Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 26.2

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Steampunk Fish Eugene_Ivanov_2439
Eugene Ivanov, Wikimedia Commons

This episode finishes the three random things from Donna Parker at Yadadarcyyada.  Be sure to visit her blog and look around, read and enjoy.  

The #submarine is at our port.  It’s rising to the surface now, and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 25  Cornelis remarked about about other realities. Dash my wig, but that has me worried!  The alchemist intended to work an extremely dangerous spell.  Absinthe, the Green Fairy used his own magic to create a map that showed Calvin Hixon’s location on a starry map. Or at least that’s what everyone seemed to think. 

Chapter 26.1   When we left our heroes, Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine had managed to go underneath the ack ruffians who were hunting for them.  The alchemist’s shocked reaction to that news upset the Green Fairy, how chirped a warning.  I hope Absinthe doesn’t produce another potent poot and get them all boiled owl…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

26.2 — Backgammon

baby skunk 2
Wikimedia Commons

Our bricky little girl wasn’t the only one who was concerned about the Wongs.  We didn’t know much of anything about the villains who pursued us.  There were three different groups.  They might be working together, but I believed they acted independently.  Cornelis and I assumed that their intention was to abduct Copper and use her as leverage against her missing father.

However, “Daddy” or Calvin Hixon was also an unknown quantity.  We knew Copper loved her father dearly.  Yet the only things we were certain of were that he was a widower, a genius inventor, and he was in dire financial straits.

Regardless, our foes had been closing in on us.  They had used trained ravens, and at least one scent tracking chimp track us.  When we parted company with Alastair and his cousin Victoria, the big gong at their home rang out a warning.  I was as worried as was Copper.  Cornelis, on the other hand, seemed overconfident that the Wongs would be fine.

“What!  They’re right behind us?  Do you mean to say we’ve gone under the hydrofoil and gotten ahead of them without even knowing they were there?” Cornelis exclaimed.

The Green Fairy gave an indignant and shrill warning.

Cornelis caught himself.  He quickly modulated his tone, and tried to calm the skunk-like fairy before he could spray that intoxicating vapor of highly concentrated absinthe.  Fortunately Copper had a soothing effect on the creature.  She gently stroked his tiny head with a finger and murmured compliments to him, saying he was lovely and brilliant. 

Absinthe hopped onto her shoulder and snuggled down under her ear, making an occasional snuffling sound.  I heaved a sigh of relief.

“I need to create a very good illusion to keep them from seeing us,” Cornelis began.  “I think a mirror trick will suffice.  A few illusory reflections so that it seems to them that they see the route ahead, but they do not see us.  But we’ll have to be absolutely quiet,” he said emphatically. 

The muscles in my face tightened until I thought I would twitch.  Quiet?  Absolutely quiet?  As I looked at Cornelis and Copper that requirement seemed impossible to meet.

Jean Beraud_The Backgammon Players
The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935, Wikimedia Commons (Note the glass of absinthe.)

“This illusion will amplify any sounds we make,” he stressed.  “We’ll have to maintain silence for quite some time.  I suppose that will be easier if we occupy ourselves somehow.  Ah!  I know,” he said as he hurried to open a drawer in the submarine’s desk-like bridge.

He looked rather pleased with himself as he produced a backgammon set. 

“Unfortunately Cornelis, I don’t know how to play,” I told him.  “And teaching me will defeat the purpose of being quiet.  Oh, but you have some books over there,” I said noticing a bookcase in the corner.  “You and Copper can play while I read,” I suggested, knowing that the girl would enjoy the act of pretending to play even though it was unlikely that she actually knew the rules of backgammon.

“Yes, I want to play,” Copper quickly confirmed my guess.  “Absinthe and I can play against you Cornelis,” she offered, and the Green Fairy chirped and settled on the backgammon board the Dutchman had just opened.

Absinthe seemed to guide Copper in arranging the pieces on the game board.  Meanwhile Cornelis went to the second of two perpetual motion clocks.  It was a good deal larger than the first machine.  He gave the thing that looked like a cast iron finial another toss and then twisted it onto the base of the clock.  It began to spin slowly.  It had a rather hypnotic effect.  Looking at it made me queasy again.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers
Jaime Murray as Felicity

A green aura surrounded Cornelis.  From out of nowhere the alchemist produced postcard sized images of the waterway, the shorelines, and the sky.  He placed one hand just above the images and rested the other on the crystal dome of the perpetual motion clock.  As the glow around him intensified, one by one the images disappeared and then reappeared inside the dome.

“Wow!” Copper sighed and the Green Fairy made a soft shushing sound.

“I’m sure it’s important that we don’t interrupt Cornelis,” I whispered to Copper.

“Oh really?” Cornelis muttered drolly.  “My skills aren’t that limited.  Do go about setting up the game.  I’ll join you shortly.  Felicity, select a book and relax.”

I glanced at the titles.  Everything on the first three shelves was dry and scientific sounding.  When I looked at the fourth shelf I couldn’t suppress a chuckle.  The Dutchman had a small collection of Jane Austen books.

“You’ve an Austen collection?” I murmured in surprise.

“Yes.  I met the lady and several other authors.  She gave me the books herself.  You’ll see an inscription inside each, written in her own hand,” Cornelis said in a rather smug tone.

I was impressed. Of course, I couldn’t let Cornelis see that, so I hid my face behind a book.

Pride and Prejudice,” I commented.  “My favorite,” I said, silently reading the brief note from the author to her “dear friend, Cornelis Drebbel.”

A tinge of envy wriggled across my thoughts, but quickly departed.  I understood the things the alchemist endured.  Or I came as close to comprehending his life as a normal person could.  I could not feel envy of jealousy toward him for more than a moment.

“What’s it about?” Copper asked, moving to my side, apparently already bored with waiting for the game of backgammon to begin.

jane austen by sister cassandra 1804
Watercolor of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra, 1804

“Shall I read a bit to you while Cornelis sets up his trick?” I asked the girl and she nodded.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

Abruptly I paused.  The term “rightful property” was trying to work past my headache and connect itself to a half-formed suspicion about Calvin Hixon.  However, Copper interrupted my thought and it was absorbed into my bottle ache.

“So is it about a man getting married?” Copper asked when I paused, causing me to lose that train of thought. 

I gave my head half a shake to clear the jumbled notions inside it, and immediately regretted the motion.  “It’s about a young woman, and yes it’s also about a man.  Fitzwilliam Darcy,” I told her with a smile as I anticipated enjoying a favorite story.

Copper looked intrigued. 

“Is he handsome?” she wanted to know.

“Oh yes,” I answered.  “Darcy is noble and handsome, and smart too.”

Victorian courting
Wikimedia Commons, altered image

I saw Cornelis emitting a bright green aura as he worked his spell.  He paused in making some very intricate looking adjustments to the perpetual motion machine.  The alchemist looked at us and rolled his eyes heavenward.

“Oh yada Darcy yada,” he said derisively, cutting off my praise of the character.

Absinthe suddenly looked up when the alchemist made the comment.  The fairy’s emerald eyes grew large and he shrieked.

“Oh bugger,” Cornelis said in frustration as the tiny fairy flew over to him making a series of very irate noises.

“What’s wrong with our tiny friend?” I asked worriedly though my voice came out in a sardonic tone.

Yadadarcyyada is an incantation.  I can’t believe I just said it aloud.  If you hadn’t picked that blasted book it would never have happened,” Cornelis complained and the Green Fairy screamed again when Cornelis said the magic word a second time.

The submarine started to vibrate.  It shuddered every few seconds.  Everything around me looked like reflections from a fun-house mirror ― stretching, expanding, contracting, becoming triplicate reflections.

It was more than my upset stomach could take.  Apparently the nausea was plain on my face.  Absinthe gave a sputtering grunt and a wastebasket appeared in my hands, just in time for me to retch into the container.  I had the sneaking suspicion the tiny fairy was more concerned about keeping his submarine home clean than worried about my upset stomach.

brass alarm clocks distorted pixabay time-2801595_1280

Cornelis was yelling something about shifting of “the in to the out” and tucking a bit from this reality into the next — just as he had mentioned before.

The submarine began to spin.  I lost my balance and landed on the floor.  Copper fell down next to me, and I held the child with one arm and used my other arm to deflect books that fell down from the shelves and onto us.

Absinthe seemed to realize Copper was in distress.  He fluttered down to us, and landed on Copper’s shoulder.  Then he wrapped his tail protectively around her head.  A bright green light formed around us.  When I touched the aura, I was surprised to find it felt as hard as steel.

As the world around me whirled, I saw Cornelis frantically working with the perpetual motion machine and the magical finial.  The submarine whirled so fast that everything became a blur.  

As the force and pressure created by the maniacally spinning vessel became too great, darkness overtook me.


Perpetual Motion Clock Photo
Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Real World Notes

Perpetual Motion Machines.  Drawings of perpetual motion machines date back to the 13th century, with French master mason and architect, Villard de Honnecourt.  Leonardo da Vinci also made a number of drawings of devices he hoped would make free energy.

Thomas Tymme, a writer of the era, described Cornelis Drebbel as having opened Nature’s secret closet.  Indeed, that seemed to be the widely held perception of Drebbel at the time.  In 1598 Drebbel obtained a patent for a sort of perpetual clockwork.  By (around) 1604 he had made a “perpetuum mobile,” entertaining and astonishing the court of King James I of England.

Victorian Vernacular

Inexpressibles:  Trousers.

Kill the canary:  Shirk work.

Kruger-spoof:  Lying.  Promises made but not kept.

Listening to myself:  Thinking.


What has the unintended incantation “Yadadarcyyada” done to the submarine and its passengers?  Might the magical effect extend beyond the submarine?  Will it be enough to allow our friends to get away from the villains on the hydrofoil?

Next time, the “See what happens when Corded Stays, Pickled Beets, and Cold Cereal drive the story.  I’ll be looking for you at the submarine port! 

I’ll be looking for you at the port on Saturday. 

Mega 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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78 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 26.2

    1. LOL. I’m passing around an economy sized package of virtual Dramamine.
      Maybe I made Felicity’s hangover a little extreme… Truth is I’ve never had one. For some reason, (back in the day) I just didn’t get them. (People hated that. LOL!) I had a close relative who was the same way.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the episode, Kirt. 🙂 Thanks for being on this steampunk submarine. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, dear a Darcy fan here! Can’t think of why there would be a bad spell with Darcy in it! The spinning was making even me dizzy.

    I’m sure Cornelis will be able to bring the submarine right, but will they get away from those following them?
    What a cliffhanger!!

    See you at the port…I may be late though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Teagan. I am totally fascinated with this episode. Wow! Steampunk is truly a journey through a magical, mystical maze. What a brilliant blend of surrealism that give gaze to relevant
    literary periods, dialogue and imageries. The metaphoric names are so perfectly scripted and adds to the unfolding suspense… Calvin, Copper and the Wongs. Cheers! ❤💕❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seriously?! You’re going to leave the story here?!

    I’m sorry, but I could help but laugh when Cornelis said it a second time. When things start to go wrong …
    More trouble is obviously ahead of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tee-hee! Joanne, I always aim to give a giggle, so I’m glad I made you laugh. Maybe that was a little bit corny, but I couldn’t resist. 😉 Thanks for being on this submarine, my chuckaboo! Hugs.
      PS: I might be in the spam folder at your place.


  4. This episode was exciting and outstanding. I loved recalling all that has happened, and who may be after Copper and why. And then the spinning machine…and a cliffhanger ending!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ackkk, you’ve left us here?

    Sorry to be late to the party, this week has had its own demands. I love this episode, I know I’ve told you before that I like it when Cornelis’ magic goes a little wonky, it makes the story that much more believable when they can’t easily escape. I really liked “the girl would enjoy the act of pretending to play even though it was unlikely that she actually knew the rules of backgammon” because that’s what children do! I remember playing _with_ games before knowing how to play them. I also really liked “I was impressed. Of course, I couldn’t let Cornelis see that…” because that makes Felicity seem so much more complete as a character.

    This was a fine bit of writing, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dan! Those were my favorite parts to write. (I do love to give Felicity a reason to be irritated with Cornelis.) Although I was rather pleased with the fade-to-black ending that gave you the akkks. 😉 Just kidding.
      Have a great rest of the week. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry if I made you a little fishy about the gills, Robbie. :mrgreen: I’m glad you liked the Austen bit. I try to throw in something from the real Victorian Era now and then. Thanks for being on this submarine, my chuckaboo! Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I submerged myself in this delightful story, as I always do with your wondrous works, dear Teagan and I was pleasantly surprised to see me!!!
    Thank you, but “what has the unintended incantation “Yadadarcyyada” done to the submarine and its passengers?” Oh no! I hope only good thing. 😉
    “Might the magical effect extend beyond the submarine?” I’m on the edge of my seat here, I know I’ll have to wait, but wow, the suspense is killing me (I hope it lasts). 😉
    “Will it be enough to allow our friends to get away from the villains on the hydrofoil?” Oh my, I feel a case of the vapours coming on!
    Thank you for the delicious entertainment, dear friend and to be in the same post as Jane Austen and Darcy, still more thrills. You really are the bee’s knees my friend, I am so glad we found each other in this giant virtual haystack, I can’t imagine the blogging world or the world without you.
    Big bloggy backgammon hugs xoxoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, my chuckaboo, thanks for visiting. It’s my pleasure to give you a shout-out any time I can. A post that included Jane Austen and Darcy, but not Donna? Yadadarcy-not-onyourlife. Mega hugs right back!


  7. Lovely episode, Teagan. I enjoyed the illusion to a moment of peace and quiet aboard the submarine as Felicity tried to explain to Copper about Mr Darcy and then blow it all, it goes pear-shaped or should I say circular? So exciting and I can’t wait to see where they land up. Love the photo of Absinthe. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, heartfelt thanks. That really means a lot to me. What fascinates me the most about inventors like Drebbel and da Vinci is comparing what they created to the extremely low-tech times in which they lived. I don’t know how they managed to avoid being burned at the stake for witchcraft. Have a thriving Thursday, my chuckaboo. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, my chuckaboo — you accidentally touched on my new Straightlaced Saturday theme. I’m going to share information about and links to free e-books of Victorian Novels. I have one set up for this Saturday.
      Thanks so much for being on the steampunk submarine. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So I was on to something when I asked if anybody could get seasickness on a submarine? This one seems very different, though, Teagan. What the heck has Cornelis and Pride and Prejudice done to our crew? I never thought reading a book could be so dangerous.
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m feeling a little dizzy and queasy myself, Teagan! I don’t do well with spinning (can’t even watch a merry-go-round without wanted to toss my lunch). Great job creating that sensation. And now what has Cornelius started? Hopefully Absinthe’s aura will see them safely through the “yadadarcyyada.” 🙂 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Speaking of skunks. Our conure sounded the alarm the other morning. When I looked out the bay window, one our big fat resident skunks came waddling through the snow and crawled under the house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh nooooo! I hope nothing upsets him — and especially that the kitties steer clear.
      My friend in Tularosa recently said her dog got skunked. Apparently the altercation went under her car. She had plans to go to Las Cruces and had to drive all the way with the windows down.
      Hugs to you, Laurie, and the kitties and parrots.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Both Spunk and Silver have been sprayed. They cleaned themselves up and didn’t smell after a few hours. Unlike dogs who smell for a long time after getting sprayed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Austen’s work really does have an enduring and amazing effect on people, Olga. 😀
      I’ve decided to start sharing Victorian novels on most Straightlaced Saturday posts.
      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo! Hugs.


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