The Delta Pearl 39 — Rise

Saturday, June 27, 2020 

The Circle of the Rue Royale James Tissot 1868 Wikipedia
The Circle of the Rue Royale by James Tissot 1868 Wikipedia

Welcome back to the riverbank, my chuckaboos.  This segment continues the adventures of the passengers and crew during their shore leave in my fictional, Victorian Era version of Cairo, Illinois. 

Delightful blogger and fascinating person, Pat at e-Quips recently did a post about bells.  I stumbled upon it after I wrote this chapter, but Bells was a perfect random reader thing for today.  I only had to make a minor adjustment to use it.

Also, I was finally able to use a “thing” that was sent months ago from one of my original followers, author and translator, Olga Núñez Miret.  She comes up with such fabulous things, like Papyrus!

I have one character that leaves most of us undecided — and I doubt this chapter will change that. We’ve learned not to be a trusting bunch!  I’m talking about the wealthy intrapreneur, Randall Needleman.  Look at Tissot’s painting used above, and consider whether you would cast any of those men as Randall.  I’ve always seen him as a tall, barrel-chested man.  However, if I had to choose from these… I’m thinking the man standing on the step at the far right (gray top hat).  Or the very handsome man seated on the left end of the sofa, chin on fist (black top hat). 

Thanks to Dan Antion for the use of his photos.

Last time we left Émeraude in quite a mysterious tangle and losing consciousness.  (Chapter 38 — Tangle)  Shall we see how she’s doing?

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 39 — Rise

Pixabay image altered by TRG
Pixabay image altered by Teagan R Geneviene

Shouting voices rose up from beneath me.  I’m not sure if it was the voices that woke me or the pain in my shoulder and head.  The world around me shifted and drew close.

Stars danced before my eyes.  My ears rang like a ship’s bell.  Although my head hurt, it was not as bad as my shoulder.  I cried out when I moved it. 

As my vision cleared, I looked upward ― it felt like I was rising.  Light glinted dully from a gray metal ball.  It drooped from a cord, to which it was attached.  Several of them dangled above me.

“That’s what hit me,” I muttered as consciousness returned.  “Lead weights.  It’s a net!  But where did it come from?” I exclaimed.

The weight that knocked me on the head must have been a glancing blow, else I would have been unconscious longer.  I didn’t think I had been out more than a moment.  I moved my shoulder gingerly.  I dreaded to see the bruise that would soon be there.

Shouts intruded on my dazed thoughts.  I looked down toward the voices.  Regardless of how I came to be in the predicament, I was scooped inside a net.  It was being drawn up to who knew where or what. 

Already I was higher than Victor T. Elam could reach.  I saw him on the ground, jumping, trying to grab hold of the net.  It was mere inches beyond his grasp.

Vernon Lee by John Singer Sargent 1881
Vernon Lee by John Singer Sargent 1881

Jet Fischer stepped out of the library, summoned by the commotion.  Shock painted his expression when he looked up toward me.  His gaze seemed to travel up beyond me.  From his different vantage point, I wondered if he saw something the others could not see.

The librarian ran back inside.  A moment later he emerged carrying an odd shape by a strap.  He hurried to the edge of the stairs, but he was farther away than anyone.

A bright flash hit my eyes, a reflection.  Amid the chaos, I thought I glimpsed a pair of brass wings.  However, the bright spot flew back toward the docks.

Onyx? I wondered, but the clockwork owl never traveled far from the Delta Pearl.

As suddenly as the bright wings appeared, the owl darted away.  I heard the high-low-high emergency klaxon from the Delta Pearl, and knew that drew him.  Any crew within hearing of that horn were to return to the riverboat immediately.  My heart lurched.  Not only was I trapped, but there was trouble aboard my home!

Then something tugged at my knotted mesh prison.  I saw the handle of Eliza’s parasol hooked through the net.  Unfortunately, the net still rose.  In seconds Eliza dangled above the ground.

Victor wrapped his arms around Eliza’s legs, in effort to keep both of us from being pulled away.  That caused my prison to lurch wildly.

Foggy River Bridge by Dan Antion 2016 (Image altered)
Foggy River Bridge by Dan Antion 2016 (tomfoolery by Teagan R. Geneviene)

Randall Needleman had been on the curb, beside the Clarence carriage, ready to help his wife climb into it.  If I had been captured a minute later, he and Eliza would both have been inside the coach.  As it was, Randall was a step away from the horses when he saw the young inventor and his wife, both struggling to prevent the net from pulling me up into the sooty cloud.

Jet gave a shrill whistle as he waved the odd shape he carried.  Randall turned toward the librarian.  Jet pointed up at the brown cloud and then jiggled the thing he held.  Randall nodded his understanding.  Jet swung the object by its strap and then threw it hard.  The roundish shape hurtled toward Needleman, who caught it with one hand.  To my astonishment, he strapped it over his face.

A breathing apparatus?  I remembered fireman who was a passenger, years before.  He saved the life of a wealthy man who gifted him passage on the riverboat.  The fireman told us that fire departments were using “Neally’s Smoke Excluding Mask.”  He described how the mask had a small bag of water that was suspended by a neck strap.  Connected to the water bag were two sponge filters that were kept wet when the bag was squeezed.  Air was drawn through the filters to the mouthpiece in the face mask.

For an instant I wondered what they could be thinking.  Then I realized that I squinted to see through the haze.  The air around me was had gotten smutty.  I coughed.

Acting quickly, Randall hopped onto the back of one of the horses.  Standing there gave him enough height that he was able to launch himself from the horse and grab hold of the net.

“Let go, Eliza!  It’s getting too high,” he called down to his wife.

I heard Eliza groan out the word “No!” as she fought to keep her grip on the parasol.  However, with Victor’s weight pulling her down she was not able to hold onto it.

Yes, Eliza was several feet into the air.  Although Victor, whose arms were around her knees, was not at a dangerous distance above the ground.  When Eliza lost her hold, they both tumbled to the earth, unharmed.

Or that is, with the exception of Eliza’s broad feathered chapeau.  It was dislodged when Victor grabbed onto her legs.  The lovely hat floated safely to the ground just a moment before Victor and Eliza tumbled earthward.  Victor landed squarely on the hat, and Eliza landed on him.

Cristian Newman at Unsplash
Cristian Newman at Unsplash

I coughed incessantly as I was drawn up closer to the noxious brown cloud.  I remembered how sick the Captain had been after he went into such a cloud when it descended on the riverboat during my sweet sixteen party.

I choked off a scream when a monstrous face with two big eyes and a long snout popped up beside me.  Then it laughed and I knew the voice.  It was a gas mask.

“Lean back, Émeraude.  Make sure I don’t nick you,” Randall instructed as he clutched the net with one hand.

He held a long switchblade in his other hand.  The knife gleamed sharply.  Randall began to slice the tough fibers of the mesh.

As Randal worked the blade to cut the net, I heard a clicking sound just above me.

“The scarab!” I whispered as the clockwork beetle scrabbled down the netting toward me.

The green scarab stopped to hide several inches above my head.  It dropped a small papyrus scroll, which landed in the ruffles of my neckline.  I tucked the scroll farther inside my gown so I wouldn’t lose it, just as Randall pushed his torso inside the net.

Randall saw that I held my shoulder protectively.  He nodded as if he understood it was injured.  He removed the freakish looking mask and put it over my face, quickly tightening the strap.

“Put your good arm around my neck,” he told me and then he put an arm around my waste.

Randall pressed a button, which retracted the knife.  He quickly put it inside his waistcoat.  He reached outside the net to retrieve the parasol.

“Don’t look down,” he warned.

Dan's River Confluence Steampunk Balloon Teagan Geneviene
Dan Antion’s River confluence photo, tomfoolery by Teagan R. Geneviene

Of course, that’s precisely what I did.  I gasped seeing how high above the ground we were.  We had also drifted out beside the river.  There was no guarantee we would land in the water.  From my vantagepoint, I thought we were almost as likely to plummet to the hard earth.  Falling from such a height, even if we did hit the river, that would not be a gentle landing by any means.

“You’re as bad as my dear wife,” he said with a chuckle.  “Didn’t I tell you not to look?  Don’t worry.  I’m a good swimmer,” he added, but his claim was small comfort.

An instant later Randall pulled me free of the net.  Far below, I could see the shapes of people running in our direction.

Then we both fell.

***

End Chapter 39

***

Real Steampunkery Tech

Gas masks with self-contained apparatus and filters weren’t successfully in production until around 1910.  That’s why I used the term “breathing apparatus.”

Various configurations were invented as early as 1824.  That was from a miner, John Roberts, who came up with a “smoke respirator.”  They were usually intended for miners and firemen. These masks tended to be hoods or helmets.

The one I chose for this episode, “Neally’s Smoke Excluding Mask,” was produced in the 1870s.  I didn’t find a drawing of it, but I expect it would look more similar to what we imagine today when we think of a steampunk gas mask. 

***

Well dash my wig, we’re hanging from another cliff!  Or rather, plunging through the air toward a most uncertain fate…  But really, don’t you know me by now?  Of course I had to do that.

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 serial is made possible in spite of (not because of) the deplorable lack of Internet service from TDS Telecom.  They are even worse than the government about claiming no problem exists in the face of  failure.  TDS Telecom meets every complaint and service call by saying they find no problem. Their technicians come to my home and refuse to do any work or replace equipment, even when their offsite managers have instructed them to do so. They brought equipment that they openly state does not work properly. My letters, emails, and tweets go unanswered.  Dear readers, please do not comment here in response to this paragraph. Just be aware of my awful experience with this so called provider.

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.

 


113 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 39 — Rise

  1. Up, up and away… then not! You knocked the breath out of me with this one, Teagan. Please, please tell me this one will be a book when it’s done. I would like to have it all together to remember the fun of the past year. Thanks for bringing this to us every week chuckaboo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, David. That means a lot to me. I seem to work very hard at “spinning my wheels,” especially on my novel in progress. It’s a third as far along as I wanted it to be by summer. But I try to remind myself that meanwhile I’m making progress with this serialized re-write. Everything about the budding romance for Emeraude and Victor, and this shore trip is new material. Plus it brought me the missing middle, which was the reason for this rewrite — AND the core ideas for a more solid, tied-up, satisfying ending than I originally penned.
      I appreciate you reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Like

      1. So, you say you are spinnning your wheels, but it’s obvious you’re doing good writing, solving problems that have troubled you for awhile. What you’re doing now is going to help you in the future, and that’s an important goal.

        You say you’re significantly behind schedule. I don’t think anything is ever gained by forcing yourself to hurry up. When your mind is ready to work faster, it will work faster.

        Best to you, as always, Teagan.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh-oh… that’s a good point about the papyrus getting wet, Denise. How far inside her gown was it tucked? Landing in the river would surely destroy it. Landing on the ground would kill them… What a pickle for this pantser!
      Thanks for the feedback about the net. I was afraid it was too easy or obvious, but a couple of people have mentioned being surprised by it. Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Trish! I’m delighted you’re on this riverboat. I started my blog in 2012 doing a serial set in the 1920s. Now, counting this one I’ve done (let me think…) at least 8. It’s fun to include everyone. So of you want to leave a “random thing” (just don’t include anything that would have been invented *after* the Victorian Era or steam era. Thanks for getting aboard, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted that you enjoyed it Andrea. Thanks so much for this feedback. You’ve made me think… I don’t see the clockwork creatures as either bad or good. However, I don’t think of them as free of “emotion” either… more like small children who just don’t know good from bad. So they reflect their master’s nature. I see Amethyst (the spider) as sometimes appearing rather sinister — yet loveable. LOL. I will try to remind myself to make sure I’ve found ways to subtly show those things, when I finish this rewrite. I appreciate your comments, my chuckaboo!

      Like

      1. That’s really interesting Teagan – when I think about it, of course they should be independent with their own thoughts – I never think of them as clockwork, I think of them as living beings, which is the way you make me think of them…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an exciting episode. The dear owl was also back. 😉 Interesting the Papyprus, which wonderfully fits the city name.And yes, Randall as the new Bond. :-)) Enjoyed this episode very much, Teagan. Thank you, and enjoy your weekend. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great coincidence that I used Cairo, Illinois, Michael. I needed a city at a place where two rivers meet, and that is the city I found. Sometimes things just work out right. 😀 If you ever saw an old American television show called The A Team, as their leader said “I love it when a plan comes together.” I’m happy you enjoyed this, my friend. Huge hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The city of Cairo was already unknown to me, before. A great way how you are designing and planning your stories so exactly. Oh yes, I know the A-Team series. Great quote. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, be well and stay save.Hope you are far away from the heat wave. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Michael. It’s been hot. Yesterday the last time of afternoon that I checked, it was 102 degrees F. But this is the “high” (elevation or altitude) desert, so I can’t complain. The extremely low humidity helps. Be well, be happy, my chuckaboo!

          Like

        1. I appreciate that, Mary. Got the link and it’s cool!
          I’ve wanted to give most of my effort to the novel I started in November, rather than entertain myself doing research for this one. So thanks for the “thing” and for making my life easier. Hugs on the wing!

          Like

  3. Yikes! Action packed from start to finish. That damn black cloud! 😡😤 Mr. Needleman is now a hero! What’s the message the scarab dropped to Emeraude? And why the signal for the crew to get back to the Delta Pearl? What’s happening there? Will Onyx warn someone onboard that Emeraude and friends are in trouble?

    I have no doubt Emeraude will be just fine, but she’s had a lot of injuries since the start of this trip. Someone very evil has to be behind all this. I think the captain needs to sit down with Emeraude and tell her the truth. She can’t protect herself if she doesn’t know what or who she’s protecting herself from.

    Hope your head gets to rest this weekend after writing this episode Teagan.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. There’s never any rest for my head, Ginger. I had a boss who used to talk about my writing (fiction or work), and say “How can you quiet your mind to write?” It cracked me up for him to say that. My answer? “My mind is never quiet. It’s chaos in there.” LOL.

      Yes, more on that papyrus for sure! More about Onyx too… and several other threads. Next time we’ll see some characters we haven’t seen in a while. Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I’m delighted you were entertained, Christoph.
      Why the heck did Jet have that mask? That question bothered me when I wrote this segment. I had to give him a backstory (in my mind), but I didn’t want to slow the story down with it. So I guess that means I’ll have to take Jet with me when I go back aboard the Delta Pearl, so I can explain it. LOL. Happy weekend to you too, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome chapter, Teagan! Thrilling, scary and the emergence of Mr. Needleman as Emeraude’s savior. Who would have thought? I only hope there is a positive ending to the fall and everyone makes it back to the Delta Pearl on time.

    Happy Saturday and weekend, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That man looks more the way I imagine Randall’s “energy,” Dan. Although as a Star Trek fan, I’ll tell you what I didn’t mention — I would cast him with Jonathan Frakes as he was in his part as Commander William T. Riker. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve knocked me cattywampus with all of the doings and to and fro-ings in this chapter. Before I read this chapter, I thought the Needleman would have been the tall standing man in the blacktop hat, now I think he is the one in the brown top hat. Quite the hero that we did not expect and that has literally colored how I view him. I over the moon to be featured in such an exciting chapter and appreciate the nice shoutout. Hugs wafting your way on sooty wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this chapter, Teagan. The excitement grew from your first few words and kept growing until the end. The fear of entrapment is so vivid with Émeraude tangled in that net. I hope they land in the river.

    My heart is beating fast and my head is spinning over the drop and what might be going on on board the Delta Pearl.

    PS – I love your tomfoolery, especially with the last photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dan. When I ran across the image of (whatever that thing is) I really liked that its angle showed both the bottom and most of the overall look of the craft. I’d say more, but I don’t want to give any spoilers to anyone who enjoys reading comments — even though I’m the one to bring up the subject. I was thinking I used this image back at Emeraude’s sweet sixteen party, but I couldn’t find it in my WordPress file. (So I uploaded it yesterday.)
      I appreciate your encouraging words, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I, too, think of Randall as looking like the fellow standing on the steps. This was an exciting episode! A tad comical but scary, too! I hope they land in the water and that they’re not so far up as to be injured on the fall. I wonder what’s written on the papyrus . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Priscilla. Now and then I touch on the edge of a serious subject, but I don’t like this story to get too serious. I’m glad you found some comedy in this segment. I’m glad you’re on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  8. What an exciting chapter, Teagan. Rescued but are they going to succeed or fall to the ground? By the way, I like the look of the chap in the black top hat resting his chin on his fist as Randall. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was certainly a development I didn’t see coming!! I believe our dear young Emeraude is far more precious than I might ever have imagined.

    … and now I have to wait (rather impatiently) for the next instalment!!

    Hope you have a great weekend, Teagan, with all technology issues behind you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I surprised you. 😀 Some people just need the right circumstance for their inner hero to emerge. But poor Victor… I’m sure he wishes he had been the one, because he’d surely lay down his life for his sweetheart. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That’s a cliffhanger if I’ve seen one, Teagan. It made me think of the opening scene of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, but wow! Thanks for using one of my suggestions as well, and for the mention. I’ve always loved the word Papyrus and I’m very intrigued by its role in the story. I can’t wait until next Saturday for the next episode! Big hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Olga. I’m not familiar with Enduring Love. I should check it out.
      Oh, there will be more about that papyrus, so stay tuned! 😀 Thanks for being on this riverboat. Big hug right back, my chuckaboo!

      Like

    1. It’s great to see you, Rebecca. I haven’t gotten to use as much real world tech in this story as I have in some others (particularly “Hullaba Lulu” a past serial that I’m editing for publication now). However, I’ve had a tempest prognosticator, and a couple of other things. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

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