Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 20

Caution: Shameless Self-promotion AheadAtonement Tennessee

Thank you so very much to Donna, RC, and Kathryn, who have all sent “three things” to drive this story.  All those are waiting in queue.  However, the steam(punk) locomotive was all out of fuel when I started writing this episode.  Also since I didn’t have “three things” to drive this episode that meant there wasn’t anyone for me to promote either!  So… since indie authors are supposed to engage in incessant, brazen self-promotion, I guess I’ll promote my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.

 

Atonement, Tennessee is available now and you can get it here:

Barnes & Noble Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atonement-tennessee-teagan-geneviene/1117790203?ean=2940148918431

Kindle and Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412384486&sr=1-1

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A

Amazon India

http://www.amazon.in/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1481826948

Work in ProgressAtonement in Bloom

Book-2, Atonement in Bloom, is in progress.  No estimated completion date, because I spend all my time working on this blog and the serials.  Somehow I have to become able to do everything faster.  Doing less is not an option.

Regarding this serial, for those of you who need a refresher, look to the right of your screen, scroll down to categories and click “Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers,” to see the most recently published episodes.  Or if you’re new, go to the top of the screen and click on “Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, Serial Home,” where you’ll find all the episodes, beginning with the first.

Anyhow, for this shameless self-promotion, I decided to take the “things” from the first three chapter headings of my novel.  So we have Home, Neighbors, and Mimosa.

Be sure to read to the end for a refreshing beverage recipe link!  Keep an eye out for fun, informative links in the text and images.

What did you say?  I couldn’t hear you over the engine noise.  Oh!  Our locomotive to the Victorian Era has arrived.  All aboard!

From Last Time

Episode-19 left Copper safely ensconced in a compartment beneath the “bridge” (desk) of Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine.  But the alchemist and the woman in trousers were quite intoxicated by the farts from the Green Fairy, aka Absinthe, who helps power the submarine.  Cornelis opened the hatch and he and Felicity hung out from the opening for some air while he gave clearing their heads a magical assist with the harmonic tuner.

20.  Home, Neighbors, and Mimosa

It was no accident, I thought to myself, that the Green Fairy looked like a tiny green skunk, albeit one with gossamer wings.  Much like a frightened skunk could spray a noxious odor from special anal glands, Absinthe produced a vapor that was the equivalent of highly concentrated absinthe liquor; an already potent potable in its pure form.  That such a petite personage could produce so powerful a poot was positivelyOh my, what a lot of P words, I thought.  Perhaps I’m not fully sober.  I’m glad I kept that ramble to myself.Green fairy skunk

“Felicity,” Cornelis said raising one bushy blonde eyebrow.  “You did say that out loud darling,” he added and I cleared my throat, looking around suspiciously.

Where was that little green skunk?  I’d hate to sit on him and start the whole drunken business over again.  I hazarded another look at the Dutchman.

“No.  Whatever that was, you didn’t say it aloud that time,” he told me with a smirk.  “Do try and make yourself at home.  I’ll see if I can coax out the Green Fairy for a proper introduction.  He has a finely tuned appreciation for formality.  Why don’t you let Copper know that it’s safe to come out?”

Cornelis left the room, or whatever I was supposed to call the compartments inside a submarine.  Was it a ship or a boat?  I turned to the beautiful desk.  I supposed it might be called the bridge since we were on a ship… or boat.  A small groan escaped my lips.  Yes, I was still a little tipsy, even after the head-clearing effect of the harmonic tuner, which Cornelis rang right next to our heads.  I hoped I wouldn’t have a hangover.  Oh heck, now I was having at it with H words.

Oh yes, the desk — that’s where Copper was.  The center area, where a chair might go, had a roll-down cover.  It was tightly closed with the girl inside, to protect her from the potently intoxicating vapors.  I squatted down and knocked on the cover.  Copper lifted the door and looked out curiously.

Copper

Copper

“The air has cleared now, Copper,” I assured her.  “You can come back out.”

I scooted backward to give her more room to crawl out from the desk.  Then I lost my squatted balance, and fell backward on my bottom.  The room was only spinning a little.

“Are you all right, Felicity?” Copper asked, giving me a quizzical look.

Her expression made me want to laugh.  Though I tried to maintain a serious face I burst out in giggles.  Copper joined in and we plopped down on the floor in a helpless giggling heap.  A movement caused me to look upward.  It took me a moment to focus.  I blinked.  A green creature, about as long as my hand, hovered over our heads.  It looked like a tiny bright green skunk with gossamer wings — Absinthe, the Green Fairy.

The smile froze on my face.  I daren’t frighten the Green Fairy again.  Through the clinched teeth of my now forced smile I cautioned Copper, trying to motion upward with just my eyes.  Fortunately she followed my gaze.

“Gently now Copper,” I began.  “We don’t want to disturb the neighbors,” I said meaningfully, as I tilted my head toward the fairy.green skunk palm

“Oh there you are!” Copper said with enthusiasm as she turned to look up at the skunk-like creature.

His bushy tail curled over his back, much like a squirrel’s would.  Green butterfly wings shimmered like a faceted peridot as they fluttered, bringing the fairy close to the girl.

“Copper!” I whispered the warning.

“Don’t worry, Felicity.  It’s just Absinthe.  Isn’t he pretty?” she asked and I nodded mutely, otherwise still as a statue.

The little fairy seemed to be aware that he’d been complimented, and he chirped at Copper.

“Absinthe, this is my friend Felicity.  She and Cornelis are helping me find Daddy.  You’re friends with Cornelis aren’t you?” Copper told the creature and she nodded when it chirped as if in reply.

Jamie Murray as Felicity 3I watched in fascination.  She seemed like a little girl at play, having a tea party for her imaginary friends — except for the fact that it was all real.

Copper held out her arm and the Green Fairy fluttered down and perched there, chirping and snuffling contentedly.

“I wish you could have met my other friends, Mr. Wong and Victoria,” she told the tiny creature.  “But something was wrong at their house and they had to go back home.  I’ve been afraid for them ever since they left.  There were some really bad people chasing us, and I think those people took Daddy too.  So now I’m afraid they might hurt Victoria and Alastair.  I wish I could see them and know they’re okay,” she said in a voice so sad that I thought my heart would break — and then I hiccupped.

The little fairy watched Copper intently as she spoke.  When she paused he chirped once and abruptly fluttered up toward the desk.  On either side of the desktop sat what I recognized for variations of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetual motion clock.  No doubt both were alchemically enhanced in some way.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Absinthe went directly to the clock on the right and hovered over there.  He looked at Copper and chirped.  She hurried over to the desk.  I followed very cautiously.  I was still concerned about startling the fairy.  It wasn’t that my balance was still unsteady, or that I was tipsy from the absinthe vapors.  Really it wasn’t…

A dozen small knobs protruded from the base of the first perpetual motion clock.  Lightning fast, the fairy’s dainty paws touched and twisted the knobs.  The glass dome covering the clock became clouded by green fog.  The clock then chimed the quarter hour.  The vapor beneath the glass cleared.  I could see a three dimensional image of the Wong family’s pavilion as if from the air high above the estate.

The fairy turned another knob and the view drew in closer to the carefully designed and manicured grounds.  Several kinds of ornamental trees decorated the area.  The fairy brought the view even closer and I saw the ground was littered with bodies.  At first I feared the entire family and staff were all dead.  However, I realized there were subtle movements.  The people were merely unconscious.  Then I saw that the fallen were not the Wongs at all, but the intruders.

I saw the small woman, Victoria beneath a flowering tree.  She knelt over a man, deftly tying his hands behind his back before he could regain consciousness.  She straightened her back, as if she was about to rise, but she stilled.

mimosa blossomAs if in slow motion a mimosa blossom floated gently down from the tree’s branches.  As I watched the delicate flower’s descent one of the intruders crept up behind tiny Victoria.  She never looked up.  The man was behind her, ready to strike.  As the falling blossom touched the ground Victoria sprang to her feet, twisted while on the toes of one foot and squarely planted a hard kick into his midsection.  By the time the blossom had settled into the grass, the tiny woman was tying up the intruder.

“Wow…!” Copper said on a sigh with a grateful look at the Green Fairy.

Then the image faded away and the clock went back to its usual, though unique appearance.

“I believe Victoria and Alastair and everyone at the pavilion are fine,” I told Copper, and I was as relieved as she.

The tiny Green Fairy fluttered over the desk, or bridge or whatever. I hiccupped again.  I looked uneasily at Absinthe, but the involuntary noise didn’t seem to concern him.  He moved to the contraption that had originally caused me to make the comment and motion that had startled the fairy, eliciting his intoxicating emanation, which inebriated Cornelis and me.  Especially me.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

Where was I?  Oh yes… Absinthe fluttered to that multi-limbed brass contrivance.  Each arm ended with a walnut sized faceted gemstone.  Just as before, 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 was brightly lit and it caused the gemstones to cast a rainbow effect as the arms spun.

The rainbow lights filled the inside of the submarine.  Cornelis had closed the hatch and climbed down the ladder.  He made over the lights, praising Absinthe, no doubt intending to soothe the creature before I could startle him again.  However, Absinthe didn’t pay any mind to the Dutchman or to me.  He darted from the multi-armed contrivance to the first perpetual motion clock and then to the second one on the other side of the desk.  His tiny paws adjusted crystal knobs and other apparatus so fast his motions were a blur.

The rainbow lights that filled the room became blotchy.  But then they started to take form.  After a moment I realized the lights had transformed into a map that filled the room.  It was a duplicate of Alastair Wong’s map that Cornilis had used the harmonic tuner to magically enhance, but it didn’t have as many dots (back when the alchemist’s spell went awry and the mangle went rogue, magically producing the word “Daddy”).  It had one dot that sparkled brightly. I thought the mark might streak away like a shooting star, but it remained stationary.  Then three other smaller dots appeared; each in a different place on the map.  Those dots crawled about like fireflies, but they all moved toward the crystalline bright star.

Copper curious w-green“Which one are we?” Copper asked, meaning the dots.

The Green Fairy’s snuffling sound changed to something that sounded very much like “Tut, tut.”  His tail twitched in an irritated way as he fluttered across the map.  A shimmering blue area that I knew represented water flashed once.  A small, shimmering copper sphere suddenly appeared in the blue.  Cornelis chuckled.

“It’s a copper dot to show where Copper is,” he explained.  “Well done Absinthe.”

Copper looked from the floating ball that represented her and then back at the first dot.  She gasped as comprehension showed on her face.  She reached toward the first radiantly glowing dot, but it was far over her head.  Absinthe chirped happily and darted down to the girl.

“Daddy,” I murmured.  “So that’s where Calvin Hixon is?  But he’s away from all three of the groups who were chasing us.  Although I suppose that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is not under duress of some kind,” I speculated.

While I spoke Cornelis strolled about the map-filled room, looking intently at the magical cartography and all the moving parts.  I noticed that our copper sphere was farthest away from the star that apparently represented Calvin Hixon.

The alchemist seemed to be tracing all the waterways.  “Is it possible for this submarine to travel to the spot where Hixon is?” I asked.Drebbel submarine

His mouth twisted, but Cornelis put a knuckle to his lips and knitted his brows in thought.  He tilted his head to one side and looked at the Green Fairy.

“No,” he said as if he had been distracted.  “There are places that are not nearly deep enough for this submarine,” he commented and Absinthe hissed as if scolding Cornelis.  “But with a little shifting of ‘the in to the out’…  Tucking a bit from this reality into the next…  Together Absinthe and I should be able to make it work,” he said.

The Green Fairy appeared to be happy with that pronouncement and he fluttered down to alight on the alchemist’s shoulder.  I felt very uneasy.

“What do you mean by shifting of ‘the in to the out’ Cornelis Drebbel?  And other realities!  I don’t like the sound of that.  You know full well how often your tricks go awry,” I warned him.

Absinthe grunted and chirped in a way that sounded like he actually agreed with me.  Cornelis tilted his head to look at the tiny fairy in surprise.

“Why Felicity!  Absinthe, you too?  You wound me,” Cornelis said in his most melodramatic voice.  “What could possibly go wrong?”

All I could manage to do was shake my head.  I sank back to the floor and dropped my forehead against my knees with a groan.

***

Will Cornelis finally get that extremely dangerous spell to work perfectly?  Or will something startle the Green Fairy into another inebriating absinthe-super-charged fart?  Will they make it to Copper’s daddy before their foes?  Is Calvin Hixon, in fact, really at the indicated star on the map…?  Be at the station again next time.

Don’t leave yet!  Here’s the recipe for this episode

Recipe:  Blood Orange Mimosa

Blood-Orange Mimosa

Recipe and photo credit:  Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower  http://cookingwithawallflower.com/2015/05/20/blood-orange-mimosa/

Be at the train station next weekend when the three things are from Donna Parker.  Where will “Ginger Beer, Backgammon, and Cast Iron Finial” take our steampunk locomotive?

 

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 19

Every picture tells a story…

New Mexico Territory 1880

New Mexico Territory 1880

Or it does if the camera is in the hands of Timothy Price at T&L Photos. The photographs make for a chronicle of day-to-day life for Tim and his family in “the land of enchantment” — also known as New Mexico.  That family includes a four-footed crew of felines that keep the humans in line.

Last weekend, a couple of you sent “three things” to drive the story, and thank you very much. However, when I was ready to write this episode, there were no “things” to fuel the locomotive to the Victorian Era. Then Tim happened to make a comment at his blog that mentioned some of the myths and legends of the American Southwest. As soon as I read the comment, I thought “Hey! That’s three things!”  So you have Tim to thank for the things that inspired this episode.

Even so, none of those three things were about food.  So KR Big Fish, aka Kathryn at Another Foodie Blogger agreed to share one of her delicious southwestern inspired recipes.  Be sure to read to the end of this episode for the link.

So now the locomotive has plenty of steam and it’s ready to take us back to the Victorian Era.  All aboard! 

From last time…

“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.

***

19.  La Llorona, Coyote, Chupacabra

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

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

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.  But 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.

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.Vintage ghosts several

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.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

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 seems to be more than just a story,” I said shaking my head in disbelief at the scene I had just witnessed.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Machine

“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 she 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.

The Dutchman looked over his shoulder and 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.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

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.

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 thing can power this vessel?” I asked.

Cornelis smiled like an indulgent parent and nodded.  “Actually it is our energies combined, mine and his, but 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.  And it was bright green, just like the liquor.  On butterfly wings, he fluttered down toward Copper.green skunk palm

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.

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 said with a mystified chuckle.

Green fairy skunkA 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.

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 hopen the hatch how?” I giggled as I wobbled up the ladder.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

“Dear heavens it’s 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! 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 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 the alchemist 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 leaning far to one side.

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.

Wolf as Colonial manI 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 woozy.

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 died away 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.

***

Will the Absinthe the Green Fairy calm down enough to let Felicity into the submarine?  If our characters reach the spot on the map where the word “Daddy” was magically written, what will they really find — Copper’s father or a fierce foe?  Come back next time for another adventure on the locomotive to the Victorian Era.

***

Now for this episode’s recipe.  With all the whimsical inspiration from the American Southwest, I selected a fun and delicious southwestern offering from Kathryn at AnotherFoodieBlogger.com.

Recipe:  Chile Relleno Chicken Rollups

Chile Relleno Chicken Roll ups

Photo and Recipe Credit:  K.R. Bigfish, Anotherfoodieblogger.com

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-2

Rockwell Girl on TrainYou are the best!  Yes, I mean you!  Last weekend I launched the first episode of our latest “interactive” serial. I was doing Snoopy’s happy dance about the positive responses from all of you.  Not only that, but so many of you have been generous with sending three random things and/or food-related things.

Remember, you are also welcome to send Recipes (or links to your recipes if you are a blogger) to share as part of an episode.

As you saw in Episode-1, the things established a setting in the late Victorian era. The things/ingredients also gave us the title characters for this serial: Copper — a young girl, Cornelis Drebbel (borrowed from history) — the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers who narrates the story.  Will her name be revealed?  Only the things/ingredients can say!

Engineer n EngineThis week’s things are from Kathryn (aka K. R. Big Fish) at Another Foodie Blogger.  Check out her fun blog and amazing recipes.  KR’s Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup has been one of my favorite easy meals this winter.  However, you’ll find her featured recipe at the end of this episode.  I’ll let that be a surprise for now.

I often say “You’re behind the wheel” when it comes to what happens in the serial stories.  However, giving the new setting, maybe I should say “You’re the engineer of this locomotive!”

Now, let’s get back on track with Episode-2.

2.  Soup Pot, Kitchen Sink, Mail-Order Wine Club

Cornelis Drebbel, shimmered and blurred before my eyes.  Then the alchemist popped out of my suite at the Belle Inn.  I do mean that literally.  He disappeared with a pop sound.  Though he acted put upon when I asked him to do such investigative errands, I knew he secretly relished getting out on his own.  As I waited for his return, I gazed speculatively at his skull, which rested in my hatbox.1900 Maid with tray

There was a light knock at the door.  It was one of the Belle Inn’s staffers bringing up dinner.  I was infinitely glad she hadn’t come a moment earlier.  Though I flaunt tradition and wear trousers as I please, it would still be hard to explain having a man in my room.  Or at least what would look like a man from the maid’s point of view.

She brought the tray into my suite and sat it on the small round table.  It was laden with several covered dishes of food and an ornate little bell.  The aromas escaped tantalizingly from the dishes.

“Thank you.  It’s very kind of you, miss.  It smells delicious,” I said as my stomach made a noise of agreement.

“Oh, just call me Bitsy — everyone does,” she commented as she uncovered a generous portion of the fried calamari I ordered.

Bitsy only glanced at my trousers.  That was rare.  Reactions to my usual attire ranged from bulging eyes, to gasps, to righteous rants.  Once a woman even screamed hysterically.  Yet the maid barely seemed to notice.  My eyebrows went up just a bit.  Naturally I was surprised by the lack of reaction.  However, I was also gratified.  I’d have to make sure and give her a generous tip.

K-Hepburn-2

Katharine Hepburn

“Mr. Belle said to make sure you had plenty of anything you want from the kitchen.  That was some smart thinking you had about the little foal.  Even Cookie was impressed,” the maid chattered, merrily jumping from one subject to the next.  “You didn’t mention it, but I brought you a treat from Cookie’s soup pot,” Bitsy said.  “She makes lovely soups, a different one almost every day.  After all, woman cannot live by calamari alone — regardless of how delicious it may be,” she added with a grin.

The aroma of the soup was lovely indeed, but my attention fell upon the bell.  The intricate design of the silver bell was unexpected.  Even the patina of the silver was unusual.  The young woman told me to just ring it if I wanted anything at all.  Bitsy picked up the bell and gave it one ring to reinforce her words.

The bell had a very strange, almost harmonic sounding ring.  As I commented on how unusual looking the bell was it occurred to me that I had seen all manner of bells about the Belle Inn.  Bitsy laughed when I mentioned the fact.Tiffany Arabesque bell

“Oh yes, the bells of the Belle Inn,” she said.  “I only moved here six months ago, so I don’t know the history of the place that well.  But it was the whimsy of one of Mr. Ignatius Belle’s ancestors to collect all sorts of bells, being as their family name was Belle,” Bitsy said.

“The Belle family’s been in this town forever, but Mr. Ignatius Belle was from some other branch of the family tree.  He inherited the inn and moved here.  But he took to things like he’d been here since childhood.  He’s very fond of those bells.  I’ve seen him gather up a bunch of them, and ever so carefully clean and inspect each one,” Bitsy went on about her employer.  “I thought it was sweet. You know?  A big, strong man with a highfalutin education being so taken with little bells,” she said with an impish grin.

It might have been interesting to learn more of what the maid knew of the proprietor and all those bells.  After all, Ignatius Belle was a fine figure of a man.  However, I gave my sincere thanks to Bitsy and hurried her on her way.  It would not do for her to be here whenever the Dutch alchemist reappeared from thin air.

A moment after the maid left I heard another pop, and Cornelis materialized.  He looked at the large tray of food and then rolled his eyes at my selection.  I reminded him that I had gotten the Stilton cheese of which he was so fond, and he was somewhat mollified.

“Well?” I urged.  “What did you learn?”

He pursed his lips considering whatever he had seen.  “She’s clever, that one.  Reasonably resourceful.  Definitely determined,” he said of Copper, the young girl I saw at the Best’s General Store.  “Though I am not sure I have the same conviction that you feel,” he added.

Flexibone corset adHis lack of positivity made me feel deflated.  I plopped down on the side of the bed and slumped. That poor posture was not something I could manage in proper female attire.  The boning of corsets did not tolerated a slouch.

“So you don’t think it’s her?” I said, not sure whether or not I was asking a question.

“I don’t know that she is,” the Dutchman said seeming to contradict himself.  “Yet I don’t know that she is not.  It bears investigation.”

“How so,” I wanted to know what had stirred even a small amount of interest in the jaded alchemist.

“Because of the dead man at the desk in the study,” he replied in a tone that suggested that should be obvious.

“Oh, so that’s why she positively reeked of death.  What an awful thing for a little girl to find,” I murmured sadly.  “It is her father?” I made it a question, though I was sure it must be so.  “That would explain why she was so frightened when the women at the general store mentioned the orphanage.”

The Dutchman shrugged as he absently tossed the cream colored tassel from Copper’s cape into the air and caught it.  “I don’t know if the deceased is Calvin Hixon.  I can’t say who the man is.  He is slumped over the desk, face down.  He does, however wear a signet ring that indicates he is part of the family,” Cornelis supplied that tidbit.

One might think Cornelis would have bothered to move the body enough to get a look at the man’s face.  However, he was unexpectedly, and often inconveniently, squeamish about such things.

Copper

Copper

“I didn’t think there was any family, just Copper and her father,” I said, perturbed.  “I suppose it must be him then.  You didn’t see anyone about the house or grounds?” I asked, but Cornelis shook his head negatively.

“There had been a governess up until a couple of months ago,” Cornelis offered.  “Hixon wrote a glowing recommendation for her, but there was no clear reason for her dismissal.  Except of course the money troubles.”

“Money problems?  Why didn’t you say so?” I asked.  The man could be infuriating.  I knew Cornelis delighted in holding back the important facts for dramatic effect.  And doubtlessly to watch the expression on my face.  “What kind of financial problems did Calvin Hixon have? Could you see that?” I asked to the Dutchman’s obvious delight.  He loved to have an audience.

“Oh my,” he began.  “There were unpaid bills for everything but the kitchen sink!” he said.  “Calvin Hixon had clearly been having financial issues for months, possibly years.”

Curiosity finally got the better of Cornelis Drebbel and he investigated the tray of food the maid left.  He seemed quite pleased by the soup.  He looked hopeful when he spotted the bottle of wine, but his smile faded in an exaggerated way when he read the label.

The Dutchman had a mind filled with ever changing wild ideas for things, inventions and new ways of doing things.  He had brought many of those ideas into existence before an accident of alchemy had radically changed his own existence.  The look on his face told me he was having one of those inventor-type ideas.

1893 Burpees Wine ad“How is it that we end up in so many places that don’t have a decent bottle of wine?” he grumbled in a droll tone that was edged with exasperation.  “Why has no astute businessman gathered all manner of fine wine and made it available to back-of-beyond places like this one?  It wouldn’t be so complicated,” he complained, but his eyes twinkled with his idea.

“What do you mean?” I asked, though it was usually a bad idea to encourage him.  Whenever Cornelis had an idea, he would go on about it until he had laid out a five year plan for its creation.  “Through the post, like purchasing things from a catalogue?  Sent to individuals, rather than businesses?” I pondered aloud, realizing all the while that I had let him draw me in once again.  “So what you’re suggesting is a mail-order wine club.  Things are different than in your day, Cornelis.  All the taxes and levies would make it impossible,” I commented, once again the voice of reason to his wild ideas.

I felt rather guilty when I saw the disappointed expression in his eyes.  It actually wasn’t such a bad idea.  It was much more reasonable than his underwater boat device or his floating bomb.  However, I frowned because I shouldn’t have let myself be sidetracked.  I had to figure out Copper’s situation.

Cornelis gave me directions to the Hixon estate.  Hopefully Ignatius Belle would let me borrow a horse.  I had to travel by more mundane means than the alchemist.  Cornelis would meet me there.

I wrapped up a large portion of the calamari and freshly baked rolls, and when Cornelis wasn’t looking, I packed some of the Stilton cheese I had gotten for him.  It seemed obvious that the child didn’t have any food left.  A good meal might also help me gain her trust.  She had seemed skittish at the general store, even before the surly comment from those women about her going to an orphanage.  How she was involved in the grand scheme of things was a mystery to me, but I was certain that Copper Hixon played a key part.

Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

The alchemist had such a twinkle in his eyes when he dematerialized that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him rub his hands together in anticipation.  Instead he gave the tassel from Copper’s cape a toss toward the ceiling and disappeared.  When I realized it would likely land in the soup, I jumped off the bed to catch it.  However, Cornelis reappeared before the tassel came back down and he caught it.

“Oh yes,” he said as if he’d never left.  “I need a look at that harmonic tuner.  I may have seen its counterpart at the Hixon estate.  So do be a lamb and bring it with you,” he said drolly.

“The what?” I asked.

He pointed toward the food tray on the table.  “They seem to be using it as a dinner bell,” he said.

I cautiously picked up the ornate bell that had such an unusual ring.  I had thought of the sound as harmonic and perhaps with good reason.

“A harmonic tuner…?” I repeated, looking curiously at the unusual bell.

***

Recipe:  Cheater Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Click above for the recipe

Pho-bo Soup

Photo and recipe credit: Another Foodie Blogger

 Will the woman in trousers reach Copper, who is surely frightened and alone in a big empty house with a dead body?  And what the devil is a “harmonic tuner” and for what is it used? Be sure to tune in again next weekend.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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