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 31

Three Things & Three Blogs

I hesitated to ask for more “things” to fuel the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era, because the serial is nearing the end of the line.  What if I got more things than I could use?  I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  However, I still had to have the three things.  So as a way of showing my appreciation for your comments, I took one word from the blog names of the first three commenters on Episode 30!  (I was rather pleased with that idea, if I say so myself.)

So we have (drumroll please)…

3 locomotives

 

(Content removed.)

Kitchen from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen, Good Food with Simple Ingredients http://apuginthekitchen.com/

It’s a rather noisy episode. I didn’t even hear the locomotive pull up to the platform.  However, I see the conductor waving, and now I can hear his voice.  All aboard!

31.  Purple, Diary, Kitchen

My finger traced the edge of a purple leather portfolio I found.  Now the case held the priceless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, which were previously hidden in the owl-shaped lamp.  I nearly dropped the folio at the sight before me.

In open-mouthed wonder I stared at the riot of possessions and the general confusion of what might have been the alchemist’s bedroom.  It was such a mess that I wasn’t completely sure it was a sleeping chamber.  I thought that was a bed under a stack of shoeboxes and a pile of clothing, though I couldn’t imagine anyone managing to sleep on it.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

I came to the conclusion that the meticulously way in which the laboratory was organized was not the doing of the alchemist — or I should say the version of Cornelis Drebbel that inhabited the amethyst world.  I shrugged.  After all, our Cornelis kept the most haphazard scheme of things, whether on his submarine or anywhere else.  So I expected it was only natural that his doppelgänger would be a slob.  Alright… that wasn’t very generous of me to use such a word to describe my traveling companion.  Shall I say untidy?

Thank goodness his skull, which was safely in my hatbox, wasn’t capable of disarranging things too.  Then I had an uneasy thought.  What if the skull had capabilities of its own?  I firmly pushed that idea into a dark corner of my mind.  There was more than enough trouble at hand, without borrowing even more.  But I digress.

No, I thought, the orderly one must be Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape of the strange purple world of doppelgängers where we’d run aground.  Cal was also the double of Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon.

I tapped my foot in a restless rhythm, annoyed with myself for wasting time, yet drawn to the room nonetheless.  My intuition had become a feather, tickling a sleeping notion in my mind.  That feather suddenly woke the notion and in the full light of thought, it quickly morphed into a certainty.Victorian w purple feather hat

“Ooooh…” I murmured aloud, stretching out the word.

Abruptly I was sure that the alchemist of the amethyst world was with Copper’s missing father!  However, the question remained — where?  How they got together in the first place was a secondary matter.  I hoped to find some sort of clue in the personal quarters of amethyst world’s version of Cornelis Drebbel.  Unfortunately I had no idea what I sought, and the disarray of the room didn’t help.

A soft snuffling sound alerted me to the presence of Absinthe, the Green Fairy.  He fluttered around the eyesore of a room before perching on a shoebox.  Absinthe looked at me and gave a derisive snort, clearly an opinion about the state of the bedroom.  I laughed.  For once I understood the little fairy.

Then Aubrieta, his mate, flew into the room.  Her purple wings missed a beat when she beheld the mess.  Aubrieta gave a little scream before recovering herself.  I had to agree.

I felt a moment of comradery with the two fairies.  They seemed to understand everything I said, but I could not interpret their snorts, grunts, and snuffles at all.  However, emboldened by that friendly feeling, I told them my thoughts about the alchemist of the amethyst world and Calvin Hixon being together somewhere.  I opened the portfolio of Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical design drawings, and said that I felt one of the designs might also be involved.Aerial Screw drawing
When I added that I thought there might be a clue somewhere in the disarray of the bedroom, the fairies went quickly to work.  They busily looked through every pile and opened every box, cupboard, and drawer.

While they looked through the room, I turned to the closet.  When I opened the door I almost shrieked like Aubrieta.  Boxes and all manner of other things toppled out of the closet as soon as I opened the door.  Cases and trinkets continued to tumble for what seemed like an unnaturally long time.  A purple feather boa draped across my shoulders as it fell.  Aubrieta snuffled appreciatively.  Apparently the little skunk-looking fairy thought it looked good on me.

“So you like this?” I asked Aubrieta of the boa and she chirped enthusiastically.  “Well, it is your color,” I conceded with a smile.Woman in purple boa

As I held out the purple feather boa, Aubrieta wriggled the single eyebrow that was between her one eye and her golden unicorn-like horn.  Static ran through the feathers and with a spark the boa was transformed to a much smaller size — just the right length for the Purple Fairy.

By the way, I never mentioned that the Purple Fairy is a title for Aubrieta, just as Absinthe is the Green Fairy.  Though I had yet to meet them, there were other purple and green fairies, but our tiny companions held some particular distinction among their kind.

I bent down to pick up a full sized feather that was dislodged from the boa.  That’s when I saw the corner of a book.  Its cover was made of tooled lavender leather.  In the center elaborate script spelled the word diary.  It should be the journal of the Cornelis Drebbel doppelgänger.  Shouldn’t it?  Although, the Dutchman was a wily fellow.  It might belong to someone else.

Though it didn’t really help, I took a deep breath to steady my nerves.  Cautiously I opened the lavender tome.  The handwriting inside was a match for that of the alchemist of my world.  I surreptitiously looked over my shoulder.  I bit my lower lip, as with a bit of apprehension I began to read the diary.

However, the journal didn’t seem to be terribly personal.  (I admit I was a little disappointed.)  There were a lot of what I supposed were alchemy related notes, and symbols I didn’t understand.  Then I found a section of spells.  At least I could understand the language with those.

Lady writing lettersTurning the pages faster, I focused my search.  I hoped to find some mention of Cal Hicks, or even better, Calvin Hixon.  Unfortunately I hadn’t found either name.  However, I was skimming the pages awfully quickly.  I could easily have missed something.  I began to notice repeated references to “Cu” but that made no more sense than the rest of the text.  It seemed to be more of a name than initials.  I shrugged.  The inhabitants of the amethyst world did seem to be fond of very short names, like Cal and Von.

As I turned pages I also saw drawings and diagrams.  Some of the sketches reminded me of the da Vinci drawings.  I slowed down, paying closer attention.

My focus was broken by a commotion elsewhere in the laboratory.  It sounded like an argument.  Yes, there was some sort of disagreement.  Aubrieta made an impatient snuffling sound and winged away in a blur.  I figured the situation was safe in the Purple Fairy’s capable hands — or should I say wings?  Paws?  Whatever, I had no doubt that the one-eyed, erstwhile dragon could use that pointy horn to good effect.

I could hear the raised voice of Cornelis Drebbel, though I couldn’t make out his words.  I stood, placing my finger in the diary to hold my place.  I knew I’d best go see what the trouble might be before things got out of hand.  Then I heard Absinthe shriek an irritated noise.

As I walked quickly down the hallway I tried to determine where the commotion had come from.  Beyond the long workroom, the laboratory was a warren of hallways and alcoves.  I hesitated when I came to an intersection of corridors.

Jamie Murray as Felicity

Jamie Murray as Felicity

A teeth jarring screech of unused metal was followed by a crash.  The noise came from the kitchen.  The shouting was louder, but not coherent until I heard clearly the voice of Cal Hicks.  “Lord of Alchemy!” the amethyst ape cried.  “No!  Please wait!”

I broke into a run.

The “kitchen” of the laboratory was a combination food preparation area, dining room, and relaxation area, with several chaise lounges.  Above the wide open room was a clear crystal dome which let in the sunlight.  The dome was divided into sections, much like one would cut an orange.  The sections were held in place by brass strips.

Earlier, after a meal, I had stretched out on a chaise and gazed up at the pastel clouds drifting in the sky beyond the dome.  It was tranquil.  However, the sounds coming from the kitchen were anything but calming.

When I reached the kitchen I found Copper and Aubrieta perched on an open wooden packing crate.  Another metallic screech caused me to look upward.  The sections of the crystal dome slowly spread, opening to the sky.  It was a fanciful idea, but it made me imagine a clear flower bud with petals opening to the sun.

Directly beneath the dome I saw Cornelis and Absinthe.  They argued.  Cal Hicks stood between the two, urging them to be reasonable.  I got the feeling that the tableau might go on for a while.  There was nothing I could do to improve the situation, and no need for me to be agitated.  I leaned against the crate and turned to Copper who dangled her feet from the top of the wooden box.

Copper

Copper

“What was inside?” I asked her as I stuck my head into the empty container.

“That top thing Cornelis has.  I think Absinthe wants to play with it,” Copper said knowingly.  “Cornelis is too big for it.  He really ought to give it to Absinthe.”

Aubrieta snorted in a derisive tone and shook her purple head.  She didn’t seem to think Absinthe should have anything to do with it either.  I noticed the purple feather boa had returned to full size and was draped across Copper’s shoulders.  The little fairy must have wanted the boa so she could give it to the girl.  I was fascinated by the way both of the fae took to Copper.

“What top thing?” I wondered aloud and stretched in attempt to see around Cornelis and Cal Hicks.

The ape and the alchemist finally moved and I saw a working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s aerial screw.  It stood about waist high.  The “threads” of the screw were made of linen, and it rotated slowly.

“It’s only a model,” Cornelis told Absinthe.  “I need firsthand experience of it before we make a full-sized machine,” he said as the Green Fairy snorted and chirped.

Abruptly, Cornelis snapped his fingers.  A yellowish green glow surrounded the aerial screw and it gently rose from the floor.  With a last whine of metal, the dome finished opening.  The aerial screw continued to rise.  The alchemist schooled his face to a bland expression and he looked from Cal to Absinthe as the rotating machine rose above their heads.

“If the tiny fae thinks the device is unsafe,” Cal Hicks began, apparently understanding the sounds Absinthe made — was I the only one who didn’t understand fairy-speak?  “Don’t you think it would be wise to listen?  It needn’t be a long delay,” the ape offered in a reasonable tone.

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Corenlis grinned.  He leaped up and grabbed onto the bottom of the aerial screw.  A green glow surrounded the contraption and the alchemist.  The device quickly moved up into the opening of the crystal dome.  Absinthe gave an angry scream.  He fluttered up to Cornelis and pointed his bantam backside at the alchemist’s face in a very threatening posture.  A poot of super-concentrated absinthe vapors would surely cause Cornelis to fall, and he was many feet above the floor.

“Well, climb on, old boy!” Cornelis told the Green Fairy.  “There’s room for one more,” Cornelis invited as he dangled high in the air.Green fairy skunk

However, Absinthe flew in circles around the aerial screw.  The Green Fairy jerked his head around, as if he heard something.  He screamed again and pointed.  The sound came again, loud enough for me to hear.  The linen “threads” of the screw ripped loudly.  The aerial screw lurched.  Cornelis struggled to keep his grip as the machine darted wildly.

***

Now what has Cornelis Drebbel gotten himself into?  Be at the train station next week to catch the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era.

Since one of the three blogs I used as this episode’s three things is a chef’s blog, I’m taking the recipe from it.  How could I resist this beautiful lavender colored cake to go with the amethyst world?  Thank you Suzanne, for letting me use one of your recipes.  Suzanne is a marvelously talented chef.  So be sure to take a look at her blog.

Recipe:  White Cake With Whipped Cream Icing and Blackberry Lemon Cream Filling

Suzanne lavender cake

Recipe and photo credit: Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen”

http://apuginthekitchen.com/2012/03/28/white-cake-with-whipped-cream-icing-and-blackberry-lemon-curd-filling/

 

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.