Here, completely out of order, is another first draft of a chapter in my evolving historical romance. This is a letter written by Prince Wilhelm, the owner and governor of an estate in Austria, to his son in law, Isaac Martin, a rich businessman in the United States. The prince allowed Martin to marry the Princess Rebecca and to bring her to the United States. The prince foresaw that there was trouble brewing in Europe, particularly for the Austrian aristocracy (man, was he ever right about that) and so he let his daughter go. Now that what he foresaw has come true – the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in June o 1914 – and Europe is in the throes of war, he writes and ships “treasures” from t his castle to the couple in the United States.
August 22, 1914
My Dear Isaac;
How sad I am to know now that all I said to you about the fate of my people is coming true. It has happened faster than anticipated and now, as anyone who reads the newspapers knows, there is no visible end to the damage and disruption that this war will bring. Like everything else, warfare has changed. Where years ago kings fought for territory or possessions and wars had their limits, now there are weapons from which no one is safe and there is little I see to assure that these devices of destruction will be limited. I had anticipated the fall of the aristocracy here, but not the destruction of the nation and not the decimation of the citizenry. There is no moderation now; no one to speak peace or compromise; no recognized authority. We are guilty, my set, but war is the tool of Satan and now that the swords are unsheathed he will prevail for a time, times and half a time and men will slaughter each other daily and by the scores without knowing why and with no assurance of reward.
I take great consolation that my precious Rebecca is safe in your care. I am prepared to lose all. The very ground around me will be burned and raked, but I have shipped these three treasures to you in the desperate hope that they will arrive unscathed and that you and Rebecca will live to place them once again in the light where they may bring truth and beauty and wealth to this world.
Wilhelm von Badeni