The Delta Pearl 35 — Frown

Saturday, May 30, 2020 

Wild Clouds by Timothy Price
Wild Clouds by Timothy Price

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.

Several newer readers have asked that I include a list of past episodes.  There are many reasons why I don’t do that.  (Those of you who asked — I know I could trust you implicitly.)  Piracy is at the top of that list.  Yes, it’s all still online, but the least I can do is not make it even easier for thieves.  I’m saddened that slight protection also makes it harder for you.  However, I’ve always kept a category link on the right-hand margin of the page.  Click “Delta Pearl.” There’s still a lot of scrolling to get to old episodes, but it’s somewhat less effort.  The good news is that it’s also still free each week.

Here are the “random reader things” for today.  First we have Wild Clouds from Tim Price.  Tim did an entire post of these gorgeous cloud-scapes at his blog Off Center and Not Even.  Also, when this steampunk voyage first got onto the river Dan Antion suggested Clock with a Broken Hand.  I’ve been searching for the right place to put that clock all these weeks.  Today it finally came along.

Last time, Émeraude and Victor — and the Needlemans, who volunteered to chaperone them went ashore in Cairo, Illinois.  Émeraude hoped to find information about the magical portrait that so fascinates her.  Randall Needleman knew of a gallery where they might learn something.  Unfortunately it was closed down… except for a mysterious malachite clockwork scarab.  Will they give up?  Let’s see.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 35 — Frown

Cairo Illinois panoramic map 1885 H Willbe Wikipedia
Cairo Illinois panoramic map, 1885 H Willbe, Wikipedia

Where had it gone?  I stretched and craned my neck, trying to catch sight of the skittering bug.  Most people would have wondered if their eyes had played a trick on them, if they saw a clockwork scarab.  However, I was no stranger to such novelties.

“Thank goodness Amethyst wasn’t here.  She might have tried to chase it, and exposed herself,” I muttered.

I looked at Victor T. Elam’s puzzled expression.

“Malachite,” the inventor began.  “Do you really think the scarab with a carved malachite back might have belonged to whoever attacked the Captain and the Dealer at your sweet sixteen party?  Not many people have automatons, not even small ones.  Although if anyone might have one, he might be a candidate.”

Randall and Eliza Needleman caught up with us before I could caution him not to mention the scarab.  I gave his arm a squeeze and hoped he understood what I was trying to say.

“Good heavens, don’t tell me the place has closed down,” Randall Needleman complained as they strolled up to us.

“What a disappointment,” Eliza commented as she tried to peep between the boards on the window.

I silently hoped the scarab did not make another appearance.  Although I expected it had gone to inform its master.

Wild clouds leve Tim Price
Photo by Timothy Price

“Don’t lose heart, Émeraude.  We can still visit the library.  There’s no need for that frown,” Eliza told me, patting my arm.  “Didn’t you say it’s about a block away from here, husband?”

If I had been frowning, then there’s no telling what expression my face held when I looked up and saw the wild clouds that filled the sky.

Victor followed my gaze.  He caught my unease.

“Umm, while all of you go to research Émeraude’s painting, I think I shall try to get some components for my, err, my tinkering,” Victor said.

When he started to move away, I was still holding his arm.

“Don’t be long,” I told him with another look at the sky. “I’m worried about the weather.  Maybe we should go back to the Delta Pearl early,” I dissembled about the reason for my concern about the clouds.

“You’re looking a little all-overish, my lad.  Hold up just long enough for us to properly see the ladies to the library.  Then I’ll go with you,” Randall suggested.

“Dear, I know you’re hoping to pick the poor boy’s brain about inventions again,” Eliza told him and pretended to roll her eyes with disdain.  “Promise me you won’t be a burden,” she added.

Eliza Needleman winked and boldly kissed her husband on the cheek ― in public.  Her audacity was thrilling.

“Me, a burden?” Randall cried in mock astonishment.  “Why, I’ll even be a beast of burden and carry any heavy equipment he needs.”

I felt better about the situation if he was going along with Victor.  Needleman was strong looking.  A self-made man, I was sure he wouldn’t run from a fight, if any trouble befell my little inventor.

Clarence Carriage Wikipedia
A Clarence Carriage (commonly called a growler), Wikipedia

Our chaperones chuckled and reminisced about their courting days.  While they were occupied, Victor spoke quietly to me.

“The weather is more reason for me to get supplies.  Those strange clouds… they don’t seem natural,” he whispered.  “What if there’s another attack?  What if that noxious brown cloud returns?  I need to create something to combat the effects.  If the Captain should get another lungful of that poison, he might now be as lucky again.”

I shuddered at the memory of Cecil Perlog gasping for breath after he went into that sooty cloud to defend the riverboat.

That day, Jaspe had quite literally thrown me to the Captain, telling him to get me away from the hurricane deck.  Then he launched himself into the cloud.  However, when it sounded like the Dealer was in mortal danger, the Captain followed him.

The buried idea that I had somehow been the cause of that event came back to mind.  My eyes filled with tears, which I quickly brushed away, before anyone could see.

A loud whistle startled me.  I was surprised that it came from Randall.  He hailed a growler that was a short distance behind us.  The Clarence carriages were larger than the two-person Hansom cabs.  People called them growlers because of the noise its wheels made on the cobblestoned streets.  He flagged down the driver as the carriage approached.

“Perhaps Émeraude is right to be concerned about the weather.  Those clouds are rather threatening,” Randal explained.

A short while later the men parted company with Eliza and me at the library.  Our boot heels clicked as we crossed the marble floor.  I paused at a window.  I could see the Clarence cab making its way down the other side of the hill.

“Shall we talk to the librarian?” Eliza suggested.

Cairo, Illinois Public Library, est. 1883, Wikipedia
Cairo, Illinois Public Library, est. 1883, Wikipedia

Turning to face her I saw the main desk across the large room.  The wall behind the desk was a clock with a broken hand.  I couldn’t explain why, but it added to my feeling of disquiet.

We moved toward the librarian, but I looked over my shoulder to the window.  Abruptly I stopped dead.

“Is something the matter?” Eliza asked me, turning to follow my gaze.

Outside I saw a tall, reedy man wearing a voluminous overcoat.  His mustache grew into his bushy sideburns.  It was the standoffish passenger ― Benjamin Dundas.  I had been distrustful of his furtiveness from the first moment I saw him.

He was exiting a business of some kind.  He seemed angry as he stopped in the doorway.  The other man glared at Dundas as he shut the door firmly behind him.  I tried to read the sign beside the door, but it was too faded for me to make out the name.  I asked the librarian about the place.

“My dear, you want nothing to do with that establishment.  It’s not the sort of place ladies would care to visit,” the librarian told us, and wiped his spectacles as though the mention of the place got the lenses dirty.  “It’s a jeweler’s, but not one I would recommend.”

He also appeared to see Dundas.  The librarian cleared his throat.

“It draws a… questionable clientele.  I’m not certain that the owner is concerned with legitimate business,” he added quietly.

When I turned back toward the window, Dundas had disappeared from view.  I stared vacantly at the broken clock as thoughts ticked through my mind.


End Chapter 35


I love hearing from you — and hope you will leave a comment.  However, I’ve been “multi-tasking” in the extreme the past few days, so forgive me for being slow to answer comments this time.  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.

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88 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 35 — Frown

        1. I really appreciate your encouragement Jennie. I’m so behind on visiting blogs. I have been trying my hardest to work on the novel I started in November… and with the virus stuff on top of my usual “stuff” I just can’t focus on anything — including writing… So I’m spinning my wheels, no matter what I try to get done. I hope all is well in your world, my chuckaboo!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes…. that cloud??? I’m still wondering about it.
    I’ll bet Émeraude wants to go to that jeweler’s across the street. Also, it’s neat that Émeraude & Victor have their little clockwork secret between them.

    I really hate all the intellectual property thieves out here.
    I have heard of entire books being stolen, and put up for sale on FB.
    I’ve seen my pics on other sites, but not for sale.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another exciting episode, Teagan. I hope they’ll escape the cloud. I am rather fond of the inventor and the Needleman’s. Sorry I’m late to the river party this week, I spend hours editing my WIP this weekend. Everything takes so much longer than you expect, doesn’t it? I hope all is well with you, Teagan 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Victor might look and act like a milquetoast, but I think you’re right, Teri. He’s pretty handy in a crisis.
      I thought of you just now, when I made a feline element stronger in my current novel in progress. 🐱 Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Teagan, I marvel at your plot-making skills very much. All-all-my work is autobiographical and it seems natural that I admire people like you who can “make it all up” Well not ALL of course because in your writing I’m sure we will find TEAGAN in a thousand places. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, David. Thank you. ❤ Don't sell autobiographical writing short. I've worked with a couple of people who write autobiographical fiction. I've witnessed their difficulties. I'm also seeing a different aspect of those problems myself. In my current novel in progress (from November), at the outset I decided to let the heroine have some bad elements of my own youth. Also I wanted to write a happier ending than that part of my life had. I hoped it would help exorcise the PTSD that's at the core of my agoraphobia. Then came all the added anxieties of COVID-19… This is proving to be an extremely difficult story to write. Worse, I meant to make it quirky and funny — a huge challenge when I've given the heroine such a background. (eye roll) LOL, the things I do to myself…
      Thanks for spending part of your day here, my chuckaboo!


  4. The library is always the place for secret passages and puzzles will this be any different will someone disappear behind a silently opening book shelf??? I wonder and look forward with anticipation…Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m getting nervous for them with the clouds and now Benjamin, but equally curious what they might find in the library:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I read the description for the growler carriage and wondered why they called them that. Thanks for clarifying! I think Emeraude should obey her instincts and hurry back to the Delta Pearl before trouble comes calling!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. More puzzle pieces. I think Emeraude has every reason to be concerned about the wild clouds in the sky as well as the shady character, Benjamin. I do hope they find what they are searching for at the library and can hightail it back to the boat! Great episode, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, Teagan, you have me concerned this week about bad weather, shady characters and what will happen to Emaraude, Victor and the Needlemans if the situation goes awry. I hope they make it back to the boat in one piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hmmm. Lots going on here, Teagan. Now I’m curious about the antique shop, the jeweler, the clock, the weather! LOL. You really have me hooked. Can’t wait to see what happens next, of course. Thanks for the entertainment, my friend. Happy Writing and be well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Distasteful passenger + unethical jeweler + Needleman diamond + ominous clouds + clockwork scarab + broken clock. I’m not going to hit the sum key cause it all doesn’t look good so I will wait for you to fill in the equation. Thanks, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You know Teagan, I’m afraid of heights, so hanging on this cliff every Saturday is bumming me out! 😂😂 More dark clouds….can’t be good. The creepy passenger Dundas and the questionable reputation of the jewelry store owner. Good grief, I’m too old for all this excitement! Lol. A clock in the library missing a hand. Weird.

    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Let’s see … to summarize, we have a second ominous cloud, an ominous clockwork creature, and a suspicious character exiting a disreputable jeweller. Could HE have something to do with the missing diamond?

    With all this as a build-up, what possibly can go wrong?!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oooh, this trip ashore is getting interesting. I love that we have a new questionable character. I guess Émeraude’s instincts were correct…maybe. Of course, here at the edge of the cliff, we don’t know. Left for a week to ponder.

    Take care Teagan. Thanks for the great story to get us through the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for going ashore with us, Dan. He’s been sticking to the shadows, but Dundas came aboard with the other passengers. Although it looks like he was turned away by that jeweler. I wonder why? And why would he be going there in the first place? Hmmm… Be wary of wild clouds. 😉 Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀 It takes awhile on a slowly flowing river, but maybe it’s beginning to bubble, Barb.
      Ugh… *everything* seems like hard work lately. I’m pooped. Thanks for being on this riverboat. I’m happy you’re enjoying the ride, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Uh hu! Something is brewing! I hope the visit to the library is enlightening but it all feels pretty ominous. You’re right about taking precautions, Teagan. Enjoy the weekend and keep safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Before I got on to reading today’s episode, I posted more wild skies. I had already forgotten that you mentioned you were posting some of my photos today. Thanks for the shout out. Wonderful episode. Broken clocks, questionable jewelers and unnatural clouds are deepening the mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

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