1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 32

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 32

“Maybe. But it would be a major investment and, for all I know, we would be burned out by irate tailors. Look, we’ll hire your friend Maria Bauer’s husband and set up a tailor shop out by the race track the emperor is building. But we can’t hire everyone.”

Gayleen Sanderlin went away disappointed, and truthfully Hayley was disappointed herself.

Fortney House, Simmering, Austria

“It’s called casein and it’s made from milk and vinegar,” Dana Fortney said to the delegation of widows and orphans that she had gathered for the casein case venture. They were in the outdoor kitchen just behind the house and the woman were standing around a long trestle table. It was a sunny fall afternoon, and the smell of vinegar was having to fight against the scent of flowers and mown hay on the breeze. “We use stamps and hot milk and vinegar. We stamp it into shapes and let the shapes sit for a few days. Then we varnish it. Now, I have never done this myself, but I have instructions on how to do it. We will be providing the raw materials and working with you on making stuff. Let me walk you through a sample batch.”

Carefully following the instructions from the cheat sheet, Dana made a small batch of casein. Once it was rinsed in cool water, she put the blob in the mold they had had made and pressed it in. It came out in pieces. Well, it was her first try.

Within a few days, the ladies of the casein factories were producing casein items. They had been moved to an empty room in the brewery. It took a few hundred dollars of wasted milk for them to get the hang of it, but after that they could make casein buttons and clasps, knitting needles and crochet hooks, boxes and bottles and lids.

Simmering, becoming Race Track City

There were buildings going up around the race track and new shops in each building. The casein shop had shelves full of items made out of casein plastics, but that wasn’t the only place that casein was used. There were casein buckles on the boots made by the boot maker, and casein buttons on the pants and shirts. Also casein eyeglasses frames were made by a craftsman from the University of Vienna. The man had been making eyeglasses since long before the Ring of Fire. The little industries in the area around Ferdinand III’s race track were starting to feed off each other.

Better yet, the steam barge was finally up and running. And they were selling tickets to more than just the workers on the track. More people were walking out to see the track than were taking the shuttle barge, but enough were taking the barge so that they were making an extra trip every day for tourists.

****

Ron Sanderlin watched with considerable amusement as the 240Z made its way around the track. He didn’t know Janos Drugeth, but he had seen the man’s uncle. Pal Nadasdy had been the next best thing to incoherent after his ride a few days before. The 240Z slid a bit going around the far curve but the emperor got it back under control well enough. Ron was wondering how the cavalry officer and spy master was going to manage. Ron glanced at his uncle. “Think he’ll barf like the banker did?” The elder Abrabanel had gotten a ride, and thrown up in the car seat. Which they had had to clean.

“Could be.” Bob Sanderlin gave a twitch of his shoulders that was not quite a shrug.

“Doubt it,” said Sonny as they moved out from the garage as the car came in. “He’s a cavalry officer.”

“So?” asked Bob.

“He’s got stuff to prove.”

Bob’s shoulders gave that half-twitch again, and he and Ron headed out to open the doors.

“Nice recovery on that last turn, Your Majesty,” Ron offered as he opened the door for the emperor. Bob didn’t say anything as he opened the door for Drugeth. Bob now had dentures, but for most of his life he had had bad teeth and he had a tendency to keep his mouth closed out of old embarrassment. Especially around people he didn’t know well.

“It worked splendidly! Just as you said!” The emperor was grinning like a kid.

A moment later Drugeth lurched out of the car and stood stiff-legged beside it.

The emperor put his hands on his hips and looked around the race track. At this point it was just dirt, shaped by Fresno scrapers. But the emperor seemed pleased. “You were right, Ron,” he announced. “We need to build up the banks of the track on the curves.”

“Yup. Even at only sixty miles an hour, which is nothing for a 240Z, you almost spun out. Of course, it’ll help a lot once we can replace that packed dirt with a solid surface. Tarmac, at least, although concrete would be better.”

Ferdinand nodded. “We can manage that, I think, given a bit of time. We’ll need to build spectator stands also.”

He turned to Janos, smiling widely. “We’ll call it the Vienna 500, I’m thinking. You watch! One of these days, it’ll draw enough tourists to flood the city’s coffers.”

The expression on Janos Drugeth’s face was a study. Clearly, he had no idea what the emperor was talking about. But Ron knew. It was Ron who had suggested the idea.

The Hofburg Palace

Vienna, Austria

“Well, Your Majesty,” Ron Sanderlin said, “if there were a canal to the race track there would be a lot more people coming out to watch you going round the track.”

The emperor of Austria Hungary, who had renounced the title of Holy Roman Emperor, raised an eyebrow at Ron Sanderlin. “It’s only three miles. Hardly too far to walk. A canal, even a short canal, is very expensive. Why don’t you have your friends the Pfeifers simply build a dock on the Danube at that point? It would only be a mile walk.”

It was a good question and Ron didn’t have a particularly good answer. He fell back on honesty. “Because people need work, Your Majesty. When we got here and the race track project got started, we were deluged with people who were desperate for work. And we’ve done what we can but it’s not nearly enough. A project like the canal would employ hundreds of people, and at the same time it would make for an easy, quick transport from Vienna proper to Race Track City . . .”

 

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