1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 24

Chapter 10: Outside Vienna

September, 1634

Village of Simmering, Austria

“You know anything about oil wells, Sonny?” Ron Sanderlin passed the well-worn book over and took a seat in the sitting room of the large house that they had been situated in. The house was in the village of Simmering, about three miles from the walls of Vienna and it was where Prince Ferdinand had decided to set up his race track. It was near an imperial hunting lodge established by Maximilian II and there were extensive gardens nearby.

“I know I wish I’d owned one up-time,” Sonny Fortney told him. “But other than that, nada.” One single sentence in the book mentioned that the Matzen oil field was about twelve miles northeast of Vienna and was the largest in Austria. But it didn’t say another thing about it. It was a book on sights to see in and around Vienna and that line was in the vital statistics portion of the book. It didn’t even say whether “largest” referred to land area or barrels of oil.

Ron’s Uncle Bob was shaking his head, indicating he didn’t know either. They had just gotten to Vienna and hadn’t even started Ron’s 240Z. Well, Emperor Ferdinand’s 240Z now. And Janos Drugeth’s uncle, Pal Nadasdy, wanted them to tell him how to get the oil in the Matzen field out of the ground.

“Look, oil drilling is a pretty specialized business,” Sonny said. “And there hasn’t been much along those lines in Grantville since the twenties. Uh . . . the nineteen twenties, I mean. There are a couple of older folks that were kids way back then and a few old books tucked away. But I’m pretty sure there is not a single petroleum geologist in Grantville and that means in the world. The wildcatters, ah, the people who are doing the drilling, are mostly up at the oil fields near Wietze.

“Ron here can get the car up and running, and I can build you a track for it. For that matter, with the help of your local smiths and Bob, I can build you a steam boiler and between us we can build you some steam engines and locomotives. I can survey rail lines for you. But none of us know jack about drilling an oil well. And you’re probably going to need to drill a bunch of them. We’ll ask our families if they know anything about it, but I doubt they do. Failing that, we can probably get a geology cheat sheet to at least give you guys a notion of what to look for.”

Count Nadasdy nodded almost as if he had expected the answer. “Please send your letters to get the . . . geology cheat sheet, was it? In the meantime, it has been proposed that a wooden rail railroad could be built between here and Teschen. Would that be a good idea?”

“Yep. Prince Karl mentioned something about that before we left. Well, more than mentioned. He sent along a bunch of maps. So he got permission, did he? But I don’t remember anything about Teschen. Where is Teschen?”

“It’s in Silesia on the Oder River. The Poles call it Cieszyn. The notion, as it has been proposed, was to form a rail link between the Danube and the Oder and hence between the Baltic and the Black Sea.”

“Yep. That’s the place. I think he called it Cieszyn. Prague would be closer, though,” Sonny said. Not that he really expected Nadasdy to support a railroad from Emperor Ferdinand’s capital to King Al’s. But just to get the reaction.

Count Nadasdy looked like he had just gotten a good whiff of skunk. “Perhaps at some time in the future. For the moment, however, it would not be feasible.”

Sonny nodded. “But Teschen is?”

“Yes. It turns out that Prince Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein, despite his other faults, is prepared to invest a considerable amount in its construction.”

“Well, he’d have the money for it.”


The next day, while Ron was getting ready to start the 240Z, Hayley Fortney went with her mother and little brother to the University of Vienna. They were looking for a tutor, mostly for Brandon, but partly for Hayley. It was a warm summer day with white puffy clouds dotting a blue sky and none of it made any impression on Hayley. She still wasn’t happy about ending up in Vienna. She had friends in Grantville and work that interested her. She was the closest thing to a real techie that the Barbies had. She was a steam head and was becoming a tube geek. In Grantville, the new down-time in Grantville, that was perfectly acceptable for a young lady.

In Vienna… She had a dark suspicion that wouldn’t be true. The fact that the city had the oldest university in the German-speaking world, established in 1365, didn’t impress her at all. There was no engineering school anywhere in Vienna, including at the university. The closest thing to it was the college of natural philosophy at the University of Vienna.

She was going to miss her last year at Grantville High and have to make do with correspondence courses and a down-time tutor. It was worse for Brandon. He was doomed to the tutor and correspondence courses for as long as their parents decided to stay here.

Hayley’s mother was interviewing tutors. Her mother, not her, in spite of the fact that Hayley was paying, because Hayley was more than a little tired of being the rich up-timer member of the Barbie Consortium. She was ready to be a teenager again. Sure, the teenage daughter of wealthy parents, but not the wheeler dealer that she had been seen as in Grantville. At the same time, she was finding authority a hard habit to break. She kept wanting to interrupt her mother.

She was following along, listening to her mom talk about the history and beauty of Vienna when Ron Sanderlin started the 240Z. There were three young men and a gaggle of little boys hanging around the track. And Hayley couldn’t help but overhear what they were saying.

“It’s evil spirits that are making the noise.”

“Nay. It’s the herd of horses is doing it.”

“Horses? It can’t be. You can’t see no horses.”

“They have a whole bunch of them, though. Hidden under a magical hood. Makes them invisible, it does.”

“So it’s evil spirits, after all. But they use them to hide the horses.”