1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 34

Chapter 12: The Nebulous Beginnings
November, 1634

Liechtenstein House, Vienna

Gundaker von Liechtenstein was not overly distressed by the emperor’s interest in the cars. Quite the contrary. The more time Ferdinand III spent playing with his new toy, the less time he would spend on interfering with older, wiser heads in the managing of the government. With the Edict of Restitution revoked, a whole new round of lawsuits had been issued. Protestant churches were demanding their buildings back. Protestant nobles and burghers were demanding their property back. As often as not, those properties had changed hands again after being returned to the Catholic Church. Sometimes the same day. As it happened, Gundaker von Liechtenstein owned a number of them.

“It’s vitally important that the revocation of the Edict not be interpreted to mean that those properties already returned to the church must be given back to heretics,” Gundaker told one of the family’s lawyers.

“Unfortunately, that seems to be the way Ferdinand III is leaning.”

“Then the cases need to be decided below the imperial level, and appeals to the crown need to be delayed in the courts long enough so that there is time to persuade the headstrong boy that such a policy would be an unholy and impious act.”

After the lawyer had left, Maximillian cautioned his brother. “Be careful how you refer to his majesty, even with our own people. I’m not overly thrilled with the effect the revocation of the Edict will have on our family’s property either, but he is the emperor.”


In the cathedral of Saint Stephens, Father Lamormaini was discussing the Sphere of Fire with his fellow Jesuits, and not getting very far.

“First of all, it’s not exactly six miles across,” said Father Fuhrmann. “It’s a little over six miles across, or maybe a little less depending on whose miles you’re using. I think that from Ring Wall to Ring Wall, it’s six miles, two hundred seventeen feet, six and a half inches.”

“It’s six miles within any reasonable measure,” Lamormaini insisted. “You said yourself ‘depending on whose miles you’re using.’ It might be more or less than six miles.'”

“Second, it’s not a sphere. Even if there was a sphere in the moment it occurred — and not all the accounts agree on that point — it’s not one now. A half-sphere at best. That would make it six broad, six long, and only three high. Not the number of the beast. I grant it’s a clever conceit, Father, but not evidence of a message from God.”

Lamormaini stood, his face red. He had seen the truth as God had revealed it, and now Fuhrmann was splitting hairs to avoid the truth. “Father Fuhrmann . . .”

“No, Father. While His Holiness has not ruled on the matter, it would be worse than premature to attempt to preempt his decision. I will make note of your observations and send them to the Father General, but don’t expect any action till His Holiness has had a chance to consider all the ramifications of his decision.”

Lamormaini sat back down. He would write the Father General as well but — much as he hated to admit it — Fuhrmann was right, at least about the likely response of the Holy See. Still, he couldn’t sit around and do nothing till His Holiness got around to noticing that Satan had arrived and the end days were upon them.

Inn in Vienna

“I need you to go to Grantville,” Father Lamormaini said once they were seated and the tavern girl had left them their beers.

Friedrich Babbel didn’t blink or let his surprise show in any way. “It will be expensive, Father.” He wondered how much Lamormaini was willing to pay. The change in administration hadn’t done Friedrich’s prospects any good at all. Janos Drugeth was a sanctimonious prick who didn’t want the reports adjusted to suit the listener, and that wasn’t a practical attitude. Friedrich took another drink of beer while Father Lamormaini pondered his purse.

“Don’t try to hold me up.” Lamormaini’s voice was laced with distrust, but there was a hint of desperation there too.

“I’m not, Father. The simple truth is that the area around the Ring of Fire, and especially inside it, is the most expensive place to live and work in Europe. Rents are outrageous, food expensive, and the cost of labor is insane. A housemaid in Grantville earns what a mastersmith makes in the Viennese countryside.”

“Their famous library is free.”

“Yes and no, Father.” Friedrich would have continued but Lamormaini waved him to silence. The old crook had enough money that he shouldn’t have been arguing in the first place. Not that Lamormaini would ever admit that any of the money was for him. It was all for the church.

Lamormaini had used his position as confessor to Ferdinand II to acquire quite a bit of wealth. All for the church. Friedrich suppressed a laugh. Lamormaini hadn’t taken bribes; he had accepted donations. “What is it you want me to find, Father?”

“It will be in their records somewhere. Probably hidden in plain sight. Find references to the devil!”

Friedrich felt his face, twitch. But he didn’t say anything as Lamormaini explained his theory about the true origin of the Ring of Fire.

Babbel left a few days later. He would find or create what the priest wanted.

Sanderlin House, Race Track City

“I would be happy to provide you with concrete for the race track, Herr Sanderlin,” Baron Johannes Hass said. “Unfortunately, we are lacking in the equipment. When the crown granted me the patent on concrete, it wasn’t yet known how difficult it would be to produce the stuff. I have had experts go to your libraries and it turns out that they need massive rotating kilns to make the Portland cement efficiently.”

Ron was confused. Even after the Ring of Fire he hadn’t been much interested in how concrete was made. Well, how Portland cement was made. He had poured a patio back in 1998 before the Ring of Fire, and he knew how to mix quicklime and aggregate in a wheelbarrow. The way you got the Portland cement was by going to Clarksburg and buying it at the Home Depot. He knew that after the Ring of Fire there had been a program to make concrete. It had worked, too. Portland cement was available in Grantville and Magdeburg. Expensive compared to up-time, but available. He hadn’t learned how it was done but he knew they could do it. “Well, they make it in the USE. What about shipping in the Portland cement from there?”

“That would be very expensive. Also illegal, because the old emperor granted me the sole patent.”

They talked some more but didn’t get anywhere. Even though they were both speaking German, it seemed like they were talking a different language.

After his unsuccessful attempt to get concrete from Baron Hass, Ron looked into the possibility of blacktop. Asphalt, it turned out, was a petroleum byproduct. But Ron knew that they could use coal tar and there had to be coal around here somewhere. Didn’t there?