do after that, but Herr Schiller will certainly think of something.


Stopped by Syborg’s books on the way back to my room, told Herr Johann how much I liked issue three of Der Schwarze Kater. He smiled, said that was good, and that he would tell the publisher.


Wrote more on “Portia’s Lament.” Got several pages done, actually. Surprisingly. Think I’m over halfway done. Will keep working on it. Not sure, but I’m beginning to think this is going to be longer than “The Perils of Portia” was. Think I have an idea that will make it better for Herr Gronow. Need to look into it.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


11 February 1635






1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


No dreams last night that I remembered after I woke up.


Attended church today. Attendance thin. Probably due to the weather. Music was not very good. Sang anyway. Reading was good and clear. Homily was dull. Two or three men around me were snoring. Haven’t figured out how they can do that while they’re standing, but they do.


Read more from The City of God during the afternoon. Five pages, I think. Either it’s starting to make sense, or my mind is fading, because I think I followed the argument. Johann is supposed to be back next week. Will ask him or Pastor Gruber.


More pages written for “Portia’s Lament.” This will be my copy. Cheap paper, and I have corrected a few mistakes on it. When I am done, then I will prepare the very nice copy for Herr Gronow. Very nice.


Ended the day by reading one of the new stories from Der Schwarze Kater. Good story. Almost as good as Herr Lovecraft. Almost. Only reading one new one per night. Lasts longer that way.


Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


13 February 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Finally found someone who makes broth like Mama’s. Little place between The Chain and St. Jacob’s Church. Old woman runs it. Scrawny. No teeth. Mean cast to her eye. Someone called her Mama Schultz. Held a long meat fork in her hand, and looked like she wasn’t afraid to use it. But her broth tastes like Mama’s. I’ll go back.


Dreamt last night. Only one I remember was Max, holding his gun and saying over and over that he was almost as good a shot as Julie Sims now, and no demons better be coming around me. Laughed. Think I told him that any angel worth his wings would be at least as good as Julie Sims, and he should keep practicing. Wings are still blue.


Finished organizing the last of the contracts today. All have been found, put in the same kind of folder, labeled, and stored on the shelves behind my desk. Good. Glad that’s done.


Now I have to make the searching charts, so I can find them easily without having to look at every folder. I think I’ll have one chart that lists all the contracts by the names of the people involved, and one that lists by the kind of contract it is, and maybe one that lists them by date. This may take a while. Just when I thought I was done with it.


But Herr Schiller was really happy when I got done, and gave me an extra ten dollars when he handed me today’s pay.


Stopped by Syborg’s Books on the way back to my rooms. Georg grinned at me and told me that it would be over two months before the next issue of Der Schwarze Kater comes out. He was making fun of me, but I just laughed. It is kind of funny how attached I have become to the magazine.


Asked Georg if there are any other books or magazines like Der Schwarze Kater. He told me not yet, but that there are some rumors floating around of a couple of new ones that might come out before too long. Told him to let me know when they do. Also, if they get any English or American books or magazines like these, I want to know. He asked me if I could read English. I said I would learn.


And I would.


Wrote two pages on “Portia’s Lament.” Story is approaching its . . . I’m sure there’s a word for it, but Herr Gronow hasn’t told it to me yet. High point? Peak? Where things happen and make the story conclude. Feel like I’ve been climbing a big hill, and about to reach the top.


So. Done for the night.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


16 February 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Stopped at Mama Schultz’s for breakfast. Mean as ever, but broth still good. If I ran a tavern, I’d hire her to cook and to keep peace in the common room. One jab from her meat fork, and everyone would settle down.


Dreamt last night. Max showed up again. Told me he was worried. He’d been talking to Herr Poe’s guardian angel, and he says this business of being a writer may cause the demons to come flocking. He’s not sure he can handle all that. I asked him was he my guardian angel or not. He said yes. I said God assigned him. He said yes. So God thinks you can do it, I said. And you can shoot as good as Julie Sims. He got this big smile, and then I woke up. Weird, as the up-timers say.. Wonder if that’s a portent?


Finished my searching charts today. Done. Showed Herr Schiller. He liked it, and that it would make it easier to find contracts. Gave me a couple of extra dollars with today’s pay.


Finished retelling “Portia’s Lament” tonight. Think it’s good. Better than it was, anyway. Tomorrow will start working on the nice copy to give Herr Gronow. Very nice.


Read last new story from third issue of Der Schwarze Kater. Think the third issue was better than the second, by a little bit, but not as good as the first issue. And Herren Poe and Lovecraft are still the best.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


26 February 1635




1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


No dreams that I remember last night. Didn’t wake up, either. Dull evening, I guess.


Herr Schiller had me reviewing entries from last week, since my contract work was done. Didn’t find any errors, but a couple of pages were kind of hard to read. Showed him, and he had Martin recopy one and me recopy the other. Was okay with that. Kind of good to do some numbers again.


Spent all Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings copying the new tale of “Portia’s Lament.” Wrote some tonight, too. So far it looks really good. Herr Gronow should be pleased with it. I think. I hope. Please.


Did some reading tonight in Kings. Found the stories of King Ahab. Not a good man. Not even a nice man. Makes King David look like a saint. And his wife is worse. Wonder how many bad kings and evil men in history were driven by their wives? Story there? Think about it. Same could be true of good kings and good men, but bad kings and men would probably make more enthralling stories. Think about that, too.


Started rereading third issue of Der Schwarze Kater again. Good stories.


Tired. Eyes blurring.


Recited evening prayers. Now for bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


6 March 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreams last night. Don’t remember much, except I think Max was lurking around the edges. Guess a guardian angel has to do his guarding some time.


Saw Master Gröning today for the first time in a long time. Herr Schiller made us brush our clothes and shoes this morning first thing, and sweep the floor. He even brought in a bottle of good wine. The master looked old and tired, and had a really bad cough. Hurt to listen to him. Fancy clothes. Looked around, smiled, told us we were doing well, then took Herr S into the back office and closed the door. Took the wine, too. Spent most of the morning in there. Came out, handed me and Martin both a groschen, told us to keep doing good, and left. Herr S said good job, and told us to get back to the accounts.


Angry. With myself. Very angry. Was copying “Portia’s Lament” tonight. Being very careful, making a really nice copy, over half-way done. Then tonight, sneezed really hard three times in a row. Knocked over the inkwell. Landlord’s stupid table doesn’t have well for inkwell, was sitting on tabletop. Had just refilled it, full of ink. Splashed over four pages. Tried to wipe it off. Didn’t work. Will have to recopy those pages. Again.




Made myself read ten pages in The City of God. Took that many to bank the fires of my anger. Calmer now. Just very unhappy. Sad, maybe. Waste of time, paper, ink. Not cheap.


Recited evening prayers. Three times. Now to bed, hope to sleep.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


12 March 1635




2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


1 wurst 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


No dreams. Woke up tired, weary. May be why.


Martin had new shirt on today. New to him, anyway. Could see where seams had been changed to fit him. Still looked good. Need to think about that for me. Most of my shirts getting very thin, worn. Not sure they can be patched. Will find out soon, I’d guess.


Took until today to gather the money to replace ruined paper and spilled ink. Not cheap. Started copying from point where pages had been ruined. Got three done tonight. One tomorrow, and I’ll be able to start copying the story from the point where I left off. Will push to finish soon. Want this in Herr Gronow’s hands as soon as possible.


Re-read The Gold of the Rhine story from first issue of Der Schwarze Kater again. Good story. Felt more like Herr Lovecraft than Herr Poe, but good story. River dragon was scary. Written by Herr Klaus Wolfenstein. Weird name, but that’s what the magazine said in two places. Can tell writer is a down-timer. After reading the Bible so much, word choices and stringing together makes patterns. Up-timer patterns are different.




Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


13 March 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Dreamt last night. Don’t remember much, but woke up twice.


Weather is starting to warm up a little. Snow melts a little during the daytime sun, then freezes into crusty ice. Makes walking to work a bit chancy in places. Four years ago would have said fun. Now just want to get places without falling and getting wet or colder. Does that mean I’m growing up?


Nothing remarkable at work. Master Gröning’s cash entries up. Made copies of two new contracts, made folders, added to the searching lists. Martin continuing to improve, both health and work.


Copied the last ruined page, added two more new page copies. Keep this up, will be done with the new fine copy with three more nights of copying. Ready to get it done and turn it in.


Read a little. Tired.


Recited evening prayers. Now for bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


16 March 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs


Stopped at Mama Schultz’s for breakfast. Not many people there when I walked in. She nodded at me when she handed me my broth. Told her that hers tasted like my mother’s. She stared at me for a moment, then put her meat fork down and patted me on the cheek. Said I was a good boy. Then picked up the meat fork and told me to get out of the way of the men behind me. I like her. Trying to think of a story to tell she could be in.


Quiet day at work. Herr Schiller hasn’t yelled about anything in days. Makes me afraid something bad is going to happen. Hope not. I like quiet. Let’s me think about what stories I can tell.


Copied last four pages of “Portia’s Lament” tonight. All done. I think. Need to look at it tomorrow when I’m awake and make sure it’s right. So tired now can’t even see the pages.


Recited evening prayers. Now for bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


18 March 1635






1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs


1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs


Dreamt last night. Woke up at least once, but don’t remember anything about them.


Attended church today. Music wasn’t bad, so sang with a will. Reading and homily were average. Hope Pastor Gruber will speak again soon.


Spent afternoon looking over “Portia’s Lament” one last time. Seemed to be as good as I could make it. Thought the presentation, as Herr Gronow called it, was very nice. So took it by the office. Door was closed, as usual. Dropped it through the slot in the door and said a prayer, as usual, adding to it that I hope the response isn’t as usual.


Johann was back in Magdeburg today, so we met at The Green Horse. Talked for hours. He told me about what he is doing at Jena, I told him about my new work for Herr Schiller and my writing. Then we got serious and talked about The City of God. I surprised him some with what I said. I could tell. That was a strange feeling, to have someone I look up to treat me with respect over something I say. Strange . . . but I think I could learn to like it.


Read from The City of God tonight. Several pages . . . at least eight. And it flowed. I’m able to follow what the saint was saying. That doesn’t make me a saint, does it? Hope not. If so, I need to rethink what I think about saints.


Feel good. Feel nervous.


Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.



From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

23 March 1635




1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

2 wheat rolls 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs


Dreamt last night. Saw Herr Poe’s pendulum. Heard it swoosh. Woke up three times, dream kept coming back.


Nothing different at work today. Martin getting better at work.


Very nervous. No answer from Herr Gronow. Know the page in the magazine says allow six months, but always before he’s responded in a day or so.


Tried to read, but couldn’t focus on either the magazines or The City of God. Finally ended up reading in the Bible. Samuel again. King Saul. Very strange man. Chosen by God, but went so wrong. How? Why? And why would God allow His chosen king to fail like that? Think about that.


Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.



From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

24 March 1635




1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


1 sausage 2 pfennigs

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


No dreams last night. Don’t remember any, anyway, didn’t wake up in the night.


Should be careful what I wish for. Messenger brought Herr Gronow’s response to work today. Same messenger. Didn’t even look at Herr Schiller this time, just brought the envelope to me, handed it to me with a nod, and left.


Herr S didn’t even look at me. Put it in my shirt until I got home. Hard not to rip it open right then.


Looks like I have more work to do.





23 March 1635


Herr Philip Frölich


No. Just . . . no.


I must deliver more lessons in presentation, I see. If you still have my response to your previous submission, please reread it. Take special note of the section where I stated that you need to make it easy for the publisher to read your work, and that if you do things that hinder the reading of the work, the more likely it is that the publisher will reject your submission. Make an extra special note that among those things that will certainly cause a publisher to reject your work is submitting a manuscript written with scarlet ink on bright yellow-tinted paper.


The contrast between those hues was painful to observe. Even now, my temples throb. I am on my second glass of wine, and expect to do more. Alas, my tin of Dr. Gribbleflotz’s Sal Vin Betula is empty, or I would have ingested several of those as well.


Your purpose in preparing a manuscript is to make it as perfect as you can in normal preparation, so that the publisher’s eye can simply glide over the page, taking in the story without stumbling over the letters. To be perfectly clear, plain white paper. Of as good a quality as you can afford, of course, but Plain White Paper. Do you understand that? And black ink. Not artistic blue, or pretentious purple, or any pastel shade, or even (shudder) red. Black. Ink. White paper, black ink, for maximum contrast and ease of reading. The publisher needs to be astounded by your story, not by your calligraphic artistry.


Having said that, I will confess that your illuminated capital that began the story was interesting. Distracting, but interesting. However, the drawings you interspersed throughout the work were, shall we say, tedious at best, and execrable at worst.


The two paragraphs I managed to read before my eyes closed in self-preserving rebellion seemed improved. And “Portia’s Lament” is a marked improvement as a title. Nonetheless, it is not adequate. Conceive of another, please.


It is now with some trepidation that I say this, but when you correct the issues noted above, you may resubmit it.


Good day to you.


Johann Gronow

Editor and Publisher

Der Schwarze Kater


Between East and West

Fall, 1634

Gulf of Cadiz, Spanish Coast


The wind was from the southwest as the fishing boat Estrella del Este approached the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. On their right stood the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, at which the great ships of the flota, the Spanish treasure fleet, were loaded and unloaded. On their left, the crew could see the salt marshes and sand dunes of Las Marismas.


The Estrella was not new to the trade, its paint bright and ironwork gleaming, a puppy barking as its master took it out hunting for the first time. Nor was it an old boat, its paint flaked off, its hull patched up again and again, an old hound which wearily rose to its feet when its master called it to the door. It was middle-aged . . . not unlike its captain.


Captain Luis stood at the prow, his hand shading his eyes as he studied the water ahead of him. From time to time he called instructions to his son, who held the tiller. They looked much alike. Each wore a feathered red wool bonete, a brown linen shirt with a hood further covering ears and chin, and over it a sea-blue jacket tied at the waist. Below the waist they wore baggy trousers and leather shoes. While both were olive-skinned, beardless, and shorter than the other fishermen on board, the son was a bit taller than the father, and he had his mother’s eyes.


The fishing boat passed easily over the sandbar at the mouth. The same could not be said of the galleons of the flota. They needed the guidance of the bar pilots of Sanlucar to find the ever-shifting deep channel, and even then, each year at least one galleon ran aground.


Luis and his crew were done with fishing for this trip, but the same was not true of the terns and gulls that incessantly patrolled the river. The river turned north, and their boat, Estrella, turned with it. They passed a salt pan. Some hunter, human or animal, invisible to Luis, startled the flamingos that were feeding on shellfish there and they rose all at once, reminding Luis of paper kites taking to the air.


Their destination was their home, the little town of Coria del Rio. It was perhaps eighteen leagues upriver from Sanlucar, and less than three downriver from the great city of Seville. While only ships of not more than three hundred tons could sail as far as Seville, the city was nonetheless the hub of the Indies trade. There, on the steps of its cathedral, captains and masters recruited their crews for voyages to the Americas, to Africa, to the Levant, or even to the Spice Islands. There, too, in part of the old Moorish palace, was the Casa de Contratación de Indias, the House of Trade with the Indies, which granted licenses to ships and crew, appointed the admiral and chief pilot of the flota, collected the king’s share of the proceeds of trade, and searched the returning ships for contraband.


As the Estrella continued its progress upriver, Luis remained vigilant. There were many sandy shallows on the Guadalquivir, not to mention the sunken hulks of galleons that had been wrecked on those shallows; a merchant vessel drawing more than four or five codos would take a full week to travel from Sanlucar to Seville, or back. The more lightly laden Estrella could travel much faster, if the wind was fair, but even it had to worry about snags.


Most of the fishermen of Coria del Rio contented themselves with river catch—shrimp, or perhaps albur de estero. But Luis was more venturesome and went into the storm- and corsair-plagued waters of the Gulf of Cadiz for tuna, swordfish, and other delicacies. They kept these alive in floating fish baskets trailing the Estrella. Of course, these had to be hauled in close whenever they rounded a snag.




Coria del Rio


Luis and his crew tied up the Estrella at the little dock in Coria, and carried most of the catch to the local fish market, which was only a few yards away. There was haggling, of course, but Luis dealt with the same man every week, and they knew the steps of the dance, both lead and follow. They shook hands at last and shared a cup of cheap wine to seal the deal. It was time for Luis to head home.


As a boat captain, rather than a mere hand, Luis had a house of his own. It was just one story, and made of whitewashed mud-brick covered with red roof tiles, but at least it wasn’t a mere hut, or shared with other families. This being Andalusia, it was square, with a central patio, which all of the rooms opened onto. A good part of the patio was devoted to his wife’s vegetable garden, where she grew artichokes and asparagus.


Luis was carrying one prize specimen, a large swordfish, that he had saved for his family. His wife looked up when he came in the door of their common room.


“Hello, I have brought dinner home for us, and I have coin, too. Our son has gone off with his friends, so we will eat without him.”


She came over and hugged him, “Welcome home. I will fry that up.”




As she prepared their meal, Luis relaxed in his chair. The walls of their common room were adorned, like any Spanish home, with crosses and religious pictures. Only a discerning eye would notice that several of these came from far away—from Madrid, from Genoa, even from Rome and Mexico City. They were, in fact, souvenirs of his travels.


The village of Coria del Rio was home mostly to farmers and fishermen. Most of the farmers had never even gone as far as Seville. Most of the fishermen lived off the river, not the sea.


But Luis—Luis do Japon—had crossed two oceans. Two decades ago, he had gone by the name of Kinzo. He had been a samurai, a retainer of the great daimyo Date Masamune. Date Masamune had given sanctuary to the Franciscan friar Luis Sotelo. Kinzo had been one of the Date clan samurai converted by Sotelo, and had taken the Christian name “Luis” in his honor. And Sotelo had taught Luis Latin and Spanish.


Consequently, Luis do Japon had been chosen to be a member of the honor guard of Date Masamune’s emissary to Spain and the Pope, Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga. The Hasekura embassy arrived in Seville in October 1614, and went on to visit Madrid, Rome, and many other cities. But by the time they returned to Seville in 1616, grim news had arrived from the Far East: In January 1614, all Christian missionaries were ordered to leave the “country of the kamis and the buddhas,” and it was made illegal for a samurai to be a Christian.


In 1617, the news was no better, but Lord Hasekura decided that it would be better to wait in Manila, close to home, than in Seville. He sailed west, but Luis was one of six Japanese who Hasekura ordered to stay in Spain, and “behave as good Catholics.”


Friar Sotelo was ordered to return to New Spain. Friar Sotelo’s brother, Don Diego de Cabrera, had wine and oil warehouses in Coria del Rio so, needing to settle the six Japanese somewhere, the friar arranged lodgings for them there, where his brother could keep an eye on them.


De Cabrera warned them that the authorities looked with suspicion on long-term foreign residents who were not married to Spanish women, and they took the hint. Luis married, and now had a teenage son and daughter.


If his wife’s family had hoped that by this marriage connection, they might eventually profit from Spanish trade with Japan, those hopes had not been realized. In 1624, the Shogun banned the Spanish, because the merchants smuggled in missionaries. There was still trade between Macao and Nagasaki, but that was controlled by the Portuguese. And of course, his family would have nothing to do with the Dutch heretics.


Nonetheless, the marriage had prospered, and some of his wife’s relatives were now merchants in Seville, with small investments in the flota trade. And Luis visited them when he had business in the city.




Early 1635

Triana suburb, Seville


As Luis do Japon walked along La Calle Larga, the main street of the Triana district, he became conscious that something was wrong. People stopped speaking as he approached, drew away as he came nigh, stared at him as he passed. One even made a sign to avert the evil eye.


Like every Spanish townsman, he walked the streets armed with a sword and knife. Unlike them, he carried the two swords of his former samurai rank, the katana and the shorter wakizashi, as well as a tanto, a dagger.


He surreptitiously made sure that they were all loose in their scabbards, and continued on, his head turning subtly back and forth to make sure that no one was following him with ill intent.


A fraction of his attention went to trying to decipher the reason for the hostility, as it might tell him who to be wary of. Did the fishermen of the Triana resent the intrusion of one from Coria del Rio? If so, it was vexing; he wasn’t even here to sell fish, but rather to get supplies that were available more cheaply in Seville than anywhere else.


A roof tile whizzed past his head. He dove into a stall, shouldered past those standing inside, and went out the back.


Luis remembered that one of his wife’s brothers lived a couple of streets over, closer than the chandler that was his original destination. He went there quickly and cautiously and knocked on the door.


“Who is it?” came a voice.


“Your brother-in-law, Luis. Let me in, in the name of God.”


There was a pause.


“Hurry!” Luis demanded.


The door opened. Juan Cardozo scowled at him. “I hope you have not brought trouble to this door.”


“The longer you leave me standing out here, the more likely that is to happen,” said Luis.


“Well, get in here, quick!”


As soon as the door closed behind them, Luis told Juan what had happened, and then asked, “So what grievance do the Sevillians have against fishermen from Coria?”


“It has nothing to do with Coria, and everything to do with you being Japanese. You haven’t heard?”


“Heard what?”


“Word only just hit the streets, but a year ago, a horde of your people sacked Manila, and killed every Spaniard in the city. A “president’s eyes only” correo came from Veracruz to the House of Trade this past week, on an aviso that sailed the Atlantic out of season, so of course many were curious. The House of Trade must have tried to keep it secret, but well . . .” He shrugged. “‘The crew of the aviso knew all about it. So soon the wenches in the taverns and brothels also knew. By now, it is all over the Triana.”


“How could Japan have attacked Manila?” asked Luis. “Manila is hundreds of miles from Japan, and we don’t have siege artillery. Or a fleet.”


Juan issued a mirthless chuckle. “Opinion in the taverns is divided as to whether the Japanese were transported there by the Dutch or by demons out of Hell.”


“Fuck!” said Luis. “So, when I walk outside, as soon as anyone sees my eyes . . .” As a full-blooded Japanese, his eyes had the characteristic epicanthic fold.


“Yes, you have a problem. If you were a medieval knight, you could put on your helmet and lower the visor. But you’d be a bit conspicuous in the here and now.”


“That’s true,” said Luis. He pulled a piece of paper and some coin out of his purse. “These are the supplies I was supposed to pick up at the chandler we use. Can you buy them and have them delivered to my boat, on the Arenal? It’s the Estrella, as I am sure you know, and we are beached in front of the Puerto de Macarena. In the meantime, I’ll figure out how to get out of Seville with my skin still attached.”


“Good luck on that,” said Juan. “But I’ll do what I can.”




That night, a tapada, a veiled woman, left Juan’s home, carrying a large bag.


“The veil itches,” said Luis.


“It was your idea. You rejected mine,” said Juan.


“I’d rather be a woman under a veil than a corpse in a coffin,” said Luis.


“Keep your voice down,” warned Juan. “In fact, don’t talk at all. You’re no castrato.”


As they progressed toward the Arenal, Luis fretted. His swords were hidden inside the bag, wrapped so they wouldn’t clink together. But that also meant that if it came to a fight, all he had was his dagger.


For that matter, even if his disguise weren’t penetrated, there was the matter of the law. For women to cover their faces was, in the view of the authorities, a sign that they had a licentious purpose. There was a fine of 3,000 marevedis for each offense. A night watchman might impose the fine, or at least demand a bribe to overlook it. The watchman might even insist that Luis remove the veil, in which case, well, he would need his dagger.

Even though he was a good Catholic, Luis found himself holding his breath as he approached the castle that stood at the Triana end of the bridge of boats that crossed the Guadalquivir to Seville proper. The castle that held the offices of the Holy Inquisition.


Despite these perils, Luis made it to the Estrella, unhindered.


Juan leaned toward him. “Your supplies should be on board, I had them delivered this afternoon. Good luck, and stay out of sight as much as you can until things blow over.” He hurried off.


Luis hefted the bag and lowered it over the deck rail. He tried to be quiet but the bag didn’t cooperate, and the deckhand sleeping on the deck stirred. He raised his head, and said, “Well, hello, young lady, come aboard and let’s get to know each other better. You can even keep the veil on . . . .”


“It’s me, you idiot,” whispered Luis. “Keep your voice down and take my bag.”


“Captain?” the deckhand squeaked.


“Help me aboard. This damn dress is a bit restrictive.”




The deckhand, fortunately, was from Luis’ wife’s side of the family and looked perfectly Hispanic. Hence, he had not encountered any problems during the day, other than losing half his pay at gambling and spending the other half on the booze he had just been sleeping off.


His mind had been on dice, drink, and dames, not necessarily in that order, and if anyone in his vicinity had complained about the Japanese attack, he had been oblivious to it. Now, however, he was quick enough to understand that they had a problem. Or at least Luis had a problem and was making it his problem, too.


“What do you want me to do?” he sighed.


“Get the boat in the water at first light. Ask for help from your neighbors.”


‘Won’t they wonder how I got here by myself?”


“Tell them your skipper is sleeping off a drunk and will go into a rage if awakened prematurely. I’ll be hiding under a tarp.”




The following morning, Luis felt the boat lurch. As instructed, the deckhand had gotten help hauling the boat back into the river. Luis heard him call out his thanks as he poled them out from the bank. The current took hold of the boat, and they were on their way.


“You can come out now, Captain.”


Luis emerged slowly, shading his eyes with his hand as if the dawn light was bothering him. It was, but the main reason was to make it that much harder for anyone nearby to see the shape of his eyes.


Fortunately, even here at Seville, the Guadalquivir River was broad enough so that with the Estrella drifting down the center, no one on the bank could tell that he was Asian. And the crews of the few boats near enough to matter were intent on their own business, not searching for Japanese.




Luis’ home, Coria del Rio


Luis, his two fellow samurai, their adult sons, and the heirs of Luis’ deceased fellow guardsmen sat on chairs in Luis’ common room, sipping wine from pigskin containers.


“My vote is to leave,” said Gonzalo do Japon. “Matters are going badly for the Spanish Crown, neh? A Spanish army defeated by the heretics of Grantville. And Spanish rule over the Netherlands is in, shall we say, even more doubt than before.


“The king will need money for more troops, but the loss of Manila means loss of revenue from at least one, maybe two, Manila galleon runs.


“I expect that the Crown will raise taxes, which will cause . . . disgruntlement . . . here. How better to distract the populace from their new burden than to appeal to their honor, to say that it is necessary to put the Japanese in their place.


“This is not a problem that will blow over in a week, or a month. We will be living with this for years.”


Luis nodded. “There’s certainly a chance you’re right. What do you propose?”


“We can take a ship to Rome. Nowhere was our embassy more warmly welcomed than in Rome. We even had an audience with the Holy Father. And our lord was named a Senator of Rome!”


Luis heard several coughs and indistinct murmurs from behind the screen dividing the common room. On the other side the Spanish wives and adult daughters of the ex-samurai sat on cushions, listening to the debate but not participating. Not yet, at least.


“And are you proposing that we go to Rome with or without our families? ”


Luis heard more coughs and murmurings.


“With them, of course,” said Gonzalo hastily. “And our valuables, and perhaps some of our household goods, if they aren’t too costly to transport.”


Luis snorted. “And how will we support them? I do not think that there is a shortage of fishermen in Rome. The Pope who welcomed us, Paulus Quintus, died in 1621. And his successor in 1623. We have no sure expectation of patronage from Papa Urbanus Octavus.


“Did you think we could become translators? Our knowledge of Japanese is now rusty from disuse, and few missionaries are still sent there.”


“Our katanas, at least, are not rusty,” said Gonzalo. “We could hire out as guards or teach our fighting arts.”


“And how often have you practiced your fighting skills since you settled in Coria del Rio? Back home, when I practiced iaijutsu, I would do a thousand fast draws in a row. And that would have been considered a normal iaijutsu workout. ”


Gonzalo looked sheepish. “Not daily, certainly. I thought that becoming a Spanish fisherman was like taking the tonsure and retiring from the world, or choosing to be a farmer rather than a samurai after the Separation Edict—the beginning of a ‘second life,’ in which martial arts were no longer central. I do kata still, but as, as a form of meditation, when I am not too tired from a day’s fishing.”


“Anyway,” said their fellow samurai, Juan do Japon, “there are risks just in getting to Sanlucar and finding a ship to take us to Rome, or anywhere else, for that matter.”


Gonzalo took a puff on a pipe. The Portuguese had introduced tobacco smoking to the Japanese, and the Spanish were equally addicted. “We . . . we could pool our resources, and buy a ship, and crew it ourselves. And our Spanish-born relatives can front for us until we are on the open sea.”


Luis shook his head. “Most of them have never even been through the Straits. And you think they will agree to leave Spain forever? No, we need to find a better solution. Let me talk to de Cabrera, since he settled us here in the first place. I will send word begging for him to come here, since we don’t wish to chance the streets of Seville right now.”




“The great irony,” said Don Diego de Cabrera, “is that however bad it may be for Spain in general, the fall of Manila will lead to the rise of Seville. The ships of the flota carry European goods from Seville to New Spain and Tierra Firme. But the galleons of the Pacific carry Chinese goods from Manila to New Spain, undercutting us. Why, the Chinese silk weavers even imitate Christian religious art!


“The Council of Seville has repeatedly petitioned the kings of Spain to restrict, even abolish, the Manila trade. The king’s order of 1593 limited the volume of the trade, required the payment of duties before the goods could be sold in New Spain, and prohibited their transshipment to Tierra Firme, but the Manila and Acapulco merchants have maliciously flouted the king’s will.”


“So we should just keep our heads down, and this will all blow over soon?” asked Luis hopefully.


De Cabrera shook his head sorrowfully. “It is bad enough when Spain is defeated by another European power, like the Swede. It cannot disregard an attack by a pagan nation. I have no doubt that some counteraction will be taken. If not seeking to recapture Manila, then perhaps a bombardment of some Japanese city.”


“Yes, yes,” said Luis, “but that is a matter for princes. Spain has been at war with the Dutch heretics off and on for many years, and the Dutch were, my brother told me, the shogun’s allies against Manila, yet Dutchmen have come to Seville to trade since I first came to this country. They may be watched by the Inquisition, they may be charged special fees, but if they behave themselves they have no more fear of violence in the city than a Spaniard would. Why should one from Japan fare worse? Here in Coria, our neighbors have known us for decades. They know us to be good Catholics and loyal to Spain.”


“It is the way of the world,” said de Cabrera. “You look different. The news from Manila besmirches the honor of Spain, and yet most Spaniards are impotent to address the true cause of their grief and anger. When you walk by, they see that by persecuting you, they can restore their honor. It is not your neighbors, but my neighbors, who do not know you, who you rightly fear.”


“So, should we flee to some other Catholic country?” asked Gonzalo.


De Cabrera pondered the question. “No . . . it is a last resort. You will be able to take only a portion of your property, and selling the rest in haste, you are likely to get a poor price. The attempt at flight might be detected, and taken as an admission of guilt, that you are spies for your emperor. Or as an admission that you have reverted to paganism, and so exciting the attention of the Inquisition. Even if you safely leave Sanlucar, the crew of the ship that offers you passage might seek to take advantage of you. When the moriscos were expelled from Spain, some were robbed, raped, even murdered.


“No, you must speak to your wives, and have them speak to their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, and those in turn speak to their relations.


“Truthfully, now. Does your parish priest think well of you?”


“I am sure he does,” said Juan. “Of the six of us who came to Corio in 1614, only three are still alive, but we have never missed a service in the twenty-odd years we have lived here, even when we have been sick or injured.”


“That is good,” said de Cabrera. “I will speak to him, and see whether he might preach a sermon that will promote good will.”




The three ex-Japanese followed de Cabrera’s advice, and received assurances from their relatives and neighbors that in Coria, at least, they were held blameless for the actions of their distant former countrymen.


“Having the support of the people of Coria is gratifying,” said Gonzalo, “but how can we fish on the river? Or buy or sell in Seville or Sanlucar? Close up, they’ll see that we have almond eyes.”


“That’s a problem,” Luis admitted.


“We could pretend to be mestizo,” said Juan. “When we were in New Spain, I saw many indios who could pass for nihonjin if they wore kimono and geta. And at least a few of the mestizo took after them.”


“There are mestizo in Seville, but only a few come with each flota, and they usually don’t settle here. And I suspect that if they look much like us, they are in danger of being taken to be nihonjin and lynched, given the current mood of the city.”


Gonzalo spat. “I suppose we will have to become farmers and never leave Coria again. Stay away from the riverbank, too.”


“Not necessarily,” said Luis. “I have an idea. Do you have your reading glasses handy?” Few of the inhabitants of Coria del Rio were literate, but the converted samurai had been literate in their homeland and had learned to read Latin.


“Go get them,” said Luis. And while Gonzalo was away on this errand, Luis built up the fire.


“Here they are,” said Gonzalo.


“Give them to me,” said Luis, and once they were in his hands, he held them over the fire.


“What are you doing?”


“You are a fisherman, you have smoked fish, yes? I am smoking your lenses.”


As Gonzalo watched Luis do just that, he asked, “Whatever gave you this idea?”


“I had two recollections that mixed together. There was a Chinese scholar at Lord Date’s court. He came to Japan after the famines of 1590 and 1591, I believe. I was in attendance on the lord and they were talking about judicial proceedings. The scholar mentioned that in China, judges wear eyeglasses with lenses made of smoky quartz, so that the accused cannot guess what they are thinking from their expressions.


“So that seemed relevant, but I have no idea where to find smoky quartz here in Spain, and even if I did, it would probably be too expensive. But then I thought about how soot builds up on glass lanterns . . . .”




Gonzalo tried out the smoked glasses the next morning. The deposit of soot on the lenses indeed made it harder for passers-by to see the shape of his eyes, even in the bright morning light.


“It works,” he told Luis, “but I wonder what will happen to the soot coating when it rains. Or if we’re out in the open ocean and get hit by a wave, or even just sea spray. You think we could use mica, instead?” Mica was sometimes used instead of glass in ship’s lanterns and in spectacles for stone and metal workers.


“Isn’t it expensive?” asked Luis doubtfully. Most mica came to Spain from Russia or India. A little came from New Spain; there were trade routes still in operation that brought mica to the Olmecs and Maya of Mexico from sources unknown.


“We can buy the rejects,” said Gonzalo. “The sheets that are green or amber.”


“Or we can have lenses made locally, from green glass.”




The Japanese and half-Japanese fishermen of Coria del Rio started wearing green-tinted glasses that hid their distinctive eyes from any xenophobic Spaniards. So, too, did a few of their whole-blooded Spanish neighbors and relations, as a show of solidarity. They all found, much to their surprise and delight, that the glasses had another advantage; it made it easier to see in the bright sun of Andalusia. The custom of wearing the tinted glasses spread, first to other Corian fishermen, and then to the farmers as well.


And so the people of Coria del Rio came to be known along the length of the Guadalquivir as gente de ojos verdes — the “green-eyed ones.”




Author’s Note: The names of the Japanese who remained in Coria del Rio is not known, because the parish church records were destroyed by fire. “Kinzo” is the name of one who went to Rome. There are several accounts of the Hasekura embassy, and they are not in complete agreement with each other. I have relied mostly on Abraham, “The Japon Lineage in Spain,” in Japanese and Nikkei at Home and Abroad, and Meriweather, “Life of Date Masamune,” in Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. The embassy was sent by Date Masamune, who is a major character in my 1636: Seas of Fortune.


The full story of the Dutch-Japanese assault on Manila (and Cavite) will appear in 1636: Mandate of Heaven. Eric and I handed in the manuscript in Dec. 2015, but best guess is that it will be published in April-June 2018. Just to be clear, the Japanese did not in fact kill every Spaniard in the city of Manila, that’s merely what was rumored on the streets of Seville.


Eyeglasses were invented in Italy in the late thirteenth century. By the fifteenth century, they were widely exported throughout Europe, and the cheapest cost just a couple of shillings.


As for seventeenth-century Spain, consider this portrait of Don Francisco de Quevedo:


Glasses were worn by both sexes, and by both old and young, and the higher the social class, the larger the lenses. See Desfourneaux, Daily Life in Spain in the Golden Age 155-6 (1966).


Greta’s Day Off

Night, May, 1636

A Road near Vesserhausen


She woke up. This was not strange, because Greta slept a lot when she was not dancing. She was in her wooden den, and it was moving. This was also not strange—when her den was moving, it meant she could rest, and would not have to dance for a while. But she could not smell Him, and that was strange. She could not smell Him anywhere, only the faint traces left behind. He was always with her when they were moving, making man-noises at her through the bars when she stirred. Greta was unhappy, and she sniffed deeply at the air. There were men around her den, but she did not know any of their smells. That was not always strange, men would come and look at her in the den when she was not dancing, but He would always be there, too, and there would be other men around whose smells she recognized.

These men were strangers. They smelled of blood and dogs and death. Greta did not mind dogs. Sometimes, He would have her stand very still, and dogs would jump up to stand on her back. The men watching would make lots of noise, and she would get a fish to eat. The horses pulling her den did not smell like the horses she knew, either. Where was He? Shuffling onto all fours, she grunted her distress at the nearest strange man as he stumbled along over the dark ground without a light. Men knew that when she was upset, they could find Him and he would calm her down. But this man jumped instead, making man-noises and waving a long stick at her. He did not go away to find Him, and when she huffed at him again, louder, he put his stick through the bars and poked her in the side of the neck. That was something man cubs would try to do sometimes, before He made loud noises at them and scared them away. But He was not here, this was not a cub, and Greta was afraid.

She backed away to the opposite wall of her den, colliding with the bars on that side and causing the den to rock on its wheels. The horses stopped when their burden shifted, and other men started making noises. She smelled burning, and hot lights appeared in the hands of other men, coming closer to her den. Another man with a long stick poked her, from the other side, and made angry noises. She retreated from him, but the first man still had his stick. Now Greta was getting angry. He was nowhere to be smelled or seen, while these strange men poked at her with sticks. Rushing again to the other side of her den, but now she pushed at it with her shoulder, growling and snapping at the man with the stick on that side. He made scared noises and fell backwards, but this time the den shifted too far with Greta’s weight.

Something snapped, broke, and her whole den fell onto its side while horses and men screamed. She fell heavily on her side, and the roof of the den cracked. A hard push, and she was outside her broken den through the hole, in a field of grass in the dark while men made noises and ran in all directions—some at her and some away. The ones who ran away from her marked territory on the ground, which Greta did not understand. She did not understand what was happening. She just wanted Him, and to stop being poked with sticks, and to go back to sleep, and maybe to have a fish. Thunders cracked around her, and she heard stinging bugs. Men were all around her, with their sticks and hot lights, but suddenly Greta spotted a gap in the circle of men, an empty dark spot into the fields, and she charged for safety. A stinging bug bit her ear, and she ran faster, away from the angry men who smelled of dogs. She would find Him, and he would make her safe again. He had to.


Early Morning, May, 1636



He opened his left eye and watched the ceiling. Silently, he counted to thirty, then opened the right eye and closed his left. He counted to thirty again, opened both eyes, and swung his feet to get out of bed. Both of his eyes worked, as they had every morning since he had first started checking. But it was a Rule that he had to be sure, because a day couldn’t start properly until he had both eyes open. Peter had a lot of Rules. Some were easy to follow, like checking his eyes every morning when he got out of bed. Others were harder, but he needed them all. The world was a hard place for him sometimes. He wasn’t dumb, but he was . . . different . . . than anyone else. Things happened that didn’t make sense to Peter, and people did or said things that confused him. Father belting him for saying things that made people mad hadn’t worked. Being bathed in holy water at the big church in Suhl hadn’t worked either. Instead, Peter had started making his Rules. He didn’t need to understand why if a Rule told him that he was or wasn’t supposed to do something.

He got dressed, quickly, and fixed himself breakfast while carefully unfolding the prize he had found at the tavern last week. The paper was cheap, and the ink faded, but the pictures were still visible and he could read the words. There would be a traveling show coming through the area soon, stopping in Suhl and staying there for three whole days. Dancers would be there, and strange wonders, and trained animals. Peter liked animals, because they were easy to understand. People did a lot of things that only made sense to them, but you always knew what an animal wanted and how to treat it. He barely needed any Rules at all to interact with them. Perhaps he could get Father to ride with him to see the show tomorrow. Father would want to see if the show needed any specialty work done, or new wheels cut; tinkers could do small repairs, but a master wheelwright was better if you had one, and Father made the best wheels for a week in any direction. He’d also want to see the dancers. Particularly the women dancers, if they had any, but Peter couldn’t say that.

He finished his bread, ending the meal the way he had started it – that was an important Rule. Dinner would be a good time to ask Father about the show. Today, though, he had militia practice, which made it a good day. Peter liked militia drills, which came with Rules of their own. The only Rule he needed was to do whatever the captain said, when he said to, and only stand still otherwise. The captain liked him and called Peter his ‘rock’, since he never skipped practice and always followed orders. And it gave him something to do besides help Father cut wheels. He was a decent journeyman wheelwright, but he’d never be a master, because a master had to deal with customers and other masters. Peter would be a journeyman all his life—for Father, then for whoever Father found to take over his shop. With one last look at the traveling-show announcement, he folded the worn paper again and stuck it into his pocket. Not being late for drill was a Rule.


Mid-Morning, May, 1636

Outskirts of Vesserhausen


Greta was hungry. She was tired, and scared, and confused, but mostly she was hungry. She tried whining again, but it did not work this time either. He did not appear with food for her to eat. Her ear hurt, and nothing smelled right. The world was supposed to smell like men, but there were no men here. She had run from the angry men in the dark, and now there was light. He should have been here, bringing her food when she woke up in her den. She should have been in her den, comfortable and safe. Instead she was here, wandering lost through tall grass with smells she did not know. She moaned and sniffed, hoping that this time His scent would be drifting by. It wasn’t, but the wind had shifted, and she perked up at smells she knew. That was the smell of men, different than the angry men. She could detect meat as well and the sweet scent of fresh padding for her den. Greta was sure that these were the smells of home and turned to follow.

She walked, and walked, and walked. The scents grew stronger, and she stood to look ahead. The grass stopped, and a man-den was there. A wooden ring and a smaller den that had a smell of horses were next to it. The smells of men and hot meat came from the man-den, and she sped up. At the edge of the grass, she stopped and whined, hoping the men inside would hear her and bring out food. A dog came charging around the side of the den instead. This was not one of His dogs, who would sniff her and jump on her and sometimes fall asleep on her leg. It was an angry dog, growling and barking. It smelled of dirt and plants and men, but they were the wrong men. Something that smelled like meat squealed and fled in the other direction. She snapped a warning at the dog, and it stopped. But now a man was coming out, and he was also angry. He smelled of dirt and plants, too, and dung and fresh bedding. He yelled at Greta and waved a stick in his hand at her while the dog barked. Greta was confused, and she backed away. The man did not have any food for her. He kept yelling, and his stick thundered. A stinging bug flew past, and Greta turned to run. The sun was bright, and she was tired. More thunder rumbled from behind her, and this time a bug bit her on the hindquarter. It hurt, and she screamed as she fled. The dog did not chase her, standing near its man and barking as he yelled. She would hide in the trees and sleep. Perhaps there would be food.


Mid-Morning, May, 1636



He made it to town with plenty of time to spare, but even so Peter thought he must have been late at first. There were far more people bustling around the town square than usual at this hour, and the constable was stacking spears—big ones, with real steel points—against a wall instead of the usual blunt-ended poles they drilled with. There was powder being brought out for the muskets, as well, which made it a special practice day by itself. To one side, a boy with a face Peter knew but couldn’t name was talking excitedly to a group of other militia members. The boy’s horse gulped water from a barrel, while several of Holtzmann’s hunting hounds snuffled at its feet and each other.

‘All right, everyone, listen up!’ A sharp whistle accompanied the shout, turning Peter’s head along with everyone else’s to the captain.

‘It’s a special day we’ve got, you boys get a chance to prove you’ve actually been learning something all this time. Holtzmann’s boy here came in from their farm out near the forest, said a bear came along, tore up all their crops something fierce, and tried to eat the pig. Bears are no joke, my little chickens, especially ones hungry enough to go after farm animals. No regular drill today, I’ll be calling a special squad with me and Jeorg’s hounds here out to Holtzmann’s plot. That bear needs to be dealt with before it moves up to man-eating.’

The news of drill being cancelled shocked Peter at first, till he calmed himself with a few deep breaths. Militia drill wasn’t a Rule, but it was a routine he was used to, and losing that threw off his focus to where he almost missed his name being called by the captain.

‘Peter, grab a spear. You’ll anchor the right end of the line.’ Happy once more, despite the break in routine, he did as ordered and took the first spear in reach. Some of the other militiamen glared at him, the ones whose names didn’t get called, but he didn’t stop to try and work out why they’d be upset with him for taking that spear when it looked like all the others. Something itched inside his brain as he lined up behind the captain, but he could solve it later. Right now, he had orders to follow and a job to do.



Late Morning, May, 1636



The river water was cold and delicious as Greta lapped at it. And it had fish in it, but they were not normal fish that sat and waited to be eaten. These fish moved and jumped in the water, easily avoiding her clumsy attempts to grab one. A short nap beneath some trees had been welcome, but before long the stinging pain where she had been bitten woke her up again. Yet again, she was surrounded by smells she could not put names too. They were familiar, in some faint and vague fashion, but still alien. Strange things grew and scurried and flew all around, that were not men or horses or dogs. The only food she had found that did not run away from her was a bush with berries, dull-looking but sweet-smelling. The sweet smell reminded her of Him, so she ate them, but she was still so very hungry. Trying to scratch the itch on a tree made it hurt worse, and it was too far back to reach with her claws.



Late Morning, May, 1636

Outskirts of Vesserhausen


The rest of the squad was gathered around the captain and Holtzmann as they talked. Meanwhile, Peter wandered off to pet the farm dog, who was happy to come out and sniff at him. The pig came over to investigate him as well, but quickly grew bored and left when it was obvious that Peter had nothing interesting to eat in his pockets. Jeorg’s hounds were straining at their leashes with anticipation, but Peter knew better than to try and pet them. Even if it hadn’t been Jeorg leading the pack himself, all the hounds were worked up from an old patch of bearskin rug they’d been given to sniff before. The trampled path of half-grown crops made it easy to see where the bear had come from, and where it had retreated to, but it still told the dogs what scent to track. It was a Rule of sorts for them, the way he saw it. Distracting them would make that Rule harder to follow, and he couldn’t do that to them.

Eventually, the huddle around the farmhouse broke up, and the captain whistled everyone into a group behind the hounds. Peter hurried to join them—then stopped, hesitating as he bent over to pluck something colorful out of the dirt. It was scrap of cloth, like a torn ribbon, and bright pink. Mother liked pretty things, so he stuffed it into a pocket for later and took his place with the militia squad. Judging by the hounds, the bear’s scent was still strong and rich. They’d be done before dinner or even earlier. Still, his head just kept itching on the inside, and now it was stronger. A thought he couldn’t pin down and form properly, the sort of thought that had given him fits before he began writing his Rules.



Mid-Afternoon, 1636



A sound caught her ears, one she did recognize at last. It was the sound of dogs howling, chasing something. She couldn’t smell them, but she could tell the direction of the sound. Dogs were faster than she was and could catch things that ran away from her. Perhaps they were friendly dogs like His dogs. If they were friendly dogs, they might have friendly men with them, who would give her food. And they were close, which was good.


The bear was not far into the forest at all. It had found a stream deep enough to drink out of, but luckily had not thought to cross to the other side. Picking up its trail again would have taken a very long time, but this bear didn’t seem to even realize it was being followed. Nor did it act afraid of them, like a wild bear should. The dogs bristled, torn between their hunting instinct and their fear at getting too close, but the bear didn’t seem to be scared of them either. It just looked at them. Maybe it really had gotten desperate enough that it thought men were food.


She stared at the men, who stared back. They had sticks like the angry men, but did not act angry. They smelled like men should smell—sweat and soured fruit and fear. Not men like Him, but like the men who watched when she danced or came to look at her in her den. The dogs barked and growled, but stayed away from her while the men made noises and waved their sticks around. It was almost normal, but at the same time so different and wrong. There was only one thing she could think of.


The captain shouted, and musketeers loaded their guns as the spearmen formed a wall between the gunners and the bear. Their first salvo might not kill the beast, and a wall of sharp points would keep it back until they could reload. In response, the bear reared up, balancing on its hind legs with the river behind and waving its paws at them. Peter held his spear tight, willing himself for the noise of the volley and the charge of the angered bear in front of them. But the thought in his head was painful, buzzing so loudly he could barely see the bear standing in front of them. A bear with scraps of pink ribbon tied into its fur.

All at once, the thought stopped buzzing as everything fell into place. The captain was ordering the muskets to take aim, and Peter did something unthinkable. He broke a Rule, dropping his spear as he fumbled frantically for his pocket. The sudden motion drew everyone’s attention, man and bear, as he pulled out the neatly folded flier. It opened so quickly that it tore, as he shoved it towards the captain stammering. Above, the ornate title—BARENTSEN’S TRAVELING SHOW OF MARVELS. Below, a neatly typed list of towns and dates. Between, a ring of human faces surrounded dogs jumping through hoops, framing the silhouette of a bear on its hind legs with ribbons tied in its fur.

‘Sir! Sir! It’s a bear. It’s a bear like the show. It’s the bear in the show! It’s a good bear! It’s a dancing bear! Don’t kill the bear, Sir!’

Peter talking was almost as shocking as his breaking ranks. The captain listened, though, calling a hold and taking the poster to examine more closely. He studied it for a long time, then broke into a smile.

‘Anyone brought their lunch with them? Our rock’s saved us the cost of ammo and found a way for us to get paid for this little nature walk as well. Sure as Jesus there’s going to be a reward for finding this beast with its hide on.’


She was still tired. Still hungry and sore and so very upset at everything that had happened to her. She wanted to smell Him, and see Him, and eat a fish that He gave her before falling asleep. But she had finally found friendly men. She had danced for them, and one had given her meat. It wasn’t Him, but for now it would do.




May 12, 1635


Augustus Nero Domitian ‘Andy’ Wulff looked out his window with a sense of satisfaction. The glazier and the window frame maker had finally gotten two fairly large panes of glass floated and cut and assembled in the frames and installed in his new office. They weren’t quite as smooth and as regular as the window glass he had seen all over Grantville, but they let the light in, and unless you were up close any distortions created in vision were minimal. All in all, he was happy with his new office.

And he was happy with the reason why he had a new office. The decision to split the Grubb Wurmb & Wulff legal partnership into two offices, as often as he had fantasized about it, had proven first of all to be a difficult decision to make, and second of all a challenging one to implement. But here he was, heading the new Magdeburg branch of the partnership. Karl Grubb and Leopold Wurmb, the other partners, had remained with the home office.

Truth to tell, that was one of the reasons that Andy had been more than happy to take the lead in the Magdeburg development. Karl was his father-in-law. He and Leopold, one of Karl’s old schoolmates and legal partner for years, were having some problems dealing with the impact of Grantville and the up-timers on legal matters. Better that they sit in the home offices in Grantville and take care of the routine kind of legal affairs that they were both admittedly still very good at.

Andy, however, wanted to be in the fires, so to speak. He wanted to be where the government was making decisions, where major lawsuits were being filed, and where appellate cases were being shaped to make an attorney’s reputation. In a word, Magdeburg, capital of the United States of Europe, and home base for Gustavus Adolphus, Emperor of the USE, King of Sweden, and High King of the Union of Kalmar. Paris couldn’t compare to it. Not even Vienna ranked as high now, since the Austrian emperor could no longer preface his title with Holy Roman. And Madrid was too far, too foreign, and too Catholic for consideration. So, perforce, Magdeburg.

Andy let his wife, Portia, lay the groundwork with her father about the partnership needing to expand and take advantage of their nearness to Magdeburg. When Karl finally brought it to the other two partners, Andy pretended to think about it, even to be reluctant about it, but finally allowed the others to convince him to take the lead. He could have gotten it anyway if he had declared for it at the beginning, but it simply made things go a little smoother if they thought it was their idea. And he saw the certain attraction from their side—Andy, their bristly chief litigator, would be someplace else. Leopold in particular would like that. He was still smarting from Andy’s maneuvers during the Stone mess, and Andy knew the man’s memory was long, even for a German.

Magdeburg—thriving, hustling, bustling capital of central Europe and the Germanies. Andy rubbed his hands together. It almost felt like a giant party going on all day every day. He couldn’t wait to see what would happen.

Andy heard the office clock sound the hour from the front room to the offices—ten little bongs, so 10 a.m. He turned away from the window and picked up the page on his desk. Yes, there should be a client here for an appointment. As he looked up from the page, Christoph Heinichen, his general assistant, gatekeeper, and attorney-to-be, ushered a man through the open door from the reception area.

“Herr Wulff,” Christoph said, “this is your next client, Herr Brendan Murphy. Herr Murphy, Attorney Wulff.” And with that, Christoph withdrew, quietly closing the door behind him.

Andy was surprised to see that one of his first potential clients in Magdeburg was an up-timer, but that didn’t bother him any. After all, the Stone account was one of the firm’s largest, and all the men in the family were up-timers. He was used to up-timers, and in fact, rather enjoyed dealing with them. He advanced to meet Murphy, open hand leading the way.

The two men shared a firm handshake, then Andy gestured toward the chair placed before the desk. “Please, Herr Murphy, be seated.” As the up-timer did so, Andy rounded the desk and seated his legal posterior in his own chair, placed his elbows on the desk, joined his hands, and rested his chin on his extended thumbs.

Herr Murphy was a large man. Of course, he was an up-timer, so that meant that the odds were good he’d be larger than the average down-timer. But even by up-timer standards he was large, both tall and of a considerable bulk. Not as large as the almost-fabled Tom Simpson, of course, but not far short of that size, either.

Murphy was looking back at him with a blue-eyed gaze that was clear and direct. Andy knew what he was seeing: a short slight man with dark eyes and very dark hair, whose gaze was also clear and direct. In fact, ‘direct’ could almost be what the ‘D’ initial in his name stood for.

“So why are you here, Herr Murphy?” Andy began. “There must be a number of attorneys in Magdeburg or even Grantville who you could work with. Why come to the newest one in Magdeburg?”

“Mom kept me informed about that flap between the Stones and the tax board last year,” Murphy said. “Your name was pretty prominent in the best stories that were coming out of Grantville back then, and everyone was saying that if they had any kind of legal trouble they wanted you on the case. Well, I’ve got a problem, and I don’t think I’m going to do any better than you.” He spread his hands.

Andy pulled one of his beloved legal pads out of a desk drawer—he could forgive the up-timers for a multitude of sins for bringing the concept of legal pads back with them and showing down-time papermakers how to make them—and picked up a pencil. “Tell me about it, then.”

Murphy pulled a folded paper out of an inside jacket and reached to hand it across the desk to Andy. He settled back in his chair after Andy took the paper and unfolded it.


Herr Brendan Murphy

USE Department of Transportation



Herr Murphy, Greetings,


I am writing this letter as the attorney representing the Becker family of Erfurt. Herr Johannes Becker, the head of the family, has placed evidence before me that you have taken advantage of his family and its hospitality, by seducing a daughter of the house, to wit, Margarethe. This was apparently accomplished by various blandishments, including promises of undying love and a desire to marry her. It was rather disturbing to them when you subsequently disappeared, particularly after it became apparent that Margarethe is with child.


It has taken considerable time and expense to locate you, but both Frau Margarethe and Herr Becker insist that you be informed of what has developed. Frau Margarethe desires that you return and join her in marriage. Herr Becker’s message is that if you do not return, you will be sued for fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of contract. He has engaged my services in the event that those actions become necessary. I must inform you that it is possible that certain criminal charges may be lodged against you as well.


It would be in your best interest, Herr Murphy, to fulfill your promises and obligations. I understand that as an up-timer you may have different values or different opinions about the importance of and validity of certain beliefs. And perhaps in Grantville matters such as these are treated casually. But this matter occurred in Erfurt, not Grantville, and I believe you will find that our laws and customs do make this a serious concern. Very serious.


I must inform you that it is known that you are a member of the USE Army, although you are working in a governmental function at the moment. Therefore, a copy of this letter is being forwarded to your commanding officer.


I trust you will make the right decision.


Have a nice day.


Jacobus Agricola, attorney

5 May 1635


Jacobus Agricola. Andy kind of recognized the name, but he didn’t recall that Grubb Wurmb & Wulff had had any professional contact with the man. That could be good or bad: good if any contact had worked to Agricola’s client’s benefit; bad if it had been confrontational and Agricola’s client had come out on the losing side.

Agricola’s conclusion of the letter with “Have a nice day” almost made Andy laugh. Of all the up-time phrases to have made it to Erfurt, that was one of the least likely, yet there it was.

Andy pursed his lips, set the letter down, and said, “To quote my friend and client Tom Stone, ‘Wow, man.’ ”

“Yeah,” Murphy said in a tone so dry it threatened to suck all the moisture out of the air in the room.

“So . . .” Andy laid the letter down on the desktop and looked at Murphy. “. . . when did this arrive?”

“Two days ago.”

“And you’re just now bringing it to me?”

“Hey, you’ve moved,” Murphy said. “It took me two days to find you.”

“All right, point.” Andy chuckled for a moment, then sobered. “Okay, straight truth now: did you in fact get Margarethe Becker pregnant?”

Murphy reddened a bit, but responded in a level tone. “Hell, no. I’ve never been closer to Erfurt than Eisleben, and that was two years ago. To my knowledge, I’ve never even seen this woman, much less had any kind of a relationship with her. I don’t know who knocked her up, but it wasn’t me.”

Andy looked Murphy in the eyes, but the up-timer’s gaze was still direct, no shifting of eyes or changes of position. For the moment, he would assume the young man was telling the truth. He picked up his pencil again.

“Okay, let’s start putting some information together, then.”

A few minutes later, Andy looked down at his notes:


Name: Brendan Sean Murphy

Age: 29

Birthdate: July 2, 1974

Married: to Catrina Kennedy, October 12, 1633

Children: Thomas Brendan Murphy, born December 1634 (and another on the way)

Employed: State of Thuringia and Franconia National Guard

Detailed to the USE Department of Transportation

Rank: Sergeant

Commanding officer: Lieutenant Todd Pierpoint

Employment history: USE Department of Transportation (seconded from SoTF National Guard

NUS Army/SoTF National Guard 1631-1634

West Virginia National Guard pre-Ring of Fire

(while attending college)


Andy tapped his pencil point by the employment datum. “Well, if you’ve never been to Erfurt, could this be related to your job?”

Murphy spread his hands. “I don’t see how. I carried a rifle for the Army until 1634, then me and some of the other guys were pulled together in an ad hoc unit and attached to the new USE Department of Transportation. Part of our job was to help set up scheduling for the trains and for military shipments, and part of it was to establish security procedures for the trains and the train stations, and train railroad guards. I am part of the training cadre, so I’ve dealt with most of the guards at one time or another, but I can’t think of anyone I’ve dealt with who would be after me, especially for something like this. I mean, like I said, I’m married, I love my wife and stay at home, and everyone knows that.”

“Do you intend to make a profession out of the military, Herr Murphy?” Andy twirled his pencil in his fingers.

“Call me Brendan. No.” Murphy shrugged. “I mean, I could. I think I’d be good at it. And although the benefits we’d have had up-time wouldn’t be there, we could still make a good life out of it if I went command track and became an officer. But now that most of the conflicts are settled, the Army doesn’t really need me, and I promised Catrina I’d get out and settle down in one place, preferably here in Magdeburg. And moving around was painful up-time. It’s horrible now. No offense,” he said after a moment.

Andy smiled. “And I’m Andy. Having just moved to Magdeburg myself, I believe I totally understand the spirit in which you made that comment. And I agree.” He looked back down at the notepad. “I will need to know your residences and locations and times of residence since Grantville arrived. Plus any trips you may have made. I believe you mentioned Eisleben?”

“Yeah. There were a couple of others. I’ll look at my records tonight and pull that together. Should have it to you sometime tomorrow.”

Andy nodded. He picked up the letter again. “This Herr Agricola made a point of saying that he had sent a copy of the letter to your commanding officer. Do you know if that’s arrived yet?”

Murphy shook his head. “Not according to Todd—Lieutenant Pierpoint, that is. Sorry, they just bumped him up to Lieutenant, and I keep forgetting that. Of course, there’s always the possibility it went to someone else. No telling who he was told was the commanding officer. Depending on how he found out, there are a dozen different names he could have been given. Geez, it could even be on its way to General Jackson.” A horrified expression crossed his face.

Andy suppressed a smile. “Well, we will hope that’s not the case. But I have to wonder, how did she get your name if you’ve never been to Erfurt?”

“Andy, I don’t know. And that’s part of what’s really bugging me about this. If it had been someone I’d known in Grantville or here in Magdeburg, I could understand her picking my name to use for her little scam. But Erfurt?” He shook his head. “I’m at a loss for that one. It’s almost like someone from Magdeburg got to her and told her to use my name. But who?”

“And perhaps more importantly,” Andy said, “why?”


“I should also ask, is there another Brendan Murphy in Grantville?”

Murphy smiled. “You mean, outside of my five-month-old son? Actually, there is, but it won’t help anything. I’ve got a young nephew named Brendan Andrew Murphy-Chaffin.”

“How young?”

“Well, he was born in 1997, so he’s seven years old, about to turn eight in a couple of months. Smart kid, but not that smart.”

Andy chuckled, but added a few notes to the pad anyway. “No, no solutions there. And the odds of there being a down-timer named Brendan Murphy walking around this part of the Germanies aren’t good. And if there was, the odds of him being able to successfully misrepresent himself as an up-timer are even less likely.”

“That’s about what I figured, too,” Murphy said.

Andy twirled his pencil a couple of times, then set it down. “Okay, I think I’ve got everything I need at the moment. Send me that other information, and I’ll start working this with Herr Agricola. If anything comes up with Lieutenant Pierpoint or his superiors, just refer them to me. You can tell them that we are treating this as a matter of mistaken identity, although we’re not ignoring the potential for either slander or libel.”

Murphy’s shoulders slumped just a bit. He’d obviously been feeling some stress about this, which was relieved a bit now that Andy was taking the case up. Good.

“Does your wife know about this?”

Murphy’s shoulders tightened again, and a grim expression came onto his face. “Oh, yeah. She’s the one who opened the letter when it arrived. Once she figured out what it was about, she hit the roof. She knows it’s a lie, because I’ve slept beside her every night for the last year and a half, so she’s about ready to catch the train down to Erfurt and snatch this Becker woman bald. She’s got the Irish temper to go with her red hair.” He shook his head. “Not a good thing, to get on her bad side.”

Andy grinned. “Was it Shakespeare who said that the woman is deadlier than the male?”

“One of those Englishmen.” Murphy thought about it for a moment. “Now you’ve got me wondering. I’ll go nuts if I don’t figure it out. Thanks, Andy.” That last almost dripped sarcasm.

Andy’s grin widened. After a moment, Murphy responded.

“So, I’ve been really curious, might as well ask about it since we’re about done—what’s with the initials? Who has three initials?”

Andy chuckled. “Anyone who had an old classicist for a father who tagged his son with the names of three famous Roman emperors.”


“Augustus Nero Domitian Wulff, at your service.”

Brendan snorted. “Now that’s a mouthful.”

“Indeed. And my brother’s name is almost as bad: Tiberius Claudius Titus. And I won’t tell you what he did to our sister.”

“So, A. N. D.—Andy.” Murphy nodded. “Makes sense. But that doesn’t sound like a German thing.”

“It’s not. Actually, it’s a pretty recent thing. During that affair between the Stones and the tax department, Magda Edelmannin, Tom Stone’s wife, started calling me Andy as a bit of a joke based on the initials. Portia, my wife, loved it, and after a while it stuck. And since it’s an up-time-style nickname, the up-timers like it as well, so I’ve started using it for everything except formal documentation. Short and catchy, as Tom would say.”

“I can see that,” Brendan said with a grin. “So now I can explain it to Catrina, ’cause I know she’s going to ask.” There was a moment of silence before Brendan asked, “Anything else I need to do now?”

“No, I think I have what I need to get started,” Andy repeated as he stood and stepped around the desk. “I’ll respond to Herr Agricola’s demand. Hopefully we can get this straightened out soon.”

He held out his hand, and Brendan clasped it.

“Thanks, Andy. I’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’re looking after this.”

Andy escorted Murphy to the outer door of the office, and wished him a good day. Once the door was closed, he spun and grinned at Christoph.

“Dig out the fancy letterhead and limber up your typing fingers. Dust off the Goldfarb und Meier machine and get ready. I want to overawe this Erfurt attorney.”

Christoph responded with a grin of his own.



Non Illegitimi Carborundum

A. N. D. Wulff, Partner


12 May, 1635



Herr Jacobus Agricola




Herr Agricola,


Good day to you. I have been engaged by Sergeant Brendan Murphy to make a response to your recent letter wherein you accuse Sergeant Murphy of seducing a woman in Erfurt and abandoning her after she became pregnant. Not to put too fine a point to it, but your accusation is false and baseless, and we categorically reject and deny it in toto and in every detail.


Your letter, mein Herr, treads perilously close to slander and libel. For your information, Sergeant Murphy has been a resident of Magdeburg for about a year, and has not left the city in that time. His commanding officer and his fellow soldiers will swear to that. He is also married, and his wife is well aware that he has slept beside her every night for the last year and a half, and is also willing to swear to that.


Consequently, Herr Agricola, unless you can produce incontrovertible evidence that Sergeant Murphy was indeed in Erfurt, and did indeed establish a relationship with Frau Becker, you had best advise your clients to drop this matter. Either that, or find another target.


If this goes before a judge, I will stand in Sergeant Murphy’s defense. I assure you, your clients would not enjoy that experience.


I suggest you help your clients see the path of wisdom.


Direct all future correspondence concerning this matter to my attention here in Magdeburg.



A. N. D. Wulff


cc: Brendan Murphy





May 20, 1635


Herr A. N. D. Wulff




Having received your response to my letter to Herr Murphy, I now respond in turn. Your denial of the truth is noted. I would expect nothing less from an attorney of your reputation. Your inferred threats are also noted. That, too, was not unexpected once we realized you would be representing Herr Murphy.


Herr Becker is uncowed by your letter. He will press forward with his intended course of action if Herr Murphy does not redeem his honor. To do less, he states, will be to fail his daughter’s honor, his family’s honor.


We are not impressed by the willingness of Herr Murphy’s up-time associates to swear to his being solely in Magdeburg for the time frame involved in this matter. Nor are we impressed by his wife’s avowals. Friends and spouses have been known to shade the truth before, even to the point of perjury. It will take harder evidence than that to clear Herr Murphy’s name and reputation.


And if Herr Murphy is indeed married to another woman, he is now liable for charges of at least attempted bigamy, in addition to everything that was laid out in my previous letter.


You demanded incontrovertible proof that Herr Murphy is indeed the father of the child in Frau Margarethe’s womb. She has in her possession a memento gifted to her by Herr Murphy on the night in which he compromised her honor. It is a thin metal plate, apparently some kind of tin alloy, about two inches wide by one inch high, with curved ends, and letters deeply embossed into the plate. The letters are as follows:








Herr Murphy informed Frau Margarethe that this was called a ‘dog tag,’ that it had very great personal and spiritual importance to him, and that by entrusting it to her he was giving her the strongest assurance he could that he would indeed keep his promise and marry her. So she gave herself to him, and he subsequently abandoned her. But this he left behind. And this, Herr Wulff, is enough to bind Herr Murphy to his words and deeds.


To quote yourself, Herr Wulff, I suggest that you help your client see the path of wisdom.


Have a nice day.


Jacobus Agricola

16 May 1635


Andy set the letter down. “Christoph!” The young man appeared in the door to the inner office. “Send a note to Sergeant Murphy that I need to see him as soon as he can make arrangements to be here.” Christoph started to turn away, and Andy added, “Make it polite.” That got a grin from the young man.

In a moment, Andy heard the typewriter start clacking. “Price of progress, I know,” he muttered, “but a quill is certainly quieter.” He put the letter in the Murphy folder, which he placed on the table behind his desk, and resumed studying the contract that one of the merchants in town had asked him to analyze.

In the event, it was a couple of hours before Brendan was able to appear. Andy looked up as Christoph ushered the up-timer into the office.

“Here. You need to read this.” Andy passed the letter to Brendan, who settled into the visitor’s chair and started puzzling his way through the German calligraphy. Andy could tell when he got to the important part. His face reddened, his free hand formed a fist sitting atop his right knee, and he muttered, “Son of a . . .” It trailed away into inaudibility.

Brendan looked up finally. Andy was resting his chin on his interlaced fingers, elbows on the desk. He said nothing; simply raised his eyebrows. Brendan sighed.

“Yes, that pretty much has to be one of my dog tags from when I was in the West Virginia National Guard back before the Ring of Fire happened. I used to carry them for good luck.” He shook his head. “No, I did not give that dog tag to Frau Becker. They disappeared about six months ago. I thought I’d lost them, and I tore the office and my house apart looking for them, and was pretty bummed out when I couldn’t find them.”

“Any proof to that?” Andy asked.

“None they’d accept,” Brendan said with a scowl. “If they won’t accept testimony from the guys or from Catrina about my location, I don’t see that they’d take it about the dog tags.” He shook his head. “Life’s a pisser, you know? I mean, I avoided identity theft problems all my life up-time, and I go back in time 369 years, and someone hijacks my identity. Who would have thought that?”

“Identity theft?” Andy’s eyebrows went up again, and he pulled out a legal pad.

They spent the next couple of minutes discussing that concept, and the various ways the thefts had occurred in the up-time. Andy made notes, the concept of an article or pamphlet starting to take nebulous form. But it wasn’t long before they returned to the topic at hand.

“So, what do I do?” Brendan asked. “This doesn’t look good, and I want it cleared up as soon as possible.”

“I don’t see any way around it,” Andy said. “We’re going to have to meet them face to face to prove to them that you aren’t the man who got Frau Becker pregnant. Plus, we also want to identify the true wastrel, to not only put a seal on your innocence, but also to provide some form of justice for Frau Becker, and hopefully, prevent him from doing something like this again.”

“And I want my dog tags back, as well,” Brendan growled. “The one she’s got, and the one he’d better still have. So, do we have to travel to Erfurt? I mean, I can get the time off, and I can get us discounted rates on the train fare, since I’m part of the cadre that has been doing the railroad guard training. But would that make me look guilty, or something?”

“Going to Erfurt would be an admission of weakness, I think,” Andy said. “But I doubt we could get them to come to Magdeburg for the same reason. But perhaps we could get them to meet us midway between the two.”

“Neutral territory?” Brendan asked.

Andy quirked his mouth. “Yes, exactly. There would be no advantages for either of us then. Both sides would be dealing with inconvenience and expense, and neither would be in familiar territory.  Hmm . . . but where?”

“Eisleben,” Brendan said. Andy looked at him. “It’s between the two, and it has a good rooming house if we need to stay over, and the train station building has a conference room that we could use for a meeting.”

“Excellent. I’ll get the wheels in motion, then,” Andy said, rubbing his hands together. “I want to win this as soon as possible. And if we manage to rub Herr Agricola’s nose in the dirt as we do that, it will be a job well done.”

Now Brendan’s eyebrows elevated. Andy chuckled. “Yes, I am a competitive spirit, Brendan. Besides, I don’t like the tone of his letters.” He rose and came around the desk to shake hands and escort Brendan to the door. “I’ll get on this and let you know what gets arranged.”

After closing the door behind Brendan, Andy turned to Christoph. “Come take a letter, Christoph. And this time, word for word. No making it politer.”



Non Illegitimi Carborundum

A. .N. D. Wulff, Partner


16 May, 1635



Herr Jacobus Agricola




Herr Agricola,


Having this day received your response dated 12 May 1635, I have reviewed it and discussed it with my client, Sergeant Brendan Murphy. Your tone continues to be a bit on the pugnacious side, but perhaps it is fitting, given the less than solid nature of your case against my client.


We believe it would be best to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We will not travel to Erfurt to discuss the matter, just as I suspect you and your clients would be unwilling to travel to Magdeburg. Time constraints and travel costs would be an issue for both sides. Therefore, I propose that both groups travel to Eisleben to meet there to resolve the matter. I assure you, the new railroad can provide swift transport, and once there, the matter can and will be resolved quickly.


We insist that Frau Margarethe Becker be present and be part of the discussions. We also insist that she bring the dog tag with her.


And, by the way, that dog tag is not the incontrovertible proof you presented it as. It is the slenderest of reeds, that will collapse at the application of the slightest of weights.


To allow for travel time and arrangements, and for making arrangements for tickets on the train and for lodging, I suggest we think in terms of the first week of June. Sergeant Murphy will accommodate any reasonable date.


I strongly suggest you do not encourage your clients in the belief that they will prove victorious in this assault on my client. You will do them no favors if you do. A certain restraint would be wisdom at this point.



A. N. D. Wulff


cc: Brendan Murphy





June 5, 1635


Andy stepped onto the platform at the Eisleben railroad station, and stretched. It was amazing how quickly the miles had passed in the trip, but one still stiffened when seated on a bench for a period of time, he decided, regardless of how quickly that bench might be moving past the countryside.

He looked to each side as Christoph Heinichen and their newest associate flanked him. Good. Now, if . . . and there are the Murphys, he thought as Brendan and Catrina joined them.

“Are we on schedule?” Andy asked.

Brendan looked at his wristwatch. “Unless they are ahead of schedule—fat chance of that!—we should have close to an hour before they arrive.”

“Good,” Andy said. “Now, a visit to the pissoir, and I shall be ready.”

“Me, too,” Catrina said.

Brendan chuckled, and led the way to the indoor toilets that were now de rigueur in new public buildings.

A few minutes later they were gathered in front of two doors down a short hall from the station master’s office. Brendan opened one, to reveal a moderately good-sized room with a rectangular table and twelve chairs gathered around it. “The meeting room, obviously.”

“Good,” Andy said. He walked in and laid his document case down in front of the chair at the far end of the table. Looking around and out the two windows, he added, “Nice room.”

“Yeah,” Brendan said. “The local station has picked up a fair bit of money renting the space out for civic groups to meet in, or for traveling businessmen to meet up and have a meeting before they go their separate ways. I think some of the other stations are considering either converting space or building on to offer similar services. Not sure whose idea it was, but it’s paid well for this station, anyway.”

“And you will be . . .” Andy said.

Brendan pointed to the hallway. “We’ll be in the assistant station master’s office across the hall. They promoted the last one and haven’t gotten around to naming a new one, so the office is empty. We’ll sit there with the door closed.”

“Good. Christoph will come get you when we’re ready for you to join the discussion.”

The Murphys left the room. Andy looked to his companions.

“Christoph, I’ll sit here, so place the name cards the way we discussed. Herr Liebmann, Christoph will sit to my left, and I would like you to sit beside him to start with. We’ll call on you early, and you can move to a different seat then if you need to.”

“Certainly, Herr Wulff.” Herr Liebmann laid his own bag down in front of the indicated chair, then turned around and looked out the window. Christoph finished placing the name cards in front of various chairs, then walked over to a small side table to check on the bottle of wine and glasses that had been provided at Andy’s request. Once he was satisfied with that, he took his seat beside Andy’s chair.

Andy stood for a couple of minutes longer, then took his own seat and took a book out of his bag—an up-time book, as it chanced, a thick but small softbound book entitled The Godfather. He needed to improve his command of up-time English, and he expected this would help.

Despite his occasional struggle with up-time idiom, the book captured Andy’s attention well enough that he was a bit startled when the door to the room opened, and one of the station staff ushered several people into the room. Andy slipped the book back into his bag as the newcomers quickly sorted themselves out. They stood facing Andy and Christoph, who had risen to their feet.

“Greetings,” Andy began, giving a slight nod of his head. “I am Augustus Nero Domitian Wulff, attorney for Sergeant Brendan Murphy. This is my assistant, Christoph Heinichen . . .” Christoph gave more of an abbreviated bow. “. . . and our associate Karl Liebmann.” Karl had turned from the window to stand behind his chair. He also gave a short bow.

“I am Jacobus Agricola,” the central of the three male figures said in a slightly nasal tenor. “This is Herr Johannes Becker.” He gestured to a paunchy figure with a weary face under salt-and-pepper hair and beard who made no motion at all. “Frau Margarethe Becker.” The short and sturdy youngish woman standing beside Herr Becker bobbed her head. “And my assistant Adam Schnorr.” That was a skinny young man with a prominent Adam’s apple, which jerked up and down as he swallowed and dipped his head at them.

Andy’s gaze had assessed all of them while Agricola was speaking: dressed conservatively, not in the latest styles, and not in the finest fabrics, not even Agricola. So, that gave him some idea of who and what he was facing. Not a group that would have the knowledge—or presence—or tools and assets—of the Adel.

“Please . . .” Andy gestured at the other end of the table. “. . .your places are marked. If you would take your places and allow Christoph to serve you some wine, we will get started.”

Andy took his own seat, and was a bit pleased to see Agricola’s forehead was a bit furrowed. If his acting as the genial polite host put the man a bit off-balance, that was all to the good.

Once the wine had been provided to all in the room, Andy leaned forward and clasped his hands on the table. “Thank you for coming,” he began. “We realize it is just as much a hardship for you to disrupt your affairs and travel here as it was for us.”

“Indeed,” Agricola interjected. “And where is your client?” He gave a pointed glance at the name cards placed before empty seats.

“Unavoidably detained for a short time,” Andy said smoothly. “Sergeant Murphy will join us soon.”

“He’d better,” Herr Becker growled. “On the other hand, if he gulls you, too, at least I’ll get a laugh out of seeing you taken down a few pegs.”

Andy just smiled. He knew the strength of his position, and nothing that Becker could say would stir his anger.

“Since we are waiting on Sergeant Murphy, let us do something that I wish we could have done earlier.” He looked over at Liebmann. “Herr Liebmann, here, is not an attorney. He is, in fact, what is called a character sketch artist, and he does work for the Magdeburg Polizei from time to time. I asked him to come with us, because I wanted to see if you could describe Herr Murphy well enough that he could draw a likeness of the man.”


“Whatever for?”

The exclamations were simultaneous from both Agricola and Becker. Andy lifted a hand in a calming gesture.

“I have good and valid reasons for doing this. I doubt that it will take long; Herr Liebmann is very good at this. Indulge me if you will, and we will arrive at the truth soon enough.”

“I was afraid this would be a waste of time and money,” Becker growled, thumping both fists down on the table, “and it looks like I was right. This is your fault, you incompetent ninny,” he snarled at Agricola. “If you’d done your job right, this would already be taken care of and this posturing clown could go yammer in the trees for all I care! Come, Margarethe. We’re leaving.”

Becker started to thrust himself to his feet, only to freeze halfway up when Andy spoke.

“Sit down, Herr Becker.” Andy’s voice was cold enough to freeze. “If you leave before we’ve resolved this, I’ll have your name and your precious honor reduced to shreds in all the Germanies. You started this, but I will finish it, one way or another. Now—Sit. Down.”

Agricola was white-faced, but said nothing. Schnorr seemed to be pressing himself into the back of his chair, apparently trying to hide. Becker was motionless, but Andy could see the anger coiling behind his eyes. He spoke again, letting his voice become like ice.

“The primary purpose of a court, Herr Becker, is not to determine who wins a disagreement. It is to determine the truth, and only after that, and in the light of that, determine a verdict or a judgment or an order. As attorneys, Herr Agricola and I share in that responsibility. And we are going to determine the truth today. Sit. Down.”

The last two words were intoned in dark cold tones. Becker’s gaze flinched a bit, and he slowly lowered himself into his chair. Andy held his gaze for a moment longer, then looked to Agricola and gave him a short nod. After a moment, Agricola returned it, although he was still rather pale.

“Herr Liebmann, if you would?”

Liebmann took a sketch board with attached paper from his bag, along with a handful of pencils, and moved over to sit in the empty chair beside the wide-eyed Frau Margarethe, who was staring at Andy. She jumped a little when Liebmann spoke to her, turning that wide-eyed gaze on him, and the hand that she raised to brush her hair back trembled a bit. Andy’s mouth quirked at that. He often had that effect on people.

Andy sat back and watched Liebmann work. The man was a master at this, he decided after a while. He engaged Frau Margarethe in conversation, asking her what shape her Herr Murphy’s face was, what she was first impressed by when she saw him, what his hairline was like, how bushy were his eyebrows . . .

When they got to more definite features, Liebmann had the young woman look at all the faces in the room and tell him which one’s nose was most like her lover’s. He did the same with the cheekbones, and the jawline, swiftly sketching them in lightly and making the lines darker only as she confirmed that they were right, otherwise he’d ask for clarification and redraw them. By now her father was standing behind them and watching over Liebmann’s shoulder.

It was not quite a half an hour later, Andy determined with a surreptitious look at his pocket watch, when Liebmann put the pencils down and held the sketch up before the two Beckers.

“You have a good eye, Frau Becker, and you describe things well. That’s good, or this would have taken a lot longer. Is this the man?”

She nodded, slowly at first, then faster. “Yes, yes, it is.”

Liebmann looked up at her father. “Herr Becker, you must have seen the man. Is this a good likeness?”

Becker ran his fingers through his chin whiskers a couple of times. “If I hadn’t seen you do it, I would have said this couldn’t be done. But aye, I think you’ve captured the man.” He directed a stony gaze at Andy. “Not that I know what this is in aid of.”

As Becker returned to his chair, Liebmann moved back to his own and passed the sketch to Andy, who got his first close look at it. A sense of relief flooded through him when he realized that the man in the picture was not Brendan. This was the one place where all of his plans and the structure of his defense could have come apart. If Frau Becker had somehow described Brendan, then in the pithy up-timer phrase, ‘all bets were off.’ He’d been sure it wouldn’t come to that, but there was still that small chance, and a small knot of tension in his stomach released as that possibility was eliminated.


That was all Andy said, but it was all he needed to say. The younger man was up and out the door, returning almost immediately with Brendan and Catrina behind him. Andy beckoned to them, and they moved along the table to stand behind the chairs their name cards were before. Both the Beckers were wearing bewildered expressions at the appearance of the two strangers, but Agricola seemed to have an expression of dawning realization on his face, and Schnorr was nodding with a rueful grin.

“Herr Johannes Becker, Frau Margarethe Becker, allow me to introduce to you Sergeant Brendan Murphy, and his wife, Catrina Murphy. Please be seated”

Both sets of Becker eyes widened as the Murphys sat down. Herr Becker’s gaze was that of a pole-axed steer, but Frau Margarethe’s hands had flown to her mouth, and her eyes manifested a silent scream. Andy felt a moment of pity for her, and moved on to get the brutal facts stated.

“I regret to inform you that the man you knew as Brendan Murphy was not, in fact, Sergeant Murphy, but an imposter. You have been duped—gulled, I believe was the word you used earlier, Herr Becker. And he almost certainly wasn’t an up-timer. There aren’t that many of them, and it’s pretty well known where they are.”

“But . . . the dog tag,” Agricola said after clearing his throat. “That is definitely an up-time artifact, is it not?”

“Indeed it is,” Andy said. “Sergeant Murphy?”

“There are two of them, identical,” Brendan said, “and they disappeared several months ago. I thought I had lost them, but they were obviously stolen.”

“If this is yours, you can surely explain the cryptic letters and symbols,” Agricola said, almost challenging.

“Murphy, Brendan S. is my name. The S stands for Sean, my middle name.

“The string of numbers 713-55-469 is my up-time United States of America identification number.

“A POS stands for A Positive, my blood type, in case I’m wounded and they need to give me a transfusion.” Andy almost grinned as identical expressions of nausea appeared on both women’s faces.

“And the last line states my religion. I’m Catholic.”

Andy looked at Agricola, who quirked his mouth and waved a hand in surrender. Andy looked back over at Frau Margarethe. “Frau Becker?” She looked up with a very drawn expression, pain in her eyes. “I hesitate to ask this, but I must. Did the man you knew as Brendan Murphy have a distinctive physical characteristic or marking?”

After a moment, she swallowed and nodded. “There were . . .three moles, forming a large triangle, right here.” She placed the fingers of her right hand just below her left collarbone. “He joked about God giving him a mark of the Trinity. I told him”—her voice broke—”that he was being sacrilegious. He laughed at me.” Tears started flowing, and she buried her face in her hands. Catrina got up and walked around the table to sit and take the sobbing young woman in her arms.

Andy looked at Brendan and raised his eyebrows. Brendan didn’t say anything, just stood and unbuttoned his shirt until he could open it up enough to show that there was no pattern of moles below his left collarbone. He pulled the shirt closed, buttoned it back up, and sat down.

There was silence for a long moment, then Andy said quietly, “Discovering the truth is painful sometimes, but it’s always better to know the truth, to know the facts of a situation. Frau Becker, I am sorry that you have been lied to, I am sorry that you have been a subject of fraud and deception. But your case is not with my client, the real Brendan Murphy. Your case is with the imposter that claimed to be Brendan Murphy.”

“That’s as may be,” Herr Becker said in a voice so dull it almost sounded like leaden bells, “but how do we get satisfaction from an unknown man? How do we get justice from a man we can’t identify?”

Andy passed the sketch to Brendan. “Do you know this man? This is who Frau Becker described.”

Brendan’s eyes narrowed. “I just might. This looks a lot like a guy we ran through the railroad guard training course sometime back.” He fell silent for a moment. “Yeah, and I think he was there about the time I lost the dog tags. Name was . . . Malcolm, I think. Malcolm Kinnard, if I remember correctly. And a Scot, to boot, which might explain why he could impersonate an up-timer so well. A German would have had a problem carrying it off for very long, I think.”

Both Agricola and Herr Becker sat up straight at that, and Schnorr began making notes.

“Can you tell us where he is?” Becker said in a hard voice. “I’d like to have a conversation with him.”

“I can find out,” Brendan said. “I’ll send a radiogram back to Magdeburg, after we get done. Should have an answer no later than some time tomorrow afternoon.”

And with that, the meeting seemed to be over. Catrina and Margarethe stood together and came around the table to Brendan, where she offered the dog tag back to him. “I hate to give it up, but it’s a lie to me, and it’s yours, so you should have it back.”

Brendan took it gently from her and slipped it into a pocket out of sight. The three of them stood talking for a few minutes. Andy waited for Liebmann to free the sketch sheet from the sketch board, then slid it into his document case. “Good job,” he told the artist.

“At least this time, the missing person didn’t turn up dead,” Liebmann replied. “Kind of a nice feeling, although it still didn’t bring any peace to them.” He jerked his head at the Beckers.

Andy shrugged, and moved down the table to face the others.

“You’re a hard man, Attorney Wulff,” Herr Becker said. “In keeping with your name, I suppose.”

“You deal with enough hard men,” Andy said, “and you become pretty hard yourself. And I have had to deal with men much harder than you, Herr Becker.”

“I can believe it,” Becker replied. “You handled me like a schoolboy, and that hasn’t happened in many years.”

Andy shrugged one shoulder.

Agricola reached out a hand, which Andy clasped. “Thank you for the reminder that our first responsibility is to truth. We sometimes forget that.”

“I have to remind myself just as often,” Andy said.

Catrina gave Margarethe one last hug, and Brendan and Catrina headed for the door. Everyone else gathered their things, and moved that direction. Andy waited for Christoph, so they were the last to leave the room. He smiled as he saw Herr Becker drop back beside Liebmann and ask, “Do you do portraits?”

They all moved back down the hallway, through the main part of the station building, and back out onto the platform. Andy started looking around for transportation so they could head for the rooming house.

Ahead of them, Margarethe suddenly shrieked, “It’s him! It’s him!”

Most of the crowd moved back, and Andy was able to see a young man in a railroad guard uniform frozen with a horrified expression on his face for just a moment before he spun and began running away from Margarethe through the crowd. Then he disappeared from sight. Andy hurried after, followed by Christoph and Liebmann.

The crowd had started to thicken, and Andy pushed through it to see Malcolm Kinnard lying face-down on the platform with Catrina Murphy sitting on his back and holding his left hand in what looked to be a most uncomfortable position. He started to move, and she twisted his hand a bit, which elicited a yell and he went motionless again.

Catrina looked up at Brendan with a grin. “Always knew that jujitsu would come in handy someday.”

He smiled back, then reached down with his big hands and grabbed Kinnard by one arm and the back of the neck. “You can let go, now.”

Catrina released her hold and stood up. Brendan seemed to levitate Kinnard, he was raised so quickly and was held with his toes barely touching the platform. “Malcolm Kinnard, just like I thought. I don’t like you, Kinnard,” he said. “And boy, are you in a heap of trouble.” A couple of railroad guards pushed through the crowd. “Guys, take him to the holding room, and keep him there until Herr Agricola here can contact the local law enforcement and figure out what to do with him. I doubt he’s going to be a guard much longer. And he’d better be there when we come for him, or you won’t be guards much longer, and you’ll be in as much trouble as he is. Clear?”

One on each side of Kinnard, they nodded firmly. “Yes, Sergeant Murphy,” one of them said. They led Kinnard away. The Beckers and their attorneys followed close behind.

“Well,” Andy said, “well done, both of you, both now and earlier.”

“I wanted to be angry,” Catrina said, “but when I saw that poor girl’s face when she learned the truth, I couldn’t be.”

“Never be sorry for your gift of compassion,” Andy said. “And yes, I said that. In the long run, compassion will heal a lot more lives than justice will.” He paused for a moment. “Just don’t tell anyone I said that.”

They all shared a laugh, then Brendan snapped his fingers like a pistol-shot. “I’ve got to go talk to Kinnard. I want my other dog tag back!”

Andy smiled at his client’s receding back.


Barbie and the Musicians of Bremen


April 1635


“Marieke! Come here now, girl!”

Marieke cringed in her bedroom, looking out the blue curtain-framed window at what had begun as a sunny spring day. Her father’s bellow told her the day was probably getting worse rather than better.

Marieke’s stepmother quickly confirmed Marieke’s suspicions when she peered around the bedroom door with a worried look on her slender face. “Marieke, dear, your father would like a word with you in the library. Please come with me.”

At that moment, her father released another elephantine bellow from the floor below. Marieke thought she saw the painting of the flowers on the wall over her lace-covered bed quiver but surely, she told herself, she imagined it. Didn’t she?

The picture could stay calmly perched on her wall but she must follow her stepmother to confront the man calling for her. At eighteen, Marieke was very much an adult but her father still ruled the house and held sway over his unmarried daughter.

Marieke loved her sometimes bombastic father but ever since he had retired from Prince Frederick’s service a few months back, her father had been a man with no purpose. Instead of spending hours every day managing affairs for the prince, her father wandered around the house, and sometimes all of Bremen, like a rooster with no hens. That meant that he was all too free to attend to the affairs of his small family, most especially including Marieke.

Stepmother and daughter went down the wooden staircase to the richly appointed library where the red-faced bürger paced in front of a huge stone fireplace. His green silk doublet had wrinkled where his ample belly had stretched the material as he sat at his leather-topped desk. But now he was apparently too agitated for any sitting.

“Marieke, my dear, I have something I must ask you.” His whole demeanor told both daughter and wife that the man was having to make a major effort to contain himself and control his temper. He spat out his question like it tasted bad on his tongue. “I have been told that there are rumors of you still being involved with the ludicrous, demon-spawned Committee of Correspondence in town. Is this true?” Herr Knaub’s grey eyes bored into her, his ferocious beetling eyebrows framing their anger.

Herr Knaub stood in front of the unused fireplace as if he could not move until his daughter answered. Frau Knaub gasped and held her breath, waiting for Marieke’s reply. The color drained from her face and neck as Marieke pushed back her white blonde bangs, dropped her cornflower blue eyes to the wool rug under her feet and gripped the light blue skirt under her brown bodice. She had known she would have to tell her parents some time but had hoped it would be later. After all, the confrontation about the now-traveling Hans had been but four weeks back. Hardly enough time for the hurt feelings to heal. Even though she knew Hans had planned to leave and go study engineering, Marieke still blamed her father for running the young man off sooner than she wished.

All this flashed through her mind as she stood in front of her father and her stepmother wrung her own hands.

“Well? Answer me, child? Is my daughter still consorting with revolutionaries and atheists? Is this a lie by those who wish us ill?”

There was no help for it. She could not outright lie to Papa. He would find out and then, then he would not trust her. No, she must, as the up-timers said, make a clean breast of it.

“Yes, Papa, I have been spending time at the Freedom Arches in town. They are good people and have been helping the flood victims. You have always told me it is our Christian duty to help others.” Marieke could see the storm clouds suffusing her father’s face as the rest of her pitch poured from her lips. “They do so much good and they help so many people. Besides, Aunt Betlinda volunteers there, too.”

At the mention of his sister’s name, Herr Knaub became, if possible, even more enraged. His chest puffed out even further, endangering the silver buttons. “Do not use your aunt as an excuse or example of anything. That apostate holds queer ideas about life and has always been an embarrassment to this family!”

He paused to calm himself, running a pudgy paw through his thinning grey hair, pushing the once-neat shoulder-length hair back from his sweating face.

“What am I to do with you? First, you take up with a young man from a family of night soil workers. Now I find you are spending time with up-time revolutionaries. Do you not see how your actions besmirch us all? I am a man of some importance in our town! Your mother is known as a beacon of righteousness! Your brother is . . .”

Marieke could stand her father’s self-righteous tirade no longer. “My brother is a pompous, primping, two-faced lout who only cares for himself! The stories I could tell . . .”

She was ready to declare a litany of her brother’s sins and missteps when her father stopped her with a raised hand as he turned his back. “Stop now, girl, before you overstep yourself. This discussion is about you, not Ebbe! He has not been called in fault!”

Now Marieke’s face was as flushed as her father’s. “It is time to discuss him. He had no right to attack Hans and no right to say anything about how I live my life!”

“Yes, he does on both accounts. You are unmarried and still the responsibility of this household. It falls to us, your mother, brother, and I, to ensure you are able to make a good marriage when the time comes. Running with the reprobates of the CoC could dirty your reputation, making it impossible for you to find a good match short of frozen Russia or God-forsaken Ireland! No! There will be no more discussion! You will not go back to the CoC, and you will stay away from Betlinda.”

Marieke heard her stepmother sob behind her, knowing she could not reason with her enraged father. Afraid of losing her own temper beyond reason, Marieke turned and fled the room, running up the stairs to her bedroom. She slammed the door behind her and threw herself on the bed.

Whether from anger or frustration, tears filled Marieke’s eyes, dampening the down pillow she cried into. She did not want to give her father the satisfaction of hearing her cry so she pushed her face into the pillow.

What was she to do? Marieke had always wanted a true job, a true purpose. Working with the CoC gave her that purpose. She could well and truly help people who needed aid. She had been raised to be a pretty, yet vacuous housewife, a trophy for some well-heeled businessman or noble. She was trained to serve tea and social niceties. But always, even before the up-timers arrived and showed her world that women could do more, be more, she had wanted better. No, she couldn’t captain a ship to explore the world but through the CoC she could change things for the better! Couldn’t her father see this?

Maybe she could convince her stepmother . . . She and her stepmother were not close, but they also were not open enemies. Their relationship was more like two boats docked at the same port.

Aunt Betlinda would help her if she could. She understood. She herself worked with the Committees of Correspondence and had avoided the chains of marriage so she could stay free. Maybe if Marieke declared her intention of doing the same her parents would leave her alone and give up on making a marriage match for her. It was worth a try . . .

Marieke lay on her bed as the sun rays shifted and the day passed. Intent on planning her escape from matrimony, she did not hear the first few rappings on her door.

“Marieke! Marieke!” A quiet female voice called from the other side of the wooden barrier.

Her sister, Katrin, slowly opened the door and stepped halfway into the room. “Are you going to throw something at me?” Katrin’s lips curled into an impish grin. “Your row with Papa was quite impressive. I don’t want to come in if you are going to use me for pitching practice like the up-timer baseball players. Are you, or is it safe?”

“You are quite safe, Dumpling. Come in and sit with me.” Marieke was the only family member that Katrin let call her by her baby name, Dumpling. When she was young, Katrin with her round face and body did bear a passing resemblance to a potato dumpling. As she grew older, Katrin had lost most of her baby fat and with it, the baby name.

“I only caught part of what was said but it seems Papa does not agree with the way you spend your time?” Katrin had seated herself on the bed, pushing off her silk indoor shoes and putting her bare feet on the bed. Her hair was a darker blonde than Marieke’s but she had the same clear blue eyes. It being a housework day, Katrin had on some of Marieke’s hand-me-downs. At fourteen, Katrin was almost as tall as her older sister.

Marieke reached out to affectionately tug on one of Katrin’s fuzzy braids. “I think you heard enough. Papa is concerned for the household reputation and demands that I avoid the CoC.”

A sly smile spread across Katrin’s sweet face. “Yessss, I am sure he said that. I am also sure you will not do that. Am I wrong?” The smile grew to a toothy grin.

Marieke met her sister with a smile of her own as she reached for a small, clean cloth on the night stand next to the bed. She blew her nose and gave a short laugh.” You know me too well, Dumpling. I have been making other plans.”

Katrin giggled and hugged her sister. “Good for you! It is a new time and a new world. It is time that women make their own destinies and not be forced into marriages as their life’s work.”

“That is what I have been learning from Aunt Betlinda.” Marieke nodded and dabbed at her still-dripping nose.

“I am so glad to hear that! There is something I have just been dying to tell you, and it seems that now is the time.” The younger girl glowed with anticipation.

“Tell me, silly goose! What could be that important?”

Katrin drew herself up on the bed, sitting as tall as she could, patted her yellow skirt and straightened it across her knees. “Two things, actually. First, I have decided what I want to do with my life. You know I love up-timer rock and roll. I have always been able to sing.”

“Yes, and?”

“I have joined a rock and roll band as a singer.”

Marieke clapped her hands and hugged her sister. “How lovely! Have you told Mama or Papa?”

“Not yet. The band has only started rehearsing together. We have a drummer. It’s not really an up-time drum set. It is an empty ale barrel. Then we have a lutist. We hope to add a few more players in time.”

“Does your band have a name?”

“Not yet, but we are trying out several that sound like up-time bands. I can’t tell you now because it might jinx it. But I can tell you something else.”

“And what would that be? I can’t wait!”

“Well, I cannot tell you one name but I can tell you another.”

“Stop being so mysterious and tell me!” Marieke gave her sister’s arm a small shake.

“I have given myself a new name. Katrin is sooo down-timer. My name is now Barbie, like the dolls. I can’t think of another name that sounds more up-time.”

“Well, Barbie, this will definitely help my cause.” Marieke giggled and shook her head.


“After you tell Papa your new name he’ll be so apoplectic with anger he will forget all about me. Either that or he will feel relieved that all I want to do is talk with up-timers, not become one. So, thank you, Barbie.”

The two girls looked at each other and broke into gales of laughter.



In a barn outside Bremen

A few days later


The newly-renamed Barbie stood amongst a group of young male and female musicians in a large wooden barn. The only animals in attendance were a few chickens pecking the ground in search of a late lunch and four grey goats wandering among the humans cadging for treats from bags and pockets. Midafternoon sunlight slipped through the open slats here and there.

The young music makers spread themselves on the bound hay bales stacked in the center of the barn.

“Let’s get this going, shall we?” Barbie stood in the center with a tall, gangly young man a few years older than the young Knaub. His large hands emerged several inches beyond his slightly dirty cotton sleeves. His dark brown hair brushed the top of the expensive, lace-touched white collar. His up-timer jeans tucked into well-worn leather boots, and a blue patterned doublet completed his attire.

The young people scattered around him and Barbie ranged in age from thirteen to nineteen and carried a wide selection of instruments, even one or two that their instructors might not recognize as musical instruments like an ale barrel or two.

All the young eyes were fixed firmly on Barbie.

“So you want to be in an up-timer rock and roll band?” The young man scanned the musicians arrayed around him.

All the heads nodded in unison. A few shuffled their feet.

“How many of you are already in an orchestra or another group?”

Several of the young men raised their hands. The young women sat with widened eyes. One spoke up, a girl with auburn plaits wrapped around her head like a crown. “If we have not been playing with another group does that disqualify us?”

Barbie and the young man next to her, Carl, conferred quietly then turned back to the teenager. He spoke in a surprisingly deep voice. “Of course not, Brigitte. Rock and roll is about new things, breaking new ground, celebrating the music in all of us. We do ask everybody to try out so we can see how you fit n with the band. What do you play?”

She scrunched up her courage. “Recorder.”

Carl turned to the girl next to her. “And you, Gisela, was it?”

The young woman with short light brown hair smiled shyly and mumbled. “Sackbut.”

Carl continued around the loose circle, receiving a variety of answers. “Trumpet.” “Flute.” “Guitar.” “Lute.” And others.

“It sounds like we have the making of a kickin’ band!” Barbie clapped her hands in delight.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with the group talking about what up-time music they liked and getting to know each other.



The Knaub household

A little over a month later


Marieke heard light steps coming toward her bedroom door. She thought it might be the young maid bringing in the laundry or some other morning chore. Marieke turned back to her book. She had been reading a book copied from the Grantville library. She knew her father would not approve of the title so she hid it in her skirts when she heard steps.

The steps stopped outside her door. She slid the thin book into her skirt pocket and picked up the needlework she kept nearby.

She barely recognized the apparition that slid into the room through a half-opened door. Marieke gasped, drawing her hand across her open mouth.


Was this really her sister? Was this a joke? Marieke had never seen anyone dressed like this. It could be Katrin, or maybe not. Should she laugh or not? Frankly, she had no idea how to act.

A familiar voice called her name. “Marieke, it’s me. How do you like the new look?”

“Katrin, Barbie, whoever. What have you done? What are you wearing? Where is the rest of your hair?” Mielke did not know where to look first or what to ask. All she could do was gape.

The last time she had seen her younger sister the girl looked like many girls in Bremen. Long, braided hair with a nicely embroidered brown bodice laced over several sets of cotton skirts accented with lace on her starched blouse. Light shoes on her small feet finished the picture.

But that was this morning. Obviously, something had changed. Katrin had made a full transformation into a rock and roll diva.

Every strip of clothing Marieke could see on Barbie/Katrin was black. She wore a black stretchy turtleneck under a black leather bodice over a series of black cotton skirts. At the bottom, Marieke could see black hosen and heavy black leather boots peeking out. Her sister had cut her beautiful blonde hair! Her hair, when loose, had reached past her bottom but no longer. Now, the shiny blonde hair barely covered the girl’s ears with a straight bob. Perhaps the most shocking details danced across the black bodice –white and silver skulls grinned their way across in a macabre yet delicate chain!


“No! Please, it’s Barbie now.”

“All right, Barbie . . .” Marieke held her tongue and ran through all the things she might say.

“Marieke, will you come to our first gig? That’s what up-timers call a recital, a gig. It will be so much fun! We are going to play real up-timer rock and roll songs! It is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me! Please, say you will be there! Please!”

“I don’t know, Ka . . . Barbie. No, I will be there. Girls have to stick together, right?” Marieke stood up and walked over to her dark-clad sister and hugged her.



Bremen, Rathaus

Morning, September, 1635


Betlinda Knaub paused, took a deep breath, and sailed into the office of the Bürgermeister und Präsident des Senats, as the mayor of Bremen had been known for centuries. The occupant wasn’t the man known from the histories—he’d fled with the prince-bishop. The new officeholder was a widowed functionary named by Prince Friedrich, a man named Emil Jauch who was from a famous family in Hamburg. He was stout, and in the warm weather of early September, he was florid and sweating through his expensive red silk doublet.

“And what may I do for you, Frau Knaub?” Herr Jauch unfurled one of his broader smiles to welcome Betlinda into his office.

“I have an important treat to offer the citizens of Bremen. You will recall the story of the ‘Musicians of Bremen’?”

“Yes, and I just was overseeing the placement of the statue that is based on the up-time photo of the statue they say stood in the Rathausplatz in their time. It is near the holy statue of the paladin Roland.”

Betlinda smiled back. “We have a group of young people, what the up-timers call ‘teenagers,’ who have formed a musical group, a band, and they call themselves the Musicians of Bremen. They would like to perform for the city.”

“Well, I hope their musicianship is better than the cat, the dog, the rooster, and the donkey!” Jausch thought his witticism the height of humor and let loose a friendly guffaw.

“They would like to perform in the Rathausplatz next month. May we have your permission?”

“What kind of music do they play?”

“Music to dance a brawl by.”

Jausch leered at Betlinda, who was a very good-looking older woman. “Do you dance a brawl, Frau Knaub?”

“Oh, call me Betlinda, and may I call you Emil? Yes I love a good brawl. If you approve the concert, I will surely save a dance for you!”

Jausch grinned, and stood. Beneath his doublet he was wearing up-timer blue jeans, stuffed into high brown boots. He held his hand out and she shook it. “You have your concert, Betlinda. I hope they are good.”

“I’m sure you will see . . . they play up-timer rock and roll!”



Bremen town square

An early October evening in 1635


Between the statue of Roland and the new statue of the Musicians of Bremen, the assembled townspeople shuffled their feet as they sat on every available space. Those still standing pressed forward to see the stage lit by candles and torches. Vendors wove their way through the crowd with sweets, mulled wine and pastries. Mothers tossed their little ones on their laps to keep them amused while everyone waited for the new music.

The crowd held people of all ages, from babies in arms to almost toothless grandfathers. Several shopkeepers had rolled carts outside where they peddled ale and brats, pretzels and candies. Everyone wanted to be at Bremen’s first rock and roll concert!

Several fires had been lit on either side of the low wooden stage. Some people had brought out candles in holders they held or stood upright in the dry ground. An array of instruments was arranged as if waiting for their musicians. There was a lute, a harpsichord, a clavichord, a sackbut, a dudelsack, a recorder on a stand, a guitar, and even several ale barrels of varying sizes arranged in a circle.

Then a tall, young man took the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you . . . Barbie and the Musicians of Bremen!” The tall man in his late twenties stood in the middle of a raised platform, surrounded by an array of musical instruments. The silver buttons and chains strewn across his black leather jacket, pants, and boots reflected back the flickering candlelight.

The audience watched as a procession of young musicians filed onto the stage and took up their instruments. A burly teenage male pulled up a straw bale behind the well-used ale kegs and started a backbeat. The rest of the musicians picked up their instruments. As the rest got going, Barbie in her blackest finery danced on stage, pounding a tambourine. She got into the first song—Geboren in Bremen. The few citizens who had heard up-time music and any up-timers in the crowd would recognize the tune as “Born on the Bayou.”

Barbie belted it out at the bottom end of her sweet alto register. The male harpsichordist joined in on the chorus, adding more depth. All the musicians, male and female, got lost in the tune and missed the hoots and calls from the attending family and friends. Some of the instruments were a little too light to be easily heard but all the musicians played, letting the music flow through their instruments.

One clump of listeners stood in shock near the back of the crowd. Herr and Frau Knaub stood flanked by their son, Ebbe, and several retainers. Silence swathed the small party as Herr Knaub’s face grew redder and redder. His wife kept glancing between her husband and the stage where his youngest sang and banged her tambourine as if the world were ending.

The scrawny, ginger-haired young man, Gunter, made his dudelsack sing like a moaning cow. Gilbert, in a dapper dark blue doublet with embroidered skeleton edging, played counterpoint on the harpsichord with a strong backbeat, echoed by blonde, chunky Metta on the flute. Other teens joined in on guitar, clavichord, sackbut and underneath it all like a giant heart was Bernhardt of the massive arms, the smith’s son, pounding the driving beat while sweat poured off his dark curls.

Marieke and Aunt Betlinda sat on a bale at the front of the audience where Barbie could see them. Shortly after the music started she saw them drawn along by the musical flood with the rest of the increasingly appreciative crowd.

By the end of the first song, the happy Bremenites were clapping and stomping, their legs carrying them through polkas and simple stomps, as they made largely unsuccessful attempts at singing along with the rousing chorus.

The song stopped, and Barbie swiftly swung the Musicians of Bremen into their next one, “Stolz Maria” or “Proud Mary” to the English speakers. Nobody seemed to care too much about the words as the young band carried the song to a rousing crescendo.

The Musicians of Bremen kept up their concert, bewitching the town square. By the end of an hour of up-time-based songs their black costumes were drenched in sweat, and the townspeople were dancing on and around the bales, with ersatz polka and waltz steps and some that resembled nothing more than an outright brawl.

Halfway through the gig, the Musicians of Bremen took a few minutes to grab some water and air. A few audience members had left, mumbling, “Devil’s music” and “Never want to hear that again!” But most of the townsfolk, of all ages, were just catching their breath and waiting for another round. They were saying things like, “Best polka I ever heard!” or “I haven’t danced a brawl that good in a long time!” The children universally took advantage of the chance to dance unabashedly across the square with their parents using more traditional steps. The older people seemed split, with a few leaving, complaining this must be devil-inspired, but most staying to clap hands and tap toes.

As soon as Barbie felt the band members could hit a beat again, she started into the second half. Now the audience was ready for them. There was no hesitation as there had been at the beginning of the first set. Bernhardt, sweat plastering his light linen shirt to his body like a wet second skin, hit the top of his ale barrel and everyone was on their feet.

The Musicians of Bremen kept the crowd dancing through several more songs ending with a fully German version of “It’s Only Rock and Roll But I Like It.” All the band members not playing an instrument that required their mouths joined in on the final chorus.

Then, just as suddenly as the music started it stopped. The young players were so tired they resembled nothing more than clockwork figures that had merely run down. Sweat dripped off their clothes and hair. They seemed almost too tired to hold their instruments. The crowd milled about, exhausted but too energized to stop talking. Nothing like this had ever been seen in Bremen!

The susurrus of the crowd rolled across the square. Then, one voice, one word, resounded from the back of the happy crowd. “Katrin!!!”

Herr Knaub, looking like an expanded red balloon, stood staring at his bedraggled youngest daughter. Her stepmother sat on the bale next to him, fanning her face with a Spanish lace fan.

Barbie was still on the stage, chattering happily with her band mates. Her father’s voice cut through everything, dragging her attention to the other end of the square where he stood, ready to explode.

She looked at each of the other musicians then stepped off the platform and headed toward her family. Barbie walked past where Marieke and Aunt Betlinda stood.

Marieke grabbed and hugged her as she drew near. “That was wonderful! You were wonderful l!”

“That you were, my girl!” Betlinda stood nearby, beaming with pride. “I have not had that much enjoyment in ages!” Her greying braids frayed where the hair had escaped as if to better enjoy the music. Her embroidered brown dirndl was unfashionably damp.

Fully aware that her father still loomed at the back of the milling crowd, Barbie hugged them and promised to talk more later. Then she headed to meet her father.

“Papa! Did you enjoy the show?” Barbie cast her lot by pretending she did not see her father’s impending explosion.

“Katrin, we MUST talk.” The words seemed to push their way past his clenched jaw rather than being propelled.

“Wasn’t it marvelous!?” Barbie looked from her father to her stepmother, even glancing at Ebbe who loomed at the back of the family. She hoped her status as youngest daughter would protect her from the worst of Herr Knaub’s ire.

“Not the words I would choose, Katrin. We will discuss this at home. In private.” With that he turned to his wife and then Ebbe. “Enough of this for now. We are all going home now. You, too, Katrin.” Herr Knaub walked off, somehow seeming to stomp without actually doing so, followed by his wife and son.

Ebbe grinned maliciously at Barbie as he pulled up the rear of the small procession. He had always been jealous of her. Barbie figured this was his chance to become the favored one. Fine with her! She never wanted to be a pampered princess. She wanted to have a real life! She was going to be a rocker! Imagine! The first down-time rock diva!



The Knaub Household

Later that evening


Barbie walked slowly up to the front door of her brightly illuminated home. Light poured out of the windows on the first and second floors.

This told her everything she needed to know, or feared, about her father’s anger. Normally, the house would be dark at this time of night. Maybe Old Albruna would be in the kitchen baking the morning’s pastries. But Barbie had never seen the house lit up like a lantern this late. Maybe she should wander outside for a while, hoping her father would fall asleep, and everyone else would follow.

Barbie started to move away from the ornately carved front door and back into the late night shadows. Too late.

Unseen, Ebbe had stationed himself at the library window as lookout. “Katrin, Father is looking for you.” His voice boomed out across the front yard like a foghorn.

As if waiting for the right sign, her stepmother swept out the front door, directly at Barbie. “Katrin, we were all so worried. Where have you been? You are still dripping wet and in this cool air, too.”

Before she could physically drag Barbie in the doorway, Herr Knaub’s voice reverberated through the house, out the windows and down the lane toward town. Somewhere in the back of her mind Barbie wondered if the band members could hear him, too. “Katrin!”

Barbie felt herself being dragged, gently, by her stepmother into the house and down the hallway to the library where her father radiated anger like some ancient battle lord. Her stepmother waited for Barbie to get all the way into the library and then left her standing in front of her father, who was also standing.

“Katrin. You are to begin a new life tomorrow. Or rather, you are to return to being my beloved daughter. I do not know this skull-bespangled, black-draped apparition that shrieks in public. This is not my Katrin! I demand to have my Katrin returned to me! With the morning light! Am I clear?” All of that he had ejected in what seemed like one breath. Then, with a deep “Hrumph!” he sat in his red leather desk chair with air of a king who has just made a kingdom-wide pronouncement. His dark grey eyes bore into her blue ones.

Barbie was silent, stunned by her father’s reaction. She had expected him to be upset but she had never seen him this angry. What should she say? What should she do? What could she say or do? She loved her rock and roll. How could she make him understand? This was who she was, what she wanted to be. No words came.

“Well, Katrin, you are home now, and the morning will see the return of my girl. You may go to bed now but make no mistake. I do not want to see you like that again. Am I understood?” The anger seemed to have bled away a little bit but Barbie could still hear the steel in her father’s words. With that, he waved his hand, motioning her towards the door. Then he put his head in his hands, feeling the anger replaced by exhaustion.

Barbie turned and left, climbing the stairs to her room. She noticed Ebbe and her stepmother had vacated the hallways. Where was Marieke? Barbie told herself she hoped she was already out of the way of their father’s temper.

Once in her room, Barbie disrobed, secreting her precious outfit away where, she hoped, no one could find it. She knew her father would order one of the servants to search her room for it so she planned to take it to one of the band members’ houses in the morning. Then she curled up in her bed, falling swiftly into an exhausted sleep.


Sure enough, Barbie woke as Old Albruna rummaged through her closet, obviously looking for something. Barbie noticed that various piles of clothes had been moved since the night before.

“Young Katrin, Guten Tag! I am looking for your dirty clothes. It is wash day and, after your raucous night, I suspect you have at least a few things to wash, do you not?” The old woman continued to cast her eyes across Barbie’s room as if the offending clothing would raise its hand to be recognized and collected.

Barbie thought quickly. She hated lying, but it had taken quite an effort to get that outfit together and if it went with Old Albruna she knew it would disappear. Her father would have already ordered it to be destroyed. No! She would not give up her dream so easily!

“I changed elsewhere before I came home and left last night’s clothes elsewhere.” She hoped the old woman would not check her story with anyone who had seen Barbie come home.

“Ach! Well, bring them home for cleaning when you go out. There are fresh buns in the kitchen for your breakfast, so come on, sleepyhead.” Old Albruna had been with the family since before Barbie was born so she could take such liberties with the young mistress.

Albruna bustled out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Barbie knew she couldn’t hide much longer in her room. She had to get up and out. She had to figure out what to do. Besides, by looking at the height of the sun, she realized it was mid-morning. Someone had decided to let her sleep in. Could this be a good sign? She could hope, couldn’t she?

She slipped out from under the voluminous, cream-colored comforter with a small whimper. The chill in the air caught her by surprise. Barbie wrapped a woven woolen blanket around her so she could perform her morning ablutions without shivering. Albruna or someone had brought a pitcher of clean water and set it next to the basin on her washtable. It could not have been too long before because a slight trail of steam still rose from it.

Barbie started to wash her face then stopped, startled by the image in her looking glass. Was that her with the huge black circles around her eyes? Oh, that was it . . . She had gone to bed so late and upset she had forgotten to take off her rocker makeup. Giggling at herself, Barbie started scrubbing her face, removing makeup and sweat alike. She would have to remember to wash after the shows, she told herself. If there were any more shows . . .

There had to be more shows! She would find a way no matter what it took! She had never felt more alive, more right! She knew the chill she felt now had less to do with a fall morning and much more to do with last night. The first night of her life as a rocker.

As she dried her face and pawed at her newly shorn hair with a wooden comb, Barbie began gathering her thoughts and strength for the battle ahead with her Papa. Surely he wanted her to be happy. Couldn’t he see this made her happy? She had to show him, convince him, that this was the best for her. But how? He was a traditionalist. He believed that the best thing for his girls was to marry well. Ebbe could do as he liked, but she and Marieke must obey Papa. That is what he believed.

And where was Marieke?? She should have heard from her by now. Normally, Marieke would have woken her, refusing to let her sleep so late. Oh well, that’s a question for later . . .

She silently argued her case to her clean-scrubbed image in the glass. The Ring of Fire had changed everything! The up-timers showed us women could do and be something other than hausfraus with retinues of servants. Look at Rebecca and Gretchen, the heroines who were changing the world! They did get married but they were not tied down to a house like a horse to a plow. Oh, no! She would be free, too!

Barbie felt her courage slowly creeping back in when someone knocked on her door. “Katrin dear, are you ready to come downstairs? Everyone else is up.” Her stepmother knocked again, this time a little harder.

Guten Morgen! I am up and dressing. Give me a few more minutes to properly prepare myself.” Barbie wanted to stick her tongue out in rebellion at the door but didn’t. She was above such childish displays. Besides, she must prepare herself to be a rock diva, and surely rock divas did not partake of such displays!

Listening to make sure the older woman walked back down the hallway, Barbie checked for her hidden clothing. She moved her painted dresser and found the now-dirty black bundle where she had placed it last night. “Good! I still have my rocker clothing!” She threw a glance around as if someone might have snuck in while her back was turned then returned the bundle and the dresser.

Under her breath Barbie mumbled, “I guess I must play the good girl at home and dress the part. But there is no growing my hair back overnight so I guess he will have to accept that part of me.”

She pulled on a blue skirt with yellow edging, a white linen blouse and her old dark blue bodice with embroidered edelweiss. “Don’t you look like the proper fraulein now?” Barbie allowed herself one display of tongue extension at the neatly-dressed girl she saw in her looking glass. “Papa will just LOVE you!”

She turned around, opened the door and walked into the hallway to meet today’s fate.

She had not even reached the bottom of the stairs before her father bellowed, “Katrin, please come to the library.”

Marvelous! He was not going to even let her break her fast before commencing with the lecture. Just great! Well, at least she looked the way he wanted her to look. He couldn’t complain about that. Except her hair.

Barbie walked down the hall to the already crowded library. An odd tableau met her view. Walking in she wasn’t surprised to see her father in his usual leather throne. But what did surprise her was who else awaited her. Aunt Betlinda, Marieke, and the Bürgermeister und Präsident des Senats himself! What was his name? Somebody Jausch . . . Never mind! What was happening?

All except her father seemed happy to see her. The bürgermeister stood in his warm fur-lined red doublet beatifically surveying the scene. Aunt Betlinda and her sister grinned like, like cats out of that up-timer book Alice in Wonderland. Aunt Betlinda kept looking, sidelong, at Herr Jausch and smiling in a peculiar way. Her father smiled with that tight-around-the eyes expression she had seen him use when he was avoiding telling the prince a hard truth. All too odd! What was happening? And what did they want with her?

Herr Knaub started to speak. “My dear Katrin, the bürgers . . .”

Before he could finish the sentence Herr Jausch broke in, offering his hand to Barbie as if she were a princess. “Katrin or Barbie, I must tell you I and my family thoroughly enjoyed your performance last night! I and my darling wife danced like we were bewitched! You and your band must perform again and often! That is why I am here.” He seemed to have completely forgotten Herr Knaub, now standing at the desk looking forlorn.

The bürgermeister continued to hold Barbie’s small hand in his large, somewhat hairy one. “The bürgers met right after the performance. None of us could have slept so soon after that invigorating music, could we? So we voted and decided that you and the Musicians of Bremen must be asked to perform at least once a month in Bremen. Your band will set Bremen apart from all the other towns, nay cities, in Germany! We will be the envy of the others because we have a real up-time style rock band! We will be the talk of Europe! We will have real Musicians of Bremen!”

As he talked the bürgermeister spoke faster and faster, obviously warming up to his topic. Meanwhile, Herr Knaub became more and more deflated. What was he to do? He could defy the bürgers and require Katrin live a life of quiet anonymity, or he could please the bürgers, and probably his prince who wanted to please the bürgers, and let her become that wild thing.

Finally, Herr Knaub could hold quiet no longer. “Sir, we are greatly honored by your offer . . .”

“Herr Knaub, this not an offer as such. Please consider this as more of a request. Barbie and the Musicians of Bremen are the most exciting thing to come out of Bremen in many generations. We do not believe what these young people are doing should be lost or go elsewhere. They are Bremen-bred and the whole world should know it!”

Barbie could not believe her ears! Not only did the town like their music, they wanted more! She noticed her Aunt Betlinda said nothing, but the grin on her face could not have been wider. She was enjoying this moment way too much! What part had she played in this scenario? Marieke stood behind Betlinda, grinning widely.

Herr Knaub gave up. He knew from long experience with the bürgers that he could not outtalk this one. He needed time to consider his options. He did not like being shoved into allowing Katrin to become a whirling, screeching display. Even if it would be good for his beloved Bremen.

“Indeed, Herr Bürgermeister, it was a long night for us all. As you can see, Katrin is as startled by your reaction to the performance as I am. I need some time to talk with her.”

Seeing he was not to get an immediate approval, the bürgermeister‘s face clouded over but he hung on to the remains of his smile. “Of course, we can understand, Herr Knaub. But please do not keep us waiting long. We want to publicize our jewel as soon as possible. The Christmas season is pressing close, and we would want to draw in visitors at least once during that time.”

He turned his attention back to Barbie, her hand still caught in his grasp. “Barbie, I hope that you can prevail on your esteemed father to do the best for his city.” With that, he leaned down, kissed her hand, bowed to the other women present and processed out into the hall, where someone led him to the door.

The air seemed to rush back into the library with the bürgermeister‘s exit. Herr Knaub fell rather than sat into the leather seat behind the desk. No one spoke.

He seemed to not know whom to glare at first, torn between Barbie and Aunt Betlinda. Herr Knaub had forgotten Marieke was still in the room, half-hidden behind an elaborately detailed clock.

“Is this your doing, Betlinda?” Herr Knaub spit out the words like they tasted bad. Now he only had room to glare at his sister.

“Not quite. He only asked me to come along because he suspected that you might not welcome the idea. Everyone DID hear you last night, after all. But now I must return home. I have some duties to attend to, and . . .”

“And you are done sticking your meddlesome nose in my family’s life for today, aren’t you?” It was a good thing that he could not really throw daggers out of his eyes, or he would have been charged with sororicide. At the moment, the penalty would not have distracted him. He was beyond furious with his older sister. She denied it, but he knew she had some guilt in this matter.

Enough time to deal with her later. For now, he was in a quagmire with Katrin. He needed time to think. “So be it, Betlinda. You have most certainly done enough here for now. But know, this matter is not done.”

Betlinda took that as her cue to leave, taking Marieke with her. Marieke seemed perfectly content to leave and put distance between herself and an exploding father.

That only left Barbie standing in front of her father. She had no idea what to say or do. She began the morning expecting it to go one way and something happened. But what? What would her father say! Would he allow her to openly play rock and roll? Would he demand she remain his Katrin?

Time stood still as Barbie stood in front of her temporarily silent Papa. The tall clock ticking was the only sound in the room for more breaths than she noticed. Both people were lost in their own thoughts.

Then Herr Knaub broke the silence with his quiet hammer of a voice. “What am I to do?”


Small is Good

Nürnberg City Hall

April, 1635


“You can’t be serious?” Master Grünberg just couldn’t believe his ears. “You really want to leave all rifles to these . . . these . . . people?” His voice sounded like what he really wanted to say was “northern barbarians,” but in the end, his sense of propriety had taken over.

Ratsherr Hans Petzold, a famous master goldsmith and member of the city council, tried to calm him. “Listen, Master Grünberg, it’s a temporary measure. We currently cannot compete with Suhl and Magdeburg on rifles. With our traditional methods it simply takes too long to produce a single one, and even if ours are prettier, there aren’t many noblemen left that are willing to wait that long and able to pay twice the price just for a pretty exterior. If we are lucky, they buy their guns in Suhl and then ask us to ‘improve’ on it. Until we get the needed machines produced in Essen, we will have to learn and pass the time by making handguns. Small is good, for now. Getting all the information on the necessary steps to reproduce the new Dutch pepperboxes was expensive enough. Let’s not waste that investment. We have an order for 600 of them from a cavalry regiment in Berchtesgaden. That’s enough work for all of us to keep busy for months.”

Ferdinand Grünberg shook his grey head. “If you want to go ahead and concentrate on those pistols, fine. They sure are impressive and effective weapons. But I have been a Büchsenmacher all my life. Long rifles are my specialty and I will continue making them.”

“You will go broke making them.”

“Let that be my problem. I am 55 years old, a widower, and I do not have an heir. I have saved enough over the last dozen years to last me for ages. So I’ll let you gentlemen worry about your own affairs. Look at it this way: Now the 600 ordered pistols will employ everyone else even longer. Good night to you.”

For a moment, the Ratsherr was tempted to involve his colleagues to make it a formal order. But in the end he figured Grünberg was right: it did mean more work for everyone else.


Nürnberg, Grünberg house

April, 1635


The next morning at sunrise, Master Grünberg sat at his table at the window, studying all the papers he had been able to acquire on the topic of up-time rifles, thanks to the efforts of a former apprentice of his who now was a journeyman in Suhl. He went through them one by one, stopping after each page, considering what he had seen and how it related to what he already knew. From time to time his eyes moved to the remains of an up-time shotgun he had bought cheaply last week. The stock and lock were still in very good shape, but some giant seemed to have squashed the two barrels. He got up and put the distracting thing into a bag that he put on a shelf, then sat down again.

He was halfway through the stack when Matthias Heckler, his journeyman, entered the workshop, with their single apprentice tagging along. Moritz Maus was fourteen and in his second year of apprenticeship. An orphan at age twelve, he very rarely smiled, almost as rarely as his master. As always, Heckler had bought fresh bread rolls and a couple of broadsheets.

“Good morning, Master Grünberg!”

“Good morning, Matthias. Moritz.”

As he had done every day for the last years, Heckler put the bread rolls and the broadsheets on the table, then went downstairs to the shortest of the three dry caves that reached into the stone of the mountain Nürnberg castle was built upon, to fetch some cool milk and cheese. The longest one served as Grünberg’s shooting range (with the ‘range’ part being defined rather loosely), while the third was used for storing his black powder and guns. Meanwhile, Moritz set the table.

They were eating in silence, Matthias and Moritz reading the broadsheets, Master Grünberg continuing through his bundle of sheets on up-time guns. Once he was through with them, he looked at his journeyman.

“Anything important happening in the world?”

“Not really. But after his fifth beer someone who shall not be named told me yesterday evening that Master Kotter is making progress with his cartridge project. It seems the trick is to use just the right amount of silver in the mix and to seal them with shellac when the cartridge is completed, to keep the bullet more firmly in place and the powder dry.”

“So, how close is he to be able to actually produce workable brass cartridges?”

“Pretty close, I think, as long as we are talking about small numbers. From what I gathered, they need a lot of soldering and other work to come out right, and he still has to buy the primers from Grantville. So he will be hard-pressed to compete with U.S. Waffenfabrik once they get their production facility up and running. It’s frustrating, really. Whenever one of us has a bright idea, we get trumped by up-timer technology.”

Master Grünberg looked out of his window and down to the wall. “Maybe. And maybe not. If I understood you correctly last week, the Suhl people will have a few production lines, concentrating on cartridges for their most common guns.”

Heckler nodded. “That is my understanding, at least. These machines are really expensive. So you need to produce large batches to pay for them.”

“Which means that all that Master Kotter needs are small series of special guns he can concentrate on.” Grünberg frowned slightly. Then he picked through the bunch of sheets he had looked through before. Slowly, a grin started creeping up his face. Heckler raised an eyebrow.

” ‘Small is good’ said our revered Ratsherr yesterday. I think he might be partially right. Just not in the way he thinks about it. Let’s go to the arsenal.”


Like many weaponsmiths, Grünberg had elected to pay most of his taxes to the city by equipping the city guard with weapons. His specialty in this respect had been, for a long time, all kinds of Hakenbüchsen. Those were huge rifles (unlike their earlier smoothbore predecessors of the same name which became known as harquebuses in French), about two yards long, which would be used as wall guns. Those were either equipped with trunnions that could be locked to swivel mounts on city walls or with hooks (Haken) or spikes that could be rammed into the top of an earthen rampart to keep the weapon there and transfer the enormous recoil into the earth instead of the shoulder of the user. Most of Grünberg’s guns were especially long and had both options; they were thus called Doppelhaken. Unlike many of his colleagues in other cities, he had rather soon, after some experimentation to find the optimal bullet, settled on a single bore size and caliber of balls. His guns thus had very similar performance profiles.

Traditionally, those very precise guns were used to snipe at enemy generals (who rarely came into range of the walls any more, though) and, more importantly, sappers and the crews of siege guns and mortars. At five hundred yards, the heavy bullets the gun fired could still cut through most provisional fortifications put up by enemy sappers. Recently however, Hauptmann Reinhold Gerber, captain of the city watch and an old friend of Grünberg, had told him that due to the increased range of the USE artillery, his Hakenbüchsen had lost most of their tactical value and they would soon have to require him to deliver normal rifles instead. Grünberg had been rather upset when he received that news.

Sure, he could easily afford to pay his taxes in cash and not even feel any effects. This was not about money; it was about pride. The pride of a man who had until recently made some of the best rifles in the world and now was relegated to amateur status. That would be hard to accept for anybody. For Grünberg, whose only wife had died giving birth to a stillborn son years ago, his work was all he had left. By now, though, he started to suspect that that dark cloud had a huge silver lining to it. Or was it a golden lining?


As Grünberg had expected, Hauptmann Gerber was at the city arsenal, inspecting part of the weaponry. Since the guard was well-acquainted with the master weaponsmith, he had no problem being admitted, while Matthias and Moritz waited at the entrance.

Gott zum Gruße, Hauptmann Gerber!” Given that he visited his friend in his official capacity, there was no way he would address him by his given name.

Gerber raised his eyebrows for a moment, then smiled. He knew Grünberg well enough to understand the reason for the formality and to feel that he had overcome his righteous anger at Gerber’s decision not to employ Hakenbüchsen any longer.

“Master Grünberg. A pleasure to see you here. How can I help you?”

“I wanted to talk with you about my Hakenbüchsen.” He held up a hand. “No, don’t worry. I am not trying to convince you to keep them in service when they can’t perform their task any longer.”

“That is very understanding of you. So what about these guns?”

“Well, you know, you might not have much use for them anymore. But when making them I gave them my very best, each time. Every single one of them is worthy of a master, I think.”

“No doubt about that. It really is a shame they have lost their defensive value for us. And of course they are too heavy to use in the field.”

“Still, they are my children and I don’t want to see them melted down to make muskets out of them—or pistols for that Scottish colonel. So I want to buy them back.”

Gerber grinned. “Hm. So you mean to pay the taxes you avoided by giving us the guns?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You got years of good service out of them. A decade, for some of them. No, I am going to pay you what you’d get from a metal collector.”

Gerber considered the demand, but only for a moment. While not a guild in the formal sense, the weapon makers were quite influential in the city. Having good relations with them was especially important for the city watch. Given the insult Grünberg must have felt when he was informed of the new tactical realities, this offer was the perfect way for all concerned to save face. And if the deal lost the city council a few thaler, it was still worth it.

Einverstanden. Last time I checked, there were 24 of your long guns here at the arsenal. Let’s see if we can find them all . . .


After Matthias and Moritz had dragged a little wagon filled with the guns up the hill to Grünberg’s house, they took the time for a second breakfast, consisting of a glass of beer, some bread, and a little bacon.

“So what are your plans for these guns, Master Grünberg?”


“Don’t look at me like that. I have known you for years now. You are up to something.”

Grünberg only smiled in response. It always had been difficult to keep a secret from Matthias, but by now it was near impossible. So he simply put a sheet of paper in front of the two. Moritz whistled when he finally understood what he saw.

“That is a pretty big gun,” was all he could say. And he was right. The 1918 T-Gewehr was a big gun. For a shoulder-fired weapon, the first anti-tank rifle in the world was simply massive. Still shorter than a Doppelhaken, though.

“We’ll start smaller. As I said: small is good.”

“Say rather ‘small is relative,’ ” intervened Matthias. “If I understand you correctly, you want to transform your Doppelhaken in something like an up-time sniper rifle, modeled after this monster?”

“Exactly. After all, they are the closest thing we have to sniper rifles down-time. The barrels are already there, and rifled all in the same identical caliber. I did a quick check of the two oldest ones while you were washing your hands. They were well cared for, and their steel barrels still look perfect. That’s most of the work already done. Now we simply need to add on the other parts to transform them into reliable breechloaders able to shoot brass cartridges.”

Moritz snorted. “Simply.”

“The T-Gewehr is really a simple weapon. Ingenious in its details, but simple. Which is why I chose it as a model.” Grünberg smiled again. In fact, he might have smiled as often today as he had during most of the year to this date. Thus was the power of inspiration.

Matthias had a more practical concern: “Let’s say we are able to complete these ‘small’ versions of that monster. Though, if I understand these numbers here right, unless we cut down your Doppelhaken a lot, the end result won’t be any smaller than that. A little more slender, maybe, but possibly even heavier. Bigger caliber, definitely, though with black powder it will be less powerful overall. And let’s assume you get Master Kotter to make brass cartridges for them. The question remains: Who do you want to sell them to? Our city guard won’t want them, especially after you tricked old Gerber to sell them to you for scrap value. The USE Army and the SoTF National Guard have their own sniper rifles. But if we sell those to Bavaria, in addition to the pistols, we might start a war of annexation by the USE. Then there is Bohemia, but I think Wallenstein wants to build up his own, independent weapons industry to compete with us, so he is out, too. Who does that leave?”

“Salzburg, Tyrol, or—most likely—Swabia. More precisely, the Count of Hohenrechberg. My masterpiece as a journeyman was a hunting rifle for his father, so he should know my work. They are basically next door, and he is building a nice little army in his part of the province. As the official head of a provincial military force, he might even  have simplified access to Grantville technology. More importantly, as vice-administrator, he controls most of the ironworks of the Aalen area. We are already getting more iron from them than from our traditional suppliers in the Oberpfalz. They are planning to modernize their foundries soon, in order to produce serious amounts of high quality steel. So I can see lots of potential for cooperation in future weapons projects.”

“Like a real T-Gewehr, you mean?” Matthias deadpanned, his amusement still shining through his eyes.

Moritz couldn’t help himself, he had to jump up and clap his hands together. “Yes!” he cried out, with the biggest smile anybody had ever seen on his face.

Maybe small wasn’t that good, all things considered, thought Master Grünberg.


“After two bottles of my best wine, Master Kotter is on board. In fact, he is as enthusiastic about the project as Moritz,” Grünberg told his crew the next morning with a wink. “Now, I showed you yesterday how to separate the barrels and how to shorten them. Moritz, the remainder of the week you will separate as many of them as you can. Matthias will help you with the first two. After that, he will cut them down to the right length. Meanwhile, I will work on a related project.”

“A related project?” asked Matthias.

“I think I found a good use for the cut-offs. Not telling yet. You’ll find out soon enough, if it works.”

Matthias looked at a bag sitting on Grünberg’s workbench. “I guess the content of that bag is related to your new project?”

“Right you are. But I’ll take both the cut-offs and that bag with me downstairs.” Grünberg had a second workroom on the underground level attached to the caves. It got lots of light, especially during the afternoon hours, and he used it when he wanted some quiet and could count on Matthias to keep an eye on Moritz upstairs. “Get to work!”


By Saturday afternoon, Moritz had detached all twenty-four barrels, and Matthias had cut down most of them from slightly over seven feet to about five feet, when Master Grünberg called them downstairs to his shooting range. On the shooter’s table, they could see something under a big piece of cloth. Strangely, at the end of the short range stood not the usual target, but an old, worm-eaten table lying on the side, top towards them.

“Please put on your ear protectors,” Grünberg ordered.

Once everybody, including himself, had his ears covered, he picked up the package and stepped behind the bar separating the entrance area from the shooting range proper. When he dropped the cloth, his back still covered its contents from sight.

BOOM! Crack! BOOM! Crack!

The whole cave was reverberating from the two blasts that had come within half a second—and the table that had served as a target was reduced to splinters. Grünberg turned back to his team and looked into wide-open eyes and even wider mouths. “What . . .” both started asking, then stopped, looking at the small object in Grünberg’s hand.

Grünberg grinned, pushed on a button, snapped the weapon open and turned it upside down. Two big brass cartridges, still smoking, dropped to the ground. “Given the unusual caliber, Master Kotter found it easier to start with shotgun shells. The up-timers call this a coach gun, I think. While they used longer barrels, at short range the one-inch caliber is devastating enough, as you have witnessed. And for every sharpshooter, an observer would need an easily-portable weapon of his own. Matthias took in the gun, especially its broad but short barrels—at one foot long they were closer to those of a contemporary cavalry pistol than a real shotgun. Well, you could still call it a sawed-off version of a shotgun. Then he looked at the stock and lock more closely. “Is that . . .”

Grünberg nodded. “Yes. The remains of the up-time shotgun I bought. Its caliber was close enough that I could get it to fit after some fiddling. Wouldn’t hold the pressures of an up-time smokeless cartridge, but as you have seen, I got it to fit closely enough that outgassing is not a problem. So what do you think?”

He looked at Moritz who was still standing there, eyes wide, but with another huge grin now spreading across his face.

Maybe small was good, after all?


Master Kotter and Ratsherr Petzold are historic down-timers.

Everyone else is invented or a blend of different down-timers.

A contemporary Doppelhaken from Suhl can be seen here:

Master Grünberg’s guns would be a little longer, but not much.



Life at Sea in the Old and New Time Lines, Part 4: Lights Across the Waters

In part 3, I talked about deck, cabin, and hold illumination. But there’s also a need for lighting by which the ship sees what lies around it, and is seen in turn. Lighting may also be used for communication, ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore.


Running lights


Stern Lanterns. When ships were traveling in formation at night, there needed to be a way for the helmsman on one ship to see the ship in front of him (rear-end collisions and meandering off both being frowned upon). Hence, sailing ships carried stern lanterns (Laughton 159). This practice was not limited to warships as, in the seventeenth century, European trading ships often sailed with escorts.

In Edward III’s navy, the number of stern lanterns indicated the status of the commander; three or more for the King, two for the admiral, and one for the vice-admiral (Traill 186). On sixteenth-century Venetian galleys, those commanded by a squadron commander had a single stern lantern, and the flagship of the Capitano Generale da Mar or the Provveditore Generale da Mar had three. Indeed, the flagship was sometimes referred to as a lanterna (Motture).

The 68-gun warship La Couronne (1626) had three lanterns above the taffrail; the center one was 12 feet high and 24 feet in circumference illuminated by twelve pounds of candles. (Sephton). On the Sovereign of the Seas (1637) there were five lanterns on the stern (Sephton 57, 61) , two apiece on the port and starboard quarter galleries, and the fifth and largest on the aft end of the poop above the taffrail. It was six or seven feet high, and four to four and a half feet wide. In 1661, Samuel Pepys, then clerk of the Naval Board, gave a tour of the Sovereign to his patron’s wife, Lady Sandwich, the Lady Jemimah, and their seven companions and servants, and persuaded this tour group to join him in squeezing inside the stern lantern (Dill 12)—plainly the seventeenth-century equivalent of squeezing into a phone booth.

While a single stern lantern reveals the position of the ship, it says nothing about its heading. But if you were looking at the stern of Sovereign, you would see three lights in circumflex (^) arrangement, whereas broadside you would see a rotated “L”. Nonetheless, this does not seem to have initiated a general trend toward use of multiple lights to show orientation.

In the early eighteenth century, all British first-, second-, and third-rates carried three lights, and this privilege was extended to fourth-rates in 1722. In 1804 it was decided that only a flagship would carry two lights, and all others just one (Willis 56). However, I believe that the second light in question was a top-lantern (see next section).

At least some early lanterns had panes of green-tinted mica, but these were displaced by glass, which rendered the light easier to see. Hexagonal and octagonal designs were the most common, but the lantern on the Merhonour (1622) was seven-sided (Howard 114). It cost over eleven pounds, not even counting the glass plate, but almost half of that was attributable to gilding (Laughton 142).



Top-Lantern. When William, Duke of Normandy, sailed across the English Channel, he “had a lantern placed at the top of his ship’s mast, so that the other ships could see it and hold their course behind him” (Musset, 196). On the 1564 Legazpi Pacific expedition, a ship in need of assistance at night would place a lantern in the main mast and fire a shot, and if it were an emergency, it also hung a lantern in the foremast and fired two more shots (Licuanan 64). In 1595, Drake ordered his fleet that if they had to unexpectedly make sail on a night that it had previously shortened sail, it would show “a single lantern with a light at the bow, and another at the fore-top” (Maynarde 64).

Later, it became customary that a British navy flagship leading a squadron would display a lantern at the aft edge of a masthead: the main top (full admiral), fore top (vice admiral), or mizzen top (rear admiral) (Lavery 255). It was supported on each side by iron braces (Falconer 294).

In 1762, Admiral Howe ordered that a ship tacking at night was to hoist a light and keep it visible until the maneuver was completed (Willis 56).

Lightships of course also displayed lanterns on high, but early lightships suspended small lanterns from a yardarm or dedicated crossarm. Robert Stevenson proposed a lantern that surrounded the mast of the vessel, and could be lowered to the deck to be trimmed and then raised back. (Stevenson 39). Presumably, the vertical traversal of that lantern would be limited by the yardarm above. It is conceivable that the lantern had a dedicated mast; i.e., one that did not ever carry sail.

In 1838, the US Congress enacted legislation providing that between sunset and sunrise every steamboat must carry one or more signal lights that can be seen by other boats navigating the same water. A three-light system was privately adopted by the Liverpool steam packets. In 1847, a different system—red on the port bow, green on the starboard bow, and a bright white light on the foremast head—was adopted for the mail steamers on the west coast of England. Finally, in 1848, a similar system was applied to all British steam vessels between sunset and sunrise. (Grosvenor).

By the 1870s, it was proposed that the masthead light be electric (Trowbridge 723). This was met with numerous objections—the ships met would be blinded by the light, the carrying ship’s side lights would be rendered inconspicuous by comparison, the ship would be mistaken for a lightship, etc. (Thomson 190).

The Titanic carried a single electric masthead light on her foremast, 145 feet above the water. It was 32 candlepower, and its Fresnel lens concentrated the light into a horizontal arc with a vertical amplification factor of 25. It thus would have been as bright as a first magnitude star at a distance of 17 miles(Halperin).


There is an obvious downside to the use of any lights on shipboard, let alone lights intended to reveal one’s presence to other vessels.. Drake ordered, “you shall keep no light in any of the ships, but only the light in the binnacle, and this with the greatest care that it be not seen, excepting the admiral’s ship . . . .” (Maynarde 64). And even today, there are waters where small boat captains don’t switch on their mast lights (Liss 62).

On the other hand, in 1800, Thomas Cochrane in the brig sloop Speedy was able to evade a frigate at night by placing a lantern on a barrel and letting it float away (Wikipedia).


Lighting the Waters: Star Shells


Sometimes it is desirable to illuminate the surrounding waters at night, in order to spot navigational hazards or enemy craft.

The star shell (“light ball”) is fired by a mortar (high trajectory gun) and contains a small explosive charge and a time fuse. The charge in turn ignites the illuminating composition. Early compositions included mixtures of sulfur, saltpeter (potassium nitrate), and realgar (arsenic tetrasulfide), orpiment (arsenic trisulfide), or antimony (Griffiths 91)

Appier’s La Pyrotechnie (1630) gives a formula for “fire balls . . . so white that one can scarcely look at them without being dazzled,” that comprises saltpeter, orpiment, gum arabic, and, strangely enough, ground glass and brandy (Skylighter).

In its original form it was not very useful at sea as the “stars” would fall into the water, and be extinguished within a few seconds. And even in land warfare, the enemy could be expected to throw water or sand over it.

Edward Boxer (1819-1898) proposed modifying this shell to be composed of two hemispheres, one containing the illuminant (“stars”) and the other a calico parachute connected to the first by ropes or chains. The explosion of the charge not only ignites the illuminant, it separates the hemispheres, but only insofar as the connector permits. The parachute slows the descent of the illuminant (Ibid.). Boxer was probably unaware that there had been experimentation during the time of Louis XIV with rockets equipped with parachute flares (Faber 181). For that matter, Congreve had a rocket light ball with a parachute (Sterling 401).

I have documented use of magnesium flares in photography of the Comstock Lode mine (1868) and the Great Pyramid (1865). I wasn’t able to determine when magnesium, aluminum, or magnalium ribbons were first used in star shells, but the first reference I found was from just before World War I (US Army, 2-11). The parachutes were also minimized, so that six or eight parachute-illuminant combinations could be fit inside a single shell.


Lighting the Waters: Searchlights


Searchlights are essentially a military development of the spotlight—that is, they combine a highly luminous source, a light concentration system, and a pivotable and tiltable mount.

In the new time line, there isn’t yet a military need for a searchlight: engagements are mostly as short range (a few hundred yards) and during the daytime. Flint and Gannon, 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, chapter 48 is the first step toward changing that; the Resolve begins firing at a range of 1800 yards, and actually scores a hit after it closes to 1100 yards.

Still, the Resolve attacked in the daytime. The biggest reason for equipping naval warships, especially capital ships, with searchlights was the introduction of the motor torpedo boat, which could launch a night attack either stealthily or at high speed.

No foe of the USE has yet (1636) built powerboats or self-propelled torpedoes. But the USE navy did have to face a smoke-screened spar torpedo attack by Prince Ulrik’s galleys during the Baltic War in 1634. Moreover, the ironclads and timberclads are intended for riparian and coastal warfare, and they could encounter mines or massed rockets.

So there is an incentive to at least start thinking about military searchlights . . . . And conceivably small searchlights would be advantageous for nighttime civilian use, too: spotting navigational hazards, rescuing men from the water or a disabled craft, and signaling.

There is a strong kinship between ship searchlights and lighthouse lights. Of course, the latter can be much larger and heavier.


Light Sources. Electric searchlights, with light generated by a carbon arc, were used at the siege of Paris (1870-1). In a carbon arc, a strong electric current is made to flow across a short air gap between two carbon electrodes. The proof of concept was made by Davy in the early nineteenth century. Grantville literature provides some design guidance (EB11/Lighting, 659-66).

The arc can be started only by bringing them in contact with each other, but then the electrodes are slowly separated. Since the rods burn away you need a mechanism to maintain the arc gap. The stability of the arc is improved by putting a ballasting resistance in series with it (which increases the power requirement).

Direct current is preferred as it causes the anode to form a crater, which gives off most of the light. The intensity is greatest at a 30-45o angle from the anode axis, and this facilitates capturing the light with the reflector (Baird). High currents (130-300 amperes in 1917) are used in military searchlights so the source must be close by.

To provide the direct current, the carbon arc light would be powered by a dynamo (a type of generator). The first dynamo was built in 1832 but major industrial use (e.g., in carbon arc furnaces) didn’t come until after improved designs were patented in 1866-7. Electrical engineers in Grantville would know how to design a good dynamo.

In NTL, carbon arc lamps are in use in Grantville in October 1633; see Offord, “A Season of Change” (Grantville Gazette 50), and at Rasenmühle in April 1634, see Prem, “Ein Feste Burg, Episode 7” (Grantville Gazette 46),

The first carbon arc lamp emitted over 10,000 lumens (Banke), and I found an ad for a 60-inch WW II carbon arc searchlight that put out 525,000 lumens (candlepowerforums). Carbon arc lamps have low luminous efficacy (2-7 lumens/watt) and efficiency (0.3-1%). Hence, they generate a lot of heat; consideration must be given to providing proper ventilation.

Now, it is worth noting the power requirement for a searchlight-scale carbon arc lamp. The US Navy Model 24-G-20 24-inch searchlight used in WW II was operated at an arc current of 75-80 amperes and an arc voltage of 65 to 70 volts. However, the line voltage was 105-125 volts, so almost half the power was absorbed by the rheostat/ballast (General Electric). That corresponds to a power draw of 7875-10,000 watts. If we assume 80% efficiency in the generator and distribution system again, then we would need as much as 12,500 watts, and thus a steam engine of about 17 hp. That seems doable.

In fact, the Royal Anne, an airship built in Copenhagen and first flying in September 1636, has six steam engines (Evans, “No Ship for Tranquebar Part Two” Grantville Gazette 28), and I suspect that these steam engines correspond to those that Evans proposed for a medium-sized cargo airship in his “Wingless Wonders” (Grantville Gazette 19). Those engines were nine-cylinder, single-acting, “with 300 hp generated when running at full speed (2200 rpm, 400 psi).”


If electricity is unavailable, there is a chemical alternative. Limelights, invented by an ordnance survey officer in 1822, were first used theatrically in 1836. They relied on the reaction of oxygen and hydrogen gases with quicklime (calcium oxide). That reaction is potentially explosive, and the safest format is one in which the two gas jets meet at an angle where the lime cylinder is located (Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Photography 303).

Limelights were used by the Union Navy during its bombardment of Charleston in September, 1863 and to spot blockade runners in early 1865 (IATSE, KCWB, Navy 1). Drummond used the lime light (supposedly equivalent to “about 265 flames of an ordinary Argand lamp used with the best Sperm Whale oil”) in conjunction with a 21-inch parabolic reflector for geodetic purposes; the combination produced about 92,000 candlepower. While he urged its use in lighthouses, the American Lighthouse Board reported in 1868: “The Lime light required much labor, there was danger associated with the production of the gases used, it required expensive apparatus, and the liability of the lime to become deranged far outweighed any advantages in the way of superior illumination, which could be derived from it.” (USLS).

Some sort of chemical-based searchlight was still available for military use in the early twentieth century, but its useful range was something like one-eighth that of the 36-inch electric search light (Ordnance, 37).

The navy would likely rather use carbon arc searchlights, on both safety and performance grounds.


Light Concentration. Note that the “candlepower” (light intensity in the direction of the target) of a light increases if its light is more tightly focused, even though the total light output is constant. A searchlight may have millions of candlepower in its beam. Light may be concentrated by mirrors, lenses, or combinations of the two.

Reflectors. The earliest documented use of a polished metal reflector to concentrate candlelight was in 1532, at the lighthouse of Gollenberg. In 1669, Braun used a cast steel reflector with an oil lamp at the lighthouse of Landsort, Sweden (USLS). American Civil War searchlights used crude mirrors made of an unspecified metal that absorbed one-third to one-half of the incident light (Nerz 713).

Reflector shape. The ideal shape (figure) for a reflector is parabolic; if the light source is at the focal point, then all of the reflected rays will be parallel to the optical axis of the reflector. There were occasional experiments with spherical reflectors at lighthouses, since the spherical shape was easier to achieve. These proved to provide little concentration (USLHS).

For the techniques of grinding a mirror to a parabolic shape, see Cooper, “Seeing the Heavens” (Grantville Gazette 14),

Reflective Material. The ideal reflective material would be highly reflective across the visible light spectrum, easily formed into the parabolic shape, resistant to corrosion (tarnishing), easily cleaned and polished, low in density, and inexpensive. Most modern mirrors are composites—typically a metal coating on a glass or plastic substrate.

For metals, the reflectivities at 400 (blue) and 700 nm (red) are as follows: gold* (39%, 96%), copper* (51%, 95%), silver* (87%, 97%), aluminum (92%, 91%), iron* (48%, 54%), tungsten (46%, 52%), tin* (75%, 83%), chromium (69%, 64%), and rhodium (76%, 81%). Only the asterisked metals are known to European metalworkers at the eve of the RoF. Plainly, silver and aluminum are the best from a purely optical standpoint.

Silver of course is expensive and so there is some advantage to combining the high reflectivity of a silver coating with a lower-cost metal. A silvered copper parabolic reflector was fitted to the La Heve lighthouse in 1781 (Marriott 25). Robert Stevenson combined an Argand lamp with a silver-clad copper parabolic reflector and, installed at the Bell Rock lighthouse in 1811, it produced 2500 candlepower (USLHS).

Silver, however, is subject to tarnishing as a result of hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere (or in perspiration if the mirror surface is touched). The resulting silver sulfide is black. The tarnishing is more rapid if the air is humid.

Costs could be reduced further by use of speculum metal (45% tin, 55% copper). Its reflectivities are 63% at 0.45 and 75% at 0.65 (Tolansky). Unfortunately, it, too, tarnishes, and it is also somewhat brittle.

The first telescope with a parabolic mirror was built by Hadley in 1721. It was a six-inch diameter piece of speculum metal. The Royal Society praised his achievement, but expressed the hope that someone would either figure out how to keep the metal from tarnishing or how to make a silvered glass mirror (Pendergrast 161). This proved to be a difficult proposition, and speculum continued to be used well into the nineteenth century.

When a metal mirror needed to be cleaned it also had to be repolished and often refigured. The Rosse telescope (1845), the largest in the world until 1917, had two six-foot speculum mirrors, one would be in use while the other was being refigured (Pendergrast 176-80).


For those for whom cost was an issue, Fitzmaurice invented platinum-glazed porcelain reflectors. They cost one-quarter of the equivalent silvered metal reflector but were inferior in performance. They were used at Sunderland Lighthouse (1860).


Various methods of “silvering” glass were discussed in Cooper, “In Vitro Veritas: Glassmaking After The Ring Of Fire” (Grantville Gazette 5).

Down-time glass mirrors weren’t actually silvered; rather a tin-mercury amalgam was applied to the rear surface of the glass.  After 1732, James Short tried and failed to use this method to make a paraboloid mirror; he switched to speculum metal (Pendergrast 161). In 1788, Rogers made lighthouse reflectors of “silvered” glass, but they proved to be too fragile USLHS).

Advances in the arts of silvering glass and of grinding glass to paraboloidal shape made possible the silvered glass paraboloidal mirror.

In 1835, von Liebig discovered how to deposit pure silver on glass by chemically reducing (with sugar) a boiling silver nitrate solution. Drayton patented several cold processes in the 1840s but the mirrors so manufactured were unsatisfactory (e.g., developed brownish red spots after a few weeks—”measles!”) (Chattaway).

Liebig came to the rescue in 1856 with the first truly satisfactory method, which used caustic soda and ammonia to accelerate the reduction. In 1856, Steinheil used it to silver a four-inch diameter telescope mirror (King 262). Foucault likewise made a silvered glass receptor in 1857, but used one of Drayton’s silvering methods (Chattaway). There were further advances in the silvering art that came later (Common). One such was Cimeg’s (1861), with Rochelle salt as the reducing agent. EB11/Mirrors describes the Brashear method (1884) in great detail.

In 1858, Foucault devised the knife-edge test, which could be used to determine how much a glass surface departed from spherical. Hence, you could make an accurate paraboloid surface by an iterative hand grind-and-check process. The same year, he made a 40-centimeter silvered glass paraboloid telescope mirror. The method was perfected by Draper in the 1870s, who preferred the Cimeg silvering process (Lemaitre 20).

Nonetheless, governments contented themselves in the 1880s with inferior catadioptric reflectors of the Mangin type (see below) for military searchlights (Burstyn). In 1885, Schuckert “invented a machine that could accurately grind glass into a parabolic” curve (USLHS) and quickly put this to work in making searchlight mirrors. These Schuckert searchlights were used in 1887-8 in the Italian campaign in Ethiopia (Rey 97), and a Schuckert searchlight was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Schuckert mirrors of 30-inch diameter were used to make forty million-candlepower searchlights for the Heligoland lighthouse in 1902.

Articles in the electrical and military literature credit him with being the first to make “paraboloid glass mirrors with a sufficient degree of accuracy for searchlight work” (Murdock 359). Were they simply ignorant of the existence of telescope mirrors of that type? Or was the hand-grinding done by telescope makers prohibitively expensive for military and lighthouse use?

In 1909, the mirror alone for Lowell’s 42-inch reflector cost $10,800 ($209,200 is the 2001 equivalent) (Cameron 117); a Model-T Ford in 1910 cost $950 (135). (It is conceivable that the high price was necessitated by the degree of accuracy demanded for astronomical work, rather than the hand-grinding.)

What about tarnishing? On a telescope, the silvering must be applied to the front surface, to avoid ghost reflections from the glass. Hence, the silver is exposed to the atmosphere. It does tarnish, but it was discovered that the old coating could be removed and a new one applied without loss of the parabolic figure.

On a searchlight reflector, the silvering can be applied to the rear surface, where it is more protected from the atmosphere. However it will still deteriorate with time.

With large carbon arc searchlights, the heat generated may be such that one cannot use ordinary glass, but rather thermal shock-resistant borosilicate glass (Pyrex).


In NTL 1636, aluminum may be available, but only in experimental quantities. For the necessary raw materials and processes, see Cooper, “Aluminum: Will O’ the Wisp” (Grantville Gazette 8).

Aluminum is highly reflective and only a little denser than glass. Aluminum reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere, but the resulting aluminum oxide is clear and hard, protecting the aluminum from further attack. A mirror was first aluminized in 1932 and an aluminized glass reflector was first used in a telescope in 1935. Aluminization of glass requires a high vacuum, but the film is more durable (Yoder 62). Mirrors may also be made entirely of cast aluminum (264).

For the sake of completeness, I note that other metals have also been used as reflective coatings. Rhodium plating has been used for dental mirrors and chromium for the rear view mirrors in cars.


A continuing concern with silvered (or aluminized) glass searchlight mirrors was vulnerability to breakage—the enemy had a tendency to shoot at searchlights. Two types of coated metal mirrors were tested in World War I; one had its coating destroyed after a few hours exposure to the carbon arc, and the other was of inferior illuminating power to a silvered glass mirror (Baird 10-11).

In World War II, we had 60-inch, 800,000 candela carbon arc searchlights that used a rhodium-plated parabolic mirror (Wikipedia/Searchlight).



Segmented reflectors. Hutchinson built faceted reflectors in 1763-77. Some of his designs were tin plates soldered together, but the largest, twelve feet in diameter, was of wood with pieces of mirror glass (clear glass coated with a tin-silver amalgam) attached to approximate the parabolic shape. It was coupled to an oil lamp and reportedly could be seen ten miles away.

Another glass-faceted reflector was produced by Walker (18-inch parabolic reflector for the Old Hunstanton Lighthouse, 1776). The facets were set in a parabolic plaster shell in a metal frame. Reportedly, its beam of 1000 candlepower was two-thirds the intensity of a one-piece parabolic reflector of the same diameter. Thomas Smith similarly built an 18-inch parabolic reflector with 350 pieces of mirror glass. Used with a lamp having four rope wicks, the combination produced 1000 candlepower at the Kinnaird Head lighthouse in 1787.

A modern twist on this old idea would be to use spin-casting to create the shell. In essence, when a liquid is spun, its surface takes on a concave paraboloid shape because of the combination of the gravitational and centripetal forces acting upon it. All we need, then, is a substance that will harden into that shape. Appleyard reports that both gelatin and melted wax work. De Paula used plaster. The resulting figures are adequate for solar heating, and hence also for searchlights.

Spin-casting can be used in place of grinding to create glass paraboloid mirror blanks for telescopes, but you need a rotating furnace, and the molten glass must be cooled slowly (over several months). For telescope use, there is further milling and polishing to make the surface as accurate as possible (Mirror Lab). We don’t need this!



Lens. Big telescopes use mirrors rather than lenses of the same diameter because the latter are much more expensive. However, Fresnel invented a lens composed of separate concentric annular sections, whose surfaces approximate that of a simple lens of the same focal length. Since it is only using the part of the glass that contributes to the proper refraction of the light, it is much lighter and less costly than a simple lens.

The more sections there are, the less degradation in performance relative to a one-piece lens, but the greater the cost. The sections may have curved (better concentration) or flat (cheaper) surfaces. A Fresnel lens was first used in a light house in 1823 (Wikipedia/Fresnel Lens). The largest (“hyper-radial”) had a height of 148 inches and weighed 18,485 pounds. For a ship’s searchlight we would probably use one of “third order” (62 inch height, 1984 pounds) or smaller (USLHS).



Mirror-Lens Combinations. Robert Stevenson invented (1849) the holophotal reflector. This combined a central spherical reflector, a peripheral parabolic reflector and a Fresnel lens, and the point was to capture essentially all of the light from the source (USLHS).

Mangin reflectors were invented in 1876 for use with the carbon arc (Navy 1). This was a lens having two concave surfaces of different radii, the front surface having the shorter radius, and the back surface having a reflective coating (thus constituting a spherical mirror). The radii were chosen so the spherical aberration produced by the lens was exactly opposite to that produced by the reflective coating.

The Mangin reflector had the disadvantage that it had a longer focal length and therefore a smaller effective angle than a parabolic mirror of the same diameter; if the diameter were 60 centimeters, the angles would be 83o and 123o respectively, and as a result the parabolic reflector would gather 2.11 times as much light (Nerz 715) .



Weight. Can a NTL 1630s ship accommodate the weight of a searchlight and its power source? Insofar as the steam engine (including boiler) is concerned, I discussed the issue a bit in “Airship Propulsion: Part Three: Steaming Along” (Grantville Gazette 43). The big uncertainty is the weight of the condenser. For use on shipboard, bringing down the weight of the condenser is less critical, so let’s just say six pounds per horsepower—that’s 102 pounds for the 17 hp steam engine postulated above.

I don’t have figures for the weight of a 24-inch searchlight, but for a sixty-inch one (delivering 800 million candlepower!), with the six-cylinder gasoline engine, 16.7 kW generator, carbon arc, metal mirror, protective glass, and aiming apparatus all mounted on a small four-wheeled trailer, the combined weight was six thousand pounds. (Fort Macarthur). That may seem like a lot, but it was not unusual for a mid-nineteenth century naval gun to weigh 150-200 times the weight of its shot (Ward 30), which would make the 60-inch searchlight equivalent to a 30- to 40-pounder. (And in the late seventeenth century guns were heavier, 175-250 times shot weight (Glete 516).) If weight scales with beam area, then the 24-inch would weigh only 1,000 pounds, and a 12-incher would weigh 250 pounds.


Nighttime Light Signals


A ship might need to communicate with a friendly ship or with the shore. Daytime signaling with mirrors or smoke is ancient, but those aren’t useful at night. Until radio communications become readily available, light signals may be useful. Bear in mind that light communications may be more difficult to intercept than radio ones once the enemy has radio receivers.

It is worth noting that it takes “5 to 20 times as much light to distinguish the color of a light than to simply distinguish” its presence or absence (Lewis 34).


Pyrotechnics may be handheld (like sparklers), attached to a scaffolding, or fired into the air by rockets, mortars, or signal pistols. The last of these was found to be particularly convenient. Pyrotechnics provide an intense but brief illumination.

The first firework colors were ambers and off-whites (Plimpton 161), and it is possible that those were the only ones available in 1630s Europe  Babington’s Pyrotechnia (1635), chapter VIII claims to be able to make “stars” of “a blue color with red”, but the ingredient list is suspect: saltpeter, sulfur vive, aqua vitae, and oyl of spike. More plausibly, Wright’s Notes on Gunnery (1563) and Appier-Hanzelet’s La Pyrotechnie (1630) proposed adding verdigris (copper sulfate) to obtain green, but this green was deemed unsatisfactory by later pyrotechnicians (Werrett 160-2, 230, 281 n. 117).

My expectation is that shortly after the Ring of Fire there would have been research in Grantville as to how to attain red and blue (for the Fourth of July, of course!).

For red, one may use calcium, from the calcium carbonate of chalk, eggshells, or seashells. But this would be rather orange-y, and would be replaced as soon as possible with strontium salts. Strontianite was available from lead mines in Braunsdorf near Freiburg in Saxony, and from the marls of Munster and Hamm in Westphalia (EB11/Strontianite).

Blue could come from copper salts, several of which had long been known to the alchemists. The “resin of copper,” copper chloride, was first synthesized in the old timeline by Robert Boyle in 1664; it was easy enough to make from copper and corrosive sublimate, as Boyle had demonstrated, or by other methods.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the preferred green was from barium salt. Barite (barium sulfate) can be found in mines in the Black Forest and in Saxony and is reasonably likely to show up in a “canned” mineral collection sold to the high school for use in geology classes.

All of these colorants are disclosed in EB11/Fireworks.


Pyrotechnic signal codes. A two-color pyrotechnic signal system was conceived by Benjamin Coston in the 1840s, and a three-color one was developed and patented in his name (USP 23,356, 1859) by his widow, Martha Coston. According to this patent, the numerals 0 to 9 were represented by red, white and blue flares, either individually (for “1” to “3”) or a sequence of two (e.g., white then red for “4”) or three different colors (white then red then blue for “9”). The signals were fired from a signal gun. There were three different sizes of paper boxes that could be set off (either by hand percussion or by the percussion cap of a signal pistol), the larger sizes contained two or three different pyrotechnic compositions that would be burnt through in succession, corresponding to the key for that numeral. This was intended of course for use with a signal code book in which words or phrases were represented by numerical codes.

It was not possible to achieve a bright blue, and in American Civil War implementation, green was used instead. Short white, red and green represented 1-3; long red, 4; long green, 5; white-red, 6 green-red, 7; white-green, 8; red-green, 9; and green-red-white, 0. There was also a “P” (white-red-white) meaning “preparing to send a signal” and an “A” (red-white-red) to acknowledge the preparatory signal.

In 1878, the US Navy began using the Very code, which used a pattern of four bursts, each of which could be red or green, to encode numbers. Despite being a binary code, it did not correspond to Morse code in its original implementation (Wrixon 430).


Signal lamps. In 1617, Raleigh used a fire signal aboard his flagship to send commands to the other ships in his squadron. Given the general availability of lanterns on ships, I would imagine that he was not the only naval commander to do this (Wrixon 417).

A kerosene lamp with a focusing lens (Begbie lamp) came into use in the 1880s and was used until World War I (QSCVC). Subsequently, signal lamps were of the handheld incandescent (Aldis) or pedestal-mounted carbon arc type. Of course, signal lamps would require less power than searchlights of the same effective range.

In the NTL Baltic War, all of Simpson ships had signal searchlights converted from mining truck headlamps (Flint, 1634: The Baltic War, chapter 37).

It may be of interest to note that over the horizon communication is possible if there are cloud bases that can be illuminated.

Also, passing into the weird tech department, it is possible to transmit speech rather than Morse code at short ranges, with the appropriate receiver. Photophony was demonstrated by Simon in 1901 over a 0.72 mile distance using a Schuckert 90-centimeter searchlight as the transmitter and a 30-inch parabolic mirror with a selenium cell at the focal point as the receiver. The major limitation on photophony range was the combination of the divergence of the beam and the intensity of the light source. With a three degree divergence, a 30-centimeter beam would spread out to 150 meters at a range of three kilometers, and the intensity is reduced to four-millionths of the source (Burns 202-4).

Selenium is available according to canon; in October 1633, a radio with a selenium photo-resistor amplifier is being installed in a village, see Huff and Goodlett, “Credit Where It’s Due” (Grantville Gazette 36). Selenium is usually obtained as a byproduct of refining copper, being associated with copper sulfide ores (chalcocite, chalcopyrite). There is reference to electrorefining in Carroll and Wild, “The Undergraduate, Episode Two” (Grantville Gazette 50).


Signal lamp codes. In 1616, Franz Kessler proposed a binary code for use with a shuttered lantern for encoding letters of the alphabet and thereby sending messages (Ibid.). In 1862-3, Colomb used the combination of limelight and a shutter to send signals by Morse code (Sterling 209).

An alternative approach, used by Preble in 1803, relied on the spatial arrangement of three or four lanterns to encode numbers and a few special signals (Wrixon 419).

Colored light systems were proposed, too. In the 1850s, Ward proposed signals using combinations of red, white and no light (422). The Berg system used red, white, and green.

In 1891, the US Navy adopted the Ardois system. It used a cluster of four double lamps read top to bottom or sender’s right to left; within the pair, the upper light was red (Morse dot) and the lower light white (Morse dash); the light sources were 32-watt incandescents (424).


Combination Signals. The Royal Navy’s Night Signal Book for the Ships of War (1799) used a combination of lanterns, rockets, and “blank” cannon fires to encode numbers, which in turn had meanings specified in the code book (Wrixon 418).

Sometimes the Coston flares were combined with rockets. For example, the force blockading Charleston in 1864 used a rocket followed by Coston No. 0 for “blockade runner going out.”

Combinations signals were made easier to interpret by Greene, who advocated timing the intervals between signals, making it easier to figure out when one signal sequence ended and the next began.



Warships with sufficient electric power are likely to get equipped with a carbon arc searchlight. While it should be possible to prepare a silvered glass mirror by the Liebig process, my guess is that the first NTL searchlight mirrors will not be one-piece mirrors, but rather faceted mirrors in order to improve durability.

I would also expect them to use star shells, Until magnesium is available, these will probably use down-time “white star” compositions. However, I expect that some inventor will figure out how to add the parachute.

Fiat lux!