Straightlaced Saturday Day — Cornelis Drebbel 11

Saturday, October 6, 2018 

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in TrousersIf you enjoyed my 1920s stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip — keep an eye out.  My characters begin to feel left out when I start new stories.  Keep an eye out in this episode.

This time we finish with the last in the set of “three things” — Airtights.  

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

Chapter 10. 

Felicity pieced events together and concluded that their foes were after the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.  She also figured out that a familiar voice she heard (when they came dangerously close to one group of their pursuers) belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard. 

We are about to learn how they came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes, when the previous episode began with Felicity’s head-cold induced ramble.

When we left, we learned that the alchemist didn’t know how to stop the rapidly careening road locomotive.  Dare we join them?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

11 — Airtights

Édouard_Bisson_-_A_Portrait_of_a_Lady_in_a_Black_Hat wiki
Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms (1895) by Edouard Bisson

We careened across the country side.  The clouds drifted away from the moon.  I saw that there was a bend in the river ahead.  “Lovely,” I commented sarcastically.  “Now we’ll leave the course of the river and get lost in the countryside,” I said assuming the locomotive would continue to travel in a straight line.

“No, but that would be preferable,” Cornelis called back to me.  “The engine is following the river.  It won’t veer from that course.  And we’re going too fast to take that curve!” he cried just as the traction engine teetered onto two wheels.

My hatbox flew out of the engine and into the river.  With an oath that was in no way feminine, I dove into the frigid darkness of the water after my hatbox.  There was no choice.  The hatbox contained the skull of Cornilis Drebble.

Skull Green SIlks


The hatbox wasn’t heavy, and apparently a pocket of air had been trapped inside, preventing it from sinking fast.  I was able to get my hands on it without diving to the deepest reaches of the river.  However my heavy skirt and bulky bustle hindered me rising back to the surface.

As my heavy clothes pulled me down, I struggled to remove them and still hold onto the hatbox.  However, I wasn’t having much success.  Something tapped my neck and gave me a tiny electric shock.  When I turned I saw a thin filament of glowing green.  I associated the luminous verdant color with the Dutchman’s tricks.  But the tendril was so slim; I didn’t see how it could possibly help me.

Yet with no other help in sight I tentatively touched the glowing strand.  It wrapped itself gently around my wrist, and pulled me easily to the surface of the river.  Then it continued to lift me upward and onto the road locomotive.  I noted that the engine had stopped.

Copper applauded enthusiastically.  Cornelis took a bow as if the entire catastrophe had been part of a show, while I sat shivering, soaked, and sulky.  My frock was ruined, along with my favorite top hat.  Even the dratted bustle was a loss, as it was the least uncomfortable one I had ever found.

The alchemist’s skull was safe and sound, if cold and wet.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis
Cornelis Drebbel

With another surge of magical speed, Cornelis drove the engine past the next few towns, staying on the outskirts.  The engine was noisy, and naturally we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves, particularly since we didn’t know who was chasing us.  However, it zoomed by the towns with such speed, that I doubted anyone could have figured out what caused the sudden noise.

Far out into the countryside we came upon an abandoned church that seemed to watch protectively over a few other buildings that were within the same tumbledown stone fence.  One of the buildings was quite large and part of the back wall had fallen.  It was easily large enough to conceal the road locomotive.

The building held a number of old crates.  Each was tagged with owner’s information.  Apparently at one time the building had been used as private storage space.

Cold and still damp from my dive into the river, I leaned against a tall crate, suddenly feeling extremely weary.  Then I sneezed.  By the time I had wiped my nose, Cornelis was sniffling too.  The minute I looked at the alchemist I knew that he had the nearest thing to a head cold that is possible for him to catch.  I sneezed again, knowing I had the real McCoy

Now you know how we came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes.



1862 Pancake Tossing drawing
1860s Shrovetide family tossing pancakes


I grabbed my suitcase and hid behind a stack of crates to change into my trousers and a shirt.  It would have been worth a dunk in the river to get back into my preferred clothes, if not for my top hat being ruined.

That’s when I started paying attention to all the crates.  Many of the wooden storage boxes were opened or damaged, probably from whatever caused one of the walls to fall.  They contained all manner of things.  From one opened crate random items of apparel spilled to the floor, including the royal blue muff I mentioned.  There was a label on the side of the crate, Property of Alastair Wong Sr.

A packet of letters was tied together with a red ribbon.  When I picked them up I detected a trace of lavender perfume.  Love letters, I thought as my curiosity pressed me to open one and read it.  I looked at the return address and found they were to the afore mentioned Alastair Wong from a Phanny Idelle Peabody in Savannah, Georgia, USA.  I put the letters down when something more important caught my eye.

Preserve Produce ad

Another was packed with airtights, as a cowboy friend of mine called them — canned goods.  Several of the jars contained preserves.  Those magical stacks of sourdough pancakes wouldn’t go to waste after all.  Not all of them at least; there were far too many for three people to eat, even with Copper’s voracious appetite.  I wondered if the pancakes were still warm.

“Do it again!” Copper said enthusiastically to Cornelis.

I couldn’t help laughing at the sad, red-eyed expression on his face when the girl wanted him to sneeze yet again.

“It is no game,” Cornelis told Copper in a stuffy nasal voice.

Suppressing another sneeze of my own, I took pity on the alchemist.  I held up a jar of apricot preserves and asked Copper if she’d seen any cutlery in the opened crates.  Her mouth made a silent “Oooh,” when she saw the jar and the girl hurried away in search of a fork.

Judging by the disarray and debris, most of the crates had been searched for valuables after whatever catastrophe happened to the building.  The damage looked old too.  There was an abandoned feeling about the place that I found mildly disconcerting.

“What sort of place do you suppose this is, Cornelis?” I pondered aloud.  “Have we sheltered in some sort of ghost town?  One would think a religious compound like this would be part of a town.  But I get the feeling that there isn’t another soul for miles around.”

The alchemist nodded affirmatively.  “Indeed.  I get the same sense of things,” he agreed.  “It will be dawn soon and the light of day will tell us much.”

Cornelis plopped down on a pile of clothing as if it were a bed.  Apparently the clothes had been sitting there for quite some time.  A cloud of dust puffed up when he landed on them.  The dust tickled my nose and I put my finger firmly between my nose and upper lip.

“Don’t you dare!” Cornelis warned me.  “You know that — huh — if you do — huh — then I will too!” he said just as we both sneezed loudly.

I looked at Cornelis Drebbel.  He looked at me.  Nothing happened.  Copper ran back so us, carrying several forks and even some plates.  She stopped and stared expectantly at the Dutchman.  He and I looked at each other again.  Still nothing happened.  Copper looked disappointed.  I sighed with relief.

Frog Handkerchief Soap adThen elsewhere in the building I heard a wet splat.  And another.  A funny little guttural sound traveled to my ears.  It was followed by several dozen more wet splat sounds, and the sounds were coming closer.  A splat sounded right beside me.  I turned to see Cornelis wearing a sad-eyed long suffering expression.  His eyes rolled to look upward.  A frog sat squarely on top of his head.

Ribbit,” the frog looked at me and said.  A chorus of ribbits from all around the building answered.

Copper laughed with delight.  I chortled despite myself.  However, my merriment stopped as, splat-splat-splat, frogs rained down upon us.


To be continued…


Real World Notes

Airtights.  Yes they are a thing! Nicolas Appert was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the “father of canning,” was a confectioner.  A hermetic seal is any type of sealing that makes a given object airtight (excludes the passage of air, oxygen, or other gases). The term originally applied to airtight glass containers, but as technology advanced it applied to a larger category of materials, including rubber and plastics. 

Is Sheriff Alvin Bullard one of the bad guys?  He seemed harmless enough with his amusingly thick mustache.  Will our trio keep running, no matter how far, to escape the villains who would kidnap Copper?  Or will they turn and fight?  They’re awfully outnumbered.

I hope you saw my big cover reveal.  If not then click the arrow at the bottom of the page.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 



Now some shameless self-promotion.

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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

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45 thoughts on “Straightlaced Saturday Day — Cornelis Drebbel 11

  1. Pancakes – good.
    Frogs – not so much 😳

    Airtights is a word I’ve not heard before. I would never have guessed that one!

    It’ll be interesting to see where Alastair and Phanny fit into the story. They do, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Airtights was a new one to me too, Joanne. That’s what makes it fun for me, research geek that I am.
      Alastair (the elder) definitely. Phanny… sort of. I’ve had fun letting the characters crisscross.
      I kept thinking that the time-frame of this story would have been before Pip, and so while Granny was very young. Somehow that wouldn’t let go and Alastair the elder (who was only mentioned in Pip’s stories) became a character with a tie to Cornelis.
      Cornelis showed up in a short story about Pip and Alastair (the younger).
      Then Chris Graham’s Artie character has visited both Pip and Cornelis, separately.
      Hmmm Cornelis has never met Granny Phanny — that could get interesting. 😉
      Thanks for being on this train! Hugs.


  2. What a great, fun episode! Raining frogs and sourdough pancakes has to be wonderful for Copper. Now, when dawn comes, I wonder what they’ll find? And did they truly escape those who are after Copper? Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jennie. I’m so happy you are enjoying the ride!
      This serial originally had 34 episodes. However, many of them were much longer than I like to post to day. So I’ve been dividing them. Meaning, I’m not sure just how many there will be, *but* we’re less than halfway down the tracks. The locomotive has a long way to go before the escape is complete. Huge thanks for being on this train. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Thanks Staci. I guess I’m able to give the unexpected since I never know what’s going to happen myself. When I imagined something raining down from the sneezes, the first thing I thought of was flowers, but then something clanked in my mind (doorknobs) and then a splat…. I’m just now wired right. LOL. Thanks for visiting. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank goodness, she finally got out of those dreadful clothes, even if it did take a dunking in a cold river to do it. 🙂 Sourdough pancakes and jam! Now I’m hungry. Then raining frogs. Your imagination knows no bounds, Teagan. Well-done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! I had to give them something to go with the pancakes (other than syrup), and I do love apricot jam… But I agree with Dan about there being no substitute for syrup and butter. 😀 Thanks so much for taking time to visit, John. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Raining frogs – after the summer we had, I can almost imagine that 🙂

    I’ve never had pancakes with jam on them. I think I might have to try that (on a little piece, it’s hard to displace the butter/syrup combination). I chuckled when I read “Still nothing happened. Copper looked disappointed. I sighed with relief.” – It’s so funny to think of the ways children look at the world so differently than adults. This helped me to remember that Copper is still a young girl, even though she shows remarkable maturity at times.

    I hope you’re having a great weekend, Teagan. I know you must be busy, but I hope you take some time to relax.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan, it’s always great to see you. There’s too much noise to relax, but maybe that will help me keep busy.
      Thank you for what you said about “children look at the world so differently than adults” — that’s exactly what I was thinking when I wrote about Copper in this story. It helps me to know that it clicked with someone else.
      Have a satisfying Saturday. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Don’t give me any ideas, Brad. 😉 It’s a good thing this is a re-run or I’d have lizards everywhere in the next chapter.
      Frustrated with my situation & location in life, I used to joke (often) that I was going to buy a used RV move to the desert, and teach my cats to fetch lizards for dinner. (Back when I still had two fur babies). Then somebody asked if I was going to open a certain kind of “lab” and told me about the “Breaking Bad” show. Horsefeathers! I had go give up my favorite joke!
      Thanks for visiting. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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