Hammer of the Pygmies
Part Four – A Wave Arrives
When Sir Richard returned to the dining room the following morning, he found it somewhat cleaner in appearance. Doctor Gooding’s tools were still laid out across the table, but the parts of the mechanical mule had been removed. Fresh linen had likewise replaced the one that had been stained with oil and grease.
Obadiah put in an appearance as Sir Richard settled into his chair, bringing with him a cup of tea that he placed upon the table before his master.
“Breakfast will be ready shortly, sir,” he announced.
“Capital, capital. Thank you, Obadiah. Is the Doctor not yet up?”
“No sir, not yet. He was up until the early hours last night, I understand.”
“I am sure that he will grace us with his presence when he is ready.”
Obadiah busied himself cleaning away the tools Doctor Gooding had left out while Sir Richard picked up his copy of the morning paper, set out in preparation for when he came down from bed. He began his perusal of it in between sips of his tea while waiting for his breakfast to appear.
The wait was broken by the jangling of the bell at the front door as someone rung it.
“If you will excuse me, sir,” Obadiah said, heading out of the room for the door. Sir Richard listened as the door opened. A brief exchange of voices followed before the door closed again. When Obadiah returned, he carried a small tray with a note upon it.
“You have received a Wave, sir, by way of your brother,” Obadiah announced, presenting the tray to Sir Richard.
Sir Richard took the note from the tray, sliding his finger beneath the seal to open it. The Wave – the exact means as to how the device functioned, sending its messages across the world remained a mystery to Sir Richard – had been a recent invention of Charles Babbage, in part connected to his computational engines. It had greatly enhanced communications across the far flung parts of the Empire, though as with any new technology it remained prone to difficulties and was by no means cheap to use. As a result, personal messages tended to be rather short in nature.
His brother had reduced it to an art form, as displayed in the message he had dispatched.
From: Cpt. Arch. Ham.
To: Sir Rich. Ham.
Arrive Cape Col. Oct. 10. On Emp. Express.
There were those that were known to shorten their messages to the point of incomprehensibility. At least in this case his brother’s remained perfectly understandable.
“It would appear that my brother is planning on joining us here,” Sir Richard announced after reading the message. “October 10th he says, aboard the Empress Express.“
“I shall have words with the cook, sir, so that if he does arrive before our return, he shall be able to get in.”
“Thank you, Obadiah.”
“If you will excuse me again, sir, I shall speak with the cook now. Breakfast should be ready.”
Obadiah excused himself from the room, allowing Sir Richard to return to the contents of his paper. The situation in Indus appeared to be deteriorating, if reports received by Wave in time for the morning paper were any indication. Rumours spoke of Rus interference with the Afghani tribesmen, and of the possibility of war brewing. To Sir Richard’s mind, it made sense. The Iron Tsar of the Rus had long sought to exert his influence south towards the rich territories that comprised Indus, a jewel in the crown of the Empire. A war would be worth it if the territory could be taken.
Obadiah returned shortly after, bearing a tray that contained breakfast. He started setting down the components of it; bacon, eggs, onions, mushroom, kidneys and liver, all fried up, accompanied by a rack of freshly toasted bread, with butter and marmalade, as well as brown sauce and vinegar for the fry up.
“Breakfast is served, sir,” Obadiah announced after finishing unloading the tray.
Sir Richard splashed a dash of vinegar over the fry up and commenced his eating. It did not take long for Doctor Gooding to arrive, drawn by the rich aroma of the food. His beard remained uncombed and unruly, and he wore slippers, a dressing gown and cap.
“That smells good, laddie.”
“I understand you had somewhat of a late night, Doctor.”
“Mildly late,” Doctor Gooding admitted as he eased himself into a chair at the dining table, “Though ultimately successful.”
“You got the mule up and running then, I gather?”
“Aye, mostly. Still a wee kink or two to iron out, though nothing that won’t take but a few moments to fix.”
Obadiah, who had slipped out at the appearance of the Doctor, returned again with a fresh plate of food, setting it down on the table.
“Thank ye, laddie.”
“Incidentally,” Sir Richard mentioned in between mouthfuls of food, “I received a Wave from my brother this morning. He will be putting in an appearance here at roughly the same time we should be returning from your expedition.”
“Does he still have that troll with him?”
“He did not say, but I am sure that you be reacquainted with Qaskub at some stage.”
“Good. I may even be able to get my hat back then.”
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