Osgood's Great Work had required the ability to understand, catalog, and transcribe information. He had built it to last for as long as possible: for millennia, he hoped. And since human language would certainly change in that time Osgood had devised a way for the Work to comprehend new languages.
Among the Work's several Difference Engines was one that did nothing but analyze unknown tongues in order to extract their meaning.
The Difference Engines were essential to the Work. They translated any kind of information into numbers and then manipulated those numbers in calculations so complex that a human mind would have spent years in doing what the Engines could do in mere minutes. Each Engine featured tall columns of wheels that spun, interlocked, and moved one another while they performed their arcane equations.
Osgood had not invented the idea of the Difference Engine: but he was one of very few who had ever built one. Here, in fact, Osgood had built a great many of them; and the Work itself was able to design and construct new Engines as they were needed.
Deep within the mechanical mind of his Great Work, Osgood Finnegan regarded the one Engine that now interested him: the Language Acquisition Engine.
It had been easy to test it by feeding it known human languages - but now, and ever since, it had remained still until it would be needed again.
If he was correct about the Orb's scents it would be necessary to analyze those scents and turn that analysis over to the Language Acquisition Engine: the Engine, given enough information and enough time, could then decode and reproduce the Orb's histories. Osgood began to turn the possibilities over in his mind. But above all, he knew, he would need to find the Orb and bring it here.
But where was the Orb?