Saturday, December 28, 2019
When I created Wednesday’s holiday greeting I felt fine. Little did I know that I was on Santa’s “Naughty List.” The Jolly Old Elf brought me a flu bug Christmas morning. Not to worry. I expect to be fine and begin 2020 in good health. That said, I apologize for the inevitably rambling, disjointed intro that follows.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped and shared the launch of Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam! Several people let me share character profiles of faeries named in their honor. Visit Olga Núñez Miret to learn more about two of the characters — one from Thistledown, and one from the colorless world. If you enjoy reading about winged creatures of various sorts, be sure to take a look at Olga’s Angelic Business series. It begins with Pink Matters.
Also, I just won a prize in a scavenger hunt in the Holiday Wishes Romance Book Fair, hosted by Aileen Harkwood! That helps make up for landing on Santa’s naughty list with the flu.
I promise I’m heading to the riverbank now. Considering how busy everyone is with the holidays (ahem… not just because I feel like crap) I didn’t want to make any big plot revelations. So, this chapter of The Delta Pearl focuses on Dr. Victor T. Elam (our genius young inventor) and Émeraude.
The “random reader thing” that drove this chapter is from Barbara at Teleporting Weena. She left us Scrapbook. Check at the end of the chapter for some interesting trivia on the topic. Also, thanks to Faith Antion for the use of her photo of her cat Moncton as Sir Reginald La Felin.
It’s been awhile since I posted Chapter 17 — Jump. Click the link if you want to refresh your memory. Are you ready?
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.
The tearoom went dark.
I heard the floor creak.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 18 — Bump
Startled, I dropped the hot pink rose that Obsidian Durango gave me a short time earlier. It landed on a table. I didn’t give the flower Sid had nicked from Agate’s decorations a second thought. I rushed out of the suddenly dark tearoom.
I collided with Victor T. Elam as he came around the corner.
“Oh, pardon me. Ah! Miss Perlezenn, thank goodness you’re still here. I apologize for being late,” the young inventor told me.
While apologies cascaded from his lips, I looked at him in utter confusion.
“And I’m sorry for running over you like a sailor on a benjo,” he added with reddening cheeks.
“Oh, it was just a little bump,” I murmured, trying to collect my startled thoughts.
Victor pushed his spectacles back on the bridge of his nose, that nervous habit of his. Damfino why I thought he was so adorable, but I found myself smiling at him.
“Hmm. That really should not go unpunished, Doctor Elam. As punishment I will have to insist that you call me Émeraude ― just as I’ve requested before. Are you in the habit of making a lady repeat herself?” I demanded with mock severity.
“Point taken, Miss erm I mean, Émeraude.”
He had dropped a package that was bedecked with a big mauve-colored bow. He tried to pick it up, but dropped it again, twice before thrusting the package toward me. By then the wrapping paper was torn in several places.
“Miss Agate sent one of the porters to tell me you asked to meet me in the tearoom,” Victor continued, his Texas roots showing in his voice.
He a motioned toward the darkened place I had just fled. Turning, I saw Sir Reginald La Felin, as I liked to call the Dealer’s cat saunter out of the tearoom.
Could Reggie be responsible for that thumping thudding sound? Although, it seemed unlikely that the cat had been at the various places where I had heard the noise.
“I understand if you don’t have any time left, but perhaps we could sit down there,” he paused to clear his throat, “long enough for me to give you this. I realize your sweet sixteen party is not until tomorrow, but I’m told it’s the sort of thing one should give in advance.”
I cast a suspicious gaze at the tearoom. Victor misunderstood my hesitation and started babbling again. Forcing a smile to my face, I assured him that I could spare a few minutes. When he shifted the package to his other arm to open the door for me, he nearly dropped it again. For his sake, I hoped it didn’t contain anything breakable.
To my relief, when I tried the lamp on the table closest to the door, it lit without any fuss.
Since the wrapping paper was already in tatters, I tore right into the package. That seemed to please the inventor greatly. Inside was a large green leather-bound album.
“Your signature color,” Victor murmured when I ran my hand across the surface.
I must have had a questioning expression on my face. He began to explain why he chose the gift.
“It’s a scrapbook. This is one of the self-pasting kind that Samuel Clemens ― the author, Mark Twain invented,” Victor added.
“Oh, I’ve never seen that kind. Samuel Clemens had extraordinary ideas, for stories and his inventions. The Captain has his history trivia game,” I remarked.
“My mother started a scrapbook for me about my inventions, the first time an article was printed about me in a newspaper. I’ve added mementos of both my parents, ever since they were lost at sea,” he tried to explain.
The memory of a canister rolling to my feet when Dr. Elam first boarded the riverboat sprang to mind. It contained a bracelet made of hair from his parents. Hair jewelry was quite popular. His mother had made it. Victor had been so upset when he thought the container, which was meant to keep it safe was about to roll overboard.
I escaped from my family. Victor lost his. I couldn’t help thinking about the contrast, and the different emotions he and I must have. Something must have showed on my face because he became even more nervous.
“I know it’s not the same circumstance,” he stumbled over his words. “I mean, I don’t know anything about your parents or background, but I overheard you say that the crew of the Delta Pearl is your family, and that made me think it might be similar for you… Since my scrapbooks are my favorite of any gift from my family, I thought you might like to start a one of your own.”
It was difficult to believe the young man standing before me, who could barely make coherent conversation and blushed to his hairline was a genius inventor. However, even if he wasn’t making much sense, his sincerity was clear.
“It’s beautiful,” I told him honestly. “Although I don’t know what to put in it. I don’t have newspaper clippings, or university degrees, or…” I faltered, afraid I sounded ungrateful, when that wasn’t the case at all.
“Oh, you can put anything in it, Émeraude. It doesn’t have to be all newspaper clippings, or awards, or photographs. You could begin it with bits of things from your sweet sixteen party ― a note from, say Agate or the Captain…”
His rush of words abruptly stopped when he noticed the hot pink rose, tied with a ribbon. I had forgotten about it. I was also a little annoyed that Sid would give me a flower he had taken from an arrangement that was meant for my birthday party.
Victor’s eyes darted from the rose, to me, and to the door. He cleared his throat, and then went on with what he was saying.
“Um, you could press a flower from the decorations, or a ribbon, little things that trigger good memories. That’s why I wanted to give it to you early, so you could start with your party. A sweet sixteen is the next thing to a debutant debut,” he added. “Anyhow, I know you have many things to do, so I won’t take any more of your time.”
With another glance at the hot pink rose, he pushed his spectacles back on his nose. He gave me a polite nod, but away before I could even thank him for the gift.
The sunlight sparkled his blue topaz earing as Victor hurried out the open door.
I couldn’t understand the sudden turn in his behavior, just when we were finally getting better acquainted.
My eyes fell on the beribboned rose again.
“Victor must have thought it was from a suitor. Zooterkins! That sodding Sid!” I muttered.
The brightness of the sun abruptly dimmed. I wondered if it was about to rain. Then I wondered if it was that worrisome, sooty cloud.
I gathered up the rose and the scrapbook and went out onto the deck. I was relieved to see a very ordinary cloud obscuring the sun for a moment before it drifted away.
However, when I turned toward the riverbank, I saw it again. That smudge of a cloud was larger, and it was closer to the Delta Pearl than it had ever been.
Real World Notes
Did you know that Mark Twain, aka Samuel L. Clemens, had several patents? He received patent #121,992 on December 19, 1871 for an Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments. Twain also received patents for a self-pasting scrapbook in 1873, that was very popular and sold over 25,000 copies, and in 1885 for a history trivia game.
Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboos. I’ll be looking for you at the riverboat dock next weekend.
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
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