Lets hear it for the Nerds!
My hero Rhys in , The Dressmaker’s Duke, happens to be a gorgeous geek. Now what woman can resist that combination?He is fascinated with clocks and all things mechanical.
I happened to visit an amazing museum of turn-of-the-century coin operated machines yesterday. This collection had everything from cigar vending machines, to elaborate violin, piano playing music boxes. My favorite was the “Choochee Choochee Girl.” She had fully articulating eyes and hips and the tiny tassels on her breasts swayed with the music. What a delight to witness these amazing works of art in action.
In the excerpt below Rhys, my duke, has made a penguin automaton as a gift for a young boy. It is one of my favorite scenes because I think it illustrates Rhys so perfectly.
Here is a snippet:
“Well, I will not disturb you. No doubt you have much to accomplish,” Olivia said.
“No, please do not leave on my account. I only came to fetch something.” He paused as if he wanted to say more.
“I have no wish to be in your way.”
An odd look came over his face. “You are not in my way. I will only be a moment.” He went to a cupboard below a row of shelves and pulled out an object about seven inches high made of various metal parts. He held it next to his side, almost hiding it. “It is only a toy for our young groom.”
Olivia drew closer.
He hesitated and then held it out as if it were a trifle. “It is meant to be a penguin—a flightless bird that lives in the arctic wastelands.”
Olivia touched its shiny crown. “He is beautiful.”
He frowned again. “It is an automaton,” he said, as if he could not equate science with a thing of beauty. “Made up of old clockworks and scraps of metal. Something I do in my leisure time. I have promised this fellow to young Mathew, our stable boy who is keen on automation.”
“What a lovely gift. It must take infinite patience to create such a thing.” She smiled shyly, and he frowned. “Will you show me how he works?
Silently he crossed to the desk and carefully moved the tray and some papers aside. She stood across the desk from him. He turned the bird’s head and the crown sprang open. Ahhh, she thought, but she must have said it out loud because he looked over at her. A small key in the shape of a fish was revealed, which he removed and set into the toy’s now-open beak. So clever. He carefully turned it three or four times.
Olivia held her breath as if she were waiting for an actual birth. Miraculously, the little bird stuttered a step and then two and three and onward across the desk while its beak opened and shut and stubby wings flapped.
“Oh,” she breathed, her gaze finding his. “I am—”
He ducked his head. “Yes, it required some patience.”
“Your Mathew is a lucky little boy.”
The duke straightened, his lips pulling tight. “No, not so lucky…” but he did not elaborate.
“Well,” she said breaking the lingering silence, “I believe I will go rest now. If you will excuse me?”
“Mrs. Weston?” She stopped halfway to the door. Ah, we are back to Mrs. Weston. “I trust you are improved?” He took a step toward her. “Are you well?”
His words spoke of something much deeper than her mere physical health.
“Yes.” She tried to smile. “I am quite recovered. Indeed, I do not see how I could avoid it as I have had every attention possible. Keep this up, sir, and I will never want to leave you.” Oh, had she really said that? The flush sweeping over her assured her that she had.
His face remained unfathomable, but his eyes looked so…yearning.
To see an automaton in action click below:
Friday, April 11, 2014