Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 

SteamPunk art harlequin chess-Eugene_Ivanov_2361

Eugene_Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Hello, November!  It’s National Novel Writing Month again — or #NaNoWriMo as it’s also called.  I have more going on than usual, so this year I’m doing the editing version.  I’m bookizing the third 1920s novel of Pip and Granny Phanny’s adventures, A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients 2.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

Now it’s time for another Hidebound Hump Day, and another chapter of the spontaneously written, #SteamPunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 15.  Cornelis had thought they had gotten a good distance away from their pursuers.  Then the handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle showed up on a paddle steamer.  Belle, in true Victorian straightlaced form, objected to Felicity and Copper traveling with a man, and apparently being stranded.

Not wanting to reveal the existence of the road locomotive, the alchemist made made up the excuse that some old family friends were on the way to pick them up.

Then they saw another group of presumed foes headed toward them.  For reasons only the Woman in Trousers could understand, Felicity let Ignatius know about the road locomotive they had hidden.  To everyone’s surprise, Ignatius volunteered to draw the group of villains away so our heroes could escape.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

16 — One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, Candle Wax

landscape photography of green leafed trees

Florian Giorgio, Unsplash

My jaw clenched as I worriedly looked toward the river.

“How did they find us?” Copper asked in a whisper when the hydrofoil came into our sight.

One lone dandelion grew in our hiding place.  Copper picked it and nervously plucked it apart.  I could tell she was silently playing the “loves me, loves me not” game.  However, I wondered what she was thinking.  Did she ponder whether or not someone loved her, her father perhaps?  I reminded myself that she was only a young girl.  Even an adult might feel abandoned in her circumstance.  Or perhaps she asked the flower if we would find her father, find him; find him not.

“The road locomotive is heavy, so it left a lot of tracks, especially where it nearly fell over into the river.  Cornelis used a trick to cover our trail to some extent, but I doubt it would have been difficult for an experienced tracker to trace our path along the river,” I told her.

“Or they might simply have followed Ignatius Belle,” Cornelis said through lips that held a sardonic twist.  “However, that also leads to the question — how did Belle know where to find us?  Is the man an innkeeper, or an expert tracker?  Does a woodsman lie beneath his fine clothes?  And why does he seem to know so much about Calvin Hixon?  I suppose he’s an innkeeper, woodsman, and inventor!” the Dutchman said in a droll tone, but his face wore a pout.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Giacomo Di Chirico, 1872

“Why Cornelis Drebbel.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous,” I needled the alchemist.

“Jealous!  Don’t be absurd,” Cornelis objected.  “And I hope you realize it wouldn’t hurt you to use a little objectivity,” he added and my eyes widened.  “I’m surprised you don’t burst out with a free verse poem when you think of him.  You act as though you’re positively smitten with the dandy.”

“Smitten!  Now that’s just ridiculous,” I snapped.  “I have never been smitten in my life.  I’ll have you know that I—”

Shh!” Copper hissed at us both.  “They might hear,” she whispered, pointing at the hydrofoil, which by then had nearly reached the spot where Ignatius Belle had arrived with his paddle steamer.

“Don’t worry dear heart.  They’re too far away to hear us, and the little trick I used to keep them from seeing us will also dampen our voices or any other sound we make,” Cornelis told Copper to sooth her fear.Flying man w umbrella

“What other sounds?” she asked, just as Cornelis intended.

“Oh, any sound,” he said with wriggling eyebrows.  “The snap of a twig, or a hearty belch,” he assured her.

Of course, Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t resist demonstrating a “hearty belch,” to which Copper collapsed in a gale of giggles.  Abruptly she covered her mouth, still concerned that she might be heard.  I rolled my eyes heavenward at the Dutchman’s behavior.

However, I secretly admitted that he really did have a good way with the girl.  As I recalled, during his human lifetime he had four children, or rather four who reached maturity.  Infant mortality rates were even worse in his day.  I supposed he had plenty of practice entertaining and distracting young ones.

Suddenly I wondered if he missed his children, but surely he did.  I stubbornly stamped out the thought.  Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state, it made me sad.  This was no time for me to indulge myself in emotions, particularly not in morose thoughts about which I could do nothing.Forlanini hydrofoil

To my dread, the hydrofoil slowed as it drew near.  I still couldn’t tell who manned the craft, except for one erratically moving figure.  A chill went down my spine when I could see for certain that it was indeed a very large chimpanzee.

Do not underestimate the size and strength of an adult chimpanzee.  I shuddered at the memory of the hoard of chimps bearing down on us at the Hixon estate.  The chaos of their mob, their shrill cries, their inhuman strength, it was something I’d rather forget.

The hydrofoil stopped.  The vessel lowered toward the water.

“What an amazing machine,” I whispered, awe overcoming my fears about the dangerous chimp.

Cornelis was eager to explain such things, but I was rarely patient enough for his invariably long winded explanations.

“The hydrofoil rises as the speed increases.  So the pressure around the foil changes until even the pressure on the top surface can become very low.  That lets the aerated water create a bubble and break down the lift on the top surface of the water.  At that point one might lose as much as two-thirds of the lift.  At that speed the vessel will drop back into the water,” he explained.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

The Dutchman snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.  He pursed his lips in annoyance at my lack of scientific enthusiasm. 

Ignoring him, I craned my neck to see the people on the craft.  I couldn’t tell how many passengers it might hold.

The people on the hydrofoil wore rain gear.  I guessed it protected them from the spray the vessel created.  A man leaned over the edge, looking at one of the foils that lifted the craft out of the water.  His movements made me think he was concerned about it.  He jumped to the riverbank and continued to look at the vessel from that angle.

The chimpanzee eagerly bounded to the shore.  It cavorted on the riverbank for a moment, and then it sniffed the air and turned directly toward the spot where the three of us hid.  The man shouted harshly at the ape.  It reluctantly returned to the shore.  The man finally shook his head and shrugged as he inspected the hydrofoil.  I wondered if they had suspected a problem, but found none.

The man turned his attention to the banks.  Ignatius had deliberately scraped his steam boat against the shore, leaving big marks. 

“He was here,” I clearly heard the man call to someone on the vessel.Ape Grandma ad

The tone of his voice led me to believe the person to whom he spoke was in charge.  A muffled reply came to his words.  I couldn’t make out any of it.  The man continued to examine the shore.

Meanwhile the chimpanzee had our scent again.  The ape looked fiercely intent as it resumed its tracing of our steps.  Fortunately, Copper had run all around the site in her adventure of picking flowers and finding the whale’s tooth amulet.  That seemed to confuse the chimp, slowing his progress toward our hiding place.

“Do you have candle wax in your ears man?  Let’s go!” came an angry sounding command.  

Cornelis and I looked at one another in open mouthed shock.  That was a woman’s voice!

The voice was vaguely familiar.  I knew it was one I had heard since coming to the quaint little town.  My mind raced through every woman I had met since I arrived.  It didn’t seem to belong to any of them.  I reminded myself that a woman wouldn’t have used such an imperious tone in ordinary company.

Images of each woman paraded through my mind.  There were the two women at Best’s General Store, Billie Best and I never knew her customer’s name. (Chapter 1)  The two gossips had been unnecessarily hateful to Copper.  The memory irked me, but I didn’t think that voice belonged to either of them.

1900 Maid with trayThen there were Cookie and Bitsy from the Belle Inn.  (Chapter 2)  I remembered Bitsy’s bubbling laugh and impish grin.  It was difficult to imagine that commanding tone coming from her.  But I supposed it could; the pitch might have been about right.  No.  That just didn’t seem possible.

Cookie was not only a talented cook, she had impeccable organizational skills.  She would be capable of directing such goings on, but she had spoken so briefly I wasn’t sure if I would recognize her voice.  (Chapter 6) 

My mind turned then to the dreadful people from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  The cowardly man, Claude Dinkley had a tenor voice.  Could I have mistaken I higher pitched male voice for that of a woman just then?  After all, I only heard it speak one phrase.  (Chapter 4 for the orphanage people)

Then there was tall willowy Gertrude Hobbs, whose honking laugh combined with her long neck and weak chin made me think of a goose.  When they tried to take Copper away, she mostly echoed the proclamations of Ethel Farthing.  It was difficult to imagine Gertrude issuing imperious commands, but perhaps her subservience was an act.

Now, Ethel Farthing was another matter.  I could easily see her commanding men and chimpanzees.  Had it been her voice?  I felt like pulling out my hair in frustration.  I simply did not know.

Ape Eyes 2

Unsplash and public domain images altered by Teagan

While I pondered the voice and the women of the town, the chimp had crept frighteningly close to the place where we were concealed.  The trick Cornelis used could only work up to a point.  The chimpanzee was confused but determined.  It screeched loudly in aggravation.  The man looked toward us with an quizzical expression on his face.  He took a step toward the ape.

A sharp whistle blew loudly from farther along the river.  That would be Ignatius at the bend of the waterway, making sure these adversaries did not lose him.

The chimp whirled toward the whistle.  It ran with astonishing speed and hopped aboard the hydrofoil.  The man followed quickly.  In a moment the craft sped away.

***

To be continued…

***

shallow focus photography of daisies during daytime

Janice Gill, Unsplash

Real World Notes

Loves me… Loves me not.  I don’t know how old this game is.  It originated in France, and the Victorians played it, as you saw in the painting I used in this chapter.  In the original French version of the game, the petals do not simply indicate whether the object of the player’s affection loves them, but to what extent: un peu or “a little”, beaucoup or “a lot”, passionnément or “passionately”, à la folie or “to madness”, or pas du tout or “not at all.”

A humorous twist on the game is “She loves me, she loves me lots.”  This fortune-telling is shown as a pantomime in the 1st act of Giselle, ballet by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (Paris, 1841). Wikipedia.

 A woman is in command of one of the groups chasing our heroes.  That’s certainly unusual for the Victorian Era.  Felicity found the voice familiar.  Could it really be one of the kind women at the inn who made food for them?  Or one of the horrid women from the orphanage.  Does this clear Ignatius Belle?  Since three separate groups pursue our trio, it’s hard to say.  At this point anyone could be involved.

Come back next time to learn where the “things” Crinoline, Lye Soap, and Caterpillar take our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

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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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72 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16

  1. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 17 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

    • They scare me too, Gerlinde. I’m still amazed that they got such a big part in this story, because I’m just not a fan of monkeys. I guess I was just that committed to writing this story wherever the “things” spontaneously took me.
      It keeps getting more whimsical though. Hopefully that will balance out the presence of creepy chimps. 😉 Mega hugs!

      Like

  2. That was a very close call, Teagan. I was holding my breath as the chimpanzee got nearer and nearer. Did they have an invisible cloak around them? Thank goodness for the whistle.
    You got me thinking hard about whose voice it was. During this era, it was rare for a woman to be command, unless, of course, it was Queen Victoria?
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hugh! It’s good to see you. Yes, that chimp scares me. I love your fun comment. We’re not certain right now if Cornelis is able to do big magic. No cloak, just one of the alchemist’s “little tricks.” I’m concerned about slowing down the story by trying to explain his magic. Alchemy would have required an exchange… so he would have used something from the soil or or the trees to alter the molecules of the air to dampen sound and deflect light to make their presence less noticeable. He probably couldn’t truly make them invisible. The chimp would have seen them if he had the chance to get a better look.
      Ha! That would have been a fun twist! I wish I had thought of Queen Victoria. Love it. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 17 | Teagan's Books

  4. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  5. OK, I have to talk about something specific, because I’m kinda amazed. From doing the SoCS challenge, I know how hard it can be to work a prompt into a story. However, my posts are one-offs, and I don’t have to worry much about the next episode. I love how you used “One lone dandelion” to bring something interesting into your story and to reveal a little more of Copper’s character – to remind us that she’s a young girl and to plant some seeds that I wouldn’t be surprised to take root.

    I also like how you gave us a little more info about the Alchemist with “Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state.”

    I’m grateful for you not leaving us hanging at the shore (I’ll bet you were temped) but I think you also added a few chips to the “good Ignacius” pile.

    Have a great downside of the week, Teagan this was a wonderful mid-week read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heartfelt thanks, Dan. Your specific comments are hugely good feedback. It really does help me to know what works, clicks, resonates, etc.
      The prompts are sometimes difficult… but not usually. I have to abandon my thinking to the spontaneity of writing that way. *The hard part* is keeping track of the ones that turn out to be clues or threads, and making as many of them as possible truly work into the plot — and bundling them up at the end. This story was my greatest challenge for that. It felt good/right when I finished it. And that isn’t always how I feel when I conclude a serial.
      Have a thriving Thursday, my friend. Hugs!

      Like

    • You’re so kind, Jacquie. You gave me a huge smile with this comment. As I re-post the chapters, I’m also formatting and editing (or bookizing as I like to call it). So I will publish it. I’m deciding whether or not to hold it until I have written the second book though, since I’ve been rerunning it here.
      My next blog serial will be the second book for Cornelis — but a completely different story. Have a thriving Thursday. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Deborah. I put a lot of work into formatting/illustrating the posts, so I do appreciate that. LOL about the books — you’re so kind. I need to really dig into editing book 3 stat! November and NaNoWriMo is speeding away…
      I appreciate you visiting. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16 | By the Mighty Mumford

    • Jan, those big chimps creep me out. I don’t know if that is the same one who was doing sign language, but they’re scary smart! 😉
      Now, I wonder where the other 2 groups of pursuers are…
      I’m glad you are on this train! Thanks for visiting. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so glad I managed to catch the train early this morning. This was a nail-biter of an episode. Don’t we all have some innate fear of being chased?! The fact that they can be tracked by scent makes it even more alarming!
    I can’t help but think that things are not as they appear. I’m resisting the temptation to skip ahead and devour more episodes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so kind, GP. I actually have been editing this one as I re-post the episodes. But my National Novel Writing Month editing project is a different serial that I ran a few years ago. I’m going to “bookize” it (hopefully by the end of the year). It’s a 1920s story, a culinary mystery called A Ghost in the Kitchen. It was a lot of fun.
      Have a wonderful rest of the week. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are so kind Janet. Heartfelt thanks.
      Crystal hasn’t been herself since all the noisy drama of Halloween and that dreadful parade. However, this morning she finally perked up. Your hummingbirds must have arrived. 😀 ❤ I appreciate you visiting. Hummingbird hugs right back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always feel so sorry for animals during Halloween and here November 5th – Guy Fawkes Nights, which seems to have been going on for about eight days!! Last night it sounded like a war zone 🙂 This too shall pass..and clearly Crystal is now able to relax…Enjoy the day and the weekend ahead. Hummingbird hugs. Janet xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for that, Janet. I haven’t lived anywhere where they do Guy Fawkes Nights. Our Thanksgiving and Halloween… everything is eclipsed by Christmas. I’m surprised they still have the little Halloween parade.
          Yes, we are looking forward to a “hummingbird filled” weekend. ❤ Hugs back.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16… | Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

    • Heartfelt thanks for sharing from your tree-house, dear Ape. It seems everyone is getting fewer views, with the nasty naughty WordPress gremlins not letting us know about one another’s posts and comments. So your generosity is even more appreciated. Have a wonder-filled, hug-filled Wednesday. ❤

      Like

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