Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 22.2

Wednesday, December 19 , 2018 

Train Christmas lights_Natural Tunnel RR at VA St Parks
Natural Tunnel R.R. of Virginia State Parks, public domain image, Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day!  The #SteamPunk train wears festive holiday lights today.  It’s headed to the northern Pacific coast of the USA, during the Victorian Era.  That’s where we’ll finish chapter 22 of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Today we will see what the third of the “three things” provided by John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites created in this spontaneously written story. 

This post also has a mention of a cross-over character who is featured in “A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients 2.”  I hope to book-ize that story early in 2019.  If you were following Jazz Age Wednesdays way back then, you will recognize Maestro Martino.

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

Chapter 21.  

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle.  In large glowing green script I read the word aloud, 


Laundry washing machine

Chapter 22.1 at Straightlaced Saturday

To my surprise the alchemist produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed the diminished glow with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and dimming to a flat pistachio green. Did it mark the location of Copper’s father? 

Alastair and Victoria Wong would stay with us until we reached the Pacific Ocean, where Copper, the alchemist, and I would continue our journey.  We still fled three groups of foes, but now we also were looking for Copper’s father.  Let’s find out what is revealed in the rest of chapter 22.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

22.2 — Penne Pasta


The sun was directly overhead when Cornelis slowed the road locomotive.  We were on high ground overlooking a blue river.  Below I could see a collection of log cabins of some sort.

“Look, it’s a fort!” Copper exclaimed.

“Have we really journeyed so far so fast?” Alastair Wong said in a tone of amazement.

“What do you mean?” I queried.

“That is Fort Clatsop,” Alastair explained though I looked at him blankly.  “It was built by the explorers, Lewis and Clark and their expedition.  They spent a difficult winter there before getting back on their way.”

“And they were hungry, you may be sure,” Victoria interjected, causing Alastair to chuckle as she pulled out the large picnic basket.  “That is a fate we shall not share with the explorers,” she said to our oohs and aahs as she opened the basket.

The woman surely could not have a single drop of Italian blood in her veins, but she laid out a feast worthy of any great Italian chef.

“Dear Victoria!” Cornelis exclaimed and bowed.  “This is a feast worthy of the 15th-century legend, Maestro Martino de Rubeis!”

Vintage kitchen bouquet ad

“Who?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew my question would meet with derision from the alchemist.

Cornelis put on a mournful face and shook his head, muttering about my lacking education.  So naturally I had to tweak his nose, so to speak.  “Oh, did you know him then?” I made my question a playful taunt.

The Dutchman narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. 

“The 15th century was the fourteen hundreds I remind you — that was quite before my time, as you well know.  I wasn’t even born until the year 1572,” he said and continued without missing a beat.  “Maestro Martino was a culinary expert unequaled in his field at the time.  He was quite the celebrity.  He was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain, the Patriarch of Aquileia.  The Maestro Martino was called the prince of cooks,” Cornelis lectured.

Then he wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows.  “So of course I did not know the Maestro in the fourteen hundreds,” he said and paused briefly.  “I did, however, meet him during his cursed afterlife.”

Though I knew I should not encourage Cornelis, I took his bait yet again. 

“Cursed? How so?” I asked.

“The poor soul pissed off the Pope.  Enough said.  Please pass the porcinis,” the alchemist said.

Mushroom faries Carrousel

That naturally prompted animated questions from everyone.  Cornelis loved to have an audience and he told the tale of the cursed chef and his acquaintance with him most vividly while we enjoyed Victoria’s Italian feast.

Needless to say, we were all quite pleasantly stuffed.  Alastair lit a beautifully carved pipe.  I faintly heard Victoria humming what I suspected was a nursery song from her home, as Copper rested her head in Victoria’s lap.  I was feeling rather sleepy in the sunshine myself.  Cornelis looked infinitely far away in thought as he toyed with a last spoonful of penne pasta in his plate.

“What’s on your mind, Dutchman?” I intruded on his thoughts.

“The next leg of our journey,” he replied, still examining the pasta.  “I need to summon our transportation.”

He picked up a piece of penne and held it up to his eye, looking at Copper through the pasta cylinder.  Copper giggled.  I told the Dutchman that he was a bad influence.

“Copper, could I see your mystic monkeys bell?” he asked the girl.

“Why not use the harmonic tuner that is more familiar to you?” Alastair asked quietly in a voice edged with concern.

I was in agreement with Alastair Wong in his newfound concern about Cornelis and his tricks.

“You are right,” Cornelis told him.  “Ordinarily, in the working of magic it is best to use implements to which one has become attuned.  However, in this case the harmonic tuner that Copper has always thought of as her mystic monkeys bell was a gift from Daddy.  And that is whom we hope to find.  So the more elements relating to him, the better.”

Girl Flute Green pixabay
Altered image from Pixabay

A detailed carving of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil was worked into the surface of the bell.  Copper reverently handed Cornelis the second harmonic tuner.  Her solemn expression was at odds with her youth.  It reminded me of how difficult the entire situation must be for the girl.

The alchemist looked down at the scraps of pasta in his plate and arranged three pieces of penne end-to-end.  Then the alchemist held the harmonic tuner over them and flicked the bell with his fingernail.  It gave off a sharp ping sound.

The pasta glowed greenly.  The aura intensified until I had to shield my eyes.  When the supernatural light abated, a jade flute lay where the penne had once been.

The alchemist picked up the flute and played a trilling series of notes.  Then he abruptly stood. 

“Shall we?” he asked, and we gingerly made our way down the steep hill to the water’s edge.

Once there he piped the same notes again.  Cornelis looked at the water unconcernedly.  I looked at him impatiently.

“I don’t see anything.  What’s supposed to be happening?” I wanted to know, but the infuriating man ignored me.  “Should you do it again?” I asked motioning to the jade flute.

The Dutchman’s mouth twitched to one side in a dissatisfied way. 

“Perhaps I should…” he speculated.

As Cornelis raised the flute to his lips the water started to bubble and gently swirl.  He lowered the flute without playing another note.  He wriggled his bushy eyebrows and grinned.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2
Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“You’re going to love this,” he told Alastair.

Wong looked somewhat apprehensive.  After all, he certainly had reason to be concerned, after the wayward alchemy caused his washing machine to break down the storage building door, and do assorted other damage at his hot spring.  However, he quickly caught the contagious gleam of excitement in the Dutchman’s eyes.

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale was breaching.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  Wong beheld the sight with gaping mouth, but I had the impression that he at least thought he knew what was coming to the surface.  Expressions of worry and wonder were at war on his face.

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be. 

“Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.


Real World Notes

Drebbel’s first submarine, 17th century, Wiki Media Commons

Submarines.  Yes, the real world Cornelis Drebbel actually did invent the first navigable submarine. He became a famous inventor during his time.  King James I of England was eager to gather explorers, theologians, economists, and you guessed it — alchemists around him at court.  He invited Drebbel to England in 1604.

Drebbel’s first submarine looked like it was based on a row boat with raised and meeting sides.  All that was covered in greased leather, with a watertight hatch in the middle, a rudder, and four oars. Under the rowers’ seats were large pigskin bladders, connected by pipes to the outside. Rope was used to tie off the empty bladders.  To make the sub dive, the rope was untied and the bladders filled.  In order to surface, the crew mashed the bladders flat and pressed out the water.

He eventually built two more submarines, each one bigger than the last. The final model had six oars and could carry 16 passengers. Drebbel demonstrated that one to the king along with thousands of Londoners on the Thames.  The submarine could stay submerged for three hours at a depth of 15 feet.  However, we don’t know how Drebbel maintained the air supply.


Will the flute lead them to Copper’s missing father?  Can anything be that easy in our trio’s journey?  Remember, three different groups of foes pursued them.

The next three random things are “Feather, Yorkshire Pudding, and Absinthe.”  If you think this steampunk train has been on a crazy ride, just wait until you see what I did with absinthe!

The next episode will air on Straightlaced Saturday this weekend.  So please stay tuned.  I’ll be looking for you at the station.   

I love your comments, and reblogs.  Although today I will be slow to reply.  Please don’t let that stop you from saying hello!  I will reply as soon as I can.

Mega hugs! 


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

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.

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91 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 22.2

  1. This segment is just as captivating as the “Wizard of Oz”. What a brilliant blend of history here. History could benefit many minds if told as a magical journey whereby each phase is mystical. This has been a great coffee read, too. Hope you are having an enjoyable, splendid week, Teagan! Cheers! 🍵❤🍵

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi AOC. LOL you are thinking far ahead — the story does take a slightly Oz-like turn, though I won’t spoil it by saying more. You must be very intuitive. 🙂 That part was not inspired by Oz though — rather it was caused by the random thing from a reader “pickled beets,” and the direction that took my twisting brain.

      You are right about teaching history. It can be utterly dull, or fascinatingly colorful depending on how it’s presented. I had some fabulous teachers when I was a kid. Although I admit I never had one who made the history classes interesting. Everything was just presented as a series of dates. I’ve learned more on my own (mostly through research for stories) than I did back then.
      Thanks for the coffee cheers on this bitterly cold day. I think I’ll have a second cup! 😀 Hugs on the wing.


      1. Good day Teagan! Once history was literature. Then the two became seperate spectrums of written works. Real literature really works the imagination. I love literature. The author Baum who wrote The Wizard Oz is believed to have abstracted monetary and other social going ons (the edge of the Victorian Era) into his Oz Story. I am not in agreement with that social analysis. I feel thst Oz’s plight of “Dorothy missing home” and Copper’s “Daddy” both touch on the innocent aspect of vulnerability. However, in contrast with Oz, I do feel that Steampunk will take readers on unexpected journey in time, revealing many artifacts and inventions. And, as for your abstraction, it is an exciting re-unite of history and literature in magic! And now, the submarine journey. Thanks Teagan for this fun exploration! Mega Hugs to you!! Enjoy your day! Cheers🍵💓🍵💓


    1. Hi Gerlinde. You’re really catching up — thanks so much!
      I stumbled on that historic information when I decided to do a serial with an alchemist. I Googled for a list of them, and Cornelis was on that list. I soon found the submarine information. He was a fascinating man. Great big hug!


  2. I remember the submarine from the first time I read this story, Teagan. I can’t imagine what the thoughts of the other characters would have been when they saw it rise form the water. Astonishment is the only word I can think of to describe their faces.
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Hugh. I imagine that they were just as unaware that Drebbel invented a navigable submarine in 1620 as people generally are today. The main difference being that they were much, much less familiar with the concept.
      Have a fabulous Friday. Mega hugs right back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I ran across the existence of the fort while researching (I don’t remember what). I was intrigued enough to add it to the story.
      Oh yes, the submarine was huge fun to write! Their means of travel will soon change from the road locomotive to the submarine. I hope you will enjoy it. 😀 Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Teagan, the power of your imagination can even transform pasta into something useful 🙂 Glad to hear about the Three Ingredients 2 future book.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and hope you have a wonderful New Year. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rob. I’m glad you liked that one. It was a lot more effective when I first did this serial — because it came right after the one where Maestro Martino was a central character. The line was the way Maestro described his situation to Pip. It was another cross-over element. So I’m happy to know it works even for readers who haven’t seen that story. It’s the one I meant to book-ize by the end of the year. With my “personal project,” that’s not happening quickly. I hope you’re over the flu and regaining energy. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m glad to know you are back on your feet, Rob.
          You’re right about that… Even with the wildly off-the-rails things I come up with for these stories, I could never have imagined the things that have happened these past 2 years.
          Hugs on reindeer hooves. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Teagan, always love to read your episodes. Learn a little unknown history on the side! Hope you and Crystal have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, peaceful and relaxing times for you. 🎄📚Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t know submarines had been around that long. Must have been amazing to be the first to submerge for any length of time. I’m excited to see where it takes them and now very hungry:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love what the alchemist did with the pen pasta.. positively musical.. 🙂
    love your imagination Teagan and remind me never to get a Pope pissed lol hehe…

    Have a most MAGICAL Christmas Festive season dearest Teagan.. Thank you for your support this year and for your beautiful story telling that I have enjoyed so much ..
    Take care and Love and Blessings.. Enjoy and Have FUN.. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Sue, it’s so good to see you. Thank you very much.
      Haha. I had just finished the serial featuring the Maestro Martino (who was also based on a real life person). I had such fun writing him that I had to give him a mention here.
      A merry magical Christmas to you as well. Mega hugs! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yum, I love Italian food now I’ll be craving some. The first submarine in the 1600’s! I would have been terrified to go in it made of greased leather! What if some of the rowers couldn’t swim. We’ve heard tales of sailors that couldn’t swim.

    Great chapter! I’ll be on the train on Saturday. Hope the rest of your week is a good one! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deborah. Italian pasta would sure hit the spot on this very gloomy day! The clouds are so thick, and no break in them anywhere in the sky. Three inches of rain predicted, after having that much last weekend… Yes Italian food would be good.
      I had the same thought about the sailors. They must have either been desperate for a job or had death wishes. I’m so happy you are on this train. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, Teagan! Especially great your integration of the Italian cuisine and the three monkeys. For the submarine – fantastic part too – let me ask GP at Pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com. He is a specialist in submarines too. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. Yes, the real-life Cornelis Drebbel really did invent the first navigable submarine. 🙂 Before I started writing this story, I researched names of real historic people who were thought to be “alchemists.” I was intrigued by the name “Cornelis Drebble.” When I investigated him, I was stunned to learn about the submarine. I can’t imagine the thoughts of the people inside one of those. They must have either been desperate or had death wishes. Drebbel is credited with several other innovations too. A remarkable person.
      I’m so glad you are on this train. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely description, Geoff. Thank you kindly. I was stunned to learn about the submarine. I can’t imagine the thoughts of the people inside one of those. They must have either been desperate or had death wishes.
      We’re coming up on the part where the train ride really gets crazy. I’m glad you’re on the train. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What is Cornelis up to now? I love how you weave fact into fiction. I had no idea that a submarine had been successfully demonstrated in the 1600s. I can only imagine how frightening it would be to be encased in a windowless contraption like this underwater!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s good to see you, my chuckaboo! I was stunned to learn about the submarine too. I can’t imagine the thoughts of the people inside one of those. They must have either been desperate or had death wishes.
      Joanne, we’re coming up on the part where the train ride really gets crazy. I’m so glad you’re on this train. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Please stay tuned? Teagan, I am so attached to this story, I wish I had the Alchemist’s powers to move us straight to Saturday.

    I wanted to share a line back with you, but within a very short span, you gave me another, so you get a twofer:

    “I faintly heard Victoria humming what I suspected was a nursery song from her home” – This struck me as one of the things you do so well. Many times, I add lines (attempting to be) like this, and I end up deleting them, but this really works to help me “hear” that tune.

    “He picked up a piece of penne and held it up to his eye, looking at Copper through the pasta cylinder. Copper giggled.” Again, you made this scene so human with this little addition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Dan. Heartfelt thanks for this comment. Years ago, something stuck with me that Bob Proctor once said about needing to understand *how* he had achieved something — he knew he needed to figure out what he had done right. I often have no idea what it was that worked for people. So this is more helpful than you might know.
      As for your first line comment, I understand what you mean. General advice is to edit out things that don’t advance the story. Victoria’s background would not contribute to the plot. But I wanted to show/remind that she was from a different place than the other characters. I imagined her as less “western” than Alastair. Perhaps she was not born in England or USA, as he was. Her backstory has not been required for my thinking/writing process.
      Thanks for taking time to provide this detailed comment.
      I finally have documents in hand and will be signing and getting them notarized this morning — hopefully before the next 3 inches of rain begins to pour. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YAY !!! I’m so glad this is coming to fruition. I hope it’s the start of a magical time for Teagan (you deserve nothing less).

        I am glad you like these comments. I always worry a bit, but less so now than when I first made the attempt. I’ve learned a lot from reading your stories, and I think I’ve learned a bit about making comments 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Your comments truly are helpful, Dan.
          Yes, got my documents signed and notarized — counting on UPS to deliver. Just not sure when I’ll deliver myself. Winter weather… need to research several things. Thanks for your good wishes. Hugs.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello everyone. I love your comments, and reblogs.  Unfortunately I have a lot going on with my “real job” today. So I will probably be slow to answer them.  Please don’t let that stop you from saying hello!  I will reply as soon as I can

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another great chapter indeed. And Martino was a big favourite of mine as well, so I can’t wait to get that book once it’s ready either. Fingers crossed for your next big adventure, Teagan. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Olga. Maestro Martino was such fun to write. Although the book-izing is going much more slowly than hoped — with my personal project taking much more time than anticipated. But I have documents in hand and will be signing and getting them notarized this morning — hopefully before the next 3 inches of rain begins to pour. Hugs on the wing.


  13. This was a wonderful pick-me-up after a long night, thank you, dear Teagan for always bringing us something full of substance yet packed (then unpacked) with so much joy. Now I don’t know if I’m craving penne pasta or a submarine (not the metal or wooden kind lol).
    My energy is dimming to a flat pistachio green, but I’ll hold out long enough to share this all over the place.
    Hope this day (and every single day) treats you kindly, dearest friend. 🙂
    Mega thanks for letting us take another ride on your steampunk train hugs xoxoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Donna, it’s so lovely to see you. I’m sorry about the long night. That same night, the dog next door woke me with his barking at 11PM, and he kept on all night long. Every time I dozed off, more barking. So I know how that flat pistachio green energy level feels. I’m just sorry my misery had company.
      Thanks for taking time to visit, my chuckaboo! Mega hugs right back.


  14. Good morning Teagan and Crystal….what a wonderful episode….and can you believe that I remember mangles……wow. So much to learn from this and as always your amazing creativity shines through. I hope that you and Crystal enjoy a lovely Christmas and get to eat all sorts of festive goodies. Sending lots of hummingbird hugs. Janet xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janet. It’s always wonderful to see you, and the magical hummingbirds that travel wherever you go. Crystal is having a morning bath, curled on the electric throw blanket. 🐱 I have one eye on her (as I type) making sure the bath doesn’t turn into more of her pulling out fur (anxiety from the ever-barking dog next door). One leg is nearly bare.
      We will have a simple Christmas, but it will be everything we want. Especially with great plans for the next year. Hummingbird hugs right back, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Robbie — thank you so very much. I was stunned when I first started learning about the real-life Drebbel. He was quite an innovator, especially considering that he’s not particularly well known (in general circles) today. Have a wonderful rest of the week. Mega hugs.


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