Airships and Alchemy 12.4 – Taking the Air

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8 December, 2013 by katelaity

imageThe ship forged on ahead and the Lintons approached the Rochester airship slowly but surely. Of course they were not as heavily laden as their opponent’s craft was, but there was more to it than that.

 

Or so Edgar was convinced. They had the superior ship and now that they had addressed that minor design flaw, they would be able to demonstrate that fact with ease. It was simply a matter of scientific knowledge and the advancement of industry and commerce.

 

Certainly the fact that those advances came at the expense of putting the lovely nose of Miss Helen Rochester out of joint did not exactly disappoint him either. It’s not as if he had actually asked for her hand. Considering the madness of her father—oh, all right, not necessarily madness as he had known ran rather distantly in his mother’s family blood, as the story went—it was unlikely that the strange girl would be getting too many offers for her hand.

 

That she would add to his airship expertise certainly had been a count in her favour. Perhaps she resented that? Edgar frowned. It was the first time the thought had occurred to him.

 

Women were so mysterious! They would take offense where none was intended. If he had been ham-handed in his testing of the matrimonial waters, she should have considered his lack of skill charming and a compliment to her attraction. After all he had not frittered away his time pledging to other women as his brother had done in his empty-headed histrionics. Apparently the bare pledging of interest was no use to the fragile creatures.

 

Poetry? Must it come to that?

 

But he must admit to having failed when she waved away any attempt to proceed toward something resembling endearments and a protestation of his affections. Not that he had much of an idea how to prove any kind of affection.

 

He was really more of the cerebral sort, not made for the gentle wooing of lovers.

 

Edgar looked over at his brother. He certainly had no trouble in that regard—and look where it got him.

 

“We’re gaining on them rather quickly,” Israel said, noticing his brother’s gaze upon him and apparently feeling as if he ought to say something.

 

Edgar nodded. “This comes as no surprise, my brother.”

 

“I know, I know.” Israel frowned. “Are you planning to challenge them as we approach?”

 

“Challenge them?”

 

“Well, yes. It seems more sporting that way. They may not realize that we intend to race.” He smiled at his brother then seemed to think better of the expression.

 

“Are you mad? Surely they are prepared for a race. We have made our intentions quite clear.” Edgar sneered. Let them try to make excuses this time!

 

“Well, I don’t know that publishing stories in the French newspapers is really enough to challenge them. After all, they may not have read the papers.”

 

Edgar found that Israel’s expression of reasonableness irritated even beyond his words. There were things a brother could do that annoyed one out of all countenance. “Why else are they out at this time?”

 

“Perhaps they are simply taking the air.”

 

His brother’s expression of oafish simplicity nearly made Edgar lose his composure altogether. “Taking the air? This isn’t Hyde Park!”

 

“Or the Tuileries, I suppose,” his brother agreed.

 

Edgar muttered an oath under his breath. “What I meant was that they were hardly likely to be ‘taking the air’ as you say—”

 

“Though they may be on a sort of pleasurable turn about the, er, sky,” his brother continued with infuriating doggedness. “After all, I think they have a rather large group of people onboard. And it looks like some sort of large cat or other creature.” He squinted at the other ship, trying to divine what or who was aboard it.

 

“Nonetheless—”

 

“Oh, I think I know what it is,” Israel said with an excited air.

 

“What what is?”

 

“The animal aboard their ship. Do you remember the summer papa sent us to Venice with the tutor?”

 

“Vaguely.”

 

“Oh, you never remember anything really important,” Israel chastised him. “Really you don’t.”

 

For the umpteenth time, Edgar considered the doubtless exquisite pleasure of fratricide.

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