Perilous Artifacts: The Mast
She led the way to a private lift; an ornate wrought iron contraption with a pair of levers extending upward from the oak plank flooring. The guard shifted one of the levers. On a cloud of steam, they rose into the air following the inner curve of one of the great pylons. They passed the upper observation decks without stopping, arriving at the topmost floor where the Manager of the Mast ruled with an iron fist.
The gentry and aristocracy, and all the elites of the city quailed and shuddered in their boots at the mere mention of this holy ground. Nevertheless, Lady Carew smiled serenely and sallied forth from the elevator, secure in her expectation of welcome. In her shadow, Olive felt safe from the manager’s retribution, though she cast a questioning glance at Pieter. Did he know what it was to fear in this proscribed place?
Pieter, though, had thrown his head back and opened his arms wide. His eyes closed and a smile played across his lips as the gentle breeze gusting about the platform tousled his hair into disarray. “What a perfect day!” he exclaimed.
“Indeed, Mister Carew,” a gruff voice spoke from the shadow of the conning tower. “A finer day for a visitation from the skies couldn’t be asked for than this.”
Pieter opened his eyes and strode forward to grasp the Manager’s hand and pump it enthusiastically. Olive tried not to goggle at the change in his personality.
She had previously thought him rather foolish for going in so much fear of his mother, and now she was forced to evaluate. She had liked him well enough for other reasons, but the respect she might have had for him had seriously eroded, she realized.
When she had previously compared him to Harry, Harry had always seemed the braver, sturdier man. But she knew that Harry would never dare set foot here as a mechanic third class unless ordered to do so as part of his duties. It was highly unlikely, of course, that his current duties would bring him to this level. If a mechanic were needed up here in the domain of the Manager, he wouldn’t be just any mechanic. He would be first class, and not only that, but also first among his peers.
So that begged the question: what sort of a man was Pieter truly if he wasn’t only welcome up here, but if the Manager of the Mast treated him as an equal? Her opinion of him underwent a rapid transformation for the better.
For the next installment (available Tuesdays), read Perilous Artifacts: The Flying City, where Olive learns the real reason for Lady Carew’s odd behavior.
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