Vincent’s jaw hung slack as the swirling steam formed into a discernible head and shoulders. He stared at a female figure similar to what was on the front of the hobo nickel. Top hat and all.
Her elfin chin lowered, parting vaporous lips. Smoky eyebrows rose, the apparition abruptly circling him before hovering above the pot.
He felt the moist touch of hot steam. “This some kind of genie?”
“Steam child,” Willy returned, inclining his head in a courtly nod to the ghostly shape. “A rider and companion of the great engines who ply the living rails. Brass, meet the bane of Erie. This is Freedom, so named for releasing many of her sisters from my brother’s slave boilers.”
A high Victorian collar materialized from the steam to grace the girl’s slender neck. Her hair swirled in a nimbus of misty locks beneath the translucent hat. Freedom’s voice came as a rumbling hiss. “I know you. You’re the one who left his sister alone. The one who called the tracks but didn’t follow them to save her.”