Saturday, June 6, 2020
Welcome my chuckaboos. That’s a Victorian Era slang word for dear friend. Some of you have been following since very early in my blogging career — my long-time chuckaboos! One of the earliest of those is author and blogger, Christoph Fischer.
Last weekend’s chapter prompted Christoph to mentioned something I never knew about him. If you’ll recall, at the end of the past episode, Eliza and Émeraude went to the library in Cairo, Illinois — and they encountered the librarian. Well, for a time Christoph was a librarian. So I asked if I could name our librarian after him.
Today I used two “random reader things.” First I used fountain pen from GP Cox. When I decided to give Christoph’s librarian a gemstone name, I thought of the fascinating gem, Jet. Then I remembered that Resa McConaghy had suggested it as a “thing” awhile back. Sometimes things become characters too.
Last time, Émeraude and Eliza parted company with Victor and Randall. The women had just gone into the public library in Cairo, Illinois where Émeraude hoped to find information about the magical portrait that resembles her. Then they spotted that… shall we say unusual looking passenger, Benjamin Dundas. He looked irate as he left a jewelry store on the opposite side of the street. I wonder where we’ll go from there? Let’s see.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 36 — Research
The librarian quickly finished entering a note in a ledger. He put down the fountain pen and removed his spectacles. The nameplate on the desk was engraved with “J. Fischer.”
The surroundings felt completely alien to me. My life had been spent first in a small house with people who had no interest in educating themselves, and then on the riverboat, which was very much a world unto itself. However, the librarian smiled when he greeted us, and I felt at ease. He seemed very kind.
Mr. J. Fischer was also very taken with Mrs. Eliza Needleman. I was surprised when she made a point of undoing the buttons on her gloves to remove them. I was curious at her less than proper action. The man cast an admiring glance at her expensive wedding rings, and commented on the workmanship.
Eliza’s expression registered mild surprise that he didn’t seem disappointed upon seeing the symbol of her marital status. However, she took it in stride. In fact, I thought she was relieved. I imagined Eliza usually received far more attention than she wanted.
Abruptly, I confessed that I had never been to a real library. With a suggestion from Eliza that he show us around, Mr. Fischer began our tour with enthusiasm.
Eliza brought up the portrait and I described it. She added that it might be an ancestor of mine. When the librarian learned we had come from the Delta Pearl, his attitude transformed. He was eager to assist. He said that he had always been fascinated by the riverboat, but didn’t have the means for a trip.
The nameplate only gave his first initial, J. I wondered if it would be rude of me to ask about his name. While I hesitated, Eliza addressed him as Mr. Fischer.
“Oh, please do call me Jet,” he said.
A gemstone name! I exclaimed silently, knowing the appeal such names held for the Delta Pearl. Perhaps I should try and make some sort of arrangement for Jet Fischer’s passage.
It turned out that he was something of an art expert. Plus, he had recently helped a religious group develop a process for researching family trees. The librarian jumped to the task of leading us to different areas and removing large books from shelves to lay them out on tables.
Unfortunately, our search proved fruitless. Jet recommended two local galleries whose owners were knowledgeable. However, he had never heard of one to which Randall Needleman had been referred ― the Green Scarab.
“I’m sorry to say there have been some fly by night sellers of paintings that were likely forged,” he commented in a cautionary tone.
The advice reminded me that we saw Benjamin Dundas leaving the jewelry store across the street. Eliza had recognized him too. She asked if Jet had been inferring the owner fenced stolen property. Mr. Fischer cleared his throat awkwardly, but nodded.
I commented that Dundas appeared to have been turned away. However, that didn’t improve the librarian’s opinion of the event.
“Émeraude,” Eliza began as she pulled her gloves back onto her hands. “Maybe he was just shopping, but the owner didn’t like his looks. After all, those bushy sideburns are a downright frightening sight. Even if the jeweler is dishonest, he might have been afraid of being robbed.”
“I agree that the look of the man makes me twitchy. The Delta Pearl’s passengers are investigated before being allowed passage, but their physical appearance has nothing to do with whether they are approved,” I replied.
“Ladies, if I may,” Jet suggested. “From what I’ve heard of that establishment, the owner doesn’t handle items that are particularly high in value,” he said with a glance at Eliza’s obviously expensive clothes. “If someone tried to sell an item of great worth, he would likely be turned away, at least if he wanted immediate payment.
“Like the Pharaoh diamond,” I murmured.
“My chuckaboo, you don’t think Dundas is behind the switch someone made with my diamond, do you?” Eliza asked. “I assumed that happened at some point in the past. Who knows how long I had the fake gem?”
I didn’t want to renew any doubts my friend may have had about the riverboat, so I only shook my head. However, I was sure that Amethyst would not have called our attention to the situation if she hadn’t seen something that caused her suspicion. Otherwise the clockwork spider would not have so dramatically broken the imitation diamond.
End Chapter 36
I love hearing from you — and hope you will leave a comment. Everyone is welcome to leave a random “steam era” appropriate thing. 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.