Stuffing pillows, I learned, was nearly futile. The pillows needed to be packed with feathers before they’d have any kind of structure, But trying to pack them in by ramming one’s fist into the bag just caused feathers to fly back into my face. I only gained moderate ground with each ramming down. A leather and wood form helped in some cases, but while it did a good job of compacting the feathers, inevitably a few stuck to the form as it was lifted out. What was needed was a 20th—hell, even 19th—century solution. Since stuffing was a mindless job, I racked my brain, but came up with nothing.
Fortunately, despite the lack of OSHA regulations, Mr. Marrick believed in lunch breaks. More than that, he provided it. Off to one side of his factory, a small kitchen had been built. I took my ease in there while other workers filled up the benches outside. Since I was the new guy, there was no chair for me, no matter how they squished for space. It was fine by me. The stool and barrel in the kitchen served as chair and table enough for me.
As I rolled my shoulders to ease the knots forming, I let my eyes and mind wander. The giant hearth was not a roaring blaze, but rather had coals spread all throughout to create different temperature zones for cooking. Grammy had talked about her mother cooking on such a hearth back in Ireland, but I knew my mother wouldn’t have put up with such primitive tech.
I watched as one of the sculleries stacked wood in one corner in the back of the hearth. Using tongs, she placed tinder in a hollow underneath the stacked logs. Then, using a bellows, she puffed air at the hot coals underneath until the tinder flashed into fire that licked at the logs. She puffed some more, causing the flames to dance and grow.
The light bulb went off.