More steam is always better

Miss Felicia took a deep breath, and looked at Andrew, who was sitting rather dejectedly on a bench in the ante-room of his workshop. Miss Felicia did not go into the workshop, for fear that one of the hellish contraptions there might pick her up and tear her limb from limb. Purely by accident, of course. If working with Andrew had taught her one thing, it was that he was mentally incapable of wishing harm on anyone, despite his fearsome appearance.

“You should have asked, Andrew,” said Miss Felicia, a kind hand on his big shoulder. “I could have told you.”

Andrew looked up at her. “But my design saves twenty percent in regular-grade coal. I have heard the Chancellor state that he is worried about coal consumption. Also, it increases the pressure by a factor of five.”

“I’m sure it does. But Andrew, did you consider what the hot water boiler was connected to?”

“The bathroom taps and shower facilities, toilets, kitchen appliances, laboratory facilities, the Chancellor’s personal bathroom, the fire fighting equipment, the…”

Miss Felicia waved her hands. “Yes, yes. In short, everything! Those things aren’t designed for that much pressure!”

“Yes, they are. When I put in the designs, I over-dimensioned them by a factor of ten. Except for the dish washing hose, and I replaced that with a heavier version.”

Miss Felicia shook her head. She should know better by now than to argue with Andrew over anything technical. She sat down on the bench next to him and put her arm round his shoulder, as far as it would go, Andrew looked at her strangely, but he had come to accept these things as Part Of Miss Felicia.

“But the people behind those taps aren’t, Andrew. You didn’t tell any of them about your improvements. People don’t like surprises. Luckily, almost nobody was hurt. It could have been so much worse.”

Andrew bowed his head. “They did not read my notes.”

“Or they simply didn’t understand them.”

Miss Felicia looked at the wall oposite the bench. Or they just thought Andrew was an idiot and could be ignored. She should feel sorry for the arrogant sod who had burnt his hand on the hot tap, but honestly, she couldn’t. Sometimes, she tired of being Andrew’s seeing-eye dog in the world of illogical, emotional, unfair people. But not because of anything Andrew did. Poor man couldn’t help it. He didn’t understand people in much the same way she had no hope of understanding his machines. She patted his shoulder once more and got up to fetch another stack of mimeographed letters of apology. She suddenly laughed, looking at Andrew.

“One good thing came out of this, though.”

Andrew looked up at her, and said nothing. Miss Felicia looked at his face. Andrew looked at the floor.

“I’ve never seen the Chancellor this clean in my life!”


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