It had been years since the last time Savannah had seen the inside of an airship. Her grandmother had been certain of that. As she followed Henry up the ramp, she savored every detail. The scent of the oil in the joints of the ramp. The array of nobs, switches, and buttons. The hint of humidity from the steam powered engines.
Henry turned to her. “Isn’t she perfect?”
“Yes,” Savannah replied. “It’s good to be on an airship again.”
“It’s not the most luxurious, but she’s a good one. Ambrose and I had to work hard to get her, but it’ll be worth it. The New Territories will be glorious.”
“They certainly will be.”
“Come now. I must show you where you’ll help us. You’re our polymath.”
She laughed quietly as she followed Henry through the main deck towards the helm at the front of the airship. In a cramped corner was a desk covered with notebooks and maps.
“This is for you,” he said.
She smiled as she flipped through the pages. Most of them were still empty.
“Since you’ve been to the New Territories, we’ll need all of the knowledge you have. Minerva and Ambrose tell me that you’re well-educated. You’re familiar with astronomy, cartography, and navigation, right?”
“Here is everything you’ll need for cartography. I can help, but I’m sure you’re much better at it than I.”
She smiled. “I doubt it. You are a budding explorer, aren’t you?”
“Of course. But just budding. I still have a great deal more studying to do. I’ll rely a great deal on you.”
Rely on her. Savannah like the sound of that. She felt a little giddy.
“Then I’ll leave you to familiarize yourself with everything. We’ll set off shortly.” He began to leave but then hesitated. “I’m glad you’re coming with us.”
Once he vanished, she sighed. Yes, this would be a great adventure. Since the desk was hers and there was nothing else to do at the moment, she began organizing it. Henry’s words repeated in her head. “I’ll rely a great deal on you.” She really did like the sound of that. No one had ever really seemed to need her before. “I’ll rely a great deal on you.”
She hesitated. He would rely on her? Did he realize that she hadn’t been to the New Territories since she was a child? She had never navigated or actually created maps. Was he serious that she was the expedition’s polymath?
She set the journals aside and headed back through the ship. She found Minerva in the galley, securing the pans for the journey.
“Minerva,” she whispered, “do you think Henry knows I haven’t been to the Territories in years? I remember quite a bit, but he thinks I’m going to be the polymath. The main polymath. I’m not sure if I can do that.”
“Of course you can,” Minerva replied. “You’re just as smart as Henry and Ambrose.”
“It’s not just about being smart. It’s about having skills. I’m not sure if I have them. Most of my cartography was for fun. I wasn’t formally educated. I used what my parents left behind in their journals. What they taught me when I was younger. If we don’t have a good cartographer, we could get lost and die.”
Minerva’s expression grew blank. Savannah’s stomach turned.
“So he doesn’t know?” Savannah asked.
Minerva shook her head, her expression brightening. “He’s modest. He’s better at it than he lets everyone believe. It’ll be fine. I promise.”
“Are you sure?”
Minerva hesitated. “Yes, it’ll be fine.”
Though not entirely convinced, Savannah nodded. “If you promise.”
“I do. Don’t worry.”