Straightlaced Saturday — Lady Audley’s Secret

Saturday, January 19, 2019 

victorian novels

Welcome back to Straightlaced Saturday!  I’m toying with a new feature, that will complement the era of my steampunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

My thought is to give you some information about novels written in the Victorian Era of the real world, along with a link where you can get the book for free! 

I may or may not have read the book, depending.  Either way, I invite your discussions about the novels here, in the comments.  Think of this as a reverse book club.  We can discuss whether or not it’s something we want to read, or simply general thoughts about the book.

I’ll begin with… 

Lady Audley’s Secret

victorian woman text behind-1077958_1920

Pixabay

This is one I haven’t read yet, but it caught my eye right away.  In fact, it’s partly what gave me the idea for this feature.  Some of the thoughts it brings up are very current. 

Lady Audley’s Secret is an example of a type of fiction the Victorians enjoyed — the sensation novel.  

The Sensation Novel

Romance and realism had traditionally been incompatible types of literature.  Sensation fiction brought them together.  Many of these stories were allegorical and abstract, but that gave the authors room to explore scenarios that wrestled with the social anxieties of those famously straightlaced Victorians.

The “loss of identity” is part of many sensation fiction stories because that was a common social anxiety.  This worry is reflected in novels such as The Woman in White and Lady Audley’s Secret.  

Project Gutenburg Link to Lady Audley’s Secret

If you want the book and have trouble accessing it, let me know and I’ll send you a Word file or PDF.

Now about this novel — I’ve assembled some details about the story, based on Wikipedia’s summary.  I hope it will stir your curiosity, just like it did mine.

Lady Audley’s Secret is a story about gender and class – and a woman’s “objectionable upward mobility.”

It might also be a true crime story.  The novel mirrors many of the same themes from the real-life Constance Kent case of June 1860, which gripped Great Britain with headline news for years.  

1867 harpers weekly wikimedia

Harper’s Weekly, January 1867

The first installment of Lady Audley’s Secret as a serial came out about a year after the Kent murder.  The novel, like the real-life case, featured a wicked stepmother (and former governess who married a gentleman), a mysterious and brutal murder in a country manor house, a body thrown down a well, and characters fascinated by madness.  

The novel plays on Victorian anxieties about the domestic sphere. The home was supposed to be a refuge from the dangers of the outside world, but in the novel, well… to avoid spoilers, we’ll just say that isn’t the case in this novel.

Anxieties about the increasing urbanization of Britain show up in the novel.  The city gives Lady Audley the power to change her identity because it renders its citizens effectively anonymous.  The small town of Audley is no longer a refuge where everyone knows the life story of every neighbor.  The residents of Audley must accept Lucy Graham’s account of herself since they have no other information about her past.

***

If my life wasn’t in utter chaos right now, I would have dug into this story on the spot.  However, even if you don’t have time to read it, the topic alone is interesting. 

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  Next time, the “three things” driving the story are Broken Knife, Sea Urchin, and Potable Water. 

My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you at the steampunk submarine port on Wednesday.  

***

Now some shameless self-promotion. 

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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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 ©  2019 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 25

Wednesday, January 2, 2019happy new year Teagans Books cats planeHappy New Year, my chuckaboos!   It’s a new year, and appropriately enough our heroes have a new mode of transportation.  We are no longer on the road locomotive.  The #Steampunk train is now a submarine! 

No matter how we’re traveling, I’m happy to share the journey with you.  My heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for sticking with me throughout 2018 — from the last episodes of the faery serial, Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam, to short stories of the Pip-verse for Jazz Age Wednesdays, to a completely different 1920s serial Hullaba Lulu with artist Rob Goldstein, to the launch of Atonement in Bloom, to reruns of this steampunk serial. You, each one of you, made it a wondrous year for me.

Cornelis Drebbel inside sub _001

Rob Goldstein’s vision of Cornelis Drebbel in his submarine

The best part of writing with random things sent by readers was that I used it to promote others.  Back in 2015 when I wrote this chapter, I had temporarily run out of things, so I didn’t have anyone to publicize.  I decided to take the things from Atonement, Tennessee.

The port’s sonar has detected the approach of the steampunk submarine.  It’s rising to the surface now, and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

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

Chapter 21  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.”

Chapter 23 Through one of his “tricks” the alchemist saw a dozen villains rapidly approaching the family estate of the Wongs.  Alastair’s ancestral connection to Cornelis made him as eager to defend the alchemist as he was to protect his home.  Alastair and Victoria used the road locomotive to rush back home while our trio waited to board Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine.

Chapter 24  Copper was safely ensconced in a compartment beneath the “bridge” (desk) of Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine.  But the alchemist and the woman in trousers were quite intoxicated by the farts from the Green Fairy, aka Absinthe, who helps power the submarine.  Cornelis opened the hatch and he and Felicity hung out from the opening for some air while he gave clearing their heads a magical assist with the harmonic tuner.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

25 — Home, Neighbors, Mimosa

mimosa blossom

Wikimedia Commons

It was no accident, I thought to myself, that the Green Fairy looked like a tiny green skunk, albeit one with gossamer wings. 

Much like a frightened skunk could spray a noxious odor from special anal glands, Absinthe produced a vapor that was the equivalent of highly concentrated absinthe liquor; an already potent potable in its pure form.  That such a petite personage could produce so powerful a poot was positively— Oh my, what a lot of P words, I thought.  Perhaps I’m not fully sober.  I’m glad I kept that ramble to myself.

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

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

Green fairy skunk

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

Cornelis left the room, or whatever I was supposed to call the compartments inside a submarine.  Was it a ship or a boat? 

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

Oh yes, the desk — that’s where Copper is,” I muttered foggily.

The center area, where a chair might go, had a roll-down cover.  It was tightly closed with the girl inside, to protect her from the potently intoxicating vapors. 

I squatted down and knocked on the cover.  Copper lifted the door and looked out curiously.

Copper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Copper!” I whispered the warning.

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

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

“Absinthe, this is my friend Felicity.  She and Cornelis are helping me find Daddy.  You’re friends with Cornelis aren’t you?” Copper told the creature introduced me to the creature in quite a grownup way.

She nodded when it chirped as if in reply.  I watched in fascination.  Copper seemed like a little girl at play, having a tea party for her imaginary friends — except for the fact that it was all real.

 

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

 

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

The little fairy watched Copper intently as she spoke.  When she paused he chirped once and abruptly fluttered up toward the desk. 

On either side of the desktop sat what I recognized for variations of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetual motion clock.  No doubt both were alchemically enhanced in some way.

 

 

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

A dozen small knobs protruded from the base of the first perpetual motion clock.  Lightning fast, the fairy’s dainty paws touched and twisted the knobs.  The glass dome covering the clock became clouded by green fog. 

The clock then chimed the quarter hour.  The vapor beneath the glass cleared.  I could see a three dimensional image of the Wong family’s pavilion as if I looked from the air high above the estate.

The fairy turned another knob and the view drew in closer to the carefully designed and manicured grounds.  Several kinds of ornamental trees decorated the area. 

The fairy brought the view even closer and I saw the ground was littered with bodies.  At first I feared the entire family and staff were all dead.  However, I realized there were subtle movements.  The people were merely unconscious.  Then I saw that the fallen were not the Wongs at all, but the intruders!

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

Asian girl kimono red Pixabay free

Pixabay

As if in slow motion a mimosa blossom floated gently down from the tree’s branches.  As I watched the delicate flower’s descent one of the intruders crept up behind tiny Victoria.  She never looked up.  The man was behind her, ready to strike. 

As the falling blossom grazed the tip of a blade of grass, Victoria sprang to her feet, twisted while on the toes of one foot and squarely planted a hard kick into the villain’s midsection.  By the time the blossom had settled into the grass, the tiny woman was tying up the intruder.

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

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

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

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

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

Where was I?  Oh yes… Absinthe fluttered to that multi-limbed brass contrivance.  Each arm ended with a walnut sized faceted gemstone.  Just as before, the device gyrated and whirred so much that it was difficult to count its arms, but I thought there were seven, each capped with a different colored gem.  The base of the device was brightly lit and it caused the gemstones to cast a rainbow effect as the arms spun.

The rainbow lights filled the inside of the submarine.  Cornelis had closed the hatch and climbed down the ladder.  He made over the lights, praising Absinthe, no doubt intending to soothe the creature before I could startle him again. 

However, Absinthe didn’t pay any mind to the Dutchman or to me.  He darted from the multi-armed contrivance to the first perpetual motion clock and then to the second one on the other side of the desk.  His tiny paws adjusted crystal knobs and other apparatus so fast his motions were a blur.

The rainbow lights that filled the room became blotchy.  Gradually, they took form.  After a moment I realized the lights had transformed into a map that filled the room.  It was a duplicate of Alastair Wong’s map, which Cornilis had used the harmonic tuner to magically enhance. However, it didn’t have as many dots as the map that resulted back when the alchemist’s spell went awry and the mangle went rogue, magically producing the word “Daddy.”

Absinthe’s map had one dot that sparkled particularly brightly.  I thought the mark might streak away like a shooting star, but it remained stationary.  Then three other smaller dots appeared; each in a different place on the map.  Those dots crawled about like fireflies, but they all moved toward the crystalline bright star.

“Which one are we?” Copper asked, meaning the dots.

james-seddon-Couple Blue Lights 1238544-unsplash.jpg

James Seddon, Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

The alchemist seemed to be tracing all the waterways. 

“Is it possible for this submarine to travel to the spot where Hixon is?” I asked.

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

Reconstruction of Drebbel’s submarine, Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

This episode didn’t include anything I wanted to use as “Real World Notes.”  So here are some more Victorian slang terms.

Victorian Vernacular

Bitch the pot:  Pour the tea.

Boiled owl:  Drunk.  “I can’t remember anything about last night.  I got absolutely boiled owled.”

Dash my wig:  Exclamation of dismay.  “Dash my wig!  Nothing good will come of that.”

Dirty puzzle:  A promiscuous woman.  “I dirty-puzzled around when I was in university, but who didn’t?”

***

Well, dash my wig!  That bit about other realities has me worried.  Will Cornelis finally get that extremely dangerous spell to work perfectly?  Does that bother anyone else as much as it does me?  What if something startles the Green Fairy into another inebriating absinthe-super-charged fart?  Will they make it to Copper’s daddy before their foes find him?  Then again, is Calvin Hixon, in fact, really at the indicated star on the map…? 

Be at the port again next time when this the steampunk submarine continues on Straightlaced Saturday.  Next time, the “three things” were from Donna Parker at Yadadarcyyada.  See what happens when Ginger Beer, Cast Iron Finial, and Backgammon enter the story. 

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

Mega 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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Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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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.

 

Straightlaced Saturday — Cornelis Drebbel 24

Saturday, December 29 , 2018 

Copper promo USS Razorback Torpedo rm Pixabay

Altered Pixabay image from the torpedo room of the USS Razorback

Here we are, in that limbo between Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s still a festive time, but it is rather a “between” time.  However, the #SteamPunk train has arrived at the platform and we’re ready for another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Although the mode of transportation is about to change.  This time we also learn a little about Felicity’s heritage.

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

Chapter 22.2

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be.  “Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

Chapter 23

Through one of his “tricks” the alchemist saw a dozen villains rapidly approaching the family estate of the Wongs.  Alastair’s ancestral connection to Cornelis made him as eager to defend the alchemist as he was to protect his home.  Alastair and Victoria used the road locomotive to rush back home while our trio waited to board Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine.

“Cornelis Drebbel, are you trying to tell me that this submarine is powered by a magical creature that farts a highly concentrated vaporous form of absinthe?” I asked and I couldn’t prevent my voice going up a full octave on the last word.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

24 — Coyote, La Llorona, Chupacabra

weeping-Girl Pixabay

Pixabay

Being under water in a submarine had not phased the bricky little girl.  So, her frantic reaction to a supernatural presence surprised me.

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

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

Copper couldn’t be allowed to go to that woman.  If she did, she’d be killed.

I looked back to the water’s edge.  A woman with long dark hair wailed in sorrow as she walked along the shore.  Her dress of flowing white was a false suggestion of purity.  Although no one could hear her intense grief and not feel sympathy as she repeated the distraught cry.

“¡Ay, mis hijos!”

“Quickly Cornelis!  Pull Copper inside before the magic completely beguiles her,” I called to the alchemist.

La Llorona Pixabay catrina-2532270_1920

Darksouls, Pixabay

His blonde head popped back up from the submarine’s hatch where he had gone ahead of us.  He said the Green Fairy would need reassurance, so we wouldn’t startle it.  Meanwhile Copper and I were poised, levitated on a cloud of green above the water beside the submarine.

Wide-eyed, Cornelis hissed a warning that the noise we were making would frighten Absinthe, the Green Fairy who powered the submarine.  However, a glance at my face was enough for him to know something was wrong.  I motioned with my head toward the shore — I daren’t move one of my hands from the struggling girl so I could point.  She was already bespelled enough to try and reach the Weeping Woman.

“What is that…?” Cornelis asked, meaning the woman.

“It’s La Llorona!  She beguiles children.  Hurry and help me get Copper inside,” I urged.

However, Copper twisted free of my grasp.  She jumped from our levitated spot and dove toward the water in attempt to reach the sorrowful woman.

“Cornelis!” I screamed.

A thin thread of luminous green shot after Copper.  It was same trick the alchemist used to pull me from the river when the alchemically-amped road locomotive had taken a turn too fast and my hatbox (containing his skull) went overboard.  I had jumped into the river to save it, but we both ended up with head colds.  The alchemist’s sneezes had odd results.

Girl Flute Green pixabay

Altered Pixabay image

The magical thread wrapped securely around Copper before she even touched the surface of the water.  With a couple of hand motions Cornelis reeled her back and quickly pulled her into the submarine.  I jumped in behind and closed the hatch.

“Such a tortured soul!  How did you know what would happen?” the Dutchman asked.

Cornelis seemed to sympathize with La Llorona.  I looked at him closely, wondering if her spell had affected the Dutchman as well as Copper.  Her magic was only supposed to be effective on children, but Cornelis was no ordinary human being, so I felt a moment of uncertainty.  However, looking into his eyes, I decided he was not influenced, just uncharacteristically empathetic.

“It was La Llorona,” I explained.  “I learned the legend from my maternal grandmother.  She was from Mexico.  Although it now seems to be more than just a story,” I said shaking my head in disbelief at the scene I had just witnessed.

“Some say La Llorona was insane with jealousy, but whatever her reasoning, she drowned her children.  My grandmother told the story that she came to her senses enough to comprehend something was wrong, and she wandered, searching for them.  When La Llorona realized what she had done, she drowned herself as well.  But her spirit was forever trapped between life and death.  So she wanders and beguiles children, leading them to a watery death,” I explained the legend as my grandmother imparted it during my childhood.

“With that kind of bedtime story, you must have been afraid to close your eyes,” Cornelis said and I nodded.  “Why, your grandmother was a woman after my own heart,” he said with a lopsided grin.

I rolled my eyes at the incorrigible alchemist. 

“She would have said you were an old coyote,” I retorted.  “And she would have liked you,” I added in a sardonic tone, knowing I spoke the truth.

Wolf as Colonial man

The Dutchman looked over his shoulder and again reminded me to be quiet. 

“And whatever you do, you must not startle the Green Fairy,” he whispered.

Carefully, I climbed down the ladder from the hatch.  I was about to ask where Copper was when I heard muffled sobbing from a corner.  She was huddled under  a piece of furniture that seemed to be a sort of desk, and she was crying from the influence of La Llorona.

Whether it was a desk or something else, it was an interesting piece.  The hutch opened out, wing-like with numerous compartments of boxes and little apothecary type drawers.  Those drawers had crystal faces with little brass knobs.  The open boxes were filled with all manner of glittering apparatuses. 

On the desktop two broadly different variations of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetual motion clock were mounted within shimmering glass domes.  I couldn’t help shuddering at the amount of trouble those might cause.

The desk had an ordinary desktop supported by drawered cabinetry on each side.  The middle, where a chair might go, had a roll-down covering which was part-way down.  That’s where Copper crouched, sobbing.

Perpetual Motion Clock Photo

Drebbel’s Perpetual Motion Clock

I moved to go to Copper.  The poor girl couldn’t possibly understand what had happened, or the spell La Llorona’s wail had cast upon her.  However, Cornelis caught my arm.  He held a finger to his lips and then pointed toward the space just above the desk.

“Is that…?” I began in fascination.  “Is that the Green Fairy?  And that tiny creature can power this vessel?” I asked.

Cornelis smiled like an indulgent parent and nodded. 

“Actually it is our energies combined, mine and his, that power this vessel.  Although I do believe Absinthe could produce enough power to run this submarine and another as well — if he were of a mind.”

I tilted my head and watched in amazement.  Absinthe would have fit in my outstretched palm.  He looked like a fluffy baby skunk, but where a skunk would’ve had black fur the Green Fairy’s was, well — green.  Moreover, it was bright green, just like the liquor.  On butterfly wings, he fluttered down toward Copper.

Absinthe chirped once as he investigated the girl, who had yet to see him.  Copper, sobbing, didn’t pay any attention to the next chirp either.  The tiny creature began snuffling at her hair, snuffle-chirp-chirp, snuffle-chirp-chirp.green skunk palm

I edged closer very cautiously, not wanting to interrupt the wondrous display.  I detected a faintly sweet aroma like licorice.  Apparently all the snuffling and chirping must have tickled, because Copper started to giggle through her tears.  I didn’t know if skunks, or rather Green Fairies, could smile, but tiny Absinthe looked like he was smiling when Copper looked up at him in delighted fascination.

Cornelis pointed to the roll-down covering where Copper had tucked herself. 

“He must really like her,” the Dutchman said.  “That’s his favorite pouting post.  Whenever Absinthe gets annoyed or frightened, he darts under there and slams down the cover,” Cornelis explained with a mystified chuckle.

A sharp ping distracted me and I turned toward the sound.  Beside what I thought must be a periscope was a multi-limbed brass contrivance.  Each arm ended with a walnut sized faceted gemstone.  The device gyrated and whirred so much that it was difficult to count its arms, but I thought there were seven, each capped with a different colored gem.  The base of the device lit up causing the gemstones to cast a rainbow effect.

Absinthe fluttered toward the colorful machine.  Apparently the tiny fairy had failed to notice me until I spoke.

“How pretty, Cornelis. What does it do?” I asked pointing at the device.

Green fairy skunk

Absinthe the Green Fairy, by Teagan

When I moved my hand to point, the Green Fairy fluttered backward a beat.  Luminous emerald eyes widened.  Absinthe hissed at me.  Then I heard a farting sound.  From his bantam backside blew a billow of bright green vapor.

“I told you not to startle him!” Cornelis admonished.  “Copper, stay where you are and don’t stand up until that cloud clears!” the alchemist instructed hastily.  “Felicity, hurry and open that hatch!”

“Hurry and open the hatch how?” I giggled as I wobbled up the ladder.

“Dear heavens it’s already too late,” Cornelis groaned as he climbed up beside me.

“I can’t budge the beastly bugger open,” I complained.  “Who needs fresh air, Cornelis.  It’s fine in here.  You’ll just let in that dank, damp…  Oh! Keep your daddles to yourself.  Watch your hands!” I cautioned as he reached around me trying to get to the hatch handle.

A whoosh of air hit me in the face.  When I looked toward the shore I could have sworn I saw a hippopotamus singing to a group of infatuated mermaids who played music upon lyres.  La Llorona danced with a chupacabra — a goat-killing blood sucker from another of my grandmother’s stories.  Then, as the alchemist had commented, I wondered how I had ever managed to sleep as a child.

When I turned my head, the world lurched.

The green vapors of concentrated absinthe streamed up through the opening around us.  When I looked at Cornelis, he seemed to be standing at a peculiar angle.  He looked back at me and snorted laughter.  He took my arm and pulled me upright.  Apparently I was the one who was leaning far to one side.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

For a moment he looked just like a coyote in a silk jacket.  I snorted out a laugh, then covered my mouth in embarrassment, then I collapsed in giggles.

I noticed that Cornelis held his harmonic tuner.  He looked quite bleary-eyed. 

“Cornelis you should take better care of yourself.  Are you coming down with another head cold?” I asked feeling more than a little arfarfan’arf.

He held the tuner above our heads and gave it one sharp ring.  The sound reverberated inside my skull in an unpleasant way.  I groaned as the world around me started to spin madly.  Cornelis rang the harmonic tuner again.

“Stop that!” I cried trying to reach high enough to take the damnable bell away from the alchemist.

As the ringing subsided, the coyote faded with it, leaving only Cornelis.  The chupacabra and La Llorona danced a final turn before they blurred and disappeared, leaving the shoreline deserted.

I took a long deep breath.

“I told you not to startle the Green Fairy,” Cornelis said drolly.

***

Real World Notes

Abraham Roentgen’s Writing Desk.  Imagining the cabinetry inside the steampunk submarine made me think of the work of Abraham Roentgen.  He was a very successful cabinetmaker in the  eighteenth century.  In his hands, a piece of furniture became a work of art.  His customers included sovereigns, aristocrats, and other influential people.  Roentgen’s style was characterized by grandeur, inventiveness, and meticulously detailed shapes.  He is known for writing tables that not only have numerous secret compartments but could also be transformed into a private altar. 

***

This serial continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  Next time, the “three things” were inspired by my Atonement novels: Home, Neighbors, and Mimosa

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

Mega hugs!

***

Now some shameless self-promotion. 

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

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

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 19

Every picture tells a story…

New Mexico Territory 1880

New Mexico Territory 1880

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

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

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

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

From last time…

“Cornelis Drebbel, are you trying to tell me that this submarine is powered by a magical creature that farts a highly concentrated vaporous form of absinthe?” I asked and I couldn’t prevent my voice going up a full octave on the last word.

Cornelis twisted his lips over to one side and raised one bushy blonde eyebrow in a cringing expression.

“Well, yes.  That’s pretty much exactly what I meant.  But he only does that if you frighten him,” Cornelis said, nodding encouragingly.

***

19.  La Llorona, Coyote, Chupacabra

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

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

Copper couldn’t be allowed to go to that woman.  If she did, she’d be killed.

I looked back to the water’s edge.  A woman with long dark hair wailed in sorrow as she walked along the shore.  Her dress of flowing white was a false suggestion of purity.  But no one could hear her intense grief and not feel sympathy as she repeated the distraught cry, “¡Ay, mis hijos!”

“Quickly Cornelis!  Pull Copper inside before the magic completely beguiles her,” I called to the alchemist.

His blonde head popped back up from the submarine’s hatch where he had gone ahead of us.  He said the Green Fairy would need reassurance, so we wouldn’t startle it.  Meanwhile Copper and I were poised, levitated on a cloud of green above the water beside the submarine.Vintage ghosts several

Wide-eyed, Cornelis hissed a warning that the noise we were making would frighten Absinthe, the Green Fairy who powered the submarine.  However, a glance at my face was enough for him to know something was wrong.  I motioned with my head toward the shore — I daren’t move one of my hands from the struggling girl so I could point.  She was already bespelled enough to try and reach the Weeping Woman.

“What is that…?” Cornelis asked, meaning the woman.

“It’s La Llorona!  She beguiles children.  Hurry and help me get Copper inside,” I urged.

However, Copper twisted free of my grasp.  She jumped from our levitated spot and dove toward the water in attempt to reach the sorrowful woman.

“Cornelis!” I screamed.

A thin thread of luminous green shot after Copper.  It was same trick the alchemist used to pull me from the river when the alchemically-amped road locomotive had taken a turn too fast and my hatbox (containing his skull) went overboard.  I had jumped into the river to save it, but we both ended up with head colds.  The alchemist’s sneezes had odd results.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

The magical thread wrapped securely around Copper before she even touched the surface of the water.  With a couple of hand motions Cornelis reeled her back and quickly pulled her into the submarine.  I jumped in behind and closed the hatch.

“Such a tortured soul!  How did you know what would happen?” the Dutchman asked.

Cornelis seemed to sympathize with La Llorona.  I looked at him closely, wondering if her spell had affected the Dutchman as well as Copper.  Her magic was only supposed to be effective on children, but Cornelis was no ordinary human being, so I felt a moment of uncertainty.  However, looking into his eyes, I decided he was not influenced, just uncharacteristically empathetic.

“It was La Llorona,” I explained.  “I learned the legend from my maternal grandmother.  She was from Mexico.  Although it seems to be more than just a story,” I said shaking my head in disbelief at the scene I had just witnessed.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Machine

“Some say La Llorona was insane with jealousy, but whatever her reasoning, she drowned her children.  My grandmother told the story that she came to her senses enough to comprehend something was wrong, and she wandered, searching for them.  When she realized what she had done, she drowned herself as well.  But her spirit was forever trapped between life and death.  So she wanders and beguiles children, leading them to a watery death,” I explained the legend as my grandmother imparted it during my childhood.

“With that kind of bedtime story, you must have been afraid to close your eyes,” Cornelis said and I nodded.  “Why, your grandmother was a woman after my own heart,” he said with a lopsided grin.

I rolled my eyes at the incorrigible alchemist.  “She would have said you were an old coyote,” I retorted.  “And she would have liked you,” I added in a sardonic tone, knowing I spoke the truth.

The Dutchman looked over his shoulder and reminded me to be quiet.  “And whatever you do, you must not startle the Green Fairy,” he whispered.

Carefully, I climbed down the ladder from the hatch.  I was about to ask where Copper was when I heard muffled sobbing from a corner.  She was huddled under  a piece of furniture that seemed to be a sort of desk, and she was crying from the influence of La Llorona.

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Whether it was a desk or something else, it was an interesting piece.  The hutch opened out, wing-like with numerous compartments of boxes and little apothecary type drawers.  Those drawers had crystal faces with little brass knobs.  The open boxes were filled with all manner of glittering apparatuses.  On the desktop two broadly different variations of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetual motion clock were mounted within shimmering glass domes.  (I couldn’t help shuddering at the amount of trouble those might cause.)

The desk had an ordinary desktop supported by drawered cabinetry on each side.  The middle, where a chair might go, had a roll-down covering which was part-way down.  That’s where Copper crouched, sobbing.

I moved to go to Copper.  The poor girl couldn’t possibly understand what had happened, or the spell La Llorona’s wail had cast upon her.  However, Cornelis caught my arm.  He held a finger to his lips and then pointed toward the space just above the desk.

“Is that…?” I began in fascination.  “Is that the Green Fairy?  And that tiny thing can power this vessel?” I asked.

Cornelis smiled like an indulgent parent and nodded.  “Actually it is our energies combined, mine and his, but I do believe Absinthe could produce enough power to run this submarine and another as well — if he were of a mind.”

I tilted my head and watched in amazement.  Absinthe would have fit in my outstretched palm.  He looked like a fluffy baby skunk, but where a skunk would’ve had black fur the Green Fairy’s was, well — green.  And it was bright green, just like the liquor.  On butterfly wings, he fluttered down toward Copper.green skunk palm

Absinthe chirped once as he investigated the girl, who had yet to see him.  Copper, sobbing, didn’t pay any attention to the next chirp either.  The tiny creature began snuffling at her hair, snuffle-chirp-chirp, snuffle-chirp-chirp.

I edged closer very cautiously, not wanting to interrupt the wondrous display.  I detected a faintly sweet aroma like licorice.  Apparently all the snuffling and chirping must have tickled, because Copper started to giggle through her tears.  I didn’t know if skunks, or rather Green Fairies could smile, but tiny Absinthe looked like he was smiling when Copper looked up at him in delighted fascination.

Cornelis pointed to the roll-down covering where Copper had tucked herself.  “He must really like her,” the Dutchman said.  “That’s his favorite pouting post.  Whenever Absinthe gets annoyed or frightened, he darts under there and slams down the cover,” Cornelis said with a mystified chuckle.

Green fairy skunkA sharp ping distracted me and I turned toward the sound.  Beside what I thought must be a periscope was a multi-limbed brass contrivance.  Each arm ended with a walnut sized faceted gemstone.  The device gyrated and whirred so much that it was difficult to count its arms, but I thought there were seven, each capped with a different colored gem.  The base of the device lit up causing the gemstones to cast a rainbow effect.

Absinthe fluttered toward the colorful machine.  Apparently the tiny fairy had failed to notice me until I spoke.  “How pretty, Cornelis. What does it do?” I asked pointing at the device.

When I moved my hand to point, the Green Fairy fluttered backward a beat.  Luminous emerald eyes widened.  Absinthe hissed at me.  Then I heard a farting sound.  From his bantam backside blew a billow of bright green vapor.

“I told you not to startle him!” Cornelis admonished.  “Copper, stay where you are and don’t stand up until that cloud clears!” the alchemist instructed hastily.  “Felicity, hurry and open that hatch!”

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

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

“Dear heavens it’s too late,” Cornelis groaned as he climbed up beside me.

“I can’t budge the beastly bugger open,” I complained.  “Who needs fresh air, Cornelis.  It’s fine in here.  You’ll just let in that dank, damp…  Oh! Watch your hands!” I cautioned as he reached around me trying to get to the hatch handle.

A whoosh of air hit me in the face.  When I looked toward the shore I could have sworn I saw a hippopotamus singing to a group of infatuated mermaids who played music upon lyres.  La Llorona danced with a chupacabra — a goat-killing blood sucker from another of my grandmother’s stories.  Then I wondered how I had ever managed to sleep as a child.

When I turned my head, the world lurched.  The green vapors of concentrated absinthe streamed up through the opening around us.  When I looked at the alchemist he seemed to be standing at a peculiar angle.  He looked back at me and snorted laughter.  He took my arm and pulled me upright.  Apparently I was leaning far to one side.

For a moment he looked just like a coyote in a silk jacket.  I snorted out a laugh, then covered my mouth in embarrassment, then I collapsed in giggles.

Wolf as Colonial manI noticed that Cornelis held his harmonic tuner.  He looked quite bleary-eyed.  “Cornelis you should take better care of yourself.  Are you coming down with another head cold?” I asked feeling more than a little woozy.

He held the tuner above our heads and gave it one sharp ring.  The sound reverberated inside my skull in an unpleasant way.  I groaned as the world around me started to spin madly.  Cornelis rang the harmonic tuner again.

“Stop that!” I cried trying to reach high enough to take the damnable bell away from the alchemist.

As the ringing died away the coyote faded with it, leaving only Cornelis.  The chupacabra and La Llorona danced a final turn before they blurred and disappeared, leaving the shoreline deserted.

I took a long deep breath.

“I told you not to startle the Green Fairy,” Cornelis said drolly.

***

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

***

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

Recipe:  Chile Relleno Chicken Rollups

Chile Relleno Chicken Roll ups

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

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.