A Revealing Straightlaced Saturday — Cornelis Drebbel 9

Saturday, September 29, 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

It’s another “Revealing” Straightlaced Saturday. The first blogger I got acquainted with — back in November of 2012, for National Novel Writing Month, was  Mary J McCoy-Dressel.  In 2015 she provided the “things/ingredients” for Wednesday’s episode and for this one.  Mary made an off-handed, fanciful comment about destiny… and as you saw in episode 8, I ran with it.  You’ll also find “Destiny” in her collection of cowboy romance novels.

Today I’m giving a shout-out for Mary’s cover reveal of Hooked by Sundown.  Keep an eye on her blog for details.  At this writing, I know the book is almost ready.  It might even be available by the time this post goes live.

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, western romance author, Book Three Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series, Blog Post Cover Reveal

This episode brings us to the third of the three things from Mary J McCoy-Dressel.  Let’s see how “ceramic statue” came into the story.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 8

The bobbing lights of torches in the night told us that multiple parties were moving toward the Hixon estate.  Our heroes had to hurry.  Copper over-burdened herself with a heavy bag of “necessities,” but the mindful moppet actually had chosen important things.  Felicity and Copper headed back to Cornelis, where the alchemist was trying to get (the still missing) Calvin Hixon’s road locomotive in working order.  And then…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

9 — Ceramic Statue

Ape Eyes 2

Composite Unsplash images, monkeying around by Teagan

A simian scream split the air.  It came from the far end of the lawn, in the direction of the shade tree where I had tied my borrowed horse when I arrived at the Hixon estate.  At that moment I could have wished for a fast horse, but Ignatius Belle had taken his dapple mare back into town with him.  I heard simian screeching in the distance, growing closer and ever wilder.  It made my skin crawl.

Two pinpoints of light seemed to stare at me from the high branches of the tree.  I shuddered when I realized it was one of the chimpanzees.  It must have come ahead of the others, like some kind of advance guard.  I was amazed at how well the creatures were trained.  Who could possibly train and control animals in such a remarkable way?

The chimp must have seen me looking back at him.  It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder.  His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly.  It sounded like there were a lot of them.  I remembered nervously how strong they were.  I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand.  I had to make sure we weren’t separated.

Boadicea traction engine Great Dorset Steam Fair.jpg

Road Locomotive, Boadicea — Public Domain Image

An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder.  However, the noise was not simian, rather it was a metallic sound.  Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam.  The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open.  The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack, clickity-clack.  As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.

Copper squeezed my hand.  I followed her gaze.  The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree.  They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive.  One and then another would chatter to the others.  I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.

One very large chimp moved far ahead of the rest.  Standing alone, he gesticulated wildly.  He paused, screeched and repeated what seemed to be the same set of motions.  It did seem a little odd to me, but the antics of angry apes were not something I had time to consider, not in those circumstances.

“Daddy…” Copper murmured.

Poor Copper, I thought, pleading for her missing father.  “Everything’s going to be fine,” I shouted to be heard above the chimpanzees and the noise of the approaching road locomotive.

Cornelis built up speed with the engine and charged directly into the group of chimps.  The apes scattered with wild complaints.  The accident of alchemy that left him in his strange state, also gave him some otherworldly powers.  When he blew the locomotive’s whistle, it belched a long gout of green flame with a sound so shrill and loud my ears rang long after the noise was gone.

Magic Flame unsplash

Unsplash, modified

“Don’t hurt them!” Copper shrieked, and I supposed she hadn’t grasped how strong and dangerous a pack of attacking and very large adult chimpanzees actually were.

“Those are no organ grinder’s monkeys!” I cried.

“Chimpanzees!” Cornelis reminded me.

Yes, he corrected me at a time like that.  The alchemist could be absolutely insufferable with that kind of thing.

The Dutchman blew the locomotive’s whistle a second time and it went to an escalating pitch that climbed until I could no longer hear it.  However, I could feel that the awful sound was still there.  The chimpanzees screamed in pain.  The group of them scattered and ran away.  Or I thought they did.

The alchemist brought the road locomotive back around to where Copper and I stood.  He jumped down from the engine, grinning ear to ear.  He was quite pleased with himself.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“Isn’t it an amazing machine!” Cornelis exclaimed.

“How did you do that?  With the green flame and the sound,” I asked as I rubbed my fingers inside my ears.

“You liked?” he said with bobbing eyebrows.  “I could have done more if I’d thought to bring the harmonic tuner.”

At that comment, Copper retrieved the device that looked like a decorative silver bell and handed it to the Dutchman.  He bowed and thanked her effusively.  I saw that she also held the monkey bell her father had given her.

Cornelis lithely climbed back onto the locomotive.  He held out his hand for Copper but she couldn’t quite reach, so I gave her a boost from behind as I climbed.  Then I saw the apes.  Three of them remained, undeterred from whatever their mission was.  I had to assume they meant to capture Copper.

A very human-like, extremely strong hand grabbed my ankle before I could get onto the engine.  When I looked down, all I could see were the big chimpanzee’s bared teeth.

I struggled to hang onto the locomotive.  Copper grabbed my arm to try and help, but then I feared that if the chimp pulled me free, that she would be dragged down with me.  I was relieved to notice that Cornelis still had her other hand.

“Cornelis!  Go!” I yelled and he saw the three chimps.

Victorian boot right

The locomotive jolted back to life.  I was afraid I would lose my grip if I moved, but I kicked backward with my other foot.  My boot heel thudded softly against something and the chimp’s hold on my ankle loosened enough for me to dislodge him.

In the commotion our lantern fell to the grassy ground.  A small fire spilled around the torch, but it was slow to spread, as the weather had been damp throughout the week.

The three chimps looked at one another and chattered.  One of them motioned with his simian hands.  I recognized him for the same chimp who had gestured so insistently before.  He fiercely looked right into my eyes.  Was that really the same set of motions he made earlier?  I saw their muscles bunch as the trio of adult chimpanzees readied to jump onto the locomotive.  I knew we could not fight off all three of them.

The alchemist began muttering odd sounding words that I quickly recognized for the strange language he used when he was about to do something that would either end horribly or be extraordinary.

Green LIghts Drew Collins_1466939721550-ad3ef4b9eeec

Unsplash

He held the harmonic tuner in one hand, but still held protectively onto Copper with his other hand.  The “bell” began to make that strange multi-level sound it had generated before.  I could see an aura vibrate around it.  The sound and sensation doubled.  I realized half of it was coming from a second source.

That was when I saw that Copper held the cherished “mystic monkeys” bell her father had given her.  It was the second source of the harmonic sound.  A tri-colored aura made a rainbow around the bell and the girl.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and wondered if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

“Dear God,” I said in a strangely pulsating voice that sounded odd to my own ears.

Cornelis only glanced at me, so focused was he on his task. 

“It’s another harmonic tuner!” I said just as the alchemist finished the magic he was working.

He looked at me with a wide-eyed expression of shock at my words.  I was jolted and nearly fell from the engine as an aura that matched the one surrounding Copper quickly engulfed the three of us and the road locomotive too.  I felt more than saw something radiate out from the aura.  It stretched, expanded, and then contracted abruptly.

yellow pillar candle in black lantern

Blažević, Unsplash

The harmonic sounds staggered as they dwindled.  The auras vanished.  The world was incredibly quiet after the bombardment of sounds.  Nature did not stir.  The noises of night were silent.  As I looked down from the engine the first thing that caught my eye was a shining spot of celadon green.  It was our lantern, it lay where it had fallen with flickers of what once had been flames in the grass around it.  The little fires were cold and unmoving.

I started to climb down from the road locomotive.  Cornelis reminded me to use caution.  I scanned the area, but I didn’t see the chimps anywhere. 

Then I saw it. 

I jumped down from the engine.  A large celadon green ceramic statue rested on the ground.  Three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil stood transformed.

three wise monkeys statuette on log at daytime

Joao Tzanno, Unsplash

“Are they still alive in there?” Copper wanted to know of the transmuted chimpanzees as she looked over my shoulder. 

Cornelis and I exchanged a knowing glance.  Copper looked inexplicably dismayed, considering how the creatures had been attacking us.

“Possibly so,” the Dutchman told the girl and she looked less upset.  “Quite possibly so.”

She brushed a tear from her cheek. 

“Daddy!” Copper cried.  “He was saying ‘daddy’ when he waved his arms around,” she said to my astonishment.

“Do you mean sign language?” I asked incredulous, but Copper nodded.

“I think so,” Copper said.  “He wasn’t doing it right, but it looked like he was trying to say daddy.”

The idea of an ape communicating through sign language was preposterous.  I thought it was wishful thinking on Copper’s part.  I could have thrown something at Cornelis when he made a comment that basically encouraged the fantasy.  I frowned and made a face when my next thought was that the Dutchman would just use one of his tricks to let anything I threw pass right through him.

A Christmas entertainment, presented in sign language for th Wellcome V0016543.jpg

A Victorian Christmas entertainment, presented in sign language

“He likely wanted you to believe he could lead you to your father,” Cornelis said.  “But you know they were naughty monkeys, and you could not trust them,” he added and Copper nodded her reluctant agreement.

“Chimpanzees,” I said because I couldn’t resist turning the Dutchman’s correction on him.

His eyes narrowed but he didn’t respond to my taunt.  Instead, he looked past me. 

“We’ve no time to doddle,” Cornelis reminded us.  “The other two groups are mere minutes away.”

When I turned to look I saw the torches again.  There were two groups, one larger than the other.  They still approached from different directions, but they were indeed much closer. 

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Chimpanzee Sign Language.  Washoe was a female chimpanzee, the first non-human to learn to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).  It was part of an experiment on animal language acquisition.  Washoe learned approximately 350 signs of ASL.  She also taught her adopted son Loulis some signs.

The question remains — who controls the chimpanzees?  Was it Copper’s fertile imagination, or did the chimp really try to use sign language to say something about her father?  Who are the other two groups of pursuers? 

I’m not sure whether Cornelis Drebbel meant to turn the chimpanzees into statues, or if it was one of his accidents of alchemy.  Our trio narrowly avoided capture by those naughty chimps, but two more groups of what must surely be villains are almost there.   

The next set of things are Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes, and AirtightsTune in for Hidebound Hump Day to see where those take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 8

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 

Thanks to everyone who visited the virtual art show, Under the SeaI preempted the Straightlaced Saturday edition of this serial for that post, but today the steampunk locomotive is back on track.

Steampunk eye unsplasy CAWT

Ladies and gentlemen, I bid you welcome to Hidebound Hump Day, where we continue our Victorian adventure from Wednesday last.  Horsefeathers… I can’t talk that way unless “Felicity” is firmly in my head — and she’s off trying to keep Cornelis in line. If I had kept going, I think I might have hurt myself.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Cornelis Drebbel, the alchemist, and Felicity, the woman in trousers met a curious little girl with hair the color of a new penny — Copper.  At her home, they found an unknown dead man in the study, and Copper’s father was missing.  People from a hateful orphanage showed up with the sheriff, trying to take the girl away.  Although they shouldn’t have had any idea she was on her own.  Then some naughty chimps burst into the house and dragged away the corpse.

Chapter 7.  

Previously our heroes found papers and drawings done by Leonardo da Vinci himself!  Yet time was running out for them to get away from Copper’s home before the sheriff (or someone worse) returned.  Complicating things was the fact that they had no transportation.  Then they found an old road locomotive… but it wasn’t working.  Can Cornelis use a trick of alchemy to get it working?  

“What is it?” I asked once I could see Cornelis Drebbel properly again.

“There are people coming.  More than one group.  From more than one direction,” he said sounding like he was still trying to understand what he saw.  “We have to hurry.”

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

8 — Soup Bone, Destiny

brown and green metal handrails

Sean Mungur, Unsplash

“Copper!” I called.  “We have to hurry.  Where are you?”

I had climbed the narrow stairs up to the tiny room at the top of the turreted tower of the Hixon estate.  I wanted to get the best possible view of the land around me, but I didn’t hold much hope of seeing anything in the dark.

Opening the window, I leaned out precariously.  Although I needn’t have been concerned about falling out — the wretched bustle on my skirt wouldn’t fit through the window.  I exhaled in exasperation at the convention of fashion I had to adopt.

When I looked to my right, I saw a small light.  At first I took it for a firefly, but it wasn’t.  It was too far away, I wouldn’t see a firefly at such a distance.  Then I saw another light near it — and two more.  Torches.  They moved steadily toward the house.

I twisted my torso and looked to my left.  There I spotted more lights, coming from the west.  One lantern held still and several others moved toward it.  I had no doubt that the group of them would also begin moving toward our location soon.

However, Cornelis detected three groups, each approaching from a different direction.  Quickly I walked across the round turreted room to the other window.  I stretched out as far as I could, but I didn’t see anything.

crescent moon

Klemen Vrankar, Unsplash

If only there were more stars, or a bigger moon, I thought.  Well then, if I can’t see, perhaps I can hear. 

I held very still and strained to hear, isolating the sounds of nature, the insects and owls.  Faint and far off I heard growls and barks, but they were only canine.  

Probably two dogs fighting over a soup bone

Abruptly the dogs gave a startled yip.  Then I heard the familiar screeching and chattering of chimpanzees.  I still couldn’t see anything.  I wondered how far away they were.  Of the two groups with torches one seemed to be about as far away as the other.  I could only guess about the chimps.  Their cacophony might carry a long way in the quiet of the night.  Or for all I knew, they might be nearer than the others.

I hurried down the turret stairs and headed for the bedrooms to find Copper.  When I told the girl to only get the most important things, I’d meant clean nickers, stockings, and a change of clothes…  However, she struggled to carry a sizable carpet bag.  It was black with a floral design done in cheery shades of mauve and red.  It also looked too heavy to contain only the “important things” I told her to gather.

Shaking my head I looked at the bag. 

Tiffany Arabesque bell

“Copper, there’s no time for me to sort through your bag and get the things you really need,” I said resignedly.  “I hope you chose well, because it certainly seems you chose enough.”

The girl tried to mollify me by holding out the harmonic tuner — the erstwhile silver dinner bell from the Belle Inn.  In truth I was pleased with her quick thinking.  No one told her to look for it.  I smiled despite myself.  I didn’t know what to do with a harmonic tuner, but Cornelis did.  It might prove very useful.

When Copper shifted the heavy bag I heard a muffled but pretty chime. 

“That doesn’t sound like something ‘important’ now, does it?” I said and with a groan hefted the heavy carpet bag.

“Yes it is!” she insisted.  “Daddy gave it to me.  It’s the most important thing I have.”

Previously the Copper I had come to know was logical, creative, and resilient.  To my surprise the girl’s lower lip began to tremble. 

How could I be so insensitive?  She really was just a child.  Copper had been through enough in the past few days to make any adult a nervous wreck.  On top of that, Cornelis and I were about to tear her away from her home and run headlong into parts unknown.

Copper pensive

Feeling ashamed of myself, I put the bag down and put my arms around Copper for a hug, which she returned with a sob. 

“Go ahead and cry if you need to,” I said softly.

She sniffled, shook her head, and wiped her nose on her sleeve. 

“I’m fine,” she said.

Copper opened the bag.  I saw with relief that she had packed the owl-shaped lamp, the base of which held the priceless letter and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.  She removed whatever made the chiming sound.  I didn’t get a look at it because she was quick to secret it inside her blue cape.  I felt like such a heel when I thought she must be afraid I’d take her father’s gift away from her.

“May I see it?” I asked, trying to make amends.

It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. 

After dealing with the real life chimpanzees, I could have wished the design was of anything but apes.  However, I wasn’t the girl whose father had made it a cherished gift.  Even so, it was artistically rendered in a style that made me think it was a Japanese antique.  It was likely quite valuable.

The three wise monkeys at the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan.  Wikimedia Commons

I nodded appreciatively. 

“Of course you should keep it with you.  Put it some place safe, so you don’t drop it,” I said.

“You’re right.  We do have to hurry.  Those stinking naughty monkeys are getting close,” Copper added causing me to smile at her bravery.  “I mean chimpanzees,” she amended, no doubt remembering Cornelis correcting her.

With a chill I realized she was correct.  The chimps moved faster than I expected.  Their eerie screeching filled the night.

My suitcase and hatbox were sitting in the hallway.  Copper picked up my suitcase, which was less than half the weight of the carpet bag she had dragged through the house.  When she moved to get my hatbox too, I hastily said that I would get it.

“I need you to get the doors,” I gave my excuse.  “So you’ll need a free hand.”

The truth of the matter was I never let anyone carry my hatbox.  It contained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

Skull Green SIlks

Inside Felicity’s hatbox.  Monkeying around by Teagan

We stepped quickly down the stairs.  I hesitated so I could adjust the heavy carpet bag and make sure I had a tight hold on the hatbox.  I saw Copper turn back to gaze at her house.  She looked up at the beautiful home with large sad blue eyes.

“I’ll bring you back as soon as everything is sorted out,” I assured her.

Copper shook her head.  There was something very grown up about the way she stood and the expression on her face.

“Daddy says that your destiny isn’t always what you expect,” the girl said.  “I didn’t get it when I was real little,” said the suddenly mature moppet at my side.  “But I think I understand now.”

A simian scream split the air.

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

The Bustle.  Victorian Era women’s fashions were characterized by crinolines (1850-1869) and bustles.  By the 1870s, the elliptical crinoline had evolved into a bustle.  It was a long narrow cage that rested at the back of the waist.  From 1870-1889, the bustle would continue to evolve into a variety of different shapes and forms.

An American bustle, linen and metal, 1875-78

A book of etiquette for ladies of the era describes appropriate dress for the following activities or events: receiving visitors, visiting others, travel, walking, going to market, shopping, visiting new brides, mourning, and going out in stormy weather.  Each type of dress was distinguished by type of fabric, presence or absence of trim, and suitability for the named activity.  Failure to understand and comply with those rules was the epitome of bad taste (FIDM Museum & Galleries,  Nov. 19, 2010).

Soup.  The Victorians would say “light” soups were for ladies, while darker heaver soups were given to men.  Here’s rhubarb soup the Victorian way. 

***

Our trio still has not gotten away, and the unknown groups will converge on the Hixon house at any moment.  However, Copper has collected some (hopefully) useful things for their escape.  I wonder if Cornelis has made any progress in getting the road locomotive working.

Thanks for getting on the steampunk locomotive for this rerun.  I’ve been posting episodes twice a week.  The story continues on Straightlaced Saturday.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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Amazon UK

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Under the Sea, a Virtual Art Gallery Showcasing the work of Rob Goldstein

Opening Announcement

Welcome to my art gallery.  Today the venue is the #steampunk submarine of Cornelis Drebbel, who graciously allowed us into his domain. 

I’m excited to present the artwork of Rob Goldstein, who illustrated Hullaba Lulu.  Please join me for a stroll through the submarine to view his images.

Yes, that’s the first piece of Rob’s art on display ― Sea World.  Isn’t it calming?

Sea World

Sea World

First, we need to go to San Francisco to pick up Rob, the guest of honor.  Cornelis, it feels like we are already under weigh.  I’m surprised you put your book down without a fight.  What was all that clicking about?  What do you mean click you?

Cornelis:  No, click me, not click you. Click Me Happy.”  It’s exciting for me to be able to choose the book’s ending, Teagan.  But I simply couldn’t pick one.  So, I decided to just pick up the author.  Olga Núñez Miret, of Author Translator Olga is on her way through the airlock.  

Olga, what a pleasure.  I’m so excited about your translation of “Atonement, Tennessee.”   Although I thought we were going to pick up Rob first.  Cornelis, it’s Rob’s show!  (I sigh…)  Nothing ever goes to plan when Cornelis Drebbel gets in the mix.  

Lovely isn’t it, Olga?  Rob calls it Cegeste.

Cegeste

Cegeste

Robbie!  What a lovely surprise.  What’s that?  Okay Cornelis, I forgive you since you’ve brought Robbie Cheadle of Roberta Writes   and some of her gorgeous cakes.  My goodness, just look at all the cakes and chocolate.  

Won’t you have a slice?  They’re delicious.  I don’t know if I would have been able to cut any of the beautiful cakes Robbie brought.  Cornelis, however, had no problem… 

a-cake-from-robbie-e1537102411201.jpg

Robbie’s Cake

I see we have the refreshments set up beside a porthole.  What a view!

Porthole Cornelus-The Sub

Art by Rob Goldstein

Ah, we’re already in San Francisco Bay.  That’s the beauty of traveling with an alchemist!

What’s that thing outside the window?  Oh!  That’s the mini-sub shuttling Rob’s V.I.P. guests.  Sorry let me turn off that claxon.  It’s letting us know the shuttle has docked.

Mini Sub

Art by Rob Goldstein

Welcome aboard, Rob!  I see you have all your special guests with you.  Thank you so much for bringing these wonderful people.  I know some, but not all of them.  So, would you please check the passenger manifest for me, to make sure no one is lost?

Sally G. Cronin, of Smorgasbord Variety Is the Spice of Life, Linda Bethea of Nutsrok , Annette Rochelle Aben, Erika Kind, Mary Smith, Diana Peach of Myths of the Mirror, and Danica Piche.  What a wonderful group!

I saw that, Cornelis…  I know those wriggling bushy eyebrows mean you’re flirting.  Mind your manners with our guests.  What did you say, alchemist?  Oh, yes.  Thank you.  You did go “outside” to retrieve a piece of art, but you’d still better behave yourself.

Finding the Lost De Milo (2)

Finding the Lost DeMilo

Sally, it’s so good to see you!  Won’t you help the rest of the VIPs tour the submarine?  I know you are already familiar with Cornelis and his submarine.

What’s that, sailor?  More guests?  Oh, it’s Christine (CE) Robinson, from Before Sundown and Denise (DL) Flinn.  I see they’ve come down the West Coast to catch the submarine here at the City by the Bay.  I can guess which of Rob’s images will be Christine’s favorite ― Sundown.

Sundown

Sundown

Forgive me… Let’s get back to guiding you around this undersea gallery.  Here’s the refreshment table.  Have one of those lovely shell-shaped plates of hors d’oeuvres, and a shimmering glass of champagne.  Yes, those Victorian Era sailors are our waiters.  If you need anything, be sure to let one of them know.  They fill in when the band takes a break too.  I see they’re serenading Mary J. McCoy-Dressel

Related image

Wow, I see that Cornelis used a trick of alchemy to display some of Rob’s art outside the submarine.  Deborah Zajac of Circadian Reflections, Fraggle of Rocking a Camera Across the Universe, and Cindy Knoke are out there with their underwater cameras.  They are such great photographers.  I can’t wait to see the results on their blogs.

Diver Cornelus - 9th and Harrison

Art by Rob Goldstein

Oh, sailor.  Thank you for refilling our champagne glasses.  Could you please make sure everyone gets back inside?  I don’t want anyone to be left behind in any sort of Ripple Effect.

The Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

That didn’t take long…  Do you hear the country tune the band is playing?  It’s by Jan Sikes, “Mama’s House.” (click for song) That tells me that this alchemically powered submarine is at the Gulf Coast of Texas where we’re going to pick up more guests (including Jan) who are from the Lone Star State.  There’s Jan, John W. Howell, of Fiction Favorites, and Lisa Amaya, of Life of an El Paso Woman

I see Teri Polen of Books and Such, and Staci Troilo, and there’s Brad, from Writing to Freedom came down to the Texas coast from their homes to meet up with them too. 

Hi, John.  I’m happy you all could make it.  Oh, I like that image too.  Being from Port Aransas, I can see why you’d be drawn to “By the Sea.”

By the Sea.bmp

By the Sea

I see reflections in the porthole.  Jennie Fitzkee, from A Teacher’s Reflections, is that you?  I’m so glad you could take a break from your classroom to join us.  And you brought Dan Antion from No Facilities with you!  Thanks to you both for coming all the way down to the Gulf Coast to meet the submarine.

Cornelis, are we ready to get going again?  We have to pick up guests from farther north, like Donna Parker, Jacquie Biggar, and Joanne Sisco.  

Cornelis:  Really… It’s not as though I can just chant Yadadarcyyada and make my submarine disappear and then reappear.

(I gasp.)  Yadadarcyyada is an incantation!  (I put my hand over Cornelis’ mouth to keep him from saying it a second time.)  Cornelis, please watch what you say.  The last time you spoke that word twice, you and the submarine went to a very strange place! A vanishing act is not on the program ― except for the one in Rob’s collection.  Sorry, if I say more it will be a spoiler for my blog serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Vanishing Act

Vanishing Act

Hold on, what was that sound?  Donna!  Everyone!  Are all of you okay?  I’m delighted to see you, but I hope an accident of alchemy didn’t pull anyone away at a bad time.

Cornelis:  Oh, do calm down, Teagan.  It was just a little prank.  I had already made arrangements with them.  We wanted to surprise you.

Rob, what am I going to do with that alchemist?  Ah, you are so kind – thank you for this plate.  I haven’t had a moment to visit the refreshment table.  I see they got your favorite Brie.  It looks delicious.  Are you enjoying your show?  Yes, I think it’s going well and everyone is having a great time.  You could say it’s quite a Conquest.  You know I can’t resist a play on words.

Conquest

Conquest

We seem to have stopped.  That looks like the wreck of some long-lost luxury liner… and that’s Nicole, from The Bookworm Drinketh.  She’s found several crates of champagne!  Sailor, would you please help Nicole inside?  Now we have plenty of champagne, just in time to zip across the Atlantic to pick up more guests.

Cornelis, are you sure your submarine has enough power to get there?  What do you mean it does now?  Erm… what’s that you’re holding?  It looks like an Aladin’s lamp…  What are you doing?  Be careful polishing that thing.  Purple smoke is coming from it! 

Oh!  Cornelis, you’ve brought the Lamp Magician.  What a great idea!  Dear Magician, thank you for joining us.  Please relax and enjoy this undersea art gallery.  But wait, the lamp is smoking again. This time the smoke is bright pink. It reminds me of something from my Thistledown serial.  Look! There’s Andrea from Harvesting Hecate, and Sue Dream Walker too.

Yes, Andrea?  I agree that image is lovely.  Rob calls it My Blue Heaven.

My Blue Heaven

My Blue Heaven

Oh good, there’s Janet Weight Reed, of My Life as an Artist.  Thank you for coming, Janet. 

I’m glad she’s already aboard.  Janet is keeping Cornelis Drebbel out of trouble (for the moment at least) by having him pose for a watercolor portrait.

I see Janet brought Chris the Story Reading Ape.  Now I understand why they only had two passengers for that run.  People can be timid about getting on a mini sub with a great ape, even though Chris is a perfect gentleman.

It’s wonderful to see you, dear Ape.  That one?  Rob calls it Eclipse.  Yes, it’s one of my favorites, though I really can’t choose.

Eclipse

Enter a caption

Oops, excuse me!  (Several sailors rushing past.)  They’re getting the mini sub ready to pick up another group guests.  Let’s see who’s on the passenger manifest. 

Dyanna, of Ravenshawks’ Magazine, and  Michael of OKIOS Redaktion.  What’s all the barking?  I see, how fun. Christoph Fischer brought his Labradoodles and Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News brought his Corgis!

Good, there’s Melissa, from Today You Will Write with Suzanne of Musings on Life & Experience.  Thank you for visiting, everyone.  Please make yourselves at home and enjoy this showing of Rob’s wonderful images. 

Cornelis Drebbel inside sub _001

Art by Rob Goldstein

Click over to Rob’s blog to see the related treat he has made at his blog.  https://robertmgoldstein.com/

The comments are part of this art show, so I hope you’ll visit as many of the folks there as you can.   

You are part of this party too.  So, be sure to leave a link to your own website in the comments.  Leave a comment mentioning your favorite “Under the Sea” related thing, song, recipe, or art.  Come and go and comment as often as you want.  Rob, Cornelis, and I will be here on the submarine all weekend.   

Heartfelt thanks for visiting.

Stay tuned for Hidebound Hump Day on Wednesday with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers chapter 8.  Cheers!

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 7

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 

Girl with Cherries

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day and the next episode of the steampunk serial.  The next random “thing” a reader left to drive the plot of this story should come as no surprise — “steam engine.”  Let’s see if I use it in a way you expect.  (winks)

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 6 The handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle, has caught Felicity’s eye.  Yet Copper is decidedly distrustful of the tall man.  Who is right? Is Felicity thinking with her head or her… erm… heart?  What about that sheriff?  Can we trust him?  More worrisome than whom to trust and not, Cornelis disappeared with a disconcerting “flat” pop.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

7 — Steam Engine

Flying Scotsman Print

***

After the men left, Copper and I set about putting the disaster of a kitchen to rights.  I had a lot of thinking to do, and it helped if my hands were busy.  It also helped distract me from worrying about Cornelis Drebbel.  Copper told me she had not seen him since “the naughty monkey” knocked him down the stairs.

Copper sat at the table.  She had the owl-shaped lamp turned upside-down.  It was proof of my hit on the head that I had forgotten about the lamp and its hidden compartment.  Before I could caution her, Copper pulled out the documents.

“Be careful with those.  I think they’re quite old.  You wouldn’t want to tear them,” I said, and complimented myself on keeping my voice gentle when I was startled enough that I might have snapped at her.

rolled printer papers on table

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We spread the papers on the kitchen table.  One was a letter written in an unknown language.  I had no idea what it said, but it looked quite official, with an embossed crest.  However, the document was so old that the embossing was unclear.  The other pages appeared to be plans, drawings for strange inventions.

“A magnifying glass would be useful,” I murmured.

“Daddy keeps one in his desk,” Copper said helpfully.  “Do you think the monkeys will come back?” she asked, her tone edged with fear.

“We’ll go look together, shall we?” I said with a smile.

As we stood I heard a pop, then a little electric shock at my neck when a finger tapped it.

“Cornelis!” I said, barely stopping myself from hugging the Dutchman.  “I was worried half to death.  Where have you been?  Are you all right?”

“Yes, yes.  Although it took me a bit to… shall we say, compose myself,” he said in a rueful voice.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis

Cornelis Drebbel

Copper’s eyes were wide as she regarded the alchemist.  Her brow knitted and she looked suspicious.  The blue eyes narrowed and she looked at Cornelis intently. 

“Are you a ghost?” she asked bluntly.

The Dutchman grinned impishly.  He gave a twist to his pointed beard and wriggled his eyebrows.  Copper’s expression relaxed.

“That’s rather hard to say,” Cornelis told Copper.  “I never died.  However, my body stopped living hundreds of years ago.”

Copper tilted her head, thinking about the strange answer Cornelis gave her.  I got the feeling that she would study the matter until she understood it.

“Oh!  What have we here?” he exclaimed excitedly over the ancient papers.  “Don’t tell me this is what was hidden in the lamp!” he cried and Copper and I both nodded, taken aback by his enthusiasm.  “Really?  The audacity!  To hide such treasures that way.  Don’t you know what these are?”

“I couldn’t read the language,” I defended myself.  “I know a smattering of the Romance languages, but I haven’t had time to decipher the texts.”

Aerial Screw drawing

“Well, I suppose it isn’t any wonder,” he said agreeably enough.  “These are so old that the language has changed a good deal.  You really have no idea what they are?” he asked genuinely surprised.  “My dear, these are the work of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci!  They are valuable beyond belief.”

The Leonardo da Vinci?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew I was playing right into his theatrics.  “Then they must be at the core of whatever is going on here,” I said with certainty.

I asked copper if she could reach dishes to set the table in the dining room.  She could, so I busied her with that task so I could speak to Cornelis privately.

“I’m even more concerned about Copper’s father now.  I can’t imagine he would leave without this carefully hidden treasure.  Or Copper either for that matter,” I said quietly.

“Perhaps he meant to lead whomever away from the child?” Cornelis offered and that explanation made sense, although it didn’t feel right.

“If he has been abducted, we don’t know who they would contact for ransom.  So, their next move would be to take Copper and threaten her life to make Hixon give them the da Vinci papers,” I speculated.

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

“Yes, but that is assuming there are only two factions,” Cornelis said.  “These papers are so valuable there might be multiple parties involved, each working against the other,” the alchemist said.

That idea was complicated enough that my head pounded harder.  The pain had finally eased off, but it came back with a vengeance.  I groaned.  Cornelis took my elbow and led me to the dining room.  Copper had even arranged the food Cookie and Bitsy sent via Ignatius Belle.

As we ate, Cornelis spoke in a very matter of fact tone.  I was sure he did so to avoid alarming Copper. 

“I mentioned that I thought there were multiple factors involved?” he said as if he was talking about something utterly boring.  “I also have a hunch that they will converge here.  So I think we should begin a journey, an adventure,” he said smiling at the girl.  “We should set out as soon as we can.”

“But we’ve no transportation.  It will attract attention, but we’ll have to hire a coach,” I said.

“Too bad Daddy didn’t get the steam engine to work right,” Copper said surprising both of us.

“Steam engine?” Cornelis and I echoed in unison.

“Uh-huh.  It’s in the building on the other side of the house,” Copper motioned toward the remaining outbuilding — the one I had not had a chance to inspect.

yellow pillar candle in black lantern

Unsplash

The alchemist found lanterns where Copper said they would be.  He blocked the girl’s view of what he was doing as he used one of his tricks to light them quickly.  We hurried to the outbuilding. 

The chimpanzees had been very large and amazingly strong.  I couldn’t help glancing uneasily into the darkness, wondering if they would come back that night.

Soon we reached the building.  It was locked, but breaking a lock was also within the range of the Dutchman’s unearthly talents.  The building was small, and apparently only had one room.  A machine of some sort filled most of the space.  I lit a lamp to see it better.

I marveled at what the light showed.  The contraption looked very much like a steam locomotive.  However, it was closer to the size of a stage coach.  It had a tall column in front for the steam.  There were two wheels in front, supporting the engine, an area for a few passengers, and two much taller wider wheels in back.

“What on earth is this thing?” I asked of the strange contraption.

Cornelis had that look in his eyes.  I mean that obsessively excited look he got about inventions and wildly impossible things. 

“Isn’t it wonderful?  It’s a traction engine,” he said quickly before vanishing.

“It’s a road locomotive,” Copper informed me.  “Daddy always said this part was the trouble,” Copper said pointing at something I couldn’t see, but Cornelis was suddenly looking over her shoulder making an ah-ha sound.

Boadicea traction engine Great Dorset Steam Fair.jpg

Road Locomotive, Public Domain Image

The alchemist abruptly looked away, distracted.  I could feel the air around Cornelis Drebbel vibrate.  The sensation made the hair on my arms stand on end.  I knew he was somehow investigating the odd engine — what worked and what did not.  I heard a clang from somewhere inside the machine.  Then he muttered happily to himself.

“Do you think you can make it work?” I asked after a moment.

“Oh yes,” he said.  “In no time at all,” he added with a smile that twitched his mustache.

As I looked at Cornelis his form blurred and became transparent.  I had come to realize that meant he was somehow present in more than one place at a time.

“What is it?” I asked once I could see him properly again.

“There are people coming.  More than one group.  From more than one direction,” he said sounding like he was still trying to understand what he saw.  “We have to hurry.”

 ***

To be continued…

***

Several different groups converging on our trio?  Who could they be?  Are they friends or foes? 

The road locomotive is a bit of “Real Steampunkery Tech” — that’s my made-up word.  Will Cornelis get it working before it’s too late?  

The next group of things were “Ceramic, Destiny, and Soup Bone.” We’ll see where they take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers — next week on Hidebound Hump Day!

Real World Notes

Road Locomotive.  An early, experimental steam-powered road vehicle.  A type of (steam-powered) traction engine, usually referring to those designed for heavy haulage on common roads.

Thanks for getting on the steampunk locomotive for this rerun.  

Invitation 2 medium

I’ve been posting episodes twice a week.  However, for the weekend of September 21st,  I’m preempting  Straightlaced Saturday, for Under the Sea,  a virtual art show featuring the work of Rob Goldstein, who illustrated Hullaba Lulu.  This serial continues next week on Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you there. 

I hope to see you at the art show too.  Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

A “Revealing” Straightlaced Saturday — & Cornelis Drebbel 6

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Did the allure of the word “revealing” lure you to my clutches? I’m giving a shout-out to the fabulous Mae Clair who has just revealed the delicious cover of her next novel!

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

The big release of the book won’t be until January, but you can pre-order End of Day here.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait — sooo you can go ahead and read Cusp of Night to which the new book will be a follow-on.  (Hint-hint.)

Now, Felicity and Cornelis have their hands full so lets get on with the Straightlaced Saturday episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 5.  Naughty chimpanzees ran amok, stealing the corpse of the still unknown man, and knocking Felicity out cold.  She found the “flat sounding pop” with which Cornelis Drebbel vanished disturbing — and so did I!  So what happened to the alchemist?  Let’s find out. 

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

6 — Corset, Irish Soda Bread

 

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

The Woman in Trousers wouldn’t have worn anything so revealing, but this fun steampunk image by Noel Nichols for Unsplash captures the spirit of the story.

 

I was worried about Cornelis Drebbel.  Whenever he appeared or disappeared it caused a pop sound, like champagne being uncorked.  I couldn’t tell you why.  He refused to discuss the accident of alchemy that caused him to be in his unique state. 

However, it gave him several inexplicable abilities.  Even I didn’t know the extent of those talents.  He wouldn’t talk about them either.  The one thing I did know was the only other time his departure was accompanied by that strange flat sounding pop, he was almost lost forever.

After that thought the pounding in my head took center stage in my mind.  A drop of water landed on my face, causing me to open my eyes.  My field of vision was filled by two enormous blue orbs.  The tear-filled eyes were so close to my face that I reflexively drew back, bumping the back of my head.  As if I needed another lump there.

“Copper?” I mumbled, trying to focus my blurry vision.

I jumped again when I saw something that my rattled brain took for a fat hairy snake, inches away from my face.  I nearly screamed, but before the cry escaped my lips, my vision cleared.  The furry snake was Sheriff Alvin Bullard’s thick mustache.

close-up photo of man with mustache

Unsplash

The sheriff helped me sit up.  The porch and the world around it lurched when I moved.  My hand shot out wildly, trying to catch my balance.  I felt like I was falling, but then I remembered that I was already prone on the floor of the porch.

Copper’s tight hold on my arm didn’t budge even as Sheriff Bullard helped me to a sitting position.  I leaned back against the wall of the house.  When he stood he noticed the blood on the doorframe where I hit my head when the big chimpanzee careened into me.

“You took quite a knock on the head,” Sheriff Bullard commented and I groaned in reply.  “Did someone attack you?” he asked.

I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself.  I was intensely glad that I refused to wear a corset.  Wearing one of those hideous things, I would never have been able to get enough air into my lungs.  It was no wonder so many women suffered from “the vapours.”

“Something hit me from behind.  Something large,” I said, my thoughts still fuzzy.  “It knocked me against the doorway,” I added, gingerly touching my bloodied temple.

Abruptly my head cleared.  I remembered the four large chimpanzees and them dragging the cadaver away.

Soft footsteps moved close to me.  I thought perhaps it was Cornelis.  The world swayed when I looked upward.  It was not the alchemist.  Rather, it was Ignatius Belle, the attractive and most un-innkeeper looking proprietor of the Belle Inn. 

Basil Gill 2

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

Copper’s grip on my arm got even tighter as he approached.  I wouldn’t have thought she was that strong.  Her hold on my arm was downright uncomfortable.  I shifted in attempt to dislodge the girl.

“I won’t let you take her from me!” Copper shocked me by yelling at the two men.  “You can’t take—” she said with a tiny hesitation.  “You can’t take my Aunt Mina!”

That was astonishing.  Could the child be that quick on her feet? 

Copper apparently heard me introduce myself as her father’s half-sister, Mina, when I opened the door to the people from the Merciful Haven Orphanage.  However, when I met Copper, I told her I was there to apply for a governess position.  She had to know that at least one of those things was a lie.  She must have been terrified of that orphanage to think so quickly.

I wanted to ask Copper if she had seen Cornelis after he vanished with that off sounding pop.  However, I didn’t want to draw the sheriff’s attention to the Dutchman.  Where was the alchemist?  He had the power to speak directly into my ear without showing himself.  If he was unharmed, then why hadn’t he made himself known to me?

Ignatius Belle stooped down and tried to reassure Copper that he and the sheriff were only there to help.  A handsome man like Ignatius, with his kind smile and those soft eyes would have been enough to make most grown women melt.  A young girl should have been putty in his hands.

Copper however, drew away from him distrustfully.  I found her reaction intriguing.  I considered the innkeeper from a new perspective, wondering if there was more than met the eye.  However, I saw nothing that caused me concern — quite the contrary.  I liked what I saw.

Copper curious w-green

“The child’s been going on about some flight of fancy,” Sheriff Alvin Bullard said.  “She says monkeys took away the dead body from the study and knocked you down,” he said with a tolerant smile for a child’s whimsy.  “Though she’s a little old to tell such tales,” he added in a mildly chastising way for Copper’s benefit.

I tried not to react when I saw Ignatius and Sheriff Bullard exchange a look.  Their expressions didn’t seem to indicate that they fully believed Copper’s explanation was simply a product of an overactive imagination.  

Did they did they secretly credit her story about the chimps?  What could the men know that would allow them to believe the preposterous truth?  

However, my head throbbed so much that I quickly forgot about that unspoken exchange and the twinge of fear it gave me.

The neigh of a horse distracted me.  Twilight had deepened while I lay senseless on the porch.  In the diminishing light I saw an enclosed wagon with lanterns affixed.  It was a hearse.

Hearse, circa 1900.  Wikimedia Commons

“Weren’t you going to send the coroner to remove the body?” I asked the sheriff.

Then a startling thought made me look at Ignatius Belle.  So far, most of the townspeople I had met held more than one role.  For instance, the sheriff was also the local grist mill’s owner.

“You are not innkeeper and undertaker, are you?” I asked the tall man, suddenly unsure how attractive I found him. 

Most ladies would find the idea repellent.  After giving careful attention to the set of his shoulders and the line of his jaw, I decided that didn’t matter if he was also a coroner.

“I inherited the wagon, but the duties of coroner or undertaker are beyond my skills,” Ignatius told me and held my gaze longer than was absolutely necessary.

Sheriff Alvin Bullard looked from me to the innkeeper, lifted one eyebrow, and cleared his throat pointedly. 

“We’d only been here a short time when you regained consciousness,” Bullard said.  “May I help you inside?” he asked.

At first I reached out to take his offered hand, but when I moved the world took such a turn that it nearly took my stomach with it.  I shook my head negatively and that only made it worse. 

“I think I’ll just rest here for a moment longer,” I said ruefully.

Wikimedia Commons

Ignatius Belle stepped quickly to the hearse.  He returned with a suitcase, a hatbox, and a basket.  I recognized the first two items as my own.  I felt a stab of worry that he had opened the hatbox.  It contained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

I lifted my hand reflexively toward the hatbox, but forced myself to rest the wayward appendage in my lap.  It took all my self-restraint to let the hatbox sit untouched.  I wanted to open it and see if anything had been disturbed, but I couldn’t let anyone else know that.

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself what anyone who opened the hatbox would find.  They would see my favorite top hat.  Inside the hat was a round satin covered form, which helped keep the hat properly shaped.  They would have to remove the hat and then the satin scarf before knowing the “form” was actually a human skull.

“Why?” I started to ask, but for once thought before I spoke.  “It’s very kind of you to bring my things.  I would have retrieved them tomorrow.  I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble,” I told Ignatius.  “I didn’t want to presume on my half-brother’s hospitality, since there was no way for me to let him know the exact date I expected to arrive.  Besides,” I dissembled. “You can imagine… meeting with family one hasn’t seen in so many years… I felt the need to settle my nerves before coming here, so I took accommodations at your inn,” I said.

The sheriff gave a knowing nod to my explanation.  Ignatius was turned away from me as he placed my belongings next to the door.  Copper watched him intently.

“Alvin, I mean Sheriff Bullard, told me what had happened here when he asked me to bring the hearse to pick up the um…” he stopped short and looked at Copper.  “The you know.”

“You mean the cadaver?” Copper chimed in, emphasizing what was apparently a new and interesting word in her vocabulary.

Ignatius cleared his throat. 

“Err, yes.  He explained that you were Calvin Hixon’s half-sister and would be staying here to look after the girl.  So I expected you would need your things.  If you plan to come back into town I’ll simply take them back with us,” he said with a smile.  “Maybe you really should consider coming back with us.  No offence, but you don’t look well.”

“Oh, I’m feeling better already,” I assured the handsome innkeeper.

two white wooden rocking armchairs outside house

Unsplash

I didn’t know what kind of monkey business I had stumbled into, but those people from the Merciful Haven Orphanage clearly hoped to get control of Hixon’s estate.  I didn’t want to risk having Copper in town with them.  There was no telling what they’d do with an opportunity like that. 

If Ignatius had conveniently brought my belongings to me, that saved me having to retrieve them.  However, it did create another problem.  He would be taking his horse back with him, and I’d be without any transportation.

Finally, I felt like I might be able to stand.  Ignatius took my hand and all but lifted me to my feet.  Maybe I wasn’t ready to get up yet after all, I thought as I swayed.  He put his arm around my waist and I leaned into him until my equilibrium equalized.  And maybe just a little while longer.

The unfamiliar basket sitting next to my bag and hatbox caught my eye.  It didn’t belong to me.  I was about to tell Ignatius that he must have picked it up by mistake, when he followed my gaze.

“That’s from Cookie.  She and Bitsy were there when Alvin told me about the dea— about the situation you found here,” Ignatius began then glanced at Copper.  “Cookie could manage the inn singlehandedly if she were of a mind.  She could manage the entire town for that matter.  She has such a head for details and anticipating needs.  It was her idea to send dinner.”

Wikimedia Commons

Copper, Cornelis, and I had eaten our fill of pease pudding and toast, but the aromas wafting from the cloth covered basket were tantalizing.  Ignatius picked it up and handed it to me.  I couldn’t resist peeking inside.  I gasped with pleasure when I found pork roasted with onions and apples, roasted potatoes and carrots, and an entire loaf of Irish soda bread.

“Are you sure you’re alright, Miss Hixon?  I have to agree with Ignatius that you don’t look well,” the sheriff asked me, and with the nasty bump to my head, I nearly ruined everything by not knowing who Miss Hixon was.

Oh yes.  Miss Hixon was supposed to be me, Mina Hixon, Calvin Hixon’s long lost half-sister.  “Yes.  Yes, I’ll be right as rain in no time I’m sure,” I said.

“I’m worried about leaving you alone,” Ignatius Belle said.  “I think that head injury is worse than you’re letting on.  At least let me send one of the maids to stay the night and look after you.  I’m sure Bitsy wouldn’t mind.”

I wondered at the solicitous offer, but I politely declined.

The sheriff insisted on looking around inside, since someone had been in the house and attacked me.  I didn’t want him snooping around, but it would look odd if I refused.  The dead body was his province as well.  So I ushered them inside.

Sheriff Bullard purposely took the lead as we walked down the hallway toward the study.  The broken vase and flowers were strewn across the marble floor.  The study door stood open. 

green leafed trees outside window

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Once inside the room we saw the window had been pushed wide open.  The desk chair was overturned.  The papers and other items that had been on the desktop were scattered across the rug.  The desk drawer was open and the contents had obviously been riffled.  Books had been pulled from their shelves and discarded haphazardly.

That explains the fourth chimpanzee, I thought.  It lagged behind to search for something.  Then it slammed into me as it hurried to catch up with the other three.

Yet, could the creature be intelligent enough to do something like that?  Perhaps they could be trained to recognize particular objects and retrieve them.  But for what had the chimps been searching, besides the corpse?

As the two men looked around the study I drew Copper aside. 

“Copper, it’s important that you don’t talk about the chimpanzees,” I whispered.  “I’m afraid it will cause trouble if they know,” I whispered about the sheriff and the innkeeper.  “Do you understand?” I asked and received an eager nod in return.

When the sheriff asked again if I had seen my attacker, or whomever took the body away, I maintained that I had seen nothing.  If the lawman knew about the chimpanzees, I was certain that it would do more harm than good.  At minimum I’d be branded a lunatic and unfit as Copper’s guardian, and the orphanage people would waste no time in getting control of the Hixon estate.

Besides, someone was controlling the animals and to my thinking, the law could only get in the way. 

 ***

To be continued…

***

The Woman in Trousers seems to have taken a shine to handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle.  Although Copper is decidedly distrustful of the tall man.  Is the girl right to be suspicious of him?  What about that sheriff?  Can we trust him?  And most importantly, where is Cornelis Drebbel and is he okay?  

Next time we’ll see what I did with the random thing “Steam Engine.”

Real World Notes

The Vapours.  Also the vapors is a depressed or hysterical nervous condition.  It described certain mental or physical states, such as hysteria, light-headedness, and fainting.   Ladies’ tight corsets could squeeze their internal organs, including the lungs, and could restrict breathing causing the wearer to feel faint and suffer “the vapours.”  Today, the phrase “a case of the vapors” is most often used either melodramatically or for comedic effect. 

Thanks for getting on the steampunk locomotive for this rerun. I’m posting episodes twice a week, so the steampunk locomotive will be at the station this weekend for Straightlaced Saturday, where this serial continues.  I’ll be looking for you there.  Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Invitation — Virtual Art Gallery Showing — Under the Sea — the work of Robert M. Goldstein

Save the Date! It’s a virtual #ArtShow of images by Robert M. Goldstein, the illustrator of Hullaba Lulu. 

The venue is the #SteamPunk submarine of Cornelis Drebbel!

You are invited to join Rob and me at my blog for the showing — Under the Sea, all next weekend, beginning September 21st.

Invite draft 1

Stay tuned for Straightlaced Saturday this weekend and Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers chapter 6.  Cheers!

No Cornelis, not yet! The art show is the next weekend.  And remember — the show is for Rob’s other artwork.  So do try to behave, Cornelis…

Cornelus - 9th and Harrison-2

Art by Rob Goldstein

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 5

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

You can also click here for the video.

You’ve arrived at Hidebound Hump Day! As you can see, I had a special treat for this chapter.  Chris Graham (the Story Reading Ape) did the above animation, and I’m tickled pink!

His character, Artie the genius chimp, has been here several times.  Before Artie came along…  No, wait. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who are new to this steampunk train.  So I’ll tell you about that at the end.  Read on.  Back to  Hidebound Hump Day.

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

Thanks for being at the station for this rerun of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  This steampunk adventure was written spontaneously, in my “three things” way.  Readers at that time in 2015 left random “things” that built everything about this story, including the plot, settings, and characters.  While he didn’t leave it as a “thing,” back then Chris Graham was talking about something that had a large influence on this story. You’ll see the root of that today.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Last time  we met the local sheriff, Alvin Bullard. He seemed somewhat less unpleasant than the trio from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll see more of him.  Fortunately, Felicity got rid of them before they could get their grubby little hands on Copper. (Thanks to an assist from a bit of alchemy involving the Wurlitzer.) 

Felicity also found a letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Copper’s father.  It was about a hydrofoil Mr. Hixon invented. Hmmm… Shall we see what our friends are up to now? 

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

5 — Artist’s Palette, Pease Pudding, Owl-Shaped Lamp

White_Mill_sunset

The sheriff is part owner of the local grist mill. (Photo: White Mill in Sandwich, Kent, England)

The hand of a heavenly painter colored the evening sky, dipping the brush in an artist’s palette of pink, orange, and gold.  Squinting in the fading light, I wondered if doing so would give me wrinkles as everyone claimed.  I didn’t particularly care.  What was a face without a bit of character?

I lifted the skirt of my dark green and cream striped gown as I picked my way through the barn, wishing I had brought a pair of trousers with me.  As I squeezed between the wall and a work table — a space I should have been able to navigate with ease, the wretched bustle got caught.  Carefully, I extricated myself. 

The barn was empty of life, except perhaps for a few mice.  It was easy to see that the horses had been gone for a while, evidence of the financial problem Cornelis uncovered. 

Surely Hixon kept at least one for his own transportation, I thought. 

Had he left on horseback then?  Was he abducted?  I came full circle to the first question I faced when I came to the estate— Who was the dead man in the study?

Since I had no idea what I was looking for, my intention had been to search the storage building and barn for anything that didn’t belong.  However, Calvin Hixon was a man of extraordinary interests and tastes.  Not belonging was a description that could be applied to nearly everything he owned.  I supposed that made all the strange articles and artifacts actually belong, in that way.

gray wooden house under gray sky

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Secretly I thought it would have been better if Cornelis had sorted through all the oddities in the outbuildings.  The alchemist had remarkably broad knowledge of such things.  However, Cornelis would have taken days with the task, getting consumed as he looked at each object.  So it was just as well left to me.

I searched the barn and the larger storage building.  There was another shed on the opposite side of the grounds.  I had not inspected it yet.  So far I had seen many interesting, if unexplainable, gadgets and oddments, but nothing that gave me a clue as to what was going on.  At least I found a stash of canning jars — and some containing food.  In the dim light they looked unspoiled.  The hungry girl had eaten everything I brought earlier, and I hadn’t seen much else in the larder except some dried peas.  I put the jars in a burlap sack and hefted it over my shoulder.

The food was welcome, as it was unlikely that I would spend any time at the Belle Inn when I went back for my things.  Yet no matter what the obstacles, I had to return to the inn to get my hatbox.  I couldn’t leave the area without that hatbox.  It contained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

Skull Victorian setting pink

Leaving the barn, I gazed in concern at the beautiful sunset.  How much time did we have?  Sheriff Alvin Bullard was going to send someone to attend to the body of the still unknown man. 

As he left he indicated that might take a bit of time… but how much?  A few hours?  A few days?  To my knowledge, there was no doctor in residence in the little town.  The veterinarian was half a day’s ride away.  Perhaps they used him as the coroner.

With a sigh I headed back to the main house.  I walked through the rolling lawn to the back of the house and its broad covered porch.  I recalled that the child, Copper, had been out at play somewhere.  When she returned home she found her father gone and the stranger at his desk in that most unfortunate condition.  That was all Copper knew.

My heart lurched for an instant when I heard Copper’s shrill cry.  However, the exclamation became a gale of giggles.  While it was the last thing I could imagine happening, Cornelis Drebbel took a liking to the child.  The Dutchman was supposed to be investigating the sprawling manor while I looked through the outbuildings.  I began to wonder if the entire time he and Copper had been playing whatever spontaneous games the girl invented.

When I opened the kitchen door my nose met a shocking smell.  I was stunned because the aroma was delicious. I was at a loss for words.

“Cornelis?” was all I could manage.  

person filtering powder on round stainless steel bowl

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The kitchen still looked like a battleground for Armageddon, but the smell was tantalizing.  The Dutchman had a smug look on his face.  He gave the tip of his pointed beard a twist as he smirked. 

“Haven’t I always told you I was a good cook?  Yet you never believed me,” he said and gave a sly glance at Copper who giggled again.

“I didn’t think there was any food to cook,” I said, trying to ignore the alchemist’s self-satisfied behavior.  “Admittedly it smells good.  What did you manage to make?” I asked.

He removed the lid from the pot to display a perfect pease pudding.  Then I remembered seeing the uncooked peas the first time I entered the horrifying mess of the kitchen.

“But we don’t have any bread to spread it on,” Copper said in a disappointed tone, but she quickly cheered when Cornelis waved the pot’s lid to push more of the aroma to her nose.  “All we need is a spoon,” she decided with a grin.

“Oh, but my dear, you are mistaken,” Cornelis told Copper.

Judging by the disorder, Copper had looked through every inch of the kitchen in search of food.  It was no wonder she looked surprised by his words. 

The Dutchman pointed to a wooden breadbox atop one of the cabinets.  It was a little out of my reach, but I spotted a small stool in a corner.  I had the box in hand in no time.

“Always,” Cornelis began and held up one finger to emphasize.  “When searching for something, always remember to look above your normal line of sight,” he told Copper.

“It’s stale,” she said sadly when I opened the breadbox.

bread and bread knife on top of brown wooden chopping board

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“It’s not so bad that we can’t make toast from it,” I told Copper and her eyes lit up.

A short time later we were all happily stuffed with pease pudding and toast.  I asked Cornelis if he had found anything interesting while searching the house.  Or if he found anything that gave a clue to what might have happened to Copper’s father. Or that business of the letter from Alexander Graham Bell and the bizarre hydrofoil contraption.

Cornelis gave the back of my hand a sharp tap with one finger.  It gave an unpleasant static shock when he did that.  He refused to tell me how it was done.  However, it might have been one of the extraordinary things he was able to do after that accident of alchemy left him in his current state.  At any rate, he meant to remind me to think before I spoke.  I made a poor choice when asking about Copper’s father in the child’s presence.

“I mean a clue to where he might have gone,” I stammered, trying to backtrack. 

However, the child was more concerned about getting the last bit of her pease pudding onto the remaining toast. 

“What could possibly be more interesting than that wonderful Wurlitzer organ in the back parlor?” Cornelis exclaimed.  “It’s no ordinary musical instrument, you know.  It’s perfectly keyed to the harmonic tuner you found at the Belle Inn.  Why, there’s no telling what the two could do when used together.  If only I had the second harmonic tuner,” he said wistfully.

“The second one?  Do you mean there is another of those odd sounding little bells?” I asked.

I was never sure when Cornelis was onto something that held importance to a situation, or if he was being carried away by passion for his wild ideas and inventions.  Clearly the organ was something exceptional, but was it relevant?

“Naturally my dear.  Harmonic tuners are always made in pairs.  A single one will do remarkable things, but the pair together – and in combination with a harmonic amplifier like that very special Wurlitzer.  Why there’s no telling what could be done!” he said with enthusiasm.

“We found this too!” Copper cried, happy to be able to contribute.

File:Vintage Goldtone Owl-Shaped Cigarette Lighter, Copyright Florenza (8456138179).jpg

Public domain image (Actually a vintage cigarette lighter, pretend it’s a lamp.)

Cornelis had that self-satisfied expression again.  I knew he had been holding back.  Copper got up and ran to a table in the corner.  Amid the clutter I had not noticed the addition of an object.  She picked it up carefully and brought it over to me.

“What have we here?” I said and for the girl’s sake I showed much more interest than I felt.

“It’s a lamp.  It’s supposed to look like an owl,” she said.

“Well, it’s certainly a curiosity,” I commented.  “It looks like it’s carved from some sort of rough mineral,” I added.

“It’s salt — Himalayan salt,” Copper told me.  “Daddy said it is special salt and when it gets warm, it gives off healthful vapors.”

My interest grew as I examined the unusual piece.  The Dutchman murmured something I didn’t quite hear in his usual droll tone.

“It’s even more interesting if you turn it over,” Cornelis repeated pointedly.

When I upended the owl-shaped lamp, I found an opening.  Some very old documents were tightly rolled and inserted into the lamp.

photo of assorted-color petaled flowers floating on body of water

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I was about to pull the ancient papers out of the lamp’s cavity when I heard a door bang open.  My immediate thought was that the coroner had already arrived.  However, it had been an interior door.  The sound came from the direction of the study, unless of course it actually was from the study.  The crash of the door was followed by strange sounds that steadily drew closer.  Thump-drag.  Thump-drag.  Thump-drag…

An earsplitting screech preceded a cacophony of similar sounds.  Scrabbling feet and overturning furniture followed.  The front door slammed open so hard the stained glass window rattled. 

I looked at my companions.  Copper seemed curious but not alarmed as she ran her finger around the pot, getting the last bit of pease pudding. 

Cornelis Drebble returned my questioning gaze with wide eyes and a knitted brow.

I dashed to the door and looked into the hallway.  I heard Cornelis depart with a pop.  The first thing I saw was the open door to the study, where the unknown cadaver had been left, sitting at the desk where we’d found him.  However, the chair was empty.  A table in the hallway was overturned, breaking a vase that held flowers.  The front door stood wide open.  I saw movement at the porch stairs, so I hurried to the door.

Three very large chimpanzees were in the process of dragging the corpse away.  I stood in mystified, shocked silence.  With a loud pop, Cornelis appeared at the foot of the stairs.

“What the bloody h—” he began.  “Stop!  You lot — yes you!  Stop that this instant!” Cornelis ranted at the chimpanzees.

They stopped and looked quizzically at the alchemist.  One scratched its head.  They chattered briefly to one another.

Victorian Chimp sailor suit

“Now put that back where you found it!” Cornelis demanded regarding the body.  “This minute!” he added.

It looked as though the chimps might actually do as he said.  The alchemist dashed to the top of the stairs and motioned to the chimpanzees.  He certainly had their attention.  Cornelis switched to an encouraging tone.

“Yes, bring it back up here.  Yes, you understand, I know you do.  Come on.  Back up the stairs,” he said and began cajoling the apes.

One of them took hold of the body’s foot and started pulling it back up the stairs.  It looked like the other two might follow suit.  Then a horrible shrill screech sounded right behind me.  Something bounded into me.  It knocked me down and my head banged against the door-frame.  A fast moving blur of fur hurtled past me and launched into the Dutchman, sending him tumbling down the stairs.

I heard a flat sounding pop, and Cornelis was gone.  I had only heard that particular sound one time before, and that time the alchemist had been seriously harmed.  It seemed that I was about to become insensible as well.  My legs wouldn’t hold me when I tried to stand.  When I touched my temple my fingers encountered blood.

Falling again to my hands and knees I saw the fourth chimp join the other three.  While the porch floor seemed to spin, I watched as the furry quartet danced a jig.  Then the naughty chimps dragged the unknown dead man away.  The whole world swayed and went dark as one chimp gave a parting screech.

Naughty Chimps

Four Naughty Chimps courtesy of Chris the Story Reading Ape

 ***

To be continued…

***

Diary Notes

The naughty chimps in this episode were inspired by Christopher Graham’s “Four Naughty Chimps.” As you saw in the animation at the beginning of this post, Chris (and his sister) collected the poetic works of their mother, Agnes Mae Graham and made a lovely book.  (Previews here.)

My Vibrating Vertabrae cover

Book of poetry by Chris Graham’s mom

UK USA CA AUS IN

***

I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept contact with the wonderful the reader who gave the “three things” that kept this chapter on the tracks.  That is the amazingly talented Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate, Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magicAndrea’s lyrical words are pure magic.  Be sure to visit her blog.

***

Somewhere there is a second harmonic tuner? And mysterious hidden documents? That’s curious.  More importantly, the mysterious woman in trousers is out cold.  She found the “flat sounding pop” with which Cornelis Drebbel vanished disturbing — and so did I!  So what happened to the alchemist?  

Thanks for getting on the steampunk locomotive for this rerun. I’m posting episodes twice a week, so the train will be at the station this weekend for Straightlaced Saturday, where this serial continues.  I’ll be looking for you there.  Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.