The True and Scandalous history of the Lords of Aether, Part the seventh – a new year begins and at last the pig’s bladder gets off the ground!
We’ve rung in the new, rung out the old, wrung out the dirty linen and brung in the cat. The year of our Lord eighteen hundred and ninety seven is upon us and it’s all change here. For one thing, they’ve actually got that overinflated pig’s bladder of a craft off the ground, defying both the laws of physics and good taste. I’ve never seen so much brass, gold leaf and gingerbread work on what’s supposed to be a fighting vessel. More like a tart’s four poster bed.
Not that I approve of these airships. I said to Poll, “If God had intended us to fly He’d have given us wings.”
To which she replied, “If God had intended you to be clever He’d have given you a brain. Seeing as he hasn’t we must assume it’s the Divine wisdom for you to be a numbskull.”
Poll loves that airship. Themselves (by which I mean the pox ridden, two faced, lascivious bunch of soused herrings I work for) gave her a guided tour of the thing when it was newly built. She didn’t stop talking about it for weeks. The walnut veneers, the polished metalwork, the hammocks. (I don’t want to think about what might go on in those hammocks. And what might hang out while it’s going on.) Given half a chance she’d have been up there on it with them, but she turns a bit peculiar with heights. She was dizzy when we scaled The Monument and gets seasick on the Rotherhithe ferry.
I suppose we must count our blessings, though. If the buggers (I use that term literally) are up there they can’t be down here getting under my feet and causing trouble. They’ve tried to launch before, of course. And a right mess it turned out. Sabotage, they said, probably of Victor’s origin, but he was in Reading Gaol at the time, doing a bit of bird for importuning unfortunate young telegraph boys, so I suspect the old git was innocent. For once.
Still the contraption wouldn’t get off the ground, no matter how much they stoked up the engine or wound the elastic or whatever it is they do to these things. Lord Anthony was turning the air blue(I learned some words that even my Poll couldn’t put a meaning on) and Spence was pulling out what little hair he has.
My theory? In a word, Jack. They will let him tinker about (in fact he tinkers with a sight too many things in a sight too many places – I have to have the mattresses replaced, so I should know). I suspect he tinkered a bit too far and caused an unresolved dislocation of turbine resonance leading to magnetospheric turbulence and lack of escape inertia. Or, in layman’s terms, he pushed the button that says, “Caution. Do not push this button.” Either way the airship sat on the ground like a big pair of deflated knickers tied to a washing basket and going nowhere. Eventually they sorted it. Not through Spence’s calculations, reams of paper though they took up. Not through Lord Anthony’s efforts with screwdriver and spanner. What’s the solution when all else fails?
Poll took a monkey wrench and belted the engine one. Now it’s up and away, with all the old queens tossed up in the proverbial blanket heading off to serve Her Majesty in the air as they do on land. Rule Britannia!