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“Well now, Mister P…” the workman said,

“Seems t’me best thing t’ do is get yon wall opened up with t’door first. That way, all our materials can be kept off t’ street and t’ urchins out, eh wot?”

Your humble narrator wasn’t listening, as he was assisting Miss Flood in pushing some furniture into the northeast corner of the building, well out of the way of the oncoming festivities, and trying not to give in to nausea.

Martien had already partially dismembered the Bombastophone. The speaking horn assemblies now tipped drunkenly on the floor, which was covered with a fine layer of what could be described as mushroom sawdust. The chamber stank of the acrid brew that Martien assured me was a good fungicide, but that wasn’t the cause of our physical upset.

It had to be said that the mushrooms, once dismembered, made a surprisingly good blaze in the furnace. You just had to hold your breath around it. But they weren’t the cause either.

“Once door’s in,” the talkative workman (who was clearly a foreman, since he hadn’t lifted a finger to help us) went on, “We’ll undo t’ tanks and bring ’em through here, see, then take yon horns and things through, stack ’em in t’ southwest corner out t’way. Then t’ eavy liftin’ what with t’ compressor, furnace an’ all.”

“For light relief,” Martien offered with a slightly forced grin, “Perhaps reinstall the Bombastophone?”

“Right good that,” agreed the horny-handed son of toil, “But afore we do, there be t’ small matter o’ puttin’ in pair o’ columns on t’ south wall for t’ new roof.”

“Oh yes,” Martien nodded without much enthusiasm.

“Because with all these glass walls and such, t’ wall won’t be able to support weight, see, and last thing wanted is roof fallin’ on audience. Also,” and he indicated where Martien had been experimenting with his french doors, “we can reuse t’ bricks for t’ interior wall there.”

“Good,” Martien nodded, and Flood and I shared shudders. “We can start moving the machine, I think, and you can start building in about, oh, two days.”

“Two days, sir?” the workman frowned. “Our lads could get cracking tomorrow if ye wanted… you all right sir?”

Martien was looking faint, and went to lean against the control desk and wipe his brow.

“This humble one observes that you look like we all feel,” was my remark to our elder.

“Give us a couple of days, please,” Martien asked the poor fellow, “It’s just that all this effort and stress has brought on a dose of Vita Reali.”

“Ooh, lor’ lumme!” None of us begrudged the poor workman’s edging away from all of us. “Well I ‘ope you gets well soon sir, and you might like t’ try dippin’ your curtains in lime, sir, t’ keep it from spreadin’, well sir, I’d best be gettin’ along sir, an’…”

The door closed quite quickly on his medically-inspired retreat.

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