The Delta Pearl 34 — Scrabble

Saturday, May 23, 2020 

Lafayette Louisiana. Steampunk Festival people walking Wikimedia
Lafayette Louisiana. Steampunk Festival Wikimedia

Welcome back to the riverbank my chuckaboos.  It’s another all new episode of The Delta Pearl.  This one was not part of the original novel. 

I was able to use a couple of “random reader things.”  First we have Ribbon Candy from Jan Twissel.  Also, Beth suggested Red Herrings.  

Last time, our potential lovebirds didn’t make it off the riverboat for what might have passed for a date with the Victorians.  Do you think they can go ashore with chaperones?  More importantly will they have any fun?  Let’s see.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 34 — Scrabble

victorian-silhouette flowers Pixabay
Pixabay

Wind gusted down the narrow streets.  Clouds darkened the eastern sky.  Turning uneasily, I gazed back toward the river.  I could see a smidgen of water, but I had lost sight of the Delta Pearl.  I had been on shore excursions many times.  However, that day I was inexplicably nervous about being away from the riverboat.

I shouldn’t be anxious about leaving the Delta Pearl, I thought.

My mood annoyed me.  I wanted to be excited about the day.  Even though we would be chaperoned, I would finally get to spend time with my young inventor ― away from the rest of the crew!

However, the last time I had been excited about anything was my sweet sixteen birthday party.  That ended in disaster.

Abruptly, the wind died and the sun parted the clouds.  Victor T. Elam paused beside me as I opened my parasol.  I felt a little thrill of excitement, when he tucked my free hand into the bend of his arm.  Eliza whispered something to her husband and gave him a little nudge.  They both glanced our way.  I couldn’t stop myself from blushing.

Victor steered us to a vendor selling ribbon candy.  Eliza and I chatted while the men bought treats.

When they returned, I described the portrait to Randall and Eliza Needleman, and my intention to learn more about it.  They were surprisingly enthusiastic.

“This is so much more interesting than simply shopping or dining out.  Don’t you agree, darling?” Eliza asked her husband as she unfurled her ruffled umbrella.

“Indeed, my dear.  Believe it or not, I know just where we should begin,” he told us all, with a wink and a tip of his hat.

Lise Sewing Renoir 1866 Wikipedia
Lise Sewing, by Renoir 1866 Wikipedia

Mr. Needleman went on to explain how he came to know about the portrait and the Delta Pearl.  I had always expected he heard of the riverboat from a wealthy friend.  However, I was startled to hear that he in fact learned of the portrait first.

“Do you remember the painting I gave you as an anniversary gift two years ago?” he asked his wife.

“How could I forget?  The lovely Renoir of a girl sewing,” Eliza told him with a smile.

“A business associate referred me to the gallery where I bought the painting.  The shop owner was a strange man who kept to the shadows.  He said he had some skin condition,” Randall began.

Eliza gave a little shudder at the idea.  That seemed unlike her, but everyone has something that bothers them.  I remembered a passenger who shrieked and ran away at the sight of the smallest scar.

“Émeraude, you are not the only one who is bewitched by the portrait.”  Randall confessed.  “The odd fellow described that very portrait to me.  He claimed, quite falsely I might add, that it was a Rembrandt.  Of course, when I inspected it for myself, I saw that wasn’t the case.  Although the styles are similar.  At any rate, that portrait is what inspired my interested in your beloved riverboat.  I hope there aren’t any hard feelings that I wanted to buy her.”

“Should I be jealous?” Eliza asked playfully, but her eyes held a hint of possessiveness.

Randall stopped short and then turned to stare at me.  He remarked on the resemblance between the woman in the portrait and me.

“Dearest, you have plenty of other paintings and pursuits to occupy you.  I hope you can give Émeraude your promise that you have moved on to other interests,” she stated.

“She is surely a relative,” he exclaimed.  “Or rather an ancestor, because the painting is clearly quite old.  Well, of course it must remain with you.  It is also a terrific mystery, and I must unravel it!  Why, this is a puzzle worthy of my friend Arthur Conan Doyle.  Let’s hope we don’t encounter any red herrings along the way.  I’ll spare no expense to find the answers.”

His words both excited and frightened me.  It was surely a bad idea for Randall Needleman to be determined to solve any mystery at all that was related to the Delta Pearl!

Green scarab Pixabay
Pixabay (image altered)

“Ah!  There’s the sign for the gallery at the top of the hill,” he enthused.

“The one that looks like a green insect?” Eliza asked.

“Precisely.  It’s called The Green Scarab,” Randall answered.

I quickened my pace, moving ahead of the others.

“Have a care young foal,” Randall told Victor with a chuckle.  “Yon filly is outdistancing you.  Why don’t you two young people go on ahead.  Off you go, filly and foal.  Away from the crowd.”

“I take it the portrait is as… unique as the spider and owl.  Not to mention Delta Pearl herself,” Victor stated quietly, when he caught up with me.

“It might be even more unique than anyone realizes,” I whispered.  “Here’s the place ― the Green Scarab, Gallery of Antiquities.”

To my dismay, the gallery was closed.  The windows and door were boarded shut.  Victor and I tried to see inside through gaps between the boards on the windows.  There were a few paintings covered by cloths, and a row of empty glass jewelry cases.

“Look there!” Victor hissed.  “It moved.”

Placed near the window was a large green scarab.  It was too big to be a brooch.  It wriggled little pincers and then scrabbled away.

“It’s clockwork.  Like your spider,” Victor said in surprise.  “What’s wrong Émeraude?  You’ve gone pale.”

“Did you notice the carved gemstone that covered its back?” I asked.

“Dark green with lighter green streaks?” Victor began.

His eyes widened in realization.

The gemstone was malachite.

***

End Chapter 34

***

I’m a little concerned that amorous congress between our filly and foal is the least of our worries.  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 34 — Scrabble

    1. Hi Joanne. I know the feeling. It seems like I just can’t keep up with anything these days — blogging or otherwise. This riverboat is moving along so slowly that you probably didn’t miss much. Thanks for catching up, my chuckaboo!

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  1. Another good chapter, Teagan. I’m curious how the scarab relates to the boat and Emeraude and Iove the blooming romance. Sending hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Robbie. I’m glad it appeals to you. I know at the core, I just don’t really write “romances”… but I’m also trying to reflect the “sensibilities” of that era, their way of talking, the way women were treated — all without being a historian or preaching. So there’s a lot going on in my head when I write about these two. Thanks for reading, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. It’s great to see you. Ah! You bring up a question that has terrific story potential (one that I hadn’t considered as the scarab is all new — it is part of this rewrite but was not in the original story). Maybe the scarab is an evil minion of Malachite (who came into the story at Emeraude’s birthday party). OR… maybe it is a prisoner that he left behind in the abandoned art gallery… Hmmmmm….. Many thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that was fun! A clockwork scarab – I can’t wait to see the trouble its going to cause. Teagan, I like how you show the rich couple. In the Victorian era novels I’ve read a happy married couple would talk that way. I don’t think Eliza is a ditz at all. You already showed us that she is independent and modern in the things she thinks AND she’s a sufferagette! As for her husband, lol, I don’t trust you I mean him. Lol. I don’t know if he changed his heart or if I’m just supposed to think so. Thanks for the stay at home fun.

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  3. Too bad the shop is closed!
    I have always been curious about the painting. Now, even more so.
    A clockwork Scarab?….

    A sweet episode, with the kids getting off the boat, and the Needleman couple being so cool about it all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like others here, I don’t have much trust in Mr. Needleman. It’s a good thing Emaraude has Victor’s confidence with the clockwork critters. Maybe he’ll end up being a hero of sorts in all of this. Another engaging chapter, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think Emeraude’s trepidation about Needleman’s interest and determination is well-founded. I do not trust him even one iota! And now we have another mystery! Another clockwork creature to ponder. Great segment, Teagan!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another great episode, full of intrigue and questions. I just don’t trust Randall Needleman. I believe he’s on the Delta Pearl for devious reasons, all tied in with the portrait. I think his wife is a perfect cover for him because she’s a ditz! Innocent but ditzy!

    Hopefully the budding romance between Emeraude and Victor will get a real shot in the arm soon. They need a break.

    The gallery is not only closed but the business has moved AND there’s a scarab inside with a malachite gemstone on its back!

    Okay Teagan, I gotta find some smelling salts. I feel faint from all this excitement!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent episode, Teagan. Green malachite scarab? Quite mysterious. We get oxymoronic green peach scarabs flying around, bumping into us up here.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. June bugs come out in July up here. They are brown with white stripes. The peach scarabs are large scarabs in iridescent green. They are quite beautiful, but raelly pesky. The green beetles you are seeing might be stink bugs.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. The state where I was born was known for peaches, so maybe the same critter as your peach beetle. These were at least an inch long and as big around as my index finger. They were an iridescent blue-green. I’m not sure what they could have been attracted to in the yard of my youth. There were a lot of pine trees, but I don’t remember a neighbor with any fruit trees. But I remember playing with them.

              Liked by 1 person

        1. I guess they do sort of grab-on. I can still feel their little legs holding a finger. But yes, we used to play with them. Maybe your dad knew a different critter that was also called a June bug… Hugs.

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    1. Thanks so much, John. I had intended to go inside the gallery, but then realized closing it would fit better with something else I had in mind. Emeraude might find the most clues by going back to the Delta Pearl and staring at the painting some more. 😉 Thanks for taking this shore trip, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  8. Teagan, this chapter threw out more red herrings than answers. I had to look up the spiritual meaning of malachite and still do not understand why our filly and foal seemed to view it with apprehension. What is the meaning within the world of the Delta Pearl? I doubt in this world much amorous congress will ever happen. This reads more like a better written Barbara Cartland where we spend chapters working up to whether the heroine will allow herself to be kissed on the lips. I can’t see it going any further than that. Again you leave us hanging, how unfair of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tee-hee, I’m tickled to be positively compared to any author who was as successful as Cartland. Thank you, Pat. You weren’t here when the tid bit about malachite was introduced. I included a blue link in this episode about Emeraude’s birthday party. When I get time to make the list of links I promised Barb Taub, I’ll include you. Could I use whatever email is in the “guts” of my blog?
      Thanks for being on this riverboat. And huge hugs right back, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh… now those are great thoughts, GP. Hmmm… (I might have to keep these characters ashore longer than I intended. LOL.) Another question — to whom does the clockwork scarab belong? I’m so glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Malachite and a nosey persistent passenger pest. This can’t be good. I don’t imagine the Pearl wanting to host that clockwork little beast. I hope Émeraude and Victor have some time alone to solve their puzzle.

    I love the description of their walk. I felt like I was walking along. At least he’s holding her.

    Great episode, Teagan. I hope you have a relaxing weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan. The scarab wasn’t part of the original version. I don’t remember what made me think of it this week, but when the thought emerged, I knew I had to include it — and I knew to whom it had to belong. Heartfelt thanks for your feedback about the walk. That helps.
      LOL, I’ll have a good weekend, if I can get rolling with my Wheel of Fortune novel… Maybe today is the day. See you at the virtual No Facilities Bar, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Maybe Victor has some weaponized goggles to fend them off, Priscilla. Hmmm… there’s an interesting exercise. The goggles might need to be part of a hat. What clockwork weapon might work from a headgear mount? 😉 Thanks for reading, my chuckaboo!

      Like

    1. I have a request. Would it be possible to have a link at the end of each episode with a list of all previous story posts? Occasionally I would like to check back on a detail from earlier episode, but… I’m SO lazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The plot thickens! And I love antiques, so this turn of events is even more intriguing. Thanks, Teagan! And I love that Renoir (I don’t recall having seen it before). Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

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