The Delta Pearl, 12 — Prognosticate

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

The steampunk riverboat is here.  Hello, my chuckaboos!  Thanks for coming back to the The Delta Pearl.  Based on my own experiences the past two weeks (and more), I know it might have been difficult for you to get here.

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.  I am sorry that I haven’t been able to visit as many of you as often as I’d like.

Sorry to begin on a negative note. Moving on…

This week’s random reader things

There are more random reader “things” to fuel this voyage of the steampunk riverboat.  First we have Ivory Fan from Olga Núñez Miret.  If you want to know more about this elegant code, Sotheby’s has a guide. 

Maxmann at Pixabay
Maxmann at Pixabay

There are two more reader things in this chapter!  Jacquie Biggar gave us Hair CombGP Cox mentioned a Pocket Watch.  Maybe you can guess which characters get these things

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

Last Time

“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.”

Émeraude decided not to expose Azaela and Alex — or rather Alison. Meanwhile, the Delta Pearl behaved increasingly strangely as she neared a boundary.

If you want to review, click the link for Chapter 11 — PretendLet’s get back on the riverboat and see what happened after that.

All aboard! 

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 12 — Prognosticate

"Gwendolen at the roulette table" 1910 illustration to George Eliots Daniel Deronda altered by Teagan
“Gwendolen at the roulette table” 1910 illustration to George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, altered by Teagan

When I walked into the main gaming lounge, Blue John Boulton was just leaving.

The Dealer looked at me and I winked to let him know I was practicing.  Coral, the Chamber Maid had been teaching me the language of fans.  Although that subject was also part of Jaspse’s vast knowledge of body language and gestures.

I touched the tip of my ivory fan with one finger.  That meant I wish to speak to you.

Jaspe nodded.  Good.  I smiled.  I had gotten it right.

The Mate had not noticed the signal of my fan.  He gave me a polite nod, then scurried up the stairs toward his station.  The Dealer watched his retreating form and gave a slow, concerned shake of his head.

Even the Mate’s posture spoke to his flustered state.  His movements were rigid as he ascended the staircase.

“You could not ask for a better first mate than Blue John,” the Dealer began.  “Although, have you not noticed that he has become increasingly high strung?  It is not difficult to prognosticate his health taking a bad turn if he fails to make a change,” he remarked, emphasizing the unexpected word.

I nodded, unsure of what to say, or where the Dealer’s conversation was headed.  Jaspe managed to make even the snort he gave sound elegant.

Vernon Lee by John Singer Sargent 1881
As Victor — Vernon Lee by John Singer Sargent 1881

“Such an interesting vocabulary your young inventor has.  Prognosticator, tempest.  Chere, there is no wonder he intrigues you,” he added, surprising me.

“What do you mean my inventor?” I blustered, embarrassed and offended that anyone would presume to know my secret feelings.

Jaspe raised one eyebrow and gave me a longsuffering look.  To my relief he dropped that subject and continued to explain his comment about the Mate.

“You see, despite his talent for the job, I begin to think that Blue John and the work are no longer so well suited to one another.  Only the Captain has a more stressful job than the Mate.  It is boucoup de pressure, and it seems to be taking its toll on our friend,” Jaspe added, his Cajun accent becoming heavy.

Though his manners were exemplary, Jaspe had a rather taciturn way about him.  It was difficult to read his facial expressions, mostly because they rarely changed more than minutely.  Fortunately, over time I had become familiar with his “tells,” to borrow one of his gambling terms.  When the Dealer was concerned about something his New Orleans accent became prominent.

“You are worried about him,” I stated simply.  “But what’s to be done?”

“He just confided in me, so you are sworn to secrecy, Émeraude,” he cautioned.

“Jaspe… you know I never spread tales.  I’ve never disclosed something that I was told not to share,” I defended, feeling rather hurt.

Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary 1949
Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary 1949

“Indeed, this is true,” he admitted.

Then he stroked my hair in apology, as if I was six rather than nearly sixteen.

“Blue John just told me that he is going to ask the Captain for a sabbatical,” Jaspe added.

That disclosure was so unexpected that I gasped.  No one ever left the Delta Pearl.  That was precisely what I told the Dealer.

“But a sabbatical… the word makes it sound like such a long time.  Perhaps indefinite,” I complained.  “Surely you don’t believe the Captain will permit it?”

Jaspe gave me such a long look and was so quiet I started to wonder if I had somehow been insulting.  I nervously adjusted the carved jade hair comb that held my locks in place.  Then I hastily put my hand down.  I knew that was one of my tells.

Finally, one side of his mouth quirked with the hint of a smile.

“Dear Émeraude, the Captain will do whatever is necessary for the health and wellbeing of the crew.  It has always been so,” Jaspe told me.

I suddenly realized that I was being less than charitable about the situation.  I was only thinking of “should” and “allowed,” rather than about the fact that Blue John was not doing well.  I felt terrible.

The Dealer looked at me again.  That time he gave a knowing nod in acknowledgment of my quiet contrition.

“Yes, yes of course,” I murmured.

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

“We shall have our bon ami Blue John’s company a while longer.  The Captain would want to make sure a replacement is secured — even though temporarily,” he assured me.  “Even if the Captain should permit the Mate to leave abruptly, Blue John would not go without knowing the Delta Pearl was properly staffed.”

I stared at the place on the staircase where I had last seen the Mate.  The Delta Pearl was my home.  Mobile and ever cruising the rivers though she was, regardless of how many guests came and went, to me it was a stable home.  I was unaccustomed to the idea of anyone other than passengers departing.  The probability of Blue John Boulton leaving the Delta Pearl was very unsettling to me.

Blue was like an older brother to me.  What if he tried to stay longer than he was able?  Worse, what if he suffered a complete breakdown?  How did a person heal from that kind of thing?  With another twinge of guilt, I also wondered how the Delta Pearl could get along without her First Mate.

A tiny top hat fell to the floor near my feet.  Onyx, the clockwork owl fluttered down to alight on Jaspe’s shoulder.  Captain Cecil Perlog walked up and stooped to retrieve the little owl’s hat.

“We can’t have the little fella going around without his favorite hat now, can we?” the Captain said as he firmly put the top hat back onto Onyx’s head.

David Schwarzenberg at Pixabay
David Schwarzenberg at Pixabay

The owl was inordinately fond of decorating himself.  I guess I should say accessorizing.  Most of the things Onyx chose got in the way of his flying.  He prized his pocket watch, but it was too heavy for him to fly very far with it.  A pretty scarf turned out to be a disaster.  However, he could usually manage with a hat.

“Captain, I’m concerned about Blue John,” I blurted out my worry.

The Captain cleared his throat as he often did when he didn’t want to talk about something.

“The Mate’s fine,” he told me a trifle awkwardly.  “At least for the moment.  If I said more that’d be gossip, and we don’t gossip aboard the Delta Pearl.”

If a clockwork creature could blush then Onyx would have.  Instead his head sunk lower into his shoulders.  The owl was a terrible little gossip.  His metal wings fluffed out before settling back into place.

A faint harmonic sound drifted from the guts of the riverboat.  It set my teeth on edge.  That wasn’t a normal sound.  I gulped with a different worry.  The Captain and the Dealer reacted to it subtly.  They pretended not to notice, but I knew it was pretense.

“Well Onyx, lead the way,” Captain Cecil Perlog told the clockwork owl.  “If that rough stretch of river knocked Émeraude to her backside, then I’d best do a general inspection while we’re at it.”

“Ahem,” I inserted.  “And how did you know that I had taken a tumble?  I don’t suppose a little bird told you?  We don’t gossip aboard the Delta Pearl, do we?  Oh, and I’m fine, by the way.”

The little brass owl fluttered ahead.  Onyx tended to be a lazy bird.  Usually he would rather ride on someone’s shoulder than fly.  However, he did seem to try to impress the Captain.  It was almost as if the clockwork creature wanted to earn Cecil Perlog’s approval.

Pixabay
Pixabay

“Really Captain,” I objected.  “You make it sound so ignominious.”

His chuckle rumbled deeply.

“I know.  It was just a little stretch of unfriendly water.  It didn’t even begin to compare with the night the Delta Pearl reacted to a passing comet,” he said and I shuddered at the thought of how a comet would affect the riverboat.

“Which reminds me… I should check Victor T. Elam’s progress on the leech barometer,” the Captain said.

I found it rather odd that the Captain leaned into the inventor’s middle initial when he said his name.  Then he looked over his shoulder at me and lifted his bushy platinum eyebrows.

“I know you have an aversion to leeches, Émeraude.  However, young Dr. Elam promised to teach those who helped him rebuild the barometer about how it works.  I don’t suppose you’d care to join me?” he suggested.

The Captain shared a knowing glance with the Dealer.  Cecil Perlog scarcely hid his smirk.  Jaspe’s complete lack of expression was just as telling.  No one gossiped on the Delta Pearl, my foot!  I wanted to throttle both of them.

Instead, I picked up my skirt and hurried to catch up with the Captain.

***

End Chapter 12

***

Real World Notes

The Language of Fans by Duvellroy
The Language of the Fan by Duvellroy

 

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 (November) 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.

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.

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95 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl, 12 — Prognosticate

    1. Welcome aboard the Delta Pearl, Cecilia! You are so kind — thank you. WordPress has me at my wits’ end, but I enjoy the interaction of the comments so much I don’t know if I could it up. It just makes me miserable that I can’t visit as many blogs as I used to, before WP became so impossible. Happy almost Halloween. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am fascinated by the language of fans. Fans were very popular in the old Vienna especially at their famous balls. Can you imagine dancing the waltz with a fan tucked away. Anyway, I love your story as always and please don’t quit blogging. I am having a difficult time putting comments on a word press blog because I am with Weebly. Gerlinde

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Welcome aboard, Gerlinde! I hope you are healing and recovering. Thank you for your kind words. I understand about the commenting. WordPress has been driving me nuts, because it has always been very important to support and comment at all the many blogs I enjoy.
      Ha-ha, I imagine people back then were much more coordinated that folks today (or at least me), to dance and communicate with fans, all while wearing clothes that made movement difficult. Thanks for visiting. Feel fabulous fast!

      Like

    1. Teri, I’m so very frustrated with WordPress — especially when they have the nerve to tell me nothing is wrong. But thank you for saying that — it does help. Views and comments, likes, and views have fallen off. I realize (hope?) that means it’s just as difficult for a lot of other people to make comments as it is for me. Else the story just isn’t any good. And you know how that spiral goes, the next thought is “Why am I writing at all?”
      I will try to finish the Delta Pearl here, regardless. I’ll try and convert my WP frustrations into determination with NaNoWriMo, and try even harder not to let anything discourage me so much that I can’t write the November novel.

      Hugs on a stormy wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sigh… WordPress just disappeared my own comment yet again… but as I was saying– Jill, seeing you here is a good beginning to a Monday. Also “Coquettish” would be a great thing, so I’m adding it to my matrix. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “The owl was a terrible little gossip.” I love how these quirky little details pop up. So magical and wonderful, Teagan. And the language of the fan is a real thing? Goodness, that’s so interesting and bizarre. Great episode, my friend. And I hope WP starts cooperating soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana. The real things are stranger than anything I could make up. 🙂 Heartfelt thanks for your encouragement.
      Oh, I’ve made a couple of cover concepts for my NaNoWriMo project. (It helps me to have the cover right off the bat.) I’m happy with the one I made today — think I’ll keep it. If you want to look me up, my ID there is Riordain.
      Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful episode!
    “I drop my fan”

    LOL! I have a copy of the “Language Of The Fan” from Peterson’s, 1858. It was from research, when I did the costumes for a Showtime movie that took place during the Civil War.
    Yours looks like a different publication. My copy starts with “Placing fan near the heart” and has a fancy bordeur.
    Whatever order/presentation, I bet the meanings remain constant.

    Let me know if you want me to send you a copy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooooh yes! I would love a copy. This one is quite blurry. Do you still have my email address from the book launch-trolley? Thanks so much, Resa. And a dropped fan back at you. LOL.
      I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter, my chuckaboo! Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for including one of my ‘things’ in this week’s episode, Teagan! I love Onyx, he’s so cute, lol. It’s a good thing I don’t need to know the language of fans in modern day living, I have enough trouble with English 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Leeches…ewww. I had a couple stuck on my foot when I was a child and never got over feeling disgust for them. I think Emeraude could find something better to do…really. Maybe go find Amethyst or eat a sandwich. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL, or eat a sandwich. You slayed me, Mary J. I’ve never met any leeches in person… at least not the actual worm kind. Anyhow, I hope to avoid them completely. Both kinds. Haha.
      Someone suggested a description of how the tempest prognosticator works would be good writing, so we’ll have just a tad more of them, but to balance it, Amethyst will be back. 😀 Then I promise, no more leeches!
      A sandwich is sounding awfully good… Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Have a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich tonight, Teagan, and no worries about the leeches. In writing, they can’t attach themselves to me, so I think I’m safe.

        Looking forward to meeting up with Amethyst again and see what else develops on the Delta Pearl. Hugs from the land of cheese and football!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your specific feedback, John. As for the Mate, I’ve been making quite a few changes as I serialize this rewrite. If he’s becoming a readers’ favorite, that will certainly effect things. 🙂 I’m happy you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I did not know about the secret language of the fan, so that was a cool bit of information. Great episode. Now, I’m concerned about the first mate. I do hope he’s going to be alright. And, I’ve fallen just a little in love with the gossiping Owl. 🙂 Great work, Teagan!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Another great episode. I just love the “fan language”! If I used a fan, they’d have to come up with a new movement which translates, “doesn’t know what she’s doing”!

    Good to know there’s no gossiping on the Delta Pearl! If we believe that, maybe the good captain will tell us another. Lol.

    Happy that Onyx appeared, but still no Amethyst!! And what’s going on with Blue?

    For a 16 year old young lady, Emeraude is quite adept at handling herself around the staff. Clearly she sees them as family and reacts to them that way. Very refreshing!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. I think she knows them very well, Ginger. I think we might catch a glimpse of Amethyst next time, my chuckaboo. 😉
      LOL as for the language of fans, I’d need the same thing! It would probably end by getting caught in my nostril. o_O Thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  8. Excellent. The language of the fan is great. I see we told our audiences “I’m sorry, I love you, I hate you, you are cruel, kiss me, don’t forget me.” when dancing with fans in flamenco shows.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I totally agree to Dan! Teagan, your writing style brings things together, which giving the story a wonderful interesting expression. Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend! Michael

    Dont worry about the internet. Here we are in the “HighTech area Bavaria” Lol, and its the same bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joanne. Honestly, this really is unbearable — my own comments are disappearing from my own blog. I had something nicely personal in reply, but it’s gone… Thank you for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo. Hugs.

      Like

  10. I love this episode, Teagan. The whole thing speaks of a family feeling in a very special workplace. I liked the way you wove the gossip thread through the story, especially the way Émeraude dug at the clockwork owl. Onyx has a personality (which is amazing it itself) and you keep true to it. It’s funny, but I’m worried about Blue, too. I guess that’s an indication of how far you’ve hooked me into this story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dan, you’ve given me astute insights once again. Long ago I knew that “family feeling in a workplace” — but it was absent from my worklife for decades. I suppose I’m re-writing that part of my life via this story. I hadn’t considered that. Although with my Novel Writing Month project, I’m consciously rewriting some elements of my distant past, hoping to have a better inner story, even if I’m the only one who knows about it. The details of your comment mean a lot to me, my chuckaboo. Thanks for being on this riverboat!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember steampunk being a combination of cogs, rivers and adventure. You, dear Teagan supply stories that include them all and more. So, I’ll turn on the gaslight and await my next adventure!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being aboard the Delta Pearl, Barb. I appreciate the specific feedback. I was lucky to find that chart (language key). Your latest post had me rolling with laughter at 4:30AM. That’s a good way to start a day. Thanks for commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You keep on blogging talented one. WP hasn’t counted my stats for many years now. They appear to want to pick the people who will be popular, most likely related to them needing to feel in control and, of course, the money they make from picking those who succeed.
    They seem threatened with super creative types.
    Which means, dear one, keep on blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heartfelt thanks for your encouragement, dear Cindy. Sometimes having too many obstacles at once gets me in a very defeated state of mind. Your posts always lift me up though. The murals in your latest are gorgeous. I’m so glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Like

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