1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 25

Hayley didn’t know what to say. Vienna was supposed to be civilized, at least by down-time standards. People ought to know better than that. It made her wish she had convinced her parents she should stay in Grantville like Nat. It made her want to correct the boys, explain that horsepower was just a measurement. That there was no magic involved.

Then she heard the giggle. Then all the boys were laughing and Hayley felt like an idiot when she noticed the smaller boys, maybe Brandon’s age. It wasn’t down-timer ignorance but down-timers playing at ignorance in order to entertain little boys. Hayley hadn’t been in Vienna long enough to recognize that the three young men she saw were all wearing the seventeenth-century Vienna equivalent of “college casual.” As it turned out, there were three students from the college of natural philosophy, teasing younger brothers and cousins, while watching the car being put through its paces.

University of Vienna

At the university, Hayley and her mother met with Professor Lorenz, who became very cooperative as soon as he saw the letter from Emperor Ferdinand. Not surprising. He was the king, after all.

Not that Professor Lorenz was particularly uncooperative before that. It was just that before the note he was more interested in picking their brains than helping them find a tutor. The little note from Emperor Ferdinand had given them a good example of their status, both good and bad. Emperor Ferdinand had talked past them the way a German noble would talk past a merchant or a servant. It wasn’t, Hayley thought, intentional cruelty or arrogance. Emperor Ferdinand had simply never learned to talk to people of their rank as people. He asked questions of the air and was interested in the cars and how they worked, and clearly intended that his auto mechanics would have everything they needed to do their jobs well and be happy in their work. But it was almost as though they were extra equipment, accessories to the cars. When Hayley’s father had pointed out that he was going to need a tutor for his daughter and son to continue their education, the king simply had one of the clerks that followed him around make a note of it, as though it were five thousand pounds of gravel for the track or ventilation ducts for the shop. That was the bad, and in all honesty, Hayley wasn’t at all sure how much of that was simply because he was new at the job of king. The good was that by that afternoon they had a note over his seal, instructing the university to see to their needs, i.e. give them whatever they wanted. Emperor Ferdinand wasn’t uncaring, just busy and dealing with the changes since his father’s death.

“Hm,” Doctor Lorenz mused, “Professor Himmler is available but unlikely to be willing to instruct young ladies. Besides he is convinced that Copernicus was a dangerous radical.”

“I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon when I was a child and we’ve all seen the images from probes to the outer planets and, of course, the Hubble space telescope,” Dana Fortney said. “Might he be persuaded by eyewitness accounts?”

“Not even if he was the eyewitness.” Doctor Lorenz smiled. “He’s not stupid, you understand. Just incredibly stubborn. He would find a way to explain it all away. Aristotle said there were crystal spheres, so there are crystal spheres.” Doctor Lorenz looked at Hayley and Brandon. “But if what you’re after is a stern disciplinarian, he might just be prevailed upon.”

Brandon started to speak, but Hayley stepped on his foot. Let Mom handle it was the clear message.

“Tempting as that thought sometimes is,” Dana said with a grin at her kids, “I think we would all be happier with someone more open to new concepts. After all, Brandon and Hayley will both be working from correspondence courses from Grantville.” Dana Fortney left unsaid the fact that much of what the tutor would be expected to teach was going to be concepts utterly new to the seventeenth century, so he was likely as not going to be struggling along only a day or so ahead of his students.

“In that case, I think your best option would be a recent doctor of natural philosophy. He is quite good with boys and interested in the knowledge brought by the Ring of Fire.” Doctor Lorenz hesitated a moment, looking at Hayley. “He is rather young, only twenty-four. He was going to have to leave Vienna to look for work, which would have been a shame because he is working on several experiments with magnets and coils of copper wire. Continuing those experiments would have been more difficult without the facilities of the university.”

For the first time since they’d been introduced, Hayley spoke up. “Are a lot of people leaving Vienna to look for work?”

“Those who can,” Doctor Lorenz said. “Those who have someplace to go.”

Village of Simmering, Austria

Count Amadeus von Eisenberg, Baron Julian von Meklau and several of their friends rode up to the village two days after the cars had made their procession through Vienna. They found a muddy field and a barn that had been roughly converted into housing for the emperor’s car. There was a canvas tent tied to the side of the converted barn that presumably held the other up-time vehicles, the ones owned by the mechanics.

“Show us the 240,” Julian commanded.

“Can’t do it, boys,” said one of the mechanics.

“What? I am Baron Julian von Meklau.”

Howdy.” The first word was new to Julian, who had some English, but not a great deal. Then the man continued in badly accented German. “I’m Bob Sanderlin. And the 240Z belongs to Emperor Ferdinand III, so you need his permission to drive it, or fiddle with it or even look at it. Shouldn’t be a problem, though. All you gotta do is go back to Vienna and tell the emperor to let you see it, just the way you told me. I’m sure he’ll be in a right hurry to do what you tell him to, you being a baron and all.”

Julian was suddenly quite uncomfortable. He couldn’t back down in front of his friends. At the same time, if he whipped the dog the way he deserved, Julian would certainly incur the emperor’s displeasure.

“Julian,” said Amadeus von Eisenberg, “leave off.”

Julian looked over at Amadeus, but the count wasn’t looking at him or Ron Sanderlin. Instead he was looking at a small window in the barn and at the gun barrel that protruded from it. It was an interesting gun barrel, very well made and colored a sort of dark blue gray. It was a small bore, which was easy to tell because it was pointed right at him.