Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 29

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

Chugging Along Slowly

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era is almost at the platform to take you to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Although, it’s chugging along rather slowly. One of the landslide of things that derailed the locomotive last weekend was the cold I had Saturday. Happily I managed to fight it off in a single day.  Not so happily, the wretched thing sneaked up on me and grabbed me by the throat (not so figuratively either) Wednesday night as I prepared my “Thriving Thursday” post for LinkedIn.  Dratted sneaky cold…

Like Uncle Joe the steam locomotive is moving kinda slow.

The three things for this chapter are from a talented writer you have seen featured here in the past.  I can always count on Daniel (aka Randstein) at “Hyperion Sturm” to send marvelous things to drive the serial.  Be sure to check out this talented writer’s amazing blog.

This chapter ties all the way back to Episode 3.  Several elements of this new episode are rooted in the third installment of this serial.  We’ll finally learn more about the dead man in the study!  There was also the little matter of a signet ring that suggested the corpse was someone in Copper’s family. (You might want to skim Episode-3 for all the details.)

The locomotive has finally reached the platform.  All aboard!

From Episode 3

First things first, I told myself as I turned my attention back to the dead body slumped over Calvin Hixon’s desk.  I had expected to see a pool of blood, but the top of the desk was clean.  The dead man’s left hand rested on the desktop.  Something seemed wrong about the position of the hand.  It had been moved.

Hadn’t Cornelis said he wore a signet ring?  Without looking I could feel the cool metal of the ring the alchemist placed on my finger.  “You’ll need this,” he’d said.  My eyes went back to the naked hand of the dead man.

“You moved a ring from the finger of a cadaver and put it on my hand?” I exclaimed, but Cornelis was nowhere to be seen.

“Cornelis Drebble!”

*

From last time

 We had a measuring device.  It looked like a silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.  If the toothpicks started to turn lavender, it was a warning that we had been in the amethyst world too long.  If all the toothpicks turned purple we were in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple, it would be too late.

I quickly took the detector out of the Dutchman’s bag so I could examine it.  The toothpicks were lavender.

Portuguese Silver Toothpick Holder

29.  Cornbread, Champagne Glasses, Astrolabe

The amethyst ape looked to the direction in which his violet complected chimpanzee housekeeper had ridden away on an aubergine coated horse.  Viola went back to his grand house to make sure the doppelgängers of Copper and myself did not come any closer.  Their proximity had made us quite ill, but Cornelis alchemically altered some green Chartreuse, which set us back to rights.  I wondered if the ape versions had also felt ill.

Cal Hicks shook his head regretfully.  “Poor Viola,” the ape murmured, causing me to ask what he meant.

“She showed you the locket containing a bit of her dead son’s hair,” he said as a reminder, so I nodded.  “He was lost in the battle with the one-eyed-one-horned flying-purple-people-eater; the dragon.  Though I cannot reconcile that in my mind with the tiny Purple Fairy, Aubrieta.  Whatever changed her form to the dragon must have also held uncontrollable sway over her personality as well.  We should feel pity for her, not resentment,” Cal added as if to himself, then cleared his throat.Hair brooch

“Forgive me, I digress.  Viola’s son was not in the chapel with the apes that disappeared that day,” Cal said, going back to his point.  “Nor was he among those returned by Aubrieta’s magic.  Viola said she felt his death a short time after the chapel apes disappeared.  I hoped she was wrong, but she must have been correct,” Cal told me.

“More’s the pity,” the amethyst ape commented, again shaking his head.  “Viola’s son was a scoundrel, though I liked to believe he had a good heart.  He never got the chance to correct the path on which he’d put himself.  He never reached his potential,” Cal spoke sadly.

Cornelis Drebbel got that look on his face.  Though his skull was safely ensconced my hatbox, I knew the expression on his face meant the gears in his mind were turning.  Abruptly he held an ancient looking leather portfolio.  That was where he kept his drawings.  He opened the folio and handed two sketches to Cal Hicks.  One drawing was of a chimpanzee and the other of a man.

Signet ringFirst I recognized the man in the drawing as the person we found in the study at the Hixon estate.  The man had been dead when we arrived.  The rogue chimpanzees carried away his corpse.  The second thing I noticed was a strong resemblance in the drawings of the dead man and the chimp.

“Is this, by any chance, Viola’s son?” the alchemist asked Cal Hicks of the sketch of the chimpanzee.

Cal gasped.  “Why yes!  As always, Lord of Alchemy, your talents astound me,” Cal replied.  “Do you have news of him?”

“We found his doppelgänger dead, but that’s as much as I can say,” Cornelis told him.

Carson mansion Queen Annd

The Carson Mansion, Eureka, California

A few of the returned apes moved uneasily, but they were reluctant to leave.  They stayed nearby, hiding their nakedness as best they could.  Their coloring had fully reverted to various shades of purple, as was natural for them.  Cal Hicks stepped into the laboratory and quickly returned with several pairs of coveralls for them.

Hicks invited them to go to his house for a hot meal.  However they refused, saying they couldn’t take advantage of his hospitality.  They watched Cornelis Drebbel closely, almost as if mesmerized.

“At least have some bread and wine then,” Cal Hicks told them.

The amethyst ape uncovered a basket containing all manner of loaves, muffins, and cornbread.  Hicks insisted that the returned simians at least eat some bread.  He told them that being translocated had surely depleted their reserves.  Since Hicks wouldn’t take no for an answer, they drank and ate a little, but they looked much more interested in Cornelis and the two fairies.Absinthe tail up

Aubrieta and Absinthe cuddled near the laboratory building.  The Purple Fairy and the Green Fairy were both tiny now.  The alchemy that imploded the dome of fire also allowed Aubrieta to remain in her natural winged skunk-looking form.

Absinthe stretched and touched his green nose to the golden unicorn-like horn that was above Aubrieta’s single amber eye.  They both made muttering noises that sounded remarkably like giggles.  The erstwhile purple-people-eater she-dragon and Absinthe entwined their fluffy tails as they muttered and snorted softly to one another.

Cal Hicks looked at them wonderingly.  “It’s a pity Viola isn’t here to witness that,” he murmured.

Cornelis gave a wicked grin.  He reached into nothingness and produced a tray with etched champagne glasses.  His arm disappeared up to his elbow as he reached into that magic space again and came back with a bottle of champagne.

“I wouldn’t pop the cork on that just yet,” I told him.

Antique champagne GlassesTo remind them, I held out the measuring device Absinthe had insisted we take with us when we left the submarine.  It looked like a silver toothpick holder fashioned to have a gazebo with a crystal bird inside.  Tiny rods that resembled toothpicks protruded from the roof of the gazebo.  It measured how much we were being influenced by the amethyst world.  If we stayed too long, we might not be able to return home.

The words of the alchemist echoed in my mind.

“Many of the effects can be mitigated,” Cornelis had said, dismissing my concern.  “For instance, a little lavender hue is of no real concern.  But if all the toothpicks turn purple we are in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple,” he added pointing to the crystal ornament in the center of the gazebo.  “Well, then it is too late,” he’d finished with a wry twist of his mouth, which suggested that was a real possibility.

The metering toothpicks had turned to a saturated lavender, and not a pastel lavender like they were the last time I looked.  Cal Hicks gasped, his face painted with concern.  Absinthe and Aubrieta fluttered over to me and inspected the device closely, muttering the while.  Cornelis puckered his lips in an expression that made me think he was about to sidestep something.

“As I’ve said, the lavender hue is of no real concern.  It could be from your doppelgängers being too near, or even from what we consumed at tea,” the alchemist said in an unconcerned tone, but he cast a sidelong glance at the device.Mauve teacup Wileman Co 1893

Several feet away, the small group of coverall clad apes conversed quietly but animatedly among themselves.  I got the feeling that the group had come to a decision.  A very large dark purple chimpanzee came forward.  I thought there was something reluctant in the way he moved.

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Hicks.  We heard the Lord of Alchemy mention doppelgängers.  When we—,” the chimpanzee began haltingly.  “Well, it’s Von, sir — Viola’s son.  When we were in that strange world Von met his double.  They both ended up dead, although none of us saw exactly how it happened,” the chimp said and hung his head.

“You saw nothing at all?” Hicks questioned, pushing for information.

The chimpanzee looked contrite, as if there was something he did not want to disclose.  “Von had that family ring he stole from your son.  There was a man who seemed to recognize the ring.  He tricked Von into giving it to him and then ran off.  Von slipped off to track him.  We found them at a fine home that looked a lot like yours.  But when we got there they were both dead,” the chimp explained.

Naughty Chimps

Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape’s Naughty Chimps

“We took both bodies and hid them,” the chimpanzee added.  “We were afraid of what might happen if the residents of that world noticed the two were doubles.”

Cal Hicks made a tut-tut sound and slowly shook his head.  “Von was a scoundrel and a petty thief,” Hicks commented.  “But he was Viola’s son.  Even after he stole the signet ring from my son Nate, I wouldn’t have wished him dead.”

I still wore the signet ring Cornelis removed from the hand of the cadaver we found in Calvin Hixon’s study.  Cornelis gave it to me so I could pass myself off as Copper’s aunt, and prevent the people from the orphanage taking her away.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the Woman in Trousers

The ring was much too big for my finger, but I had taken to wearing it on a ribbon hung around my neck.  I pulled it out from inside my shirt.  Removing the ribbon I handed the ring to Cal Hicks.  “Is this the ring?” I asked.

“Lady Felicity!  Why yes.  That’s the ring I had made for Nate.  How did you come to have it?” Hicks asked.

He tried to give the ring back to me.  I took the amethyst ape’s large hand in both of mine and closed his thick fingers around the ring.

“It clearly belongs to you, or your son.  I only borrowed it as a way of helping Copper.  We don’t need it anymore,” I said.

Excited chirping and snorting came from the two fairies.  Suddenly Aubrieta popped out of sight.  I heard an agitated screech from inside the laboratory.  Absinthe snorted and then disappeared.  An instant later both tiny fairies reappeared.  Between them they supported an intricately designed astrolabe.  Aubrieta chirped excitedly.  They flew over to Cornelis, and the alchemist gingerly took the apparatus from them.

“What is that thing?” Copper wanted to know.

“It’s an astrolabe,” Cornelis told her.  “They’re used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers.  Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice versa, surveying, and triangulation,” he explained.

Copper looked blankly at Cornelis and blinked.  Absinthe gave an exasperated snort at the Dutchman, clearly dissatisfied with the appropriateness of his definition.  Absinthe fluttered onto Copper’s shoulder and nuzzled into her hair.Astrolabe 2

With a longsuffering sigh, the Dutchman revised his explanation.  “They’re used for solving problems relating to time and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky,” the alchemist clarified and Absinthe seemed satisfied that that explanation was suitable for Copper.

The girl looked at the Green Fairy in hopeful astonishment.  “We can use this to find my Daddy?  Is that what you mean, Absinthe?” she asked the little fairy.

Aubrieta flew to them and hovered near her newly reconciled mate.  Both of the fairies chirped happily to Copper in what seemed to be affirming noises.

“Hopefully the astrolabe can help us get home as well,” I said wryly.

Then I held out the measuring device.  A third of the toothpicks had darkened from a saturated lavender to royal purple.

***

So… the dead man in the study had an ape doppelgänger — and both seem to be a tad dishonest. The fairies may have found a device to find Copper’s daddy, but in which world is Calvin Hickson?  The amethyst world or our own — and how much time do they have to find him if he’s in the purple world?  Meanwhile the metering “toothpicks” deepen in purple hues.

What about those awful people from the orphanage?  What about the woman with a chimp — she lead one of the groups chasing our trio? And the ape who gestured “Daddy” in sign language?

There are many questions yet to be answered. So be at the train station next time.

***

When I saw a cornbread recipe was needed for this episode, I thought of one of the newer supporters of this blog and serial – Cheryl “Cheffie Cooks” Wiser.  I was pleased to find more than one tasty cornbread recipe in her repertoire!

https://clwiser.wordpress.com/

Recipe:  Zucchini Corn Bread Muffins

http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/zucchini-corn-bread-muffins/

Sorry – no photo this time.  Just browse around Cheryl’s blogs – you’ll find plenty to drool over!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 14

What’s in a name?

Last time I promised that this episode would reveal the name of the mysterious Woman in Trousers.  Her name shifted and altered in my mind throughout the week.  But yes, the “things” finally led to the naming of the Woman.  I thought to pay homage to a character from an all but forgotten novella I wrote in my teens. I was quite taken with the name I gave the heroine at the time, although now it seems silly. However, her surname was appropriate to the setting of this serial, so I kept her last name.  No, I’m not going to tell you right now.  (Winks.)

Guy Fabdon? See the Gwydion fab Don myth

Guy Fabdon? See the Gwydion fab Don myth

I’m fascinated with names and their meanings. It’s difficult to reign myself in when I start researching names for characters in my novels. I can spend hours happily digging up a suitable name if I’ve been inspired by mythology (as in Atonement, Tennessee) or pouring over ancient meanings and word origins because I like the meaning of a name to fit the story (as in The Dead of Winter — unpublished, but maybe one day an anime series — yes, I’m dreaming).

Appropriately enough, the “things” for this episode came from Randstein, known to some as Dan, and to a select few as Damnit Dan — I see him laughing now at that unexpected introduction.  The “Damnit Dan” part is a joke. And I, for some reason, feel the need to call him Daniel.  However, some of you might remember seeing him here for my previous serials commenting from Willy Nilly To and Fro, the Philosophy of Inanity.

Dan changed his moniker to Randstein and created a new blog Hyperion Sturm, to explore a different side of his writing than he gave us with “Willy Nilly.”  While I’ve been giving you episodes of my “interactive” steampunk serial, Randstein has shared chapter by chapter a compelling work, In Search of the Garden of Darkness and Light.Randstein

He gives literary voice to stories from his heart and soul.  I once told him that while I write entertainment, he writes literature.  I hope you’ll spend some quality time at Dan’s beautifully, mindfully written blog.

I wish I had been able to find the rich historic background he shared with me about “silk brocade of a white lion,” (one of his things) but it eluded me…  Before that steam locomotive elusively leaves the station, let’s get on track with this episode.  All aboard!

14.  Pen Knife, Indian Head Penny, Brocade of a White Lion

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

Girl with CherriesI reminded myself that there were three sets of foes, not just the group with the hydrofoil.  We seemed to have left the woman commander, 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 must have 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.

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

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.”

1924 Little Dipper Champagne adHe leaned against the locomotive and stared absently at the treetops.  Suddenly he became rigid.  Without moving a muscle he whispered, “Quick.  Give me that knife!”

An emerald aura suddenly engulfed the alchemist.  Cornelis took the folded pen knife and its white mother of pearl handle reflected the green glow.  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 fallen body of a raven.  It reeked with the odor of carrion it had eaten.

“Is it dead?” I asked.

“No, it shouldn’t be.  Although it is stunned,” the Dutchman replied.

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 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 should mean 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.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“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.  Either way, they were not far behind us when we left the riverside.  However, given the speed at which we traveled, no one could have kept up with us,” the alchemist said and his expression became pinched.

Lovers Eye BroochIt 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.

One side of the alchemist’s mouth turned down in a wry expression.  “Yes, it just might have kept pace with us at that.  Perhaps,” he said 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.  They have a broad wingspan so they’re fast, but they don’t have the magically enhanced speed that we used.  So it seems more likely that the raven was flying due north from the riverbank, and intersected our path here,” Cornelis suggested.  “It will resume its flight north while we will turn to the west.”

“I neither like nor trust coincidences, but I suppose that is the most likely answer,” I muttered.

The raven began to stir as we turned and walked away.

“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.

We walked back to the steam engine.  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.

Copper

Copper

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,” the Dutchman 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.

“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.

Steampunk Woman pants“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.”

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.

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.1864 Indian Head penny

“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.”

***

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.

Iron GateI 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.

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.Tiffany Arabesque bell

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.

“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 heavy 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 said.  “But it’s pretty.  I wonder what it looks like inside.”

Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto City, Japan

Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto City, Japan

“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.

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.  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 gushed.  “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 an honor indeed.”

Cornelis waved his hand modestly, denying any honor 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.Koxinga ship

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 him 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.

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.”

***

Be sure to be at the station next time.  The steam locomotive is on schedule and the route is planned — Next time something is finally revealed about the dashing innkeeper, Ignatius Belle.

We didn’t have a food “thing” this time, so I took “cherry” (on which the pen knife was used) from the beginning of this episode as my recipe item.  I didn’t have to search far for a recipe, because I wanted to feature one of the chefs from a new blog group, The Dinner Party Collective (TDPC).  I heard about this from Suzanne Debrango at A Pug in the Kitchen who is also one of the chefs.  So through TDPC I found Sandra and her cherry trifle at Please Pass the Recipe.

Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Cheat’s Choc Cherry Trifle

Cheats Choc Cherry Trifle

Photo and recipe credit:  Please Pass the Recipe.com

http://pleasepasstherecipe.com/2014/09/30/choc-cherry-trifle/

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

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.