domingo, 26 de junho de 2011

But wo unto him that has the law given,  yea,  that has all the commandments  of  God,  like  unto  us, and that transgresseth them and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state.
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi

When you first read A Study in Scarlet, were you confused when you reached Chapter VIII? This is a common reaction. The first seven chapters of A Study in Scarlet take place in London in 1881 and end with  the  capture  of  Jefferson Hope. But Chapters VIII through XII are a flashback to events many years earlier  in America, culminating in Hope’s arrival in London. Chapters XIII and XIV continue where the seventh chapter left off. The first of these concluding chapters is essentially “the old hunter’s own account,” his statement to the police of his activities in London, and the other is primarily Holmes’s explanation
of the case.
After recovering from the trauma of being transported from 1881 London to  1847 America and back  again, one may ask the question: who wrote those chapters? We may be tempted to say that Watson wrote them. However,  there are  two objections to this. First, how did Watson know what had happened in America some twenty to thirty-five years earlier? He might have gotten the story from Jefferson Hope, but the rest of Watson’s narrative makes it clear that Watson never  spoke  to Hope about Hope’s life in America. The second objection, first  raised by Poul Arenfalk in 1960, and more recently by Peter Horrocks, is this: why would Watson refer to his own journal as if it  had  been  written  by someone else? He does this in the last sentence of Chapter XII, which reads: “As to  what  occurred  there [London], we cannot do better than quote the old hunter’s [Hope’s] own account, as duly recorded  in Dr. Watson’s Journal, to which we are already under such obligations.” This sentence clearly implies that Watson was not the author of the preceding chapters, but who else could have written them?
The obvious alternative is the literary agent, Doyle. He was a devotee of historical fiction and had written some himself.  Could he have fashioned a fictional life history for Jefferson Hope and inserted it into Watson’s narrative?

There is good reason to doubt this also. While the story, in general, rings true, there are a number of inaccuracies that any decent author of historical fiction would have avoided.
The first American chapter sets the scene on the Great Alkali Plain. It is described as “an arid and repulsive desert” stretching “[f]rom the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado upon the south.…” From this narration, the Great Alkali Plain would seem to cover Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and parts  of  Colorado, Montana, and Idaho.
Even in  1847, this was not the “region of desolation and silence” that is portrayed. Also,  this so-called “plain” would have included a sizable portion of the Rocky Mountains. Clearly, there is a problem with this description of the scene.
From the rest of the story, it seems that the setting was really the Great Basin of Utah and Nevada. We will return to this description later, but for now we will assume that the Great Alkali Plain is the Great Basin.
We are told that “there are no inhabitants of this land of despair. A band of Pawnees  or  of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it to reach other huntinggrounds.…” This short description contains several errors. There were inhabitants of this area. The Shoshoni, Bannock, Ute, Paiute, and Washoe all lived in Utah or Nevada at this time. If a band of Indians had crossed this land to get to other hunting grounds, it would not have consisted of braves only, as the rest of the passage implies. Any Indian hunting trip beyond a tribe’s own nearby hunting  grounds would have meant moving  the whole tribe so that the women would be available to do the dressing and curing of the kill after the braves had done the actual hunting. Also, the tribes mentioned would not have been in this region. The Pawnee lived on the banks of the Platte River, in south-central Nebraska, about 500 miles east of the Rocky Mountains. The Blackfeet were really three separate tribes living in Canada and northern Montana. Neither the Pawnee  nor  the  Blackfeet would have crossed hundreds of miles and the Rocky Mountains (as well as this desolate region) to go hunting.
According to the story, John and Lucy  Ferrier,  facing  death  in  this  vast wasteland, were rescued on  4 May  1847 by a band of 10,000 persecuted Mormons following Brigham Young to the promised land. Some of this  is  true, some false, and some in-between. The Mormons had been persecuted. In 1844,
Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Mormons, was murdered by a mob in Illinois. The center of the Mormon Church was in Nauvoo,  Illinois, where many Mormons had gathered after being driven out of Ohio and Missouri.
When Brigham Young assumed the leadership of the church and persecutions increased, he decided to follow a plan first suggested by Joseph Smith—to move the entire Mormon population to a frontier refuge. The Great Basin area had recently been explored by John C. Fremont, and Young was impressed by his description of the area. In 1846, Young moved the Mormons across Iowa to a site called Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Young used the winter to plan the remainder of the journey, dividing his followers into several groups, or companies.
In early April, 1847, Brigham Young led the first company out of Winter Quarters, travelling on the north bank of the Platte River. They stayed on the north side of the river so that they did not have to compete for wood and water with the settlers using the Oregon Trail, which ran parallel to the river on its south side. Young was leading 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children in 72 wagons.
On 4 May 1847, Brigham Young was leading the first small group of Mormons, but on that day he was somewhere on the north bank of the Platte River in present-day Nebraska, about 250 miles west of Winter Quarters—nowhere near any mountain. We are told that the Ferriers were rescued where the plain was “rutted with wheels and trodden down by the feet of many adventurers.” This probably refers to the portion of the Oregon Trail to the east of Fort Bridger; here the Mormon Trail coincided with  the much-used Oregon Trail. Young’s group reached Fort Bridger on 7 July 1847 and at that point left the Oregon Trail to create a new trail headed south to the Salt Lake Valley, so the rescue was probably in early July, 1847.
When John and Lucy were rescued, one of the young men told them “we are the persecuted children of God—the chosen of the angel Merona.” He continued, “we are of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto the holy Joseph Smith at  Palmyra.  We  have  come  from  Nauvoo,  in  the  State  of  Illinois,  where  we  had founded our temple.” John was then brought before Brigham Young, who is described as “a man who could not have  been more than thirty years of age.”
Most of this is accurate, but the angel of the Mormons is Moroni, not Merona.
The rest is a matter of Mormon history, except for Brigham Young’s age. Brigham Young was actually 46 years old, not 30 or younger.
After the Ferriers join the Mormons, the story jumps twelve years to 1859, and Salt Lake City is described as  follows: “It was a warm June morning, and…[d]own the dusty highroads defiled long streams of heavily laden mules, all heading for the west, for the gold fever had broken out in California, and the overland route lay through the city of the Elect.” Again, we find a mixture of the true and the nearly true. The gold fever in California had been ten years earlier.
In 1859, gold was discovered in the Pike's Peak region of Colorado and many California gold miners, headed east, passed through Salt Lake City bound for the gold fields of Colorado. There were westward travelers through the City of 32 the Elect, but they were silver miners headed for Nevada—the Comstock Lode had been discovered in February, 1859.
One last error: after the failed escape and Lucy’s death, Jefferson Hope tries to take revenge on Drebber and Stangerson. When he is thwarted and his health and fortunes begin to fail, he reluctantly goes back to the mines. It is nearly five years before he returns and finds that “there had been a schism among the Chosen People a few months before” during which his prey left Utah. Once again, this is not quite right. John Ferrier was killed in August, 1860, so Hope would have gone back to the mines some time in 1861, which would date the schism in 1866.
Two groups broke from the Mormon Church in Utah in the 1860s. The first was the Morrisites, led by Joseph Morris in 1862—far too early. The other was the Godbeites, led by the merchant William S. Godbe. The chief motive for this group’s formation seems to have  been greed. This was a group to which Drebber and Stangerson could relate. But the Godbeites broke from the Church in 1868, so Hope must have been absent for seven years.
If Doyle had written these chapters to insert them into Watson’s narrative, he would have checked the historical details. He would not have made all these mistakes. What other possibility exists?  This story, with all these anomalies, could have come from Jefferson Hope!  The seemingly inaccurate geographical description of the Great Alkali Plain could  easily  have  come  from  Hope.  He would have described the area as he knew it in the 1850s and 1860s. Before 1868, Nebraska was not a state but a territory extending from the 40th to the 49th parallel and west to the Continental Divide.
A man familiar with the area before 1868 would have thought of this as Nebraska, and the Yellowstone River would  then  be  part  of  it.  Someone  living in Utah Territory might have thought of the area of the eadwaters of the Yellowstone as a convenient northern boundary for the Great Alkali Plain. Using these definitions, we have an approximate description of the area known as the Great Basin. The error in the rescue date could simply be because Hope got it wrong from John or Lucy Ferrier or because he misremembered it. The details of Brigham Young’s wagon train might have been exaggerated over the years.
While Young’s band consisted of 148 people, about 10,000 of his followers did follow his trail over the next three years, in nearly a constant stream except for the winter months. In twelve years, the facts may have given way to the legend and this legend could be what Jefferson Hope heard from the Mormons.
The mistake in Brigham Young’s age is also reasonable, for one who knew him. Apparently, he looked much younger than his years. Some years later, the famous Victorian traveler Richard Burton found Young remarkably well preserved, looking more like forty-five years of age than his actual age of fifty-nine.
This still leaves a few unanswered objections. The misnaming of the Indians of the area, and of the Mormons' angel,  the inaccurate portrayal of Salt Lake City in 1859, and the number of years Hope was absent from Utah after the tragedy remain. But these anomalies can be explained. I propose that Hope told the story not to Watson, but to his friend, the man who helped Hope retrieve Lucy’s wedding ring from Holmes. It was that person who was responsible for these small errors in the narrative.  
Here is how I believe Chapters VIII through XII came to be written. Imagine the young Doctor Watson taking his manuscript to Arthur Conan Doyle. In it Watson tells the story, in nine chapters, of the capture of Jefferson Hope by Sherlock Holmes. Doyle recognizes the potential value of a story about the mysterious detective whose name is being whispered around London. However, he sees the story as incomplete. He agrees to act as Watson’s literary agent on the condition that Watson flesh out the history of Hope and the Ferriers. Watson returns to Baker Street and tells Holmes he is going to try his hand at fiction.
Holmes  is  appalled.  It  is  bad  enough  that Watson insists on romanticizing his exploits; fictionalizing them, even the parts in which he is not directly involved, is unthinkable. He may also deduce that Watson lacks the imagination necessary to write fiction. And, he is very active himself—Baring-Gould places seven cases
in 1887—and Holmes does not want to lose Watson’s assistance. He comes to Watson’s aid. He finds Jefferson Hope’s friend and accomplice, the person who tricked Holmes and retrieved the wedding ring. This person tells Watson the story. Unfortunately, some of the details are not as fresh as when Hope told him
the story six years earlier. He doesn’t remember dates too well and one Indian tribe is the same as another to him, and he jumbles Hope’s description of Salt Lake City in 1859. He misnames the angel Moroni, or maybe this was a typesetter’s error, as it was corrected in most later editions. Watson records the story as it is told to him and takes these new chapters to Doyle. Doyle offers to incorporate the five new chapters into the original nine. Watson, busy with his practice and Holmes’s cases, naively agrees.
Since I first wrote a paper on this topic, I have found one most convincing piece of evidence that supports this theory: I have been able to determine the real meaning of the sign and countersign used by the Danites while they kept watch on the Ferriers and Jefferson Hope! While they were fleeing from Salt Lake City, Hope and the Ferriers overheard one party of Danites issue a challenge, reported by Watson to have been “Nine to seven” and an answer reported to be “Seven to five.”

At first glance, these phrases seem to be the result of the fevered brain of some hack novelist. But let’s step back to the time when this sign and countersign were first uttered. The Danites were meeting to discuss the continuing problem of the Ferriers. One of the group summarizes the situation: John Ferrier, the man they had rescued in the desert and treated as one of their own, upon whom they had bestowed the gift of the Mormon commandments, had been told that his daughter was to marry one of the young generation of Mormons, Drebber or Stangerson. He had been given 30 days to decide between them, but during this period he had refused to allow his daughter to speak to them. Indeed, he had even chased the two candidates from his house. Twentyeight days of this 30-day probation had passed, Ferrier had been reminded daily (or nightly) of the passage of his time, but he remained adamant.
Another Mormon relates how Ferrier has been turning some of his assets into cash and suggests that he and his daughter might be planning to flee. The group decides to set additional sentries on the trails that are already being watched and to put as many men as possible into this endeavor. However, being experienced at this sort of thing, they know they will need some sort of sign and countersign to insure that they recognize each other. One of them, a devout Mormon, looks to the scriptures for an appropriate phrase. He suggests the following: “But wo [sic] unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state.”
The assembly agrees that this is certainly appropriate and the fanatic offers a countersign: “For if this people had not fallen into transgression, the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them.” Again, it is agreed that this is extremely appropriate, but these quotations are a bit longwinded. It is suggested that something shorter would be more useful.
It seems a shame not to use such appropriate quotations, and one clever person suggests that they could be cited as many scriptural quotations are. The first quote comes from the Second Book of Nephi, Chapter 9, verse 27, and the second quote comes from the Book of Mosiah, Chapter 7, verse 25. In actual use they are changed slightly. It is too  difficult to distinctly whisper “twentysomething,” so what is whispered throughout the hills of Utah that night is “Second Nephi. Nine. Two Seven,” answered by “Mosiah. Seven. Two Five.”
Despite the precautions of the Danites, Hope is able to overhear this exchange and temporarily eludes the Avenging Angels. Years later, when Hope tells the story to his accomplice he doesn't remember the actual names of the Mormon books he had been able to parrot years earlier. He describes the phrases as “some name followed by ‘9 to 7’ and another name followed by ‘7 to 35 5’.” The accomplice, years later, would have remembered only the numbers, and someplace along the chain from the Danites, through Hope, through his accomplice and finally to Watson, each one only hearing it, the number “two” was transformed to its homonym—the word “to.”
This theory leaves room for only one objection: what about the quote? Why would Watson write: “As to what occurred there, we cannot do better than quote the old hunter’s own account, as duly recorded in Dr. Watson’s Journal, to which we are already under such obligations.” The answer is simple—Watson
didn’t write that sentence.
After Watson agreed to let his literary agent incorporate the five new chapters into the original nine, Doyle rather artlessly inserted them after Chapter VII and added one sentence of his own to serve as a transition back to Watson’s concluding chapters. That one sentence made it appear that the whole story was written by someone other than Watson.
So, I conclude that A Study in Scarlet was written by Watson, except for the last  sentence  of  Chapter  XII.  Nine  chapters were written from Watson’s direct experience and most of the American  chapters were composed from information supplied by Hope’s accomplice. The one sentence at the end of Chapter XII was contributed by Doyle, but with  that one sentence he managed, in the minds of some poor misguided souls, to attach his name to the entire Canon.

segunda-feira, 6 de setembro de 2010

Chapter 15

I have not asked Them whether I am fated to die when Their work is done. I am too frightened that
They may answer me.
—II. xxix
Windows shattered and cables broke in the world of dreams.
Ten thousand arms grasped at yellow-brown ichor. Towers swayed; brass and copper and glass
puddled in the air before raining into the rising sea of bile. The searing heat of the fire and the sticky cool
of the swamp clashed and annihilated each other. Steam burst upwards and tore the red sky, opening
rents into horrid other spaces, which screamed above the incessant booming of the clock.
Aaron fled for his life.
The diseased child-god had used him. Whatever the Lord and Lady had done to keep their malformed
spawn from invading the city, Aaron had undone.
At first he had seen her clearly, as Mama Engine emerged into man’s realm at the beckoning of her
priest. The layers of her essence unfolded in sequence, revealing progressively deeper levels of her mind,
from the simplest surface thoughts, to capricious desires and whims, to deep convictions of love and pain,
to an exacting point of fire, hungry to consume and smelt and mould.
At one instant he had been safe, buoyed inside his silver body and anchored firmly on Adam’s earth.
The next, he felt a tug at his mind, then dull claws slashed into it and a howl of pain ripped through him. In
that instant he became a thousand individuals writhing in pain on a thousand beds, cots, and street
corners, every sliver of his body ground apart from within by teeth and gears, black oil spilling from every
orifice. He’d looked up and seen the faces of friends and family, tormentors and cloaks, sometimes no face at all.
The diseased child-god burst from Aaron’s soul like water through a breached dike. In moments, the
thing’s pus-body had attached itself to the towers and walkways of the dream world, and then began to
oxidise them.
As the tower of hands bent and closed in, Aaron had torn himself free. Something of him was left
behind, to singe and curl and turn to ash.
The void. Where is the void?He ran through the copper-plated streets, through glass arches and across
chain bridges. Every turn brought him to a new corridor, identical to the last, or to a new chain bridge
over choppy, black seas.
It must be somewhere. He reached into it to get me, so there must be an entrance.
He reached a ledge and halted. From there, he scanned the sky ahead. A chain ran from the ledge some
two hundred yards to the prismatic saw creation that stood in for the Docks Tower. Beyond, black skies
and London’s army of ghosts waited and watched.
Words came to him from that echo of his mind that knew the unknowable:They guard the ancient
dreams of London from all invaders, even yourself.
He spun and looked back. Cracks spiderwebbed across the sky. Long trails of smoke flew in all
directions as the tower of arms lurched and bent and smashed against its foe. The air filled with the
wailing of souls on both sides as the gods threw those captured wretches into the fray.
Grandfather Clock ticked in steady rhythm, and did nothing to help or hinder.
He’d run as far as he could. The tower and the chains shook, and he wondered what good any amount
of distance would do him.
There is always a way out.
He closed his eyes and reached up with his mind. The rock-and-dirt world shunned him as he touched it.
A brief impression of pressure, damage, and deformity flashed over him: his second body had been lost,
and with it, his link to the city above.
The heat and the noise swelled. Aaron began to hear the screams of men and women echo in from the
real world, and longed for the peace of the void, which hid from his reach.
There really was no way out.
Was he to be a mute witness to this, then? Was he to sit and watch and do nothing?
What else could he hope for? His body was gone, and escape into the void unlikely. He dared not place
himself between the two entities clashing before him.
So there was no other course. Seeing was what he had always been best at: seeing, thinking, planning,
advising, but never acting. He had acted once, and he had been killed.
So he seated himself upon the hot air, and watched.
On a crowded cable car, halfway between Cambridge-Heath and Dunbridge, Thomas started
The cries flew out into the vast spaces around, vanishing without echo. White eyes in black faces turned.
Oliver’s company froze as one for an instant, uncertain. The stunned silence dragged on, each passenger
waiting to see if the sound was repeated.
“Ah, bugger the dog! Jesus!”
Oliver leapt up into the wagon and tore the concealing burlap blanket from Tom’s face. A visage of
agony greeted him. Oil and pus squirted from Tom’s burned eye.
“Sorry, Ollie,” Tom managed.
Oliver knocked him on the head. “You should be. I’ve told you a thousand and one times you make too
much noise, chum.”
Tom chuckled through his grimace. “Like a banshee. Awooooo.” The mirth dissolved into a fit of horrid
coughing that produced brown bile.
Oliver skipped his gaze over his crew. Bergen was already reaching for his pistol with his left hand.
Hews was likewise reaching for his. Oliver shook his head at them and they stayed their hands.
“I’m terribly sorry.” It was Missy’s voice. “Our friend is very sick with the clacks. We didn’t mean to be
a bother. We’re taking him to see a doctor.”
Half the crowd nodded and turned away. Conversations began all about the car, passing quickly from
mouth to mouth; everyone knew someone with the clacks, and everyone had a story to tell. The men of
Oliver’s troupe communally exhaled a held breath. Missy slid smoothly into conversation with a woman
close by. Thomas coughed and spat up, but by then the crowd’s attention had been redirected.
“Got a good tongue,” Hews said, from his position at the right front handle of the wagon. “I couldn’t
have made that half as convincing.”
“It’s why I hired her,” Oliver said. He pulled a rag out of his pocket and started blotting the fluids spilling
out of his friend.
Tom chuckled. “Certain there weren’t other factors, eh, Chief?”
“You’re supposed to be sick.”
“Wouldn’t you know it,” Tom said. “A dozen knives to the heart and two shots to the belly and it’s a
bloody fist in my gut that gets me.”
Oliver jostled his shoulder. “You’re going out pounding cloaks, remember?”
Tommy coughed again. “Ah. Right-oh. Where would I be without you, Chief?”
Packing coal in Aldgate, healthy and in one piece, that’s where.“I’m sure you’d be neck-deep in trouble
by now even without my help.”
“Ah! Stung! God’s own truth, if I ever heard it. Where is the king?”
Oliver started. “Jeremy?”
“Yeah. The little bugger didn’t run off on me, did he?”
“I…er…sent him on a mission.”
Tom’s one remaining eyebrow perked up. “Truly?”
Oliver tried very hard for a casual shrug. “I said I’d make him a member of the crew, right? Little guy
has to pull his weight. Besides, he’s shown he’s capable.”
Tom squinted through his good eye. After a moment, his expression changed and his face fell.
“Knew he was a good pick,” he mumbled.
Oliver gestured to Hews. “Take over, would you?”
The older man ended his conversation with a fellow passenger and obediently mounted the wagon as
Oliver climbed out. The wagon was of native Whitechapel variety, made of iron rods, tin, and aluminium.
They’d loaded it with a pack of supplies, Bergen’s steam rifle, Lawrence’s manual, and the translation of
Scared’s tape—and then Tom’s body, for when he’d come to, he’d been unable to walk and was far
too heavy to carry.
Oliver walked round into Hews’ place at the right handle and faced Bergen, who stood at the left.
Phineas, Heckler, and the doctor, they’d left in the Underbelly: Oliver expected a strike on Shadwell to
come within the hour. Phineas could give fair warning and had been through the last Uprising; Heckler
was a capable lad, and a prodigy shooter; and Chestle…well, he’d be needed soon enough.
It would have been nice to leave Bergen and his cannon there as well, but…
“Where is this mechanic of yours?” Oliver asked.
Bergen regarded him coolly, as if evaluating whether he was trustworthy enough for such information.
“John Scared has a hide at the top levels of the Dunbridge slope, and the mechanic keeps his workshop
in it.”
Oliver crossed his arms and leaned on the wagon. “So you’ll be leading us right into Scared’s
The German glowered. “I dislike your tone, English. Had I wished your death, I could have effected it
any number of times.”
That much was true. The man had certainly made an effort, and yet something about him tickled at
Oliver’s attention and set his mind to doubting every time the two ended up in the same room:Why would
Bailey, with his God-save-the-queen bravado, go out and hire a German? Why not a fellow Briton, born
and bred?
“Will Scared be there?”
Bergen snorted. “Doubtful. He’s likely evacuated to a different hide, as I know the site intimately. He
has another in Aldgate, and he has told me there are several more. I suspect one in Shoreditch, though I
could not say where.”
Oliver noticed Missy glance their way. After a second she turned back to her conversations with the
other passengers.
“Why would he evacuate, I wonder?”
“Barring any other report, he has to assume I’ve been captured, either by the cloaks or the English,”
Bergen said. “Although his spies have probably noted me with you. Scared is a prudent man.”
“Why did he hire you?”
Bergen crossed his own arms, arms much thicker than Oliver’s. “I am growing weary of your distrust,
Sumner. Do you interrogate all of your men like this?”
Oliver felt his hackles rising again.
“Keuper, I have a rule that I never question after the history of my people. I don’t believe a man has to
carry his past with him like Marley’s chains, and so I will not ask you about your past. I will, however,
ask you about the work you’ve done for Bailey, and for Scared, becausethat could be necessary.”
The cable car bumped as it passed over one of its junctions, where the cables hooked through the bent,
wobbling beams of an infant tower, still too young to hold inhabitants. The wagon car clanked and rolled,
and for a moment Bergen and Oliver halted to steady it with the handles.
“So, tell me,” Bergen said, when the car had stabilised again, “how do you choose your men, without
knowing anything about them? A man’s past is his definition.”
“I don’t believe that,” Oliver said. “I trust my sense of people is all. I consider myself a good judge of
Bergen barked a laugh. “Character? Your American is a criminal, Sumner. Your woman is a whore.”
Oliver’s fist flew out before he even felt the anger rising. His knuckles cracked the German across the
jaw, forcing him back and down against the wagon’s handle.
Good Lord, chap, what were you—
Bergen’s fist hammered into his cheekbone and drove through to the back side of his head. His neck
snapped in a wrong way and his whole body gave out.
He felt the German take a heavy footstep in his direction. Then Hews rang out like a bell: “That’s
Oliver groaned and tried to right himself. In his blurred vision, he caught Bergen, hand on his weapon,
and Hews, hand on his.
Missy appeared behind Bergen’s shoulder, eyes dark. She slipped one hand into her handbag and drew
an object halfway out. Even through tumbling perceptions Oliver recognised what it was. Missy’s lips
moved, muttering something for only Bergen’s ears.
“You came out the top on that one,” Hews said, still covering Keuper with his pistol. “Let it go.”
The German straightened, retreating into the general blur.
“I will not tolerate that again,” he said.
“Then don’t…insult…my crew!” Oliver slammed his hands down onto the grate floor and shoved
himself up.
“They bring it on themselves, Sumner,” Bergen said. “You have no discipline; you keep no controls on
your men. Africa would swallow you alive.”
“This isn’t Africa,” Oliver said. He grabbed on to the wagon handle to steady himself, then rose to his
feet. Feeling began to seep back into his cheek: an acute, throbbing pain. “But tell me: if it were, could
you kill every lion and tiger and snake and whatever else all by your lonesome? Could your one gun kill
all of them before they got you?” He jabbed his finger out. “It seems you’re so stupid as to think you can
fight this all on your own, and while I’d be happy to be rid of you, I frown on people getting themselves
needlessly killed.”
Bergen harrumphed. “Then you are a weak and stupid man.”
Hews stuck his gun in Bergen’s face, then in Oliver’s. “Enough,” he said. “I won’t stand for any more of
this lunacy. The next one to say anything gets a lump in the face.”
Bergen and Oliver exchanged glares. They stood that way for a long time. On their right, the slope of
Dunbridge faded into view through the smog. Their audience stared at them raptly, caught in their
Bergen broke the gaze and spat on the floor between them. Then he turned and strode away. The other
passengers parted around him, and watched as he walked to the far corner of the car and took a post
staring pointedly out at nothing.
Oliver sighed, righted himself, and turned to face the crowd.
“Don’t.” Missy pressed him back against the wagon with a firm palm. “Right now it’s gossip and that’s
all. There’s no sense turning it into something bigger.”
“You all right, lad?” Hews asked.
Oliver checked his jaw, his neck; nothing seemed permanently damaged. He nodded.
Only then did Hews stow his pistol. He swung his legs over the edge of the wagon and sat. For a
moment he wrung his hands. “That was far from prudent, Oliver.”
Oliver rubbed his cheek and said nothing.
Hews frowned. “The man’s been trying to get your goat since he met you and you just up and handed it
to him.”
Missy’s face suddenly compressed and she snapped at Hews through bared teeth. “Hogwash, Hewey.
If this is the only way to put that man in his place then let’s have more of it.”
“Lass?” Hews said.
“That’s a vile man we’ve hooked up with. I’ve said it before that he can’t be controlled. Do you need
more proof thanthat ?” She indicated Oliver’s face.
Oliver watched the tiny twitches of Missy’s lips and eyelids.
Hews leaned down over his shoulder. “Lass, our boy, here, struck first.”
“The German struck first,” Missy said. She looked at Oliver. “Didn’t he? Didn’t he really?”
After a moment, Oliver nodded. “That’s the truth of it.”
“Codswallop,” Hews said. “Your bloody temper’s the truth of it. That was disgraceful.”
“I’ve enough of a lashing for that already, Hewey,” Oliver snapped. “And you’ve no right to speak to
me like a child.”
Hews flushed. “I’ve all the right in the world, boy. I raised you—”
“You let me sleep under your smelting pots, Hewey,” Oliver said. “You let me carry coal and ore and
paid me a pittance to do it. And sometimes,sometimes, you told the other coves not to kick me for the
fun of it and then walked around puffing yourself that you were helping some charity orphan boy and
what a good soul you were.”
Hews trembled for a moment, cheeks puffing, eyes bulging. The words came out with slaver through the
teeth: “We fed you, boy. We clothed you and kept the Chimney gangs—”
Oliver cut him off. “Istole most of what I ate, Hewey. You weren’t about to share any of your wife’s
cakes, either, as I recall.”
Hews looked fit to explode. The next words came out barely a whisper: “Ungrateful child.”
Oliver returned the man’s glare until Hews turned away. Then Oliver dropped his head and chewed the
insides of his cheeks. Missy stood back, scowled, said nothing.
The maw of the Dunbridge station, edged in random growths of iron like crooked teeth, sucked the
cable car inside. The omnipresent haze of Whitechapel vanished, to be replaced by glaring electrics and
blasts of hot steam from a dozen unfathomable engines. Half-human crows scuttled to and fro, tinkering,
tightening, massaging, and placating. The Boiler Men that had watched every station for the past
twenty-four hours were conspicuously absent.
As the gates slid apart, Oliver and Hews each took up a wagon handle. Oliver felt every muscle popping
as he strained to move the wagon that first few feet. The wheels screamed terribly and caught on their
own axle every couple of inches.
The exertion pushed blood into his face, which made the pain worse. He must have a jolly bruise by
If that was the least damage you’d caused today, it would be a blessing.
Hews marched beside him, puffing and sweating, unused to such work, but no one was about to ask
Bergen to join them again. Oliver stole a look over. Hews, weighted with exertion, walked with dragging
heels—crestfallen, tired, and old. Fifty-seven years of life scraped together on Hews’ face in divots,
wrinkles, scars, and jowls, and Oliver felt a powerful sense of wrongness.
Hews should be sitting by his fireplace in a country estate by now, sipping port and talking about the
upcoming birth of his first grandchild to any ill-fated cove he could con into listening to him. Instead he
had set up shop in Whitechapel, spied for the queen, lost a wife to cancer of the lungs, employed a whole
gaggle of men, and kept one little boy from falling into his own grave.
The sudden rage, wherever it had come from, boiled away, and Oliver’s guts sank into his shoes.
The wheels of the wagon clattered and bounced as they tipped off the ramp and into the station. Missy’s
silence and Tom’s fevered moans trumpeted their arrival in Dunbridge.
Oliver should have known better than this.
Missy mopped her forehead with a lace-lined white handkerchief. It came away yellowed and soiled.
It was Gisella’s cardinal rule: don’t ever be a mess. A lady should never sweat, never smell otherwise
than with perfume, never have her clothing or her hair out of sorts. She’d discouraged it even at the height
Gisella isn’t here, bird.
That didn’t matter. Missy still felt vile, soiled.
You were born in filth, little girl.That had been the repeating refrain of her inner voice the entire climb.
It had taken considerable coaching and cold water to rouse Thomas enough to get him on his feet. Even
then, he wobbled terribly with each step, flopping his tremendous weight to and fro without pattern. It
had taken all three men to keep him upright, and Missy had added her shoulder as well, knowing they
needed her but would never ask. Missy had never really been to Dunbridge. She had stopped through it
on her flight from the bordello, those eternal months ago, but she had merely stopped over at the station,
never experiencing the through-the-looking-glass maze quality of its platforms and walkways, its
staircases and ladders and dead ends.
She found her eyes leaping with fright to the shadows slinking out of the smog. Always, they resolved
themselves into Chinese women carrying baskets, men backing slips of metal, and stunted, bleary-eyed
children tromping after. They watched her with tiny eyes.
And no wonder: Thomas lurched like Shelley’s monster, falling every twenty steps to dent or crack a
stair or rail. Hews directed them with a few terse words at every crossing as they marched on. Bergen had returned, but the men spoke to each other only in the sparest, most necessary exchanges.
She’d caught the German looking at her several times. She couldn’t read the look. It wasn’t lust, not as
she understood it, but neither was it suspicion nor anger. It was a rapt and undisturbed attention,
detached and frigid.
When will Oliver listen to me and turf him?
Well, it seems you have two men here that cannot be controlled.
At long last, Hews announced that they had arrived, and they proceeded to wrestle Thomas through a
door far too small for even a normal man, and more or less dump him onto a thin mattress and a few
blankets in the corner. Each of the men threw the supply packs they carried against the wall. Then they
collectively stood back for a rest.
Missy glanced around. All about the place lay filthy blankets draped over filthier men. The air stank like
a sick house: sweat and piss, and some other acrid smell Missy didn’t recognise. The occupants could
have passed for corpses, for how still they lay.
Missy tugged on Oliver’s sleeve. He turned, still panting. Her nose wrinkled at the rough smell of him.
“Why did you bring us to such an awful place?” Missy whispered.
Oliver smiled. “It’s not so bad, compared to some. Besides, it’s friendly territory.”
“I would hardly call it that.”
“We find our friends where we can.”
A squat, plump Chinese lady waddled from behind a red curtain at the back of the room. She wore a
decorative Oriental dress of the most garish green with dulled gold detailing. Hews removed his hat and
stepped up to greet her.
“Mrs. Flower, I’m afraid we must once again impose on your hospitality,” he said.
The lady inclined her head slightly, then turned and vanished into the back.
“We’ll take a few minutes’ rest,” Oliver said. “Then Bergen and I will go visit this mechanic of his.”
A twinge picked at Bergen’s lower eyelid and he glowered darkly. Much to her horror, she realised she
understood that expression.
Yes, it’s the murderous one, isn’t it, child? Never forget that you are a killer now, too. Born a dog,
trained a whore, now you are in full blossom. Isn’t that just proper?
“Shut up,” she hissed. She slapped her hand over her mouth.
Only Oliver noticed. His eye flicked momentarily her way. Hews interrupted before anything could be
“I’ll go,” he said, hitching pants and fixing vest as he spoke.
Oliver knitted his eyebrows. “Hewey, I’m not…”
“I won’t hear it, boy. When was the last time you slept?”
Oliver blinked back his surprise. “I don’t…”
“If the answer isn’t ‘this morning,’ then you’re staying here. In any case, I’m the only one who knows
the ins and outs of this tower.”
Oliver stood a moment, considering.
Missy’s eyes flicked to Bergen. She recognised that look: studying a man to see how he could be
It is your duty to control your client, to bring him to his pleasure by whatever means are most agreeable
to him. For each man, a unique set of actions, phrases, and gestures will be his reins. You will learn to
pick these out through observation and intuition. Now, please, drink your tea, lay on your cots, and the
training will begin.
Oliver could be controlled by treating him like a child.
I won’t do it.
Of course you will, my dear. It is what you were trained for. The German lacks the flexibility to conquer
him, but you, my child—you are as fluid as rain. You can be whatever he needs you to be.
It was a new voice, rougher than she was used to. Chills ran up her spine.
At last, Oliver sighed.
“Fine. Just be back quick as you can.”
Hews screwed his bowler hat onto his head. The Chinese woman reemerged from the back, carrying a
tray with a brass kettle and four porcelain cups. Hews took his hat off again and bowed towards her. He
jabbed Oliver with an elbow and Oliver removed his hat as well, spilling unkempt brown hair to his
“Regrettably, we must go, Mrs. Flower,” Hews said. “By God’s graces, we shall be back before the pot
is cooled.”
Mrs. Flower did not appear to acknowledge the sentiment. She merely placed the tray on the floor by
Hews’ feet and retreated through the room, checking on her various semiconscious patrons.
Hews replaced his hat. Bergen dropped his steam cannon into the corner and stood it against the wall.
He’d climbed the whole way with it lashed to his back and barely looked out of breath.
He’s going to murder Hews and then he’s going to come back and murder you. But you’ll stop him long
before that, will you not? You and your little handbag.
Missy found herself piqued.
He would deserve it.
There’s my little dog.
Bergen ducked out into the dark of midafternoon. Hews made to follow. Oliver stopped him with an
arm on the shoulder.
Hews shook his head. “No time now, Oliver.”
Oliver let him go. The door shut. Missy had never seen a man so alone in a room full of people.
Now would be the moment to do it: just step outside the door and put a bullet through the German’s
“Come on, then,” she heard her mouth saying. “Let’s have a sit.”
Oliver wandered in her direction, then swerved and flopped to the floor beside Thomas. He used his
hands to draw his knees up to a cross-legged position, then shrugged out of his coat. Missy gathered the
tray and sat beside him.
She poured the tea and tried not to let her hands shake when it came out red. Gisella’s tea was always
red—that awful soporific that conjured up the hobgoblin man.
Heh. I see you remember me.
The teapot rang as it bounced off the tray and regurgitated its contents onto the floor.
“Oh, God…” Missy breathed.
Oliver reached across and righted the teapot. “No one will notice.”
That wasn’t what she meant.
The hobgoblin man is real. He came to visit me.
She felt the phantom sensation of his ghastly fingers against her face, and she forgot.
She returned to herself to see the profile of Oliver’s scruffy face. He stared at Thomas, who gurgled as
he breathed, and simultaneously stared at nothing. Tea soaked into the leg of his trousers. His skin had
turned several shades towards yellow. The lamplight reflected flickering flames into his eyes.
Something wasn’t right. Oliver’s mussed hair fell forward over his brow, shadowing his eyes, so that it
could not possibly be reflected light.
She shivered. He reacted to the motion, and turned those subtly burning eyes on her own.
“What so you see?” he asked.
She told him.
His eyes drifted closed. “It’s getting worse,” he said. “It feels like a hot iron up under my skull.”
She felt a chill rake through the moist air, and dared not ask what he meant.
He continued anyway. “It gets hotter the closer we get to the Stack. Mama Engine has taken up
residence in my head. It seems she fancies me as a consort.”
Missy sat very still, her skin crawling.
“The other one is in my guts. I’m not entirely sure what he wants from me.” He grabbed and gripped
Tommy’s flesh-and-bone hand. “This can’t be for nothing.”
There’s the opening. Take him in your lap, coddle him, sing to him, tell him everything will be all right and
make him yours.
Missy began reaching for Oliver’s hand.
I don’t want to.
Yes, you do.
She stopped, stripped off her filthy red glove, and took his fingers, skin to skin, in hers.
“You never asked me,” Missy said, “where I came from, Oliver.”
His fingers were calloused and scarred, and rough against her skin. They lay immobile in her hand, but a
slight flush crept up Oliver’s neck.
“Who you were isn’t my business,” he said.
Missy swallowed. “Oliver, I won’t…I can’t…tell you, but just…” She breathed. “Just understand that
the place I came from was a terrible place. She made us…I was dying there all the time.”
He was staring at her, and the dancing fire did not seem so threatening now.
“Never think that it was for nothing, Oliver.”
God, thelook he gave her. She felt a heat in her chest, a lightness of limbs. He was beautiful, his lips in a
small smile potent with such warmth that she…
She shot to her feet.
“Well, I’d best let you rest, I’d imagine,” said her mouth. “Weighty mission tonight, if all goes well.”
Still staring at her with that smile—that damnable alluring smile—he said, “I suppose that would be
“Indeed. Well, I quite think I’ll step out for a moment, perhaps buy us some biscuits or whatever they
sell here.”
“That would be delightful, Miss Plantaget.”
“And you needn’t worry for my safety. I’m quite capable of caring for myself.”
“That is something I would never doubt.”
“Good. Well…I shall be back soon.”
She fled to the door.
You forgot!
The handbag! She turned, snatched it, didn’t look at Oliver, returned to the door, and all but bolted into
the street. The grey of Whitechapel afternoon closed over her. Dunbridge, not having any classifiable
streets, had neglected to install streetlights, and thus the day was only slightly brighter than the depths of
The bag settled over her shoulder like an old friend. Just the presence of it kept her safe.
Couldn’t he keep you safe?
I’d rather have the gun.
The heat and the weightlessness ended with that thought, and she screamed in her mind to take it back.
Well, child. Is it not yet clear to you that your fate is one of villainy? With such thoughts as that, it is a
wonder you even affect a liking for him.
He would take care of me.
That was always my promise, as well.
She walked on, to move, to flee fitfully from the voice that haunted her. She told herself over and over
that she would indeed go back to him, and that she would bring something to eat. Something small, and
perhaps he would smile at her again, in that way.
Six turns, two flights of stairs, a pair of Chinamen babbling in their disturbed language, and she was lost.
Hopelessly. The only landmark visible was the Stack, its top crowned by a fierce, incessant red glow.
There were no proper stores to be found, only an endless succession of tenements, growing one into the
other with the vagaries of the tower’s supports. No alleys or façades broke the endless stretch of doors
unmarked and without signs, even in Chinese. At last, she stopped in an open plaza and stomped her
foot. “Prick on a stick,” she said.
“Now, now. What would the good matron think if she heard you using such language?”
The hobgoblin man shuffled from the dark.
Reflections boiled in her memory: his words, his laughs, the too-sweet smell of his breath, the horrid
prodding of his goblin nails, the commands that sunk down to stimulate the baseness of the animal, words
inscribed on the mechanisms of thought.
He trained you. I fed you the tea; then he came to you to implant deeply the lessons I rendered. He
primed you for this obedience, and you cannot cross him.
“With me, if you would,” he said.
Her feet followed his. He led her down a thin walkway to a dead-end circle stacked with garbage.
Rats—flesh ones—chittered and ran at their approach.
He’s real. Why didn’t I remember it?
“Come, my dear. Time is short,” he said. “It wasn’t unexpected, your lot coming here. The cloaks know
about this den of yours, too. But not to worry. I’ve put them off.”
He halted in the centre of the little circular end to the alley and pivoted, hunched over his cane. “What
was unexpected was my German being with you. I assumed my boy had done his duty, though he was
left a mess. Though his days upon the earth are limited, your Continental friend could still be of use to
Missy strained, breathed, whispered: “What do you want?”
The man perked. He adjusted his top hat and regarded her quizzically. “Tick, tick. Did you just speak
under your own volition, my dear?”
Her head moved.
“Heh.” The man reached one knobby hand into his pocket. “Either you are exceptionally strong-willed
or you are simply a remarkable freak in nature’s panoply. This will be quite dangerous, indeed, but I
suppose there’s no avoiding it.”
He slipped from his coat a stoppered bottle of red fluid. Her chest tightened up at the sight of it. “I trust
you remember this, my dear. Gisella’s preference is to dilute it with hot water.” The man opened the
bottle with two rough fingernails, then upended it and allowed a single drop to fall onto his fingertip. It
stayed there, quivering, like a blot of honey.
“Open your mouth, my dear.”
Her head shook slowly, back and forth.
“That won’t do, girl,” the man said. “I have other affairs that need tending. Open.”
Her mouth opened.
The man approached. “Stick out that tongue of yours, girl.”
The tongue obeyed.
The hobgoblin man smeared the drop from his fingertip along the length of her tongue. He tasted like
sweat and granulated sugar.
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun…Words echoed in her mind. The fingers twitched. The handbag
opened. Inside: deliverance, power, revenge.
And suddenly a prison of ice closed on her, a glacial field too vast to cross, and canyon walls too high to
climb. It froze away the awareness of her body, the perception of walls and street and air. She dreamed
cold dreams. She dreamed of the hobgoblin man.
“Always a new experience,” he said. “I enjoy pure tastes myself time to time. It is a jaunt to heaven or
hell, as you please.”
Fingers rubbed her forehead, temples, cheeks, neck, prodded in armpits, ribs, hip bones, thighs, ankles,
Her shoes were off. Did he take them off? Did she?
“Speak to me of Oliver Sumner, my dear.”
Missy’s mouth opened, and she dictated Oliver’s every motion and word over the past day, up to his
frightening and cryptic remarks in the den.
Fingers over the eyes. The hobgoblin man was whispering under his breath, into himself.
“Why did you choose him over me, my love? Was he to be your champion and liberator?”
Fingers bearing down, penetrating, shearing into the brain.
“I am wounded, my love. I am betrayed.”
Fingers shaping, pulling.
“Heh, heh. But my, it is strange, my love, how things fall into place. Perhaps you intended to put our
weapon into his hands, to stay mine.” A gruesome smile. “But now my German is alive and he will carry
our torch into your husband’s depths instead.”
The fingers withdrew, wisps of thought and intention clinging.
“And so now I will do as rivals are meant.”
Missy floated up, buoyed on frigid winds ripped from the juices of foreign plants and the chemicals of
the brain. The hobgoblin man wrapped his horrid hand about her chin and cradled her skull.
“Little one, listen now. And as always, forget after you have heard, and be as you always were.”
Missy nodded.
“Heh. Or be as I made you, should I say? No matter.”
Fingers from the other hand, snaking along the jaw, scratching, soiling.
“Here is what I wish of you, girl. Go to Oliver Sumner, on whatever pretence suits the moment. Then
dispatch him by the most expedient means available.”
The head nodded.
“Obey me,” the man said. “But remember nothing until you next lay eyes on me. Now get on your feet,
dress, and go about your business. This should be done with all haste.”
Her shoes were back on.
“Off you go, now.”
The moment crumbled and the memory fell with it. She found herself at the edge of a dim, unremarkable
junction of several walkways.
“Prick on a stick.”
Where was she going? What was she doing?
You went to fetch food, you scatterbrained child.
Yes, of course. Something to eat. Something to make Oliver smile at me.
A flash of inspiration hit her and she knew exactly what he needed.
What does our dog-turned-whore-turned-murderess have on her corrupted little mind, I wonder.
Shut your trap, you old bat.
Missy strode into the dark.

Chapter 14

Her chosen will call themselves the Brothers ofCreation. They will be Her Intention, the legacy of human
creativity bent to Her purposes, and weaned upon Her ancient Methods, and they, too, will call me
—V. i
Scared left Tuppence crying. They always cried, at first. In a while he would send the boy up to Gisella’s
house of sin and her girls would feed him and dry his eyes.
He toddled his ancient frame up the twenty wooden steps leading from his bedchamber, avoiding, with
great difficulty, those that concealed his various traps. Blast, he must take some of these out. Security did
him little good if he slipped one day and found himself stuck on the point of a poison dart.
It was a shame about the other boy. He’d died of fright, perhaps, compounded with malnutrition and
general filth. He’d left the poor thing’s body where it had fallen, as it provided a perfect learning
opportunity for the one still alive.
Such darling things, children. Such wonders of God’s world. When you call me husband and master, my
sweet, what wonderful offspring we will fashion.
“Tick, tick, tock, my sweet. The watch stops at the end of the day.”
His voice echoed back from the plaster walls. The heat that burned in the back of his head flickered in
time with the lamps in their sconces.
And what do you want with this other man, my sweet? Well, soon I’ll know that secret, too, and in time
I will own every scrap of soul you try to hide.
He wandered the halls of his labyrinth awhile, alone with his thoughts. When he was a boy, he’d
wandered in a similar fashion through Hyde Park, sometimes halting to climb the Gate, until some
policeman or well-meaning citizen chased him off. It had been a distraction then. Now it was a necessary
exercise to keep the mind calm and functioning.
The labyrinth was one of four hidden in various towers close to the Stack. This one was his least
favourite, lacking a proper amount of madness in its design. It was functional, for certain, but hardly
inspiring. Unfortunately, since his hides in Aldgate and Dunbridge had been compromised, he had to
settle for this one. It sat below Gisella’s den of sin, so there was some consolation there. Fine and stern
old woman, she was, and she’d be chaste to her dying breath, bless her.
He walked through halls and staircases, past row after row of identical doors. His mind churned and
refused to lie silent. He caught himself ticking several times and each time angrily clamped his teeth.
Why did he feel anxious? It was planned, all planned.
He stopped, halted his breath. His ears picked up the last distorted echo of a scuffing. An intruder?
Moran didn’t know of this place. Neither did the German, or Boxer or Hobbyhorse. And Gisella would
never lower herself to walk these filthy halls.
Scared twisted his cane’s head, releasing the knife from the tip. The click it emitted resonated down the
halls. Scared’s senses picked at that noise, dissecting, calculating.
He flattened himself against a shadowed corner and waited.
At length a figure stumbled around the corner at the hall’s opposite end, stooped and limping. The
intruder placed his hand on each door as he walked, as if counting them.
Scared had not fought with his cane for years. It had to be used like a bayonet to be formidable. For a
brief moment he feared his arthritic knuckles would not be capable of it.
He could hear the intruder’s laboured breathing, the moist sucking of the terminally ill. The figure
shrugged through a pool of light.
“Oh, my boy!” Scared cried. He rushed from concealment even as the figure collapsed to the floor.
Scared knelt down and gathered the boy’s head in his hands. “Oh, my darling. What have they done to
Tears rolled down Penny’s cheeks, from eyes that stared glazed at the ceiling. The boy’s mouth opened,
closed. A bullet had cracked through his sternum; his shirt was black with old blood and filth. The wound
had been cauterised, probably by the broken flasher still hooked to the lad’s belt. His skin was pale and
sunken beneath the grime.
“Lie still, my boy. I’m here.” Scared knew Penny was dying. Nothing could be done but to give him up
to the cloaks, and that, Scared could never wish on one of his sons.
Penny’s breathing grew more relaxed as Scared stroked his hair. Eventually, the boy fell into a light
No, my child, I cannot save you. But there is life in you yet, and you deserve more than an infected
death in a lonely hallway.
“Don’t weep, my darling,” he whispered. “All is not lost. There are potions, my dear, secret mixtures
that can sustain you for a few glorious, final days. I will make one of these mixtures for you, my sweet,
and it will fill your veins with burning blood and bring strength into your legs once more.”
Penny opened his eyes again.
“And we will get you knives, my darling, for I know how you adore knives. And for those few days, you
will express that one act at which you were so blessed by Providence to excel.”
Penny’s tears dried up. Some of that stone came back into his eyes, that carefully crafted heartlessness
Scared had slaved over for so many years.
He could not help but smile.
Ah, pride; how can they call it a sin, my love?
The little bell dinged. Oliver found the shelves in their places and the lamp buzzing overhead. His first
step onto the floorboards sent up a creak, and then the skittering of retreating rats. He let the door slide
shut behind him, and waited.
Outside, Bergen sat casually on the front step, puffing on a thin cigar.
Oliver heard the whispering of shifting cloth, and turned to face the bookseller as he floated into view.
“I thought I’d be seeing you again,” the old man said.
“You seem to be closed for a while,” said Oliver. “Let’s have a chat.”
If anything, the man’s smile grew toothier.
“Of course. Shall we?” He indicated the rear of the store.
“Right here is fine, if you please,” Oliver said. “I have questions for you.”
“I’m sure you do.” The man’s hands clicked softly as he folded them together against his stomach. He
settled back into a sitting position, as if buoyed on whatever lay beneath his skirt. “I’m happy to
accommodate them, with the Lady’s blessing.”
Oliver opened his coat and drew the heavy book from within. Fickin’s eyes followed it.
“This is not theSumma Machina, ” Oliver began. “Not the real one anyway.”
“It’s the real one.”
Oliver breathed slowly. “I want no lies, Crow.”
“I have none to tell, Mr. Bull. That is the original script as written down by Atlas Hume in 1834.”
“Then can you explain to me why the canaries haven’t gone to war with you yet?”
“Ah, yes, the prophecies.” Fickin steepled his fingers. “The Brothers for Order cannot go to war, Mr.
Bull. Their only reason for being is to bring things into harmony. What wars have you ever known to be
Oliver rubbed the raggedy stubble on his jaw.
“So they know?”
Fickin nodded.
“And they do nothing about it?”
“You must understand the mentality of the clock, Mr. Bull,” Fickin said. “A clock is a machine. It
repeats one task endlessly, unchanged. That is its role. Even for its own preservation, a machine cannot alter that role.”
“What is Grandfather Clock’s role, in your opinion?”
“Grandfather Clock exists to bring about harmony and precision. He controls the environment, to make
it safe for the Mother to create. He makes it possible for the Great Work to be built.”
A faint sound penetrated the windows: two taps of Bergen’s foot. Entry had been accomplished.
Fickin straightened, agitation coming into his eyes. “But Grandfather Clock never stops with simple
harmony. He wants everything to tick to his tune, so that nothing can ever be out of place. Once he is
done with humanity he will turn his efforts against the Mother herself. He will suffocate her, as he has for
their entire union. Gods, when I think of the aeons he’s been doing this to her…”
A flicker of fire lit Fickin’s eyes.
And there you are, my Lady.Oliver tapped his pocket. Inside, Jeremy stirred.
“You have no idea, Mr. Bull, how old they are. They’ve been on our small little world since the great
beasts ruled it, hiding in their primitive brains and waiting for a race capable of birthing them. We are their
chosen people now, the builders of their womb and the stewards of their kingdom.”
“She didn’t think to kill him sooner?”
The fire flashed deep in those sunken eyes. “She didn’t know how, Mr. Bull. She doesn’t understand
him well enough. It is like asking a tree to understand a steamship. We were the first she found that were
capable of fathoming him; that is why she adopted us as her children. She needed our help. The Lord
simply wanted to dominate us.”
Jeremy nudged his nose out of the pocket. Oliver spread open the book and began leafing through
pages, focussing his attention on the flashing brass, to draw Fickin’s eyes there.
“She found someone, didn’t she?” Oliver said. “She found a whole gaggle of people lining up to help her
cause. Like Scared. And myself.”
The fire dimmed. “I’ve always been a bit ashamed that she felt she needed to look outside the
“So it really doesn’t matter who gets their hands on this weapon of hers. As long as it’s used, she’ll be
the one who benefits.”
Fickin licked his lips. “She’s waited so long for freedom from her tyrant consort. And now, through our
help, through the help of this man Scared, it is within her reach.”
The emotion welling up in the bookseller was Mama Engine’s own.
“We areher salvation, Mr. Bull. Can you fathom that? We tiny creatures of flesh and blood. She loves us
so fiercely for what we are willing to do for her.” He eyed Oliver with a smile. “She will need to take
another husband, you know.”
Three taps of Bergen’s foot: instrument delivered, awaiting the go-ahead.
“I think she will be disappointed,” said Oliver. “She and her kind aren’t welcome here.”
Fickin perked up. The fire danced in his eyes, casting its glow over the rows of spines lined on the
“So you know about the child, then?” he said.
Oliver nodded.
“Mother Engine always wanted children of her own,” Fickin said. The heat of his body touched Oliver’s
face. The air began to grow smokier. Illumination from no discernable source spread into the room. “She
once tried, long ago, to conceive from the Lord’s seed. What was born was an abomination to both of
them, a creature of disharmony and decay. It has dogged at their heels from world to world, unable to be
rid of them just as they are unable to be rid of it. But what else could come from a union of such hatred
on the one hand and indifference on the other?”
Fickin became distracted with the passions washing over him. Oliver took the opportunity to scan the
room and take in the changing light, the sudden smokiness of the air. Right now, in the back of the store,
those four furnaces were flaring higher as a fanfare for the goddess’ arrival.
It was time to leave. Oliver took one quiet step back towards the door.
“She likes you, Mr. Bull,” Fickin said. “You have qualities she fancies.”
Another step back. Jeremy poked his head fully out of the pocket.
“I don’t presume to understand her,” Fickin said. He floated closer as Oliver retreated, stretching out his
hands in a kind of pleading gesture. “She has needs and desires far outside the boundaries of human
experience, and she engages in many kinds of unions.”
There’s a vile image.Oliver snapped theSumma Machina closed and slipped it back into his pocket.
“She knows my opinion of her, Fickin. I’ll be going now.”
Fickin snatched Oliver’s sleeve. The voice that spoke next was no ancient bookkeeper’s, but a rattling
gasp like the last breath of a dying man. “Sheneeds you. She cannot suffer this again. She must have a
husband who will love her.”
The lamp overhead exploded, raining sparks onto the shelves. Strips of Fickin’s skin peeled off steel
bones when Oliver tore his sleeve loose, and Oliver bolted for the door. Jeremy burst from his jacket in a
flurry of ticks and buzzes as the shop exploded into orange light.
Oliver did not see what Aaron Bolden did next. For an instant time suspended, sound deepened, and
space expanded past comprehension. The cracks and fissures in the walls began leaking yellow pus. A
sickly green light flared up outside the windows.
Fickin’s cry for deliverance gurgled away.
The pus fell to the floor, where it picked up a sudden speed and rushed past Oliver’s feet. An instant
later a blast of heat struck him from behind, followed by a wall of hissing steam, and a shriek of pain went
up like the beams of a tower ripping itself apart.
This time without hesitation, Oliver tore the door open and plunged into the street.
The crack of the sidewalk against his cheek brought him back to clear reality.
Bergen made no move to help him up. The German drew his revolver and trained it on the bookshop.
Oliver lifted himself off the street, straightened collar and cuffs.
“Light it now, Phineas,” he whispered, knowing the sailor would hear him.
The derringer leapt into Oliver’s hand.
The bookstore stood dull and darkened. The door creaked shut. They waited.
Phineas appeared by Oliver’s side.
“Got the block evacuated, sir,” he said.
Oliver nodded, keeping his eyes trained on the door.
“Better cover your ears,” Bergen grumbled, leaving his own unprotected. Phineas ran off, already
bunching his collar around his head to dull his hearing.
Oliver’s heart stung for him.I’m sorry to have to do this to you, Phin.
Steel fingers slick with blood moved the shop door aside. One spindly appendage, bending evenly at a
hundred different joints and arching like a spider’s leg, reached beyond the doorjamb. Oliver heard
Fickin’s voice from inside.
“Why do you do these things?” the bookseller rasped, his face a hint of teeth and bloodied scalp. “Why
do you hate her so? All she wants is your love.”
The voice held all the sadness and hurt of the unjustly wronged.
The German loosed a shot that took Fickin in the face and drove him back. An instant later the building
exploded and they all crashed to the ground.
The concussion broke windows halfway down the street. A gout of fire threw the back of the shop’s
roof and its supports into the air and lit the Underbelly with more light than it had seen in twenty years.
The roof of the bookshop rained down in fragments for blocks around. Some of it had probably struck
the underside of the upper Concourse. Bits of plaster and twisted steel clattered on the street around him
as Oliver lay curled on the ground.
“Gott in Himmel,”Bergen cursed beside him. “How much did you use?”
The last pieces of the bookshop crashed to the street all around, and Oliver slowly uncurled.
“Twenty-seven,” he said. “A full third of Heckler’s supply.”
“Why so much?” the German asked.
They both got to their feet. Oliver removed his hat and shook it off, then ran a hand through greasy,
knotted hair. “I had to be sure that abomination of his never gets loose in the Underbelly.”
“I wouldn’t lay odds on it now, English,” Bergen said.
“I won’t be satisfied until I see it in pieces, Keuper,” Oliver shot back. “Now keep me covered.”
Obediently, the German raised his pistol and aimed it into the ruin of the shop. Oliver caught the rare
flicker of an actual expression on his face—amusement?Bugger him.
Amazingly, the door and much of the building’s façade had stayed intact. Dying fire flickered through the
shattered windows. Greater fires than these had already claimed the atmosphere of Whitechapel.
The door cracked off its hinges as Oliver swung it open. The bookshelves had toppled forward like
dominoes, spilling their wares all about the floor. Some were burning; most were simply blasted into
pieces and lay snapped and mangled in piles against the remaining walls.
Beneath one shelf lay a twisted heap of iron and steel. It twitched ceaselessly, respiring puffs of dry,
dusty smoke. It had too many arms, too many legs, and not nearly enough skin left on it, but it lived.
One of the old man’s arms grasped feebly at Oliver’s shoe.
“I’ll tell you why I hate her, Crow,” Oliver said. “I hate her because all the women and children that
slave in her factories or twitch and rot on her husband’s Chimney aren’t alive enough to hate her. I hate
her for the air, and the dark, and for the disease that’s eating my friend alive from the inside.”
The shape screeched like a heavy door on unoiled hinges.
Oliver watched Fickin trying to crawl and had to blink back tears. “I hate her because she doesn’t let
her people die.”
He raised his eyes and stared into the empty space were Mama Engine had once come for him.
“Please,” he asked, “let this one go.”
The twisted shape continued to squeal, continued to grasp at unseen things with steel fingers.
Oliver sighed, and stepped over the body. He walked over the downed shelves to the back of the shop.
The dynamite had broken a hole clean through the Underbelly. No sign remained of Fickin’s monster or
the four furnaces used to craft it.
Bergen, from behind: “Are we finished here?”
“Yes, Keuper, we’re finished,” Oliver said. “Get Tom ready to be moved. We’ll be going shortly.”
The German retreated.
Oliver stood amongst the ruins of the shop and let his sadness have expression. After the Uprising, with
the Underbelly burning, he’d sworn it in a silent pact with God: no more children shot in the streets for
getting in someone’s way, no more families broiled alive by steam guns for hiding in their cellars, no more
homes or lives burned and torn down.
And here I am, destroyer of my own city.
But this was the hideout of an enemy. This was the stronghold of an invader who would have brought
only more misery. That made a difference, didn’t it?
And what of those who might have been hit by stray debris? What of those who will suffer at the hands
of the cloaks when they come down on you for this?
Strange. That had sounded like the German.
The echo of Bergen’s momentary smile flashed in his mind. The German had never laughed; Oliver
imagined him laughing over this.
He dug the crushed body of Jeremy Longshore out of the rubble before departing.

Chapter 13

The second principle of the machine is Harmony. This is the core of the wisdom of the machine: that
component parts cannot but work together towards the accomplishment of the machine’s noble Purpose.
In that Harmony facilitates the completion of this Purpose, the machine will devote its resources to the
promotion of Harmony and the excisement of those elements that would draw it into chaos.
IV. iii
Gisella had never laughed, so why did Missy hear laughter? It had been echoing in her mind all day; that,
and a gravelly voice that whispered to her from every reflected surface.
“Bursting apart,” I believe it translates. In a few seconds you’ll cease even to dream, my pet. You will
live only for my voice, and will do all I ask of you.
Missy still wore a smile, brushed with beet juice to redden the lips. She wore red gloves and a red scarf
tucked around her neck. Had she dressed herself that morning? It was so difficult to remember.
“You are certainly invited to join us, Miss Plantaget.”
Missy started. Hews was offering to help her out of her chair.
“Oh. Of course, I should be delighted.”
She accepted the man’s outstretched hand and stood. Hews smiled at her and moved to join Phineas
and Oliver in the hall. The instant he turned his back, she shot her fingers to her temples and gave them a
good massage to clear the fog from her head.
She followed them down Sherwood’s staircase and then down the hall to Oliver’s room.
“Shut the door, be so kind,” Phineas said. Hews quietly closed the door once Missy had stepped
through. Smells of dust and spent candles came to her, along with the faint scent of a man’s body odour,
unmasked by powders or perfumes.
“Your face is distressingly grave, Phineas,” Missy said.
“Didn’t say it was easy or safe, did I?” Phin pulled his hat brim down, dragging it even farther over his
nose. The single oil lamp in the corner caught only the wrinkles on his chin and neck.
Phin reached deep inside his coat and withdrew a box of pale wood, carved with Oriental symbols and
painted in patterns of red, no longer than his stunted index finger.
Her attention turned to Oliver, with a vague notion that she was supposed to be watching him.
Oliver held out his hand for the box and Phineas placed it in his palm. Phineas’ hand shook as he
released it, and he withdrew from it as from a coiled snake.
“What is it, Phin?” Oliver asked.
The old sailor shuddered as he inhaled to speak.
“Chinamen call itmei kuan . Means ‘pleasing to the eye,’ near as it was explained to me.”
They all crowded around Oliver as he undid the clasp of scarlet string that held the box closed. Missy
could swear she felt a heat coming off Oliver above and beyond ordinary body heat.
Do not be frightened of your own heat when it comes on you,said Gisella.Encourage in your own mind
the breath to quicken and the face to flush, as both will be most arousing to your client.
Oliver opened the box with a single finger. Within, nestled in a crumple of unspun cotton, lay a vial of
blue glass. A glass stopper, held in place with copper braids, kept it shut. It could not have held more
than a thimbleful of liquid.
Hews cleared his throat. “How is this to take us anywhere, Phineas?”
Phineas had turned away, and now faced into the darkest corner of the room. “Doesn’t take you
anywhere. Frees up the spirit. Lets the breath out. You’ll be lying on the bed, no breathing, no heartbeat,
even.” Phin looked back over his shoulder. The lamplight caught electric brilliance in his eye. “But the
places a body can go, Cap’n! The things a body can see!”
Hews frowned then. “Hogwash. Opium addicts say the same, pitiable creatures.”
Phin eyed him over the rim of his collar.
“This ain’t opium, gentlemen,” he said. A hideous smile crept onto his gargoyle face. “This is St. Peter’s
gate in a bottle. You’ll be bigger than the world, Cap’n. They say it would turn a man into a god, if only it
didn’t kill him first.”
They all stared at the bottle. Eventually, Missy spoke just to break the silence.
“Well I for one am intrigued. Shall we try it?”
Hews huffed and retreated to the door. “I’ll have no part of this foolishness.”
Oliver slipped the bottle free with two careful fingers. “None of you will. Hold the fort, Hews. Find me
that entrance to the Stack and keep the German under control. We’ll be done when we’re done.”
Hews set his jaw, nodded, and departed. The door snapped shut in his wake.
Oliver offered Phin the bottle. “How does it work?”
Phin jerked away from it. “Confound it! Keep it back! Don’t…don’t tempt me.”
Oliver wrapped his fingers over the bottle. Phineas visibly relaxed as it vanished from sight.
The old sailor exhaled. “Just…there are terrible things to be seen, ’s well as wondrous. I never learned
properly how to protect myself. A body’s got to be so careful.” He rubbed shaking hands over a face
that suddenly gleamed with sweat. “I did a favour for some Chinese—what, I won’t say—when I was
over there. They let me have a sniff, just a sniff. I swear I saw…I saw…”
Missy shivered at the old sailor’s next word.
“God.” Phineas swallowed hard and audibly. “Spent twenty years just sittin’ in that room, workin’ up the
nerve to drink it. I don’t take it anymore—can’t—but I could never part with it either.”
Phin choked up. He clenched his fists and jammed them into his pockets, apparently done talking.
Oliver turned the bottle over in his palm. The liquid caught the light with the rich sheen of liquor.
I’m supposed to watch Oliver,Missy remembered.Someone told me to. A man…
The fiendish grin and teeth flashed back into her memory.
“No. I don’t…” escaped her lips.
The man’s voice:You will not remember any of this, little one. No, not a whit, until I command you to.
Oliver and Phineas were staring at her.
She cleared her throat and affected a broad smile. “Please forgive me. I haven’t been…Well, never
mind me. Shall we?”
Oliver lay back on the bed and Missy perched beside him on a fragile wicker chair.
Phineas hovered at the exit, sunken in his crumpled clothing, with his calloused fingers twitching towards
the door handle. “Miss, you take the bottle. You pop the cork and hold it under the cap’n’s nose, right?
Ollie, you take a sniff. Remember, only a sniff. Like a pinch of snuff.” He shuddered. “And don’t dare
drink it! Not a drop.”
“I’ll be careful, Phineas. Just get back on post,” Oliver said, passing the bottle to Missy.
“Not a bloody drop, hear?” Phin hesitated, wringing his hands. “One bloody drop—look what it’s done
to me.”
Then he left, shutting the door behind him.
Oliver looked up at her with that concerned, welcoming gaze that so frustrated her. She forestalled him
before he could speak: “How inappropriate, the two of us shut in a room alone.”
Oliver took her hand. Though the touch was light, yet still the warmth of it penetrated into Missy’s body.
Her insides began to quiver.
Your client may wish to court you as he would a proper lady, or he may wish satisfaction immediately.
He will indicate this through his gestures and expressions. In time, you will learn to read these cues as
clearly as letters and will know the correct course to follow.
She could not withdraw her hand.
“If something’s amiss, Michelle, just tell me,” he said. “No one will think the less of you for it.”
“Ollie, I can’t say. Ican’t . I’m not…Please, don’t ask me…Don’t ever…” She choked off, and painted
her mask back on with a fury. “Well, enough of the failings of womanly temperament, I say. Shall we get
on?” She lifted the bottle.
Oliver did not release her hand. “As much as I’m able and you’re willing, Michelle, I’ll take care of
A pause. Then, “I appreciate the sentiment, I truly do, Oliver. But we’re not here to trade pleasantries,
are we?”
Her hand withdrew from his. The heat of that contact receded.
He settled back on the bed, eyeing her curiously, and nodded.
She unstoppered the bottle and held it beneath his nose. He sniffed quietly, and she quickly withdrew it
and closed it.
Oliver’s eyes drifted closed.
Oliver, be careful,Missy thought.
“Oliver, be careful,” said her voice.
He nodded, then fell still.
Missy stared at him some long minutes, then slipped her fingers back around his. Nothing moved in the
little room.
He slipped from waking to sleep, and then into something else.
He was eight years old. He’d run away from Hews’ factory, where he’d been sleeping under the
smelting pots that kept warm long into the night. He’d stowed on the lift down into the Underbelly, and
chased himself through streets and alleys. The vagrants eyed him, the vendors hoarded their goods away
from him, and ordinary folk kicked him out of the way with a curse.
Behind a bakery on the Eighth Row, he made his bed. He smelled the scent of the bread and imagined
he was tasting it, and lay down on the edge of the Underbelly, nothing but air and smoke beneath him. He
would butter the bread, he decided, and he would have raspberry jam besides, and a glass of milk from a
real cow. And it would all squish together in his mouth and get stuck in the holes where his baby teeth
had fallen out, and he would worm it out with his tongue and chew it again, until it dissolved into his saliva
and slipped down his throat like syrup.
He must have fallen asleep. A boot to his shoulder blade roused him, then another to his hip rolled him
over. Then gravity took him.
He plunged down, leaving his body behind. The wind whistled through his hair and across his face. Ash
flicked across his eyelashes and tickled his neck and toes.
Sherwood was above. Sherwood was below.
Where did he stop, when the falling became stillness and the rushing air silence?
Oliver opened his eyes.
Below, above, all around stretched an endless vista of light and dark. The roiling shapes of massive
chains snaked between sparkles and flares of furnace fire. Embers swarmed in the air like fireflies,
chasing shapeless creatures of molten glass. His eyes adjusted slowly, as if coming from the light into the
dark, and the sky became muted fire of crimson and orange.
The landscape was not without form. Out of the web of chains and fire rose towering, geometric
buildings of copper-shaded glass, edged sharp as razors. Silk-fine strands of brass and silver linked one
to the other. Gears and springs turned to no apparent purpose on their outer surfaces. Oliver recognised
them: Shadwell, Stepneyside, Cathedral, and others in the far reaches of perception. Where the Stack
should have been stood a tower of intertwined mechanical arms pulsing with red light. Sulphurous fumes
billowed out like curtains raised by the wind, and everywhere, the clacking of machines and the roaring of
“This is how I always see it.”
Aaron sat beside him, perched on a steel beam connected to nothing. He sat with his knees pulled up to
his chest, and his coat-of-many-pockets dangling down. In the manner of dreams, his features seemed to
shift as if seen through water, the only constant his eyes, an unnatural blue that tracked on Oliver’s vision.
Where are we?
Aaron twiddled his fingers awhile. “There’s another side to things. This is where one finds theidea of a
place, as well as its ghosts and its dreams. Manchester is built of wicker and wool, and cotton rains from
the sky.”
Whitechapel hasn’t fared so well, I’d guess.
“All its dreams here are dead, surely as night and day were killed off by the smoke,” Aaron said. “Now
there’s only the three of them, and the little parasites that live in them.” He indicated the globs of glass.
And us.
“We aren’t really here like men aught to be. We’ve no histories anymore and no idea about ourselves.”
Oliver scowled at him.Remind me to speak to you whenever I’m lonely for gloom and pessimism.
Aaron laughed. “I am dead, after all.”
Not from where I’m sitting.
Oliver tried to settle down beside the strange dead man but found himself without limbs to move or a
rear to seat himself on.
Aaron, I’m here because I need your help.
“What happened to Bailey? I heard you talking about him.”
He’s dead. Sorry to break the bad news to you.
Aaron shook his head. “He’s not dead.”
The Boiler Men shot him, Aaron.
“And when have you known that to kill anyone in Whitechapel?”
What do you mean?
“I heard the bells silence him. He cried out to God when Grandfather Clock subdued him.”
You mean he’s on the Chimney?
Aaron nodded. “I heard him. The sound carried into this place.”
Oliver felt his real heart skip a beat, perceiving it like the echo of a far-off drum. The crew wasn’t safe.
Damn it all, Baileyknew where Sherwood was!
That limits my time here, Aaron. I’ll need to get back as soon as possible. But I need to know a few
things first.
Aaron nodded for him to continue.
Scared discovered a method to kill Grandfather Clock. How do we kill Mama Engine and the other
one?He had no finger to point, but Aaron followed his gaze to the depths of the city. In the shadows of
ash and smoke, glinting in the red light, a sea of pale sludge shifted restlessly.
He considered a moment. “My researches always seemed to point to the production of an event in the
same medium as the gods. I was always stuck on discovering what medium they dwelt in. Certainly, they
are nonphysical, but are they mental, or spectral, or aetheric? I could never tell.”
Scared must have found out.
“Mama Engine told him where to look,” Aaron said. “And Scared must have designed a delivery system
to carry his poison into Grandfather Clock. If he has discovered the effect necessary, then we’d
simply…But I would need to see…”
Aaron looked ashen. His face thinned visibly before Oliver’s eyes, skin paling, eyes sinking deep. For an
instant it looked as if he might withdraw right into himself and crumble to dust. Then he clamped his blue
eyes shut, breathed, and hugged himself. When he came back he seemed healthy again.
“I will need a close look at Mama Engine.”
‘You’ meaning ‘Jeremy’?
Aaron nodded.
I have a way.
Aaron’s fingers began fidgeting again. “Be careful how you use me, Oliver. The third god is part of me. I
can always feel him in my mind. I…might have sold him my soul.”
Oliver had no hands to clasp the man with, no smile to reassure him.
I need you to stay fast, man. You took the same oath I did when Bailey recruited you, I’m guessing.
You hold to that.
It did cheer him a bit. “Till St. Peter’s gates, I suppose. Queen and country, and all.”
Good man. I’m happy to have you on my crew, Aaron.
Aaron laughed. “Demoted! I ran my own crew up until three days ago.”
The crew! Oliver looked about.Ah…chum…how do I get back?
“Think up,” he said.
Before Oliver could ask the meaning of that advice, he had followed it. The city dropped away below
him at a fantastic rate, dispersing like wind-blown leaves. Only Mama Engine’s tower of arms remained
and for only an instant.
He breached the red sky and awoke behind the bakery to find a heel of bread sitting on the concrete
beside his right hand, buttered.
He awoke again, into a jarring shake.
Phineas bellowing: “Don’t—bloody—that don’t fuckin’ work, Yank.”
Heckler’s thin face and moustache coated in sweat: “Suh!”
Oliver tried to shove him off, but his strength faded and the arm flopped down. He tried to speak, and
the words came out slurred and useless.
“Get him the tea, woman!”
Phin hauled Heckler back. Missy appeared at Oliver’s side, tilted his head, and poured warm, bitter tea
between his lips.
“What?” he managed, spitting tea onto his chin.
Heckler clenched and unclenched his fists.
“They’re here, suh,” he said. His eyes quavered in their sockets. “The cloaks, suh. Dozens of them. And
the neighbourhood folk all on their tails.”
Phin spat onto the floor. “Cap’n, 1812 about to break out.”
“Oh, not again” escaped Oliver’s lips. Images of the Uprising flooded his brain: fire reaching to the upper
concourse, bodies left in gutters and streets, gunfire, and the hot, close confines of those tunnels they’d
built, where for endless hours Oliver and his men had sat and listened to friends and families and
neighbours scream and weep and finally fall silent.Not again. Not because of me.
He met the eyes of the others, anxious, expectant eyes, waiting for him to give the word.
Missy’s finger wiped a drop of tea that clung to his lips.
“They need you,” she said.
He extended her an arm. “Help me up”
Westerton was not above taking pleasure in his work. Those well-to-do ninnies at headquarters seemed
to frown on anything but grim-faced, joyless discipline. They said it was Grandfather Clock’s way,
efficiency over emotion. Westerton disagreed. Grandfather Clock’s way was for all parts to work
together according to a single Purpose. Each part had a Function, and no part—certainly not those
stiff-nosed codgers at the Stack—could impose its Function on another.
When I’m in charge I’ll drum them out and make them into fucking Catholics.
They’d told him his understanding would grow as his brass bones and copper nerves did. He’d told
them that he was the way he was because the Lord wanted him that way. At least they’d had the
intelligence to let him lead the attack—there was no better man for the job of vengeance than Marcus
“There’s no place to go, you scoundrels!” he cried. “I’ve denied you every exit. I’ve a man covering
every window. Come out now or I’ll have my men blast that door apart and execute every last one of
His voice rang satisfactorily in the cavern beneath the Shadwell Concourse. Now if only he’d had
something spectacular to wear to the occasion. His two best suits had been ruined by these foul Britons,
leaving him with an old tweed frock coat, moth-eaten at the cuffs, and slacks without a crease or proper
hemming. They’d also soiled his hat with so much of his own blood it might never come clean.
Ah, there was the anger again. Good.
The man beside him—Westerton hadn’t bothered to learn his name; he was a foul-aspected
churl—gestured with his rifle to the upper floor.
“Som’un in the window.”
Westerton followed his gaze.
“Well, bloody shoot him, then,” Westerton ordered. “Show him we’re in earnest.”
The man locked his rifle to his shoulder and let fly an expert shot that caved the glass and tore aside the
“Ha-ha!” Westerton bellowed. “There’s a dishing of the Lord’s Justice!”
“Din’ get ’im,” the man said, lowering his rifle.
Westerton wheeled on him. “Simpleton! I’ll do it next time.” He drew his weapon. Those few hours in
the noxious and corrosive air of the downstreets had marred its perfect finish.
By the Lord’s name, what a horror.The downstreets were much worse than anything he’d ever heard of
them: the air, the stench, the dark, and those loathsome mutant wretches that wandered the place. It had
ruined his suit, pocket watch, and much of his skin during the fall. Only faith had kept him alive, and his
prayer that the Lord would bring him back to Harmony. And so He had. Rage and devotion had fueled Westerton’s rapid and tireless climb back to the Lord’s realm.
Now revenge was only ten paces away.
“Come out, you bastards!” He discharged his weapon into the tenement’s front door, punching a hole in
it and nearly splitting it down the centre. “I’ll crush your heads with my bare hands.”
Was that not a rallying cry? Was that not a marvellous cue for his assemblage of brutes to cheer?
He turned to the churl at his side. “What is wrong with your men? Don’t they enjoy working the Lord’s
The man ground his bestial jaw. “The folk, gots a queer look on ’em.”
Westerton turned around and surveyed the vast crowd of Shadwell’s wretches that had gathered to
“What, these beggars?” Westerton said. “Pay them no mind.”
“Sir, they’s angry wit us. Some’s armed theyselves.”
Westerton squinted at them.(Damn this infernal dark!) Therewas something shifty about them, some
gleam in their eyes like hungry dogs. Some indeed carried weapons—butcher’s knives, crowbars, pipes.
Not a one of them carried so much as a pistol.
“Pay them no mind, I said,” Westerton ordered. “They think they can best us with little bits of steel. Let
them try.”
Westerton pivoted back to the tenement. “You have a ten count, rebels! Then we make sieves out of the
lot of you.”
“He’s got a set of pipes, that one,” Phineas grumbled.
Oliver leaned heavily on Missy’s shoulder for support. The potion had drained nearly all strength from
his muscles.
“Bergen, what do you see?” he called.
The German called down from the mezzanine. “Three dozen. All armed. Rough men. We won’t be able
to bargain.”
“Not with that fop,” Hews said. “Loud-mouthed braggart. How many times have we killed that man,
Bergen’s window exploded. The German flattened himself against the wall.
“Are you hit?” Hews called.
“Nein,”Bergen said. “A magnificent shot, though.”
“Bergen, are you well enough to fire that cannon of yours?”
A savage gleam came into the man’s eye. He ran to fetch it.
“Heckler, take his post. Hews, the other window. And don’t be seen.”
The two men ran to their positions without question.
Phineas shrunk to the floor, quaking, his hands clamped over his ears.
And it will certainly get louder.
Oliver turned to find Missy staring at him with a fire in her gaze, her jaw set. Her eyes were a pearly,
almost opalescent blue, and completely unafraid.
“Michelle,” he said. “Get Phineas and the doctor down into the tunnels.”
“Oh? So I’m to run off and leave the killing and the dying to the men, is that it?”
“For the love of God, woman, not now! I needshooters, Missy. No amount of smiles or sashaying will
help us right now.”
“You ungrateful swine!”
“This is not a debate,” Oliver said. “Move your feet or we’ll have words.”
Missy snorted. “I quite think we’re having words now.”
The door exploded. An instant later, a piece of the staircase followed suit. One or both of them yelped
and together they dove towards the side hall, landing in a heap of tangled limbs.
Oliver coughed as dust and wood chips cascaded through the air. “You’re all right?” he asked.
“The picture of health,” Missy snapped.
Tom and Dr. Chestle appeared in the hallway arch.
“Ho, ho!” Tom said, clutching his gut with one hand. “Hardly the place, now, birds.”
Missy shoved herself away and stood.
“What’s going on?” the doctor asked.
Without another word, Missy grabbed Phin’s sleeve and then the doctor’s and more or less dragged
them into the hall.
Thomas, now dressed in his soiled shirt and oversized jacket and sporting a boy’s cap on his head, bent
down and hoisted Oliver to his feet with a one-handed jerk.
“How now, Chief?” he said. “You seem out of sorts.”
Oliver tried unsuccessfully to stand under his own power, and fell back on Tommy’s arm. “Hewey!
What’s the word?”
“Westerton’s rallying the troops, I think. First line’s coming up to fire.”
“What about the crowd?”
A pause. “They’re keeping back.”
Good.But how long would that last? This had to end quickly, before the anger of those poor coves
overwhelmed their good sense.
“Find some brick or steel for cover,” Oliver ordered. “Don’t return fire.”
Heckler froze in the middle of cocking his Winchester. His expression spoke his opinion of that order.
Hews saw it as well. “Swallow it, lad,” Hews told him. “Find cover.”
“Us too, Tommy.”
Tom pulled them both up against the thick arch of brick around the door.
The cloaks’ first volley burst like firecrackers and pieces of plaster and glass rained down on the foyer
and the stairs. Two more volleys rang out, the cloaks firing with precision timing.
In the silence following, Westerton boomed again.
“Inside, my Brothers! Glory to the Harmony! Glory to the Great Machine! Bring them to me, my
Footsteps approached the front door.
“Tommy!” Oliver hissed.
The big man looked at him in confusion.
“The traps, Tom!”
Tom swallowed Oliver in a hug and dove into the corner.
The first cloak kicked in the front door. The bolt disconnected from the doorjamb, causing a copper
latch to fall into its vacant place. The latch touched a copper plate, freeing electricity to run from a hidden
chemical battery into the four sticks of dynamite embedded in the brick.
The ensuing thunder ate the four or five cloaks closest to the door. The whole of Sherwood shook with
the blast. Portraits crashed to the floor upstairs; more plaster and glass toppled from above. Oliver felt
heavy impacts on Thomas’ back, but the big man, braced shoulder to the wall, held fast.
Oliver choked on a lungful of dust and Tommy’s oily odour. He heard and felt the grinding in his friend’s
abdomen. He swallowed to moisten his throat.
“Ready!” he called.
Tom released him, stood, and turned. Oliver slumped against the wall, finding some strength in his legs,
and fished out his derringer. He checked above: Hews had his Bulldog out, Heckler, his Winchester.
And Bergen stood atop the stairs like a Greek god.
Three cloaked ruffians streamed through the door. Hews and Heckler set upon them instantly, raining
fire down from above on both sides. One cloak fell dead; the others simply reeled aside as more came
through. Oliver added his derringer to the barrage; Tommy hurled a brick. Together they subdued this
next group, but as the third one came through Oliver realised both he and Hews were out of ammunition,
and Heckler would be soon.
Oliver scrambled to reload.
“I send you to your places in hell,” Bergen growled. Oliver grabbed Tom by the suspenders and
dragged him back.
The noise alone shattered all the windows at the front of the building. The round burst one cloak into
strips of red and brass. A steam cloud streaked after the bullet, cracking with white electricity, which
lanced through the whole crowd of canaries. As one, they spasmed and dropped, smoking and twitching,
to the floor.
“Mother of Jesus!”
Oliver didn’t know who’d said that.
In the blink of an eye twelve Brothers died. Just outside the door, steam rose from a hole large enough
to fall through.
If the functionality still existed in his organs, Westerton might have pissed himself.
“What was that?” he cried. He snatched the churl’s sleeve. “What was it?”
“I dunno,” the other man muttered.
“Egads! What on the Lady’s black Earth could do such a thing? How would rebels get ahold of it?”
Lord Grandfather, protect me.
The Brothers’ eyes fixed on him, their faces all identical looks of astonishment.
“What? Do you need me to tell you what to do? Kill them, you simpletons!”
When the Brothers hesitated, the crowd on their fringe shifted uneasily. Some raised their weapons.
“Do you want a fight?” Westerton yelled at them. “Then come and get one. We’ll butcher you all!”
At that instant shots rang out from the tenement and the crowd surged forward.
The Brothers, distracted by the shots of the rebels, did not gun down the crowd as Westerton had
imagined. The outer line of Brothers fell beneath iron pots and crowbars, screaming and panicking.
More shots rang out from the tenement, felling two more Brothers close at hand.
“I refuse to let you win again, you villain,” Westerton bellowed. He raised his revolver and blew one of
the crowd to mist. Then he charged the headquarters of his nemesis. Bullets hammered through his vest
and coat, lodging in the mechanisms of his body. His next two shots destroyed large stretches of wall.
“I will avenge you, Brothers!” Westerton screamed as he barrelled through the shattered arch. “In the
Lord’s name and the pursuit of Harmony!”
On the other side of the doorway was a staircase, winding tightly around a support beam. At the top of
the staircase, clearly visible through a gap between smaller beams, stood the largest gun Westerton had
ever seen.
“Fucking…” was all he had time to say.
An impact hammered his right shoulder and tore his arm from his body. His collarbone and ribs
collapsed on that side. He spun wildly, careering off the archway.
Lord, protect me…
Blistering steam rushed over him, searing exposed skin and eyes. Cracking lightning followed and…
Oh, by the Lord, the pain!He couldn’t stand, couldn’t feel…
The floor struck him in the face. His whole body burned, inside and out. Oil flooded his mouth and heat
seared his brain. In an instant, senses and thoughts burned away, leaving only agony and rage.
Huge hands clamped around his neck and began closing with the force of a dozen steam-powered lifting
The fucking crow!
His remaining arm shrieked and bent as he lifted it, but it obeyed him. With a towering effort of will, he
lashed out at his attacker. The brass bones in his fingers sank deep into slick flesh. He tore it back and
struck again, this time latching on to thick bones. He squeezed and twisted these, yanking them from
beneath the skin. The pressure on his neck released and he drew a halting breath.
Another body tackled him from the side, this one lighter, flimsier. Westerton glanced down. Even
through the white streaks that marred his vision, he recognized the drawn face of his nemesis.
Nothing noble or eloquent came up Westerton’s throat, then, just shrill, bell-like laughter.
He yanked his fingers free of the other brute’s rib cage and shot them out at his adversary’s throat. He
squealed with glee as they found purchase around a soft, human windpipe.
One quick twist, one tick of the clock.
Massive hands hauled his fingers back, robbing him of his prise. He struck out with his other arm,
forgetting it was lost.
Then the bullets came into him. Round after round, six, ten, twenty penetrated into the core of his body,
denting bones, knocking gears apart, twisting springs. His body shuddered, and with a curse on his lips
he passed out of harmony and fell still.
Thomas collapsed.
Oliver forgot his burning throat. He wheezed his friend’s name and reached out to him over a stretch of
floor impossibly long.
Thomas Moore: the latest victim of Oliver Sumner’s ill-fated crusade.
Oliver’s vision ran with black spots and then vertigo conquered him. Through reeling perceptions, he
watched Heckler rush up to the fallen cloak and put three more shots into him. The young American then
ran to the door, sidled up against the remaining brick, and began shooting outside.
Oliver concentrated through the ringing of gunfire and the dulled sounds of combat and strained to hear
the only thing that mattered to him: Tommy’s breathing.
It was the German’s voice he heard. “You must get to safety.” Bergen lifted Oliver by the collar and
dragged him to the side of the room.
“Check him,” Oliver whispered.
“If he lives, he lives,” Bergen said. Bullets pinged off the beams above. Bergen deposited him just inside
the hallway and left him there.
Oliver may have passed out, for the next things he saw were Missy’s moist eyes as she bent over him.
“That’s it, Oliver,” she said. “It seems I’m to be the one taking care of you.”
She held a canteen to his lips and he drank like a camel. When he was done she wiped the excess off his
His first question: “Tommy?”
For a single instant, Missy’s face betrayed her panic, and then she was as calm and as soft as could be.
“The doctor is working on him now. They want to speak to you when you’re ready.”
Whoever remains.“Help me up.”
Missy hoisted him with surprising ease, given her small frame. With him leaning on her for balance, they
hobbled into the foyer. Thomas lay in a corner, splattered in slick blood. Dr. Chestle knelt over him,
covered to his elbows in gore, while Phin looked on. At Oliver’s entrance, the sailor looked up, and
shared a gaze that communicated the hopelessness of the situation.
“A saw,” the doctor said. “I must have a hacksaw, or anything that will cut iron.”
Phineas hastened to obey, a pronounced stoop in his step. Oliver’s gaze fell back to Tom.
I can’t help him,Oliver told himself.If he lives, he lives. Then,I’ve seen him weather worse. He hadn’t,
but it was a comforting lie.
Reluctantly, he pulled his eyes from his friend and allowed Missy to guide him to the front door. Outside,
he found Hews supervising the disposal of the dead cloaks and the distribution of their firearms. The
townsmen were carrying the bodies one by one and tossing them off the side of the Underbelly, not half a
block away.
As soon as they saw Oliver, the pointing and the questions began.
“Were they after you, Oliver?”
“What in heaven’s name’ve you got in there?”
“Are we going back to war?”
“What do you need us to do, Oliver?”
Oliver gestured to Hews, who mounted Sherwood’s front steps and turned to the crowd. “Quiet! We
can do nothing until we all settle down and hold civilised council like civilised men.”
The shouting died off, though murmurs continued. Oliver looked out on the sea of faces, stained with
soot, blood, oil, some with tears. It was a force all its own, the mob anger, something beyond reason and
beyond control.
A man Oliver knew, a baker, stepped from the crowd, his ribbon-thin teenage son with him. He still
wore his apron and working shirt, covered in flour and ash and with the sleeves rolled up. The prints of
bloody fingers stained the corners of his apron.
“Oliver, we know you’re up to something. The whole place’s buzzing ’round it,” He began. “We want
Oliver swallowed. “Fred…” he began.
“You killed them, didn’t you?” said the baker, moustache twitching rapidly as he spoke. “Ain’t no one
who’s done it before, but you did, and the whole town knows it. We heard the battle down there, and lo,
no Ironboys climbing back up. Just you. A cove draws that like a chalk X.”
“Fred…” Oliver tried again.
The baker blundered ahead. “And what with these canaries showing up on your doorstep, we know
you’ve got something new. We’re sick of it, Oliver. I’ve been mixing ash in my flour for weeks, and
yesterday this crow comes a-knocking saying my boy’s got to go to work in some factory starting his
next birthday. We want in.”
How do I say no?Wasn’t this what he had longed for—the average man finally digging in his heels?
Hews leaned in close to him and whispered in his ear. “They’re willing, lad. You can’t deny a man his
proper time.”
For an instant Oliver was aware only of the hundred pairs of eyes on him.
They wanted to fight. Oliver had felt it for five long years—in their stares, in their none-so-casual
greetings, in their body language. Since the Uprising’s bloody end, it had been simmering in the back of
the minds of every survivor. Oliver had ignored it, placated it, redirected it, but now, with some forty
cloaks murdered in the street, they were going to have war no matter Oliver’s fears.
It’s a second chance. It’s a chance to do it right.
He tapped Missy lightly on the shoulder and, with some hesitation, she withdrew her support. Oliver
wobbled a little but stayed upright. He gave the baker a smile, clasped his shoulder, and stared over him
at the crowd beyond.
“All right, listen, now,” he called. “I need all of you to prepare, as the Boiler Men may be down here in a
matter of hours. I need the tunnels reopened and stocked. I need a weapon placed in the hand of every
able-bodied man, and I need everyone incapable of fighting evacuated to the tunnels. I need any other
cloaks in the Underbelly dealt with, and I need barricades set up on the Parade outside the lift station.”
Immediately, the fevered undercurrent stilled, and the crowd buzzed with galvanized energy. A rush of
excitement filled Oliver toes to crown, a sensation of confidence and competence and indestructibility,
and for an instant he forgot the Uprising, and remembered why he’d led them.
“And I need every explosive that can be found placed in the hands of this man.” He pointed to Heckler.
“I need all this done in one hour, gentlemen. One single hour.”
They held still, waiting for more.
Hews leaned forward. “Now,you slack-jawed cockneys! Hop to it.”
The men ran in all directions. The baker grabbed his son by the shoulder. “Now we give ’em what’s
coming,” he said, and they both bolted away.
Oliver watched them hustle, swollen with pride for the few instants before he remembered how many of
them would likely be dead by midnight.
“Goodness,” Missy breathed. “You have them trained like hounds.”
Hews chuckled. “One needn’t train a hound to sniff, lass, nor to chase a hare. All the same, you’re a
regular John Bull, lad.”
Oliver nodded, surprised to find a grin spreading over his lips.
“So they say.”