SMC, Part 1

I

July, 1634

Suhl

Archie Mitchell was about to pull the lever on his reloading press when he heard his wife, Marjorie, call from the front of the house, “Pat’s here!” Archie was in what the family had come to call the gunroom. It was a room off the Mitchell’s portion of the two-story house jointly owned by Archie and Marjorie Mitchell and the Isslers, Dieter and Greta. Dieter Issler was Archie’s senior SoTF Deputy Marshal. He and Archie, the SoTF Marshal, had come to Suhl the previous spring when they were assigned to the SoTF First District Court.

The house was divided by floors. The Mitchells had the ground floor, less the large room in the front of the house that was the storefront for Greta Issler’s bakery. The Isslers had the upper floor.

The door of the gunroom was thick, heavy, and iron-strapped for security. The walls had additional thick, hardwood paneling and iron bars covered the room’s two windows. It was not as secure as an up-time safe, but it was the best strongroom that Archie could make until his up-time safe could be hauled from their house in Grantville. Inside the room was a wooden reloading table that faced one window. On that table, securely mounted, was a single-stage reloading press. Along one wall was a rack of rifles and shotguns.

Archie’s up-time oak desk, swivel chair and two wooden captain’s chairs faced the other window. The two chairs were newly made. He had commissioned them from a local cabinetmaker who used photos from one of Archie’s True Tales of the West magazine as a guide.

Pat Johnson walked into the gunroom and stopped when he noticed what Archie had in his hand. “Whatcha doin’, Archie?”

Archie turned to face Pat in the doorway, “Decapping brass, Pat. Take a seat and tell me what’s up.”

Pat walked into the room, pulled one of the chairs from Archie’s desk, and slid it around to face Archie at the reloading table. “Got a delivery for you, this just came in,” he said, giving Archie the box in his hand. It was addresseded to U. S. Waffenfabrik, Pat Johnson’s gun manufacturing company. “It was delivered to the shop. One thousand large pistol primers from the Hart boys.”

Archie looked at the box in his hand. It was a plain wooden box, flimsily made with LP written by hand on the top. “LP…large pistol? Did they size ’em right, this time?” The last box of primers from the Hart Brothers was supposed to have been sized for Large Pistol, the primer size used for .45ACP cartridge. They weren’t. When Archie tried to seat the primers into some brass, they wouldn’t fit. They were too large and had detonated. The detonation hadn’t damaged Archie’s reloading press, but it did destroy the cartridge brass in the press. He had quit trying to find one that was the correct size after a half-dozen failures. Forty-five caliber brass was too valuable to be wasted trying to seat primers that were oversized.

“Well, so they say. I guess you’ll find out when you try to seat them. I’d use my old brass first.”

“You better believe it,” Archie agreed.

Archie pulled the lever of the reloading press, finishing the act he had started when Pat arrived. The fired shell casing slid upwards and disappeared into the reloading press. Pat saw something shiny fall out of the bottom of the press and drop into a wooden box at Archie’s feet. Archie returned the lever to its usual upright position and the brass slid out of the decapping die. Archie took the decapped cartridge brass and dropped it into another larger box on the floor.

“Uh, what are you going to do with your spent primers?” Pat asked.

“Haven’t decided yet.” Archie glanced at the box at his feet. It was filled inches deep with spent primers. “They are metal. Should be worth something, I suppose,” he mused.

“Can I have some?” Pat asked. An idea was forming in his mind. Suppose . . .

“Well . . . okay. Why?”

“I just had an idea . . . well, it might be an idea,” Pat explained. “I’d like to have some used up-time caps to play with. See if my idea is something I’d like to try.”

Archie waited for Pat to expand on his statement. When he didn’t give one, Archie reached down, picked up the box with the spent primers littering the bottom and extended it to Pat. “Here, take all you need.” Pat reached into the box, took a handful of the spent primers and put them into his pocket.

Archie looked at the box of Hart Brothers primers and then back to Pat, “I hate using the Hart boys’ primers. They use fulminate of mercury and that makes the brass crack and split after a few reloads. It cuts their reloading life in half, if not more.” Archie muttered, “. . . wish I had a new supply.”

“What was that, Archie?” Pat had been thinking about the spent primers in his hand. He hadn’t heard Archie’s muttering clearly.

“I said I wish I had a new supply of cartridge brass. I think I’m going to run out of .45 Long Colt brass in a year or so, and then what? Back to cap ‘n ball?” He looked at the box of primers and shook his head, “I hope not.”

Archie’s wish gave Pat another idea. He needed to think on it for a while, do some research. When the time was right, he’d need to talk to Gary Reardon, maybe Ruben Blumroder. There could be opportunities here. He stood and said, “Well, see you later, Archie. Let me know how those primers work.”

“Will do, Pat,” Archie said. He stood and walked with Pat to the front door. Archie watched Pat walk down the street for a moment, then closed the door and returned to the gunroom to decap more fired brass.

****

Pat’s walk home took him past the Boar’s Head Inn. His mind was still working on an idea that had formed when he visited Archie Mitchell. Pat Johnson was in the business of making firearms. He, like a number of gunsmiths in Suhl, was introducing up-time technology to the seventeenth century. The design of the SRG rifle in use by the USE army utilized two technologies, rifling and the flintlock ignition system. Neither technology was new. Both existed before the Ring of Fire. However, the arrival of Grantville and up-time firearms had accelerated the development and use of rifling and flintlocks earlier than they had in the old timeline.

The thought was still in his mind when he turned a corner and entered the street where the Boar’s Head Inn was located. The inn had become the favorite watering hole for Suhl’s up-timers when it was the temporary residence of Marshal Archie Mitchell and Deputy Dieter Issler the previous spring. Although Archie and Dieter had moved out when they found permanent housing, the inn had become the place favored by the city’s up-timers. It had also become a cop bar, having become the chosen place to meet, eat, and drink by the city’s watch, the militia, and members of the Mounted Constabulary stationed in Suhl.

Pat shifted direction and entered the Boar’s Head to discover his favorite table, in a corner next to the fireplace, empty. He sat, with his back against the wall, ordered a stein of beer, and took a spent primer from his pocket.

He rolled the primer in his fingers, not really seeing it; his mind was elsewhere. The idea that had started during his visit with Archie Mitchell was percolating. He looked closely at the primer. On one side of the primer cup was the face of the primer with the center dented by the impact of a firing pin. On the other side, the primer was an open cup with . . . Pat took his lock-blade knife from his pocket, flicked it open, and used the tip to pry a three-legged, star-shaped piece of copper out of the cup—the primer’s anvil. When a firing pin hit the smooth face of the primer, that face was pushed into the primer, crushing the primer compound against the anvil and igniting the compound. The shape of the anvil directed the burning primer compound into the powder of the cartridge. It was a simple concept, a simple design, but difficult to make.

“May we join you, Herr Johnson?”

Pat looked up to see Wachtmeister Osker Geyer and Mounted Constabulary Captain Eric Gruber standing before him. The two habitually had a beer here in the Boar’s Head after making their joint walk around Suhl in the late afternoon. Their frequent walks were a public display of cooperation between the city watch and the Mounted Constabulary. On occasion, they would have a third party, Marshal Archie Mitchell or Deputy Marshal Dieter Issler, with them. “Certainly. Take a seat,” Pat replied.

“What have you there? You were studying it so much that you never saw us come in.” Gruber sat down next to Pat in the vacant chair that allowed him to watch the common room and its entrance.

“It’s a spent cartridge primer. Archie Mitchell gave me some.” He reached into his pocket, retrieved another spent primer, and gave it to Gruber. “Here, take a look.”

Gruber took the primer and rolled it in his fingers just as Pat had done minutes earlier. He examined it more closely and said, “I’ve never seen one that wasn’t in a cartridge. So little for what it does. Here, Osker, take a look.”

He passed the primer to Geyer, who made the same examination. Then he looked at the disassembled primer on the table before Pat.

They were interrupted by the arrival of the barmaid with Pat’s stein of beer. Gruber and Geyer gave their orders and returned to their examination of the spent primers.

Pat took a swallow from his stein while Gruber asked, “What makes the primer work?”

Pat completed his swallow and replied, “The most important part is the primer compound. It’s a small piece of explosive that ignites when it is crushed in the primer cup by the firing pin. The Hart brothers use fulminate of mercury. Fulminate of mercury is extremely dangerous. The Hart brothers have already had one explosion in their factory that I know of. Their finished primers have to be carefully handled, too. I’ve heard tales of their primers exploding in people’s hands.”

Gruber nodded. He knew that rumor was true. A man he knew, who was reloading some up-time cartridges, had a hole burned into his hand when a Hart primer ignited while he was handling it. It wasn’t a disabling injury, but still . . .

“Looking at this, it seems so simple,” Geyer observed. “Every time I see a piece of up-time technology, I think to myself, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?'”

“Me, too,” Gruber agreed.

“I’m with you,” Pat said. “I lived with up-time technology. I didn’t think about it. I had no idea how the technology worked. I just used it.”

The barmaid returned with two more steins of beer for Gruber and Geyer. Pat was still nursing his first. He didn’t drink a lot.

“Much of your technology is simple, once you understand the principles,” Geyer said. “Before the Ring of Fire, I was content to just make iron—cast iron, some better wrought iron. I made ingots and shipped them out. Iron was what factors wanted and I supplied them. Since the RoF, factors now want steel. I have been corresponding with some of my . . . uh . . . competitors about how they make steel. They don’t see me as a competitor, yet, so they’ve been very informative. I know now what mistakes not to make. I’d rather learn from their mistakes than from ones I make through ignorance. I’ve started making steel but I can’t meet all the demand.”

“How much different is making steel and making brass?” Pat asked.

Geyer paused, took a deep swallow from his stein, “In concept, not very much. Both are alloys, a mixture of two or more ingredients. For steel, it’s iron and carbon; for brass, it’s copper and zinc. The real difference is the temperature and how you manage extracting the metals from the ores. You need higher temperatures for iron and steel.”

Pat nodded, absently. His idea was still percolating. He remembered Gary Reardon, the owner of Suhl’s Bolt and Nut Company, saying that he needed to make more milling machines. He had started with one from Ollie Reardon and had made several more. But his stock of high-grade carbon steel was dwindling. Geyer’s mention of making steel entered the mixture of thoughts in Pat’s mind. He could almost see how Geyer’s comments merged with his idea. He needed to talk with Gary.

More customers were entering the inn, and the noise level was increasing. The afternoon was over, and the shadows were stretching along the streets. Time to go home, Pat decided. Pat changed the subject, and the three finished the last of their beer. They had talked through the last of the afternoon, and evening was approaching. The three left the inn, Gruber and Geyer turning left toward the center of town and Pat turned right.

I’ll sleep on this and talk with Gary tomorrow, Pat thought.

 

II

August, 1634

Suhl

 

Pat Johnson didn’t meet with Gary Reardon the next day as planned; the unexpected intervened. Pat’s company, U. S. Waffenfabrik, received a new order for twenty rifles. That new order was followed by a letter from Grantville. The letter said Anse Hatfield had been severely wounded during the Battle of Ahrensbök and was now recuperating in Grantville. Hatfield was a friend and investor in Pat’s company. He had been a part-time employee until he had been recalled into the army the previous year. Hatfield’s TacRail unit should have been in a support position. Somehow, Pat was told, Hatfield became directly involved in the battle and was wounded. His wounds weren’t life-threatening but, apparently, he was suffering from PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Anse Hatfield was a friend—a good friend, and his condition worried Pat. He quickly wrote a letter to Hatfield assuring him that his job was waiting whenever he returned to Suhl.

One interruption led to another. July slipped into August. Weeks passed before Pat finally had an opportunity to sit down with Gary Reardon and discuss his idea.

Pat still hadn’t fleshed it all out; everything was still a bit nebulous. Pat was a visionary. He was good doing things, imagining things, and working in his shop and with his hands. What he wasn’t, however, was a planner. Planning was one of Gary Reardon’s skills. Pat’s method of operation was straightforward, see the hill, take the hill, as Archie Mitchell would say. Gary, given the same situation, would see another approach, usually a better one, plan it out in excruciating detail and get it done. Pat needed Gary. Gary had the drive, once he understood the end game, to get there quicker, and with less effort, than could Pat. Pat was the idea man. Gary was the man who could take the idea and make it a reality.

****

“. . . that’s the idea, Gary. What do you think?” The two met in Pat’s office in the U. S. Waffenfabrik factory. He and Gary had been discussing Pat’s idea. Gary had added to the vision with some of his own ideas. He wanted tungsten carbide to make harder, stronger dies and tools. With the added tungsten carbide, they saw a need for better steel, better than was currently available. Scope creep had set in.

The end-game vision was now much more clear. How to get to that end-game still needed more thought. The two of them listed five things that had to be made and assembled to make the final product. Determining those five things was the easy part. How to make them was the real task ahead of them. Pat got up, went to his office door and asked someone to go to the inn down the street and bring back two steins of beer. Pat reached into his pocket and gave the other person some coins. “. . . and tell them to fill the steins with the cool beer in the cellar.”

He returned to his desk. “I was getting thirsty, and I expect you were, too.”

Gary laughed. “I can count on you knowing your priorities, Pat.”

Pat hung his head for a moment. It was true. His momentary attack of ADHD had been appeased.

Gary stood and started to pace. He habitually paced when he was wrestling with a problem. He talked while he walked. He was clarifying his vision of the end game. Now the process was to work backward from the vision, detailing every item needed to make that vision a reality. “Well, we can get all the raw materials, I think. We have copper here in Suhl. We can get zinc to make brass from the Clausthal-Zellerfeld mines up in the Harz Mountains. Maybe tungsten, too. What we don’t have are the tools to make the tooling and the dies . . . and the power to operate the machines. We need better steel, good hard carbon and tungsten carbide steel.” He continued to build his list, mentally organizing them—what had to be done first, what was needed and when. He stopped before Pat’s office window. The messenger Pat had sent for the beer was approaching with a large stein in each hand. They needed one more partner, another partner for the enterprise that would be built on Pat’s initial idea.

“I think Osker Geyer would be interested.” Pat said. “I know he wants to start making carbon steel instead of cast and wrought iron. I know he’s experimenting with crude carbon steel, he told me so. And, he mentioned wanting a powered hammer forge and stamping mill, too.”

Gary stopped pacing for a moment and considered Pat’s statement. It mirrored his own thoughts. “Could be, Pat. If Osker Geyer wants to upgrade his iron foundry to a steel mill, I don’t see why we can’t help him—in exchange for him helping us.” Gary returned to his chair in front of Pat’s desk. “We’ll need power for our factory, too, if we want to get into commercial production—more output than can be made by hand.”

Pat agreed. “How about Schmidt steam engines? Maybe we can get a price-break if we make a volume order—combine our order with one from Geyer?”

“It’s worth asking, isn’t it?” Gary said.

“Let’s go visit Geyer and see what the thinks . . . after we finish our beer.”

“Good idea,” Gary agreed as Pat’s messenger appeared at the door with two steins. It was a hot day and, Gary thought, a nice cool beer would be a good interlude before bracing Geyer in his lair.

****

Instead of finding Osker Geyer in his foundry on the outskirts of Suhl, Pat and Gary found him sitting on a stool behind a tall desk in the watch office writing in a ledger. Geyer was getting tired of the city council stalling to fill his temporary position with a permanent appointment. I have work to do at my foundry. If the city council doesn’t act soon, I’ll give them an ultimatum. I’ll give them a week and if nothing is done, I’ll resign. It’s too much to ask…

Herr Geyer, Guten Tag,” Pat Johnson said. “How are you this fine day?”

Geyer glanced out the windows to the gray overcast outside. Looking back at the two, he simply said, “Herr Johnson,” Geyer looked at Gary Reardon, “and you, too, Herr Reardon.” Geyer was known for his bluntness but his greeting was more blunt than usual. Geyer was, if not quite friends with the two, a good acquaintance. He knew quite well that Pat Johnson and Gary Reardon wouldn’t appear before his desk without wanting something from him. What was it Archie Mitchell had said? Keep your hand on your purse when talking with these two.

“Pat and I would like to discuss an idea we have with you.” Gary Reardon said.

“What do you want the watch to do?”

“Absolutely nothing. This is a business proposal, well, not a proposal, yet. Just an idea.”

Geyer looked at Gary and then Pat. “Humph! Come back into my office.” With that, he got off his stool and walked into his office at the rear of the room.

****

“. . . we thought that a combined order may get us a volume discount and save us all some money,” Pat explained. “It’d help you with your upgrades and expansion and we’d get what we need from you at a discount, of course.”

Geyer looked at the two seated across from his desk. He had only asked a few questions but Pat could see the wheels turning in Geyer’s head. He had a hungry look but was too cautious to go further until he’d calculated his risk.

Pat continued, “And, of course, we would sell shares in our new . . . consortium. We’ve already spoken to some who may be interested and have some funds to invest.”

“Who?” Geyer asked.

“I can’t disclose that at the moment.”

Pat knew only too well that the only investors so far were Gary and himself. He knew of others who would invest when asked, but more money than that was needed. For that, they needed a plan, something that could be shown to the potential investors that would convince them the concept was feasible, and that Pat, Gary, and the…consortium were the ones who could make it possible.

“We need to develop a plan—actually a financial plan, business model, and a project plan for all of us. There are a number of interrelated tasks and dependencies that we have to manage if we bring this off.”

“Determine the critical path, determine what has to be done and when it has to be done,” Gary added. The critical path was those tasks that had to be done, in sequence, for the plan to progress. Some tasks could be done in parallel without affecting the critical path as long as they were completed as planned. “If the plan works, we could be millionaires.”

The three talked throughout the afternoon, interrupted occasionally by a watchman. Geyer wasn’t totally sold on the idea. He wanted to do some research and analysis himself. Towards the end of the day, he sent a message to the city council by a watchman to say that he was taking a few days off.

****

“Ambitious, aren’t you,” Archie Mitchell said. Pat and Gary had come to see him in his office in the Suhl District courthouse just as he was about to quit for the day. They recounted their conversation with Geyer and were about to expand on their need for funding when Archie interrupted, “Let’s talk on my way home.”

The three left the courthouse through a side door. Archie’s office, one that he shared with court bailiff Karl Wagner, was in the rear.

The courthouse was adjacent to the Mounted Constabulary barracks. As they passed the barracks, the troop of Mounted Constabulary came toward them, about to enter the compound. From their appearance, they were returning from an extended patrol along the surrounding roads and byways of the Suhl district. The lieutenant in command of the troop gave Archie a salute of respect as he rode past and Archie returned it. Archie was well liked by the troopers and their officers. He often rode with them whenever he had business in the area they patrolled and was willing and ready to take the same risks as they did.

“How much do you need?” Archie asked as the patrol trotted past and through the barracks gate.

Gary didn’t reply until the last trooper disappeared into the compound. “Sixteen thousand silver guilders to start.”

Archie choked. “Boys, if you think I have that much, you’re badly mistaken. I don’t have anywhere near that much. I put a big dent in my ready cash when Dieter and I bought the house here in Suhl.”

“No, no, no, you misunderstand,” Pat protested. “That’s how much we need in total for the first stage. We’re soliciting investors. You can invest whatever you can afford.”

They continued walking. The courthouse and Mounted Constabulary barracks were on higher ground than most of Suhl. They continued down into the city and along the river towards the western gate. Archie’s house nestled in a corner of the city and had room for a small stable for his four horses and buckboard wagon. It was just a couple streets from the western gate.

With the house in sight, Archie stopped. He needed to ask them something before he forgot. “And how many stages are there in this project of yours? You planning to sell more shares at each stage? That would dilute the value of my shares, wouldn’t it?”

“Well . . . maybe. We hope that after the first stage, the project will have products to sell to help finance the remaining stages. As an initial investor, we could give you a seat on the board.”

“Well, I’ll still need to think on that, see if there could be any conflicts of interest.” They walked on. “Ok,” he decided. “Since we’re here, why don’t you and Gary have supper with us, and then we’ll talk some more. I want to hear your complete plan. Dieter may be interested, too.”

“We don’t mind. We’re asking folks to keep quiet on this, even if they don’t invest, until we have more commitments, investors, and suppliers, plus a few material contracts.” They started walking toward the house with its aroma of fresh bread.

“You’re going to have to spend a lot of time on this. What about your businesses?” Archie asked.

“Anse Hatfield is coming back, I hope. I’ve sent him some letters telling him what’s been going on since he left last spring. He’ll keep U. S. Waffenfabrik running for me,” Pat said.

Gary chimed in. “And I have a good foreman. Gaylynn will keep a close eye on him. We’re covered, Archie.”

“I hope so. I don’t want you to impoverish yourselves doing this.”

“We won’t,” Gary replied. “Both companies will be tightly integrated into the new company once it’s running. I think we’ll have more business than we can handle.”

Archie opened the front door and ushered them in.

****

The family, as the Mitchells and Isslers thought of themselves, ate together around a large rectangular table. The table was another piece of up-time furniture that Archie had shipped from their house in Grantville to Suhl. Marjorie had brought the basics, chinaware, silverware, and cooking utensils, when she joined Archie in May. The remaining furniture, items they had selected before the move, had been arriving a few pieces at a time since then.

The table normally seated six. It could be expanded to seat more but that wasn’t necessary this time. For this evening, all six chairs were occupied. Marjorie had had a crock-pot simmering in the bakery’s oven all afternoon, a mutton stew. Fortunately, there was more than enough for Pat and Gary. By family custom, no business was discussed around the table. That custom was bent when Archie mentioned that Pat and Gary had a business deal they wanted to discuss with him. After the meal was over, Archie motioned for the men to follow him into his office, the gunroom.

“Okay, now what’s your game?” Archie asked when everyone was seated.

Gary talked. He recounted Pat’s initial idea about the spent primers and how that idea had sparked others. “It depends,” Gary Reardon said, opening the conversation. “What we want to do at first is, with Osker Geyer, to make machine tools—on a small scale. We need to make tools to provide mechanized production lines.”

Dieter Issler sat and listened. He didn’t completely understand all the issues that Gary talked about. It seemed very expensive. But, he decided, he trusted Archie. If Archie became involved, Dieter was willing to do the same, as much as he could. He and Greta had been saving for a long time. A good part of those savings had gone into the Issler share of the cost of their home in Suhl. Fortunately, since the opening of the bakery, Greta was making more than Dieter was with his SoTF salary. While he mused, he had missed some of Gary’s opening remarks. If he wanted to understand what was going on, he needed to pay closer attention.

“It’s the old, ‘make tools to make tools.’ What we want in the near term, next year, is to use those tools to start making cartridge brass . . .” Gary said.

“And primers,” added Pat when Gary paused.

“If you are going to make brass and primers, why not go whole hog and make complete cartridges?” Archie asked.

“We want to do just that,” Gary said, leaning forward for emphasis. “But we need to determine what is feasible and what, at this time, isn’t. Saying we want to make ammunition outright may not be advisable at this time. It could cost us investors if we’re not careful. Too many people seem to think we don’t have the ability, yet, to make cartridges in full commercial quantities, that the needed mechanization can’t be made nor put into operation. I know there are some people making cartridges but they’re low volume—using equipment like your single-stage press there,” Gary pointed to Archie’s reloading press bolted to a nearby table. “Each cartridge is handmade. How many can you reload with that press, Archie?”

Archie sat back in his swivel chair and rubbed his chin. High volume throughput wasn’t a feature of a single-stage reloading press. Back up-time, he used a Dillon progressive press. With it, he could load hundreds of cartridges, four or five hundred, in an hour. Still, hundreds was far from the number of cartridges needed for commercial quantities and he no longer had that Dillon progressive press. “I never counted, but maybe around fifty or sixty in an hour, somewhere around there,” Archie replied.

It was as Gary thought. He wasn’t a reloader himself, but he did know how it was done. The number Archie quoted was about the number he had estimated. “To be commercially viable, we need to make thousands, tens of thousands if we can, in an hour. Commercial quantities have always been a goal but no one believes it can be done—yet. So . . . we won’t mention it.”

“The Hart brothers have their primers in commercial production,” Dieter pointed out.

“That’s true, Dieter, but they’re using manual labor for their production line. Several people died last year when their plant blew up. In addition, they’re using fulminate of mercury and are mostly making just percussion caps and only a few actual primers.” Gary had been investigating the Hart Brothers business and manufacturing methods, as best he could from a distance. “Besides, I’ve heard they had another plant explosion.” As far as Gary Reardon was concerned, the way the Hart brothers did business was exactly the wrong way to do it. It was dangerous, and they displayed a callous disregard for the safety of their employees.

“We want to make primers that are non-corrosive—the French primers are corrosive—and don’t make brass brittle like the Hart brother’s primers. I’ve heard that lead styphnate is dangerous to make and to handle but it would be better than what the Hart boys are making.”

“Hang on a minute.” Archie stood and walked over to a shelf on his wall that was lined with books. He ran his finger across a number of titles and pulled one out. He scanned the table of contents while he returned to his chair. “Ah, page 65.”

“What’s that, Archie?” Pat asked.

Archie showed him the cover, “It’s the 1996 edition of Richard Lee’s Reloading Manual. I have several reloading manuals, Hornady, Speer, and Lyman. I remember writing some notes in this one.” Archie found page 65, read the page, flipped to the next page, “Here it is. Lee wrote that the EPA would soon ban lead styphnate for primers because of the lead used in its production. I remember thinking, what’s next? Lee talked about ‘green’ primers but I couldn’t find much about them. I did a bit of research and found another primer compound that was more stable than fulminate of mercury, didn’t leave a lead residue, didn’t damage cartridge brass and was non-corrosive. I thought I had written some notes here and I did—DDNP, full name, Diazodinitrophenol. It has been used in explosives for a long time, blasting caps and such, but also for primers before World War Two.” Archie gave the open manual to Pat, who read the page and passed it to Gary.

Gary returned the manual to Archie and asked, “Why did they continue to use lead styphnate if this was better?”

“Well, there’s better and then there’s better. I suspect that too many ammunition plants, the Army operated their own, you see, were already set up to use lead styphnate. With war on the horizon, no one wanted to change. It would be costly at a time when funds were hard to get. Besides, the danger of lead poisoning from the primers wasn’t well known at that time, if at all.”

“How is this DDNP made?”

“Beats me! I’m no chemist,” Archie said as he returned the manual to his bookshelf.

“Pat,” Gary said to his partner, “I think we, or one of us, should consult the library in Grantville. I think Geyer will need some up-time data, too.”

Archie interrupted. “Count me out. I can’t go.”

Marjorie entered the room and asked, “Archie, Dieter, can you help me for a minute? I need backs stronger than mine.”

Archie nodded, “Be there in a minute, Marj. I’ll be right back, boys.” And with that, he rose and followed Dieter out of the room.

Pat and Gary continued their conversation. “I have some orders to fill,” Pat said. “Think Geyer would want to go with you?”

“He might. I’ll ask. It’ll give me a chance to look for some more investors, too. How much do we have promised?”

“Umm, nine thousand guilders. We have credit with the local money people. I haven’t asked the gunsmiths yet. Some would be against it. They’d have to retool, and some can’t afford to do that by themselves.”

“They’ll have to at some point, Pat. Flintlocks are obsolete now that percussion caps are coming available in commercial volumes. I know the USE Army is buying the majority of the percussion caps but there will soon be more caps available for the public. It’s inevitable that change is coming.”

“True, and the timing is right for us if we can meet our business plan.”

They stood as Archie returned. “I think we have discussed all that we needed to for the moment, Archie. You’ve helped us a lot. May we borrow your manuals at some time?” Gary asked.

“Sure, Gary, just take care of them. There aren’t any more that I know of.”

 

III

September, 1634

Grantville

 

Gary Reardon and Osker Geyer arrived in Grantville in the rain. It wasn’t a light rain; it was a downpour. They had hired a coach for their trip from Suhl and, when the rain started, it began to leak. Rain entered through the windows, around the leather shutters they had rolled down the windows and dripped from the coach roof where the rain had soaked through. They were wet, cold, and completely uncomfortable. “This is where I grew up, Osker,” Gary said when the coach rolled up before the two-story house. “Dad is in Magdeburg, but Mom is home. We’ll stay here while we’re in Grantville.” Gary had noticed Geyer looking at everything in Grantville. This was his first visit to the up-time town—city, now, and he appeared to be amazed at everything—the streets, the lights, the buildings, everything.

Gary and Geyer paid the coach driver and hauled their luggage up to the Reardon extended front porch out of the rain. Gary’s mother, Nancy, an elderly white-haired lady, was waiting in the doorway.

“Gary! How good to see you . . . and you’ve put on some weight, I see. Come inside and take off those wet coats.” The two men entered the house, and she waited while they hung their coats on hooks near the door. “Come back to the kitchen, and I’ll fix you something hot,” she said after giving Gary a strong maternal hug.

They followed her to the kitchen in the rear of the house. Osker Geyer was looking at everything—the linoleum-covered floor, the porcelain sink and chromed faucets, and, although he didn’t understand their purpose at first, the stove and refrigerator. Nancy Reardon continued her conversation with Gary as he and Osker sat at the kitchen table.

“Gaylynn is a great cook, Mom. She has to try every new recipe on me as soon as she finds one. Greta Issler is teaching her baking, and Gaylynn has discovered the joys of honey rolls.”

While they talked, she filled a kettle with water from the sink and put it on the stove to heat.

“Mom,” Gary said, “let me introduce Osker Geyer. He’s a business associate of mine in Suhl. We’re here to consult the library.”

Guten Tag, Frau Reardon. I’m most happy to make your acquaintance,” Geyer said.

“Glad to meet you, too, Herr Geyer. You are very welcome.”

She turned to Gary, “I’ve your old room available and Dewey’s room, too. He’s gone with your father to Magdeburg.”

The kettle began to boil. She placed some loose tea in a metal ball and put that ball in the teapot. She turned a knob on the stove, picked up the kettle, and poured water into the teapot. “Will you two be staying long?” she asked. “There’s no rush, I don’t expect your Dad and Dewey to be back for a couple of weeks.”

“I don’t know, Mom,” Gary replied. “It will depend on what we find in the library.”

****

The two men rose early the next morning and, after a quick breakfast at Nancy Reardon’s insistence, headed for the high school. Gary signed for the two of them in the registry just inside the library, walked past the guard and asked the librarian where to find books on steel making and chemistry. She directed them to the next available researcher, who consulted an existing bibliography on each subject and headed for the science section of the library. She brought Geyer several volumes on the production of steel and the Bessemer process. Geyer took two volumes and seated himself at a table in the corner. He had brought his secretary with him, a small leather case containing paper, several pencils—he had been warned that pens and ink were forbidden in the library—note cards, and other paraphernalia. Absorbed, he proceeded to read and make notes.

Gary wasn’t as fortunate. He hadn’t known that there were two kinds of chemistry, organic and non-organic. The researcher brought a stack of books from each category. Finally, in frustration, Gary went back to the researcher and asked her if she knew of any books on primers, specifically lead styphnate and DDNP. The researcher hadn’t heard of DDNP but a large number of ‘manufacturers’ had been interested in lead styphnate, and she brought him those volumes.

The two spent the morning reading and taking notes. Geyer issued a constant stream of muttered comments and hired a local researcher to help translate books from up-time English to colloquial German.

“Finding what you were looking for, Osker?” Gary asked. The hour was approaching noon, and Geyer appeared to have been successful in his search.

“Yes and no. The Bessemer process is more complicated than I thought. I have found that my initial understanding—blow air through the molten iron—is not as simple as I thought. I want to make specialty steel. I thought using the Bessemer process was the answer, but I think I was wrong . . . at least to start. I use what the books here call the puddling process. It’s easier to alter the alloys with my current method. I do need a hammer forge and a rolling and stamping mill, but I think I need to build what you up-timers call a prototype plant. I can add a Bessemer furnace later.”

“You’ll still be able to make tool steel and tungsten carbide steel for us, right? We need that to make the dies and other tools.”

“Yes, as long as I can get the proper ores. If you can get zinc to make brass, I can get tungsten from the same place. I think my next step is to place our orders with Schmidt Steam. Have you found what you need?”

Gary wagged his head from side to side and finally sighed. “Like you, yes and no. It’s harder than I thought. I think I need an alchemist.”

The trip to Grantville wasn’t a total loss, not for Geyer at least. Gary, unfortunately, had to search elsewhere. He had found some information—enough to know he couldn’t make primer compound, any kind, by himself. He just didn’t have the background, the experience, or the knowledge.

IV

September, 1634

Essen

 

Nicki Jo Prickett sat in her office in the Essen Chemical works nursing a cooling mug of tea and staring out the window. October was approaching, and the weather had cooled earlier than expected. She should have been doing something, but . . . it just wasn’t the same since last year when Tobias Ridley and Solomon des Caux had blown themselves up. She watched the wind blow through the trees that had been planted in front of the building. Some were turning already, and autumn wouldn’t officially arrive for another week.

She knew the explosion that had killed two of her researchers wasn’t her fault. Katherine kept reminding her of that fact. She was . . . just depressed. She wasn’t motivated to do anything, just coasting. In one part of her mind, she was disgusted. She wasn’t used to being idle. The rest of her mind, however, kept returning the scene from the previous year, the scene of bodies being retrieved from the rubble after the explosion.

Katherine Boyle, the fifth daughter of Richard Boyle, the Earl of Cork, could be heard in the outer office. Katherine and Nicki Jo were . . . what up-timers would call a couple. They had been together for almost two years; meeting after Katherine had fled to Brussels, away from her abusive husband, the late and unlamented Arthur, Viscount Ranelagh. Ranelagh had hounded Katherine all the way from England to Brussels where he apparently drowned in a canal while drunk.

Tobias Ridley and Solomon des Caux had caused their own deaths and that of others by ignoring her instructions, trying to short-cut a process they believed could move faster by ignoring some steps. They were wrong. The steps, required to further refine and purify some of the ingredients, were important. Tobias and Solomon thought otherwise. The result was an explosion that destroyed the lab and killed Ridley, des Caux, and some other nearby experimenters.

GIGO, she thought. For Tobias, that was Contaminants in, BOOM out. She giggled and the sudden giggles startled her. The giggle was so . . . inappropriate. She sighed. I should be in the lab, she thought. At least I’m not cutting myself. Nicki Jo had a habit of . . . punishing herself. Katherine had found her cutting lines into her arm a week after the explosion. She pulled back her sleeve and glanced at the white lines of scars. The freshest scar was now more than six months old. That line of thought took her down one circuitous path after another. Her thoughts were interrupted by Katherine calling from the outer office. “Nicki Jo, you have a visitor.”

“Who is it?”

“Hi, Nicki Jo,” Gary Reardon called as he entered her office. “It’s been awhile.” Gary Reardon was twice Nicki Jo Prickett’s age. He knew her because he was a friend of her father. He walked over to Nicki Jo and sat down across from her desk.

Gary’s preemptive entrance startled her. “Gary Reardon! Why are you here?”

“Ms. Boyle, I believe her name is, made the mistake of glancing toward your office door. You know me, Nicki Jo. I don’t like waiting in outer offices—especially when it’s an office of an old friend. As for the why, I would like to consult with you on a project.”

“Sometimes Katy goes too far,” Nicki Jo muttered. Katy knew quite well she didn’t want to see anyone.

“I know it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other but, I have a project that may interest you.”

“Ha.”

“I think so, and so does Ms. Boyle.”

“Call me Katherine,” Katherine Boyle interrupted from the doorway. When Gary Reardon had marched past her into Nicki Jo’s office, she had followed.

“Katherine. Thank you,” he said. Focusing on Nicki Jo, again, he continued. “When I entered, I found you sitting here, giggling. I’ve been told why you are—have been—upset, but, Nicki Jo, it’s been almost a year! It’s time you got yourself working again. You can’t continue punishing yourself.”

“And you think you know how to motivate me?” Nicki Jo asked peevishly. Still, she thought, what am I doing here? Nothing. Maybe I do need something to take my mind off Tobias and Solomon. I really hadn’t liked them all that well, chauvinists that they were. She saw Banfi Hunyades slip into her office, watching. Clearly, Gary had gone directly to the chemical plant when he arrived in Essen and spoken with Banfi Hunyades, her senior chemist. So he would have found out that she hadn’t been actively working in some time.

Maybe. Maybe not. Won’t know until I try.”

“What do you want?”

Gary had noticed Hunyades’ entrance, too. He nodded to the older chemist in acknowledgement. “I want you to design and build a chemical plant,” he told Nicki Jo. “A plant that is safe, using well-documented processes, and able to operate with limited professional supervision and oversight.”

“What kind of plant?” she asked.

“We—

“Who’s we?”

“Nicki Jo. Let me finish a sentence, please. The we is me, Pat Johnson, Osker Geyer from Suhl, Archie Mitchell, others in Suhl, and perhaps some more whom I’ll meet in Magdeburg on the way home. The where is Suhl and the what is center-fire cartridge primers.”

“The Hart boys are already making primers,” she countered.

“Yes—using fulminate of mercury which shortens the life of cartridge brass and is highly unstable. We want to be able to reload fired cartridge brass. We want you to design a facility—from end-to-end, to make non-mercury, non-corrosive, non-toxic primers. Using DDNP if possible, lead styphnate as an alternative.”

“DDNP?” Banfi Hunyades asked, interrupting the conversation.

“Full name, Diazodinitrophenol. It’s made from picric acid. I understand you all have some experience with that.”

“More explosives,” Nicki Jo said. For many reasons, and not just because of the explosion last year, she was reluctant to be involved with explosives.

“Has to be, Nicki Jo, if the primers are going to work. We don’t want our plant to blow up in our face nor do we want to ignore the risk to our employees. That’s why we need a chemical engineer, one who can design the chemical processes and also design a safe plant to make the primers.”

“Do it, Nick,” Katherine said from the doorway.

“What about you, Katy?”

“Is this a permanent position, Mr. Reardon, or—” Katherine asked.

Gary saw Katherine’s question startled Hunyades. He had seated himself in a side chair during the conversation. I can imagine some of the thoughts going around in your head, Herr Hunyades. Ambition, fear, maybe a little greed?

“Call me Gary, Katherine, if you would.”

“Gary.”

“It could be if that is what Nicki Jo wants,” he said to her. “It’s an option.”

Returning to Nicki Jo, he said, “I know you have a position here and I—we, our investors—wouldn’t ask you to give that up. We were thinking of a consultancy. Fixed duration, explicit goals with mutually agreed upon timeline, bonuses and options to alter or extend the contract.”

“How long?”

“We want to be in production in a year.”

“What!”

Gary noticed that Hunyades was nodding his head. Gary understood that Hunyades wasn’t an idle member of Essen Chemical. He understood what was required to build a complete, new chemical plant. I may have an ally with Herr Hunyades. Nicki Jo obviously hadn’t realized the scale of the plant that I need.

“Yes. Full commercial production in a year producing at least a thousand primers per production line per day.”

“Katy?”

“I think you should take the contract,” she answered.

“I agree, Nicki Jo,” Hunyades added.

“But—”

“You need to do something besides sitting in your office feeling depressed and punishing yourself,” Katherine said. That was exactly what Nicki Jo had been doing. Everyone who knew her also knew what she was, and wasn’t, doing.

“I’m not—”

“Yes, you are. What about all those new scars on your arms?” she countered.

“What would Colette say? And Fernando and Maria Anna?” Colette Modi was the owner of Essen Chemical, and the one who had hired Nicki Jo as her chief researcher. Fernando and Maria Anna were the King and Queen of the Netherlands following the separation of the Netherlands from Hapsburg Spain. Fernando and Maria Anna, by happenstance, had become close friends.

“Tell them you’re taking a sabbatical from Essen Chemical and that we’re willing to license the process if it works, given some constraints and non-compete—and under our brand,” Gary responded quickly.

“Katy? What about her?” she asked Gary.

“She’s welcome, too, Nicki Jo. We’ll need you to train a staff to run the production lines safely when you are finished. Katherine can help and I’m sure Herr Hunyades can manage the research here at Essen Chemical while you’re gone. Correct, Herr Hunyades?”

Ja, Herr Reardon,” He confirmed. “It wouldn’t be any different from what I’ve been doing for the last year,” Hunyades added.

Nicki Jo knew something had to change. Katy was right. She needed something to take her mind off those two—no, she wasn’t going there. Maybe a change of scenery, new faces, new . . . She could design the plant from end to end, Gary had said . . . Banfi Hunyades could be trusted to run things here and send her reports in Suhl to keep her in the loop . . . Their research lines still had a long time to go, and most of the current work was planning how to upgrade their pilot plants to production capacity.

She drummed her fingers on her desk and exchanged looks with Katherine and Hunyades for a moment. It would be different, and she would have complete control, so Gary had said.

“Gary?” Nicki Jo asked.

“Yes?”

“How many primers are the Hart brothers producing?”

“The best we know is 1,000 per day.”

Nicki Jo muttered, “Idiot boys. They’ll kill themselves yet.” She looked out her window. A freight wagon was leaving the warehouse and moving towards the gate. A delivery for someone. She remained, looking out the window, listening as Gary continued.

“We want to have several parallel production lines in operation.”
That statement didn’t surprise her. It was necessary if Gary’s intent was to produce tens of thousands of primers. She turned from the window and asked, “Does the army need that many?”

“I don’t know. We don’t intend to sell solely to the army. We have other plans.”

“Like what?”

“Well . . .” He looked at the three of them, Hunyades, Katherine Boyle, and Nicki Jo. “This is all confidential, you understand.”

“Yes,” Nicki Jo acknowledged. Katherine and Hunyades agreed.

“Okay. Let me tell you about the consortium . . .”

 

V

October, 1634

Suhl

Archie Mitchell was alone in his office late in the afternoon reminiscing. The days were noticeably shorter, and his office was darkening. His officemate, Bailiff Kurt Wagner, was assisting Judge Fross in court. It was time to light the lamps or go home.

Dieter Issler, Archie’s senior deputy, had returned from a fugitive hunt in the ‘Wald and was taking some time off. He had returned with the fugitive and a little four-year-old orphan girl, Marta. He and his wife Greta were adopting her.

It felt strange to have a child in the house after all these years. Marta called him Großpapa. Marjorie was being very . . . grandmotherly. A sudden wave of emotion swept through him as a memory of his long-gone daughter Lena welled up. No time to be maudlin.

Anse Hatfield had dropped by earlier in the day, and Archie took him to lunch at the Boar’s Head Inn. Hatfield was in a bad way. His injuries, the loss of some fingers and part of his left hand, were minimal, but they still depressed him. He couldn’t do some things that he had before, couldn’t grip a tool with his left hand, he felt that he was useless. In addition, he hadn’t been medically discharged from the Army, just sent home as a National Guardsman. Hatfield took the change of his status as an insult even if it did come with a promotion. Too damaged for the Army, but good enough for the National Guard.

Pat Johnson had offered Hatfield a job. So far, Hatfield was resisting; he didn’t want an office job. He mentioned starting a small trucking company for the city and training drivers for the National Guard. Frank Jackson was sending some small trucks, too small to be used as APCs, for that purpose. Finally, he told Archie about his fiancé, Leonore von Wilke. She was still in the Army and she was another reason why Hatfield wouldn’t make any long-term commitments. Whither goest Leonore, so would Anse Hatfield, Archie observed.

Archie was about to grab his hat, cane and head home when Pat Johnson walked in. “Hi, Archie.”

“Hi, Pat. Pull up a chair. What brings you here?”

Pat walked over to Archie’s desk, moved one of the side chairs in front of Archie’s desk and sat. “Have a question. Do any of your manuals describe how cartridge brass is formed?”

Pat had been spending time taking notes from Archie’s reloading manuals. His question stirred Archie’s curiosity. “Hmmm, I’ll have to look. I know that cartridge brass is a 70/30 mix of copper and zinc and that primer brass is softer, about ninety percent copper to ten percent, or less, of zinc.”

“I didn’t know that. I hadn’t thought about primer brass yet. I’ve been focused on making cartridge brass.”

One of Archie’s junior deputies walked into Archie’s office, saw that he had a visitor, and left, closing the office door behind him. It must have been a minor matter. The deputies knew it was unwise to interrupt Archie when he had a visitor unless the interruption was warranted. “Why do you ask?”

Pat scooted his chair closer to Archie’s desk. “We need to mechanize the process if we are to produce the number of cartridge brass that we will need.”

Archie paused, searching his memory. “As best that I recall, the brass is made in three steps on three machines. You start with a small brass cup, less than an inch in diameter, and run it through three passes on each of the three presses. Each pass forms the copper cup into a closed cylinder until it’s at the required length and thickness after the last pass on the second machine.” Archie stopped, opened a desk drawer and retrieved a piece of paper.

He took a pencil and began to draw a block diagram of the process as he remembered it. “You have to do it in stages, you see.” He drew three squares on the paper. “Or the brass will split or crumple.”

Next, he drew arrows from the first square to the second, and another arrow from the second to the third. “The brass is cleaned and lubed before it is passed to the next machine.” He wrote C&L on each arrow and Extrude/3Passes in the first two boxes.

“The third stage, the final stage, actually, is where the base is formed, headstamp imprinted, the primer pocket made, and an ejector groove is cut. The last step includes cutting the brass to length and trimming the mouth. Once the tooling is set up you can make a bunch of brass in a few minutes.” He drew a bubble next to the third square, drew an arrow from the bubble to the third square and wrote inside the bubble, HS-PP-TRIM.

“You know more than I expected, Archie,” Pat said. One of the court’s staff knocked on Archie’s office door, entered, and lit the two brass lamps in sconces on the wall. Archie pulled some matches from his drawer and lit the lamp on his desk before returning to his conversation. “You’re lucky, Pat. I visited the Lake City Arsenal when I was a sergeant major at the Army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth. That was just before I retired in ’83,” he said. “Lake City was only a short drive away in Independence, Missouri. The school ran a tour for every class. I went along a few times. Here. Take this.” He gave Pat the paper with the diagram on it. Pat glanced at it, folded it, and put it in his jacket pocket.

Pat returned Archie’s smile. “That’s good info. Gary and Osker Geyer went to Grantville to consult the library. Osker Geyer returned a couple of days ago, and Gary went on to find an alchemist,” he said with a smile.

“Alchemist?” Archie chuckled. He could imagine Gary saying something like that. For all his type-A personality, Gary had a wicked sense of humor.

“That’s what Osker said. I think Gary really meant a chemist.”

“More than likely,” Archie agreed. “Where’d he go?”

“Not sure. Osker said Gary didn’t want anyone connected with the government. He said Gary didn’t want the camel’s nose in our affairs.”

“I can understand that.”

“I’m surprised you’d say that. You’re part of the government here.”

“Yes, and I’m keeping as low a profile as I can. I don’t want the city and county becoming dependent on the Constabulary or me. They’re already loading Judge Fross with stuff they should be handling themselves.”

“So they can blame Judge Fross instead of themselves.” Pat made the question a statement. He was familiar with up-time politics and knew down-time politics was not any different.

“That’s one reason. Do you know when Gary’s getting back?”

“Don’t know,” Pat answered. “Couple of weeks, maybe. I know he planned to go to Magdeburg to talk to some money people. I think he was going to see if some of the Abrabanel clan would be interested in investing or know some potential investors who would.”

While they talked, darkness had fallen. “Well, if you think you can get the project running in a year, you better get moving. Winter’s coming on.”

“I’ve been busy, too. I’ve talked to the Wettins about buying a couple or three sections of land outside Suhl. We’ll need to make the primer compound some distance away from everyone, maybe have multiple sites depending on how the plant is designed.”

Archie nodded, “Yeah, I remember Lake City had bunkers and production buildings scattered all over.”

“The plot of land I’ve picked is two sides of a ridge. I figured we could put the chemical plant on the far side of the ridge away from people and the production side . . . just in case.”

“It goes boom,” Archie said, finishing Pat’s sentence.

“Yeah. The Wettins said they’d approve the deal pending proof of our ability to pay.”

“Proof?” Archie was surprised. That was not the way the aristocracy operated, or so he had been told. It was more like, cash on the barrelhead.

“A letter from our financiers,” Pat explained. “We now have enough funds on hand to buy the land but I want to save that for a reserve, as much as I can, in case we hit some unexpected expenses. Osker made a deal with Schmidt Steam. He bought some smaller engines in addition to the primary ones and still stayed within budget. Our finances are better than I’d estimated for this stage.”

Pat’s plans seemed to be coming to fruition . . . at least his part of them. Archie hoped Gary would be as successful. That thought brought forth a question. “When are we going to see this master plan of yours?”

“As soon as Gary gets back. I’ll call a meeting of the board.”

Archie watched the other courthouse employees leave through his office window, each one parading past his office. It was time to cut this conversation short. “Okay, I’ll go through my books when I get home. I think one of my manuals has a piece about making cartridge brass. I remember reading about Hornady’s plant but I don’t remember where, exactly, I read about it.”

“Fine. Thanks, Archie.” They both stood. Something had been nibbling in Archie’s mind. Something overlooked . . . and then he realized what it was. “Uh, Pat.”

Pat stopped just at the doorway, waiting for Archie to gather his coat, hat, and cane. “Yeah?”

“Don’t forget to add a brassworks to your project plan,” Archie said walking up to Pat. “You’ll have to make your own brass.”

“Crap! I hadn’t considered that. I just assumed Geyer would make the brass.” They walked down the hallway to the court’s side door. The outside street was lit by a three-candle lamp next to the doorway. As was his long habit, Archie swept the street with his eyes before he stepped completely outside. Seeing nothing to draw his further attention, he accompanied Pat down the street toward the center of town. As they walked, Archie continued explaining his thoughts about the brassworks.

“Geyer might operate it, but I think this consortium of yours should own it.”

Pat thought that over. Geyer had the experience to operate the brassworks. With minor differences, it was much like operating an iron foundry. But, did they—the consortium—want to give their investment over to Geyer? “Yeah, you’re right. Thanks again, Archie.”

“Any time, Pat.” At the front of the courthouse, they separated, each heading home. Pat’s questions gave Archie food for thought. He’d look through his reloading manuals after supper. And, he reminded himself, write down everything I can remember about Lake City Arsenal.

****

5 thoughts on “SMC, Part 1

  1. leegibson

    Is some excitment coming next? I was expecting more action from this author – not that how to set up a post RoF business isn’t interesting, I just hopped for more emotional conflict and resolution pretty please.
    Lee

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