Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 13

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 

Steampunk Man pipe-Eugene_Ivanov_2431

Eugene Ivanov

It’s Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  There was not a Straightlaced Saturday chapter last week, so today we pick up where we left off a week ago. 

Remember I’ve mentioned that this serial was originally presented as a “culinary” mystery.  All of the random “things” that drove this spontaneously written chapter were food related.  How do you think I used all those food things to create a story?

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

Chapter 12. 

The alchemist’s head cold continued to wreak havoc with magical sneezes.  However, that didn’t keep our heroes from noticing that someone or some thing was headed their way.  Felicity and Cornelis argued about whether or not they should make a stand. Then the woman in trousers noticed that Copper wasn’t there…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

13 — Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives

File:Broken walls of Vijay Garh Fort.jpg

Public Domain Image

Where could she be?

“Copper!” I called, trying to keep the urgency I felt from showing in my voice.

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

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

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

With a deep sigh I shook my head.  Copper had heard me argue with Cornelis about whether we should make a stand and confront the parties chasing us, or continue running.  I felt terrible that I had gotten angry in front of the child.

“No, this is for us to worry about, Copper,” I told the girl.  “It’s just part of what we’re supposed to do ― to discuss what is the best alternative.  Sometimes discussions get rather heated…  You, on the other hand, are only supposed to be young.  You aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things,” I told her and made sure I smiled.

Copper with Flowers

I tousled that hair the color of a new penny when she looked up at me.  The honking noise escalated. 

“Is that a goose I hear?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

Goosey Goosey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis

Cornelis Drebbel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postcard, Oneida River, Brewerton, New York circa 1910

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

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

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

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

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

Sm Steamboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basil Gill 2

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

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

Really, I thought.  Those two… of all the silliness.

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

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

“You remember Copper, of course,” I said and smiled encouragingly at her. 

I think I tried by force of will to get her to smile at Ignatius Belle.  Apparently, my will was not up to that task. 

“And this is my… Allow me to introduce my associate, Cornelis Drebbel,” I added with a motion toward the Dutchman.

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

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

A visit by Queen Isabella and her husband. The globe-like object on the table at the left is one of Cornelis Drebbels’ attempts at a perpetual-motion clock; the principles which ran it are now lost. Artist, Jan Brueghel the Elder, circa 1621

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

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

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

“What have you in that very interesting looking basket?” I asked Ignatius, but turned my gaze to Copper. 

“Dare I hope for something from Cookie again?” I asked but that time I gave an ever so slight flutter of my eyelashes to the dashing innkeeper.

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

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

Profiteroles, WikiMedia

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

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

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

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

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

“We found the estate deserted,” Ignatius continued.

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

Pensive woman with armillary sphere. Artist unknown. Public Domain

Should I tell Ignatius about the confrontation? I wondered. 

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

To my surprise, Cornelis answered him. 

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

I was relieved with the Dutchman’s explanation to Ignatius.  It was just vague enough.  I don’t know why, but I was glad he didn’t mention the road locomotive.  Although, considering the steam powered paddle boat in which the innkeeper arrived, he might be acquainted with that sort of contraption.

I wondered Ignatius would have been able to deduce our means of transportation by the tracks he saw.  However, I put the thought aside as unlikely. 

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

Perhaps I was over-cautious, but I simply didn’t like the idea of letting people know about the road locomotive.  I manufactured a story about Cornelis arriving at the estate for the purpose of bringing my horses.  I dissembled that my associate saw a number of unsavory types nearby when he neared the estate.

Burrell Road Locomotive

Road Locomotive. Public domain image

Reacting in fear, we left the estate.  However, the horses were unfortunately stolen when we stopped for the night at the abandoned church compound.  Or that was the story I gave the innkeeper.

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

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

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

“I hear he was always designing amazing machines.  Word was that Alexander Graham Bell once contacted him about his design for a hydrofoil,” Ignatius said.

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

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

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

Récolte des olives dans le Var, WikiMedia

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

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

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

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

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Paddle Steamer.  In the early 19th century, paddle wheels were the predominant means of propulsion for steam-powered boats.  A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat powered by a steam engine, which drives paddle wheels to propel the craft through the water.

Even though Copper and the Alchemist distrust him, Woman in Trousers certainly trusts the dashing innkeeper.  He seems to know an awful lot about the Hixon situation.  That bothers me.  Has he won over Copper and Cornelis with food?  Stay tuned.

This week there will not be a Straightlaced Saturday episode of the serial.  You may have seen my cover reveal for the long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee.  Or you might have seen the wonderful Thursday Atonement Doors post Dan Antion did in honor of it.  I will officially launch Atonement in Bloom this Saturday, October 20th.  It’s no ordinary book launch.  I’m having a party bus with a couple dozen of your friends along for the trip.  There will also be an Atonement, TN Book Fair, with 18 books from other authors for you to browse!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next week for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

Hiedbound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 12

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  My blog-writing time is limited to the weekend, and it was a very busy one.  So without further ado, here’s chapter 12.

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

Chapter 11. 

Felicity thought one of the voices she heard back at the Hixon estate could have belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Thanks to the magically juiced road locomotive, Copper, the alchemist, and the woman in trousers outdistanced the three presumably hostile groups that pursued them.  However, when the speeding engine took a turn too fast, the woman and the skull of the alchemist ended up in the frigid waters of the river.  The resultant head colds for those two temporarily stalled their adventure.  Not to mention the strange things that rained down when the alchemist sneezed.

Do you think we need to open our umbrellas before we join them?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

12 — Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper

Frog Hoyt Cologne ad 1900 wiki

Hoyt & Co. cologne ad circa 1900

Cornelis Drebbel rolled his watery eyes up toward the frog that sat atop his head. 

“Huh.  Huh—” Cornelis began and quickly put his finger under his nose in attempt to forestall yet another sneeze.  The frog wisely jumped down from his head.

“For pity’s sake!  There’s no telling what will rain down on us if you sneeze again!” I said, though I knew the alchemist couldn’t help himself.

Ah-choo!” was the answer to my plea.

Another wet splat soon came.  What smelled like a very savory reddish-brown sauce splashed onto the legs of my trousers.  I drew back, annoyed.  I finally had been able to put on clean dry clothes, and they’d already been stained.  Cornelis bent down with a curious expression on his face.  Copper left off playing with the frogs to see what new wonder was produced by the sneeze of the alchemist.

He picked up the sauce covered thing that made the wet splat.  I asked what it was as I tried to clean the warm goo from my pant legs.

1860s Woman Handkerchief tintipe

“It appears to be the short ribs of a swine,” he said as he pulled the meat into two pieces and licked the sauce from one.  “Umm.  Tasty,” he commented.

I made a disgusted face.  “Since that is the product of your sneeze, isn’t it rather like the equivalent of eating your own buggers?” I asked; just to see how he would react.

Copper burst out in a gale of laughter.  Cornelis looked at me.  One side of his mouth turned down in an expression of contempt.  Cornelis raised an eyebrow and cast his eyes downward at the ribs.  Then he shot a glare at me and took a big bite of the meat, licking his fingers for good measure.

Then the second wave came.  Short ribs fell all around us.  They landed on my shoulder and in my hair.  They pelted the alchemist, who suddenly had sauce smeared across his nose.  Even Copper wasn’t spared — nor were the frogs.  Riotous ribbits ensued as the amphibians leapt for cover from the rain of ribs.

Ad for medicine, circa 1900.  Public domain

After calm returned, Cornelis and I discussed the three groups who converged on the Hixon estate.  We both agreed that their only logical purpose would have been to abduct Copper.  I supposed that was good at least in as far as it should mean her father was still alive.  Of course that was no guarantee, as Cornelis quickly pointed out.  Fortunately the girl had gone back to playing with the frogs and didn’t hear that comment.

Suddenly I beheld the strangest sight, and mind you, I have seen some very bizarre things since the alchemist came into my life.  Hundreds of frogs made a procession toward the huge wrent in the building’s wall.  Several hopped huddled together as they balanced an eggplant on their backs and heads.

Copper skipped along beside the strange spectacle.  I told her not to go outside.  She stopped and nodded regretfully as the frogs carried their eggplant away.  I asked Cornelis what that could possibly be about. 

“One sneeze doesn’t always produce a singular effect.  The eggplant could have come from the same accident of alchemy that created the frogs,” he said.

The Dutchman shrugged it off.  Even so, something nagged at me. 

The frogs continued to stream out of the building.  I followed in the opposite direction, tracing the line of amphibians to their source.  Cornelis followed my lead.  Ever curious, Copper came along too.  With a ribbit, a last frog hopped out of a crate.  The large wooden box was almost intact.  Only one corner of it was broken.

vintage red pepper

I started to try and pry the crate further open to get a better look.  Then, eyes bulging, Cornelis tapped his finger on the label he’d found on the container.

It was marked κόκκινο πιπέρι, and I thought the address was Macedonia, but I wasn’t sure.  “What’s wrong?  I don’t recognize the language,” I said.

Cornelis shook his head and pursed his lips.  “Your education was sorely lacking,” he complained.

“It was not,” I countered.

“This, κόκκινο πιπέρι or kókkino pipéri if you will, is Greek,” he informed me.  “It means red pepper.  So show a bit of mercy and do not open that crate.  I don’t think I can bear another sneeze!”

“Then move away, old thing,” I told him with a motion of my arm.  “There might be good provisions in that crate.  Clearly we can’t depend on your sneezes to always provide food.”

The truth was, having spotted that strange writing, I secretly hoped I would find a clue about something, anything in the crate. 

I had removed the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers from the owl-shaped lamp.  I relished learning something before Cornelis figured it out, and I itched to do it again.

Who knows secrets might hide in a huge wooden crate?  I thought with anticipation.

Yet, I didn’t want the Dutchman to know that lest he tease me if there was nothing of interest in the wooden box.  Unfortunately, it did not yield anything that appeared to be a clue.

***

Copper curious w-green

Cornelis Drebbel and I argued.  Again.

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

The alchemist rolled his eyes heavenward.

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

“And just how do you propose we make a stand?” the alchemist acerbically retorted.  “We don’t know how many of them there are, but the one thing we do know is that we are sorely outnumbered.  Knowing their identifies is of no use if we are overwhelmed by our foes in the process of learning who they are,” Cornelis said with exaggerated patience.

I realized he had a point, though I hated to admit it.

A frantic honking noise interrupted our disagreement.

“Where is Copper?” I asked, suddenly worried.

While I knew nothing about children, abhorrent as it was to Victorian society for a woman to be unacquainted with child-rearing, I did have good insights into human nature.  When people argued it had an effect on those around them.  That was even more true of children. Copper had been through unimaginable upheaval, and taken away from every familiar thing and person.

Had the argument between the alchemist and me caused her to run away?

Copper!”

***

To be continued…

***

Could our little moppet have run away?  Even if she only got bored and went to explore, is it safe for Copper to wander around the abandoned compound?  They seem to have eluded their pursuers.  Yet have they really?

I hope you saw my big cover reveal.  If not then click the arrow at the bottom of the page.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again in a few days for Straightlaced Saturday.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

Straightlaced Saturday Day — Cornelis Drebbel 11

Saturday, October 6, 2018 

Steampunk woman Noel Nichols Unsplash.png

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, and another episode of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in TrousersIf you enjoyed my 1920s stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip — keep an eye out.  My characters begin to feel left out when I start new stories.  Keep an eye out in this episode.

This time we finish with the last in the set of “three things” — Airtights.  

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

Chapter 10. 

Felicity pieced events together and concluded that their foes were after the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.  She also figured out that a familiar voice she heard (when they came dangerously close to one group of their pursuers) belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard. 

We are about to learn how they came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes, when the previous episode began with Felicity’s head-cold induced ramble.

When we left, we learned that the alchemist didn’t know how to stop the rapidly careening road locomotive.  Dare we join them?

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

11 — Airtights

Édouard_Bisson_-_A_Portrait_of_a_Lady_in_a_Black_Hat wiki

Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms (1895) by Edouard Bisson

We careened across the country side.  The clouds drifted away from the moon.  I saw that there was a bend in the river ahead.  “Lovely,” I commented sarcastically.  “Now we’ll leave the course of the river and get lost in the countryside,” I said assuming the locomotive would continue to travel in a straight line.

“No, but that would be preferable,” Cornelis called back to me.  “The engine is following the river.  It won’t veer from that course.  And we’re going too fast to take that curve!” he cried just as the traction engine teetered onto two wheels.

My hatbox flew out of the engine and into the river.  With an oath that was in no way feminine, I dove into the frigid darkness of the water after my hatbox.  There was no choice.  The hatbox contained the skull of Cornilis Drebble.

Skull Green SIlks

 

The hatbox wasn’t heavy, and apparently a pocket of air had been trapped inside, preventing it from sinking fast.  I was able to get my hands on it without diving to the deepest reaches of the river.  However my heavy skirt and bulky bustle hindered me rising back to the surface.

As my heavy clothes pulled me down, I struggled to remove them and still hold onto the hatbox.  However, I wasn’t having much success.  Something tapped my neck and gave me a tiny electric shock.  When I turned I saw a thin filament of glowing green.  I associated the luminous verdant color with the Dutchman’s tricks.  But the tendril was so slim; I didn’t see how it could possibly help me.

Yet with no other help in sight I tentatively touched the glowing strand.  It wrapped itself gently around my wrist, and pulled me easily to the surface of the river.  Then it continued to lift me upward and onto the road locomotive.  I noted that the engine had stopped.

Copper applauded enthusiastically.  Cornelis took a bow as if the entire catastrophe had been part of a show, while I sat shivering, soaked, and sulky.  My frock was ruined, along with my favorite top hat.  Even the dratted bustle was a loss, as it was the least uncomfortable one I had ever found.

The alchemist’s skull was safe and sound, if cold and wet.

Cornelis Drebbel Alcmariensis

Cornelis Drebbel

With another surge of magical speed, Cornelis drove the engine past the next few towns, staying on the outskirts.  The engine was noisy, and naturally we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves, particularly since we didn’t know who was chasing us.  However, it zoomed by the towns with such speed, that I doubted anyone could have figured out what caused the sudden noise.

Far out into the countryside we came upon an abandoned church that seemed to watch protectively over a few other buildings that were within the same tumbledown stone fence.  One of the buildings was quite large and part of the back wall had fallen.  It was easily large enough to conceal the road locomotive.

The building held a number of old crates.  Each was tagged with owner’s information.  Apparently at one time the building had been used as private storage space.

Cold and still damp from my dive into the river, I leaned against a tall crate, suddenly feeling extremely weary.  Then I sneezed.  By the time I had wiped my nose, Cornelis was sniffling too.  The minute I looked at the alchemist I knew that he had the nearest thing to a head cold that is possible for him to catch.  I sneezed again, knowing I had the real McCoy

Now you know how we came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes.

 

 

***

I grabbed my suitcase and hid behind a stack of crates to change into my trousers and a shirt.  It would have been worth a dunk in the river to get back into my preferred clothes, if not for my top hat being ruined.

That’s when I started paying attention to all the crates.  Many of the wooden storage boxes were opened or damaged, probably from whatever caused one of the walls to fall.  They contained all manner of things.  From one opened crate random items of apparel spilled to the floor, including the royal blue muff I mentioned.  There was a label on the side of the crate, Property of Alastair Wong Sr.

A packet of letters was tied together with a red ribbon.  When I picked them up I detected a trace of lavender perfume.  Love letters, I thought as my curiosity pressed me to open one and read it.  I looked at the return address and found they were to the afore mentioned Alastair Wong from a Phanny Idelle Peabody in Savannah, Georgia, USA.  I put the letters down when something more important caught my eye.

Preserve Produce ad

Another was packed with airtights, as a cowboy friend of mine called them — canned goods.  Several of the jars contained preserves.  Those magical stacks of sourdough pancakes wouldn’t go to waste after all.  Not all of them at least; there were far too many for three people to eat, even with Copper’s voracious appetite.  I wondered if the pancakes were still warm.

“Do it again!” Copper said enthusiastically to Cornelis.

I couldn’t help laughing at the sad, red-eyed expression on his face when the girl wanted him to sneeze yet again.

“It is no game,” Cornelis told Copper in a stuffy nasal voice.

Suppressing another sneeze of my own, I took pity on the alchemist.  I held up a jar of apricot preserves and asked Copper if she’d seen any cutlery in the opened crates.  Her mouth made a silent “Oooh,” when she saw the jar and the girl hurried away in search of a fork.

Judging by the disarray and debris, most of the crates had been searched for valuables after whatever catastrophe happened to the building.  The damage looked old too.  There was an abandoned feeling about the place that I found mildly disconcerting.

“What sort of place do you suppose this is, Cornelis?” I pondered aloud.  “Have we sheltered in some sort of ghost town?  One would think a religious compound like this would be part of a town.  But I get the feeling that there isn’t another soul for miles around.”

The alchemist nodded affirmatively.  “Indeed.  I get the same sense of things,” he agreed.  “It will be dawn soon and the light of day will tell us much.”

Cornelis plopped down on a pile of clothing as if it were a bed.  Apparently the clothes had been sitting there for quite some time.  A cloud of dust puffed up when he landed on them.  The dust tickled my nose and I put my finger firmly between my nose and upper lip.

“Don’t you dare!” Cornelis warned me.  “You know that — huh — if you do — huh — then I will too!” he said just as we both sneezed loudly.

I looked at Cornelis Drebbel.  He looked at me.  Nothing happened.  Copper ran back so us, carrying several forks and even some plates.  She stopped and stared expectantly at the Dutchman.  He and I looked at each other again.  Still nothing happened.  Copper looked disappointed.  I sighed with relief.

Frog Handkerchief Soap adThen elsewhere in the building I heard a wet splat.  And another.  A funny little guttural sound traveled to my ears.  It was followed by several dozen more wet splat sounds, and the sounds were coming closer.  A splat sounded right beside me.  I turned to see Cornelis wearing a sad-eyed long suffering expression.  His eyes rolled to look upward.  A frog sat squarely on top of his head.

Ribbit,” the frog looked at me and said.  A chorus of ribbits from all around the building answered.

Copper laughed with delight.  I chortled despite myself.  However, my merriment stopped as, splat-splat-splat, frogs rained down upon us.

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Airtights.  Yes they are a thing! Nicolas Appert was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the “father of canning,” was a confectioner.  A hermetic seal is any type of sealing that makes a given object airtight (excludes the passage of air, oxygen, or other gases). The term originally applied to airtight glass containers, but as technology advanced it applied to a larger category of materials, including rubber and plastics. 

Is Sheriff Alvin Bullard one of the bad guys?  He seemed harmless enough with his amusingly thick mustache.  Will our trio keep running, no matter how far, to escape the villains who would kidnap Copper?  Or will they turn and fight?  They’re awfully outnumbered.

I hope you saw my big cover reveal.  If not then click the arrow at the bottom of the page.  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 10

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 

Skull Green SIlks

The Skull of the Alchemist

Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, where we continue our Victorian (#SteamPunk) adventure from Straightlaced Saturday.  This episode brings up some health matters for the characters.   That wouldn’t be surprising if you knew that I wrote it in March of 2015, during a huge snowfall.  I hate snow, so I was really missing the home I left behind in in New Mexico where snow melts quickly.  The things were from an old friend there.  

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

Chapter 9

Cornelis got the road locomotive running.  I’m not sure whether it was an accident of alchemy or not, but with the help of two harmonic tuners, he turned the attacking chimpanzees into ceramic statues. Copper said one of them used sign language to say the word “daddy.” Cornelis thought they meant to lure Copper into a trap.

The other two groups of apparent foes were closer, mere minutes away… 

However, Felicity is a bit under the weather at the moment, so this episode begins with a bit of a ramble.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

10 — Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes

Lily Elsie 1900 muff

Lily Elsie circa 1900, English actress-singer

Do you mind terribly if I digress for a moment?  Just because I find long full skirts and bustles inconvenient and impractical, it doesn’t mean that I don’t relish fine things.  I disdain corsets, but that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying an elegant gown.  I actually do have an appreciation and an eye for quality workmanship and materials.  So why would Cornelis and Copper give me such incredulous looks when I delightedly produced a lovely royal blue velvet, fur lined muff from an open crate filled with finery?  Really, their reaction was rather offensive.  

There was a pocket inside the muff made especially for a gun.  Unfortunately, I had not had a muff pistol for a long time.  A pity that — the inconspicuous firearm could come in handy.  But I ramble.  That’s a story for another day.  Let’s get back to the story at hand, shall we?

Image result for vintage fashion frilly magazine cover

Too Early by Tissot, 1873

***

Cornelis groaned.  I glanced in his direction apprehensively.  Copper sat enthralled, watching the alchemist.  I ducked behind a crate for cover.

“Huh.  Huh.  Huh,” Cornelis gasped in advance of a sneeze and I cringed.

Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t precisely get sick, due to his unique state of existence.  However, he could get the equivalent of a very bad head cold.  The effects of which ranged from amusing to alarming.

Ah-choo!” I inadvertently finished for him, as my own head cold was the genuine article.

“God bless you — and everybody around you!” Copper exclaimed, her favorite blessing for a large splashy sneeze.

I took out my handkerchief and blew my nose in a most unladylike way.  Then it happened.  Cornelis abruptly finished his sneeze, with no preamble whatsoever.  Before the sound died away, before the rain of spittle settled, the effects of the alchemist’s mighty “AH-CHOO!” were revealed.

Copper - Victorian young girl

Copper

Every sneeze had a different result.  Knee-high stacks of sourdough pancakes surrounded us, the manifestation of his first ah-choo.  It would have been nice if the subsequent sneeze rained syrup onto the pancakes, as they looked quite delicious.  But I supposed that was just as well.  It would have been dreadfully messy. 

Instead, the next sudden involuntary expulsion of air from his nose and mouth created a hail of doorknobs.  That was rather dangerous.  Cornelis got a goose-egg on his head from where one landed on him.  For once the wretched bustle of my skirt was useful, as it deflected two knobs that would have assaulted me.

An electric crackle in the air was the only warning of the alchemic sneeze effect.  I put my arms over my head when I heard it.  I held my breath, wondering what this sneeze would bring.  Something smacked against my forearm.  I noted with relief that it was neither hard nor heavy.  Hundreds of delicate thumps sounded as chrysanthemum blossoms rained down all around us.

Ah-choo-choo-choo!” I triple-sneezed.  I was appallingly allergic to chrysanthemums.  As if my head cold was not enough.

Yet, I digressed again… I still haven’t gotten back to the point where we left this story.

How did Cornelis Drebbel and I come to have head colds, you might ask?  It happened something like this…

Chrysanthemums, WikiMedia Commons

***

Clouds blocked the light of the moon.  Rather than risk blindly heading into the darkness, Corneils and I chose to follow the nearby river.  At least that way we wouldn’t become lost.  However, that route took us closer to one of our three groups of pursuers. 

We still had no idea who any of them were.  Cornelis had made the group of chimpanzees scatter with the magically enhanced road locomotive, and their three leaders became a ceramic statue of “the wise monkeys.”  However, I didn’t think whomever controlled the chimps was out of the picture.

Our unknown adversaries were much too close for comfort.  I could distinguish different voices as they shouted to each other.  One seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place who it was.

“Over there!” a man shouted.

We’d been seen.  Cornelis muttered in the odd sounding language he used to work his tricks.  I felt a peculiar sensation that made the hair on my arms stand up.  Suddenly the road locomotive lurched in an impressive burst of speed.  Copper squealed with delight.  Our pursuers were quickly left far behind — whoever they were. 

White_Mill_sunset

White Mill in Sandwich, Kent, England. WikiMedia

Lights shone from every window in a building ahead.  As we got closer I saw that it was the local grist mill.  “I wouldn’t expect anyone at the mill this late,” I commented but Cornelis didn’t understand me because of our noisy conveyance.

“Look,” the Dutchman said.  “Someone is at the grist mill.  Doesn’t the sheriff own half of it?  Maybe we should stop there, get the authorities involved.”

I mouthed the word “No.”  As soon as I heard the word “sheriff” something fell into place in my mind.  I had heard a vaguely familiar voice amid the distant shouting of our pursuers.  Suddenly I realized that voice sounded a lot like Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Could the sheriff be involved in whatever was going on? 

Leaning close to Cornelis Drebbel my lips were a hair away from his ear so I could make him hear me above the noise of the traction engine.

“I always knew you were sweet on me,” he teased drolly before I could speak.

The temptation to swat the alchemist was strong.  However, I voiced my concern about the sheriff.  Cornelis made an appropriate face and nodded. 

close-up photo of man with mustache

Sheriff Bullard’s big mustache

“Onward then!” he shouted and gave the locomotive another burst of speed.

I pieced things together, and I believed everything that had happened was connected.  We already knew these things…  Mr. Hixon, Copper’s father, disappeared.  People from the orphanage were keen to take Copper before anyone should have even known her father was missing.  An unknown dead man was found in Calvin Hixon’s study and trained chimpanzees spirited the corpse away.  Three groups of adversaries converged on the Hixon estate, presumably to abduct Copper.  I believed all those things were related to the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.

The road locomotive had been traveling at an astonishing speed for quite a while.  The grist mill was long gone, and I hadn’t seen another building in some time.  Shouting to be heard above the noise of the engine, I suggested that it was safe for us to slow down.  In answer Cornelis gave me an all too familiar sheepish look.

“Don’t tell me…” I warned the Dutchman. 

I was right.  He didn’t know how to slow down the road locomotive!

640px-Road_locomotive__John_boy__(5605531950)

Road Locomotive, WikiMedia Commons

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Sourdough Pancakes.  Yes they are a thing!  I mean more than a “three things” kind of thing.  Take a look.

Balderdash! Now we have a double dose of cliffhanging. Felicity’s (aka the Woman in Trousers) narration started out a touch unreliably.  She and Cornelis were sick, but she had gotten ahead of the story when she told us that.  So, she’s left us with the very questionable sheriff on their heels — and Cornelis doesn’t know how to stop the rapidly moving road locomotive!

The last “thing” in this set is Airtights.  What the devil are aritights?

I’ll preempt Straightlaced Saturday for a big reveal of my own!  So Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will be back again next Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

A Revealing Straightlaced Saturday — Cornelis Drebbel 9

Saturday, September 29, 2018 

Cover Copper Alchemist Woman n Trousers

It’s another “Revealing” Straightlaced Saturday. The first blogger I got acquainted with — back in November of 2012, for National Novel Writing Month, was  Mary J McCoy-Dressel.  In 2015 she provided the “things/ingredients” for Wednesday’s episode and for this one.  Mary made an off-handed, fanciful comment about destiny… and as you saw in episode 8, I ran with it.  You’ll also find “Destiny” in her collection of cowboy romance novels.

Today I’m giving a shout-out for Mary’s cover reveal of Hooked by Sundown.  Keep an eye on her blog for details.  At this writing, I know the book is almost ready.  It might even be available by the time this post goes live.

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, western romance author, Book Three Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series, Blog Post Cover Reveal

This episode brings us to the third of the three things from Mary J McCoy-Dressel.  Let’s see how “ceramic statue” came into the story.

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

Chapter 8

The bobbing lights of torches in the night told us that multiple parties were moving toward the Hixon estate.  Our heroes had to hurry.  Copper over-burdened herself with a heavy bag of “necessities,” but the mindful moppet actually had chosen important things.  Felicity and Copper headed back to Cornelis, where the alchemist was trying to get (the still missing) Calvin Hixon’s road locomotive in working order.  And then…

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

9 — Ceramic Statue

Ape Eyes 2

Composite Unsplash images, monkeying around by Teagan

A simian scream split the air.  It came from the far end of the lawn, in the direction of the shade tree where I had tied my borrowed horse when I arrived at the Hixon estate.  At that moment I could have wished for a fast horse, but Ignatius Belle had taken his dapple mare back into town with him.  I heard simian screeching in the distance, growing closer and ever wilder.  It made my skin crawl.

Two pinpoints of light seemed to stare at me from the high branches of the tree.  I shuddered when I realized it was one of the chimpanzees.  It must have come ahead of the others, like some kind of advance guard.  I was amazed at how well the creatures were trained.  Who could possibly train and control animals in such a remarkable way?

The chimp must have seen me looking back at him.  It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder.  His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly.  It sounded like there were a lot of them.  I remembered nervously how strong they were.  I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand.  I had to make sure we weren’t separated.

Boadicea traction engine Great Dorset Steam Fair.jpg

Road Locomotive, Boadicea — Public Domain Image

An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder.  However, the noise was not simian, rather it was a metallic sound.  Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam.  The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open.  The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack, clickity-clack.  As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.

Copper squeezed my hand.  I followed her gaze.  The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree.  They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive.  One and then another would chatter to the others.  I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.

One very large chimp moved far ahead of the rest.  Standing alone, he gesticulated wildly.  He paused, screeched and repeated what seemed to be the same set of motions.  It did seem a little odd to me, but the antics of angry apes were not something I had time to consider, not in those circumstances.

“Daddy…” Copper murmured.

Poor Copper, I thought, pleading for her missing father.  “Everything’s going to be fine,” I shouted to be heard above the chimpanzees and the noise of the approaching road locomotive.

Cornelis built up speed with the engine and charged directly into the group of chimps.  The apes scattered with wild complaints.  The accident of alchemy that left him in his strange state, also gave him some otherworldly powers.  When he blew the locomotive’s whistle, it belched a long gout of green flame with a sound so shrill and loud my ears rang long after the noise was gone.

Magic Flame unsplash

Unsplash, modified

“Don’t hurt them!” Copper shrieked, and I supposed she hadn’t grasped how strong and dangerous a pack of attacking and very large adult chimpanzees actually were.

“Those are no organ grinder’s monkeys!” I cried.

“Chimpanzees!” Cornelis reminded me.

Yes, he corrected me at a time like that.  The alchemist could be absolutely insufferable with that kind of thing.

The Dutchman blew the locomotive’s whistle a second time and it went to an escalating pitch that climbed until I could no longer hear it.  However, I could feel that the awful sound was still there.  The chimpanzees screamed in pain.  The group of them scattered and ran away.  Or I thought they did.

The alchemist brought the road locomotive back around to where Copper and I stood.  He jumped down from the engine, grinning ear to ear.  He was quite pleased with himself.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“Isn’t it an amazing machine!” Cornelis exclaimed.

“How did you do that?  With the green flame and the sound,” I asked as I rubbed my fingers inside my ears.

“You liked?” he said with bobbing eyebrows.  “I could have done more if I’d thought to bring the harmonic tuner.”

At that comment, Copper retrieved the device that looked like a decorative silver bell and handed it to the Dutchman.  He bowed and thanked her effusively.  I saw that she also held the monkey bell her father had given her.

Cornelis lithely climbed back onto the locomotive.  He held out his hand for Copper but she couldn’t quite reach, so I gave her a boost from behind as I climbed.  Then I saw the apes.  Three of them remained, undeterred from whatever their mission was.  I had to assume they meant to capture Copper.

A very human-like, extremely strong hand grabbed my ankle before I could get onto the engine.  When I looked down, all I could see were the big chimpanzee’s bared teeth.

I struggled to hang onto the locomotive.  Copper grabbed my arm to try and help, but then I feared that if the chimp pulled me free, that she would be dragged down with me.  I was relieved to notice that Cornelis still had her other hand.

“Cornelis!  Go!” I yelled and he saw the three chimps.

Victorian boot right

The locomotive jolted back to life.  I was afraid I would lose my grip if I moved, but I kicked backward with my other foot.  My boot heel thudded softly against something and the chimp’s hold on my ankle loosened enough for me to dislodge him.

In the commotion our lantern fell to the grassy ground.  A small fire spilled around the torch, but it was slow to spread, as the weather had been damp throughout the week.

The three chimps looked at one another and chattered.  One of them motioned with his simian hands.  I recognized him for the same chimp who had gestured so insistently before.  He fiercely looked right into my eyes.  Was that really the same set of motions he made earlier?  I saw their muscles bunch as the trio of adult chimpanzees readied to jump onto the locomotive.  I knew we could not fight off all three of them.

The alchemist began muttering odd sounding words that I quickly recognized for the strange language he used when he was about to do something that would either end horribly or be extraordinary.

Green LIghts Drew Collins_1466939721550-ad3ef4b9eeec

Unsplash

He held the harmonic tuner in one hand, but still held protectively onto Copper with his other hand.  The “bell” began to make that strange multi-level sound it had generated before.  I could see an aura vibrate around it.  The sound and sensation doubled.  I realized half of it was coming from a second source.

That was when I saw that Copper held the cherished “mystic monkeys” bell her father had given her.  It was the second source of the harmonic sound.  A tri-colored aura made a rainbow around the bell and the girl.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and wondered if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

“Dear God,” I said in a strangely pulsating voice that sounded odd to my own ears.

Cornelis only glanced at me, so focused was he on his task. 

“It’s another harmonic tuner!” I said just as the alchemist finished the magic he was working.

He looked at me with a wide-eyed expression of shock at my words.  I was jolted and nearly fell from the engine as an aura that matched the one surrounding Copper quickly engulfed the three of us and the road locomotive too.  I felt more than saw something radiate out from the aura.  It stretched, expanded, and then contracted abruptly.

yellow pillar candle in black lantern

Blažević, Unsplash

The harmonic sounds staggered as they dwindled.  The auras vanished.  The world was incredibly quiet after the bombardment of sounds.  Nature did not stir.  The noises of night were silent.  As I looked down from the engine the first thing that caught my eye was a shining spot of celadon green.  It was our lantern, it lay where it had fallen with flickers of what once had been flames in the grass around it.  The little fires were cold and unmoving.

I started to climb down from the road locomotive.  Cornelis reminded me to use caution.  I scanned the area, but I didn’t see the chimps anywhere. 

Then I saw it. 

I jumped down from the engine.  A large celadon green ceramic statue rested on the ground.  Three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil stood transformed.

three wise monkeys statuette on log at daytime

Joao Tzanno, Unsplash

“Are they still alive in there?” Copper wanted to know of the transmuted chimpanzees as she looked over my shoulder. 

Cornelis and I exchanged a knowing glance.  Copper looked inexplicably dismayed, considering how the creatures had been attacking us.

“Possibly so,” the Dutchman told the girl and she looked less upset.  “Quite possibly so.”

She brushed a tear from her cheek. 

“Daddy!” Copper cried.  “He was saying ‘daddy’ when he waved his arms around,” she said to my astonishment.

“Do you mean sign language?” I asked incredulous, but Copper nodded.

“I think so,” Copper said.  “He wasn’t doing it right, but it looked like he was trying to say daddy.”

The idea of an ape communicating through sign language was preposterous.  I thought it was wishful thinking on Copper’s part.  I could have thrown something at Cornelis when he made a comment that basically encouraged the fantasy.  I frowned and made a face when my next thought was that the Dutchman would just use one of his tricks to let anything I threw pass right through him.

A Christmas entertainment, presented in sign language for th Wellcome V0016543.jpg

A Victorian Christmas entertainment, presented in sign language

“He likely wanted you to believe he could lead you to your father,” Cornelis said.  “But you know they were naughty monkeys, and you could not trust them,” he added and Copper nodded her reluctant agreement.

“Chimpanzees,” I said because I couldn’t resist turning the Dutchman’s correction on him.

His eyes narrowed but he didn’t respond to my taunt.  Instead, he looked past me. 

“We’ve no time to doddle,” Cornelis reminded us.  “The other two groups are mere minutes away.”

When I turned to look I saw the torches again.  There were two groups, one larger than the other.  They still approached from different directions, but they were indeed much closer. 

***

To be continued…

***

Real World Notes

Chimpanzee Sign Language.  Washoe was a female chimpanzee, the first non-human to learn to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).  It was part of an experiment on animal language acquisition.  Washoe learned approximately 350 signs of ASL.  She also taught her adopted son Loulis some signs.

The question remains — who controls the chimpanzees?  Was it Copper’s fertile imagination, or did the chimp really try to use sign language to say something about her father?  Who are the other two groups of pursuers? 

I’m not sure whether Cornelis Drebbel meant to turn the chimpanzees into statues, or if it was one of his accidents of alchemy.  Our trio narrowly avoided capture by those naughty chimps, but two more groups of what must surely be villains are almost there.   

The next set of things are Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes, and AirtightsTune in for Hidebound Hump Day to see where those take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  I’ll be looking for you at the station. 

Hugs! 

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 6

On Wings of WhimsyRocking chair

The four naughty chimps probably weren’t as much of a surprise to those of you who have been with Teagan’s Books for awhile.  I don’t think I can get more whimsical than a ghost cowboy riding a giant seahorse.  I really shouldn’t let those wings of whimsy sprout again, lest you think I’m off my Victorian rocker…

However, I was talking to Mary J McCoy-Dressel, when she provided the “things/ingredients” for this episode.  She made an off-handed, fanciful comment and… well… I ran with it.  I’ll let you guess which “thing” gave wings of whimsy to this episode.

I hope you’ll check out Mary’s blogs and books. I think of Mary as a romance writer extraordinaire.  She has a veritable dynasty of gentleman cowboys and “sensual, contemporary western romance” books.

Mary DD Ranch 3 bks

It’s time to get back on track with this weekend’s episode.  Be sure to take the train all the way to the end of the line for this weekend’s recipe.  All aboard!

From last time:

“What is it?” I asked once I could see Cornelis Drebbel properly again.

“There are people coming.  More than one group.  From more than one direction,” he said sounding like he was still trying to understand what he saw.  “We have to hurry.”

6. Soup Bone, Destiny, Ceramic Statue

“Copper!” I called.  “We have to hurry.  Where are you?”

I had climbed the narrow stairs up to the tiny room at the top of the turreted tower of the lovely Hixon estate.  I wanted to get the best possible view of the land around me, but I didn’t hold much hope of seeing anything in the dark.

The Empress of Little Rock

The Empress of Little Rock

Opening the window, I leaned out precariously.  Although I needn’t have been concerned about falling out — the wretched bustle on my skirt wouldn’t fit through the window.  I exhaled in exasperation at the convention of fashion I had to adopt.

When I looked to my right, I saw a small light.  At first I took it for a firefly, but it wasn’t.  It was too far away, I wouldn’t see a firefly at such a distance.  Then I saw another light near it — and two more.  Torches.  They moved steadily toward the house.

Bustle-CorsetI twisted my torso and looked to my left.  There I spotted more lights, coming from the west.  One lantern held still and several others moved toward it.  I had no doubt that the group of them would also begin moving toward the Hixon estate soon.

However, Cornelis detected three groups, each approaching from a different direction.  Quickly I walked across the round turreted room to the other window.  I stretched out as far as I could, but I didn’t see anything.

If only there were more stars, or a bigger moon, I thought.  Well then, if I couldn’t see, perhaps I could hear.  I held very still and strained to hear, isolating the sounds of nature, the insects and owls.  Faint and far off I heard growls and barks, but they were only canine.  Probably two dogs fighting over a soup bone.

Abruptly the dogs gave a startled yip.  Then I heard the familiar screeching and chattering of chimpanzees.  I still couldn’t see anything.  I wondered how far away they were.  Of the two groups with torches one seemed to be about as far away as the other.  I could only guess about the chimps.  Their cacophony might carry a long way in the quiet of the night.  Or for all I knew, they might be nearer than the others.

I hurried down the turret stairs and headed for the bedrooms to find Copper.  When I told the girl to only get the most important things, I’d meant clean nickers, stockings, and a change of clothes…  However, she struggled to carry a sizable carpet bag.  It was black with a floral design done in cheery shades of mauve and red.  It also looked too heavy to contain only the “important things” I told her to gather.Victorian knickers

Shaking my head I looked at the bag.  “Copper, there’s no time for me to sort through your bag and get the things you really need,” I said resignedly.  “I hope you chose well, because it certainly seems you chose enough.”

The girl tried to mollify me by holding out the harmonic tuner — the erstwhile silver dinner bell from the Belle Inn.  In truth I was pleased with her quick thinking.  No one told her to look for it.  I smiled despite myself.  I didn’t know what to do with a harmonic tuner, but Cornelis did.  It might prove very useful.

When Copper shifted the heavy bag I heard a muffled but pretty chime.  “That doesn’t sound like something ‘important’ now, does it?” I said and with a groan hefted the heavy carpet bag.

“Yes it is!” she insisted.  “Daddy gave it to me.  It’s the most important thing I have.”

Previously the Copper I had come to know was logical, creative, and resilient.  To my surprise the girl’s lower lip began to tremble.  How could I be so insensitive?  She really was just a kid.  Copper had been through enough in the past few days to make any adult a nervous wreck.  And now Cornelis and I were about to tear her away from her home and run headlong into parts unknown.

Feeling ashamed of myself, I put the bag down and put my arms around Copper for a hug, which she returned with a sob.  “Go ahead and cry if you need to,” I said softly.

She sniffled, shook her head, and wiped her nose on her sleeve.  “I’m fine,” she said.

Tiffany Arabesque bellCopper opened the bag.  I saw with relief that she had packed the owl-shaped lamp, the base of which held the priceless letter and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.  She removed whatever made the chiming sound.  I didn’t get a look at it because she was quick to secret it inside her blue cape.  I felt like such a heel when I thought she must be afraid I’d take her father’s gift away from her.

“May I see it?” I asked, trying to make amends.

It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.  After dealing with the real life chimpanzees, I could have wished the design was of anything but apes.  However, I wasn’t the girl whose father had made it a cherished gift.  Even so, it was artistically rendered in a style that made me think it was a Japanese antique.  It was likely quite valuable.

I nodded appreciatively.  “Of course you should keep it with you.  Put it some place safe, so you don’t drop it,” I said.

“You’re right.  We do have to hurry.  Those stinking naughty monkeys are getting close,” Copper added causing me to smile at her bravery.  “I mean chimpanzees,” she amended, no doubt remembering Cornelis correcting her.Wise Monkeys statues

With a chill I realized she was correct.  The chimps moved faster than I expected.  Their eerie screeching filled the night.

My suitcase and hatbox were sitting in the hallway.  Copper picked up my suitcase, which was less than half the weight of the carpet bag she had dragged through the house.  When she moved to get my hatbox too, I hastily said that I would get it.

“I need you to get the doors,” I gave my excuse.  “So you’ll need a free hand.”

The truth of the matter was I never let anyone carry my hatbox.  It contained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

We stepped quickly down the stairs.  I hesitated so I could adjust the heavy carpet bag and make sure I had a tight hold on the hatbox.  I saw Copper turn back to gaze at her house.  She looked up at the beautiful home with large sad blue eyes.

“I’ll bring you back as soon as everything is sorted out,” I assured her.

Copper shook her head.  There was something very grown up about the way she stood and the expression on her face.

Copper pensive“Daddy says that your destiny isn’t always what you expect,” the girl said.  “I didn’t get it when I was real little,” said the suddenly mature moppet at my side.  “But I think I understand now.”

A simian scream split the air.  It came from the far end of the lawn, from the shade tree where I had tied my borrowed horse when I arrived at the Hixon estate.  At that moment I could have wished for a fast horse, but Ignatius Belle had taken his dapple mare back into town with him.  I heard simian screeching in the distance, growing closer and ever wilder.  It made my skin crawl.

Two pinpoints of light seemed to stare at me from the high branches of the tree.  I shuddered when I realized it was one of the chimpanzees.  It must have come ahead of the others, like some kind of advance guard.  I was amazed at how well the creatures were trained.  Who could possibly train and control animals in such a remarkable way?

The chimp must have seen me looking back at him.  It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder.  His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly.  It sounded like there were a lot of them.  I remembered nervously how strong they were.  I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand.  I had to make sure we weren’t separated.Burrell Road Locomotive

An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder.  However, the noise was not simian; rather it was a metallic sound.  Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam.  The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open.  The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack clickity-clack.  As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.

Copper squeezed my hand.  I followed her gaze.  The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree.  They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive.  One and then another would chatter to the others.  I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.

1903 Girl 2 Horses postcardOne very large chimp moved far ahead of the rest.  Standing alone, he gesticulated wildly.  He paused, screeched and repeated what seemed to be the same set of motions.  It did seem a little odd to me, but the antics of angry apes were not something I had time to consider, not in those circumstances.

“Daddy…” Copper murmured.

Poor Copper, I thought, pleading for her missing father.  “Everything’s going to be fine,” I shouted to be heard above the chimpanzees and the noise of the approaching road locomotive.

Cornelis built up speed with the engine and charged directly into the group of chimps.  The apes scattered with wild complaints.  The accident of alchemy that left him in his strange state, also gave him some otherworldly powers.  When he blew the locomotive’s whistle, it belched a long gout of green flame with a sound so shrill and loud my ears rang long after the noise was gone.

“Don’t hurt them!” Copper shrieked, and I supposed she hadn’t grasped how strong and dangerous a pack of attacking and very large adult chimpanzees actually were.

“Those are no organ grinder’s monkeys!” I cried.

“Chimpanzees!” Cornelis corrected me.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

Yes, he corrected me at a time like that.  The alchemist could be absolutely insufferable with that kind of thing.

The Dutchman blew the locomotive’s whistle a second time and it went to an escalating pitch that climbed until I could no longer hear it.  However, I could feel that the awful sound was still there.  The chimpanzees screamed in pain.  The group of them scattered and ran away.  Or I thought they did.

The alchemist brought the road locomotive back around to where Copper and I stood.  He jumped down from the engine, grinning ear to ear.  He was quite pleased with himself.

“Isn’t it an amazing machine!” Cornelis exclaimed.

“How did you do that?  With the green flame and the sound,” I asked as I rubbed my fingers inside my ears.

“You liked?” he said with bobbing eyebrows.  “I could have done more if I’d thought to bring the harmonic tuner.”

At that comment, Copper retrieved the device that looked like a decorative silver bell and handed it to the Dutchman.  He bowed and thanked her effusively.  I saw that she also held the monkey bell her father had given her.Victorian gown bustle stripes

Cornelis lithely climbed back onto the locomotive.  He held out his hand for Copper but she couldn’t quite reach, so I gave her a boost from behind as I climbed.  Then I saw the apes.  Three of them remained, undeterred from whatever their mission was.  I had to assume they meant to capture Copper.

A very human-like, extremely strong hand grabbed my ankle before I could get onto the engine.  When I looked down, all I could see were the big chimpanzee’s bared teeth.

I struggled to hang onto the locomotive.  Copper grabbed my arm to try and help, but then I feared that if the chimp pulled me free, that she would be dragged down with me.  I was relieved to notice that Cornelis still had her other hand.

“Cornelis!  Go!” I yelled and he saw the three chimps.

The locomotive jolted back to life.  I was afraid I would lose my grip if I moved, but I kicked backward with my other foot.  My boot heel thudded softly against something and the chimp’s hold on my ankle loosened enough for me to dislodge him.

In the commotion our lantern fell to the grassy ground.  A small fire spilled around the torch, but it was slow to spread, as the weather had been damp throughout the week.

1924 Little Dipper Champagne adThe three chimps looked at one another and chattered.  One of them motioned with his simian hands.  I recognized him for the same chimp who had gestured so insistently before.  He fiercely looked right into my eyes.  Was that the same set of motions he made earlier?  I saw their muscles bunch as the trio of adult chimpanzees readied to jump onto the locomotive.  I knew we could not fight off all three of them.

The alchemist began muttering odd sounding words that I quickly recognized for the strange language he used when he was about to do something that would either end horribly or be extraordinary.

He held the harmonic tuner in one hand, but still held protectively onto Copper with his other hand.  The “bell” began to make that strange multi-level sound it had generated before.  I could see an aura vibrate around it.  The sound and sensation doubled.  I realized half of it was coming from a second source.

That was when I saw that Copper held the cherished “mystic monkeys” bell her father had given her.  It was the second source of the harmonic sound.  A tri-colored aura made a rainbow around the bell and the girl.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and wondered if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

Copper

Copper

“Dear God,” I said in a strangely pulsating voice that sounded odd to my own ears.  Cornelis only glanced at me, so focused was he on his task.  “It’s another harmonic tuner!” I said just as the alchemist finished the magic he was working.

He looked at me with a wide eyed expression of shock at my words.  I was jolted and nearly fell from the engine as an aura that matched the one surrounding Copper quickly engulfed the three of us and the road locomotive too.  I felt more than saw something radiate out from the aura.  It stretched, expanded, and then contracted abruptly.

The harmonic sounds staggered as they dwindled.  The auras vanished.  The world was incredibly quiet after the bombardment of sounds.  Nature did not stir.  The noises of night were silent.  As I looked down from the engine the first thing that caught my eye was a shining spot of celadon green.  It was our lantern, it lay where it had fallen with flickers of what once had been flames in the grass around it.  The little fires were cold and unmoving.

I started to climb down from the road locomotive.  Cornelis reminded me to use caution.  I scanned the area, but I didn’t see the chimps anywhere.  Then I saw it.  I jumped down from the engine.  A large celadon green ceramic statue rested on the ground.  Three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil stood transformed.

“Are they still alive in there?” Copper wanted to know of the transmuted chimpanzees as she looked over my shoulder.

Cornelis and I exchanged a knowing glance.  Copper looked inexplicably dismayed, considering how the creatures had been attacking us.

Lewis Francis Hadley,  the Long-haired Sign Talker

Lewis Francis Hadley,
the Long-haired Sign Talker

“Possibly so,” the Dutchman told the girl and she looked less upset.  “Quite possibly so.”

She brushed a tear from her cheek.  “Daddy!” Copper cried.  “He was saying ‘daddy’ when he waved his arms around,” she said to my astonishment.

“Do you mean sign language?” I asked incredulous, but Copper nodded.

“I think so,” Copper said.  “He wasn’t doing it right, but it looked like he was trying to say daddy.”

The idea of an ape communicating through sign language was preposterous.  I thought it was wishful thinking on Copper’s part.  I could have thrown something at Cornelis when he made a comment that basically encouraged the fantasy.  I frowned and made a face when my next thought was that the trickster would just use one of his tricks to let anything I threw pass right through him.

“He likely wanted you to believe he could lead you to your father,” Cornelis said.  “But you know they were naughty monkeys, and you could not trust them,” he added and Copper nodded her reluctant agreement.

“Chimpanzees,” I said because I couldn’t resist turning the Dutchman’s correction on him.

His eyes narrowed but he didn’t respond to my taunt.  Instead, he looked past me.  “We’ve no time to doddle,” Cornelis reminded us.  “The other two groups are mere minutes away.”

When I turned to look I saw the torches again.  There were two groups, one larger than the other.  They still approached from different directions, but they were indeed much closer.

***

The question remains — who controls the chimpanzees?  Was it Copper’s fertile imagination, or did the chimp really try to use sign language to say something about her father?  Who are the other two groups of pursuers? Will our trio escape? Only the things and ingredients can say.

Don’t leave yet.  Here’s a point of interest for this episode:

Washoe and the family teach Loulis to use sign language

Since Mary’s food-related thing (ingredient) was soup bone, I couldn’t resist sharing a link to one of my two favorite soups of this winter.  Its creator is Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen.  Suzanne also sent “things/ingredients” for a future episode but it is a few weeks away.  Bon appétit!

Recipe: Cannellini Bean, Kale, and Bacon Soup

Cannellini Bean Kale Bacon SoupRecipe and photo credit: Suzanne DeBrango

I look forward to seeing you next weekend. Who knows where the steam locomotive will take us — only three things or ingredients can say.

 

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.