1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 11

Chapter 5: Wagon’s Ho!

Late July, 1634

On the Street outside the Fortney Property

“Do you have everything?” Judy Wendell heard at the Sanderlin lot where everyone was gathering to leave. The Sanderlins had a lot with two mobile homes on it, a single-wide for Ron, Gayleen and the kids, and a small trailer for Uncle Bob Sanderlin. One of the reasons they had taken the job was that it was getting harder and harder for them to make the rent on the lot. Besides, with one toddler and an infant, life was really hard on Gayleen, with the gradual loss of up-time labor-savers. Repairing things like washing machines and buying baby clothes . . . well, Judy could understand how it could get hard.

That wasn’t why Hayley’s dad had taken the job, though, and Judy couldn’t figure out why he would. Sonny Fortney made pretty good money, even if he did bounce from job to job like a pingpong ball. Hayley wouldn’t talk about it, except to say that her dad had his reasons. Judy didn’t think she approved of this move, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Except to make sure that Hayley had someplace to call if she got in trouble and enough money to make sure she could afford to run. In support of that, Judy and the rest of the Barbies had put together a packet of mad money for Hayley, twenty thousand American dollars in cash, hidden in a false bottom of Hayley’s steamer trunk. Steamer trunks came back into fashion again, after the Ring of Fire. The Barbies owned one of the companies that made them.

“I think so,” Sonny Fortney was saying to the Ken Doll. “We have the maps and the extra surveying gear in the trailer. Plus a load of trade goods so that we will have the glass beads to buy Manhattan.”

“Ahh,” sighed Prince Karl. “I have exposed my poor countrymen to the shifty up-timers. Good Lord, forgive me for my sins.”

“Why, Prince Karl,” Judy interrupted. Then she batted her eyes twice, tilted her head, and said, “You think we have taken advantage of you?”

“I’m going to go get Sarah to protect me.”

“Good idea,” said Judy the Elder Wendell. “Judy, behave yourself. You have our address, Gayleen. If you need anything, write us and we’ll send it off by mule train.”

“Thank you, though the idea of getting stuff by mule train still freaks me out a bit,” Gayleen said.

“Me too,” Dana Fortney said. “Especially diapers. Praise be for the tubal!”

“I don’t know about that. It’s a lot of trouble but the truth is I like having babies,” Gayleen said. “On the other hand, I’m getting close to forty, so maybe just one more.”

Which, Judy the Younger thought, bordered on clinical insanity. Judy looked around. It was quite a procession. There was the pickup truck owned by Bob Sanderlin, pulling a trailer that had the 240Z on it. It was followed by the Fortney’s 1994 Subaru Outback, also pulling a trailer, this time with their household goods. They would travel south toward Bamberg, then on past it to the Danube, where they would load the cars on barges for the trip down the river to Vienna. There were also several wagons, filled with both personal possessions, items Prince Karl was sending to his family, and almost anything else the travelers could think of. As well, their escort had a couple of wagons.

Istvan said, “We’re burning daylight, people.”

Everyone turned to look at him.

“Well,” he defended himself, “it’s a good line. Very descriptive of the situation.”

“Maybe,” Judy muttered, “but you don’t look a thing like John Wayne.” By virtue of the fact that only a limited number of movies had been brought back in the Ring of Fire, all of them had been seen on TV — most of them several times.

People started loading into the cars and wagons, and climbing onto horseback. It took another half hour before they actually got on the road . . . and between the horses and the wagons, they were moving at less than four miles an hour.

Wendell Household, Magdeburg

Dear Sarah,

It was nice to see you when you came to see the Fortneys off last week. I thought you looked lovely in the blue paisley you were wearing. It brings out your eyes, which looked as blue as the sky that day. But then, they always remind me of the sky.

Sarah read the letter with a great degree of disbelief. She was, since her last growth spurt, almost as tall as her mother. But if Judy the Elder was statuesque, and Judy the Younger looked like a ballerina, Sarah was just a gawky scarecrow. Still, it sure would be nice if she actually looked like Karl seemed to see her. David had certainly never said anything like this.

I have an appointment with Karl Schmidt in Magdeburg and am hoping that we might get together. I am trying to get him to sell me some steam engines for the LIC, but don’t have a great deal of hope. Do you have any influence with Heidi Partow? In any case, it makes an excellent excuse to go to Magdeburg to see you. One that even Josef can’t object to.

I’ll be taking the train up on Tuesday and meeting with Herr Schmidt on Wednesday. So, could we meet Tuesday evening? Or Wednesday, or wonder of wonders, both?

Sarah found herself wondering if Prince Karl was interested in her or just her connections. And that was weird. Prince Karl was a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. About as noble as it got in Europe. At least, that’s how it seemed to Sarah. He already had connections. It was weird, but it was, by now in Sarah’s world, a fairly commonplace weirdness. In her job, she regularly dealt with Graf this and Prince that. In spite of which, she wasn’t at all sure that she would ever get used to it.

That would make the trip wholly worthwhile, whether Herr Schmidt sees me or not.

Sarah considered. She still wasn’t sure but the only way to find out was to see him. On the other hand, she had no intention of pressuring Karl Schmidt to sell the LIC any engines.