The Delta Pearl 28 — Shatter

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

Welcome one and all, to the steampunk riverboat, The Delta Pearl!  It’s wonderful to see you, my chuckaboos.  Thanks to Dan Antion at No Facilities, for letting me use some of his photos in this series.

In this chapter of my serialized re-write of the novel, I’ve added two “random reader things.”  Valentina Criasola gave us cul de crin. She also has a post about the item at her blog.  Sometimes I enjoy a comment so much that I use it as a thing.  That happened with Mary J Melange and What?  

Are you ready to get back on the riverboat?  

All aboard!

Last time

“Amethyst, you don’t mean Eliza Needleman’s big yellow diamond has been stolen, do you?  The Pharaoh Diamond?” I asked incredulous.

The mechanical spider bobbed her entire body up and down by straightening and then relaxing her legs.  That was her equivalent of a nod...

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 28 — Shatter

Steampunk eye clock broken shattered Kellepics Pixabay
Kellepics at Pixabay

My thoughts spun.  The Needlemans probably didn’t realize anything was wrong, else there would have been a commotion.

How would I broach the subject of the Pharaoh Diamond to Mrs. Needleman?  What could I possibly say?  My pet clockwork spider told me your diamond had been stolen?  Even if that didn’t sound ludicrous, the passengers weren’t supposed to know about the clockwork creatures.

By the time I got up the stairs to the first-class deck, I was panting.  The Delta Pearl was a very large riverboat and when Amethyst came to me, I was as far away from the Needleman suite as I possibly could be.  As I rounded the corner into the proper corridor, I glimpsed the back of Randal Needleman.  He had the fuzzy little dog on a leash, taking it for a walk.  He turned the corner at the far end of the hallway.

I held up my hand, intent on calling out to him, but I couldn’t gather enough breath to do more than groan.  He was already out of earshot, particularly since I wasn’t able to yell loudly.

A moment later, I reached the wealthy couple’s suite.  I tried to knock on the door without collapsing against it.  Eliza Needleman answered it right away.

“My dear, why did you knock? What have you forgotten this time?” was her good-natured question as she opened the cabin door.

Morning-dress Ackermanns Repository 1820 Wikimedia
Morning dress from Ackermann’s Repository catalog 1820, Wikimedia Commons

It was obvious that I was not the person she expected to see.  Her husband had left only minutes before.

Mrs. Needleman seemed relaxed and pleasant.  She wore her dressing gown, during her preparations to get properly attired.  That garment, to me, was as great a statement of wealth as her huge yellow diamond.

Her dressing gown was a breathtaking creation of lavender silk charmeuse and chiffon.  It included one of the newly fashionable cul de crin, bustles ― a shaped, padded cushion rather than a hard frame.  The elaborate housecoat boasted yards and yards of handmade lace.  A broad satin ribbon tied it together in front at her waist.  Why it even had a train!  I’d never considered a dressing gown having a train.

I still didn’t know how to ask about the diamond.  She wasn’t wearing the priceless gem, although she was not attired to go out anywhere.

“Émeraude,” she corrected herself with perfect poise.  “This is a surprise.  Won’t you come in?” Eliza Needleman offered with a wave for me to enter the cabin.  “Is something wrong?” she asked, looking at me curiously as she closed the door.

A glance in the mirror that hung above the marble fireplace mantle showed me that it was easy for her to guess that I was not there on a social call.  My face was flushed and my hair was in disarray from running the entire length of the riverboat, including several staircases.

As I entered the suite, the slim heels of my lace-up boots clicked on the broad area of marble tile that surrounded the hearth.  However, they made not a sound on the plush carpet that covered the rest of the floor.

“There is a rumor,” between breaths I blurted out the half-truth, since I couldn’t tell her the information came from Amethyst.  “They say your Pharaoh Diamond has been stolen.”

Bird on a Rock Tiffany Yellow Diamond Wikipedia
Bird on a Rock Tiffany Yellow Diamond Wikipedia

A shocked expression came to her face.  Eliza Needleman put her hand near her collar bone where the diamond often rested.

“Surely that is impossible!” she exclaimed.  “The diamond is safely in its jewel box.  No one other than my husband and myself has been in our cabin.  I’ve even seen the jewel after your maid came in to clean,” she added as she walked to a desk that had a locking drawer.

She  inserted a key and brought out a box made of enamel and inlaid with mother of pearl.  The top of the box bore a mosaic depicting a scene of Egypt.  Despite her assurances that the diamond was still in her possession, she looked relieved when she opened the box.

Inside was a huge glittering yellow diamond.  I tensed at the impossible sight.  Amethyst was not able to lie.

Perhaps I misinterpreted what she meant, I thought.  After all, she was quite excited.

“There,” Eliza said with a smile.  “It is right where I put it last evening.”

The clockwork spider moved ever so slightly where she sat crouched on my shoulder.  Foolish though I knew it to be, I tried to will Amethyst to be still.  Whether the minute movement drew Eliza’s eye, or if it was her apparent distaste for what she previously assumed was a broach, I did not know.

One soft click was my only warning.  Amethyst leapt from my shoulder and into the jewelry box.  Eliza Needleman gasped and dropped the enameled box onto the desktop.

What? I muttered, surprised.

The clockwork spider held the diamond tightly.  I had the fleeting thought that she looked almost possessive.  Then Amethyst raised one spindly leg and hit the diamond hard with her tiny sharp foot.

“No!” I cried mortified.  “I think she’s scratched it.  I’m so sorry.  Somehow I’ll make this right.”

“My dear, whatever is that thing?” Eliza asked calmly enough, though she looked stunned at the sight of the clockwork spider.

 Steampunk Clockwork Spider Brass and Copper Wire Sculpture made by Daniel Proulx
Steampunk Clockwork Spider Brass and Copper Wire Sculpture made by Daniel Proulx, Wikimedia

Then Amethyst, still clutching the big diamond, scampered across the desk and up the draperies.  As she ran, the gold chain fell through the bail in the diamond’s setting and slithered to the floor.

From a silver filament Amethyst swung over to the tall marble fireplace mantle where she alighted with the diamond.  She seemed to wait for me to make eye contact with her.  Having achieved that, she began to tap the jewel forcefully against the marble mantle.

“Amethyst, stop!” I called.

I was answered with a series of clicks.  It may be difficult to believe that clicking and whirring sounds can indicate a mood, but I recognized that my purple spider was quite annoyed.

“Amethyst, what has gotten into you?” I demanded as I took a step toward her.

The clockwork spider abruptly used another silvery strand and quickly shot up to the ceiling.  She clicked and whirred again.  Then to my astonishment, with all her strength she threw the Pharaoh Diamond at the marble hearth.

The gem shattered into a thousand pieces!  I knelt amid the shards on the verge of tears, shaking my head.

“This is horrible.  I’m so sorry!” I heard myself repeating.

Eliza knelt beside me mutely.  After a second we turned to one another is astonishment.  Amethyst scampered down from the ceiling and perched on my arm, bobbing her little body up and down ecstatically.

“It would take much more than that to break a diamond, wouldn’t it?” I commented as Eliza’s stunned gaze locked onto mine.

“Indeed, it would.  It seems your rumor was correct,” Eliza said.

She walked over to pick up the gold chain that had fallen when Amethyst scampered up the drapes.

“That’s the same chain.  There’s a tiny kink in it near the clasp,” she continued but shook her head.  “Some sneaky, skilmalink fiend has managed to switch the diamond for an imitation!  I can’t even be sure when it was done.”

Speculations ran riot through my mind.  Did Amethyst take the diamond?  She loved shinny things.  Yet that would not explain the fake diamond.  My spider was clever, but she could not create an imitation gemstone.

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

Perhaps someone had paid overt interest in the gem.  Thinking that might give us a clue, I asked Mrs. Needleman.  However, her response was the same thing I had noticed myself.  Everyone looked at the diamond.  It was rather difficult to avoid noticing it.

Since we didn’t know when the real diamond was taken, my first thought was the Harveys.  Hyacinth Harvey was covetous and commented to me that it would be worth the entirety of her husband’s inheritance.  Hershel Harvey bluntly asked for the stone, if only to play with it as a marble.  Could one of the Harveys have stolen the diamond?  I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, remembering that the Harveys had already been put off the ship and the Delta Pearl had left that port.

When the passengers first boarded, one porter and a deckhand both reacted strongly to the sight of it.  I remembered their exchange on deck as they speculated about its worth.

I stepped into the corridor to flag down a passing porter.  I asked him to have Garnet Redford, Chief Porter, come to the Needleman suite.  I didn’t really suspect either of the young men, but it was important to make the Chief Porter aware of the situation.  The porters and maids would be invaluable in a search if that was what the Captain required.

What about the other passengers?  Of course, they were more likely suspects than any of the crew.  Benjamin Dundas looked at the yellow diamond only briefly, but his gaze seemed covert.  Even so, I believed he was more interested in Victor Elam than in the diamond.  However, the reason for his interest in the inventor was a mystery.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t noticed Dundas with the other passengers lately.  We would have to make sure he was still on the boat.  He might well have sneaked ashore when the Harveys disembarked, possibly taking the Pharaoh Diamond with him.

I realized my thinking was biased, but I could not imagine Dr. Victor T. Elam stealing the diamond.  Regardless, there was one thing that must be done first.

“Amethyst, my sweet, would you please fetch the Captain?” I asked, and the spider skittered away.

***

End Chapter 28

***

Yes, Amethyst is finally back! I wonder if she’s leading Émeraude to another red herring… I suppose we’ll know next time! 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.

 


79 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 28 — Shatter

  1. The plot thickens. Such vivid description. My heart raced as I read about Em running to the Needlman cabin. As if I was running with her. Out of breath. Oh and Amethyst for the win. Another great episode!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think if I had been Mrs Needleman, I would have fainted dead away seeing Amethyst burst into action like that!

    I suspected that the diamond was eventually going to become a target, and I wanted to believe the Harveys would be involved. Now I’m less certain. This story gets curiouser and curiouser.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Woohoo for Amethyst!! She is one snappy spider, and clearly is privy to important information. Wherever she’s been, this was too intriguing for her to stay hidden any longer. I wonder if she knows where the ‘real’ diamond is…or if there even is a real diamond?

    Emeraude seems to be in her element now. She and Amethyst may become the Sherlock and Watson of the Delta Pearl!!

    Very exciting episode Teagan. Such a welcome relief to not be drowning in Covid-19 never-ending reports. I’m not minimizing the severity of this virus, I just need a break. Really looking forward to your next episode. I think we’re all becoming Delta Pearl Junkies!! 😂😂😂

    Stay well and be safe my friend.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such an enjoyable diversion to all the trouble in the world. I can’t imagine who stole the diamond, but I suspect Emeraude will get to the bottom of it. 🙂 Thanks for the episode, Teagan. Hope you’re doing well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diana. I’m coping better today than through the past week. Getting to place an online order for some basics helped a lot to combat the wigging-out. LOL. I hope you are feeling happy and sassy. I’m happy you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m sure you are, my friend. This thing is frightening on so many levels — I think nearly everyone is effected in one way or another. It’s like living in a post apocalyptic novel. Whatever else you do, please be good to you. Great big hug. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Teagan, thank you for the mention and for an exciting chapter of mystery and intrigue on the Delta Pearl. Little Amethyst is certainly persistent when trying to get a message across – a little physical demonstration did the trick! Now comes the search for the thief and all of us armchair sleuths trying to figure out who did the crime.

    Happy Saturday! Continued wishes for good health and hugs from the kitties and the what girl. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I held my breath while Amethyst destroyed the so-called diamond. Wow! It had to be a dire situation for the clockwork spider to reveal herself. Great segment, Teagan!! I can’t wait to see what happened to the diamond!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to see you GP. I hope you and yours are safe and well. Thanks about the episode! 😀
      That’s a simple question with a complicated answer. The Reader’s Digest version is “Yes.” Etiquette surrounding gloves was a huge and complex in the Victorian Era. Just before that, gloves were very short. During the era they got longer (generally). By 1865 fashionable women didn’t wear short gloves at all — for evening. (They still did in daytime.)
      From my research:
      “Short kid gloves continued to be fashionable for daytime wear during the 1850s and early 1860s. They were fastened at the wrist with two to four buttons. In 1865, short gloves for evening attire were no longer fashionable and were replaced by long gloves — from four to six buttons — called “opera gloves”. Evening gloves continued to get longer and longer, reaching half-way to the elbow during the 1870s and going beyond it in the 1880s. This kind of glove could be fastened with up to twenty buttons. After 1865, daytime gloves also grew longer. Until the end of the century, their length varied from covering the wrist to half-way to the elbow. However, they would never again be worn as short as at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign.”
      I’m running low on “reader things” — so I’m long gloves (or I might use “longer”) as a thing from you. 😉 Thanks for commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whoa! You really researched the gloves, didn’t you! Phew! I don’t know what made me think of them, for some reason it just popped into my head. Sorry to cause you so much work. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. First off, I have to say how nice it is to read about people in close proximity to other people. Interacting! Your descriptions make this seem so real, that I feel like I’m reading an account of a ship passing by in the river today.

    I love the opening scene with Émeraude running out of breath. We all know that feeling.

    Kudos to the persistent spider. Go Amethyst!

    I hope you can stay safe and healthy, Teagan. I look forward to the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan. Haha… well, I couldn’t let the virus get on the riverboat. Nope, that’s my happy place. 😉 I’m glad your virtual bar was open today. I enjoyed visiting.
      It makes me happy that you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for being part of this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Now that’s a lot of excitement and intrigue. Anyone could be the culprit. I wonder what Amethyst knows about the diamond heist, since she knew it had be heisted?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed it, Tim. That’s a good point. Amethyst loves to spy on the humans. She may have witnessed the theft. Then again, maybe she had a better eye for the fake — since she has four eyes! LOL. I don’t remember if that is included in the original. If not, then eventually, I need to make a point of saying whether or not she saw the theft. Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.