Did I mangle the mangle?
English is an amazing language. It’s amazing because with words that have the same spelling as another word but have a different sound and a different meaning… and then words that have the same sound as another word but are spelled differently and have a different meaning… Well, it’s a wonder we can communicate with one another at all.
Then we added to the chaos when words came to mean different things depending on the country in which you live… But of course, that confusion can sometimes be entertaining!
(Speaking of entertaining — although this might be stretching the term… I’ve added a little work in progress treat at the very end of this post. I hope you enjoy it.)
The “three things” for this episode were provided by Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views & News. I had to do my research — but that’s the fun part. A case in point would be the word “mangle,” one of Hugh’s things. (And yes, I know. I’m strange that way about enjoying research.)
Hugh blogs and tells stories about “everyday life,” which of course is often more interesting than any fiction. Even so, you’re likely to find entertainingly unexpected posts amid the “everyday.” He also does book reviews at Lit World Interviews. I hope you’ll visit both sites and get to know Hugh.
Just one more thing. It’s National Train Day!
You know I had to add that. I just learned about it from Dan Antion at No Facilities. Meanwhile, I believe our steam locomotive just chugged past the window.
From last time…
Then I suddenly saw what had been there all along. A resemblance. Copper’s face was full with youth, while Ignatius had masculine angles, but their features were very much alike.
“They’re related,” I said amazed. “And closely I’ll wager…?”
“Hixon was youngish in the portrait… I remember you asking Copper about it. She indicated that he was much older when she was born,” I commented as assorted bits fell into place. “But he had no previous marriage…” I started but did not finish my sentence. “Oh.”
“Yet that’s not to say that Hixon had no other children. I didn’t just prowl around, as you put it, at Hixon’s estate. I went to Belle’s office at the Inn, and to his bedroom. Based on letters Ignatius kept, he is the illegitimate son of Calvin Hixon,” Corenlis revealed.
“So he is Copper’s half-brother? Why would she distrust him so?” I thought aloud.
16. Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle
The tiny woman who had shown me to my room when we arrived at the beautiful family estate of Alastair Wong appeared with a coffee and tea tray. She had told me she was named Victoria, after the Queen. She motioned more than asked if I would like more coffee. Victoria seemed rather excited when she turned to the Dutchman. At first I thought it was simply because of Mr. Wong’s admiration for the alchemist. However, it turned out there was a little more to her enthusiasm than that.
“Sir, mayhap you like this cup?” Victoria suggested to Cornelis as she lowered the tray to our table.
Smiling brightly she picked up a teacup with the same pattern as the rest of the dishes, but it was of a slightly different shape. It must have been specially made to match the rest of the china, and she was obviously both proud of the cup and delighted to have the chance to offer it to a guest. Inside the cup was a semicircular ledge. The ledge had a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and to serve as a guard to keep a mustache dry.
“Look Cornelis! Why it’s a mustache cup,” I exclaimed.
Cornelis Drebbel had a mustache and a short pointed beard, and bushy blonde eyebrows. When he was in a playful mood, or a sarcastic mood, he wriggled his eyebrows.
Where Sheriff Bullard, back in Copper’s home town, had a very thick mustache — as was the fashion, Cornelis wore his neatly trimmed. While Bullard would have desperately needed the special cup, it was not as much of an issue for the Dutchman. However, I gave him a little nudge with my elbow when it looked like he might decline the cup. With another look at the tiny woman, he seemed to realize that it was important to her.
So Cornelis, bushy brows wriggling flirtatiously, made over the cup and smiled when Victoria filled it with coffee. The woman was obviously overjoyed to have someone use the cup. I thought she must have put a lot of effort into having it made.
A soft chuckle caused me to turn. Our host, Alastair Wong had come back downstairs. He carried a large roll of paper.
“I thought you were going to turn in early, my friend,” Cornelis told him.
The tiny woman turned at the sound of Alastair’s voice. She was still all smiles. “I feared that tonight no one would eat dessert — and it turned out so well. It would have been a shame that you did not get to enjoy it,” Victoria said as she hurried away, presumably to get the dessert.
I gasped when I saw what she brought. Sticky sweet glazed apricots peeped out from a golden brown cinnamon sugar crust, dusted with white powdered sugar. When I asked what it was called, she told me proudly that it was an apricot Charlotte. It was irresistible, so everyone had at least a bite before going back to the reason why Alastair had come back downstairs. “So did you find a second wind, as they call it?” Cornelis asked.
“It was my intention to retire early,” Wong admitted ruefully. “However, sleep eluded me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the raven you told me about — the one that tried to carry a message about your whereabouts. I kept wondering where it might have been going. When I realized you were still up, I thought it might be helpful to look at a good, detailed map,” he added and motioned for us to move to a long table where he unrolled the map.
“This is a beautiful work of cartography,” I admired the map, which covered part of California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia.
“We are here,” Alastair said pointing to a golden dot on the map. “And I expect you were approximately… here when you were spotted?” he asked, pointing to another location and Cornelis nodded. “So we know the bird was headed north of that area,” Alastair said motioning in a large circle.
“That covers a lot of ground,” I said in a dejected tone.
The alchemist reached into his coat and produced the device that looked like an intricately worked silver bell. Wong’s eyes widened in obvious recognition.
“The harmonic tuner!” Alastair exclaimed interestedly. “My grandfather told tales of its magic! But wait. It is not going to cause the large gong to sound again is it? The hour is late, and I wouldn’t want to disturb the household.”
“Neither would I, my friend. This time the tuner will have a different purpose,” Cornelis said, but I knew how often his tricks didn’t go as planned.
A subtle green aura emanated from the alchemist. He turned the harmonic tuner onto its side and rolled it around on the map in the area Wong indicated.
“Where were you going, raven?” the alchemist murmured.
At his words, the topography on that part of the map blurred and became three dimensional. Then a part of that area took on a phosphorescent glow.
Although mesmerized by the magical transformation of the map, I was vaguely aware of faintly padding footsteps. I turned to see Copper, wearing a dressing gown and slippers. She clutched something wrapped in a scarf to her chest.
“Miss Copper,” Alastair Wong addressed her in a playful tone that was likely meant to distract her from what we were doing. “You needn’t have come down here,” he told the girl and then turned to Cornelis and me somewhat awkwardly.
“I suggested Copper go back to bed when she saw me in the hallway. I apologize that I made a bit of noise, and she got up to see what the bother was. Copper I hope I didn’t frighten you, in a strange place, trying to sleep,” Wong told her. “I said that I was bringing boring grownup things to show you,” he said to us.
The girl must have begun to worry that she was about to get into trouble for leaving her room at so late an hour. She hadn’t even noticed the phosphorescent glow on the map, but then, Alastair may have blocked her view.
Suddenly I realized that Copper held her cherished “mystic monkeys” bell, which her father had given her. It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. It was also a harmonic tuner. The night we ran from the Hixon estate, the two harmonic tuners being in close proximity had a profound effect.
I glanced at Cornelis for his reaction. The alchemist was so focused on his trick with the map that I wasn’t sure he had even noticed Copper’s entrance. He was completely absorbed in his work. “What will we find here?” he muttered over the map as he rolled his harmonic tuner across the glowing area.
“Here it is,” Copper said proudly, and before I could shout a warning, she unceremoniously plopped the second tuner right onto the map on which the alchemist worked his trick.
The existing harmonic sound from the Dutchman’s tuner quadrupled. A varicolored aura made a rainbow around the bells and the map. The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world. Then I felt it inside my throat, and just as before, I couldn’t help wondering if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.
Alastair must have felt the bizarre sensation as well. He put his hand to his throat. The tiny woman dropped her tray to the paved terrace. Fine china shattered, the sharp noise blending with the harmonic sound.
In the distance I heard noises that I couldn’t quite define. It reminded me of the sound of men scuffling, but it sounded heavier than that. Then I heard a crash from that area. The din was followed by clacking and clanging sounds. The louder noises were enough for me to know the commotion came from the hot spring.
Everyone turned at once, ready to race toward the sounds. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to tell Copper to stay there. Even better, with a wise wink the tiny woman took the girl’s hand and led her to the kitchen with the promise of a serving of the apricot Charlotte. I heaved a sigh of relief and followed Cornelis and Alastair toward the disturbance.
When we reached the hot spring I saw that the door to one of the small gold-painted buildings was off its hinges. The washing machine had somehow bumped and thumped its way out of the storage building. It looked as though it had clambered around until it was caught between two maple trees. Every few seconds it gave a futile bump to the trees.
“There’s something in the mangle,” Cornelis muttered.
“What’s that you say? Oh yes, the mangle. Here they call that part the wringer,” Alastair said absently as he looked in astonishment at the rogue washing machine and the damage it had done.
The washtub had been dragged along by the washing machine, halfway to the spring. I remembered the young man putting a tablecloth in the tub to soak. I suspected that was what hung from the mangle, or wringer. When I cautiously walked over to the still grumbling machine, I found that I was right.
Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner. A faint current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine. That had another effect on the washing machine. It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked. The wringer started to turn again, pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.
He was correct, there was something on the tablecloth, but it wasn’t simply dirty. It looked like writing — phosphorescent writing. Cornelis flicked the tuner with his fingernail, causing a faint ting sound and then the tuner cast a bright light like a torch. The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle. In large glowing green script I read the word aloud.
Where will the mystically inscribed word, Daddy, take our characters? I hope you’ll be at the station when the steam engine returns to the platform. The next “things” are from author John W. Howell. What kind of trouble can Pistachio, Penne Pasta, and Porcini create?
And now, here’s the recipe for this episode. Bon appétit!
Recipe: Apple & Apricot Charlotte
Photo and recipe credit: Taste.com
Here’s a special treat — for reading to the end!
A trailer for my main work in progress, Atonement in Bloom.
Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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