The Delta Pearl 2 — Fret

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pixabay (altered image)
Pixabay (image altered by Teagan)

Welcome, my chuckaboos!  I warn you in advance that I’m flying by the seat of my pantser pants even more than usual today.  My week has been so full of insomnia and interruptions, it’s no wonder Émeraude is looking like a worry wart. 

This week’s random reader things:

Great minds think alike.  John W. Howell and Jacquie Biggar both left Brass BellsChristine Robinson left Chignon, and Andrea Stephenson gave us a lovely Aspidistra.

Thanks to Dan Antion for letting me use his photos as I am able for this serial.  

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

Last time, in Chapter 1 — Dance we met Jaspe and Amethyst (a purple clockwork spider).  Jaspe seemed to see something troubling in the distance, but he wouldn’t admit it.  This time you will meet Agate and Blue John.

Without further ado, lets skedaddle to the #Steampunk riverboat…  All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 2 — Fret

Original image by Pixabay, tomfoolery by Teagan
Original image by Pixabay, tomfoolery by Teagan

The familiar sounds of shuffling cards and clattering roulette balls drew my ear.  In the Delta Pearl’s gaming area, the crew busily readied the tools of their trade.  Playing cards were carefully inspected for signs of wear.  Liberty Bell machines were checked.  Their symbols whirled ― horseshoes, hearts, spades, and diamonds, and then coins spewed from the machines.

Brass bells chimed, as each station signaled that everything was ready and all was in good working order.

The Dealer checked deck after deck of playing cards.  Jaspe was nothing short of magical in shuffling the cards.  In his hands, they to seem to defy the laws of gravity and physics as they all but danced for him.  Now and then one of the crew paused to watch in admiration.

The sound of a loud crash pulled me quickly toward the kitchen.  Such noises were rare when no passengers were aboard the riverboat.  I hurried toward the commotion.

King of Clubs card
King of Clubs card

It wasn’t like me to fret.  Even so, I was still uneasy from the Dealer’s unusual reaction on the deck earlier.  For him to see something I couldn’t spot was not unusual.  Comparing the acuity of my vision to his was like putting the eyesight of a mole against an eagle’s.

No, what unsettled me was the idea that he stared at something yet pretended he did not.  That sort of misrepresentation wasn’t in his nature.

In a corridor leading to the galley, I saw what caused the din.  A cart full of dishes was broken.  No mayhem.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

The Cook, also called Agate, was already there and decidedly in charge.  That was her domain ― and mind you, not a hair was out of place in her tidy chignon.

“Emmie dear, you look a fright.  Although, I suppose the noise was fit for a banshee’s howl.  Now, dinna fash yirsel.  You aren’t becoming a worrier, are you?  Well, don’t fret.  All this will be put to rights in no time,” the Cook assured me in her Scottish brogue.

Elle Storset, Unsplash
Elle Storset, Unsplash

I beheld quite a mess of broken dishes.  It was no wonder there had been such a racket.  A presentation tray had landed with enough force that when it broke, it put a deep three-inch-long scratch in the flooring.

I stooped, helping pick up the shattered pieces.  Under the direction of Agate, the rest of the mess was tidied in a moment.  As the larger shards were taken away, I turned back to the ugly gouge.  However, the damage to the floor had vanished.

***

Normal activities quickly resumed.  A mystery aroma wafted to my noise.  I couldn’t help going to investigate, even though I knew I should get to my post at the registration desk.

Just as the gemstone agate was said to be a protective stone, the Cook was protective of her culinary kingdom and everything in it.  That kind of nurturing and shielding extended to the entire crew.

When first I set foot upon the Delta Pearl, Agate took me under her sheltering wing right away.  She grinned as I curiously peered over her shoulder.

Image by Pixabay
Younger Emeraude watches for a glimpse of the mysterious Delta Pearl, Image by Pixabay

“Emmie, dear!  I might have known this lovely aroma would be getting your attention,” she said in a heavy accent.  “Let me dish up a bowl for you.  A girl your age needs plenty of hearty food,” the Cook began.

“It’s my ma’s cock-a-leekie soup.  Aggie, she’d tell me, this is the best soup you’ll ever make, so you pay attention to what I say,” the Cook tempted me.

Agate could be merciless in offering me food, knowing full well I had to hurry to my station.

The Cook was the only one who could call me Emmie without incurring my wrath.  I hated diminutive names, particularly when they were used on me.  Yet Agate was such a kind soul, and she had always been so good to me that I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how offensive I found the affectionate name.

“It smells heavenly,” I told her.  “But do I detect something unusual?  Although I can’t figure out what it is.”

“Well, there’s leeks and peppered chicken stock, thickened with rice.  What you’ve picked up on would be the prunes I just added.  You have to add them while the soup is cooking, not at the beginning.  When it’s served, I’ll garnish it with a julienne of prunes too!”

“Prunes in soup…” I marveled.  “Only you, Agate, could do something like that and still make it so delicious.  I hope you’ll please save me a serving,” I requested to her immense pleasure.

cock-a-leekie soup Wikipedia
Cock-a-leekie Soup, Wikipedia

“Of course, I will.  You’ll soon be a lovely young woman, with your sixteenth birthday.  Sweet sixteen, one of the passengers was calling it for his daughter,” she reminded me.

“Oh, that fancy shindig about a few months ago?  I thought it was a coming-out party for a debutante,” I muttered.

The subject of my birthday was enough to make me abandon ideas of the offered snack.  Birthdays reminded me of my past.  I excused myself quickly and headed to my station.

Moments later, at the registration desk, I held up the quill pen to check its sharpness.  The plume moved playfully as I turned it this way and that.  The aspidistra plant beside me moved.

Amid the long leaves and bell-shaped flowers, a tiny purple leg reach toward the plume of my pen.

“Amethyst!  I told you to stay out of sight.  The passengers will be boarding any minute,” I chided the clockwork spider.

Aspidistra plant, Wikimedia Commons
Aspidistra plant, Wikimedia Commons

Amethyst blinked all four of her eyes at the jaunty feather.  She reluctantly retreated into the foliage.

I was surprised the clockwork creature gave up so easily.  Then I realized the Delta Pearl’s First Mate probably startled her.  Just as I opened the large registry book, the Mate hurried up to me.

Immediately I noticed that Blue John Boulton looked frazzled.  His jacket was completely open, and his shirt was haphazardly buttoned, revealing the striped undershirt beneath.

The Captain always insisted that all the crew and staff keep a neat appearance.  So, I wasn’t surprised when the Mate indicated something was amiss.  However, his bluer than blue eyes were playfully alight.

Kirk Douglas as Blue John Boulton
Kirk Douglas as Blue John Boulton

“Captain has his hands full with things on the bridge,” Blue John informed me.  “He wants you to take his place on deck as the first face the passengers see,” he informed me with a grin.

The Mate smiled because the duty was considered an honor.  Meeting the passengers when they first stepped from the gangway and onto the Delta Pearl was something the Captain almost always insisted on doing himself.

The feeling of unease that had not quite left me reared its head again.

Something must be wrong.

***

End Chapter 2

***

Real World Notes

Liberty Bell Slot Machine, Wikimedia (altered by Teagan)
Liberty Bell Slot Machine, Wikimedia (altered by Teagan)

 Liberty Bell Slot Machine.  Yes my chuckaboos, that’s from the real world.  The Liberty Bell was the first variation of the modern mechanical slot machine used today. It was created in the late 1800s by Charles Fey, a car mechanic from San Francisco.  The Liberty Bell’s popularity set the standard for the modern slot machine.  Its three-reel model is still used today, despite great advances in slot technology.

Cock-a-leekie soup is a real dish too.  The soup was known in 16th century Scotland.  However, the name “cock-a-leekie” did not come into use until the 18th century.

***

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. 

I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment.  Although I may be slow to answer them.  After last night’s storms, I’m worried about sightseeing in on narrow mountain roads, but still have some plans for the day.

I’ll catch up with you soon, 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

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116 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 2 — Fret

  1. Love the self healing scratch!! I loved your intro especially after reading the full installment…..what does Kirt mean? Sounds like you had a tough week and weren’t sure how well this installment would actually go over…..once again pure talent reigns…great installment!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kirt, you are so kind. Thanks for encouraging me. Yes, it has taken a couple of months of weekly chapters for me to get comfortable with transitioning this unfinished novel to a weekly serial. It’s more than a simple matter of dividing it into segments under 2000 words. The pace of a serial has to be different than a novel, to keep interest. So the poor riverboat sat in the dock for a couple of months.
      Now I’m putting the pedal to the metal trying to get the 3rd Pip novel launched by the weekend. I hope to catch up with your beautiful prints soon.
      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mysterious things have been happening from the very start. And those prunes… But let’s trust the cook 🙂 It is not an ordinary boat, and strange things will keep coming I guess. Well done, Teagan, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you are enjoying the riverboat cruse, my chuckaboo! I will add “Rum” as a thing from you to my list. (Rum runners were typically in the 1920s to after the Victorian Era) Here’s to you, Resa. (Toasts with a shot of coconut rum… okay so it’s a pina colada.) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I imagined all the characters when reading the story and Kirk Douglas is perfect, just perfect. My Dad, loved Cock a Leekie soup, I don’t being vegetarian but he loved it, and I’m in love with the purple clockwork spider, oh yes, she is special. Things are going on around her but she still senses something off, this is exciting, Teagan I love this story. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Teagan for continuing to write and not being stopped from it by your ailments. I too suffer grimply from insomnia, and have for many, many years. But one grows accustomed to anything in time, so when it says to me, “I’m not going to let you sleep much tonight and there’s nothing you can do about it,” I say “Give me oh, an hour and a half and we’ll call it even.”

    I love your writing. It seeems to spill so effortlessly from you however apprently you’re feeling. It’s lively and a pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a pleasure to have you on this riverboat, David. Thank you for your kind encouragement.
      I know what you mean — I’ve dealt with insomnia since I was 12 years old. It was much better the first weeks that I was in my new location. I need to find a way to break the cycle of it…

      Have a great new week, my chuckaboo. Hugs!

      Like

  5. A floor that heals itself, and the Captain not going to meet the passengers… very intriguing! I look forward to the installment!

    I’m so sorry you’re having such problems with your internet connection/company. I hope this isn’t going to be a common occurrence and source of frustration.

    How was the mountain road excursion? I hope it was fun, and you’ll do it again. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Deborah. I hope so too, but I begin to wonder. The latest on-site tech said something like “Well sometimes it just can’t be fixed.” (eye roll) The same issue continues. Now I have them scheduled Wednesday to replace the line outside…

      Unfortunately agoraphobia — and the fact that so many things at home were going haywire at once — got the better of me and I had to cancel.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this chapter, my chuckaboo. Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how Agate takes care of Emmie. I’m curious about their relationship as Emmie was growing up. But first we have to find out why the captain wasn’t there. Good luck with your internet, Teagan. I hope your day went well. Mountain roads? Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, mountain roads… My agoraphobia — and the fact that so many things at home were going haywire at once — got the better of me and I had to cancel.

      In my unfinished original manuscript, we gradually unravel the mystery of how Em came aboard the Delta Pearl. Meanwhile the boat and crew become more of a mystery.
      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry for your computer debacles, Teagan. They can be so frustrating! But, you persevered and gave us another awesome chapter! I am quickly falling in love with young Emeraude! She is a true jewel! I love that you always include some sort of critter in your stories. Amethyst is going to play a big part, I think. 🙂 I love all of this – the characters and the setting! Now to see what happens next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so very much Jan. That means a lot to me. I can’t seem to help myself about adding critters to a story. If there aren’t real ones, then mechanical ones pop in. LOL. Maybe it was an early influence from Mary Stewart. Her mysteries always seemed to have an animal. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Since Amethyst is already one of my favourite characters I’m glad she chose to appear in ‘my’ aspidistra 🙂 I love the way you’re setting the scene, introducing the characters while letting us know there may be trouble ahead….hope you have a much better week this week Teagan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel it too … in the pit of my stomach. That’s how I know that even if Em knows that something is wrong, what’s waiting for us next week is oh so very very good. I enjoyed this chapter. Makes me want to find a recipe for that lovely soup.

    I’d have never guessed what you were dealing with had you not said so. My wish for you is a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is the worst!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Jill. Yes, my body and systems can’t seem to handle insomnia any more. I’ve dealt with it since I was 12 years old, but lately it really kicks my butt…

      I am delighted you enjoy this riverboat, my chuckaboo! Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Heartfelt thanks for sharing from your Smorgasbord, my chuckaboo. I hope all is well in your lovely home after the bad weather, and that all the magical creatures in your Irish Garden are happily giving you more tales to tell. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Teagan, I’m all caught up with chapter 1, and into an exciting chapter 2. You are a master at weaving story and questions to keep us reading. Aha! There’s the cook, Agate, with her hair in a Chignon! I like that she protects Emmie. Now, what has happened? The captain’s not greeting the guests? So sorry the internet is on and off. I’ve had the same problem for days now. I’m hooking up a new router as a fix I hope works. In the meantime, I’m using my iPhone for everything. Happy weekend! 🤗💐🎶📚Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Christine! When you left chignon as a random thing, it helped shape Agate’s character. With her suddenly tidy bun (such an elegant word, Chignon, I have to imagine it as neat), Agate is no longer frumpy as she was in my original story. But still just as loveable. 😉
      Happy weekend hugs, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wasn’t he amazing! When I imagined “Blue John” and his extraordinary eyes, I didn’t have a face to go with them. Then last year (?) when I held an art show for Rob Goldstein, while I was researching for “gallery setting” materials, I ran across that clip of Kirk Douglas from the movie. No wonder generations of women have swooned.
      I’m so happy you are enjoying the cruise. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Not exactly. Only for a few minutes at a time. It’s ridiculous. I called again today. They said I was “calling every time it goes out.”
          “No,” I said. “I’m calling about one in every 20 times it goes out.” Now they’re scheduled to come out Wednesday and install a new line (the one outside)…

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Hmmm Interesting things going on here. I like the little spider already, as he sounds mischievous. The soup sounds good, except for the prunes!
    Enjoy your weekend, and hope the internet straightens up soon. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barbara. The TDS internet is looking hopeless… but thank you.
      I’m glad Amethyst has a friend in you. Yes — you’ve already figured out her personality– mischievous! There’s another clockwork creature you will meet soon too. A hint about him was in the Prologue. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted you are enjoying this, Robbie. LOL, actually I’m not sure what’s going on with the Captain either! I’m glad Amethyst has a friend in you. In the original (unfinished) version, she has a good sized part in the story. There’s another clockwork creature you will meet soon too. A hint about him was in the Prologue. I really appreciate you spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yikes! Another spellbinding chapter. A 3″ long scratch in the floor that disappears. A captain who suddenly isn’t going to greet his guests. The First Mate’s unexplained disheveled appearance. Emmie not wanting to be reminded of her past. Teagan, does your mind ever shut down and rest? 😉

    But I gotta tell you Teagan, leek and prune soup? Nope. No way. Today it would be promoted as a “cleanser” for your body! 😂😂😂

    Hope the Internet problems are yesterday’s news and that the storms didn’t interfere with your sightseeing plans.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger it’s good to see you. Actually *everything* seemed to conspire to interfere with my plans. So many things went haywire that I had to cancel. The Internet is still a problem even after yet another repair today….
      Haha! You have my brain figured out, my chuckaboo! There’s so much always going on in my head and stories already written but waiting for a sequel, partially written novels, ideas for stories as yet unused but begging to be written… There’s something in ever corner of the windmills of my mind.
      The soup… yes, I know. I’ve tried many times to imagine that combination and I just can’t.
      Heartfelt thanks for taking time to read and comment. Hugs!

      Like

  13. Yes, something is wrong. Glad you have a Clockwork spider in the plant. The soup sounds delicious (of course I’m half Scot). Thanks for using the brass bell suggestion. Looking forward to next week. (What magic fixed the scratch in the floor?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t it be great to have self-repairing floors? 😀
      John, my father’s people were from Scotland. But none of them ever made that soup (not in my lifetime). The brass bell was a perfect thing. Thanks so much for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Another interesting chapter, Teagan. You have me hanging, waiting until next Saturday when we may find out what’s wrong within the Delta Pearl. Honor and mystery make a great combination for Emmaline, the crew and the passengers that will soon be on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Another wonderful episode Teagan, Sometimes I wonder how many lives you have lived lol, as each new tale you tell with such vivid detail, as if you had experienced it .. And its a good job I have already eaten lol as you got my taste buds a tingling too 🙂
    Much love your way Teagan ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Sue. I had a great response to your comment this morning — but I lost Internet again before I could post it. Now I don’t remember all of it. But I had to chuckle when you mentioned past lives, because, yes there have been many. (Not to mention a past life regression gone terribly wrong that showed me a series of lives that ended violently… all those, from the 14th through 17th centuries.)
      Not connected to that regression, the oldest one I’ve glimpsed was a priestess of Bast in ancient Egypt. Otherwise, I’ve no idea how many, none noteworthy.
      Thank you for taking time to read and comment. Hugs my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes those past lives that are not so glamourous or we have not been saints are hard to deal with.. I too have had a few of those..
        Its wonderful though when we get a glimpse of those lives warts and all.. 🙂 Shows us how important our experiences were needed 🙂
        Much love right back Teagan .. and sorry you are getting internet problems..
        I just have been too busy with decorating and the plot for much else these past few weeks..
        Love and hugs my lovely friend ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Thank you, my chuckaboo! Although they haven’t given me much hope at this point. Fingers crossed after this latest attempt with repair today. I’m so glad you are on this riverboat. Hugs.
      (Sunday update on that… Internet problems continue. Sigh…)

      Like

  16. I love the way you ease us away from that worried feeling but then bring us back. You work your magic on us, Teagan. That soup sounds delicious. Em greeting the passengers, I wonder what that’s all about? I’ll be here next week for sure. Have s great weekend !

    Liked by 1 person

  17. With a little smile i agree to GP’s remark about the soup. 🙂 Dont worry about your telecom company. It seems there is not such business without issues. Using mix of landline and GSM I change the SIM cards almost like in a music box the records. Lol Thank you for another great sequel, and have a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your support, Michael. It is frustrating because the latest repairman (yesterday) sounded like he didn’t have much hope of fixing the problem — although none of them have any idea what the problem actually is. I’m sorry that you have Internet problems too.
      I appreciate you visiting. A beautiful weekend to you as well, my friend. Hugs.

      Like

  18. It is no wonder that Emmie does not need to wear a corset, that soup for dinner sounds great. I look forward to your posts, but somehow came today without a photo – totally unprepared!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A clockwork spider – only you could have thought of something like that, Teagan. The cook reminds me a little of Mrs Bridges from the TV show ‘Upstairs Downstairs.’ I don’t know if you know the show, but as I was reading this weeks chapter, Mrs Bridges came to mind.
    Have a lovely week which, I hope, is technology problem-free.
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A floor that heals itself and a Captain who can’t greet the passengers. It has my my interest. Look forward to next weeks to learn more:)

    My item is a coffee grinder

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks, Teagan. Love the sound of the cook (love leeks and prunes, although not sure about the combination). Something is afoot! I hope your internet problems get sorted soon. Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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