Gráinne was bored. Outwardly, her expression didn’t change as she stared out the window, absently watching the waves in the bay, but she was still feeling peevish about being chased out of the library earlier that morning. Sure, her mother and father-in-law needed to discuss something in quiet with Aidan, but did it really have to be when she had just curled up in the armchair? And it wasn’t her shift on the wireless scanning rota, so she couldn’t even make herself useful by listening to the enciphered messages that Aidan suspected were coming from somewhere named Cruagh Island.
Her train of thought didn’t so much leap as make a sharp right-hand turn into wondering who they were meant for, and if it was possible to reach across the sea with these radio waves. Not the immediate one between Cleggan and Inishbofin, but the wider sea out towards North America. And if so, could they reach the other side of the world…and if so, could they be used to send something other than dotted bleeps and dashed creeps?
She started to picture a world where moving images were sent across the world in seconds,with sound,showing the people on the other end what those on the first end looked and sounded like. A world of endless opportunity. One where it was possible to discuss electrical apparatuses – apparati, surely – with people in Terra Australis, partake in a tea session with relatives who had moved to Southern America, even watch the sun rise over Italy, all from one’s own living room…
One side of her mouth subtly lifted as she pictured Deirdre waving goodbye to her on the canal dock underneath Binn Bhán after her marriage. The barge had been pulled by two draft horses, but she saw no reason it couldn’t have used an electrical motor to propel or pull itself along the canal. Perhaps the tram/mining carts on the cartways that riddled the tunnels could also be electrically powered…but where would it come from?
A flash of multiple lights in the distance got her attention. It looked like the sun had come out to say hello to the stained glass windows on the church down in the village. Was it possible to power things via sunlight? How did the sun even work, anyway? And how would it be any use during the night…unless she could somehow store it inside Leyden jars?
She had seen windmills on a few of the hilltops, rebuilt after a storm or a long-forgotten artillery bombardment. Almost invariably they were used for grinding down oats or other plants, but what if they could be turned into electrical generators? If so…perhaps they could be used to recharge the Leyden jars! But what if there was no wind?
Her smile broadened as she focussed on the waves again. Of course! The tide came in and out at regular intervals, regular enough for hide tide or low tide to be predicted to within five minutes. Perhaps a dynamo placed somewhere along the shore could create a current as the waves hit it. There would have to be a lot of them, but there was a lot of coastline around Connemara. One of them would have to be acceptable…
And then she remembered who Aidan’s family were and where they all lived, and the whole idea fell apart. The Earl and Countess were smugglers, and quite happy to manage them – they would likely be interested only in arranging dropoffs or tracking the League’s corvettes. To say nothing of the League themselves – some of the messages she had received that weren’t enciphered had turned out to be exhortations to destroy all Fomorians. She’d never received a good explanation for why they thought that.
Come to think of it, did the remaining Fir na dTollán cities outside Connemara have anything like that? Or the British settlements like Galway, Dublin, or Belfast? If they were able to put a railway line from Galway out to Uachtar Ard and to Carraroe to support their garrisons down there, then surely-
Three quick raps at the door broke her concentration with a start. Gráinne turned to face the door, and before she could ask who it was, the door slid open to reveal Miss Doyle with a very unhappy expression on her face. It look as though Gráinne had, without realising it, made some massive faux pas that would likely result in being given a tongue lashing for something nobody had told her not to do or say.
“Gráinne, the Earl and Countess need to speak with you,” Miss Doyle began. “They say they want your help with something.”
This was originally going to be about reality going out to lunch, but Gráinne’s thought processes took on a life of their own. Since she’s used to things forgetting how to physics, she’d probably barely notice that sort of thing.
As usual, here’s a PDF version.