The opening of the next Powers novel (WWI Alt -history). We are in 1915 and all is not entirely well with the Habsburg Empire.
Chapter One: Domestic Bliss (and Diapers)
“I am coming to believe that ‘perfidious Albion’ is a profound understatement,” Jószef Mátyás Eszterházy said, folding the newspaper with great care before hurling it across the small office.
His older brother, Count István Eszterházy, watched the flying foolscap hit the floor before turning to the next page in the ledger. He did not enjoy the minutia of the House’s forestry and lumber business, but he needed to know the latest numbers. And it kept his mind out of the town palace across the river in Buda, where his wife was in labor. “What foolishness are they propounding now?”
“More about German atrocities and the rights of Italians to be free of the shackles of the tottering Habsburg Empire.” Both brothers looked up at the picture of Emperor Karl Josef and his wife Sonja, displayed next to a statue of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.
“And no word at all, I take it, about their treatment of the Irish when they asked for religious freedom and self-rule within the British Empire.” István turned another ledger page, read a little, and backed up. “I though we’d sold this.”
Mátyás leaned forward to see what István was pointing to. “We did. They can’t make the payments so they defaulted. Their manager also swears that when the great Romanian nation takes back with is rightfully theirs, they will own it anyway, but they are graciously allowing us to manage it for them until then.” He sat back and ran a hand through his borderline-shaggy brown hair.
István shook his head and sat back as well. He’d inherited their father’s lean features, softened a little by his maternal side, medium brown hair with a touch of dark brown in it, and the lean but solid build of a horseman. At the moment his eyes appeared brownish-green, masking their true amber color and slit pupils. Mátyás resembled their mother, but with their grandfather’s heavier build. “They’d do better complaining to the Avars and Slavs about the loss of Transylvania rather than whining about the Magyars and Székely and Saxons. We’ve owned Transylvania for the last seven hundred years.”
“Shall I call in Cousin Imre to correct you?” Mátyás winked. Continue reading