The Height of Absurdity: The Train 2.3

16 February, 2016 by katelaity

Airships & Alchemy ebook webWe enjoyed a bit of privacy for a time and chatted in a meandering way about this and that finding our humours to agree more often than not and learning a little bit more about each other. I spoke of the drabbed tedium of my childhood and Tansy of golden memories of wild wandering youth. An untamed ramble of years seemed to have left him with a permanent hunger for travel that a jaunt such as this one satisfied. I was eager for my first adventure in a way that seemed at times a bit foolish to my own ears, but Tansy tolerated my enthusiasm and even acknowledged that he shared a similar thrill for our present task.

When joined by others we turned our attentions back to quieter pursuits. I began to draft an initial coverage of our adventure and Tansy made some considerable calculations about his theory for the dimensions we might find when we located our target. Getting out the tape measurer to visualize a particularly tricky relationship between possible angles, he excited the interest of a bewhiskered gentle men opposite, who frowned at the instrument and demanded an explanation.

‘It is a tape measurer,’ Tansy explained with all reasonableness.

‘A what?’ His top hat slid forward a little as if he had been shocked by the revelation.

‘It is a tape,’ Tansy repeated, drawing out a length of it to demonstrate, ‘by which one can measure any thing at all.’

‘Any thing?’ The man fished a pair of spectacles out of his breast pocket and put them on to see it more clearly. ‘Any thing at all?’

‘Hold out your hand and I can measure it.’

He harrumphed. ‘I’ll do no such thing.’

‘Tut, man,’ I said. ‘There’s no harm in it.’

‘No harm!’ He looked at me with considerable alarm or perhaps only annoyance, but in any case with great displeasure of an alarming sort of nature. ‘To know the exact measure of a thing?!’

‘We are scientific men, I assure you,’ I said, then added, ‘and women,’ for Tansy’s singularity was always in my mind. Or should that be rather the opposite of singularity? What is the opposite of singularity? Manifold, perhaps, yet not so many as that. Duality then, though I wondered if that might be too limiting a term.

‘What can possibly be wrong with measuring a thing?’ Tansy asked with genuine curiosity.

The gentleman leaned back as if he might eschew to answer, though his lips went through various motions that seemed to run the gamut of expressions from disapproval, fear, alarm and the merest touch of pride plus a bit of the desire to share a story that lurked within hid breast as a great and troubling weight. ‘Knowing anything with that precision can cause calamity.’

‘How so?’ I did not mean to be demanding, but there was a curious specificity in his reasoning that could not be gleaned by any logic and must instead rely upon his particular circumstances.

‘If there are dangers you know about, do please tell us.’ Tansy spoke with a direct and unaffected grave manner.

I saw at once this was the way to gain the man’s trust, so added my voice to the plea. ‘We’re going into this adventure somewhat blindly. Any warnings you might impart would be most welcome.’

Thus mollified, the lips stopped their frantic dance and parted once more to speak as he leaned toward us. The other folks in the carriage also seemed to lean forward in anticipation of the tale, but what we heard was much stranger than we had anticipated.

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