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

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

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

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

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

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

Amazon UK

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.

 

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

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

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

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

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

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

Amazon UK

 

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

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

Pride Predjudice

 

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

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

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

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

From last time…

“There are places that are not nearly deep enough for this submarine,” he commented and Absinthe hissed as if scolding Cornelis.  “But with a little shifting of ‘the in to the out’…  Tucking a bit from this reality into the next…  Together Absinthe and I should be able to make it work,” he said.

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

21.  Ginger Beer, Cast Iron Finial, Backgammon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis Drebbel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copper

Copper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forlanini hydrofoil

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

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

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

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

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

The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935

The Backgammon Players by Jean Beraud 1849-1935

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

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

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

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

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as Felicity, the Woman in Trousers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

Drebbel Perpetual Motion Clock

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Recipe:  Ginger Beer,

A Probiotic Summer Drink

Ginger Beer 2

Photo and recipe credit:  A Real Food Lover.com

 

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

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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