Letters From Gronow, Episode 4

Magdeburg

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

25 March 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreamt last night, but nothing that I remember. Just enough to remember I dreamt.
Attended church today. Music was surprisingly good. Sang with a will. Reading and homily were about like usual.

Must be getting used to rejection. Herr Gronow’s letter not a great surprise, not a blow. Disappointing, but not crushing. Pinned it up on the wall next to the others. So, will learn from it. Still determined to see my story in Der Schwarze Kater.

Read four pages from The City of God. St. Augustine uses—used—words well. Plus, my Latin is getting better. I need to learn from him as well as from Martin Luther. Was hoping to see Johann today, because he is supposed to have been back from Jena by now, but no word of his return yet, so spent the evening alone.

I am a writer. From what Herr Gronow says, I am not very good yet, but I will learn. Wonder if Herr Poe and Herr Lovecraft had their stories rejected? Surely not. If they did, wonder how long it took them to sell? How many words did they write?

Will sell something to Herr Gronow someday.

Recited evening prayers. And now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

28 March 1635

 

Wednesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreams, dark at first. Reminded me of The Ore of the Gods story from Der Schwarze Kater, Issue Three. By Augustus von Hohenberg, I think. Another down-timer writer. Story wasn’t bad, but was set in a mine, dark underground. Shivery. Dream woke me at least twice. Then it shifted and Max appeared. Slept easy after that. May be something to this guardian angel thing after all.

Was doing cash entries today, something looked wrong. Entry was linked to a contract, but did not look right. Pulled contract from shelf behind me, read through to the part about payments. Note for payment did not agree with contract terms. Showed to Herr Schiller. He agreed, said he would show to Master Gröning. Gave me an extra two dollars at the end of the day.

Stopped by Syborg’s Books on the way back to the rooms. Herr Matthias was there. Asked about the next issue of Der Schwarze Kater. He grinned, told me first part of next month. So, need to save the money for it. Really want to read it now.

Think I have an idea on how to change the story to make it work better. Will not try any more stuff to make it fancy. Should have realized that would not impress Herr Gronow. Stupid idea. Make the story good. Make the copy good. Nothing else matters.

Read The Gold of the Rhine from Issue One again. Another down-timer writer, Herr Klaus Wolfenstein. Meh. Not very scary. Dwarves were more like comedians than evilness. Made notes about making characters.

Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

30 March 1635

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreams last night. Didn’t wake up. Only thing I remember is Max telling me I’m a good writer and he enjoys being my guardian angel. Dream ended before I said anything, I think.

Herr Schiller had me reviewing the Hamburg contract, the one I found the problem with a couple of days ago, and looking back through the earlier cash entries to see if there were any other problems. Didn’t find any today, but not done yet. Master Gröning not happy about the problem, Herr S says, but is happy that I found it. Guess that’s good.

Continued work on new version of the story. Is working so far. Considering new title—Portia in Tauris. Lines up with old play someone told me about. We’ll see if Herr Gronow likes this one. Long way to go before he sees it.

Weary.

Recited evening prayers. Twice, because fell asleep the first time. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

1 April 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Lord’s Day, Lord’s work.

Began the day with church. Music was good again. Two Sundays in a row. Unusual, but enjoyable. Sang with a will. Reading was good, Pastor Gruber did the homily. He spoke on the young boy who gave the loaves and fish to the Savior for the feeding of the five thousand. Everyone talks about the miracle of the feeding, but what about the miracle of the boy being right there, right then, with just that much food, and being willing to give up all that he had? From the smaller miracle came the larger one. Small things come first. No one does great things without doing small things first, not even the saints. Must think on that. Think that’s true about lots of things.

Still haven’t heard from or about Cousin Johann. Though he was supposed to be back from Jena by now. Starting to get worried.

Five pages read from The City of God. Beginning to love St. Augustine’s words. Not sure I understand them all, but the way they flow, the way he can say such grand things, makes a chill run up my backbone sometimes.

Spent some time reading in Kings in the Bible, finished the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal. Glad that he won. Think I’m glad he killed them. Had to be a bloody mess, though. But it wasn’t enough. Elijah wasn’t the king’s favorite then. Should have been. Should have won the fight with that. But didn’t. Had to run for his life. So sometimes the story doesn’t end up the way that people think it should. Sometimes the story is dark, or hard. How do I apply that to my life? How do I apply that to my writing? Think about that, too.

Oh, no dreams last night.

Recited evening prayers. Three times. Needed that many to be calm for some reason. So now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

3 April 1635

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreamt I was sitting at the Green Horse and Herr Poe was sitting across from me and we were talking about writing. Wish I could remember what we said. I’d write it down.

Finished reviewing cash entries at work that tied to the Hamburg contract. Found a couple of other entries that didn’t look right to me. Showed them to Herr Schiller. Could tell he wasn’t happy that I’d found them, but he said he’d show them to Master Gröning. Gave me an extra dollar at the end of the day.

Stopped at Syborg’s Books. Herr Johann was there. Asked him about the next issue of Der Schwarze Kater. He said maybe in a month it will be in their store. Showed him my extra dollar from today, told him I had my money ready. He laughed and promised I would have a copy.

Worked on Portia in Tauris tonight. New opening is done. Think it works better at getting reader’s attention. Think I know where the story is going next. Will work on that tomorrow evening. Must remember to get some more candle stubs.

Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

6 April 1635

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreamt I was listening to Herr Lovecraft and Herr Poe talking. Some about life, some about writing, remember that much. Really wish I could remember everything they said. Stupid dreams. What good are they if you can’t remember anything from them?

Herr Schiller told me today that Master Gröning was very pleased that I had found the other problems with the Hamburg contract. Proves that the bastards in Hamburg, as the master put it, have been cheating for some time. He was ready to sue for breach of contract before, but his regular lawyer died, and he wasn’t happy with any of the regular lawyers in Magdeburg. But there is a new lawyer who has opened offices in the city now, and the master is impressed with him, so they will probably act on this.

Hope the master wins, and hope it doesn’t affect me.
More work on Portia in Tauris tonight. Seems to be going well—but then, I thought that about the first three versions of the story. Only time and Herr Gronow will tell.
Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

9 April 1635

 

Monday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Raining today. Cold rain. Dislike being wet, dislike being cold, really dislike being both wet and cold. Took a longer way to work so I could stay on the graveled streets rather than deal with the mud. Heard the city was going to gravel the rest of the streets before too long. Hope so. Really don’t like the mud, but seems like cobble stoning it all would be expensive. The up-time finished roads are nice, but I heard they weren’t cheap either.

Herr Schiller made us clean and sweep this morning, because Master Gröning and his new lawyer were going to come by later. Since we got the contracts organized, lot easier to dust and clean and sweep. Good thing, because they arrived just a few minutes after we got done. Martin was putting the broom in the closet when they stepped through the door.

Was surprised. Expected lawyer to be big imposing serious man. Short, not much taller than me, very lean. Dark eyes, hair almost black, no beard. Wouldn’t want to be facing him if he was angry, but he was laughing when they came in the door and smiled a lot during the conversations.

Herr Wulff, the lawyer, wanted to talk to me about how I found the problem. Showed him the first cash entry I saw, showed him what looked funny about it, then showed him the contract and the part of it that the cash entry seemed to not match. He looked back and forth between them, then took the contract file and read through the entire thing. He read fast—a lot faster than I do. Then he went back to the part I had pointed to and read it again.

When Herr Wulff got done, he put the file down. He had a serious expression on his face and gave me a nod. He told Master Gröning that I was right and that there were grounds to sue the Hamburg partners. Then he looked at me and wanted to know who had trained me to read contracts. I said Herr Schiller had told me some things, and the rest I had figured out for myself. He looked very surprised at that and told Master G and Herr S that I was really good and they should take care of me.

They left not long after that. Herr S didn’t say anything, but he gave me ten extra dollars at the end of the day, plus told me to take as many of the candle stubs as I needed.

So, long day. Stopped at Syborg’s Books on the way home. Herr Matthias told me before I could ask that it would be another few weeks before they would get the next issue of Der Schwarze Kater. Getting really anxious again.

Worked on Portia in Tauris a little. Slow going, as I am rethinking everything before I put it down again. Lots of stuff being changed. Different story now—very different.
Recited evening prayers. Twice. So now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

12 April 1635

 

Thursday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Had a dream that Herr Gronow was chastising Herren Poe and Lovecraft for not being better writers, not writing more and better stories. Couldn’t see his face, but knew it was him because he talked about Der Schwarze Kater. He was pretty rude, too. If he’s like that really, not sure I want to know him.

Spent today like yesterday, teaching Martin how to do the checking of the entries to make sure they were done right. He had a lot of trouble yesterday, but today, after the first couple, he caught on and was able to see what I was telling him and figure out what the error had to be. Smart kid. Looks healthier, too. Filling out a little. Doesn’t look like a walking skeleton now.

Raining again when work was over. Not good. Not heavy rain—not much more than a mist, but wet and cold, with a bit of east wind blowing.
Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

15 April 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Lord’s Day, Lord’s work.

Church was good. Music wasn’t as good as last week, but better than usual. Sang with a will. Reading was okay—up-time word, I know. Not sure what it really means, but it seems to be used as the same as all right or satisfactory. Okay is shorter, faster to say. Lots of people using it now. Anyway, homily wasn’t as good as Pastor Gruber’s last week, but have heard worse, and recently.

Read several pages from The City of God. Read the story from Kings about the young men mocking Elisha and the bears coming and ripping them apart. Seemed harsh. But on the other hand, if you are faced with someone who is very close to God, it may not be wise to mock him. Even if the man doesn’t take offense, God might. There’s a reason why Jesus taught the Golden Rule, after all.

Was very surprised when Johann appeared at my door late in the afternoon. Immediately went to The Green Horse. Had food, some beer, talked and talked about all sorts of things, but mostly his travels and my readings. Turns out he was traveling with a wealthy companion in a great circuit around the important cities. They even went to Vienna. His friend was talking to many of the renowned teachers, and wanted someone to travel with him, so Johann went.

He was surprised at how far I have come in reading St. Augustine and in the sense I make of it. He said there are doctors teaching who have no better understanding than I do. Then he grinned and said there were a couple he could think of who didn’t know as much. Unsettling thought. If a man doesn’t know more than I do, why would anyone want to pay him to teach? Especially in the Grantville era. Doesn’t make much sense.

Came home, lit a few candle stubs and wrote on Portia in Tauris. Didn’t get many words down, but think I have the path for the story clearer. Hope to write more tomorrow.

Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

17 April 1635

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Very bad news at the office today. Herr Schiller told us that Thomas is coming back. He didn’t look very happy.

I asked why. He said that Thomas is some sort of cousin to a merchant that Master Gröning wants to do business with, but the man won’t talk to him or make deals with him unless he hires Thomas back.

Told Herr Schiller that we’ll all be sorry if they bring Thomas back. He sighed, and said it was the master’s order, and that was that. Got the feeling he’d already argued with Master G about it. Just shook my head, and went back to copying the new agreement that had arrived.

After work, walked with Martin to his rooming house. Told him about Thomas, told him to keep close watch on his things and not to let Thomas bully him. Suggested he mark his things some way. Told him to double check his work and then have me review it.

Nothing good will come of this.

Was so upset tonight couldn’t write. Didn’t read Der Schwarze Kater issues again. Tried to read The City of God, couldn’t focus on that. Finally was able to read in the Bible, Psalms for the most part.

Recited evening prayers twice, then a third time. Tired, but not sure I can sleep.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

18 April 1635

 

Wednesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreams. So many dreams last night, shifting from one to another almost like skipping pages in a book. Tossed and turned all night, never rested. Max didn’t appear. Not sure what to think about that.

Made sure my clothes were clean and neat this morning. Wasn’t going to face Thomas not at my best. Surprised me. He was there waiting on us when we got there this morning. Clean. Sober. More polite than usual. Did what Herr Schiller told him to do. Appeared to do it right. But saw him looking around from time to time with odd little smile on his face. Nothing wrong. Still nervous about this. Really not a good idea. But it’s Master Gröning’s business, so he makes decisions. Just hope none of us have to regret this one.

Wrote in Portia in Tauris tonight. Got much done. Made breakthrough, I think, in moving story forward. Was still on edge from work, poured that into the writing. Pushed me, I think. Anyway, got more done tonight than in any three nights up until now. Felt good. Story feels good. I’m more relaxed, too.

Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

20 April 1635

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Calm night last night. No dreams I remembered upon waking, other than faint feeling Max had been around. Better rested than I have been for a week, I think. Glad.

Thomas was still behaving today. Still seems to be just coming to work and doing his job. Saw a look cross his face after Herr Schiller corrected one of his entries this afternoon and made him do it over. T wasn’t happy, and his face showed it for a moment, but he waited until Herr S had turned away before he let it show. When he saw me looking, he turned away.

Still nervous about this.

Lots of writing tonight, just like yesterday and day before. New version of story has started flowing after working through difficult changes. Like the direction it’s going. Can’t let myself like it too much. Need to keep focused on telling story. Doesn’t matter if I like it. Only person who counts is Herr Gronow.

Tired, but good tired.

Recited evening prayers, and now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

22 April 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Lord’s Day, Lord’s work.

Rained hard this morning. Church was miserable. Cold and dank. Not many people there. Music was thin and limp. Sang anyway. Reading was long, reader was dull. Managed to stay awake. Pastor Gruber did homily. Was surprised to see him, but glad. Taught on Elijah’s drought, how it didn’t rain for over three years, but Elijah remained faithful and prayed, and how when the king finally submitted to God, the rains came. Had to bite lip to keep from laughing as gust of harder rain beat on church roof right then. Pastor related it to how sometimes our lives are dry and seemingly barren, but if we remain faithful and pray and keep doing what we know we’re supposed to do, God will send the rains of life to come and bless us and fill our heart cisterns full again. Need to think about that. Think I understand it, but want to make sure.

Johann left Magdeburg with his friend on Wednesday, headed for Hamburg. Not sure when he’ll be back. So spent the afternoon reading more of The City of God. Latin is improving. Guess practice is useful. St. Augustine is becoming interesting. Or I’m learning to see more in him. Guess both could be true.

Spent the evening writing. Portia in Tauris is nearing completion, I think. Glad. But then I need to write the good copy for Herr Gronow. Not glad. But necessary. Ready for Herr Gronow to see this. No tricks. No fancies. Just trying to tell the story.

Tired at the end of the day.

Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

24 April 1635

 

Tuesday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Had a dream with Max last night. Really clear. He told me to quit worrying about my dreams. Anything that he lets by isn’t going to hurt me. Had a serious look on his face, and was holding his big black rifle like he meant business. I wouldn’t argue with him. So, do I listen to a dream tell me about dreams?

Oh, and Max says he’s really good with the rifle now.

Herr Schiller says that Herr Wulff is proceeding with filing the lawsuit on the Hamburg contract before a judge.

Today Martin was checking earlier entries and found a mistake in Thomas’ work. I saw the look on his face and motioned him over to my desk. He showed me. I checked myself, and yes, the work was wrong, and yes, it was on one of Thomas’ pages. So, I sent Martin back to his desk, and I carried the page over to Herr Schiller. He looked at the page, asked me if I was sure. I said yes. He sighed, and sent me back to my desk. In a little while, he called Thomas over to his desk and showed him the error, told him to correct it. Thomas started trying to say that it wasn’t wrong, but Herr S showed him step by step why it was wrong. So then he tried to say that one of us had changed it. Herr S told him there was no evidence of that, and told him to correct it. He took it and stomped back to his desk. Spent the rest of the day fixing it. Really mean look on his face when he looked my way.

Walked with Martin most of the way home, made sure he got home safe. Didn’t see Thomas at all, but wasn’t happy about it. This is not good.

Still managed to finish Portia in Tauris tonight. Will start working on good copy tomorrow.

Read a little out of Psalms. Read a little out of Issue Three. Sat and stared for a while at the three letters from Herr Gronow pinned to the wall. Will sell a story. Want it to be this one.

Recited evening prayers. Three times. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

26 April 1635

 

Thursday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Had very different dream last night. Dreamt that Portia—from my story—was talking to me and telling me how I hadn’t gotten some things right about her and her story, and I needed to fix that right now. She said it was no wonder Herr Gronow was rejecting the stories, if I couldn’t do any better than that. Talked loud and fast, and her voice was high and screechy in the dream, although it’s supposed to be low and furry sounding. I couldn’t interrupt, but over her shoulder I could see Max standing and laughing. Think that’s where I woke up. Pretty bad when your dreams laugh at you.

But wish I could remember what she told me. It might have helped.
Thomas quiet today, although he trod on my foot once. Didn’t push or hit him, although was tempted. Still don’t like it, but if he does nothing more than that, we—Martin and I—can put up with it. Sooner or later he had to do something stupid like before and get thrown out. I hope.

Spending more time in the contracts again. Thomas started looking at them, and at me. Think he was trying to figure out what had changed. A lot.

Did two whole pages of the clean copy of Portia in Tauris tonight. Looks good so far, but still have a lot to do. Not unusual, you could say.

Recited evening prayers, ready for bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

29 April 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

2 mugs beer 2 pfennigs

Supper–

1 wurst 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Lord’s Day, Lord’s work.

Sunny day this morning. Church still seemed cold and damp after all the rain the last week or so. A few more people. Music was as good or as bad as usual, however you want to think of it. Sang anyway. Pastor Gruber did the homily today. Surprised but glad. Spoke today on the Syrian woman who asked for her daughter to be healed, and how Jesus instructed her that she wasn’t one of the chosen children, but she had the courage to persist and to finally say that even an unclean dog could feast on the crumbs from the children’s table. And Jesus healed the daughter. The pastor spoke on the virtues of longsuffering and of persistence, and on how through them we attain both maturity and reward. Not sure that Pastor G would agree, but feel like I’ve been dealing with longsuffering for sure in getting my stories written. Probably not what he means at all, but still . . .

After the benediction, Pastor Gruber called to me and waved me over. Invited me to lunch with him. With Johann still traveling, no reason not to, so went with him. Think he may be a bit lonely. Smiled really big when I said I’d come. Spent a few hours talking with him, mostly about St. Augustine again. Nice time. Learned a lot. Pastor has a surprising appetite for bad jokes, like “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Uggh.

Got back to rooms early, put the time to good use. Copied three more pages of Portia in Tauris. Over a third of the way done. Hope to submit to Herr Gronow soon.

Good tired when done. Fingers cramping from holding and guiding the pen. Can’t press too hard, or will break the nib of the quill.

Made note, need to get more candle stubs and left-wing quills from work this week. Herr Schiller lets me take some instead of my pay.

Recited evening prayers. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

2 May 1635

 

Wednesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Pretty sure I dreamt last night. Remember waking up at least once. But don’t remember anything from them if I did.

Thomas has been quiet all week. No funny looks, no words, doing his work right. That’s good. Still catch him looking at me every once in a while. He was standing by my desk one day when I came in, looking at the contracts. Didn’t say anything, just looked at them. Really wonder what’s going on in his mind. Can’t help but worry. Haven’t seen anything that proves he really has changed. Sad. I mean, to be as young as we are and to have that reputation. What’s he going to be like when he’s older?

Stopped in again at Syborg’s Books, to stop and warm up a bit as much as anything. Glad I did. Herr Johann beckoned me to their counter as soon as he saw me come in, and handed me a copy of the fourth issue of Der Schwarze Kater. I was very excited! Fortunately, I had started carrying the two dollars necessary for the magazine, even though I didn’t expect it to come out for a few more days. So, I gave Herr J the money and took the magazine. They wrapped it in a piece of extra paper, and I stuffed it inside my jacket and hurried back to my room

No writing tonight. Instead, feasted on new Poe and Lovecraft. First, Nyarlathotep, by Herr Lovecraft. Shivery. Then, The Masque of the Red Death, by Herr Poe. Not sure I’ll sleep tonight.
Looked at the magazine submissions page. Again, I see that I am affecting the magazine, although not necessarily in the manner I wish.

Close to finishing clean copy of Portia in Tauris. Two pages tonight. Maybe another night or two and it will be done and ready to take to Herr Gronow. Ready to be done with it.

Recited evening prayers. Three times. Now to bed.

*

Not going to sleep. Recited evening prayers twice more, plus three Our Fathers. Now to bed—again.

****

 

From Der Schwarze Kater, Volume 4

 

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.

2. 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. Use one side of the page only. Natural color or bleached paper only—No Dyed Or Tinted Paper, please! And black ink only. Not blue, or red, or purple.

3. 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.

4. Whether typed or written, do not write a story in all uncials. Leading sentence character and leading noun character in uncial with the rest in minuscule is preferred. All minuscule is acceptable. Again, let us stress that legibility is critical to getting your work accepted for publication.

5. No illuminated manuscripts, please. Likewise, do not submit illustrations along with your story. If your illustrations are an integral part of your story’s construction, we suggest you seek out another publisher.

6. 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.

7. 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 the 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.
8. 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

 

4 May 1635

 

Friday

Breakfast–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

To quote the up-timers, wow. Issue Four of Der Schwarze Kater is intense. Relived Masque of the Red Death in my dreams last night. Woke up four times, even after lying awake a lot of the night. Four. Wow. Toward the end, Herr Poe and Max were standing to one side commenting on the story. Tried to talk to them, but they acted like they couldn’t hear me and the story kept sweeping me along. Very strange night. If Max is supposed to be my guardian angel, not sure he was doing his job last night.

Had hard day at work today. Very tired. Managed to get my work done, but was hard. Herr Schiller kept looking at me, finally asked me if I was hung over. Just said I didn’t sleep well last night. Didn’t tell him why. Even as tired as I was, wasn’t that stupid. He frowned, but didn’t say anything else.

Tried to work on Portia in Tauris copy, but just couldn’t focus, so picked up Issue Four. Had skipped over first story last night to read the important work, so went back and read it. Title was The Brass Homunculus, by V. I. Fuchs. Idea was a man of science created a device shaped like a man out of metal and gave it the ability to move and to reason. Things didn’t go well. Man of science wasn’t very smart. Have to wonder where some of these writers get their ideas. I mean, a metal man? Who could take that seriously, Herr Fuchs?

Wish I had thought of it.

Can’t keep eyes open. Stumbled through evening prayers. Hope I sleep better than last night. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

6 May 1635

 

Sunday

Breakfast–

Fasted

Lunch-

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

Supper–

1 bowl fish stew 3 pfennigs

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Lord’s Day, Lord’s work.

Rained this morning, just like yesterday and day before. Church was cold and dank again, not many people there. Music wasn’t good because so few voices. Sang anyway. Reading and homily were dull. New young guy spoke, wasn’t very good. Needs to learn to speak louder and with some feelings. Also needs to learn how to write a homily. Wasn’t very good, made no sense, just rambled.

Quiet day after noon. Went back and read some of the early passages in The City of God. Think I understand them better now. Read some in Samuel, about David and Jonathan. Wish I had a friend like that. But not if he had a father that would throw spears at me like King Saul did at David. David was a better friend than I would be, I think.

Finished the clean copy of Portia in Tauris late in the afternoon. Read through it, bundled it up and addressed it and took it over to Herr Gronow’s office before I could get scared, pushed it through the slot in the door. Felt what was my customary panic when it left my fingers, leaned my head against the door and made my customary prayer. Went back to my room.

Reread issue three of Der Schwarze Kater to finish the evening. Leaving issue four for a treat. Got about halfway through.

Recited evening prayers. Three times. Now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

16 May 1635

 

Wednesday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

More dreams about Herren Poe and Lovecraft last night. They were arguing about whether stories involving demons would be more horrible and horrifying than stories that show the full depravity men are capable of. Then Max appeared and told me I was wasting my time listening to them, because they were both right and both wrong. I was trying to figure that out when I woke up.

Quiet day at work today. Thomas left early because his kinsman, the merchant that Master Gröning is cultivating, needed him for something. Okay for me. The less I see him, the happier I am.

Realized late in the afternoon that I haven’t heard anything from Herr Gronow. Surprised. He usually responds to my offerings quickly. Hope nothing’s wrong. Hope he’s still going to publish Der Schwarze Kater!

Worried about that all evening.

Read another story in issue four. This one was Shadow of Furies, by Georg Hannover. Must be one of those pen names Herr Matthias was telling me about. Had me looking over my shoulder before I finished it, so better than some of the down-time written stories I’ve read.

Recited evening prayers. Three times. So now to bed, and sleep—I hope.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

19 May 1635

 

Saturday

Breakfast–

1 winter apple 1 pfennig

1 wheat roll 3 pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreams still dark. Issue Four is almost haunting me. Woke up three times even after not reading any of the Der Schwarze Kater issues yesterday. Dreams ran stories together in a muddle. Max was there for a while, but tide of dreams swept me away.

Stopped in at Syborg’s Books. Both Herren Syborg were there. Talked to Herr Johann, told him how much I liked Issue Four of Der Schwarze Kater. He asked me if the down-timer stories were as good as those by Herren Poe and Lovecraft. Told him not yet, but each issue seems to get better. Herr Matthias told me I was lucky I got my copy, because they didn’t get as many copies as they usually do, and a few of their regulars had been disappointed and had had to try and find copies other ways. That alarms me. Told him I want my copy no matter what, even if it means I have to pay for it ahead of time. He got a thoughtful look on his face, and said he’d think about that.

Still have not heard from Herr Gronow.

Very worried. Couldn’t focus on anything all day. Fortunate that work was very routine today.
Worried all evening.

Recited evening prayers. Four times. Four. Still worried, but now to bed.

****

 

From the Journal of Philip Fröhlich

 

21 May 1635

 

Monday

Breakfast–

1 cup morning broth 1 pfennig

1 barley roll 2 quartered pfennigs

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

Supper–

1 sausage 2 pfennigs

1 cup sauerkraut 1 pfennig

1 mug beer 1 pfennig

 

Dreams, but nothing I recall. Stupid dreams.

Messenger finally brought a letter from Herr Gronow today! Late in the afternoon. Wanted to rip it open and read it right then, but both Herr Schiller and Thomas were looking at me, so just stuffed it inside my shirt and carried on with work.

After a few minutes, Thomas walked over to Herr Schiller’s desk and said something, asked a question, I think. I couldn’t hear what he said, but he looked over at me when he said it. I could hear Herr Schiller tell him it wasn’t any of his business and to go sit down and finish his work. Thomas didn’t like that, looking at his expression, but he did go back to his desk. Caught him staring at me later on.

Finally.

****

 

21 May 1635

 

Herr Philip Fröhlich

 

Your persistence is admirable, Herr Fröhlich. And I will say, you have yet to make the same mistake twice. That is also admirable.

It is not, however, sufficient to achieve publication. Your work has improved, yes, but not enough.

Your latest work proves that you have mastered the art of presentation. Your manuscript was acceptable in its form and structure, with nothing of note objectionable about it. The content of your manuscript, however, is another matter entirely.

There are two things I must set out before you. First, there is a difference between noting facts and telling a story, Herr Fröhlich. It is not enough to clearly state that someone is frightened or horrified or disgusted. You must describe it. You must evoke it. You must make your reader feel it along with the character.

Second, there is a movement, a progression to a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is not enough to simply place on the page a setting where something happens, or someone has an experience. There must be reasons why the character is there, and why he has that experience. There must be a flow from scene to scene, there must be transitions. You are not scripting a play, where a character stands here and says this, then moves over there, and says that. You are leading the reader through terra incognita by the hand. The reader must understand what is occurring, and you, as the author, are the only person who can give them that understanding. Progression. Transition. Beginning, middle, and end. Master these, Herr Fröhlich, and you will sell your stories.

“Portia in Tauris” is an . . . interesting . . . title. Better than your previous titles. Nonetheless, it is not adequate. Try again.

It is now with some interest that I say when you correct the issues noted above, please resubmit your story.

Good day to you.

 

Johann Gronow

Editor and Publisher

Der Schwarze Kater

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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.

5 thoughts on “Letters From Gronow, Episode 4

  1. Allen Hunter

    David, I agree with Tim, above.
    Might you have copies of each of the drafts of Portia in Taurus that could be published? Alternately, could the final version of Portia be included as a portion of one of the Letters from Gronow series or as a RoF entry?

  2. David Carrico

    To be serious for a moment, there are two more episodes after this one, so I can’t say much at this point without giving spoilers, which would not be good. Sorry.

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