The Delta Pearl 17 — Jump

Saturday, December 7, 2019

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

Welcome back to the steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos! 

Most of you will recall this serial is a rewrite of a novel I wrote in 2016.  I wasn’t satisfied with it, so I’m adding to it via this serial.  During National Novel Writing Month, I posted a few chapters that did not get a rewrite.  However, today’s chapter is all new material.

I only used one random reader thing —  Locusts from Jacquie Biggar.  I hope you’ll take a moment to visit her blog.

 To review Chapter 16 Suffrage, click the link. 

This time preparations are starting for Émeraude’s sweet sixteen party.

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

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 17 — Jump

Brown cloud Clouds Altered Pixaby
Altered image, Pixabay

There it was again — that sooty, smudgy cloud that was never quite where a cloud should be.  I could have sworn it followed the Delta Pearl.  Although, that couldn’t be, because sometimes it was ahead of the riverboat.

The Dealer knew something about it, I was certain.  However, he was keeping his cards close to his chest.  The idea that Jaspe was being secretive bothered me even more than that cloud.

Worse, if Jaspe wouldn’t discuss it with me, then none of the senior staff were likely to talk about it either.

I stood high upon the hurricane deck and stared at the sooty blotch that hung in the sky above the riverbank.  An unexpected voice at my ear caused me to jump.

“A penny for your thoughts,” Obsidian Durango said into my ear.  “Ha!  Émeraude, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.  “Honestly, I didn’t mean to scare you.  But if I’d known it would get that much of a reaction, I would have goosed you too,” the Cadette added amid chortles.

“Ouch!” he exclaimed when I punched his arm, but he was still laughing.

“Sid, you’re such a comedian,” I quipped, drawing back, getting my fist ready to make contact with his other arm.  “You’re a regular wag.  What are you doing up here anyway?”

He nodded toward the broad red and white stripped awning that was rolled up and waiting to be hung.

Vintage Rose German Cologne

“Making sure the fittings are in place to stretch the shade awing across this area,” he commented.  “The Cook is snaring every pair of ‘idle hands’ she can catch to help with the decorations for your sweet sixteen party.  This seemed like a good chore to appoint myself, before she could have me tying bows or arranging flowers.”

The Cadette was hiding something behind his back.  When I leaned to see what it was, he brought out a single hot pink rose with a ribbon bow.

“Happy birthday… erm, tomorrow,” he said.

“Aw thank you, Sid,” I said sweetly to throw him off balance.  “You took that from the Cook’s decorations, didn’t you?” I told him as I sniffed the rose.

Knowing my penchant for the color green, Agate had been searching for green flowers ― not the easiest task.  I overheard the Dealer recommend hot pink roses.  He said they were used to show appreciation and recognition.

Part of me was excited about the party.  I wondered if the coming of age event would help the senior staff see me as an adult.  Even so, I felt shy about all the attention.  My life on the riverboat was somewhat isolated.  Agate wanted the party to be open to all the passengers.  To my astonishment, the Captain agreed.

I gave an angst laden sigh.  My gaze returned to the riverbank and that smudgy cloud.

“Don’t despair, Émeraude.  The party will be bang up to the elephant, even without my expert talents used in the decorations,” Sid promised.

He pretended to take offence when I snorted.

“This sweet sixteen thing will be quite the soiree.  The Dealer says they’re popular in Europe.  It sounds like the Quinceañras my sisters had when they turned fifteen,” Obsidian went on, but I was too preoccupied to listen.

“What do you make of that dark cloud over there, Sid?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t think it will rain out your birthday party,” he said with just enough puzzlement in his tone to keep me from wanting to throw him overboard.

Lance Fairbanks at Wikipedia
Pilothouse, Lance Fairbanks at Wikipedia

The Cadette leaned casually against the railing as he looked at the odd cloud.  I could tell by the way he held his mouth that a sarcastic remark was on its way to his lips.  Then abruptly his expression changed.

He looked high overhead where clouds were meant to reside, and then back to the sooty cloud above the shore.  Sid’s brow was furrowed when he turned back to me.

“It doesn’t look like weather, does it?  Could it be that smog stuff they write about in big city newspapers?” he pondered.  “Oh!  I know.  It’s locusts!  It’s a plague of locusts,” he finished with a decisive nod.  “Hey!  Where are you going?”

I raised a hand in exasperation and turned away.  Blue John, the Mate, came out of the pilot house.  He made a broad motion to include both Sid and me.  Onyx, the clockwork owl, sat on his shoulder.  He held a note in his brass beak.

“He’d only give the note to thee, Émeraude.  You know he can be a stubborn one.  Cadette, it looks like the task of hanging that awning is ourn.  Let’s get to it,” Blue John said.

I was glad to see the Mate looking much better than the last time I saw him.  However, there was something rigid about his posture, and his movements were tight.  I could tell he had not had any sort of miraculous recovery from his over-stressed state.

Caution took over me for once.  I wanted to ask Blue what he thought about the cloud.  However, I expected he would be as tight-lipped about it as the Dealer, if he knew anything.  Worse, if he didn’t know, I was afraid the idea might set off another bout of paranoia.  I left my question unasked.  Moreover, I made sure I didn’t look at the cloud.

Onyx leaned forward to give me the note.  Written in Agate’s hand, it said that she needed my help in the tearoom.  That seemed strange.  The tearoom was a cozy dining area.  It wasn’t large enough for any party.  However, my duties on the Delta Pearl included just about anything.

Original photo by Dan Antion, tomfoolery by Teagan
Original photo by Dan Antion, tomfoolery by Teagan

After I read the note, Onyx fluttered up onto the roof of the pilot house.  At least the little busybody wasn’t going to follow me.  He probably thought he should keep an eye on Obsidian.

On my way to my way to the tearoom, two different passengers stopped me to ask for information or directions.  One wanted to know the schedule for shuffleboard games.  The other wanted to know about a misplaced attaché case.  Then I glimpsed the back of Hyacinth Harvey, so I took the long way around to my destination, to avoid her.

When I got to the tearoom it was empty.

“Agate?” I called, but no reply came.

Thump-thump-thud — two lighter bumping noises were followed by a heavier thump.  It was the rhythmic noise I had heard while I chased that brat, Hershel.  So, the only thing I knew about the source of the sound was that the boy had not caused it.

Thump-thump-thud.

The tearoom went dark.

I heard the floor creak.

***

End Chapter 17.

***

“About Teagan’s Books” is a button at the top of this page. There you can find information about and purchase links for all my books. Rather than re-list them all here, I’m going to feature one book at a time.

Pigs collection cover banner
Universal purchase link: rxe.me/LTBDNH

Related to that, I’m also featuring a terrific photo post from Tim Price of Off Center & Not Even.  Tim found this mural and it made me think of Deme and Honeybell, the otherworldly pigs from Atonement, TN.  Click over and visit Tim.

Hog Heaven flying pigs mural Tim Price
Hog Heaven by Timothy Price

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.

***

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.

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.

 


70 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 17 — Jump

  1. I had my suspicions about no one being in the tearoom almost immediately, but that could have come from watching the Geico chainsaw commercial once too often. Nooooo, don’t go toward the chainsaws or the tearoom!!!!

    Looking forward to Saturday’s chapter, Teagan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m tickled pink that you remembered that, Jennie. 🙂 Yes, that cloud has been lurking around from the very beginning of the story, being noticed once in a while. It’s as bad as my creepy stalkery neighbor! Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whassup with the tea room going dark and the thumping noise continues! A dark cloud is stalking the Pearl. Crew members are acting weird. And I’m having heart palpitations reading this weeks episode!! Lol.

    The Delta Pearl definitely harbors a lot of mysteries, and I’m not so sure they’re all pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This segment stopped on an ominous note. That sound is coming from somewhere that leads to nothing good, I’m afraid. I loved the playful exchange between Emeraude and The Cadette. I enjoyed this episode, Teagan, and can’t wait to find the source of that noise!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for putting Hog Heaven on your post. Much appreciated. Summoning notes ending with thumps, thuds and darkness are ominous signs of something… Hmmm. Ominous.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah-ha, a cliff-hanger at every turn — so it is with the mysterious Delta Pearl.
    Frankly, between locusts, rooms going dark and eerie crossings at the border, I think I’ll carry an oil lamp around the deck!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a good idea, GP! 😀 Sir Reggie sees well in the dark. We’ll make sure he stays close to you.
      I actually spent time researching, trying to figure out what kind of lamps a riverboat in the late 1800s to early 1900s might have. I eventually found some info about ocean liners (they had electric lights), but not riverboats. Then I remembered that I had give the Pearl some magical properties. Besides, “what kind of lamp” (in this scene) didn’t advance the story. So I just wrote the actual lamp out of the scene. Happy weekend, My chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed it, Michael. Even though this is a re-write of an existing story, I do take comments into consideration — at least to a degree. Several people have started asking for some romance for Emeraude. I am not a romance writer at all, but I can work with “hints” of romance. The original story has “hints” of what future “romance” Emeraude might have. So I’m bringing the idea out earlier now, and adding some complications. Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What suspense! The week’s wait will feel very long, Teagan. And the cloud! Love the pigs photo! I can’t wait for next week’s episode! Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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