The book is out now so this is the last snippet.
1636 The Devil’s Opera – Snippet 56
“Oh, tell them not to worry,” Atwood spoke up with a grin. “I recorded the song on tape, and I’m going to play it on my music show on Voice of America in a week.”
Klaus and Reuel looked at him wide-eyed. “Does Gunther know that?”
Atwood’s grin grew wider. “Since I just now decided to do it, I really doubt that he does.”
“‘Scuse me,” Klaus said. He stepped out into the street and whistled shrilly. Another man trotted up from a block away. “Will, you stay here. I have to get word to Gunther.” And he sprinted down the street.
A cab approached, attracted by the whistle. Franz flagged the cabbie down, and he and Atwood clambered up into the wagon with the baggage. The cabbie clucked to his horse, and they rolled off with a final wave to the CoC men.
“Keep watch?” Atwood repeated his question. “Why do you have CoC toughs loitering in front of your house like they’re keeping guard on it?”
“Because they are.”
Atwood frowned. “Give.”
“When we first came to Magdeburg, the CoC kept an eye over us because we were important to Frau Simpson. But after Marla started singing the Irish songs in the tavern, well, those songs spoke to them and they watched over her because the songs were important to them. And to keep her from being harassed in the tavern, until people learned who and what she was.”
“Oh, yes,” Atwood chuckled. “I got a good belly-laugh when I heard what she was doing. You do realize that most of those songs were from the Catholic side of that particular disagreement, don’t you? The thought of a bunch of mostly Protestant Germans singing music written by mostly Catholic Irishmen just really tickled my funny bone. Still does.”
They chatted about nothing consequential for a few blocks, until Atwood pointed to one side.
“Look at that.”
Franz followed the other man’s finger, and saw a young woman handing out broadsheets to grasping hands, broadsheets that had a familiar looking caption on them. He leaned back, as he began to absorb the reality of just what might come of Marla’s song.
Friedrich von Logau sauntered into Walcha’s Coffee House later that day, pleased with himself, which wasn’t an unusual condition, and pleased with the world as well, which was a bit more irregular. He seated himself at his accustomed table, waving a hand at the serving maid and holding up one finger. His cup of coffee appeared almost before he could lower his hand.
He was midway through his first cup, doodling in his pocket notebook again as he mentally masticated on a new epigram that was refusing to take proper shape, when the door opened and Gronow and Plavius came in. They were arguing over something; not an unusual state of affairs for them. They broke it off when they saw Friedrich, however, and almost marched on him, wasting no time in crossing the floor and setting into chairs on each side of him.
Logau made a slow studied gesture of pulling out his pocket watch and checking the time. “Well, I would have said good morning, my friends, but according to this the morning has fled and afternoon is upon us.” He closed the cover of the watch and beamed at them. “So good afternoon to you, instead. What took you so long?”
“Ach,” Plavius said, “the pastor was long-winded in his homily this morning, and the choir had a new cantata to sing by Kappellmeister Schütz, which was so long I wonder if he got confused and decided to write an oratorio instead.”
Gronow waved a hand in dismissal of all that. “Friedrich, you knew, did you not, what that woman was going to do last night?”
Logau pursed his lips and nodded.
“And you purposely and intentionally did not tell us beforehand.”
Now Logau could feel his facial muscles stretch as the very broad grin fought its way onto his face despite all he could do to repress it.
“You son of a syphilitic sow,” Gronow exclaimed in English, sitting back as the serving maid slid a cup of coffee in front of him.
“Nice alliteration,” Logau commented, still smiling. He was enjoying this.
“No,” Plavius contradicted his friend. “You should not insult good swine that way. Myself, I would say he is more of a scrofulous, flea-infested, pox-ridden cur.”
Logau put his pencil down, and applauded.
“Well done, my friends. You have risen to new heights — or is it depths — of invective. Well done, indeed.”
He stopped clapping, and let the smile slip from his face. “Yes, I knew what she intended to do. And having heard her rehearse it once, I thought I knew what to expect.”
Logau remained silent after that, until Gronow set his coffee cup down with a clank and said, “Well?” Logau looked at him with his eyebrows raised. “What did you expect?” Gronow’s voice dripped with impatience.
“I really do not recall, now,” Logau replied, “but what we heard was far more than I expected. Gods and little demons,” Plavius frowned at his blasphemy, but Logau continued on, “if she had called for a march on Berlin after that song, I would have been in the front rank. Me; resident skeptic, Stoic, and curmudgeon in training after my august father. I am not at all sure that the wax of Ulysses would prevail against the siren’s voice of Frau Linder.”
Plavius checked his coffee cup in its motion to his mouth, and returned it to the table. “Along that thought . . .” He reached inside his coat and drew a page out that he handed to Logau. “The CoC girls were handing these out this morning. Doing a brisk trade, they were.”
Logau unfolded the page into a broadsheet. It was a momentary shock to see the words he had penned for Marla in print under a screaming banner. But then the reality of who had to be involved sank in, and a sardonic smile crossed his face.
“Of course. It was to be expected that the good Gunther Achterhof would not let this opportunity slip.”
The conversation turned after that to questions of what Gronow would publish in the next issue of Black Tomcat Magazine, as well as their various projects, such as Gronow’s libretto for the opera Arthur Rex. It turned, that is, until Gronow himself jerked upright coughing and spewing coffee from his mouth.
Logau leaned back to make sure that none of the spew landed on his clothing. He frowned at his friend. “Coffee is for drinking, not breathing. And what, may I ask, brought on this fit?”
Gronow held up a hand until he finally could clear his throat and get a breath of air. “It just dawned on me — she’s going to sing Guinevere in my opera!”
Logau began to laugh at the panic-stricken look on his friend’s face.