Straightlaced Saturday — Cornelis Drebbel 24

Saturday, December 29 , 2018 

Copper promo USS Razorback Torpedo rm Pixabay

Altered Pixabay image from the torpedo room of the USS Razorback

Here we are, in that limbo between Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s still a festive time, but it is rather a “between” time.  However, the #SteamPunk train has arrived at the platform and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Although the mode of transportation is about to change.  This time we also learn a little about Felicity’s heritage.

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

Chapter 22.2

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be.  “Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

Chapter 23

Through one of his “tricks” the alchemist saw a dozen villains rapidly approaching the family estate of the Wongs.  Alastair’s ancestral connection to Cornelis made him as eager to defend the alchemist as he was to protect his home.  Alastair and Victoria used the road locomotive to rush back home while our trio waited to board Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine.

“Cornelis Drebbel, are you trying to tell me that this submarine is powered by a magical creature that farts a highly concentrated vaporous form of absinthe?” I asked and I couldn’t prevent my voice going up a full octave on the last word.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

24 — Coyote, La Llorona, Chupacabra

weeping-Girl Pixabay

Pixabay

Being under water in a submarine had not phased the bricky little girl.  So, her frantic reaction to a supernatural presence surprised me.

“We have to help her!” Copper screamed and burst into tears.

“She can’t be helped, Copper!  She is not alive.  Her pain follows her in death.  She is not human,” I urgently tried to explain as the girl struggled in my grasp.

Copper couldn’t be allowed to go to that woman.  If she did, she’d be killed.

I looked back to the water’s edge.  A woman with long dark hair wailed in sorrow as she walked along the shore.  Her dress of flowing white was a false suggestion of purity.  Although no one could hear her intense grief and not feel sympathy as she repeated the distraught cry.

“¡Ay, mis hijos!”

“Quickly Cornelis!  Pull Copper inside before the magic completely beguiles her,” I called to the alchemist.

La Llorona Pixabay catrina-2532270_1920

Darksouls, Pixabay

His blonde head popped back up from the submarine’s hatch where he had gone ahead of us.  He said the Green Fairy would need reassurance, so we wouldn’t startle it.  Meanwhile Copper and I were poised, levitated on a cloud of green above the water beside the submarine.

Wide-eyed, Cornelis hissed a warning that the noise we were making would frighten Absinthe, the Green Fairy who powered the submarine.  However, a glance at my face was enough for him to know something was wrong.  I motioned with my head toward the shore — I daren’t move one of my hands from the struggling girl so I could point.  She was already bespelled enough to try and reach the Weeping Woman.

“What is that…?” Cornelis asked, meaning the woman.

“It’s La Llorona!  She beguiles children.  Hurry and help me get Copper inside,” I urged.

However, Copper twisted free of my grasp.  She jumped from our levitated spot and dove toward the water in attempt to reach the sorrowful woman.

“Cornelis!” I screamed.

A thin thread of luminous green shot after Copper.  It was same trick the alchemist used to pull me from the river when the alchemically-amped road locomotive had taken a turn too fast and my hatbox (containing his skull) went overboard.  I had jumped into the river to save it, but we both ended up with head colds.  The alchemist’s sneezes had odd results.

Girl Flute Green pixabay

Altered Pixabay image

The magical thread wrapped securely around Copper before she even touched the surface of the water.  With a couple of hand motions Cornelis reeled her back and quickly pulled her into the submarine.  I jumped in behind and closed the hatch.

“Such a tortured soul!  How did you know what would happen?” the Dutchman asked.

Cornelis seemed to sympathize with La Llorona.  I looked at him closely, wondering if her spell had affected the Dutchman as well as Copper.  Her magic was only supposed to be effective on children, but Cornelis was no ordinary human being, so I felt a moment of uncertainty.  However, looking into his eyes, I decided he was not influenced, just uncharacteristically empathetic.

“It was La Llorona,” I explained.  “I learned the legend from my maternal grandmother.  She was from Mexico.  Although it now seems to be more than just a story,” I said shaking my head in disbelief at the scene I had just witnessed.

“Some say La Llorona was insane with jealousy, but whatever her reasoning, she drowned her children.  My grandmother told the story that she came to her senses enough to comprehend something was wrong, and she wandered, searching for them.  When La Llorona realized what she had done, she drowned herself as well.  But her spirit was forever trapped between life and death.  So she wanders and beguiles children, leading them to a watery death,” I explained the legend as my grandmother imparted it during my childhood.

“With that kind of bedtime story, you must have been afraid to close your eyes,” Cornelis said and I nodded.  “Why, your grandmother was a woman after my own heart,” he said with a lopsided grin.

I rolled my eyes at the incorrigible alchemist. 

“She would have said you were an old coyote,” I retorted.  “And she would have liked you,” I added in a sardonic tone, knowing I spoke the truth.

Wolf as Colonial man

The Dutchman looked over his shoulder and again reminded me to be quiet. 

“And whatever you do, you must not startle the Green Fairy,” he whispered.

Carefully, I climbed down the ladder from the hatch.  I was about to ask where Copper was when I heard muffled sobbing from a corner.  She was huddled under  a piece of furniture that seemed to be a sort of desk, and she was crying from the influence of La Llorona.

Whether it was a desk or something else, it was an interesting piece.  The hutch opened out, wing-like with numerous compartments of boxes and little apothecary type drawers.  Those drawers had crystal faces with little brass knobs.  The open boxes were filled with all manner of glittering apparatuses. 

On the desktop two broadly different variations of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetual motion clock were mounted within shimmering glass domes.  I couldn’t help shuddering at the amount of trouble those might cause.

The desk had an ordinary desktop supported by drawered cabinetry on each side.  The middle, where a chair might go, had a roll-down covering which was part-way down.  That’s where Copper crouched, sobbing.

Perpetual Motion Clock Photo

Drebbel’s Perpetual Motion Clock

I moved to go to Copper.  The poor girl couldn’t possibly understand what had happened, or the spell La Llorona’s wail had cast upon her.  However, Cornelis caught my arm.  He held a finger to his lips and then pointed toward the space just above the desk.

“Is that…?” I began in fascination.  “Is that the Green Fairy?  And that tiny creature can power this vessel?” I asked.

Cornelis smiled like an indulgent parent and nodded. 

“Actually it is our energies combined, mine and his, that power this vessel.  Although I do believe Absinthe could produce enough power to run this submarine and another as well — if he were of a mind.”

I tilted my head and watched in amazement.  Absinthe would have fit in my outstretched palm.  He looked like a fluffy baby skunk, but where a skunk would’ve had black fur the Green Fairy’s was, well — green.  Moreover, it was bright green, just like the liquor.  On butterfly wings, he fluttered down toward Copper.

Absinthe chirped once as he investigated the girl, who had yet to see him.  Copper, sobbing, didn’t pay any attention to the next chirp either.  The tiny creature began snuffling at her hair, snuffle-chirp-chirp, snuffle-chirp-chirp.green skunk palm

I edged closer very cautiously, not wanting to interrupt the wondrous display.  I detected a faintly sweet aroma like licorice.  Apparently all the snuffling and chirping must have tickled, because Copper started to giggle through her tears.  I didn’t know if skunks, or rather Green Fairies, could smile, but tiny Absinthe looked like he was smiling when Copper looked up at him in delighted fascination.

Cornelis pointed to the roll-down covering where Copper had tucked herself. 

“He must really like her,” the Dutchman said.  “That’s his favorite pouting post.  Whenever Absinthe gets annoyed or frightened, he darts under there and slams down the cover,” Cornelis explained with a mystified chuckle.

A sharp ping distracted me and I turned toward the sound.  Beside what I thought must be a periscope was a multi-limbed brass contrivance.  Each arm ended with a walnut sized faceted gemstone.  The device gyrated and whirred so much that it was difficult to count its arms, but I thought there were seven, each capped with a different colored gem.  The base of the device lit up causing the gemstones to cast a rainbow effect.

Absinthe fluttered toward the colorful machine.  Apparently the tiny fairy had failed to notice me until I spoke.

“How pretty, Cornelis. What does it do?” I asked pointing at the device.

Green fairy skunk

Absinthe the Green Fairy, by Teagan

When I moved my hand to point, the Green Fairy fluttered backward a beat.  Luminous emerald eyes widened.  Absinthe hissed at me.  Then I heard a farting sound.  From his bantam backside blew a billow of bright green vapor.

“I told you not to startle him!” Cornelis admonished.  “Copper, stay where you are and don’t stand up until that cloud clears!” the alchemist instructed hastily.  “Felicity, hurry and open that hatch!”

“Hurry and open the hatch how?” I giggled as I wobbled up the ladder.

“Dear heavens it’s already too late,” Cornelis groaned as he climbed up beside me.

“I can’t budge the beastly bugger open,” I complained.  “Who needs fresh air, Cornelis.  It’s fine in here.  You’ll just let in that dank, damp…  Oh! Keep your daddles to yourself.  Watch your hands!” I cautioned as he reached around me trying to get to the hatch handle.

A whoosh of air hit me in the face.  When I looked toward the shore I could have sworn I saw a hippopotamus singing to a group of infatuated mermaids who played music upon lyres.  La Llorona danced with a chupacabra — a goat-killing blood sucker from another of my grandmother’s stories.  Then, as the alchemist had commented, I wondered how I had ever managed to sleep as a child.

When I turned my head, the world lurched.

The green vapors of concentrated absinthe streamed up through the opening around us.  When I looked at Cornelis, he seemed to be standing at a peculiar angle.  He looked back at me and snorted laughter.  He took my arm and pulled me upright.  Apparently I was the one who was leaning far to one side.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

For a moment he looked just like a coyote in a silk jacket.  I snorted out a laugh, then covered my mouth in embarrassment, then I collapsed in giggles.

I noticed that Cornelis held his harmonic tuner.  He looked quite bleary-eyed. 

“Cornelis you should take better care of yourself.  Are you coming down with another head cold?” I asked feeling more than a little arfarfan’arf.

He held the tuner above our heads and gave it one sharp ring.  The sound reverberated inside my skull in an unpleasant way.  I groaned as the world around me started to spin madly.  Cornelis rang the harmonic tuner again.

“Stop that!” I cried trying to reach high enough to take the damnable bell away from the alchemist.

As the ringing subsided, the coyote faded with it, leaving only Cornelis.  The chupacabra and La Llorona danced a final turn before they blurred and disappeared, leaving the shoreline deserted.

I took a long deep breath.

“I told you not to startle the Green Fairy,” Cornelis said drolly.

***

Real World Notes

Abraham Roentgen’s Writing Desk.  Imagining the cabinetry inside the steampunk submarine made me think of the work of Abraham Roentgen.  He was a very successful cabinetmaker in the  eighteenth century.  In his hands, a piece of furniture became a work of art.  His customers included sovereigns, aristocrats, and other influential people.  Roentgen’s style was characterized by grandeur, inventiveness, and meticulously detailed shapes.  He is known for writing tables that not only have numerous secret compartments but could also be transformed into a private altar. 

***

This serial continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  Next time, the “three things” were inspired by my Atonement novels: Home, Neighbors, and Mimosa

I’ll be looking for you at the station on Wednesday.  

Mega hugs!

***

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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 23

Wednesday, December 26 , 2018 

Portage Flyer Christmas train Robert Nelson Wiki Media Commons

Portage Flyer, Robert Nelson, WikiMedia Commons

I hope everyone who celebrated any sort of holiday this week had a joyous and relaxing time.  I’m always hearing people say “Christmas is all about families.”  Well, I don’t have a family, but I enjoy the holiday in my own way.  Festivities were perhaps a little restrained this year for 2 million (USAGov figure) of us who work for the federal government, due to the government shutdown (pay withheld).  Fortunately this has not effected my particular agency… yet.  Onward.

The #SteamPunk train has arrived at the platform and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!  You’d better buckle up.  

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

Chapter 22.2

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale was breaching.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be.  “Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

23 — Feather, Yorkshire Pudding, Absinthe

Submarine breaching Pixaby altered

Pixabay altered image

Awed silence blanketed us as we looked toward the water.  A highly refined version of the submarine Cornelis Drebbel invented in 1620 breached the surface of the water.   I don’t know what I expected it would do after surfacing, but I thought it would at least do something.  However, the vessel bobbed on the gentle currents and other wise did not move.

Alastair Wong spoke excitedly to Cornelis, marveling about the machine.  Our host clearly hoped for a tour of the submarine.

“This surely was a feather in your cap.  It’s amazing that you invented such a futuristic vehicle so very long ago!” Alastair exclaimed and Victoria nodded her agreement.

Cornelis looked unexpectedly worried.  That puzzled me, because he loved to show off his inventions.

“You must have a look at it.  But I’d best go aboard first to err… to make sure things are in order,” the alchemist said with a distracted smile.  “The hatch should have opened by now,” Cornelis murmured as he turned from Wong back toward the submarine.

As the Dutchman approached the shoreline the vessel’s hatch slowly lifted.  Green vapors emanated from the opening.  The breeze carried an aroma like licorice to me.  Victoria smelled it too.

Green LIghts Drew Collins_1466939721550-ad3ef4b9eeec

Drew Collins, Unsplash

“Is that scent anise?” she asked no one in particular.

“Your king must have been thrilled,” Wong continued, not noticing the tiny woman’s softly spoken question.  “Just to think—” his words abruptly cut off.

Though it was far away, it was easy to hear the distant boom of the huge gong at the Wong estate.  Alastair turned back in the direction from which we came.  His face remained passive at the unexpected sound. 

A second vibrant hollow tone crashed immediately after the first.  Wong and Victoria exchanged a quick concerned glance.  For the space of two heartbeats there was silence.  Victoria took a relieved breath, but Alastair had not moved a muscle.  Then a third beat rang across the countryside.

Victoria gasped.  Alastair sprang to life. 

“I humbly beg your pardon Cornelis.  There is trouble at the pavilion.  I must return with all due haste,” he said.

Cornelis motioned for Wong to wait.  He unrolled the map with the alchemically inscribed word “Daddy.”  The alchemist produced his harmonic tuner out of thin air and rang it three times.  Then he took a crystal salt shaker from the basket that Victoria was hurriedly packing.  He sprinkled a pinch of the salt over the map.

crystal salt shaker

The salt began to swirl into a tiny cloud.  It moved to the golden dot that indicated the Wong family’s estate.  As the salt settled onto the map it made little moving specks.  A dozen of them moved steadily toward the pavilion.

“What does it mean?” Victoria gasped. 

“A group of people are moving toward your estate,” Cornelis explained.

“For the great gong to be sounded, they are strangers.  Not only strangers, but somehow they have aroused the distrust of the guards even at that distance,” Alastair told us.  “Will the road locomotive get me back there before they reach the pavilion?” he asked the alchemist.

“I’ll see that it does,” Cornelis assured him.

“Umm,” Alastair began.  “Will you teach me to pilot it?”

Cornelis grinned at Wong’s sheepish tone. 

“You needn’t worry,” he told Alastair.  “Just rest your hands on the controls.  The locomotive will remember the way home.  I entrust it to your safe keeping.”

As Wong turned to go, Cornelis took his arm to detain him. 

“It is almost certain that those are our foes, not any that you may have, who approach your home.  I should come back with you,” the Dutchman said.

Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto City, Japan

I knew Cornelis was sincere, but he gave a worried look at Copper.  The “foes” that converged on Wong’s estate were most likely from one of the groups that meant to abduct Copper.  We all knew that.  I only hoped Copper didn’t realize and feel responsible. 

Alastair Wong caught our glances at the girl and he looked down at her with a warm smile, as if nothing whatever was wrong.  Victoria put her arm around Copper’s shoulders with a reassuring squeeze.

“My grandfather was once the guardian of your skull, Cornelis Drebbel.  It is my honor and privilege to defend you however I may,” Alastair said with an abrupt soldier’s bow, and he and Victoria were quickly gone.

I watched the steam engine in concern as it disappeared into the trees.  When I glanced down, I realized Copper was at my side.  She turned worried blue eyes up at me.

“Will they be alright?” she asked.

I swallowed, just as worried as Copper.  The Dutchman crouched down next to Copper and there was a small glint of mischief in his eyes.  He shook his head in mock regret.

“It’s really the people sneaking up on the pavilion that we should worry about,” he told her in an exaggeratedly grave voice.

Asian girl kimono red Pixabay free

Pixabay

Copper gave the alchemist a sidelong look that matched my own. 

“What do you mean by that, Cornelis?” I asked.

“Didn’t you know?” he returned a question.  “Why the Wong family business — or at any rate it’s practically their family business.  Has been for hundreds of years.”

“What?” I demanded, losing patience.

“Martial arts of course,” Cornelis said with a wave of his hand.  “That tiny Victoria is downright lethal.  I tell you, she and Alastair alone could take on the dozen people headed toward the pavilion,” he added.

I looked at the Dutchman closely.  Such a claim had to be an embellishment meant to amuse Copper.  My eyes widened when I realized that he was perfectly serious.

Copper still looked worried so I tried to change the subject. 

“After that delicious Italian feast, we might not be able to fit into the submarine,” I commented, joking.  “You enjoyed the food, didn’t you Copper?”

“It was strange food, but it was good,” she answered.  “But there wasn’t a sweet,” she added sadly.

Cornelis began describing a strange but elaborate meal he had been served in the sixteen hundreds. 

Firstchristmascard.jpg

The First Christmas Card, Sir Henry Cole, 1843

“I was in service to the King of England then,” he supplied.  “But now a traditional meal one might serve company for dinner would be much different.  Have you ever had a Yorkshire pudding?” he asked Copper and went on to describe such a meal.

I looked at the submarine apprehensively. 

“Are we going to have to swim out to the thing?” I asked then had a worried thought.  “Copper, can you swim?” I asked.

The child wore a doubtful expression but nodded affirmatively.  I didn’t believe her.

“Not to worry,” Cornelis said cheerily.  “I can levitate us that miniscule distance.  I’m thoroughly rested and refreshed.”

We placed Copper between us.  Cornelis and I each held one of her hands.  I was amazed to not feel any sensation at all.  It was as if I suddenly realized that I no longer felt the ground beneath my feet.  We floated on a green nimbus over the water to the submarine. 

As we drew close I could hear an odd sound that was like a combination of chirping and lip-smacking with an occasional snuffle.  Then I detected the licorice-like scent again.

“Cornelis,” I began doubtfully as a green tendril wafted up from the open hatch.  “What powers this submarine?  I could swear that I smell absinthe.”

Absinthe Bohemian Ritual (burning the sugar).jpg

Image from Jeff Nelson via Wikimedia Commons

“Oh no, no.  Of course not,” he sputtered.  “Well, not exactly.”

Cornelis Drebbel!  Need I remind you that we have a child with us?” I threatened.

“No, it’s not like that at all,” Cornelis hastily tried to explain.  “The submarine is powered by the Green Fairy.”

“Absinthe!” I accused.

“No and yes,” he answered exacerbating my exasperation.  “The fairy sometimes goes by the name Absinthe.  But it is not the liquor, I assure you.  The Green Fairy’s magic, along with my alchemy, powers the submarine,” he said.  “But do be careful not to startle it.”

“Why?” I spoke the question with raised eyebrows.

“Well,” the Dutchman hesitated.  “If the Green Fairy is startled, he can emit a strong vapor.”

“Like a fart?” Copper giggled.

“Exactly,” Cornelis said.  “But not at all.  It’s not a vile odor.  However, it will cause…” he paused and looked at me sheepishly.  “Intoxication.  It’s quite strong,” he finished and wouldn’t look at me.

I looked at the green vaporous tendril and inhaled the anise, licorice scent.  I took a steadying breath and tried to gather my quickly escaping temper.

“Cornelis Drebbel, are you trying to tell me that this submarine is powered by a magical creature that farts a highly concentrated vaporous form of absinthe?” I asked and I couldn’t prevent my voice going up a full octave on the last word.

Cornelis twisted his lips over to one side and raised one bushy blonde eyebrow in a cringing expression.

“Well, yes.  That’s pretty much exactly what I meant.  But he only does that if you frighten him,” Cornelis said, nodding encouragingly.

***

Childe Hassam, Wikimedia Commons

Real World Notes

The First Christmas Card. Sir Henry Cole was a British inventor who facilitated several innovations in commerce and education.  He came up with the idea of of sending greetings cards at Christmas time, and introduced the  first commercial Christmas card in 1843.

Absinthe.  It’s an anise-flavored, alcoholic drink.  Some horrible crimes were associated with the drink back in the day.  However, modern investigation indicated that absinthe got a bad rap.  It is no more dangerous than any other properly prepared liquor.  Although it is quite a potent potable, so be careful that you don’t get arfarfan’arf.

Serving the drink can be a courtly, can be an afternoonified ritual because of all the particular accoutrements.  Fill an absinthe fountain with ice water.  Pour the absinthe into distinctly shaped absinthe glass.  Then place a slotted silver spoon across the top of the glass.  Place a sugar cube on the spoon.  Position the glass, spoon, and sugar cube under a spigot of the fountain.  Let the icy water slowly drip over the sugar cube until the sugar dissolves and the absinthe turns completely opaque.

 Here’s a good informative video and article about it. 

This video demonstrates the beguiling way in which absinthe is properly prepared.

***

This serial continues on Straightlaced Saturday.  See what I did with Coyote, La Llorona, and Chupacabra

I’ll be looking for you at the station on Saturday.  

Mega hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion. 

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

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(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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

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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.

 

Steampunk Train Delay & Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Locomotive Christmas Pixabay

Pixabay

Hello everyone! While I was trying to finish my Straightlaced Saturdays post, WordPress refused to give me anything but a spinning circle.  Well, my chuckaboos, life has been a crazily spinning circle all week. 

Train schedule Blue

Now that the WP gremlins are finally cooperating… I’m too worn out to work.  So please accept my apologies.  The next episode of “Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers” will post on Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  If you need to catch up, the most recent episode is here.

Meanwhile, I wish you health, happiness, and contentment for any and every holiday you choose to celebrate.  Here’s a little greeting and a recap of my year from my feline companion and me. 

Holiday blessings, my friends.  Hugs on reindeer hooves!

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 22.2

Wednesday, December 19 , 2018 

Train Christmas lights_Natural Tunnel RR at VA St Parks

Natural Tunnel R.R. of Virginia State Parks, public domain image, Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day!  The #SteamPunk train wears festive holiday lights today.  It’s headed to the northern Pacific coast of the USA, during the Victorian Era.  That’s where we’ll finish chapter 22 of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Today we will see what the third of the “three things” provided by John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites created in this spontaneously written story. 

This post also has a mention of a cross-over character who is featured in “A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients 2.”  I hope to book-ize that story early in 2019.  If you were following Jazz Age Wednesdays way back then, you will recognize Maestro Martino.

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

Chapter 21.  

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle.  In large glowing green script I read the word aloud, 

“Daddy.”

Laundry washing machine

Chapter 22.1 at Straightlaced Saturday

To my surprise the alchemist produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed the diminished glow with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and dimming to a flat pistachio green. Did it mark the location of Copper’s father? 

Alastair and Victoria Wong would stay with us until we reached the Pacific Ocean, where Copper, the alchemist, and I would continue our journey.  We still fled three groups of foes, but now we also were looking for Copper’s father.  Let’s find out what is revealed in the rest of chapter 22.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

22.2 — Penne Pasta

640px-Road_locomotive__John_boy__(5605531950)

The sun was directly overhead when Cornelis slowed the road locomotive.  We were on high ground overlooking a blue river.  Below I could see a collection of log cabins of some sort.

“Look, it’s a fort!” Copper exclaimed.

“Have we really journeyed so far so fast?” Alastair Wong said in a tone of amazement.

“What do you mean?” I queried.

“That is Fort Clatsop,” Alastair explained though I looked at him blankly.  “It was built by the explorers, Lewis and Clark and their expedition.  They spent a difficult winter there before getting back on their way.”

“And they were hungry, you may be sure,” Victoria interjected, causing Alastair to chuckle as she pulled out the large picnic basket.  “That is a fate we shall not share with the explorers,” she said to our oohs and aahs as she opened the basket.

The woman surely could not have a single drop of Italian blood in her veins, but she laid out a feast worthy of any great Italian chef.

“Dear Victoria!” Cornelis exclaimed and bowed.  “This is a feast worthy of the 15th-century legend, Maestro Martino de Rubeis!”

Vintage kitchen bouquet ad

“Who?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew my question would meet with derision from the alchemist.

Cornelis put on a mournful face and shook his head, muttering about my lacking education.  So naturally I had to tweak his nose, so to speak.  “Oh, did you know him then?” I made my question a playful taunt.

The Dutchman narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. 

“The 15th century was the fourteen hundreds I remind you — that was quite before my time, as you well know.  I wasn’t even born until the year 1572,” he said and continued without missing a beat.  “Maestro Martino was a culinary expert unequaled in his field at the time.  He was quite the celebrity.  He was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain, the Patriarch of Aquileia.  The Maestro Martino was called the prince of cooks,” Cornelis lectured.

Then he wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows.  “So of course I did not know the Maestro in the fourteen hundreds,” he said and paused briefly.  “I did, however, meet him during his cursed afterlife.”

Though I knew I should not encourage Cornelis, I took his bait yet again. 

“Cursed? How so?” I asked.

“The poor soul pissed off the Pope.  Enough said.  Please pass the porcinis,” the alchemist said.

Mushroom faries Carrousel

That naturally prompted animated questions from everyone.  Cornelis loved to have an audience and he told the tale of the cursed chef and his acquaintance with him most vividly while we enjoyed Victoria’s Italian feast.

Needless to say, we were all quite pleasantly stuffed.  Alastair lit a beautifully carved pipe.  I faintly heard Victoria humming what I suspected was a nursery song from her home, as Copper rested her head in Victoria’s lap.  I was feeling rather sleepy in the sunshine myself.  Cornelis looked infinitely far away in thought as he toyed with a last spoonful of penne pasta in his plate.

“What’s on your mind, Dutchman?” I intruded on his thoughts.

“The next leg of our journey,” he replied, still examining the pasta.  “I need to summon our transportation.”

He picked up a piece of penne and held it up to his eye, looking at Copper through the pasta cylinder.  Copper giggled.  I told the Dutchman that he was a bad influence.

“Copper, could I see your mystic monkeys bell?” he asked the girl.

“Why not use the harmonic tuner that is more familiar to you?” Alastair asked quietly in a voice edged with concern.

I was in agreement with Alastair Wong in his newfound concern about Cornelis and his tricks.

“You are right,” Cornelis told him.  “Ordinarily, in the working of magic it is best to use implements to which one has become attuned.  However, in this case the harmonic tuner that Copper has always thought of as her mystic monkeys bell was a gift from Daddy.  And that is whom we hope to find.  So the more elements relating to him, the better.”

Girl Flute Green pixabay

Altered image from Pixabay

A detailed carving of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil was worked into the surface of the bell.  Copper reverently handed Cornelis the second harmonic tuner.  Her solemn expression was at odds with her youth.  It reminded me of how difficult the entire situation must be for the girl.

The alchemist looked down at the scraps of pasta in his plate and arranged three pieces of penne end-to-end.  Then the alchemist held the harmonic tuner over them and flicked the bell with his fingernail.  It gave off a sharp ping sound.

The pasta glowed greenly.  The aura intensified until I had to shield my eyes.  When the supernatural light abated, a jade flute lay where the penne had once been.

The alchemist picked up the flute and played a trilling series of notes.  Then he abruptly stood. 

“Shall we?” he asked, and we gingerly made our way down the steep hill to the water’s edge.

Once there he piped the same notes again.  Cornelis looked at the water unconcernedly.  I looked at him impatiently.

“I don’t see anything.  What’s supposed to be happening?” I wanted to know, but the infuriating man ignored me.  “Should you do it again?” I asked motioning to the jade flute.

The Dutchman’s mouth twitched to one side in a dissatisfied way. 

“Perhaps I should…” he speculated.

As Cornelis raised the flute to his lips the water started to bubble and gently swirl.  He lowered the flute without playing another note.  He wriggled his bushy eyebrows and grinned.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“You’re going to love this,” he told Alastair.

Wong looked somewhat apprehensive.  After all, he certainly had reason to be concerned, after the wayward alchemy caused his washing machine to break down the storage building door, and do assorted other damage at his hot spring.  However, he quickly caught the contagious gleam of excitement in the Dutchman’s eyes.

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale was breaching.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  Wong beheld the sight with gaping mouth, but I had the impression that he at least thought he knew what was coming to the surface.  Expressions of worry and wonder were at war on his face.

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be. 

“Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

***

Real World Notes

Drebbel’s first submarine, 17th century, Wiki Media Commons

Submarines.  Yes, the real world Cornelis Drebbel actually did invent the first navigable submarine. He became a famous inventor during his time.  King James I of England was eager to gather explorers, theologians, economists, and you guessed it — alchemists around him at court.  He invited Drebbel to England in 1604.

Drebbel’s first submarine looked like it was based on a row boat with raised and meeting sides.  All that was covered in greased leather, with a watertight hatch in the middle, a rudder, and four oars. Under the rowers’ seats were large pigskin bladders, connected by pipes to the outside. Rope was used to tie off the empty bladders.  To make the sub dive, the rope was untied and the bladders filled.  In order to surface, the crew mashed the bladders flat and pressed out the water.

He eventually built two more submarines, each one bigger than the last. The final model had six oars and could carry 16 passengers. Drebbel demonstrated that one to the king along with thousands of Londoners on the Thames.  The submarine could stay submerged for three hours at a depth of 15 feet.  However, we don’t know how Drebbel maintained the air supply.

***

Will the flute lead them to Copper’s missing father?  Can anything be that easy in our trio’s journey?  Remember, three different groups of foes pursued them.

The next three random things are “Feather, Yorkshire Pudding, and Absinthe.”  If you think this steampunk train has been on a crazy ride, just wait until you see what I did with absinthe!

The next episode will air on Straightlaced Saturday this weekend.  So please stay tuned.  I’ll be looking for you at the station.   

I love your comments, and reblogs.  Although today I will be slow to reply.  Please don’t let that stop you from saying hello!  I will reply as soon as I can.

Mega hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

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

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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 — Cornelis Drebbel 22.1

Saturday, December 15 , 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

It’s Straightlaced Saturday!  Welcome aboard the #SteamPunk train.  Our destination is the northern Pacific coast of the USA, during the Victorian Era.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Back in 2015, the random “three things” for this chapter were provided by John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites.  As some of you might remember, this serial was originally a culinary mystery.  John sent some delicious things to drive the episode.  Consider yourselves warned that reading may give you the munchies. 

Since I know you have a lot of other things to do on the weekend, I’ve divided this rather long chapter.  The third thing will play out on Hidebound Hump Day.

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

Chapter 21The alchemist had been using his harmonic tuner on a map, trying to divine the destination of that message-carrying raven (Chapter 18).

When Copper unexpectedly put the second harmonic tuner on the map, there was an accident of alchemy that reached all the way to the hot spring and the washing machine…

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle.  In large glowing green script I read the word aloud, 

“Daddy.”

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

22.1 — Pistachio, Porcini

Copper curious w-green

Copper

My first thought wasn’t exactly a thought.  All cogitation was clogged in a bottleneck of befuddled ideas.  The first thought that got through the blockage was relief that Copper was up at the pavilion.  It would be awful if the supernaturally printed word, Daddy, got her hopes up for no good reason.

At that point, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic myself, and to be honest, I was losing my sense of trust.  So, that single, magically written word brought out all my suppressed concerns. 

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I experienced occasional twinges of distrust for Ignatius Belle (who turned out to be Copper’s half-brother), it also bothered me that I had begun having doubts about Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon. (Revealed in Chapter 20.)

Granted, if Hixon was abducted, he probably had no chance to leave a warning or a reason.  What if he left of his own accord?  The notion was so awful.  Had he willingly left his daughter with no explanation, and worse left the child on her own?

Other than his unfortunate money situation, Calvin Hixon appeared to be utterly brilliant.  Could the circumstances be more complicated than an abduction?  Did Hixon stand to somehow see a financial gain from the situation?  Could he be involved in his own disappearance?  

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Unsplash

Oh surely not, I told myself.  I’m over-analyzing things.

Most often the simplest answers are the correct ones.  But was running away as simple as being abducted…?  Had Calvin Hixon suddenly run away from his adversaries, perhaps thinking he would lead them away from his daughter, thereby keeping her safe? 

I’m still over-analyzing, I admonished myself.

“Felicity,” I heard my name and realized that Cornelis had called it more than once while I pondered the unpleasant thoughts about Calvin Hixon.

“Do step back,” the alchemist told me.  “Something unexpected might happen,” he said as he reached into that supernatural void through which he sometimes fetched things.

“Unexpected?” I commented sardonically, knowing how often Cornelis’ tricks tended to go awry.

To my surprise he produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed the diminished glow with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

daddy

The Dutchman held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp clear ring. 

The tiny ping of a sound reverberated and grew.  I felt the vibration at the base of my spine.  I could feel the sound spreading outward all around us.  In the distance the big gong in front of the pavilion gave a mighty boom, the volume of which was magically transported into our midst.  I put my hands over my ears, involuntarily squeezing my eyes shut.

Cautiously, I opened one eye.  The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and dimming to a flat pistachio green. 

Did it mark the location of Copper’s father?

***

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

I don’t know if it was a meteorological effect or if it was residual magic from the previous night, but when I got up the next morning, the sky above Alastair Wong’s home blazed with yellow clouds at sunrise.  

No wonder they called it the Golden Pavilion, I thought.

Cornelis said he wanted to get an early start, but judging by the activity of the household staff, I suspected they were always up at that hour.  As I admired the sunrise, the alchemist drove up in the road locomotive.

It didn’t seem like there could be enough room, but Cornelis, Copper, Alastair, and I all managed to get on the road locomotive. 

To my surprise, Victoria, who was so taken with Copper, insisted on coming along.  I wouldn’t have thought one more person, not even a tiny woman like Victoria, could fit on the little steam engine… and she carried a large picnic basket too.  Yet somehow the tiny woman and the big basket managed to fit. 

When I saw the hint of a green aura surrounding the Dutchman, I understood how so many of us managed to get onboard.  One of his tricks of alchemy had made room for everyone.

We would part company with Alastair and Victoria when we reached the Pacific Ocean.  Wong would take the road locomotive back to his pavilion estate for safekeeping, while Copper, the alchemist, and I continued our journey.

I looked a question at the basket Victoria carried.  The night before, all the noise and vibrations from the harmonic tuners had given me a headache — and I still had it.  So I was probably frowning fiercely.  Victoria looked a bit uneasy.Mushroom ad Victorian

“It will be past time for a meal before we reach the ocean.  Copper is a growing girl and must eat,” the tiny woman said with a sharp nod that would have settled any row. 

I tried to reign in my smile at her feistiness, because I truly did take her seriously.

“Besides,” she turned and spoke to Cornelis in a flirtatious tone that took me completely by surprise.  “You will love what I’ve done with the porcini mushrooms you mentioned earlier,” she added, and the Dutchman’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

“Ah yes,” the Dutchman sighed.  “Porcini are God’s great gift to humanity, a mushroom delicate enough to flavor a sauce, yet vigorous enough to stand up to a grilled steak.”

Really…, I thought.  Should he encourage the tiny woman by flirting?  And Could Victoria actually be attracted to Cornelis?  The idea seemed not merely imaginative and impractical, but just plain impossible.  I scratched my earlobe as the idea took root.  Then I had the wicked thought that I’d like to see an argument between Victoria and Cornelis.  The Dutchman would surely get his comeuppance.

“What are you smirking about?” Cornelis asked me quietly.

“Oh?  Did I seem to smirk?  It was just a bit of indigestion,” I said with no attempt to hide my expression.

Victoria held tightly to Copper’s hand as the steam engine barreled toward the ocean.  The tiny woman’s eyes were huge with astonishment for the unnatural speed at which we traveled.  However, it was clear that she possessed a fierce determination.  She would not have gone back if the chance was offered.

***

Burrell Road Locomotive

***

Victorian Vernacular

Half-rats:  Partially intoxicated.

Hanging:  Excellent, outstanding.  “Hanging new tie there, old man!”

Hawkshaw:  A detective.

Holy Water:  Said when one intensely hates someone or something.  “He loves him as the Devil likes holy water.”

Hoosegow:  Prison.

***

We’ll finish up the three random things supplied by John W. Howell on Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  Come back to learn where Penne Pasta takes our trio.

I’ll be looking for you at the station on Wednesday.  

Mega hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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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.

 

It’s here! DEADLY QUOTES. Escaping Psychiatry 3 by Olga Núñez Miret

Friday, December 14, 2018

DEADLY-QUOTES-OlgaNM

Here’s the latest book in the exciting “Escaping Psychiatry” series by Olga Núñez Miret!

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this next volume in a terrific series. This isn’t just another “psychological thriller” — it’s written by a real-world forensic psychiatrist, and her expertise is clear in the entire series. I pre-ordered it for my Kindle, but got so busy that I forgot the day had finally arrived.

Wishing Olga huge success. Click over and check it out!  Here’s the link to Olga’s launch for Escaping Psychiatry 3 – Deadly Quotes.

Comments are not enabled here, because I encourage you to visit Olga’s site.  Here’s Olga to tell you more:

Deadly Quotes. Escaping Psychiatry 3.

Death by natural causes. That was the official explanation. Until they found the quote.

Killing isn’t as difficult as people think. In fact it can be quite easy.

Was it a novel the dead man had been writing? Was it an eerie suicide note?

Was it murder?

Mary Miller and Leah Deakin, friends and doctors, are not sure there is a case worth investigating, but they are intrigued. Could a serial killer behind bars have orchestrated another killing spree? Can the clues be found in his own autobiography?

The fourth book in the Escaping Psychiatry series sees Mary, psychiatrist, survivor of attempted rape and murder, and amateur crime investigator by default, team up with Leah Deakin, an FBI pathologist, in a case that pitches them against a man who loves to play mortal games. Will they be able to stop him? And at what price?

If you enjoy reading gripping psychological thrillers, prefer strong female protagonists, feel oddly attracted to ultraintelligent and twisted baddies, and can’t get enough of challenging mysteries, you shouldn’t miss this novel.

Discover Mary Miller’s new adventure, and if you’re new to the Escaping Psychiatry series, you can go back and read the prequel Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings, in e-book format without any extra cost.

Links:

https://rxe.me/L5Q26N

https://www.books2read.com/u/b5rGwk

To celebrate Christmas, and in case you fancy a non-Xmasy reading, my new book will be available at $0.99  throughout the holidays. Go on, give yourself present. Or ask Santa.

Thanks for your patience, for reading, and have lots of fun! 

Olga Núñez Miret is a multi talented author.  She also did the Spanish translation of the first book in my “Atonement” series.  I wouldn’t trust anyone else with that task.  For that language I changed the title to Expiación y Magia

Cover Expiación y Magia ― Una Fantasía Urbana

Now, click on over to Olga’s.    Happy reading.  Mega hugs!

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 21

Wednesday, December 12 , 2018 

Welcome one and all to another Hidebound Hump Day!  Find your seat on the #SteamPunk train.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Did I mangle the mangle?

Victorian schoolroom

A Victorian Era school room

English is an amazing language.  It’s amazing because with words that have the same spelling as another word but have a different sound and a different meaning and then words that have the same sound as another word but are spelled differently and have a different meaning… Well, it’s a wonder we can communicate with one another at all.

Then we added to the chaos when words came to mean different things depending on the country in which you live…  but of course, that confusion can sometimes be entertaining!

Hugh RobertsBack in 2015, the “three things” for this episode were provided by Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views & News.  One of his “random things” (Mangle) sent me to do my research — but that’s the fun part.  Yes, I know.  I’m strange that way about enjoying research.

Hugh writes incredibly imaginative short stories.  He also blogs and tells stories about “everyday life,” which of course are often more interesting than any fiction.  I hope you’ll click over to visit and get to know Hugh. 

Apparently I did mangle the mangle.

Serials really do make for a great “beta read.” I ended up revising this chapter and re-posting because a few people weren’t able to keep up with the magical shenanigans at the end.  Or maybe I should have left it alone…  Maybe when I changed it I belabored the points too much, when some people really just weren’t paying attention.  This will be a chapter for me to carefully consider when I book-ize this story.  I’ll show you my revisions in bold and you can decide for yourself.

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

Chapter 20.  Then I suddenly saw what had been there all along.  A resemblance.  Copper’s face was full with youth, while Ignatius had masculine angles, but their features were very much alike.

“They’re related,” I said amazed.  “And closely I’ll wager…?”

“I went to Belle’s office at the Inn, and to his bedroom.  Based on letters Ignatius kept, he is the illegitimate son of Calvin Hixon,” Corenlis revealed.

“So Ignatius is Copper’s half-brother?  Why would she distrust him so?” I thought aloud.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

21 — Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle

 

Asian girl kimono red Pixabay free

Pixabay

The tiny woman, who had shown me to my room when we arrived at the beautiful family estate of Alastair Wong, appeared with a coffee and tea tray.  She had told me she was named Victoria, after the Queen.  She motioned more than asked if I would like more coffee.  Victoria seemed rather excited when she turned to the Dutchman.  At first I thought it was simply because of Mr. Wong’s admiration for the alchemist.  However, it turned out there was a little more to her enthusiasm than that.

“Sir, mayhap you like this cup?” Victoria suggested to Cornelis as she lowered the tray to our table.

Smiling brightly she picked up a teacup with the same pattern as the rest of the dishes, but it was of a slightly different shape.  It must have been specially made to match the rest of the china, and she was obviously both proud of the cup and delighted to have the chance to offer it to a guest.  Inside the cup was a semicircular ledge.  The ledge had a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and to serve as a guard to keep a mustache dry. 

“Look Cornelis!  Why it’s a mustache cup,” I exclaimed.

Cornelis Drebbel had a mustache and a short pointed beard, and bushy blonde eyebrows.  When he was in a playful mood, or a sarcastic mood, he wriggled those eyebrows.

Mustache Cup

Where Sheriff Bullard, back in Copper’s home town, had a very thick mustache — as was the fashion, Cornelis wore his neatly trimmed.  While Bullard would have desperately needed the special cup, it was not as much of an issue for the Dutchman.  However, I gave him a little nudge with my elbow when it looked like he might decline the cup.  With another look at the tiny woman, he seemed to realize that it was important to her.

So Cornelis, bushy brows wriggling flirtatiously, made over the cup and smiled when Victoria filled it with coffee.  The woman was obviously overjoyed to have someone use the cup.  I thought she must have put a lot of effort into having it made.Mustache protectors

A soft chuckle caused me to turn.  Our host, Alastair Wong had come back downstairs.  He carried a large roll of paper.

“I thought you were going to turn in early, my friend,” Cornelis told him.

The tiny woman turned at the sound of Alastair’s voice.  She was still all smiles. 

“I feared that tonight no one would eat dessert — and it turned out so well.  It would have been a shame that you did not get to enjoy it,” Victoria said as she hurried away, presumably to get the dessert.

I gasped when I saw what she brought.  Sticky sweet glazed apricots peeped out from a golden brown cinnamon sugar crust, dusted with white powdered sugar.  When I asked what it was called, she told me proudly that it was an apricot Charlotte.  It was irresistible, so everyone had at least a bite before going back to the reason why Alastair had come back downstairs. 

“So did you find a second wind, as they call it?” Cornelis asked.

Map Columbia River Basin Lg Dams

“It was my intention to retire early,” Wong admitted ruefully.  “However, sleep eluded me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the raven you told me about — the one that tried to carry a message about your whereabouts.  I kept wondering where it might have been going.  When I realized you were still up, I thought it might be helpful to look at a good, detailed map,” he added and motioned for us to move to a long table where he unrolled the map.

“This is a beautiful work of cartography,” I admired the map, which covered part of California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia.

“We are here,” Alastair said pointing to a golden dot on the map.  “And I expect you were approximately… here when you were spotted?” he asked, pointing to another location and Cornelis nodded.  “So we know the bird was headed north of that area,” Alastair said motioning in a large circle.

“That covers a lot of ground,” I said in a dejected tone.

“Ah!  Perhaps we can be at least a little more precise,” Cornelis offered.Tiffany Arabesque bell

The alchemist reached into his coat and produced the device that looked like an intricately worked silver bell.  Wong’s eyes widened in obvious recognition.

“The harmonic tuner!” Alastair exclaimed interestedly.  “My grandfather told tales of its magic!  But wait.  It is not going to cause the large gong to sound again is it?  The hour is late, and I wouldn’t want to disturb the household.”

“Neither would I, my friend.  This time the tuner will have a different purpose,” Cornelis said, but I knew how often his tricks didn’t go as planned.

A subtle green aura emanated from the alchemist, alerting me that he was doing one of his tricks.  He turned the harmonic tuner onto its side and rolled it around on the map in the area Wong indicated.

“Where were you going, raven?” the alchemist murmured the question, making it part of the magic he worked.

At his words, the topography on that part of the map blurred and became three dimensional.  Then a part of that area took on a phosphorescent glow.

Dressing gownAlthough mesmerized by the magical transformation of the map, I was vaguely aware of faintly padding footsteps.  I turned to see Copper, wearing a dressing gown and slippers.  She clutched something wrapped in a scarf to her chest.

“Miss Copper,” Alastair Wong addressed her in a playful tone that was likely meant to distract her from what we were doing.  “You needn’t have come down here,” he told the girl and then turned to Cornelis and me somewhat awkwardly.

“I suggested Copper go back to bed when she saw me in the hallway.  I apologize that I made a bit of noise, and she got up to see what the bother was.  Copper I hope I didn’t frighten you, in a strange place, trying to sleep,” Wong told her.  “I said that I was bringing boring grownup things to show you,” he said to us.

The girl must have begun to worry that she was about to get into trouble for leaving her room at so late an hour.  She hadn’t even noticed the phosphorescent glow that meant Cornelis worked his alchemy on the map, but then again, Alastair may have blocked her view.

“Yes, but I had a favorite thing to show you too!” Copper told him, clearly wanting to participate.  “Because you’ve been so nice.  This is my favorite thing that Daddy gave me.”Wise Monkeys statues

Suddenly I realized that Copper held her cherished “mystic monkeys” bell, which her father had given her.  It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. 

It was also a harmonic tuner.  Yes, a magical implement with powers similar to the tuner Cornelis was using at that very moment.  The night we ran from the Hixon estate, the two harmonic tuners being in close proximity had a profound effect.  The magic the alchemist worked that night went out of control when the other harmonic tuner’s influence became involved.

I glanced at Cornelis for his reaction.  The alchemist was so focused on his trick with the map that I wasn’t sure he had even noticed Copper’s entrance.  He was completely absorbed in his work. 

“What will we find here?” he muttered over the map as he rolled his harmonic tuner across the glowing area, asking the alchemy to show him what or who was in the area of the map that his harmonic tuner touched.

Sessue Hayakawa cigar 1917

Sessue Hayakawa, 1917

“Here it is,” Copper said proudly, and before I could shout a warning, she unceremoniously plopped the second tuner right onto the map on which the alchemist worked his trick.

Once again, the inadvertent influence of the second harmonic tuner had an unpredictable effect on the magic Cornelis was working.  The existing harmonic sound from the Dutchman’s tuner quadrupled.  A varicolored aura made a rainbow around the bells and the map.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and just as before, I couldn’t help wondering if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

Alastair must have felt the bizarre sensation as well.  He put his hand to his throat.  The tiny woman dropped her tray to the paved terrace.  Fine china shattered, the sharp noise blending with the harmonic sound.

As I said, the sound seemed to vibrate throughout the entire world.  The magic reached far and wide.  In the distance I heard noises that I couldn’t quite define.  It reminded me of the sound of men scuffling, but it sounded heavier than that.  Then I heard a crash from that area, and I knew it had to be the work of the alchemy gone awry.  The din was followed by clacking and clanging sounds.  The louder noises were enough for me to know the commotion came from the hot spring.  The magic had traveled all the way down there.

Everyone turned at once, ready to race toward the sounds and the runaway magic.  Thankfully I had the presence of mind to tell Copper to stay there.  Even better, with a wise wink the tiny woman took the girl’s hand and led her to the kitchen with the promise of a serving of the apricot Charlotte.  I heaved a sigh of relief and followed Cornelis and Alastair toward the disturbance.

When we reached the hot spring I saw that the door to one of the small gold-painted buildings was off its hinges.  Under the influence of the magic, the wayward alchemically affected the washing machine washing machine had somehow bumped and thumped its way out of the storage building.  It looked as though it had clambered around until it was caught between two maple trees.  Every few seconds it gave a futile bump to the trees.

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

“There’s something in the mangle,” Cornelis muttered, and I was sure that was also the magic at work.

“What’s that you say?  Oh yes, the mangle.  Here they call that part the wringer,” Alastair said absently as he looked in astonishment at the rogue washing machine and the damage it had done.

When the washing machine made its magical escape from the storage building, the washtub had been dragged along by the machine, halfway to the spring.  I remembered the young man putting a tablecloth in the tub to soak.  I suspected that was what hung from the mangle, or wringer — the magic having pulled the cloth into the wringer.  When I cautiously walked over to the still grumbling machine, I found that I was right.

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint magical current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  That had another effect on the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The mangle started to supernaturally turn again, pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

“All that hubbub and the cloth is not clean,” Alastair said, surprising me with his acerbic wit.

Of course, he had no concern about whether the table cloth was clean.  Rather, he jokingly referred to something he saw, something the enchantment had put onto the cloth.

Laundry washing machine

He was correct, there was something on the tablecloth, but it wasn’t simply dirty.  It looked like writing — phosphorescent writing. 

Cornelis flicked the tuner with his fingernail, causing a faint ting sound and then the tuner cast a bright light like a torch.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle. 

A word had been written by the rogue magic that resulted when Copper accidentally added a second harmonic tuner to the magic worked by the alchemist.  It wasn’t something anyone would want to wash away, because it was never part of the laundry.  As I said, that was only Alastair’s wit, a joke.  It was a magically provided clue, resulting from the alchemist’s spell.

In large glowing green script I read the word aloud. 

Daddy.” 

***

Real World Notes

Moustache Cups.  Harvey Adams invented mustache cups in the 1800s.  Adams devised a mustache guard to prevent embarrassing accidents.  Now, I mean things more humiliating than a damp ‘stache.  In the Victorian Era, many men put a lot of effort into their impressive moustaches.  They men waxed or even dyed their moustaches to keep them groomed and curled and looking fashionable.  Also, they drank tea.  That tended to cause the wax to melt, and dye would run.  It was quite embarrassing to the gentlemen.

***

Another “accident of alchemy,” yet we can’t really blame Cornelis.  How could he have expected Copper to interrupt — and with the other harmonic tuner?  Maybe this time it’s a happy accident.  Could the word “Daddy” magically written on the table cloth provide a clue to the whereabouts of Copper’s missing father?

Please come back to the station this weekend.  I’m bringing back Straightlaced Saturdays for the next chapter.  That set of three random things were from John W. Howell.  Guess what “Pistachio, Penne Pasta, and Porcini” will cause.

I’ll be looking for you at the station this weekend.  

Hugs! 

***

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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.

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