Sunday, the 28th of January, De Anno Domini 1900
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Dear Cousin Fiona:
Sure, and shouldn't I have known it? 'Twas the Good Lord Himself who stayed Professor Wells from killin' himself this past New Year's Eve, but I'm thinkin' that Providence need not have intervened if I had been rememberin' to tell the Professor about the dust.
At first I was about mindin' me own business. Professor Wells is a fine employer and it is not me proper business to complain if he asks me to clean the dust from his laboratory once every second month or so. The quantity to be swept up was not large in any case. Oh, but what strange dust it was! It glittered like it was full of ground up jewels and it flashed all the colors of the rainbow as I was sweepin' it up. It was at the end of November that I thought to save a little of it in an empty marmalade jar. At the time I believed that the Professor knew what it was and I was thinkin' of askin' him about it for the satisfyin' of my own curiosity.
Ah, but the celebration of Our Lord's Birth was fast upon us and the rememberin' of the dust was lost in the joy of that blessed season. What with the extra shoppin' and the cookin' and the cleanin', where was I to find time to be rememberin' trivialities? Now that I think back on that time I remember sayin' to Professor Wells somethin' about not havin' enough hours in the day and when I did so the strangest look came over his face, as though my words had called up into his mind some great and wonderful secret.
For the celebratin' of the New Year the Professor invited four of his closest friends to dinner. I was pleased to see the gentlemen linger over the fine repast I had prepared for them and they were in a fine good humor when they retired to the parlor, where the Professor intended to demonstrate one of his experiments. From the little pieces of conversation that me ears snatched up as I waited upon the gentlemen I gathered that Professor Wells had invented a new kind of horseless carriage and what a novelty it was! Why, instead of carryin' its rider around the town and the countryside, Professor Wells' newfangled carriage would be carryin' its rider into next week or back to last year! One of the Professor's friends, Doctor Philby, called it a temporal carriage. It was a miniature temporal carriage that the Professor demonstrated to his friends in his experiment.
The new century came in without incident and Professor Wells' guests took their leave. I went to the parlor for the removin' of the glasses and the plates and when I entered the room I smelled cigar smoke. That smell puzzled me, because I had not seen any of the gentlemen smokin' that evenin'. I had gained the impression that the Professor's presentation had so astounded the gentlemen they had forgotten their tobacco. When I commented on the smell to the Professor he seemed as puzzled as I and he declared that neither he nor any of his friends had indulged the smokin' habit that evenin'. The only tobacco he had seen was that of one of Doctor Philby's cigars, which he had bent to show how a rider would sit in the miniature temporal carriage that he then sent into next week.
While the Professor and I were attemptin' to locate the source of the smell, we heard a knock at the door. Professor Wells answered the knock and, sure enough, Doctor Philby came in sayin' that he had forgotten to take his gloves (the man is forever forgettin' somethin' or another). He recognized the smell immediately and was as puzzled by it as we were. It was in the parlor then that we noticed the dust. A light sprinklin' of it was siftin' all glittery and shimmery out of thin air as if the Fair Folk were about bestowin' a blessin' upon us. Other odors were presented to us as well, ones with which I was not familiar, though I would have guessed that they were of a smoky nature.
And then it was that Doctor Philby became mightily agitated. He began to jabber on about the Connetycut theory of gases as though we all knew the Alpha and the Omega of it and wasn't I just thinkin' of our own dear cousin Patrick livin' all these years in Hartford and never mentionin' a word of it? Most of what the good Doctor said made no sense at all, but I did understand enough to make out the notion that the Molly Cues of the air dance an endless jig to keep the air warm and that near Professor Wells' new carriages they go into such a frenzy as to make the air itself run a high fever. "It's not your stoppin' mechanism that's failin= ," says he. "It's your carriage that's burnin' up and turnin' to dust."
I knew that Professor Wells was sorely disappointed by that news, but the look on his face, I swear it, was that of a man who has heard the wail of the Bean Sidhe. There was a strange dread come over me then and I formed the resolve that I would not leave the Professor alone until he was in a less distraught state of mind. After Doctor Philby took his leave I stayed with the Professor and tried to restore to him some small measure of the good cheer he had lost. Oh, and wasn't I full of the Blarney that night? I waxed enthusiastic over the reception that I believed that the Royal Society would give him upon receivin' the news of his discovery. I even suggested that he might be granted one of the scientific prizes established in the will of the late Mister Alfred Nobel. Lookin' back on it now, I can see that I might as well have been talkin' to a deaf man, so lost was the Professor in his gloom. He went straight to his laboratory and, as if not noticin' me at all, opened it.
Have you ever seen somethin' so beautiful that it made you want to weep? And so horrible as to make you believe that it's the Devil's own work? I saw it, in the middle of Professor Wells' laboratory, a temporal carriage big enough to carry himself. Suddenly understandin' what the Professor had intended to do that very night gave me such a shock as to make me faint dead away.
Well, the next thing I knew I was lyin' on me bed with a coverlet over me and Professor Wells was sittin' in a chair inquirin' after me health. Isn't it amazin' how a woman's faint can draw a man's attention as her words can never do? I believe the Professor sensed somethin' of the shame of that state of affairs; for he apologized to me and explained that he has no interest in prizes and awards. It seems that he wanted to use his temporal carriage to explore History, to draw lessons that could be used to the greater benefit of Humanity. The Good Lord must have been payin' us particular attention just then and been thinkin' to Himself, "Wantin' to benefit Humanity, is he?", because the next moment a thought came into me head as clearly as if someone had told it to me through the telephone. The Professor, bless his soul, was slow to catch on when I told it to him, but when it took hold of his imagination he went at its implementation with a powerful will.
So now the temporal carriage, suitably modified, sits in me kitchen. It has been cookin' me Sunday dinner as I write this letter and isn't that a blessin'? Sure, the revolvin' of the giant disc is a bit of a distraction, but for the past two weeks your cousin has not had to fetch so much as a lump of coal from the cellar for the cookin' of the meals. And currently Professor Wells is workin' to build a temporal cabinet for the heatin' of the bathin' and washin' water. He even believes that he can reverse the temporal "fluxes" or somesuch and make a temporal cabinet that will be refrigeratin' our food. Now won't that be a blessin' when summer comes?
I must close now, but I shall write soon with more news about Professor Wells' temporal appliances. Wishin' you and your family all the best, I remain
Your lovin' cousin,
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