Chapter three, where Pythagorus is inappropriate…
“Oh,” Mary paused as she stepped onto the porch.
Immediately in front of the house, making an infernal rattling noise, and coughing up smoke, a carriage, but no horses rumbled noisily in the road.
Charles climbed up onto the device with the joy of a child.
“Pythagorus, this is astounding!” he called out, loudly so he could be heard about the din.
Py smiled and swaggered to stand next to the contraption.
“Isn’t it just? I’ve the only one in Chicago. I swear the future is steam powered. My uncle already made his fortune thanks to the steam engine. I’m going to make mine with the rail-less passenger compartment.”
“I do believe Charles has found another scheme to invest our income in dear sister,” Janey confided to Mary as the two women stood on the walk gaping in wonderment at the machine.
The wheels, six of them, varied in size from small baby pram sized ones in the front to standard horse carriage ones in the middle to extra tall high wheeler sized ones in the back. Between the largest wheels, an oak barrel bound with shiny copper perched, with what appeared to be a wood-burning kitchen stove attached at the back.
Charles reached down and positively pulled Janey up into the riding compartment, which was barely more than a platform with benches. It was a good thing the weather today was lovely. Mary didn’t think riding this rail-less monstrosity looked to be particularly comfortable. She grimaced at the thought of being hauled up as if she were live stock or having to sit upon it in the rain.. Her face twisted into what she expected to be a most unpleasant continence.
Her sister was married and didn’t need to behave with propriety, but Mary was betrothed to whom she could only assume was a man of position. She needed a means of ascending to the riding platform with decorum. She turned back to look up at Janey’s house. As expected a good portion of the household staff were inappropriately gawping at Pythagorus’s toy.
“Would one of you fetch me a step stool?” she asked the gathering crowd of staff members. A disheveled young boy disappeared in a flash.
“Mary, Mary, Mary why not allow me to raise you to lofty heights in my arms?” Pythagorus lowered his lids to give Mary a positively indecent leer.
Had the subtext of his meaning missed her ears, his expression did not.
“Mr. Peterson you go too far!” Mary reached up and slapped him smartly across the cheek.
“Mary, how dare you?” Janey cried out.
Py chuckled and rubbed a gloved hand over the smarting cheek.
Mary thought she heard him mutter, “Clearly I haven’t gone far enough.”
She shot him a withering glare.
Py gave her a charming grin and made a sweeping gesture at his rail-less metal beast. “I simple meant it is of no consequence for me to lift you aboard. I humbly beg your pardon for my play of words.”
“Miss.” The small scullery lad held up a step stool, presenting his discovery to Mary and Pythagorus Peterson.
“Well done me boy, well done. If this isn’t just the very thing, we’ll take it with us so that when we arrive at our lunch the ladies may descend without difficulty.” Pythagorus swept the stool away from the lad and ruffled the boy’s hair.
He placed the step in the road and held out his hand so that Mary could step up and step again, reaching the platform without incident. Py tossed the stool up before leaping to join his party.
“Hold on my compatriots, we are going to be heading off at the daring speed of almost fifteen miles an hour.”
“I say Py how did you manage to calculate that?” Charles asked. He held onto on the side rails, and leaned forward, not unlike a daring passenger standing at the bow of a ship as it crashed into the oncoming waves.
Janey pulled at his sleeve. “Come back from there it’s dangerous Charles.”
“You know Nate Phillips?” Pythagorus called from the rear of his contraption.
“Nate Nate the one we hate?”
“The very one!”
“Good friend of mine went to boarding school together. Horsey type these days.”
“Precisely, I put the old girl to her paces up against one of his trotters. We took one of his known runners and she was able to match speed.” Py boasted.
“Couldn’t you just as easily timed a measured distance?” Mary asked. Setting up a horse race with this carriage thing seemed like so much fluff and nonsense.
“Where is the fun in that?” Pythagorus turned his attention to some dials and nobs. “Hold on, off we go!”
And with a mighty lurch and a bellow of smoke, the rail-less passenger compartment rolled its way slowly northbound toward their dining destination.
©2018 Lulu M Sylvian
Join us next month when Mary asks, “Who is that man?”
Catch up from the beginning with Chapter 1