Soon after Every Gift and Building the Wedding-House
If the demolition and construction of the new intersection, the re-construction of the former Bureau of Education building, and the presence of soon-to-be-newlyweds in said building hadn’t gotten the neighbors’ attention and drawn their ire, the two mechanical contrivances on the front sidewalk definitely did.
But not just ire, Katyebah was gratified to discover. People were also curious, and, more than that, people wanted to give advice. In Lannamer, heart of the Empire, heart of the Emperor’s engineering corps, it was unsurprising, she supposed, that most people were front-porch engineers.
“Shouldn’t that gear be turning leftwards?”
“Shouldn’t you have used brass and not silver? Silver tarnishes.”
“Shouldn’t you have used a better grease for that than goat lard? The whole place smells like a farm and it will go rancid very quickly.”
“That’s not wild aether, is it? You know what happens with wild aether.”
“You need another five degrees on that roof angle to allow for the snow. Like this.” The grizzled man that stepped forward looked to predate the Empire, possibly the continent. His beard was braided down his chest in the old style, two white braids woven with beads; his head was bald on top but he still had three respectable braids running down his back to his seat, all three heavy with beadwork. Katyebah almost expected him to be wearing leather and fur, but his tunic and waistcoat were fine North-country brocade.
He cleared his throat. Everyone stopped to listen. “The machines are good for lifting, although I’d fix the arm joint on that one; it’s bending the wrong direction for the stress. And the ‘jaws’ on the other one are cute, but they don’t have any gripping power at all. Nice job, though.” Over Uncle Bantas and Aunt Gelah’s stunned bows, he continued. “Your roof needs to shift angle, though. Just 5 degrees, but without it, it’s going to be dumping snow into your attic by a month into the cold season. Here, let me show you.” He pulled a piece of chalk from his pocket and started drawing on the sidewalk.
As Katyebah studied the drawing, she thought maybe, just maybe, she might get along with the neighbors after all.
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