But it got me wondering what sorts of problems Noah would run into with other people...
”So, have you checked everything?”
The chubby inspector wiped his face and reseated his crow-feather hat. “Yes, I think so. We may want to go back and look at some things later. I need to settle down and draw up my report. You should join me to discuss it.”
”Will that help?”
”Sometimes details can be … um … explained, or negotiated.”
”I’ll be happy to help. What do you need?”
”I need a good smooth table in the shade, some clean water and clean fine rags, and a jug of good wine. And I fancy a silver cup to drink it out of—it helps me see better.”
”The rags will take a little while, and we can borrow a cup, but we’ll have the rest here in a few minutes. We’ll set up by the left ramp base.”
The inspector nodded and headed for the latrines.
Twenty minutes later they stood around a tall wooden table as the inspector spread out his vellum sheets and his brushes.
”Let’s start at the top,” he said. “You have no stanchions along the sides. You cannot tie up to a dock without them.”
”We don’t plan to use the docks. This is longer than any of the city docks—we couldn’t fit there.”
”The stone quarry dock is long enough. You built this to ferry stone for the new palace for King Caleb (may he live forever), but you didn’t think it through. You need to build stanchions in—how else can you tow it?” The inspector rapidly and accurately filled in the outlines of the upper decks as he spoke. There were little frowns drawn above the dotted images of stanchions.
”We got the license to start building this 85 years ago from King Jucline, and Ham has gotten that renewed by every king since. He asked for and got a waiver from King Clileb for upper deck furnishings.”
The inspector turned and spat. “Clileb, may his name be forgotten, was a usurper and a scoundrel, and any waiver he gave is invalid.”
”That’s what his inspector told us about King Cable before him. And Cable’s about the king before him. In fact, I think you were there that time. ... King Calib is certainly living longer than his predecessors.”
”Yes, he is (may he live forever), and since he is celebrating the first anniversary of his eternal reign with a new palace, your ark will do very well for transporting stone—with some deck modifications.” He paused. “Though I admit I don’t know how you plan to get it down to the river.”
”You no doubt reviewed the design plan before you came. This is designed to carry food, animals, and plants. The decks aren’t built to handle large stones. And we expect the river will rise to this level and float us off.”
The inspector looked up at him and pointed at the drawing. “Yes, I saw pictures of the statuary and how you meant to distribute the smaller work around the boat. You didn’t make the decks nearly strong enough—the beams need to be 3 times closer together. That’s not negotiable. And since decks 7 and 8 will be carrying stone slabs they need even more reinforcement. Plus new ramps. I don’t know how you got this approved with only one mid-deck loading port. It would take months to unload even with day and night slave crews.”
”Didn’t Ham explain that this is for live animals, not statues? They aren’t as heavy and they move under their own power. Look—would we need gaps and vertical shafts for ventilation if this was just stone? Or the dung shafts and the bucket chain to drain the sump?”
”No, Ham was waiting for an audience with the undersecretary for the Secretary for the Guardian of the Sublime Portal. And anyway, that sump is obviously for retrieving the lubricating slurry you need to drag the statuary.” He put his brush down and stepped back from the table to face Noah. “I’ve been an inspector for fifteen years and I know how boats work.”
He turned back to the table. “By the way, I really like the style of that cup.”