Saturday, February 8, 2020
Hello, my chuckaboos! Welcome back to the #steampunk riverboat. Many of you know that I’m way down in the desert southwest of the USA. I’m not in the mountains, but it is still a high altitude. We got snow this week. I promised a couple of you a picture of “cactus in the snow,” so here’s my little cactus garden.
Now, I’m getting right to business, because I’m still working on the little Valentine’s Day project I mentioned in my midweek post. I hope you’ll enjoy this quick episode of The Delta Pearl.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 23 — Bruise
Garnet Redford, the Chief Porter was preparing a task list for his staff. He put a check mark beside something, then aggressively crossed it out and wrote something instead. I had never seen Garnet get the morbs, so I had to wonder what could be bothering him.
“Good morning Chief Porter,” I said in a cheery voice, but he only muttered in return. “Is there anything I could help you with? I realize we have a rather difficult group of passengers this voyage.”
I plopped down in the chair that was next to him. Or at least, I plopped as much as my bustle would allow. I propped my chin on my fist and tried to casually get a look at what he was writing.
He grumbled something that included the words “No, thank you.” Garnet acted as if he didn’t want to make eye contact with me. I found that terribly strange, so of course that made me determined to further the exchange.
“Maybe something from the kitchen would cheer you up. I know you have a sweet tooth. Agate made beignets for the ZASH-pa,” I suggested, hoping my imitation of the New Orleans accent would cheer him.
“You know, Jaspe ― the Dealer?” I added when his expression didn’t change a whit.
“I don’t need any confounded sweets,” he shot back, and that time he looked up at me.
“Egad!” I blurted out in astonishment. “That’s quite a shiner. What happened?”
That black eye certainly explained his grumpy manner. Not only would he have a headache, he would also have a wound to his pride. Garnet threw his pencil down on the desk. He looked at me furiously. However, he took a deep breath and composed himself. He sagged back down onto his chair.
“I was foolish, not paying any attention. I should’ve seen the blasted thing on the deck. Whoever left it there― When I find out who left that thing, they’ll be lucky if I don’t throw them overboard. Walking the plank was a sorely underrated punishment,” the Chief Porter ranted.
“What?” I implored, trying to keep a calm tone, but his anger was contagious.
“A banana peel!” he exclaimed. “Some miscreant left a banana peel on the deck and like a bumbling fool, I slipped on the blasted thing! When I find out which one of the deckhands put it there…”
He reasoned the deckhands were known for playing the occasional harmless prank on the porters. However, none of the senior crew would have thought intentionally causing someone to slip and fall was harmless. Particularly when a passenger might have been as likely a victim as a staff member.
However, I knew the banana peel was not left by a deck hand.
“Try and forget about it, Garnet. I’ve already picked up one banana peel, and I caught the miscreant as you so rightly termed it. It was not a deckhand or any other crew member,” I told him.
I didn’t even have to add that the prankster was cherubic-looking Hershel Harvey. The Chief Porter knew as soon as I started to speak. The child’s reputation had quickly spread throughout the Delta Pearl.
“We’re stuck with the brat then,” Garnet grumbled. “A passenger would have to do something outrageously harmful for the Captain to intervene. Or something illegal… or something like a woman running away from her husband and having amorous congress with another woman,” the Chief Porter added with a sidelong look.
Balderdash! So, he at least had a suspicion about Azalea Morton and her supposed charge, Alex Rice. The boy was actually the runaway bride, Alison Ritchie. Was their secret in danger? Ordinarily, I thought Garnet would ignore the two women flaunting convention, as long as they were discrete. Yet, considering how upset he was about Hershel Harvey, he might not be as tolerant.
I made a point of keeping the conversation on the horrible brat, Hershel.
“Maybe if the Captain had some kind of evidence, or if another passenger came forward,” Garnet started. “But that would mean allowing a guest to get hurt, when we could stop it before it happened by doing something about the boy.”
“When I slipped on a puddle of oil and fell off the Hurricane deck, and the Captain pulled me back over the railing,” I began.
“I wasn’t present, but I do remember how angry the Captain was. Not to mention how Agate set into the Cadet, blaming him for that oil not getting cleaned up,” Garnet interjected.
“I heard someone giggling before the Captain and Agate got there. I’ve always suspected that Hershel put the oil there. But I didn’t see him, so I’ve never mentioned what I suspect,” I told him.
“The Captain uses his clockwork owl to help keep an eye on things. Maybe we could get Onyx to spy on the boy,” Garnet said as if thinking aloud.
Again, I wondered where the clockwork owl might be.
End Chapter 23
Yes, where could Onyx be? We’ve been missing the clockwork owl for awhile now. I think he’s a self-sufficient little thing. Or at least I hope so, because other problems are coming to a head. Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll leave a comment to say hello, before you leave, my chuckaboos.
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