The Delta Pearl, 9 — Secure

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Riverboat dining room by Dan Antion
Riverboat dining room by Dan Antion

Hello, my chuckaboos!  Thanks for coming back to the The Delta Pearl. Let’s get right to it.

This week’s random reader things

This steampunk riverboat runs on random “things” from readers. Diana Wallace Peach provided tap shoes. John W. Howell mentioned pandemonium.

Thanks to Dan Antion  for letting me use some of his photos.  He staged a photoshoot especially for an item at the end of this chapter.  Be sure to visit Dan at No Facilities.

This installment ties back to Chapter 1Dance.  Émeraude is reminded of the enigmatic Dealer’s odd reaction to something she couldn’t even see.

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

Previously on The Delta Pearl (Chapter 1)  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.

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.

Last time Émeraude found the source of the moaning. It wasn’t an injured passenger. Rather it was the governess and her ward, in some passionate dirty-puzzling. However, she still doesn’t know the identity of the giggler.

 If you still need to review, click the link for Chapter 8 — ThinkShall we get back on the riverboat now?

All aboard! 

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 9 — Secure

Clouds by Dan Antion
Clouds by Dan Antion

Clouds swirled as I leaned back.  Round and round I whirled in the dance.

We were high above the river, on the hurricane deck.  The perfect dance teacher, Jaspe’s movements never faltered.  With every step engrained in his memory, the Dealer needn’t pay attention.  I only became aware that his mind was elsewhere when turn after turn I saw that his gaze was fixed at some faraway point on the shore.

Abruptly I remembered he had the same distant gaze, after we finished our previous lesson.  Once again, I turned to look at the spot that had held the Dealer’s interest.

Previously he pretended there was nothing.  I drew a breath to inquire.  However, before I could ask him what he saw, Jaspe excused himself, cutting our lesson short.  That was something he never did.

“Forgive me cher,” he began.  “A matter requires my attention.  You’ve worked hard, have you not?  It’s a good time to go inside for a snack.  Agate has made beignets.  They should be ready now.”

He looked over his shoulder with a last glance toward the shore.

“Next time we will work with tap shoes,” he added as if the comment would disguise his parting look into the distance.

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

With that, he gracefully descended the stairs.

As I had on the other occasion, I looked for 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.

Vaguely, I heard the Mate call my name from the pilot house.  For a moment I stood staring at nothing.  Then I saw a smudge on the horizon.  If the Dealer hadn’t acted so strangely, I would have never noticed it.

Blue John called my name again.  I stood transfixed.  The smudge became a small dark cloud that rose up from the shore.

“Émeraude!” the Mate called a third time, louder and more insistent.

I went to the pilot house, forgetting the smudgy cloud.  By the sound of his voice, I half expected to find pandemonium.

Blue John, the Mate, looked frazzled as he rolled charts and tidied up the bridge.  Though his usual dash-fire was missing, his bluer-than-blue eyes twinkled when he looked up from his task.

 

Sextant, Wikimedia Commons
Sextant, Wikimedia Commons

Onyx, the clockwork owl perched on a sextant.  His brass head rotated 180 degrees.  The owl hooted at me as I entered.

“Who-who?” Onyx vocalized.

I knew that was the owl’s version of “Who goes there?” 

At one point, Captain Cecil Perlog fancied teaching the owl to talk like a pirate.  He reasoned that the normal rules of nature did not apply to clockwork creatures.  Thankfully, the Mate and I managed to convince the Captain that human-like speech was more the province of parrots than owls.

“Oh really, Onyx.  It is not as if you don’t know who I am,” I chided the unrepentant owl.

“Who-who?” the owl asked again, but I ignored him.

“Blue, are you all right?” I asked the flustered Mate.

For the most part, Blue John was cool and composed, but seemingly random events could sometimes agitate him.  Some might even say the Mate was paranoid.

Even though his eyes were the most magnificent shade of blue, that was not how he came by the name Blue John.  His parents named him for a unique form of fluorite mined in Derbyshire, where he was born.  The name of the gem was Blue John.  However, he was usually called the Mate, or simply Blue.

Kirk Douglas as Blue John Boulton
Kirk Douglas as Blue John Boulton, Wikimedia

Blue John Boulton had been the first mate of the Delta Pearl for as long as I had been aboard the riverboat.  He still had the particular English accent of the Derbyshire area.  His dialect produced more than a few unexpected and often archaic sounding turns of phrase.

“Would thee mind helping me with the last of those charts?” Blue asked, but I was already rolling them up.  “Ah, you’re a true gem, Émeraude.  Yes, I’ll be fine,” he added with a smile and a wag of his head.

“Although you know how if something’s going to go wrong, it will happen at the worst time.  We’re about to border another state.  Thou knows how the Delta Pearl can get finicky about such things.  I don’t know why it should matter to her,” Blue explained in an uneasy voice.  “But I’ve seen it a time or two, when she reacts strongly to crossing a line of demarcation, like the borders between states.  And that’s nothing compared to how she gets with time zones.”

Admittedly, odd things did tend to happen aboard the Delta Pearl.  I couldn’t blame him for being a little worried.

The Captain’s attitude about him was more generous.  He said the Mate was a “lateral thinker.”  Blue’s thought patterns tied minute details together and forecasted sometimes bizarre conclusions.  So, it was not the first time I had seen him in a dither.

However, I had not previously considered the connection Blue John mentioned about our riverboat and borders.  Thinking back, I supposed he was right.

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion
Antique globe by Dan Antion

“When will we reach the boundary for the state line?” I asked.

“Right about dinnertime, all factors remaining constant,” the Mate told me.

“Well, there’s no need to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  There’s plenty of time.  What can I do to help?” I asked.

As soon as I spoke, I realized that the Mate probably took precautions of which I had been unaware.

“Is that another of your Peepaw’s sayings?  I love it when you talk like a southern belle,” he told me with a saucy wink, seeming more like the Blue John I knew rather than the anxious mess that stood before me.

“Just make sure any artifacts,” he stressed the word but paused when he saw the perplexed expression on my face.  “That’d be anything, any item, decoration, or furnishing onboard that you just knew was dodgy somehow.  You know, anything that’s ever given you one of those strange feelings.  Anyhow, make sure anything like that is properly secured.”

That seemed like an overt reaction, even for Blue John. 

“You don’t truly think there is that much cause for alarm, do you?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulous expression off my face.

“Better safe than sorry, Émeraude.  Better safe than sorry.  That includes the clockwork creatures,” he replied.

Pixabay
Steampunk owl, Pixabay

Onyx gave a triple hoot of protest at Blue’s words.

Nen mate, now then old boy.  I’m sorry about that,” the Mate told the owl.  “It will only be for a short time,” he added consolingly before turning back to me.  “Em, if you can possibly find Amethyst it would be best to store the spider somewhere safe and secure.  I know she’s a hard one to find when she doesn’t want to be seen.  So just give it a try.”

I turned to go, but Blue stopped me, his eyes wide.

“Oh, and that portrait you’re always looking at,” he added.  “Yes, you do know which one I mean.  The one of the woman wearing a cameo like yours — make sure you cover it up!  The whole thing, just hang a sheet over it, or anything you can get your hands on quick.  That’d be the main thing right there.  Cover the portrait,” he declared.

I made a noise of protest.  I’d have him know that I never stared at that painting.  It was only that it was detailed and interesting.  Really, the gall of the man, to suggest I’d engage in immature flights of fancy.

“Thou art kind, Émeraude.  I appreciate the help,” he said over his shoulder and returned to his work.

The Mate’s anxiety was beginning to rub off onto me.  I told myself that Blue John Boulton was indulging in paranoid hysteria.  He was the one being childish.  I didn’t have time to indulge in such silliness.

However, I heard the ring of truth in his voice.  Goosebumps rose on my arms.  I headed quickly toward the stairs, obliged to rush to the laundry and fetch a sheet.  I hoped that would do to cover the portrait.

Sheet covering a painting, by Dan Antion
Sheet covering a painting, by Dan Antion

Then I realized that the laundry was all the way at the other end of the riverboat.  Was that really what I should do?  I didn’t understand the Mate’s insistence on haste.  Yet I felt his urgency.  I turned around a full circle in my flustered indecision.

Nen mate, Émeraude!” Blue shouted.  “Would thee hurry it up a mite?”

I hiked up my skirts and ran.

***

End Chapter 9

***

Thanks for reading, my chuckaboos.  I hope you’ll leave a comment — and if you want, include an appropriate random thing to go in a future chapter. 

I’ll be waiting for you at the steampunk riverboat next time!  

***

Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion…

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

A Ghost in the Kitchen by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Universal link Kindle/e-book A Ghost in the Kitchen

Universal link paperback  A Ghost in the Kitchen

Amazon universal link (Kindle/e-book) Brother Love — a Crossroad

Amazon universal link (paperback) Brother Love — a Crossroad

 

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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.

 


82 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl, 9 — Secure

  1. I don’t know how I missed this episode last week, but I had to backtrack before I read episode 10 this week.

    I’m as intrigued as Emeraulde. Something is afoot! … and again, the suggestion that the boat has ‘behaviour’. MOST interesting!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m loving the Delta Pearl so I couldn’t believe it when I realized I had actually missed an episode. I’ve been sick with a nasty cold the past 2 weeks and days have blurred together. It’s already mid-October. How did that happen already?!!

        Like

        1. Oh no. I’m sorry you were unwell. A lot of people have been sick lately. “Cold & flu season” seems to be starting early this year.
          I know. This year has flown by at warp speed, each day going faster. I try to put on the brakes, but they don’t work. Feel fabulous fast, my chuckaboo!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Some Saturday night entertainment aboard the Deltal Pearl.. a little dancing, a beignet and a bit of a mystery.. The Mate is getting agitated by the upcoming crossing of State Lines and pulls Émeraude, into making some intricate preparations..what does the Mate know that Em and we don’t? Better put on our life jackets until we know the lie of the land.. so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I almost thought she was going to blow it off. Will she get there in time? I love all the hints to magic and supernatural happening in this one. What a lovely collage of details. Great episode. And I think my contribution was way too easy for you. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I honestly had no idea how I was going to use tap shoes, Diana. After “taxidermied alligator” maybe I’m taking a big risk, but you’re welcome to leave more things. 😉
      Thanks so much for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. At one point, Captain Cecil Perlog fancied teaching the owl to talk like a pirate. Lol You are wonderful Teagan. Love your way to bring underlaying laughter into the story. “He still had the particular English accent of the Derbyshire area. His dialect produced more than a few unexpected and often archaic sounding turns of phrase.” LoL Thank you and best wishes for the weekend! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this specific feedback Michael. It really does help me. I was beginning to wonder whether anybody noticed that “talk like a pirate” part. I’m glad you liked that.
      I wanted to make the crew of the Delta Pearl diverse, similar to the way the original Star Trek series had a diverse crew. It was interesting to research the words people in Derbyshire might have used back in the steam era. Happy weekend to you too, my friend. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jan. That’s great feedback — thanks so much. I tried to strike a balance between Blue John (when we met him early on, he was frazzled then too) possibly being unreliable — yet maybe not. I think I would have broken into a run too. I’m go glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Time zones, state borders, a lovely dance lesson that ends abruptly, something dark and mysterious off in the distance, a portrait that must be covered ASAP, clockwork creatures needing to be secured…..and that’s only THIS WEEKS mysteries!! The Delta Pearl is going to need a tugboat just to keep all the mysteries afloat!! Lol.

    There’s never a dull moment on the Delta Pearl with you plotting and planning the storyline Teagan. Your descriptions are so vivid. I’m enjoying “watching you work” and I’m anxious to see how you will tie all of this together. And tie it together you will! 🤗🤗

    Hope your weekend is everything you want it to be.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger, my chuckaboo, it’s good to see you. Haha, all that is why I don’t keep notes for my stories — Instead I have to keep a big Excel spreadsheet! o_O I guess it’s something of a tugboat at that.
      I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    1. Maybe he’s just a nervous Nelly, John… He was in something of a tizzy early on, when he delivered the Captain’s message to Emeraude, giving her the temporary duty to be the “first face.” Then again… maybe he’s more experienced, or more intuituve… We shall see. 😀 Thanks for spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so intrigued by what will happen next, Teagan. Does the person in the portrait come alive, like a riverboat zombie, if not covered up in time? What about Amethyst? Is she going to turn into crazy, angry spider and scare some poor soul to death if not found and secured? Will the owl start yelling “What” instead of “Who?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! The thought of Onyx hooting “What?” instead of “Who?” slayed me, Mary J! I’m adding it as a “random thing.” Although it may or may not come from Onyx. Heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  7. This keeps getting better, Teagan! The opening paragraph paints such a vivid picture, it’s almost like watching a movie. Those characters came alive in my mind. I like the way you build the underlying tension, and I love the line, “The Mate’s anxiety was beginning to rub off onto me” – because that’s what happens. You do that so well! I’ll be here for the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for pointing out that scene, Dan. It seems like you hone in on the ones that are the most vivid in my mind when I write them. So, I guess that is the key that I should keep in mind — see it bright and clear before I write. That particular one almost made me dizzy at my computer. LOL. I hope it conveyed Emeraude’s age, still having some childlike reactions to things, even while becoming an adult. Thanks for spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. In that era 16 would have been an adult to most. An age when many girls were already married. A teenaged girl back then would be in transition from childhood to womanhood, a combination of both. I imagine your daughter was a bit of both at that age. I knew girls in high school who were that way. Most of them, I believe. One or two were consistently very mature. Some were always “younger.” But most were a bit of both, depending on the situation. And what situation would bring out a more mature or childlike response varied from girl to girl.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! ^^’ GP, I consider that high praise indeed. When I found Agatha Christie, I read her books front to back, and then (basically) back to front, trying to figure out whether and how she tied all those elements together. Thanks for spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh cool. I’ve been running through a lot of the random “things.” So, it’s always good to have more.
          I vaguely remember seeing my dad’s father shave with a straight razor similar to that. The look of the thing freaked me out. LOL. Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.