Saturday, May 16, 2020
In the Victorian Era, someone’s dear friend was their chuckaboo. So welcome back, my chuckaboos!
When I first wrote The Delta Pearl, I wasn’t satisfied with the story. So I’m using this serial as a means of rewriting it. I’m also adding random reader things to keep the paddlewheel turning. With this episode, I was able to use three reader things!
First we have Bottled Tears from Diana Wallace Peach. Next, Fraggle suggested Watch Camera. Then, very early in this voyage, Tim Price gave us Paper-strip Film. I hope you’ll check out their amazing blogs.
Last time, the steampunk riverboat showed that she has an unexpected level of awareness. The Delta Pearl actually seemed to flirt with our young inventor, Victor. Will our potential lovebirds ever get off the riverboat? Or will something else get in their way?
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 33 — Chaperone
Jaspe was suddenly at my side. Victor stepped back as the Dealer deftly lifted me to my feet. Jaspe had the most habit of appearing out of nowhere. I supposed that his long legs and amazingly quick reflexes explained the ability, but it was dash-ed annoying.
Randal Needleman must have noticed his speed, based on his startled and perplexed expression. The entrepreneur gave a half bow before turning back to his wife.
“Dearest, did you check the bottled tears?” he asked, motioning to the decorative tear catcher that was suspended at her waist. “I understand some parts of town are… unpleasantly odiferous. You might need to replenish the scented vinegar it contains.”
“Not to worry, darling. The chamber maid, Coral, already checked it,” Eliza replied.
To my chagrin, the Dealer struck up a conversation with the Needlemans. Before I could steer the discussion, he has suggested that I go along with them in case they needed any assistance.
As I stood sputtering, Onyx turned his clockwork head 360 degrees. He gave a wink and a nod to the Dealer. Then the brass owl swooped low to fly behind a row of crates where he wouldn’t be seen by the approaching passengers. Then the clockwork owl discretely made his way to the pilot house.
Randal Needleman chuckled. His wife lightly punched his arm.
“I see, old boy. We’ll keep these two from going off filly and foal,” he assured Jaspe.
Blushing scarlet, I turned to Victor hoping for some kind of support. Although I realized there wasn’t much he could do about the situation. I was further irritated to see that my inventor had stepped aside and was speaking to a deckhand.
Then the Cook approached the young men. Agate made a point of not looking over at the Dealer or me. Her giggle reached my ears as she tweaked Victor’s cheek. Then she made a hasty retreat, with a covert glance up at the pilot house, where the Captain was.
“Mr. Needleman, I was hoping we could discuss the idea you mentioned,” Victor began, as he walked back to us. “It would be an interesting invention.”
Needleman always seemed excited about discussing mechanical things with Victor. He quickly invited Victor to join the three of us. However, I was surprised that my inventor had thought of it. Then I realized Agate had likely suggested it to Victor.
To my surprise that prospect seemed to satisfy Jaspe. Perhaps all he wanted was a chaperone.
While the Needlemans spoke with the Dealer, I whispered my concern to Victor.
“I wanted to visit antique shops and the library. I was hoping to learn more about the portrait and my cameo,” I complained.
“Yes, I remember, and I agree that your necklace looks identical to the one in the painting,” Victor told me. “I took a close look at the portrait after we spoke.”
Balderdash! I thought. I hope it didn’t move while he was looking.
“Did it, umm… Did you notice anything odd about the portrait?” I asked.
Victor gave my expression a curious look, but shook his head. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“The more the merrier?” Victor commented with a disappointed twist to his mouth.
He took a deep breath and then smiled at me.
“Their presence doesn’t have to change anything. Well, at least not all that much. Mrs. Needleman would probably enjoy shopping. Plus, I expect the library would be very much to her taste. She’s quite an intelligent woman,” he added reasonably. “Oh, and I brought this. It will be handy if we need more time with your research than the Needlemans want to spend.”
Victor removed a thick silver pocket watch from his vest. Then he demonstrated that it was actually much more. It was a small watch camera.
“You invented this?” I exclaimed. “It’s amazing. How can something so tiny take photographs?”
“No, it’s not really my invention,” he stated modestly. “But I did make it. This one is a self-erecting camera, which expands six spring-loaded telescoping tubes when it opens. That forms the bellows of the camera. It’s got an internal meniscus lens and a drop shutter.”
My response to that answer was a nod and smile. It didn’t make the least bit of sense to me.
“I have a collection of cameras at home. I also have a hand-held camera that uses paper-strip photographic film that’s kept inside it. The film is supposed to be sent to the Eastman company in New York to be developed, but I usually manage on my own.”
The crew had the swinging stage securely on the shore. Eliza called to us from that ramp as she opened a ruffled umbrella that matched her mauve gown.
I was about to take Victor’s arm when something bumped my elbow. It was a curved wooden handle. The dealer handed me my lace parasol. I held my breath so that I wouldn’t say anything impolite.
Really, Jaspe was an insufferable mother hen!
End Chapter 33
I guess there isn’t much freedom or privacy to be had for Émeraude and Victor. 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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