Reader’s Letter: An Amazing Invention

October 14, 1906 ·

Dearest Sasha,

Do you remember I had told you about my friend Mr Edgar who works at the difference engine factory as an engineer? Recently I had not seen or heard from him for a significant number of days. As I began to become concerned I started trying to trace him through various contacts. Eventually I found a friend of his who worked at the same factory.

It turned out Mr Edgar had been the victim of an industrial accident. He had been fixing some machinery on the factory floor when something went wrong. His arm became trapped in the workings and the machinery started to run. Another worker was able to throw a lever and bring the machinery to a halt again then help him extract his arm again but it was mangled beyond recognition.

Nobody had seen him since and it is well known that such injuries often lead to fever and further complications. I got his address from the friend and hastened to his side.

What I found when I got there quite took me by surprise. Not only was Mr Edgar not lying in bed at death’s door with a fever he was up and in extremely good sorts and in the place where lately had been his arm, gleaming metal and glass, gears and pistons, leather straps and only the merest glimpse of tettered flesh underneath. He waved with a hand encased in brass and leather. “Good isn’t it?” he asked me.

As I am sure you can imagine I was quite flabbergasted. He explained to me that he had only given up one night after the accident to shock and despair before he had started tinkering.

He had already been making a study of the clockwork automata and their functions and parts. His room was filled with sketches and calculations of a mechanical enhancement for his crippled arm based on the arms of the clockworks. What he was wearing was just a prototype and he was already planning improvements.

The prototype had a miniature stam engine which required re-fuelling and had to be kept insulated and quite far from the flesh of the arm to prevent heat damage. He was talking about using the same power source as used in the clocks but on a smaller scale.

I was amazed. I can’t help thinking this technology should be spread, there are many who could benefit from it, but I am not sure of the practicalities of getting more made and getting them to the people that need them. I wonder what else could be replaced or enhanced with similar clockwork parts? The possibilities are quite staggering. I am meeting with him again tomorrow night to discuss what we might do with his idea.I will be visiting you soon. It has been far too long.

All my love

Elizabeth

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