I returned to the Steampunk Explorer office in Laudanum after my unexplained absence fearing what lay before me. Mr. Steampunk had sent a number of proposals and requests from our Babbage office and the first order of business was to go through these.

A priority in Mr. Steampunk’s view was our planned list of the Best Pubs of the Steamlands. Much work has already been done on this project but it was now time for me to do some follow-up research. Wasting no time I jumped into this assignment with vigor.

The first place that came to mind and therefore the place I wanted to start at was Le Vieux Canal Jazz Club in Algiers parish of New Toulouse. This was the scene of the hurricane party I attended when Adolphe struck New Toulouse. The owners, Abigail Raymaker and Amber Palowakski, certainly know how to throw a party! Le Vieux is one of the friendliest, most comfortable drinking establishments anywhere in this world. And I say this as the owner of three pubs myself.

On this afternoon, the club was empty. As I walked in the radio was playing the Clara Smith version of “Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning” – a favorite song of mine by later singers. I love the music one hears in these environs. I sat at the bar and ordered a pint and gave thought to strategy: How best to explore the pubs of the steamlands? This would require some thought and more than one pint.

As I sat, thinking and drinking, someone entered. It was Addison Greymyst, a neighbor of mine in Austral and, more recently, a fellow Talooser as well. He asked how I had the time to be spending working hours in a bar. “I am working, sir,” I said and explained about the Steampunk Explorer project. Lifting my glass I added, “This, sir, is research.” I finished my pint and ordered a round for the two of us. I gave a toast, “To research!” “To research!” Mr. Greymyst repeated. We later toasted Le Vieux, New Toulouse, Austral, worlds unknown, pubs unknown and research again, all the while solving the problems of men and women everywhere and developing a strategy for world peace.

Finally Mr. Greymyst arose, stating he had had enough research for one day. As he stumbled toward the door he turned slowly and called, “Fly safely, Mr. Whitfield.”

Did he say, ‘fly?’