9.0 Approaching Paris

28 October, 2012 by katelaity

“Set it down in the field there!” Helen pointed below them, where a reasonably wide expanse of green met the eye.

“Aye, aye, signorina,” Romano called as he pulled the levers, a slightly worried expression on his brow. Some of it was due to the concentration it took to maneuver the airship down safely.

But not all of it.

Helen glanced over at her father. He seemed completely occupied in a battle of wills with Tuppence, who kept hopping over toward him, threatening to take a bite of his bread and cheese. Her father remained just as determined to keep the tasty treat to himself and to taunt the raven with his eating.

It was just as well.

Helen returned her gaze to the engine assembly. There was no doubt it was too hot and had been running rather too long a while. A part of her mind became engaged with working out a more efficient way of cooling the magnetic heart of the dynamo.

The other parts of her mind tried not to worry too much about the distance there was yet between the airship and a safe spot on the ground.

“Are we going down,” Helen’s father asked abruptly.

Helen drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yes, Papa. We’re landing down there.”

He got up a little stiffly and tossed the last piece of cheese to the raven, who caught it mid-air and did a little dance of rejoicing to show she was pleased. “Is this Paris? This doesn’t look like Paris.” He looked over the side with a little more ease than he had shown when they first set off.

He’s getting to be quite the airship sailor, Helen thought with satisfaction. However he would not want to know that we’re in some spot of bother at the moment.

“Papa, we’re landing outside Paris instead.” Keep it simple, Helen.

“But the Bois de Boulogne—you said it was perfect.” A hint of suspicion crept into his voice.

“I reconsidered the matter,” Helen muttered as she watched Romano shift the gears again to counter the surprisingly strong headwinds that had dogged them since the crossing. First it was the water spout and then the winds. We’ve really put her through her paces!

“We’re not crashing again, are we?”

“Papa! We didn’t crash.”

“We did once, signorina,” Romano corrected her.

“That was ages ago,” Helen said with a slight twinge of annoyance. “We’ve made so many improvements since then.”

“So—not crashing?” her father persisted.

“Of course not,” Helen said, seeing the ground near enough to fear little in the way of danger even if they should fall a little too precipitously to the ground. “I just wanted to take a precaution. After all, this is the first substantial trip for the ship. I don’t want to take any risks.”

“Like crashing?”

“Papa!”

“Isn’t that why it’s so bloody hot right now?” Rochester mopped his brow as he gave the engine assembly a baleful look.

“Yes, enough to make me decide to stop rather than press on. I don’t want any harm to come to the ship.”

He laughed. “The ship! What about your father and your pilot?”

“I am not concerned,” Romano shouted over his shoulder as he slowed the airship’s descent a little more. There were few people below them, but they were now looking up at the ship, some waving in a friendly way.

“Perhaps you should be,” Helen’s father muttered, but took to watching the people in the green expanse below them. “My hell-bent for progress daughter seems ready to use us as ballast on her way to the future, signor.”

Romano laughed and the airship set down on the grass with hardly a bump, and Helen allowed herself a sigh of relief. The heat from the engine continued to come off it in waves. It would take a while until it would be cool to the touch. Then she could examine it closely for damage, but despite the heat, everything appeared to remain in tip top condition.

“Where do you suppose we are?” Helen’s father asked.

“If I’ve kept track of things well, we should be near Poissy.”

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