Straightlaced Saturday — Cornelis Drebbel 22.1

Saturday, December 15 , 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

It’s Straightlaced Saturday!  Welcome aboard the #SteamPunk train.  Our destination is the northern Pacific coast of the USA, during the Victorian Era.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Back in 2015, the random “three things” for this chapter were provided by John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites.  As some of you might remember, this serial was originally a culinary mystery.  John sent some delicious things to drive the episode.  Consider yourselves warned that reading may give you the munchies. 

Since I know you have a lot of other things to do on the weekend, I’ve divided this rather long chapter.  The third thing will play out on Hidebound Hump Day.

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

Chapter 21The alchemist had been using his harmonic tuner on a map, trying to divine the destination of that message-carrying raven (Chapter 18).

When Copper unexpectedly put the second harmonic tuner on the map, there was an accident of alchemy that reached all the way to the hot spring and the washing machine…

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle.  In large glowing green script I read the word aloud, 

“Daddy.”

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

22.1 — Pistachio, Porcini

Copper curious w-green

Copper

My first thought wasn’t exactly a thought.  All cogitation was clogged in a bottleneck of befuddled ideas.  The first thought that got through the blockage was relief that Copper was up at the pavilion.  It would be awful if the supernaturally printed word, Daddy, got her hopes up for no good reason.

At that point, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic myself, and to be honest, I was losing my sense of trust.  So, that single, magically written word brought out all my suppressed concerns. 

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I experienced occasional twinges of distrust for Ignatius Belle (who turned out to be Copper’s half-brother), it also bothered me that I had begun having doubts about Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon. (Revealed in Chapter 20.)

Granted, if Hixon was abducted, he probably had no chance to leave a warning or a reason.  What if he left of his own accord?  The notion was so awful.  Had he willingly left his daughter with no explanation, and worse left the child on her own?

Other than his unfortunate money situation, Calvin Hixon appeared to be utterly brilliant.  Could the circumstances be more complicated than an abduction?  Did Hixon stand to somehow see a financial gain from the situation?  Could he be involved in his own disappearance?  

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Unsplash

Oh surely not, I told myself.  I’m over-analyzing things.

Most often the simplest answers are the correct ones.  But was running away as simple as being abducted…?  Had Calvin Hixon suddenly run away from his adversaries, perhaps thinking he would lead them away from his daughter, thereby keeping her safe? 

I’m still over-analyzing, I admonished myself.

“Felicity,” I heard my name and realized that Cornelis had called it more than once while I pondered the unpleasant thoughts about Calvin Hixon.

“Do step back,” the alchemist told me.  “Something unexpected might happen,” he said as he reached into that supernatural void through which he sometimes fetched things.

“Unexpected?” I commented sardonically, knowing how often Cornelis’ tricks tended to go awry.

To my surprise he produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed the diminished glow with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

daddy

The Dutchman held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp clear ring. 

The tiny ping of a sound reverberated and grew.  I felt the vibration at the base of my spine.  I could feel the sound spreading outward all around us.  In the distance the big gong in front of the pavilion gave a mighty boom, the volume of which was magically transported into our midst.  I put my hands over my ears, involuntarily squeezing my eyes shut.

Cautiously, I opened one eye.  The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and dimming to a flat pistachio green. 

Did it mark the location of Copper’s father?

***

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

I don’t know if it was a meteorological effect or if it was residual magic from the previous night, but when I got up the next morning, the sky above Alastair Wong’s home blazed with yellow clouds at sunrise.  

No wonder they called it the Golden Pavilion, I thought.

Cornelis said he wanted to get an early start, but judging by the activity of the household staff, I suspected they were always up at that hour.  As I admired the sunrise, the alchemist drove up in the road locomotive.

It didn’t seem like there could be enough room, but Cornelis, Copper, Alastair, and I all managed to get on the road locomotive. 

To my surprise, Victoria, who was so taken with Copper, insisted on coming along.  I wouldn’t have thought one more person, not even a tiny woman like Victoria, could fit on the little steam engine… and she carried a large picnic basket too.  Yet somehow the tiny woman and the big basket managed to fit. 

When I saw the hint of a green aura surrounding the Dutchman, I understood how so many of us managed to get onboard.  One of his tricks of alchemy had made room for everyone.

We would part company with Alastair and Victoria when we reached the Pacific Ocean.  Wong would take the road locomotive back to his pavilion estate for safekeeping, while Copper, the alchemist, and I continued our journey.

I looked a question at the basket Victoria carried.  The night before, all the noise and vibrations from the harmonic tuners had given me a headache — and I still had it.  So I was probably frowning fiercely.  Victoria looked a bit uneasy.Mushroom ad Victorian

“It will be past time for a meal before we reach the ocean.  Copper is a growing girl and must eat,” the tiny woman said with a sharp nod that would have settled any row. 

I tried to reign in my smile at her feistiness, because I truly did take her seriously.

“Besides,” she turned and spoke to Cornelis in a flirtatious tone that took me completely by surprise.  “You will love what I’ve done with the porcini mushrooms you mentioned earlier,” she added, and the Dutchman’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

“Ah yes,” the Dutchman sighed.  “Porcini are God’s great gift to humanity, a mushroom delicate enough to flavor a sauce, yet vigorous enough to stand up to a grilled steak.”

Really…, I thought.  Should he encourage the tiny woman by flirting?  And Could Victoria actually be attracted to Cornelis?  The idea seemed not merely imaginative and impractical, but just plain impossible.  I scratched my earlobe as the idea took root.  Then I had the wicked thought that I’d like to see an argument between Victoria and Cornelis.  The Dutchman would surely get his comeuppance.

“What are you smirking about?” Cornelis asked me quietly.

“Oh?  Did I seem to smirk?  It was just a bit of indigestion,” I said with no attempt to hide my expression.

Victoria held tightly to Copper’s hand as the steam engine barreled toward the ocean.  The tiny woman’s eyes were huge with astonishment for the unnatural speed at which we traveled.  However, it was clear that she possessed a fierce determination.  She would not have gone back if the chance was offered.

***

Burrell Road Locomotive

***

Victorian Vernacular

Half-rats:  Partially intoxicated.

Hanging:  Excellent, outstanding.  “Hanging new tie there, old man!”

Hawkshaw:  A detective.

Holy Water:  Said when one intensely hates someone or something.  “He loves him as the Devil likes holy water.”

Hoosegow:  Prison.

***

We’ll finish up the three random things supplied by John W. Howell on Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  Come back to learn where Penne Pasta takes our trio.

I’ll be looking for you at the station on Wednesday.  

Mega hugs! 

***

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Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 21

Wednesday, December 12 , 2018 

Welcome one and all to another Hidebound Hump Day!  Find your seat on the #SteamPunk train.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

Did I mangle the mangle?

Victorian schoolroom

A Victorian Era school room

English is an amazing language.  It’s amazing because with words that have the same spelling as another word but have a different sound and a different meaning and then words that have the same sound as another word but are spelled differently and have a different meaning… Well, it’s a wonder we can communicate with one another at all.

Then we added to the chaos when words came to mean different things depending on the country in which you live…  but of course, that confusion can sometimes be entertaining!

Hugh RobertsBack in 2015, the “three things” for this episode were provided by Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views & News.  One of his “random things” (Mangle) sent me to do my research — but that’s the fun part.  Yes, I know.  I’m strange that way about enjoying research.

Hugh writes incredibly imaginative short stories.  He also blogs and tells stories about “everyday life,” which of course are often more interesting than any fiction.  I hope you’ll click over to visit and get to know Hugh. 

Apparently I did mangle the mangle.

Serials really do make for a great “beta read.” I ended up revising this chapter and re-posting because a few people weren’t able to keep up with the magical shenanigans at the end.  Or maybe I should have left it alone…  Maybe when I changed it I belabored the points too much, when some people really just weren’t paying attention.  This will be a chapter for me to carefully consider when I book-ize this story.  I’ll show you my revisions in bold and you can decide for yourself.

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

Chapter 20.  Then I suddenly saw what had been there all along.  A resemblance.  Copper’s face was full with youth, while Ignatius had masculine angles, but their features were very much alike.

“They’re related,” I said amazed.  “And closely I’ll wager…?”

“I went to Belle’s office at the Inn, and to his bedroom.  Based on letters Ignatius kept, he is the illegitimate son of Calvin Hixon,” Corenlis revealed.

“So Ignatius is Copper’s half-brother?  Why would she distrust him so?” I thought aloud.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

21 — Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle

 

Asian girl kimono red Pixabay free

Pixabay

The tiny woman, who had shown me to my room when we arrived at the beautiful family estate of Alastair Wong, appeared with a coffee and tea tray.  She had told me she was named Victoria, after the Queen.  She motioned more than asked if I would like more coffee.  Victoria seemed rather excited when she turned to the Dutchman.  At first I thought it was simply because of Mr. Wong’s admiration for the alchemist.  However, it turned out there was a little more to her enthusiasm than that.

“Sir, mayhap you like this cup?” Victoria suggested to Cornelis as she lowered the tray to our table.

Smiling brightly she picked up a teacup with the same pattern as the rest of the dishes, but it was of a slightly different shape.  It must have been specially made to match the rest of the china, and she was obviously both proud of the cup and delighted to have the chance to offer it to a guest.  Inside the cup was a semicircular ledge.  The ledge had a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and to serve as a guard to keep a mustache dry. 

“Look Cornelis!  Why it’s a mustache cup,” I exclaimed.

Cornelis Drebbel had a mustache and a short pointed beard, and bushy blonde eyebrows.  When he was in a playful mood, or a sarcastic mood, he wriggled those eyebrows.

Mustache Cup

Where Sheriff Bullard, back in Copper’s home town, had a very thick mustache — as was the fashion, Cornelis wore his neatly trimmed.  While Bullard would have desperately needed the special cup, it was not as much of an issue for the Dutchman.  However, I gave him a little nudge with my elbow when it looked like he might decline the cup.  With another look at the tiny woman, he seemed to realize that it was important to her.

So Cornelis, bushy brows wriggling flirtatiously, made over the cup and smiled when Victoria filled it with coffee.  The woman was obviously overjoyed to have someone use the cup.  I thought she must have put a lot of effort into having it made.Mustache protectors

A soft chuckle caused me to turn.  Our host, Alastair Wong had come back downstairs.  He carried a large roll of paper.

“I thought you were going to turn in early, my friend,” Cornelis told him.

The tiny woman turned at the sound of Alastair’s voice.  She was still all smiles. 

“I feared that tonight no one would eat dessert — and it turned out so well.  It would have been a shame that you did not get to enjoy it,” Victoria said as she hurried away, presumably to get the dessert.

I gasped when I saw what she brought.  Sticky sweet glazed apricots peeped out from a golden brown cinnamon sugar crust, dusted with white powdered sugar.  When I asked what it was called, she told me proudly that it was an apricot Charlotte.  It was irresistible, so everyone had at least a bite before going back to the reason why Alastair had come back downstairs. 

“So did you find a second wind, as they call it?” Cornelis asked.

Map Columbia River Basin Lg Dams

“It was my intention to retire early,” Wong admitted ruefully.  “However, sleep eluded me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the raven you told me about — the one that tried to carry a message about your whereabouts.  I kept wondering where it might have been going.  When I realized you were still up, I thought it might be helpful to look at a good, detailed map,” he added and motioned for us to move to a long table where he unrolled the map.

“This is a beautiful work of cartography,” I admired the map, which covered part of California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia.

“We are here,” Alastair said pointing to a golden dot on the map.  “And I expect you were approximately… here when you were spotted?” he asked, pointing to another location and Cornelis nodded.  “So we know the bird was headed north of that area,” Alastair said motioning in a large circle.

“That covers a lot of ground,” I said in a dejected tone.

“Ah!  Perhaps we can be at least a little more precise,” Cornelis offered.Tiffany Arabesque bell

The alchemist reached into his coat and produced the device that looked like an intricately worked silver bell.  Wong’s eyes widened in obvious recognition.

“The harmonic tuner!” Alastair exclaimed interestedly.  “My grandfather told tales of its magic!  But wait.  It is not going to cause the large gong to sound again is it?  The hour is late, and I wouldn’t want to disturb the household.”

“Neither would I, my friend.  This time the tuner will have a different purpose,” Cornelis said, but I knew how often his tricks didn’t go as planned.

A subtle green aura emanated from the alchemist, alerting me that he was doing one of his tricks.  He turned the harmonic tuner onto its side and rolled it around on the map in the area Wong indicated.

“Where were you going, raven?” the alchemist murmured the question, making it part of the magic he worked.

At his words, the topography on that part of the map blurred and became three dimensional.  Then a part of that area took on a phosphorescent glow.

Dressing gownAlthough mesmerized by the magical transformation of the map, I was vaguely aware of faintly padding footsteps.  I turned to see Copper, wearing a dressing gown and slippers.  She clutched something wrapped in a scarf to her chest.

“Miss Copper,” Alastair Wong addressed her in a playful tone that was likely meant to distract her from what we were doing.  “You needn’t have come down here,” he told the girl and then turned to Cornelis and me somewhat awkwardly.

“I suggested Copper go back to bed when she saw me in the hallway.  I apologize that I made a bit of noise, and she got up to see what the bother was.  Copper I hope I didn’t frighten you, in a strange place, trying to sleep,” Wong told her.  “I said that I was bringing boring grownup things to show you,” he said to us.

The girl must have begun to worry that she was about to get into trouble for leaving her room at so late an hour.  She hadn’t even noticed the phosphorescent glow that meant Cornelis worked his alchemy on the map, but then again, Alastair may have blocked her view.

“Yes, but I had a favorite thing to show you too!” Copper told him, clearly wanting to participate.  “Because you’ve been so nice.  This is my favorite thing that Daddy gave me.”Wise Monkeys statues

Suddenly I realized that Copper held her cherished “mystic monkeys” bell, which her father had given her.  It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. 

It was also a harmonic tuner.  Yes, a magical implement with powers similar to the tuner Cornelis was using at that very moment.  The night we ran from the Hixon estate, the two harmonic tuners being in close proximity had a profound effect.  The magic the alchemist worked that night went out of control when the other harmonic tuner’s influence became involved.

I glanced at Cornelis for his reaction.  The alchemist was so focused on his trick with the map that I wasn’t sure he had even noticed Copper’s entrance.  He was completely absorbed in his work. 

“What will we find here?” he muttered over the map as he rolled his harmonic tuner across the glowing area, asking the alchemy to show him what or who was in the area of the map that his harmonic tuner touched.

Sessue Hayakawa cigar 1917

Sessue Hayakawa, 1917

“Here it is,” Copper said proudly, and before I could shout a warning, she unceremoniously plopped the second tuner right onto the map on which the alchemist worked his trick.

Once again, the inadvertent influence of the second harmonic tuner had an unpredictable effect on the magic Cornelis was working.  The existing harmonic sound from the Dutchman’s tuner quadrupled.  A varicolored aura made a rainbow around the bells and the map.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and just as before, I couldn’t help wondering if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

Alastair must have felt the bizarre sensation as well.  He put his hand to his throat.  The tiny woman dropped her tray to the paved terrace.  Fine china shattered, the sharp noise blending with the harmonic sound.

As I said, the sound seemed to vibrate throughout the entire world.  The magic reached far and wide.  In the distance I heard noises that I couldn’t quite define.  It reminded me of the sound of men scuffling, but it sounded heavier than that.  Then I heard a crash from that area, and I knew it had to be the work of the alchemy gone awry.  The din was followed by clacking and clanging sounds.  The louder noises were enough for me to know the commotion came from the hot spring.  The magic had traveled all the way down there.

Everyone turned at once, ready to race toward the sounds and the runaway magic.  Thankfully I had the presence of mind to tell Copper to stay there.  Even better, with a wise wink the tiny woman took the girl’s hand and led her to the kitchen with the promise of a serving of the apricot Charlotte.  I heaved a sigh of relief and followed Cornelis and Alastair toward the disturbance.

When we reached the hot spring I saw that the door to one of the small gold-painted buildings was off its hinges.  Under the influence of the magic, the wayward alchemically affected the washing machine washing machine had somehow bumped and thumped its way out of the storage building.  It looked as though it had clambered around until it was caught between two maple trees.  Every few seconds it gave a futile bump to the trees.

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

“There’s something in the mangle,” Cornelis muttered, and I was sure that was also the magic at work.

“What’s that you say?  Oh yes, the mangle.  Here they call that part the wringer,” Alastair said absently as he looked in astonishment at the rogue washing machine and the damage it had done.

When the washing machine made its magical escape from the storage building, the washtub had been dragged along by the machine, halfway to the spring.  I remembered the young man putting a tablecloth in the tub to soak.  I suspected that was what hung from the mangle, or wringer — the magic having pulled the cloth into the wringer.  When I cautiously walked over to the still grumbling machine, I found that I was right.

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint magical current of green streamed from the tuner to the washing machine.  That had another effect on the washing machine.  It wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The mangle started to supernaturally turn again, pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

“All that hubbub and the cloth is not clean,” Alastair said, surprising me with his acerbic wit.

Of course, he had no concern about whether the table cloth was clean.  Rather, he jokingly referred to something he saw, something the enchantment had put onto the cloth.

Laundry washing machine

He was correct, there was something on the tablecloth, but it wasn’t simply dirty.  It looked like writing — phosphorescent writing. 

Cornelis flicked the tuner with his fingernail, causing a faint ting sound and then the tuner cast a bright light like a torch.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle. 

A word had been written by the rogue magic that resulted when Copper accidentally added a second harmonic tuner to the magic worked by the alchemist.  It wasn’t something anyone would want to wash away, because it was never part of the laundry.  As I said, that was only Alastair’s wit, a joke.  It was a magically provided clue, resulting from the alchemist’s spell.

In large glowing green script I read the word aloud. 

Daddy.” 

***

Real World Notes

Moustache Cups.  Harvey Adams invented mustache cups in the 1800s.  Adams devised a mustache guard to prevent embarrassing accidents.  Now, I mean things more humiliating than a damp ‘stache.  In the Victorian Era, many men put a lot of effort into their impressive moustaches.  They men waxed or even dyed their moustaches to keep them groomed and curled and looking fashionable.  Also, they drank tea.  That tended to cause the wax to melt, and dye would run.  It was quite embarrassing to the gentlemen.

***

Another “accident of alchemy,” yet we can’t really blame Cornelis.  How could he have expected Copper to interrupt — and with the other harmonic tuner?  Maybe this time it’s a happy accident.  Could the word “Daddy” magically written on the table cloth provide a clue to the whereabouts of Copper’s missing father?

Please come back to the station this weekend.  I’m bringing back Straightlaced Saturdays for the next chapter.  That set of three random things were from John W. Howell.  Guess what “Pistachio, Penne Pasta, and Porcini” will cause.

I’ll be looking for you at the station this weekend.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 20

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 

Steampunk Fish Eugene_Ivanov_2439

Eugene Ivanov, public domain image

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day.  Find your seat on the #SteamPunk train.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

Many have been enjoying the imaginative art from Eugene Ivanov.  I found several available as public domain images.  However, this is the last one I have.  It’s been a pleasure to shine a spotlight on his wonderful artwork.  This one is especially appropriate to the story.  That’s because in the 1600s, the real-life Cornelis Drebbel invented the first navigable submarine!

For weeks I’ve been dropping subtle hints about the character Ignatius Belle.  This episode will reveal something about the handsome innkeeper.  But will it add transparency to the tale or will it thicken the plot?  Will it be a reason to trust him?  You’ll have to decide for yourself, because the steam locomotive has reached the platform. 

(This episode is somewhat longer than usual.  You might want to look for a spot to mark your place if you’re pressed for time.  I wouldn’t want you to miss the important revelation.  Wink! )

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

Chapter 19.  Previously the Alchemist intercepted a raven carrying a spy’s message about our trio.  Then new/old character Alastair Wong found his way into the story.  Finally we learned the surname of “the Woman in Trousers.”  What will the “things” bring us next?  Let’s find out.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

20 — High Button Boots, WashtubCoffee

Kinkaku-ji Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

I stood on the banks of the crystalline lake and looked at the building in the golden light of evening, its beauty nearly took my breath away.

I explored the grounds of the replica of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which Alastair Wong called home.  At first it seemed strange that anyone would build a copy of a Buddhist temple in an out of the way corner of the Pacific coast.  However, for that moment in time, it felt like everything about the place was perfect.

Copper ran down a manicured path that wound through Japanese maples.  Their crimson leaves were a darker shade than the new penny color of her hair.  She wore a yellow frock and high button boots.  I wondered at her change of dress, because I didn’t think those clothes had been in the big flowered carpet bag she packed before we left the Hixon estate on that frightful night.

“Felicity, Felicity!” Copper cried.

Having learned my real name, Felicity Deringer, it was as if Copper couldn’t say it often enough.

“You look fetching in that yellow,” I commented as she skidded to a stop beside me.  “I don’t remember that dress.”

Copper twirled, making the full skirt swing out to a circle.  Apparently she thought that was answer enough.

A tiny woman dressed in a beautiful kimono had showed Copper and me to the rooms that would be ours during our visit.  Copper was fascinated with the woman and she in turn seemed quite taken with the girl.  Perhaps the woman gave her the frock.

Women in the Garden_Monet

Women in the Garden, Monet

“Cornelis asked me to find you,” Copper told me.  “He says it’s time to get dressed for dinner.” 

I still wore the travel stained duster and trousers in which I’d arrived.  In my room I found a brush and used it to clean my clothes as much as I could.  However, I didn’t feel presentable enough for a dinner table… certainly not for the elegant affair I expected Alastair Wong would want to have in honor of Cornelis Drebbel.  Wong seemed to almost idolize the alchemist.  I sighed and followed Copper on the uphill path toward the house.

Copper led me on a circuitous route.  It certainly didn’t lead directly back to the house, but I had no objection to wandering a bit.  Our path crossed another paved walkway and the breeze brought me a burst of humidity and an unexpected scent.  For a moment I thought it was lavender, though I had not seen any growing on the grounds.  Then I recognized it for detergent scented with lavender.1880 Woman laundry

“Do you smell that?” I commented, thinking out loud as I followed my nose down the new path. (If you want to know more about Victorian laundry)

Ahead I saw a row of small but well-kept outbuildings.  They were designed in a similar way to the main house, and were painted a golden yellow.  Moving a few steps closer I saw a hot spring and the steaming pool of water it fed.

An older woman and a young man rolled a washing machine away from the hot spring and into one of the little buildings, apparently finished with their laundry chore.  They had been making good use of the natural water feature.

The young man ran back outside and hurriedly picked up a washtub.  I heard the woman tell him to put the tablecloth in it to soak.  He managed the task in a couple of quick motions.  Then he closed the door to the storage building and ran up the path to catch up with the woman.  I noted she was remarkably spry for her years.

I was tempted to stop and soak my feet in the steaming pool of water.  Actually, a bath in it would have been even better.  Just as I had the thought, I realized that the other two outbuildings might be changing rooms for precisely that purpose.  I expected they were filled with towels and bathing accessories.

Flying man w umbrellaCornelis appeared with a pop sound.

“I might have known you’d find this place,” he commented drolly.  “You’d best come back and change.  We don’t want to offend our host by being late for dinner.  There’s certainly no time for a leisurely bath in a hot spring,” he chided me as if he knew I had been thinking of doing exactly that.

The Dutchman’s tone was mildly annoying to me.  The fact of the matter was he probably meant to irritate me.

“Cornelis, don’t you think I should make an excuse and skip dinner.  I could claim to have the vapors,” I suggested reasonably.

“Don’t be absurd!” the alchemist said indignantly.

“But look at me!” I insisted, spreading my arms to show my rumpled dirty clothes.

Cornelis Drebbel made a little tut-tut noise and shook his head, looking put upon. 

“Well you don’t think I meant you to wear that do you?” he asked drolly, with a wave of his hand toward my grubby attire.  “That’s why you need to hurry back and change.  Honestly… How you underestimate me,” he added with a pout.  Then with a sharp pop he disappeared.

***Navy embroidered Victorian gown

An involuntary gasp escaped my lips. 

“It’s absolutely exquisite!” I said in awe as I picked up the gown.

It was navy blue velvet.  The skirt was heavily embroidered in paisley designs of gold, lavender, and rose, as were the three tiers of the bustle.  A smaller scale of the same pattern was displayed around broad cuffs and a deep neckline.

“Cornelis, where did you…  How did you…”

I sputtered to the alchemist’s delight.  He loved it when he managed to render me speechless.

“Don’t worry,” he said.  “I found it in one of the forgotten crates back at the abandoned church compound.  I popped back to get the crate that was addressed to Alastair,” he explained and I knew he meant his trick of popping or disappearing.

“You moved the entire crate!” I exclaimed.  “It was rather large,” I spoke in concern.

The Dutchman waved away my comment. 

“It’s not as though I carried it on my back.  Besides, all the heavenly bodies were aligned in a most helpful way,” he informed me.

Lady writing letters“Oh,” I said, not understanding a whit.

Suddenly I remembered the love letters we saw in Wong’s open crate.  They mentioned a woman named Phanny.  However, I had not seen a woman at the estate who was likely to be her.  I wondered what had happened to that romance.  I supposed it was not a particularly happy ending if he was there and she was not.

At dinner I learned enough to gather my own conclusions.  Mind you I didn’t come right out and ask.  I do have a few social graces despite my rebellious nature.  Civility and manners are important.  I just can’t abide corsets and bustles.  Even if I did wear a bustle with the lovely embroidered velvet gown…  Didn’t I did mention that I have a weakness for pretty things?  Even so, nothing was going to make me wear a corset.

Union Station Savannah, GA

Union Station, Savannah, GA

However, I digress.  Alastair Wong was a fascinating man.  It was amusing to me that he had a British accent as he sat at the table in a traditional kimono.  It bore what I assumed was his family crest — a white lion.  As it turned out, Wong was born in England.  However, he entertained us with lively stories of his visit to Hong Kong, from whence his family originally came.

“I was surprised to find you back on this coast.  I thought you were in Savannah, on the Atlantic coast,” Cornelis commented casually, and a frown flitted across Alastair’s face.  “Oh my.  Don’t tell me heartache drove you away,” the Dutchman said.

I blushed, feeling Cornelis shouldn’t have brought up such a thing.  I pretended to give my full attention to the beautiful plate in front of me.  We were served an amazing five course meal.

Alastair sighed exaggeratedly, making fun of himself.  He waved it away as if it was nothing, but a deep sadness was reflected in his dark eyes.

“I did come here for a much needed change of scene,” he said, but Cornelis raised a skeptical eyebrow.  “And yes, for a bit of healing.  You’ll remember that I have family here and in San Francisco.  My branch of the family tree adventured to the Atlantic coast.  I suppose I might return there eventually,” he murmured and Cornelis nodded.1903 Girl 2 Horses postcard

“Yes, I fell in love.  It is well accepted for a man to be many years older than his bride, and not criticized.  She was young, this I knew.  However, she had been orphaned.  I did not know at first that a few years before I met her, she had lied about her age to avoid being institutionalized,” Alastair told Cornelis.

Copper gasped.  Our host had just brought up her greatest fear — the orphanage.

“Do you mean they would have put her in an orphanage?” she confirmed, as our host nodded.

“Of course, she was of legal age by the time we fell in love.  Albeit that is still a very young age,” Alastair continued.  “Even at that, she was several years younger than I thought.  But as it turned out, I wasn’t the one who had a problem with it.  I would move heaven and earth for Phanny. Regardless of the wealth and comfort I could offer her, Miss Phanny is a woman with her own mind.  She doesn’t tend to be one who is burdened by the conventions of society, much as I expect you feel,” he said turning to me.

I couldn’t help smiling.  I thought I would like to meet the young Miss Phanny.Victorian courting“So I was surprised and confused that our age difference bothered her so much,” he continued.  “I do have a large extended family in Savannah.  Perhaps that contributed to her discomfort.  Matriarchs can be rather intimidating, particularly to a young woman who is not used to a large family.”

“No doubt,” Cornelis said in a sardonic tone.

I stuck out my foot to kick him under the table.  And he said I  was the one who spoke before I thought.  Really.  He was a fine one to judge.  As usual, he knew what was about to happen, and made his form momentarily lose its solidity.  My foot passed right through him and bumped against his chair.  That also caused me to shift in an awkward movement.

“Are you well, Miss Felicity?” Alastair Wong asked in a concerned voice.

“Just a cramp in my foot,” I replied with a quick glare at Cornelis.

In the chair next to me Copper was nodding off even as she finished her dinner, though she denied it emphatically.  She reminded me that she hadn’t even had dessert.  I felt a little guilty, knowing we adults had talked animatedly throughout dinner.  Dessert would typically have already been served. Copper pensive

I promised Copper she would get her dessert the next day.  Then the same woman who showed us to our rooms when we arrived at the pavilion took Copper up to her room.  The girl smiled brightly at the tiny woman.  I knew the two had connected the moment they met.

“Worry not Copper.  I will make sure they save you some Daofu fa.  It is sweet.  You will like it,” the woman told her as they walked down the hallway.

“My day began at an unusually early hour,” Alastair began and stifled a yawn.  “Also you have had a most trying journey.  I apologize if I have kept you late.  I shall retire now so that you may either go to your evening’s rest, or stroll around the grounds to further relax tight muscles.  Or perhaps you would like dessert served outside, whatever pleases you,” Wong said with a bow and a friendly smile as he left.Mauve teacup Wileman Co 1893

Cornelis poured coffee for the two of us from a silver pot. 

“Shall we take dessert out on the terrace?” he asked.

We moved outside.  The Dutchman held the decorative wrought iron chair as I arranged the dratted skirt and bustle so that I could sit at the little table.  After he took his seat, he looked at me with a very odd expression on his face.

“Cornelis, are you certain you’re well?” I asked in concern.

“Well?  As in healthy?  My dear, it’s not as though I’m alive in the normal sense of the word,” the alchemist replied.

The man was so exasperating. 

“You’ve been acting strangely ever since you popped off to the Hixon estate and did all that poking around,” I reminded him.

The Dutchman produced a leather portfolio.  He opened it and withdrew two sketches.  They were beautifully drawn.

Basil Gill 2“Cornelis, I didn’t realize you were such an artist.  You have true talent,” I said admiringly because I could tell it was true even before I had a good look at the drawings.

“Not so much talent as more than a hundred years to practice.  I drew designs of my inventions, but my hand wasn’t very deft until about a hundred years after…” his voice trailed away and I gathered he didn’t want to be diverted from whatever his subject was.

The sketches were both portraits.  It came as no surprise that one was of Copper.  He had captured her personality perfectly.  However, I was puzzled to see that the other sketch was of Ignatius Belle.  I praised his artistry again, because I couldn’t imagine why he would choose Ignatius, whom he completely distrusted, as his subject.

The alchemist heaved a great long-suffering sigh. 

“Honestly woman, you can be absolutely maddening,” he told me in a droll tone with a sad shake of his head.  “I have given you hint after hint,” he grumbled.Woman tea close

“What?  Do you mean that you’ve been acting so damnably strange because you’ve been trying to manipulate me into seeing something rather than simply telling me?” I asked, and the only thing that kept me from being angry with him was how utterly his manipulation had failed.

It did make me feel foolish too, but I refused to take that bait.  He motioned for me to look at the sketches again.  I looked.  I shrugged.

“Perhaps if I color them,” he muttered and waved his hand.

Magically Copper’s cheeks became rosy in the drawing.  Her eyes became blue.  In the other sketch, Belle’s eyes turned brown.  Then the girl’s hair glowed with coppery red color.  In the other drawing copper highlights came to the hair of Ignatius Belle, then a moment later the brown color followed.

“You’re pointing out the fact that Ignatius has copper highlights in his hair?” I asked feeling befuddled.

Then I suddenly saw what had been there all along.  A resemblance.  Copper’s face was full with youth, while Ignatius had masculine angles, but their features were very much alike.

“They’re related!” I proclaimed amazed.  “And closely I’ll wager.  How did you deduce this, Cornelis?”

grayscale photo of a woman drawing a flowers

Unsplash

“It was the portrait of Calvin Hixon,” he told me, and I realized that I had paid very little attention to the painting, as it was so standard and uninteresting.  “The coloring of the hair was the same as your innkeeper’s.  When I went back, I saw the family resemblances.”

I sipped my coffee as I thought.  “Hixon was youngish in the portrait…  I remember you asking Copper about it.  She indicated that he was much older when she was born,” I commented as assorted bits fell into place.  “But he had no previous marriage…” I started but did not finish my sentence.  “Oh!”

“Yet that’s not to say that Hixon had no other children.  I didn’t just prowl around, as you put it, at Hixon’s estate.  I went to Belle’s office at the Inn, and to his bedroom.  Based on letters Ignatius kept, he is the illegitimate son of Calvin Hixon,” Corenlis revealed.

“He is Copper’s half-brother?  Why would she distrust him so?” I thought aloud.  “Sibling rivalry?”

“It’s highly unlikely that she knows about the relationship,” Cornelis told me.  “In one of the letters Hixon offers to announce it to the community ― that his long-lost son has come home.  Actually, Belle was the one who wanted to keep it a secret.  He was the typically prudish Victorian in that respect.”

“However, Belle practically begged to work with Hixon on his inventions.  I gather that they spent a lot of time tinkering and inventing, at least for a while.  I’m not certain, but something must have soured in the relationship.  I just don’t know what, or how important it was,” Cornelis admitted.

“Ignatius Belle is Copper’s brother… or rather half-brother.  Why didn’t I see it?” I murmured.

Then I cast a withering look at Cornelis to stop him from making any disparaging remarks about me “not thinking efficiently.”

***

Real World Notes

The First Washing Machines.  Early washing machines were operated manually.  They imitated the motion of one’s hand on the washboard, but the machines used a lever to move one curved surface over another, as it rubbed the clothes between two ribbed surfaces. This type of washing machine was patented in the United States in 1846. They continued to be used into the late 1920s.

1900s washing machine, Wikipedia

Victorian Vernacular

Gal-Senaker:  An 1870s term for a man devoted to seduction.

Gas-Pipes:  A term for particularly tight pants.

Gigglemug:  If someone is always smiling, they have a gigglemug.

Got the morbs:  In the 1880s, this phrase meant temporary melancholy.

***

At last!   Yes, that’s what I’ve been hinting at — our dashing innkeeper is Copper’s half-brother!  Although our bricky little moppet doesn’t seem to know it.  Why would Copper dislike him so intensely? 

Jump aboard the steam locomotive again next time with when the “things” were from Hugh’s Views and News.  Guess which of “Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, and Mangle” will create a connection to the blood that links those two characters.

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

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Atonement Video Cover copy

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 19

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 

SteamPunk art man baloon stuff Eugene_Ivanov_2406

Eugene Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, my chuckaboos!  (I do love the Victorian vernacular, even if it is harder to use than Roaring Twenties slang.)  Find your seat on the #SteamPunk train.  We’re headed for another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

Do you remember I told you that it was many episodes into the serial before the “things” brought me the name of the woman in trousers — Felicity?  Have you noticed that she didn’t have a surname? This episode caused her to need a last name.  Also, remember the “clues” I’ve been dropping?  Here comes another one.  On with the story.

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

Chapter 18.  Last time we learned that a raven that was being used to spy on our heroes and relay a messages as to their whereabouts.  However, Cornelis intercepted the bird, and the raven is never more.  He hoped that had bought them enough time to catch their breath.  Do you think it did?  Let’s find out.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

19 — Indian Head Penny, Brocade of a White Lion

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

We walked back to the little road locomotive.  Copper was still where we’d left her.

“She’s truly a delightful girl,” he commented, following my gaze.  “And such a gorgeous head of hair,” he added with a sidelong glance at me.

I nodded my agreement and smiled, mildly surprised at his words.  Cornelis was more likely to compliment someone’s intellect than their appearance.  Copper looked at us, cherry goo decorating one corner of her mouth.  I chuckled and shook my head.

“The group with the hydrofoil seems to have taken Ignatius Belle’s bait.  I suppose he did a good job of leading them away from us,” he added, looking rather surprised to hear himself speak those words.

He stepped up into the road locomotive and sat on its floor, feet dangling boyishly.

1924 Little Dipper Champagne ad

“Do you really think he might be working against us, Cornelis?  After all he’s done?” I asked of the tall handsome innkeeper.

My question was only half rhetorical.  Cornelis Drebbel could be churlish, obstinate, and infuriating.  However, I knew full well what a quick mind he possessed.  I would be foolish to completely dismiss his opinion, no matter how unjust I felt it was.

“Something has been bothering you ever since you shimmered off to the Hixon estate and wherever else you went prowling.  You looked as though you’d had an epiphany,” I said with a perplexed expression on my face.  “Why do you refuse to discuss it?”

“You actually do have a good mind,” he gave me unexpected praise.  “But you really must learn to use it more efficiently.  Try not to bubble around so much.”

Of course, he would give a compliment with one hand and take it away with the other.  I sighed in exasperation. 

I often thought that after I obtained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel, he felt an odd sense of responsibility for me.  Likewise I felt responsible for him.  I supposed things could be utterly miserable for Cornelis if the wrong person possessed his skull.  I had never used it to coerce him — well, not often anyway.  I had certainly never misused it or caused him discomfort.  I mused that each of us recognized our responsibility to the other.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

A faint green glow surrounded Cornelis.  That meant he was ever so lightly touching power.  Perhaps he needed to replenish himself after scouting the area and bringing down the raven, I thought.

Cornelis hopped down from the locomotive.  I heard a tiny metallic ping.  Something seemed to have fallen from his pocket.  However, I knew that the alchemist didn’t tend to carry anything on his person.  He could just reach into that magical void and bring out most anything he needed.  He turned to pick up the small thing from the engine’s floor.  Then he tossed it to me.

“For luck,” he said as I caught the bright new Indian Head penny

The sunlight glinted radiantly off the penny.  For a moment I was reminded of the coppery highlights in Ignatius Belle’s hair during that moment when the sun shined down on him in the abandoned church.  It transformed him from a handsome man to one who looked angelic.

When I looked up I saw that Cornelis was watching me intently.  I turned and walked away before he could make another comment about me being “smitten.”

***

640px-Road_locomotive__John_boy__(5605531950)

Wikimedia Commons

The road locomotive roared up to an iron fence with a large ornate gate.  I felt we were in the middle of nowhere, so I wondered what sort of property lay beyond the gate.  If the iron work was any indication, it was an impressive estate.

Perhaps, I abruptly realized, it was not as remote as all that.  There was a light salt tang in the air.  We were near the Pacific coast. 

I gazed at the iron, artfully crafted into twists and swirls.  At the center top was the letter W.  As I looked from the massive gate to the alchemist the question must have been plain on my face.

“When I told your dashing innkeeper that I had old family friends in the area, it was no lie,” Cornelis explained.  “Although it wasn’t exactly true to say they were on the way to rescue us.”

During my acquaintance with Corenlis Drebbel I had met few people that he admitted knowing well.  I was quite surprised that he had a friend there, in a place that was so foreign to him.

“Don’t worry.  I sent word that we were coming.  We are expected,” Cornelis reassured Copper and me.

Jamie Murray as Felicity 3

Jamie Murray as Felicity

I looked down doubtfully at my travel stained long coat and trousers.  Copper had tiny bits of mud splattered on her face from a large puddle the steam engine crossed.  I took out a handkerchief and wiped her face.  The girl drew back, annoyed.  However, she relented when I reminded her that she was about to meet friends of Cornelis, and should look her best.

The alchemist reached into the large carpet bag Copper packed when we left her home.  It was black with a floral design done in shades of mauve and red.  He produced what looked like a fancy silver dinner bell.  However, I knew it was actually an alchemically amazing device — a harmonic tuner.  He gave it a single ring, and it produced the harmonic tones that inspired its name.  I was sure the Dutchman’s tricks combined with the properties of the tuner to let it be heard much farther away than was natural.

In the distance beyond the iron gate, a large deep gong sounded in answer.  A green aura flickered around Cornelis and the heavy gate swung open.  The green glow intensified when he started the road locomotive.  I felt the steam engine shift and lift slightly.

Wongs Gate public domain modified

Public domain images, tomfoolery by Teagan

“Are we levitating?” I asked in surprise? 

“Not completely,” the Dutchman replied.  “It wouldn’t do to ruin a fine lawn with tracks from this machine, now would it?”

These people must be special friends indeed, if Cornelis is showing so much concern for the grounds, I thought.

Soon we reached an amazing structure built in the style of a Buddhist temple.  The noonday sun made it seem golden where it sat on the edge of a clear blue lake.  The beauty of the structure and the serenity of the setting left me speechless.

“What a funny house!” Copper exclaimed.  “But it’s pretty.  I wonder what it looks like inside.”

“You shall soon see,” Cornelis promised with a smile.  “It’s a replica of Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

“Kenny-coco-jeez?” Copper attempted the foreign name.

“That’s actually better than my first attempt at saying the name,” Cornelis chuckled.

Skull Green SIlks

Public domain, Dreamstime purchase, & Unsplash images. Tomfoolery by Teagan

An attractive Asian man of indeterminable age stepped out of the house to greet us.  His traditionally styled silk robes bore a brocade of a white lion as a border at the hem.  He smiled broadly at Cornelis then bowed hastily before hurrying forward.  The two men shook hands and bowed to one another again.

“All my life I heard stories of you, Cornelis Drebbel,” the man enthused.  “It is such a great honor to meet you.  I think a small part of me doubted that my grandfather once possessed your skull.  No dishonor intended to my ancestors, of course.  To finally meet you!  It is a pleasure indeed.”

Cornelis waved his hand modestly, denying any acclaim was due him. 

“I’ve looked in on your welfare many a time Alastair.  Unfortunately, up until now I have not been able to pay a proper visit,” the alchemist told the man.  “Ladies, I present to you the descendant of the revered Koxinga of the Seas, descendant of Po Tsai — one of my peers in life, and grandson of Sung Wong, this is the illustrious Alastair Wong,” Cornelis announced grandly, causing the other man to blush and protest humbly.

I murmured what I hoped was something appropriate.  I confess that there was something regal about Mr. Wong’s bearing that brought out my awkward side.  I curtsied in response to his bow. 

Copper tried to imitate the bow, causing the man to smile and wink.  Cornelis continued the introductions. 

“And now I present,” he said with a flourish that caused Copper to giggle.  “The inimitable Miss Copper Hixon, and the irreplaceable Miss Felicity Deringer, who makes my existence bearable,” the alchemist added to my astonishment.

File:Skuteczky Courting.jpg

Courting by Döme Skuteczky  (1848–1921)

Alastair Wong bowed over my hand and kissed it in a most courtly way. 

“Miss Felicity Deringer, it is my great pleasure to meet you.”

***

Real World Notes

Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.  “Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” officially named Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.  It is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.

The Koxinga of the Seas, Cheung Po Tsai:  In this episode I gave the series cross-over family, the Wongs, a rather roguish history.  Cheung Po Tsai was a navy colonel of the Qing Dynasty and former pirate. “Cheung Po Tsai” literally means “Cheung Po the Kid.”

Koxinga. Wikimedia Commons

Victorian Vernacular

Enthuzimuzzy:  Satirical reference to enthusiasm. 

Fifteen Puzzle:  Not the game you might be familiar with, but a term meaning complete and absolute confusion.

Fly Rink:  An 1875 term for a polished bald head.

Follow-me-lads: Curls hanging over a lady’s shoulder.

***

Hmmm… I wonder if Felicity is thinking about Ignatius Belle now?  The intriguing Mr. Wong might take her mind off the innkeeper.  This set of things stopped just short of the expected revelation about Ignatius Belle.  So I gave you another hint.  Did you find it?  (Be careful not to spoil the fun by telling anyone else if you figured it out!)

Come back next time to see what kind of trouble the “things” High Button Boots, Washtub, and Coffee create for our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 18

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 

Thanksgiving Victorian girl turkey dress-up

Welcome to Hidebound Hump Day.  Find your seat.  The #SteamPunk train is preparing to leave the station.  Oh, and buckle up, because we may encounter some dangerous curves.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  No matter where you are, I am thankful to have you on this train.  My wish for all of you is that every day be filled with friends, laughter, and an abundance of all good things.

I know everyone is busy, and wants to get to a benjo holiday with all their chuckaboos.  So I’ve divided chapter 18 to give you a shorter read.  This chapter will continue next week I’ll get on with the story.

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

Chapter 17.  Last time we were able to catch our breath a bit.  Cornelis used his alchemy to create a beautiful butterfly show for Copper.  In chapter 15, Ignatius volunteered to draw the group of villains away so our heroes could escape.  However, in chapter 16 the group of villains on a hydrofoil — and their big chimp came frighteningly close to the trio’s hiding place.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

18 .1 — Pen Knife

sun rays through the trees

Aaron Burden, Unsplash

The green countryside went by in a prolonged blur, so fast did the alchemist propel the road locomotive.  I was so jarred from the rough ride of the little steam engine that I wondered if my insides might fall out.

Cornelis’ knuckles were white as he tightly held the controls.  From time to time he cast a worried glance at Copper or at me.  That meant he felt he was doing something that put us in danger.

The unnatural speed at which we traveled had to be risky.  I could tell by his grim face and the faraway look in his eyes that he gave his full attention to every aspect of our journey.  He used his tricks to scan the path ahead for dips and holes that could prove deadly at the speed we traveled.

Meanwhile he cast his senses out in every direction to check for signs of any of our adversaries.  I reminded myself that there were three sets of foes, not just the group with the hydrofoil.

We seemed to have left the woman commander of the hydrofoil, along with her crew and their tracking chimpanzee behind.  However, the other two groups might be anywhere.  I scanned the landscape anxiously, but everything ran together because we were moving so quickly.

When my eyes moved again to the alchemist’s face, I had another fear.  His complexion was gray. 

Even the alchemist has his limits, I told myself. 

What would happen if he severely overtaxed his energy?  Cornelis had used a great deal of vitality, being in two places at once, to gather information about our adversaries.  I decided we had traveled far enough to safely take a break.  Else Cornelis might break.

round red fruits

Macu, Unsplash

We stopped amid several sweet cherry trees, heavily laden with fruit.  I climbed onto one of the tall back wheels of the road locomotive so I could reach into the branches.  Taking a pearl handled pen knife from my trousers pocket I gathered the bountiful cherries. 

Shamelessly, I leapt to the ground.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I wore a voluminous skirt, bustle, and corset!  Why women put up with wearing such things all day every day, was beyond me.  Yes, I did have a weakness for pretty things, including gowns.  However, who would wear such things (especially corsets) all the time, when practical, comfortable trousers were to be found?

A smile spread across my face when I saw Copper had climbed a nearby tree.  The sun shone warmly on the bright hair that resulted in her name.  Arms and legs wrapped haphazardly around branches, she ate cherries right there in the tree.  She was lucky to be too young to have to contend with the culturally required fashions of the day.  I wondered if as she grew into womanhood she would rebel against foolish social norms as I did.

Cornelis was unexpectedly at my elbow.  His sudden appearance startled me, as it often did.  That never failed to amuse the alchemist.  His bushy blonde eyebrows bobbed and a smile played on his lips.

“You were supposed to be resting,” I chided.  “You still don’t look well.  Where did you get to so quickly?” I asked the Dutchman.

“I was just doing a bit of reconnaissance; checking the area for signs of anyone we might not want to see,” he answered.  “Call it intuition if you will, but something tickles at the edge of my awareness.”

He leaned against the locomotive and stared absently at the treetops.  Suddenly he became rigid. 

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Without moving a muscle he whispered, “Quick.  Give me that knife!”

Cornelis opened the pen knife and its white mother of pearl handle reflected the green glow that engulfed the blade.  He drew back his arm and threw the knife.  It sailed end over end high into the trees with a whirring sound.  As it disappeared from view I heard a soft thud followed by the rustling sound of something falling.

The Dutchman and I ran toward the trees.  Copper was still playing in the tree she climbed and didn’t appear to notice what we were doing.  We stopped at the corpse of a raven.  It reeked with the odor of carrion it had eaten. 

There was blood on the bird’s beak, but I didn’t think it was from its most recent meal.  It held a bit of fabric from a familiar white crinoline.

The alchemist and I exchanged wondering looks. 

“So,” I began in a speculative tone.  “This raven attacked the woman who led the group on the hydrofoil?  That means at least two of the three groups are actively working against each other,” I said and Cornelis nodded with raised eyebrows and a pursed mouth as he pondered the idea.

“Coincidentally, the raven protected Ignatius when it attacked the vessel following him,” I continued.

“Or perhaps not so coincidentally,” the Dutchman answered to my annoyance.  “The raven might well belong to Belle.”

Have I said Cornelis Drebbel could be insufferable?  If I took one step forward as far as his attitude about Ignatius Belle, then I took two steps backward.  My lips tightened as I paced, trying to control my temper.  Normally I’m not so irritable, but I was exhausted, and the events of the past days had been utterly distressing.

“And look at this,” Cornelis said quietly as he removed a tiny brass cylinder attached to the bird’s leg.

He extracted a small strip of rolled parchment from the cylinder and read it silently.  I asked what the message was.  Cornelis said it was some sort of code.

“It seems to mention us being at the abandoned church and the direction in which we left.  The way this is written, I can’t be certain if we were actually spotted there or if someone tracked us there after we left.  Either way, they were not far behind us when we left the riverside.  Given the speed at which we traveled, no one could have kept up with us,” the alchemist said and his expression became pinched.

It wasn’t helpful, but once again I spoke before I thought. 

“But the bird kept up with us,” I murmured, not intending to be in any way critical of Cornelis — his unique abilities had saved us.

Though I tried to extract my foot from my mouth, one side of the alchemist’s mouth turned down in a wry expression. 

File:The Flying Raven, Ex Libris for The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe MET DP815457.jpg

Illustration for The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, 1875 (artist unknown, public domain)

“Yes, it just might have kept pace with us at that.  Perhaps,” he said, sounding deep in thought.  “But I took us on a backtracking, convoluted route.  Ravens fly ‘as the crow flies,’ that being directly from one spot to the next.  Ravens have a broad wingspan so they’re fast, but they don’t have the magically enhanced speed that we used.  So, the bird had a bit of good ― or rather bad luck.  It seems more likely that the raven was flying due north from the riverbank, and intersected our path here,” Cornelis suggested.

He removed the pen knife and wiped it with leaves.  “I think we can relax for a while now.  This message won’t be delivered,” Cornelis said and the tiny parchment became a flame that burned and was instantly gone. 

***

Real World Notes

I had so much fun with the Victorian vernacular last week that I’m sharing more of their slang today.  I managed to use a few of them in this chapter.  Even though I haven’t used very many of them, here are some of my favorites.

Benjo: Nineteenth century sailor slang for “A riotous holiday, a noisy day in the streets.”

Chuckaboo:  A nickname given to a close friend.

Collie shangles:  Quarrels.

Dizzy age:  Elderly.  Used if it makes one giddy to think of the person’s years.

Doing the bear:  Courting that involves hugging.

Don’t sell me a dog:  Popular until 1870,  Means, “Don’t lie to me!” Sometimes people who sold dogs would try to pass off mutts as purebreds.

Door-knocker:  A type of beard where the cheeks and chin are shaved, leaving a chain of hair under the chin, and upon each side of mouth, forming with moustache.  It looks something like a door-knocker.

***

Come back next time for Indian Head Penny, and Brocade of a White Lion. 

The rest of Chapter 18 of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be ready in a week, on Hidebound Humpday.

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

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Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 17

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SteamPunk City man-Eugene_Ivanov_2445

Eugene_Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, everyone.  I’m happy to see you.

In this chapter I give you a couple of hints for something that will be revealed in the near future.  So I hope you’ll remember later in the journey of this #steampunk train

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

Chapter 16.  Ignatius, who volunteered to draw the group of villains away so our heroes could escape, made sure those following fiends could see the direction he headed.  Frighteningly, they still stopped very close the trio’s hiding spot.  Felicity heard a woman commanding the group of villains, and the voice was familiar to her!  Although she couldn’t remember to whom it belonged.  Does this clear Ignatius Belle?  Since three separate groups pursue our heroes, it’s hard to say.  There’s no telling who might be involved.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

17 — Crinoline, Lye Soap, Caterpillar

Warner_Bros Corset ad 1900

Warner Bro’s Corset ad circa 1900

For a tense moment, I thought the hydrofoil would tip over when the very large chimpanzee bounded onto it.  If the craft sunk, the villains on it would be forced ashore with us.  Then we would surely be sunk too. 

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.

“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.

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Unsplash

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 explained.

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.

three pupas

Suzanne D. Williams, Unsplash

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?

“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.  

Empress Little Rock 1

The Empress of Little Rock

“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.

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.

“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.

Vintage Alice Wonderland Caterpillar

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.”

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 alchemist. 

“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.

Copper curious w-green

“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.

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.

Yet 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.

Basil Gill 2

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

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

“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.

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.

Angel statue, in gilded wood, by Jean-Louis Ajon, 1812

Cornelis looked at me expectantly.  I almost remarked again on his jealousy of Ignatius, of which I had already accused him.  However, there was no point to getting mad as hops.  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 asked delicately.

It was best to avoid seeming to interrogate.  without seeming to interrogate.  I knew the alchemist could get mulish when asked too many questions.

“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.

Wilhelm von Kaulbach, 1860

***

Real World Notes

In my Roaring Twenties stories, I have fun including slang from the era. I’m careful to couch the whimsical phrases in a way that helps you understand them.  The Victorians had their own vernacular too.  Somehow, it is more difficult for me to use that way.  I’ve managed to use a few slang terms, but not as generously as I did with Pip or Lulu.  Even though I haven’t used very many of them, here are some of my favorites.

Afternoonified.  A society word meaning “smart.” Forrester demonstrates the usage: “The goods are not ‘afternoonified’ enough for me.”

Arfarfan’arf.  A figure of speech used to describe drunken men. “He’s very arf’arf’an’arf,” Forrester writes, “meaning he has had many ‘arfs,’” or half-pints of booze.

Batty-fang.  Low London phrase meaning “to thrash thoroughly,” possibly from the French battre a fin.

Bricky.  Brave or fearless.  Can be used for males or females.  “What a bricky girl she is.”

Butter upon bacon.  Extravagance. Too much extravagance. “Are you going to put lace over the feather, isn’t that rather butter upon bacon?”

***

Come back next time to learn where the “things” Pen Knife, Indian Head Penny, and Brocade of a White Lion take our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 16

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 

SteamPunk art harlequin chess-Eugene_Ivanov_2361

Eugene_Ivanov, Wiki Media Commons

Hello, November!  It’s National Novel Writing Month again — or #NaNoWriMo as it’s also called.  I have more going on than usual, so this year I’m doing the editing version.  I’m bookizing the third 1920s novel of Pip and Granny Phanny’s adventures, A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients 2.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

Now it’s time for another Hidebound Hump Day, and another chapter of the spontaneously written, #SteamPunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 15.  Cornelis had thought they had gotten a good distance away from their pursuers.  Then the handsome innkeeper, Ignatius Belle showed up on a paddle steamer.  Belle, in true Victorian straightlaced form, objected to Felicity and Copper traveling with a man, and apparently being stranded.

Not wanting to reveal the existence of the road locomotive, the alchemist made made up the excuse that some old family friends were on the way to pick them up.

Then they saw another group of presumed foes headed toward them.  For reasons only the Woman in Trousers could understand, Felicity let Ignatius know about the road locomotive they had hidden.  To everyone’s surprise, Ignatius volunteered to draw the group of villains away so our heroes could escape.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

16 — One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, Candle Wax

landscape photography of green leafed trees

Florian Giorgio, Unsplash

My jaw clenched as I worriedly looked toward the river.

“How did they find us?” Copper asked in a whisper when the hydrofoil came into our sight.

One lone dandelion grew in our hiding place.  Copper picked it and nervously plucked it apart.  I could tell she was silently playing the “loves me, loves me not” game.  However, I wondered what she was thinking.  Did she ponder whether or not someone loved her, her father perhaps?  I reminded myself that she was only a young girl.  Even an adult might feel abandoned in her circumstance.  Or perhaps she asked the flower if we would find her father, find him; find him not.

“The road locomotive is heavy, so it left a lot of tracks, especially where it nearly fell over into the river.  Cornelis used a trick to cover our trail to some extent, but I doubt it would have been difficult for an experienced tracker to trace our path along the river,” I told her.

“Or they might simply have followed Ignatius Belle,” Cornelis said through lips that held a sardonic twist.  “However, that also leads to the question — how did Belle know where to find us?  Is the man an innkeeper, or an expert tracker?  Does a woodsman lie beneath his fine clothes?  And why does he seem to know so much about Calvin Hixon?  I suppose he’s an innkeeper, woodsman, and inventor!” the Dutchman said in a droll tone, but his face wore a pout.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Giacomo Di Chirico, 1872

“Why Cornelis Drebbel.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous,” I needled the alchemist.

“Jealous!  Don’t be absurd,” Cornelis objected.  “And I hope you realize it wouldn’t hurt you to use a little objectivity,” he added and my eyes widened.  “I’m surprised you don’t burst out with a free verse poem when you think of him.  You act as though you’re positively smitten with the dandy.”

“Smitten!  Now that’s just ridiculous,” I snapped.  “I have never been smitten in my life.  I’ll have you know that I—”

Shh!” Copper hissed at us both.  “They might hear,” she whispered, pointing at the hydrofoil, which by then had nearly reached the spot where Ignatius Belle had arrived with his paddle steamer.

“Don’t worry dear heart.  They’re too far away to hear us, and the little trick I used to keep them from seeing us will also dampen our voices or any other sound we make,” Cornelis told Copper to sooth her fear.Flying man w umbrella

“What other sounds?” she asked, just as Cornelis intended.

“Oh, any sound,” he said with wriggling eyebrows.  “The snap of a twig, or a hearty belch,” he assured her.

Of course, Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t resist demonstrating a “hearty belch,” to which Copper collapsed in a gale of giggles.  Abruptly she covered her mouth, still concerned that she might be heard.  I rolled my eyes heavenward at the Dutchman’s behavior.

However, I secretly admitted that he really did have a good way with the girl.  As I recalled, during his human lifetime he had four children, or rather four who reached maturity.  Infant mortality rates were even worse in his day.  I supposed he had plenty of practice entertaining and distracting young ones.

Suddenly I wondered if he missed his children, but surely he did.  I stubbornly stamped out the thought.  Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state, it made me sad.  This was no time for me to indulge myself in emotions, particularly not in morose thoughts about which I could do nothing.Forlanini hydrofoil

To my dread, the hydrofoil slowed as it drew near.  I still couldn’t tell who manned the craft, except for one erratically moving figure.  A chill went down my spine when I could see for certain that it was indeed a very large chimpanzee.

Do not underestimate the size and strength of an adult chimpanzee.  I shuddered at the memory of the hoard of chimps bearing down on us at the Hixon estate.  The chaos of their mob, their shrill cries, their inhuman strength, it was something I’d rather forget.

The hydrofoil stopped.  The vessel lowered toward the water.

“What an amazing machine,” I whispered, awe overcoming my fears about the dangerous chimp.

Cornelis was eager to explain such things, but I was rarely patient enough for his invariably long winded explanations.

“The hydrofoil rises as the speed increases.  So the pressure around the foil changes until even the pressure on the top surface can become very low.  That lets the aerated water create a bubble and break down the lift on the top surface of the water.  At that point one might lose as much as two-thirds of the lift.  At that speed the vessel will drop back into the water,” he explained.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

The Dutchman snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.  He pursed his lips in annoyance at my lack of scientific enthusiasm. 

Ignoring him, I craned my neck to see the people on the craft.  I couldn’t tell how many passengers it might hold.

The people on the hydrofoil wore rain gear.  I guessed it protected them from the spray the vessel created.  A man leaned over the edge, looking at one of the foils that lifted the craft out of the water.  His movements made me think he was concerned about it.  He jumped to the riverbank and continued to look at the vessel from that angle.

The chimpanzee eagerly bounded to the shore.  It cavorted on the riverbank for a moment, and then it sniffed the air and turned directly toward the spot where the three of us hid.  The man shouted harshly at the ape.  It reluctantly returned to the shore.  The man finally shook his head and shrugged as he inspected the hydrofoil.  I wondered if they had suspected a problem, but found none.

The man turned his attention to the banks.  Ignatius had deliberately scraped his steam boat against the shore, leaving big marks. 

“He was here,” I clearly heard the man call to someone on the vessel.Ape Grandma ad

The tone of his voice led me to believe the person to whom he spoke was in charge.  A muffled reply came to his words.  I couldn’t make out any of it.  The man continued to examine the shore.

Meanwhile the chimpanzee had our scent again.  The ape looked fiercely intent as it resumed its tracing of our steps.  Fortunately, Copper had run all around the site in her adventure of picking flowers and finding the whale’s tooth amulet.  That seemed to confuse the chimp, slowing his progress toward our hiding place.

“Do you have candle wax in your ears man?  Let’s go!” came an angry sounding command.  

Cornelis and I looked at one another in open mouthed shock.  That was a woman’s voice!

The voice was vaguely familiar.  I knew it was one I had heard since coming to the quaint little town.  My mind raced through every woman I had met since I arrived.  It didn’t seem to belong to any of them.  I reminded myself that a woman wouldn’t have used such an imperious tone in ordinary company.

Images of each woman paraded through my mind.  There were the two women at Best’s General Store, Billie Best and I never knew her customer’s name. (Chapter 1)  The two gossips had been unnecessarily hateful to Copper.  The memory irked me, but I didn’t think that voice belonged to either of them.

1900 Maid with trayThen there were Cookie and Bitsy from the Belle Inn.  (Chapter 2)  I remembered Bitsy’s bubbling laugh and impish grin.  It was difficult to imagine that commanding tone coming from her.  But I supposed it could; the pitch might have been about right.  No.  That just didn’t seem possible.

Cookie was not only a talented cook, she had impeccable organizational skills.  She would be capable of directing such goings on, but she had spoken so briefly I wasn’t sure if I would recognize her voice.  (Chapter 6) 

My mind turned then to the dreadful people from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  The cowardly man, Claude Dinkley had a tenor voice.  Could I have mistaken I higher pitched male voice for that of a woman just then?  After all, I only heard it speak one phrase.  (Chapter 4 for the orphanage people)

Then there was tall willowy Gertrude Hobbs, whose honking laugh combined with her long neck and weak chin made me think of a goose.  When they tried to take Copper away, she mostly echoed the proclamations of Ethel Farthing.  It was difficult to imagine Gertrude issuing imperious commands, but perhaps her subservience was an act.

Now, Ethel Farthing was another matter.  I could easily see her commanding men and chimpanzees.  Had it been her voice?  I felt like pulling out my hair in frustration.  I simply did not know.

Ape Eyes 2

Unsplash and public domain images altered by Teagan

While I pondered the voice and the women of the town, the chimp had crept frighteningly close to the place where we were concealed.  The trick Cornelis used could only work up to a point.  The chimpanzee was confused but determined.  It screeched loudly in aggravation.  The man looked toward us with an quizzical expression on his face.  He took a step toward the ape.

A sharp whistle blew loudly from farther along the river.  That would be Ignatius at the bend of the waterway, making sure these adversaries did not lose him.

The chimp whirled toward the whistle.  It ran with astonishing speed and hopped aboard the hydrofoil.  The man followed quickly.  In a moment the craft sped away.

***

To be continued…

***

shallow focus photography of daisies during daytime

Janice Gill, Unsplash

Real World Notes

Loves me… Loves me not.  I don’t know how old this game is.  It originated in France, and the Victorians played it, as you saw in the painting I used in this chapter.  In the original French version of the game, the petals do not simply indicate whether the object of the player’s affection loves them, but to what extent: un peu or “a little”, beaucoup or “a lot”, passionnément or “passionately”, à la folie or “to madness”, or pas du tout or “not at all.”

A humorous twist on the game is “She loves me, she loves me lots.”  This fortune-telling is shown as a pantomime in the 1st act of Giselle, ballet by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (Paris, 1841). Wikipedia.

 A woman is in command of one of the groups chasing our heroes.  That’s certainly unusual for the Victorian Era.  Felicity found the voice familiar.  Could it really be one of the kind women at the inn who made food for them?  Or one of the horrid women from the orphanage.  Does this clear Ignatius Belle?  Since three separate groups pursue our trio, it’s hard to say.  At this point anyone could be involved.

Come back next time to learn where the “things” Crinoline, Lye Soap, and Caterpillar take our trio.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue next Wednesday on Hidebound Hump Day.  

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  

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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