13 July, 2014 by katelaity
“What’s that?” she asked anxiously.
“Harmless!” Maggiormente said, raising his hands as if to ward off her protestations. “A little vanity that is all. “I thought it would look nice if the engine would start off with a little panache. You use that word? I don’t know the English for it. We use the French.”
“Yes, panache.” Helen smiled. “I never thought of a motor having any whimsy.”
“It is perhaps foolish, but I thought it would make it an occasion.” The alchemist smiled, feeling his face warm with a sense of uncertain embarrassment. It would not do to have her see him as silly. He had completely forgotten about adding the sparks.
Unprofessional, perhaps. He couldn’t help that she made him feel just a bit giddy. In any case the motor seemed to be working well. And she smiled.
“The flywheel’s running smoothly,” Helen noted, her attention turned back to the motor once more. She held her hands over the motor for a moment. Maggiormente wondered what she could be doing—feeling vibrations perhaps?
“Good so far,” Helen said, nodding with approval.
“What is?” The alchemist asked a little hesitantly.
“The heat level. The engine is running faster but it does not seem to be generating the usual amount of friction heat. That’s good.”
“I am so glad!”
“How much of the bottle did you add to the engine?” Helen looked up at the alchemist and smiled again for no reason.
It threw him for a moment, admiring that lovely face. “How much?” He pulled out the bottle again to look for he had not really noted the amount. “About half, it seems.”
“Which is les than half the amount of liquid hydrocarbon we have used in the past. Let’s see how far it takes us. That way we can make the return journey on the remainder of the fuel. With luck it will prove a success. It’s already a success in one regard.”
Maggiormente nodded his head quickly. “It has not exploded.”
Helen laughed. “I meant rather that it has a very pleasant scent in the exhaust. It certainly makes being in the proximity of the engine a lot more appealing. I find the usual fuel quite loathsome.”
“I am so pleased.” Maggiormente felt his heart hammer in his chest a little at this initial sign of success. He had been a little nervous when the sparks were brighter and more plentiful than he had expected, but this settled his nerves a little more.
“Are we going to explode?”
Helen and the alchemist looked up as her father strolled over, looking more nonchalant than usual. He seemed to be relaxing more as other novices were introduced to the ship like the alchemist and his familiar. Perhaps their nerves braced his own.
“We are not going to explode and the engine appears to be running very well, barely warm. Perhaps we should have the signore work on a coolant for the engine as well. Is there something that would be better than just water alone?” Helen turned back to the alchemist, her mind racing again.
“It is likely. I should have to think about it, but doubtless there could be something that would improve the matter. To keep the engine cool? Yes, that is possible.” Maggiormente nodded agreeably, but his mind could not concentrate just then. He looked over his shoulder where Eduardo and Tuppence seemed to be in an intimate conversation.
What could they possibly have to say to each other?
“Every little bit will help,” Helen said with enthusiasm. “I hear there are some Germans here at the Exposition who will be unveiling a new motor that is even more efficient than the Belgian’s model.”
“It requires less fuel and there’s something different about the mechanics of the piston. I’m not entirely certain, but it will be exciting to see. There are bound to be so many wonderful discoveries here.”
“Indeed. I cannot wait to see the exhibition open. Many wonders await us. How many people will be excited to see your craft. Especially once it wins the race.”
“And win we shall,” Helen said with an ill-concealed note of triumph.