Setting written for Wodehouse Challenge in the Steampunk genre.
|The aristocratic section of the city isn’t as filthy as the rest. Sure, the gutters have filth running along the curb, but they rarely leave their stately homes so it doesn’t matter. Instead, the merchants come knocking, begging to assist with some new bit or bobble for the men or a new gown or jewel for the ladies. The children are protected in their cocoon of wealth, peering out at the city, but never to soil their polished little shoes.
If they do leave, the carriage, complete with mechanical horses, stops right outside the door so the dust and grime of the sidewalk won’t touch their satin slippers. The carriage belches smoke, clouds of which I suppose is preferable to the dung left behind by the real horses. Heaven forbid dung should touch the pavers where the huge wheels of the carriage run. Steams pours out of the mechanical horses noses, a nod to the steam from the nostrils of the true horses on a brisk winter morning. The inventor had a sense of humor or perhaps just a love of the equine.
In contrast, the mechanisms that make the lives of the aristocracy run smoothly rarely make it to the other side of town. Instead, children are found wandering through filth and soot on errands for merchants in hopes of earning enough for food that evening. The satin and silk gowns of the rich are replaced by rags worn by many and handed down (or stolen) to another. Merchants may have a pocket watch or small gadgets used in their trade, but they travel by foot and step quickly out of the road should a carriage roll through. The carriages have the right of way and anyone slow to move might end up donating their clothing to another sooner than they would like.
The clock tower divides the city and if you sit in the shadow of the tower you can watch the rich and poor alike as they go about their day. The tower bell rings on the hour and can be heard from all sides of the city. Occasionally a airship flies over and even the most jaded stop to watch as it sails overhead; shading one area and then another as it floats among the clouds.
As darkness falls, the streetlamps flicker on one by one until the entire city is bathed in the soft yellow glow of lamplight. The production areas reflect the glow from the copper tubes carrying steam to power the buildings. The residential sections are darker and some of the shadows are ominous at night. Men would do well to stay indoors after the lights are lit. Rodents and thieves own the nights in the city and apart from the occasional clang of machinery and squeak of a rat, all is silent.