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May, 1633 

Ernst Frohlich looked at the man sitting across the table from him. He was nondescript, clean shaven, and dressed in contemporary clothing, but his accented German identified him as one of the now famous "up-timers" from Grantville. The fact that the man had requested to meet him anonymously in a public house in Meiningen late at night in the middle of winter both puzzled and intrigued Frolich. Meiningen was quite some distance from Grantville, and separated from it by the entire Thuringenwald, to boot.

Still, the offer in the letter of a guilder and free meal for an hour of his time insured that he was there in the pub that evening. As a locksmith, he was used to traveling at the whims of customers to install locks in houses, estates and stores after they had closed for the day. He was no stranger to working by lamp light far into the night.

"So, may I ask what this meeting is about?"

The man looked around the room to insure that they were alone. It was late on a Tuesday night, and most of the other patrons had either left or were too drunk to pay much attention to the two men.

"Let me start by saying that I was told that you are a man of discretion, and I was assured that you could be counted on to keep any matters we discuss tonight strictly confidential. That is all that you need to do to earn the guilder I promised. For my part I can tell you that nothing that we will be discussing is in any way illegal. Do you agree to those terms?"

Ernst hesitated only for a moment and then nodded. The up-timer placed a heavy silver coin on the table and slid it over to him.

"Very well. I need an honest opinion from you." He reached into a pouch on his belt and withdrew a small metal object. He placed it next to the guilder on the table. "Can you make something like this?"

Ernst picked up the object and turned it over in his hands. He brought it closer to the candle on the table to look at the details. The metal work was exquisite. Not extremely ornate, but all of the parts fit together tightly. The clamp at one end was spring loaded, and there was a small amount of filigree work. All of the surfaces were polished to a silver gleam. There were a few places where this silver layer had worn through, and yellow brass was showing. Whatever it was, it had obviously come from whatever future world these people had come from. He sighed and handed it back reluctantly.

"No. I cannot. I have no idea how to coat the brass with the other metal. I am sorry."

The other man frowned. Then he pushed the thing back towards Ernst. "I am not worried about the plating. I am interested to know if you could do the rest of it."

"Yes. It is fairly straightforward. It is only made of a few pieces. If you just want one made out of brass, I could do it in a few days."

"Good. That is what I wanted to know. My next question is would you like to learn how to plate the brass like that?"

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