1636 The Devil’s Opera – Snippet 43

1636 The Devil’s Opera – Snippet 43

Simon walked beside his friend, trying to absorb everything that had just been said. “But . . . but he seems so nice and friendly.”

“Does he? Think about what he told me before the fight. Think it over carefully.”

          Simon recalled the words the merchant had spoken. One phrase in particular stood out in his memory, I shall only be disappointed if you lose, Hans. He thought of the expression on the merchant’s face, of the tone of his voice. A realization dawned in his mind.

“He ordered you to win.”

Hans spat. “Yah. Ordered, and threatened.”

Simon shuddered. “Threatened?”

“Oh, I know the words seem mild. But there was a warehouseman who did something to ‘disappoint’ the good master some time back. One day he didn’t come to work, nor the next day. The day after that he was found floating face-down in the river.”

“You think . . .”

Hans was silent for a moment. “Not that it would have done much good, the words of such as us against the word of one of the richest men in Magdeburg.”

Simon was very confused. What was Hans talking about? And if Master Schardius was such a bad man . . . “So why do you work for him?”

Hans was silent for a long time. Then he said: “I was never able to read or write. The school master would write the letters down, but when I tried to read them they twisted around. So I ended up working for Schardius. I don’t like him, but…”

He shrugged. “He pays his warehouse men better than anyone else for that kind of work, and in turn we do some other work for him now and then.”

“Other work?”

“Never mind. You don’t need to know right now. It’s just . . . I needed the money,” Hans muttered. “I still do. It’s the same reason I fight. I need the money to take care of Uschi.”

“But you make enough money to take care of her from your job, don’t you? And she makes money with her embroidery.” Simon was confused.

“It’s not enough,” Hans said. “If something happens to me, she needs money set back, money to keep her. I failed her once; I’m not going to fail her again; never. That’s why I fight.”

Simon had trouble understanding. “What could happen to you?”

“I may have seen something I shouldn’t have seen.”

Hans stopped suddenly and placed both hands on Simon’s shoulder. “I’m not going to tell you to forget what I just told you. I know you won’t. But for the sake of your safety, and for Ursula’s, keep it behind your eyes. Don’t open the gate of your mouth and let it out.” He dropped his hands and started to turn, paused as if a thought had struck him, then turned back. “Unless something happens to me.”

“Nothing will happen to you,” Simon protested.

“Maybe it won’t. But if it does, you go to the policemen, Chieske and Hoch. Especially Chieske. No one else. They’re the only ones who look to be honest, and that up-timer Chieske is a hard man himself. Nobody will turn him. You tell them what I said. But no one else. Understand?”

Simon nodded.


Another nod.

“Good. Now, I need something to get a bad taste out of my mouth.”

It was not many more minutes before they were at The Chain. Hans walked up to the counter and slapped coins down in front of Veit. “Genever.” Veit produced another of the blue bottles from the table behind him. Hans grabbed it and headed toward a table. Veit turned a spigot and pulled a mug of small beer from its cask and handed it to Simon.

“Fight not go well?” Veit nodded towards Hans where he was sitting alone at a table.

“He won in seven rounds. He’s happy with the fight. It’s something else that’s chewing on his insides.” Simon was faithful to his promise and left it at that.

“Right. If it gets worse, give me the high sign. A moody Hans is not good for the establishment.” Veit winked.

Simon went over and took a seat on the bench next to where Hans was cradling the blue bottle between his palms.

It was some time later that they wandered back to their rooms. Ursula was happy to see them home in one piece. She was not, however, happy about the black eye Hans had received. She let him know in very clear and concise language the extent of her unhappiness, with the aid of a finger pointing in his face. Simon was somewhat surprised to see his friend just stand with a smile on his face and let his sister upbraid him, but he was beginning to understand that Hans would give Ursula anything and everything he could, including being her target if that was what she needed.

When she at length ran out of words and emotional steam, Ursula threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, “You great lunk, you don’t even care that you got hurt, do you?”

Hans shook his head, still grinning.

Ursula started laughing. “Oh, Hans, what am I going to do with you?” He held his arms out, and she stepped into his embrace. “I love you, you know.”

“I know,” Hans said, his face gone serious.

“It just bothers me that you fight so much.”

“I know,” Hans repeated. “But we need the money.”

“Do we really?” Ursula pushed back from him. “Or is that just your excuse to fight?”

Hans took the money Tobias had given him from his pocket and placed it in her cupped palms. Then he drew himself up. “I’m good at it, Uschi. I like it. And I’m going to keep doing it, to provide for you.” He spread his hands, shrugged, and turned to his room.

Ursula looked after him and took a step, then stopped. Her shoulders drooped. After a moment, she put the money in her own pocket, then reached over to the table, picked up her cane, and made her way to her own room. “Blow out the candle, please, Simon,” she said over her shoulder in a dull voice.

Simon waited for her door to close. His blanket lay folded on his stool. He sat long enough to take off his boots, then picked up the blanket. Blowing out the candle, he moved to his space in front of the fireplace. A moment later he was rolled up in the blanket, and moments after that his eyes drifted closed.


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26 Responses to 1636 The Devil’s Opera – Snippet 43

  1. “But there was a warehouseman who did something to ‘disappoint’ the good master some time back. One day he didn’t come to work, nor the next day. The day after that he was found floating face-down in the river.”

    Sounds like a reference to Joseph Delt; but in snippet 1 it is revealed that Delt was not the only one who met that fate. So maybe this is a case of misdirection; or maybe it isn’t. As Randall Garrett said: . . .

    • Tweeky says:

      I have a sneaking suspicion that that is who Hans was referring to. I wonder what it was that Hans thought he’d seen that wasn’t supposed to?

      • Don’t know, Tweeky; Joseph Delt is the obvious guess, but in any case it will be no surprise if Hans turns up dead.

        I’m not fully convinced that it was Schardius who Delt death to Joseph, but I’m by no means convinced that it wasn’t.

    • Jan says:

      The warehouseman may or may not have been Joseph Delt but Hans know it is Master Schardius standard way to get rid of people, which would be higly relevant for the Joseph Delt case.

    • Cobbler says:


      Randall Garret never ran short of things to say. Can you be more specific?

      As for finding Hans dead…Have you no sense of story?

      Five will get you ten Iron Hans helps save the day.

      • Cobbler: You may be right about Hans; in fact we may both be right. There has already been one attempt on Hans, in snippet 2 IIRC. Another, this one successful, is certainly not impossible.

        Since you may not have read my post on that previous snippet, what Randall Garrett said was:

        Now the plot begins to thicken, as it should;
        It’s the thickening in plots that makes ’em good.

        • Cobbler says:


          Randall Garrett also said:


          I wouldn’t put any pun past the man.

          The thickening of the plot is a chancy business. Does a betrayal and a theft thicken a plot as much as a murder? How much thickening can you get out of three pranks and an Angry Aunt?

          This is an art, not a science.

  2. Cobbler says:

    There used to be a television cop show called Starsky and Hutch.

    Are officers Chieske and Hoch a shout out to that series?

    I never actually watched the show, so I have no idea if there is any further resemblance.

  3. Terranovan says:

    Sounds like Hans has dyslexia. It’s not a guarantee of illiteracy – he could learn to read – but it would be expensive.

    • Tweeky says:

      That’s exactly what I thought too when I read the reason why Hans couldn’t read and write.

    • Doug Lampert says:

      As a mild dsylexic I’m not sure. A lot of what moderns take for granted that makes reading easier (like standardized spellings, punctuation, and consistently putting spaces between words) isn’t actually all that old. And a dsylexic needs the help more than other people.

      Stuff like standardized spelling and punctuation is mostly a result of printing presses and those have been arround for almost 200 years in story, but stuff like alphabetical dictionaries of a single language (as opposed to dictionaries intended to help with translations) were just coming in about the time of the story and German does a lot of compound words which might make spaces seem even more optional.

      Even the shapes of the letters have changed over time to fit more easily on lines and be more recognizable in type at the cost of being harder to write (for instance the long s and most other forms of letters which are different based on where they are in the word have largely died).

      Basically, I think Hans might have excellent luck learning to read modern works, I’m not nearly as sure about period works.

  4. Terranovan says:

    Oh, and @Cobbler about Starsky & Hutch – I think it’s only to the extent that they’re both buddy cop stories. There’s been an explicit homage to Mutt & Jeff with Byron & Gotthilf, but so far as I know that’s all the references they make outside the 1632verse.

  5. David Carrico says:

    Okay, this is David the co-author, dropping in to leave a message and answer a few of the questions that have been asked.

    Message: in case you haven’t heard about it, Baen is going to release an e-book entitled 1635: Music and Murder, probably around the middle of this month. It collects in one volume all of the main published Franz and Marla and music stories, plus the three published Byron and Gotthilf stories, so it in effect is a prequel to 36TDO. I did make some small revisions to correct some errors of fact and usage and to fix a couple of canon problems, so these can now be considered the authoritative versions. Nevertheless, since everything in the book has been published before, they’re going to offer it at a reduced price compared to the regular e-book price. So if you haven’t read any or all of these stories, here’s the easiest way to get them all and catch up on the background of most of the characters in 36TDO.

    Now let’s see, questions.

    Homage to Starsky and Hutch? Ah, that would be “No.” It’s more an artifact of just writing a police procedural. Cops usually work in partnerships, especially investigators. And writing in the 1632-verse, having one up-timer and one down-timer is almost de rigeur.

    Who wrote what? Well, I wrote the entire first draft. Eric added a few scenes to it, but most of his work consisted of editing, reorganizing, and punching up the intensity. He added no characters, for example. So except for the mainstream characters like Mary Simpson and Gunther Achterhof, the characters are all mine, as are their backgrounds.

    Characters with disabilities? I myself have lived with fibromyalgia for over thirty years, but I don’t put that on a plane with the problems that Simon and Ursula have. I have a number of friends who have and are dealing with serious handicap issues in their families, but I have been very blessed that I haven’t had to deal with those in my personal life. I don’t use handicapped or injured characters as any sort of metaphor for life in troubled times or anything like that, so don’t waste your time looking for that. :-) Mostly I use them to drive home the point that 16XX was a very hard and quite frequently brutal era to live in. I want to dispel any thought that this was an antiseptic and modern playground. That’s my plotter’s reason for using those characters. My writer’s reason for using them is to challenge myself as a writer. If I can make them sympathetic, if I can make readers empathize with them and their situations, if I can make people cry–or at least sniffle–over them, it means that my craft and skill is continuing to improve. (I’ve made myself cry with two of my stories. One of them is “Elegy”, which in the Franz and Marla timeline is the story that is immediately before 36TDO, and is available in the forthcoming e-book. The other is a non-music non-police short-short entitled “The Evening of the Day.” It was published in Grantville Gazette, but was recently released as a Grantville Single on Amazon.) Oh, and yes, Hans is dyslexic.

    Metzgerinin – I have no idea where that came from. Our best guess is someone tried to do a global search and replace with a horrible typo. It showed up in the galleys, and yes, we got it corrected to Metzgerin. And our resident expert on early modern Germany assured us that Metzgerin was an appropriate form of address in that time frame. You’ll see a number of feminine form surnames for female characters in the novel.

    Capitol – guilty as charged. My fault. And we caught it in the galleys, so it’s been corrected to capital.

    Maps – I have my author’s copies of the novel. There are five maps – two general area, and three of Magdeburg. I think you’ll be happy with those.

    Page count – according to the copy I have in hand, the last numbered page is 514.

    One that you don’t know about if you don’t frequent Baen’s Bar – My research on Jacob Aleman, Otto Gericke’s father in law in the early scenes, turned up a bad date for his death. It turns out he actually died not too long before the Ring of Fire happened. We ended up making changes to every scene he was in. He was replaced with Jacob Loft, a fictional down-timer, who was cast as a family friend of the Gerickes. So those scenes will read somewhat differently in the printed version than they did in the snippets.

    No, I’m not going to give you any direct answers about your questions and theories about the story line, other than to say that so far you’ve come pretty close to what’s going to happen in one or two of the guesses. :-)


    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      Wow, David! Thanks for all of the information

      Regarding your disabled characters, my wife is severely disabled (hemiplegia from a brain-stem aneurysm that she survived, amazingly enough). Your characters really do resonate with me, having had to deal with the effects of the disability as her husband and caregiver. (I’d like to get her interested in reading some of your work, but she’s much more into classic American literature and Christian non-fiction than she is into science fiction and alternative history.)

      Again, thanks.

    • Robert Krawitz says:

      Interesting background.

      I haven’t been keeping up with GG since #28, but I’ve always found your stories to be particularly interesting. I don’t play much these days, but I used to play viola a fair bit, so all the music stories are lots of fun to read. I’m looking forward to more of the musical revolution that Franz, Marla, and the rest are launching.

      The Eroica is going to have a very interesting meaning, when they get around to performing it. And I can just imagine what would happen if they use the words (when they perform the 9th) Leonard Bernstein used at the concert when the Berlin Wall came down (freiheit schoener Goetterfunken)…that concert predated the RoF (1989) and was released on a CD, so Marla could have known about it. It would be very appropriate to use the 4th movement as the USE national anthem, given that that’s actually the case uptime :-)

      • David Carrico says:

        Well, if you’ve read up through GG 28, and if you’ve read Ring of Fire II and III, you’ve read the earlier versions of all the stories that will be in 1635: Music and Murder.

        The 1632 mini-con is at the Contraflow convention in New Orleans next month. I’ll be doing a presentation on some of the directions I think music will go in the next few generations of the new time-line. I have sound clips. You should come listen. :-)

    • David Carrico says:

      Forgot one question. Marla’s performance of Do You Hear The People Sing in Command Performance was in English.


  6. Bruce says:

    Thank you Mr. Carrico for posting and sharing with us.

    • Tweeky says:

      Yes that was very nice and that’s the first time i’ve seen an author post all kinds of useful data in the 163X snippets too.

      • David Carrico says:

        My pleasure. Eric is very busy (look up “over-committed” in the dictionary and you’ll see his picture), but I’ve got a little time on my hands, so I don’t mind answering some of the non-story line questions. No snerks about what’s gonna happen in the story, though. :-)

        I’m not here to take over, or anything like that. In fact, I probably won’t lurk much. (I don’t have /that/ much time.) But I’ll check in from time to time to see if any new questions have come up.

        • Thank you, David Carrico. You have become one of my top favorite authors, and I wish I could make it to New Orleans to meet you as well as see Eric Flint again. (I did make it the 100 miles (200 round trip) to Chattanooga for Libertycon in 2012, but 1200 rt to New Orleans is more gasoline than I will be able to buy.)

          You wrote: “(I don’t have /that/ much time.)” you could have made it that by putting:

          a less-than sign (left angle bracket) , “strong” (without the quotes), and a greater-than sign (right angle bracket) just before that, and

          the same again with a / between the less-than sign and the word “strong” just after that.

          Using square brackets to represent the angle brackets,

          The italics work the same way with “em” instead of “strong”.

          I hope the above helps not only you, but whoever else reads this post; in future posts I hope to see more use of boldface, italics, and maybe even strikeouts

  7. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching forr bosch tankless water heater

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