1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz – Snippet 42

Part Two

The Start of HDG Enterprises


Chapter 6

Calling Dr. Phil

October 1631, Jena

“Unless you are matriculated as a student or a member of staff, you are not welcome on university grounds,” Werner Rolfinck said to Dr. Phillip Gribbleflotz.

It was like having a door slammed in his face, Phillip thought, but without the actual slamming of the door. He looked from Professor Rolfinck to the other members of the University of Jena faculty who’d witnessed his expulsion. There were a number of smug smirks visible. They didn’t even care that he saw them.

Phillip struggled to maintain his dignity as he turned and strode out of the university grounds. He held himself together all the way back to his laboratory, where he was greeted by his landlord. The perfect end to the perfect day, except it wasn’t even noon yet.


Phillip collapsed onto his bed. His landlord wanted the next quarters rent, which he didn’t have, and it was all his former patron’s fault.

Casparus Menius had been paying Phillip’s to research the Quinta Essential of the Human Humors, which had been nice, because that was what he wanted to research. Unfortunately, Casparus had died while on a business trip to Erfurt. The nature of the establishment where he’d died hadn’t impressed his wife, who’d somehow managed to blame Phillip for not just his death, but also for where he’d died. That had resulted in his funding being cut off immediately. That wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t been doing his research into the Quinta Essential of the Human Humors at the expense of producing acids for his usual customers. He had very little stock and was facing imminent eviction from his laboratory and bankruptcy.

None of it was his fault, of course. Phillip didn’t think he could be blamed for taking on a little debt to replace the clothes and boots he’d lost in the fire at Anlaby. After all, his patron had been happily paying him a stipend and paying his bills. And with the bills being paid, it had seemed sensible to concentrate on doing the research Casparus wanted him to do rather than waste valuable research time producing acids for sale.

Unfortunately, with Casparus dead and his funding cut off, Phillip needed money fast. He did a mental checklist of his assets, and didn’t like the results. He could pawn enough clothing and footwear to buy in supplies or pay the next quarter’s rent, but not both. That just left his lucky crystal. He walked over to the little niche above his writing desk where it lived and took it in his hands. It was a nondescript clear crystal no bigger than a chicken’s egg. The local pawnbroker had admired it when he saw it and offered Phillip a ridiculous price for it. He’d turned the man down of course — one didn’t sell one’s luck, but maybe the man would be willing to advance a small loan with the crystal as security? Philip resolved to find out.

A couple of days later

Phillip had a well-deserved reputation for the quality of his acids, so he wasn’t surprised to find the orders coming in once word got out he was back producing them. He took the pile of orders and started to sort them out on one of his work benches. It didn’t take him long to realize that many of the orders had been placed by members of the University of Jena’s faculty. He swore as he quickly checked through them. Professor Rolfinck’s name wasn’t there, but of course he wouldn’t sign his own name to an order, he’d have someone else do it for him.

“So,” he said to himself, “I’m good enough to make their acids for them, but not good enough to darken the halls of their university.”

That was wrong. He should be welcome at the university. He was definitely better qualified than most, if not all of the medical faculty. They might have their degrees, but he’d been trained by Professor Giulio Casseri, one of the best teachers of anatomy and surgery there had ever been, for three years and followed that up with years of practical experience as a military physician and surgeon.

Even Professor Rolfinck couldn’t match Phillip’s training. He’d been taught by a lesser man, the man who inherited the chairs of anatomy and surgery upon Professor Casseri’s death, Dr. Adrianus Spigelius. A man who’d had the misfortune to be taught by none other than Professor Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente rather than Professor Casseri.

And now this pretender, and the rest of the medical faculty, were treating him, Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz, the great grandson of the great Paracelsus, the world’s greatest alchemist of his time, as a mere technician.

Well, that was wrong. Phillip slammed his hands on the bench hard enough to smart. There was nothing mere about his skills around the distillation furnace. He was a great technician, no, he was a great alchemist.

Phillip nodded to himself. He’d show those imbeciles at the university that he wasn’t just a mere technician. He’d show them that he wasn’t just a great alchemist. He would show them that he was the world’s greatest alchemist. Not just in his time, but ever. He would show them that he was even better than his great grandfather.

Phillip’s eyes fell on the empty niche where his lucky crystal usually lived, and he qualified that last thought. He’d start proving he was the world’s greatest alchemist ever, just as soon as he earned enough money to redeem his lucky crystal.

October1631, Sunday, Grantville

Tracy Kubiak counted out the last ten jackets that needed button holes and placed them on the work table with the other four piles. There was a lot of work to do before she could turn this latest order over to the government, but she knew some people who would be only too happy to help her finish them off.

She stretched muscles that were still protesting from the last few days spent over her heavy duty sewing machines as she worked to complete the order and surveyed her domain. She had turned the oversized basement into a workroom when she first went into business making and repairing camping and outdoor equipment soon after she married Ted Kubiak. A smug smile grew on her face at the thought of her husband of four years.

“Are you ready yet? We’re running late.”

Speak of the devil. Tracy cast one last glance over the piles of jackets waiting to be finished and hurried over to join her husband. “Just have to lock the cat flap and I’m ready. So saying she locked the flap that allowed Toby, the family cat, and Ratter, Ted’s Jack Russell terrier, access to the workroom.

Upstairs in the house proper, Tracy discovered that Ted had everything ready. All she had to do was load the baby into the push chair. “You have been busy,” she said

“Someone has to be. You can lose yourself once you step into your workroom.”

She reached up to drop a kiss on Ted’s lips. Ted tried to make more of it, but after a few seconds she pushed him away. “I thought we were running late?”

Ted sighed dramatically. “I’m married to a cruel woman. You get the kids while I load Fred.”

“Are we taking the girls as well?” Tracy asked. Fred was their male llama gelding, which they’d originally purchased to mind the few sheep they ran on their land. The girls were a couple of llama’s that had joined the menagerie after their original 4H owners had been left up-time.

“They insisted,” Ted said. “They can hear the crowd over the road and don’t want to miss out.”

By the time Tracy had collected three-year-old Justin and eight month old Terrie, Ted had the panniers on Fred and was waiting for her. She locked up and joined him for the short walk to Belle and Ivan Drahuta’s place, which was just across the road from their property.


Every Sunday after church the extended Kubiak clan gathered at the home of one of the families for Sunday lunch. Today was Belle and Ivan Drahuta’s turn to be hosts. Grown men and women were messing about playing touch football in the yard with some of the children. Others congregated around the grill chatting and talking while Ivan and Tommy Barancek attended to burning the meat on the grill. Children of all ages were running around underfoot, and of course, Fred and the girls were hanging their heads over a fence gobbling up any treat the children cared to offer them.