Straightlaced Saturday — Lady Audley’s Secret

Saturday, January 19, 2019 

victorian novels

Welcome back to Straightlaced Saturday!  I’m toying with a new feature, that will complement the era of my steampunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

My thought is to give you some information about novels written in the Victorian Era of the real world, along with a link where you can get the book for free! 

I may or may not have read the book, depending.  Either way, I invite your discussions about the novels here, in the comments.  Think of this as a reverse book club.  We can discuss whether or not it’s something we want to read, or simply general thoughts about the book.

I’ll begin with… 

Lady Audley’s Secret

victorian woman text behind-1077958_1920

Pixabay

This is one I haven’t read yet, but it caught my eye right away.  In fact, it’s partly what gave me the idea for this feature.  Some of the thoughts it brings up are very current. 

Lady Audley’s Secret is an example of a type of fiction the Victorians enjoyed — the sensation novel.  

The Sensation Novel

Romance and realism had traditionally been incompatible types of literature.  Sensation fiction brought them together.  Many of these stories were allegorical and abstract, but that gave the authors room to explore scenarios that wrestled with the social anxieties of those famously straightlaced Victorians.

The “loss of identity” is part of many sensation fiction stories because that was a common social anxiety.  This worry is reflected in novels such as The Woman in White and Lady Audley’s Secret.  

Project Gutenburg Link to Lady Audley’s Secret

If you want the book and have trouble accessing it, let me know and I’ll send you a Word file or PDF.

Now about this novel — I’ve assembled some details about the story, based on Wikipedia’s summary.  I hope it will stir your curiosity, just like it did mine.

Lady Audley’s Secret is a story about gender and class – and a woman’s “objectionable upward mobility.”

It might also be a true crime story.  The novel mirrors many of the same themes from the real-life Constance Kent case of June 1860, which gripped Great Britain with headline news for years.  

1867 harpers weekly wikimedia

Harper’s Weekly, January 1867

The first installment of Lady Audley’s Secret as a serial came out about a year after the Kent murder.  The novel, like the real-life case, featured a wicked stepmother (and former governess who married a gentleman), a mysterious and brutal murder in a country manor house, a body thrown down a well, and characters fascinated by madness.  

The novel plays on Victorian anxieties about the domestic sphere. The home was supposed to be a refuge from the dangers of the outside world, but in the novel, well… to avoid spoilers, we’ll just say that isn’t the case in this novel.

Anxieties about the increasing urbanization of Britain show up in the novel.  The city gives Lady Audley the power to change her identity because it renders its citizens effectively anonymous.  The small town of Audley is no longer a refuge where everyone knows the life story of every neighbor.  The residents of Audley must accept Lucy Graham’s account of herself since they have no other information about her past.

***

If my life wasn’t in utter chaos right now, I would have dug into this story on the spot.  However, even if you don’t have time to read it, the topic alone is interesting. 

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  Next time, the “three things” driving the story are Broken Knife, Sea Urchin, and Potable Water. 

My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you at the steampunk submarine port on Wednesday.  

***

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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 ©  2019 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 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

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

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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.

 

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 33

Indies Agree…

Glenda Ozz

Billie Berk 1939

I love that “Indie” has endlessly different subjects, genres, and formats.  I’m happy that every indie author and blogger is unique.  Despite all that diversity, it seems that all indie authors agree on the importance of reviews – whether posted in a blog, magazine, or on a bookseller’s site.

Oh, I admit to my jaw-dropping awe when an author cheers that they’ve reached the milestone of 100 reviews… I have less than a dozen, so I’m quite impressed, as well as proud of their achievement.  So when one of my earliest author-blogger-supporters wished he had more reviews for his books, I wanted to do something… but I’m not a reviewer. I wished I could wave a magic wand for both of us… but neither am I Glenda the Good Witch.

Jump back a step, because the steam locomotive is roaring back toward the platform at top speed!

Since there was no new episode last weekend, here’s a link to the previous chapter. If you need extra catching-up, look to the top of your screen for this serial’s homepage button.

Yikes! The locomotive is moving so fast, I’m not sure it can stop — but the breaks are screeching and the the whistle blows as it stops on a dime, right at the platform.

The conductor gives you a mischievous wink.   All aboard!!!

33.  Toddlers, Queen, Superior

Billie Berk circa 1900

Billie Berk circa 1900

Cornelis Drebbel levitated above a much bigger version of Leonardo da Vinci’s aerial screw.  It was attached to a large gondola that contained all manner of fantastical contraptions.  Brightly polished brass and crystals glittered in the sunlight that streamed through tall windows from the cloudless lavender sky.

One device looked just like the multi-armed thingamajig from the submarine.  I mean that term literally.  The device was the original thingamajig and such was its proper name.  This one looked newer.  The thingamajig on the submarine went through some rough treatment.  The one in the gondola didn’t show any wear and tear.  (Episode 22)  A malfunction in the contrivance was at least partly responsible for landing us in this purple place.

Cornelis waved down to a pair of mauveine complected chimpanzee twin toddlers who observed him in amazement.  A young female ape watched them from the corner of her eye as she delivered a basket of food to Cal Hicks.  She seemed remarkably unaffected by the floating alchemist.

“Why thank you Itsy,” Hicks told the woman as he took the heavy basket.  “This is enough for everyone.  Thank you so much, my dear.”

She quickly took each toddler by a hand and moved to meet one of the coverall clad chimps.  He seemed smitten by her.  She glanced surreptitiously over her shoulder as the chimpanzee handed her something that disappeared into the folds of her skirts.  Some token of his affections, I supposed.  It was hard to tell with the purple coloring but I thought both might be blushing.Victorian Magazine 1891

“Tsk, tsk,” Cal said with a shake of his head.  “That boy will never win Itsy’s heart.”

“Itsy?” I had to ask.

“Why yes,” Cal began. “She’s taken on the extra work of looking after the twins during the day. Both parents were injured in a carriage accident, and aren’t able to chase toddlers terrible well. Itsy was maid to my son Nate’s grandparents. When they passed on, she came to work for me,” Cal said and then cast an astute glance at me. “I take it Itsy has a counterpart in your colorful world.”

“I believe so,” I said, nodding.  “Bitsy is a maid in the inn that belongs to Ignatius Belle.  Their voices are rather similar.  And Itsy is just as unimpressed as Bitsy,” I added with a chuckle.  (Episode 2)

My own words bothered me in some indefinable way.  I suddenly felt uneasy.  It seemed like there was something I should remember.  However, I was distracted by Cal Hicks.  He was looking at me in a most curious way.  It made me think something was amiss.

“What is it?” I asked worriedly.

His eyes quickly scanned the worktable.  The amethyst ape picked up a mirror and handed it to me.  There was a smudge of soot on my cheek, and for a moment I thought that was what the straight-laced ape meant.  However, with one of his thick fingers he pointed to my hair.  A broad ultraviolet streak ran from the crown of my head down the length of my otherwise dark brown locks.  The irises of my eyes had taken on a violet hue.

Police NewsBefore I could stop my surprised reaction, I inhaled sharply.  I glanced at Copper.  I didn’t want the girl to notice my concern.  Fortunately she ran over to Cornelis, and tossed some tool up toward him.  The alchemist caught it with a glowing yellow-green thread of magic.

I was afraid to look at the measuring device that looked like a toothpick holder.  It already showed warning shades of violet.  But I forced myself.  I removed the device from the flowered carpet bag.  The thin rods were various shades of violet and purple.  Only one was still lavender.  None at all were colorless.  At least the crystal bird at the center was still clear.  Cornelis said it might be too late for us to leave the amethyst world if the bird turned purple.

Cal Hicks cleared his throat nervously and broke eye contact with me.  He called everyone to the basket of food, but hardly ate anything himself.  He turned back to work fervently on the improved aerial screw.  Though he couldn’t levitate like the alchemist he seemed to work almost as quickly.

Coverall clad chimpanzees ran back and forth, fetching all manner of things that Cal requested.  Copper returned to stand at his elbow, handing him various small tools.  I suspected that sometimes Cal pretended to need something, just to let the girl think she was helping.Punch mag

Earlier Cornelis was utterly intense as he poured over an assortment of papers he’d gotten from Cal.  There were maps, magazines, playbills, and newspapers.  I couldn’t figure out what he could be looking for in such an assortment.

However, the alchemist saw links from one thing to another that I would never see without it being pointed out to me.  He seemed to make some alchemical sense of the stack of papers and abruptly levitated up above the flying machine.  Suffused by that yellowish green aura he began making enhancements to the aerial screw.

As I looked at magazines bearing images of well-dressed simians, all in assorted shades of purple, I was struck anew by how much like our own world this place populated by apes really was.  I couldn’t help smiling when I saw a magazine cover bearing the image of an elegant female ape wearing an intricate lace gown, jewelry including a tiara, and holding a scepter.

“Is this your queen?” I asked Cal Hicks in delighted surprise.

Queen Victoria 1859

Queen Victoria 1859

“Why of course,” Cal replied, as if I had questioned the obvious.  “That is Queen Triumphia,” he said, immediately recovering his perfect manners.  “Haven’t you a similar monarch in your world?”

I grinned at the name Triumphia.  “Yes, although it isn’t exactly my queen, the English queen is called Victoria,” I told the amethyst ape.

Cal grinned back at me as he compared the name Victoria to his queen’s name.

Cornelis gave a whoop of success.  “This is far superior to the first model!” he cried.

With a sharp pop he disappeared from his spot in the air above us.  An instant later he popped into the gondola of the aerial screw.

Itsy wandered closer.  She didn’t look excited or surprised like everyone else.  Rather, the maid looked worried.  “There’s no more time,” Itsy murmured.

She darted to the gondola and grabbed the multi-armed thingamajig.  Then I got a look at the secret-something that the chimp handed her earlier.  She had hidden it in the folds of her skirt, but it turned out to be the harmonic tuner.  Cal Hicks showed it to me previously.  Instead of the mystic monkeys tuner that belonged to Copper, this one had people in the poses of see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil.  (Episode 24)  the Strand Magazine

Itsy’s actions were so sudden and so unexpected that everyone was too surprised to try and stop her.  She ran from the laboratory and out to the area that was scorched and depressed by the confrontation-reunion between Absinthe and Aubrieta.  (Episode 28)  Itsy held out the thingamajig and clanged the harmonic tuner against the contrivance.

The air in a large area before Itsy shimmered to a glowing hot pink aura.  The center of the aura took on a wavy mirror like appearance.  Then a wall of water rushed from the aura and poured into the burned out depression.  Itsy was swept away by the water but managed to grab hold of a fence post.

With a whoosh sound a hydrofoil sped through the opening created by the magical devices.  The moment I saw the craft I knew what had bothered me when I told Cal that Itsy and Bitsy had similar voices.

We had never gotten a good look at the woman leading the group on the hydrofoil.  I said her voice was familiar, but I just couldn’t place it, no matter how hard I tried.  The tone of the woman leader was commanding and harsh.  So it had been just different enough that I couldn’t connect it to the gentle tones I previously heard from that same voice.  At that moment I knew the voice belonged to Bitsy, the maid at the Belle Inn!

Harper's Bazaar 1899The hydrofoil rushed, out of control, down the length of the water that spilled from our world.  It crashed into a stand of tall bushes.  When the woman stood up, I was certain she was Bisy.  She bent over and vomited.  The nearness of her doppelgänger already affected her.

“Get her away from me!” Bitsy shouted to the men who accompanied her.

The men waded out to Itsy.  She seemed to think they were helping her and let them take her arms from the post to which she held.  However, when they helped her to dry ground one held a knife to her throat.  They spoke threateningly to her and she ran away as fast as she could, disappearing into the woods.

The hydrofoil held more passengers than I had realized.  There must have been ten heavily armed men, along with Bitsy.  They all moved toward us.

Cal Hicks had my arm.  “Quickly,” he hissed into my ear.  “Get into the gondola.”

When I turned I saw that Copper was already climbing into the aerial screw.  Absinthe and Aubrieta fluttered around her, touching various apparatus with their tiny paws.  I looked back at the interlopers from my own world.  They were looking right at me.

***

What will happen to Felicity, the “Woman in Trousers” of the serial title?  Her hair is already streaked with purple, suggesting she has stayed too long in the amethyst world.  One group of foes has caught up with our trio.  Will they grab Felicity before she can reach the gondola?  And will the aerial screw fly off without her?

Don’t leave yet!  Here’s a recipe.  Many times I’ve seen bloggers mention “curry chips.”  Now, I’m just not familiar with that dish. So I scoured the WordPress countryside and found a lovely recipe at “Lea & Jay.”  

Recipe:  Curry Chips

Photo and recipe credit:  Lea & Jay 

Curry Chips

https://leaandjay.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/curry-chips/

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 28

RewindingWhite Mt Locomotive

It was serendipitous that “three things” from Western Romance writer Mary J McCoy-Dressel fueled the story-line of this episode.  While there’s not a typical romance involved, there is something sort of along those lines.

Mary has been a great supporter of this blog and all the serials.  In fact, if I were to rewind, you’d see that she sent the very first thing, for the very first of these interactive serials.Marys Blog

Since Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers has been progressing for several months, you might want to rewind to episodes four through six.  One element of today’s chapter is rooted in Episode-4. However, I’m rewinding to Episode-6 where it really escalated.

Ah! Here’s the locomotive now.  All aboard! 

 

***

A Rewind from Episode-6

The chimp must have seen me looking back at him.  It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder.  His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly.  It sounded like there were a lot of them.  I remembered nervously how strong they were.  I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand.  I had to make sure we weren’t separated.

An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder.  However, the noise was not simian; rather it was a metallic sound.  Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam.  The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open.  The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack clickity-clack.  As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.

Copper squeezed my hand.  I followed her gaze.  The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree.  They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive.  One and then another would chatter to the others.  I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.

***

And now, from last time…

The purple people eater flapped her broad wings and arched her back, fiercely roaring heavenward.  Then she belched an enormous ball of fire that spread out above her and Absinthe like a lethal flaming dome.  Suddenly, both Absinthe and the purple fairy dropped from the sky, the burning dome hurtling downward, ever closer to them.

“Lord of Alchemy!” Call Hicks yelled as Cornelis used one of his tricks to run right through the door without opening it.

“Cornelis, no!” I screamed.  “You’ll be burned to a crisp!”

***

Reading Ape purple

28.  Well-bred Man, Courtship, Horseback

Cal Hicks yelled at me that it wasn’t safe.  His expression immediately became rueful and he apologized profusely for his tone.  Hicks truly was a well-bred man — or rather ape.  However, my feet had taken me to the door before my common sense caught up with them.

When I opened the door I saw Absinthe and the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater hurtling toward the ground.  The vast dome of fire continued to descend.

Michael Whelan Dragon purple

A Michael Whelan dragon

The tiny green skunk-looking fairy shrieked something at the purple people eater and grabbed onto the tip of her tail as they fell.  Absinthe used a trick like the one Cornelis sometimes used to send his voice.  Though I didn’t understand him, I clearly heard him snuffle and grunt to the Alchemist.

Both Cornelis and the dragon looked at Absinthe doubtfully.  Cornelis held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp ring.  Absinthe echoed the tone and the pitch of his voice merged with the harmonic sound.  I could see a emerald aura stretching up from Cornelis to the Green Fairy.  Absinthe glowed verdantly and the intensity of the aura doubled.  I was sure they had somehow combined their powers.

The she-dragon looked at Absinthe as he clung to the tip of her tail.  She snorted a puff of purple smoke that briefly circled her one-eyed one-horned head.  Then she flicked her tail, launching the tiny Green Fairy even closer to the flames above.

Absinthe summersaulted as he soared pointing his bantam backside toward the dome of fire.  He lifted his fluffy tail and proceeded to produce one of his powerfully potent poots.  The forceful fairy fart flew against the flaming dome.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

I had first-hand knowledge of the fairy’s flatulence.  When startled or threatened, the Green Fairy produced a spray that was essentially a very highly concentrated form of the liquor, absinthe.  I was fearful to see him aim that fart at the flames.  I was certain it would only make the fire worse.

Cringing, I looked over at Cornelis.  The Alchemist drew a deep breath and then blew upward.  I couldn’t see his breath, but I remembered Cornelis telling me that his alchemy sometimes worked to exchange or transform one thing into another.  As I watched, the cloud of green vapor from Absinthe’s bottom expanded to the width of the flaming dome.

My arm went up reflexively to cover my face when the green vapor met the flames.  A blinding flash and a loud crack of thunder shattered the air.  I braced myself for the blast of a huge explosion, but the opposite happened.  The alchemically charged green vapor caused the dome of flames to implode.

The immense Purple Fairy and the tiny Green Fairy settled to the ground, singed but unharmed.  I heard a long sustained grumble.  After a moment I realized that the sound was a low growl from the dragon.  Absinthe snorted and snuffled and the Purple Fairy continued to growl.  I gathered they had not yet settled their differences.

Green fairy skunkGlimmering green powder slowly drifted to the ground.  It settled on the two fairies, though they didn’t seem to realize it.  I stretched out my hand, watching as it dusted my palm.  Unexpectedly I felt content and happy.

“What is this shimmering powder?” I wanted to know.

“It’s residue,” Cornelis said with a shrug.  “It’s what was left of Absinthe’s defensive spray after it caused the flames to implode.  Have a care not to inhale the powder.  It’s not as potent as the concentrated absinthe vapors that Absinthe sprays, but it’s still intoxicating,” he cautioned.

Copper ran to the doorway, with Viola right behind.  The violet complected chimpanzee tried to grab the girl’s arm, but Copper was too quick.  Happily she stopped well away from the one horned cyclops Purple Fairy.

The sharp point of the dragon’s fat curved black onyx horn gleamed in the sunlight as the two fairies continued to make odd noises at one another.  However, they did seem calmer.  I thought I could see a bit of greenish dust on the black onyx horn.  I wondered if the powder had the same comforting effect on the fairies as it had on me.Copper curious w-green

“Don’t they like each other?” Copper asked.

“She’s his mate,” Cornelis said of the gigantic purple fae.  “They had a disagreement and both stormed off their separate ways.  Each was too stubborn to seek out the other.”

“You mean Absinthe was married to that big dragon?” Copper asked incredulously.

“Well, that would have been quite an unusual courtship, wouldn’t it?” Cornelis began.  “However, Aubrieta — that’s the Purple Fairy’s name — she wasn’t always a dragon.  I’m not sure how Aubrieta wandered into this place.  However, something about the combination of her particular magic and the nature of this amethyst world transformed her.  Of course, that situation made it even less likely for them to patch up their differences,” the Dutchman added.

Cal Hicks cautiously stepped out of the laboratory building.  Cornelis assured him that all was well.  He sketched a bow toward the two fairies, but did not approach them.

“Lord of Alchemy, you named the Purple Fairy Aubrieta?” the amethyst ape asked and his mouth twitched and puckered.  “Aubrieta is a tiny purple flower,” he whispered but failed to completely suppress a soft chuckle.  “No offense.  It’s just that I enjoy the irony of a one eyed one horned gigantic fairy being named for a tiny flower,” Cal said.

Victorian Ape CoupleThe mannerly ape composed himself and became businesslike.  “My family surely heard the commotion down at the main house.  That fireball was probably visible for quite some distance as well,” Cal reminded us.  “Since the effects of being too near their doppelgängers made young Copper and Lady Felicity so ill, I’m sure there is great merit to your assertion that bringing any of the two together would be dangerous indeed.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Viola called out as she came around the corner of the building leading an aubergine coated horse.  “Swift and I might be long in the tooth,” Viola began and patted the horse.  “If Nate and his wife and Penny are faster than us, we’ll still meet them on the trail.  I can turn them back, or prevent them trying to come in the first place, whichever the case may be,” she said as Cal helped her onto the horse.

We watched as Viola left on horseback.  However, our attention quickly transferred to the fairies.  Absinthe made a series of consolatory sounding chirps.  Then he fluttered up and perched on the curve of the dragon’s black onyx horn.  Aubrieta rolled her single eye upward at the tiny green fae.

I thought she was coughing.  A puff of smoke came from her snout.  Absinthe started chirping happily and flew backward several feet from Aubrieta’s face so she could see him better.  The dragon’s mouth curved and I realized she was not coughing, but laughing.Carson mansion Queen Annd

With an awkward pucker, Aubrieta spat out what looked like a purple grape.  She breathed lavender smoke onto the grape.  Absinthe chittered encouragingly.  The grape grew and grew to the size of a house.  It continued to expand until it finally exploded into a purple mist.

Aubrieta was suddenly transformed into a winged purple skunk-looking fae as tiny as Absinthe.  She still had only one amber eye.  In her dragon form she had a fat curved black horn, but it was changed to a golden unicorn-like horn.

As the purple fog settled, dozens of big chimpanzees could be seen.  They had the coloring of our home, not the hues of the amethyst world.

First one or two, then most of the chimps realized their nakedness.  Clearly embarrassed, they tried to cover themselves and hide.  However, a few stood boldly and cheered that they had returned home.  When they saw the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater, they too scattered and ran away.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Are those…?” I began but the power of speech left me.

“Those naughty chimps!” Copper exclaimed.

Cornelis Drebbel folded his arms across his chest in a self-satisfied posture.  “Aubrieta, the purple people eater, didn’t devour the chimps, or rather the folk of this place who were lost at the abandoned chapel we saw on the way here,” Cornelis explained.  “However, she was angry at the way she had been treated here, and she used her power to banish them.  They of course ended up in our world.”

“So the chimp who was gesticulating what looked like sign language for Daddy—” I started to ask a question but the Dutchman finished my sentence.

“That clever chimp had figured out that Calvin Hixon, Copper’s father in our world, was the doppelgänger of Cal Hicks here,” Cornelis said with a nod.

Copper moved to the amethyst ape and took his hand.  “Can you help us find my Daddy?” she asked him with wide imploring eyes.

Portuguese Silver Toothpick HolderI thought Cal would melt on the spot.  He doubtless would do anything possible to help the girl who was so much like his own daughter.  The only question was — could he.

As the chimps fled into the distance I saw that their fur was already turning various shades of purple.  That reminded me of the device that looked like a silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.

It was a measuring device; if the toothpicks started to turn lavender, it was a warning that we had been in the amethyst world too long.  If all the toothpicks turned purple we were in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple, it would be too late.

I quickly took the detector out of the Dutchman’s bag so I could examine it.  The toothpicks were lavender.

***

Video:  Love potion number 9, The Searchers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rXhXLsNJL8

***

Now that the army of naughty chimps has returned to their amethyst world, how does that effect the search for Copper’s missing father?  However, the meter device that detects the danger level of their exposure to that world has begun to turn lavender — a warning sign.  Will our trio be trapped forever in the strange land where everything is purple?  Be at the train station next time to learn more.

***

 Don’t leave yet — we still have a recipe!  I briefly wondered what kind of “food” I could take from the three things that fueled the story-line of this chapter.  The obvious answer was bread.  The next thing that was clear to me was where to get a recipe.  That was easy! I turned to the wonderful Chitra Jagadish of Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen where I’ve often seen lovely bread recipes.

Recipe:  Garlic Parsley Flat Bread

garlic-flat-bread Chitra

Photo and recipe credit:  Chitra Jagadish 

Garlic Parsley flat bread

***

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 27

So the Drama…Fox Theatre ticked booth

I’m afraid I gave in to the dramatic again.  I might as well tell you that there is another cliffhanger ahead.  But you’re forewarned, so try not to scream “Akkk!” about my theatrics when you get there.

The multi-talented Sarah Vernon at “Rogues & Vagabonds” sent the three things that fueled the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era for this chapter.  Sarah’s blogs are visual treats.  “Rogues & Vagabonds” is for anyone with a passion for theatre.  The feeling I get when I visit there puts me in mind of the era of this serial.

Here’s the steam locomotive.  Remember to watch for informative and fun links in text and images.  Now, let’s hurry onto the train!  There was a lot going on when we left the amethyst world last time.  All aboard!

27.  Silver Locket, Green Chartreuse, Salmon Koulibiac

Cornelis Drebbel wore a grave expression as Absinthe popped off to confront the Purple Fairy — also known as the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater.  Our ape host and his housekeeper continued to murmur worriedly about the safety of the tiny Green Fairy.

I looked at the Dutchman.  His mouth twitched.  Then he smirked.  As I drew a breath to ask him what the devil he was thinking, Cornelis burst out laughing.  What preposterous behavior!  I was speechless, my question utterly forgotten.Hair brooch

Viola clutched a silver locket suspended from a chain around her neck.  A tear from her good eye trickled down her cheek.  She looked like she might swoon again.  Cal Hicks patted her shoulder, trying to comfort the violet chimpanzee.

She was so distraught that I said the first thing that came to my mind, meaning to distract her.  “What’s that pretty thing you have there?” I asked, meaning the locket she held tightly.

Viola sniffled and nodded as if she acknowledged the fact that she should compose herself.  Then she opened the locket.  Within was a narrow plait of reddish purple hair.

Lovers Eye Brooch“It belonged to my son.  He perished that day,” she explained softly and touched the corner of her glass eye.  “I wasn’t able to protect him!” she added on a wail.  “Oh that lovely fluffy green fae; so unique and beautiful.  And he’s so noble too,” she said with a glare at Cornelis who was still chuckling.

I was stunned that the alchemist would laugh when Absinthe had left in such a state.  Could the Green Fairy really mean to sacrifice himself, as Viola and Cal assumed?

Cal Hicks cleared his throat.  A parade of expressions marched across the amethyst ape’s face.  He looked confused, then appalled, and then scandalized before his features turned again to a perplexed expression.

“Lord of Alchemy,” the ape began but stopped to clear his throat again.  “Is the Green Fae so powerful that you have no concern for his safety?” Cal asked sincerely.  “Even against the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater?”

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“The little fellow’s poots are perniciously powerful!” Cornelis exclaimed with delight, but no one laughed.  “Absinthe is—” Cornelis paused as if he chose his words carefully.  “Absinthe has encountered the Purple Fairy before.  He’s well aware of the creature’s capabilities.”

“That would explain why the poor little thing seemed so sad!” Viola exclaimed in a sarcastic and irate tone before sinking back into her usually reserved manner.

The Dutchman laughed again, but he finally seemed to grasp how truly dismayed Cal and Viola were.  His mouth twisted any number of ways as he fought unsuccessfully to contain his mirth.  I thought he was about to explain his incomprehensible attitude.  However, he became serious immediately when he turned to see the reason for a loud behhh from the lavender alpine goat.

Copper had said she wasn’t feeling well, and neither was I.  Cornelis said it was the physical effect of our doppelgängers being too close.  In the scant moment since the girl sat down on the floor, she had completely lost consciousness.  The lavender goat made a sound that was very similar to a baby’s cry as she nuzzled Copper’s bright new-penny colored hair.

I sank to the floor beside Copper.  The truth is I meant to kneel beside the girl, but I was in a poor state myself.  Once my body started downward, I had little control over it.  I put my hand to Copper’s forehead.  However, she seemed neither warm nor cold.  Abruptly I realized that we both had the same condition, and perhaps we also had the same temperature, whatever that was.  My thinking was foggy and I found it irritating to try and reason out the situation.Copper pensive

I put my fingers to Copper’s wrist, feeling her pulse.  It was very slow.  Cornelis deduced something with a single glance.  The alchemist vanished with a sharp pop, but he reappeared almost immediately.

He knelt down beside Copper.  Cornelis produced several crystal shot glasses and a bottle of liquor.  He poured green liquid into three of the shot glasses, handing two of them to Cal Hicks and Viola.

“Go ahead,” the Dutchman encouraged them.  “Drink up.  It will set you straight — fortify your nerves,” he added and they obediently drank.

He offered me the third glass.  I felt woozier by the minute.  Adding the effects of alcohol seemed like a bad idea.  “What is it?” I inquired.

Green Chartreuse,” he supplied the name of the liquor.  “Um, maybe you’re right,” Cornelis muttered as if he knew what was on my mind, and then he upended the shot glass of green spirits himself.

Green Chartreuse“Ah yes…” Cornelis sighed.  “That’s better.”

The alchemist asked Cal Hicks for the ape’s harmonic tuner.  It was similar to the one Copper cherished as a gift from her father, except Cal’s tuner didn’t have three mystic monkeys postured to see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil.  Rather it had three mystic humans in the poses.

Cal Hicks wore a worried but excited expression as he handed the alchemist the mystic humans tuner.  Cornelis examined the ape’s tuner and a bemused expression briefly came to his face.  He poured another glass of the Green Chartreuse.  Then he held the device over the liquor and delicately flicked the harmonic tuner with his fingernail.

The tuner produced a very quiet sound that steadily grew in volume and resonance.  The glass of Chartreuse vibrated until the tone from the crystal shifted to match the tone from the harmonic tuner.  I saw a green aura surround the glass.

Jamie Murray as Felicity 3

Jaime Murray as Felicity

I blinked hard, thinking something was wrong with my vision — after all, the effects of my amethyst world double being nearby wreaked havoc with all my senses.  I started to think the green aura was actually the color of the sound produced by the tuner!  It seems strange to say, but I could also taste the sound.  It was like coarsely ground raw sugar.

Giving my head a sharp shake to clear it, I nearly fell over.  Cornelis glanced at me briefly, still intent on the glass of green liquor.  The vibration stopped as the tone dissipated.  Cornelis took a spoon from his jacket pocket.

The alchemist started to speak to me but twisted his mouth in a derisive expression.  “Never mind,” he commented though he hadn’t said anything else to me.  “Your hands won’t be steady.  Cal, could you get Copper sitting up and help me get two spoonsful of this into her?” he asked, meaning the alchemically treated Chartreuse.

“I’ll do it,” Voila insisted, following Cal Hicks to the girl.  “Sometimes a small medicinal dose of spirits can benefit a child.”

The alchemist’s eyes were still on the green liquid when he replied to Viola.  “It is liquor no longer.  The vibrations from the harmonic tuner have transformed the green Chartreuse,” Cornelis informed us.Green Depression Optic Shot Glasses

In a moment Copper was resting unconscious in Viola’s lap as Cal held her mouth open.  Faster than humanly possible, Cornelis had two spoons of the green liquid in her mouth.  Viola pushed the girl’s mouth close, and gently stroked Copper’s throat, easing the liquid down and into her system.

“Felicity, drink the rest of it,” Cornelis instructed, handing me the shot glass of special Chartreuse.

I’ve described the effect of my doppelgänger being too near as a combination of lightheadedness and an odd hollow feeling at my heart.  My hands really were shaking, that hadn’t just been Cornelis taking a jab at me.  I tried not to spill the green liquid down my chest — I had only packed one other shirt.

Jaime Murray n Double

I downed the contents of the crystal shot glass.  At first I felt nothing from it.  I looked at Copper.  She was still unmoving in Viola’s care.  After a moment I saw the girl’s hand move.  However, I looked away when something suddenly surged up inside me.  The hollow feeling at my heart seemed to stretch, becoming bigger and longer until it was pulled outside of me.  I staggered and found myself prostrate on the floor.

Yet within seconds my head felt clear.  The hollowness was gone and I felt solid, complete inside.  I turned to see Copper.  The girl was sitting up petting the lavender goat.

Vintage Girl Goat“Copper, thank goodness,” I murmured.  “How are you feeling?” I asked.

She looked at me as if she was about to say something that surprised her.  “I know it hasn’t been long since we had that very nice tea, but I’m hungry,” she said emphatically.

My stomach growled as if in answer and I realized that I was famished too.  Cornelis smirked and raised one bushy blonde eyebrow at the sound from my tummy.  “It’s a side effect of that particular alchemy.  Everything you’ve eaten today was consumed by the spell,” he informed.

Viola smiled broadly.  She may have been helpless to cure our condition a moment before, but she knew how to remedy an empty stomach.

“I have a lovely salmon koulibiac waiting.  We can have dinner early,” the violet chimpanzee said, sounding very pleased with herself.

Everyone smiled and laughed.  However, the moment of relief was cut short.

A thundering roar split the air.  The sound was so loud that the laboratory building shook.  Dust motes rained down from the high dome.  Whatever made that sound had to be tremendous.

Michael Whelan Dragon purple

Michael Whelan

“Absinthe…” Copper whispered worriedly.

A broad gout of flames shot past the long row of windows, scorching the ground in front of the laboratory.  I knew it wasn’t safe, but I couldn’t stop myself from running to the windows.  Where the sky had previously been dotted with pastel lavender clouds, now the beast that made that resounding roar took up my field of vision.

For just an instant I thought I saw a sun, but the sun had a black slit in the center.  A purple cover blinked down and I gasped.  It was a golden eye; a single eye.  Its proximity to the window was so close that when the great beast snorted the window shook.  It gave another contemptuous snort as it backed up enough for me to see the face of the cyclops-looking creature.  On its forehead, above that eye was a fat curved onyx horn.

Flapping broad wings, the creature rose heavenward.  The entire sky seemed to be occupied by an immense one eyed one horned purple dragon.

“A dragon?” I gasped.

“It’s the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater,” Viola said with a shudder.

A tiny green blur shot up thirty feet from the ground.  Absinthe.  The Green Fairy looked too small to even be a snack for the titanic purple dragon.

baby skunk 2Although I couldn’t explain what it was about Absinthe that made me believe it was so, he still seemed to be resigned to his fate.  The tiny fairy was fatalistically unafraid.

I couldn’t imagine what good it would do for little Absinthe to confront the giant purple fairy.  I knew he was able, along with Cornelis, to power the submarine.  I had seen him do small magic, like levitating things and making a shield around Copper when the submarine spun out of control.  However, I couldn’t imagine how he could hope to fight a huge dragon.

Absinthe must have used some kind of magic to boost his volume, because the little sounds he typically made were easily audible to us inside the laboratory.  He shrieked at the dragon in a forceful tone.  The beast roared, and its breath blew the Green Fairy back quite a distance.

In a green streak, Absinthe zipped back closer than before to the purple dragon.  The chirping from Absinthe took on a consolatory tone.  For a moment I thought he was negotiating.  A contained rumble came from inside the dragon and I feared it was about to produce another gout of flame.  Then I realized it was more of a low growl of anger.

Something in the tones of the two fairies made me believe they knew one another quite well, despite one being tiny and green and the other being huge and purple.  And that there was some sort of bad blood between the two.  That was even worse.  The Green Fairy facing the gigantic purple people eater was horrible, but for the tiny skunk-looking fae to contend with a tremendous creature that was angry with him — that was much worse.

“They know each other!” I exclaimed.Egyptian Amethis Pin

Cornelis nodded his head. I was aghast to see that the Dutchman was once again holding back his laughter.  “Oh yes,” Cornelis said, drawing out the words.  “He knows her alright.”

To my consternation, the alchemist even snorted.  “Cornelis Drebbel!” I yelled despite myself.  “How can you be so callous?  Absinthe has been your friend for centuries!” I cried, but my volume dwindled when I realized there was more to what Cornelis said.

“Wait, wait,” I said, backtracking.  “You said she?  She!  Do you mean to say that is a… a she-purple people eater?” I demanded astounded.

Cornelis twisted his mouth to one side and raised both of his bushy eyebrows.  “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d.  Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d,” he quoted Shakespeare.

The purple people eater flapped her broad wings and arched her back, fiercely roaring heavenward.  Then she belched an enormous ball of fire that spread out above her and Absinthe like a lethal flaming dome.  Suddenly, both Absinthe and the purple fairy dropped from the sky, the burning dome hurtling downward, ever closer to them.Fireball

The fire was so bright that it dazzled my eyes.  I could only see glowing spots.  As I stood there blinking I felt someone rush past me.

“Lord of Alchemy!” Call Hicks yelled as Cornelis used one of his tricks to run right through the door without opening it.

“Cornelis, no!” I screamed.  “You’ll be burned to a crisp!”

***

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q_olybarxU

Video:  Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls Of Fire.AVI

***

Will Cornelis perish along with tiny Absinthe and the one eyed purple dragon?  Be at the train station next time to find out!

Don’t leave yet.  One of Sarah’s three things was a sophisticated dish.  You’ll remember Viola, the chimpanzee housekeeper, told Copper that’s what they would be having for dinner.  When I searched the WordPress countryside for a Salmon Koulibiac recipe, I was pleased to find the very elegant blog of Jim and Deb Cianciolo.  As I wrote this episode, their most recent post was a recipe using Chartreuse!  So it seemed destined that I found their blog and beautifully prepared foods.

Recipe:  Salmon Koulibiac with Lobster Sauce

Salmon Koulibiac

Recipe and photo credit:  Jim and Deb Cianciolo 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 26

3 Things, 3 Tags, & 777

An Author Spotlight

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era is on the way, but it has to make an extra stop.  It’s too difficult for me to post more than once a week, so please forgive me for doing a combination today. Before the engine reaches our Steampunk platform it’s going through the 777 Switching Station.

Locomotive at Switching Station

The train is at the switching station because I was triple-tagged for the 777 Writer’s Challenge.  I was tagged by three delightful blogger-authors.  I hope you’ll enjoy their blogs.

The Rules:  Go to page 7 of your work‑in‑progress, scroll down to line 7, and share the next 7 sentences in a blog post. (Rather than tag anyone, I’m opening the challenge to all.  Anyone who wants to take up the challenge is welcome to do so.)

Guitar Mancer Cover 11-28-2014A few times recently I’ve promoted my novel (Atonement, Tennessee), and the sequel that’s in the works. So for this challenge I’ll share a snippet of another work in progress (WIP) that I put aside in favor of finishing Atonement in Bloom(It doesn’t really matter, since I haven’t had time to work on any novel…)  Admittedly, I tried to manipulate the rules, but I still didn’t come up with a snippet that I was satisfied with sharing… Such as it is, here is my “777” from “The Guitar Mancer.”

Set-up:  The Guitar Mancer is a quirky urban fantasy. It opens on New Year’s Eve, 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee.  My 777 comes from the prologue, which centers on the villain, an evil supernatural being who is able to access power through music… (And put Chuck Berry in the back of your mind. I said it’s quirky.)

“I am still weak from countless years underground — obtaining an instrument that is well bonded to a mancer would restore me completely,” the man who called himself Yamata Orochi murmured.

Stepping outside his cell, Orochi bent to touch the incapacitated guard’s face.  “What was the instrument?” he demanded roughly, and the injured guard arched his back in agony as the answer was dredged from his mind.

“A strange concept for an instrument,” Orochi murmured.  “An electrical guitar?  Yet this electrified guitar invoked the power quite well in the music that renewed me.  Now, where do I find this place, Deep-Down Louisiana close to New-Or-Leans… among the evergreens?” quoting from the song, he compelled the poor guard to answer.

Okay… with that bit of blog-keeping out of the way, on to the serial!  The three things that fueled the steam locomotive for this episode are from an author who is a great supporter of this blog — the outstanding Olga Núñez Miret.  She has a newly released Young Adult series called Angelic Business.  For a limited time, book-1 is free!

Angelic Business trilogy

Now, without further ado… All aboard!

From last time…

“Hurry!  Get inside,” Cornelis ordered pointing toward the building that was the laboratory of the version of him that inhabited this world. “Quickly,” he added with a sharp pat to the goat’s rump.  “Hang on tight, Copper!” he called.

The lavender goat bolted toward the laboratory, carrying Copper on her back.

“What was that?” I exclaimed.

Cal Hicks came to himself as we all ran behind the goat.  “I was so sure it was dead,” the amethyst ape said.  “That was the hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!

Lovers Eye Brooch

26.  Glass Eye, Silver Vinaigrette, Sextant

“I feel funny,” Copper said and indeed she looked pale.

The one eyed one horned flying purple people eater roared a terrible screech a moment before, though the creature was not within our sight.  I thought all the excitement must be too much for the girl.  Copper, Corneils, Cal Hicks, and I hurriedly hid from the beast in the huge laboratory that belonged to the amethyst world’s duplicate of Cornelis Drebbel.Copper pensive

Copper got down from the lavender alpine goat that had playfully carried her into the building.  She really did seem unsteady.  Absinthe had been concerned about us consuming the water of this strange place.  I wondered if something she ate or drank at tea disagreed with her.

Frantic cries from outside caused Cal Hicks to dash to the door.  When he opened the door, the violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper rushed inside.  She was in a terrible state, having heard the roar of the flying beast.  She sank to a stool that was nearby.

“Viola!  Whatever brings you out here?  Were you hurt?  Did you see the beast?” Cal Hicks asked in a single breath.

Reading Ape purpleThe housekeeper shook violently.  I stooped down to see if she was hurt or unwell.  That was when I first noticed that she had a glass eye.  (Of course the eye was purple.)  It was also the first time I realized that she must be elderly.  There were broad strands of pale lavender in her reddish purple hair.  It was not until that moment that it occurred to me that those pastel streaks would be the same as gray hair in our world.

Cal Hicks turned to us and described how the purple people eater had attacked the village where Viola grew up.  She had been among the casualties.  He discretely indicated that her eye had been one of her wounds.  It was no wonder just hearing the creature frightened her to such an extent.

The amethyst ape seemed to know his way around the laboratory quite well.  I thought he must have worked closely with the purple version of Cornelis Drebbel.  He went directly to a table that held many intriguing devices.  Cal opened a drawer and removed an intricately designed silver vinaigrette.  An invigorating scent drifted over to me when he took the vinaigrette to Viola.  The aroma seemed to revive her.silver vinaigrette

Smelling salts?” I inquired.

“No, not precisely.  Rather than ammonium, it’s a restorative herb,” Cal explained.

Assured that Viola was only over-excited and not injured, I stood up again.  As I moved I felt suddenly lightheaded.  There was also an odd hollow feeling at my heart.  My ears were ringing.  I closed my eyes, placed my hand to my solar plexus and took deep breaths.  When I looked up I noticed Copper sitting on the floor, the lavender goat nuzzling at her hair affectionately.

I tottered a little as I stood.  Viola handed me the vinaigrette and patted my arm in a grandmotherly way, but I wasn’t experiencing the vapors  as she had.  Whatever I was experiencing it was not from the emotional response that upset the housekeeper.  She nodded, encouraging me to inhale the scent.  I found that it actually did help.  I took it over to Copper, suspecting that whatever had overcome me was also the cause of her discomfort.

“Viola, you must have run to catch up with us,” Cal said.  “Whatever was so important?”

Victorian Ape Couple“It’s the family.  They’ve returned.  I wanted to make sure they got to meet your extraordinary guests, but I wanted it to be a surprise for them.  So I hurried here, only telling them that I was going to fetch you,” Viola explained.  “Then I heard that horrid beast.  I’ll never forget that awful day!” she cried, tears leaking from her good eye.  “So I ran the rest of the way, fearing for your safety — for all of you.”

When Viola uttered the word “family” Cornelis paled.  He looked from me to Copper.  “You’re not feeling well,” he said and it was a statement not a question.  “They are too close,” he muttered worriedly.

“Who do you mean?” I asked unsteadily.  The dizziness was making it hard for me to think.

“Your doppelgängers!  They are too close.  That’s why you feel ill.  A hollow feeling?  Dizzy, ears ringing?  Am I right?” Cornelis demanded and I nodded apprehensively.  “You must not get any closer to your doubles from this world!” he said, including both Copper and me.

At the excitable tones from Cornelis, Absinthe poked his head up from the alchemist’s jacket pocket.  The tiny fairy stretched his wings and then fluttered to a long worktable that was covered with charts, maps, and scientific looking implements.  The Green Fairy inspected the maps and drawings carefully.  He was just as thorough when he began to examine the contrivances scattered across the table. Sextant

He was also remarkably silent.  Though I’d never heard him utter an actual word, the tiny skunk-looking fae usually muttered, chirped, or grunted most of the time — especially if he was intrigued by something.  However, Absinthe seemed quite serious as he investigated the strange implements on the long table.

He stopped abruptly when he came to a gleaming brass sextant.  It was beautifully decorated with amethyst cabochons.  The navigation instrument was supported by two exquisitely formed gold mermen.  The apparatus sat on a wooden base of purple streaked mahogany.

Absinthe checked the sextant closely, finally muttering very quietly.  However, he still didn’t seem to be himself.  For a moment I wondered if he had a doppelgänger nearby as well.  Then the Green Fairy sighed resignedly.  He looked up at Cornelis and chirped something that the alchemist seem to understand.  They exchanged a sad look.

The Dutchman moved to examine the sextant.  He muttered in much the same manner as Absinthe.  Finally he nodded.  “Yes.  This should do the trick,” Cornelis said with a decisive nod.

He turned gravely to Absinthe.  “Can you take care of the err… the Purple Fairy?” Cornelis asked the tiny Green Fairy, and Absinthe nodded, again with that sad resigned attitude.

green skunk palmThen with a sharp pop Absinthe disappeared.

“What Purple Fairy?” I wanted to know.

The amethyst ape seemed to grasp the fact that was eluding my dizzy noggin.  I struggled to catch up to their thinking, but I felt so woozy.  I vaguely remembered the amethyst ape calling the purple people eater a fae — a fairy.

“Oh you don’t mean?” Cal Hicks gasped with a horrified expression.

Viola echoed Cal’s sudden inhalation, putting a hand to her mouth.  “No.  You can’t mean that very small green creature is going out to confront the giant one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!” the violet chimpanzee housekeeper exclaimed.  “Why the poor little thing won’t last a minute.  Please! Can’t you call him back?”

***

Will the doppelgängers of Felicity and Copper come any closer?  What will befall our heroines if they do?  

Absinthe and Cornelis seemed so sad. Could it mean that the tiny Green Fairy means to sacrifice himself?  What will become of Absinthe if he confronts the purple people eater?  And what about that sextant — what might it do?  Or perhaps I should ask, what kind of trouble can it cause?  Be sure to be at the train station next time!

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.