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.
It 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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then 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.
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
Photo and recipe credit: Sara at Homemade Levity http://www.homemadelevity.com/
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.