1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz – Snippet 09

Chapter 2

Dr. Phil’s Journey

Saturday, January 5, 1613, Augsburg

The smoke was making Paulus Rauner’s eyes water as he forced the sack stuffed with damp straw taken from the local stable down as far as he could into the chimney. Finally he was satisfied it was in place and turned his attention to getting down off the roof before it started to have an effect. The roof was slate, and it was wet, so he had to be very careful. But even being careful he still managed to slip, catching his leg against the roof of a protruding dormer window as he desperately fought to keep his balance. He managed not to fall, and a few minutes later he was safely on the ground.

“Did you do it?” Claus Schorer asked.

Paulus nodded. “It shouldn’t be long before they’re smoked out. That’ll teach them to insult my sister.”

“Then let’s get out of here. I don’t want to be around when they come out the doors.”

Paulus sent the house of Master Fleckhammer a satisfied smirk before loping off after his friend.

They covered several hundred yards before Paulus’ leg started bothering him. He ran a hand over where it was sore and it came up covered in something sticky. He sniffed his hand. It didn’t smell yucky, so he touched it with the tip of his tongue. It was salty. “Hang on, Claus. I think I cut myself.”

Claus joined him and they slipped into the moonlight to have a look at the injury. Paulus couldn’t see much, but Claus was able to crouch down and peer at it closely. “Ouch! That hurt,” Paulus protested as Claus poked the injury

“It’s bleeding a lot. Do you have a handkerchief?” Claus asked as he dug his out of a shirt sleeve.

Paulus passed him a linen handkerchief and watched and winced as Claus tied it to his injury. Their respite was disturbed by the sounds of activity coming from the direction they’d come. “What’s that?” he asked.

Claus cocked his head and listened for a moment before shooting to his feet. “I’ve no idea, and I have no intention of hanging around to find out. Can you run?”

Paulus wasn’t sure, but he was equally unwilling to hang around and risk getting caught. “I think so.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

They covered almost two blocks before Paulus had to stop.

“What’s the matter?” Claus asked.

“It hurts,” Paulus protested.

“It’ll hurt a lot more if we’re caught.”

Paulus felt the pad covering his injury. It was tacky. “I’m still bleeding.’

Claus adjusted the pad and tied it tighter to the leg. “Just keep going. We can’t afford to be caught on the streets at this time of night.”

Paulus answered by starting moving again. If the night watch were to discover them they would be in big trouble. Not just for being out without permission, but also because they would immediately become suspects to what he hoped was happening at Master Fleckhammer’s house.

Ten minutes later they slipped almost unnoticed into their dormitory — almost, because their roommate was in the room.

“Where have you two been?” Dietrich Besserer demanded in a loud whisper.

“Out,” Claus said as he struggled to light a candle.

“I can see that you’ve been out. I want to know where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to. And what’s wrong with Paulus?”

“He cut himself.” Claus took his lit candle and moved closer to Paulus.

“You haven’t been fighting I hope?'” Dietrich demanded. “You know they take a dim view of fighting.”

“Of course I haven’t been fighting,” Paulus said. It came out with distinct pauses as even the slightest movement was shooting excruciating pain through his leg, causing him to suck in air each time.

“Let me have a look at what you’ve done,” Dietrich said as he rolled out of his bed and stepped into the circle of light around Paulus’ leg. “That doesn’t look good.”

“Tell me about it,” Paulus muttered between sharp intakes of breath.

Dietrich took a closer look. He was the youngest of six brothers in a family of carpenters and woodsmen, and he’d often seen the results of axes and saws making contact with human flesh. This cut looked bad. “That’s going to need to be sewn shut. Claus, go and get Frau Kilian.

Claus and Paulus glanced at each other before shaking their heads. “We can’t do that,” Claus said. “Frau Kilian would report it, and then we’d be in trouble.’

“What have you two been up to?” Dietrich asked. Then quickly he waved his hands at them. “Never mind, it’s not important. We need someone who can sew your cut and won’t tell tales.” He himself wasn’t a candidate. One reason he wasn’t following the rest of his family was because he was squeamish. Contrary to what his brothers might say he did not faint at the sight of blood, nor was he afraid of the sight of blood. He just found the sight of someone’s lifeblood pumping out of their body uncomfortable, and he preferred not to look when an injury was being treated. As a result, he’d never actually seen his mother sew anybody up. And then there was the fact his sewing skills were so bad he didn’t even own a needle and thread. However, there was one apprentice known throughout the assay office for his sewing skills, and not only that, he was also known for his knowledge of the apothecary’s arts. Dietrich took another look at Paulus’ cut. Yes, they were going to need both of these skills if this little accident was to be kept quiet. “Do you know Phillip Gribbleflotz?” he asked Claus.

“I know who he is.”

“That’s close enough” Dietrich said. “I want you to find him and bring him here.”

“Why?” Claus asked.

“Because his father was an apothecary and he knows how to sew. Now get a move on.”

“I know how to sew,” Paulus said.

“Do you want to sew up your wound?” Dietrich asked. Paulus shook his head. “Then we need Phillip.” Dietrich found his eyes watching a drop of blood form on the bottom of Paulus’ foot. The spell was broken when it grew too big and splattered onto the floor. His mind drifted to the fact someone was going to have to clean that up, and then he noticed Claus was still standing by the door. “I told you to go. Now get. The sooner Phillip gets here the sooner we can forget this ever happened.”

Claus stared pleadingly at Dietrich. “I don’t know where his room is.”

Dietrich raised his eyes to the heavens. He was sure he hadn’t been this bad when he started his apprenticeship. “He won’t be in his room. Try Herr Neuffer’s laboratory first. You do know where that is?” Claus gave a single nod. “If he’s not in there he’s probably in the library. Now go.” The final instruction was reinforced with a foot in the behind.


As a senior apprentice, who had also made a significant contribution to the assay office shooting team beating the Goldsmith’s guild in the Augsburg inter-guild shooting competition for the last four years, Phillip Gribbleflotz had special privileges not granted to lesser beings, such as being permitted to conduct his own experiments in the laboratory after work. There were some things he was not supposed to do, and being a conscientious youth, Phillip abided by these restrictions, most of the time.

This winter’s evening he was shivering in the cold as he studied the latest in his experiments. Ink and quill would have been unreliable in these conditions, so he was recording his observations with a pencil. Not that there had been much to observe so far.

“Herr Gribbleflotz, thank the lord that I have found you. Please, come quickly. Paulus has hurt himself badly and needs a cut in his leg stitched close.”

Phillip didn’t like having his experiments disturbed. That was one reason he conducted them late into the night. Which reminded him, he glanced at the candle he was using to record time. It had to be after ten o’clock. He turned round to face the intruder. It was one of the new apprentices, a boy all of twelve years of age. “What do you want?”

Claus managed to choke out his message in the face of Phillip’s hostility.

“Why are you bothering me with this? It’s Frau Kilian’s job to care for the junior apprentices.”

“Herr Besserer said to get you, Herr Gribbleflotz.”