This is today's freebie. It was inspired by prompts from fabricdragon, siege, and janetmiles. I was also thinking of rude joke about making anything "steampunk" by putting gratuitous gears on it. Also, the cube is real.
Steamsmiths were all a bit mad.
It was something that everyone agreed upon
(at least, everyone who was not a steamsmith)
so that the question was not whether
but how mad a given steamsmith was.
The Steamsmith Guild lounge
held plenty of examples,
but the one everyone always pointed to
was Old Henry, who had occupied
a seat in the southeast corner for decades,
grumbling about his wife and smoking his pipe.
Old Henry was convinced
that smoke could be used in alchemy.
He had learnt to construct cubical soap bubbles
and blow them full of smoke,
although he had not quite got the hang of
blowing square smoke rings.
Maryam liked the dotty old bloke
because he never made fun of anyone else's experiments,
not even the time she lost control of a reaction
early in her apprenticeship
and went about without eyebrows for several weeks.
He was the first to welcome her
into the Steamsmith Guild,
and even into the lounge --
which had essentially been a gentlemen's club
until Maryam earned her membership --
which recognition she would never forget.
She had fetched drinks for both of them,
and ignored the snide mutters about how
anyone could see that her mother was a maid
and maybe there was a use for a woman in here after all.
Old Henry just grinned at her,
a twinkle in his mad blue eyes, and said,
"Never you worry about what people think, Maryam.
When you're right, you can just tell them
to put that in their pipe and smoke it."
if anyone else had even noticed that
the old man changed his pipe at least twice a year,
or that the current model
had gears on it.