The Delta Pearl, 11 — Pretend

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The steampunk riverboat is here.  Hello, my chuckaboos!  Thanks for coming back to the The Delta Pearl.  Based on my own experiences all week, I know it might have been difficult for you to get here.

Insung Yoon at Unsplash
Insung Yoon at Unsplash

I hope everyone is still onboard, despite the wide-spread difficulties WordPress is causing many of us. Their denial of accountability has gotten as bad as my horrible Internet “provider” TDS Telecom… (Provider is in quotes because I don’t have Internet more often than I actually do.)  Now WordPress is making it hugely difficult for me to interact with any of you with comments or simple likes.  At this moment in time, I’m so frustrated with WordPress that I don’t know if I can keep blogging.

Sorry to begin on a negative note. Moving on…

This week’s random reader things

This steampunk riverboat is fueled by random “things” from readers, but this story is also a re-write of a novel I wrote a few years ago.  It needed a middle, so to speak, and that’s why it’s here.  I’m getting to the point, I promise.  Last weekend, Dyanna Wyndesong left “garnet” as a new thing.  Well, Garnet was already a character in the original version, so I’m bringing him in sooner than the original.  That’s close enough to be serendipity.

There are more lovely reader things in this chapter!  Mary J Melange gave us Beer.  Yes, I could use one!  I haven’t seen Maggie lately, but early in this river cruise, she left Snuff.

Thanks to Dan Antion  for letting me use some of his photos.   Be sure to visit Dan at No Facilities.

Last Time

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.

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!

If you want to review, click the link for Chapter 10 — CoverLet’s get back on the riverboat and see what happened after that.

All aboard! 

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 11 — Pretend

Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan
Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan

Angry screaming interrupted my very unexpected encounter with the governess and her charge.  Rather I should say, with the two women.  No, the shrieks were not from them.

Little Hershel Harvey had careened down the hallway and collided with the Chief Porter, knocking luggage out of the man’s hands.

“You can’t batty fang me, I’ll tell!” shrilled Hershel about the mess he had caused.  “Help!  He’s hurting me!”

The Chief Porter, also called Garnet, looked at the child in openmouthed astonishment.  He hadn’t touched the deceivingly the cherubic-looking boy.

As I stepped out of the open doorway to Azalea’s cabin, Hershel ran away.  Apparently, he wasn’t so brave in his lie if a witness was handy.

Garnet gathered the suitcases he had dropped, making sure all of them were still securely latched.  It was unusual for the Chief Porter to deliver the luggage of guests himself.

“That inventor, Dr. Elam has most of my porters scrambling to get all sorts of things so he can rebuild the tempest prognosticator,” Garnet supplied the answer before I asked the question.  “That’s what he calls the leech barometer.  It was a meanspirited prank that caused that thing to break with us so close to any sort of boundary.  When the Captain catches the ratbag that did it… well, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.”

Vintage luggage cart Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

I glanced over my shoulder to the chaos of clutching blankets and grabbing clothing.  The two women were clearly afraid they would be put off the riverboat, or perhaps much worse.  In those days, that would have been expected.

The Chief Porter seemed to hear the commotion.  He looked askance at me.  I lifted one shoulder in a shrug and made a face that I hoped suggested the minor ruckus beyond the cabin door was nothing more than ordinary passenger silliness.

Garnet had more than his share of work at that moment, so he nodded and kept on his way.  That fortunately did not take him past Azalea’s cabin.

Really,” I complained to the two as they clutched clothing to their bodies.  “You couldn’t be any more embarrassed than I.”

I didn’t want to get them into any trouble, so I pretended a maturity that I did not feel.

What would the Captain do?  What would the Cook do?  Or the Dealer? I wondered.

Thinking fast, I merged all the ideas into one.  Then I straightened my shoulders and tried to have a severe tone.

“Answer me just one thing,” I added firmly, which seemed to freeze them in place.  “Are you both of legal age?”

The two young women nodded frantically.  After a couple minutes of head-bobbing they finally found their voices to affirm that they both were of age.

Suffragettes, Wikimedia

“Old enough to marry.  Old enough to drink beer.  Even old enough to vote ― or would be if we were men,” Alison stated in a snarky tone.

Azalea elbowed her and gave a cautionary hiss.

“Well, I have no interest whatsoever in what two consenting adults do in their bedroom,” I declared.  “But why all the intrigue?  Surely it would have been simpler to be two women traveling together.”

“Nothing is simple when your name is Ritchie.  I’m Alison Ritchie,” stated the erstwhile Alex Rice.  “I’m running away from my scoundrel of a husband.  You may have read about it in the society columns.  He’s so embarrassed that he tried to keep it quiet, but once the gossip mongers got ahold of the story it was beyond his control.  However, that made him even more determined to drag me back.”

As she spoke, I remembered bits of the complicated story.  Both Alison and her husband, Clovis Leboeuf were from wealthy high society families.  He sneaked and connived until he managed to get all her fortune placed in his name.  When it also became clear that he was an unrepentant womanizer, Alison was publicly vocal, saying he had taken over her funds illegally.

The husband sounded so underhanded, that when I read that Alison Ritchie-Leboeuf had disappeared, the thought had crossed my mind that he might have had someone put her lights out.  Yet here she was, alive.  A runaway wife disguised as a boy, but alive nonetheless.

Yes, it was an already an outrageous story.  If the newspapers got wind of Alison’s sexual tastes it would be the scandal of the century.

“What will it take to buy your silence?” Alison wanted to know.

Press Room news Victorian-Pixabay
Press Room by Pixabay

The stupidity of that question annoyed me.  Everyone already knew her husband had taken all of Alison Ritchie’s fortune.  Plus, it was an insult to my integrity.

“I have much more important matters to attend,” I answered.

Imitating the way Agate would act, I turned to the door, still pretending a grownup manner I scarcely felt.

“Carry on your charade as boy and governess.  But I warn you — you must exercise much more discretion than you’ve had up to now!  This is the second time I’ve come upon you two in a compromising situation,” I cautioned the young women.

Their eyes widened as they realized I said second time.

“Yes.  That’s right.  This is the second time I’ve seen you!  The two of you were not even aware of the first instance.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re seen as teacher and student in an unlawful dalliance or as two women conducting an illicit relationship, either will draw attention that I’m certain you do not want.  So, for your own good, please be discrete,” I stated firmly.

I turned on my heel with a suitable assertion of authority.  All those past uncomfortable moments of seeing Agate tell off scullery help had come in handy.

Abruptly, a tremor went through the Delta Pearl.  I felt it in the floor beneath my feet, but I also felt it all around me.  It was as if the entire riverboat vibrated.

The vibration got into my head and made me dizzy.  Then the floor briefly sagged, then bounced.  It knocked me onto my bottom.  I hurriedly got back to my feet.

The freakish concerns I had picked up from Blue John Boulton combined with that tremor worried me.  I tried to contain my fear.  It wouldn’t do for any passenger to see the staff afraid, not even guests as irresponsible as those two.

As I walked quickly along the corridors, every worried word Blue John Boulton had spoken came back to me.  My entire body tensed, anticipating another of the strange tremors to go through the Delta Pearl.

As if Blue John didn’t have me anxious enough, I became apprehensive about whether the passengers might have noticed the odd behavior of the riverboat.  How would they react?  What excuse should they be given?

I couldn’t very well say something like, “Oh don’t you worry.  The Delta Pearl sometimes gets a little supernaturally wibbly wobbly when she crosses a state line.”

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

Jaspe was gifted when it came to dealing with people.  I decided to go to the Dealer.  I didn’t admit to myself that I would also be comforted by his calm presence.

As I stepped outside to the main deck, I met Obsidian, the Cadette.  My first thought was relief that he hadn’t been there a moment before when I fell on my backside.

Sid carried a bucket that sloshed out something dark as he hurried.  Sid stopped to pick up the thing that spilled.

It was a leech.  With an expression of distaste, he stooped to get it back into the bucket.

As he tried to get his fingers around the slippery worm, a snuff box fell from his pocket.  I made a face.  Dipping snuff was as disgusting as leeches.

Sid caught my expression.  Doubtless he didn’t appreciate my reaction.

“They’re for that inventor,” Sid explained.  “I didn’t think he’d have the spine to handle leeches.  Seemed like kind of a sissy if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you,” I told him pointedly, not liking the presumed insult to Dr. Victor T. Elam.  “Do you know where the Dealer is?”

“Oh,” Sid baited me, his eyes alight with teasing when he found a weakness.  “So, you think he’s just too-too, do you?”

I felt as much as heard a vibrating hum from some indeterminate point in the riverboat.

“If those are meant for the leech barometer then you’d better hurry,” I said with an involuntary grimace for the leeches.  And the Dealer?” I prompted again.

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

“Jaspe is in the main gaming lounge.  Oh, and I haven’t seen Amethyst either, if you were wondering.  That spider has a mischievous streak,” Obsidian called over his shoulder as he rushed away with the bucket of leeches.

It was true.  Amethyst could be playful, sometimes in an impish way.  She likely knew the clockwork creatures were to be contained.  I’d never finder if she didn’t want to be found.

The spider was being coy.


End Chapter 11


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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.  Feel free to comment or ask about National Novel Writing Month as well.

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.

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85 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl, 11 — Pretend

  1. Dear pal Teagan. I’m still in pain almost all the time and in a brace but how could I not stop by to feast on your text ? You’re just a highly creative woman and that’s for sure how are you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear David, a brace? You really must be in awful pain. I’m so sorry. You are brave, my friend. I’m sending a healing, encouraging vibe to you. I was having a very difficult day, but you’ve helped me put it in perspective.
      My current project is a dictionary of Flapper Slang. I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it more appealing. First I collected some illustrations to go at the heading for each letter of the alphabet… but that wasn’t enough to satisfy me. Now I’m adding a “Twenties Tidbit” with each letter too.
      Wishing you well. Hugs on the wing!


  2. WordPress and connections… Tell me about it! I’ve had probs with friends getting things done over on mine. I’ve even changed my theme thinking there was a problem with that! IDK. Anyway… Glad it hasn’t stopped The Delta Pearl! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Nor would I, my chuckaboo! Oh! That just gave me another thought about that device… Where’s my manuscript? And where the hell did spell check go? Sigh… There are more problems with WordPress than there are twists in this river. Thanks for being onboard the Delta Pearl, Denise. Hugs!


  3. Hi, Teagan. I’m so sorry I’ve been tardy in reading your stories. I’m having problems with my right knee and foot and may not be able to spend much time sitting at the computer. I’m having the doctor come and check. I know you’ll understand. Thanks. 🙂 — Suzanne


    1. Oh gosh, Suzanne. I’m so sorry. I have a friend whose back problem prevents her sitting. Mine prevents much standing or bending. If course I understand. I’m glad you are having a doctor check it out. Be well, my friend. Hugs.


  4. Excellent!
    Inasmuch as I hate leeches . (shiver) I’m so happy to see the lLeech Barometer is still in play.
    I like ths part about being old enough to vote, if we were men. Well done… chuckaboo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Perhaps she is at that. I’m not much of a fan of real spiders — they’re interesting, but only if they are outside! Maybe I’ve given Amethyst some cat-like characteristics without realizing. I’m so happy you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Diana. I’ve been insecure about how I present those 2 from the beginning of this rewrite. I wasn’t worried about it the first time. I’m not sure if I should get into a description of how the prognosticator works. Do you think I should? Here’s a video.
      I appreciate you spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo!


  5. So you let one cat out of the bag!! I too am enjoying Emeraude struggling between acting like an adult and acting her age. She seems to be handling her dilemma quite nicely. I think growing up on a riverboat, surrounded by such a diversified group of people, would be a fantastic experience.

    Neat photo of the suffragettes!

    I can’t believe Amethyst hasn’t turned up yet. Hope she hasn’t crossed paths with that brat Hershel!

    Great episode Teagan. Very lively!

    So sorry for the problems with WP. When I read these things from the folks I follow, I’m soooo glad I’m not a blogger….just a follower! I can’t even imagine the number of complaints WP gets, so how they have the unmitigated gall to declare the problem isn’t with them is mind-blowing! 😳😳 I wish you a peaceful, restful weekend with a fun project to occupy you and keep your mind off WP!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Ginger. Thanks so very much. ❤ I've started working on my house again (painting walls and weeding) now that it's cooler. As my back allows anyhow, which is slow progress. So for the weekend I'm giving myself time off from that to do research for my National Novel Writing book. I'm a research geek so that is relaxing to me.
      I really appreciate you being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!


  6. What a relief that the two women were of age to carry on however they desired. Poor Emaurade has way too many worries for such a young girl. I do hope they find the cause of the vibration that put her onto her butt. I have a feeling that little Hershel Harvey might be behind the pranks on the Delta Pearl. But, we shall see. I do hope WordPress will start behaving!! Great segment, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Young Emeraude does have a maturity beyond her years – feigned or otherwise. It appears she has had good mentors 🙂
    So now we know one set of secrets. I suspect there are many, many more to come!

    Good luck with your internet and WP challenges. We’ve become so reliant on this technology and it’s beyond frustrating when it fails us 😤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Joanne. Yes, it is extremely frustrating. If you’ve seen me mention my agoraphobia, you can imagine that it gets really upsetting for me. It’s my means of “going” places and seeing people.
      I struggle with Émeraude’s maturity in this rewrite. I made her almost 16 here, where she was in her early 20s previously. That lets me add a lot to the story. The girls I knew at 16, some were consistently as mature as 23 year-olds. Meanwhile others vacillated. One moment they seemed younger than their years, then the next they were adults. So that’s the path I’m taking with Émeraude. Plus, growing up on a riverboat, she is not exposed to many children or teenagers.
      I appreciate you spending part of your weekend here. I’m so glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry about your internet and WordPress problems, Teagan. I hope that can be resolved so you can continue to blog and write your amazing episodes.

    Thank you for the mention over a beer. Cheers! Another interesting episode. I love that you have given Emmaline a taste of adulthood in the way she handled Azalea and Alison. She already has a unique and special spirit, but handling this issue will no doubt increase her confidence throughout the rest of the story. Or so I would guess…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Mary J, that scene was hugely impacted by the rewrite and me making Émeraude younger. I almost deleted it. I put a lot of thought into the changes I made there, and what I kept. Your comment made my day.
      The shoutout was my pleasure! Thanks for spending part of your weekend here, my chuckaboo!


  9. I’m glad to be able to start my day on the Delta Pearl, Teagan. This was a great episode, you seem to have settled into a comfortable space with these characters. “I turned on my heel with a suitable assertion of authority. ” I can see that! I loved that exchange, and as you continued describing it, I felt more and more like I was in that room. When Émeraude left, I felt like I was watching her leave.

    Sorry about the WordPress problems. I know it’s getting bad again, because I’m having to load each page I visit twice, before it realizes I am me and I am following. I hope you have a great weekend. No bad vibrations or queasy feelings allowed 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tried reloading (on both my browsers) and for me, it has no effect. One browser won’t accept my logon (and I’ve troubleshot that). Oh, too many different issues to go into the details. Everyone is having so many different problems… It’s downright bizarre, Dan.
      Thanks for your valued feedback on the chapter. You know that I worry when I have a chapter that doesn’t have much action. I was particularly concerned about the scene you pointed out, so yay! That scene was hugely impacted by the rewrite and me making Émeraude younger. I put a lot of thought into the changes I made there, and what I kept. Your comment has helped me hugely. I’m so glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I really enjoyed the turn the story took today, Teagan. Very clever. Don’t get to frustrated by WP. I can’t like posts as Roberta Writes so I just leave a comment instead. It is more meaningful anyway. I often have to log into comment on certain sites but I have become used to doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate that, Robbie. Everyone is having so many different problems. “Liking” a comment is the only way WP will let me know that my comment (here or elsewhere) has been seen. So, I have to think that is also true for at least some other people. So I like and I comment, and even like some comments from other people (at other blogs). If the various problems would be consistent, it would help a little.
      Anyway, thanks so very much for visiting here my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s all so random. I can’t reach the Reader through every blog. Drilling down through all the Reader posts is impossible. However switching back and forth to the Reader is about the only way I can do anything. When I can’t reach the Reader,… Then there’s the random blog posts (and not always the same for every post at the same blogs) where I can actually like and comment. I’m glad it’s behaving at least to that extent for you. Hugs.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Welcome back to New Mexico. I actually have an excellent ISP, but living north of Albuquerque means I can’t get very fast Internet, especially upload speeds. Living in paradise has its downsides when it comes to technology. WordPress is another thing all together. Fun episode. I wish you luck getting your technical issues worked out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tim. I can’t blame New Mexico. I’ve talked to TDS Telecom people all over the country and in Jamaica, during my many phone calls. Like WordPres they tell me nothing is wrong, despite the fact that is obviously not true. I abhor refusal of accountability. Sigh…
      I’m happy you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for taking time to let me know. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry about WordPress and the internet, Teagan. Sometimes they feel like more trouble than they are worth but I hope it will all get sorted. Things are getting all kind of complicated (leeches… Ughhh!) and I love it! Not sure where you are with things, but in case you need one, I thought if papyrus. Have a hassle free weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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