1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 45
“Is Karl all right with a morganatic marriage?” asked Judy the Elder.
“He says he is,” Sarah said. “And I think it’s mostly true.”
“Well, he grew up Prince Karl, heir to the Liechtenstein family holdings, so he’s a bit ambivalent about not passing that on to his children. On the other hand, he knows that between us we can set up trusts that will make sure that the kids have a good start. And in the new world we’re building here in the USE, that should be enough.”
The Liechtenstein Improvement Corporation got the news over the telegraph in the private code that Karl had had generated by a computer program in Grantville back in 1633. It was two copies of a notebook, one of which Karl kept, and the other for the board. The reasons for the encoding were two fold. One was the tabloids. The National Inquisitor was already printing speculation about when Karl was going to ask Sarah to marry him and what she was going to say. He wanted to inform his family and Emperor Ferdinand III before they read about it in the papers.
But there was a more important reason for codes. Karl was, for the most part, if not sanguine about his marriage to Sarah being morganatic, and least resigned to it. However, he didn’t want that to mean that his children’s entire inheritance would be from Sarah. Nor did he want Sarah to have to live on her income. Sarah wasn’t poor by any reasonable standard. But Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein was not raised to a reasonable standard of wealth. Instead, he was raised to a royal standard of wealth and by that standard, Sarah Wendell was barely getting by. By Karl’s standards, a person of reasonable wealth could raise and fund their own army at need. And it was his intent that once they were married, his wife and children should be able to do that if the need arose.
Karl was going to use the LIC to move some funds from the family accounts to private businesses and partnerships that could go first to his wife as her dower, and through her to their children when they came along. And he didn’t want his uncles to know about it. For that matter, he wasn’t totally convinced that he wanted Sarah to know about it. Judy the Younger Wendell, on the other hand, would do fine administering the fund till it was needed. The LIC had as members Dave Marcantonio and Father George, but also Judy the Younger, Susan Logsden and Millicent Anne Barnes, members of the Barbie Consortium.
“Did you know he was going to ask this trip?” Millicent asked Judy accusingly.
“Naw. I figured he’d chicken out again. He’s been carrying that ring around since he got back from Prague. It’s Morris Roth’s work and the rock’s big enough that Sarah’s going to have trouble holding up her hand. And her left arm’s going to end up a couple of inches longer than her right.”
Susan snorted. “How much did the Roths charge him?”
“I don’t know. Silesia, maybe,” Judy said. Which was, Dave thought, utterly ridiculous.
“Ladies, if we could get to the financial part of the message,” Dave said. “I’m a bit concerned about Prince Karl using the LIC for this.”
“Why?” asked Father George Hamilton.
“Legalities,” Dave said. “He’s using the LIC to move money from his family accounts to his personal accounts. I’m worried that it could be seen as malfeasance on the part of the LIC.”
“I don’t think so,” said Father George. “However, I will consult with the lawyers about it. Most of the monies in the LIC were provided by Prince Karl’s individual investments, which the rest of the family had no part in.”
“That’s fine. I’m just not sure that his uncles and cousins are going to see it that way,” Dave said. The board had received letters from the Vienna branch of the family, attempting to get the LIC to provide funds for friends of the family. Those requests had been passed up to Karl. Some he had approved, and others not.
“Which is why he’s keeping it quiet. It’s not so much that he fears he would lose a lawsuit, but that he doesn’t want to fight one if he can avoid it.”
Two days later, they got the lawyers’ report. What Karl wanted to do was iffy, but probably legal. The LIC was in place to give loans and provide startup capital and equipment to companies and businesses on the Liechtenstein holdings, wherever they were. Which of those companies were to receive the loans or gifts of the LIC was at the discretion of the board, under the direction of Karl von Liechtenstein. If he chose to have that money given into hands that would also benefit his future wife, well, there was no rule against it.
The Barbies setup the Dower Corporation, which would be funded by Karl out of his personal funds, then receive equipment and low interest loans from the LIC. It would be managed by the Barbies and would buy things like farms and mines on Liechtenstein holdings, and set up factories, also on Liechtenstein lands.
And in the meantime, the girls were sworn to secrecy. Not just in regard to the family, but especially in regard to Sarah.
They were in the middle of setting that up when Henry Dreeson was killed defending the synagogue in Grantville. Bill Magen, Vicky’s fiancé, was shot and killed in some of the distracting riots and it seemed to Vicky that no one really noticed in all the concern over Mayor Dreeson.
Twenty-five miles north of Vienna
Sonny Fortney took a drink of small beer and returned the canteen to his belt. It was a cold day, but he was working up a sweat in spite of the weather. There were several hundred people here and there were four more camps spread out like beads, each one using Fresno scrapers to build a road bed to the next and the ones back toward Vienna with wagon after wagon of crushed rock and coal tar to pave the raised mound. Still, it was going incredibly slowly because the ground was frozen about half the time. In engineering terms, the smart thing to do would be to wait till spring. But people needed the work now, and if they waited till spring some of those people would have starved to death in the meantime. Sonny hoped that Prince Liechtenstein came through, because if he didn’t they were going to have to shut down.