Chapter Three

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Once dinner was seen to and preparations made for the next day, Snow sat about the parlour, trying to look like she hadn't been waiting all afternoon and most of the evening for her father to come home. Reading failed to keep her interest, Edison only further tried her patience and sketching lead to drawing the strange boy's face. Exasperated she dropped her sketch book on the side table and paced the floor's length.

As soon as she heard footsteps on the front step, Snow raced to open the door only to find Hunter laden with plans and papers, followed closely by her father who was talking, rattling off a list of equipment and supplies. Hunter was writing them all down in a notebook, much to her surprise. He really was an assistant after all.

'Father, you are home, where have you been?' she took his coat and top hat and placed them on the hallway side table.

'Snow, my love, please, a cup of tea in the kitchen, my dear,' he said, then continued to list everything he needed as he walked down into his basement workshop. When he discovered it very empty, he turned around, climbed the stairs and entered the kitchen, all the while rattling off more equipment and lists of material he needed for his new workshop.

'And the coal merchant will have to be notified of the greater demands, and we will need to talk with the Baroness about the sheet metal, the coils and the fasteners that are required. Did you get all that my boy?'

'Yes sir,' he replied, bowed to both the gentleman and to Snow, once again displaying that all too familiar smirk on his lips. 'I will be back in the morning to attend you to the workshop, my Lord.' Then he was gone.

'Snow! What a joyous day!' His delight was evident as he took her hand and swung her around the kitchen like she was still a small child.

'Father, where is your new workshop?' as they stopped for a breather.

'Why, in our new patron's home, of course.'

'The Baroness has a workshop for you on her estate?'

'Yes, my dear. Many things are changing.' He took her chin in his hand. 'Life is never going to be the same again, my love.'

And indeed, everything did change from that day onwards. Baroness Raena Montague from the northern provinces had heard of Mastro Peto's application of funding for a city that floated in the sky and she was so intrigued by the concept that she became its chief campaigner and leading financier. She gave him everything he needed to complete phase one and two of the project and used the results to gain further funding for the rest of the venture.

When a new mansion was built for Mastro Peto and his daughter, they moved the workshop and all of the belongings into the giant castle on a cliff top, overlooking the bay and the village below. It was all overwhelming for Snow to say the least, but it came with a full service of staff including a cook and a butler. It wasn't without its perks either. She had an enormous study of her own, full to the architraves with books.

Next to this study was her own private studio, her own workshop of sorts. She started turning her sketches into plans and began experimenting with gadgeteering, creating metallic creatures and mechanical birds. She even managed to design a new collar for Edison, one with a retractable cord so he could run off without running away. It almost worked too, until she realised that he weighed more than she did one episode of being dragged along the path until she managed to remove the lead cuff from her arm was enough.

But even though she was never in want for anything, she felt lonely, for it was like her father disappeared over night. She saw him, maybe once a day if that, and only because he needed to eat. She understood why his project was so important to him and wanted to give him what much support, , but she missed him dearly. If he wasn't at the work site or in his workshop, he was at some dinner party or fund-raiser with the Baroness Montague.

Snow shivered, just thinking about the woman. It was getting easier and easier to despise her. She changed their home, she changed Snow's clothing and hair, stating that she was a young lady now and shouldn't be seen wearing her hair down any longer. Then the Baroness made her quit schooling for elocution, etiquette and dance lessons. It was all so frustrating and boring but Snow believed it was what her father wanted, so she endured.

Her father's workshop at the base of the castle became a flurry of activity. The work site on the vacant land beside the castle was always busy. The three enormous steam engines were built first, then the rest of the city was assembled around them. Altogether, it took them two years, three hundred engineers, mechanics and gadgeteers, a few hundred tons of steel and titanium alloy, coal and sheet glass. It took eight years to design and two years to build the world's first city that floated in the sky, but build it, they did it.

At the launch of the giant mechanical city, King Hereford, his sons, Prince Phillip and Prince Charm and their royal entourage were entralled as the city left its mooring and floated above the sea. The King dubbed the city 'Skylands' and dubbed Mastro Peto Lord and Keeper of the new city. The launch and Lord Peto's inauguration speech was the most publicised news across the land. The Mirror became a regional paper to keep up with press demands, and an expose of the life and times of Lord Peto was taken up by every media in the county.

Snow's father along with Baroness Montague, became the most recognised faces in all the land, much to Snow's dismay. She knew the Baroness liked her father, but she hated the thought of ever becoming the horrible woman's daughter.

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