Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, my chuckaboos! Our heroes are still in the purple world. Will they return home this time? The steampunk submarine is coming into port. Let’s not waste any time.
Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
Chapter 29 “When the loud harmonic noise of the misused tuner dissipated, I realized there were no sounds whatsoever coming from the church. To my horror, I found it empty. Everyone inside had vanished along with the purple people eater,” Cal Hicks described the disappearance of the simians from the purple world.
“Cornelis!” Felicity whispered to the alchemist. “That army of chimpanzees back at the Hixon estate. What if they weren’t trained,” Felicity said but paused, looking for the right word. “What if instead, they were actually translocated?”
Chapter 33. With an awkward pucker, Aubrieta spat out what looked like a purple grape. She breathed lavender smoke onto the grape. It grew and grew to the size of a house. It continued to expand until it finally exploded into a purple mist.
As the purple fog settled, dozens of big chimpanzees could be seen. They had the coloring of our home, not the hues of the amethyst world. A few stood boldly and cheered that they had returned home.
“Are those…?” Felicity began but the power of speech left her.
“Those naughty chimps!” Copper exclaimed.
From last time, Chapter 36. Absinthe flew in circles around the aerial screw. The Green Fairy jerked his head around, as if he heard something. He screamed again and pointed. The sound came again, loud enough for me to hear. The linen “threads” of the screw ripped loudly. The aerial screw lurched. Cornelis struggled to keep his grip as the machine darted wildly.
Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
37 — Tumble, Revealing, Description
Cornelis Drebbel dangled from the dangerously darting aerial screw. It looked like he would take a tumble at any moment.
Cal Hicks stood talking to the chimpanzees who stayed at the laboratory after their comrades ran in fright from Aubrieta when she was in her erstwhile form of the one-eyed-one-horned-purple-people-eater. I thought this group was surely the brightest and bravest of the returned chapel apes.
The coverall clad chimps jumped up and down in frightened agitation as they watched the Dutchman’s predicament above. In their frantic state they overturned the large basket of bread Cal Hicks brought out earlier, just after Aubrieta’s magic brought the chimpanzees home. The remains of a loaf of purple bread fell out of the basket, but the lavender alpine goat made short work of the bread.
Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape, looked from the excited chimpanzees to the sky and gave a horrified gasp. Copper screamed and a tear ran down her face. The lavender goat made a behh sound as she gazed upward with a funny puzzled expression on her face.
All tuned to me in astonishment when I put my fists on my hips and yelled up to the alchemist.
“Cornelis Drebbel! Don’t shilly shally! We have too much work to do!”
“What?” I asked in impatient response to the gallery of aghast faces.
Apparently everyone thought I was being callous. However, they had not seen the little measuring device that looked like a toothpick holder. It was made in the shape of a gazebo, enclosing a crystal bird. If we stayed too long in the strange world where everything was one shade or another of purple, we might be trapped there forever. The device measured how close we were to that state.
When first I saw the device, the toothpicks, or rather the tiny measuring rods, were colorless. If they started to turn purple, it was a warning. The last time I checked the device, all the toothpicks had become pale lavender — not a comforting sign. Now many of them had darkened to violet. That meant the amount of time we had was quickly growing shorter. Should the crystal bird turn purple, it would be too late.
“Oh for heaven’s sake… He’s an alchemist!” I turned to the group that had gathered outside the laboratory and defended myself. “All he has to do is pop to safety,” I said with a snap of my fingers.
A yellowish green aura surrounded the aerial screw. I watched in fascination as the rip in the linen “threads” of the screw magically wove back together. The flying screw straightened its course and then gently lowered to the ground.
“See! He was never in danger,” I exclaimed to the gathered simians, and Copper.
Everyone looked at me in a disdainful way. The lavender goat made a long drawn out beeehhhh! I sighed and threw up my hands.
Cornelis was abruptly in the middle of a concerned crowd of simian devotees. The alchemist loved attention, so there was no point in me chastising him. I stalked away.The two fairies, Absinthe and Aubrieta, chirped to one another quietly as they sat atop the model based on Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the aerial screw. I looked skeptically at the device that caused all the commotion. However, when I looked up at the two fairies, their chirps and grunts had a serious tone.
“I wish I understood you two,” I murmured.
“They think the flying machine can be fixed to work right,” Copper said, suddenly at my elbow.
“Copper, you’re getting as bad as Cornelis Drebbel — appearing out of nowhere,” I said and laughed. “Promise me you won’t take on any of his other habits,” I added, causing her to giggle.
The Green Fairy fluttered down to alight on Copper’s shoulder. He really was fond of the girl. Absinthe made a series of chirps, bobbing his head as if in encouragement. Then he flew back to his mate and continued their incomprehensible conversation.
Copper turned puzzled blue eyes up to me.
“Absinthe says the flying thing can let us see something important,” she said. “But I didn’t really understand what the meant. He kept something to himself,” she added with a sulky glance at her tiny green friend.
“Show us?” I echoed her words. “Do you mean from a great height we could see something important?”
The girl shook her head negatively.
“I don’t think so,” Copper replied.
I heard a sharp pop followed by sounds of awe from the apes. An instant later Cornelis appeared beside Copper. He tousled her new penny colored curls.
“Copper, I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but I see that the Green Fairy has been less than discrete,” Cornelis told her. “In all probability the flying machine, the aerial screw, will be revealing something very important, once it’s working properly.”
Copper and I wore twin expressions as our mouths shaped the question “How?”
“No, no. No questions just yet. There is much work to be done, and quickly,” he said in a serious tone. “I’ve seen the measuring device too,” Cornelis added, looking at me.
As we turned to go back inside the laboratory, I heard the voice of Cal Hicks clearly, as he spoke to the group of coverall clad chimps. Hicks directed his astonishment toward one powerfully built chimpanzee.
“Dear boy! That is an extraordinary tale!” Cal exclaimed as we reached the group. “We should tell the Lord of Alchemy,” Hicks told him, but the strong looking chimp drew back, apparently intimidated by the prospect of talking to the Lord of Alchemy.
“I really wish they’d stop calling Cornelis Drebbel that,” I muttered. “If his head gets any bigger, his skull won’t fit in my hatbox.”
Cornelis naturally wanted to know what had so intrigued Cal Hicks. The broad-shouldered chimp whispered something to Cal Hicks and shook his head nervously.
“Oh nonsense, son,” Cal told the chimp who was apparently young, though I could not guess their ages. “Lord of Alchemy, Ced here has given the most astonishing description of a levitating boat!” Hicks told Cornelis.
“You don’t mean a hydrofoil?” Cornelis asked.
“Yes, tha— that’s what they called it,” Ced replied haltingly, clearly trying to overcome his awe of Cornelis. “They held me prisoner, and forced me to track you and Lady Felicity and the young miss. I didn’t mean to betray you Lord of Alchemy!” Ced cried sadly.
Recognition clicked in my head. Although his coloring had reverted to the purple that was natural for his world, I recognized the chimp. Ced was indeed the very large chimpanzee who had come so very close to the place where we hid at the river when the group of villains using the hydrofoil caught up with us. (Episode 12) Thankfully Ignatius Belle led them away before we were discovered.
Cornelis made a tut-tut sound and patted the chimp’s shoulder. The Dutchman encouraged Ced to continue.
“On the river in that strange world, I heard your voices before the shield of alchemy was used,” Ced continued. “So I knew where you must have been hiding. But I pretended not to know,” he said but paused as anger suffused his face. “I was determined to thwart the evil woman! Can you forgive me for tracking you, Lord of Alchemy?”
Cornelis and Cal Hicks spoke to Ced for a while, assuring the big chimpanzee that everything was fine, and his actions were understandable, and were in no wise held against him. Finally Ced sniffled and nodded. Cal set him some task, probably to get his mind off things, and Ced hurried off to take care of the work.
However, Ced turned back with a new expression of worry on his face.
“You should know… When your submarine disappeared from our sight, for a moment we saw the purple haze of this world. That woman and her partners plan to take you the moment you return to your own world. They are certain you either possess something they want, or you will lead them to it,” Ced told us.
I cast a covert look at Copper, hoping that she wouldn’t put that together. Pshaw, at least some of the villains who chased us thought we would lead them to Calvin Hixon.
Shilly shally. Victorian vernacular is not as well known as the slang of the Roaring Twenties. However, a few terms pop up now and then. If someone is shilly shallying, they are acting irresolutely. In other words, those who shilly shally can’t be pinned down one way or another to an action or a decision leaving others with no idea where that person stands.
Knock into a cocked hat. To surprise, as in “It knocked me into a cocked hat when I heard he had gotten married.”
Pshaw, or shaw. A polite exclamation that was used in place of almost any other expletive.
Perhaps our friends would be better off simply staying in the amethyst world. If they get home, remember that three groups of foes chased them, presumably intent on taking Copper. Yet if they stay in the safety of the purple place, Copper will never be reunited with her father. Although, we never understood why Calvin Hixon would abandon his daughter in the first place. Oh, so much remains to be told…
See you next time, my chuckaboos!
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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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