Cover Reveal! Murder at the Bijou – Three Ingredients-I

 

Bijou front only 2

Ta-dah!  I’ve finally finished the technical aspects of book-izing the second of my blog serials.

About the Novel

Murder at the Bijou – Three Ingredients-I is the second of my “three things” style of blog serials.  As with the first serial, The Three Things Serial, a Little 1920s Story, it was a spontaneously written (“pantser”) serial.  Everything in it — characters, setting, plot, was driven by things left by readers of the blog, episode by episode.  However, this time the things were “ingredients” since it is a culinary mystery!  

Pip returns as narrator.  She has new friends for this adventure, as she has been “sentenced” to live with her grandmother until she learns to become a passable cook.  As you can imagine, that does not sit well with our flapper. (Yes, I still need to write a blurb…)

Book Launch?

My “real job” doesn’t allow me time for marketing or promotions.  I limit that to this blog.  So you don’t see much fanfare with my books.  However, I want to ask… 

Is anyone interested in hosting me for a book launch post?

If so, please leave a comment to let me know.  I’ll write something to be posted at your blog.  Any takers?  

See you Friday, or whenever you can visit this weekend, for the next episode of the current serial, Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam. Until then, hugs on the wing!

 

Copyright © 2017 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.

 

The Characters, Murder at the Bijou

It’s hump day and I needed a boost to get me through the rest of the week.  I avoid midweek posts, but I thought this might give me the lift I need.  When this song popped into my head (again) I knew I had to share.  Because I’m getting ready, ready, ready for the takeoff!  What I mean is the launch of Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.

It’s a Roaring Twenties culinary mystery.  It was spontaneously written as a “pantser” serial here at this blog.  Everything, event, and character in the story was inspired by things or ingredients the readers of this blog sent.  Now, as I’m closer and closer to takeoff I wanted to show you my concept of the characters.

Studebaker blue 1920s

Cast of Characters

PipBlue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer


The Three Things
gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody), the narrator of both story-lines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Phanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Phanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyPhanny Irene Peabody.  Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Irene, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  

I never found a photo that seemed like Phanny to me.  I only had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, in a photo of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

Long time followers of this blog will recall that there are two Alastair Wongs.  The first one  you meet is the younger. Later, in Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, you meet his grandfather, Alastair Wong the elder.

I had a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence during the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, when I started looking for character images, I wasn’t sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them anyway.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou Theatre. That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later.  They were minor characters, but necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  Maybe he was not 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  However, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  You recently saw his back-story in the vignette, Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Phanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adWe also meet Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloging evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeOur veterinarian is Vincent Vale.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Phanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Phanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeThe pantser writing of this serial also brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Go figure, right?  That’s just how my brain works. Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced halfway into the story.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtA reader wasn’t thinking when leaving ingredients for me. I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, the spontaneity unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Her story line continued into the next serial.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced late in the story.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless, faceless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

So there you have it — most of the characters for the soon to be “book-ized” Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!

Copyright © 2017 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Pip Sees a Pug – in the Kitchen

Note:  I’m having persistent computer>Internet problems.  So my availability to return comments may be limited.3-things-cover_3-2016

Some of you have already seen this post at Suzanne’s blog, A Pug in the Kitchen.  However,  I wanted to share it here too.  I have done a few collaborative blog posts with her, and we have a ton of fun.  Thanks for doing another joint post with me, Suzanne! 

When Suzanne said she could do a dog treat recipe, I thought of my character, Wriggles. What serendipity that the pug character was inspired by Suzanne’s blog!

However, first I want to share the wonderful recipe Suzanne provided, and her ever so kind introduction.  Homemade dog treats — Percy is one lucky pug!  I’m going to hand this over to Suzanne (and Percy) at A Pug in the Kitchen.  Take it away Suzanne!

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I LOVE collaborating with Teagan on a blog post, it’s fun and I truly love her work.  The recipe for dog treats is a copy cat version of Sherman’s Barkery’s Cheesy Num Nums. Percy gives these two paws up.  That says a lot since he is Mr. Picky!  There are only a few simple ingredients.  They are super easy to make and are a great treat for our fur kids.

Blogging should be fun otherwise it becomes work, and integrating Teagan’s whimsical and delicious writing with my food is exactly that. Thank you Teagan for the story, giving me a creative boost and making blogging fun!!

Copy Cat Cheesy Num Nums

Makes approximately 2 dozen depending on size

1 cup oat flour

1 cup barley flour

1/2 cup whole oats

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup +1 tbs spring water

Mix all the ingredients together until it is a cohesive dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Roll or press the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into the shape desired. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top of each cookie and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Thank you, thank you Suzanne!  You know… those dog treats look awfully good.  I wonder if I could talk Percy out of a few…  Probably not!

Wriggles was introduced in the third of my blog serials, A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-II.  In that story he was a new dog for the character, Arabella Wong.  However, this vignette takes place prior to that story.  So I made Wriggles a puppy and gave him a different owner.

Only the first serial is available as a novella right now, The Three Things Serial, a Little 1920s Story.  I’m still on track for springtime “book-ization” of  Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients I.

Anyhow, once again here’s a story from the Three Things “universe” with Pip as narrator.  Did you ever get the feeling you’d have to be “hit over the head” with something before you finally got the message?  Well, that was true of Pip.  I hope everyone enjoys this tidbit.

Pip Sees a Pug… or Four

“Floyd?  Hey, Floyd!”

That was definitely him.  The last time I saw Floyd — which was also basically the first time I saw him, the police were putting him into the paddy wagon when they arrested some bootleggers.  Yet there he was on a side street in Savannah.

Maybe it had all been a mistake, I thought hopefully. 

After all, Floyd was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then I remembered how rude he had been to me and Alastair Wong.  He didn’t seem sexy at all before that thought even got halfway across my noodle.  However, he heard me and looked over his shoulder.Sheik of Araby

“Well now, aren’t you a choice bit of calico,” Floyd said as he turned to walk toward me.  “Oh, it’s you!  You’re a real bearcat, but you’re bad luck,” he said.  “Go chase yourself,” he told me and spat on the sidewalk.

I know.  I should have ran the other way and not even called out to him.  However, in the small Florida town where I grew up, if you saw somebody you recognized, then you said hello to them.  I don’t remember what I meant to say to Floyd when he started to continue on his way, but I opened my mouth to speak, taking a step toward him.

Floyd shoved me and kept going.  Unfortunately I also kept going — backward.  I slipped, fell, and cracked my head.

pugs-4-smoking-vintage

I think I was actually unconscious for a minute or two.  Then I felt something wet wiped across my face.  When I opened my eyes, the world was a spinning blur.  I saw a little pug dog.  It licked my face.  It was wearing a top hat and bow-tie, and smoking a cigar.  As I gazed at it uncomprehendingly I realized there were four of them.  However, when I held my hand out toward the dog, I seemed to have an uncountable number of fingers.  So I figured there was only one dog.  I wasn’t sure what to think about the hat and cigar.

The sound of a police whistle prompted me to try and sit up.  There hadn’t been any “mistake” about the coppers hauling in Floyd.  He had probably escaped and they were after him again.  A voice intruded on my thoughts.  I realized it had been trying to get my attention for a while, but it was hard to hear it over the bells ringing inside my head.

“Huh?” I mumbled, looking for the source of the voice.

“Young lady are you hurt?” asked what must have been the world’s oldest woman.

Her face was so covered in creases and crow’s feet that it was impossible to imagine what she must have looked like in youth or even in middle age.  Even so, bright eyes shown sharply from between the wrinkles.pugs-2-vintage

Despite her fragile appearance she took my arm in a vice like grip.  She put her walking-stick in my hand.

“Wriggles, get off the poor thing!  That’s a good boy.  I’m sorry, he’s still a puppy.  Here dear.  Use my cane to help yourself up,” she said but proceeded to help me up with unexpected strength.

Once I was on my feet, if shakily so, I looked at the pug.  There was only one of him.  The hat and cigar were gone.  That much was a relief, but he still wore the bowtie.  It bothered me that I wasn’t sure whether or not the tie was really there.

Moments later I sat at the kitchen table in her tiny home.  It was a good thing she lived right around the corner.  I was dizzy and my head felt like it had gotten in the way of a sledgehammer.

A young boy “helped” us get inside her backdoor on the pretext of getting a cookie.  However, she gave him an errand.

“What’s your name, dear?” she asked me as she handed me a cup of tea. 1916-good-housekeeping-woman-tea-cup

I noticed the cup had been cracked and repaired.  The one she used for herself had a chip in the rim.

“Pi… Paisley Peabody,” I stammered, still shaken.

“Peabody?  Would you be kin to Phanny Peabody?”

“Yes ma’am.  That’s my granny.”

“Billy,” she addressed the little boy.  “Take another cookie and run down to Miss Phanny’s house.  Let her know her granddaughter is here.”

Billy’s eyes lit up at the prospect of helping.  Although the extra cookie didn’t hurt.  He took off like a rocket before I could protest.

“Yes ma’am, Miss Olive,” Billy exclaimed as he disappeared.

The pug, Wriggles barked as if he picked up and shared the boy’s excitement.  I reached down to pet him and the little dog wagged his tail so hard that his entire back half wagged along with it.  The woman handed him a treat which was gone before I got a good look at it.

studebaker1920_2

“Paisley, I know you’re from a small town,” Miss Olive began.  “You come from honest, trusting folk.  But in this day and age, a young lady alone has to be careful.  Now, you tell Miss Olive if that man did anything he shouldn’t, you hear?”

I shook my head and immediately wished I hadn’t.  “No.  I recognized him and just meant to say hello.  It would have been rude not to,” I replied and was rewarded with a smile.

The elderly woman patted my hand.  I put my nearly empty teacup on the table and thanked her.  Miss Olive took my cup and swirled the dregs looking at the contents curiously.

“You haven’t gotten off to the best start here in Savannah, have you Paisley?” she commented consolingly.  “But you will make good friends here,” she swirled the tea again and a smirk, a smile she seemed to try and suppress came to her lips.  “And you will have grand adventures.”

I heard the sound of Granny Phanny’s Model-T outside.  Wriggles lived up to his name as he yapped to make sure his lady knew she had company.  Miss Olive put the tea kettle back on the stove.  I felt comforted by the entire scene.  Safe.

The End

***

Thanks for visiting — from Suzanne and Percy, and from me too.  Mega hugs!

Copyright © 2017 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 13

I admit defeat…

Sassy segues sauntered away. Glib words have gotten up and gone.  So far I’ve drafted three beginnings for this post.  Then I saved them for another episode — they just won’t do for today. I’ve admitted to myself that I simply don’t know how to start.1865 Woman Doctor

That usually means I’m truly impressed with someone… and it is certainly true of the reader, blogger, physician, and and person who provided “three things” for Episode-13.  Yes, I said physician — so in the blogosphere she, understandably, uses the pseudonym Victo Dolore.  Since I find myself speechless, I’m taking the liberty of using a paragraph from her About page at Behind the White Coat… Beats a real human heart.

“I have been practicing for over ten years as a family practice physician. I started working on this blog as an outlet, a place for the honesty that I cannot indulge in elsewhere. Sometimes I have felt that I will explode with words…all of the words that I have had to leave unsaid…”

This time I’m giving you a couple of hints for something that will be revealed in the near future.  So I hope you’ll pay attention.

Thank you Victo, for the marvelous words (the three things), which have fueled the steam locomotive for another adventure.   All aboard!

13.  Crinoline, Lye Soap, Caterpillar

For a moment, I thought the hydrofoil would tip over when the very large chimpanzee bounded onto it.  Any doubts I’d had as to whether or not the commanding voice belonged to a woman dispersed.  The person who seemed to be in charge of the group stood abruptly as the big chimp ran toward the vessel.  When the chimpanzee’s landing threatened to overturn the craft, my mystery person made a series of sudden movements to regain balance.  A white crinoline was exposed.  It was certainly a woman.

Petticoat“Cornelis!” I hissed to get the alchemist’s attention.

Belatedly I realized he was doing something I shouldn’t try to interrupt.  His form shivered, wavered, and became translucent.  He was in two places at once.  I could see Cornelis, his posture, and if he faced me, his facial expressions.  However, I could not see what he beheld.  He gave me a vacant look, but he nodded to let me know he was paying attention.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize.  Do go ahead,” I told him, as I was sure he was checking on Ignatius Belle and our adversaries who followed the innkeeper on that hydrofoil.

While trying to gather my scattered patience I gazed absently into the heights of a tree that sheltered us.  Sunbeams filtered through the branches in a lazy way.  Copper followed my gaze.

“What’s that,” she asked, pointing at something amid the limbs.

It took me a moment to see what her keen eyes spotted.  “Ah.  Those are cocoons.  If the birds don’t eat them, one day they will be butterflies,” I said.

Copper

Copper

Copper told me she had learned about butterflies and cocoons from her last governess.  I remembered Hixon had let his daughter’s teacher go because he could no longer afford to pay her.  Copper had truly liked the woman.  That seemed sad to me; it was one more loss for the girl.

The alchemist wasn’t looking at us or paying attention to our conversation.  His mouth twitched to a half smile.  His unsteady image made me feel a bit queasy.  After a moment he turned and made eye contact with me.  The expression on his face suggested he’d just had an epiphany.  His countenance shifted from puzzled to doubtfully curious, to astonished.

“I have to check on something else,” he said, looking a bit stunned.

“Now?” I demanded.  “Take care not to sap all your strength,” I cautioned the Dutchman, aware that there was a limit to how long he could manage one of his tricks.

I knew the alchemist had to have some familiarity with a place before he could look in on it in that fashion.  He couldn’t read the minds of our antagonists, or psychically know where they were headed.  So did he see something on the hydrofoil that gave him new information?  Or had he deduced something that had escaped me?

1924 Little Dipper Champagne ad“Where are you going?” I wanted to know, but the Dutchman was intent on his mission and ignored me.

Cornelis winked out of my sight, but a second later I could see him, standing with his arms folded across his chest, looking up at something.  Something about his posture made me think he must be indoors.  He put a knuckle to his chin and tilted his head to one side, considering whatever he beheld.

“Cornelis, where are you?  What are you about?” I insisted, and he turned to face me with a devilish grin.

“Dutchman, if you aren’t completely honest with me, I swear I’ll wash your mouth out with lye soap!” I made the empty threat — I knew if I tried he’d just dissolve his human form and slip through my fingers, quite literally.

“Calm down, woman.  I’m not in the mood for a collie shangle with you just now,” he admonished, knowing full well that it annoyed me when he used slang that wasn’t even from his time.  “I’m at the Hixon estate,” he admitted.

“Surely not,” he murmured to himself with a slow shake of his head, and I knew he was not talking about my threat with the soap.  “I’ve just one more stop,” he spoke quickly before his translucent form wavered in a rough surge.Skull Victorian setting pink

Wherever Cornelis went next, he acted as though he searched for something.  First he leaned over a tabletop or perhaps a desk, riffling through papers.  Then he walked across the unseen room and opened invisible doors to look around in what I guessed was an armoire.

The alchemist put his fists on his hips and tapped a foot.  Suddenly he held up one finger and made an “ah-ha” noise.  He reached upward with both hands as if moving something on a wall, and then he placed the thing on the floor.  He turned back and put one hand on what must be a wall, and leaned his head against it.  I wondered if he was trying to hear a conversation in the next room.

After a moment he smiled broadly, turned his back to me and took some items out of the wall.  He also searched through those things and read some papers.  My patience wore thin and I called his name sharply.  I could tell he was in a mood and would not cooperate with me, especially if I was angry.  I closed my eyes and counted to ten.

A little electric shock stung the back of my neck.  My eyes popped open as I shouted my displeasure at the shock.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Don’t have a blooming fit,” he said in a smug tone and acted as if he had done absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

“Cornelis, modern slang does not suit you.  Now, did you find out who the woman on the hydrofoil is?” I asked.

“What?” he replied, looking as if my question was the last one he expected.  “Oh, that.  No.  I was suddenly curious about something, and had to look into it,” he commented with a wave of his hand to dismiss the subject.

I gave a sputtering sigh of frustration.  There was no talking to the man when he got into one of his moods.

“Anyone would think you’d become the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you ask such questions,” the Dutchman grumbled.

“That’s not so,” I countered.  “Why you’re more like the caterpillar, being all vague.”Vintage Alice Wonderland Caterpillar

Copper watched the exchange between us interestedly.  Cornelis stepped over to the girl.  His manner changed immediately and she smiled up at him.  Copper really did bring out the best in the Dutchman.

“She acts like she has caterpillars in her knickers,” he whispered to Copper, but it was easily loud enough for me to hear.

Cornelis winked and sat down on the ground next to Copper.  She asked what he had been doing, eyes still wide with amazement at his previously transparent form.

“I went to your house,” Cornelis said and the girl’s eyes took on a wistful but concerned expression.  “Don’t worry.  Everything is fine there,” he assured her.  “That nice portrait of your father in the entry hall?” he began causing Copper to nod that she knew the one he meant.  “Do you know when it was painted?  How old were you when it was done?”

I could not imagine what Cornelis had in mind with his behavior or those questions.  I began to wonder if after hundreds of years in his altered state, perhaps his mental faculties were breaking down.  Unless he was half deranged in the beginning — from some of the things he said, that was entirely possible.  However, it had always been my belief that the man was simply incredibly annoying.

“I wasn’t any age,” Copper answered, making me believe the child was a match for his odd way of thinking.Copper curious w-green

Good lord, was I going to have to deal with two evasive, obstinate personalities like the Dutchman? I wondered.  What would Copper be like as a teenager?

“Daddy said I wasn’t even a gleam in his eye when the portrait was painted,” she continued and Cornelis laughed heartily.

Somehow I had the feeling I was missing something.  I had a hunch the alchemist had figured out something he wasn’t ready to disclose.  That probably meant he had a shadow of a doubt about his deduction.

But what about Copper?  I got the feeling that Cornelis suspected the girl knew something that perhaps she was not entirely aware of herself.

My impatience got the better of me and I broke into their playful conversation.  “Cornelis, did you see Ignatius?  Is he safe?” I interrupted.

By the twist of the Dutchman’s mouth, I could tell that he still did not trust the tall innkeeper.Sm Steamboat

“I don’t think you need worry about Belle.  He turned his paddle steamer down a small tributary to the river.  There it quickly narrows and becomes marshy.  The last time I saw him he had anchored the steamer and taken to a small punt boat, poling it out of sight.  Those snaking creeks and streams could lead anywhere.  That ape might be able to follow him, but the men cannot.  And that’s if they even spot the right creek.  There are countless waterways in that area,” Cornelis described the escape of Ignatius Belle.

Abruptly my shoulders relaxed and I took a deep breath.  I hadn’t realized I had been so worried about Ignatius.

“Oh my,” Cornelis said drolly.  “Were you truly so concerned?  Anyone would think you were smitten by the man.  Well, I do admit his hair has quite fine coppery highlights when the sun hits it,” he admitted with a sardonic tone and a roll of his eyes.Angel Statue male moss

For the most part, whenever I had seen Ignatius he had worn his bowler hat, or he had been indoors.  Then I thought of an image of him that was so compelling I had kept it shut out, because I didn’t want to feel “that way” about anyone.  I remembered Ignatius standing in the abandoned church, bathed in sunlight.  His white shirt seemed to glow, and the reddish highlights in his hair sparkled enough for me to imagine a halo.

Cornelis looked at me expectantly.  I almost remarked again on the Dutchman’s jealousy of Ignatius, of which I had already accused him, but I contained myself.  If Cornelis was spoiling for another argument, I was not going to participate.  He pressed his lips together and shook his head in a resigned manner.

Instead I asked him about the valuable da Vinci papers Calvin Hixon had hidden in the owl-shaped lamp.  Cornelis looked rather disappointed that I left his bait on the hook by changing the subject.

“Did you find anything to confirm these people are trying to get the da Vinci drawings or even the letter from Alexander Graham Bell?” I tried to ask without seeming to interrogate.  I knew the alchemist could get mulish when asked too many questions.

Drebbel Incubator

Cornelis Drebbel Incubator

“Oh those,” he said.  “I wasn’t looking into that,” he commented offhandedly, exasperating me.  “Don’t look like you just ate a caterpillar.”

He smirked so, that I was sure I was missing something.  “Why do you keep mentioning caterpillars?” I demanded testily.

Cornelis pointed up at the branches of the tree.  I saw the cocoon Copper had spotted earlier.  Abruptly I noticed it was actually one among many.  There were scores of cocoons.  The creature inside started to free itself from one of the silken prisons.  I told the girl she was about to see a butterfly born.

A light came to the Dutchman’s eyes as he watched Copper’s fascination.  A green aura appeared around him.  I felt a slight stir of static electricity as he gathered a small amount of power.  Abruptly all the cocoons began to open at the same time.  A moment later we were surrounded by hundreds of colorful butterflies.  I felt a childlike delight akin to the joy Copper showed.  Cornelis smiled blissfully.

***

 Believe it or not I really did find a recipe with actual caterpillars as an ingredient…  Don’t worry – I wasn’t going to share it.  I couldn’t even make myself read it.  However, I did find a charming new (to me) cooking blog with a “caterpillars” recipe.  Pay a visit to Katie Loves Cooking.  https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/about/

Recipe:  Cooking with Kids – Cheesy Caterpillars & Snakes

Cheesy Caterpillars

Photo and recipe credit:  KatieLovesCooking.com

 

Great Big Hint!

And now, to reward you for reading to the very end… Be sure to meet the steam engine at this station again next time.  Episode-14 will reveal the name of the mysterious Woman in Trousers and maybe something about Ignatius Belle!

***

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 11

Location Revealed!

When my friend Olga at Just Olga offered “things” for an episode of this “interactive” serial, I knew they would be rich in detail. What I didn’t expect was for those things to reveal the location of the story… well, sort of.  It’s not an exact location, but a general one.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

You see, that’s how my Three Things serials work.  The “things” (or sometimes “ingredients”) you readers send inspire everything about the stories — even important things like the characters and the setting. Although we’ve already reached Episode-11, I was still waiting for the things to reveal the location. And when author Olga Núñez Miret sent her three things, one of them did just that.

Which of “Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, and Vine Leaves” do you think gave me the location? Read on and find out.

Olga has published such an impressive and varied collections of books — whether mysterious, suspenseful, or romantic.  She publishes in both English and Spanish, and some works are in audio books too.  I’m in awe of people who can write (or for that matter even read) so fast.  Today I’ll share three of Olga’s books with you, since there are three things. Click on the image for purchase information.

3 books OlgaNM

Our steam locomotive is right on schedule.  It just arrived at the station.  All aboard!

From last time…

Ignatius Belle seems a little too intent on getting Copper to visit his paddle steamer, anchored at the riverside near the abandoned church compound where our trio took refuge.  Or is it just that he believes the girl is the niece of the woman in trousers, and he wants to get closer to her?

However, Cornelis invented “old family friends” who are on the way to transport the trio to a fabricated holiday. So the handsome innkeeper will surely have to part company with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Or will the “things” create more complications? Read on and find out.

***

11.  Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, Vine Leaves

There was a ragged hole in the roof of the old church.  Sunlight poured through the opening, engulfing Ignatius Belle.  He had taken off his coat and his white shirt caught the light so that it almost glowed.  The effect made him look tall, safe, and… angelic.

Angel Statue male mossI stared at him without realizing it.  Apparently I gawked for so long that it made him uncomfortable, because he chuckled and looked askance at me.  I stuttered, trying to explain without embarrassing myself by telling the man that he looked like an angel.

“It’s just that— Your shirt is dazzlingly bright in the sun’s light,” I stammered, then I reached up and wiped a drop of the shepherd’s pie from his collar, pretending that was the only thing on my mind.

“You’re right,” he agreed. “This is a fascinating ruin, but it is much too fine of a day to be indoors,” Ignatius said and surprised me by taking my hand.

He led me toward the front doors of the abandoned church.  “Oh wait.  What’s this?” I asked, stepping into an aisle where something was left behind on a pew.

At first I thought it was an old hymnal, but it was too large.  I carefully opened the book and turned thin, fragile pages.  Dates were recorded for births, deaths, and marriages.

Ruins St Dunstan

St Dunstan-in-the-East

“Look, it’s an old family Bible,” I commented in fascination.

I turned another page and my eyes were drawn to a name.  “Agustus Belle wed Antigone Stewart—”

“Please, let me see that,” Ignatius said, gently but eagerly taking the antiquated book from my hands.

He squinted and moved back to the place where the sun shone through the damaged roof.  “Those were my grandparents,” he marveled.  “They eloped.  No one was ever sure where they went to get married.  I wonder who this Bible belonged to,” he murmured, delicately turning the pages.

“It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone now.  The congregation, and apparently whatever village was nearby, they’ve all left long ago,” I began, as I looked up into serious brown eyes.  “I think whoever owned this book would want you to have it.  A tie to your grandparents,” I affirmed with a nod.

Ignatius took my hand again, smiled, and led me outside.  He held the old Bible under one arm, and pulled me close to him with the other.  I looked up, with sun-dazzled eyes as he lowered his head toward mine.

Copper

Copper

“Aunt Miiiina!” Copper cried my alias on a sustained note as she ran toward us.

I gave my head a sharp shake to bring myself out of the drowsy, mauve-colored moment.  Of all the bad timing.  But it was probably just as well, I thought.

“Look what I found!” Copper declared excitedly.

There was dirt under her fingernails as if she had been digging in the ground.  Tiny bits of rich soil littered the front of her dress.  The yellow petals of a black-eyed Susan stood out against hair the color of a new-penny.  She had tucked the blossom behind her ear.  I imagined her accidentally pulling up the flower by its roots, and spraying herself with dirt in the process.

Ignatius bowed playfully to Copper.  “Miss, that is a lovely flower, but it beauty pales next to your own,” he told the girl in a whimsical tone.

Copper tilted her head to one side and looked at the innkeeper as if she didn’t understand.  “He’s paying you a compliment,” I told her and tried not to laugh.  “Say thank you.”1860 Carved Whale Tooth

She made a quick movement that might have passed for a curtsey and mumbled her thanks.  Then Copper held her cupped hands toward me.  I hesitated, wondering if she dug up a mole and made a pet of it.

“Look!  Cornelis said it might be magic!” Copper said in a whisper that could have been heard at the riverbank.

In her hands was an ivory figurine inlayed with abalone shell, and not quite four inches long.  It depicted a man reclining on two humpback whales.  The style of the piece reminded me of Aztec artwork.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“I found it in the ground when I picked my flower.  Cornelis said it was an amulet,” Copper explained, testing the sound of what must have been an unfamiliar word.

“May I see it,” Ignatius asked.

Copper drew back slightly.  My warning look encouraged her to give the figure to Ignatius.  “It might well be magic of a sort,” he agreed in the tone sometimes used by adults encouraging children to believe in the supernatural.

The girl’s eyebrows went up expectantly and she moved a step closer to the handsome innkeeper.  “You realize we’re not far from the Pacific coast,” Ignatius said turning to me before continuing his examination of the ivory.

“This looks like the work of a coastal tribe to the north of here.  You see the little man?” he asked Copper who nodded interestedly.  “He is a shaman, and he is resting on the backs of his spirit animals — these two humpback whales, placed end-to-end.  Their eyes are made of abalone shell.  Oh, and look here,” he added in childlike excitement.  “You see where the shaman rests his head against the whale’s head?  That connects them and his mouth is the blowhole for the whale!  So this is meant to be the shaman traveling to the spirit world upon his whales,” Ignatius said to Copper’s amazement.Boulet Spirit Animal Totems

“So then,” I began.  “Is the ivory actually a carved whale’s tooth?” I asked and Ignatius affirmed with a smile.  “Copper, I’ll have to find a ribbon for you so you can wear this amulet around your neck.  After all, that’s how magic amulets are supposed to be worn,” I promised to her delight.

A shrill whistle interrupted our examination of the little carving.  At first I couldn’t tell from where the sound came, but I wasn’t looking up far enough.  The sun glinted off polished brass, high in a tree near the river.

“Cornelis Derbbel, of all things!” I declared when I spotted the alchemist in the upper branches of the tree.

The Dutchman whistled again and motioned for us to come to him.  By the time we reached the place, he had climbed down.  Or at least he pretended to have climbed for the innkeeper’s sake.  The alchemist probably descended via a less mundane means.  His face expressed a combination of excitement and worry that only Corenlis could achieve.

“You won’t believe this,” he told me.  “It would be wonderful if it wasn’t so horribly wrong.  But we have to hurry.  They’re only ten minutes or so away!” the Dutchman babbled.Drebbel stamp

“Cornelis, what are you talking about?” I demanded.

He calmed down minutely and held up his brass spyglass.  “I saw them headed this way on the river.  And they’re using a hydrofoil!” he added almost dancing in his enthusiasm.  “I can’t tell who it is though,” he added before I could ask.

I watched the attractive face of Ignatius blanch at the alchemist’s words.  “No.  It can’t be,” he groaned and paced a few steps as if torn.  “I should get you to safety.  But the hydrofoil can outrun my paddle steamer,” Ignatius fretted as he paced.

He seemed genuinely worried for our welfare.  I shot Cornelis a challenging look for his distrust of the dashing innkeeper.Burrell Road Locomotive

“We actually do have transportation,” I confessed.  “It’s just that we felt it had to be kept secret.  It’s one of Hixon— I mean my half-brother’s inventions, and I don’t think he was ready to show it to the world,” I told Ignatius a partial truth.

His eyes widened.  “Don’t tell me!  Do you mean to say that he finished the road locomotive?  That he actually got the steam engine working?” Ignatius cried.

I wondered how it was that the innkeeper knew so much about Calvin Hixon’s inventions.  “Well, mostly.  Cornelis put on the finishing touch, correcting a small problem with the design,” I said looking askance at the Dutchman who nodded with a wide grin.

“Then go!  Go quickly.  No, wait!” Ignatius faltered.  “The road locomotive makes a tremendous noise, does it not?” he asked and we all nodded emphatically.  “I’ll lead them away.  Hide and wait until they are well past.  I’ll make sure they see me.  If they think I have gotten the girl, they are sure to follow,” he said, and then inspiration lit his brown eyes.  “I can even make two bundles.  I’ll put hats on them or something so they can be you and Copper,” Ignatius said turning to me.Stripped Bustle Gown

“You can have my stripped gown,” I said catching his enthusiasm for the idea.  “It’s ruined anyway,” I justified my donation to the scheme.  When Ignatius looked like he would ask how it got ruined I added of my dive into the river to retrieve the skull of Cornelis Drebbel, “That’s a long story.  But there’s all manner of things in that large building,” I said pointing to the half ruined building where we hid the steam engine.  “I’m sure we can bundle up some things that will look like Copper and me, at least from a distance.”

“I’d love a look at the locomotive,” Ignatius said wistfully a moment later when we got to the building.

“Ah, but you realize there’s no time,” Cornelis reminded him with a sidelong look that made it clear to me that he still did not trust Ignatius Belle.

“I found this earlier,” Cornelis began in a sad tone.  “I meant to give it to Copper as the next thing to a playmate,” he told us as he presented a doll, about three feet tall, with hair the color of a new penny.  “But it’s better put to use to protect her,” the Dutchman sighed.Victorian Doll

“Oh what a shame,” I said.  Copper was a good deal taller than the doll, but from a distance it should be quite convincing. “She would love it,” I commented as I looked around for the girl.

I spotted her running back toward us, dragging my stripped frock behind her.  I reminded myself that it was already ruined.  She had also grabbed two ladies hats from that opened crate of accessories.  The hats didn’t match my gown or the doll’s dress, but that was of no importance.

Suddenly Ignatius pulled out a knife.  I gasped in shock and jumped back.  Cornelis had a green aura as he gathered his powers.  However, Ignatius didn’t see it because he was already running for the gaping hole in the wall of the abandoned storage building.  He shouted over his shoulder.  “I saw some vines growing just outside,” he called and he was gone.

Quickly he ran back inside, haloed in green vine leaves.  Ignatius used the vines to tie the bundles and they made passable human-like figures.

***

There was a cluster of bushes just far away enough from the riverbank.  Cornelis used one of his little tricks to make sure we wouldn’t be seen as we watched the paddle steamer pull away.  Just before it rounded a bend in the river, Ignatius gave a blast on the boat’s whistle.  He was making sure whomever piloted the hydrofoil didn’t lose him.

Forlanini hydrofoil

The HD-4

Ignatius claimed that he didn’t know who those people were.  He said the hydrofoil had changed hands a few times since all the chaos began.  I didn’t get to ask him about his involvement in the disappearance of Calvin Hixon, or any of the strange events surrounding it.  Neither could I ask him about his relationship with the man, Copper’s father.  But apparently there had been some level of interaction between the two men.  That might explain the girl’s distrust of the innkeeper.  However, there was no time for me to ask any questions.

Too soon a boat on feet-like skis that lifted it up out of the river neared our hiding place.  For the first time I wondered if Ignatius Belle was a hero or a traitor.  Perhaps he risked his life to lure villains away from Copper and myself.  Then again, he might be meeting them farther down the river, comrades in arms.

Cornelis Derbbel gave a soft surprised grunt.  He used one of his tricks to look farther than the human eye could see.  I raised the spyglass to see what startled the alchemist.  As the hydrofoil drew even with our vantage point, I saw a figure moving wildly on the vessel.  A very chimpanzee cavorted and gesticulated wildly.

***

Is Ignatius Belle now in jeopardy? The question remains as to whether the innkeeper is angel or aggressor.  And once again, who controls the chimpanzees?  Come back next time to learn where the “things” take our trio.

Next time our “things” are from delightful Christy Birmingham at Poetic Parfait. Stay tuned for her: one lone dandelion, free verse poem, and candle wax.

And now for this episode’s recipe.  My search of the WordPress countryside too, me to a lovely blog.  Though you are not likely in Cypress, you are sure to be intrigued – and it has a recipe page, Chef’s Choice Cypriot Recipes.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Stuffed Vine Leaves

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Photo and recipe credit: Cypriot Recipes at The Foreign Residents in the TRNC

 

https://tfrnorthcyprus.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/chefs-choice-cypriot-recipes-stuffed-vine-leaves-koupepiadolmades/

 

 

 

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.

A Shout-out – Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers

I’d like to thank the Academy…

Copper Cover 3-25-2015

By the “Academy” I mean the group of wonderful people, writers, chefs, photographers, readers, and bloggers who come here to Teagan’s Books each week.

You see, when I introduced the previous episode, I got a little off track. Ever since, I have felt that I did not do justice to the amazing chef and blogger who provided that set of “three things” — Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen.”

I know Suzanne never thought of it that way, but I can’t deal with feeling like I didn’t do my best for someone who has been so very supportive of me and my writing.  Then I thought that it would be nice to do a shout out to everyone who has sent “things” so far!

So I’d like to thank the Academy!

Episode-1:  John W. Howell John W HowellJohn gave us the kickoff episode, the first set of three things, Stilton Cheese, Mare’s Milk, Calamari.  The Cheese and calamari helped put an image of a setting into my mind. Somehow that Stilton cheese keeps coming back around in later episodes. 

Episode-2:  Kathryn aka KR Big Fish

Kathryn KR BIgfish

Along with writing the second chapter of this serial, I had to come up with a name for it. Since the “things” had not had time to develop a story-line, I took the easy way out and titled it with the names of my trio of protagonists, Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers. I know it’s long, but I kind-of like it. For the second episode Kathryn gave us a delicious recipe and Soup Pot, Kitchen Sink, Mail-order Wine Club.

Episode-3:  Lord David Prosser

Lord David Prosser

 I can always count on the wonderful imagination of Lord David for fantastic “things.” The ones he sent for the third episode brought out the Steampunk element of this serial — Quail’s Egg, Wurlitzer Organ, Hydrofoil.

Episode-4:  Andrea Stephenson

Andrea Stephenson

When Andrea offered “things” for the fourth chapter, I knew I was in for a treat, because she writes so beautifully. With Artist’s Palette, Pease Pudding, Owl-Shaped Lamp, the lamp deepened the mystery.

Episode-5:  Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin

Incredibly generous in promoting other bloggers, Sally gave us things and a recipe for the fifth episode. Corset, Irish Soda Bread, Steam Engine led to a favorite inanimate “character,” the road locomotive!

Episode-6:  Mary J McCoy-Dressel

Mary J McCoy-Dressel

I knew “things” from my favorite Romance writer would lead to something interesting. With Soup Bone, Destiny, Ceramic Statue, Copper grew up a bit, and… well, I don’t want to give any spoilers about the statue.

Episode-7:  R.C. of New Mexico

I’m not showing a photo here, because RC is not a blogger, and I didn’t know if it would be okay…  But no one can rival the creative “things” that come to the mind of my friend RC, like Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes, Airtights. Plus they were so perfect for the setting of the story.

Episode-8:  Elini Herrera

Elini

Fascinating Elini took time from her Culinary Journey to provide “things” for the eighth episode — Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper.  Her recipe was a big hit too.

Episode-9:  Suzanne Debrango

Suzanne Debrango

As I mentioned, the multi-talented Suzanne provided the delicious recipe and things for the ninth chapter, Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives. As you might expect, those profiteroles had many a mouth watering — and so did her blog when everyone went to visit her gorgeous dishes!

Episode-10:  Christine Robinson

Christine Robinson

Christine has the most marvelous enthusiasm. It comes through in her writing and in her delightful blog. I couldn’t wait to use her “things.” She went out of her way to make sure her things were appropriate to the Victorian Era. So stay tuned for Bicycle, Mauveine, Shepherd’s Pie. They’ll make the next episode.

Episode-11: Olga Núñez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret

The schedule at the train station has the eleventh set of things in queue, thanks to Olga.  I don’t know how she does it… Olga has so many things on her plate, blogging, writing, translating, reviewing books… She’s phenomenal.  Stay tuned for  Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, Vine Leaves.

After that, there is no fuel for the steam locomotive!  So keep the train on track, and leave a comment with Three Things, which can be random things or food-related things — or both. (Just remember the story is set in the Victorian Era, so try to avoid things like television sets.)  Recipes are also welcome.

Thanks for dropping by for a mid-week post.  Hugs to everyone!  See you this weekend when the steam locomotive is at the station.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 9

You’re too old, too fat, and you dress funny…

eyeballs

What?  But wait — it gets even better.  Let me put this into context. While not an exact quote, it is close. It was meant to be a pep talk from a friend at work when I was upset about not being able to get interviews for promotions or jobs at other agencies.  (That’s right — interviews. This wasn’t even said about people who have actually seen me in all my glorious wrinkles, fat, and bizarre blazers.  Oh, and yes, I did say it was a pep talk.)

Career-Me

Me dressed for a big meeting…

“I know I’m old and fat and that I wear colors,” I replied to the words of encouragement, and by colors I meant the fact that every other woman wears what I call DC drab.  “But they have never even seen me.”

“It doesn’t matter whether I think you’re fat.  They want people to look good to represent their organization,” said my helpful friend.

But they have never even seen me!” I repeated, still unheard.

Fortunately for me, my fifth floor office window is made so that it cannot open…nautili_old-woman_pretty girl

Perception.  Everything is about perception. I can’t hold it against this friend, because they just don’t get it. This person has no grasp of how their words come across, or in this case how very harmful they were. This friend sincerely meant to encourage me. This is a kind and intelligent person, and in their eyes they were building me up.  At least they tried. That’s more than I can say for 99.5% of the people there.

Update… about four months later:  Sadly it seems the many of you who said this destructive criticism was intentional — you were right.  The same coworker was just in my office, bragging about all the important things she is doing… all related to the kind of jobs for which I have been applying (the kind of work I had done in the past).  …The kind of jobs she so kindly reminded me that they want people to look a certain way for, and where age is a factor.  Yes dear readers, you were right and I was being far too generous.

What do you see in the drawing above — a pretty young woman or an old hag?  Copper and the woman in trousers each perceive the handsome Ignatius Belle differently, even though neither of them really knows the innkeeper of our serial.

The wildly different perceptions of words and characters are the most marvelous things about novels and stories. I love that while I think David Eddings was wonderfully funny in the characters he created for The Belgariad  the guy next to me was so appalled by their lack of moral fiber that he could barely finish the first book.

It’s terrific that we can see so many different things in a single story. Although I do hope you think mine are entertaining and that you see this blog as a sanctuary where you can safely relax and enjoy a fanciful moment.

Vintage Pug paintingToday’s “things” are from one of my favorite people and bloggers.  I admire Suzanne Debrango’s work with her blog as much as I’m wowed by her skills as a chef.  The recipe for this episode is also from Suzanne’s blog, A Pug in the Kitchen, so be sure to read all the way to the end for another delightful dish!

No more time for my ramble — I think I hear that train to the Victorian Era coming.  All aboard!

9.  Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives

Cornelis Drebbel and I argued.  Again.

“This is a perfectly good place to make a stand and fight,” I said.  “We can’t just keep running away to who knows where.  Especially when we aren’t even sure who we’re running from.  That will lead to us walking right into their clutches!  We have to know who the enemy is.  One of us should circle ‘round and come up behind them and at least find out who they are.”

The alchemist rolled his eyes heavenward.  “They were coming from three different directions – which group do you want to get behind?” he asked in a testy voice.  “And how far back do you want to go to get behind one of the groups, if you can even find them.  You know we out distanced them by a long way,” Cornelis reminded me.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“And just how do you propose we make a stand?” the alchemist acerbically retorted.  “We don’t know how many of them there are, but the one thing we do know is that we are sorely outnumbered.  Knowing their identifies is of no use if we are overwhelmed by our foes in the process of learning who they are,” Cornelis said, and I realized he had a point, though I hated to admit it.

A frantic honking noise interrupted our disagreement.  “Where is Copper?” I asked, suddenly worried.

“I’m over here,” a small sad sounding voice said from the other side of a stack of wooden crates.

She same out from her hiding place, doe-eyed and most unhappy looking.  I felt horrible when I realized she had been listening to us fight.

Copper with Flowers“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.  “I didn’t mean to be such a bother,” Copper said but her perplexed expression told me that she didn’t know what else to do about being a burden.

With a deep sigh I shook my head.  “No, this is for us to worry about, Copper,” I told the girl.  “It’s just part of what we’re supposed to do.  You, on the other hand, are only supposed to be young.  You aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things,” I said and tousled hair the color of a new penny when she looked up at me.

The honking noise escalated.  “Is that a goose I hear?” I asked.

I hadn’t seen any sign of people living anywhere near the abandoned church and its buildings.  We were still in the large one with a missing wall, where the road locomotive was hidden.  How would a goose come to be in such a place?

When I voiced the thought, Cornelis was sure a goose could do perfectly well on its own.  Copper said that it was chasing some of the frogs.

“Did you ever see what the frogs did with that eggplant they carried off?” I asked her, still curious about that strange spectacle, but Copper shook her head negatively.Goosey Goosey

My inquisitive nature took over and I went outside to investigate the commotion.  Apparently the tables had turned from when Copper saw the goose chasing the frogs.  Row upon row of frogs lined up to confront the fowl.  The goose honked furiously at them.

I felt sorry for the poor bird.  Looking at the frogs versus goose tableau, I realized just how right Cornelis was about us being extremely outnumbered by our adversaries.  If we took a stand at that juncture, we would make no more progress than the goose against the hoard of frogs.

I had never been around geese.  The tale about a goose laying a golden egg was about as much as I knew about the species.  Stepping gingerly, because I didn’t want squished frog on my boots, I made my way to the goose.  I picked her up and tucked her under my arm.

“Don’t you fret,” I told the still honking bird.  “We’ll find a spot where the frogs haven’t eaten all the good bits.”

Then the infernal goose bit me!  I screeched and released her.  The goose settled to the ground and looked up at me with a very annoyed squawk.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the woman in trousers

“Why you ungrateful wretch!” I exclaimed as I rubbed the bitten spot on my arm.  “I should make pâté of you!”

At that threat, the goose flew off somewhere beyond the abandoned church.  A pop told me that the alchemist had appeared behind me.

“Do you see my point now?” Cornelis Drebbel asked with a nod to the assembled frogs.

“Why you!” I sputtered.  “You arranged that entire thing didn’t you?  How dare you have that dreadful goose bite me!”

“Now, now,” Cornelis chided.  “You had the poor judgement to pick her up in your arms.  I didn’t do anything to make the goose bite you,” he said.  “That was just icing on the cake,” he added with a smirk.

I clinched my fist and took a swing at the Dutchman.  I already knew what he would do, so don’t ask me why I swung at him.  Cornelis immediately became semi-solid and my fist passed through him, throwing me off balance.  I nearly landed on my face in a pile of goose droppings.  It was lucky for him that I didn’t fall into that mess.

He looked distractedly toward the river.  There was my moment!  I leapt, tackling the Dutchman while he was fully solid and preoccupied.  We both landed on the grass with a thud.  I grinned wickedly when I realized that he had landed in the goose poop.Couple boat pug

Cornelis glared at me and with a pop he disappeared.  A moment later I spotted him close to the banks of the river.  He discretely hid behind a tree as he looked at the waterway.  Then I heard the sound of a rhythmic splash coming steadily closer.  That slight noise must have been what distracted the alchemist.

I hurried to where he stood behind the tree.  I was enormously glad to finally be wearing trousers again, rather than full skirts and a bustle.  Looking at the river I couldn’t see what made the faint sound.  Was it a beaver, or perhaps an otter going sleekly in and out of the river?  In a quiet voice I asked I asked what it was.

The Dutchman didn’t seem concerned about being heard.  So whatever it made the sound must have been unlikely to hear us.  He said that someone was coming toward us on the watercourse.  He said the sound was from paddles going into the water.

“Surely that rhythm is too fast to be an oar,” I commented as the sound became more audible.

“Not an oar,” he said, once again looking pleased with himself to have deduced something I had not.  “It is a paddleboat.  A small one, granted, but still steam powered with a paddlewheel,” Cornelis said with certainty.Sm Steamboat

Soon the odd looking boat came into view — a paddle steamer.  It was moving much faster than any rowboat would have moved.  It was a narrow vessel, with a mast for a sail, but no canvas was attached.  On each side was a red paddle wheel that sat nearly as tall as the enclosed bridge.  Behind the bridge stood a tall yellow steam stack.

Who piloted the craft?  I had yet to see how was onboard.  Was it one of our adversaries catching up with us?  It seemed too much of a coincidence for some random person to suddenly appear, heading toward us, from the direction we had come.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

I jumped when something grabbed my long coat.  Looking behind me I saw that it was Copper.  She peeked around me looking at the boat.  I felt her stiffen.  She looked intently at the craft and I could tell that she saw more.  The girl had keen eyesight, I thought.

“What’s wrong Copper?  Who pilots the boat?” I asked.

“I don’t like him,” Copper said flatly.

“Who?” I asked, but by then I could see a familiar figure standing on deck at the boat’s wheel.

It was Ignatius Belle.  I remembered that Copper had reacted strangely to the handsome innkeeper before, though it made no sense to me.  I didn’t perceive anything untoward about the tall dashing man.  Quite the contrary.  He had been kind and considerate to me from the moment I checked into the Belle Inn.  He had an easy relaxed smile that I thought of as a strong indicator of honesty.  His  soft brown eyes were surely the windows of his soul.  My intuition about such things was never wrong.

I stepped out into the open.  Cornelis hissed a caution at me.  I hissed back to the Dutchman that was being ridiculous.  The man looked to be alone on the boat, and he was clearly not under any duress, if my friends feared our adversaries had forced him to pilot the boat to our destination.

Cornelis sputtered and then narrowed his eyes as he stared at Ignatius Belle.  Copper’s expression matched the look on the alchemist’s face.  I shook my head, trying not to be annoyed.  It was easy to put on a bright smile as I walked toward the riverbank.

Really, I thought.  Those two… of all the silliness.Copper curious w-green

By the time I got to the riverbank Ignatius had come ashore.  A wicker basket hung from his arm.  I hoped it contained a peace offering that would win over the suspicious girl.

I led the innkeeper up the sloping green.  Belatedly I remembered that Copper was the only one from the town who had met Cornelis Drebble.  Perhaps I should have kept the alchemist hidden, but I was so piqued about the way he and Copper acted about Ignatius that I really didn’t think about it.

“You remember Copper, of course,” I said and smiled encouragingly at her.  I think I tried by force of will to get her to smile at Ignatius Belle.  Apparently my will was not up to that task.  “And this is my… Allow me to introduce my associate, Cornelis Drebbel,” I added with a motion toward the Dutchman.

The alchemist mumbled a noncommittal sound.  I tried to glare at him without letting Ignatius see the warning look on my face.

“I don’t believe we’ve met sir, but your name seems familiar to me,” Ignatius said politely to Cornelis.

The alchemist cleared his throat, taken off guard by the near-recognition.  I discretely poked my elbow into his ribs as a warning for the fierce frown he wore.

Perpetual Motion Clock Photo

Perpetual Motion Clock: Cornilis Drebbel

“One of my ancestors achieved a slight amount of acclaim,” the Dutchman said.  “Perhaps you heard the name mentioned in passing, or in a very boring lecture when you were a schoolboy,” Cornelis said with a wave to dismiss the issue.

I was relieved that encounter went as well as it had.  I gave a small sigh that I hoped Ignatius didn’t notice.  Before things could get tense again I changed the subject.

“What have you in that very interesting looking basket?” I asked Ignatius, but turned my gaze to Copper.  “Dare I hope for something from Cookie again?” I asked but that time I gave an ever so slight flutter of my eyelashes to the dashing innkeeper.

Good, I thought when I glanced at Copper, she was curious about the basket.  I was sure she remembered Ignatius bringing that basket filled with lovely food and Irish soda bread.  Perhaps whatever he carried now would win Copper over or at least make some headway.

With a flourish, Ignatius lifted the checkered napkin that covered the basket to reveal delicious profiteroles.  Chocolate glistened darkly, covering the cream puffs.  I could see a bit of the luscious creamy filling where it was piped into one of the pastries.

He held the basket out to Copper and she wasted no time taking one of the profiteroles.  Chocolate quickly adorned her mouth and nose, but she still looked suspiciously at Ignatius.  I gave a sigh of resignation.  Then I consoled myself with one of the pastries.Profiteroles

“What brings you here, if I may ask?” Cornelis asked the innkeeper with no preamble.

“I knew Mina and Copper were alone at the Hixon house,” Ignatius began.  “Then I heard there was some strange and noisy commotion there.  I accompanied the sheriff when he went out to investigate.”

Once again I had to think fast to remember that Mina was the alias I took to allow me to stay close to Copper — Mina Hixon, half-sister to Calvin Hixon and Copper’s long lost aunt.  Quickly I gave Ignatius a smile of appreciation for his concern.

However, if Ignatius went out to the estate with Sheriff Alvin Bullard afterward, then the familiar sounding voice I heard could not have belonged to the lawman.

“We found the estate deserted,” Ignatius continued.  “The grounds were so trampled it almost made one wonder if there’d been a riot.  Then I spotted broad tracks from what had to be very heavy wheels.  I followed them to the river, where I saw that they continued a good distance following along the river.  So I got my steamboat ready and well, here I am,” he explained.  “Is everything alright?  You gave me a scare.”Burrell Road Locomotive

Should I tell Ignatius about the confrontation, I wondered.  I didn’t distrust him in the same way as Copper.  And Cornelis was naturally suspicious of everyone and everything.  However, that didn’t mean it was a good idea for him to know everything.  How much information was too much?

To my surprise, Cornelis answered him.  “We avoided an altercation,” the alchemist said in a very grave voice.  “It was evident that there were many, shall we say, unpleasant people nearby.  So we followed the thinking of discretion being the better part of valor and left with all haste,” Cornelis said.

I was relieved with the Dutchman’s explanation to Ignatius.  It was just vague enough.  I don’t know why, but I was glad he didn’t mention the road locomotive.  Although, considering the steam powered paddle boat in which the innkeeper arrived, he might be acquainted with that sort of contraption.  I wondered if he would have been able to deduce our means of transportation by the tracks he saw.  However, I put the thought aside as unlikely.

Besides, our locomotive had the benefit of magically enhanced speed.  No one should be able to figure out how we traveled or how fast we went.  They would have to know exactly when we left the estate, and when we arrived at the old churchyard.  For all Ignatius knew, we had only been there a matter of moments.

Flying man w umbrellaI just didn’t like the idea of letting people know about the road locomotive.  So I manufactured a story about Cornelis arriving at the estate for the purpose of bringing my horses.  He saw a number of unsavory types nearby when he neared the estate.  Reacting in fear, we left the estate.  However, the horses were unfortunately stolen when we stopped for the night at the abandoned church compound.

Ignatius seemed to accept that.  It was really a very logical explanation, not to mention the only one of which I could think.  Ignatius was even charmingly angered about the theft of my supposed property.

“For a moment I had a wild image of you escaping on one of Mr. Hixon’s inventions.  You knew he was an inventor didn’t you?” Ignatius asked.

I nodded, but gave it a dismissive wave of my hand.  I hoped I had implied that I thought my half-brother’s tinkering was frivolous, to keep the conversation from that topic.  I suddenly felt cautious.  Not distrustful if Ignatius, mind you, just cautious.

Forlanini hydrofoil

Bell/Forlanini Hydrofoil

However, Ignatius wasn’t ready to be diverted.  “I hear he was always designing amazing machines.  Word was that Alexander Graham Bell once contacted him about his design for a hydrofoil,” Ignatius said.

Cornelis made an impressed face.  His mouth formed a silent Ooo.  Cornelis wasn’t a bad actor.  As soon as the alchemist had appeared at the estate, he had learned about the hydrofoil and the letter from the already famous Alexander Graham Bell.

Still trying to change the topic of discussion, I asked what else was inside the basket.

“Well, if you’d rather have salty than sweet,” Ignatius began and we exchanged a suggestive look that caused Cornelis to clear his throat in annoyance.  “Cookie packed a jar of olives and some Stilton cheese,” he finished.

Stilton CheeseI made a production of serving the food, in hope that the subject would finally change.  Ignatius might not have won Copper’s heart with the pastries, but he might have made inroads with the Dutchman.  Cornelis was particularly fond of Stilton cheese.

Really, I should have expected what came next.  It was such an obvious thing, but it took me by surprise.  Ignatius insisted on taking us back “home” on his boat.  He said it should be safe, that there was no trace of the people who had caused the ruckus at the estate.

However, I knew that we daren’t go back.  Cornelis and Copper were well aware of that fact too.  We turned a trio of blank expressions toward the innkeeper.

How could I refuse without either seeming utterly ridiculous or giving away more information than I wanted to disclose?

***

How will the mysterious “woman in trousers” avoid seeming rude to the handsome innkeeper?  It sounds like she is more than a little interested in Ignatius Belle. But should she be more like Copper, and distrust him? Come back to the Victorian Era again next time to see what happens to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

 And now for your recipe treat from Suzanne.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Small Plates- Tapas

Olives recipe

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen

Be at the train station on time next weekend when the “things” are from Christine Robinson at “Before Sundown – remember what made you smile.” 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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