Saturday, February 15, 2020
Hello, my chuckaboos! I hope everyone had a wonderful week and a lovely Valentine’s Day too. Romance aside, it makes a good excuse to show gratitude for our friends.
I was beginning to wonder if I’d make it to the riverbank today, but I did, and the #steampunk riverboat is here! However, with my other works in progress, I didn’t use any reader things today. I only made a few revisions to this chapter of the re-write of The Delta Pearl.
Are you ready?
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 24 — Walk
Walking around the upper decks of the riverboat, I scanned every high perch. I checked each hidey-hole and nook the clockwork owl liked to use. Yet I didn’t see Onyx anywhere. While it wasn’t exactly unusual for him to be scarce, I was beginning to be concerned.
“Should I ask he Captain?” I muttered to myself, as I squinted up at the flag poles.
Captain Cecil Perlog was convalescing after his exposure to the poison gas. The attack had ruined my sweet sixteen party. I didn’t care about my birthday, I only cared about the Captain.
However, I was none the wiser about the strange sooty cloud and the glimpse I had of what it concealed. There was no point even trying to get the Dealer to divulge anything. Whenever I tried to ask the Captain, Agate shooed me out of his quarters. Although I could tell by the expression in the Cook’s eyes that she knew about whatever it was.
The Cook had an office on the same deck as the kitchens. However, it was much farther down the riverboat, so that it was away from the noise. Agate always said the peace and quiet was invaluable when she was working on the account books or planning a difficult menu.
Garnet bustled toward me with a polite nod. I stepped out in front of him to learn the reason why he was in such a hurry.
“Hey, Chief Porter. What’s your rush?”
“The Captain ordered an all hands meeting all of a sudden. Émeraude. Or at least it’s for the Delta Pearl’s senior staff. That’s all I know,” he told me, barely stopping.
In the past, they said I was too young for the senior meetings. I had not thought to ask if my milestone birthday made any difference.
“As they say,” I murmured. “It’s easier to apologize later…”
I decided to drop in on Agate to see if she needed any help. I didn’t know if refreshments were meant to be provided. If so, on such short notice, I was sure the Cook could use an extra pair of hands. That might also be the excuse that got me into the meeting.
When I got there, I found the office door closed. That tended to mean the Cook was not in her office. I raised my hand to knock on the door, just in case she was there. The unexpected sound of the Captain’s booming voice met my ears.
It was not that Cecil Perlog was a man who tended to yell. Not at all, in contrast to his great size, he was most gentle in his manner. However, the Captain had a large voice to fit his frame, moreover it was a voice that carried. I often wondered what kind of opera singer the man would have made.
Since the door closed, the meeting was clearly private. I was about to walk away. With one foot already turned to leave, I heard my name spoken. Tell me now — who would resist the temptation to listen after hearing their own name? I was certainly not so perfect that I would leave without at least hearing the context in which my name was used. I lowered the hand that had been poised to knock.
I could hear very little of what Agate said if she spoke in a normal voice. Hearing the Captain was an entirely different matter. The cook said something, but I couldn’t make out any of her words. However, her tone suggested that she disagreed with the Captain and felt whatever was being discussed was of no great concern.
“Aggie how could you do such a thing?” I heard the Captain say loud and clear. “No good can come of it. You’ll only cause the girl pain. Now I won’t stand for you meddling with things like that. Not when it comes to Émeraude.”
Agate didn’t exactly sound angry when she spoke, but she was intense enough that her voice rose, making it easy for me to hear what she said in return.
“Cecil Perlog! I’m not aboot to expect a man to understand, but are you blind?” the Cook declared heatedly. “Have you never noticed that Émeraude has never been in love?”
Her words caused me to draw back in shock. That was not any sort of conversation I ever expected to hear. How could they discuss me and such a personal thing? Then even worse, I realized Agate was right. I had never been in love.
I felt like a boat run aground with a big hole torn in its hull. My mouth was probably gaping like a fish stranded out of water. I was aware of moving my lips, but not of speaking any words.
“You can’t know that Émeraude loves this man. Hell’s bells woman! She couldn’t even know it herself in so short a time,” the Captain retorted.
“Well now, that’s just the point, isn’t it?” Agate told him and his muffled muttering sounds told me he didn’t expect her to say that. “I put the two of those ducklings together to make sure they had a proper chance to see if they was interested in one another, didna I?”
Put together? I groaned but they were too deep in their argument to hear me. First Agate ferreted out my crush on Dr. Elam and then she contrived to put us together in the kitchen the next morning. The Cook and the Captain were certainly discussing me and Victor Elam. I wanted to burst into Agate’s office and give them both a piece of my mind, but I was too stunned to move.
“How can you think any good can come of such a thing, Aggie?” the Captain admonished the Cook. “What if she does fall in love with that inventor? He’ll leave eventually! Even if he extends his voyage, sooner or later he will leave the Delta Pearl, and leave Émeraude behind too.”
“Tell me Cecil Perlog,” Agate said sternly. “Is what’s really got you in a state the fact that you’re afraid Emmie will leave the Delta Pearl with him?”
“The Delta Pearl probably would not let her leave!” the Captain exclaimed. “Think about it, Agate. How many of the Pearl’s chosen have left, and under what dire circumstance? The Delta Pearl chose Émeraude for one of her own, and then damn if that portrait didn’t claim her too. How else do you think that cameo made its way into the girl’s hands?”
I barely heard the question that Agate so fiercely put to the Captain. Neither did his reply make its way into my consciousness. The Captain had not said anything that I didn’t already know. No, my thoughts had already been absorbed by internal conflict.
I had not thought about whether I might love Victor Elam. I had never thought beyond the attraction I felt.
However, I knew the Captain was right. My family was the crew of the Delta Pearl. At least it was the only family I wanted. Yet, the idea that I might not have the freedom to choose whether I left or stayed… what a sensation of emptiness I suddenly felt!
Silently, I walked away from the door.
End Chapter 24
Still no sign of Onyx. We’re reminded of that mysterious and very old portrait… the one that almost seemed to breathe. That was all the way back in Chapter 1. Plus, now Émeraude has her own issues to think about… Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll leave a comment to say hello, before you leave, my chuckaboos.
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 2020 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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