The Delta Pearl 16 — Suffrage

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pixabay photo
Pixabay

Welcome back to the steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos! 

For those of you who are celebrating an extended weekend for Thanksgiving, stay safe and warm!  With the holiday (here at least) in mind, I expect a lot of readers will miss this chapter.  So, it’s just as well that there is not a lot of action. However, it does develop our characters.

This week’s reader things are Coffee Grinder from Denise Finn, and Handcuffs from Dyanna Wyndesong.

 You can review Chapter 15 of The Delta Pearl, here.

This time we learn more about the passengers and crew.  Sufferagettes are aboard the riverboat.  Read on to learn more.

Thanks to Dan Antion and Faith Antion for the use of their photos.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 16 — Suffrage

Pixabay
Pixabay

Golden ringlets bounced on Hyacinth Harvey’s shoulder as she approached me. She had changed her hair style. While the front was pulled upward and back in a poof, the rest of her locks hung loosely down. Her blond hair gleamed against the dark brown of her frock.

I looked for a place to hide, but it was already too late. I had been seen. She even waved. I groaned.

The young bride had repeatedly tried to pawn her nephew off on me. I was long since out of patience with the various pretenses she used. She was annoyingly transparent. I already had a job and it had nothing to do with babysitting.

When I first learned of the situation in which Harrison and Hyacinth Harvey found themselves, I could empathize. They cut short their honeymoon because the Harvey matriarch fell ill. They didn’t have enough money to start a grand holiday over again. To make up for their unfortunately short honeymoon, Harrison’s elder brother, who also held the purse strings to the younger man’s inheritance, footed the bill for the newlyweds to take a holiday.

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

That holiday included a voyage on the Delta Pearl. Unfortunately, a requirement for their holiday was that they deliver the nephew, Hershel, to his maternal grandparents.

Yes, I could feel for the newlyweds. Cherubic little Hershel Harvey was a royal pain! However, that amount of empathy was all I was willing to give them. I was no nursemaid, thank you very much.

I returned her wave with a wan motion of my hand. I tried to smile, but it probably looked more like a grimace.

The distraction of the apparently frantic Mrs. Eliza Needleman hurrying up to my side was a relief. I felt slightly ashamed of myself that one passenger’s distress was preferable to having to deal with another guest.

“Miss Émeraude I desperately need your help!” she cried in an unexpectedly loud voice. “Could you please accompany me to my cabin right away?” she begged, taking my arm and pulling me away before I could answer.

Such excitability seemed completely out of character for Eliza Needleman. She was nothing if not poised. I hurried along at her side.

As soon as she had hustled me around the corner Mrs. Needleman looked at me and winked. Then she chuckled merrily.

 

“You can thank me later,” she commented wryly when I failed to understand her mirth. “There is no emergency. I’ve noticed Mrs. Harvey spends most of her time trying to find someone to take her nephew off her hands. I can tell you that I’m sick of the boy pleading to play with my dog. I can’t trust him alone with her.”

Victoria-Transvaal Diamond 1951_Wikimedia
Victoria-Transvaal Diamond 1951_Wikimedia

Mrs. Needleman gave a sardonic smile and shook her head in wonder.

“Do you know when I told him bluntly that he would not at any time be allowed to play with my dog, the little brat asked for my diamond? He wanted to use it in playing marbles!” she exclaimed in disbelief. “At any rate, that governess, and rightfully so I might add, told Hyacinth Harvey in no uncertain terms that she would not take on the minding of the child. After that, I’ve seen that she usually singles out you in particular.”

I was astonished.

“And you came to my rescue just now?” I asked, beginning to laugh quietly myself. “You have my eternal thanks.”

“We women are so often our own worst enemies in the fight for our rights. I might have been more inclined to help the young woman if she had ever tried to get a man to look after the child. But I’ll spare you my speeches. As I said, there is no emergency. She’ll probably have gone in search of other prey by now,” Mrs. Needleman told me and then went on her way.

That is interesting. Hmm… an intriguing surprise, I thought. So, Eliza Needleman is a suffragette.

suffragettes-marching

The term suffragette always caused me to pause for thought. There were so many kinds of suffering, so many different forms of abuse. Some suffering was discounted by the masses. Yet it left scars on the abused that lasted a lifetime.

My thoughts seemed to have been preoccupied with the past since the moment I left my bed that morning. I couldn’t stop the train of my thought as it jumped onto the rails of my own past. No one seemed to know I was abused before my life on the riverboat. In fact, the godliness of my mother was praised. A few could see through her disguise. Yet no one intervened.

I gave myself such a hard mental shake that I actually shook my head and shoulders.

“Are you well Miss?” a kitchen maid asked as she passed, tray in hand.

It took a moment for me to place the girl. She was new to the crew of the Delta Pearl. My foggy brain did not want to cooperate and I was not good with names. Finally, I noticed the orange colored stone in the ring the maid wore.

“Coral, isn’t it? Your name, I mean,” I asked and she confirmed. “Yes, I’m well enough. It’s nothing,” I told her with a forced smile. “At least it is not anything that a cup of coffee won’t cure. I apologize that I haven’t found time to get acquainted with you. How are you settling in with your post on the Delta Pearl? Actually, why don’t I just follow you back to the kitchen, Coral? We can chat on the way.”

The kitchen maid and I fell into step. Thoughts of the coffee grinder and freshly brewed beverage propelled my feet.

Moncton as the Black Cat, by Faith Antion
Moncton as Sir Reginald La Felin, by Faith Antion

The river lapped gently against the sides of the Delta Pearl. Coral chattered happily as we walked. She told me that her position as kitchen maid was her first real job. I forced my thoughts to the present. Making a point of taking on her pleasant mood, I smiled.

Coral was full of energy and her enthusiasm was contagious. Or at least I would have caught her enthusiasm if I had not been so hungover. She was also a very young woman, so she was naturally concerned about fitting in with the rest of the crew. Also “cute boys” were not far from her mind.

Of course, that failing didn’t apply to me at allAhhem

“Oh ma’am, everyone knows how you are. Why, you’re practically a celebrity on the Delta Pearl,” she told me, to my astonishment. “I can imagine that you must know the Chief Porter well. Garnet is so handsome,” she gushed. “He’s not so much older than you. I think you two would make such a fine-looking couple.”

The girl is a matchmaker after Agate’s own heart. It was no wonder the Cook hired her, I thought.

“Where are you from, Coral?” I asked in hope of getting her mind off my romances or the lack there of.

“I’m from Savannah, Georgia, ma’am,” she told me. “Sometimes I think I hear the familiar ring of Georgia in your voice, but you don’t really have much of an accent at all. That’s one of the exciting things about the Delta Pearl. People are from so many different places, and they bring their wonderful accents with them. Other times all the dialects merge into one.”

“Do you really think I have no accent?” I asked and I was not sure why, but the idea troubled me. “I suppose it comes from, as you said, the fact that people here are from so many different places. Perhaps over the years, my voice has lost the sound of the south,” I told her without actually explaining.

I disliked discussing my past even more than conversations about my romantic status. Thankfully we had reached the kitchen by that point in our chat.

Coral was right, I pondered as I poured myself a cup of coffee. Garnet is a handsome man.

However, my thoughts kept straying to the shy little inventor, Dr. Victor T. Elam.

The coffee sloshed out of my cup.

“Emmie my dear, have you come here looking for a hair of the dog that bit you?” the Cook asked, appearing suddenly beside me and causing me to jump. “I’ll put a little nip-kiss of that vodka in your coffee and you’ll see that headache goes away,” she said turning toward the liquor cabinet.

“No thank you Aggie,” I said as I hurried out of the kitchen.

Victorian woman drinking Cocacola-5cents 1890 Wikimedia
Coca-Cola ad 1890s, Wikimedia

Agate had done such a fine job of “accidentally” throwing me together with Victor Elam that she might as well have put me in handcuffs. She couldn’t be trusted for a minute when she had her mind set on matchmaking.

The well-meaning Cook would have me all boiled owl again trying to cure the hangover for which she was responsible!

***

End Chapter 16.

***

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 will definitely go back to using the things soon.

NaNoWriMo banner 2019

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!

***

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 © 2016 and 2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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.

 


75 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 16 — Suffrage

      1. Things have slowed down a little now that the harvest season is over. No wine this year though. The foxes, birds and wasps got the grapes before they were ripe enough, and I had little to no time for it.

        Lucio cat is doing better and better, feeling like his old self again.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh no, Mary J — you must be snowbound. I don’t have regular TV (I just stream Netflix and get random news on my YouTube feed) so it’s been hard to keep up with what that nasty storm is doing. I’m happy I could give you a diversion. Wishing everything goes smoothly for your trip. Safe journey, my chuckaboo!

    Like

    1. Thanks Diana. Ha. A “tonic” for sure. It contained “a significant dose” 1886 until 1891 (5 oz per gallon), when the formulae was changed and only contained one tenth of the original amount. So 1891 “an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. (For comparison, a typical dose or “line” of cocaine is 50–75 mg).” It is said to have been removed in 1903.

      “After 1904, instead of using fresh leaves, Coca-Cola started using “spent” leaves – the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process with trace levels of cocaine”.
      However, some sources state that some amount of cocaine continued to be present far into the 1920s.
      Now “In the United States, the Stepan Company is the only manufacturing plant authorized by the Federal Government to import and process the coca plant, which it obtains mainly from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, the Stepan Company extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt, a St. Louis, Missouri, pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify cocaine for medicinal use.”

      Thanks for visiting, my chcukaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha. Ya know! Hyacinth is a combined reflection of several women I’ve known in the past, and the snobbery of the toxic work environment I left behind, Joanne. She also shows my imagining of how much worse similar women would probably have been back then, when they had even less opportunity than today. Maybe she’s just trying to survive, or maybe she’s a total jerk. I don’t really know. She’s young… maybe she’ll change.

      Emeraude’s “sweet 16” is coming up, and people are asking for romance… Heaven help me, I’m not a romance writer, but we’ll see whether any “amorous congress” in in the works. 😉
      Thanks for getting back on the riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Like

      1. Now that I’m back home from my travels with a good night’s sleep under my belt, I can be a bit more charitable towards people like Hyacinth.

        Perhaps we frown on their behaviour because it is rather foreign to the typical female. They are really just very adept at asking directly for what they want or need – something most women (including myself) aren’t very good at.
        Interestingly, men seem to be routinely rewarded for the same behaviour.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Joanne. I was just in a pondering mood when I replied. LOL… Between you and me, I don’t like Hyacinth either. But she serves a purpose to move the story.
          Writing stories set in the past repeatedly throws my mind into reflection about the negative differences in the life of women in that era. I know that I’m “preaching to the choir,” when I say this but, I’ve known so many women who “dumb themselves down” to be more attractive (or so they think). When I see that, my mind rants about it. They’re deliberately throwing away what women in the past struggled to give them.
          And there I went again… o_O. Up on my Julia Sugarbaker soapbox at the drop of a hat. Happy December my friend.

          Like

  2. So Mrs. Needleman is a suffragette, and rescued Emeraude from the clutches of Hyacinth Harvey and ultimately her brat nephew! And Emeraude apparently has an unhappy past. Good grief, Agate seems to want Emeraude to stay stewed! Lol. We got to meet Coral, who “seems” to be sweet as sugar. But the twist and turns you come up with make me wonder!!

    Great episode. I like learning about the characters and their quirks. I’m with GP Cox….l too have been wondering what these wealthy guests on the Delta Pearl do all day to amuse themselves.

    Enjoy what’s left of this holiday weekend. I’ll be sorry when this story comes to an end. I will miss the mysterious Delta Pearl and all her secrets. Mostly I’ll miss Amethyst! Lol.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ginger that is music to my ears. I’m not sure myself how many more chapters there will be, especially since this is a rewrite. Looking at the original version, we are only a few “chapters” away. However there are two big buts. BUT those chapters were longer than I use for serial posts. BUT the reason why I’m doing this rewrite in the first place is I felt the ending came too abruptly. Two particular situations were resolved there, but those were sub-plots. It wasn’t what I thought the real climax should be. It will be a big challenge for me.

      LOL, okay. I will add the amusements & activities as a “random thing” from both you and GP. I figured they mostly gambled and ate. 😉 However, bringing out the amusements could lead me to what is needed to add meat to the story.

      It makes me smile that Amethyst is dear to you. You might also like another tiny hero I created in Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam. He’s a hummingbird! I expect to publish that (as a book) in a couple of weeks.
      Thanks for spending part of your holiday weekend here. I’m thankful for you, my chuckaboo!

      Like

    1. Thanks so very much, Michael. I’ve been blessed. While so much of the country has horrible snow storms, we had a few rainy days and some high winds. Here, rain is welcome. Now the sun has come out, bright blue sky, and 48 degrees F. 🙂 Yes, it’s a beautiful weekend. I hope you are having a wonderful, beautiful weekend too. Hugs!

      Like

    1. Oh-oh… You’ve given me a challenge, Brad. I’m not a romance writer. But now it is a “random reader thing” so I will add it to my story matrix and do my best! 😀 Meanwhile, I prescribe either chocolate or macaroni & cheese. o_O Have a beautiful weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No need to apologize for not much action. The character development was just as exciting. Was Emeraude abused by a mean mother? I hope the bratty nephew gets bitten by the dog. Great episode,Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate that feedback, Jennie. As to your question, that’s where it gets difficult to serialize a novel. (Remember this is a rewrite, where I wanted to add more meat to the original novel.) Emeraude’s back story is gradually revealed and hinted at. It is tied to the underlying mystery of the Delta Pearl herself. I don’t expect anyone to be able to keep up with so many details over all these weeks. Here’s a link to the Prologue, where the story began with Emeraude not long before she came to the riverboat. https://teagansbooks.com/2019/07/27/the-delta-pearl-prologue-a-new-serial-begins/
      I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving, my chuckaboo. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love learning more about the complex crew and the mix of passengers on the Pearl. I can’t wait to see how you weave these characters and the suffrage cause and other emerging story lines into the picture.

    I had to giggle at Mrs. Needleman’s rescue of Émeraude. I had a coworker who sometimes needed to be rescued from conversation, so I would call her extension and she could pretend it was work-related. I was also happy to see Sir Reginald La Felin get his photobombed feature. He’s such a brat when Faith is taking pictures. She did a professional head shot for me to use when I needed to submit a photo, and he was in one of them (I wasn’t able to use it).

    I hope you’re having a good weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so funny about Moncton. Throughout the years, my cats rarely let me take their picture, yet managed to photobomb nearly everything I didn’t want them to be in.
      Thanks for your specific feedback, Dan. I don’t delve past the surface of women’s suffrage here, but I do touch on it, and try to show how different the world was for Emeraude (as I did for Pip), by pointing out some of the things Pip wasn’t allowed to do, and that it was unusual or even strange for Emeraude to be taught. Thanks for spending part of your weekend on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We delve deeper into the personalities of the passengers, but I wonder in this strange world of the Pearl, do they do to pass the time all day? Or – might time be as elusive as the secrets these passengers hold?
    Enjoy your weekend, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GP, that’s treat feedback. I’m serializing this “novel from my shelf” because I wanted to flesh it out more. The activities are a good thing to add. Plus it reminded me that when I made Emeraude younger (for this rewrite) I added that her “sweet 16” is coming up. I meant to add something important to go with that party. Now that NaNoWriMo is over (although I still have a ton of work to do on that book), I need to think more about this rewrite. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? Thank you Robbie. As a cliffhanger maven, I always worry when no one is left dangling by their fingertips. LOL. I really enjoy writing the Eliza Needleman character, so I’m happy you like her. She continues to have a part in the story. I’m glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope NaNoWriMo is going well. Last day! For me, everybody who gives it a go is a winner. There’s a lot more to the characters than we know. We should never forget the Suffragettes and I’m happy to learn a bit more about the travellers and staff. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about WriMo, Olga. I didn’t produce the “clean” draft I so hoped to create, even though I met the wordcount. (My “stuff” kept getting in my way.) So there is a ton of work yet to be done on that story. Have a beautiful weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Like

    1. I have to agree about the matchmaking, Tim. LOL.
      Suffragetts had their work cut out for them. One thing I try to do with this story is show that life was different for women back then. Yes, I writer fantasy, but I try to bring some real world elements.
      I hope your electricity stayed on. Is the snow gone yet? Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

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