Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 24


Couple boat pug

One of my favorite bloggers, Donna Parker, wrote about choices. Her post got me thinking — as it often does. Eventually my pondering turned to choices about writing. Despite the fact that writers are advised to choose one genre and stick to it, I think most of us like to dabble in various types of storytelling. I continue to dally with different styles, but my stick-to-it choice is fantasy.

I’ve been encouraged to write romances, but I leave that to the experts — like Mary. This time, the three things that fueled the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era were sent by Mary J. McCoy-Dressel.

Mary’s latest book, Of the Cowboy’s Own Accord, took off like a rocket. It reached #1 in Amazon’s ranking of best sellers in Contemporary Western Fiction.  She describes herself as an author of sensual Contemporary Western Romance with strong family ties. I’m fond of calling it her dynasty of cowboys, but it would be more correct to say (as Mary puts it) she specializes in “gentlemen cowboys (with a touch of bad) & their feisty heroines.”

Mary_Double Dutch Ranch Series

Our steam locomotive is rolling ’round the bend. Again, I’ve included some fun informative links in text and images. This time I’m also giving you a menu for a Victorian afternoon tea.  All aboard!


As you’ll recall…

Our trio was on the run from three different groups of bad guys, including huge and dangerous trained chimpanzees, one of which gestured in sign language the word daddy.  Felicity recognized the leader of one group by her voice — she was a woman from Copper’s town, but the woman in trousers couldn’t recall which townswoman possessed that voice.

Our heroes hid out at the pavilion of Alastair Wong, where alchemy gone awry gave them a map with a clue to where they might find Copper’s missing father. Still on the run, they boarded Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine where they met Absinthe, the Green Fairy.  Subsequently the submarine ran aground in an amethyst world.

24.  Straitlaced, Queen Anne Style Architecture, Harper’s Bazaar

The suited, bespectacled purple primate was a willing listener for Cornelis Drebbel.  I wouldn’t have expected an ape to speak our language, even if he could talk.  Nor would I have thought we would understand him.  When I was about to ask, a significant look from Cornelis caused me to realize it had to be one of the Dutchman’s tricks at work, allowing us to communicate with one another.

Tea Gown by Charles Frederick Worth as seen in Harper's Bazaar, December 1891
Tea Gown by Charles Frederick Worth as seen in Harper’s Bazaar, December 1891

The alchemist gave the primate a full tour of the submarine.  The amethyst ape soaked up every detail as Cornelis explained how the many inventions onboard were used in the navigation and other workings of the submarine.  The ape seemed to have an astonishing scientific comprehension of what the Dutchman said in describing his inventions.

Cornelis had gone on about doppelgängers and was genuinely concerned about the consequences if one of us met our double in this perplexing purple place.  I remembered Copper’s giggling exclamation comparing the straitlaced ape to her father.  I thought it simply childish fantasy, but then I recalled how the Dutchman reacted to her words.  He curled his lips inward in a rueful grimace and raised his bushy blonde eyebrows.  Then he pursed his lips and inclined his head pointedly toward the purple primate.  At that moment the ape reminded me very much of the portrait of Calvin Hixon.

I studied the primate’s face and tried to imagine a human version.  My eyes grew wide.  The amethyst ape was Calvin Hixon’s doppelgänger!

Cornelis was quite adept at reading facial expressions, no matter how fleeting.  When he glanced my way he raised one eyebrow and gave half a nod to indicate he knew I had caught on to what he had figured out the first moment he saw the ape.  It was no wonder he’d frozen in amazement when Copper and I had gotten out of the submarine.  I finally understood why. I tried not to stare at the ape version of Copper’s daddy.

After Cornelis had shown off his favorite inventions, the ape invited us to tea.  Cornelis wasn’t quick enough to hide his reluctance to disembark the submarine.  The ape tried to encourage him by describing the setting and the Queen Anne style architecture of his charming home.  I couldn’t help wondering if this amethyst world had held a purple primate version of Queen Anne, and suspected that it actually had.  However, Copper was beside herself with excitement.

Carson mansion Queen Annd
The Carson Mansion located in Eureka, California is considered one of the finest examples of American Queen Anne style architecture.

In a very discrete way, the alchemist worked the conversation around to inquire about the ape’s family life and whether he lived alone.  Abruptly the purple primate puckered his face, looking very contrite.  He bumped his palm to his brow and apologized profusely.

“I was so amazed and excited that I forgot to introduce myself.  Can you ever forgive my lacking manners?  Cal Hicks — at your service,” he said with a bow.  “Penny will be devastated not to have met you.  That’s my daughter.  She’s away for the week, visiting her brother Nate and his wife.”

When the ape — or I should say Cal Hicks, mentioned his daughter-in-law he gave me the strangest, quizzical look.  “Something in your manner puts me very much in mind of my delightful daughter-in-law,” he told me with a twinkle in his eye.Jaime Murray-2

I was speechless.  Could there be a purple ape version of me?  And was she married to an ape version of Ignatius Belle?  Surely not, it was incomprehensible!  The ideas were a bit too much and I suddenly had a headache.

The ape didn’t know the reason behind the alchemist’s concern, but what he disclosed about his family reassured Cornelis that it was unlikely for any of us to run into our doppelgängers.  With a little more please-pretty-please urging from Copper, Cronelis finally agreed.  So we set out with Cal Hicks, the primate equivalent of Copper’s daddy, to have tea at his home.

A violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper graciously served tea with all the trimmings.  She seemed delighted to have a chance to show off her skills, and served the perfect pot of tea to complement each course.

(How to Host a Victorian Tea Party)


1920s Catering Menu-1Tea Menu

Sandwiches and Savories
Smoked Salmon with Dill Butter on Dark Bread, garnished with Dill (open face half-moon sandwich)

Ham and Chopped Watercress with Basil Butter on Rye Bread (finger sandwich)

Thinly Sliced Cucumber & Chopped Mint with Mint Butter on White Bread (open face round sandwich)
Chopped Egg and Diced Black Olives on Whole Wheat Bread (pinwheel sandwich)


Scones and Breads



Devonshire Cream

Flavored Butters (Fruit, Herb & Spice)

Raspberry Preserves and Rose Petal Jam


Served in a champagne or martini glass:

English Trifle with Heart-Shaped Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies


Mauve teacup Wileman Co 1893

My cup rattled against its saucer.  I was embarrassed to I spill my tea.  Charming and hospitable as Cal Hicks was, the entire situation was unnerving.  I almost wished I had stayed behind at the submarine with Absinthe.  Cornelis was downright twitchy — probably still worried about doppelgängers.  Copper was the only one who took everything in stride.

Several portraits hung in the hallway.  It seemed that Cal Hicks enjoyed a much happier, devoted family life than had Calvin Hixon.  The son was presumable born out of wedlock, since this place seemed to reflect our own world.  But unlike Ignatius Belle, Nate Hicks agreed to become a true part of the family.  And since Penny was visiting Nate and his wife for a week, I assumed that she did not share Copper’s dislike and mistrust of her half brother.

Victorian Ape CoupleA purple primate version of Harper’s Bazaar magazine lay on a beautifully crafted mahogany table.  The deep color of the wood had dark purple highlights.  On the magazine cover was a woman-ape wearing a fashionable ensemble.  A painting hung above the table.  It was a portrait of Cal Hicks’ son and daughter-in-law.  I had to admit the young ape in the portrait bore a vague resemblance to Ignatius Belle.  However the female looked nothing like me whatsoever.

“Look Felicity!  She looks like you,” Copper enthused.

Looking away, I tried not to let the ape see how aghast I was at the girl’s comment.  With narrowed eyes I watched Corenlis.  His mouth twisted in any number of ways as he tried to stifle his laughter.  I knew it was our host he didn’t want to offend.  He certainly wouldn’t be concerned about my pricked ego.

To hide his mirth, the Dutchman tapped his fist to his breastbone, pretending to stifle a burp.  Then he asked our host if we might stroll around the grounds to help the fine repast he’d provided settle.  The amethyst ape was happy to oblige.

As we toured the property we came upon a church.  “That doesn’t look like it’s been used in quite some time,” I commented about the chapel.

“Ah yes.  That was indeed a tragedy,” Cal Hicks replied sadly, and Copper was quick to push for details on a topic we adults may have deemed too delicate.

Mount Olivet Cemetery Chapel, Nashville, TN
Mount Olivet Cemetery Chapel, Nashville, TN

“It happened during the last confrontation with the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater,” the ape said then turned to Cornelis as if concerned.  “Do you not remember it?”

“Err…” Cornelis hesitated, but a spark in his eyes told me he was about to dissemble.  “I must confess,” he said looking so sad and sincere that I almost rolled my eyes.  “An accident of alchemy brought my submarine back to these shores.  Sadly I have no memory of the events that happened here,” he explained.  “Oh now, there’s no need for concern, I’m sure the memories will return in due time.  Such is the way of alchemy,” he assured our worried looking host.

“Well, perhaps a refresher will help it along then,” Cal Hicks said with a hopeful nod.  “I mentioned that we had thought all of your species,” he said turning to me, but hesitating when he looked at Copper’s wide eyes.  “Well, um, that the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater had, um gotten them,” Cal said and seeing that Copper didn’t look frightened, he continued.  “However, there was one more confrontation with that huge purple fae creature.  You, Cornelis Drebbel, cornered the magical beast, and with your alchemy intended to transfigure it to something harmless.”

“Let me guess,” I said with a wry grin.  “The alchemy went awry.”

Cornelis Drebbel
Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis glared at me, but the ape remained perfectly serious, continuing his narrative.  “The Lord of Alchemy insisted that everyone take refuge in the chapel while he confronted the monster alone.  Meanwhile, I ran to retrieve his harmonic tuner.  It’s a magical device decorated with a carving of a trio in the classic mystic people pose — hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

The ape suddenly looked overwhelmed with regret.  He moved his spectacles to wipe a tear.  “In my haste, I tripped.  The harmonic tuner flew from my grasp.  It rang as it flew through the air.  However, you, Cornelis Drebbel, caught it before it fell.  So I thought all would be well, and that my mishap had done no harm,” Cal Hicks told us in an apologetic voice.

The ape dabbed his nose with a silk handkerchief and took a deep breath before continuing.  “The purple people eater vanished, presumably vanquished.  You, Lord of Alchemy popped off, as was your habit, to make sure the beast was gone for good.  But you never returned,” he said, looking like a repentant child caught in mischief.  His expression gladdened as he looked up and added, “Until today that is.”

“And the church?” I prompted.1860s Woman Handkerchief tintipe

Cal Hicks turned somber eyes to the chapel.  He shook his head slowly.  “When the loud harmonic noise of the misused tuner dissipated, I realized there were no sounds whatsoever coming from the church.  To my horror, I found it empty.  Everyone inside had vanished along with the purple people eater,” he said.

I gasped despite myself.  The ape seemed to think I found his telling of the story that shocking, and he seemed gratified to have at least told it well.  Although it was obvious that he blamed himself to a degree for what happened.  So I tried not to let on that the story wasn’t the reason for my gasp.

“Cornelis!” I whispered to the alchemist.  “That army of chimpanzees back at the Hixon estate.  What if they weren’t trained,” I said but paused, looking for the right word.  “What if instead, they were actually translocated?”


Felicity has figured out at least part of the mystery of the “trained” chimpanzees, but we still don’t know who was using them.  Can the ape version of Calvin Hixon somehow help our trio reach Copper’s real daddy?  Will seeing the portrait of primate doubles of herself and Ignatius Belle influence Felicity’s capricious feelings about him?  I hope to see you at the platform for the train to the Victorian Era again next time. 

Hot and humid… day after day, night after night – it’s just that time of year here.  So when I saw a beautiful post from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen for “Nicoise Salad,” it seemed like the perfect recipe to share with this episode.

Recipe:  Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad suzanne

Photo and recipe credit:  Suzanne Debrango


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.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.


68 thoughts on “Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 24

  1. I am quite surprised to read about the abilities of those primates…. One of them was sure lucky enough to get a personal guide tour all throughout the submarine! Does he look like Calvin Hixon… Hard to say but judging for the incidents, as told here I´d say he does not look straitlaced at all, eh!…
    As I fantasize with a Victorian Era Tea Party I am still trying to figure out how that purple ape version you made reference would be like!…
    A very dynamic instalment…. I much enjoyed it, dear Teagan. Love and best wishes. Aquileana 😀


    1. Hi Aquileana. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this chapter. The “amethyst world” is all about whimsy, but it leaves the door open for a lot of thought. I never deal directly in symbolism, but I am pleased if I come up with something that makes people think.
      So yes, my overly-proper (even though he is purple) ape does resemble Calvin Hixon — as much as an ape can anyway.
      We don’t want to disrupt the “harmony” of the environment by letting the humans get too close to their ape counterparts, because who knows what might happen! 😀 So we have to worry that Copper’s ape twin, or Felicity’s, or Cornelis’ might wander onto the scene. Cornelis has said that it could be a complete disaster if his double showed up.
      Meanwhile, we have the new concern of the Purple People Eater.
      Thanks so very much for reading and commenting. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well reading this latest episode almost a week late did not matter at all, because it was very much worth the wait. The idea of a violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper serving afternoon tea is something I would never have imaged, Teagan. Puts me in mind of the PG Tips commercials that run over here in the UK for many years.

    This is like reading a book that you simply can not put down because of the all the cliff hangers you leave us on. Oh well, at least I only have one day to wait 🙂

    Hugs to you.


  3. You do have a fantastic imagination, Teagan and the story still makes me reel. The parallel world has me itching to know what the heck can possibly happen now. Late reading but much enjoyed and cannot wait for the next roll out of the station. ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. You are so kind, Kirt. Thank *you* for reading and commenting. The posts are always here, so there’s no such thing as being late for the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era. Hope to see you at the platform next time. 😀 Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exciting week. My son is home and he and his wife are moving into their new home. He starts his job next week. Grammie’s little pumpkin is a mere 13 miles away instead 2800+ and I’ve already got play days scheduled. Hugs back to you.


  4. The ape version of Harper’s Bazaar made me laugh out loud. Where do you get those divine ideas from? What an excellent post, and again, fantastic pictures.
    Am I the only one who thinks the lady in the trousers looks like Kate Middleton?
    Have a great week. Hugs!


    1. Christoph, you are truly a delight. Thank you! LOL, I can’t explain the wild (thank you for calling them divine) ideas in my head… It’s just that messed up in there! 😀
      In my imagination Jamie Murray plays Felicity, the Woman in Trousers. She has a number of credits, but i see her as she was in her role as HG Wells (yes a woman!) in the “Warehouse 13” SiFi series.
      I’m so happy you took time to read and comment. I hope to see you on the steam locomotive again next time. Mega hugs!


        1. Woah! Have *mercy*… ❤ ❤ ❤ …. I much prefer him… but not as the Woman in trousers. LOL. Jeeze… and I was about to get dressed for the office. Now i don't even know where i am…. What was I doing again? 🙂 Have a terrific Jamie — i mean Tuesday.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘nother great post, Teagan. Sorry to say, I’m not into the romances, but those covers are very attractive. The ape and ape versions… how intriguing! 😀 Love that salad layout… I’m not a huge salad fan, but I would definitely not hesitate to work my way through that one! 😀


    1. Hi Kev. Thanks for stopping to comment.
      Yes, there’s a lot to be said for cold food on a very hot day. Eating something hot when you’re already sweltering doesn’t tend to be that helpful, IMHO. 😀
      Have a wonderful week. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Carol. It sounds so charming, doesn’t it? Well, I guess we can take consolation in the fact that we’d have had to wear corsets laced so tightly that we would not have been able to eat anything. 😀 Here’s to spandex.
      Thanks for taking time to comment. Have a wonderful week! Hugs.


  6. Wow! Now I wonder, did he know the meaning of that “daddy” sign, or was it just a random gesture? Questions, questions…
    Thank you for the adventure! Look forward to the next episode. Hugs and best wishes!!!


    1. Hello Inese. I’m so happy you took time to read and comment. It’s been quite a number of weeks since that “naughty” chimp signed the word “daddy.” Wow, time sure did fly! I always meant for him to know what he was saying/signing. The big questions were: Did he know where Daddy was? Did he mean to lure Copper with the “promise” to help or to harm? But now, we might also ask was the chimp also looking for Copper’s father so he could get back home? Before you ask, I don’t know either! LOL 😀 Wishing you a beautiful new week. Hugs. ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Teagan, I really glad you don’t know all the answers yet. It means there are no hints in the story 😉 I wouldn’t trust a purple chimp though, and his suspiciously absent doppelganger family. He is too intelligent to be innocent ;). I just hope that both parties have the same interests and will benefit from each other.


  7. Amazing way to work everything together and I’m very intrigued but what more information the amethyst world will bring. And thanks for the links too. Imagination and education… Have a lovely day!


    1. It’s great to see you Olga. Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment.
      > I was just wondering that about the amethyst world myself… 😉 Wouldn’t it be nice to escape to a magical purple world, for a few days anyway?
      Have a wonder-filled day. Mega hugs my friend. 🙂


  8. Well here I am back and I must say I wished I had read this yesterday with a cup of tea, The Victorian tea was delightful and one has to wonder where the folks in that era put all that food. Wonderful episode and I’m so glad the chimp situation has a plausible answer. Thanks Teagan for the story.


    1. LOL. Well… trained chimps might have been more plausible than chimps from a purple world being translocated. But what the heck. 😀
      I’ve wondered about all that food too. Hopefully the leftovers were at least shared somehow, and not simply thrown out. Because there’s no way they could have eaten it all. My Internet service was out for at least 5 hours. They told me it would be 24 hours… Apparently a Senator or a big general was on the same grid, and raising a fuss, because it’s already back on. Now to play catch up.
      Thanks so very much for reading and commenting, John. It means a lot to me. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Good morning dear Teagan…. It must be so much fun to be inside your head…….what a brilliant imagination you have. I love it all….the plots, the names, the food…..everything and can’t wait to see where this takes the next episode. Sending lots of – (love this word) doppleganger love to you and Kitty…..Janet. xxx


    1. 😀 Thank you so much Janet! Crystal was particularly rambunctious this morning. Since she’s nearly 9, I think that’s pretty good.
      I’m very happy that you are enjoying this story. I had to chuckle at your comment about being inside my head. I try to only share the sunny brain-cells. Believe me, nobody would want to be inside the dark corners.
      And I agree — doppelgänger is a fun, fabulous word! Mega hugs my friend. ❤ 🙂


  10. Besides making me drool for a Victorian tea party, I was enchanted by the idea of a purple ape Harper’s Bazaar and well, everything.
    I am starting to look at people and wonder what their purple ape doppelgängers would look like, it’s a delightful game.
    I adore Queen Anne style architecture, when I make my millions I know the kind of house I’d like. 😉
    And romance novels would be my guilty pleasure if I felt any guilt about reading them, which I don’t. 😉
    Thank you, thank, Teagan for your kind words and for being so wonderful as to bring us along on this journey. I will be waiting breathlessly at the station next week, until then, hope this weekend is good to you, I’m off to look at some people and picture purple apes. 😉
    Megahugs, sweetie and all the best today and every day. 🙂


    1. It’s always so wonderful to see you Donna. I’m laughing out loud about your purple ape doppelgänger game. Now that you’ve put it in my head, that’s probably what I’ll be doing at work all next week! (If only WordPress had a smiley for a purple ape…)
      I love all those Queen Anne and Victorian houses too. I dream of owning one — or a real adobe in the desert. Quite a contrast in the two, but… Mega hugs right back my friend! 😀


  11. Aha! I wondered what the link might be from this ape world to the apes in the other. Such imagination you have and such storytelling skills to be able to make a purple world of doppelganger apes seem a perfectly appropriate part of the story 🙂


    1. Hi Andrea! I’m actually relieved for you to say that. I know this story is pure “pantser” but I do try to make each set of 3 things fit seamlessly. But when the amethyst world found its way into the tale… I really did wonder if it didn’t stick out in a bad way. Wishing you a sublime Sunday — full of hugs! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Well done Teagan. Another delightful episode. I am impressed at how well you work with the primates and the dialog, not to mention hinting back to other elements. I can hardly wait until next week.


    1. Thank you very much Dan. It means a lot to me to realize how much attention you’re paying to the overall story-line. Things like that keep me going! I’m glad you’ll be on the locomotive again next week. I’ll save you a seat! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Incredible episode Teagan, I am constantly amazed at how your imagination is boundless. Doppleganger apes, I LOVE it!!! Exciting that part of the chimp mystery is solved and I can’t wait for the rest to be revealed. I thank you for featurning my salad!! I think these characters in this story are so well developed, it’s amazing.


    1. Thank you so very much, Suzanne! That really is important to me. You are always so encouraging, and I appreciate it more than you could know.
      I had sort of a “Well what do you know…” moment when the translocation of the apes popped up myself. LOL. Honestly, i rarely know what’s going to happen next.
      Your salad was most certainly worth sharing ⭐ — just perfect for our weather, and i’m sure it would be a hearty delight in lands where it’s winter right now as well. Mega hugs! 🙂


  14. LOL… David you always make me smile. Don’t buy stock in any tissue companies yet. I can’t write Romance for the life of me. I never even learned how to flirt. I did do a post about it once though. 😉
    I’m delighted that you are on the steam locomotive to this story. Your comments mean a lot to me. I’m also happy to know that I’m portraying the amethyst ape as i mean to — dignified, distinguished, and mannerly. And that Copper is as resilient as they come.
    Looking forward to your Barsetshire Diary post. Mega hugs my friend. ❤ 🙂


  15. Teagan, thanks so much for the introduction, although it makes me blush. Please believe me when I say I am far from an expert, but I’m honored you think so. There is a long road ahead to go with the long road I’ve already traveled. Thank you again.

    Your imagination in this serial is just amazing, and I loved the way you used my three words. Truly creative work. I passed up an opportunity more than once to enjoy a Victorian Tea Party, and sorry for it. Looking forward to the next installment and can’t wait to see what happened to Copper’s daddy. Big hug.


    1. Mary you are more than welcome — and I really do think of you as an expert.
      I don’t guess it was a “Victorian tea” but an Albuquerque memory I’m very fond of is going to a proper tea at the St. James Tearoom there. It was wonderful.
      Thanks again for these great “things” — I’m delighted that you enjoyed your episode. Sunshine super hugs! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kathryn! I admit it took some thought. Since Copper’s name came from her hair color, I couldn’t think what to name her purple counterpart. I was ready to just pick an ordinary name. Finally the light bulb came on with Penny.
      I had such fun with the pictures and your vacation diary in your current post. Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Great-big hug! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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