The Delta Pearl 26 — Mesmerize

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Welcome back to the #steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos!  

Sometimes a “random reader thing” comes from a comment that I just can’t resist.  That’s what happened when John W. Howell mentioned conundrum.

It’s been quite a while since this riverboat first left the dock.  Before reading this chapter, you might want to review Chapter 1 — Dance, or Chapter 10 — Cover.  Without further ado…  

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 26 — Mesmerize


Sunlight flashed into my eyes. An odd clicking caused me to look up into the sky. The fluttering sound of a bird came to my ears. I shielded my eyes with my hand. Then I spotted something brass colored as it streaked across the blue sky above the Delta Pearl.


I was happy to see the Captain’s clockwork owl. My joy quickly turned to concern. The brass owl’s flight was erratic. Onyx appeared to be headed for the pilot house. I rushed up the stairs to the highest part of the riverboat.

I was not surprised to find Captain Cecil Perlog with his head of unruly platinum hair bent over the clockwork creature. What I had not expected was to see Dr. Victor T. Elam there as well. Victor inspected the owl’s wing in minute detail. Although, I shouldn’t have been surprised. He was brilliant inventor and good with any sort of mechanism.

“Don’t worry your head about Onyx, Emmie.  He’s going to be just fine,” the Captain assured me.

“Emmie?” Victor asked, turning to me.

He raised his eyebrows in a way that was a sure threat of teasing about my despised nickname. The only people who could get away with calling me Emmie were the Captain and the Cook.

“I’ll battyfang you within an inch of your life if you ever even think of using that name,” I hissed at Victor.

Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan
Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan

I couldn’t persuade the Captain to tell me where Onyx had been. Although it was apparent that he would not tell Victor either, so I excused myself, saying I had to go back to my duties. However, that was not my intention.

The combination of sight and sound when I spotted Onyx flying back to the riverboat triggered an old memory. When I was a child on the riverbank, I had caught a glimpse of the clockwork owl. It was just before I saw the Delta Pearl for the first time.

Something about that day was buried, hidden from my memory. Jaspe had told me that there were holes in what I could remember from my childhood, particularly the ones that were near that time. He said that if I had kept myself from remembering things, that it was best to leave it alone.

“Why torture yourself, cher?” he had asked in that soft quasi French accent. “You are safe here with the Delta Pearl, and surrounded by those who care about you, n’est-ce pas? This conundrum is best left alone. C’est tout.

Abruptly I wanted to check something in that beautiful old portrait. My stomach twisted around the idea that something in that painting related to that first day. Yet, I believed the Dealer was right. If I had misplaced the memory of something from that terrible time, it was likely best if I let it stay lost. The hairs on my arms stood up.

I wasn’t sure what I thought I would find, but I had to check that portrait.

Euphemia_Effie Gray by Thomas Richmond  Wikipedia
Euphemia (Effie) Gray by Thomas Richmond 1865, Wikipedia

Perhaps the portrait mesmerized me. I don’t know how long I stood there gazing at the old painting of the beautiful woman. Of course, the model was unaccountably familiar to me, but everything else about the painting fascinated me as well. I couldn’t imagine how the artist painted the woman’s hair to make it shine with such luster.

Also, I was amazed by the generous number of interesting things in the background. Of course, they were done in tiny brush strokes, which seemed like an impossible task to one as lacking in artistic talent as myself.

To the model’s right was a grouping of buildings and a port. To her left was a depiction of a grassy outcropping that stood high above the river below. I doubt the details would be noticed without intense scrutiny of the portrait, but it was the presence of those minute additions that caused the painting to enthrall me.

Looking at the outcropping brought memories of long ago. It was so much like a place by the river at my childhood home. Unfortunately, all those memories were bad. Once again, goosebumps rose on my arms. I turned my attention back to the cameo that was nearly a duplicate of my own.

As I stared at the tiny landscape, I saw that what I had taken for a tree on the outcropping was a human figure. The tiny painted person moved to the edge and jumped off the cliff!

I gasped. It was impossible for something in a painting to move!

I was vaguely aware of hearing someone behind me, but I was so engrossed that I did not turn.


End Chapter 26


Transfixed by the movement inside a painting, goosebumps, hearing someone behind you… Émeraude, I think I’d turn around! 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

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.


83 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 26 — Mesmerize

  1. I read this post and was amazed by the description of one of the figures moving. Then I opened my phone to discover that Google Photos had animated some recent photos, and now my dog grinned up at me, wagging her head and panting.

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”—Arthur C. Clarke, Third law of SciFi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barb. I’ve always liked that Clarke quote. Although I don’t know who makes it, that video editing software that’s out now — the one that makes amazingly realistic changes to video (not just photos) is truly frightening. For the past four years I’ve cautioned people on Facebook that those fun face altering things (How you’d look if…) and even the “test your knowledge” games can be used for harmful purposes… LOL, maybe I should add “You’re not paranoid when they’re really watching you.” o_O 😉
      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I haven’t thought about that in a decade.
      One of the first stories I wrote was about a shadow/person in a mirror. (I was on a brief writing kick in 7th grade, but my parents made me stop.)
      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You, too!! We are headed up to Seattle Thursday to celebrate our youngest and her husbands 30th birthday (they are just days apart….college sweethearts, but took about 5 years after graduation to figure it out.) Will be back on board the Delta Pearl next week!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, well, a very short, but sweet chapter. Many layers are adding up in your tale, just like the layers of paint in Euphemia Gray by Thomas Richmond added up to such beauty. i am smitten by that painting. {{hugs}}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Resa. It’s good feedback for me that you see the layers coming together. I was taken with that portrait too. It doesn’t match the details, but it captured the idea. Hugs right back, my chuckaboo!


  3. Oh, I am so glad Onyx made it back fairly unharmed. I do hope the Captain and Victor can repair the wing. Wow! That would definitely spook me if a figure in a painting moved. My curiosity is piqued! Great segment, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great episode, Teagan:) I’d probably let out a acream if someone came up behind me while a figure in a picture was moving. I hope the owls wing is okay!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joanne. I always aim for layers in my novels. Although it’s not always such a good idea for serials (makes it difficult for readers over the course of so many weeks)… But this is a re-write, because I wasn’t satisfied with the novel. It’s a… conundrum I guess. 😀 Thanks for reading, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, my!! The person in the painting jumped off the cliff. That is a true cliffhanger – pun intended. I’m not sure Emmie remembering her past is a good thing. I am liking Victor more and more. Fabulous episode, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would certainly have needed a stiff drink, Jacquithe! I agree about the paintings. I remember this one (link) by Dughet being used in my class (9th grade) as an example of how much harder it is to create a landscape from the imagination. I would have thought it was the opposite, but quickly found out the teacher was correct.
      (The image at the link is very dark… sorry.)
      Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Onyx is back, and apparently no worse for the wear. But where in the world was he? And that still leaves Amethyst as a no-show.

    Then there’s the mysterious portrait. You know the one I mean….where things move in it! I still think the woman in the portrait is Emeraude’s mother, or perhaps grandmother. Or maybe it’s Emeraude herself from another lifetime!! Good grief!! You have me thinking like you now! Lol.

    This is a super-charged episode Teagan. Yes, you are very mean to leave us hanging on the cliff again. 😂😂
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Egad! Ginger if you are thinking like me — get help now! o_O 😱 🤪
      I think Amethyst might be off on an investigation of her own. She probably leaves reports, but they’d be in the form of spiderwebs, and the cleaning crew would brush them away. Heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!


    1. Hi Lavinia. This riverboat has been “rolling on the river” for so long, it was time to circle back to some old questions as a reminder. We’ll see what else might develop with that painting. 😉 I appreciate your visits, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Welcome to the Delta Pearl, Jill. I love paintings that have a sense of movement — as if something is just about to move, or someone will be back at any moment. This painting takes that a step (or three) further. 😉 A Victorian word for “chuckaboo” is a Victorian word for “dear friend” — so thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!


  7. Once again you’ve brought us close enough to share Emmie’s (sorry) thoughts and the feelings they evoke. Your characters come alive in your writing, and now I wait anxiously for next week. Great chapter, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly GP. This riverboat has been “rolling on the river” for so long, it was time to circle back to some old questions as a reminder. I appreciate your visits, my chuckaboo!
      PS: I need to go back to your posts about the Japanese planes, the Violet Lightning. I’m finally trying to dig back into that story I started in November. I think you sent me a name for the pilot. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. An enchanted painting. That would be transfixing. I would baffyfang someone within an inch of their life if they called me Emmie. It’s not an endearing name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would stop me in my tracks. I love paintings with a sense of movement. One of my favorites (and I gave it away when I moved) was an outdoor scene of chairs and tables. There were no people, but it always made me feel they would return at any moment. So many things I wish I could have kept… but onward… Anyhow this painting takes that a few steps further. Emeraude never liked that nickname. In my experience, “diminutive” nicknames (like those ending in ie or y) are often used in a tone of ridicule. Of course some given names simply end in that sound, and my attitude does not apply to those. Hopefully I said that in a way that makes sense. Happy weekend hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was Timmy growing up. I hated it. The only person who still calls me Timmy now is my friend Joel. But it doesn’t bother me anymore. When you get older it’s kind of enduring.

        Too bad you had to give away your favorite painting. Maybe you will find another one that gives you the same sense of anticipation and hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh! Where has Onyx been and what’s up with the painting? Conundrum is the perfect word indeed, Teagan! What an intriguing chapter! I look forward to the next one. Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

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