Letters From Gronow, Episode 1

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Magdeburg

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

16 October 1634

Monday

Breakfast/lunch–

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig

Supper–

1 wurst 1 pfennig

2 mugs beer 1 pfennig

Did the cash entries in Master Gröning's accounts today, then reviewed Saturday's entries. Found two errors in Thomas's work and took them to Herr Schiller. He boxed Thomas's ears, then made him recopy the entire page, watching over his shoulder the entire time. Later Thomas tried to stab me with his pen, but the quill nib barely scratched me before the quill broke. Herr Schiller gave him his hand for that as well, and would not give him a good right wing quill to replace it but forced him to take one of the left wing quills. Serves him right.

After work and before supper I slipped into Syborg's Book Store to dream. There on the table with the oldest hardest-used books was one I hadn't seen before, larger than the others, but thinner, wrapped in heavy paper rather than boards or leather. My hands were cleaner than usual, so I picked it up.

LfG1cskThe cover was a block print of a great black cat, and I almost dropped it, but the title was Der Schwarze Kater – Eine Zeitschrift. I opened the cover to discover that this book contained several poems and prose stories. I turned the page, and began reading a work called The Cask of Amontillado.

Nine pages later, I closed the book, wide-eyed. This story had gripped me as nothing had before. I must have this book.

Evening prayers recited, so now to bed.

****

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

17 October 1634

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

Supper–

1 barley roll (old) 1 quartered pfennig

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig

Dreams last night were strange.

Checked incoming bills of lading against contracts all day, found one error. Gave to Herr Schiller. He double-checked, and gave me a pfennig as a reward along with today's pay.

Thomas looked hungover. Tried to stay out of his way.

After work, ran to Syborg's Book Store. Der Schwarze Kater was still there. I pulled it out and laid it flat atop the other books on the table and looked around. The Herren Syborg Elder and Younger were not present, but Georg their clerk was, and he came to the table when he saw my lifted hand. When I asked him how much for the book, he picked it up and looked around. "Herr Matthias took this on as a trial, and they sold very quickly. People want more, except for the old woman who brought this one back claiming it was filled with demonic filth and we should be ashamed of selling it in the same shop with Augustine and Melanchthon and Calvin. Herr Johann told me to get whatever I can for it since the old lady tore some of the pages. So, what can you do?"

I took two pfennigs out of my pocket and held them out to him. He shook his head. I added another pfennig. He shook his head. I added the last coin in my pocket, a quartered pfennig. He shook his head, but this time with a smile and held his hand out. I poured the coins into his hand, picked up the book and hurried back to my room.

Began the next story, The Dunwich Horror. Sadly, have not finished but cannot keep eyes open. Besides, candle is guttering.

Stumbled through prayers. Bed.

****

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

18 October 1634

Wednesday

Supper–

1 barley roll (very old) 1 quartered pfennig

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

Dreams last night were very strange.

Spent most of the day drawing columns on pages for Herr Schiller. Hate that. Wish Master Gröning would buy the new-fangled preprinted forms the up-timers made so useful. Old miser.

Thomas hungover again today. Wasn't in a mood to deal with him today, so when he snarled at me I told him to leave me alone or I'd kick him in the stomach. He wrapped his arms around his middle and groaned. Never seen anybody turn green before. Almost laughed.

Took today's pay in candle stubs. Herr Schiller looked surprised, but said nothing.

Finished The Dunwich Horror tonight. Think I finally understand what the up-time word wow means.

Evening prayers recited—twice. Now to bed.

****

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

21 October 1634

Saturday

Breakfast/lunch–

2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 wurst 1 pfennig

Woke up several times last night from dreams.

Finished Der Schwarze Kater tonight. Started over at beginning.

On last page of book, Herr Johann Gronow, the editor—whatever that is—says that Der Schwarze Kater is looking for people to write stories.

I know what I want to do now.

What's an editor? Must find out.

Recited evening prayers—three times. Now to bed.

****

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

22 October 1634

Sunday

Breakfast–

fasted

Lunch–

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


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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.