Leave the boy!’ said Connor sharply, for though it was Con- nor who led their band, and pushed them into the shadows as a demon prowled past, or waved them forward again, still it was to the boy he looked for direction.
Perhaps there was no choice, for if Griffin seemed often as blind and lost as any of them, still it was he
alone who might be suddenly jolted — by what? An instinct perhaps. Some echo in this New World of the fragmentary pre- monitions which had haunted him in Cumbria: the tunnel, the city, the molten spike, the black fish, and the steeple.
And so it was the boy stood suddenly stock still, for his nose had caught a scent.
For Griffin has caught the scent of hot metal and upon the trail has led them now to a foundry and therein they met the denizens of the New World, which were not giants, nor witch- es, nor such breed of men that is sometimes rumoured to in- habit the far-off lands, that have mouths in their stomachs, and travel at great speed on a single foot.
a mouth and though their tongue was strange, yet could each group understand the other if the words were taken slowly. And though they were men, still their tunics were more finely wo- ven than any on this side of the earth, and their boots had such a stitch and shine as is beyond the skill of any cobbler in the lowland towns.
Yet they were clever too in their trade. For if the miners might dream of a furnace without need of wind up a bald hill to fan it, nor need of a deep charcoal bed to heat it, then here it was, and if they might dream that a furnace needed no stone sump to gather the run-off, but that instead the crucible might be drawn forth direct from the furnace and poured without struggle by a single lever, then here too was that.
And there were machines beyond dreaming, to grind and shape any metal, and the very walls of this foundry were of thin metal, furrowed with amazing exactitude, and from the roof hung lights which had not need of wick nor tallow.
And here the miners found bollards, and bells, and statuary, and it was Martin who found the casting bed for a job still unfinished in the Celestial City.
‘Oh yeah,’ said the man called Smithy, and he brushed away cobwebs and dust from it “We were going to pour that once, but the church ran out of money.’