10 February, 2013 by katelaity
Helen slapped her hand on the table. It wasn’t enough to make the cutlery jump, but it was decisive. “You can tell your readers that I will triumph yet again against these upstarts.”
Mme. Belcoeur sought her pencil eagerly and began noting words in the little notebook she had kept near her.
“I assure you that we are not the least bit intimidated by the challenge of the Lintons’ new ship. After defeating their last ship easily—due to its fundamental design flaws—we have continued to streamline our own craft.”
“Streamline?” Mme. Belcoeur frowned. “I am unfamiliar with the term.”
“It is a rather new coinage,” Helen said, nodding her head with some excitement. “It’s become the preferred terminology amongst airship crafters to denote the form which facilitates smooth navigation.”
“New infernal machines,” muttered her father, having finished the very last drop of the soup and feeling slightly bored, “new infernal terminology.”
“This new modern world,” M. Belcoeur said with wonder, shaking his head and reaching for more bread. “So many things to learn.”
“Well, then you may enjoy the fact that the next revolution will come via a time-honoured and traditional art.”
Mme. Becoeur’s eyes lit up. “Is this the alchemist of which you spoke?”
“Far be it from me to throw cold water on the subject,” Rochester lied, “But we have yet to meet this man and he could be some sort of mountebank for all we know.”
If Mme. Belcoeur’s eyes lit up before they were positively incandescent now. “Controversy sells a lot of papers.”
“Ma cherie,” her husband scolded. “It is not the thing.”
“Signore Maggiormente is a respected alchemist,” Helen said somewhat stiffly, her disapproval at the paternal mischief quite clear. Why does he invariably do this! Why do I let it irritate me so? She did her best to get her annoyance under control. It would not do to have her work doubted nor her potential breakthrough diminished—
—even if it remained only theoretical at this point.
“If you can use the two terms together,” her father added to goad her.
Helen decided to ignore him.
“The new fuel that Maggiormente has developed,” she said carefully, using the past perfect to convey the completion of the work she anticipated, “will allow us to travel farther with less weight and undoubtedly faster as well. For too long we have relied on the simple fuels for combustion.”
“Like coal,” Mme. Belcoeur suggested, unable to name another type of fuel.
“And whale oil,” Rochester remembered with surprise. “Those fools!”
Helen nodded. “Both heavy and the latter, inclined toward fire. Our magnetic dynamo offers the safety of not needing those kinds of fuels, but there are limitations on our power. Maggiormente’s fuel will allow us to use combustion and steam, but without the loss of light weight and safety.”
“What is this mysterious fuel?” Mme. Belcoeur’s hand froze, poised for the revelation.
“Oh, we cannot reveal that information, madame!” Helen said, gravely shaking her head. “That will be revealed at the Exposition, of course.”
“With great fanfare, whistles and bells,” her father added, playing along. Helen shot him a quick look and wondered just what he imagined.
“My readers will be so excited!”