Three Quotations

(August 21st to 28th)

1. …The turbines whistle reflectively. From the low-arched expansion-tanks on either side, the valves descend pillar-wise to the turbine-chests, and thence the obedient gas whirls through the spirals of blades with a force that would whip the teeth out of a power saw. Behind, is its own pressure held in leash, or spurred on by the lift-shunts… This is from "With the Night Mail" in Actions and Reactions.

It is one of the most elaborate of Kipling's science fiction tales, in which - as early as 1909 - he imagines a whole new technology for airships, based on 'Fleury's Ray'. The story describes a trip across the Atlantic in an aerial liner of the year 2000.

2. . ' ..The forward engine had no more work to do. Its released piston-rod, therefore, drove up fiercely, with nothing to check it, and started most of the nuts of the cylinder-cover. It came down again, the full weight of the steam behind it, and the foot of the disconnected connecting rod, as useless as the leg of a man with a sprained ankle, flung out to the right and struck the starboard, or right-hand, cast-iron supporting column of the forward engine, cracking it clean through…' This is from "The Devil and the Deep Sea", in The Day's Work.

A British ship has been illicitly gathering pearls in far-eastern waters. This passage describes the drastic effect on its engines of the arrival of a five-inch shell from the local fishery protection patrol. Later, the crew will take their revenge, by patching up the damage and sinking their vessel in the path of the foreign warship.

3. ...All three cylinders were white with the salt spray that had come down through the engine-room hatch; there was white fur on the canvas-bound steam-pipes, and even the bright-work deep below was speckled and soiled; but the cylinders had learned to make the most of steam that was half water, and were pounding along cheerfully… This is from "The Ship that Found Herself" in The Day's Work.

It describes the first Atlantic crossing of a new steamer, and the way the different parts of the new structure knit together, as the ship settles down to its job of coping with the real-life strains and stresses of the high seas.