Saturday, May 2, 2020
Welcome my chuckaboos. Thanks for being patient while the steampunk riverboat, The Delta Pearl was in unknown waters. Today she’s back!
This is a brief episode, to get my toes back into the water. Even so, I was able to use a “random reader thing.” It’s from GP Cox, who suggested Icepick. Immediately, I thought of the Dealer using it as a weapon. However, it popped right up in a different way. You’ll see what I mean.
Last time Émeraude learned more about Victor T. Elam, the young inventor who sets her young heart aflutter. His sad past gained her empathy and ours as well. Maybe those two will go ashore together for a little R&R. Let’s see.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 31 — Disagree
The next morning, I went to the Chandelier Deck to remind the Dealer that it was my free day. Jaspe’s intense gaze fell upon me. His eyes could make an icepick seem dull. He looked inordinately suspicious. There was no reason why I needed to hide anything from the Dealer. However, the conversation I overheard between the Captain and Agate leapt to my mind.
Cecil Perlog had expressed his disapproval of the Cook encouraging a relationship between Dr. Victor T. Elam and me. The Captain went on to say he doubted that the Delta Pearl would allow me to leave, at least not permanently.
I swallowed and made a point of not mentioning that my plans for the day included Victor.
“Émeraude,” he began uncertainly. “Are you sure you want to go ashore in Cairo, Illinois? After the recent reaction of the Delta Pearl to crossing a border between states? Cher, when the riverboat lurched forcefully, you landed on your croupillon!” he added with the slightest smirk.
How had he known about that? No one saw me fall on my fanny that evening. That was also the night I learned that Azalea Morton and young “Alex Rice” weren’t a governess and her charge, but two women in love. I had kept the secret, but I glanced covertly at the Dealer, wondering if he was also aware of that fact.
I made no reply. I hadn’t given any thought to the peculiarities of the port’s location. My interest in the portrait was even greater after the Mate pointed out the fact that the model looked so much like me. The painting and the cameo necklace were my only concerns. Then when I added the unexpected presence of Dr. Victor T. Elam to the outing, geography was the last thing on my mind.
A trace of impatience crossed the Dealer’s face but was quickly gone. He had always been kind to me, and he always would be. No matter that he disagreed with my plans for the day.
“You know that the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers is at Cairo. The Pearl, she can be every bit as sensitive to that convergence as she is to borders and boundaries,” Jaspe patiently reminded me. “Perhaps more so.”
The Dealer’s Cajun accent became stronger as he spoke. I took that for concern.
“Jaspe, surely you are not worried that something will happen to the riverboat while I’m ashore? And I’m sure you do not believe she will up and disappear without me,” I couldn’t help adding, since I still felt the sting of the previously overheard conversation.
The sound of approaching passengers silenced our conversation.
The Dealer showed no reaction when the Needleman couple walked up and Eliza called him Mr. Jasper, rather than the quasi French pronunciation, ZASH-pah, used by the crew.
I knew my wealthy friend didn’t mean any harm. Jaspe seemed to like the lady, regardless of which pronunciation she gave his name. He had always told me the different ways people said his name didn’t bother him. I supposed that really was the case. I used the interruption to make a discrete exit
“Miss Émeraude, will you be going ashore?” Randal Needleman called after me.
Since Mr. Needleman’s words reached me after I had gone out the door, I pretended not to hear. I expected he wanted to wrestle answers from me about the search for his missing Pharaoh Diamond. When he couldn’t find the Captain to pester, he dug in with the nearest available crew member.
Randal Needleman was not a man to be easily intimidated. Even the girth and height of the Captain didn’t deter him. The Dealer, however, was another matter. His cold gaze could freeze even the likes of the steel magnate Needleman.
However, being beset with questions I could not answer was not why I kept walking. It was because didn’t want to be late meeting Victor. Moreover, I didn’t want to let Jaspe put a cloud over my fun with his mother hen talk. The man never treated anyone else with such worry. Why should his personality transform when it came to me? Honestly, it could be maddening.
It was a lovely sunny day, with a light breeze. The little triangular flags strung above the deck fluttered merrily. I smiled when I spotted Victor. He propped an elbow, nonchalantly on the railing and his bowler hat sat at a jaunty angle upon his head. Sunlight flashed from one lens of his spectacles like a wink.
My steps quickened, so I picked up a handful of my Kelly-green skirt. Abruptly something caught my boot. I fell forward, my foot still held fast. I moved as well as I could to a sitting position. My breath caught when I saw the reason for my tumble.
The wood of the deck was molded around my ankle. It looked as if the plank of decking had been carved to include a vice protruding from it. That “vice” was firmly and snugly attached to my ankle.
End Chapter 31
If life seemed complicated for Émeraude last time, it’s triple that now… Feel free to leave a random Steam Era thing to fuel this riverboat. Or just leave a comment to say hello, before you leave. Be well, be happy, 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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