Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 

SteamPunk art harlequin chess-Eugene_Ivanov_2361

Eugene_Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Hello, November!  It’s National Novel Writing Month again — or #NaNoWriMo as it’s also called.  I have more going on than usual, so this year I’m doing the editing version.  I’m bookizing the third 1920s novel of Pip and Granny Phanny’s adventures, A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients 2.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

Now it’s time for another Hidebound Hump Day, and another chapter of the spontaneously written, #SteamPunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 15.  Cornelis had thought they had gotten a good distance away from their pursuers.  Then the handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle showed up on a paddle steamer.  Belle, in true Victorian straightlaced form, objected to Felicity and Copper traveling with a man, and apparently being stranded.

Not wanting to reveal the existence of the road locomotive, the alchemist made made up the excuse that some old family friends were on the way to pick them up.

Then they saw another group of presumed foes headed toward them.  For reasons only the Woman in Trousers could understand, Felicity let Ignatius know about the road locomotive they had hidden.  To everyone’s surprise, Ignatius volunteered to draw the group of villains away so our heroes could escape.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

16 — One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, Candle Wax

landscape photography of green leafed trees

Florian Giorgio, Unsplash

My jaw clenched as I worriedly looked toward the river.

“How did they find us?” Copper asked in a whisper when the hydrofoil came into our sight.

One lone dandelion grew in our hiding place.  Copper picked it and nervously plucked it apart.  I could tell she was silently playing the “loves me, loves me not” game.  However, I wondered what she was thinking.  Did she ponder whether or not someone loved her, her father perhaps?  I reminded myself that she was only a young girl.  Even an adult might feel abandoned in her circumstance.  Or perhaps she asked the flower if we would find her father, find him; find him not.

“The road locomotive is heavy, so it left a lot of tracks, especially where it nearly fell over into the river.  Cornelis used a trick to cover our trail to some extent, but I doubt it would have been difficult for an experienced tracker to trace our path along the river,” I told her.

“Or they might simply have followed Ignatius Belle,” Cornelis said through lips that held a sardonic twist.  “However, that also leads to the question — how did Belle know where to find us?  Is the man an innkeeper, or an expert tracker?  Does a woodsman lie beneath his fine clothes?  And why does he seem to know so much about Calvin Hixon?  I suppose he’s an innkeeper, woodsman, and inventor!” the Dutchman said in a droll tone, but his face wore a pout.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Giacomo Di Chirico, 1872

“Why Cornelis Drebbel.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous,” I needled the alchemist.

“Jealous!  Don’t be absurd,” Cornelis objected.  “And I hope you realize it wouldn’t hurt you to use a little objectivity,” he added and my eyes widened.  “I’m surprised you don’t burst out with a free verse poem when you think of him.  You act as though you’re positively smitten with the dandy.”

“Smitten!  Now that’s just ridiculous,” I snapped.  “I have never been smitten in my life.  I’ll have you know that I—”

Shh!” Copper hissed at us both.  “They might hear,” she whispered, pointing at the hydrofoil, which by then had nearly reached the spot where Ignatius Belle had arrived with his paddle steamer.

“Don’t worry dear heart.  They’re too far away to hear us, and the little trick I used to keep them from seeing us will also dampen our voices or any other sound we make,” Cornelis told Copper to sooth her fear.Flying man w umbrella

“What other sounds?” she asked, just as Cornelis intended.

“Oh, any sound,” he said with wriggling eyebrows.  “The snap of a twig, or a hearty belch,” he assured her.

Of course, Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t resist demonstrating a “hearty belch,” to which Copper collapsed in a gale of giggles.  Abruptly she covered her mouth, still concerned that she might be heard.  I rolled my eyes heavenward at the Dutchman’s behavior.

However, I secretly admitted that he really did have a good way with the girl.  As I recalled, during his human lifetime he had four children, or rather four who reached maturity.  Infant mortality rates were even worse in his day.  I supposed he had plenty of practice entertaining and distracting young ones.

Suddenly I wondered if he missed his children, but surely he did.  I stubbornly stamped out the thought.  Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state, it made me sad.  This was no time for me to indulge myself in emotions, particularly not in morose thoughts about which I could do nothing.Forlanini hydrofoil

To my dread, the hydrofoil slowed as it drew near.  I still couldn’t tell who manned the craft, except for one erratically moving figure.  A chill went down my spine when I could see for certain that it was indeed a very large chimpanzee.

Do not underestimate the size and strength of an adult chimpanzee.  I shuddered at the memory of the hoard of chimps bearing down on us at the Hixon estate.  The chaos of their mob, their shrill cries, their inhuman strength, it was something I’d rather forget.

The hydrofoil stopped.  The vessel lowered toward the water.

“What an amazing machine,” I whispered, awe overcoming my fears about the dangerous chimp.

Cornelis was eager to explain such things, but I was rarely patient enough for his invariably long winded explanations.

“The hydrofoil rises as the speed increases.  So the pressure around the foil changes until even the pressure on the top surface can become very low.  That lets the aerated water create a bubble and break down the lift on the top surface of the water.  At that point one might lose as much as two-thirds of the lift.  At that speed the vessel will drop back into the water,” he explained.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

The Dutchman snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.  He pursed his lips in annoyance at my lack of scientific enthusiasm. 

Ignoring him, I craned my neck to see the people on the craft.  I couldn’t tell how many passengers it might hold.

The people on the hydrofoil wore rain gear.  I guessed it protected them from the spray the vessel created.  A man leaned over the edge, looking at one of the foils that lifted the craft out of the water.  His movements made me think he was concerned about it.  He jumped to the riverbank and continued to look at the vessel from that angle.

The chimpanzee eagerly bounded to the shore.  It cavorted on the riverbank for a moment, and then it sniffed the air and turned directly toward the spot where the three of us hid.  The man shouted harshly at the ape.  It reluctantly returned to the shore.  The man finally shook his head and shrugged as he inspected the hydrofoil.  I wondered if they had suspected a problem, but found none.

The man turned his attention to the banks.  Ignatius had deliberately scraped his steam boat against the shore, leaving big marks. 

“He was here,” I clearly heard the man call to someone on the vessel.Ape Grandma ad

The tone of his voice led me to believe the person to whom he spoke was in charge.  A muffled reply came to his words.  I couldn’t make out any of it.  The man continued to examine the shore.

Meanwhile the chimpanzee had our scent again.  The ape looked fiercely intent as it resumed its tracing of our steps.  Fortunately, Copper had run all around the site in her adventure of picking flowers and finding the whale’s tooth amulet.  That seemed to confuse the chimp, slowing his progress toward our hiding place.

“Do you have candle wax in your ears man?  Let’s go!” came an angry sounding command.  

Cornelis and I looked at one another in open mouthed shock.  That was a woman’s voice!

The voice was vaguely familiar.  I knew it was one I had heard since coming to the quaint little town.  My mind raced through every woman I had met since I arrived.  It didn’t seem to belong to any of them.  I reminded myself that a woman wouldn’t have used such an imperious tone in ordinary company.

Images of each woman paraded through my mind.  There were the two women at Best’s General Store, Billie Best and I never knew her customer’s name. (Chapter 1)  The two gossips had been unnecessarily hateful to Copper.  The memory irked me, but I didn’t think that voice belonged to either of them.

1900 Maid with trayThen there were Cookie and Bitsy from the Belle Inn.  (Chapter 2)  I remembered Bitsy’s bubbling laugh and impish grin.  It was difficult to imagine that commanding tone coming from her.  But I supposed it could; the pitch might have been about right.  No.  That just didn’t seem possible.

Cookie was not only a talented cook, she had impeccable organizational skills.  She would be capable of directing such goings on, but she had spoken so briefly I wasn’t sure if I would recognize her voice.  (Chapter 6) 

My mind turned then to the dreadful people from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  The cowardly man, Claude Dinkley had a tenor voice.  Could I have mistaken I higher pitched male voice for that of a woman just then?  After all, I only heard it speak one phrase.  (Chapter 4 for the orphanage people)

Then there was tall willowy Gertrude Hobbs, whose honking laugh combined with her long neck and weak chin made me think of a goose.  When they tried to take Copper away, she mostly echoed the proclamations of Ethel Farthing.  It was difficult to imagine Gertrude issuing imperious commands, but perhaps her subservience was an act.

Now, Ethel Farthing was another matter.  I could easily see her commanding men and chimpanzees.  Had it been her voice?  I felt like pulling out my hair in frustration.  I simply did not know.

Ape Eyes 2

Unsplash and public domain images altered by Teagan

While I pondered the voice and the women of the town, the chimp had crept frighteningly close to the place where we were concealed.  The trick Cornelis used could only work up to a point.  The chimpanzee was confused but determined.  It screeched loudly in aggravation.  The man looked toward us with an quizzical expression on his face.  He took a step toward the ape.

A sharp whistle blew loudly from farther along the river.  That would be Ignatius at the bend of the waterway, making sure these adversaries did not lose him.

The chimp whirled toward the whistle.  It ran with astonishing speed and hopped aboard the hydrofoil.  The man followed quickly.  In a moment the craft sped away.

***

To be continued…

***

shallow focus photography of daisies during daytime

Janice Gill, Unsplash

Real World Notes

Loves me… Loves me not.  I don’t know how old this game is.  It originated in France, and the Victorians played it, as you saw in the painting I used in this chapter.  In the original French version of the game, the petals do not simply indicate whether the object of the player’s affection loves them, but to what extent: un peu or “a little”, beaucoup or “a lot”, passionnément or “passionately”, à la folie or “to madness”, or pas du tout or “not at all.”

A humorous twist on the game is “She loves me, she loves me lots.”  This fortune-telling is shown as a pantomime in the 1st act of Giselle, ballet by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (Paris, 1841). Wikipedia.

 A woman is in command of one of the groups chasing our heroes.  That’s certainly unusual for the Victorian Era.  Felicity found the voice familiar.  Could it really be one of the kind women at the inn who made food for them?  Or one of the horrid women from the orphanage.  Does this clear Ignatius Belle?  Since three separate groups pursue our trio, it’s hard to say.  At this point anyone could be involved.

Come back next time to learn where the “things” Crinoline, Lye Soap, and Caterpillar take our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 15

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 

Man Sun gears Steampunk Eugene_Ivanov_2442

Eugene_Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Welcome back to the spontaneously written, #SteamPunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Everything about the story is driven by the random things that were sent by readers, back in 2015

When I say everything, I mean it — even the location.  Although no one seemed to notice (or at least they didn’t seem to mind), after all those weeks, I still had not gotten a “thing” that guided me to where all the zany events were taking place.  Author and translator, Olga Núñez Miret sent the “things” for this chapter, and I finally saw a general location for the story.  Which of “Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, and Vine Leaves” do you think gave me the location? Read on and find out.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 14.  Ignatius Belle seems a little too intent on getting Copper to visit his paddle steamer, anchored at the riverside near the abandoned church compound where our trio took refuge.  Or is it just that he believes the girl is Felicity’s supposed niece, and thinks being nice to Copper would endear him to Felicity?

However, Cornelis invented “old family friends” who are on the way to transport the trio to a fabricated holiday. So the handsome innkeeper will surely have to part company with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Or will the “things” create more complications?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

15 — Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, Vine Leaves

Mourning Angel_Cat

Lilith thought this image from the Atonement universe was just right

There was a ragged hole in the roof of the old church.  Sunlight poured through the opening, engulfing Ignatius Belle.  He had taken off his coat and his white shirt caught the light so that it almost glowed.  The effect made him look tall, safe, and… angelic.

I stared at him without realizing it.  Apparently I gawked for so long that it made him uncomfortable, because he chuckled and looked askance at me.  I stuttered, trying to explain without embarrassing myself by telling the man that he looked like an angel.

“It’s just that— Your shirt is dazzlingly bright in the sun’s light,” I stammered, then I reached up and wiped a drop of the shepherd’s pie from his collar, pretending that was the only thing on my mind. 

“You’re right,” he agreed. “This is an interesting ruin, but it is much too fine of a day to be indoors,” Ignatius said and surprised me by taking my hand.

He led me toward the front doors of the abandoned church. 

“Oh wait.  What’s this?” I asked, stepping into an aisle where something was left behind on a pew.

At first I thought it was an old hymnal, but it was too large.  I carefully opened the book and turned thin, fragile pages.  Dates were recorded for births, deaths, and marriages.

Ruins St Dunstan

“Look, it’s an old family Bible,” I commented in fascination.

I turned another page and my eyes were drawn to a name.  “Agustus Belle wed Antigone Stewart—”

“Please, let me see that,” Ignatius said, gently but eagerly taking the antiquated book from my hands.

He squinted and moved back to the place where the sun shone through the damaged roof. 

“Those were my grandparents,” he marveled.  “They eloped.  No one was ever sure where they went to get married.  I wonder who this Bible belonged to,” he murmured, delicately turning the pages.

“It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone now.  The congregation, and apparently whatever village was nearby, they’ve all left long ago,” I began, as I looked up into serious brown eyes.  “I think whoever owned this book would want you to have it.  A tie to your grandparents,” I affirmed with a nod.

Ignatius took my hand again, smiled, and led me outside.  He held the old Bible under one arm, and pulled me close to him with the other.  I looked up, with sun-dazzled eyes as he lowered his head toward mine.

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

Aunt Miiiina!” Copper cried my alias on a sustained note as she ran toward us.

I gave my head a sharp shake to bring myself out of the drowsy, mauve-colored moment.  

Of all the bad timing.  But it was probably just as well, I thought.

“Look what I found!” Copper declared excitedly.

There was dirt under her fingernails as if she had been digging in the ground.  Tiny bits of rich soil littered the front of her dress.  The yellow petals of a black-eyed Susan stood out against hair the color of a new-penny.  She had tucked the blossom behind her ear.  I imagined her accidentally pulling up the flower by its roots, and spraying herself with dirt in the process.

Ignatius bowed playfully to Copper. 

“Miss, that is a lovely flower, but it beauty pales next to your own,” he told the girl in a whimsical tone.

Copper tilted her head to one side and looked at the innkeeper as if she didn’t understand. 

“He’s paying you a compliment,” I told her and tried not to laugh.  “Say thank you.”

She made a quick movement that might have passed for a curtsey and mumbled her thanks.  Then Copper held her cupped hands toward me.  I hesitated, wondering if she dug up a mole and made a pet of it.

“Look!  Cornelis said it might be magic!” Copper said in a whisper that could have been heard at the riverbank.

In her hands was an ivory figurine inlayed with abalone shell, and not quite four inches long.  It depicted a man reclining on two humpback whales.  The style of the piece reminded me of Aztec artwork.

Basil Gill 2

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

“I found it in the ground when I picked my flower.  Cornelis said it was an amulet,” Copper explained, testing the sound of what must have been an unfamiliar word.

“May I see it,” Ignatius asked.

Copper drew back slightly.  My warning look encouraged her to give the figure to Ignatius.  “It might well be magic of a sort,” he agreed in the tone sometimes used by adults encouraging children to believe in the supernatural.

The girl’s eyebrows went up expectantly and she moved a step closer to the handsome innkeeper. 

“You realize we’re not far from the Pacific coast,” Ignatius said turning to me before continuing his examination of the ivory.

“This looks like the work of a coastal tribe to the north of here.  You see the little man?” he asked Copper who nodded interestedly.  “He is a shaman, and he is resting on the backs of his spirit animals — these two humpback whales, placed end-to-end.  Their eyes are made of abalone shell.  Oh, and look here,” he added in childlike excitement.  “You see where the shaman rests his head against the whale’s head?  That connects them and his mouth is the blowhole for the whale!  So this is meant to be the shaman traveling to the spirit world upon his whales,” Ignatius said to Copper’s amazement.

1860 Carved Whale Tooth

“So then,” I began.  “Is the ivory actually a carved whale’s tooth?” I asked and Ignatius affirmed with a smile.  “Copper, I’ll have to find a ribbon for you so you can wear this amulet around your neck.  After all, that’s how magic amulets are supposed to be worn,” I promised to her delight.

A shrill whistle interrupted our examination of the little carving.  At first I couldn’t tell from where the sound came, but I wasn’t looking up far enough.  The sun glinted off polished brass, high in a tree near the river.

“Cornelis Derbbel, of all things!” I declared when I spotted the alchemist in the upper branches of the tree.

The Dutchman whistled again and motioned for us to come to him.  By the time we reached the place, he had climbed down.  Or at least he pretended to have climbed for the innkeeper’s sake.  The alchemist probably descended via a less mundane means.  His face expressed a combination of excitement and worry that only Corenlis could achieve.

“You won’t believe this,” he told me.  “It would be wonderful if it wasn’t so horribly wrong.  But we have to hurry.  They’re only ten minutes or so away!” the Dutchman babbled.Drebbel stamp“Cornelis, what are you talking about?” I demanded.

He calmed down minutely and held up his brass spyglass. 

“I saw them headed this way on the river.  And they’re using a hydrofoil!” he added almost dancing in his enthusiasm.  “I can’t tell who it is though,” he added before I could ask.

I watched the attractive face of Ignatius blanch at the alchemist’s words. 

“No.  It can’t be,” he groaned and paced a few steps as if torn.  “I should get you to safety.  But the hydrofoil can outrun my paddle steamer,” Ignatius fretted as he paced.

He seemed genuinely worried for our welfare.  I shot Cornelis a challenging look for his distrust of the dashing innkeeper.

Burrell Road Locomotive

“We actually do have transportation,” I confessed.  “It’s just that we felt it had to be kept secret.  It’s one of Hixon— I mean my half-brother’s inventions, and I don’t think he was ready to show it to the world,” I told Ignatius a partial truth.

His eyes widened. 

“Don’t tell me!  Do you mean to say that he finished the road locomotive?  That he actually got the steam engine working?” Ignatius cried.

I wondered how it was that the innkeeper knew so much about Calvin Hixon’s inventions. 

“Well, mostly.  Cornelis put on the finishing touch, correcting a small problem with the design,” I said looking askance at the Dutchman who nodded with a wide grin.

“Then go!  Go quickly.  No, wait!” Ignatius faltered.  “The road locomotive makes a tremendous noise, does it not?” he asked and we all nodded emphatically.  “I’ll lead them away.  Hide and wait until they are well past.  I’ll make sure they see me.  If they think I have gotten the girl, they are sure to follow,” he said, and then inspiration lit his brown eyes.  “I can even make two bundles.  I’ll put hats on them or something so they can be you and Copper,” Ignatius said turning to me.

Stripped Bustle Gown

“You can have my stripped gown,” I said catching his enthusiasm for the idea.  “It’s ruined anyway,” I justified my donation to the scheme. 

When Ignatius looked like he would ask how it got ruined I realized I spoke without thinking yet again.  I couldn’t tell him about my dive into the river to retrieve the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

“That’s a long story.  But there’s all manner of things in that large building,” I said pointing to the half ruined building where we hid the steam engine.  “I’m sure we can bundle up some things that will look like Copper and me, at least from a distance.”

“I’d love a look at the locomotive,” Ignatius said wistfully a moment later when we got to the building.

“Ah, but you realize there’s no time,” Cornelis reminded him with a sidelong look that made it clear to me that he still did not trust Ignatius Belle.

“I found this earlier,” Cornelis began in a sad tone.  “I meant to give it to Copper as the next thing to a playmate,” he told us as he presented a doll, about three feet tall, with hair the color of a new penny.  “But it’s better put to use to protect her,” the Dutchman sighed.

closeup photo of doll

Patrick Hendry, Unsplash

“Oh what a shame,” I said.  “Copper is a good deal taller than the doll, but from a distance it should be quite convincing.  Yes, she would love it.  Such a pity not to give it to her,” I commented as I looked around for the girl.

I spotted Copper running back toward us, dragging my stripped frock behind her.  I reminded myself that it was already ruined.  She had also grabbed two ladies’ hats from that opened crate of accessories.  The hats didn’t match my gown or the doll’s dress, but that was of no importance.

Suddenly Ignatius pulled out a knife.  I gasped in shock and jumped back.  Cornelis had a green aura as he gathered his powers.  However, Ignatius didn’t see it because he was already running for the gaping hole in the wall of the abandoned storage building.  He shouted over his shoulder. 

“I saw some vines growing just outside,” he called and he was gone.

Quickly he ran back inside, haloed in green vine leaves.  Ignatius used the vines to tie the bundles and they made passable human-like figures.

***

There was a cluster of bushes just far away enough from the riverbank.  Cornelis used one of his little tricks to make sure we wouldn’t be seen as we watched the paddle steamer pull away.  Just before it rounded a bend in the river, Ignatius gave a blast on the boat’s whistle.  He was making sure whomever piloted the hydrofoil didn’t lose him.

Forlanini hydrofoil

Ignatius claimed that he didn’t know who those people were.  He said the hydrofoil had changed hands a few times since all the chaos began.  I didn’t get to ask him about his involvement in the disappearance of Calvin Hixon, or any of the strange events surrounding it.  Neither could I ask him about his relationship with the man, Copper’s father.  But apparently there had been some level of interaction between the two men.  That might explain the girl’s distrust of the innkeeper.  How I wished for enough time to ask questions!

Too soon, a boat on feet-like skis that lifted it up out of the river neared our hiding place.  For the first time I wondered if Ignatius Belle was a hero or a traitor.  Perhaps he risked his life to lure villains away from Copper and myself.  Then again, he might be meeting them farther down the river, comrades in arms.

Cornelis Derbbel gave a soft surprised grunt.  He used one of his tricks to look farther than the human eye could see.  I raised the spyglass to see what startled the alchemist.  As the hydrofoil drew even with our vantage point, I saw a figure moving wildly on the vessel.  A very large chimpanzee cavorted and gesticulated wildly.

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Victorian Dolls.  When I was a young girl I always wanted one of those beautifully dressed, elaborately coiffed porcelain dolls.  They were also called bisque dolls and were characterized by their realistic, skin-like matte finish.  They had their peak of popularity between 1860 and 1900.  During the 19th century, dolls’ heads were often made of porcelain and combined with a body of leather, cloth, wood, or composite materials, such as papier mâché or composition, a mix of pulp, sawdust, glue and similar materials. 

Could Ignatius Belle now be in jeopardy?  Or is he only pretending to lead the hydrofoil away from the others?  The question remains as to whether the innkeeper is angel or aggressor.  And once again, who controls the chimpanzees? 

Come back next time to learn where the “things” One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, and Candle Wax take our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue on Straightlaced Saturday.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 14

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who got on the party bus for the launch of Atonement in Bloom!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone who hosted the launch post, reblogged, allowed me to use images, and otherwise helped me promote my new novel.  If you missed the launch, don’t worry.  The double-decker bus is still rolling!  Just click the back arrow at the bottom of this post.  Beep-beep yeah!

mauve Dolly Baird of Bunbarton 1906

Mrs Howard Johnston – Dolly Baird of Bunbarton, by Boldini 1906

Welcome back to the spontaneously written, #SteamPunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Maybe you’ve heard me mention that I seem to have a physical need for color.  I used to wear black occasionally — it’s a color.  However, I’ve seen so very, very much of where I’ve lived this past decade, that I mostly avoid it now. If I wear all neutrals, light or dark… well, I just don’t feel very good. 

The Victorians had a particular fondness for a certain color.  It is one of the random things I was given to drive this chapter.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 13. The handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle unexpectedly showed up at the remote location where our heroes were hiding.  When he brought up the topic of Calvin Hixon’s inventions, Felicity tried to deflect the subject.  She suddenly felt cautious.  Not distrustful of Ignatius, mind you, just cautious.

However, Ignatius wasn’t ready to be diverted.  “I hear he was always designing amazing machines.  Word was that Alexander Graham Bell once contacted him about his design for a hydrofoil,” Ignatius said.

Cornelis made an impressed face.  The alchemist wasn’t a bad actor.  Felicity knew he was pretending to be impressed.  As soon as Cornelis had appeared at the estate, he had learned about Hixon’s hydrofoil and the letter from the famous Alexander Graham Bell.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

14 — Bicycle, Mauveine, Shepherd’s Pie

Girl on bicycle, advertisement circa 1897

The silly straightlaced standards of our society baffled me.  Something that was perfectly ordinary for a man was quite out of the question for a woman.  Whether I wore a cumbersome skirt with a ridiculous bustle, or my preferred trousers shouldn’t make a bit of difference to anyone.  Neither should anything about how I led my life.

Everything was always so caught up in hidebound propriety, and really had nothing to do with me. 

Honestly, I thought.  People and their moralities. 

The fact that people judged me for traveling with Cornelis Drebbel astounded me.  They always assumed impropriety when there was none.  That’s why I had taken to keeping the Dutchman’s presence a secret for the most part.  That was fine with the alchemist.  He wasn’t exactly a people person.

The alchemist and I were not a pair, not romantically involved. 

My, I thought, a romance with Cornelis after the accident of alchemy that put him in that strange state.  That would be tricky to say the least. 

I blushed when I caught myself pondering the whats and hows of it.

Basil Gill

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“It’s unseemly for a woman to go traipsing across the countryside with a man!” Ignatius said heatedly.

The argument seemed to have escalated while I considered the implications of a physical relationship with someone in the uniquely nonphysical condition of the Dutchman.

That last remark offended Cornelis Drebbel, if his bulging eyes and the throbbing vein in his forehead were any indication.  I realized I had best step into the fray.

“Mina, if you’ll not allow me to take you and Copper back into town, then at least come downriver with me.  I have business to attend anyway, so I may as well take care of it straight away,” Ignatius said, addressing me by the alias I had provided.

I didn’t feel like a Mina.  Whatever had possessed me to come up with that name?

Ignatius took me by surprise and I blurted out what I was thinking.  Cornelis was right that sometimes I had no manners in that regard.  However, I’d never let the alchemist know I agreed. 

“Business?  What sort of business?” I asked; all curiosity and no tact.

The tall innkeeper smiled disarmingly, as if I had been perfectly polite.  Maybe he saw my curiosity as acceptance.

“It’s just a small business transaction.  I sometimes buy items and resell them.  I’ve bought some aniline purple.  Are you familiar with it?  The synthetic organic chemical dye?” he asked.

“Oh, do you mean mauveine?  I simply adore the color,” I said with what I hoped was just enough enthusiasm to make up for anything he may have perceived as rudeness.

Mauve Queen Marie Henriette

Queen Marie Henriette of Austria

“Precisely.  The dye will fetch a good price.  The color is quite popular.  Perhaps a hundred years from now, people will think of mauve as the color of our era,” Ignatius said with just a touch of whimsy.

Cornelis rolled his eyes and sarcastically muttered something about “marvelous mauve.”

“Assuming you mean to hire a coach at the next town, I can take you there.  It won’t put me out of my way, as I had planned to go there to pick up the dye anyway.  Or I can take you back home.  Really, it’s the only reasonable course of action.  What will people think of you wandering the countryside with your… associate,” Ignatius said, echoing the words I used when I introduced Cornelis Drebbel.

“Why, the same sort of thing they’d say if she paraded down the river on a paddle boat with an innkeeper,” Cornelis said drolly.

A fire sparked in Ignatius’ eyes at that comment and I feared the two would argue again.  The next time they quarreled, I was sure it would come to blows.

“Mina, you can’t mean to tell me that you would rather walk to the next town!” Ignatius exclaimed, but then he shook his head and grinned.  “Surely you are not afraid of the steamboat.  You don’t seem like a woman who would be intimidated by technology,” he said.  His voice and facial expression became softer.  “Oh Mina, I promise you it is perfectly safe,” he said encouragingly.

I glanced at Cornelis Drebbel.  An aura started to shimmer greenly around him.  It wouldn’t do to let the dashing innkeeper see that.  Quickly I moved so that Ignatius would have his back to the alchemist.  I was astonished that Cornelis would use one of his tricks in front of anyone.  However, that aura meant that he was up to something.

Pigeons pulling a slipper coach. Victorian trade card, circa 1881

An instant later a pigeon fluttered down, alighting on a bush next to the Dutchman.  A closer look told me that it was not just a pigeon, but a messenger pigeon.  Cornelis hummed a happy sounding tune as he removed a note from the tiny container on the bird’s back.  The alchemist looked inordinately pleased with himself.

“Ah good,” Cornelis said jovially, so I knew he was fabricating something.  “They are on their way.”

“Who?” Ignatius quickly demanded.  “Who would be coming to this Godforsaken place?”

It was fortunate that the innkeeper spoke abruptly, because that prevented me asking the same question.  I would have spoiled whatever story Cornelis had in mind.

“If you must know,” Cornelis began acerbically.  “We were not, how did you put it?  Wandering the country side.  With that strange unrest at the Hixon estate, it was a good time for a holiday.  So, we were going to some old friends of my family.  Then, as Mina mentioned, our horses were stolen when we stopped here.”

“And how…” Ignatius started but hesitated, looking at the pigeon.  “Do you mean to say you used a pigeon post to communicate to these people?”

“Why of course.  I’d never go anywhere without some of my birds,” Cornelis said affably and stroked the pigeon’s head.

Cornelis even cooed to the pigeon.  I thought that was laying it on a bit thick.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

The tall innkeeper’s eyes narrowed as he looked down at Cornelis and the bird.  I wondered what Ignatius was thinking.  Back at the Hixon estate when I first introduced the two men, Ignatius seemed to think the name Cornelis Drebbel was familiar.  Even though he didn’t pursue the issue, it gave me pause.  It was possible that he knew of the Dutchman’s acclaim as a long ago inventor, but it was unthinkable that Ignatius could deduce anything about his unique situation.

That paddle steamer proved the innkeeper’s interest in technology and tinkering.  However, something Ignatius said when he first arrived nagged at me.  Ignatius Belle had mentioned Calvin Hixon’s inventions. 

I told myself that shouldn’t bother me.  The entire town thought of Hixon as an eccentric.  The inventions were surely common knowledge.  Perhaps Ignatius simply admired the brilliance that Copper’s father evidently possessed.

The innkeeper looked charmingly perplexed as he studied Cornelis.  I couldn’t help smiling.  The Dutchman noticed my expression and rolled his eyes heavenward. 

“Do try and control yourself,” he murmured using one of his tricks, so that only I could hear.

Ignatius Belle inclined his shoulders to speak to Copper.  She drew back and based on the look on his face, he was genuinely hurt by her negative reactions to him.  I felt a little sorry for him.  He had been very kind.

“Have you ever been on a paddle steamer?” he asked Copper, meaning the boat that unexpectedly brought him to us.  “We could do some fishing from it.  Maybe catch something for our dinner?” he asked her, though Copper’s brows knitted in a skeptical expression.

“I have my bicycle onboard,” the innkeeper continued undaunted.  “There’s enough room to ride it a little on deck.  I could teach you,” he offered. 

I was taken aback by the way he suddenly seemed to want to entice the girl onto his boat.  However, Ignatius had been consistently generous.  He thought I was Copper’s aunt.  If he was interested in me, then it was only natural that he would want to win over my “niece.”

Copper looked intrigued about the prospect of learning to ride a bicycle.  Cornelis noticed the minute change in her expression and took half a step, inserting himself partly in front of the girl.

“Neither fish nor fishing will be necessary,” Cornelis said.  “Unfortunately we’ve little time for bicycle riding on boats.  We were just about to eat.  Won’t you join us?” the Dutchman boldly invited the innkeeper.  “I’m sure there’s more than enough.”

What was Cornelis thinking by inviting Ignatius for a meal?  Thanks to his alchemically affected sneezes we had not gone hungry, but did he really mean to offer leftover pancakes and short ribs?

Cornelis waved toward a shade tree.  Beneath the tree a blanket was spread and at its center was a large picnic basket.

“Umm!  What’s that smell?” Copper asked.

“That, my dear, would be shepherd’s pie,” the alchemist said with a genuine smile for the girl.  “Would you like to unpack the basket so that we can eat?  Perhaps our… our guest will help you.”

The suggestion was enough for Copper.  It seemed like the child was always hungry.  To my surprise, she grabbed Ignatius’ hand and half dragged him over to the tree.  Cornelis may have accidentally smoothed Copper’s unaccountable distrust of the innkeeper.  The same thought occurred to the Dutchman if the pursed twist of his lips was any indication.

“I didn’t think your tricks included the ability to make real food,” I whispered.  “I thought you only did things like that accidentally.  You know, like when you sneezed and pancakes appeared.”

“That’s quite true.  Conjuring edible food is not a skill I’ve mastered,” he said.  “Despite two centuries of attempts,” he added in a very droll tone.  “I have to—  Think of it as reaching in and take something.  I have to take something that already exists.”

“So you stole the pie?” I asked.  “Cornelis Drebbel, I’m shocked.  Did you steal some family’s dinner?”

“No, nothing of the kind,” Cornelis defended himself.  “It wasn’t a poor family.  They had a huge feast laid out.  And I didn’t simply take it,” he added with a pout.

“Oh?” I asked, eyebrows raised.

“No. I did not.  In return for the shepherd’s pie I left them a very fine laying goose, and the makings for all the frog’s legs they could possibly eat,” Cornelis said, lifting his chin.

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Mauveine.  William Henry Perkin discovered the first synthetic dye when he was only 18 years old. The color was known as aniline purple, Perkin’s mauve, or mauveine.  It is also among the first dyes to have been mass-produced.  Young Perkin was actually trying to synthesize quinine when he made the colorful discovery.  He patented it and opened a dyeworks mass-producing it.

Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeons to carry messages.  Pigeons were effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities.

Even though Copper and the Alchemist distrust him, the Woman in Trousers certainly seems to like the dashing innkeeper.  Ignatius seems to know an awful lot about the Hixon situation.  That bothers me.  Stay tuned.

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next week for Hidebound Hump Day.  Right now, I think I’ll take a break on Saturday.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 13

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 

Steampunk Man pipe-Eugene_Ivanov_2431

Eugene Ivanov

It’s Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  There was not a Straightlaced Saturday chapter last week, so today we pick up where we left off a week ago. 

Remember I’ve mentioned that this serial was originally presented as a “culinary” mystery.  All of the random “things” that drove this spontaneously written chapter were food related.  How do you think I used all those food things to create a story?

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 12. 

The alchemist’s head cold continued to wreak havoc with magical sneezes.  However, that didn’t keep our heroes from noticing that someone or some thing was headed their way.  Felicity and Cornelis argued about whether or not they should make a stand. Then the woman in trousers noticed that Copper wasn’t there…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

13 — Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives

File:Broken walls of Vijay Garh Fort.jpg

Public Domain Image

Where could she be?

“Copper!” I called, trying to keep the urgency I felt from showing in my voice.

“I’m over here,” a small sad sounding voice said from the other side of a stack of wooden crates.

She came out from her hiding place, doe-eyed and most unhappy looking.  I felt horrible when I realized she had been listening to us fight.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.  “I didn’t mean to be such a bother,” Copper said but her perplexed expression told me that she didn’t know what else to do about being a burden.

With a deep sigh I shook my head.  Copper had heard me argue with Cornelis about whether we should make a stand and confront the parties chasing us, or continue running.  I felt terrible that I had gotten angry in front of the child.

“No, this is for us to worry about, Copper,” I told the girl.  “It’s just part of what we’re supposed to do ― to discuss what is the best alternative.  Sometimes discussions get rather heated…  You, on the other hand, are only supposed to be young.  You aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things,” I told her and made sure I smiled.

Copper with Flowers

I tousled that hair the color of a new penny when she looked up at me.  The honking noise escalated. 

“Is that a goose I hear?” I asked.

I hadn’t seen any sign of people living anywhere near the abandoned church and its buildings.  We were still in the large one with a missing wall, where the road locomotive was hidden.  How would a goose come to be in such a place?

When I voiced the thought, Cornelis was sure a goose could do perfectly well on its own.  Copper said that it was chasing some of the frogs.

“Did you ever see what the frogs did with that eggplant they carried off?” I asked her, still curious about that strange spectacle, but Copper shook her head negatively.

My inquisitive nature took over and I went outside to investigate the commotion.  Apparently, the tables had turned from when Copper saw the goose chasing the frogs.  Row upon row of frogs lined up to confront the fowl.  The goose honked furiously at them. 

Goosey Goosey

I felt sorry for the poor bird.  Looking at the frogs versus goose tableau, I realized just how right Cornelis was about us being extremely outnumbered by our adversaries.  If we took a stand at that juncture, we would make no more progress than the goose against the hoard of frogs.

I had never been around geese.  The tale about a goose laying a golden egg was about as much as I knew about the species.  Stepping gingerly, because I didn’t want squished frog on my boots, I made my way to the goose.  I picked her up and tucked her under my arm.

“Don’t you fret, old thing,” I told the still honking bird.  “We’ll find a spot where the frogs haven’t eaten all the good bits.”

Then the infernal goose bit me!  I screeched and released her.  The goose settled to the ground and looked up at me with a very annoyed squawk.

“Why you ungrateful wretch!” I exclaimed as I rubbed the bitten spot on my arm.  “I should make pâté of you!”

At that threat, the goose flew off somewhere beyond the abandoned church.  A pop told me that the alchemist had appeared behind me.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis

Cornelis Drebbel

“Do you see my point now?” Cornelis Drebbel asked with a nod to the assembled frogs.

“Why you!” I sputtered.  “You arranged that entire thing didn’t you?  How dare you have that dreadful goose bite me!”

“Now, now,” Cornelis chided.  “You had the poor judgement to pick her up in your arms.  I didn’t do anything to make the goose bite you,” he said.  “That was just icing on the cake,” he added with a smirk.

I clinched my fist and took a swing at the Dutchman.  I already knew what he would do, so don’t ask me why I swung at him.  Cornelis immediately became semi-solid and my fist passed through him, throwing me off balance.  I nearly landed on my face in a pile of goose droppings.  It was lucky for him that I didn’t fall into that mess.

He looked distractedly toward the river.  There was my moment!  I leapt, tackling the Dutchman while he was fully solid and preoccupied.  We both landed on the grass with a thud.  I grinned wickedly when I realized that he had landed in the goose poop.

Cornelis glared at me and with a pop he disappeared.  A moment later I spotted him close to the banks of the river.  He discretely hid behind a tree as he looked at the waterway.  Then I heard the sound of a rhythmic splash coming steadily closer.  That slight noise must have been what distracted the alchemist.

Postcard, Oneida River, Brewerton, New York circa 1910

I hurried to where he stood behind the tree.  I was enormously glad to finally be wearing trousers again, rather than full skirts and a bustle.  Looking at the river I couldn’t see what made the faint sound.  Was it a beaver, or perhaps an otter going sleekly in and out of the river?  In a quiet voice I asked I asked what it was.

The Dutchman didn’t seem concerned about being heard.  So, whatever it made the sound must have been unlikely to hear us.  He said that someone was coming toward us on the watercourse.  He said the sound was from paddles going into the water.

“Surely that rhythm is too fast to be an oar,” I commented as the sound became more audible.

“Not an oar,” he said, once again looking pleased with himself to have deduced something I had not.  “It is a paddleboat.  A small one, granted, but still steam powered with a paddlewheel,” Cornelis said with certainty.

Soon the odd-looking boat came into view — a paddle steamer.  It was moving much faster than any rowboat would have moved.  It was a narrow vessel, with a mast for a sail, but no canvas was attached.  On each side was a red paddle wheel that sat nearly as tall as the enclosed bridge.  Behind the bridge stood a tall yellow steam stack.

Sm Steamboat

Who piloted the craft?  I had yet to see who was onboard.  Was it one of our adversaries catching up with us?  It seemed too much of a coincidence for some random person to suddenly appear, heading toward us, from the direction we had come.  

I jumped when something grabbed my long coat.  Looking behind me, I saw that it was Copper.  She peeked around me looking at the boat.  I felt her stiffen.  She looked intently at the craft and I could tell that she saw more.  The girl had keen eyesight, I thought.

“What’s wrong Copper?  Who pilots the boat?” I asked.

“I don’t like him,” Copper said flatly.

“Who?” I asked, but by then I could see a familiar figure standing on deck at the boat’s wheel. 

It was Ignatius Belle.  I remembered that Copper had reacted strangely to the handsome innkeeper before, though it made no sense to me.  I didn’t perceive anything untoward about the tall dashing man.  Quite the contrary.  He had been kind and considerate to me from the moment I checked into the Belle Inn.  He had an easy relaxed smile that I thought of as a strong indicator of honesty.  His soft brown eyes were surely the windows of his soul.  My intuition about such things was never wrong.

I stepped out into the open.  Cornelis hissed a caution at me.  I hissed back to the Dutchman that he was being ridiculous.  The man looked to be alone on the boat, and he was clearly not under any duress, if my friends feared our adversaries had forced him to pilot the boat to our destination. 

Basil Gill 2

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

Cornelis sputtered and then narrowed his eyes as he stared at Ignatius Belle.  Copper’s expression matched the look on the alchemist’s face.  I shook my head, trying not to be annoyed.  It was easy to put on a bright smile as I walked toward the riverbank.

Really, I thought.  Those two… of all the silliness.

By the time I got to the riverbank Ignatius had come ashore.  A wicker basket hung from his arm.  I hoped it contained a peace offering that would win over the suspicious girl.

I led the innkeeper up the sloping green.  Belatedly I remembered that Copper was the only one from the town who had met Cornelis Drebbel.  Perhaps I should have kept the alchemist hidden, but I was so piqued about the way he and Copper acted about Ignatius that I really didn’t think about it.

“You remember Copper, of course,” I said and smiled encouragingly at her. 

I think I tried by force of will to get her to smile at Ignatius Belle.  Apparently, my will was not up to that task. 

“And this is my… Allow me to introduce my associate, Cornelis Drebbel,” I added with a motion toward the Dutchman.

The alchemist mumbled a noncommittal sound.  I tried to glare at him without letting Ignatius see the warning look on my face.

“I don’t believe we’ve met sir, but your name seems familiar to me,” Ignatius said politely to Cornelis.

A visit by Queen Isabella and her husband. The globe-like object on the table at the left is one of Cornelis Drebbels’ attempts at a perpetual-motion clock; the principles which ran it are now lost. Artist, Jan Brueghel the Elder, circa 1621

The alchemist cleared his throat, taken off guard by the near-recognition.  I discretely poked my elbow into his ribs as a warning for the fierce frown he wore.

“One of my ancestors achieved a slight amount of acclaim,” the Dutchman dissembled.  “Perhaps you heard the name mentioned in passing, or in a very boring lecture when you were a schoolboy,” Cornelis said with a wave to dismiss the issue.

I was relieved that encounter went as well as it had.  I gave an involuntary sigh that I hoped Ignatius didn’t notice.  Before things could get tense again I changed the subject. 

“What have you in that very interesting looking basket?” I asked Ignatius, but turned my gaze to Copper. 

“Dare I hope for something from Cookie again?” I asked but that time I gave an ever so slight flutter of my eyelashes to the dashing innkeeper.

Good, I thought when I glanced at Copper.  She was curious about the basket.  I was sure she remembered Ignatius bringing that basket filled with lovely food and Irish soda bread.  Perhaps whatever he carried now would win Copper over or at least make some headway.

With a flourish, Ignatius lifted the checkered napkin that covered the basket to reveal delicious profiteroles.  Chocolate glistened darkly, covering the cream puffs.  I could see a bit of the luscious creamy filling where it was piped into one of the pastries.

Profiteroles, WikiMedia

He held the basket out to Copper and she wasted no time taking one of the profiteroles.  Chocolate quickly adorned her mouth and nose, but she still looked suspiciously at Ignatius.  I gave a sigh of resignation.  Then I consoled myself with one of the pastries.

“What brings you here, if I may ask?” Cornelis asked the innkeeper with no preamble.

“I knew Mina and Copper were alone at the Hixon house,” Ignatius began.  “Then I heard there was some strange and noisy commotion there.  I accompanied the sheriff when he went out to investigate.”

Once again, I had to think fast to remember that Mina was the alias I took to allow me to stay close to Copper — Mina Hixon, half-sister to Calvin Hixon and Copper’s long-lost aunt.  Quickly I gave Ignatius a smile of appreciation for his concern.

However, if Ignatius went out to the estate with Sheriff Alvin Bullard afterward, then the familiar sounding voice I heard could not have belonged to the lawman.  Could it?

“We found the estate deserted,” Ignatius continued.

“The grounds were so trampled it almost made one wonder if there’d been a riot.  Then I spotted broad tracks from what had to be very heavy wheels.  I followed them to the river, where I saw that they continued a good distance following along the river.  So, I got my steamboat ready and well, here I am,” he explained.  “Is everything alright?  You gave me a scare.”

Pensive woman with armillary sphere. Artist unknown. Public Domain

Should I tell Ignatius about the confrontation? I wondered. 

I didn’t distrust him in the same way as Copper, and Cornelis was naturally suspicious of everyone and everything.  However, that didn’t mean it was a good idea for Ignatius Belle to know everything.  How much information was too much?

To my surprise, Cornelis answered him. 

“We avoided an altercation,” the alchemist said in a very grave voice.  “It was evident that there were many, shall we say, unpleasant people nearby.  So, we followed the thinking of discretion being the better part of valor and left with all haste,” Cornelis said.

I was relieved with the Dutchman’s explanation to Ignatius.  It was just vague enough.  I don’t know why, but I was glad he didn’t mention the road locomotive.  Although, considering the steam powered paddle boat in which the innkeeper arrived, he might be acquainted with that sort of contraption.

I wondered Ignatius would have been able to deduce our means of transportation by the tracks he saw.  However, I put the thought aside as unlikely. 

Besides, our locomotive had the benefit of magically enhanced speed.  No one should be able to figure out how we traveled or how fast we went.  They would have to know exactly when we left the estate, and when we arrived at the old churchyard.  For all Ignatius knew, we had only been there a matter of moments.

Perhaps I was over-cautious, but I simply didn’t like the idea of letting people know about the road locomotive.  I manufactured a story about Cornelis arriving at the estate for the purpose of bringing my horses.  I dissembled that my associate saw a number of unsavory types nearby when he neared the estate.

Burrell Road Locomotive

Road Locomotive. Public domain image

Reacting in fear, we left the estate.  However, the horses were unfortunately stolen when we stopped for the night at the abandoned church compound.  Or that was the story I gave the innkeeper.

Ignatius seemed to accept that.  It was really a very logical explanation, not to mention the only one of which I could think.  Ignatius was even charmingly angered about the theft of my supposed property.

“For a moment, I had a wild image of you escaping on one of Mr. Hixon’s inventions.  You knew he was an inventor, didn’t you?” Ignatius asked.

I nodded, but gave it a dismissive wave of my hand.  I hoped I had implied that I thought my “half-brother’s” tinkering was frivolous, to keep the conversation from that topic.  I suddenly felt cautious.  Not distrustful of Ignatius, mind you, just cautious.  However, Ignatius wasn’t ready to be diverted. 

“I hear he was always designing amazing machines.  Word was that Alexander Graham Bell once contacted him about his design for a hydrofoil,” Ignatius said.

Cornelis made an impressed face.  His mouth formed a silent Ooo.  The alchemist wasn’t a bad actor. I knew he was rarely impressed.  As soon as Cornelis had appeared at the estate, he had learned about the hydrofoil and the letter from the already famous Alexander Graham Bell.

Still trying to change the topic of discussion, I asked what else was inside the basket.

“Well, if you’d rather have salty than sweet,” Ignatius began and we exchanged a suggestive look that caused Cornelis to clear his throat in annoyance.  “Cookie packed a jar of olives and some Stilton cheese,” he finished.

Récolte des olives dans le Var, WikiMedia

I made a production of serving the food, in hope that the subject would finally change.  Ignatius might not have won Copper’s heart with the pastries, but he might have made inroads with the Dutchman.  Cornelis was particularly fond of Stilton cheese.

Really, I should have expected what came next.  It was such an obvious thing, yet it took me by surprise.  Ignatius insisted on taking us back “home” on his boat.  He said it should be safe, that there was no trace of the people who had caused the ruckus at the estate.

However, I knew that we daren’t go back.  Cornelis and Copper were well aware of that too.  We turned a trio of blank expressions toward the innkeeper.

How could I refuse without either seeming utterly ridiculous or giving away more information than I wanted to disclose?

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Paddle Steamer.  In the early 19th century, paddle wheels were the predominant means of propulsion for steam-powered boats.  A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat powered by a steam engine, which drives paddle wheels to propel the craft through the water.

Even though Copper and the Alchemist distrust him, Woman in Trousers certainly trusts the dashing innkeeper.  He seems to know an awful lot about the Hixon situation.  That bothers me.  Has he won over Copper and Cornelis with food?  Stay tuned.

This week there will not be a Straightlaced Saturday episode of the serial.  You may have seen my cover reveal for the long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee.  Or you might have seen the wonderful Thursday Atonement Doors post Dan Antion did in honor of it.  I will officially launch Atonement in Bloom this Saturday, October 20th.  It’s no ordinary book launch.  I’m having a party bus with a couple dozen of your friends along for the trip.  There will also be an Atonement, TN Book Fair, with 18 books from other authors for you to browse!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next week for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Hiedbound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 12

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  My blog-writing time is limited to the weekend, and it was a very busy one.  So without further ado, here’s chapter 12.

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 11. 

Felicity thought one of the voices she heard back at the Hixon estate could have belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Thanks to the magically juiced road locomotive, Copper, the alchemist, and the woman in trousers outdistanced the three presumably hostile groups that pursued them.  However, when the speeding engine took a turn too fast, the woman and the skull of the alchemist ended up in the frigid waters of the river.  The resultant head colds for those two temporarily stalled their adventure.  Not to mention the strange things that rained down when the alchemist sneezed.

Do you think we need to open our umbrellas before we join them?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

12 — Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper

Frog Hoyt Cologne ad 1900 wiki

Hoyt & Co. cologne ad circa 1900

Cornelis Drebbel rolled his watery eyes up toward the frog that sat atop his head. 

“Huh.  Huh—” Cornelis began and quickly put his finger under his nose in attempt to forestall yet another sneeze.  The frog wisely jumped down from his head.

“For pity’s sake!  There’s no telling what will rain down on us if you sneeze again!” I said, though I knew the alchemist couldn’t help himself.

Ah-choo!” was the answer to my plea.

Another wet splat soon came.  What smelled like a very savory reddish-brown sauce splashed onto the legs of my trousers.  I drew back, annoyed.  I finally had been able to put on clean dry clothes, and they’d already been stained.  Cornelis bent down with a curious expression on his face.  Copper left off playing with the frogs to see what new wonder was produced by the sneeze of the alchemist.

He picked up the sauce covered thing that made the wet splat.  I asked what it was as I tried to clean the warm goo from my pant legs.

1860s Woman Handkerchief tintipe

“It appears to be the short ribs of a swine,” he said as he pulled the meat into two pieces and licked the sauce from one.  “Umm.  Tasty,” he commented.

I made a disgusted face.  “Since that is the product of your sneeze, isn’t it rather like the equivalent of eating your own buggers?” I asked; just to see how he would react.

Copper burst out in a gale of laughter.  Cornelis looked at me.  One side of his mouth turned down in an expression of contempt.  Cornelis raised an eyebrow and cast his eyes downward at the ribs.  Then he shot a glare at me and took a big bite of the meat, licking his fingers for good measure.

Then the second wave came.  Short ribs fell all around us.  They landed on my shoulder and in my hair.  They pelted the alchemist, who suddenly had sauce smeared across his nose.  Even Copper wasn’t spared — nor were the frogs.  Riotous ribbits ensued as the amphibians leapt for cover from the rain of ribs.

Ad for medicine, circa 1900.  Public domain

After calm returned, Cornelis and I discussed the three groups who converged on the Hixon estate.  We both agreed that their only logical purpose would have been to abduct Copper.  I supposed that was good at least in as far as it should mean her father was still alive.  Of course that was no guarantee, as Cornelis quickly pointed out.  Fortunately the girl had gone back to playing with the frogs and didn’t hear that comment.

Suddenly I beheld the strangest sight, and mind you, I have seen some very bizarre things since the alchemist came into my life.  Hundreds of frogs made a procession toward the huge wrent in the building’s wall.  Several hopped huddled together as they balanced an eggplant on their backs and heads.

Copper skipped along beside the strange spectacle.  I told her not to go outside.  She stopped and nodded regretfully as the frogs carried their eggplant away.  I asked Cornelis what that could possibly be about. 

“One sneeze doesn’t always produce a singular effect.  The eggplant could have come from the same accident of alchemy that created the frogs,” he said.

The Dutchman shrugged it off.  Even so, something nagged at me. 

The frogs continued to stream out of the building.  I followed in the opposite direction, tracing the line of amphibians to their source.  Cornelis followed my lead.  Ever curious, Copper came along too.  With a ribbit, a last frog hopped out of a crate.  The large wooden box was almost intact.  Only one corner of it was broken.

vintage red pepper

I started to try and pry the crate further open to get a better look.  Then, eyes bulging, Cornelis tapped his finger on the label he’d found on the container.

It was marked κόκκινο πιπέρι, and I thought the address was Macedonia, but I wasn’t sure.  “What’s wrong?  I don’t recognize the language,” I said.

Cornelis shook his head and pursed his lips.  “Your education was sorely lacking,” he complained.

“It was not,” I countered.

“This, κόκκινο πιπέρι or kókkino pipéri if you will, is Greek,” he informed me.  “It means red pepper.  So show a bit of mercy and do not open that crate.  I don’t think I can bear another sneeze!”

“Then move away, old thing,” I told him with a motion of my arm.  “There might be good provisions in that crate.  Clearly we can’t depend on your sneezes to always provide food.”

The truth was, having spotted that strange writing, I secretly hoped I would find a clue about something, anything in the crate. 

I had removed the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers from the owl-shaped lamp.  I relished learning something before Cornelis figured it out, and I itched to do it again.

Who knows secrets might hide in a huge wooden crate?  I thought with anticipation.

Yet, I didn’t want the Dutchman to know that lest he tease me if there was nothing of interest in the wooden box.  Unfortunately, it did not yield anything that appeared to be a clue.

***

Copper curious w-green

Cornelis Drebbel and I argued.  Again.

“This is a perfectly good place to make a stand and fight,” I said.  “We can’t just keep running away to who knows where.  Especially when we aren’t even sure who we’re running from.  That will lead to us walking right into their clutches!  We have to know who the enemy is.  One of us should circle ‘round and come up behind them and at least find out who they are.”

The alchemist rolled his eyes heavenward.

“They were coming from three different directions – which group do you want to get behind?” he asked in a testy voice.  “And how far back do you want to go to get behind one of the groups, if you can even find them.  You know we out distanced them by a long way,” Cornelis reminded me.

“And just how do you propose we make a stand?” the alchemist acerbically retorted.  “We don’t know how many of them there are, but the one thing we do know is that we are sorely outnumbered.  Knowing their identifies is of no use if we are overwhelmed by our foes in the process of learning who they are,” Cornelis said with exaggerated patience.

I realized he had a point, though I hated to admit it.

A frantic honking noise interrupted our disagreement.

“Where is Copper?” I asked, suddenly worried.

While I knew nothing about children, abhorrent as it was to Victorian society for a woman to be unacquainted with child-rearing, I did have good insights into human nature.  When people argued it had an effect on those around them.  That was even more true of children. Copper had been through unimaginable upheaval, and taken away from every familiar thing and person.

Had the argument between the alchemist and me caused her to run away?

Copper!”

***

To be continued…

***

Could our little moppet have run away?  Even if she only got bored and went to explore, is it safe for Copper to wander around the abandoned compound?  They seem to have eluded their pursuers.  Yet have they really?

I hope you saw my big cover reveal.  If not then click the arrow at the bottom of the page.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again in a few days for Straightlaced Saturday.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Straightlaced Saturday Day — Cornelis Drebbel 11

Saturday, October 6, 2018 

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in TrousersIf you enjoyed my 1920s stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip — keep an eye out.  My characters begin to feel left out when I start new stories.  Keep an eye out in this episode.

This time we finish with the last in the set of “three things” — Airtights.  

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 10. 

Felicity pieced events together and concluded that their foes were after the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.  She also figured out that a familiar voice she heard (when they came dangerously close to one group of their pursuers) belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard. 

We are about to learn how they came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes, when the previous episode began with Felicity’s head-cold induced ramble.

When we left, we learned that the alchemist didn’t know how to stop the rapidly careening road locomotive.  Dare we join them?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

11 — Airtights

Édouard_Bisson_-_A_Portrait_of_a_Lady_in_a_Black_Hat wiki

Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms (1895) by Edouard Bisson

We careened across the country side.  The clouds drifted away from the moon.  I saw that there was a bend in the river ahead.  “Lovely,” I commented sarcastically.  “Now we’ll leave the course of the river and get lost in the countryside,” I said assuming the locomotive would continue to travel in a straight line.

“No, but that would be preferable,” Cornelis called back to me.  “The engine is following the river.  It won’t veer from that course.  And we’re going too fast to take that curve!” he cried just as the traction engine teetered onto two wheels.

My hatbox flew out of the engine and into the river.  With an oath that was in no way feminine, I dove into the frigid darkness of the water after my hatbox.  There was no choice.  The hatbox contained the skull of Cornilis Drebble.

Skull Green SIlks

 

The hatbox wasn’t heavy, and apparently a pocket of air had been trapped inside, preventing it from sinking fast.  I was able to get my hands on it without diving to the deepest reaches of the river.  However my heavy skirt and bulky bustle hindered me rising back to the surface.

As my heavy clothes pulled me down, I struggled to remove them and still hold onto the hatbox.  However, I wasn’t having much success.  Something tapped my neck and gave me a tiny electric shock.  When I turned I saw a thin filament of glowing green.  I associated the luminous verdant color with the Dutchman’s tricks.  But the tendril was so slim; I didn’t see how it could possibly help me.

Yet with no other help in sight I tentatively touched the glowing strand.  It wrapped itself gently around my wrist, and pulled me easily to the surface of the river.  Then it continued to lift me upward and onto the road locomotive.  I noted that the engine had stopped.

Copper applauded enthusiastically.  Cornelis took a bow as if the entire catastrophe had been part of a show, while I sat shivering, soaked, and sulky.  My frock was ruined, along with my favorite top hat.  Even the dratted bustle was a loss, as it was the least uncomfortable one I had ever found.

The alchemist’s skull was safe and sound, if cold and wet.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis

Cornelis Drebbel

With another surge of magical speed, Cornelis drove the engine past the next few towns, staying on the outskirts.  The engine was noisy, and naturally we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves, particularly since we didn’t know who was chasing us.  However, it zoomed by the towns with such speed, that I doubted anyone could have figured out what caused the sudden noise.

Far out into the countryside we came upon an abandoned church that seemed to watch protectively over a few other buildings that were within the same tumbledown stone fence.  One of the buildings was quite large and part of the back wall had fallen.  It was easily large enough to conceal the road locomotive.

The building held a number of old crates.  Each was tagged with owner’s information.  Apparently at one time the building had been used as private storage space.

Cold and still damp from my dive into the river, I leaned against a tall crate, suddenly feeling extremely weary.  Then I sneezed.  By the time I had wiped my nose, Cornelis was sniffling too.  The minute I looked at the alchemist I knew that he had the nearest thing to a head cold that is possible for him to catch.  I sneezed again, knowing I had the real McCoy

Now you know how we came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes.

 

 

***

I grabbed my suitcase and hid behind a stack of crates to change into my trousers and a shirt.  It would have been worth a dunk in the river to get back into my preferred clothes, if not for my top hat being ruined.

That’s when I started paying attention to all the crates.  Many of the wooden storage boxes were opened or damaged, probably from whatever caused one of the walls to fall.  They contained all manner of things.  From one opened crate random items of apparel spilled to the floor, including the royal blue muff I mentioned.  There was a label on the side of the crate, Property of Alastair Wong Sr.

A packet of letters was tied together with a red ribbon.  When I picked them up I detected a trace of lavender perfume.  Love letters, I thought as my curiosity pressed me to open one and read it.  I looked at the return address and found they were to the afore mentioned Alastair Wong from a Phanny Idelle Peabody in Savannah, Georgia, USA.  I put the letters down when something more important caught my eye.

Preserve Produce ad

Another was packed with airtights, as a cowboy friend of mine called them — canned goods.  Several of the jars contained preserves.  Those magical stacks of sourdough pancakes wouldn’t go to waste after all.  Not all of them at least; there were far too many for three people to eat, even with Copper’s voracious appetite.  I wondered if the pancakes were still warm.

“Do it again!” Copper said enthusiastically to Cornelis.

I couldn’t help laughing at the sad, red-eyed expression on his face when the girl wanted him to sneeze yet again.

“It is no game,” Cornelis told Copper in a stuffy nasal voice.

Suppressing another sneeze of my own, I took pity on the alchemist.  I held up a jar of apricot preserves and asked Copper if she’d seen any cutlery in the opened crates.  Her mouth made a silent “Oooh,” when she saw the jar and the girl hurried away in search of a fork.

Judging by the disarray and debris, most of the crates had been searched for valuables after whatever catastrophe happened to the building.  The damage looked old too.  There was an abandoned feeling about the place that I found mildly disconcerting.

“What sort of place do you suppose this is, Cornelis?” I pondered aloud.  “Have we sheltered in some sort of ghost town?  One would think a religious compound like this would be part of a town.  But I get the feeling that there isn’t another soul for miles around.”

The alchemist nodded affirmatively.  “Indeed.  I get the same sense of things,” he agreed.  “It will be dawn soon and the light of day will tell us much.”

Cornelis plopped down on a pile of clothing as if it were a bed.  Apparently the clothes had been sitting there for quite some time.  A cloud of dust puffed up when he landed on them.  The dust tickled my nose and I put my finger firmly between my nose and upper lip.

“Don’t you dare!” Cornelis warned me.  “You know that — huh — if you do — huh — then I will too!” he said just as we both sneezed loudly.

I looked at Cornelis Drebbel.  He looked at me.  Nothing happened.  Copper ran back so us, carrying several forks and even some plates.  She stopped and stared expectantly at the Dutchman.  He and I looked at each other again.  Still nothing happened.  Copper looked disappointed.  I sighed with relief.

Frog Handkerchief Soap adThen elsewhere in the building I heard a wet splat.  And another.  A funny little guttural sound traveled to my ears.  It was followed by several dozen more wet splat sounds, and the sounds were coming closer.  A splat sounded right beside me.  I turned to see Cornelis wearing a sad-eyed long suffering expression.  His eyes rolled to look upward.  A frog sat squarely on top of his head.

Ribbit,” the frog looked at me and said.  A chorus of ribbits from all around the building answered.

Copper laughed with delight.  I chortled despite myself.  However, my merriment stopped as, splat-splat-splat, frogs rained down upon us.

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Airtights.  Yes they are a thing! Nicolas Appert was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the “father of canning,” was a confectioner.  A hermetic seal is any type of sealing that makes a given object airtight (excludes the passage of air, oxygen, or other gases). The term originally applied to airtight glass containers, but as technology advanced it applied to a larger category of materials, including rubber and plastics. 

Is Sheriff Alvin Bullard one of the bad guys?  He seemed harmless enough with his amusingly thick mustache.  Will our trio keep running, no matter how far, to escape the villains who would kidnap Copper?  Or will they turn and fight?  They’re awfully outnumbered.

I hope you saw my big cover reveal.  If not then click the arrow at the bottom of the page.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 10

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 

Skull Green SIlks

The Skull of the Alchemist

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, where we continue our Victorian (#SteamPunk) adventure from Straightlaced Saturday.  This episode brings up some health matters for the characters.   That wouldn’t be surprising if you knew that I wrote it in March of 2015, during a huge snowfall.  I hate snow, so I was really missing the home I left behind in in New Mexico where snow melts quickly.  The things were from an old friend there.  

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 9

Cornelis got the road locomotive running.  I’m not sure whether it was an accident of alchemy or not, but with the help of two harmonic tuners, he turned the attacking chimpanzees into ceramic statues. Copper said one of them used sign language to say the word “daddy.” Cornelis thought they meant to lure Copper into a trap.

The other two groups of apparent foes were closer, mere minutes away… 

However, Felicity is a bit under the weather at the moment, so this episode begins with a bit of a ramble.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

10 — Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes

Lily Elsie 1900 muff

Lily Elsie circa 1900, English actress-singer

Do you mind terribly if I digress for a moment?  Just because I find long full skirts and bustles inconvenient and impractical, it doesn’t mean that I don’t relish fine things.  I disdain corsets, but that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying an elegant gown.  I actually do have an appreciation and an eye for quality workmanship and materials.  So why would Cornelis and Copper give me such incredulous looks when I delightedly produced a lovely royal blue velvet, fur lined muff from an open crate filled with finery?  Really, their reaction was rather offensive.  

There was a pocket inside the muff made especially for a gun.  Unfortunately, I had not had a muff pistol for a long time.  A pity that — the inconspicuous firearm could come in handy.  But I ramble.  That’s a story for another day.  Let’s get back to the story at hand, shall we?

Image result for vintage fashion frilly magazine cover

Too Early by Tissot, 1873

***

Cornelis groaned.  I glanced in his direction apprehensively.  Copper sat enthralled, watching the alchemist.  I ducked behind a crate for cover.

“Huh.  Huh.  Huh,” Cornelis gasped in advance of a sneeze and I cringed.

Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t precisely get sick, due to his unique state of existence.  However, he could get the equivalent of a very bad head cold.  The effects of which ranged from amusing to alarming.

Ah-choo!” I inadvertently finished for him, as my own head cold was the genuine article.

“God bless you — and everybody around you!” Copper exclaimed, her favorite blessing for a large splashy sneeze.

I took out my handkerchief and blew my nose in a most unladylike way.  Then it happened.  Cornelis abruptly finished his sneeze, with no preamble whatsoever.  Before the sound died away, before the rain of spittle settled, the effects of the alchemist’s mighty “AH-CHOO!” were revealed.

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

Every sneeze had a different result.  Knee-high stacks of sourdough pancakes surrounded us, the manifestation of his first ah-choo.  It would have been nice if the subsequent sneeze rained syrup onto the pancakes, as they looked quite delicious.  But I supposed that was just as well.  It would have been dreadfully messy. 

Instead, the next sudden involuntary expulsion of air from his nose and mouth created a hail of doorknobs.  That was rather dangerous.  Cornelis got a goose-egg on his head from where one landed on him.  For once the wretched bustle of my skirt was useful, as it deflected two knobs that would have assaulted me.

An electric crackle in the air was the only warning of the alchemic sneeze effect.  I put my arms over my head when I heard it.  I held my breath, wondering what this sneeze would bring.  Something smacked against my forearm.  I noted with relief that it was neither hard nor heavy.  Hundreds of delicate thumps sounded as chrysanthemum blossoms rained down all around us.

Ah-choo-choo-choo!” I triple-sneezed.  I was appallingly allergic to chrysanthemums.  As if my head cold was not enough.

Yet, I digressed again… I still haven’t gotten back to the point where we left this story.

How did Cornelis Drebbel and I come to have head colds, you might ask?  It happened something like this…

Chrysanthemums, WikiMedia Commons

***

Clouds blocked the light of the moon.  Rather than risk blindly heading into the darkness, Corneils and I chose to follow the nearby river.  At least that way we wouldn’t become lost.  However, that route took us closer to one of our three groups of pursuers. 

We still had no idea who any of them were.  Cornelis had made the group of chimpanzees scatter with the magically enhanced road locomotive, and their three leaders became a ceramic statue of “the wise monkeys.”  However, I didn’t think whomever controlled the chimps was out of the picture.

Our unknown adversaries were much too close for comfort.  I could distinguish different voices as they shouted to each other.  One seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place who it was.

“Over there!” a man shouted.

We’d been seen.  Cornelis muttered in the odd sounding language he used to work his tricks.  I felt a peculiar sensation that made the hair on my arms stand up.  Suddenly the road locomotive lurched in an impressive burst of speed.  Copper squealed with delight.  Our pursuers were quickly left far behind — whoever they were. 

White_Mill_sunset

White Mill in Sandwich, Kent, England. WikiMedia

Lights shone from every window in a building ahead.  As we got closer I saw that it was the local grist mill.  “I wouldn’t expect anyone at the mill this late,” I commented but Cornelis didn’t understand me because of our noisy conveyance.

“Look,” the Dutchman said.  “Someone is at the grist mill.  Doesn’t the sheriff own half of it?  Maybe we should stop there, get the authorities involved.”

I mouthed the word “No.”  As soon as I heard the word “sheriff” something fell into place in my mind.  I had heard a vaguely familiar voice amid the distant shouting of our pursuers.  Suddenly I realized that voice sounded a lot like Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Could the sheriff be involved in whatever was going on? 

Leaning close to Cornelis Drebbel my lips were a hair away from his ear so I could make him hear me above the noise of the traction engine.

“I always knew you were sweet on me,” he teased drolly before I could speak.

The temptation to swat the alchemist was strong.  However, I voiced my concern about the sheriff.  Cornelis made an appropriate face and nodded. 

close-up photo of man with mustache

Sheriff Bullard’s big mustache

“Onward then!” he shouted and gave the locomotive another burst of speed.

I pieced things together, and I believed everything that had happened was connected.  We already knew these things…  Mr. Hixon, Copper’s father, disappeared.  People from the orphanage were keen to take Copper before anyone should have even known her father was missing.  An unknown dead man was found in Calvin Hixon’s study and trained chimpanzees spirited the corpse away.  Three groups of adversaries converged on the Hixon estate, presumably to abduct Copper.  I believed all those things were related to the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.

The road locomotive had been traveling at an astonishing speed for quite a while.  The grist mill was long gone, and I hadn’t seen another building in some time.  Shouting to be heard above the noise of the engine, I suggested that it was safe for us to slow down.  In answer Cornelis gave me an all too familiar sheepish look.

“Don’t tell me…” I warned the Dutchman. 

I was right.  He didn’t know how to slow down the road locomotive!

640px-Road_locomotive__John_boy__(5605531950)

Road Locomotive, WikiMedia Commons

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Sourdough Pancakes.  Yes they are a thing!  I mean more than a “three things” kind of thing.  Take a look.

Balderdash! Now we have a double dose of cliffhanging. Felicity’s (aka the Woman in Trousers) narration started out a touch unreliably.  She and Cornelis were sick, but she had gotten ahead of the story when she told us that.  So, she’s left us with the very questionable sheriff on their heels — and Cornelis doesn’t know how to stop the rapidly moving road locomotive!

The last “thing” in this set is Airtights.  What the devil are aritights?

I’ll preempt Straightlaced Saturday for a big reveal of my own!  So Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.