Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 27

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Abandoned Locomotive 2

When I wrote this chapter back in 2015, I was experiencing a lack of energy.  It made me relate to these images of worn-out, abandoned locomotives.

Since my characters sometimes reflect my experiences of a given moment, I went to my manuscript with the intention of exploring what a tiny magical green skunk-like creature would do if he was fatigued.

However, to my surprise I didn’t give my characters my own weariness.  Quite the contrary — they energized me!  Today I hope to tap into that energy once again.  My simple life has made many demands on me lately.

Abandoned Locomotive Santa Fe

The #steampunk submarine is at our port.  It’s rising to the surface now, and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 26.1   Absinthe, the Green Fairy, managed to pilot the submarine and take it underneath the ack ruffians who were hunting for them.  Although, the others didn’t know that was what he was doing.  

Chapter 26.2    Felicity, the Woman in Trousers, was still a bit fishy about the gills from the potent poot of Absinthe, the Green Fairy.  Her nausea was made worse by the maniacal spinning of the submarine when the Alchemist accidentally uttered the incantation Yadadarcyyada! 

Will Cornelis have another accident of alchemy?  Will Felicity be mad as hops?  Will Absinthe be startled into another powerfully potent poot?  Read on to find out.  

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

27 — Corded Stays, Pickled Beets, Cold Cereal

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Unsplash

Through the velvet black of unconsciousness I heard my name called.  I shook my head to clear it, but found I could barely move.  Some unseen force held me fast.  I managed to open my eyelids and vacantly looked straight ahead.

Absinthe, the Green Fairy clung protectively to Copper’s head.  All I could think was what an odd sight it was. 

Then memory surged back, filling my mind.  The pressure that held me still was from the force of the violently spinning submarine.  Even if I could have moved spryly, the Green Fairy had created a protective barrier around Copper, himself, and me.

“Thank God you’re awake.  It took you long enough,” Cornelis called from across the chamber where he moved like a maniac to correct the damage of his inadvertently spoken incantation, yadadarcyyada.

He fiddled with an odd multi-armed contrivance, which whirred and hummed, shooting rainbow light everywhere.  It also shot colorful sparks now and then, which Cornelis adroitly ducked.

I muttered a rude response to the Dutchman’s ill-mannered comment.

“Don’t just sit there!” he complained.  “I only have two hands.  Have you a corset, woman?”

“I beg your pardon!” I said warningly.

Flexibone corset ad

Flexibone corset, Wikimedia Commons

“This is no time to suddenly become delicate,” Cornelis chided.  “The thingamajig is on the verge of coming apart.  I believe I can use the corded stays from a boned corset to keep its arms in place.”

“The thingamajig?” I repeated incredulously.

“Well, that is the name of the device after all.  It is the original thingamajig!” the alchemist said in a tone which suggested that fact should have been obvious.  “Didn’t Copper put a corset in that big carpet bag when you had her collect her belongings before we left the Hixon estate?” he asked.

“I believe she did at that,” I answered in a mystified tone.  “But how did you know?”

“Never you mind,” Cornelis said and abruptly broke eye contact.  “Absinthe, dear boy, could you release that shield enough to let Felicity out?”

The tiny skunk-looking creature snuffled and grunted sounds of uncertainty.  The Dutchman made encouraging sounds at Absinthe.  After a moment the bright green light he had formed around himself, Copper, and me flickered.  When I had touched the aura before, it felt as hard as steel.  I raised a hesitant finger and touched it to find it had become pliable.

“Go ahead,” Cornelis said through gritted teeth, apparently having to put great concentration into what he was doing.  “You should be able to move about now.”

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

As I struggled to my feet, the Green Fairy’s magical shield stretched and preceded me while I moved.  It caused everything I saw to take on a greenish cast.  I spotted the black bag with a floral design.  If I had not been looking through the green of Absinthe’s shield, the flowers would have been embroidered in a shade of mauve. 

My movements were sluggish as I made my way to the carpet bag.  It felt like walking in waist deep water.

When I opened the bag I had the passing thought that Copper had an eye for fine things.  She had packed my nicest undies.  Despite the fact that I felt corsets were horrid, barbaric torture devices, I looked from the garment to Cornelis regretfully.  It really was well crafted…

“Don’t look at me like that, Felicity!  You know you’ll never wear the blasted thing,” Cornelis said sounding strained.

I plodded over to him as if in slow motion.  At least two of the gemstone capped arms on the thingamajig waved erratically.  They seemed in danger of flying off.

Boned Corsetry

Wikimedia Commons

“Do I need to cut the stays out of it?” I offered.

I’m sure my tone of voice was compliant and helpful.  It betrayed not a whit of the regret, even though I knew that a beautifully made garment was about to be torn to shreds.  I determined to be helpful. 

I took a breath first, but only because it was difficult to move within the protective field Absinthe created.   Although I couldn’t bear to look, I didn’t hesitate as I passed the corset to the alchemist.  I’ve no idea what the Dutchman could have heard that he mistook for a sigh from me.

“Oh, the drama!  For pity’s sake,” he complained.  “Don’t sound like such a martyr.  No, you don’t have to do anything to it.  Just put the corset in my hand and I’ll take care of it.”

“But both your hands are on the machines,” I began, just as his hand darted away from that cast iron finial and grabbed the corset from me.

As Cornelis grasped the corset it became engulfed in the rainbows of light produced by the multi-armed contrivance.  Then, my under garment disappeared before my very eyes.  The arms still whirred at blinding speed, but the machine’s movements didn’t seem as erratic.

I staggered as the spinning submarine abruptly slowed.  Apparently the corset and its corded stays had been a proper fit to fix the wayward spell that caused the submarine to violently whirl.

“That’s better,” Cornelis murmured as the limbs of the machine slowed somewhat.  “Now I just need something to set it.  Um… Felicity do you notice anything missing?” he asked in his best professorial voice.

“Cornelis, I hardly think this is the time for an educational lecture,” I began.

“Just look, Felicity,” he said impatiently.

Watching the wildly gyrating thingamajig made me queasy, but I could see that something wasn’t right.  One of the jewel end-caps was missing.  Looking at the rainbow lights cast by the machine I noticed there was no purple amid the numerous colors.

“The amethyst is gone!” I said feeling downright proud of myself, since Cornelis usually got the better of me when he went into professor mode.

“Ah…  So it is,” he said sounding drolly bemused.

“You don’t have to sound so surprised,” I countered.  “And you needn’t be smug either.”

“Now I need something purple,” he said looking all around.

“I saw a jar of pickled beets inside the desk — or rather the bridge as you called it,” I suggested.

Just as the words left my mouth, Absinthe shrieked.  He left his protective perch on Copper’s head and fluttered upward to be at eye-level with Cornelis and me.  The Green Fairy muttered and grunted in an angry sounding way.

Green fairy skunk

Absinthe, the Green Fairy

Typically the fairy’s striped tail curled over his back, rather like a squirrel’s tail would.  The moment he started making those irate sounds, his tale stood up straight. 

I kept a worried eyeball on Absinthe’s bantam backside and eased backward.  However, the submarine had no place where I could escape if the fairy let loose another spray of super concentrated absinthe fumes.

“What’s wrong with him?” I hissed at Cornelis.

The Dutchman hit his own forehead with the heel of his hand as if something he should have remembered had just come back to him.

“How could I forget?  Beets are his favorite treat,” the alchemist muttered.

Absinthe fluttered threateningly in front of the bridge.

“Come now my chuckaboo,” Corenlis implored, but the fairy hissed.  “It’s ever so important,” he encouraged, but Absinthe grunted an irate sound.  “I only need one or two.  I promise not to take them all,” Cornelis pleaded as the thingamajig swung erratically.

The Green Fairy’s emerald eyes narrowed as he looked skeptically at the gyrating contrivance.  He fluttered down to the drawer where his pickled beets were stored and with a dramatic sigh opened the drawer.  The jar of beets levitated up to my hands.  Hurriedly I went to the alchemist and opened the jar.

Meanwhile Absinthe turned his back.  He refused to look at any of us or what we did with his cherished beets.

Wikimedia Commons

When the spinning submarine slowed, the Green Fairy dropped the protective barrier he had created.  Copper went to the alchemist’s side to watch what he was doing to the thingamajig.  She looked closely at the faceted gemstone caps that adorned the machine’s limbs.

“The beets aren’t the same color of purple as an amethyst,” she pointed out the difference.

“So you know your gems then?” Cornelis commented fondly.

“Daddy has a tie pin with a purple stone.  He said it’s amethyst,” Copper explained.

“You make a valid point,” Cornelis replied, surprising me, as I didn’t expect him to take the girl’s comment seriously.

The beet was momentarily engulfed in a green glow.  When the verdant aura dissipated, the reddish purple hue of the beet became a vibrant royal purple.

“Now if I can just attach the beet to the proper arm without stopping the motion of the thingamajig,” Cornelis murmured.

His hand darted out so fast that I couldn’t say exactly what he had done.  However, the wonky motion of the multi-armed contrivance smoothed.  Gradually the machine slowed to a gentle rhythm.  I spotted the perfect amethyst, which only a moment before had been a pickled beet.

I had not seen the Green Fairy move, but he suddenly fluttered at my shoulder.  He made a few clicking sounds that seemed to be a grudging compliment to the alchemist’s skill.

Absinthe flew to the opened jar of pickled beets making tut tut noises until Cornelis put the lid back on the container.  Then in a rapid blur of motion the fairy grabbed the jar and put it back into the drawer.

Quickly he fluttered from the bridge to the submarine’s brass periscope.  Tiny paws made lightning fast adjustments to the crystal knobs on the apparatus.  Uttering a nonstop stream of grunts and chirps, Absinthe turned it this way and that, taking a 360 degree view of the surroundings. 

Abruptly the fairy fell silent.  He darted backward a pace, staring at the periscope.  Then he shrieked.

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

“Absinthe! What’s wrong?” Copper cried in concern as she hurried to the tiny creature.

The Green Fairy didn’t appear to be hurt in any way, so I felt puzzled but very anxious.

“Whatever is the matter with him?” I asked Cornelis.

The Dutchman seemed rooted to the spot where he stood.  Like me, he dreaded what might have upset the fairy to such a great extent.

“I don’t know,” Cornelis began.  “But I haven’t seen him this agitated since I tricked him into eating cold cereal.”

I didn’t move any closer to the fairy for fear that he would fart more of his ferociously fragrant fumes.  One false move and I knew from experience that I might startle him.

Cornelis gently moved the tiny fairy aside and looked through the periscope.  He drew back, frowning, eyes narrowed, and brow furrowed.  Then he looked again and shook his head slowly without taking his eyes away from the periscope.

The alchemist started whispering to the fairy.  Absinthe muttered a series of chirps, seeming to insist that his opinion was correct.  Cornelis whispered again and waved one arm emphatically.  Absinthe chirped once then widened his emerald eyes and screeched a warning.  Cornelis took a step backward, and raised his upturned palms, conceding the argument to the Green Fairy.

Finally the alchemist turned to me. 

“When yada— ahem…  That is, when that incantation worked itself into the spell I was crafting with the thingamajig,” Cornelis began.

“You mean when you accidentally spoke the incantation?” I couldn’t resist inserting.

Drebbel stamp

Cornelis pursed his lips. He narrowed his eyes and looked to one side.  The Dutchman refused to take my bait.

“Ahem!” He cleared his throat pointedly.  “As I was saying.  Something went wrong with the thingamajig, and we have been transported.”

“Isn’t that good?  That woman with the hydrofoil and that vicious trained chimpanzee were right on our heels,” I reminded him.

“Well, yes.  Yes, I suppose it is at that!” Cornelis stammered but Absinthe hissed a warning at him.  “All right, all right,” he said to the fairy and then turned back to me.  “I admit that the mechanics of the situation are beyond me.”

“What are you trying to say Cornelis?” I insisted worriedly.  “Where are we?  Oh no-no-no…  You are not telling me that we’ve moved through time are you?  Or  that we’ve not just gone under water, but under-ground, like Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Vril, the Power of the Coming Race or some other science fictional story?” I asked, my eyes widening.

“No Felicity.  We haven’t fallen in with some sort of superior subterranean master race,” Cornelis said drolly.  “And it’s not so much about where we are, or even when we are.  And we haven’t gone to some other planet.  Or at least, not exactly,” he said incomprehensibly and climbed the ladder to the hatch.

“Well, don’t just stand there,” the alchemist said.  “It’s much easier to show you than it is to tell you.”

He turned the brass wheel that opened the submarine’s hatch.  Copper scurried up the ladder behind Cornelis. 

I took a look over my shoulder at Absinthe, hoping for some hint that would help me understand what was happening, for some pearl of wisdom. 

The fairy plopped down on the desktop of the bridge in a dejected seeming way.  His wings settled on his back.  He looked at me and gave a resigned sounding chirp.  Then he started eating the rest of the pickled beets.  They were clearly his comfort food.

“We’ve run aground,” Cornelis said in concern.

Copper’s musical voice came down to me when she beheld to landscape before her.  “It’s an amethyst world!” she exclaimed.

I couldn’t imagine what she meant.  So, I climbed up to the opening.  My first concern was that the people from the hydrofoil would be there to attack us, but there wasn’t another soul in sight.  I looked all around, speechless.

mauve-purple_sunset-945435_1920

Pixabay

Everything was purple.  It reminded me me of a pair of spectacles with rose-colored lenses that Cornelis once gave me – except I saw a landscape in purple, rather than pink.

I tensed as the vegetation parted about fifty feet away.  A figure wearing an all purple three piece suit with a starched collar and a bowler hat emerged.  The hat and the suit made me think of Ignatius Belle, but I was also reminded of the portrait of Calvin Hixon.  However, the person’s gait was nothing like either man.  He moved awkwardly in a loping walk.

The figure began to make motions with his hands, repeating a pattern of movements that I had seen before.  As he came closer the three of us gaped in astonishment.  It was no man.  Rather it was a very large purple chimp wearing a suit, hat, and spectacles.  He made the motions again.  Sign language.

Copper, the alchemist, and I spoke in chorus, “Daddy?”

Reading Ape purple

***

If you don’t remember the significance of a chimpanzee signing “Daddy” then think back to Chapter 9.

Real World Notes

Dry cereal.  George H. Hoyt created Wheatena circa 1879.  Back then, the most often purchased cereals were cracked wheat, oatmeal, and cerealine.  Retailers usually bought cereal in barrel lots, and scooped it out to sell by the pound to customers.  Hoyt, who had found a distinctive process of preparing wheat for cereal, sold his cereal in boxes.  This offered consumers a more sanitary and consumer-friendly option.

Victorian Vernacular

Mad as hops:  Excitable.

Mafficking:  Getting rowdy in the streets

Meater:  Coward.

Meathook:  A hand (preferably used while yelling at the police to stop dragging you to the hoosegow — “Get yer meathooks off me!”).

Mutton Shunter:  The police

***

Betcha didn’t see that coming!  What have our characters gotten themselves into this time?  

Next time, the “See what happens when Broken Knife, Sea Urchin, and Potable Water drive the story.  We’ll find out more about the “amethyst world” and the chimpanzee in a three piece suit. 

I’ll be looking for you at the submarine port next time! 

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.

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Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 26.2

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Steampunk Fish Eugene_Ivanov_2439

Eugene Ivanov, Wikimedia Commons

This episode finishes the three random things from Donna Parker at Yadadarcyyada.  Be sure to visit her blog and look around, read and enjoy.  

The #submarine is at our port.  It’s rising to the surface now, and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 25  Cornelis remarked about about other realities. Dash my wig, but that has me worried!  The alchemist intended to work an extremely dangerous spell.  Absinthe, the Green Fairy used his own magic to create a map that showed Calvin Hixon’s location on a starry map. Or at least that’s what everyone seemed to think. 

Chapter 26.1   When we left our heroes, Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine had managed to go underneath the ack ruffians who were hunting for them.  The alchemist’s shocked reaction to that news upset the Green Fairy, how chirped a warning.  I hope Absinthe doesn’t produce another potent poot and get them all boiled owl…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

26.2 — Backgammon

baby skunk 2

Wikimedia Commons

Our bricky little girl wasn’t the only one who was concerned about the Wongs.  We didn’t know much of anything about the villains who pursued us.  There were three different groups.  They might be working together, but I believed they acted independently.  Cornelis and I assumed that their intention was to abduct Copper and use her as leverage against her missing father.

However, “Daddy” or Calvin Hixon was also an unknown quantity.  We knew Copper loved her father dearly.  Yet the only things we were certain of were that he was a widower, a genius inventor, and he was in dire financial straits.

Regardless, our foes had been closing in on us.  They had used trained ravens, and at least one scent tracking chimp track us.  When we parted company with Alastair and his cousin Victoria, the big gong at their home rang out a warning.  I was as worried as was Copper.  Cornelis, on the other hand, seemed overconfident that the Wongs would be fine.

“What!  They’re right behind us?  Do you mean to say we’ve gone under the hydrofoil and gotten ahead of them without even knowing they were there?” Cornelis exclaimed.

The Green Fairy gave an indignant and shrill warning.

Cornelis caught himself.  He quickly modulated his tone, and tried to calm the skunk-like fairy before he could spray that intoxicating vapor of highly concentrated absinthe.  Fortunately Copper had a soothing effect on the creature.  She gently stroked his tiny head with a finger and murmured compliments to him, saying he was lovely and brilliant. 

Absinthe hopped onto her shoulder and snuggled down under her ear, making an occasional snuffling sound.  I heaved a sigh of relief.

“I need to create a very good illusion to keep them from seeing us,” Cornelis began.  “I think a mirror trick will suffice.  A few illusory reflections so that it seems to them that they see the route ahead, but they do not see us.  But we’ll have to be absolutely quiet,” he said emphatically. 

The muscles in my face tightened until I thought I would twitch.  Quiet?  Absolutely quiet?  As I looked at Cornelis and Copper that requirement seemed impossible to meet.

Jean Beraud_The Backgammon Players

The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935, Wikimedia Commons (Note the glass of absinthe.)

“This illusion will amplify any sounds we make,” he stressed.  “We’ll have to maintain silence for quite some time.  I suppose that will be easier if we occupy ourselves somehow.  Ah!  I know,” he said as he hurried to open a drawer in the submarine’s desk-like bridge.

He looked rather pleased with himself as he produced a backgammon set. 

“Unfortunately Cornelis, I don’t know how to play,” I told him.  “And teaching me will defeat the purpose of being quiet.  Oh, but you have some books over there,” I said noticing a bookcase in the corner.  “You and Copper can play while I read,” I suggested, knowing that the girl would enjoy the act of pretending to play even though it was unlikely that she actually knew the rules of backgammon.

“Yes, I want to play,” Copper quickly confirmed my guess.  “Absinthe and I can play against you Cornelis,” she offered, and the Green Fairy chirped and settled on the backgammon board the Dutchman had just opened.

Absinthe seemed to guide Copper in arranging the pieces on the game board.  Meanwhile Cornelis went to the second of two perpetual motion clocks.  It was a good deal larger than the first machine.  He gave the thing that looked like a cast iron finial another toss and then twisted it onto the base of the clock.  It began to spin slowly.  It had a rather hypnotic effect.  Looking at it made me queasy again.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as Felicity

A green aura surrounded Cornelis.  From out of nowhere the alchemist produced postcard sized images of the waterway, the shorelines, and the sky.  He placed one hand just above the images and rested the other on the crystal dome of the perpetual motion clock.  As the glow around him intensified, one by one the images disappeared and then reappeared inside the dome.

“Wow!” Copper sighed and the Green Fairy made a soft shushing sound.

“I’m sure it’s important that we don’t interrupt Cornelis,” I whispered to Copper.

“Oh really?” Cornelis muttered drolly.  “My skills aren’t that limited.  Do go about setting up the game.  I’ll join you shortly.  Felicity, select a book and relax.”

I glanced at the titles.  Everything on the first three shelves was dry and scientific sounding.  When I looked at the fourth shelf I couldn’t suppress a chuckle.  The Dutchman had a small collection of Jane Austen books.

“You’ve an Austen collection?” I murmured in surprise.

“Yes.  I met the lady and several other authors.  She gave me the books herself.  You’ll see an inscription inside each, written in her own hand,” Cornelis said in a rather smug tone.

I was impressed. Of course, I couldn’t let Cornelis see that, so I hid my face behind a book.

Pride and Prejudice,” I commented.  “My favorite,” I said, silently reading the brief note from the author to her “dear friend, Cornelis Drebbel.”

A tinge of envy wriggled across my thoughts, but quickly departed.  I understood the things the alchemist endured.  Or I came as close to comprehending his life as a normal person could.  I could not feel envy of jealousy toward him for more than a moment.

“What’s it about?” Copper asked, moving to my side, apparently already bored with waiting for the game of backgammon to begin.

jane austen by sister cassandra 1804

Watercolor of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra, 1804

“Shall I read a bit to you while Cornelis sets up his trick?” I asked the girl and she nodded.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

Abruptly I paused.  The term “rightful property” was trying to work past my headache and connect itself to a half-formed suspicion about Calvin Hixon.  However, Copper interrupted my thought and it was absorbed into my bottle ache.

“So is it about a man getting married?” Copper asked when I paused, causing me to lose that train of thought. 

I gave my head half a shake to clear the jumbled notions inside it, and immediately regretted the motion.  “It’s about a young woman, and yes it’s also about a man.  Fitzwilliam Darcy,” I told her with a smile as I anticipated enjoying a favorite story.

Copper looked intrigued. 

“Is he handsome?” she wanted to know.

“Oh yes,” I answered.  “Darcy is noble and handsome, and smart too.”

Victorian courting

Wikimedia Commons, altered image

I saw Cornelis emitting a bright green aura as he worked his spell.  He paused in making some very intricate looking adjustments to the perpetual motion machine.  The alchemist looked at us and rolled his eyes heavenward.

“Oh yada Darcy yada,” he said derisively, cutting off my praise of the character.

Absinthe suddenly looked up when the alchemist made the comment.  The fairy’s emerald eyes grew large and he shrieked.

“Oh bugger,” Cornelis said in frustration as the tiny fairy flew over to him making a series of very irate noises.

“What’s wrong with our tiny friend?” I asked worriedly though my voice came out in a sardonic tone.

Yadadarcyyada is an incantation.  I can’t believe I just said it aloud.  If you hadn’t picked that blasted book it would never have happened,” Cornelis complained and the Green Fairy screamed again when Cornelis said the magic word a second time.

The submarine started to vibrate.  It shuddered every few seconds.  Everything around me looked like reflections from a fun-house mirror ― stretching, expanding, contracting, becoming triplicate reflections.

It was more than my upset stomach could take.  Apparently the nausea was plain on my face.  Absinthe gave a sputtering grunt and a wastebasket appeared in my hands, just in time for me to retch into the container.  I had the sneaking suspicion the tiny fairy was more concerned about keeping his submarine home clean than worried about my upset stomach.

brass alarm clocks distorted pixabay time-2801595_1280

Pixabay

Cornelis was yelling something about shifting of “the in to the out” and tucking a bit from this reality into the next — just as he had mentioned before.

The submarine began to spin.  I lost my balance and landed on the floor.  Copper fell down next to me, and I held the child with one arm and used my other arm to deflect books that fell down from the shelves and onto us.

Absinthe seemed to realize Copper was in distress.  He fluttered down to us, and landed on Copper’s shoulder.  Then he wrapped his tail protectively around her head.  A bright green light formed around us.  When I touched the aura, I was surprised to find it felt as hard as steel.

As the world around me whirled, I saw Cornelis frantically working with the perpetual motion machine and the magical finial.  The submarine whirled so fast that everything became a blur.  

As the force and pressure created by the maniacally spinning vessel became too great, darkness overtook me.

***

Perpetual Motion Clock Photo

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Real World Notes

Perpetual Motion Machines.  Drawings of perpetual motion machines date back to the 13th century, with French master mason and architect, Villard de Honnecourt.  Leonardo da Vinci also made a number of drawings of devices he hoped would make free energy.

Thomas Tymme, a writer of the era, described Cornelis Drebbel as having opened Nature’s secret closet.  Indeed, that seemed to be the widely held perception of Drebbel at the time.  In 1598 Drebbel obtained a patent for a sort of perpetual clockwork.  By (around) 1604 he had made a “perpetuum mobile,” entertaining and astonishing the court of King James I of England.

Victorian Vernacular

Inexpressibles:  Trousers.

Kill the canary:  Shirk work.

Kruger-spoof:  Lying.  Promises made but not kept.

Listening to myself:  Thinking.

***

What has the unintended incantation “Yadadarcyyada” done to the submarine and its passengers?  Might the magical effect extend beyond the submarine?  Will it be enough to allow our friends to get away from the villains on the hydrofoil?

Next time, the “See what happens when Corded Stays, Pickled Beets, and Cold Cereal drive the story.  I’ll be looking for you at the submarine port! 

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

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.

 

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 21

Pride Predjudice

 

Thanks for waiting 
Welcome back everyone.  I’m so glad you waited for the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era.

The “three things” for this chapter are from Donna Parker at Yadadarcyyada – Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure, a truly wonderful blog. In Donna’s posts she shares her thoughts on a variety of things.  In one post she’ll have me laughing so hard my stomach hurts, and with an another I’ll be climbing up onto the soapbox with her as she gives voice to her feelings.  So be sure to visit her blog and look around, read a few posts.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

The “things” Donna sent created a new twist for the story.  I really wasn’t expecting it — but you’ll have to read on to learn what that is!

Now the locomotive is back on track, so without further ado, I present Episode-21.

From last time…

“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.

“I don’t like the sound of that.  You know full well how often your tricks go awry,” I warned him.

21.  Ginger Beer, Cast Iron Finial, Backgammon

Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine traveled quite smoothly, I was relieved to note.  After having been inebriated by the vapors of Absinthe the startled Green Fairy, I was feeling queasy.  So I had worried about travel on — or rather under water.

Ginger Beer 3To my astonishment, the tiny skunk-like fairy led me to a bottle of ginger beer.  With a sharp pop, Cornelis suddenly appeared at my elbow.

“Where did you run off to?” I asked, referring to the fact that a moment before the alchemist wasn’t there.

“Good idea, Absinthe,” he told the fluttering fairy, but ignored my question.  “Do try and drink it, Felicity.  It will help settle your stomach.”

Cornelis absently tossed what looked like a cast iron finial.  I raised my eyebrows, silently prompting him for an answer.

“I went to get this,” he said, giving the ornament another toss.

I tried to look at the thing, but Cornelis gave it a spin when he threw it.  Several strands of iron reached up and twisted to come together at the tip making an open teardrop shape.  Those twisted strips combined with the spin Cornelis gave his throw, made the shape seem to shift in an odd way as it went up and down with his tosses.  I thought my stomach would lose its contents.

Absinthe glided down for a closer look at the finial.  Then the Green Fairy gave a series of discontent sounding grunts at Cornelis.  Apparently he didn’t like the finial to be tossed around.

“Oh, Absinthe.  Don’t get testy,” the alchemist told the fairy with as his mouth twisted in a derisive way.  “No harm will come to it.  Besides, it helps charge it.”

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis Drebbel

“Why did you need a bedpost finial?” I wanted to know, despite another nauseous lurch from my stomach.

“This is no ordinary piece of cast iron,” Cornelis explained.  “At least it is not any more.  Once it crowned one of the posts of my bed.  You see, many of my ideas come to me as I sleep.  For some reason this particular finial gradually took on unexpected properties, although the other three did not,” the Dutchman said with a shrug.  “I thought we might use it to help the submarine over the shallow places.”

The Green Fairy sniffed delicately at the finial, or whatever it was.  Then he fluttered back to the ginger beer and chirped at me.  As I took the proffered bottle, I gave the Dutchman a contemptuous look.

“Have you no shame, Cornelis?  You could at least pretend to have a hangover,” I complained.

“As I have no real stomach, I don’t tend to digestive upsets,” the alchemist explained merrily.  “But as you know, my skull does exist in this world.  So I can get miserable headaches.”

“And head colds!” Copper chimed in, and giggled over the magical results of Cornelis sneezing when he and I were afflicted with that ailment.

The little skunk-like fairy snuffled and grunted in a way that sounded a lot like chuckling.  I gathered that he had also witnessed the alchemist under the influence of a head cold.

Copper

Copper

Copper was giggling so hard it was difficult to understand her words, but the fairy seemed to know what she said.  The only words I could pick out from the jumble of chortles were frogs and pancakes.

“You don’t act as though you have any sort of headache now,” I said, unwilling to laugh at the memory that so amused Copper, as I was feeling a bit put upon.

Cornelis chuckled.  “I developed a tolerance to Absinthe’s frightened flatulence.  When he and I first met, I startled him many times.  One begins to get used to the effect,” he said.

As I sipped the ginger beer I gave Cornelis an arch look.  I wondered if he may have deliberately “startled” Absinthe on more than one occasion, to cause him to produce those potent poots.  The Green Fairy wrinkled up his pointed nose and made a grumbling sound at Cornelis that led me to believe my assumption was correct.

A pinging sound interrupted the conversation.  It came from that multi-armed machine.  Its limbs shifted.  Those capped with blue and green gems lifted and spun while the arms adorned with warm colored jewels lowered unmoving.

“We’ve come to a shallow area,” Cornelis commented moving toward the device.  “Umm…” he pondered.  “The water is deeper than I expected.  We should be able to navigate it without much assistance.  However, if anyone should look, we will be easily spotted,” he added.  “Absinthe, have we caught up with any of those three groups yet?”

The Green Fairy fluttered to one of the two perpetual motion machines.  The glass dome filled with green fog.  After a moment the haze cleared.  A blurry figure lurched and bobbed.  When it came into focus I saw that it was the hydrofoil!  I saw the big chimpanzee jumping around and the woman who commanded that small group.  I tried hard to get a look at her face, but the image was too small.  She again wore rain gear, so I couldn’t even make out her figure to help me ascertain her identity.

Forlanini hydrofoil

The Dutchman looked uncertain.  “Absinthe, perhaps we should slow down.  We don’t want to get too close to them,” Cornelis said.

Absinthe chirped then made a tut-tut sound.  That worried me.  Surely we hadn’t…

“What!  They’re right behind us?  Do you mean to say we’ve gone under the hydrofoil and gotten ahead of them without even knowing they were there?” Cornelis exclaimed and the Green Fairy gave an indignant shrill warning.

Cornelis caught himself and quickly tried to calm the skunk-like fairy before he could spray that intoxicating vapor of highly concentrated absinthe.  Fortunately Copper had a soothing effect on the creature as she gently stroked his tiny head with a finger and murmured compliments to him.  Absinthe hopped onto her shoulder and snuggled down under her ear, making an occasional snuffling sound.  I heaved a sigh of relief.

“I need to create a very good illusion to keep them from seeing us,” Cornelis began.  “I think a mirror trick will suffice.  A few illusory reflections so that it seems to them that they see the route ahead, but they do not see us.  But we’ll have to be absolutely quiet,” he said emphatically.  “This illusion will amplify any sounds we make,” he stressed.  “We’ll have to maintain silence for quite some time.  I suppose that will be easier if we occupy ourselves somehow.  Ah!  I know,” he said as he hurried to open a drawer in the submarine’s desk-like bridge.

The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935

The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935

He looked rather pleased with himself as he produced a backgammon set.

“Unfortunately Cornelis, I don’t know how to play,” I told him.  “And teaching me will defeat the purpose of being quiet.  Oh, but you have some books over there,” I said noticing a bookcase in the corner.  “You and Copper can play while I read,” I suggested, knowing that the girl would enjoy the act of pretending to play even though it was unlikely that she actually knew the rules of backgammon.

“Yes, I want to play,” Copper added quickly.  “Absinthe and I can play against you Cornelis,” she offered, and the Green Fairy chirped and settled on the backgammon board the Dutchman had just opened.

Absinthe seemed to guide Copper in arranging the pieces on the game board.  Meanwhile Cornelis went to the second of two perpetual motion clocks.  It was a good deal larger than the first machine.  He gave the thing that looked like a cast iron finial another toss and then twisted it onto the base of the clock.  It began to spin slowly.  It had a rather hypnotic effect.  Looking at it made me queasy again.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as Felicity, the Woman in Trousers

A green aura surrounded Cornelis.  From out of nowhere the alchemist produced postcard sized images of the waterway, the shorelines, and the sky.  He placed one hand just above the images and rested the other on the crystal dome of the perpetual motion clock.  As the glow around him intensified, one by one the images disappeared and then reappeared inside the dome.

“Wow!” Copper sighed and the Green Fairy made a soft shushing sound.

“I’m sure it’s important that we don’t interrupt Cornelis,” I whispered to Copper.

“Oh really?” Cornelis muttered drolly.  “My skills aren’t that limited.  Do go about setting up the game.  I’ll join you shortly.  Felicity, select a book and relax.”

I glanced at the titles.  Everything on the first three shelves was dry and scientific sounding.  When I looked at the fourth shelf I couldn’t suppress a chuckle.  The Dutchman had a small collection of Jane Austen books.

“You’ve an Austen collection?” I murmured in surprise.

“Yes.  I met the lady and several other authors.  She gave me the books.  You’ll see an inscription inside each, written in her own hand,” Cornelis said in a rather smug tone.

I was impressed.  “Pride and Prejudice,” I commented.  “My favorite,” I said reading the brief note from the author to her “dear friend, Cornelis Drebbel.”

“What’s it about?” Copper asked, moving to my side, apparently already bored with waiting for Cornelis to begin the game of backgammon.

“Shall I read a bit to you while Cornelis sets up his trick?” I asked the girl and she nodded.

Green fairy skunk“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

Abruptly I paused.  The term “rightful property” was trying to work past my headache and connect itself to a half formed suspicion about Calvin Hixon.  However, Copper interrupted my thought and it was absorbed into my aching head.

“So is it about a man getting married?” Copper asked when I paused, causing me to lose that train of thought.

I gave my head half a shake to clear the jumbled notions inside it, and immediately regretted the motion.  “It’s about a young woman, and yes it’s also about a man.  Fitzwilliam Darcy,” I told her with a smile as I anticipated enjoying a favorite story.

Copper looked intrigued.  “Is he handsome?” she wanted to know.

“Oh yes,” I answered.  “Darcy is noble and handsome, and smart too.”Victorian courting

I saw Cornelis emitting a bright green aura as he worked his spell.  He paused in making some very intricate looking adjustments to the perpetual motion machine.  The alchemist looked at us and rolled his eyes heavenward.

“Oh yada Darcy yada,” he said derisively, cutting off my praise of the character.

Absinthe suddenly looked up when the alchemist made the comment.  The fairy’s emerald eyes grew large and he shrieked.

“Oh bugger,” Cornelis said in frustration as the tiny fairy flew over to him making a series of very irate noises.

“What’s wrong with our tiny friend?” I asked worriedly though my voice came out in a sardonic tone.

Yadadarcyyada is an incantation.  I can’t believe I just said it aloud.  If you hadn’t picked that blasted book it would never have happened,” Cornelis complained and the Green Fairy screamed again when Cornelis said the magic word a second time.

The submarine started to vibrate.  It shuddered every few seconds.  Everything around me looked like reflections from a funhouse mirror; stretching, expanding, contracting, becoming triplicate reflections.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

It was more than my upset stomach could take.  Apparently the nausea was plain on my face.  Absinthe gave a sputtering grunt and a wastebasket appeared in my hands, just in time for me to retch into the container.  I had the sneaking suspicion the tiny fairy was more concerned about keeping his submarine home clean — that he wasn’t so worried about my upset stomach.

Cornelis was yelling something about shifting of “the in to the out” and tucking a bit from this reality into the next — just as he had mentioned before.

The submarine began to spin.  I lost my balance and landed on the floor.  Copper fell down next to me, and I held the child with one arm and used my other arm to deflect books that fell down from the shelves and onto us.

Absinthe seemed to realize Copper was in distress.  He fluttered down to us, and landed on Copper’s shoulder.  Then he wrapped his tail protectively around her head.  A bright green light formed around us.  When I touched the aura, I was surprised to find it felt as hard as steel.

As the world around me whirled I saw Cornelis frantically working with the perpetual motion machine and the magical finial.  The submarine whirled so fast that everything became a blur.  As the force and pressure created by the maniacally spinning vessel became too great, darkness overtook me.

***

What has the unintended incantation “Yadadarcyyada” done to the submarine and its passengers?  Might the magical effect extend beyond the submarine?  Will it be enough to allow our friends to get away from the villains on the hydrofoil?  Be at the train station next time!

Now here is the recipe for Episode-21.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Ginger Beer,

A Probiotic Summer Drink

Ginger Beer 2

Photo and recipe credit:  A Real Food Lover.com

 

Next weekend the three things are from the wonderful R.C. in the Land of Enchantment.  See where Pickled Beets, Corded Stays, and Cold Cereal take our characters.

 

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.