Just what it says on the tin. The thing gets re-written over time: I write pieces ahead of time, and then, sometimes, later when I reach that point in the story, I find out it does not quite fit with the flow. Sometimes, I just rewrite it. Sometimes, I have to lose it. Sometimes, those pieces are still good in some respects. So this is very much like Deleted Scenes on a DVD.
This particular one is pretty much a piece of worldbuilding that took too long to explain for how unimportant the issue was for the whole story. But it also offers a further insight into Smithkin, which I wanted to share with you.
One morning the fourth week, he made a discovery. Or, rather, he realised that something he had looked at each day was more telling than he had thought, and wondered why he had not noticed it earlier.
The clothes he was wearing, the clothes he had received, were machine-sewn.
Sewing machine was a fairly modern invention, much more modern than the printing press, and one that had not been arrived at easily. There had been a number of unsuccessful attempts. (And the first truly successful attempt had enraged tailors so much that they had stormed and burnt down the inventor's factory.) Mag's doublet as well as all the other clothes he had come here wearing were, thoroughly and unmistakably, hand-sewn. The re-enactors were quite the sticklers for historical accuracy, and did not care that it meant more work. It did of course make sense that once you had a sewing machine on your hands in a real-life setting, you would make full use of it, but where had it come from in the first place?
This, he realised, was one of those things that were very tricky to ask about. Supposing sewing machines were an ordinary, everyday thing in this world? Wondering about it would be weird. Supposing they were not? Knowing that it was machine-sewing would require explanations on his part.
Unfortunately for him, it was also a question that kept bothering him.
For a while, he toyed with the idea of someone – Queen Helen? – having brought something, perhaps a sewing machine needle, over from their world, and planting it here, and sewing machines popping from the fresh, fertile Narnian soil like seedlings in a fast-forward documentary video. Here comes up a hand-cranking mechanism, boring up through the ground like a turbine, and the smooth, elegant body of a treadle Singer follows, shaking off dirt, the black and brass of its metal skin still somewhat imprecise, just like seedlings tend to be not-quite-green.
It was a silly idea to entertain. But then, as he had once quite truthfully told Joe (though in a completely different context), he was easily amused.
"They are old inventions, requested by King Frank and Queen Helen themselves," Smithkin said, with apparent pride for his kin.
"They are quite ingenious," Methos said, and he meant it; even with pointers from someone from his own world, creating something like that took a level of engineering genius that – well, if he was frank with himself, he doubted he would have made it. He had admired the inventions before, and he admired them again. Maybe even more so now that he had had a fresh brush with the work required without them.
"Aren't they?" Smithkin said. "But," he added, his countenance falling, "we have not managed to invent many more like that. I have tried to make a laundry machine, myself, for my wife – but the prototype required too much effort to operate."
"You'd need an outside source of energy," Methos said, absentmindedly.
"Like a mill," Smithkin agreed with the ease of an engineer. "But she said it was more trouble than it was worth; and she was right, of course."
Methos got the distinct idea that Smithkin would not have minded at all to construct a mill-run washing machine, just to see how it would work. Thank goodness for practical-minded dwarf women.
"Also, she said it was too harsh for the fine laundry, like shirts," Smithkin added. "It would only work for things like sheets and work clothes. I still think it could be worth it if someone had a lot of that kind of laundry; it could work here in the castle, but it would truly be more trouble than it's worth for a simple household."
On second thought, maybe there was something to the idea.
"Who does the washing here?" Methos asked. "The sheets and stuff."
Smithkin caught onto the idea briskly.
"Should I ask Amathea, do you think?" he said.
"Amathea who?" Methos asked.
"She's in charge of the laundry. She's a Naiad."
"Do you think a Naiad would agree to use such a contraption, though?" Methos wondered, recalling the Dryads' aversion to anything more complicated than gardening shears.
"It should be worth a try, don't you think?"
Methos, of course, thought so: it should be worth a try if it could make both Smithkin and the washers happy.
He contemplated suggesting a typewriter to him as well, but decided it would probably be too telling to the tetrarchs; and in spite of all his workload, he had come to be quite fond of his handwriting anyway.