A Case of Curiosities
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Tells of the bizarre adventures of an 18th-century watchmaker and mechanical wizard - Claude Page. Maimed by surgery at the age of 12, his manual dexterity destines him to become one of Europe's most gifted inventors when he acquires the skills of the enamelist and watchmaker.
just before sunset. He knuckle-rubbed his eyes and, hearing an unfamiliar sound, squinted down the road to observe clinking pattens and an umbrella moving toward the entrance of an inn. Claude approached the signpost, looked up, and knew he had to enter. 17 THE SIGN THAT enticed Claude was bolted above a massive door. It depicted a complex mechanism turning rows of skewered meats. On the top half of the sign there were game birds: five quail over four pigeons over eight squabs. The bottom half
lodging was finally obtained. He had just about given up hope when Plumeaux noticed a woman across from the St.-Severin church sweeping the entrance of a stone-fronted building. Conversation revealed that a journeyman joiner on the third floor had left the day before. His lodgings were available, but the price was too dear. Despair returned, until the sweeper said it came with attic space. "Three little cabinets" is what she called them. Claude took the rooms sight unseen, much to the relief of
that follows. "Is this to make your clients hungry?" she asked. "Hungry enough to purchase the book in which it appears," Claude replied. "Would you like to see the work in its entirety?" The patroness shook her head. Claude looked more carefully. There was something . . . "You did not tell me when your master will return," she said. Staring intently, Claude replied, "He will be away for the next few weeks. I can, of course, assist you in whatever literary quest you may wish to undertake."
had overpowered the bookseller with professional anecdotes. Now that Livre was back in Bibliopola, he compensated by giving Claude a thorough dressing-down. "In the name of God. The windows! What have you done to them?" Livre failed to appreciate Claude's selections. Though mildly angered by the image of the sewage system weighted down by enema pumps, it was the print of the "Prison of Invention," the slavish world of gears and pulleys, that most outraged him. He sputtered, "You should be locked
his transformed state. "Why do you diminish your country charm by dressing in those ghastly clothes?" Nervous sweat overpowered the barber's cheap perfume. She said: "I see you have brought the book back. Did you read it carefully?" "Yes, I did." "And what do you think of the conclusions the doctor reaches?" "It seems I risk ill health if something is not done about my solitary pursuits." "That is true. If you continue, worse things could arise." Claude did not know whether the ambiguity