1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 47
Chapter 16: Wedding Plans
March, April and May, 1635
The Hofburg Palace
Emperor Ferdinand III wasn’t thrilled with the letter from Wallenstein. He looked at the two Liechtenstein brothers sitting across the table in the private audience room, and gestured with the letter from Karl Eusebius. “What is your nephew up to, gentlemen?”
“Walking the tightrope?” Maximillian von Liechtenstein said. “When we set up the family charter, it gave Karl and his heirs much of the control over the family estates. Karl Eusebius is trying to follow enough of the rules to keep that agreement from ending up in the courts while at the same time protecting the family’s assets. Just in case.”
“We can, Your Majesty, convince Karl Eusebius to provide more funds. I’m sure of that,” Gundaker said. “But that sort of thing is best done face-to-face.”
Moses Abrabanel snorted. “The princes Liechtenstein are well known for their wealth. However, I doubt that every groschen of it is enough to handle the problems we have today.”
Ferdinand III said, “Every little bit helps, Moses.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. But to solve the problem, we have to start creating money.”
The uproar this caused filled the private audience room, but Moses overrode the noise. “I am less concerned with getting Prince Karl here than I am with getting Sarah Wendell to Vienna. Up-timers still have great cachet, after all. And Sarah is an acknowledged expert in the field of economics. She does work for the USE Federal Reserve Bank and her father is their Secretary of the Treasury.”
“You’re saying that if we got her to endorse it, we could print more money without a larger silver reserve?”
“Yes, I think so.”
Ferdinand III looked at the advisers, Moses Abrabanel, Gundaker and Maximillian von Liechtenstein, and Reichsgraf Maximillian von Trautmannsdorf. “So you all think I should accept Prince Karl’s credentials as ambassador from Bohemia?”
The men around the table nodded.
Higgins Hotel, Grantville
“Maid of honor,” Judy the Younger squealed. “Me? I thought sure you’d ask someone else.”
“You’re my only sister,” Sarah pointed out, trying to sound regretful. “Now, if I’d had another sister . . .”
Judy tossed a pillow at her. “You know you love me.” She hesitated a moment. “What about your other bridesmaids?”
“I really don’t know,” Sarah admitted. “Who’s going to be able to travel all the way to Vienna? Most people I know are up to their eyeballs in work.”
“What about us?” Judy stopped a moment. “The Barbies, I mean. We’d love an excuse to travel, you know.”
“Oh, don’t be pretending to scream,” Judy said. “You know we can be . . . well, act . . . really presentable when we want to.”
“Yeah, maybe. It’s getting you guys to want to that’s the problem.”
“Seriously, Sarah. I’d really like something for us to do that’s out of Grantville. Vicky took Bill’s death really hard. And if we don’t get Susan away from the old . . . cats . . . in Grantville, she’s going to explode. Even with all the uproar after Mayor Dreeson was killed, those old bats keep after her about her mom.”
Sarah fully understood that, considering Velma Hardesty’s reputation as a man-eating slut. “Actually,” Sarah said, “having Susan in Vienna might be a very good idea.”
“Take one, take us all.” Judy laughed, but there was a catch in her voice. Even Judy was shaken by the deaths of Mayor Dreeson and Bill Magen and she knew that.
“Hush. I said that because I know that Karl’s family is going to be looking for money. Susan is the best of your crew when it comes to holding on to money.”
“I think she’s got the first dollar she ever made,” Judy said. “She’s afraid to let go of any of it. Well, except for what she invests. She doesn’t think that’s spending it.”
“And she’s right. But Karl’s family isn’t looking to invest it. They’re looking to loan it to the emperor.”
Liechtenstein House, outside the Ring of Fire
“So how are we going to get there?” Susan Logsden asked. “I have no desire to repeat Hayley’s trip to the frontier in a covered wagon.”
“Vienna is hardly the frontier, Susan,” Karl complained.
“You’re right. It’s past the frontier, well into Injun country,” Vicky said harshly. “But my point is, I have no desire at all to spend weeks in a covered wagon, squatting in a field to do my business. I am a child of civilization.”
“Well, you can stay home if you want,” Sarah said repressively.
“Nope. Got a letter from Hayley. She needs us, so we’re going, even if we leave the Ken Doll here in Grantville.”
“Not a chance,” Sarah said.
“I’ll arrange transport,” Karl said.
“How?” Sarah asked.
“I have no idea, but I’ll think of something.”
It took Karl two days to think of that something, and the expense of several radio calls back and forth to the Netherlands. But he got the loan of one of the Jupiter’s from Fernando, King in the Low Countries. Happily, the royal Netherlands airline had two Jupiter’s currently in service so they could spare one for a week or so. King Fernando might not have agreed on his own. He tended to hoard his beloved new aircraft the way dragons of legend hoarded gold. But Karl suspected he’d come under considerable pressure from his wife. Part of the arrangement was that Karl would bring letters to deliver to her family from Queen Maria Anna.
Fortney House, Race Track City
“Hey, Mom!” Hayley shouted, tracking mud in. “I just got a letter from Judy. Sarah is going to marry Prince Karl von Liechtenstein. Here! In Vienna!”
“What? What happened to David Bartley?” Dana asked.
“Got me. I always thought he was kind of cute, in an Ichabod Crane sort of way. Nothing to write home about. Maybe he just couldn’t compete with the Ken Doll? You know, prince and all that.”
“You think Sarah is the sort to go title hunting?”
“Not really, but I don’t know her all that well. I mean, she’s Judy’s sister, yeah. But you know how older sisters are when it comes to their baby sister’s ‘little’ friends.”
“Big sisters are indeed cruel and heartless creatures. At least till you’re all grown up, and they are never quite convinced that you really are an adult.”
“Right. Just like Natasha is.” Hayley grinned. “So, anyway, Sarah was always a bit distant and we all had the impression that she didn’t approve of the adventurous nature of the Barbie Consortium, but apparently she’s gotten over that.” Hayley looked back at the letter. “Because Judy and the rest of the Barbies are to be her bridesmaids. Judy’s going to be the maid of honor.”
“That’s great. If we don’t go broke before they get here,” Dana said. Over the last several months they had been building up a truly massive cache of I.O.Us and slowly spending themselves into bankruptcy to keep goods on the shelves.
“Yes, I know, Mom. I talked to Moses Abrabanel yesterday, and he is getting leery about loaning us money based on the notes we are carrying. He doesn’t see how people are going to be able to pay us back, so he doesn’t see how we are going to pay his family back. But we can’t stop giving people credit.”