1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 27
Race Track at Simmering, Austria
The unemployment situation in Vienna became increasingly clear over the next few days. Demonstrated not by numbers reported on TV, since they didn’t get any TV in Austria, but by the numbers of people showing up looking for work on the new race track. Ron Sanderlin couldn’t hire them all; he couldn’t even hire an appreciable fraction of them. At the same time, he hated turning away hungry people.
“Sonny, can you hire some of these guys to do something, anything?” Ron asked their third day in Simmering.
“What? Why me?”
“Well, you know.” Ron shrugged. He didn’t want to come right out and say can you get your teenage daughter to hire a bunch of these people? The up-timers had only been dealing with newly rich relatives since the Ring of Fire and asking those newly rich relatives for money was handled in different ways by different people. Everything from the assumption that what they had was yours to I’ll starve before I drag them down with me. It became especially difficult if those newly rich relatives were sons and daughters, because of the embarrassment factor. “Why am I still a working stiff when little Billy — or, in this case, little Hayley — has managed to turn herself into a millionaire?”
The elder Fortneys took a not-fanatical hands-off approach. They didn’t ask Hayley for money or stock tips but if she volunteered they would mostly let her help if it wasn’t going to endanger her future prospects. Ron knew, for instance, that Hayley had offered to pay for the tutor. Which Sonny and Dana had agreed to, but the maid was paid by Dana.
“I know how you feel, Ron, but . . .”
Just then another person showed up. He wasn’t a prepossessing fellow. He was balding, with bad teeth and a wart over his right eye. But it was also clear that he was desperate for work.
Ron looked at Sonny then back at the man. “Check back in a couple of days. I can’t promise anything, but maybe we’ll have something.”
After the guy had left, Ron just looked at Sonny.
“I’ll talk to Dana. That’s the best I can do,” Sonny said.
Fortney House, Simmering, Austria
Sonny talked to Dana and Dana talked to Hayley.
“The thing is, Mom, I’m not really all that good at business.” Hayley looked around the sitting room in their new home as though she could find the explanation in the whitewashed walls. “That’s mostly Susan, Millicent and Vicky. I’m the tech geek. In most of the businesses we’ve taken over, it wasn’t that the tech didn’t work. It was that the business didn’t work.”
“I understand, Hayley, and neither your father nor I want you to endanger your future over this. It’s just really hard to say no to hungry people looking for work.”
“I’m not saying no. At least not yet. Let me think about it. Okay?” Hayley looked around the sitting room again. There were windows with glass in the standard down-time diamond pattern, a big fireplace with no fire at the moment. A polished wood floor with a rug. It was a nice room in a nice country house, that was easily three times the size of their place back in Grantville. No indoor plumbing. Instead they had people lining up to empty their chamber pots. No microwave, electric toaster or natural gas oven. In this day and age, cooks worked from before dawn to after nightfall to make bread and stew. It was, to Hayley, as if the Ring of Fire had just happened.
“Doctor Faust?” Hayley knocked on the third door of the third floor room.
“Just a moment.”
Hayley waited as Doctor Faust got himself together. Then he opened the door to a room that was a bit bigger than a closet but not much. There was a bed about the size of a camp cot, but probably not as comfortable and a stack of books on the floor.
“What can I do for you, Miss Hayley?”
“Do you know anything about business law as it is practiced in Austria?”
“No, I’m sorry. I studied natural philosophy and for a while medicine, but the law never held any interest for me. Why?”
“Well, do you know anyone who does?” Hayley asked.
Doctor Faust looked at her a moment. “Jakusch Pfeiffer was studying law to work with his family in shipping, but they lost several craft, ah, upriver. They had to stop going that far and he’s short of tuition money. But again, why?”
“Just a plan Mom and Dad are thinking about.”
As it happened, Dana Fortney was the keeper of the family accounts, as was Gayleen Sanderlin for the Sanderlin family. Between them they had a pretty complete listing of what the families had brought to Vienna. It was quite a lot. It included a Higgins Sewing Machine, a typewriter — also down-time made — an adding machine, but not, unfortunately, a computer. The Sanderlins had had a computer, but they sold it to the Higgins Hotel when they moved to Vienna. They had Brandon’s rabbits, his roosters and hens and thirty-eight chicks that were starting to turn into cockerels and pullets, and a Rosin Foam incubator ready for the next batch. There was a lot more stuff on the list.
“I can’t run the business on my own, Mom,” Hayley said. “If you and Dad want me to hire people, you and Mrs. Sanderlin get to keep the books. And keeping those books is liable to end up as a full-time job for the both of you. We’re going to need extra household servants, because between the lack of things like vacuum cleaners . . .”
“We knew we were going to need servants when we came, Hayley,” Dana said. “We already have two maids and a cook. Not to mention Doctor Faust and . . .”
“But not how many, Mom,” Hayley said. “We’re not going to have a couple of maids to help out; we’re going to have staff. A cook and probably two undercooks, four or five maids and an overmaid to run them. Also a couple of groundskeepers. And the Sanderlins are going to need the same because you and Mrs. Sanderlin won’t have time for housework, not even for much in the way of supervising. Neither I or Brandon are going to have time for chores, because Brandon — the little creep — is going to be managing the groundskeepers. Teaching them about those silly rabbits and chickens of his and modern corn, tomatoes, watermelons and stuff. And I’m going to be looking for stuff to build using what we have. Not to mention instructing master craftsmen in the crafts they have spent the last forty years learning. Between that and our school work, we won’t have time to turn around.”