The Delta Pearl, 10 — Cover

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Photo by Dan Antion
Original Photo by Dan Antion

The steampunk riverboat is here.  Hello, my chuckaboos!  Thanks for coming back to the The Delta Pearl. It’s been a busy week. Are you ready to sink into the soft cushions of imagination and let the river gently take you to extraordinary places?

This week’s random reader things

This steampunk riverboat runs on random “things” from readers. Resa McConaghy provided Tempest Prognosticator.  (What’s that and how does it work? Click to find out.) Across the miles in Ireland, Inese sent Mahogany.  She doesn’t have a blog, but Ginger still gave us a thing from Murphy’s LawWhalebone Corset.

Thanks to Dan Antion  for letting me use some of his photos.   Any of you #steampunk fans who like real life trains will enjoy his latest Thursday Doors post.  Be sure to visit Dan at No Facilities.

Last Time

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

In the distance, the Dealer again saw something he wouldn’t discuss. However, that time Émeraude watched a smudgy cloud rise up from the spot.

Meanwhile, the Mate, Blue John, was in a paraniod panic. He told her to make sure any “artifacts” were secured, particularly the clockwork creatures and that old portrait that so fascinates our young heroine.

“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… And that’s nothing compared to how she gets with time zones.”

If you want to review, click the link for Chapter 9 — SecureShall we get back on the riverboat now?

All aboard! 

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 10 — Cover

Lance Fairbanks at Wikipedia
Lance Fairbanks at Wikipedia

The steep steps from the pilot house went by in a blur, as I rushed down them.

Abruptly, I realized that the portrait was much closer to me, while the laundry facility was at the other end of the riverboat.  It would take a good deal of time to get there and come all the way back.

A moment of indecision overtook me.  I turned in every direction.  Should I go to the laundry and fetch a sheet to cover the portrait, exactly as the Mate instructed?  Or should I go directly to the painting and figure out how to cover it when I got there?

Blue’s anxiety was contagious.  I had teased him about “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”  I was doing the same thing.

My buttoned boot had barely touched the deep red wool of the carpet on the main deck when I almost collided with the Cook.

“Emmie, were you just in the pilot house?  Was Cecil there?” she asked.

Xusenru at Pixabay
Émeraude feeling childish in indecision. Photo by Xusenru at Pixabay

Agate was the only one who could call me “Emmie” without getting a rise out of me.  The Cook was nearly as flustered as Blue John.  Well, perhaps not.  Blue could take flustered and frazzled to heights unknown to most folks.  At any rate, the Cook was not her usual bubbly self.

I shook my head, and told Agate that I had not seen the Captain.  Of course, I also asked what had her in such a state.

“Some dobber moved the leech barometer!” the Cook exclaimed.  “Put it in a place where it was bound to cowp, so ‘course it fell and broke right into a million pieces.  And I think I know who’d be to blame too.  And that’d be the same one that put that oil on the deck where you slipped and went over the railing!”

The more Agate spoke the angrier she got and the heavier her Scottish accent became.  Her face was red and she barely took a breath during her rant.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

“If I find out I’m right, there’ll be a collie shangle the likes of which this riverboat ain’t never seen ― guests or not!” she continued.  “I cannae think it’d be a good thing for the Delta Pearl to be nearin’ a borderline without the leech barometer.”

Agate bustled past me without further comment.  From the corner of my eye, I noticed the young inventor come out of a salon and approach her.  He must have overheard our exchange.

Tempest Prognosticator 1851, Photo by Dave Badobadop at Wikipedia
Tempest Prognosticator 1851, Photo by Dave of Badobadop at Wikipedia

“That sounds like a tempest prognosticator,” I heard Dr. Elam tell Agate.  “If you’ll take me to it, perhaps I can repair it.  If not, then I’ll build a new one for you.”

I hesitated in my errand to cover up the portrait.  I very much wanted to get acquainted with Victor T. Elam.  The idea of inventing things fascinated me.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw him adjust his spectacles.  His manner to the Cook was relaxed and respectful.  That humble demeanor from someone of means and intelligence was what attracted me most.  Agate calmed visibly as he spoke.

“Besides, he’s simply the jamiest bit of jam,” I thought.  “And I don’t care if that’s usually said to describe a pretty girl.  He’s adorable.”

Even so, Blue John’s overanxious state had made me nervous.  Plus, with Agate there, I wouldn’t really get to talk to Victor.  The Cook proved me right when she took the young inventor’s proffered arm, and went on like a church bell.

“Elam.  That’d be an English name, am I right?  My maw, she was from England.  That’s a fine looking pale blue stone in your earring.  Just one, and in the left ear, that’s a good look for a man.  It’s a nice gem.  I like to see a young man adorn himself with a bit of jewelry,” Agate said, all in a single breath.

I realized the bombardment of conversation was a sign that Agate was still worried.  I walked slower and keep listening.  I was only concerned about the Cook, mind you.

“My parents had a topaz mine near our home in Texas.  It produced a lot of this light blue gem,” Victor explained.  “The single earring was a gift from them when I earned my first doctorate.”

Facet cut topaz gemstones in various colors, Wikipedia
Facet cut topaz gemstones in various colors, Wikipedia

“My maw, she used to say that topaz cured lunacy.  So, an ear is a good place to wear it,” Agate teased.

Hearing that remark, I was glad I wasn’t standing with them after all.  I blushed for Victor’s sake.  Then I hurried on toward the portrait.

I spotted a vacant cabin and ran inside.  Hurriedly, I yanked a sheet off the bed.

Moments later I stood before the old portrait, ready to tuck freshly laundered white silk around the frame and cover it as the anxious Mate advised.

At least I had enough presence of mind to remember Blue John’s statement about the clockwork creatures.  I kept an eye out for the purple spider, Amethyst.  I felt behind the portrait’s frame, because that was one of her hundreds of hiding places.  However, all I found was a little dust.  I wondered where she might be.

Then I paused, as I always did. I was compelled to look at the painting before covering it.  My hand rested on the mahogany frame.

The portrait was richly detailed, from the woman’s clothes to the landscape in the background.  The landscape was what caught my attention.  There was a cliff with trees and a tiny, faraway figure.  For a moment it seemed like the figure moved.

I gave my head a shake.  Of course, nothing moved.  I blinked and inspected it again.  Then I looked at the woman, the subject of the painting, and winked at her as a way of mocking my silliness.

Laughing at myself, I couldn’t help imagining what a dither I’d be in if the painting winked back at me.  However, I felt queasy when I realized that the woman’s chest seemed to gently rise and fall as if she breathed.

I tucked the white sheet around the portrait as fast as I could.


Altered Spider jewelry pin Starbright Pixabay
Pixabay image, tomfoolery by Teagan

Again, I wondered where the clockwork spider might be.  What if a guest found her?  Worse what if they also stole her?

Chandeliers, I thought, inspired.

Amethyst enjoyed sparkling things and loved to play in the chandeliers.  I groaned when I thought about how many of those light fixtures were hung in the Delta Pearl.  There was one in each lounge, as well as several other common areas.

As I walked, I glanced in nooks and crannies, hoping for a glimpse of glittering purple, but I was disappointed.

The sound of a small commotion and the yapping of a dog met my ears.  Abruptly, Mrs. Eliza Needleman’s fuzzy dog bumped against my leg.  The dog was followed by a very excited Hershel Harvey.

The nephew of the honeymooning couple ran right into me and kept chasing after the dog, without so much as a pardon-me.  However, the collision threw the boy off balance.  As Hershel ran, he staggered against the door to one of the passenger cabins, knocking it open.

Unhurt and unapologetic, Hershel scrambled to his feet and kept chasing Eliza’s little dog.

As part of the Delta Pearl’s crew, I had to try to make amends for the intrusion, though I had no idea whose room the boy opened.  Tentatively, I went to the doorway.

A whalebone corset and a bustle lay on the floor.  Stockings, trousers, and shirts also made a trail to the bed.  There I saw the young governess, Azalea Morton.  She gave a shriek.

Flexibone corset ad
Flexibone corset, Wikimedia Commons

Then I heard a muffled echo of that shrill scream and saw that the bed had a second occupant.  They were both undressed — or mostly so at any rate.

After the passionate kiss I witnessed between the governess and her charge, I was not surprised to see that the second person was Alex Rice.

However, a gasp escaped me when I saw that undressed, the boy was a woman!


End Chapter 10


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!  


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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

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98 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl, 10 — Cover

  1. Oh boy, I’m sorry I missed the latest surprise twist on Saturday…but thankful I finally caught up. Looking forward to this Saturday morning when we’ll find out if Amethyst is still missing and perhaps the story behind the charge’s true identity. This is getting so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! I’ve been fighting with technical difficulties for two days. I just realized the week is half over and I have not started the next chapter! Thanks for this lovely comment, Mary J. It was also a wake ⏰ up! LOL.
      There’s no telling what Amethyst is up to. 😉 Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!


  2. Wow, Teagan! I did NOT see that coming. The boy is a girl. Hmmmm. The plot thickens. With all of this hustle and bustle, I can’t wait to see what’s next. I love Emeraude’s attraction to the inventor, the gemstone on his ear and his ability to repair the necessary apparatus! This scene is FULL of so many different things. I hope Emeraude finds the spider! It was a relief that she managed to cover the painting as she was instructed. What next? Guess we’ll have to stay onboard to find out! Well-done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heartfelt thanks for this wonderful comment, Jan. I’m glad I could surprise everyone. 😀
      Thanks for specifying the part about Victor’s earring. I was concerned about going into that level of detail — however, it actually is relevant to the rest of the story. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Time to catch up with the crew and passengers of the Delta Pearl and there is a bit of a tiss going on with the need to secure certain items of the ships treasures before crossing the border into another State. Apparently the Delta Pearl can be a little unpredictable. Whilst in the process, certain passengers are off their leash and misbehaving and some things are going on behind close doors that are about to be exposed.. better head over to find out what.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! This was an exciting episode. Did the lady in the portrait really move? Will the spider be found? Will the young inventor be able to mend the device? And, the boy is a woman! Excellent, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrea, my chuckaboo, I’m so happy you enjoyed this chapter. I’m glad to know you remembered the border issue. Writing serials is so… different from novel writing. It’s hard to find a balance between keeping it interesting week-to-week, and disclosing so much that important things are forgotten — along with not making it too repetitive. Heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Gemstones are a core (if vague) part of this story, Chocoviv. All the crew of the Delta Pearl have names from gemstones. So I want the aesthetic, how it feels and looks in the reader’s mind to have some elegance, or to even be posh. Thanks for getting on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for using the whalebone corset, and in such a fun way. Now I have to ponder who was wearing it….Azalea or Alex? 😂😂 Yowzer, I sure didn’t see this one coming. I LOVE it. You are one fabulous twisted sister my friend!

    What intriguing mischief is Amethyst up to? A painting with moving parts! Next it will be talking…..perhaps predicting future events.

    The inventor is getting very interesting. Can’t wait to find out if he repairs or rebuilds the tempest prognosticator. That was a terrific “thing” to suggest.

    Teagan, you are on a roll now. I’m happy to be aboard for the voyage…..especially when we cross a state line. My head is spinning from all the intrigue. Yours must be exploding!! Lol.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger, your comments always make my day. I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter. The 🐳 whale bone corset was a perfect thing for the story. I’m happy I could use it in a surprising way! Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!


  6. I have to catch my breath, Teagan. There was so much going on today, phew. The bc energy on the Delta Pearl is high and palpable. The chase is on for the spider, the painting is stirring up mystery, the child chasing a runaway pooch and the twist at the end made my head snap. All great. And, a bit of a crush for our main character??? “That humble demeanor from someone of means and intelligence was what attracted me most.” I love that line. This was done fine writing. I can’t wait to see where it leads. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Dan. That goes to my reply to Andrea. (I’m continuing that conversation here, because it’s on my mind this morning.) A serial would probably be better with less going on. But my serials have become a way for me to write *and finish* novels. We’ve discussed how surprisingly different the writing of the two needs to be. I’m doing a balancing act. I really might be putting too much into this re-write.
          I’m not doing my blog readers any favors by using this rewrite to flesh out the middle of the original story. I hope everyone will enjoy it despite everything. Happy Sunday, my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, well, that was fun! I’m so thrilled you have worked in the “tempest prognosticator”. Who knows? Perhaps it worked very well!
    Whalebone corset… just a little bit of knowledge I picked up on my way through love of history, and being a costume designer …. Whalebone Corsets were a common cause of death amongst wealthy women. (The poor could not afford such a beauty item, and of course I’m going back to the beginning of corsets, up until plastic was invented…1907) Until then, Whalebone was used in corsets, there was nothing else to replace it. It was many years before plastic became a commodity.
    As time wore on, the whalebone in a woman’s corset would become brittle. One day it would snap, break.. and usually end up puncturing a lung.
    There you go! Death by whalebone… or corset. Take your pick!
    Loving this story, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the historic tidbit, Resa. I had not heard about the whalebone breaking. However they were hazardous in many ways. A sneeze could rupture internal organs. They were prescribed to control “hysteria” when they really just restricted movement and breathing. They were the main cause of “the vapors” because wearers simply couldn’t get enough air and fainted.
      Thanks for leaving such a perfect thing, with the tempest prognosticator. I hope Victor T. Elam is able to repair it. ;D I’m glad you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whalebone or not, corsets are not comfy…. and that is the best thing I can say about them.
        I’m having fun on the Delta Pearl,Teagan!
        The tempest prognosticator was a fab find, and I am thrilled you have been able to work it in, oobakcuhc!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Teagan! We went on a short cruise last month. On the very first night, someone fainted and we were discouraged to stand around to look. Then my hubby was struck with Norovirus and was sick the last two days of the cruise.

        We had our little excitement on the cruise. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love all the quirky magic, Teagan. And the pace is delightful as Emeraude is racing all over the pace, getting distracted, and running off again. Interesting developments at the end. Hmmmm. Looking forward to the next!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Holy Heart-Pounding Action, Teagan! What an episode!

    A leech barometer?! A painting that is more than it seems … not to mention the governess and her ‘young charge’!!
    And what mischief is Amethyst up to?!

    I love your stories!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, you can’t imagine the huge smile you just gave me. Thank you.
      One would think a small clockwork creature couldn’t cause any sort of trouble at all — except for possibly getting stolen, and I wouldn’t put anything past that bratty Hershel. However, Amethyst is a curious little thing, so who knows… 😉 I’m so glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m anxious to discover what perils the Pearl might encounter, heck her passengers are enough to shake and shatter her timbers! There are many twists and turns to encounter I suspect……..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ohhhh! Secrets and more secrets. The inventor sounds more interesting by the minute, the portrait hides something and Amethyst…. Can’t wait until next week! Thanks, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

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