The Height of Absurdity: Penzance 3.2

15 March, 2016 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1The Captain pulled a number of hand-written plans from the cluttered surface and thrust them toward us. I must admit I could not make heads or tales of the diagrams or perhaps schematics that he had drawn. Tansy nodded her head however and seemed quite interested.

‘Quite a fascinating endeavour, I must say!’ Tansy said with evident enthusiasm. ‘How much progress have you made?’

The Captain harrumphed. ‘I am still in the gathering investors stage so I have made very little progress on the project itself though I have made a start because of course that’s how I discovered it. Would you like to go there to see what I have completed so far?’ His eagerness showed in the excited steps he took behind the desk, forming as they did almost a little jig. With the wooden leg it very much had the effect of a sort of hammering on the floorboards that was just a little bit disconcerting.

‘Go where?’ I asked, feeling my fate was already sealed.


The words made no sense to me, but I could Tansy’s eyes light up at the name. She also bounded to her feet with every apparent intention of setting off at once to this oddly-named destination. ‘What a wonderful idea. I suspect we may find much to delight us there. Are you game, my friend?’

The latter question was clearly directed at me and as I had no objection, we prepared at once to depart. There was something exciting in heading off so precipitously to such a place that seemed at once portent with wonder. It was no less so as our carriage pulled up to the site. For I was unprepared for the strange sight that met my eyes.

On the way Tansy and the Captain had enthused at great length about his theories about the plumbing the depths of possibility. I must admit to being a little lost in the technical details—after all my expertise was nothing like the sort of engineering works that they spoke of, Tansy being much more expert in those matters than I—but I grasped that there was some similarity of purpose in the Captain’s project that inspired Tansy to new raptures of expectation. To be fair, I seemed to have missed a good deal in not understanding the blueprints the good man had laid out with such enthusiasm. It is one of the fissure sin my education that I learned almost entirely abstract concepts and very little that could be called practical. One of the advantages, I suppose, of Tansy’s less conventional upbringing was that she, for she was at that moment anyway, knew a great deal more about things that could actually be made tangible.

One can’t say as much for the study of literature, though I suppose books are palpable enough. However, one cannot really measure the effects of the sublime in any sort of regular way. It is an ineffable state. I suppose perhaps the tools we have at yet are very crude and measure only lengths and weights and heights, but perhaps some day we will develop such instruments as to calculate the feel of things, too.

If we do, it will doubtless be people like the remarkable Tansy who accomplish such brave deeds. It was strange, but now that Tansy was a woman again, I could not help noticing the differences. Oh certainly, I respected that bright intelligence and the intrepid spirit that fired such daring in my friend, but it was impossible not to reflect that Tansy made a more than passable woman—indeed I must say that far from being simply passable as the fairer sex, which one might assume to be the likelihood of the average man had he been unexpected changed in such a way, Tansy possessed an extraordinary beauty as a woman that was every bit the equal of his handsomeness as a man. How one could retain such pulchritude in such diametrically opposing states I admit flummoxed me. Perhaps men and women were not really so different as we usually thought, for habit accounted them very nearly different species.


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