Karl Deviatka

Chapter 3 Episode 1 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Mai 7th

Adewole's last trunk—the one bearing the precious green coffee beans—had still not arrived. He should have put them in the one with the tricky new combination lock, the one full of books he might just as easily have left behind in favor of the coffee. How was he to face Dean Blessing this morning without coffee? He drank tea at breakfast instead, politely keeping himself from making faces in front of his landlady Mrs. Trudge, whose outline mimicked the teapot’s. Eisenstadters believed tea to be more refreshing, altogether more restorative than coffee, but Adewole couldn’t figure it himself.

Mrs. Trudge set a good table otherwise, including on this morning: mushrooms fried in butter; fresh little fish straight from Lake Sherrat; toasted bread; and an oaten porridge—something he’d never eaten before, millet or rice porridges being preferred in Jero. “Eggs?” Adewole said hopefully.

“Eggs, sir!” said Mrs. Trudge in a whispered shriek. She took a calming gulp of tea. “You’re a foreigner, Professor Adewole, and as such I can’t expect you to know all our ways. Dear Professor Deviatka,”she appealed to Karl, “please, make sure he doesn’t ask for—eggs–in front of strangers.”

“Don’t ask for eggs in front of strangers, Ollie,” admonished his friend.

Chapter 2 Episode 3 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Adewole's fingers stopped playing with the kikoi's fringe; his hands dropped into his lap, stilled by the grief flowing so close beneath his skin. "You are well-briefed, ma'am," he said as the ache spread in his chest. "I was not sure I could properly care for Ofira in a foreign country, and with our mother dead I could not leave her. I was going to wait until I had gotten tenure, and she was older." He paused and reached into his suit jacket. Inside his wallet he found a fading photograph: Ofira's bright little face. He turned it to face the Minister. "She would have loved Eisenstadt. She loved birds, and talking ones would have…" The ache nearly won, and he stopped to recollect himself, replacing her picture in his wallet. "River fever took her from me last year. She was only nine."

"You've never told me any of this," said Deviatka.

"It is hard for me to speak of it," murmured Adewole. "I have neither tenure nor sister now. The Creator, I suppose, took away my obstacles. She has played a fine joke on me."

Chapter 2 Episode 2 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

"I thought perhaps you might prefer it to tea, Professor," came a charming, dry voice from the main door. It belonged to a woman of his mother's generation; she stood ramrod straight and elegant in a rich, dark blue business dress, her silver hair piled atop her head. Pinchnose reading glasses dangled from a handsome beaded chain round her neck. Piercing blue eyes fixed themselves on the two men.

Adewole and Deviatka stood, the one hasty, the other languid. "Minister Cecile Faber, may I introduce Professor Oladel Adewole of Jero, current holder of the University of Eisenstadt's Mueller Chair in the Humanities," said Deviatka.

Adewole extended his hand; the woman took it in a dry, firm grip and gave it a decided shake. "Have you had coffee?" she said in Jerian.

Adewole laughed, delighted. "That is how we say 'how do you do' in Jerian, Deviatka--we ask one another if we have had coffee. No, Madam Faber, I have not had coffee in many a day."

"Then please," she said, indicating the couches.

Chapter 2 Episode 1 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Hammering at his bedroom door awoke Adewole the next morning. "Adewole! Adewole! Ollie, old thing, get up, the most extraordinary thing has happened!"

Grumbling and sleepy, Adewole shrugged a robe over his nightshirt and shuffled into the sitting room on his long, bare feet. "Please do not call me 'Ollie,' Deviatka. 'Old thing' if you must, but never the other. Especially first thing in the morning before I have had my coffee--oh, damn." He scratched the curls sprouting on his head and peered at the early morning light in the window; Ofira had called him "Ollie," but no one else. "Anyway, do not call me that."

"I knew it would get you up," said the agitated Deviatka. He flourished a newspaper in the other man's face. "Look!"

Chapter 1 Episode 2 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Adewole continued up the stairs to the sitting room he shared with another young professor, Karl Deviatka. Though Deviatka was a newly-made full professor in engineering--the University's most celebrated department--and Adewole held a chair in the most neglected department, they'd become fast friends almost from the moment of their meeting here at Mrs. Trudge's house.

"Do you have a few pfennigs to buy standing-room tickets to the Opera House, old thing?" called Deviatka from his bedroom.

Adewole opened the case of his two-stringed Jerian bansu. "Why?"


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