[identity profile] copperbadge.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] originalsam_backup
Chapter Thirteen

The easy communal spirit of the airship was not what a seagoing woman was used to, which Jack came to understand quickly after de la Fitte arrived on board. Apparently a pirate ship was a sort of democratic dictatorship based upon skill: on the water, with the sword, and in politics. De la Fitte's first impression of them -- Jack giving orders, Clare giving slightly less impressive orders, and Graveworthy being ordered about -- established a hierarchy firmly in her mind. She fitted herself in just below Clare and above Graveworthy, which rankled the man who was patron of, and oldest crewman on, the airship.

Jack was put in the unfamiliar position of having to intercede between them and anticipate Graveworthy's requests so that he could give the command without de la Fitte harassing Graveworthy about it. He didn't mind, precisely, but he wasn't sure he did a very good job of it.

To distract them both, he began teaching de la Fitte how to pilot and, when she demanded to know, how the propellers and steam engine worked in more detail. He found her an apt pupil, though her spirit failed somewhat when it came to the balloon. Without a lab to show her how it was made, Jack had difficulty explaining the concept of gases, and she seemed to prefer to believe it was an unfathomable mystery. Jack was baffled by such acceptance in the face of the unknown, but it was not his first experience with complacency and he contained it well.

They were aft at the pilot's chair that evening, Jack calibrating the helium dial (it tended to stick, harmless but annoying) and de la Fitte engaged in her favorite pastime of scanning the water below, when she spotted the ship on their starboard side.

"Do we steer away?" she asked, pointing it out.

"Probably not. What make is it?" he replied.

"Merchantman, armed, several cannon," she said, clinging to a rope with her elbow while she gazed through her spyglass, holding it steady with both hands. "More than I wish to raid. Cheap metal, bound for Dead Isle."

"You said that before. Why's so much metal going to Australia?"

"Midden dump?" she suggested. There was a cough from below, where Graveworthy was preparing to sleep.

"It sells dear for midden-fill," he said, emerging from their little bunk-house. "Australians pay better for scrap than any sensible person ought. Cheap scrap goes in and gold comes out, in small but very pure bricks."

"Shall we pass her?" de la Fitte asked.

"We will, rate we're going," Jack said. "Hang on," he added to Graveworthy. "Why would Australia pay so much for scrap?"

"It's less noticeable," Graveworthy answered. "It takes longer to track than an order of fresh, newly-made steel."

"But -- "

"Why the need for so much metal?" He gave Jack a look. "Ponder it."

"Building -- warships? Cannon?" Jack asked, horrified.

"Warships fitted with all the new technology they've developed to accommodate the fact that they don't have Creation," Graveworthy continued. "That's what the Empire thinks. The backfire, my dear boy, of exiling the cleverest criminals of the nation to one place and requiring them to use their ingenuity is that they will -- and you can't control what they do with it. Why do you think the self-appointed local government finally closed its gates to new prisoners? Too much bloody competition. It was a masterstroke coup at the time."

"Is he speaking sense?" de la Fitte asked. "You talk too fast, pilot."

"Mostly," Jack said. He turned to Graveworthy. "Do you know about the Australian Local Government?"

"Quite a bit, gathered from here and there. Have you had any education about it?"

"Nothing more than what you pick up, I guess," Jack said.

"I suspect you pick up more, knowing Clare, than the average young man," Graveworthy answered.

"They be anti-pirate," de la Fitte said, still studying the ship below, watching the comings and goings of the sailors with her spyglass. "No letters of marque. Steamships only."

"Yes...lots of steamships," Graveworthy agreed. Jack watched de la Fitte cling precariously to the ropes. "From tomorrow on, I think we should increase the accent lessons. You're still a little rusty, Jack."

"It's not something I'm used to."

"I know. At any rate, Clare's doing well; she seems to -- "

" -- remember things," Jack said, nodding.

"Indeed. As for Miss de la Fitte...well, we'll see what can be done."

De la Fitte gave him a look of pure disdain. He returned it, much to Jack's amusement.

"And for me, bed," Graveworthy concluded, returning to the bunkhouse. De la Fitte closed her spyglass and wandered along the rail until she reached the rail behind the pilot's chair.

"We travel very fast," she said to Jack. "Faster than a steamship."

"Well, we don't have to pass through the water," he replied. "And we can go over land just as easily. Someday -- well, I think someday -- the sky will be full of airships. They'll replace passenger ships at any rate."

"Non, I think not," she said, coming around the other side of the chair and leaning against the rail next to the steam controls.

"Oh?"

"Too many people afraid. If a ship sinks, there are boats. If an airship sinks..." She shrugged elegantly.

"But you're not afraid. You sleep in the hammock way up there."

"Is the best place. A life half-lived, not so much a life. I have read many books, and all say this is so." She looked wistfully up at the underbelly of the balloon. "We had a library on Queen Jacqueline. My mother, she said I must know things about the world."

"She must have been an extraordinary woman."

"Our race -- Baratarians, pirates -- we make strong women. I think extraordinary is..." She pursed her lips. "I do not know how to say."

"Do you understand extraordinary?" Jack asked. She sniffed.

"Different. Not the same."

"Well, yes, sort of."

"It is like women," she said, "Who -- we board a ship, oui? There are passengers, maybe guns, money, provisions."

"All right," Jack said, leaning back.

"Some women on these ships wear nice things, silks, gemstones, gold, silver. They cling to their men. Sometimes there are women not like this, but many are. The men, little better, they fear a sharp blade. Him," she said, tilting her head downward towards where Graveworthy (hopefully) slept. "He speaks like them but keeps a gun. You and First Mate, you are not like them. Your mother was a pirate, oui?"

Jack smiled. "Not that I know of. She was an engineer."

"Steam engines? She lived on the sea?"

"No. Trains -- ever seen a steam train?"

"In books. Very plain. They always go straight ahead, straight ahead." She made the unmistakable shape of two railway tracks with her hands, pushing them forward.

"They have to, otherwise they'd crash," Jack said, striving to ignore the fallacy that trains couldn't go in curves. "I worked on trains, before..." Before Graveworthy. "...before I built this."

"Well, I do not like railings like trains. This does not need railings."

"No, that's true. You'll likely see trains in Australia, you know. Probably even ride a few."

"A great adventure."

"I guess so." He adjusted the helium slightly and tapped the gauge. "You must live a very free life."

"Me?" she laughed. "I am not who swoops out of the sky to rain fire on pirates!"

"Yeah, but before this I never did much. I mean I did a lot, but...I lived in a room at a university, and my whole world was in that little room. There was this world inside my head."

De la Fitte studied his head as if she could see through his skull to a little globe inside it somewhere.

"Then I came to England and I met some people who sort of seemed to...live in the same world I did -- "

"The world in your head," she said skeptically.

"But out here, seeing all the countries and the people, seeing pirates and things I only ever saw in books or paintings or something, that's amazing. Don't you think it's amazing?"

"Extraordinary?" de la Fitte suggested.

"Yeah," Jack agreed.

"What was it like, where you lived?"

"I lived in Boston, until I went to university."

"Port Boston?"

Jack hesitated. "I guess you could call it that. On the American coast. Have you been there?"

"No. We had a bo'sun who was of Boston. Good man. And you build trains?"

"Repaired, mostly. That's what engineers do. In America, anyway."

"Not ships?"

"No, not ships. I was a student..." Jack checked the compass and adjusted his direction slightly. The coast seemed to be dwindling away to port, and he wanted to make sure he followed it. "I'd be doing my examinations now, if I weren't here. Getting up in front of the class and answering questions. Instead I built an airship. I can't complain."

"And when examinations is done, you are an engineer?"

"No, I'd have another year before that'd happen. That's way more fun than examinations. Third year there's a lot of stuff you learn that's not about engines so much. There are initiations into clubs and secret rites and stuff."

De la Fitte's eyes widened slightly. "L'carbonari!"

"Huh?" Jack asked.

"Secret societies. A very bad business."

"Oh! No, it's not like that. They're harmless. They're just meant to, sort of, they pass on information. Being an engineer is special," he said. "It means you've earned something, you have an understanding that most people don't have. It's a way of being special."

"You make yourself special," she said, in a tone that was not entirely complimentary.

"Maybe, but it's not like you can buy yourself a degree. People have to earn it. You wouldn't let just anyone sail on your ship." He grinned. "You'd make a hell of an engineer, though."

"Trains," she sniffed.

"Trains are beautiful. They take people to places they've never been, faster than they could ever go themselves. Everyone who works on trains knows they have personalities, they're like people. They have their own mysteries." He leaned forward, resting his hands on the strapped-down steering yoke. "Like -- what would you do if a train suddenly just disappeared from its track? One minute it's there and you know where it's going and how it's going to get there, and the next minute it's all fog and emptiness?"

De la Fitte leaned against the railing. "What mystery is this?"

"It's an old engineer's story," Jack said, somewhat pleased to have a captive audience. How hard could it be, after all? Graveworthy did it all the time.

He didn't hear the slight creak under his feet, and Jack was a skilled enough builder that there were no gaps in the wood to show movement in the darkened cabin below.

***

Author's afterword to
THE GHOST ENGINE
Retold by Ellis Graveworthy
From an account by Sir Jack Baker

I overheard this story -- eavesdropped on it, really -- one night off the coast of India. I was lying in the dark, preparing to sleep, and noted down the elements of the story without benefit of light to write by or very much ink in my pen. It was being told by an engineering student in the hushed sort of whisper that good ghost stories always inspire. Convincing him to allow me to publish it took ages, and I don't know that it ever sat right with the older generation of engineers, the fact that I had intruded into the Mysteries and committed one of them to paper. Still, I told the story with respect. And, after all, I only heard it in the first place because my young charge was trying to impress a woman with it.

It is brilliant in its simplicity, tumbled and smoothed by decades of telling; at heart it is nothing more than a perplexing puzzle over a train gone missing, disappeared off its tracks one foggy night in the middle of empty country. The pleasure is in the build and the epilogue -- the mysterious goings-on beforehand, the ill engineer who would eventually disappear with the train, the engine troubles, the peculiar cargo, the unease of the conductor and driver. The frantic search, and the reports long after of drivers who would see a train coming towards them and brace for a collision only to find there is no other engine. The odd pieces of rusted iron discovered years later and quite too far from the track to mark a derailment.

I have perhaps embroidered on it here and there, but one can only adorn a masterwork so much. The credit for this gothic tale is owed not to me half so much as to the generations of men and women who conceived of it and perpetuated it -- and, if it actually exists, to the original Train Ninety-Nine. It is perhaps a dream; to disappear with one's engine one night, and to go roving across the country without rails, the only restriction the engineer ever feels. It is a Flying Dutchman for the landbound.

I once asked Sir Jack, early in our acquaintance, if engineers had stories. He declined to answer at the time but I am sure that, if this harrowing little tale is any indication, there is a rich oral tradition rooted firmly in the minds of the outwardly sensible tribe who are dedicated to the life of the engine and the rail.

***

When India finally disappeared aft the next day they celebrated the beginning of their journey over open water, which in the minds of the land-born trio was a great adventure. De la Fitte was less impressed; she'd spent her entire life in open water and had little fear of it, especially considering that they were, after all, in a boat.

"I laid this aside for a celebration, and this seems as good as any," Graveworthy said, as Jack huddled near the boiler and ate his breakfast. Clare leaned over the railing from the pilot's chair, curious, and Graveworthy produced an oblong package from one of the crates.

"Rum!" Jack said, laughing. "Was that factored in my weight calculations?"

"It's not so heavy," Graveworthy objected, producing three tin cups and the small cup-shaped machine part that Jack had fashioned into a mug for de la Fitte. "Lock the yoke and come down, Clare. Go on, Captain, open it and pour."

Jack poured for Clare and de la Fitte first, then himself and Graveworthy; the older man held his tin cup in the air and the others followed suit.

"To open water -- and Australia -- and the Queen's Health," he said, tipping the rim against Clare's cup. They drank the health of the Queen and the Dead Isle, Jack sputtering a little as the first sip went down.

Over the next few days, as the airship drifted towards Australia with no bearings but the stars to follow, Jack began to understand why Graveworthy had told so many stories and encouraged them to reciprocate in kind. Since leaving England they'd been studying the Australian accent, or at least what approximated it as provided by Anderson and a few other expats. Now, Graveworthy corrected them each time they slipped into their own dialect, including Purva; her English might not be the best, but he insisted that was no reason for her not to follow along. Jack found himself appealed to more than once for intervention, but he preferred to let them fight it out (so long as they were fighting it out in the proper accent).

It was difficult to apply the broad, lyrical Australian accent all the time; once it was decreed that they would speak nothing but dialect, he found it hard to remember when he was caught up in the moment or impatient with something or someone. It was a new sensation, to fail at something that couldn't be fixed with a wrench, and it didn't sit well with him.

Clare, of course, took to it as if she were slipping back into old familiar clothing, and de la Fitte, insult on injury, learned quickly as well. Her turns of phrase were still a little peculiar and sometimes the more complex words eluded proper use, but she could have passed for a confused Australian where Jack would still have been arrested for a spy.

After a frustrating evening where he had been impatient with the speed (or rather lack) at which Graveworthy fixed dinner, he retreated to the extreme end of the bow, one of the few places in the little ship that anyone could gain any privacy now that they had a fourth passenger on board. Even then he could see Graveworthy steering and de la Fitte hanging off the ropes, elbow crooked around one in order to hold her steady as she scanned the horizon. The only perils they had to contend with now were the occasional shipping frigate and far-venturing fishermen, but she kept a scrupulous watch for both.

Jack spat into the water far below, losing sight of it long before it hit the waves. He was quite aware that his ill temper had to do with too much time cooped up on the airship without a workshop, combined with his anxiety about the landing in Australia. He simply didn't know what to do about it. Ignore it, he supposed, until they landed. Then there would no doubt be more than enough excitement to satisfy him.

And since when, he wondered, had excitement been what an engineering student buried in his studies on the closed Harvard campus craved?

De la Fitte skidded a little on the rail and tightened her arm against her body, securing her position. He saw Graveworthy glance at her to be sure she was okay and then turn back to his star-navigation. Perhaps he could rig some kind of rope harness that would let her stand hands-free on the rail, though if she slipped she'd overbalance that side of the balloon, and no harness he could make with rope would keep her really secure. It would be better if she could keep both hands firmly on the ropes. She couldn't hold a spyglass then, though.

He plucked idly at a metal strap holding one of the crates together. A strap on a spyglass would be inelegant, but maybe if you rebuilt the spyglass itself, you could make it a bit nicer to look at.

Jack glanced down at the bit of metal he was toying with, tugged on it gently, and then looked speculatively at de la Fitte. Well, the sign of a good ride-along was ingenuity, after all...

***

Jack had found something to occupy him, which was just as well, Ellis thought. He worked at it while they did their dialect lessons and seemed to absorb the accent better when his hands and conscious mind were otherwise occupied. Clare warned them not to ask what he was making, and he suspected Jack wouldn't have had much of a coherent answer anyway. To Ellis, it looked like nothing more than a confused jumble of metal rings with slots in them.

"Tell me what you know of Australia -- the history of it," he said to the assembled company, one afternoon while -- Jack piloting, while Clare and de la Fitte sat on the steps below.

"James Cook," Jack said promptly.

"Coxson and Wright," Clare said at the same time.

"You see," Ellis said, addressing himself to de la Fitte, "the fundamental difference between the arts and sciences. Science recalls the facts, in order of importance; art tells the stories. Coxson and Wright were the first two men to die from the Dead Isle, when the East India Company's ship the Trial was wrecked off the western coast. And how do we know they were Creationists, Clare? This was fifty years before Father LaRoche was even born."

"It's not like people didn't know Creationism existed," Clare said, watching him as he paced the deck like any Cambridge don would. "They just called them witches instead of Creationists. Most ships brought a few witches on board, legally or not. Sailors thought it was good luck."

"Very good. So, on a voyage past the western coast of Australia, the Trial founders and breaks. The Captain strikes for land, where his witches -- Creationists -- are the first of several to die. All of these deaths are attributed to cholera, at first. Very well; who comes next?"

"Dampier," Clare said.

"When William LaRoche is only sixteen, and being quodded for blasphemy and heresy in Germany, Dampier's witch, Elizabeth -- a servant, I believe, who also waited at table -- dies when they go ashore from the beached Cygnet on the Northwest coast of Australia. Two years later the Roebuck founders near the coast and eight crewmen, including two Creationists, perish. A third Creationist survives -- with terrible injuries and a permanent loss."

"His Creativity," Clare murmured.

"And one eye. Dampier's a clever sort; he looks over his notes when he gets back home and determines that the Dead Isle kills the witches it doesn't cripple. And now we come to Cook -- tell us what you know, Jack."

Jack looked like a rabbit pinned by a dog. "Um...James Cook," he said. De la Fitte giggled.

"Profound," Ellis drawled. "Step back a few years, in fact. All these discoveries are of little interest to the world -— just some sailors and a few eccentric scientists. How do we ordinary people know of the Dead Isle?"

The others exchanged blank looks. Finally, de la Fitte hesitantly put up a hand.

"Yes?"

"There is a book," she said. "I read it, called that. The Dead Isle."

"Published in 1705 -- Anderson owns a first-printing," Ellis said. "Take a point, de la Fitte!"

"Hm?" she said, curiously.

"It means you did well," Jack said.

"Of course I did."

"This book parodied LaRoche's journey to the Americas with his followers. It was part satire, part horror; LaRoche sails the wrong way and lands on the Dead Isle, after which most of his people lose their abilities."

"They turn cannibal, at the end," de la Fitte put in.

Clare looked annoyed at de la Fitte, probably because she was being shown up. Ellis smiled and continued.

"It sold out several runs and fired public imagination. When communication came back that LaRoche was not only still alive in America but that the colony thrived where the pilgrim Puritans had not, decades before -- well, the book fell from favor. People started to flock to the Americas. Public opinion for Creationism turned. Though that's a lesson for some other time," he added. "People lost interest in Australia. Until," he held up a finger, "The Empire got restless and Cook was commissioned to do some exploring. New lands to conquer!"

"Cook saw Creationism, though, at least he said so," Clare put in.

"Dismissed as sensationalism for attention's sake, but take a point anyway," Ellis replied. "You'd better think hard, Jack, the women are beating you handily."

"Bet they can't fix a steam piston," Jack retorted.

"All right. So Cook lands, claims Australia for George the Third, fires public imagination over it once more, and then?"

"Transportation," Jack said eagerly.

"No."

"Damn it, Graveworthy!"

"Language, Mr. Baker! Next, William LaRoche returns to England and begins touring Europe."

"Like King Arthur," de la Fitte said unexpectedly.

"Yes, I suppose so. He's treated like a king, or -- say a pope. He brought about a revolution that has meant safety for Creationists for decades. Peasants and children adore him, men and women of power compete to host him, kings and politicians ask his advice. What a thing it must have been to see him," Ellis said, sidetracked from the lesson. "A hundred years old, a lean small man in buckskin leggings and rough cotton shirts, no waistcoat, nothing at all to show his wealth and power, and the Lords of Parliament stood when he entered. It must have been absolutely extraordinary."

"I've got it!" Jack said, breaking the spell. "The Matra Proposition! They asked LaRoche what to do with Creationist criminals and he told them that -- "

"New worlds build a man into a giant," Ellis quoted. "All right, Jack, have your point. LaRoche recommended transportation to the Dead Isle where imprisoned Creationists could learn how they'd misused their gifts."

"Can't have made him popular with the prisoners," Jack murmured.

"Well, therein lies the rub, my lad," Ellis said. "Prisoners don't have a representative in Parliament. Sooner than you could turn around -- now we come to Transportation."

"About time."

"Drugged with opium and bound, seven hundred and eighty Creationists, many of them from the riots in Scotland and Southern England, land on the east coast of Australia."

"The Incorrigible Riots? In America they call it a war," Clare said. "And the anti-Creationists started it."

"Technically, the mad Creationist who killed and dismembered ten people started it. Fear is a powerful motivator and the Church was in its infancy. A pogrom was inevitable, and of course Creationists were going to fight back. The point is, these Creationists were deemed to be criminals for the way in which they used their abilities. They were sentenced and shipped to Australia's fair shores. And," he added, checking the location of the sun against his pocket-watch, "I think we shall take up the continued history tomorrow. Come down, Jack; you've been on long enough. I'll take the seat for a bit."

"Welcome to it," Jack said, unbuckling himself. "Should be on course, you can probably leave the yoke strapped for now."

Ellis took his place and rummaged in his pocket for the last of his notebooks, settling in for a comfortable, hopefully productive shift in the pilot's chair. Below, Jack continued to fiddle with his project while Clare prepared to sleep and de la Fitte wandered from bow to stern, checking to be certain all was, as it were, ship-shape.

He'd been writing for nearly an hour when he detected the hovering presence of de la Fitte near the pilot's chair. She was probably bored; Jack was fiddling with his toy still, and Clare was by now fast asleep.

"What be you doing?" de la Fitte asked, as if she knew he'd detected her presence. Ellis held up a finger. "Fine. What are you doing?"

He finished his sentence and looked up. She must be bored, to strike up a conversation with him.

"Writing," he said.

"Not a logbook?"

"No. Writing stories. It's what I do, when I'm not a pilot on an airship," he said with a smile. "You must have had novels in that library of yours. I write novels."

"You must have sold your soul to the devil," she replied. He capped his pen and rested his hands on his notebook.

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"It is an old myth. To tell stories the way you tell, see? Like your story of that father."

"Father LaRoche, in Europe?"

"Yes. It is unnatural. Orpheus -- a Greek told me this -- he sold his soul for music. He was a great musician. But the devil comes to collect, he says no, he is not ready to die. So the devil, he took his wife's soul instead. A very sad story."

"And not entirely accurate as per the ancients, but interesting. You say great artists sell their souls for their art?"

"Maybe," she ventured.

"That's true, I suppose. If you're doing it right, anyway. I've probably sold mine. Jack's certainly sold his. And you, I imagine."

"I have not!" she said, anger showing clear in her eyes.

"Not literally," he said hastily. "But we give up being a person to be an artist, don't we?"

She sulked. Not even Clare could sulk like Purva de la Fitte. "I did not sell my soul."

"Perhaps it was sold for you -- don't shout at me, if you please. What I mean to say is..." He set his notebook aside. "There are millions of people in this world who get up and go to work, meet their friends, come home for dinner, play with their children, go to bed -- they live in the world as a part of it. That's what being human is, being part of a tribe."

"No-one I know ever has done that."

"No, they haven't. Because some of us give it up. We give up knowing what ordinary people know, having friends and dinner at seven and children. All but the most understanding don't understand at all. You sacrifice who you could have been, to make something for all those people. Jack's sold his soul to build this...beautiful machine, left behind everything he knew, everything he was, to come on this journey. I've sold mine many times over to be the great mind, the literary genius, a man who married his books instead of a wife. You've never even known a life like Clare gave up when she came along. We aren't people, not the way most people are. We're just...carriers. Little boats bringing goods from foreign lands." He shut his notebook. "You don't live for yourself, de la Fitte. You never have. You've lived for your crew and maybe for this library your mother kept, but your life is the most strange and adventurous imaginable. You sold your soul for your freedom."

She looked at him, and he wasn't sure if she understood, or even if she wanted to try.

"Devil," she said, pointing at him. "Someday, you tell me what he looks like, yes?"

He nodded, smiling. "Someday maybe, de la Fitte."

"Purva! Purva!"

They both looked up as Jack approached, running across the deck and bounding up the stairs with little regard for the long drop if he slipped. He skidded to a stop next to them and held out his hand.

"Can I have your spyglass?" he asked.

"My spyglass?" she asked, apparently taken aback by the windblown engineer. It was like watching a Labrador retriever confront the Queen. Jack shifted his weight, uneasy and excited.

"I just need to see it. Give it back tomorrow, I promise," he said, flushing. "It's for -- I'm working on something and I need to see it. Please?"

She glanced at Ellis with a long-suffering but indulgent expression, reached into her pocket, and produced the collapsed spyglass, placing it in Jack's outstretched hand.

"Thanks! You won't be sorry!" Jack said, bounding down the stairs as his accent dropped from Australian into a sort of bastard Cockney. Ellis despaired.

"He sold his brain," de la Fitte said absently. "Replaced it with clockwork."

Ellis laughed. "A clockwork brain! What a mind you have sometimes."

"At least I still have mine. I go; goodnight Pilot."

"Goodnight, de la Fitte."

***

Purva de la Fitte was a patient woman and she understood the chain of command. Jack Baker was the captain of the Clare Fields and she had no complaints, though she felt he tolerated rather more insolence from their Pilot than she would have. She accepted his authority, however, and so she said nothing when the Captain assembled them to listen to Graveworthy's purposeless but entertaining nattering. And she continued to say nothing even when she became aware that behind her that day, in the pilot's chair, Jack was disassembling her spyglass completely. The English were unfathomable, and in Purva's mind the world was divided into two people: Us and The English.

"Where did we leave off yesterday? Transportation?" Graveworthy asked. Purva listened as Jack unscrewed the metal bands on her spyglass. The screws squeaked.

"Yes," Clare said.

"Very well. The first fleet arrives; non-Creationist soldiers are sent along, because Australia won't affect them, and someone's got to mind the prisoners. Good thing, too, at least the Crown would say so -- first thing these fine prisoners did when they were taken off the opium was riot again. Led by some young buck you three would get on well with -- a seventeen-year-old boy who very nearly took the garrison and might have stolen the ships they arrived on if the soldiers hadn't lit them on fire. The tide only turns against the fiery Thomas Barrett when his prisoner forces fall ill. At this point only one company of soldiers is left, but they -- yes, Clare?"

Purva turned to look at Clare, who had one hand hesitantly raised.

"What about the natives?" she asked.

Purva had the pleasure of seeing Graveworthy at a loss. "What about them?"

"Well, whether you think it's politics or not, Cook says he saw natives of Australia doing Creating. And I -- there was some -- museum or a diorama or -- I remember, the prisoners made a deal with them. Didn't they?"

Purva had spent her life in small, politically charged communities and she knew how to watch people. The Pilot should not have been as surprised by Fields as he was.

"There are rumors," he said slowly. "I think it something of a disservice to the people of Australia to assume -- "

"Well, it's better than leaving them out entirely!"

"I am not teaching you history for your health. We're not likely to encounter many native people and this information is more -- "

"You're not teaching history at all," Clare said hotly. Even Purva had to admit, if only to herself, that this seemed to be an over-reaction.

"Not the entire bloody history of the continent, no. I am teaching you what you'll need to know to survive if you want to be taken for an Australian."

"I am an Australian," she replied.

"Clare, you were a child when you left!"

She stood without speaking, gave him a sharp, angry scowl, and brushed past him towards the bow. Purva, startled by the news, could only watch as the Pilot and the Captain seemed to speak back and forth with silent looks.

"I'll talk to her," Jack said.

"What've I done now?" Graveworthy asked.

"Never mind. De la Fitte, take the chair," Jack said. Graveworthy joined her astern as she settled in and Jack disappeared around the engine to speak with Clare. There wasn't a breath of wind and the yoke was strapped up neat with no need of adjustment. She sat back and watched Graveworthy shove his hands in his pockets sullenly.

"Lovers?" she asked, for something to do.

"Jack and Clare?" he asked, and she wondered if he'd deliberately misunderstood her. "Good God no. They're practically siblings."

"You and she," she said bluntly. The English could be thick at times.

"What, Clare and -- certainly not. I'm far too old for her. Whatever put the idea in your head, de la Fitte?"

She smiled, wondering more what had put the idea in his head. He'd clearly considered it; only a man already considering a sin was so ready with reasons it would be impossible.

"My mother took a lover," she began.

"Good luck to him -- "

"Can you allow no one but yourself to be heard?" she demanded. He closed his mouth quickly. "My mother took a lover. They fought, always fighting, what should be done, which course to set, shall we take the smaller ship or large as prey, all these things, fighting. But, very good love."

"Doesn't sound like it. How did it end?"

"He grew tiresome. We left him ashore."

He laughed. It wasn't unpleasant, but too free a laugh in the presence of his superior.

"That hardly bodes well for me and Mistress Clare, does it? I don't chase after young women, and if I did I wouldn't have the aim of being put ashore without a passage home."

"She makes a passing pirate, I think."

"That she does. Wish she wouldn't threaten, board, and raid my history lessons, that's all."

***

Jack found Clare sitting on a crate, once full of food and now stuffed with empty sacking, just outside the hut he'd built for her from other packing materials.

When they were little, he could have sat next to her and been small enough to butt his head on her shoulder; now he was tall enough to knock his nose against the crown of her head if he tried. Instead he perched on the edge of the crate and nudged her with his elbow affectionately.

"Quite rude, Fields," he said.

"Don't scold me," she answered, ducking her head.

"I won't, promise. But it's not his fault either, Clare. He doesn't know anything more about Australia than any of us, not really, and less than you."

"But he's still the one giving the lessons."

"Well, he's the reason we're here. Maybe you ought to try giving a lesson."

"Huh. As if he'd deign to learn anything from me."

"Sulky," Jack said, putting an arm around her shoulders and holding her head against his neck. "You know he would."

"Maybe."

"And I'd knock him over if he refused," Jack added. Clare smiled a little, he could feel it. "I remember the head of the children's' home telling you that you'd come to no good end if you spent all your time with me."

"I was the one who made you climb trees and chase horses," she said.

"Yeah, but I got my revenge. I made you come along on this disaster of an adventure, with a popular novelist and a pirate."

"The pirate is all your fault," she agreed. "But I think I'm the one who suggested we should go along."

"I blame Mr. Anderson for being shot," he said. She giggled. "In another few days we'll be in Australia. When we get there -- you can find out anything you want."

"Until then I just put up?"

"Well, it'd be easier if you'd been an engineer. We're used to it at Harvard." He leaned back and kissed her forehead. "Come on, I have something to break the mood up."

He stood and led her to the engine amidships, digging in a haphazard jumble of tools and parts for two small cloth-wrapped bundles.

"Purva, Graveworthy, come down for a minute," he called. He heard footsteps on the stairs and held out one bundle to Graveworthy as they approached, offering the other to Clare. "Early landing gifts," he said. "I've only just finished Purva's. Clare first!"

Between piloting, cooking, and maintenance, he hadn't had much time for inventing, but Jack wasn't unskilled as a metalsmith and he was rather proud of the bracelet he'd made for Clare, stamped with her initials (blunt nail, hammer, lots of painstaking work). It had come from a supply-crate, so it was something like carrying a piece of the airship with her. She threw her arms around his neck and made him buckle it onto her wrist as Graveworthy carefully picked his bundle open to find a hinged metal pen-case, fashioned with screws and beaten out of two ultra-light piston shafts.

"And," he said, as Graveworthy solemnly packed his pens into it, "For Purva, to replace your spyglass."

The contraption he took from his pocket was a thin loop of leather, a belt in a previous life, attached at either end to a series of collapsed metal circles with the lenses from the glass placed inside. She looked at it perplexedly for a moment, then smiled and eased the loop over her head, tightening it and sliding the spyglass over one eye.

"So you don't have to hold it anymore," Jack said, as Clare fell down laughing at Purva's one giant magnified eye. He grasped the outer ring and tugged, expanding it out to show her how it telescoped. She twisted the ring, focusing, and then pulled curiously on the little tab at the end of the ring. The lens which had once inhabited her spyglass gave a little resistance, then popped out.

"The glass comes out so you can wear it collapsed and still see," Jack said, gently pushing the telescoping rings back into place. She adjusted the strap to sit slightly askew, like an eye-patch, and smiled at him. Jack became vaguely aware that he should probably feel guilty, having made the other gifts as an excuse to give de la Fitte this one, but he brushed it away. He'd made plenty of toys for Clare over the years, and built that moveable-type scribe for Graveworthy.

Purva jumped up to the rail, holding the rope with one hand and extending the spyglass with the other. Then, carefully, she released it and took hold of another rope.

"Work all right?" Jack asked.

"Yes, Captain."

"See anything?" Graveworthy inquired.

"Yes," Purva said, pointing. "Land."

***

History was forgotten. Stories and inventions and squabbles were all forgotten too, as they prepared for arrival. The cook-pots were washed and neatly stacked, the empty supply crates and sacks and jugs were packed. Clothing was washed and hung on lines strung between the ropes to dry. Ellis packed his notebooks carefully into a single crate and nailed it shut, stowing it in the back corner of the nearly-empty coal shed. Jack polished the engine and the brass control dials and the steam pipes.

The land Purva had seen was invisible to the naked eye until night fell. At sunrise it was hardly closer, but the dim yellow blur was definitely a thin slice of land on the horizon. De la Fitte stared at it unceasingly, and Clare had to be reminded twice that it was her turn to pilot. There was a sudden hunger on the airship, leaping from Clare to himself and Purva. Jack, preparing for the second landing ever of his masterpiece, was too preoccupied to feel it. Perhaps that was just as well.

"How far do you make it?" Jack asked him that afternoon, as the distant cliffs drew ever closer.

"Perhaps half a day out?" Ellis replied, shading his eyes. "Very near. By sunset tomorrow, we'll be ashore."

"And you'll have lost your touch." Jack added. Ellis frowned. "Clare told me."

"Are you worried?" Ellis asked.

"Nah. I lost mine ages ago. What I'm worried about is the fact that we may reach the coast in the middle of the night."

"Perhaps we ought to throttle the propellers back a trifle," Ellis suggested.

"And take longer to get there?" Jack asked.

"Better than crashing into a hill we don't see coming. We'll see Port Darwin tonight, I've no doubt. We can set course from there and land early in the morning. How are we fixed for a rapid descent?"

"Pretty well. Have a little faith in me, Graveworthy."

"All the faith in the world, Jack," Ellis said, resting a hand on Jack's shoulder. "This is your doing. I never forget that."

Jack was silent for a moment, and then he looked over at Ellis.

"I can't go back to Harvard after all this," he blurted. "I'm not sure if I should thank you for that."

"If you don't thank me now, you will when you're an old man. I hope I shall be alive to see what else you do in this life. Come along -- let's cut those propellers."

***

When night fell, Port Darwin blazed with light like fire in dry timber, brighter than any of the cities they'd seen in their journey. Far below, a single merchant ship was a tiny dot, but Darwin was an entire constellation. Drifting slow as they were, there was little need for a pilot; all four of them sat at the railing, watching as the bright port drew almost imperceptibly closer and Graveworthy told them one last story.

"For years, the Incorrigibles, Creationist criminals, poured into Australia -- or rather were shipped in, from England and India and the European mainland. And some from America, too. America has always produced strong Creationists, and strength can breed arrogance," Graveworthy said.

"What's your excuse?" Clare asked. He gave her a small smile.

"These prisoners come to Australia and have to find a new place for themselves, but the population is growing. Soon, even with the prisoners, the number of children born to Incorrigibles outnumbers the new arrivals. The country is finding its own ways of living and governing. The military governors no longer come from England, and the new generation begins to resent being a dumping-ground, a prison state. But prisoners still arrive. Some who aren't prisoners, who've served their sentence or were merely born to an Incorrigible, even leave. The prison becomes a country. Fewer prison ships are allowed, and those must transfer their occupants to real prisons, rather than encampments. Australia begins to impose trade tariffs and immigration sanctions. Fewer people are allowed to leave -- and one of those who does seems to carry the curse with him. Three Creationists who come into contact with him in England are crippled, one dies." He took a breath. "Creationist children, those who were immune, had always been sent to other countries for schooling, but now when they arrive they're quarantined."

Jack glanced at Clare, but her face was unreadable in the darkness.

"Finally, paranoia overcomes diplomatic sense," Graveworthy continued. "England turns away a ship carrying a native-born Australian, not even a Creationist. And that is all Australia needs."

"The Free Government," Clare whispered. Jack gripped her hand tightly. It was freezing. "The ports closed."

"No-one in, no-one but the Expats out."

Jack saw Graveworthy put a hand out as if to touch her, then pull it back. Purva was still watching Port Darwin through her spyglass.

"Goods came in, goods for gold from the Australian mines or exotic fruits, though mostly gold. Children who could Create were forcibly expatriated by the government, most too young to carry many memories with them. Ships attempting to invade were repelled with gunfire or cannon fire. The only port open to the outside world anymore is Darwin. The others take only Australian ships. Aside from myths about abandoned sailors, we will be the first foreigners to come to Australia in decades."

Jack could not see the coast except where the port illuminated the land. Tomorrow they would be on land again. Strangers, in fact, with no money and not half enough knowledge. At the same time, somewhere on the dark island, Clare's parents were perhaps living, and maybe Anderson's.

And Graveworthy was with them. Graveworthy could talk a man into killing himself, and he'd gotten them this far.

That evening, while Purva piloted alone, Jack lay down and tried to sleep, taking odd comfort in the sound of Graveworthy's soft, even breathing in the other bunk.

Chapter Fourteen

Date: 2012-05-02 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] revieloutionne.livejournal.com
"Tell me what you know of Australia -- the history of it," he said to the assembled company, one afternoon while -- Jack piloting, while Clare and de la Fitte sat on the steps below.

The second half of that sentence is a bit of a mess. It's clear what it's meant to be, but it word salad'd itself, a little.

"Not the entire bloody history of the continent, no. I am teaching you what you'll need to know to survive if you want to be taken for an Australian."

"
I am an Australian," she replied.

ASLKGJDSFKLGJDA CLARE. That is great reread moment, right there.

Date: 2012-05-02 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
ARGH, CLIFFHANGER!!!! I can't wait until tomorrow to see what happens! And I was really mad that you didn't include the engineer ghost story. You'd better be saving that for another chapter, because I really was excited to hear the ghost story. I love all of the fairy tales and myths you spin here, and I always look forward to another one.

I was a little confused about Jack telling Claire that Ellis was unfamiliar with Australian history. He seemed to be seen as an authority (or just knew more about it than the rest of the crew) on it and is even educating them in it, so why would Jack say this?

Loved that interesting bit about soul-selling, but am still not getting how de la Fitte sold her soul. She may like the pirate life, but she was born to it, too. The way Ellis told it, selling your soul was like going against what was normal for the benefit of others. De la Fitte may not fit into traditional society, but she stayed in the place she was born to. If she'd left them to be a "normal" woman, then that might be seen as selling her soul. If she'd been captain of her ship, that might be selling. But she was following a captain, not being one. I'm just a little confused, is all.

However, this was a great piece:

She glanced at Ellis with a long-suffering but indulgent expression, reached into her pocket, and produced the collapsed spyglass, placing it in Jack's outstretched hand.

"Thanks! You won't be sorry!" Jack said, bounding down the stairs as his accent dropped from Australian into a sort of bastard Cockney. Ellis despaired.

"He sold his brain," de la Fitte said absently. "Replaced it with clockwork."


The imagery made me think of that Doctor Who episode with Reinette.

And honestly, while I wouldn't mind Ellis/Claire, I just can't see it working out. Or even happening. I just think they'd be much better friends than lovers. I think that even though Ellis might have entertained the idea, he probably came to that conclusion, too.

Date: 2012-05-02 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alarivana.livejournal.com
'one afternoon while -- Jack piloting, while Clare and de la Fitte sat on the steps below.'
looks like it got lost somewhere.

'You must have sold your soul to the devil'
should the you be italicized?

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From: [identity profile] derien.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-06-01 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-02 06:21 pm (UTC)
matt_doyle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] matt_doyle
Not including the actual engineer's story seems a bit coy.

Date: 2012-05-02 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catlinye-maker.livejournal.com
Heh. I was actually here to comment that I really liked reading the author's note about the engineer's tale rather than the tale itself. Liked that particular insertion.

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From: [personal profile] matt_doyle - Date: 2012-05-02 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-02 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helle-d.livejournal.com
Commas: "At least I still have mine. I go; goodnight Pilot."

"Goodnight, de la Fitte."


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From: [identity profile] helle-d.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-03 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] harkpad02.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-05 03:08 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-02 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jkivela.livejournal.com
"and de la Fitte, insult on injury," should that be 'adding insult to injury'?

"There was a sudden hunger on the airship, leaping from Clare to himself and Purva." I'm thinking 'himself' is Ellis? But it doesn't seem like the section is from his point of view. More 3rd person.

Date: 2012-05-02 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polaris-starz.livejournal.com
I love this chapter. I love it a lot. It's a bit info-dump heavy, I suppose by necessity, but I absolutely adore both of Graveworthy's conversations with Purva, and Clare bringing up natives, and I'm a sucker for alternative history.

Also, man, I ship Ellis/Clare hard, and I never actually finished the first draft of this, so I don't know how it turns out. I'm excited.

Date: 2012-05-03 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emei.livejournal.com
Purva is awesome, and I love all the banter in these last few chapters. And Clare's interjections in the history lesson. I really want to get to see Purva and Clare talk and interact more directly, though. (Could be a great Bechdel pass, too.)

And I was a bit surprised by how easily they all seem to accept and go along with de la Fitte's interpretations of their ranks. Does it benefit Graveworthy in some way to have Jack act captain?

Date: 2012-05-03 01:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I remember being really shocked by the insinuation that Ellis liked Clare when I read the first draft. This time, there were a few more signposts along the way but it was still a bit surprising :P

This chapter felt the most polished so far, and it reads well even if it is rather full of stories and history.

Date: 2012-05-03 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] derridian.livejournal.com
LJ ate my comment so I'm posting again: I hope it doesn't double post.

You seem to be saying that Purva is doing alright with the Australian accent (not just with improving using English/Australian more colloquially) which I have difficulty with because French people cannot lose their accents. Unless they start young in a country outside of France perhaps, but you're writing her with a French accent, so it's too late for her :-) I'm not sure why they can't lose their French accent (or gain a different one) - it's one of those weird things.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing what it's like inside Australia in your world, which should be soon I expect :-)

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From: [identity profile] derridian.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-04 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2012-05-09 02:18 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-03 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gwyndlyn.livejournal.com
Not related to *this* chapter... I found a photo that could be Jack or Harvard school mates!

http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/1890-victorian-photo-gallery.php
(top photo on the page)

Ok, ok... it's attributed to Yale, but it's pretty close...
Edited Date: 2012-05-03 07:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-05-03 07:37 pm (UTC)
wintercreek: Silhouette of a person with an umbrella under a multi-colored rain with the text "starshowers." ([misc] starshowers)
From: [personal profile] wintercreek
A vocabulary nitpick:

A pogrom was inevitable

I don't think Graveworthy would have had the word "pogrom" - my dictionary dates it as early 20th century rather than late 19th.

Date: 2012-05-03 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So I may have missed this, but has there been any discussion about Claire possibly losing her Creationism on the Dead Isle? I was surprised it didn't come up when Jack and Ellis were discussing losing theirs.

Date: 2012-05-04 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leeduck.livejournal.com
When William LaRoche is only sixteen, and being quodded for blasphemy and heresy in Germany,

quodded is not a word I know, and can not find a good definition for. What does it mean?

The earlier parts are good, but I really get interested once the airship takes off.

Date: 2012-05-04 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nakki.livejournal.com
Oooh, I must have gotten side tracked and didn't get the chance to finish this chapter yesterday. yay for two chapters to read =)
~
"Being an engineer is special," he said. "It means you've earned something, you have an understanding that most people don't have. It's a way of being special." Love this line because I am a vain engineer and very broad of getting my degree this June =)
~
"I read it, called that. The Dead Isle."

A book within a book! So confusing =D
~
I love how Purva sees the ship dynamics.
~
"And you'll have lost your touch." Jack added. Ellis frowned. "Clare told
me." - has 'touch' been estabilished as colloquial for creating? It seems odd to use it out of the blue without having established it before in one of the many crating scenes.
~
"That evening while Purva piloted alone, Jack lay down and tried to sleep,
taking odd comfort in the sound of Graveworthy's soft, even breathing in
the other bunk." - oooh, is this foreshadowing for Graveworthy being
sick once they land?? I like it if it is =)

Date: 2012-05-04 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corbistheca.livejournal.com
A few things about the stories within this story...

I felt utterly cheated to get the afterword from "The Ghost Train" but not the story itself. (I can't remember whether we got the story in the earlier draft or whether I've left this comment before -- but anyway, I felt cheated.)

De la Fitte's explanation of how she knows the Orpheus myth -- "a Greek told me this" -- rings hollow and unnecessary; we've just accepted that her shipboard life included a library and she's a pretty well-read pirate, why undercut it with a need to explicitly justify this bit of narrative knowledge? At least until Ellis disputes her version of the telling -- then maybe it would make sense for her to fire back with "Well, a Greek sailor told me this way and he's know better than you, pilot!"

Ellis's "we give up knowing what ordinary people know" makes me think of Uncle Andrew in "The Magicians Nephew," with his "high and lonely destiny," on which Digory is about to call bullshit -- which I've always thought was C. S. Lewis speaking through Uncle Andrew (rather fucked up man that they both were), and simultaneously knowing the truth of it and calling bullshit on his own egoism -- I'm not sure where I'm going with this comparison, only I know Ellis Graveworthy was you before he was a character in his own right, and I'm always fascinated by the artist's struggle to reconcile the absurd grandeur of what we do, or try to do, and the cost of it, with the awareness of our own smallness -- anyway, Ellis's framing of their extraordinary lives, and Purva's refusal to accept it as anyhow out of the orginary, fascinates me.

Clare's anger during the history lesson feels perfectly real and exactly on target -- at least to me, reading with the knowledge of how the story ends.

~ c.

Date: 2012-05-04 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corbistheca.livejournal.com
...WOW, look at all the typos in that comment. I blame the nasty headcold that's making my eyes and brain kind of cross-eyed, in conjunction with my sticky keyboard. USUALLY I DO BETTER THAN THIS, I SWEAR!
~ c.

Date: 2012-05-05 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] harkpad02.livejournal.com
When India finally disappeared aft the next day they celebrated = . . . the next day, (comma after day)

The rum scene seemed too short to be necessary. There doesn’t seem to be as much to celebrate (just another step on their journey?) and it doesn’t do anything for the characters. Boy, I don’t really like making comments like that, but I kinda went looking for more after that bit.

She couldn't hold a spyglass then, though. – a rewording? Though is kind of awkward. How about: However, she couldn’t hold a spyglass if it were like that. Or However, she couldn’t hold a spyglass then. Or: She wouldn’t be able to hold a spyglass, though. I think this last one works best.

goodnight Pilot." = goodnight, Pilot.

"Maybe, but it's not like you can buy yourself a degree. – Heh. It’s obviously not 2012 in this book….

Oh, and I vote for not telling the train horror story. Can't actually give a reason this late at night, but that's my vote. It feels just right to me this way. You know, maybe it's because getting an Ellis retelling of Jack telling a story seems like the real cheat. I like using my imagination to see and hear Jack telling Purva a story. Adding the actual story in would take some of that gorgeous image away from me. See? I found a reason. :D

(consistently falling behind on reading these chapters but Desperately still want to play along. sorry....)

Date: 2012-05-08 08:12 pm (UTC)
minkrose: (Ms Jack Sparrow (me!))
From: [personal profile] minkrose
Old notes I forgot to post.

"Midden dump?" she suggested. There was a cough from below, where Graveworthy was preparing to sleep. 

"It sells dear for midden-fill," he said, 


Is he correcting her, calling her dear, or saying it sells dearly?  Also, I don't entirely understand what they're talking about. I cannot find a good definition of midden-fill in a quick google search.

It is perhaps a dream; to disappear with one's engine one night

Should be : not ; I think

Date: 2012-05-08 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bobcatmoran.livejournal.com
I noticed this only because I've been reading the recent chapters all out of order *shakes fist at tempermental internet connection* but you have Ellis pulling out "the last of his notebooks" to write in here. Two chapters later, Clare and Purvia make off for Darwin with "one of Ellis's own pens and his last blank notebook." This can't be the same notebook, as Ellis writes in it for about an hour here, making it no longer blank.

Date: 2012-05-11 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maeritrae.livejournal.com
"No, they haven't. Because some of us give it up. We give up knowing what ordinary people know, having friends and dinner at seven and children. All but the most understanding don't understand at all. You sacrifice who you could have been, to make something for all those people. Jack's sold his soul to build this...beautiful machine, left behind everything he knew, everything he was, to come on this journey. I've sold mine many times over to be the great mind, the literary genius, a man who married his books instead of a wife. You've never even known a life like Clare gave up when she came along. We aren't people, not the way most people are. We're just...carriers. Little boats bringing goods from foreign lands." He shut his notebook. "You don't live for yourself, de la Fitte. You never have. You've lived for your crew and maybe for this library your mother kept, but your life is the most strange and adventurous imaginable. You sold your soul for your freedom."

And shivers down my spine. :)

I noticed a few ellipses done right in here, so it looks like the search worked out.

I really, really, really liked this chapter. Of all the things you've ever written, this is the one I want to have a hard copy of the most.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] maeritrae.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-11 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-15 03:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twirlynoodle.livejournal.com
[In a Lemony Snicket audio book voice] Chapter ... Thirteen ...


"I suspect you pick up more, knowing Clare, than the average young man," Graveworthy answered.


If Clare left Australia when she was three, how much could she possibly know about the local government?

that there were no gaps in the wood to show movement in the darkened cabin below

... Yet light showed through in an earlier chapter. Very small gaps, maybe? ;) Usually the deck of a ship is caulked to make it as water-tight as possible; is there a reason Jack didn’t do this? Was he possibly not expecting to fly through any rain? The provisions would have to stay dry ... I may be over-thinking this but that's what discrepancies cause me to do.

Excellent way of making expository dialogue interesting, with the Australia Panel Game! I didn’t even catch on what you were doing until right at the very end. Well done!

Oh, I am so glad you still have that bit about artists selling their souls! :D

beaten out of two ultra-light piston shafts.

Doesn’t he need those...? Maybe they are discards?


[sooo behiiiind...]

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From: [identity profile] twirlynoodle.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-15 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-22 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insixeighttime.livejournal.com
Chapter 13
Reading Notes

- I think my main question is how high are they flying. If they can see the ship, can't the ship see them? Are they just trusting no one will believe it?
- ""Midden dump?" she suggested. There was a cough from below, where Graveworthy was preparing to sleep./"It sells dear for midden-fill," he said, emerging from their little bunk-house. " --> The setup for this makes me feel like the dialogue tag is going to be, "he said, his voice echoing from under their feet"
- "striving to ignore the fallacy that trains couldn't go in curves." - <3
- ""Well, I do not like railings like trains. " - erm? Extra... something?
- That other boat still bothers me because it was so little remarked upon.
- I love the Train 99 story. I'd love to read that, though I think that your Afterword might be more haunting than the story.
- Purva has a good point. Jack mentioned making the boat airtight -- do you think it would float, if it crashed?
- Why no more Christmas?
- "but he preferred to let them fight it out (so long as they were fighting it out in the proper accent)." --> Ha!
- ""Damn it, Graveworthy!"/"Language, Mr. Baker" --> Probably because I was expecting it, I accidently read this asmonishment as, "Accent, Mr Baker!" ;)
- "Prisoners don't have a representative in Parliament." - Super subtle foreshadowing?
- "Are you worried?" Ellis asked./"Nah. I lost mine ages ago" --> Oh! It would be nice to hear this earlier, but it's still nice to hear it said explicitly.I didn't realize you could naturally loose the ability to Create altogether.


End
- WOOOO SHIP! WOOOO AUSTRALIA! Can't wait for landfall!

Meta
- While I would *love* to read the story of Train 99, I don't think it belongs in this story. I agree that the imagination works so well, and you have already inserted two stories - Gepetto and Cinderella - that here, you go "Oh there's a story, here comes a story, here it is -- wait, what?" It's the Rule of Threes (things are expected in threes, and it's either relief when the third happens or a hook/amusement/causes active engagement when it doesn't).
- Agreed on Purva's unnecessary "A greek told me this". She Reads. We get it.
- I like the change on making the deck show no movement if there's no light.
- Are these still helpful? What's the last day you'll be reading them?
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