1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 10
“I’m afraid that Judy is right about Sarah being better off in the public sector.” David buttered a roll, as he explained. “It’s not that she lacks the skills of business. At least no more than most of us up-timers. But she doesn’t like it and, frankly, she finds it difficult to understand those who do.”
“That may well be true, David, but that simply speaks well of her honesty and fairness.” Karl took a sip of the hot cocoa.
Judy waited a moment to see what David would say, but when he didn’t speak, she did. “Sarah isn’t some plaster saint, Karl. She gets all self-righteous about it and forgets that all us greedy capitalist types are necessary. Also that we aren’t bad people, we’re just trying to get things done.” Well, Karl did need to know what he was getting into.
“And the money’s nice, too.” Karl laughed.
“Don’t go all noble on us, Judy!” David said. “We wouldn’t know how to deal with a noble Judy the Baracudy.”
Delia joined in the laughter. It was clear to Judy that Delia was aware of the various levels of the conversation. What was less clear was what she thought about it, though Judy had a sneaking suspicion that Delia was laughing at the children. Sarah and David’s breakup had been about as amicable as such things ever are, but then neither David nor Sarah were very open about what they were feeling. Judy was quite sure that both were hurting over the breakup. In their pride, if nothing else. She was also quite sure that they would both work hard to do the right thing as they saw it. So David and Karl were dancing around the issue of Sarah by talking about her financial skills and lack of business orientation. Delia would be aware of all that, and while she was fond of Sarah, David was her grandson.
“But won’t it make your relationship more difficult to maintain with Sarah in Magdeburg?” Karl asked.
“We broke up, Karl. It was pretty friendly as breakups go, but there it is.”
“Oh.” Karl was clearly at a loss as to what to say to that.
Judy could almost hear him thinking. Yes, Karl, she thought. “Yippee” is the wrong thing to say.
The next day Judy got a call from Karl. “So what was last night about?” Karl asked as soon as she came on the line.
“Sarah is on the market, Ken Doll. Last night was giving you the heads up.”
“What made you think I’d be interested?”
“Please, Karl. I’m not blind.”
“Sarah . . . ?”
“She is blind, Karl. Even bringing her roses won’t do it. You’re going to have to tell her you’re courting her or she won’t realize it. Mom, by the way, isn’t blind. She’s known for months.”
They talked for a while about the best techniques and what Sarah liked.
Wendell House, Grantville
“What’s this?” Sarah Wendell took the card from Agnes, the maid. The card was white and embossed with the Liechtenstein coat of arms, printed in three colors on top quality white card stock. Aside from the coat of arms, it had Karl’s full name and phone number. Along with an extension scrawled on the back. The phone number was for Liechtenstein House, a rather palatial residence located less than a mile from the Ring of Fire and equipped with all the up-time conveniences. The extension would have the caller put through to the prince’s private office, or wherever he happened to be in Liechtenstein House, with the minimum delay. However, Sarah already had both the number and the extension. So she didn’t see the point in Karl sending her his card.
Agnes rolled her eyes, but Sarah didn’t notice. She shrugged and picked up the phone.
Liechtenstein House, outside the Ring of Fire
“I assume this is about the LIC,” Sarah said as she entered Liechtenstein house, speaking to Karl even as she gave her coat to one of his footmen. “So, why all the intrigue? Are your uncles after more money?”
“Always,” Karl said. “However, this is not about the LIC or the family lands. It’s an entirely different matter.”
“What has Judy done now?” Sarah asked. “Has she gotten you into that commodities trading company? You should have learned from the American Equipment Corporation.”
Karl realized that Sarah was nervous. She didn’t normally jump to conclusions so quickly. What he couldn’t tell was why she was nervous. Was she afraid that he was going to tell her that he wanted to court her or afraid that he wasn’t? Karl found it surprisingly hard to bring himself to broach the subject. He ushered her into the small dining room and seated her himself.
Finally, she asked, “All right, Prince Karl. Just what is this all about?”
“I would like to court you, Sarah. Date you. Whatever the up-time phrasing.”
Sarah didn’t say anything, just looked at him like a deer caught in a bright light. Karl waited as long as he could, which wasn’t very long at all, then backpedaled a little. “I’m not asking you to marry me right now. I just want you to shift me from acquaintance to suitor in your mind. Get used to the idea. Get comfortable with it.”
“But I’m moving to Magdeburg in two days.”
“Magdeburg isn’t that far. There are letters and telegrams, the trains and even airplanes.”
“Not many, and they aren’t safe.”
“Not yet. But people are building them now. They will be.”
“I don’t know, Karl. Maybe you should wait a few years before you decide to become a jet setter.”
Karl looked blank, and Sarah said, “Never mind.” Then she looked at him. “Okay, Karl. I’ll move you to possible suitor.” Her lips quirked a little . . . “But suitors are supposed to sweep girls off their feet. Do you think you’re up to it?”
Karl took her hand gently and lifted it to his lips, touched it with a butterfly kiss.
“I’ll work on it,” he said.