"But its for pretection! I make the bombs, therefore I am entitled to have-"
"You're a bloody dead one if there's hair in our tea tonight." said Willow Darkly, a big-boned girl who rolled out of her bunk to join the others as they trudged drowsily out of the room.
Skittles climbed down from his bunk, and onto the threadbare carpet.
"So are we taking the orphanage back into London?" he asked.
"We are indeed Skittles. No doubt you've got a problem with that?"
"No miss, none at all. But if we are stopping in dear old London, can we dump Lily back there? It's just that I'm dying for a good night's sleep." said Skittles, causing the group who were awake to snigger to themselves.
"Oi! I'll none of that!" Thicetin shouted, and Skittles hastily slipped out of the room past the others, and disappeared down the stairs.
And so, Thricetin Orphanage slowly came to life. The dirty dishes from last night were gobbed on and then wiped with rags to clean them, the embers in the kitchen hearth were broken up with a poker in order to heat up the breakfast, and that familiar smell of cabbage soup began to waft back through the rooms. In the engine room at the bottom of the house, Skittles was opening the valves of the great, steam-driven engine that was kept there, was throwing bits of wood into its furnace, causing the flames to flare up with big presses of the bellows. He wiped the soot from the pressure gauges bolted to the various pipes of the engine, put three drops of oil onto the big driving cog, and then kicked shut the red-hot furnace door.
Meanwhile, Lily was following the woman up yet another set of stairs, through crooked corridors lined with cobwebby gas lamps and cluttered with framed photographs of probably dead people.
They looked down at Lily with their ash-gray eyes and silent, somber expressions, and not just photos but paintings and silhouettes as well, all the way up the many staircases, all the way up into the attic, or aviation chamber of the floating house. Up here was were the house rocked the most, where every breeze outside caused the floor to tilt from left to right, the cobwebby gas-wires swinging from the ceiling.
"Dear me, dear me..." said Lady Thricetin as she climbed up into the room, clearing a strand of hair from her lined face and leaning against the banister to catch her breath.
"Lily...Lily you can fly the orphanage over to London...I've taught you well enough..." she said between each wheeze of her old lungs.