Finally my furnace was burning away merrily and Inferna the Twisted Firestarter was safely ensconced in her cage (with a large DO NOT FEED sign in case anyone felt tempted to give in to her endless wheedling and eyelash fluttering).
Huge clouds of steam billowed from the copper pipe my assistant and myself had fashioned from something called a ‘jumbo drinking straw’ and a supply of copper tape normally sold, apparently, to deter slugs from entering plant pots. The twenty-first century will forever remain a puzzle to me.
“So what do we need now, Henry?” enquired my companion.
I made a list of the items required for the machinery, valves, gauges and pipework and a rough sketch of the way I intended to fit them together.
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” she nodded. “I’ll do a trawl of the charity shops on the High Street. If we have to spend money, at least we can be sure it will go to a good cause.”
I must confess that much to my chagrin, I am reduced to relying on the kind lady’s charity, since my own – not inconsiderable – fortune remains locked in my own time. Even if I had managed to bring some with me on my time-travelling adventure, it would doubtless have suffered the same fate as myself and been reduced to one twelfth of its natural size, rendering it quite useless in my present surroundings. The dear lady is quite phlegmatic about the expenses, however. She insists that the total cost of building my engine room has been less than five pounds. That seems quite a large sum to me, but she insists it is a paltry amount in her age.
” Besides,” she smiled. “Once you’ve powered up your device and headed off into some other dimension, or whatever you do, the engine room will still be here and I can sell it at a profit.”
I agreed that this would be an excellent solution and would prevent me from feeling aggrieved at causing her to be out of pocket.
Beaming broadly, she returned from her shopping expedition and tipped a collection of items on to the table. I had to admit she had done well. There were narrow gauge steel tubes, various jewellery beads and fittings, a wooden memo box with a picture of two children and a rabbit peeling from it (excellent housing for the machinery, once the picture was removed and it had been painted and burnished), some metal devices for inflating footballs and a heavy-duty metal nut and bolt set.
I began work at once. Within a few hours my engine was chugging merrily and the machinery was in perfect working order.
So – if all goes to plan – this will be my final entry in my diary for the year of 2017. I have said fond farewells to my able and accommodating full-sized assistant. I have made all the necessary calibrations and am shortly to plug my heavily rebuilt portable time-machine into the engine to charge it. Hopefully, I will then depart for my own world and be restored to my full size, with many a tale to tell.
Assistant’s note: I am pleased to report that Henry’s departure was successful – although I do rather miss him. By some strange space-time anomaly, a lifeless but otherwise perfect version of Henry, as he looked when he first arrived in my cottage, has remained behind and is offered for sale at the Steampunk Dolls’ House (click for link). The engine room will also be offered for sale, either at the shop or on my Steampunk – Shrunk! stall at the Glastonbury Craft and Vintage Fairs held once a month. Contact me for details.