Saturday, April 24, 2021
Thank you for coming back to the river, my chuckaboos! I’ve been working on “Teagan’s Books” this week. If you look at the headings just below the 1920s banner image, you’ll see that I’ve made a page for Dead of Winter. I’ve also revamped my Designed & Ready Book Covers page. Several new covers are waiting for stories. I also added a “Pets” cover category. Now, back to the business at hand — the steampunk riverboat!
“The Delta Pearl” is here. I’m using another “random reader thing” today. Months ago, Olga Núñez Miret left one that was perfectly suited to a Victorian setting — a handkerchief embroidered with an initial. You’ll have to read to the end of this episode to find out how it blows into this chapter.
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a Link to the previous episode.
Without further ado.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 71 — Blow
Strands of my hair tickled my face as a breeze stirred. The porthole across from me was not the source, though it probably drew the air. I looked toward the doorway. There must be an open window in there. I wondered if it would be in a place that might show me the river if I looked outside. I had never thought I would be afraid of being too far away from my riverboat home.
“Émeraude,” I heard my name murmured again.
Speaking tubes hung in a neat line on the side of a desk behind me. My name rattled faintly from one. Tension in my shoulders relaxed minutely. Hearing my name spoken is such a strange rasping disembodied voice was creepy. Knowing that it came from a speaking tube made it less weird.
Lifting my hand toward the device, I hesitated. I wasn’t sure which tube produced the voice. The clockwork bookworm inched out from the pleats in my sleeve. It made a ticking sound that was a lot like tsk-tsk. The amazingly bright blue apatite eyes glittered at me.
“I suppose you would be called Apatite?” I asked the mechanical worm, and I was rewarded with a pleased sounding pat-pat.
“Ap-pat… Tick-tick,” it admonished me and hopped from my sleeve to the closest speaking tube.
I picked up the flexible end of the copper tube. The clockwork creature inched to the funnel-like mouth piece, muttering its ap-pat sound the while. A whisper emanated from the tube. As I lifted it closer to my face, the bookworm jumped to the desktop.
“Émeraude,” the barely audible voice came from the speaking tube.
“Blue? Blue John is that you?” I spoke into the mouth piece and then placed it near my ear.
“Émeraude, go back to the Delta Pearl. It eent theirn — it’s ourn. They musn’t take her. I’ll stop Malachite or die trying!” Blue John Boulton whispered fervently. “There’s naught ye can do to help me. I’m wounded but I can take him to hell with me.”
How could I tell the desperate Mate that I had no way of getting back to the riverboat?
“Blue! Don’t do anything rash,” I whispered urgently. “Blue?” I asked, but I only heard a clatter as he put down the tube.
Just beyond the doorway, once again I heard the rustle of crisp taffeta cloth. The sound swished closer. It was accompanied by soft humming of a woman. I recognized an old Cajun lullaby that Jaspe used to sing to me when I was a child… Dors, dors p’tit bébé.
A gust of air blew from that direction. A muffled utterance of surprise reached my ears. The wind carried a fine silk handkerchief as far as the doorway. I could see that it was embroidered with the initial C.
The sounds of movement drew closer. I knew I should hide, but where? There was nothing that would conceal me.
End Chapter 71
Well now, I’m not quite sure what to make of that. Until next time, my chuckaboos!
Dead of Winter — The Journeys So Far
If you haven’t already joined the journey, you’re just in time to curl up with a nice-sized bite of reading. All three together are under 200 pages — you can catch up before the fourth installment is published.
Journey 4, the Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
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 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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