Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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…
Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
26.2 — Backgammon
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now some shameless self-promotion.
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