The Delta Pearl 32 — Grasp

Saturday, May 9, 2020 

The Allegheny & Monongahela Rivers by Dan Antion
The Allegheny & Monongahela Rivers by Dan Antion

Welcome back to the weekly serial about a #steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos.  Last time, The Delta Pearl reached a spot at my fictional version of Cairo, Illinois where there is a confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.  

Dan Antion of No Facilities   sent some of his photos to illustrate that kind of meeting of rivers.  If you follow Dan, you know he has experience with riverboats.  In one of his posts you will see the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers as they form the Ohio.  

As you’ll recall, the Dealer reminded us that the Pearl, can be just as sensitive to that kind of convergence as she is to borders and boundaries.  We saw proof as the deck of the riverboat came to life and grabbed Èmeraude’s ankle when she started to go ashore with Victor.

I was able to use a “random reader thing.”  It’s from Priscilla Bettis, who suggested hobble skirts.  

Now, let’s see if our heroine can get free of the riverboat’s grasp.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 32 — Grasp

Foggy River Bridge by Dan Antion 2016 (Image altered)
Foggy River Bridge by Dan Antion 2016 (Image altered)

My body was moving forward, but my ankle was held fast.  I landed on the deck with a thud.  I pushed myself up onto my elbows, confounded by what had just happened.

Victor ran toward me.  I don’t know how to describe the assortment of thoughts and fears that ran through my mind.  It was paramount that no one outside the senior crew know the extent of how special the Delta Pearl was.  To say she was no ordinary riverboat was a vast understatement.

As the inventor reached my side, I hurriedly pushed my green skirt over my foot.  I babbled and tried to push Victor’s hands away from my foot.

His motions as well as his facial expression froze when he felt the hardness of the decking that had attached itself to my ankle.  I knew there was no use trying to hide it, so I stopped protesting.

Victor moved my skirt enough to uncover my boot.  He gasped when he saw how the deck grasped my foot.

The inventor sat back on his heels, stunned.  When I looked from his shocked face to my imprisoned ankle, I was speechless.  The words “the Delta Pearl may not allow her to leave” cut sharply through my mind.  A tear of frustrated anger ran down my cheek.

Onyx, the Captain’s clockwork owl fluttered down on brass wings.  His little top hat slid to one side as he tilted his head to look at the wooden vice around my ankle.

The appearance of the owl made me think Cecil Perlog might be behind the riverboat’s astonishing action.  However, I thought differently when Onyx started pecking at the wood.  The little owl tried to free me.

“Move your little bazoo, Onyx.  Let me examine this,” Victor told the owl, placing his hand between Onyx and the part of the deck that held me.

Stubborn as ever, Onyx gave Victor’s hand a single peck, drawing quite an expletive from him.

“Just when you think life is all beer and skittles, a riverboat comes to life and grabs your sweetheart’s leg,” he muttered incredulously.

“Am I your sweetheart?” I asked before I could stop myself.

Luckily, the inventor was so fascinated by the phenomenon that he didn’t notice my question.  At first, he touched the wood tentatively.  Then his hands encircled the wood that held my ankle.  He muttered something about the smoothness of the wood.

“There’s no gap, or even a seam.  It’s like a perfectly formed cuff,” he murmured.

A finger-sized piece of the wood lifted from the rest of the cuff.  The wooden digit moved to caress Victor’s hand.

I drew in a sharp breath.  At the touch, Victor let go and drew back in fright.

The wood pulled itself apart into finger-like tendrils.  It flexed almost like a wave ― a flirtatious wave.

Behind me I heard the worried voice of Eliza Needleman as she hurried toward us.

“Émeraude are you hurt?” she called as she ran.

The pressure around my ankle suddenly released.  As Victor and I watched, the wooden deck board withdrew.  It was absorbed back into the deck.

Victor and I looked at the suddenly normal boards of the deck and then at each other.  I glanced at Eliza’s elegant but rapidly approaching form.  I made a shushing sound at Victor and hoped with all my heart that he wouldn’t say anything.

“I knew you’d fall the instant I saw you running on the deck,” Eliza cried as she hurried toward us.

La Promenade, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1870 Wikipedia
La Promenade, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1870 Wikipedia

“Yet, you ran as well,” her husband chuckled, stepping quickly to catch up with her.  “Maybe that daft Frenchman who sent you those fashion drawings has the right idea,” Needleman added with a snort.  “A woman wouldn’t be able to run in one of those things.  With the skirt all tight around the knees? Absurd.  You’d have been hobbled like a horse.  He should call them hobble skirts!”

“I could out run you, dear husband, even if I wore a hobble,” she taunted in a saucy tone.

“I like your fire, beloved.  I’d never try to change you,” he prudently replied.

By the time the couple reached us, the deck looked normal.  I couldn’t believe the riverboat would reveal that much of her nature to the inventor.  Regardless, I was sure the Delta Pearl would not mean for Mrs. Needleman to know as well ― particularly not after her husband tried to buy the riverboat.

I wondered if the woman’s approach was the only reason why the Delta Pearl withdrew her grasp.  Had the riverboat just given Victor T. Elam her approval?

No, I thought.  My imagination is running away with me.  The Delta Pearl is extraordinary, but she wouldn’t have that level of… I was at a loss to explain it to myself. Is “awareness” the word I want?


End Chapter 32


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

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.


91 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 32 — Grasp

  1. Oooo… you outdid yourself on this chapter, Teagan! Maybe the riverboat wants the inventor to stay, too. So exciting!! Apologies I am behind in reading. It’s me and my workload. Catching up is a joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s lovely to see you, Jennie. I’m sorry you’ve been working so hard. What a landslide of challenges this pandemic created — beyond simply trying to stay safe. I’m delighted you came here for a little break — and that you enjoyed it. Hugs, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The riverboat seems to approve of Victor – a good thing for Emeraude. But now what is Victor going to think about this? It’s not even close to scientific. A fun new development, Teagan. Happy Writing and be well. ❤ (Hugs)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana, it’s great to see you. LOL, I think that over the course of the past 32 weeks that Victor has seen enough non-scientific things that science will be the least of his worries. Great big hug right back, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so lovely to have you aboard this riverboat, Lavinia. Thanks so very much. That’s one of the difficulties of making a novel into a serial — info and hints get spread across too many weeks. I had dropped a couple of hints, but those episodes were months ago. Huge hugs, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David. In the past I tended to write paragraphs of a more expected length — for fiction. For technical documents (when I was working) I agreed with early advice that paragraphs more than five lines long were likely to lose the reader’s attention. Or they would give more technical information than that audience could absorb without the visual break of a new paragraph.

      Then one day I noticed the emails I was getting from a new collaborator and friend. Whether blog post or email, his paragraphs were never more than three compact sentences — often just one. Since it’s hard to turn off my “editor brain,” I started analyzing. Was he completing a thought in those uber short paragraphs? Did my own really contain a single thought? Yes, I decided, mine were a single thought. So were his. However, somewhere in my unintentional analysis, my style, my paragraphs became more compact — not super-short like his, but certainly more compact. Clearly that doesn’t apply to my rambling blog comments. LOL. 😉
      I’m delighted you could visit this voyage, my cuckaboo!


  3. I have to believe that the Delta Pearl either trusts Victor with taking Emeraude off ship or it trusts him with its unusual abilities and being. Either way, Victor called Em his sweetheart and that’s all I need for a smile and warmed heart. I liked this chapter a lot, Teagan! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary J. Time will tell how the riverboat’s reaction to Victor plays into the story. 😉
      I’m glad you smiled at that part. It was fun to imagine Emeraude’s face when he said “sweetheart.” Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo! Big hug right back.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Valentina. It seems everyone on the Delta Pearl (including the riverboat herself) has an opinion on how Emeraude should live her life. But then, most sixteen year-old girls feel that way. Happy Sunday, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Now a wedding on the Delta Pearl would be something grand indeed. Perhaps for someone else, since Emeraude only just turned sixteen. Ah but who? Hmmm Obsidian Durango could use some settling down… perhaps with the new maid, Coral? Or dare I suggest the Captain himself and Agate the Cook? Gasp! Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jacqui. I never decided exactly where my fantasy riverboat is, but Dan’s gorgeous photos made a great illustration for the convergence of rivers, which my vessel is approaching. Hugs on the wing!


  4. What a great episode. I knew Victor would come to Emeraude’s rescue. But I never expected Onyx to swoop in nor for Victor to refer to Emeraude as his sweetheart. But most revealing of all is that the Delta Pearl clearly approves of the budding romance between Emeraude and Victor. Woohoo! Add to that, Victor is now acquainted with Onyx, Amethyst AND the Delta Pearl. This story gets betterer and betterer! Lol.

    Stay well Teagan and continue keeping safe. Have a wonderful weekend.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor Victor. Emeraude’s eye has been on him since he boarded, despite the objections of the Captain and the Dealer. So is the riverboat in cahoots with matchmaking Cook? Or is she on the side of the men, and devious enough to use her magic wiles to help Victor escape the clutches of romance? Perhaps the “crystal ball” Olga left as a thing will tell us. Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I say the Pearl gave her approval. Now the only thing I would worry about is the way the Pearl caressed Victor’s hand. I hope there won’t be any jealousy down the road. I loved the interjection of “sweetheart.” Excellent episode, Teagan. Looking forward to the next.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would say that the Riverboat just gave her blessing on the budding relationship between Victor and Emeraude. Otherwise, why would have she caressed his hand? Right? Or is there perhaps another reason. Perhaps the good inventor has knowledge crucial to the well-being of the Delta Pearl. Lol! Okay. I’ll stop letting my imagination go. Great segment, Teagan!! I loved it!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Now that I’m caught up on episode #31, I can come back to this one. I was surprised that the Delta Pearl and Onyx both revealed themselves to Victor. Could it be that they are both giving him their tacit approval?

    … and the plot thickens!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wonderful chapter. I like how you used dialog to reveal more of the characters to us. Was Emeraude looking for the word sentient to describe the Delta Pearl’s level of consciousness? I can’t wait for the next chapter. Wonder what the Delta Pearl would do if the inventor were to try to steal a kiss on the cheek or heaven’s forbid on the lips.
    You are the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas. Hugs chugging your way on bi-plane wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Awww, “my sweetheart…” that’s a great little scene. They both slipped loose their honest thoughts. I love the banter between the Needlemans. I can picture that, as well as her saying, “I knew you’d fall the instant I saw you running on the deck,” cuz there’s always someone who says that after a person falls.

    This is a great chapter, Teagan. I’m proud my photos were of use to you. I think they enjoy having a story to support. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Victor has seen the Pearl in action.

    Hugs, and I hope you have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted that you picked up on those particular things, Dan. I wanted to show a different side of Randal Needleman than his competitive businessman nature.
      “…what happens now that Victor has seen the Pearl in action?” Another question might be what does that mean for Victor? 😉
      A wonder-filled hug-filled weekend to you and yours too, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a terrific “thing” Priscilla. I can see it for the woman pilot who inspired them. You can’t see to fly a plane if six yards of fabric are blowing into your face. But otherwise… they make as much sense as 6 inch heels. Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!


  10. Nice to have you, dear Teagan, continually again 🤗💖. I was just excited if I can ever post some new, because, since a few days ago, I can’t post anything from my own!! it’d say; I have reached my limits!!😢 take care, lovely one 😘✌


  11. Wow! What’s the Delta Pearl up to? I’m sure Victor will have plenty of investigating to do now. I’ll leave you a Crystal Ball because I think I need one to figure out what will happen next. Thanks, Teagan! Keep safe!

    Liked by 1 person

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