Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 12

Hello everyone,

Copper pensive

I’m always excited when I’m able to get ahead of schedule on anything, particularly this “interactive, culinary, steampunk” serial.  However, I never thought I’d need to have a couple of episodes written in advance because of a bereavement.

For the time being, I’m simply unable to talk about it, but it’s just Crystal and me now.  So please limit your comments to the serial episode just this once… I’m an utter wreck.

Christy BirminghamIt might seem stupid of me to even bring it up, considering that.  However, I had to mention it as an apology.  I know I can’t do justice in this introduction for the wonderful Christy Birmingham.

Christy is one of the newer members of the family here, and I couldn’t think how best to showcase her talents as a poet, author, and blogger. I don’t think I can choose between her blogs Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire, so check out both of them. There you’ll find at least two of the sides of this woman of many talents.

Thanks to Christy for sending three inspiring things.  And now for the new episode of our “interactive” serial.

12.  One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, Candle Wax

“How did they find us?” Copper asked in a whisper when the hydrofoil came into our sight.

One lone dandelion grew in our hiding place.  Copper picked it and nervously plucked it apart.  I could tell she was silently playing the “loves me; loves me not” game.  However, I wondered what she was thinking.  Did she ponder whether or not someone loved her, her father perhaps?  I reminded myself that she was only a young girl.  Even an adult might feel abandoned in her circumstance.  Or perhaps she asked the flower if we would find her father, find him; find him not.Burrell Road Locomotive

“The road locomotive is heavy, so it left a lot of tracks, especially where it nearly fell over into the river.  Cornelis used a trick to cover our trail to some extent, but I doubt it would have been difficult for an experienced tracker to trace our path along the river,” I told her.

“Or they might simply have followed Ignatius Belle,” Cornelis said through lips that held a sardonic twist.  “However, that also leads to the question — how did Belle know where to find us?  Is the man an innkeeper, or an expert tracker?  Does a woodsman lie beneath his fine clothes?  And why does he seem to know so much about Calvin Hixon?  I suppose he’s an innkeeper, woodsman, and inventor!” the Dutchman said in a droll tone, but his face wore a pout.

“Why Cornelis Drebbel.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous,” I needled the alchemist.

Victorian courting“Jealous!  Don’t be absurd,” Cornelis objected.  “And I hope you realize it wouldn’t hurt you to use a little objectivity,” he added though my eyes widened.  “I’m surprised you don’t burst out with a free verse poem when you think of him.  You act as though you’re positively smitten with the dandy.”

“Smitten!  Now that’s just ridiculous,” I snapped.  “I have never been smitten in my life.  I’ll have you know that I—”

Shh!” Copper hissed at us both.  “They might hear,” she whispered, pointing at the hydrofoil which by then had nearly reached the spot where Ignatius Belle had stopped with his paddle steamer.

“Don’t worry dear heart.  They’re too far away to hear us, and the little trick I used to keep them from seeing us will also dampen our voices or any other sound we make,” Cornelis told Copper to sooth her fear.

“What other sounds?” she asked, just as Cornelis intended.

“Oh, any sound,” he said with wriggling eyebrows.  “The snap of a twig, or a hearty belch,” he assured her.

Of course, Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t resist demonstrating a “hearty belch,” to which Copper collapsed in a gale of giggles.  Abruptly she covered her mouth, still concerned that she might be heard.  I rolled my eyes heavenward at the Dutchman’s behavior.Flying man w umbrella

However, I secretly admitted that he really did have a good way with the girl.  As I recalled, during his human lifetime he had four children, or rather four who reached maturity.  I supposed he had plenty of practice entertaining and distracting them.

Suddenly I wondered if he missed his children, but surely he did.  I stubbornly stamped out the thought.  Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state, it made me sad.  This was no time for me to indulge myself in emotions, particularly not in morose thoughts about which I could do nothing.

To my dread, the hydrofoil slowed as it drew near.  I still couldn’t tell who manned the craft, except for one erratically moving figure.  A chill went down my spine when I could see for certain that it was a very large chimpanzee.

Do not underestimate the size and strength of an adult chimpanzee.  I shuddered at the memory of the hoard of chimps bearing down on us at the Hixon estate.  The chaos of their mob, their shrill cries, their inhuman strength, it was something I’d rather forget.

Forlanini hydrofoil

The hydrofoil stopped.  The vessel lowered toward the water.

“What an amazing machine,” I whispered, awe overcoming my fears about the dangerous chimp.

Cornelis was eager to explain such things, but I was rarely patient enough for his invariably long winded explanations.

“The hydrofoil rises as the speed increases.  So the pressure around the foil changes until even the pressure on the top surface can become very low.  That lets the aerated water create a bubble and break down the lift on the top surface of the water.  At that point one might lose as much as two-thirds of the lift.  At that speed the vessel will drop back into the water,” he explained.

Cornelis Drebbel
Cornelis Drebbel

He snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.  He pursed his lips in annoyance at my lack of scientific enthusiasm.  Ignoring him, I craned my neck to see the people on the craft.  I couldn’t tell how many passengers it might hold.

The people on the hydrofoil wore rain gear.  I guessed it protected them from the spray the vessel created.  A man leaned over the edge, looking at one of the foils that lifted the craft out of the water.  His movements made me think he was concerned about it.  He jumped to the riverbank and continued to look at the vessel from that angle.

The chimpanzee eagerly bounded to the shore.  It cavorted on the riverbank for a moment, and then it sniffed the air and turned directly toward the spot where the three of us hid.  The man shouted harshly at the ape.  It reluctantly returned to the shore.  The man finally shook his head and shrugged as he inspected the hydrofoil.  I wondered if they had suspected a problem, but found none.

The man turned his attention to the banks.  Ignatius had deliberately scraped his steam boat against the shore, leaving big marks.  “He was here,” I clearly heard him call to someone on the vessel.Ape Grandma ad

The tone of his voice led me to believe the person to whom he spoke was in charge.  A muffled reply came to his words.  I couldn’t make out any of it.  The man continued to examine the shore.

Meanwhile the chimpanzee had our scent again.  The ape looked fiercely intent as it resumed its tracing of our steps.  Fortunately Copper had run all around the site in her adventure of picking flowers and finding the whale’s tooth amulet.  That seemed to confuse the chimp, slowing his progress toward our hiding place.

“Do you have candle wax in your ears man?  Let’s go!” came an angry sounding command.

Cornelis and I looked at one another in open mouthed shock.  That was a woman’s voice!

The voice was vaguely familiar.  I knew it was one I had heard since coming to the quaint little town.  My mind raced through every woman I had met since I arrived.  It didn’t seem to belong to any of them.  I reminded myself that a woman wouldn’t have used such an imperious tone in ordinary company.

I played a mental image of each woman in my mind.  There were the two women at Best’s General Store, Billie Best and I never knew her customer’s name.  The two gossips had been unnecessarily hateful to Copper.  The memory irked me, but I didn’t think that voice belonged to either of them.

1900 Maid with trayThen there were Cookie and Bitsy from the Belle Inn.  I remembered Bitsy’s bubbling laugh and impish grin.  It was difficult to imagine that commanding tone coming from her.  But I supposed it could; the pitch might have been about right.  No.  That just didn’t seem possible.

Cookie was not only a talented cook, she had impeccable organizational skills.  She would be capable of directing such goings on, but she had spoken so briefly I wasn’t sure if I would recognize her voice.

My mind turned then to the dreadful people from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  The cowardly man, Claude Dinkley had a tenor voice.  Could I have mistaken I higher pitched male voice for that of a woman just then?  After all, I only heard it speak one phrase.

There was tall willowy Gertrude Hobbs, whose honking laugh combined with her long neck and weak chin made me think of a goose.  When they tried to take Copper away, she mostly echoed the proclamations of Ethel Farthing.  It was difficult to imagine Gertrude issuing imperious commands, but perhaps her subservience was an act.

Now, Ethel Farthing was another matter.  I could easily see her commanding men and chimpanzees.  Had it been her voice?  I felt like pulling out my hair in frustration.  I simply did not know.Villa Claire

While I pondered the voice and the women of the town, the chimp had crept frighteningly close to the place where we were concealed.  The trick Cornelis used could only work up to a point.  The chimpanzee was confused but determined.  It screeched loudly in aggravation.  The man looked toward us with an quizzical expression on his face.  He took a step toward the ape.

A sharp whistle blew loudly from farther along the river.  That would be Ignatius at the bend of the waterway, making sure these adversaries did not lose him.

The chimp whirled toward the whistle.  It ran with astonishing speed and hopped aboard the hydrofoil.  The man followed quickly.  In a moment the craft sped away.


Recipe:  Warm Dandelion Greens Salad with Pears & Raspberries

Dandelion greens salad

Photo and recipe credit:  Sara at Homemade Levity



Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

81 thoughts on “Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 12

    1. Welcome, Dalo. I’m happy you enjoyed this (probably) random episode. If you get interested in the serial, there is a “homepage” button at the top of the screen where all the episodes are in one place (minus the introductions). I enjoyed visiting your blog. Hugs! 🙂


    1. That’s very kind of you Suzanne. I appreciate you commenting. The nature of things/circumstances surrounding it make it particularly hard…
      I enjoy your blog — keep up the lovely work. Huge hugs. 🙂


  1. Recently left Miami apartment/condo living and now have house and yard Greensboro. The dandelions are all over the yard. I’ll have to look into recipes such as these. Thanks visit my blog.


    1. Hi Carl. I enjoy my visits to your blog. Thanks for returning the favor. Re the dandelions, some of my UK readers are very fond of a beverage called dandelion & burdock. Who knew the pesky things could be so consumable. 😀


    1. Oh no Inese… No i can’t take credit for that at all. All of the vehicles i’ve mentioned in this serial are actual true-life inventions, and they existed (at least in design form, but mostly in actuality) during the late Victorian Era too. Plus, the mystical magical Internet knows all! 😀 But thank you so much for dropping by and for commenting. It’s so nice to see you. Hugs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is wonderful. I’m glad to have found your blog Teagan. And it’s nice to see some of my blogging friends here as well! Wishing you peace and strength for what it is your are dealing with.:)


  3. I’m familiar with Christie’s poetic blog… didn’t know about the other though, so thanks for sharing. Love the love me, loves me not scene and the engine. I’d rather have a dandelion n burdock than a salad though. 😉


    1. Always glad to share another great blog. I’m very pleased you enjoyed that scene.
      Dandelion & burdock was an “ingredient” in one of the “cookbook” (Three Ingredients) serials. I had not heard of it before then. Sounds like an interesting drink.
      Hugs. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh that was a close one with that nefarious chimp. And a woman in command, that’s even more interesting. You definitely had us going with the tension in this one Teagan! Sending you lots of huge hugs ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. Hi Andrea. Wow, i’m so happy to know that. I actually wondered if this episode had enough going on. LOL.
      Thanks for your kind words & hugs. Mega-hugs back. ❤ Crystal is not doing so well today, so I'll give them to her. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This story is all tension and I love it. That nosy ape left me shivering, hoping he would not find the hidden three-some. Whew. Now, who is the woman on the Hydrofoil? Curious-er and curious-er. You keep us on the edge of our seats every week. Can’t wait till the next chapter.
    ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. LOL, why thank you “Alice.” (That’s one of my favorite phrases — “Curious-er and curious-er.” I wasn’t sure i was creating the tension i wanted with the sniffing chimp — so thank you, Tess. I value that feedback. Thanks so much for commenting. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with everybody! 🙂 The tension and suspense is held throughout even as the list of possible female voices are worked through to determine who is on board the hydrofoil. You introduce the three ingredients with natural integration to the story. You must surely have your own alchemist in the closet working all this magic 🙂


      1. Your writing is always exciting with me guessing at every twist and turn. I am reminded of Robert Ludlum where the tension builds continuously until a great crescendo of action like an explosion of literary adventure. Warm hugs and happy sunrises for today. I know the days ahead will be hard and wish you the best for healing a good heart.


        1. … I’m sorry… I just had to pick my jaw up off the floor, where it dropped. Robert Ludlum? I’m honored to be compared to the famous.
          Thank you for your kind thoughts — i’m a little better today. Hugs. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes of course 🙂 Mr. Ludlum wrote in a very different genre but he was very good at continuously raising the anticipation and tension of his story as the reader is held in suspense by clues and action. You do that very well. I am glad to hear you are feeling better. It’s a long and slow walk sometimes. Take care and big cyber hugs in return.


  7. I missed my cup of Teagan yesterday. Too much going on. I loved this line. “He snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.” Also, the story still keeps us wondering. So good. Still have someone in my thoughts (ordered not to say anything).


    1. Oh thank you John. Crystal and I need all the good thoughts we can get. Maybe i’m improving — that’s the first “mention” of this sadness that didn’t make me burst into tears.
      I’m delighted you enjoyed this episode. (And i’m relieved that i had already written it and the next one.) And it encourages me-the-writer for you to indicate that you’re enjoying the dynamics between Cornelis and “the Woman.” Thanks for that.
      I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful day on the Gulf. Huge hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love it (as always), Teagan. You are so imaginative, and such a great writer. Thank you for the recipe as well (look delicious). Btw: I just bought myself a new pair of “steampunk” glasses! 🙂


    1. Dear Deb! I was certain i replied to your kind words… I just know i did… I guess i’ve been in more of a fog than i realized. I would absolutely love to see your steampunk glasses! Maybe you’ll post a picture of yourself in them? Or maybe one of C-Dog wearing them. 😀 Thank you so much, and i apologize again for seeming to neglect you. Mega-hugs. ❤


      1. Hey, no worries, my friend! I know how it goes. If I didn’t take the absolutely worst photos I’d take a pic and share. Suffice it to say, they’re BIG and thank heavens they’re plastic or else they’d be heavy (I’m talking about my eyeglasses, btw, LOL). Hope everything is going a little better in your part of the world. I’ll bet the cherry trees have already blossomed by now?


        1. Bwahaha… plastic…(giggles)!
          Yes, so all DC folks knew to stay away from the beauty of the blossoms. (Madhouse.) The pear trees surround my area, and their snowy blossoms have been gorgeous. Yesterday as they began to fall it was like warm weather snowflakes. Much better than the real thing. 🙂
          Yes, Crystal and i are beginning to do better. Many hugs. ❤


          1. Gorgeous description of the pear trees — love it! Wish I could smell all of those blossoms, 🙂 What an enchanted fragrance that must be. Glad to hear things are getting better — hang in there, time heals all pain.


  9. Thanks for another wonderful episode. I have a penchant for dandlions and was heart-broken when the local farmer’s market stopped stocking dandelion cordial, which had become my favourite drink.
    The pictures are again priceless. Happy Sunday and big hugs 🙂


    1. Thank you Christoph. Ooo… i would love to try a dandelion cordial — i can’t imagine how the flavor would be, but it sounds intriguing.
      I recycled all the images this time, so i’m glad to know they worked okay. Great-big hug back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Clever girl, love how the plot is unfolding, whose voice is it? You’ve got me wanting more as you do every episode. Your imagination knows no bounds this episode is taut and I love the air of mystery. I can’t even take a guess as to which way it will turn next,


  11. Great episode and intriguing again. Not only chimpanzees but a woman in charge of the chase. Liking it… And I’m fascinated by the hydrofoil. Love.


    1. Thank you Olga, for commenting and for your kindness.
      Yes, i think so too (hydrofoils). I remember a TV show when i was a kid where the dad used one, and i was amazed. Mega-hugs my friend.


  12. Teagan, sweet Teagan. As I already said, I send you hugs at this difficult time. Thank you again for including me in the serial and I loved how you used the 3 things!! AHAHAHA wax in the ears – clever! And the start with the lone dandelion made for an entrance into such a fun play on words; I like the way you incorporated it into thoughts of her father. Poetically well done (free verse style)! And thanks as well for the mentions of my blogs and the intro about me; I really appreciate that. MUCH LOVE to you, Teagan ❤


  13. This is wonderful, Teagan. 🙂

    Of course Christy would come up with fabulous ideas, that’s what she does – for those not following her blog, do so, you won’t regret it. 🙂

    I’ve shared this because it’s amazing and needs to be shared.

    When you’re feeling up to it, sweetie, I left you a comment on your bio post.
    Big megasupermonsterhugs. 🙂


    1. I’m delighted to have entertained you Tim. I’ve never eaten (or drank) dandelion anything… but i have sampled poke salad (another “weed”). I found it a lot like spinach. Thanks for a fun comment. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.