1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 39
Carla Ann caught the ferry out to Race Track City the first Saturday after they got to Vienna. She wasn’t the only one; two of the girls from the English Ladies’ school had gone out to see the emperor making laps, something that the emperor did most Saturdays. The other two girls were wearing seventeenth-century chic. Carla was wearing a mix. She had on a paisley blouse that would cost a fortune down-time, if less of a fortune now than just after the Ring of Fire. Jacquard looms had been appearing all over Europe for the last couple of years, and the price for down-time made paisley was just exorbitant, not armed robbery. However, Carla’s blouse was an actual up-time blouse. She didn’t have much money, but she did have some clothes that her sister didn’t want. She was also wearing a used navy peacoat, which wasn’t fashionable but was darn sure necessary in Vienna in December during the Little Ice Age. A long split skirt hid the heavy wool socks that went up to her knees, and she’d sneaked a pair of her sister Suzi’s combat boots to wear. They looked ridiculous, but the other girls thought they were the height of fashion.
The boat stopped at a dock on the river and the girls had to walk about a mile on a pretty smooth dirt road. They could see where the workers were digging a channel to the race track, but the last of the canal to be dug was the part that connected to the river, so there was a stretch of about thirty yards between river and mostly dry canal works.
The morning was cold, but they were used to it, even Carla Ann. It took them about a half an hour to stroll to the race track, and by the time they got there Carla was wishing one of the girls had been willing to spring for a cab ride from the river to the track. There were cabs that made the trip, but that cost four pfennig each way. Worse, a pfennig wasn’t a penny; it was worth more than that. And Carla was on a pretty restricted allowance. Her parents had been provided with a place to stay, but they hadn’t been paid. And as things had turned out, they weren’t going to get paid. Instead, they were given Hofbefreiten status in exchange for consulting with the crown on demand. They had some money to start out, because they did get paid for the stuff they brought with them. But so far there wasn’t any work besides the work for the government. That wasn’t paid, so they were living off the money from the stuff they brought.
To Carla Ann, what all that meant was that she didn’t have any money to speak of and that lack was likely to put her in a bad spot in the English Ladies school. She needed a way to make some money of her own, and if anyone in Vienna could tell her how it was Hayley Fortney.
There was no fee to watch the emperor race around the track, but for Carla Ann there wasn’t much excitement in it either. She had seen real NASCAR on TV up-time. One guy in a 240Z traveling at maybe 60 miles an hour didn’t get her blood pumping. The other girls were the next best thing to in awe, though, so Carla couldn’t let herself seem too bored.
While the other girls were watching the emperor go around in circles, Carla Ann slipped away and found Mr. Sanderlin, the younger one — she didn’t know his first name — and asked where Hayley was.
“Hey, Carla. What’s up?” Hayley said. She was in a shop behind the garage, working on what looked like an engine block with a big down-timer. There was actual glass in the windows of the shop. It had ripples in it, but it was glass.
“Are you building an engine?”
“Steam four cylinder,” Hayley said in English, then continued in German that was starting to take on an Austrian accent. “And Herr Groer here is the one building it. I’m just helping with the measuring. He’s a master smith and this thing is expected to put out about six horsepower when he gets it finished in another month or so.”
“Ah, isn’t that a pretty slow way to go about it? Hand building the engines, I mean? Is it the price of iron?”
“No, though the cost of iron has gone up even here,” Hayley said. “And it sure is a slow way to go about it. But building an engine factory would cost a fortune. And we can’t do it anyway, because we can’t afford the licensing fees.”
“Never mind,” Hayley said. “It’s silly, but it’s the rules. We could afford a few individual licenses, but the owner wants a fortune for the licenses for mass production of engines.”
“What about steel?” Carla knew that the price of iron had gone through the roof in the USE since they got started on the railroads.
“Yes, it’s gone up even here, but they import up the Danube from Hungary and points south. They also have iron mines near Linz and just north of Judenburg. Plus, it’s both hard and expensive to ship anything heavy from Vienna — or just about anywhere in Austria-Hungary — to the USE. You either have to go around Europe by way of the Black Sea and Mediterranean, up the Spanish and French coasts, past England and around to the Baltic. Or you go over really bad land routes, through lots of little lordling’s territories. Either way, the price goes up a lot. So iron, copper, and a lot of stuff is cheaper here than in the USE.”
Hayley blathered on about the price of this and the shipping cost of that, and Carla finally couldn’t take it anymore. “Can I talk to you?” she blurted out.
Hayley didn’t wince, but Carla could tell she had to work at it. And Carla, a bright and fairly well-educated girl, knew why. Last year in Grantville, Hayley was always being hit on by people who wanted the Barbies to invest in something, or wanted Hayley to tell them what the Barbies were doing, or just loan them — better, give them — money. In a way, that was what Carla was here for and she hoped that them being the only up-timers would help.