The Infernal Machine
Once, I were 'aving a few grogs in the tavern, when this young bald bloke wi' glasses came over an put a fresh tankard o' grog in me hand.
"Have a drink Captain," he said. "I'm celebrating."
"What be ye celebratin' then?" I asked.
"My new invention," he said. "Come, you must come and see it!"
I've found in the past that it's not a good idea to ignore these inventor types. They be a feckless, insipid lot, but sometimes they thought up something worth 'aving. Could be a new type o' weapon or summit useful like that, I thought. So I followed 'im to his workshop.
Once inside, 'ee pulled a couple o' levers, an I heard an escape o' steam an I could hear wheels an cogs turnin'.
"I've managed to modify and combine several Difference Engines, and by using my own instruction tables, I've achieved something extraordinary. Come here please, Captain."
We stood in front of a keyboard and a screen.
"Go on, ask it something," said the Inventor. "Anything at all."
I typed in "What is four and four?"
There was a whirrin' o' cogs, an the screen said * FORTY FOUR *
I looked sideways at the inventor, but he seemed pleased. "Ask it something else!" he said. "Ask it about some everyday kind of problem!"
"You've lit the fuse on a cannon, and nothing's happened," I wrote. "What should you do?"
More whirring and meshing o' gears, an the screen said * TRY LIGHTING IT AGAIN AND PEER DOWN THE BARREL TO SEE IF YOU CAN SEE A BLOCKAGE *
"More!" said the inventor.
"Yer ship is in a the middle o' the ocean when there's a violent thunderstorm. What should ye do?"
Whirr, mesh, grind...
* CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE CROW'S NEST TO GET A BETTER LOOK. YOU SHOULD HOLD A LARGE SECTION OF SHEET STEEL ABOVE YOUR HEAD TO KEEP THE RAIN OFF *
"You see?" cried the inventor. "It's the wonder of the age! The dream is finally fulfilled - I have created Artificial Stupidity!"
Then 'ee ad the cheek to ask if I wanted to buy one. A swift kick up the arse soon put a stop to that conversation, an I went back to the tavern.
I hear Bart's had one installed on 'is ship though. It's probably in charge by now.