Saturday, October 10, 2020
Welcome to my sanctuary — a safe haven from politics, religion, and all the hard happenings of the current day and age. The steampunk riverboat is here, my chuckaboos! I’m happy to see you. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who visited, hosted, and supported the launch of Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure. You’re all pos-i-lutely the cat’s pajamas!
Background of the Storytelling
Bloggers come and go — it seems like a lot of them go. Sometimes they gradually fade away. Others leave abruptly. Either way, most of the time we never know why. Early in my blogging career there was a bright young woman who followed my first serials, and I followed her blog. She happened to be a lesbian and asked me if I would please write such a heroine. If you’ve been around me, you know that I almost always write from the point of view of a straight woman (of one age or another). That’s because I feel I can’t give a genuine portrayal of anyone else. “Write what you know.”
However, that she would ask me to write a particular kind of character touched my heart. Years later, even though she dropped out of the blogosphere, I still felt sad that I couldn’t give her the heroine she requested. That was in my mind when I brought “the governess and her charge” into The Delta Pearl. Alex/Alison and Azalea created a small subplot in the story which also touches on the way women were regarded during the steam era. The resolution of their story was part of the original ending of this novel. As I added to the story with this serial, Alison and Azalea became a subplot, which will be resolved before the new ending of this re-write.
Thanks to Dan Antion for letting me use so many of his photographs throughout this voyage on the river. Very early in this voyage Maggie gave us this chapter’s “random reader thing,” bucket. Thanks to Dan Antion for providing some of the photos for this episode.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 51 — Jump
While the riverboat vibrated, the Cook bustled past us. She herded Azalea and Alison as she went. I wondered what Agate planned for the young women. Furthermore, I wondered why she had taken an interest at all. Although, she did tend to stick her little bazoo into relationships, and was dreadfully fond of matchmaking.
As Agate and the young women left the area, I got a glimpse of the Captain at the top of the stairs. He nodded to the Cook. There was an unspoken exchange between the two of them. Agate shooed her charges through the double doors. When my gaze returned to the top of the stairs, the Captain was already gone.
In no time Agate had figured out the girls were disguised. However, I hoped she just had some uncanny ability for that sort of thing. I had hoped the Captain would not take time to notice anything off kilter about the pair. Even so, it seemed like he, at least eventually, knew about it as well.
If the two had traveled on any other boat, ship, or train, the person in charge would have felt not just within his rights, but duty bound to eject the same-sex lovers on the spot. A runaway wife would almost as likely get similar treatment. Azalea and Alison were both those things.
Could the Captain really be upset about the runaway wife, or their sexual proclivities? I had never known Cecil Perlog to be judgmental or prejudiced in any way. However, I couldn’t help wondering if he intended to put them off the riverboat at our next stop.
Not only that, but what would our next stop be? A temporal rift? Surely no discretion could warrant abandoning them not just in a strange place, but an unknown time as well!
The unfortunate image of a police officers and hysterics when Eliza distracted the authorities from the two women leapt to my mind. Mrs. Needleman landed in jail, just for swimming in her undergarments. The police would not be any more sympathetic to Azalea and Alison. The idea of Alison being forced to go back to a horrible marriage dismayed me. Adding the fact that should her preference for other women be brought out, seemed the lesser issue to me, but I realized that if the gossip papers got the information, they would run wild with it. That thought was annoying enough. However, in some places she and Azalea could be jailed for their relationship. That was terribly unfair.
“Ah! There’s the great man now,” Victor exclaimed, still determined to offer his help. “Or rather there he was. My, for a man of such stature, he moves quickly.”
Victor moved toward the stairs as if he meant to seek out the Captain. I caught his arm in a tight grip. The inventor turned back to me, wearing a startled expression. He seemed to sober when he finally took in the fierce look on my face.
“Is it really such a secret, then?” he began, but my reply was a mute stare. “Spontaneously traveling in time… Well, yes. I suppose it would be at that. I certainly couldn’t risk certain people learning about my inventions before I was ready to make them public. For instance, I would never let someone like Benjamin Dundas know the details of my work or even my research,” he added, his voice taking on a distracted tone.
I had given little thought to the tall, standoffish passenger since I greeted everyone at their boarding. However, when we spotted him angrily leaving a disreputable jewelry seller during our shore trip in Cairo, Illinois, I became distrustful of the man. Besides, the way his mustache grew into his bushy sideburns made me cringe. However, I wondered why Victor Elam would mention him with suspicion.
“Are you in the same field? Associates? Rivals perhaps? I had never heard of the man before I saw his name on the manifest,” I asked feeling uneasy.
The inventor snorted contemptuously.
“Friends? Certainly not. The man is a troll. He skulks about and steals inventions and ideas. Then he makes them public and takes credit for them. He’s even managed to get the patents for many of the inventions that he stole,” Victor stated.
I realized that he was looking over my shoulder rather than at me. His gaze was directed to the glass double doors that let out to the deck.
“By the way,” he added. “Didn’t you say that no one was to be allowed outside?”
I was aghast to see a tall man wearing a loose-fitting overcoat. He had a lot of unappealing facial hair.
“Speak of the devil! That’s Benjamin Dundas!” Victor exclaimed
At the top of the stairs I saw the Mate walking by, talking urgently to Obsidian Durango, the Cadet.
“Blue, Sid!” I cried up to them. “Passenger outside!” I called, pointing toward Dundas.
The two men glanced at one another. The Cadet headed down the stairs at a run. To my surprise, Blue John Boulton hopped onto the polished mahogany stair rail and slid down the banister. He hit the ground running. Out the door the Mate went, shouting at Dundas. Sid was a moment behind the Mate. They rushed out to the deck.
The Dealer’s ominous warning that the passenger would be safe ― as long as they stayed inside had not left my mind. It wasn’t so much his words as it was the way he spoke them.
If the passengers would be in danger outside, then wouldn’t the crew also be in peril?
The man saw Blue John and Sid moving toward him. Dundas clearly had some unsavory purpose in mind because he took off at a run. He stumbled over a bucket, but kept going.
Fortunately, the pail was empty, but it caused Sid to stumble. Blue caught his arm so that he didn’t fall. Then they careened after Dundas at full speed.
Benjamin Dundas tore the ring-shaped buoy free from its position. The flotation device was meant to be thrown to anyone who accidentally fell overboard. I was horrified when Dundas climbed atop the rail and jumped!
End Chapter 51
Thanks again to everyone how has visited and participated in the launch of Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure. The fun is only just getting started.
Still to come
Sunday October 11, I’ll be in California chatting about 1920s styles with Valentina Cirasola.
Monday, October 19, I’m in Kentucky for Teri Polen’s festival, Bad Moon Rising. I didn’t bring Lulu, but she came by herself.
Throughout October, Hullaba Lulu is at an introductory price. The eBooks are only 99¢. For those who boycott Amazon I made a Kobo eBook too.
Kindle: Click this universal link
Paperback: Click this universal link
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. They refuse to let me talk to a manager. They refuse to promise to send someone other than the previous do-nothing tech. They refuse to make sure the technicians have working hardware with them. 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
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