The Ebb Tide by James Blaylock

By James Blaylock

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The light was too dim for me to make out his features, but I knew well enough who he was. I saw a second man on one of the platforms now, also making no effort to hide. ” I shouted, but my words were buried by the abrupt ratcheting, clattering sound of winches turning and of heavy chain hauled through iron rings and the whistle and gasp of steam. The entire system of chains and pulleys and winches seemed to be moving now, the cacophony erupting from far and near. The three of us turned as one back toward the stairs.

Lost things turn up, you see, sometimes, along the shore, sometimes in dredgers’ nets. ” But Tubby was always a slave to his stomach, and there he was sitting beside me in the cab as we reined up in front of Merton’s, game as ever. Merton’s Rarities, very near London Bridge, is part rare book shop, part curiosity shop, and a sort of museum of old maps and arcane paper goods, scientific debris, and collections of all sorts—insects, assembled skeletons, stuffed creatures from far and wide. Where Merton finds his wares I don’t know, although he does a brisk trade with sailors returning from distant lands.

He was carrying a fowling piece, although he hadn’t apparently meant to go hunting, at least not for birds. There was no sign of the device. A local farmer had seen a wagon coming out of the Parson’s yew alley before dawn, driving away westward. It turned out that the device had been spirited away to the Carnforth Ironworks. According to a worker, a container of wood and iron had been built to house it, the interior of the container sealed with India rubber. As for the floating cattle, St. ” Tubby said.

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