The Delta Pearl 53 — Saw

Saturday, October 24, 2020 

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

Thanks for coming to the river, my chuckaboos!  We could sit back and do some fishing while we wait for the riverboat.  Oh, but wait.  The sign says “No fishing.”  Hmmm… that explains why the heron has a guilty look on his face in Dan Antion‘s photo.

When this riverboat first got on the water, we had some vague knowledge of Émeraude’s past.  We knew that life wasn’t good in her early years, but we didn’t know very much more than that.  Today, she explains a little more.

I don’t like to do long explanatory episodes, but sometimes they are necessary.  Besides, remember my purpose here is to rewrite the novel, not just give a serial.  Some passages will work better in the novel form, and this is one of them.

Random Reader Things 

Several weeks ago, Mary J. McCoy-Dressel, provided Arbuckles’ Coffee as a real-world thing.  Then G.P. Cox gave us a word, but a fun word will do nicely as a random reader thing, especially when the word is Persnickety.

Now that that patent troll, Dundas has been fished out of the river, let’s get back on the Delta Pearl and see what else is afoot. There’s more to this chapter than learning additional details of our heroine’s past.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 53 — Saw

Image by Teagan R. Geneviene, source Pixabay
Delta Pearl Composite of Pixaby images by Teagan R. Geneviene

Noise from a motor added to the tension of the night.  The Delta Pearl’s naptha launch sped back from the riverbank.  Amid all the chaos of Benjamin Dundas jumping overboard, I didn’t realize the launch had gone.  Garnet Redford, the Chief Porter, came back aboard holding a thick rolled up paper.  He hurried up the stairs to the pilothouse.

Seeing Jaspe dive into the river to retrieve Dundas had stirred my early memories.  I couldn’t stop my button-boots from heading toward the old portrait.

***

When I was a very young girl, the Delta Pearl was a legend in my rural home.  It was a fable, or so we believed, because it was not possible for such a large vessel to navigate that part of the river.

The riverboat was said to be a portend of various things.  Since hardly anyone truly believed those who claimed to have seen her, the Delta Pearl was used to support whatever prediction or warning might suit an attention-seeker.  They might claim it as an omen of disease or severe weather, or conversely of a good harvest.  Or a predictor of death… whenever someone turned up missing, folks said they had seen the huge riverboat.

The first time I saw the Delta Pearl I was eight years old.  I didn’t tell anyone about the sighting.  My mother was already angry with me for asking her if my very recently departed grandfather had seen it.  So, it remained my treasured secret.

Image by Pixabay
Image by Pixabay

I went to the river obsessively.  Every time I got the chance, and many times when I was pointedly told to stay away from the river, I went.  I trekked down the little pig trail that led to the riverbank almost every day — often more than once in a day.

The stranger the abuse I endured became, the more determined I was to sit at the river’s edge, hoping for another sight of the Delta Pearl.

I kept it to myself.  There might have been a temptation to share my amazing secret if I had been less isolated.  However, I wasn’t allowed to see much of anyone, other than family.

As for the people I was allowed to be around, they would have never believed I had seen the legendary riverboat.  They would pass it off as another story from that diminished child, Emerald Perlezenn.  My mother got charity on a regular basis by claiming her child was mentally defective.  She did other things too.

I wondered if I might never see the riverine craft again.  Then came the day when I could no longer cope with the various components of my strange abuse, or with the fact that no one believed me.

No mother would do such a thing!” someone yelled at me when I got up the courage to ask for help.

That was the day that I could take no more.  I went to an outcropping high above the deepest part of the river.  No one was nearby.  The cliff was empty and so was the river.  I hopelessly dove from the precipice to the cold water far below.

I don’t remember falling.  Nor do I remember hitting the surface of the water.  I do recall going down and down, farther into the depths of the frigid river.  I did not fight the descent.

Something caused me to look upward.  I didn’t know what it was, but something was streaking down toward me.  Abruptly I felt myself being pulled upward.  For an instant I struggled against it, but then I surrendered and let it take me.

Gasping for air I breached the surface of the river.  A strong arm held me as I splashed.  I’m not sure I would have been able to tell who it was.  Between fright and the water in my eyes, I could barely see.  A life preserver splashed into the water next to me.  I grabbed the ring shape as it was pulled.  That was when, for the second time, I saw the Delta Pearl.

paddle-steamer-Riverboat 3 deck Pixabay
Pixabay

An old woman with a silver Gibson Girl bun and radiant alabaster skin wrapped me in a warm quilt.  She put a cup of steaming Arbuckles’ coffee in my hands.

“Never mind if they say children shouldn’t have coffee.  Sometimes it’s called for,” she whispered, and with a smiling nod to the Cook, she left the room.

Then Agate, with her Scottish accent, fed me a bowl of soup.

“It’s my ma’s cock-a-leekie soup,” Agate told me in those first moments.  “Ah, you poor wee bairn, you’re just skin and bones.  What are you, eight, nine years old?  Well never you mind.  Now you just pay attention to what I say — and the Dealer and the Captain of course,” the Cook added with a glance at the tall, thin, but stylish man who stood a few feet away.  “You’re safe aboard the Delta Pearl.  She chose to rescue you and that’s not a thing that happens to just any poor soul.”

My eyes had gone to the handsome and elegant man.  He was so polished that for a moment I didn’t notice that he was soaking wet.  I knew he must have been the one to dive into the frigid water and pull me back to the surface.  His face was impassive, but there was kindness in his eyes.

Then the biggest man I had ever seen came through the door, dwarfing the room.  He was of a height with the tall, elegant man.  However, he was broad and barrel-chested.  He looked strong as an ox.  Yet he removed his captain’s hat and bent to speak gently to me.

***

Euphemia_Effie Gray by Thomas Richmond Wikipedia
Euphemia (Effie) Gray by Thomas Richmond 1865, Wikipedia

I stood before the old portrait, mesmerized, as my first memory of being on the Delta Pearl finished washing through me.  The tiny figure painted in the background of the picture moved sometimes.  It was jumping off the cliff.  Just as I had done.

Recently, several people had told me that the woman on the balcony looked like me.  I pondered the decorative wrought iron painted to look like gold, and the fact that the holes in the papyrus scroll that malachite scarab gave me matched a music box cylinder for the song A Bird in a Gilded Cage.

An unexpected voice snapped me out of my reverie.  I turned to find the Librarian, studying me as I studied the portrait.  The old woman with ageless alabaster skin nodded as if it all made perfect sense to her.  Opal’s loosely bound silver hair seemed like a halo.

“Ah, Émeraude.  The portrait… it’s easy to understand your fascination with it.  And the little jumping figure, so much like you?  It was much like me as well,” Opal said in a tone of reminiscence.  “You were one of the youngest the Delta Pearl has ever chosen.  I was only a few years older than you were when the Dealer pulled me from the water below a cliff similar to yours.”

I drew in a stunned breath.  Abruptly, I was confused.  Opal had never told me her personal story, but she must be the oldest person on the riverboat.  However, it sounded like she meant the dealer was already aboard, and an adult, when she came to be part of the crew.  I’m not sure what expression was on my face, but she looked at me and chuckled fondly.

Ghost Enrique Meseguer Pixabay
Enrique Meseguer at Pixabay

“Jaspe is such a dashing figure.  And for a young woman like I was to be rescued by him, and at such an emotional moment…  I admit that I carried a torch for him for years,” the Librarian added as I tried — and failed to put my question into words.

“Have you seen my new apprentice, Jet?  Actually, you might be able to help too,” Opal continued without missing a beat.  “There he is now.”

There was quite a collie shangle at the end of the hallway.  The Mate and the Cadet each had Benjamin Dundas by an arm.  Although his hands were tied, he still struggled.  Victor Topaz Elam and Jet Fischer followed close to them, ready to lend a hand.

Opal motioned to Jet and he joined us.

“Mr. Fischer, I suppose no one told you that it’s dangerous to be outside on deck when the Delta Pearl has gone into a time rift,” the Librarian said with a pointed look at me and a slightly accusatory edge to her voice.

Before I found a way to ask anything politely, she had put me on the defensive.

“Hold up.  What’s that under his shirt?  It’s too wide for a money-belt,” Victor said.

Victor put his hands around the man’s waste.  He yanked free a canvas contraption.  It was sewn into a series of thick pockets and buckled around his midsection.

“Thank God it’s been waterproofed,” Victor muttered.

My young inventor opened the smallest pocket and withdrew a leather pouch.  Untying it he produced Eliza’s Pharaoh Diamond and held it up for everyone to see.

“Well now,” Blue John commented and gave Dundas a smart jerk when the man tried again to break free.  “Topaz, if you please, return the diamond to Mrs. Needleman.”

Bird on a Rock Tiffany Yellow Diamond Wikipedia
Bird on a Rock Tiffany Yellow Diamond, Wikipedia

I gulped.  Hearing someone call Victor by his gemstone middle name made a hollow spot in my stomach.  I still wasn’t certain if the accidental bonding of the inventor to the riverboat “took.”  Neither was I sure whether that was a good thing or a bad one.  I was worried that a choice had been made for him, and that it wasn’t one he would have made himself.

“What else does he have in there,” Obsidian Durango asked.

“It better not be―” Victor muttered with an expletive as he opened the longest pouch.  “My drawings!”

Victor’s face was so red I feared he might explode as he unfolded the plans.  I recognized designs that had been on the large sheet of paper he showed me earlier in the voyage.  The drawings were detailed plans for a life-sized automaton.

Theft of the design would have been a great loss to Victor.  It would have taken years to recreate them.  The plans were so comprehensive that he had even created an on/off switch at the small of the automaton’s back.

Victor’s hands clinched into fists.  I knew that Blue John had seen plenty of roughhousing among the deckhands that escalated to fisticuffs.  He looked at Victor and shook his head.

“I know he’s a no-good meater, but it wouldn’t be good sportsmanship to batty fang a man while his hands are tied,” Blue told Victor.  “And you!  If you spit like you’re about to, I’ll turn the lad loose on you.  I’d bet on his dashfire against your bigger size any day,” he told Dundas.

Kirk Douglas as Blue John. Composite public domain and free images, tomfoolery by Teagan
Kirk Douglas as Blue John. Composite image tomfoolery by Teagan

I took a step toward the men, but Opal touched my arm.  The Librarian explained that she needed quick assistance finding specific information.

“Come along, my dears,” she told Jet and me.  “We’ve no time to spare.”

She moved to a porthole and took a look at the stars in the sky.  Opal nodded as if she confirmed something to herself.  Then she nodded to us, and Jet and I followed as she led us to the reading room ― and then beyond the hidden door that concealed the Delta Pearl’s true library.

The riverboat’s library consisted of more than books for pleasure reading or ordinary learning.  Jet had already told me excitedly that our collection was different in the most extraordinary ways from the public library he managed in Cairo, Illinois.

“Émeraude, dear, would you hand me a pen?  That pencil will do.  It’s no time to be persnickety,” Opal said when I hesitated, looking for a pen.

Taking the pencil, she scribbled a series of numbers.  After a second, I thought it might be a date.  However, that made no sense.  Such a date wouldn’t even be in our century.  Then the Dealer’s words came back to me.

“Latitude and longitude remain unchanged,” Jaspe had said.  “However, the Delta Pearl has shifted in time.  We are in a time about one hundred fifty years later than our own era.”

When the Librarian subtly chided me about going out on deck, I didn’t notice the roll of paper she carried.  It was the same shape and size as what Garnet held when he got off the launch.  When Opal spread it out, it was the thickest newspaper I had ever seen.

Practicality registered in my mind.  Of course, the Captain would send a trusted member of the senior crew ashore, just long enough to collect a little information.

“Forewarned is forearmed,” I muttered.

“Oh, very good, my dear!” Opal told me.  “Back in the fifth century, Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War.  I find it applies to so many other aspects of life.  He spoke of the importance of foreknowledge.  The Captain is very fond of that book.  Whenever we enter a time slip, he gathers a little knowledge, if at all possible,” she added, tapping the newspaper.

Newspaper in rain Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

“This is extraordinary.  But why stop at a newspaper.  Isn’t it better if we collect all the knowledge we can?” Jet asked.

“Oh, I tired that long ago,” Opal confessed.  “I sneaked ashore and brought back a rowboat full of books.  The Delta Pearl started spinning and wouldn’t stop until I threw everything overboard.  The only thing left from what I brought aboard was a newspaper.  As I held it in my hand, ready to toss it into the river, the riverboat stilled.  I suppose it’s a compromise.  She’ll allow us a little information so that we can be forewarned, but not so much that we can tamper too awfully with the course of events.”

Opal opened a leather portfolio and removed a sheet of paper.  It looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember where I had seen it.  She quickly looked at the contents of the folio, comparing it to the list on the sheet.

“Use this date and get any financial information for entities that are large or significant in our own time.  Just skim the pages and look for names on this list.  It’s mostly corporations, banks, stocks, and such.  If you will please.  We haven’t much time,” Opal instructed us handing Jet the sheet of paper.

“When the Delta Pearl takes us into a time shift, she doesn’t stay long.  It’s the same when she moves to a place where one would think she wouldn’t be able to go,” Opal replied to my questioning look.  “Often it happens without many of the crew even noticing.  Yes, it’s something the riverboat can control… usually,” she added in a rueful tone.  “Else we’d be hopping around through time with every voyage,” she paused and gave me a fond look.

“However, the Delta Pearl always has a purpose.  When she took off to that narrow tributary where you lived as a child, Émeraude…  The riverboat didn’t get there by any ordinary means, and she couldn’t stay more than long enough to let the Dealer pluck you out of the depths before you drowned,” Opal said as Jet looked on mystified.

“Are we taking on a new crew member then?” Jet wanted to know, but Opal shook her silver head.

“Who’s to say,” she replied.  “The information I collect helps me understand that what the Delta Pearl has in mind, if only in a general way… most of the time.”

“Now, my dears, light a shuck.  We need to hurry,” Opal told us.

***

End Chapter 53

***

Damfino why they’re searching through the newspaper.  And why does that leather portfolio look familiar to Émeraude?  Oh but wait — we’ve seen it before.  That was months ago. I don’t expect you to remember.

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

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.

 


81 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 53 — Saw

    1. Hi Lavinia. It’s also a “sideways” method of adding to the nature of the riverboat. While I couldn’t write an episode last week, I have finished the one for next weekend — and drafted one for the next. So, I’m back on track with the riverboat. Happy November, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. hmmm – I had wondered about the little figure jumping from a cliff in the portrait. A thread has been connected! However I never imagined it was Emeraude herself.

    Still so many questions to be answered. You weave a tight web!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Joanne. Yes, one more thread tied up, in preparation for the conclusion. Although that will still take quite awhile. The figure might be Emeraude… it could also be Opal… or both. Perhaps it is symbolic of many of the crew, now that we know the riverboat seems to have a tendency of rescuing her chosen crew at critical moments in their lives.
      LOL, tight web? I’m taking lessons from Amethyst. 😉 I’m so happy you are on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this segment, Teagan! It told us so much about Emeraude and how she came to be on The Delta Pearl. You are right. I do not remember the leather portfolio, but look forward to seeing what happens next! Great segment!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jan. Yes, I would be shocked if anyone remembered that. The folio was mentioned, as if in passing, in two very early chapters, when the passengers first came onboard. It would have seemed insignificant, but it had a purpose all along. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Teri. I touched on it at the first chapter, but I don’t expect anyone to remember that. At the time, I didn’t want to bog down the story with the extent of it. And saving part of it until now also lets me gradually reveal the nature of the riverboat. Big hugs right back to you and Bond, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great! The story winds on, and it’s as intriguing as any Sherlock Holmes mystery, in its own way.
    Kudos for the back story! It really enriches the understanding.
    Thank you so much Teagan! {{{hugs}}}
    PS: I adore Émeraude!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This was an outstanding episode! The backstory was terrific, and put so many things into focus. Opal came aboard in the same way- wow! So, what’s to happen? There are so many stories here. You outdid yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks so much for the mention, Teagan. I had forgotten all about sending the “word,” but you used Arbuckles’ Coffee in the perfect spot. Emeraude’s background and story of ending up on the Delta Pearl made an interesting post. I love this line: “Forewarned is forearmed.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary. I had been looking for a way to use that coffee, and it finally came.
      Yes, that’s a phrase I often think. I never knew its origin, and then in researching The Art of War, I was surprised to see that it seems to have been coined by Sun Tzu. My Teagan-Quote that usually follows it is “It’s hard not to come out loaded for bear, when you’ve seen a Grizzly in the back yard.” 😀 Thanks for visiting. Be well, be happy, my chuckaboo.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Emeraude’s remembrance, and how she has found the Delta Pearl. I am feeling a little bit sorry about the Heron. 😉 Thank you for another great episode, with the delicious decoration brought by the included images. Have a beautiful weekend, Teagan! Enjoy it! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much Michael. I’m happy you enjoyed this chapter. Haha — I think that heron is a rebel and will fish anywhere he likes. In my imagination, he posed by the sign to prove his point. 😀 Yes, it is a good weekend. My back pain has been bad, so while I rest my back, I’ve been making book-cover designs that I plan to offer for sale. I just have not decided how I want to go about it yet. For now I’ve been showing them on Facebook, as sort of a test… But they haven’t gotten many comments… So maybe I won’t offer them. But making them was a good diversion. I hope you and everyone you care about is safe and well and happy. Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sad to hear about the back pain. Wish you fast recovery, Teagan! Great idea, with the book covers. I am thinkin there are many interested people, even this Covid-19 situation is at least sad for all. Thank you for the wishes. Be well and stay save too, Teagan. We will overcome this sad times. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Such is the true beauty of being able to create our own fantasy worlds, Diana. Anyhow this served a dual purpose for this rewrite. Emeraude’s backstory is integral to the mythology of the Delta Pearl, so I didn’t want to reveal the full extent of it at the beginning. Plus it would have bogged down the opening chapter. As we’ve gradually learned bits about the riverboat, it was time for Emeraude to reveal the rest of how she came to be there — and so another hint about the riverboat with it. Heartfelt thanks for visiting and leaving this mindful comment, my chuckaboo.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I appreciate your ability to bring readers along in a complex storyline – we are all there with you, living the experience. I especially enjoyed your preamble about “long explanatory episodes.” They are indeed important for the back story, which you accomplished brilliantly in this post.. A special thanks to Mary J McCoy-Dressel for Arbuckles’ coffee and GP Cox for persnickety (I love that term). Sending many hugs your way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Rebecca. I appreciate you mentioning GP and Mary. Also what you said about the intro. Different “blog themes” serve different purposes. We all divvy up our personal themes our own ways. Like you, some people have multiple blogs, each with a specific theme. Many bloggers have a single blog with a different theme/topic specific to each day of the week. Others do a monthly (or quarterly) newsletter. We all have different amounts of time and energy we can devote to our blogs.

      I only have two core themes. Wednesdays I do “my process posts” — though I might also share a mash-up of things along with a bit about my process for whatever subject. Saturdays I post a serial… but I use the introduction to voice any related subject that might be on my mind.

      I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  8. Happy you gave us some backstory on Emeraude. Good news that Dundas was caught, Victor got his drawings/designs back and Eliza got her Pharoah Diamond back! But, as always, you straighten out some messes and then create new ones!

    Great, exciting episode. As much as I don’t want this series to end, I can’t wait to see where everything falls into place. I think you’re going to pull a Sneaky Pete and end this series with unanswered questions, leaving the door open for a “spin off”!

    Have a great weekend Teagan. Hope you have something fun planned.
    Ginger

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha. I’ve always meant for this to be one stand-alone book, Ginger. So I’ll be looking for every loose thread to tie-off. However, I hope I’ve made a world rich enough that there *could* be more stories on the riverboat. Thanks for being aboard, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  9. Tremendous chapter. I’m torn between never wanting to leave the Riverboat and wanting to know how the tale ends. Glad you said the Jet was Opal’s apprentice because I got quite confused. I identify with your librarians and wish I had been the Librarian on the Riverboat.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m so glad you feel that way about the story, Pat.
      Ah… I was carefully in wording that, because I understand how hard it is to keep a serial straight, week-to-week. Opal is “the Librarian” the same way that the crew has named Blue John “the Mate” and Sid “the Cadet”, meaning they use job titles as first names for the senior crew. Jet was “a librarian” when he lived in Cairo, IL.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a wonderful episode, Teagan. I enjoyed reading more of Émeraude’s back story. I love the way you tidy a few things and mess up a few more. You keep us moving, but like the Delta Pearl, you’re in charge. I’m curious now, about many things, but I can wait.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, Dan. Gradually revealing the details of how Émeraude came aboard also lets me ease into details of the nature of the riverboat herself. (Feel free to email me about the curiosities, because that can be helpful to me.) Wishing you and yours a beautiful weekend as well, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much, Robbie. Yes, I didn’t want to pull the beginning of the story down with full details of how Emeraude came aboard. Doing it this way let me ease in details about her beginnings, and the nature of the riverboat as well. Happy Saturday to you too, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.