His grandfather, Eustacio Babbage, had founded the great steamworks that had first allowed the great city of New Babbage to rise like a phoenix from the squalor of the grubby hamlet most now dismissed with no small contempt as Old Babbage, but which had then been simply Babbage.Â He himself now ran that steamworks, greatly expanded since its initial construction, and was immensely proud of the fact that it provided the power that drove most of New Babbage.Â Indeed, it was the steamworks that drove Industry itself and made life possible at their current impressive level of technological advancement, with all the accompanying creature comforts that the citizenry enjoyed so thoroughly.
He was arguably the closest thing to a dictator New Babbage had.Â He felt himself to be a benevolent dictator, though.Â Although he alone controlled the supply of power in the region, he charged what he firmly believed were eminently fair prices.Â To be sure, he always made a significant profit, but never an outrageous one.Â Well, almost never.Â There had of course been the unfortunate incident in which Cogsbury Coal had attempted to skyrocket its pricesâ€¦as if coal were not readily available for the picking in every hold in the ground!Â But that had been twoâ€”no, three years ago, and was surely long since gone from the minds if not actually the hearts of his valued customers.
As befitting his station, he dressed to a certain level of finery.Â The public, after all, expected no less, and he could hardly disappoint the public, could he?Â For someone at his social level to fail to comply with public expectations was risky, dangerous, even suicidal.Â In the public eye, appearance was or at least could well be all, and one disregarded that reality at oneâ€™s own peril.Â Each day he carefully chose his ensemble with both au courant style and sheer impressiveness in mind.Â It was always a fine suit, but color, accessories and other details changed.Â Today he was wearing what had caught his eye in a shop window just two days before: impressively tailed jacketÂ in dusky purple tapestry, coordinating vest, pristine white shirt, and finely striped grey pants.Â And, in spite of his father’s biting observation, he did not think the spill of laceÂ at the collarÂ made him look effeminate.Â The very idea!
To protect his delicate eyes and noggin, his sturdy goggled hatÂ was just the thing, and all the rage these days.Â His carefully tooled cane was both beautiful and utilitarian, and it also lent a subtle suggestion of authorityâ€”never a bad thing.Â A cane might also come in handy if need arose to defend oneself against street urchins, like the one he saw even now on the other side of the thoroughfare, attempting toâ€”no, in point of fact actually robbing that airship pilot!Â The whole affair appeared to have gone down so quickly and smoothly that the rakish gentleman, distracted as he apparently was by that gaggle of simpering schoolgirls, was completely unaware that he had been relieved of his purse.Â He would undoubtedly discover this unfortunate fact at some later, highly inopportune moment.
Ah well, it was just another day in the bustling city.
The Dandy is wearing:Â â€œVincentâ€ outfit (L$330) by Paco Pooley (22769 Vintage).Â Old Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor (Shiny Things).Â Steampunk Gogglehat by Spikey Timeless (Figleaves).Â Hydraulic Cane by Vincente Shepherd (Gaslights Emporium).
He was a son of a bitch, no doubt about it.Â He knew it, and did not mind who else also knew.Â You had to be a son of a bitch to get ahead these days, with cutthroats everywhere looking to steal your best, most saleable ideas and market them as their own.Â And his most recent idea, only just implemented in practical reality, was bound to take the world by storm!Â He knew it was so and dared any man to contradict him.
Unfortunately, the general public clearly looked upon his rocket propulsor with what he was quite certain was a healthy but disappointing level of distrust.Â He supposed this was due to the fact that it was not powered by steam.Â He could only sigh and kick at the earth in disgust.Â This level of technological myopia would quite simply not do, not in this day and age!Â Steam had been a marvel in its day, and certainly was still quite useful, but rocket power was the force of the future.Â He knew it deep in his heart of hearts.Â Why, equipped only with his prototype propulsor unit, he was easily able to pace and even outraceÂ even the most advanced steam-powered airship of the day.Â Every man would want a propulsor of his own!Â Travel would become an individual thing, with no need to peruse printed timetables, find a way to the steamport, wait for the next departure, and then pack in like sardines with other travelers.Â Even trains would quickly fall back to carrying only cargo.Â Airship pilotsâ€”like that one over there, the cocky bastard, surrounded by all those womenâ€”had better watch out, or they would quickly become an endangered species.Â In fact, that one had better this very second watch out for his purse, else that ragamuffin street child was sure to make off with it in his own quick hand.Â Oh, too late.Â He grinned in spite of himself.Â He knew very well the pilotâ€™s type, and it would serve him right.
Not that there was anything wrong with enjoying the attention of a lady, of course, or ladies if it came to that.Â He was not blind to the fact that he himself cut quite a dashing figure, in consequence catching the approving eye of many of the ladies of New Babbage, and (or at least so he had been led to understand) no small few of the gentlemen.Â He supposed their admiring approval had something to do with his noble profile, his dazzling smile, the way his leather flight jacketÂ flattered his chiseled torso, or possibly the tight, necessarily aerodynamic fit of his flight pants.Â (He had told recently told some of his friends, drunkenly but still not entirely in jest, that if they ever noticed him having to suck in his gut, they were to kindly draw a blunderbuss and kill him on the spot.)Â Some called him cocksure; he took this to be both earthily, literally true and as a compliment, albeit a potentially envious one.Â Ah well, câ€™est la vie!
A patronâ€”that was what he needed.Â A patron, a sponsor, someone with money who didnâ€™t mind funding a business venture as sure to succeed as was his rocket propulsor.Â The Babbage family had money, of course, but they were notoriously tight with it, and always had been.Â He supposed you could hardly blame them.Â But that young Babbage, what was his name, Something Babbage (of course, he sighed), the grandson who was running the steamworks nowâ€”he was obviously a clotheshorse, something of a fop actually, clearly spent too much money on his wardrobe.Â He might not be entirely averse to an opportune, well presented investment opportunity.Â He reached for his wallet, wondering if he could manage to fund a modest yet impressive venture-capital dinner with Something Babbage.Â (He really would have to find out the manâ€™s name; it would not do to call him Something, and calling him Babbage helped not at allâ€”the city was almost literally crawling with Babbages.)Â He patted his pockets in succession, absently at first, then with increasing concern.Â Now, that was odd.Â Where in creation was his wallet?Â He knew for a fact that it was in his pocket just a few moments ago.
The Rocketeer is wearing:Â “Keff”Â pilot outfit with rocket (Steampunk Hunt freebie).Â Old Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor (Shiny Things).Â The pilot outfitÂ is a fantastic freebie, easily the quality of Pacoâ€™s other for-sale outfits, definitely not a cheap throw-away!
Vintage attire by Paco Pooley is available at 22769 Vintage (Sunny Island 111, 32, 22).Â Some outfit items are also available individually.Â All vintage items are 20% off during the Steampunk Hunt, which runs through the end of March.Â Visit the 22769 blogÂ for updates on new releases.
Donâ€™t miss Part OneÂ of this two-part article, featuring The Ruffian and The Pilot!