Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Last time I saw the Hands they were unable to write for me, for they were not near the writing-machine. Instead, I saw a nightmare world of flying, crawling machines. Your world is so ugly! And your machines are everywhere, neither beautiful nor pleasing, nor built for the Spirit. Instead they are overrunning you, everywhere telling you what to do, where to go, when to do it. At one place I saw a great black and white beetle-machine chasing a man, who ran away in fright, while the machine told him in a loud voice to stop. When he would not stop, it made the most horrible noise and started flashing at us all, as if to tell us how angry it was, while it went off after him around the corner. I shudder to think what happened to the poor man when it caught him.

So many people! And such large buildings, boiling with life, like a maze of beehives, people-bees zooming in and out as fast as they can go. I did not see the sun at all, though I could see its glow behind the great brick beehives.

The Hands went into such a building, riding in a small machine-room to a place colored like the inside of a pig’s stomach. We waited for a long time in that dull room, with a lot of other people who seemed downcast. After a time, a woman in ill-fitting white garments came and took us to a small green room, where the Hands changed into a horrid garment all open down the back, designed, I think, to humiliate him or her. I can think of no other reason.

The room held several frightening-looking machines, all clothed in metal or horn, with staring silver glassy bits, which stood threateningly around the small, high bed. They were not made to add comfort to the Spirit, only I think to add to one’s sense of inferiority and fear, as was the precarious-looking little bed.

Then another woman came into the room, and shook hands with the Hands. She was all business, and asked questions like a rattle of beads. I really heard the Hands’ voice for the first time then, as I had been too overcome earlier to hear anything. It was light and melodious and not much old, as I had assumed. And the Hands are a woman.

The other woman made the Hands lay back, and began doing things to her private areas. I was horrified, and stared through the Hands’ eyes up at the terrible light coming from the ceiling, wishing I could wake then and escape the torture. I found I wanted to know what the Hands were thinking, but her mind was inaccessible, as always. However, her body was not rigid, as I would have been, so perhaps I was misunderstanding the situation.

After the woman left, writing something on a small tablet in her hand, the Hands got dressed again and left that terrible place, riding the little room back to the outside. I was pleased to see the sky again, though it was only a small slice.

I am used to large buildings. Our Palace I have been in and out of more times than I can count; and the Museum where I am to be Curator someday is vast and complex. But the buildings in your world were not built to be grand, or beautiful; only to hold many, many people. They are like the underground homes of rabbits, or as I said, beehives: small passageways and rooms, layered in tightly, with no sense of space. They would make me ill, I think.

I found myself missing home after a very short time, for this world is loud and ugly. The people walk angrily, or like they have lost hope. The machines flash and bark and roar in every part of your life - in your homes, in the stores, on the streets: there is no rest. It is a wonder you have not all gone insane.

I wanted to -

Oh here it co es

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Steam Beast Uncovered

I spent the day in the Labyrinth with Father, learning to strip the Steam Beast today. We do this every year, strip it down to its skeleton, so that it can grow into its new guise for the next year. No one knows how this is accomplished, though many people suspect the Curator of creating each guise; but my father swears it happens by itself. He says he will show me this year how the Steam Beast begins to grow, adding gears and wheels and clockwork springs in no known order. By the night of the Festival, it is ready, but it is not clear what the true nature of the Beast will be until it is wound up and sent off into the streets.

To tell the truth, the thing frightens me, particularly in its skeletal state, although working with my father this day dismantling all those delicate workings did help me with my fear. It lurks there in the Labyrinth as if it were alive, which I suppose it must be if it grows there throughout the year.

We set the Beast’s parts on the shelves in its room, ready to hand should the Beast want them. Father says every year there are a few more of them, and he has no idea where they come from. I wondered to myself, if one were to keep an eye on the Steam Beast, what one might see, but Father seemed to know what I was thinking, and chided me for not allowing myself to enjoy the magic of the thing. He says that sometimes it is better not to know.

I have tried, with the Hands’ help, to draw the thing as it stood when we were done with it, though I fear I have made a poor job of it. It is one thing to keep a flow of words moving to the Hands, whose skill with the machine in front of them is high; but to make them draw, when they are clearly unused to it, is another matter.

Ennis has moved in with his sister, who is better able to take care of him. I have not seen him for some days, for whenever I go to her house, she tells me he is sleeping or bathing and to come back some other time, and I do not know if this is a polite way of telling me to leave him be, or if I simply have poor luck in my choice of visits.

Still, if he does not tell me himself that he wants me to leave him alone, then I shall keep tryng. I cannot forget that glimpse of him working, in that dim workshop with all the lovely things. Someday I hope to help him get back his workshop. I cannot bear for him to feel that all is lost, and he must go on being a stablehand forever, and never make machines again.

Tomorrow, my sister Hemila will go back to her husband, as she has not had the growing-sickness for some time now. Her belly grows larger by the minute, and we have all been madly sewing so that she will not go unclothed when her dress grows too tight. Father has made her a new trunk to take all her new clothes home in, and she sings while she packs it. She has a sweet voice, like her nature. I will miss her, though I can see she is rejoicing to return to her own house and husband.

Hieram has been out these last few days on a hunting trip, and the place has been blessedly quiet. I asked my father today how much longer Hieram must stay, and he told me at least another month. Another MONTH!!!!! When I asked him why, he quieted me and told me not to be ungenerous. It seems Hieram’s father is in trouble with another lord to the South, and Hieram has been sent here for safekeeping until the trouble can be resolved. I believe, from the way my father said it, that Hieram may be the source of the trouble. What a silly person he is!

Before he left on his hunting, he found me out in the laundry-house, cleaning out the

Monday, March 5, 2007


Today was my sister’s birth-day. For the occasion, her husband Enoch came to stay from his parents’ house. Father brought out his gift to her, a pair of beautiful blue-spode horses, well-matched and gleaming. “You will have to get a carriage yourselves,” he told them in that dry way he has. “I have not the means; but this is a good beginning, la?”

Hemila was delighted with the pair, but Enoch fell in love with them straightaway, and swore he would have a carriage for them within the month. My father patted his arm and told him not to be hasty, they had a baby on the way and he could not afford to be buying every little thing that came into his head.

Ennis is healing, finally. The infected cuts are clean now, thanks to Amira’s remedy, and she says there won’t be too much scarring. Thank the Gods that the infection was not in his face or his arms! It would be terrible if he could not see or use his hands ever after, with the skills he has.

I hear people talking about him in whispers, about the burnt machinery that was found in the barn after the fire. It is not well looked-on here to hide an ability with machines; but at the same time, I find these whispers terribly hypocritical, since most gear-turniers are not of Ennis’ station. If these same people had known that Ennis was making machines, they might have spoken ill of him for aiming above his place - so how was he to choose the right path?

I sit by his bedside and tell him stories to pass the time, for he must lie on his stomach and not move, or the crusts on his back might break and become infected again. He still does not speak, but I can tell he is listening. The awkwardness I felt with him the last few months is fading, at least on my part. I can’t tell how he feels about me visiting, for he is unfailingly polite. He lies with his head turned away from me and it is only the most subtle clues which tell me when he is feeling impatient, or tired, or ready for more stories.

At times there are these waves of something coming off of him, like heat off the rooftops on a sunny day, and it is only yesterday that I discovered it was anger. He is very, very angry about something, but does not speak of it, and I only hope he will not hurt his healing with angry thoughts.

But I wonder about it. Is he angry at the loss of his machines? Or angry at his injuries? Or is there something else to be angry at?

This sevenday