November 28, 2012 by Steampunkish Graphic Novels
An hour later, a seal to the outside air in the Diane’s passenger cabin was broken. Because of the comparitive silence of the trip, its sound disturbed the conversation of the men in the smoking room, being closest to the door. Mister Coggins, part owner of the Diane, placed his cigar on a tray and excused himself from a discussion to see what was happening. As he approached the seal. he saw a figure fully covered in leather and woolen clothing step into the compartment, his face covered by an eerie leather facemask with bug-like goggles.
“Jacob? Is that you?”
Jacob pulled off the facemask, which was already fogging up in the tepid cabin space.
“I just wanted to step in, sir – to see how you are faring.” Jacob looked to the left of the elder gentlemen, trying to see further into the passenger cabin. His benefactor looked at him critically and moved to block Jacob’s view.
“I fare well, Jacob. Dear boy, I have nothing but the utmost respect for your skills as a rigger and your feel for sailships in general. But, you are still supposed to be outside the vessel, minding stability of the Diane for our clients.”
“Oh, it’s fine.” Jacob said, distractedly. “The winds are pretty even today and we haven’t seen any change in over an hour. It’s almost perfect-” The older man stopped Jacob, looking him in the eye.
“Jacob, I saw you earlier and though my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, it’s fairly obvious that girl has you quite smitten.”
He had just caught sight of Catherine through the smoking curtain as Mister Coggins made his point. The old man didn’t miss much, and Jacob knew better than to play dumb now. His shoulders dropped in disappointment.
“I suppose it couldn’t hurt to give our guests a grand tour of the workings of the Diane, could it?” He raised an eyebrow at Jacob. His benefactor stepped back into the passenger cabin, beckoning for him to follow with a sly grin on his face.
“Attention everyone!” The old man announced, “I am Phineas Theodore Coggins and part owner of the Diane, the vessel you have taken passage on. I love skyships as much as anyone can, they are beautiful vessels. But, none hold my heart as dear as the Diane, the one you are aboard at this very moment.”
The crowd was captivated by his performance. Jacob gave a chuckle, guessing what was next. Coggins had, in his early life, been a sideshow entertainer and his ability to influence a crowd was second to none.
“Now while I know this ship inside out, I have brought young Jacob Foster here today, one of the Diane’s crew. He can explain the workings of this vessel in ways that only a true skyship sailor can express. Jacob is both the youngest sailor on the Diane and also the whole of our fleet. He is also, in my opinion, one of the best in our employ.”
Mister Coggins turned and gave Jacob a wink that almost made him blush.
“Jacob, would you please step forward to educate these people on the nature of skyships?”
With that, Mister Coggins turned to Jacob and began to clap until the entire cabin had joined him. The twinkle of the old man’s eyes laughed at him as Jacob was ushered into the center of the cabin. Measuring up to that performance was going to be a struggle.
Jacob stepped forward and bowed to passengers twice, once to the whole group and a second time directly at Catherine. She shook her head with a smile and cheered with the rest.