Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 30

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Saturday Evening Post, 1937. Delivery boy ringing doorbell, waits with man in formal attire (and top hat) who has his head through a cut out in a big Valentine card
Saturday Evening Post, 1937

Happy Valentine’s Day, my chuckaboos!

I know this image is not from the right era, but the dashing man looking all afternoonified, made me think of something Cornelis might do.  I think Valentine’s Day around him would be positively naty narking.

Back in 2015, Christoph Fischer sent the “things” for this chapter.  Christoph is a blogger, reviewer, and the author of many compelling novels.   I’m currently reading “The Body in the Snow,” and I’m having a great time.  If you asked Christoph to let you see a photo of his Valentine, he might show you something like this…

4 Labradoodle puppies
Christoph’s Labradoodle Puppies

It’s time for Hidebound Hump Day!  If there are Valentines where our heroes are, then they are surely in shades of violet and lavender.  

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

Chapter 28  Our bricky friends met a very gentlemanly, large, chimpanzee. He also happened to be dressed in a suit and hat.  Oh, and he was undeniably purple.  

Chapter 29   Felicity figured out at least part of the mystery of the “trained” chimpanzees, but we still don’t know who was using them.  Can Cal Hicks, the ape version of Calvin Hixon, somehow help our trio reach Copper’s real daddy?  Felicity also saw a portrait of primate doubles of herself and Ignatius Belle, and it caused her to ponder her capricious feelings about the handsome innkeeper.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

30 — Babylon, Toothpick, Alpine

Harper's Bazar, March 1896, Victorian woman riding bicycle with red heart design background
Harper’s Bazar, March 1896

Cornelis Drebbel had that look in his eyes — the twinkle-eyed look that never failed to worry me.  That expression would make you think he came from ancient Babylon — powerful, affluent, and downright sinful.  However, he actually wasn’t born until 1572.  I knew that expression meant he thought he was being clever.

Young Copper was a regular church bell.  While the amethyst ape, Cal Hicks, was distracted by Copper’s animated conversation, the alchemist cast a considering gaze his way.

“What are you up to Cornelis Drebbel?” I narrowed my eyes and whispered in a warning tone.

“It’s important that we get back to our own world, don’t you think?” he asked drolly.  “If there was a version of myself here, then that me would have had a laboratory or a workshop of some sort.  I suspect this ape knows where it is.  But how to get him to disclose the information…” the Dutchman pondered.

“Why not just ask him?” I sputtered in exasperation.  “There needn’t be any subterfuge.  He already believes you are, well… you.”

Cornelus Drebble With Eclipse and Sundown rev
Rob Goldsteins vision of Cornelis Drebbel inside his submarine

The Dutchman’s mouth twisted to one side.

“Oh, I suppose you’re right.  You do have a way of taking the fun out of things, Felicity,” he said drolly.

“Mr. Hicks,” I began.

“Dear one, please do call me Cal,” he said in a fatherly tone and added a little bow.

That felt a little too much like something a gal-sneaker would say, but I smiled and nodded agreeably, determined to give our host the benefit of the doubt.

“Would it be possible for you to show us to the Lord of Alchemy’s laboratory?  Cornelis doesn’t like to admit to having lost so much of his memory — temporary though it may be.  I think being amongst his things would help him remember.  Besides, he dotes on this submarine and would love to repair it,” I said.

The amethyst ape was eager to comply.  I gave Cornelis a sidelong look.

“See,” I told the Dutchman.  “Simple as that.”

Surprisingly, Absinthe seemed to object.  He fluttered around the alchemist’s head, chirping excitedly.  Remembering how impossibly potent one of his poots could be, it made me nervous to see the Green Fairy so agitated.

“Calm down old boy,” Cornelis said soothingly to Absinthe.  “Everything will be fine.  If I so much as sense something a hair out of the ordinary, I’ll come back here straight away.”

Green fairy skunk
Absinthe, the Green Fairy, by Teagan

At the words “out of the ordinary” the tiny skunk-like fairy shrieked.  I had to agree.  Everything in this world was out of the ordinary.

As we exited the submarine, Absinthe followed.  He seemed torn between flying protectively around Copper and Cornelis.  The girl turned back and gasped delightedly.

“Look at the submarine!” Copper cried.  “Isn’t it beginning to turn purple?”

Absinthe zipped through the air and quickly circled the submarine.  He came back, with nervous sounding chirping.  He hovered six inches away from the alchemist’s nose, looking quite excitable.  Cornelis looked from Absinthe to the submarine.

“It’s becoming part of the amethyst world,” Copper said in awe.  “If we stay will we turn purple too?” she asked in a way that made it clear she found the prospect of such a transformation delightful.

“We might at that,” Cornelis answered in a wry voice.

Finding the Lost De Milo (2)
Finding the Lost De Milo, by Rob Goldstein

I thought he had gone to hide when Absinthe darted back into the submarine.  However, a moment later he emerged with a seabag floating behind him.  The tiny fairy seemed to be handier with levitation than Cornelis.  Absinthe continued to levitate the bag until he reached me.  Then he unceremoniously dropped the bag at my feet.

The seabag came open and out rolled a frightful looking head.  I gasped and nearly screamed, but closer inspection showed it to be some kind of hideous mask.  It had two big round goggle eyes and a long snout that ended at a flat circle and a leather strap to hold it to the wearer’s head.

Absinthe levitated the mask over to Copper.  She was quick to understand that he meant her to wear it if needed.  When I saw that the bag also contained several bottles, I thought the Green Fairy was still concerned about this strange environment.  When we first arrived, he had given us bottled water; fearing things of this world would be harmful to us if consumed.

gas mask

As I returned the bottles to the bag, I discovered a charming silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.

“Why ever would he think we’d need toothpicks?” I murmured, bemused.

Cornelis suddenly appeared at my elbow.  He knew it annoyed me when he did that.  It never failed to be disquieting, and it always entertained him to startle me.  He smirked.

“Absinthe isn’t far off the mark,” Cornelis whispered.  “There is a very real danger that we could become trapped here.  However, we would have to be here for a very long time before that potential became a reality.  This is a measuring device,” he explained, pointing at the toothpick holder.  “If the toothpicks begin to turn purple, it is a warning.”

Seeing my widening eyes, he was quick to elaborate.

“Many of the effects can be mitigated,” he waived away my concern.  “For instance, a little lavender hue is of no real concern.  But if all the toothpicks turn purple, then we are in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple,” he added pointing to the crystal ornament in the center of the gazebo.  “Well, then it is too late,” he finished with a wry twist of his mouth, which suggested that was a real possibility.

The Green Fairy was still agitated, but the purplish color of the undersea vessel seemed to have changed the cause of his worry.  Absinthe fluttered over to Cal Hicks and chirped once.  The ape chuckled, still marveling at the tiny fairy.


Reading Ape purple
Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape

“You are the most delightful shade of green,” he said in a mystified tone.

“He wants you to lead us,” Copper translated.

“Ah, so he does!  This way then,” directed the purple primate as he adjusted his bowler hat and pointed with his amethyst topped walking stick.

After about fifteen minutes of walking we reached a clearing.  In its center was a sprawling building.  It was only one story tall, except for a broad, towering dome in the center.  Cornelis gazed at the facility in childlike wonder.

The sound of clamoring hooves and the clanking of a bell made everyone turn.  A lavender Alpine goat ran out of the building and barreled into Cornelis.  The Dutchman landed on his back with a thud.  The goat sniffed happily at his face.  She made the oddest warbling behh sound.

I had become accustomed to the amethyst ape’s warmhearted chuckle.  So, I was surprised to hear him laugh uproariously.  He recovered himself somewhat and turned to me to explain.

“The Lord of Alchemy allowed us to keep a herd of milk goats behind his laboratory.  There was something about the grass there that improved their milk greatly.  I’ve always pondered if that was because this grass has a greenish tone,” Cal Hicks told me, but then shook his head.

“But I digress again,” he apologized.  “Cornelis Drebbel made a pet of this particular goat.  However, I always told him that it was she who thought he was the pet.  She’s quite possessive of him.”

1920s man w-goats
Wikimedia commons, circa 1920. (Altered by Teagan)

Cornelis clamored to his feet.  The lavender goat gently head-butted the Dutchman and nearly knocked him over again.  She nibbled at his coat sleeve and pant legs, ignoring his attempts to brush her away.  From time to time she uttered that strange warbling behh sound.  It really was funny, and I couldn’t help laughing.

Copper had no compunction about offending anyone.  She wrapped her arms around the goat’s neck, hugging the animal.  The girl laughed so hard she toppled over.  Fortunately, the goat seemed to take to her.  The next thing I knew, the large goat had maneuvered Copper onto her back.  Copper sat astride the goat as if she was about to take the animal for a gallop.  The oddest part was that it looked perfectly natural.

All the laughter was abruptly cut short by a trumpeting screech.  I looked to the amethyst sky from which the sound came, but saw nothing.  Cornelis looked apprehensive.  The ape, Cal Hicks, trembled fearfully.

“Quickly!  Get inside,” Cornelis ordered pointing toward the building that was the laboratory of the version of him that inhabited this world. “Quickly,” he added with a sharp pat to the goat’s rump.  “Hang on tight, Copper!” he called.

The lavender goat bolted toward the laboratory, carrying Copper on her back.

“What was that?” I exclaimed.

Cal Hicks came to himself as we all ran behind the goat.

“I was so sure it was dead,” the amethyst ape said.  “That was the hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!”

Purple one horned dragon
Racheal Marie, Pixaby


Real World Notes

Duffle bag.  The term dates back to 1677, when it was used to describe a coarse woolen cloth having a thick nap or frieze.  The name comes from Duffel, a town in Flanders, Belgium, where the thick duffel cloth used to make the bag originated in the 1600s.  During most of the 1900s, a duffel bag typically referred to a specific style of cylindrical, top-entry bag.

Victorian Vernacular

Church-bell A talkative woman.

Gal-sneaker:  A man devoted to seducing women.

Make a stuffed bird laugh:  When something is utterly preposterous.”

Mind the grease:  When you need people to let you pass, use this phrase as you would “Excuse me.”


I hope our heores find something in the laboratory to help get back to their own world.  Yet with the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater out, and apparently on the hunt, will they be able to reach the laboratory?

Next time when the “three random things” are from Olga Núñez Miret.  Be at the steampunk submarine port to find out where Glass Eye, Silver Vinaigrette, and Sextant take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!  

My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you when the steampunk submarine comes into port next week.  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.

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90 thoughts on “Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 30

  1. Reblogged this on Today, You Will Write and commented:
    Are we there yet? – Sometimes you’re in a hurry to go somewhere, but you realize only afterwards that it was/ is the journey that counts…This lovely episode reminds me of that. Do enjoy the latest episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers 30 — Babylon, Toothpick, Alpine. And have a fantastic weekend, everyone. Teagan, once again thanks for letting me re-blog. I love what you’ve done to the place/ story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Resa. Thanks so very much, my chuckaboo! “Unique” really is hard to achieve.
      The slang of bygone eras is a fun challenge. I try to only use it in a way that the reader can get the gist of it without looking it up. Somehow, I found that much easier to do with Flapper slang than with Victorian. I appreciate your visit. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Who’d have thought that toothpicks would have much use other than removing food from between teeth, Teagan? That was such a unique way to weave ‘toothpick’ into the story.
    I’d forgotten all about the alpine goat, but I never forgot about the brilliant cliffhanger this episode of the story had. It was etched firmly on my mind from the first time I read it.
    Until next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your such a great writer Teagan and I am amazed by all the images and worlds you create with your stories. There are purple people eaters and lavender goats. Happy Valentine’s Day and wishing you the best for your upcoming move. Hugs 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, John. The slang is fun. Some episodes, it’s hard to match up “real world notes”… the duffel bag was a bit of a stretch. I was thinking of Absinthe and his “sea bag”. So I’m glad to know you liked that.
      Thanks for being on this crazy submarine. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice to see you use one of Rob’s pieces again. Loved the old world vernacular and their meanings at the end.

    I am still purging, but I’m rounding up boxes and starting to pack! Are you? Right now I’m thinking I’ll trade ya! I know you have a lot less purging and packing to than I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Deborah.
      Ha! I wouldn’t count on that. A household needs the same things whether it’s for one person or an entire family. So don’t think I have it any easier. I’ve been in this place ten years. Things accumulate — and I swear they hide.
      Of course the bulk of mine was from the fact that I’m a clothes hound. I’ve loved clothes since I was a little girl… But I’ve donated 4/5 ths of my clothes. All my dishes. All the linens, except the one set to use. 99% of my books.
      I threw away all my photo albums. I threw away my journals…
      It was all very difficult, because I won’t have the money to replace those things.
      I have one more donation scheduled, for more clothes (and books) I’ve weeded out from the final 1/5th I “couldn’t part with”.
      I still see too many boxes, so I go back and unpack and purge some more. (Money spent on shipping is money that could go to a little furniture. I’m having all my furniture taken away.)
      All my stairs add to the difficulty. I have a small, narrow rowhouse, with 3 levels. And unfortunately no bathroom on the living level. My knees have started to complain about the stairs during the past year. So I am very glad the cottage is only one level!
      If my knees and back will just last until I get there.
      Happy packing and purging. And have a glass of wine! 😀 Hugs on the wing. 🕊️ 💜 🕊️ 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my, you’re doing ever so much better at letting things go than I am! I hope when the dumpster arrives I am able to get more things in there and into the donate pile!

        I’ve been trying to sell somethings, and freecycle quite a bit, but not enough, and that process is slow going.

        Amen to no stairs! I’ve always lived in a single story house, and now that I’m older I don’t want to start living in a 2 story one.
        The kids always wanted a two story house, but the stairs and upkeep of one seemed too daunting for this slug at heart.

        Baby Girl has a two story house now. #1 GS loves the stairs, but already Baby Girl is seeing the wisdom of our choice to have a single story house.

        Yes, let’s have some wine to get through it! Perhaps more than one! 😜🍷🍷

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Tee-hee! We can celebrate with a bottle of my current favorite, Cupcake Prosecco — and even the cupcakes, since my egg allergy doesn’t interfere with virtual food.

          As a child I was fascinated by homes with stairs in a romanticized way (because we didn’t have them). It’s a good use of vertical space. But the combination of my small place on 3 floors, but no bathroom on the living floor — and chronic bladder inflammation has been brutal on my knees. Crystal has short legs, and at 12, she seems to be less enthusiastic about the stairs too. I will be glad to say goodbye to those stairs! Cheers!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never had a goat, but I think they are adorable. Although I was surprised when my research (looking for how to relate Alpine to the Victorian Era), on a fluke took me to the Alpine goats. Of course, I couldn’t resist.
      I’m honored for you to share my response to your February prompt! I have tried so hard to write a (ANY) Valentines story this year, and it just wouldn’t happen.
      Thanks so much for taking time to visit. Mega hugs. 🐐 💜🐐 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jacquie. It’s lovely to see you. That is music to my ears. 🙂
      Several people have said that about the toothpick holder and miners’ canaries. I don’t remember whether that was part of my thinking when I chose that particular holder. (I found an image of an antique like the one I described, but the image seems to have been taken down now.)
      Mega hugs. 💜🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Still working on it, Jacquie. It’s a lot for one person. But I’ll get there — if my back and knees hold up. LOL. I still have some packing and purging to do.
          There are 3 parts (piano mover), “junk” removal (for my furniture and things I couldn’t arrange to donate), and UPS to do a consultation and then pick up the boxes of my stuff. As of today those are all scheduled over the course of 2/17 to 2/26. Then I need to wrap up any unexpected details and hit the highway by the end of the month.
          I say all that, but meanwhile my agoraphobia is in hyper drive. Saturday I went a mile away (which is the limit of my comfort zone) to the grocery store. That was the first time I had gone anywhere since *December 31*. I’ve got to plan my route, and I lock-up whenever I try. I really hate what this place has caused me to be.
          You and your honey have a lovely Valentines Day tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. My level of concern is growing, Teagan. I was eager enough for our crew to get out of here before meeting their doppelgangers and now you’ve simultaneously introduced the concern that they might be trapped and that of the flying people eater. I have to confess to getting nervous along with Absinthe when the sub started turning purple. I hope the toothpick holder is as good as the old canary in the coalmine, and that we don’t see it starting to turn purple.

    I love the image of the Lost De Milo, and I also really like: “Cornelis suddenly appeared at my elbow. He knew it annoyed me when he did that. It never failed to be disquieting, and it always entertained him to startle me…” You’re keeping that vibe between these characters alive. Kudos on introducing the goat!

    Until next week, we hang at the edge of another cliff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Dan. That means a lot to me. I’m glad you added that about the goat. I like including at least one animal in my stories — they are an easy way to add whimsy and the unexpected. But pantser serials take me where the “things” lead. I don’t know what Christoph had in mind with “Alpine”. So I went researching, since I couldn’t think how it might relate to the Victorian Era. Through a fluke I landed on the Alpine goats.
      I appreciate you taking time to visit. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, I get a kick out of goats, Denise. Without intending to, I’ve mentioned them in several stories from my very first (unfinished) novel.
      Oh, yes… they’re bound to find interesting things in that lab! 😀 Thanks for being on this crazy submarine. Mega hugs! 🐐 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m relieved you haven’t grown tired of purple, Fraggle. I was ready for some green and yellow long about this point, but it still took a while for me to write my way out of this lavender corner. Huge thanks for being on this crazy submarine. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. What a roaring good time Teagan! I was laughing with delight at this episode and of course, you had to end with purple people eaters. For Valentine’s, I’m going to don my purple gal-sneaker cape, but avoid those church-bells!
    Happy Valentine’s hugs and laughs!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Teagan – I’ve been reading through the comments and learned you are in the final stages of an imminent move. Epic. My very best wishes for a smooth transition. I hope you will be filling us in on how you are doing? I’m gathering this is a very major move far away. Big hugs on your big adventure 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Joanne. That’s really kind of you to read the comments.
          Yes I am. On December 31st I turned in paperwork for an early retirement.
          I haven’t been Federal long enough to get full benefits, but I just can’t keep dealing with it. (I’ll still need to find a part time job to make ends meet for a few years.)
          Mostly because of job stress, my tendency to be rather agoraphobic has become utterly crippling.
          Now that (as of this week) I’m officially separated from a real career, I’m beginning to blog more freely about it. You may have seen other “hints” in comments here, but mostly at other blogs.
          Anyhow due to the debilitating fear of being away from home, this move is the greatest challenge of my life. No matter that I’ve done it a few times — I was a different (much better) person then. I mention this subject in my opening for this serial next week. I’ll try to give some statuses on Facebook, when I get on the road (although I don’t think you and I are connected there), but I’m having such a difficult time “keeping myself together” that I might not be very good with the statuses…
          Thanks for being so supportive. More hugs.


          1. I’m happy for you that you are leaving an environment that is toxic to your well-being. I suspect you won’t feel the full extent of it until you start to recover in a new, gentler place.
            I hope you have a strong, reliable friend or group of friends to help you through this transition. I applaud your courage to face your fear and undertake this journey.
            I will look for you on Facebook, but to be honest, I’m not a regular there.
            Sending you a lot of positive energy to get you through this 💕

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, Barb. That means a lot to me. Having made the “harmonic tuner” look like a bell from the era, I wanted another everyday item I could add to Cornelis’ collection of magical doodads. When Christoph left “toothpick holder” I found an image like the one I described. It used to be on the Pinterest board I was making for this serial, but I think the pin was removed.

      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo! Mega hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

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