Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 19

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 

SteamPunk art man baloon stuff Eugene_Ivanov_2406
Eugene Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, my chuckaboos!  (I do love the Victorian vernacular, even if it is harder to use than Roaring Twenties slang.)  Find your seat on the #SteamPunk train.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

Do you remember I told you that it was many episodes into the serial before the “things” brought me the name of the woman in trousers — Felicity?  Have you noticed that she didn’t have a surname? This episode caused her to need a last name.  Also, remember the “clues” I’ve been dropping?  Here comes another one.  On with the story.

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

Chapter 18.  Last time we learned that a raven that was being used to spy on our heroes and relay a messages as to their whereabouts.  However, Cornelis intercepted the bird, and the raven is never more.  He hoped that had bought them enough time to catch their breath.  Do you think it did?  Let’s find out.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

19 — Indian Head Penny, Brocade of a White Lion

Copper - Victorian young girl

We walked back to the little road locomotive.  Copper was still where we’d left her.

“She’s truly a delightful girl,” he commented, following my gaze.  “And such a gorgeous head of hair,” he added with a sidelong glance at me.

I nodded my agreement and smiled, mildly surprised at his words.  Cornelis was more likely to compliment someone’s intellect than their appearance.  Copper looked at us, cherry goo decorating one corner of her mouth.  I chuckled and shook my head.

“The group with the hydrofoil seems to have taken Ignatius Belle’s bait.  I suppose he did a good job of leading them away from us,” he added, looking rather surprised to hear himself speak those words.

He stepped up into the road locomotive and sat on its floor, feet dangling boyishly.

1924 Little Dipper Champagne ad

“Do you really think he might be working against us, Cornelis?  After all he’s done?” I asked of the tall handsome innkeeper.

My question was only half rhetorical.  Cornelis Drebbel could be churlish, obstinate, and infuriating.  However, I knew full well what a quick mind he possessed.  I would be foolish to completely dismiss his opinion, no matter how unjust I felt it was.

“Something has been bothering you ever since you shimmered off to the Hixon estate and wherever else you went prowling.  You looked as though you’d had an epiphany,” I said with a perplexed expression on my face.  “Why do you refuse to discuss it?”

“You actually do have a good mind,” he gave me unexpected praise.  “But you really must learn to use it more efficiently.  Try not to bubble around so much.”

Of course, he would give a compliment with one hand and take it away with the other.  I sighed in exasperation. 

I often thought that after I obtained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel, he felt an odd sense of responsibility for me.  Likewise I felt responsible for him.  I supposed things could be utterly miserable for Cornelis if the wrong person possessed his skull.  I had never used it to coerce him — well, not often anyway.  I had certainly never misused it or caused him discomfort.  I mused that each of us recognized our responsibility to the other.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2
Terrence Mann as Cornelis

A faint green glow surrounded Cornelis.  That meant he was ever so lightly touching power.  Perhaps he needed to replenish himself after scouting the area and bringing down the raven, I thought.

Cornelis hopped down from the locomotive.  I heard a tiny metallic ping.  Something seemed to have fallen from his pocket.  However, I knew that the alchemist didn’t tend to carry anything on his person.  He could just reach into that magical void and bring out most anything he needed.  He turned to pick up the small thing from the engine’s floor.  Then he tossed it to me.

“For luck,” he said as I caught the bright new Indian Head penny

The sunlight glinted radiantly off the penny.  For a moment I was reminded of the coppery highlights in Ignatius Belle’s hair during that moment when the sun shined down on him in the abandoned church.  It transformed him from a handsome man to one who looked angelic.

When I looked up I saw that Cornelis was watching me intently.  I turned and walked away before he could make another comment about me being “smitten.”


Wikimedia Commons

The road locomotive roared up to an iron fence with a large ornate gate.  I felt we were in the middle of nowhere, so I wondered what sort of property lay beyond the gate.  If the iron work was any indication, it was an impressive estate.

Perhaps, I abruptly realized, it was not as remote as all that.  There was a light salt tang in the air.  We were near the Pacific coast. 

I gazed at the iron, artfully crafted into twists and swirls.  At the center top was the letter W.  As I looked from the massive gate to the alchemist the question must have been plain on my face.

“When I told your dashing innkeeper that I had old family friends in the area, it was no lie,” Cornelis explained.  “Although it wasn’t exactly true to say they were on the way to rescue us.”

During my acquaintance with Corenlis Drebbel I had met few people that he admitted knowing well.  I was quite surprised that he had a friend there, in a place that was so foreign to him.

“Don’t worry.  I sent word that we were coming.  We are expected,” Cornelis reassured Copper and me.

Jamie Murray as Felicity 3
Jamie Murray as Felicity

I looked down doubtfully at my travel stained long coat and trousers.  Copper had tiny bits of mud splattered on her face from a large puddle the steam engine crossed.  I took out a handkerchief and wiped her face.  The girl drew back, annoyed.  However, she relented when I reminded her that she was about to meet friends of Cornelis, and should look her best.

The alchemist reached into the large carpet bag Copper packed when we left her home.  It was black with a floral design done in shades of mauve and red.  He produced what looked like a fancy silver dinner bell.  However, I knew it was actually an alchemically amazing device — a harmonic tuner.  He gave it a single ring, and it produced the harmonic tones that inspired its name.  I was sure the Dutchman’s tricks combined with the properties of the tuner to let it be heard much farther away than was natural.

In the distance beyond the iron gate, a large deep gong sounded in answer.  A green aura flickered around Cornelis and the heavy gate swung open.  The green glow intensified when he started the road locomotive.  I felt the steam engine shift and lift slightly.

Wongs Gate public domain modified
Public domain images, tomfoolery by Teagan

“Are we levitating?” I asked in surprise? 

“Not completely,” the Dutchman replied.  “It wouldn’t do to ruin a fine lawn with tracks from this machine, now would it?”

These people must be special friends indeed, if Cornelis is showing so much concern for the grounds, I thought.

Soon we reached an amazing structure built in the style of a Buddhist temple.  The noonday sun made it seem golden where it sat on the edge of a clear blue lake.  The beauty of the structure and the serenity of the setting left me speechless.

“What a funny house!” Copper exclaimed.  “But it’s pretty.  I wonder what it looks like inside.”

“You shall soon see,” Cornelis promised with a smile.  “It’s a replica of Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

“Kenny-coco-jeez?” Copper attempted the foreign name.

“That’s actually better than my first attempt at saying the name,” Cornelis chuckled.

Skull Green SIlks
Public domain, Dreamstime purchase, & Unsplash images. Tomfoolery by Teagan

An attractive Asian man of indeterminable age stepped out of the house to greet us.  His traditionally styled silk robes bore a brocade of a white lion as a border at the hem.  He smiled broadly at Cornelis then bowed hastily before hurrying forward.  The two men shook hands and bowed to one another again.

“All my life I heard stories of you, Cornelis Drebbel,” the man enthused.  “It is such a great honor to meet you.  I think a small part of me doubted that my grandfather once possessed your skull.  No dishonor intended to my ancestors, of course.  To finally meet you!  It is a pleasure indeed.”

Cornelis waved his hand modestly, denying any acclaim was due him. 

“I’ve looked in on your welfare many a time Alastair.  Unfortunately, up until now I have not been able to pay a proper visit,” the alchemist told the man.  “Ladies, I present to you the descendant of the revered Koxinga of the Seas, descendant of Po Tsai — one of my peers in life, and grandson of Sung Wong, this is the illustrious Alastair Wong,” Cornelis announced grandly, causing the other man to blush and protest humbly.

I murmured what I hoped was something appropriate.  I confess that there was something regal about Mr. Wong’s bearing that brought out my awkward side.  I curtsied in response to his bow. 

Copper tried to imitate the bow, causing the man to smile and wink.  Cornelis continued the introductions. 

“And now I present,” he said with a flourish that caused Copper to giggle.  “The inimitable Miss Copper Hixon, and the irreplaceable Miss Felicity Deringer, who makes my existence bearable,” the alchemist added to my astonishment.

File:Skuteczky Courting.jpg
Courting by Döme Skuteczky  (1848–1921)

Alastair Wong bowed over my hand and kissed it in a most courtly way. 

“Miss Felicity Deringer, it is my great pleasure to meet you.”


Real World Notes

Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.  “Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” officially named Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.  It is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.

The Koxinga of the Seas, Cheung Po Tsai:  In this episode I gave the series cross-over family, the Wongs, a rather roguish history.  Cheung Po Tsai was a navy colonel of the Qing Dynasty and former pirate. “Cheung Po Tsai” literally means “Cheung Po the Kid.”

Koxinga. Wikimedia Commons

Victorian Vernacular

Enthuzimuzzy:  Satirical reference to enthusiasm. 

Fifteen Puzzle:  Not the game you might be familiar with, but a term meaning complete and absolute confusion.

Fly Rink:  An 1875 term for a polished bald head.

Follow-me-lads: Curls hanging over a lady’s shoulder.


Hmmm… I wonder if Felicity is thinking about Ignatius Belle now?  The intriguing Mr. Wong might take her mind off the innkeeper.  This set of things stopped just short of the expected revelation about Ignatius Belle.  So I gave you another hint.  Did you find it?  (Be careful not to spoil the fun by telling anyone else if you figured it out!)

Come back next time to see what kind of trouble the “things” High Button Boots, Washtub, and Coffee create for 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.  



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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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71 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 19

    1. Thanks so much Kirt! That means a lot to me.
      I really enjoyed your post featuring the Space Needle. I’ve been sharing that everywhere.
      The revelation for all the hints I’ve been leaving is in tomorrow’s chapter.
      Have a great rest of the week. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My, that Japanese garden and house sound as delightful as Mr Wongh does, Teagan. I’m still trying to think why Cornelis bought them here, though. I hope they are all in for some rest before things kick off again. And I love the term ‘Follow-me-lads.’
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doesn’t it though, Hugh?
      Well… “technically” as far as writing goes, it wasn’t the best thing. Alastair the elder had been in my head, nudging me to bring out more of his story ever since Three Ingredients 2 – A Ghost in the Kitchen, to make sure he didn’t look like a bad guy. (Some of the people he was associated with went down a dark path, but not him. And he was only mentioned posthumously.)
      That said, I did try to make the detour a valid part of the story — a necessary stop along the train’s route, rather than a meaningless side adventure.
      Follow-me-lads is one of my favorites of the Victorian slang terms too.
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always know that wherever you take us in your stories, Teagan, there’s a very good reason for doing so. Your stories are always full of excitement, with no wasted time spent anywhere. That’s why you’ll always find me on the train.
        Have a great week.
        Hugs to you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You are so kind, Hugh. I do try. I appreciate that feedback.
          I was busily working on the next two chapters this weekend. Two episodes from now, my “time machine” to 2015 for this rerun goes to chapter 21 — and the things were from you! Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle.
          A wonder-filled, hug-filled week to you as well, my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Now you mentioned those three things, I remember them well, Teagan. I once picked up a moustache cup at an antique fair in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, my previous partner kept it when we split up! I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but I’ve never seen another one. They must have been common with the Victorian men. Sheriff Alvin Bullard would almost certainly have had one. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Time to switch off the screen but before I do time to visit the creative world of Teagan Geneviene. Copper, Cornelis and the lovely Lady in Trousers are on the road to the estate of an old friend of Cornelis.. a chance to rest up after the frantic chase of the last two episodes.. what will they find behind the ornate wrought iron gates….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Greg, when I first ran this serial, I think there were wives across the country who hated me — because their husbands wanted their own road locomotive. o_O
      There’s more Steampunkery fun ahead — you do realize that the real Cornelis Drebbel invented the first navigable submarine? Bwhahahaha! (rubs hands together gleefully)
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Hugs!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed that little turn of the tracks, Robbie. I think Cornelis is really an old softie under it all. 😉

      Again, I’m sorry about the losses to your family and personal circle. Sending you a great big hug. ❤


    1. Hi Jan. Glad you enjoyed the vernacular. LOL that one is pretty funny, but it gets me all skin-crawly if I think about it. o_O
      Yes, Cornelis must have a sort of caretaker. His long “life” gives me ample fuel for stories about his past companions! Thanks for visiting. Hugs.


    1. Thanks so much, Jacquie. I enjoyed imagining this younger “Alastair the elder.” I’ve long said that one day I want to write Granny Phanny’s full backstory — he would have a large role. What’s next? Buckle up — there will be some collie shangles at this whistle-stop! Mega hugs. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have a fantastic mind, and an even more wonderful memory as you bring all the facets together Teagan.. And love your chosen caricatures 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.. Sending Love and Hugs your way ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are beyond kind, Sue. Yes, I did enjoy my Thanksgiving, thank you.
      Haha, my memory wasn’t that good — but my spreadsheet was! o_O 😉 Seriously, this story was my biggest challenge on pulling all the many threads together at the end, and trying to keep the train from going too far off the rails. I still feel like it is my best serial out of all of them — from a writing/editing/ “technical” perspective. I’m delighted you’re enjoying the ride! Mega hugs right back. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jan. I’m so happy you enjoyed this. While the locomotive was at this whistle-stop, somebody left “washing machine” as a thing. I had a lot of fun with that. I can still see that specific setting in my mind, three years later. Thanks for being on this crazy train. Mega hugs!


  4. It’s funny, Teagan. I don’t remember the story well from my first time on board, but I remember this episode better than any other so far. I feel my interest building (again).

    Two bits of your writing struck me, so here they are: “Cornelis was more likely to compliment someone’s intellect than their appearance.” I’d already came to that conclusion, but hearing it validated my opinion.

    “I took out a handkerchief and wiped her face. The girl drew back, annoyed.” Again, I love the way you keep reminding us, gently, that Copper is a little girl, without really reminding us. You are a master of subtle manipulation of your readers. As I reread that, I think I should point out that I meant it as a compliment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha — definitely taken as a compliment, Dan — and heartfelt thanks. You really do give me useful feedback. When I created Copper, I worked from the perspective that (particularly in that era) “Children should be seen, not heard.” So I didn’t include her in much dialogue. Yet that meant I had to find other ways to let her “talk.”
      The second bit was 1) yet another way for me to let Cornelis be contrary, and 2) a way for me to add a touch of emphasis to the hint/clue I was about to drop. 😉
      Thanks again for this fun exchange. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to see you, Deborah. There’s more than one episode at this whistle-stop. (I don’t remember how many without looking.) I had a lot of fun writing this part, so I’m happy you are enjoying it. Thanks for being on this crazy train! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! I like how you recapped some points of the story that were written early on (hat, skull, harmonic tuner, etc.) And then went into a completely new adventure. Well done, Teagan! Alistar Wong and lineage is going to be a great addition to the story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennie. Since the serials run for so many weeks, I’ve tried to do that with all of them now and then.
      Although I don’t always do it with a rerun, I usually did a “character recap” post around half way to 3/4th through the story. Just mini bios of all the characters.
      The steampunk locomotive takes a bit of a detour with the Wongs, but I tried to still make it part of the story. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much GP. I really do appreciate this feedback. I’ve enjoyed making the real world notes. When I added the slang one day (when I didn’t have a real world thing in the chapter), I had such a good time with it, that now I’m adding both… Couldn’t resist. 😀 So I’m happy to know you enjoyed them. Thanks for being on this train. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Felicity’s last name. It’s so appropriate. I want to call her “Daring-Do” 🙂

    Nice crossover with the Wongs! Because I’ve been cheating and reading ahead, I know what the hints have been about – and I guessed wrong!! … and here I thought I was so clever 😏
    I am resisting the urge to get too far ahead but it’s almost time to dip back into the well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Joanne, your comment made my day! ❤ If you guessed wrong, then I must have done something right! 😉
      I will probably share the next chapter on Saturday — I don't think I have an Atonement post for this weekend.
      Thanks for being on this crazy train, my chuckaboo! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Olga! Alastair the elder (as a character in Pip’s stories) was already dead. When I realized that Copper’s timeline was decades earlier, and suitable for his lifetime, I couldn’t resist. Suddenly I had my first cross-over story. I enjoyed giving him life, every bit as much as I enjoyed creating his great-grandson Alastair.
      Thanks for visiting. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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