Letters From Gronow, Episode 3

Magdeburg

 

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

14 January 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

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

 

Monday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

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

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

2 wheat rolls 5 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig

Supper–

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.

 

Tired.

 

Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.

 

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

20 January 1635

 

Saturday

Breakfast–

2 barley rolls 4 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Monday

Breakfast–

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

2 sausage 4 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs

Supper–

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

 

Wednesday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

Thursday

Breakfast–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

Saturday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Monday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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.

 

Angry.

 

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

 

Monday

Breakfast/lunch–

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig

Supper–

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.

 

Tired.

 

Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

 

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

13 March 1635

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

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

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 2 quartered pfennigs

2 wheat rolls 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

Saturday

Breakfast–

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

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

 

About David Carrico

David 2013-03-03 smallDavid Carrico made his first professional SF sale to The Grantville Gazette e-magazine in 2004. His stories have also appeared in the Grantville Gazette and Ring of Fire anthologies from Baen Books and in Jim Baen’s Universe e-magazine. Baen Books have published a story collection by David entitled 1635: Music and Murder, and two novels written in collaboration with Eric Flint: 1636: The Devil’s Opera and The Span of Empire. David is currently working on a solo project.

2 thoughts on “Letters From Gronow, Episode 3

  1. leegibson

    I liked the evolution and development of all the characters, even the new ones like Max and grossmuter Schultz. This creator does a better job of it than Lovecraft, imho.

    Is Eeeough in the 2 February paragraph an exclamation, or a typo for enough? And if the former, do we pronounce the -ough like through,though, thought trough, tough, or bough?
    Lee Gibson

    1. David Carrico

      Exclamation, and none of the above.

      Eee-ug with an extra exhalation after the hard g sound.

      Kinda sorta like yuck only with a g sound instead of a k sound.

      🙂

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