As small recompense, here's the rewritten beginning for the book. Careful of expectations. It is only a rough draft.
We live in intriguing times. The nineteenth century is one of advances in every conceivable arena, of science and commerce, convenience and lifestyle. Think of our grandparents. Those that we are still blessed with can hardly conceive of such strange things as these motor carts, seeming roaring dragons with hard-
Miss Euphemia Hatter closed the book in disgust. This was a primer for dabblers. She sighed. It had been a bit much to hope her brother would have ordered a proper engineering book.
She placed the book beneath the foldup table beside her and picked up her spyglasses which lay beside a fine camellia patterned bone china cup still half filled with tepid tea and set upon a matching saucer. It was time to engage in one of her favorite breakfast activities, dirigible watching. It was more reward than bird watching. The volatile gas bags that were currently all the rage even exploded occasionally, though she’d yet to see one do so. The papers usually covered the incidents which tended to occur in the cities. The victims were usually well to do, or the servants of the well to do, so there was often some mention in the society pages of some London dandy or a lesser lord “perishing in a terrible tragedy.” Euphemia thought they couldn’t expect much better given how so many floated about willy nilly and didn’t bother to read the operating manual.
She caught sight of two dirigibles, small cruising models putting across the sky and she flicked down another set of lenses to see them better. She leaned forward in her chair, lips pursed but the two vehicles passed harmlessly by. They’d probably only gotten so close to hail each other or some such. That lot was always so keen to out show one another. An accident was unlikely to happen over Swallow’s . Most occurred above much greater urban centres. London or Paris or, most often of all above Belfast as many dirigibles were made within its limits and, Euphemia had to wonder if the great new toys were whisked off the assembly line not more than moments after completion and driven into each other by foolhardy lords and gentleman. That lot were much too eager to show off and not at all interested in taking care to read the manual or have a turn around an isolated hamlet. She flicked the lenses back up and the world returned to its customary proportions, the bustling town of Swallow’s Field laying spread before her scant miles in the distance with the small cottages and modest houses of the village her family’s manor and factory watched over spanning part of the way between.
Euphemia sat back and drank the tepid dregs of her tea. It would not be nice to see an accident. She would not wish such a volatile death on even the most vapid lord but, good god, for something of interest to happen in her life. Anything at all! She stood and made her way off the platform, boots ringing out against the metal steps and echoing tinily on the tile of the roof. Work beckoned and she must not disappoint. What would her governess have said? At the door to the stairs down into the manor, Euphemia paused and glanced unconsciously from side to side, though she was clearly alone. She reached back behind her and carefully felt her bustle to make sure it was entirely in its proper place. It certainly didn’t do to leave such things to chance. Secure in that, at least, she patted her pale blue skirts and descended.
She fetched her satchel, full of odds and ends she liked not to be without and closed the manor door behind her though she didn’t bother to lock it, there was no point. She walked down the dirt path in front of the manor careful not disturb her maid and the cook who were busy gossiping in the kitchen garden. They had better things to do than curtsy to her. The walk along the road which terminated square in front of the great big block of a building that her family had earned their fortune from was a pleasant one. She felt it did her good to get the old arms and legs moving before she had to sit at a desk for half the day, besides that, the country side was nice early before the air had got time to sour and it was far quieter than the factory.
The factory was alive with workers, mostly women in their matching dove grey work shifts and crisp white pinafores, working the machines or cutting the felt or gluing and sorting decorations. There was movement everywhere within building and the chatter of voices blended with the clatter of the apparatus. Euphemia navigated the work floor, dodging and dipping where necessary until she reached the great iron stair case that lead up to a platform and office which overlooked the production floor, or at least the landing in front of the office did. Euphemia had a desk on the landing and her brother worked within the office. They barely saw each other, if Euphemia was lucky.
Euphemia settled into her chair, hard and proper as it was. It was the sort of chair her former governess would approve of. She would not have approved of the smile that accompanied the thought. Fortunately, miss Leigh had been bundled off to Bath for the last nine months and, save the dreaded but required correspondence, Euphemia no longer had to maintain the appropriate appearance, she straightened the lace picots of one sleeve, though with enough training, even the most difficult lessons had a tendency to take hold. She did wish though, that a governess hadn’t been needed. Mother had been gone for five years and father for two. Her brother Benton was the head of the family and had acting in such capacity ever since father had started to decline which had been for a while now. Euphemia sighed. She wondered what would become of her.