1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 19

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 19

Chapter 8: Family Reunion

September, 1634

Prague

“Ferdinand II is dead,” King Albrecht said. “In this universe, at least, the fanatic didn’t manage to outlive me.” There was considerable satisfaction in his tone.

And, in spite of himself, Karl realized that it was more than a little justified. Wallenstein was opposed to the Edict of Restitution and a large part of the motive for the revolution that he may or may not have planned would have been to repeal it. Five years ago, Karl would have agreed with Ferdinand II, but then the Ring of Fire happened and they had all been able to see how the world had unfolded in that other timeline. Now he found himself agreeing with Wallenstein.

“Will Ferdinand III try for the crown of the Holy Roman empire?” Karl asked.

“It doesn’t seem like it. He is styling himself ‘Emperor of Austria-Hungary.’ And he managed to do what I never could, and get his father to repeal the Edict of Restitution on his death bed. If Ferdinand II had done that two years ago, I would never have taken Bohemia,” King Albrecht said, sounding sincere. Then he added, “Well, assuming that he didn’t try to have me assassinated.”

Karl wasn’t sure he believed Albrecht von Wallenstein about that. The man was ambitious and ambition can always find an excuse. On the other hand, Karl wasn’t entirely sure that he didn’t believe it, either.

“Might there be peace between your realm and Ferdinand III’s?”

“I’m willing if he is,” King Albrecht said. “But I don’t think he is. He’s still making noises like I’m a traitor and he’s the king of Bohemia.”

“Might you come to some sort of accommodation?” Karl asked cautiously. “Might Bohemia rejoin the HRE?”

“No. Two assassination attempts in two universes are all they get. I’ll not bend a knee to the Habsburg family again.”

After that, the discussion turned to the rest of the news. A bit later, King Albrecht said, “You’re still going to have to publicly swear fealty to me in regard to all your family’s lands in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. But, in exchange, I am willing to endorse the railroad and even add a line to Cieszyn out of the crown purse. And I’ll support your LIC as well. There are several projects that Morris wants to do that can be done in cooperation between us.”

Karl nodded. He hadn’t been expecting any other result, after all.

****

“I’ll see you when you get back,” Sarah said. Her strawberry blond hair was in a bun and escaping the confines of her scrunchy. She had a charcoal smudge on her nose and was utterly focused on a book of ledgers that had been gathered from a market here in Prague. She looked adorable. Unfortunately, she had no attention at all to pay to Karl. She hadn’t even looked up.

Cieszyn

“Hello, Aunt Beth.” Karl looked around the palace hall. It had a more worn look than he remembered. Aunt Beth was maintaining her palace, but apparently not spending any more on it than absolutely necessary.

Elisabeth Lukretia von Teschen looked Karl up and down and he felt himself straightening under her gaze. “Good afternoon, Karl Eusebius! How was the trip from Prague?”

“Uneventful, always a blessing when it comes to travel. I have more letters from King Albrecht and Morris Roth. Also, Judith Roth is going to be the head of the National Bank of Bohemia.”

“Do you think I should print my own money? It would certainly solve my financial problems.”

“Please don’t, aunt. You will be much better off getting improvement loans from the National Bank — or from me, for that matter. Through the Liechtenstein Improvement Corporation.”

So it went. They spent two days talking about what he had set up in Grantville and what King Albrecht had thought about it. About the Fortneys, who were at this very moment somewhere on the road to Vienna. About the Barbie Consortium and — very much in spite of himself — talking about Sarah Wendell, how smart she was, how beautiful, how clever and kind.

****

“So tell me about this Sarah of yours,” Aunt Beth said. “Are the Wendell’s of a noble house?”

“She’s not mine,” Karl said. “At least not yet. And the up-timers are different. If anything, my title probably hurts my suit.”

Aunt Beth gave Karl a look that conveyed her displeasure at his obfuscations.

Karl continued. “By the up-timer standards, yes. The Wendell family are near the upper echelons of those who came back in the Ring of Fire. Her father, Fletcher Wendell, is the USE Treasury Secretary, who knows and is known by Gustav and Fernando, as well as Mike Stearns and Ed Piazza. And her mother, Judy Wendell the elder is, if less well known, even more astute in financial matters. Sarah takes after her mother in that. Right now she is working out the design of the Bohemian National Bank with Judith Roth and Uriel Abrabanel.”

“Aside from smart, what’s she like?”

“Well . . .” Karl paused. “She’s taller than I am by a couple of inches and she’s still growing. She has light blond hair with just a touch of red, what the up-timers call a strawberry blond. She is thin and I must admit she’s no horsewoman, but she loves flying and books and plays and solving problems.”

“Is she pretty?”

Karl laughed. “I think so, but she doesn’t. That’s probably because her younger sister is perhaps the greatest beauty in Grantville. Up-timers tend to be comely people by our standards, so even what we would consider pretty or handsome doesn’t stand out among them.” He smiled and Elizabeth noticed that his teeth were both straighter and whiter than she remembered. Not that they had been particularly bad before, but the evenness of his teeth now was remarkable. “Sarah considers herself gawky . . .”

“Gawky?”

 

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Comments

15 Responses to 1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 19

  1. Bibliotheca Servare says:

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Let him get the plague already, damn it! Frickin interloper…godsbedamned love triangles…a pox upon the lot of them!

  2. Lyttenstadt says:

    “Hello, Aunt Beth.”

    Why not “Hi!”, “Yo, wassup!” or “What ho, auntie!”? If you are presenting the interactions between aristocrats as if they were your ordinary up-timers (i.e. not even trying to work on your dialogues), you could write something like that instead.

    Did our esteemed authors even know how ridiculously formal were interactions between the family mambers of royalty and higher aristocracy? Children, nephews and nieces of the royal families and aristocracy were incredibly formal and polite to their elder relatives (the same is also true to any family of said period). Did anyone of Co-Authors ever read Dumas’ historical novels? Or Erik Mann’s “King Henry” dulogy?

    So far, every single dialogue I’ve seen in the novel looks awful. No matter who talks with whom – the style and structure is the same. If we wasn’t told beforehand that’s 2 high-bred nobles talking, we wouldn’t ever guess.

    • Greg Noel says:

      Sigh. Yes, something that regularly makes me wince. And you don’t even have to go back that far to find examples. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s given name is mentioned when the character is introduced, but it’s otherwise never used; he’s always “Mr. Darcy” or “Darcy,” even by Elizabeth Bennet after they’re engaged.

      And another thing that makes me wince? Not knowing the difference between the plural and the possessive. “Wendell’s” is possessive, not plural.

    • Whats The Deal? says:

      While I don’t disagree with you, it’s not really a problem that’s specific to this novel. The series overall has been pretty bad with prose and presenting believable dialogue with high nobility.

    • If we’re going to cut rabbits in two (split hares) why not insist that all dialogue be in the language actually spoken, or at least rendered in authentic Elizabethan English! Think of all the trees that could be saved by virtually eliminating returning readership!

  3. Robert Krawitz says:

    I suspect that some of the casual dialog is about indicating how thoroughly uptimers have “polluted” everyone else.

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      What, even “Aunt Beth”, who lives in nearly total isolation?

      Its so lame excuse, really. Even now people around the world still speak differently. Not only in the sense “what” (different languages), but in the sense “how” (construction of phrases, manner of address etc.).

      No mater how long some downtimes was under the “uptime influence” (and in 1634 its still not long enough), said person still retains maners and style of conversation that is more “natural” to them (i.e. the ones they grew up with).

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        I suspect that in the “real world of 1634” nobles would be less formal when talking in private with other nobles that they were related to and/or on good terms with than they’d talk with them in formal situations.

        Sure Prince Karl wouldn’t greet his aunt with “Hello, Aunt Beth” but he would greet her less formally, in private, than he’d greet another older noblewoman equal in rank to his aunt.

        IMO the “Hello, Aunt Beth” is a signal to the reader that he’s on very good terms with his aunt, not the way he’d actually greet her.

        • Lyttenstadt says:

          Drak Bibliophile, I understand that you mean well, but you are also a “person close to the royal court” of authors of the series, so to speak. That’s why you try to find a logical explanation of this (and many, many others) blunder.

          You are saying that:

          in the “real world of 1634″ nobles would be less formal when talking in private with other nobles that they were related to and/or on good terms with than they’d talk with them in formal situations.

          And I ask – why? How RoF managed to change centuries (yes, centuries) of formality and protocol throughout European nobility? Why should, I dunno, noble family from Gascoigne of Lancashire, or Campania be influenced by that? I’m not even sure that the ones who visited Grantville would accept this “new ways”.

          There were many other more accurate (and less ham-fisted) ways to portray prince Karl’s good attitude towards his aunt (as if we didn’t know that previously from his own words!). He could bow to her and remained so for some time, for her only to graciously allow him to straight up, lift his gaze, kiss his aunt’s hand and sit NEAR her.

          But this would be conferred not via dialogue, but thorough a sentence or two of descriptions. And, as we could noticed already, our esteemed authors really can’t write their dialogues in anything but “talking disembodied heads” format

          • Iranuke says:

            Bear in mind that this is a book written in English, but the language spoken was either German or Czech.

          • Randomiser says:

            Drak is talking about behaviour in the Real World in 1634 in his last post, not the books. The position is also somewhat mitigated by the fact that Karl is head of the family, so he would, at least to some degree set how formal the interaction would be. Overall I guess it depends on how much of a costume drama you want the books to be. The dialologue style, which I’m pretty sure will be a conscious decision by the authors, doesn’t really bother me.

            • vikingted says:

              Nor does it bother me.

              To Lyttenstadt, if these authors upset you so much, please find others that meet your standards. My standards must too low since I enjoy this series in its entirety.

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