Letters From Gronow, Episode 3

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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–


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About David Carrico

David 2013-03-03 small

David 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 has 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, which was nominated for the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Military SF or Fantasy novel. David is currently working on a solo project.