The Delta Pearl 1 — Dance

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Original photo by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan
Original photo by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan

Welcome, my chuckaboos!  (If you are new around here, “chuckaboo” is what the Victorians called a dear friend.)

As most of you know, I’m reworking an unfinished novel The Delta Pearl for this serial.  Since I have a good bit of material that I want to keep, my secret hope was that many of the “random things” you readers leave would already be in the story.  For once luck was with me!  In Chapter 1, a very minor change let me use old pal from David J. Rogers.  Using dubbed from Jill happened in a similar way.

Also a particular item has a rather significant part in the story.  I was sure someone would eventually use it as a thing, but would it happen in time? Thankfully, Maggie did leave it as a thing — cameo!  I was so excited that it was hard for me to keep that secret until now. 

If it sounds like I had it easy, that isn’t the case at all.  There was plenty of writing to make the “river” flow properly for a serial.

To keep me encouraged, and on point with the story, Dan Antion sent one of his kitties for the role of Delta Pearl crate inspector.  She wants to make sure the riverboat is shipshape before we go aboard.  Dan is letting me use as many of his photos as I can for this serial.  Thank you so much, Dan and MiMi or MuMu (not sure which).

Dan's kitty in the role of Delta Pearl crate inspector
Dan’s kitty in the role of Delta Pearl crate inspector

Last time, the Prologue introduced us to our heroine (and narrator) as a young girl.  Chapter 1 opens with her as an adult, on the Delta Pearl. How she came to be there is one of several mysteries that layer the story.  You’ll also meet two more characters who are central to the story — Jaspe and Amethyst.

Without further ado…  All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 1 — Dance

Émeraude and the Dealer dance on the deck of the Delta Pearl
Émeraude and the Dealer dance on the deck of the Delta Pearl

A silver thread glittered as the morning sun streamed onto the deck.  At the end of the filament was a purple clockwork spider.  Briefly, a sunbeam illuminated the amethyst that made the spider’s back.  It skittered across the wooden floor before vanishing behind a crate.

I stepped lightly on the spot where the spider had been a moment earlier.  In the hands of a truly expert dancer, I twirled and spun until the world whirled dizzily with me.

My partner’s impeccable sense of balance never faltered.  We danced high above the river, on the hurricane deck.  Dozens of fluffy white clouds blurred into one as he twirled me rapidly around and around.

A decidedly immature giggle escaped my lips.  At that moment in time, life was all beer and skittles.  I wouldn’t convince anyone of my maturity if girlish giggles became a habit

Sunlight reflected brightly on the strands of triangular waxed flags strung above the deck. 

Like diamonds, I thought as I tilted my head back.

Clouds by Dan Antion
Clouds by Dan Antion

The sound the flags made as they fluttered in the breeze reminded me of startled birds taking flight.  It took my mind to the day, years before, when I first saw the Delta Pearl.

I missed a step.  The Dealer stopped our dance.  He looked at me with what passed for concern on his less than mobile features.  He blinked before speaking in his quasi French accent.

“Émeraude, are you well?  Do you tire?  Perhaps the sun is too much?” the Dealer asked.

“No, my chuckaboo,” I forced a smile and assured him.  “I was merely distracted.”

A slight change in his eyes let me know that he didn’t believe me.  Happily, he did not pursue the matter.  The Dealer knew I did not like memories of my early years.  He usually seemed to know when my thoughts traveled where they shouldn’t.

One would never realize it just by looking at him, but the Dealer was compassionate and nurturing.  Sometimes I felt he was too consoling, though that quality had benefits in his occupation.  Yet, I had to admit that I seemed to receive more of his fostering behavior than did the rest of the crew.

Between the Captain and the Dealer, I had not just one, but two father figures.  Damfino how a girl was supposed to have any fun… 

Louis Jourdan as Jaspe, also known as The Dealer
Louis Jourdan as Jaspe

Of course, he had a name besides the Dealer.  He called himself Jaspe.  To my ears it sounded like he pronounced his name ZASH-pah.  However, more often than not he was simply dubbed the Dealer.

I smiled and shook my head before speaking.

“You are a much better dancer than I,”  was my response.

“Ah, but cher, I am named for a rock — jasper,” he reminded me, using the English pronunciation to refer to the semiprecious gem.  “I claim no more talent than the rock whose name I bear,” he replied, self-deprecating as always.  “Besides, I have had so very long to perfect the steps.  You are much improved,” he complimented me with a graceful, sweeping bow.

The Dealer gazed at the horizon.  He raised a white gloved hand to shield his eyes from the bright sunlight.  I knew he saw much more than I ever could.  Jaspe stared at one spot too long.  It made me wish for a spy glass.

Pixabay (altered image)
Pixabay (altered image)

His intent gaze and motionless stance worried me.  I drew a breath to question him.  However, after a moment he spoke.

“We will be in port soon.  Best we get to work, eh?”

It was impossible not to watch his graceful movements.  I wanted to ask just how long he had been perfecting his dancing, how old he was.  His name, Jaspe, was French, and his accent clearly bespoke New Orleans.  Yet, I knew he discussed neither his age nor his origins.

No doubt the Captain knew from where Jaspe hailed.  However, I had failed more than once to sate my curiosity there.  Our skipper was not inclined to gossip.

I turned to look again at the spot that had held the Dealer’s interest.  Something about his manner, along with the fact that he seemed determined to deny noticing anything did not bode well.

Of course, I wanted an answer to my unspoken question ― just as I wanted to know his age and origins.  However, the question to which I most wanted an answer about the Dealer was not the number of his years.

What I wanted to know was whether or not he was in fact a man at all.


victorian-silhouette flowers Pixabay

Descending the gracefully curving staircase, I marveled at the carpet for the umpteenth time.  The yarn was a deep shade of red, almost but not quite burgundy.  Golden scroll designs were worked into a border pattern on each side.

I couldn’t help stooping down to touch the plush fibers.  What gave me pause?  I had grown up on the Delta Pearl, lived most of my life there, so I knew the carpet had never been replaced.  Yet it did not fade nor did it develop signs of wear.

As I stood, I realized I was beside the old portrait again.  The subject of the painting was a beautiful woman.  She was from some undetermined past century.

The woman looked vaguely familiar to me.  Yes, she definitely reminded me of someone, but I had never been able to place the person from my past or present who resembled her.

The artist painted her luxurious hair so that it shined like a halo about her lovely face.  Around her neck was a ribbon from which an intricately carved cameo hung.

With an effort, I brought my mind to the task at hand.  We would be in port shortly and I had to be ready to greet our guests.  I skedaddled to my rooms to change.

Grandma's Cameo by Dan Antion
Grandma’s Cameo by Dan Antion

My quarters were much larger than most of the cabins on the Delta Pearl.  Which, is to say, considering the size of accommodations on boats, I had a little elbow room.

Moments later, as I applied the finishing touches to my ensemble, I opened my jewelry box.  I touched a cameo so similar it could have been a twin to the one in the portrait.  I ran across it at a shop in a port of call.  When it reminded me of the painting, I had to buy it even though it cost me a month’s wages.

My cameo was carved from some exotic shell I couldn’t name.  It was the same blueish purple color as the one in the portrait to which I felt such an affinity.

That feeling of connection wasn’t something I could easily explain.  When I looked at the woman in that painting, I felt as if the image of an old pal, someone who knew me completely, gazed back at me.

Outside my porthole, signs of civilization slid past.  When I saw a white picket fence near the riverbank, I knew we would dock momentarily.  I tied the cameo around my neck and headed back to the staircase.

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

At the bottom of the stairs I glanced at the portrait.  For an instant, I thought the woman in it moved.  Breathlessly, I approached the painting.

The purple clockwork spider peeked from behind the frame.

“Amethyst, darling…  I must have seen you crawl across the portrait,” I murmured to the spider.  “Now you light a shuck and stay out of sight.  Go on now.  We don’t want any of the guests seeing you, do we?  There’d be quite a collie shangle if one of them tried to take you home.”

The clockwork spider clicked at me.  There was something unusual about the pattern of clicks.


Someone called my name.  That and a glance at the window told me I needed to hurry to my post.  Moving toward the deck, I looked back over my shoulder at the clockwork creature.  Before she scurried behind the portrait, two of her four twinkling eyes winked at me.


End Chapter 1


 If you haven’t already done so — or even if you have, I invite you to leave  a random non-modern thing, to help drive the story.  Please limit your description of the “thing” to two words.  Remember any technology-thing you offer needs to be appropriate to the Steam Era. 

Next weekend you will meet more of the crew and maybe some passengers too. I’ll meet you at the dock, 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.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dan Antion’s images Copyright ©  2019

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.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

113 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 1 — Dance

    1. That makes my day, Maggie! I’m trying to get the next installment finished. I’ve had so many interruptions — including horribly bad Internet… I’m waiting for a technician right now.
      New characters on deck! Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This story is off to a wonderful start, Teagan! I’m intrigued and already have questions that I am sure will eventually be answered. Love the name Emeraude! And Jaspe has already snagged my curiosity. Way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you being patient with the story, Resa. Clockwork devices and creatures, as well as automatons tend to be a big part of the steampunk genre — and this story is steampunk. There will be more things of this clockwork and “steam era technology” in the story as it progresses. There is also a magical/fantasy element. Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So now my little word “pal” is part of a novel about the Deep South. It conjures up images in my mind of Mark Twain and his river boats. and movies full of brilliant color and music, gamblers and dancers. How delightful, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to see you, David. I’m not 100% certain where this magical riverboat is, but the place sounds a lot like the southern part of the USA. That’s what’s good about fantasy — steampunk or otherwise — one can play with similar worlds, or just leave the “where” up to the reader’s imagination.
      Mark Twain has been a fictional character in many fantasy books. Now you’ve tempted me to add him… Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!


  3. It seems you know how to dance well. In my imagination, I saw all the volutes you did on that dance floor. I am building the desire to be on a steamboat up and the down the Mississipi river. It has been in my bucket list. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Valentina, my chuckaboo, it’s lovely to see you. Oh, no — I don’t know the first thing about dancing. 😀 ^^’
      Someone else commented last week about the riverboat cruise being on their bucket list too. It does seem like a relaxing, fanciful thing to do.
      Thanks for visiting. Have a week filled with color and beauty. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an intriguing story! This is going to be a great serial, Teagan. I loved how you introduced the characters, including the spider and cameo in the portrait. Thanks, Teagan. I’m hooked. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teagan, chapter after chapter of your serials keep me intrigued and wanting more. The Delta Pearl is shaping up to be a great story, with your usual twists and turns. Excellent!

      As I now call every blackbird Jinx, I’ll soon be giving all spiders the the name of Amethyst, purple or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mary J, my chuckaboo — your comment gave me such a big smile. I can’t thank you enough. I have no idea what caused me to think of a clockwork spider – she was just there, a natural part of the story from the first glimmer of an idea. And I am not a fan of spiders in general, LOL. Hugs on magpie wings!


  5. “What I wanted to know was whether or not he was in fact a man at all.” … I did not see that one coming!! What an intriguing start to this story.

    You are constantly introducing me to new things. Today it was a clockwork spider. Again – more intrigue. Looking forward to how this story unfolds. You’ve already planted a lot of questions!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, my chuckaboo — I’m so glad you enjoyed this chapter, and that line in particular. As I wrote that scene three years ago, and they stopped dancing, that idea burst into my mind. Even now, I’m not sure how that will unfold, or exactly what the answer to her question is. Perhaps not knowing will be the most fun. 😉
      Heartfelt thanks for being on this riverboat. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was cute that Dan’s kitty was inspecting things — because that’s how Crystal is. Places inside where I don’t allow her, like my closet, she demands entrance. So once a day I let her in to “inspect” the closet. It becomes a scheduled thing to her. If I forget to let her inspect the closet, then she sits and waits at the door.
      Thank you for visiting. I’m happy you are on the riverboat! Hugs.


  6. Jaspe, the Dancing Rock! My husband actually dances like a rock. Maybe I’ll start calling him Jaspe. Interesting fact about Louis Jordan – he was a member of the resistance in WWII. So he wasn’t just a suave ladies man. Tootleloo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heartfelt thanks for spending part of your weekend here, Lavinia. 🙂 Amethyst is one of my favorite parts of this story — even though I’m not really a fan of spiders! The woman in the portrait… will probably be resolved much later. Thanks for getting aboard the riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jill. When I put the original version of this story on the shelf, I had not fully decided “what” the Dealer is. I want to further develop his character now. His (let’s call it) nature is something that may also be established… eventually. 😉 I’m delighted you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this feedback, Denise. I see the setting of this story so clearly. It makes me happy to know that I’ve conveyed the beauty of it. Amethyst might skitter away with some hearts — but soon she will have clockwork competition. 😉 I’m glad you are aboard, my chuckaboo!


    1. Happy weekend, my chuckaboo! “Mesmerized” is music to my ears.
      Well, the portrait won’t age in anyone’s stead, or be connected to their immortality. However, like many things aboard the Delta Pearl, it has more than meets the eye. 😀 Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “What I wanted to know was whether or not he was in fact a man at all.” Yikes! I HATE spiders, but I LOVE Amethyst!! So much intrigue already. You really have a gift for making the reader feel one with your characters. Having said that, I hope I don’t get seasick while on the Delta Pearl! 😂😂 This story is going to be quite an adventure.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger, my chuckaboo! You must have been in my head. I’m so happy that someone (you) honed in on that particular line. I very much wanted to stop the episode there, but I couldn’t make that work as a stopping point with the “things.”
      I don’t like spiders either, but Amethyst got into my head, and she became the exception to that rule. I’m delighted she has a friend in you.
      There are some “rough seas” eventually. However, the Delta Pearl has magic that prevents seasickness for readers. 😉 Great big hug!


  8. A successful Chapter 1, Teagan.
    As far as an old item, I found these fountain pens and they looked like something out of a steampunk story – so I had to bring them. I know it takes up a lot of room so feel free to delete, You won’t hut my feelings!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi GP, these pens are marvelous! Images help me create details. Emeraude usually signs the passengers in after they board. She would certainly use one of these! Don’t apologize. Heartfelt thanks for your support, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the way this story is unfolding, Teagan. I am learning so much but building a desire to know so much more. I am always impressed with the way your descriptions draw me into the scene. I felt like I was looking into the distance with Em.

    I like Jaspe, and I look forward to learning more about him and the many other mysterious elements in this story.

    Nicely done. I hope you can rest easy and enjoy the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Dan. I know your photos are a big part of drawing readers into the story. I always worry that the same will not be as true when I book-ize a serial.
      I appreciate all your support, my chuckaboo. I’m happy Jaspe has a friend in you. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes cruises should have photographers. In 1881 Peter Houston invented the first roll film camera, and his bother David Houston patented parts of the camera. The patents were first licensed and then finally sold to George Eastman, which Eastman used to make his first Box Camera in 1888. Eastman started Kodak in 1892. In 1900 Kodak released the first low priced, hand-held, point and shoot roll film camera called “The Brownie”. The Brownie was a real game changer for photography, and most certainly used on cruises.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember learning about the Brownie for Hullaba Lulu (serial), but I didn’t know about Houston. Thanks for the info. Do you have any idea if/what the external effects of the paper film were? Like smoke or anything that happened when the picture was taken?
          (Maybe the photographer is named “Sid” for Obsidian (gem) and he always wears black. 😉 )

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t know what the results of the paper-strip film looked like, but I imagine the photos looked very much like dry plate photos. Eastman was manufacturing dry plates before he started making film. Paper-strip film was soon replaced by cellulose based film, which, by the 1890’s, could be loaded into cameras in daylight because of the non-actinic paper strip used to protect the film on the roll. The first folding “pocket” camera was introduced in 1897.

            Liked by 1 person

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