1617: vii

Aimée laid in bed until she felt the rest of the house was asleep. She slipped out from under the covers and lit a candle. She removed the small wooden box from where she had squirreled it away. She undid the latch and opened the lid. It revealed a lump wrapped in cloth and with careful fingers she pulled back the edges. Nestled in the batiste was a metal bird unlike anything she had seen before. Aimée plucked it out and turned the bird over in her hands. On the bird’s back she recognized a key hole. She pulled the fabric from the box and a key tumbled out.

Without hesitation she inserted the key and turned it. She wound the key for several turns before it finally stopped. She set the bird down on its feet and it started to move. Its head tilted from side to side and the eyes blinked.  A smile spread across Aimée’s face. The bird teetered around on its feet, stretched its wings and finally let out a single peep before it froze. Aimée stifled a laugh and wound the key again. She had never seen anything like it before. She wondered what had inspired the Count to give her such a trivial, yet fascinating thing.

Aimée rewound the bird several times as she studied the gears carefully. The intricate moving parts fit together so perfectly. She wished she had a loupe to uncover its secret. Eventually her eyes were blurring and she rubbed them. She had stayed awake too long. Reluctantly, she packed away the clockwork bird and hid the box in a place Madame never thought to look.

i       vi        viii

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