Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 13

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 

Steampunk Man pipe-Eugene_Ivanov_2431
Eugene Ivanov

It’s Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  There was not a Straightlaced Saturday chapter last week, so today we pick up where we left off a week ago. 

Remember I’ve mentioned that this serial was originally presented as a “culinary” mystery.  All of the random “things” that drove this spontaneously written chapter were food related.  How do you think I used all those food things to create a story?

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

Chapter 12. 

The alchemist’s head cold continued to wreak havoc with magical sneezes.  However, that didn’t keep our heroes from noticing that someone or some thing was headed their way.  Felicity and Cornelis argued about whether or not they should make a stand. Then the woman in trousers noticed that Copper wasn’t there…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

13 — Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives

File:Broken walls of Vijay Garh Fort.jpg
Public Domain Image

Where could she be?

“Copper!” I called, trying to keep the urgency I felt from showing in my voice.

“I’m over here,” a small sad sounding voice said from the other side of a stack of wooden crates.

She came out from her hiding place, doe-eyed and most unhappy looking.  I felt horrible when I realized she had been listening to us fight.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.  “I didn’t mean to be such a bother,” Copper said but her perplexed expression told me that she didn’t know what else to do about being a burden.

With a deep sigh I shook my head.  Copper had heard me argue with Cornelis about whether we should make a stand and confront the parties chasing us, or continue running.  I felt terrible that I had gotten angry in front of the child.

“No, this is for us to worry about, Copper,” I told the girl.  “It’s just part of what we’re supposed to do ― to discuss what is the best alternative.  Sometimes discussions get rather heated…  You, on the other hand, are only supposed to be young.  You aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things,” I told her and made sure I smiled.

Copper with Flowers

I tousled that hair the color of a new penny when she looked up at me.  The honking noise escalated. 

“Is that a goose I hear?” I asked.

I hadn’t seen any sign of people living anywhere near the abandoned church and its buildings.  We were still in the large one with a missing wall, where the road locomotive was hidden.  How would a goose come to be in such a place?

When I voiced the thought, Cornelis was sure a goose could do perfectly well on its own.  Copper said that it was chasing some of the frogs.

“Did you ever see what the frogs did with that eggplant they carried off?” I asked her, still curious about that strange spectacle, but Copper shook her head negatively.

My inquisitive nature took over and I went outside to investigate the commotion.  Apparently, the tables had turned from when Copper saw the goose chasing the frogs.  Row upon row of frogs lined up to confront the fowl.  The goose honked furiously at them. 

Goosey Goosey

I felt sorry for the poor bird.  Looking at the frogs versus goose tableau, I realized just how right Cornelis was about us being extremely outnumbered by our adversaries.  If we took a stand at that juncture, we would make no more progress than the goose against the hoard of frogs.

I had never been around geese.  The tale about a goose laying a golden egg was about as much as I knew about the species.  Stepping gingerly, because I didn’t want squished frog on my boots, I made my way to the goose.  I picked her up and tucked her under my arm.

“Don’t you fret, old thing,” I told the still honking bird.  “We’ll find a spot where the frogs haven’t eaten all the good bits.”

Then the infernal goose bit me!  I screeched and released her.  The goose settled to the ground and looked up at me with a very annoyed squawk.

“Why you ungrateful wretch!” I exclaimed as I rubbed the bitten spot on my arm.  “I should make pâté of you!”

At that threat, the goose flew off somewhere beyond the abandoned church.  A pop told me that the alchemist had appeared behind me.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis
Cornelis Drebbel

“Do you see my point now?” Cornelis Drebbel asked with a nod to the assembled frogs.

“Why you!” I sputtered.  “You arranged that entire thing didn’t you?  How dare you have that dreadful goose bite me!”

“Now, now,” Cornelis chided.  “You had the poor judgement to pick her up in your arms.  I didn’t do anything to make the goose bite you,” he said.  “That was just icing on the cake,” he added with a smirk.

I clinched my fist and took a swing at the Dutchman.  I already knew what he would do, so don’t ask me why I swung at him.  Cornelis immediately became semi-solid and my fist passed through him, throwing me off balance.  I nearly landed on my face in a pile of goose droppings.  It was lucky for him that I didn’t fall into that mess.

He looked distractedly toward the river.  There was my moment!  I leapt, tackling the Dutchman while he was fully solid and preoccupied.  We both landed on the grass with a thud.  I grinned wickedly when I realized that he had landed in the goose poop.

Cornelis glared at me and with a pop he disappeared.  A moment later I spotted him close to the banks of the river.  He discretely hid behind a tree as he looked at the waterway.  Then I heard the sound of a rhythmic splash coming steadily closer.  That slight noise must have been what distracted the alchemist.

Postcard, Oneida River, Brewerton, New York circa 1910

I hurried to where he stood behind the tree.  I was enormously glad to finally be wearing trousers again, rather than full skirts and a bustle.  Looking at the river I couldn’t see what made the faint sound.  Was it a beaver, or perhaps an otter going sleekly in and out of the river?  In a quiet voice I asked I asked what it was.

The Dutchman didn’t seem concerned about being heard.  So, whatever it made the sound must have been unlikely to hear us.  He said that someone was coming toward us on the watercourse.  He said the sound was from paddles going into the water.

“Surely that rhythm is too fast to be an oar,” I commented as the sound became more audible.

“Not an oar,” he said, once again looking pleased with himself to have deduced something I had not.  “It is a paddleboat.  A small one, granted, but still steam powered with a paddlewheel,” Cornelis said with certainty.

Soon the odd-looking boat came into view — a paddle steamer.  It was moving much faster than any rowboat would have moved.  It was a narrow vessel, with a mast for a sail, but no canvas was attached.  On each side was a red paddle wheel that sat nearly as tall as the enclosed bridge.  Behind the bridge stood a tall yellow steam stack.

Sm Steamboat

Who piloted the craft?  I had yet to see who was onboard.  Was it one of our adversaries catching up with us?  It seemed too much of a coincidence for some random person to suddenly appear, heading toward us, from the direction we had come.  

I jumped when something grabbed my long coat.  Looking behind me, I saw that it was Copper.  She peeked around me looking at the boat.  I felt her stiffen.  She looked intently at the craft and I could tell that she saw more.  The girl had keen eyesight, I thought.

“What’s wrong Copper?  Who pilots the boat?” I asked.

“I don’t like him,” Copper said flatly.

“Who?” I asked, but by then I could see a familiar figure standing on deck at the boat’s wheel. 

It was Ignatius Belle.  I remembered that Copper had reacted strangely to the handsome innkeeper before, though it made no sense to me.  I didn’t perceive anything untoward about the tall dashing man.  Quite the contrary.  He had been kind and considerate to me from the moment I checked into the Belle Inn.  He had an easy relaxed smile that I thought of as a strong indicator of honesty.  His soft brown eyes were surely the windows of his soul.  My intuition about such things was never wrong.

I stepped out into the open.  Cornelis hissed a caution at me.  I hissed back to the Dutchman that he was being ridiculous.  The man looked to be alone on the boat, and he was clearly not under any duress, if my friends feared our adversaries had forced him to pilot the boat to our destination. 

Basil Gill 2
Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

Cornelis sputtered and then narrowed his eyes as he stared at Ignatius Belle.  Copper’s expression matched the look on the alchemist’s face.  I shook my head, trying not to be annoyed.  It was easy to put on a bright smile as I walked toward the riverbank.

Really, I thought.  Those two… of all the silliness.

By the time I got to the riverbank Ignatius had come ashore.  A wicker basket hung from his arm.  I hoped it contained a peace offering that would win over the suspicious girl.

I led the innkeeper up the sloping green.  Belatedly I remembered that Copper was the only one from the town who had met Cornelis Drebbel.  Perhaps I should have kept the alchemist hidden, but I was so piqued about the way he and Copper acted about Ignatius that I really didn’t think about it.

“You remember Copper, of course,” I said and smiled encouragingly at her. 

I think I tried by force of will to get her to smile at Ignatius Belle.  Apparently, my will was not up to that task. 

“And this is my… Allow me to introduce my associate, Cornelis Drebbel,” I added with a motion toward the Dutchman.

The alchemist mumbled a noncommittal sound.  I tried to glare at him without letting Ignatius see the warning look on my face.

“I don’t believe we’ve met sir, but your name seems familiar to me,” Ignatius said politely to Cornelis.

A visit by Queen Isabella and her husband. The globe-like object on the table at the left is one of Cornelis Drebbels’ attempts at a perpetual-motion clock; the principles which ran it are now lost. Artist, Jan Brueghel the Elder, circa 1621

The alchemist cleared his throat, taken off guard by the near-recognition.  I discretely poked my elbow into his ribs as a warning for the fierce frown he wore.

“One of my ancestors achieved a slight amount of acclaim,” the Dutchman dissembled.  “Perhaps you heard the name mentioned in passing, or in a very boring lecture when you were a schoolboy,” Cornelis said with a wave to dismiss the issue.

I was relieved that encounter went as well as it had.  I gave an involuntary sigh that I hoped Ignatius didn’t notice.  Before things could get tense again I changed the subject. 

“What have you in that very interesting looking basket?” I asked Ignatius, but turned my gaze to Copper. 

“Dare I hope for something from Cookie again?” I asked but that time I gave an ever so slight flutter of my eyelashes to the dashing innkeeper.

Good, I thought when I glanced at Copper.  She was curious about the basket.  I was sure she remembered Ignatius bringing that basket filled with lovely food and Irish soda bread.  Perhaps whatever he carried now would win Copper over or at least make some headway.

With a flourish, Ignatius lifted the checkered napkin that covered the basket to reveal delicious profiteroles.  Chocolate glistened darkly, covering the cream puffs.  I could see a bit of the luscious creamy filling where it was piped into one of the pastries.

Profiteroles, WikiMedia

He held the basket out to Copper and she wasted no time taking one of the profiteroles.  Chocolate quickly adorned her mouth and nose, but she still looked suspiciously at Ignatius.  I gave a sigh of resignation.  Then I consoled myself with one of the pastries.

“What brings you here, if I may ask?” Cornelis asked the innkeeper with no preamble.

“I knew Mina and Copper were alone at the Hixon house,” Ignatius began.  “Then I heard there was some strange and noisy commotion there.  I accompanied the sheriff when he went out to investigate.”

Once again, I had to think fast to remember that Mina was the alias I took to allow me to stay close to Copper — Mina Hixon, half-sister to Calvin Hixon and Copper’s long-lost aunt.  Quickly I gave Ignatius a smile of appreciation for his concern.

However, if Ignatius went out to the estate with Sheriff Alvin Bullard afterward, then the familiar sounding voice I heard could not have belonged to the lawman.  Could it?

“We found the estate deserted,” Ignatius continued.

“The grounds were so trampled it almost made one wonder if there’d been a riot.  Then I spotted broad tracks from what had to be very heavy wheels.  I followed them to the river, where I saw that they continued a good distance following along the river.  So, I got my steamboat ready and well, here I am,” he explained.  “Is everything alright?  You gave me a scare.”

Pensive woman with armillary sphere. Artist unknown. Public Domain

Should I tell Ignatius about the confrontation? I wondered. 

I didn’t distrust him in the same way as Copper, and Cornelis was naturally suspicious of everyone and everything.  However, that didn’t mean it was a good idea for Ignatius Belle to know everything.  How much information was too much?

To my surprise, Cornelis answered him. 

“We avoided an altercation,” the alchemist said in a very grave voice.  “It was evident that there were many, shall we say, unpleasant people nearby.  So, we followed the thinking of discretion being the better part of valor and left with all haste,” Cornelis said.

I was relieved with the Dutchman’s explanation to Ignatius.  It was just vague enough.  I don’t know why, but I was glad he didn’t mention the road locomotive.  Although, considering the steam powered paddle boat in which the innkeeper arrived, he might be acquainted with that sort of contraption.

I wondered Ignatius would have been able to deduce our means of transportation by the tracks he saw.  However, I put the thought aside as unlikely. 

Besides, our locomotive had the benefit of magically enhanced speed.  No one should be able to figure out how we traveled or how fast we went.  They would have to know exactly when we left the estate, and when we arrived at the old churchyard.  For all Ignatius knew, we had only been there a matter of moments.

Perhaps I was over-cautious, but I simply didn’t like the idea of letting people know about the road locomotive.  I manufactured a story about Cornelis arriving at the estate for the purpose of bringing my horses.  I dissembled that my associate saw a number of unsavory types nearby when he neared the estate.

Burrell Road Locomotive
Road Locomotive. Public domain image

Reacting in fear, we left the estate.  However, the horses were unfortunately stolen when we stopped for the night at the abandoned church compound.  Or that was the story I gave the innkeeper.

Ignatius seemed to accept that.  It was really a very logical explanation, not to mention the only one of which I could think.  Ignatius was even charmingly angered about the theft of my supposed property.

“For a moment, I had a wild image of you escaping on one of Mr. Hixon’s inventions.  You knew he was an inventor, didn’t you?” Ignatius asked.

I nodded, but gave it a dismissive wave of my hand.  I hoped I had implied that I thought my “half-brother’s” tinkering was frivolous, to keep the conversation from that topic.  I suddenly felt cautious.  Not distrustful of Ignatius, mind you, just cautious.  However, Ignatius wasn’t ready to be diverted. 

“I hear he was always designing amazing machines.  Word was that Alexander Graham Bell once contacted him about his design for a hydrofoil,” Ignatius said.

Cornelis made an impressed face.  His mouth formed a silent Ooo.  The alchemist wasn’t a bad actor. I knew he was rarely impressed.  As soon as Cornelis had appeared at the estate, he had learned about the hydrofoil and the letter from the already famous Alexander Graham Bell.

Still trying to change the topic of discussion, I asked what else was inside the basket.

“Well, if you’d rather have salty than sweet,” Ignatius began and we exchanged a suggestive look that caused Cornelis to clear his throat in annoyance.  “Cookie packed a jar of olives and some Stilton cheese,” he finished.

Récolte des olives dans le Var, WikiMedia

I made a production of serving the food, in hope that the subject would finally change.  Ignatius might not have won Copper’s heart with the pastries, but he might have made inroads with the Dutchman.  Cornelis was particularly fond of Stilton cheese.

Really, I should have expected what came next.  It was such an obvious thing, yet it took me by surprise.  Ignatius insisted on taking us back “home” on his boat.  He said it should be safe, that there was no trace of the people who had caused the ruckus at the estate.

However, I knew that we daren’t go back.  Cornelis and Copper were well aware of that too.  We turned a trio of blank expressions toward the innkeeper.

How could I refuse without either seeming utterly ridiculous or giving away more information than I wanted to disclose?


To be continued…


Real World Notes

Paddle Steamer.  In the early 19th century, paddle wheels were the predominant means of propulsion for steam-powered boats.  A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat powered by a steam engine, which drives paddle wheels to propel the craft through the water.

Even though Copper and the Alchemist distrust him, Woman in Trousers certainly trusts the dashing innkeeper.  He seems to know an awful lot about the Hixon situation.  That bothers me.  Has he won over Copper and Cornelis with food?  Stay tuned.

This week there will not be a Straightlaced Saturday episode of the serial.  You may have seen my cover reveal for the long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee.  Or you might have seen the wonderful Thursday Atonement Doors post Dan Antion did in honor of it.  I will officially launch Atonement in Bloom this Saturday, October 20th.  It’s no ordinary book launch.  I’m having a party bus with a couple dozen of your friends along for the trip.  There will also be an Atonement, TN Book Fair, with 18 books from other authors for you to browse!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next week for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 



Now some shameless self-promotion.

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

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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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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.

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71 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 13

  1. Fun to see what awaits us, Teagan; I think Copper is onto something important. I congratulate you on your imagination and writing skills, delightful. Now I’m thinking about profiteroles…yum.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a feeling that Felicity has a little flutter of the heart and not just the eye-lashes for the Innkeeper, Teagan. Does that spell some danger for our three friends? He really does seem to be trying to win her over, but I wonder if it is some kind of a trap? I hope they throw some of the goose droppings at him and make a run for it.
    I look forward to your book launch party tomorrow. Wishing you much success with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so kind of you about the launch, Hugh. Thank you. :0 ❤
      I do believe you are right about Felicity's flutters. And yes, I wonder and worry about the same. o_O.
      You made me laugh out loud about the goose droppings! A bite of salad nearly hit the computer screen. :mrgreen: I really appreciate your visits. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Love it, Joanne. A steampunky Victorian stalker. It’s fun to me to see the division of opinions here about Ignatius. (Granted, I had no idea what he was going to be up until very close to the end.) Everyone is either Team Don’t-Trust-Him or Team-Ignatius… with very few leaning toward Team Ignatius. This is what makes pantsering such huge fun to me. Many thanks for visiting. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adele. It’s great to see you. Even though we get very few clues into little Copper’s thinking, it’s hard not to accept the innocent intuition of an honest child. However, that carrot will dangle for a while yet.
      I’m so happy you are on this train. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I’m not surprised the goose bit her, since that’s My experience with ornery geese. Love the realism, Teagan! Lol. Strange that the innkeeper just shows up with snacks. I think Cornelius and Copper are wise to be cautious. Looking forward to the next episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! It wasn’t intentional, but Ignatius did prove useful for working the food-related “things” into the story, Diana. 😀 I have to wonder why he’s trying so hard to win Copper over, but food does seem to be the way to her heart.
      I’ve had the same experience with geese… Ornery to the point of scary.
      Many thanks for visiting. Hugs on the (non-goose) wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, what indeed? Thanks for taking time to visit, Robbie. If they plan to pull one over on Ignatius… well, I think he might be hard to fool. We shall see next week! Congrats on your short stories being in the compilation book! Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I think she needs to trust Copper and Cornelis’ feelings about the handsome innkeeper. He’s not on the up-and-up. But, he did bring great treats for them to eat. 🙂 You do such an amazing job with prompts, Teagan. I admire your talent. I’m ready to see what happens next! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Jan. I appreciate your encouragement. LOL, never trust a man bearing desserts? It will be a while before we know whether to trust Ignatius. I had fun letting Felicity be the only one to trust him, because I saw her as such a skeptical, no-nonsense type. A bit of a contradiction in my characters always makes them more fun to write. Many thanks for visiting. Still got CCR playing in my head! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What should i write other than all the others have written? Its a really good escape from the reality, Teagan! I need it too. Today i really had a very worst “fighting day” in good old “law and order” Germany. ***lol*** Thank you so much! Best wishes, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Teri! Don’t I know it! My lunch was a Lean Cuisine that got cold before I had time to finish eating it, so I’m drooling over that dessert too.
      Erm… yeah… I threw in a red herring for a gratuitous cliffhanger… I confess.
      Thanks for visiting. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Staci. Sometimes I wonder if Felicity and Cornelis don’t have an innate need to disagree. 😀 It will be awhile yet before the random “things” took me to an answer about Ignatius. Yes, the things even drive details like that.
      Have a wonderful Wednesday. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve said this before, but I absolutely love the way you continue to develop the Alchemist’s character. I am also on record as not trusting Ignatius Belle – that hasn’t changed. I hope they don’t travel back with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heartfelt thanks, Dan.
      Ha… it took awhile for the random “things” to let me know whether or not to trust Ignatius. Yes, the things even create that kind of detail. I was guessing about him as much as everyone else! 😀 I’m really glad you’re on this train. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you shared the link Donna! I’ve been trying to share your magical review, but it’s a workday… Huge thanks to you for doing a review post that includes The Glowing Pigs! I will link the party bus to it. Mega hugs right back!


  7. I have to admire your talent and imagination. I know how difficult writing can be, but you make it look easy!! Will you remember us when you’re rich and famous? 🙂


  8. I really don’t know how you do this….it is amazing to me the amount of creative work put into each episode….I really enjoyed this one and of course love all things Igatius:) Also Olives with stilton cheese is one of my favourite snacks…. thank you so much Teagan….keep them coming and yes I am also looking forward to the book launch. Champagne bottles will be popping everywhere. Sending loads of hummingbird hugs. Janet x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you, Janet. I’m tickled that you are enjoying this story. Thanks for being on the train!
      I appreciate the encouragement about Atonement in Bloom. Thanks for the virtual champagne and hummingbirds!
      Hummingbird hugs right back. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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