The note was a scrap, torn from a larger page. It was pinned to the inside of the bread cupboard, which was not particularly chilly. The wavy attempt at copperplate screamed Agnes, and thus I presumed some game was on. I opened the pantry door behind me.
Ah. That game. I turned and walked away from the pantry, peeking behind furniture as I went.
“Not quite so cold” under the dining-table.
“Warm-ish” at the glass-blower.
“Tingly!” attached to Jeeves’s brass back plate. Poor thing, prevented from his polishing duties by my daughter’s games again, his clockwork had wound down while he waited for me at the cellar door.
I was descending the stairs when one of Agnes’s angel automatons zoomed up at me, thrusting a piece of paper – “Toasty!”- into my hands before exhausting its spring and collapsing in an inelegant spiral. I lifted the device gently: Agnes had updated the design, making it more articulate than ever, its filigree wings capable of boosting it into the air in a momentary approximation of flight. Ingenious, if limited – like all of our work – to the power that could be extracted from the spring.
My daughter greeted me, beaming, at the foot of the stairs. The workshop was basked in a golden glow. Agnes’s little hand wrapped around mine as she led me into the laboratory. The light was emitted by a sphere, as tall as a man, suspended in mid air. Dozens of angel automatons hovered around the device. I stared at the spectacle, astounded that not one of them seemed to flag or fall. Instead, their graceful bodies arranged themselves in the air to spell out a single word: