1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 04

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 04:

Chapter 2
Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia

Gretchen Richter’s eyes were riveted on the sheet of paper in her hands, her brow creased by a truly magnificent frown. Her husband, Jeff Higgins, was leaning over the back of her chair in order to study the figures himself.

“How much?” Gretchen asked again.

Seated across from her in the large couch in the living room of the Dreeson house, David Bartley shrugged his shoulders. “That depends on a lot of variables. But if you sold all your stocks right now — which I don’t recommend, since the market’s really antsy with another war looming; well, if you had a lot of military industry stocks, I suppose it might be different — they’re doing really well, not surprisingly — but you don’t so –”

“David,” Gretchen said, half-growling. “Keep it simple. If. You. Would. Please.”

“But… Look, Gretchen, I’m really not trying to be confusing. It’s just that it really isn’t all that simple. Like, where would you want to sell it? I wouldn’t recommend the Grantville or Magdeburg stock exchanges for most of your stocks. They’re the ones affected the worst by the war jitters. You’d probably do better in Amsterdam, or in some cases even Venice.”

“David!” The “half” left the growl.

Jeff grunted. “Just assume we’re morons, David. So, not knowing our asses from our elbows, we go right now to the exchange in downtown Grantville and sell everything — every single stock on this list — for whatever we can get.”

Bartley looked at his watch. “You couldn’t get there in time today –”

“David!” Gretchen’s tone left “growl” behind altogether, and began approaching “shriek of fury.”

“Calm down, hon,” said Jeff soothingly, his big hand caressing her shoulder. “You can’t kill him without producing a political crisis. He’s way too popular with the CoCs. All over the country, too, not just here.”

Gretchen said nothing. She just glared at Bartley.

“Fine,” Jeff continued. “So we sell it all tomorrow. How much would we get?”

David’s eyes got that slightly-unfocussed look that Jeff had come to be familiar with this afternoon. The one that signified well-gee-it’s-really-complicated-depending-on-this-that-and-the-other.

“Forget playing with currencies,” Jeff added quickly. “Just figure we sell it for USE dollars. Whatever we can get. Soon as the stock exchange opens tomorrow morning.”

Bartley looked down at the list of figures in his own hand, which was identical to the one Gretchen and Jeff were looking at. He pursed his lips, an expression that Jeff thought made him look like a young Ichabod Crane. If Bartley had been standing, the likeness would have been even better. David was tall and thin, his gangly frame still not having caught up to his height. He was nineteen years old, and the best-known if not perhaps the richest of the teenage millionaires produced by the Ring of Fire.

“Well… Figure you’d wind up with about two million dollars. Give or take.”

Gretchen swallowed. “Two… million?”

“About. But like I said, if you waited and sold the stocks on the Amsterdam market — and Venetian market, for that matter — and took your time about it — I think you’d wind up getting closer to two and a half million. But the truth is I don’t recommend you sell most of these stocks. It’s a good portfolio, Gretchen.” His slender shoulders became a bit more square. “We did right by you guys, if I say so myself.”

“That seems clear enough,” Jeff said dryly. He moved from behind Gretchen’s chair and pulled up a chair for himself from a nearby side table. The chair was on the rickety side. Gretchen’s grandmother Veronica, Henry Dreeson’s widow, used that table for her records and correspondence. She was not a large woman and the chair did fine for her. Under Jeff’s weight, it creaked alarmingly. Most of the fat that Higgins had carried as a teenager was gone now. But, if anything, the twenty-three-year old man who’d replaced that teenager was even bigger — and Jeff had been a big kid to start with.

He ignored the creaks. Whatever else, they could obviously afford to replace the chair now, even if it did collapse under him. And he needed to sit down. He was feeling a bit light-headed.

Two million dollars. Two and a half, if you wait.

The only numbers like that he’d ever dealt with, at least when it came to money, were associated with the role-playing games he and his friends had played in high school. So, trying to get a handle on them and turn the abstract into the concrete, he focused on the chair swaying beneath him.

Go ahead, sucker. Break. See if I care. You’re kindling in the fireplace and I go out and buy something sturdier to replace you. Out of pocket change.

That thought steadied him some. He glanced at Gretchen, but saw that his wife was in a rare state of paralysis — an almost unheard of state, in her case. She was normally as uncertain as a calving glacier.

“Whether it’s a smart move or not, we will need some cash pretty soon, David. I think you call it liquidity or something like that.” Jeff nodded toward his sister-in-law, who was sitting next to David on the couch. The eighteen-year-old girl was studying the figures Bartley held in his hand as intently as a cat watching a mouse hole. “Annalise needs to start college in the fall, and that scholarship she got won’t be enough to cover the cost.”

He lifted his hand and spun the forefinger in a little circle. “Not to mention this gaggle of kids we’ve got to support. Except for Baldy, anyway. He likes his apprenticeship at KSI, and he’s even making enough to support himself.”

“That’s not a problem. What I recommend is that you sell your shares of Kelly Aviation. They’re selling like hotcakes right now on account of the war coming, but I don’t personally think that’s going to last so you may as well get out while the getting’s good.”

Feeling under some sort of vague compulsion to demonstrate his masculine mastery of financial matters in front of the womenfolk, Jeff took off his glasses and started cleaning them with a handkerchief. “You sure? I heard those are pretty good planes they make.”

“Technically, yes. Bob Kelly knows his stuff when it comes to designing aircraft. In that respect, he’s probably just as good as Hal Smith. The problem’s on the other end. He’s got the business sense of a jackrabbit and while Kay makes up for it some, she’s also, well…” He looked uncomfortable. For all his financial acumen, David Bartley wasn’t a cut-throat by temperament. He was quite a nice guy, actually, and not given to bad-mouthing others.

“Well,” he repeated.

Jeff was less reticent. He’d run into Bob Kelly’s wife on several occasions. “Yeah. If pissing people off was an Olympic event, she’d take the gold every time.”

David nodded. “I figure you could get three hundred thousand dollars from those stocks. You could set aside twenty-five percent of that as a fund for Annalise, which ought to be plenty even as expensive as Quedlinburg’s gotten to be.”

Annalise spoke up, her tone a mix of defensiveness and belligerence. “It’s the only really good college for women yet. In the USE, anyway. I wouldn’t mind going to Prague but Gramma’d pitch a fit.”

Jeff put his glasses back on. “That’d leave us with about two hundred and twenty-five thousand. Gretchen wants to move to Magdeburg as soon as possible, now that Ronnie’s leaving town, and we’d need to get a house big enough for all the kids. We’d figured on renting, but…” He started doing the needed calculations.

Not surprisingly, David did the figuring faster than he did. “You could buy the kind of house you need for… I figure about seventy-five thousand dollars. But then you’d own it free and clear and still have a hundred and fifty thousand to live on. Even with all your kids, that’s way more than enough.”

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23 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 04

  1. laclongquan says:

    Why would David be popular with CoC? Which stories lead to that state of affair?

    Oh sure, the sewing machines utilize the network of CoC but is that it?

  2. Summercat says:


    OPM. IIRC, OPM puts money down to develop all sorts of things, small shops as well as big ones. It’s also got a low entry barrier, which makes it popular with the populist inclusionist CoC.

  3. robert says:

    I guess they are not going to Magdeburg right away. Or they won’t be staying there since they’ll be off to Saxony, etc.

  4. 4th Dimension says:

    These stocks, this bank character, are from Dreason Incident? Right?

    Is there some internet resource to refresh my memory of what happened to certain characters, without rereading books.
    Something like http://honorverse.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page for Honorverse?

  5. Jason says:

    Probably more along the lines of not staying there long, and every revolutionary movement in history has needed to be well financed. So why not invest money into OPM.

  6. Michael says:

    Ok… I’m somewhat lost. I’ve read the mainline 3 books a dozen times each (1632,33, & 34TBW), but none of the other offshoots. I like Eric’s writing a lot, though I think the Eric/Weber collaboration makes for some of the best books on the shelf today, but the other folks he’s collaborated with… they could write a high school textbook, but not much else. This character is a total mystery to me, and I’ve obviously missed the evolution of the stock markets.

    Sounds like I need to read The Dreeson Incident, at the very least. What else do I need as a minimum to get caught up? I read a good chunk of the Canon Law, but didn’t finish it.

  7. Peter S says:

    Gretchen’s having to come to grips with the fact that she’s now a member of the upper bougoisie (sp?). That’s hilarious. I assume this portfolio is mostly the result of Jeff parking some percentage of his army pay with David through and automatic withdrawal, and probably the revenue from sale of his parent’s trailer. Awesome ride on the exploding stock exchanges of Germany!

  8. David says:

    I don’t remember David or any of the related characters and such appearing in any of the actual novels. He was introduced in “The Sewing Circle” in Grantville Gazette I, with a follow-on “Other People’s Money” in GG III. Both were on the CD in the Baltic War, which means they can be found at the site of our favorite snippet pusher.

  9. robert says:

    @4 4D–try the following:

    Parts of the 2 Ring of Fire books are useful, the stuff in Italy is OK (Galileo and Canon Law), but not relevant to this book. The Grantville Gazettes in Webscriptions are where the Eastern Europe stuff is. There are 2 threads, one with Wallenstein and Morris Roth in Prague and events in Poland that Eric was writing (The anaconda Project) which is a “direct sequel” to the story in the first Ring of Fire book called The Wallenstein Gambit. The other had/has to do with Russia and was/is being written by one of the Grantville Gazetteers.

    Those high school textbooks would not be very good, but you should see the 1632 slush pile on Baen’s Bar.

  10. Andrew says:

    If you want to find out more about David, you need to read the Grantville Gazette. Particularly ‘The Sewing Circle’ in Volume 1 and ‘Other People’s Money’ in Volume 3. He shows up a few other places, but those should give you a good background on the character.

  11. bradford m. parkhurst says:

    actully these characture are for the grantville gazette vollume 3 story is Other Peoples Money.

  12. Mark L says:

    @7 A good chunk of Gretchen and Jeff’s wealth come from a wedding present of stock in one of the companies formed by the Sewing Cricle that was given to them by a relative of Jeff’s. Don’t remember the details, but I think you can find them in GGII or III.

  13. 4th Dimension says:

    9@ Wikipedia is no good. It hasn’t been updated much if at all for non Flint/Weber books.

  14. Joe says:

    @6 For an Eric Flint recommended list of the order in which to read the books in the series see the “afterward” in “1635 – The Tangled Web” – also mentioned are a number of future titles.

  15. heath says:


    If Wikipedia is no good, someone should go an update it. It lets anyone edit it, as Stephen Colbert demonstrates regularly.

  16. heath says:

    FWIW, if people here are willing, see
    There’s an attempt by people to organize a 1632 specific group to do articles

  17. Peter S says:

    David Bartley is a distant cousin of Jeff Higgins – David’s grandmother is Delia Higgins, who is Jeff’s aunt-twice-removed, or something. And I had forgotten that she gave Jeff something like three or five percent of the Higgins sewing machine Company as a wedding present. This later split into more companies and was combined with Klaus Schmidt’s company, and so forth. I assume David has also reinvested all the dividend income from those stocks, to make this huge nest egg for his distant cousins (who are none-the-less some of the closer relatives he’s got left after the ROF).

    But it will be fabulous to see how Gretchen copes with this wealth!

  18. pboer323 says:

    okay, what story did David and Sarah get married in? Which online Gazette?

  19. Alejo says:

    Oh, this is funny. Gretchen’s rich now. Oh, man, that’s hillarious. So much of her fuel and revolutionary zeal has come from seeing nobles and rich people as the enemy to be fought against. Wonder how she’ll change now that she’s rich. Heh. This is good.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Alejo, many revoluntionaries have been “well-to-do”.

    The poor often are too busy surviving to be involved in revoluntionary actions/planning.

    “Well-to-do” folks had the leisure to be involved in such activities.

    Of course, these “well-to-do” folks were often not “top dogs” in their societies but were between the truly poor and the truly rich.

    She’s now rich enough that she can provide for her extended family and still be involved in revolutionary actions.

  21. Sounour says:

    @18: Are they married? I don’t remember this. Last I read, they still dated

    @13 + 15 + 16 : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_1632_characters
    If an important character appears who has no entry, just write it :)

  22. no_one says:

    All this illustrates why it’s such a PITA to try to keep up with this mess. It’s not worth the effort. Can’t the author just tell a story? And don’t say “go to the Bar”, the Bar is so d*** slow it’s infuriating, ever since they did away with the Old Bar, which worked just fine.

  23. Peter S says:

    Re #20, I think Drak’s right – this wealth isn’t going to undo Gretchen for long. Instead its going to become the means by which she keeps on pushing for the social transformation she wants, but now colored by some new perspective. That might actually lead to a better result for the CoC’s in the long run – firebrand crusading is all very well, but at the end of the year the books still have to balance and someone’s got to take care of the business as well as the household.

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