Letters From Gronow, Episode 2

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From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


19 November 1634






1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs


1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig


Have not written in journal other than noting expenses since Wednesday afternoon.


No dreams last night.  No dreams since Tuesday night.


Forced myself to go to church today.  Didn't want to go.  Haven't wanted to get out of bed since Wednesday.  Haven't wanted to do anything since Wednesday.  The message from Herr Gronow crushed me.  I had so hoped that I would see my story in Der Schwarze Kater, and it left me broken when it was rejected.


Herr Schiller noticed it, and asked me what was wrong.  All I could do was shake my head.


Even Martin could tell something was amiss, and found the courage or the charity to ask what was wrong and if he could do anything.  Again, all I could do was shake my head.


Thursday.  Friday.  Saturday.  Broken inside.  Avoided Syborg's Books.  Came home.  Ate bites of bread that were dry as dust and bitter as wormwood.  Sat in the dark until sleep overcame me.  Offered meaningless prayers.


Today, didn't want to go to church.  Pulled the blanket over my head and resisted getting up so strongly, but a voice in the back of my mind—my conscience, my guardian angel, my patron saint, who knows—told me that it was when I least want to assemble with the body as St. Paul instructed that I most need to.  I could not argue with that, and so, slowly, reluctantly, I forced myself to arise, and wash, and don my best clothing.


At church the music seemed dreary, and I did not sing.  The reading was meaningless to me, and I did not listen.  Then came the homily, from old Pastor Gruber who sometimes fills the pulpit at St. Jacob's.  The leaders really need to appoint a new pastor for us.  I know the church is small and poor, but we need a regular pastor as much as the other churches do.


Pastor Gruber talked about making our lives a pleasing offering to the Lord.  He talked about how craftsmen and artists and musicians spend years learning and practicing and honing their crafts and arts and skills so they could make things of beauty.  He even talked about a famous musician from the future of Grantville, one of the greatest musicians ever, who wrote "Soli Deo Gloria"—For the Glory of God Alone—on the manuscripts of his greatest works.  He ended by quoting a verse from Ecclesiastes.  He said, "Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with all thy might."


It was like I woke up.  It was like Herr Schiller slapped the back of my head and said, "Pay attention!"  After that moment, I could only think of that verse, even after church as I was eating my lunch.


When I got home, I read through Ecclesiastes in my Bible until I found the verse in chapter 9, and it said exactly what Pastor Gruber had said.


Thought about that the rest of the day, even as I read a few more pages from The City of God, and as I ate supper.


Decided that I was a writer—that I am a writer—and if it takes me years to learn my art, so be it.  Herr Gronow will be my judge, but always Soli Deo Gloria.


Recited evening prayers.  And now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


20 November 1634




2 barley rolls 1 pfennig

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


1 wurst 1 pfennig

2 mugs beer 1 pfennig


Vague recollections of dreams, but obviously nothing strong if can't recall them.


Felt better at work.  Caught Herr Schiller looking at me with his eyebrows raised.  When I grinned at him, he nodded and returned to his work.


Reviewed last week's work.  Only found one error on one of Martin's pages.  None on mine, which I don't understand how that is.  I was so lost after Wednesday.  Deo gratias, nonetheless.  Herr Schiller must be in a good mood, because when I showed him the error, he didn't shout at Martin or beat him with the ferrule, he just told him to copy the page over.


At the end of the day, told Herr Schiller that I wanted to take today's pay in candle stubs and quill feathers—left wing ones, because they're cheaper.  He didn't quite frown, but asked me why.  Told him I'm going to be a writer, and I need to practice my writing so that the editor will take my work.  At that, his eyebrows went up again, but he just said, "St. Paul guide your hand, then," and let me pick my own quills.


Tonight I took Herr Gronow's letter and practiced writing some of the words from it.  This may take longer than I thought it would.  Endure.  Persevere.  Perfect.


Recited evening prayers.  And now to bed.




From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


21 November 1634




1 barley roll (old) 1 quartered pfennig


1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 cup small beer 1 quartered pfennig


Dreams last night were strange.


Posted Master Gröning's cash entries today.  Looked odd.  Not very many entries, but one of them was large.


Otherwise did what Herr Schiller told me to do.


Did ask Herr Schiller if I could help with the writing that has to be done.  He gave me a funny look.  Told him it had been so long since I had written regularly, that I was afraid I was going to forget how.  He laughed, then said that the hand I had learned in school was probably different than what was used by the factors and merchants and masters like Master Gröning.  I said I would try.  He gave me an old letter and some scrap paper.  Wasn't so different from what I saw in school or what Herr Gronow's letter looked like.  Spent the rest of the day at copying parts of the old letter, showed the best of it to Herr Schiller, he nodded and said I might be useful at that.


Went home.  Re-read part of the new volume of Der Schwarze Kater, looked at the last page where it says how to send stories to Herr Gronow.  Looked different.  Got out the first volume, compared the two pages.  It is different.  And now I know why Herr Gronow did not send my story back to me.


Took a deep breath.  Recited evening prayers.  Now to bed.




From Der Schwarze Kater, Volume 2


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From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich


22 November 1634

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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.