Photo Source - TheShakes72 via The Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy challenge
The Day The Puppets Danced
Yeye tinkered. It wasn’t a serious addiction, as far as we, the family, could tell. Until it was. We had gotten used to his new-fangled “devices”. Sometimes they even came in useful. With time’s passing, they grew more intricate. Diagrams of increasing complexity on scraps strung about the house; scrawls captured late at night. They made sense to him, at least. It wasn’t until the plans which reinvented, yet simplified, looming that the province – and, indeed, those closest to him – looked less than askance and with something gravitating towards respect at our introverted elder. He relied on his gadgets to speak for themselves, continuing to vary and experiment. We presumed he knew to what end. Knew better now than to interfere. Yeye would come to his conclusions in his own time. Practically.
Even so, the commission surprised us. That the Emperor should make such a request. Questioned whether it could be done. Yeye seemed unfazed, as far we could tell for someone of so few words. At least, there was no change in his expression on surveying the request. Perhaps he saw it as one more challenge. Certainly, there would be no refusal. He would take on the task. To make the puppets dance.
It was known to all that the Emperor had a theatre of puppets; motionless, frozen in place, scene by scene. What he demanded was simple in concept, complex in potential execution. He demanded to know if they could be made to move. He wished for the ingenious. To see them dance. The wish took wings amongst the populace. Then, all waited to see if Yeye completed the command.
We, his family, watched with wondering eyes, as wood was fashioned into horizontal rotating wheel powered by, as far as we could detect, unseen water. Thus dawned the day the puppets danced. Amongst the array of figures, a flautist accompanied a full choir, as others danced in time. Men beat drums behind them, whilst government officials went about their business in alternate scenes. A myriad of differing variations, with all in constant motion. We danced with them in delight, scarcely able to help ourselves. The Emperor simply smiled.
This one owes its origins to the Chinese mechanical engineer Ma Jun who really did use a water wheel to power and operate a large mechanical puppet theatre for the Emperor Ming of Wei - and, of course, the picture prompt courtesy of @TheShakes72 credited above!