1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 44

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 44

Chapter 15: Karl’s Ring

February, 1635

Grantville, United States of Europe

“I have a letter from Hayley,” Judy the Younger Wendell told the girls of the Barbie Consortium. “She wants stuff and she wants money, but mostly she wants me to get Sarah to tell her what’s wrong with the Austro-Hungarian economy.”

“So, what is wrong with the Austro-Hungarian economy?”

“Hey, I’m the pretty sister. Remember?”

“Not according to the Ken Doll,” said Millicent Anne Barnes. “He starts drooling every time he gets near Sarah.”

They were just back from a weekend trip to Magdeburg. A long weekend. It took a day each way. So they had taken the sleeper Thursday night and spent Friday and Saturday in Magdeburg with the Wendell’s, and come back Sunday night. Karl had taken the excuse to go with them and escorted Sarah to the opera. Sort of opera. It was called A Knight of Somerville, a new play written in the style of a 1930s Busby Berkeley musical. They couldn’t do the full Berkley experience, but it had lots of dancing and was probably loosely based on the events of the ennoblement of the count of Narnia. In this case, the juvenile princess actually knighted the knight of Somerville herself, rather than have her father do it later.

“So,” Vicky Emerson said, “when do you think he’s going to ask her?”

“Just because you’re engaged doesn’t mean everyone has to be,” Susan Logsden said.

“I think he’s scared,” said Heather Mason.

“Of what?” asked Gabrielle Ugolini. “He’s rich, he’s a prince, and he’s not bad looking.”

“Of my sister,” Judy proclaimed. “As any sane person would be.”

“Of the crap that’s going to get dumped on them when they actually get engaged,” Millicent said. “You know how Catholics can be.” She looked pointedly at Vicky

“I resemble that remark,” Vicky said. “Or I would if Bill were Catholic. But he’s Lutheran and Cardinal Mazzare says it’s okay. I’ll just have to endow a church or something.”

“Yeah, but will the pope be so understanding? Or the cardinal of . . . ” Judy stopped. “Which cardinal is it who would cover the Holy Roman Empire?”

“It didn’t have one,” Vicky said. “It was Scipione Borghese till he died in 1633, but the post wasn’t filled after that. The Holy Roman Empire didn’t have a cardinal, and now there isn’t a Holy Roman Empire. There are the Habsburg lands, Austria and Hungary, and they have a cardinal, Franz Seraph von Dietrichstein.”

“So how is Dietrichstein going to react?”

“I don’t know. But if Cardinal Mazzare gives them permission, there isn’t a lot he can do.” Vicky said it smugly. She was proud of her parish priest being a cardinal.


Sarah Wendell looked at the plane on the airfield outside Magdeburg. It was a Dauntless, one of the line of aircraft made by Kelly Aviation. The original Dauntless had gained famed or notoriety — take your pick — very recently, when it crashed after accidentally bombing Noelle Stull and Eddie Junkers. This was a replica, the first one Kelly had made. Bob Kelly’s wife Kay was here in Magdeburg lobbying the government to buy some for the Air Force.

At the moment, though, she was still lobbying — and the aircraft was still available. Kay was renting it out on a daily basis for anyone who could afford the steep price.

“Are you sure about this?” Karl asked dubiously. “I’ve never seen one up close before. It’s much smaller than they seem up in the sky.”

Sarah shook her head. “I’m not worried about the plane. Bob Kelly may be the world’s worst businessman, but he knows how to build airplanes. The real issue is the pilot.

Karl now studied the fellow in question, who was standing next to the plane and chatting with someone Karl took to be the mechanic.

“What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t know how to operate the plane?”

“No, Lannie Yost is actually a good pilot. The problem is that he’s also a drunk.” She headed toward the plane. “Luckily, I have a good nose.”

As it turned out, there was alcohol on Yost’s breath. But the smell was faint — Sarah gauged it as one beer. Certainly not more than two. Given Lannie’s capacity, he should be fine.

Not to her surprise, Karl didn’t say anything about the smell. Sarah had already learned that people born and raised in the 17th century were more lackadaisical about drinking than up-timers were. Given that water was unreliable when it came to carrying diseases, that was probably understandable even if she didn’t really approve.

She looked over at Karl. “What do you think?”

“I still prefer comfort.” He smiled at her. “But if you’ll hold my hand, I’ll go up in it.”


Holding hands proved to be easier said than done, because of the cockpit’s design. There were seats up front for the pilot and someone else — a co-pilot, theoretically — but only room for one person in the small seat in the back.

At Sarah’s insistence, Karl took the front seat. She’d flown before; he hadn’t. Her hope was that he’d enjoy the flight, once he got over his apprehension. That was the reason she’d made the suggestion in the first place. Since it seemed clear they would be seeing each other for quite some time and he had lands scattered all over central Europe, Sarah figured that aviation would be a handy thing to encourage.

When they got up in the air, Karl turned around to look back at her. “You promised to hold my hand!” he said, shouting to be heard over the noise of the engine.

Sarah rolled her eyes, but gave him her left hand. It was a sunny day and unseasonably warm, so she didn’t object when he took her glove off. Then she felt the cold metal of the ring as he slipped it onto her finger. She turned to look, and he shouted: “Will you marry me?”

Lannie looked at them and grinned. Sarah didn’t let go of Karl’s hand but she didn’t answer right away. She wanted to think about it — and the noise of the engine gave her an excuse to wait until they landed. Besides, she figured after pulling a stunt like this, he should just damn well wait anyway.

The decision took less time than she would have though. Once the plane was on the ground, she didn’t wait for the engine to be turned off.

“Yes!” she shouted.


“What about the religious issues?” Fletcher Wendell asked.

“Karl is talking with Cardinal Mazzare,” Sarah said. “There’s not going to be that much of an issue, anyway. He’s Prince Karl von Liechtenstein and I’m plain old Sarah Wendell, so it’s going to be a morganatic marriage. Which is okay. I have enough money so that it’s not going to be a problem for our kids. And, as far as I’m concerned his cousin Hartmann can have it. Or Hartmann’s kids can. I figure we’ll likely outlive Hartmann, unless medical care in Austria-Hungary gets a lot better.” While much of the USE had taken to up-time medical practice with a will, that response was hardly universal throughout Europe. “Anyway, we’ve agreed that we will let the kids choose their religion for themselves once they grow up. Karl has his own confessor, of course, but Father George has a pretty reasonable attitude. He’s been on the wrong end of religious persecution in England, so after a few talks with Cardinal Mazzare, he has developed a great deal of respect for freedom of conscience.”


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19 Responses to 1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 44

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    “This was a replica, the first one Kelly had made.” That kind-of makes sense, but, technically, the first one can never be a “replica”. It is the original. The one that crashed was a replica!

  2. Randomiser says:

    Makes perfect sense. This plane is the first replica Kelly has made of the original, i.e. the second plane of this type.

  3. Greg Noel says:

    Only two new snippets today? I’m disappointed.

  4. Great proofreading! I noticed only four errors in this one snippet:

    “the Wendell’s” – should be plural, not possessive. “The Wendells”

    Berkeley musical. They couldn’t do the full

    “gained famed,” – How does one gain “famed”?

    “The decision took less time than she would have though.” – I would have thought . . . well, never mind.

    • Vikingted says:

      I am rereading Baltic War, and I found two instances where the Danes were described as Swedes. One indicating that Admiral Simpson was about to attack some Swedish warships…. Too many details to keep straight?

  5. daveo says:

    So far as I remember, this is the first time Sarah has expressed any interest in Karl.

    And I wonder why she’s ready to accept a morganatic marriage. And why even Mazzare is willing to accept a marriage which is so contrary to Catholic practice

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      He was dating her earlier in the book and she wasn’t objecting to him dating her.

      As far as morganatic marriages go, they are (in this time frame) seen as valid marriages. The only difference is the status of the children of the marriage. While legitimate by all other standards, they can’t inherit the title of the titled parent. Sarah isn’t likely to be concerned that her children won’t inherit Karl’s title.

      As for Cardinal Mazzare, marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic are not forbidden by uptime canon law (not sure about downtime canon law). The only thing to the best of my knowledge that uptime canon law requires is that the non-Catholic parent allow the children to be raised Catholic.

      • John Cowan says:

        Indeed. After all, the marriage between Giovanna and Frank Stone, who isn’t even Christian, was blessed by “the pape himself”.

      • Mike says:

        My mother was Catholic and my father Baptist. As you say, the main thing was that Dad had to promise the children would be raised Catholic. There was also some stuff about not using birth control that my parents promptly and completely ignored. Neither of my parents are active church-goers. My sister and I went to Catholic schools, but more for educational quality than religious instruction.

        I ended up atheist anyway, so it’s not like the Baptists lost much on the deal.

  6. zak ryerson says:

    O.K. Erik and whomever:
    Are we going to get a chance to sing
    “The Lovliest Girl in Vienna,
    Is ……. The Smartest as well”?

  7. Hans Rancke says:

    About accepting a morganatic marriage: It’s that or not get married to Karl at all. There is no choice in the matter, for Karl or for anyone else. It depends entirely on the social status of the people involved in the marriage.

    • Randomiser says:

      Considering who Sarah’s family are, couldn’t she buy some nice estate with a title attached or make a small donation to Gustav’s favourite pocket and get one that way?

      • Randomiser says:

        Actually, it could be done the other way round of Karl was really keen, I’m sure. He could abdicate and become a commoner. Might mean he had to work for a living though ;-)

        • Cobbler says:

          Actually, it could be done the other way round of Karl was really keen, I’m sure. He could abdicate and become a commoner. Might mean he had to work for a living though ;-)

          Say an entrepreneur starts and runs a company. Does the janitor work for a living, while the owner doesn’t? That’s not how it looks to me.

          If the janitor quits, his life is affected. His family is affected. The damage is limited.

          If the owner quits, everyone in the company is out of work.

          Through these snippets we see Karl working hard and smart to administer his holdings. We don’t see is anyone who could take over Karl’s roll and do as good a job. Say he decides the world is well lost for love. He’ll marry Sarah and become a commoner.

          How many people will suffer? How many projects will be canceled? How much damage will be done? “The world is well lost for love” may be a profoundly immoral decision.

      • Doug Lampert says:

        If buying your way out of it were an easy way to avoid a marriage being morganatic there would be no such thing as a morganatic marriage. The king of Denmark’s marriage is a morganatic marriage, if he could have just given his wife a noble title or even a principality, and then raised her to an appropriate title and married her, then he would have done so.

        There’s no real downside to doing so, he gets the land back with the marriage after all.

        You need someone of HIGHER rank granting the title and land (it takes both, so you can’t just buy land), and it needs to be title and land that plainly puts you as the other party’s peer.

        Karl is a prince, as I understand it even kings aren’t of higher degree, she needs the Pope or the Emperor granting her a major holding and title to marry Karl as a non-morganatic marriage, or she need Karl to give up all his entailed holdings (which is basically all of them) and become a commoner.

        And giving up the titles now would be stupidly counterproductive. The only thing morganatic MEANS is that she doesn’t get to be a princess and her children don’t inherit the titles or entailed lands. If Karl becomes a commoner then she doesn’t get to be a princess and her children don’t inherit the titles or entailed lands. I don’t see the gain.

        A morganatic marriage isn’t an insult, it’s a legal term for a particular type of marriage which has special provisions for inheritance of titles and entailed lands. This clearly fits the definition. It’s morganatic, why in the world SHOULD Sarah object?

        • Cobbler says:

          Why SHOULD Sarah object to a morganatic marriage?</strong)

          I gave my guess in the comments to Snippet 15.

          Why should Sarah object? Because it’s a second class marriage. A “You’re not good enough” marriage. A “Step to the back of the bus” marriage. The offer is insults for the same reason Karl making Sarah his mistress would insult.

          I guessed wrong.

          • Doug Lampert says:

            If they had primogenitor (the major alternative for conserving noble estates) then a second wife would face the same situation, that her children can’t inherit the holding. Would you claim that absolutely any marriage to a British noble who already has a son from a previous marriage is an insult to the woman?

            Because that’s a solidly worse situation for the woman and her children. The children don’t get the estate and they also don’t get all the personal property either.

            The only step to the back of the buss is in your head. She’s marrying a literal prince and will be universally acknowledged as his wife (there may be people who don’t approve, but the marriage is legitimate).

            And bold face font doesn’t change any of that.

            MOST PEOPLE when they marry don’t get to call themselves Princess or have their children inherit a hereditary principality. Neither will Sarah and Karl’s children. Welcome to the world. Outside of Disney we don’t all get to be royalty and hereditary rulers of Principalities.

            And in any case, if this is a problem to be fixed it is one that Sarah is responsible for fixing. She’s surely far more responsible for her own legal status than Karl is for her legal status.

            The only insult to Sarah is your insistence that she should stand up for some principle that makes no sense over something you have decided is an insult for no good reason.

            Your claim that an offer of marriage is the same as an offer to be a mistress is simply not sane.

  8. Cobbler says:


    As the story is playing out, you have guessed right and I was wrong.

    No big deal, I’ve been wrong before.

    The bolded entry was a mistake. I only intended the first sentence to be bolded, to indicate a quote.

    But I got the “close strong” coding wrong. Not for the first time there, either.

    • Don’t feel too bad, Cobbler; it is an extremely easy mistake to make, and I, too, have made it numerous times. Fortunately, when I do it on my website, or on Amazon, I can go back and correct it, but if you care to bother to look back at my comments here, you will find several similar errors.

      Since Amazon allows users to edit their reviews and comments, it must be possible to do so. I wish, and I am sure you and others who make comments on this website also wish, that Eric’s webmaster would make that possible here.

      How about it, Drak? Could you persuade the webmaster to make it possible for us commenters to edit our comments? Thank you.

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