"The mind is like a cellar,” Zomblique's philosopher Mr. Boggs opined in a hollow voice which seemed to ring out from inside a tin can. "The mind is like a cellar," he repeated with self-assured gusto after a long pause. Zomblique's right hand shuddered as it hovered above the blank paper pad, the great plume of the quill wavering like a strutting peacock. "The mind is like a cellar," Zomblique repeated deflatedly and set his pen back in the inkpot, drumming his fingers on the desk in frustration. "Boggs by name, Boggs by nature," he muttered through his teeth. The mechanical philosopher was not working out. He could never afford another, for there would never be sufficient coin. Not so long as the only thing the wretched clockwork theorist was spouting was precisely such nonsense as this. Truism after truism, empty beatitude after beatitude, triteness, passing conjecture, idle wonder. Sellard's Philosopher, a dedicated aphorist belonging to his neighbour, had run like a top since it had first come into his possession. Dourf owned a verifiable man of letters, a clockwork vintage of one hundred and fifty years in age, still putting forward no less than three sweeping theories per week, publications in major journals at least once per month. His wife and children did not go hungry. Creech had a model that was a patent Fool, not even a Philosopher and it still managed to successfully produce biting satire of a somewhat dark although entertaining tone. Zomblique bit into the lace sleeve that covered his hand and attempted to stifle the misery that clutched at his throat. A lone tear escaped. The swine rustled impatiently in the sty, the baby cried plaintively. Fitting on his leather gloves to avoid the philosopher's sharp edges, Zomblique set his chest of pauper's tools next to the chair in which the automaton was seated. Tuning the fickle machines was more art than science, or so he had been told, and each model was unique. No more than one was ever produced by any one craftsman. Which combination hadn't he tried? Dourf had suggested alternately tightening and loosening the brace that held the mandible in place, to no avail. His grandfather who had been the original owner of the philosopher suggested setting the misericord beneath its left shoulder deep enough so that it was pressing upon, but not puncturing, the diaphragm corresponding to the human heart. It made no difference. He had measured the cranium and expanded and contracted the skull with drift punch and tongs – nothing. Although walking models were said to fare better, the sitting and reclining models also had their strong suits. Zomblique's philosopher had not responded favorably to any variation in positioning. He had tried setting him as if gazing aloofly out of a window, as though aspiring to grasp the heavens. He had tried posing the thumb and forefinger to thoughtfully cradle the chin. "Hungry dogs will eat dirty pudding," Mr. Boggs mumbled. Dourf climbed down the ladder, followed by his lanky companion, the artifice known as Vesselius. Brass bones encased in handsomely-grained walnut, studded with small levers and dials, emblazoned with esoteric glyphs and almost perfectly silent but for the quiet whirring of gears. A darkly shining monocle regarded the limp philosopher with what appeared to be sympathy. "Vesselius, something inspiring please," Dourf requested in his unusually soft tone. The mechanical thinker stood in silence for some moments before adopting a theatrical stance and looking to the skies as though there were no ceiling, he spoke: "It is only the deepest motivation which inspires each and every human action, and it is the vain fear of vulgarity which lies the deepest and closest to man's heart." Zomblique slapped his face with both palms and began to weep. There was a long silence. The animatron maintained its pose as gears whirred, quietly contriving another profound aphorism. "A little cynical," Dourf offered by way of consolation. "I would cut off my thumbs for cynicism," moaned Zomblique. “Please leave us be." Dourf and his machine crept back up the ladder to the sunlight above, a realm where Zomblique would perhaps occasionally visit, but never dwell. To his surprise, Mr. Boggs suddenly stood up. Zomblique's jaw nearly dropped. With clacking wooden feet he made his way to the ladder and followed after Dourf and Vesselius. "Yes, that's right you wretch. Go with them, you're of no use to me." Mr. Boggs awkwardly clambered up the ladder. Before his head went through the trapdoor he turned to Zomblique with his typical empty expression and issued his parting words. "The mind is like a cellar." The mechanism left, never to return. Through the swinging doors, the sullen Zomblique returned to the stink of the underground sty, and the croaking and barking of angry swine. All that remained was the empty cellar, a fine chair and writing desk. Finally without either the consternations of Zomblique nor the dubious adages of Mr. Boggs there was a beautiful silence - a silence that belonged there. * Simon P Murphy is a Nelson occult philosopher and the author of His Master's Wretched Organ.