Hammer of the Pygmies
Part Three – Poor Wee Muley
The evening wound on in a haze of cigar smoke and fine brandy. Money flowed back and forwards, changing hands as Sir Richard won some games and lost others. In the end he came out marginally ahead. Around the room swirled other members of the Club, coming and going. In time the evening reached its conclusion, rather late, and Sir Richard retired, bidding his farewells to his companions.
He collected his hat and cane at the entrance and strolled back out into the city in a good humour, making his way back towards the town-house he used during his sojourn in the Cape Colony. Obadiah awaited him at the entrance upon his return.
“You may wish to avoid the use of the dining room for the moment, Sir Richard,” Obadiah warned as he took his master’s hat, coat and cane to store away.
“Has there been a problem?”
“Doctor Gooding dismantled part of the mule in there, Sir Richard, and is in the process of rebuilding it as we speak.”
“I do hope that that there will not be too much of a mess.”
“I am sure that it will wash out, sir,” Obadiah replied with a level expression and tone.
“I had best take a look then.”
Sir Richard made his way into the dining room, there to discover Doctor Gooding at work and various disassembled parts of the mule spread across the table, with cogs and gears and pistons and grease stains, all illuminated by flickering gas light.
“Ah, Sir Richard, pass me the 5/8ths Gripley, would ye?” Doctor Gooding said, not looking up from his work.
Sir Richard searched through a pile of tools until he found the one that the Doctor had specified, passing it across to him.
“Is there a problem with the work-shed?”
“Aye, well, we had a wee little accident in there will ye were out, ye ken? Nothing a few coats o’ paint won’t fix,” Doctor Gooding assured. “Had to bring it all in here as a result. Think I’ve figured out what the problem was though.”
“Really? That is capital news.”
“Aye. Ye see, the crankshaft attached to number two boiler cylinder was slightly out of alignment, and that was creating feedback harmonics throughout the whole mechanism that generates the propulsion. Poor wee muley couldn’t take five steps before gears slipped and the whole artifice failed. I’ve just got to tighten a few bolts,” he stated, working away with the Gripley inside the shell of the mechanism. “And I think we’ve got it.”
“That is good to hear. If you will excuse me, I shall retire for the night. Good night, Doctor.”
“Aye, good night lad.”
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