Electricity, " Purva said, rolling the strange new word around in her mouth, giving it at once an Australian and a French inflection. "Sir William was playing around with it when we met, do you remember?" Jack said to Clare. "He was storing charges in boxes." "I remember he was blowing things up, " Clare replied. "Six of one... " Jack grinned. "Nobody really knows how it works, but down here it powers most of the lights in the big cities and parts of the automobiles and the stoves in the train kitchen. You can store the power in blocks, then hook it up to anything you might otherwise run on a boiler. It's cooler, and the blocks last longer than coal. I think I can reproduce it when we get home, if I can take enough schematics with me." "He is going to kill himself, " Purva said, but her tone was casual, not overly worried. "I'm not going to kill myself, " Jack answered, equally casual. "Just because it can cause your heart to stop doesn't mean it always does.
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You say great artists sell their souls for their art?" "Maybe, " she ventured. "That's true, I suppose. If you're doing it right, anyway. I've probably sold mine. Jack's certainly sold his. And you, I imagine." "I have not!" she said, anger showing clear in her eyes. "Not literally, " he said hastily. "But we give up being a person to be an artist, don't we?
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Do Engineers have stories, Jack?" he asked. "What?" Jack said, without moving. "Stories. Myths. Things to keep the boredom out on a long shift." "I think they play cards, mostly, " Jack answered. It was a lie, but he told it with surprising deftness; not a waver in his voice or a hesitation in his words. Only the tightening of his shoulders told Ellis he was lying.
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You must live a very free life." "Me?" she laughed. "I am not who swoops out of the sky to rain fire on pirates!" "Yeah, but before this I never did much. I mean I did a lot, but... I lived in a room at a university, and my whole world was in that little room. There was this world inside my head." De la Fitte studied his head as if she could see through his skull to a little globe inside it somewhere.
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I mean it. Aside from the old coastal cities, which in Australia are still very young themselves, what you have is a vast stretch of wilderness, wholly natural, with all the horror that nature brings to the table when she dines." "You make it sound like we'll barely survive, " Clare said. "Oh, I'm sure we will, at least the journey to Port Darwin. From there we won't have to struggle with anything more lethal than a train carriage, I hope. My point is that this is a young country in an old land. And those who don't walk with respect in the wilderness do have a tendency to get eaten.
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