The Art of Taking a Break: Twilight Zone

Help! I’ve slipped into the Twilight Zone! 

I don’t talk work, religion, or politics here. So even though I’ve brought it up, let’s not comment about it. I’m just giving you my state of mind.  But I don’t think I have to talk about it for you to understand why I have a surreal feeling that I can’t shake off… one that is overwhelming each time I’ve looked at the television or read the news since the morning of November 9th.

Where do we go, now that we’ve gone too far?

My word count is still pathetic, but the only place I could go was farther into my NaNoWriMo novel, The Delta Pearl.delta-pearl-cover-1

It occurred to me that a riverboat needed passengers.  So I now have crew and passengers — along with a couple of other things that live on the boat.  That part was fun.  My character matrix has grown and gotten quite complex with all sorts of tabs for different things I’m prepared to track or use for my own reference.  Do you see that across the bottom of the picture? Each of those is a separate “worksheet” with all sorts of information. 

character-matrix-tabs

I’m falling down a spiral, destination unknown

However, this story is still full-on pantser.  I have no idea where I’m going.  Yet the voyage is becoming more interesting.  The other night I even dreamed I was aboard The Delta Pearl.  I don’t remember the dream, except that the water was rough, just like the scene I wrote that evening.  It may have had something to do with a bad food allergy reaction that had my stomach roiling right along with the fictional river… But when I awoke, I was laying across the bed, rather than vertically! That was strange. I’ve never done that before…  But then we are living in the Twilight Zone after all.

My beacon’s been moved under moon and stars

Sometimes it’s easier to see where a story should go, if you can put actual faces on the characters. I haven’t actively tried to do that with “Pearl” yet.  Even so, a couple have come to me.  Suddenly I saw one of the Doctor Who companions, Jenna Coleman as Émeraude.jenna-coleman_victoria-reflection

A taller version of Louis Jourdan as he was in Gigi could be The Dealer, Jaspe (ZASH-pah). That came to me… though I’m not sure.  Maybe.

louis-jourdan-as-the-dealer

So I’ve gotten that far with the story.  Me, here in the Twilight Zone, imagining different worlds, and pantsering a novel.  Trying not to worry about where we’ll all go now that we’ve gone too far.

Where am I to go, now that I’ve gone too far

“No Time Like the Past” Twilight Zone 1963

Soon you’ll come to know, when the WriMo hits the bone

Okay… so I couldn’t pull the ending together for this post… But maybe all the endings are catawampus here… in the Twilight Zone.

 

Copyright © 2016 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.

Train Schedule Update

Girl n Cat at Train Station

If you’ve looked high and low, and the steam locomotive scheduled to take you to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers was not at the station…

Next Train-ClockWell, that’s because there has been a delay.  A cast iron finial fell off the train.  Copper and Felicity are looking for it right now.  Although Cornelis and the Green Fairy appear to be arguing over a board game.  At any rate, Episode-21 requires the cast iron finial.  So until it is back on board, the locomotive is delayed.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.  Depending on your time zone the steam engine will roll up to the platform by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, take a look at Yadadarcyyada.  The inimitable Donna Parker sent the three things that fueled the train to the Victorian Era for this weekend’s episode.  So stay tuned to see where Ginger Beer, Backgammon, and Cast Iron Finial take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers! 

Train schedule BlueMeow…  

What? Lilith?  You’re supposed to be in Atonement, Tennessee.  How did you get here?

Meow!

Another of Conrelis Drebbel’s spells backfired and somehow you were caught in it?  Well then, no worries little one. You can have some tuna with Crystal. But I forgot about Donna’s cast iron finial, so I have to work that into the next chapter.

Crystal w-Story Jar 06-29-14

Here’s a little teaser…

The Green Fairy fluttered to one of the two perpetual motion machines.  The glass dome filled with green fog.  After a moment the haze cleared.  A blurry figure lurched and bobbed.  When it came into focus I saw that it was the hydrofoil!  I saw the big chimpanzee jumping around and the woman who commanded that small group.

See you soon.

Hugs,

Teagan sig

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 16

Did I mangle the mangle?

Victorian schoolroom

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

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

(Speaking of entertaining — although this might be stretching the term… I’ve added a little work in progress treat at the very end of this post. I hope you enjoy it.)

Hugh RobertsThe “three things” for this episode were provided by Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views & News.  I had to do my research — but that’s the fun part.  A case in point would be the word “mangle,” one of Hugh’s things.  (And yes, I know.  I’m strange that way about enjoying research.)

Hugh blogs and tells stories about “everyday life,” which of course is often more interesting than any fiction.  Even so, you’re likely to find entertainingly unexpected posts amid the “everyday.”  He also does book reviews at Lit World Interviews.  I hope you’ll visit both sites and get to know Hugh.

 

Just one more thing.  It’s National Train Day!

national train Day

You know I had to add that. I just learned about it from Dan Antion at No Facilities.  Meanwhile, I believe our steam locomotive just chugged past the window.

All aboard!

From last time…

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

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

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

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

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

***

16.  Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tiny woman turned at the sound of Alastair’s voice.  She was still all smiles.  “I feared that tonight no one would eat dessert — and it turned out so well.  It would have been a shame that you did not get to enjoy it,” Victoria said as she hurried away, presumably to get the dessert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A subtle green aura emanated from the alchemist.  He turned the harmonic tuner onto its side and rolled it around on the map in the area Wong indicated.

“Where were you going, raven?” the alchemist murmured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly I realized that Copper held her cherished “mystic monkeys” bell, which her father had given her.  It was an ornate bell with detailed carvings of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.  It was also a harmonic tuner.  The night we ran from the Hixon estate, the two harmonic tuners being in close proximity had a profound effect.

I glanced at Cornelis for his reaction.  The alchemist was so focused on his trick with the map that I wasn’t sure he had even noticed Copper’s entrance.  He was completely absorbed in his work.  “What will we find here?” he muttered over the map as he rolled his harmonic tuner across the glowing area.

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

Auras 2 BodiesThe existing harmonic sound from the Dutchman’s tuner quadrupled.  A varicolored aura made a rainbow around the bells and the map.  The sound seemed to vibrate through the entire world.  Then I felt it inside my throat, and just as before, I couldn’t help wondering if my voice would take on that dual harmonic sound when I spoke.

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

In the distance I heard noises that I couldn’t quite define.  It reminded me of the sound of men scuffling, but it sounded heavier than that.  Then I heard a crash from that area.  The din was followed by clacking and clanging sounds.  The louder noises were enough for me to know the commotion came from the hot spring.

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

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

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

“There’s something in the mangle,” Cornelis muttered.

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

The washtub had been dragged along by the washing machine, halfway to the spring.  I remembered the young man putting a tablecloth in the tub to soak.  I suspected that was what hung from the mangle, or wringer.  When I cautiously walked over to the still grumbling machine, I found that I was right.

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

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

He was correct, there was something on the tablecloth, but it wasn’t simply dirty.  It looked like writing — phosphorescent writing.  Cornelis flicked the tuner with his fingernail, causing a faint ting sound and then the tuner cast a bright light like a torch.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle.  In large glowing green script I read the word aloud.

Daddy.”

***

Where will the mystically inscribed word, Daddy, take our characters? I hope you’ll be at the station when the steam engine returns to the platform.  The next “things” are from author John W. Howell. What kind of trouble can Pistachio, Penne Pasta, and Porcini create?

By the way, look for Hugh Roberts to be featured in the new theme for the “Sunday Show” at Sally G. Cronin’s Smorgasboard, Variety is the spice of life.

And now, here’s the recipe for this episode.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Apple & Apricot Charlotte

 Apricot-apple Charlotte

Photo and recipe credit: Taste.com

 ***

Here’s a special treat — for reading to the end!

A trailer for my main work in progress, Atonement in Bloom.

https://animoto.com/play/OgE0TBW4wn1BM68VZ7wVrQ

***

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 9

You’re too old, too fat, and you dress funny…

eyeballs

What?  But wait — it gets even better.  Let me put this into context. While not an exact quote, it is close. It was meant to be a pep talk from a friend at work when I was upset about not being able to get interviews for promotions or jobs at other agencies.  (That’s right — interviews. This wasn’t even said about people who have actually seen me in all my glorious wrinkles, fat, and bizarre blazers.  Oh, and yes, I did say it was a pep talk.)

Career-Me

Me dressed for a big meeting…

“I know I’m old and fat and that I wear colors,” I replied to the words of encouragement, and by colors I meant the fact that every other woman wears what I call DC drab.  “But they have never even seen me.”

“It doesn’t matter whether I think you’re fat.  They want people to look good to represent their organization,” said my helpful friend.

But they have never even seen me!” I repeated, still unheard.

Fortunately for me, my fifth floor office window is made so that it cannot open…nautili_old-woman_pretty girl

Perception.  Everything is about perception. I can’t hold it against this friend, because they just don’t get it. This person has no grasp of how their words come across, or in this case how very harmful they were. This friend sincerely meant to encourage me. This is a kind and intelligent person, and in their eyes they were building me up.  At least they tried. That’s more than I can say for 99.5% of the people there.

Update… about four months later:  Sadly it seems the many of you who said this destructive criticism was intentional — you were right.  The same coworker was just in my office, bragging about all the important things she is doing… all related to the kind of jobs for which I have been applying (the kind of work I had done in the past).  …The kind of jobs she so kindly reminded me that they want people to look a certain way for, and where age is a factor.  Yes dear readers, you were right and I was being far too generous.

What do you see in the drawing above — a pretty young woman or an old hag?  Copper and the woman in trousers each perceive the handsome Ignatius Belle differently, even though neither of them really knows the innkeeper of our serial.

The wildly different perceptions of words and characters are the most marvelous things about novels and stories. I love that while I think David Eddings was wonderfully funny in the characters he created for The Belgariad  the guy next to me was so appalled by their lack of moral fiber that he could barely finish the first book.

It’s terrific that we can see so many different things in a single story. Although I do hope you think mine are entertaining and that you see this blog as a sanctuary where you can safely relax and enjoy a fanciful moment.

Vintage Pug paintingToday’s “things” are from one of my favorite people and bloggers.  I admire Suzanne Debrango’s work with her blog as much as I’m wowed by her skills as a chef.  The recipe for this episode is also from Suzanne’s blog, A Pug in the Kitchen, so be sure to read all the way to the end for another delightful dish!

No more time for my ramble — I think I hear that train to the Victorian Era coming.  All aboard!

9.  Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives

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.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“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, and 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.

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

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

Copper with Flowers“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.  “No, this is for us to worry about, Copper,” I told the girl.  “It’s just part of what we’re supposed to do.  You, on the other hand, are only supposed to be young.  You aren’t supposed to have to worry about such things,” I said and tousled 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.Goosey Goosey

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.

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,” 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.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the woman in trousers

“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.

“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.Couple boat pug

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.

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.Sm Steamboat

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.

Who piloted the craft?  I had yet to see how 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.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

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 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.

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.Copper curious w-green

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 Drebble.  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.

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.

Perpetual Motion Clock Photo

Perpetual Motion Clock: Cornilis Drebbel

“One of my ancestors achieved a slight amount of acclaim,” the Dutchman said.  “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 a small 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.

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.Profiteroles

“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.

“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.”Burrell Road Locomotive

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 him 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 if he 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.

Flying man w umbrellaI just didn’t like the idea of letting people know about the road locomotive.  So I manufactured a story about Cornelis arriving at the estate for the purpose of bringing my horses.  He saw a number of unsavory types nearby when he neared the estate.  Reacting in fear, we left the estate.  However, the horses were unfortunately stolen when we stopped for the night at the abandoned church compound.

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 if Ignatius, mind you, just cautious.

Forlanini hydrofoil

Bell/Forlanini Hydrofoil

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.  Cornelis wasn’t a bad actor.  As soon as the alchemist 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.

Stilton CheeseI 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, but 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 fact 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?

***

How will the mysterious “woman in trousers” avoid seeming rude to the handsome innkeeper?  It sounds like she is more than a little interested in Ignatius Belle. But should she be more like Copper, and distrust him? Come back to the Victorian Era again next time to see what happens to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.

 And now for your recipe treat from Suzanne.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Small Plates- Tapas

Olives recipe

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen

Be at the train station on time next weekend when the “things” are from Christine Robinson at “Before Sundown – remember what made you smile.” 

 

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 8

Do you want some cheese to go with that whine, Teagan?

Whine expertIf you saw yesterday’s post, you know I have even more stress than usual right now.  So thanks for letting me vent.  Usually I have to be in a really “good place” or I can’t write.  The spontaneous nature of the serials help with that, though I’m not sure why or how.  Even so, yesterday… I didn’t think I could even write a serial episode this weekend.

But I kept thinking about how long the amazing Elini has been waiting to see the episode for her “things”… and I did manage to write a short episode.  Elini is a Elinifascinating person and chef.  I relate to how she describes her life as a journey.  I hope you’ll take a look at her blog and get to know her – as well as Elini’s Empanadas.  She’s pretty amazing!  So be sure to read to the end of this episode where you’ll find a link to one of her recipes.  Then devour some more of her scrumptious posts.

By the way — we’re running low on things to keep this train running.  Everyone is welcome to send three random things, including food-related things.  Just leave your “things (ingredients)” in a comment.

Now, let’s get this steam locomotive rolling, even if the journey is brief today.  All aboard!

From before…

The woman 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 happened when the alchemist sneezed.

8.  Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper

Frog Handkerchief Soap adCornelis Drebble 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.

“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. Victorian girl making face

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.

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

Copper

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.

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.vintage red pepper

“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,” I told him with a motion of my arm.  “I have a hunch.”

I had removed the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers from the owl-shaped lamp.  It was best that I carried them in the thin leather script that was tucked into my long coat.

“Copper, did there happen to be a magnifying glass among that carpet bag full of things you packed?” I asked the girl.

Apparently there had been.  Copper hurried away to the place where our things lay.  She was back in a moment with a lovely ornate magnifying glass.  I imagined it was another of the treasures her father had brought her from his travels.  Although perhaps it was not of the magical variety, as was the “bell” carved with the three wise monkeys which was in fact a harmonic tuner.

I opened the leather script and took out the embossed letter.  Moving this way and that, I tried to get into the best light.  As I held the magnifying glass to the faded seal embossed onto the letter I found the word Macedonia.

Was there finally a clue to the mysterious goings on?  It didn’t feel like a coincidence to me.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

***

 Where will our trio go from here?  Jump on-board next time when the “things” are from the incredibly creative Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen

 Now for our recipe!  In addition to things/ingredients, lovely Elini was kind enough to also provide a truly creative recipe to go with this episode.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Photo and recipe credit:  Eleni Herrera

http://elenisculinaryjourney.com/2014/04/16/chocolate-chili-pulled-pork-sandwiches/

 

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.

Train Schedule Update

Girl n Cat at Train Station

If you’ve looked high and low, and the steam locomotive scheduled to take you to Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers was not at the station…

Next Train-ClockWell, that’s because there has been a delay.  A cast iron finial fell off the train.  Copper and Felicity are looking for it right now.  Although Cornelis and the Green Fairy appear to be arguing over a board game.  At any rate, Episode-21 requires the cast iron finial.  So until it is back on board, the locomotive is delayed.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.  Depending on your time zone the steam engine will roll up to the platform by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, take a look at Yadadarcyyada.  The inimitable Donna Parker sent the three things that fueled the train to the Victorian Era for this weekend’s episode.  So stay tuned to see where Ginger Beer, Backgammon, and Cast Iron Finial take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers! 

Train schedule BlueMeow!  

What? Lilith?  You’re supposed to be in Atonement, Tennessee.  How did you get here?

Meow!

Another of Conrelis Drebbel’s spells backfired and somehow you were caught in it?  Well then, no worries little one. You can have some catnip with Crystal. But I forgot about Donna’s cast iron finial, so I have to work that into the next chapter.

Crystal w-Story Jar 06-29-14

Here’s a little teaser…

The Green Fairy fluttered to one of the two perpetual motion machines.  The glass dome filled with green fog.  After a moment the haze cleared.  A blurry figure lurched and bobbed.  When it came into focus I saw that it was the hydrofoil.  I saw the big chimpanzee jumping around and the woman who commanded that small group.

See you soon.

Hugs,

Teagan sig

New Interactive Serial – Episode-1

Three Things: A culinary mystery with “things and ingredients” sent from readers everywhere.

Welcome one and all!
It is my pleasure to tell you that we have a first-time contributor of ingredients/things to begin this “interactive” serial.  John W. Howell did me the honor of sending things for the kickoff of the new story.  I hope you’ll visit his wonderful blog and take a look at his book too.  You’re sure to enjoy your stay there.My GRL cover

Last weekend I did a poll, asking everyone to vote, choosing from several options for the next serial.  (And I was downright pleased with myself for getting the handy-dandy poll thingamajig to work too!)  Quite a few of you were kind enough to click on your preferred option.  So now I will announce the results.  Drumroll

A solid 44% of you voted to …

Begin an all new serial from scratch, with an all new setting and characters!

You were ready to get behind the wheel! I was happy to get three sets of “things” right away for the kickoff of the new interactive serial. So let me show you how my mind works.

Copper

Copper

Since I couldn’t avoid looking at all three sets of three, the whole shebang influenced the setting and characters. I’ve already admitted to being a research geek — Stilton cheese, through a twist of fate gave us a character’s name and personality. How?  A sort of happy accident — when I saw the name of the first Englishman to market Blue Stilton cheese was Cooper Thornhill, for a moment I thought I’d read — Copper.  I liked the name too much to let it go.

I also had to know when Wurlitzer organs (that will be in Episode-3) were first made — and suddenly I knew that era had to be the general time-frame for the story.  I opted for the late 1800’s, near the end of the Victorian era.

Many of you particularly liked Maestro Martino, the ghost chef from Three Ingredients, Cookbook 2, so I wanted to add a mystical magical element to the new serial. Don’t ask me to explain my twisting thought process but…

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

I had a vague idea about a skull, and somehow that made me research alchemists… and that gave us the supernatural character for this serial, Cornelis Drebbel. I borrowed him from history.

As for the mysterious woman who wears trousers — you’re about to meet her, but I have no idea from where she came other than it was inspired by the late 19th century setting.  She was just there.

Be kind and remember that this story is propelled by the things or ingredients that you send. So it might take a few episodes for it to really begin to flow.

Enough of my stalling. I present to you, our all new interactive serial —
Three Things: Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

1.  Stilton Cheese, Mare’s Milk, Calamari

I was having second thoughts.  The fishing town was too small for my unconventional presence to go unremarked, plain and simple.  That was apparent as I watched a single carriage pass by on the dirt road and the driver turned to stare.  It was downright obvious from the shopkeeper’s scandalized expression when I stepped inside Best’s General Store.

Yes, I knew I should limit my wanderings to large cities.  However, I was weary of the crowds and odors.  And the noise!  I was desperately tired of the clamor and clang of cities.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the woman in trousers

It was a pleasing little town with a salt tang in the breeze and cozy houses.  I liked it the moment I set foot there.  I took a tidy suite in the Belle Inn. 

There was even a store where I unexpectedly found the most marvelous Stilton cheese.  Cornelis would be delighted with that find.  For once, he might not be so grumpy when I wake him, I thought.

However, as I stood in the general store and watched Mrs. Billie Best and her customer from the corner of my eye, I foresaw that my stay in the charming township would be brief.  I blocked any distractions from my mind so I could hear their conversation.  I already knew they were talking about me.  How could they fail to comment on my mannish waistcoat and trousers?

It always raised eyebrows when I dressed that way, but I wanted freedom of movement that I’d never have whilst restricted by the yards and yards of fabric that made a proper skirt and bustle.  Besides, my first thought that morning was “I’ll be damned if I’m going to squeeze myself into a corset today.”

I pushed back my top hat, pretending to read a label while I listened to the two women speculate about me and my strange apparel.  They had the most outlandish conjectures about my foreign accent and from whence I’d come.  A smile quirked my lips and I tried not to laugh out loud.

The proprietor of the Belle Inn stood across the room shaking his head at the foolish conversation.  Ignatius Belle made a good first impression when I checked in at his inn.  He stepped over to me.  I hoped his housekeeping staff had as much respect for guest privacy as he seemed to have.  I’d hate for a curious maid to wake Cronelis.  That would be most unfortunate.  Actually it could get quite ugly.Victorian men hats

“Ma’am, you were right about the mare’s milk,” he said loud enough for the women to hear.  “Doc said there was a fungus in the grass she was eating before she foaled,” the innkeeper said in a respectful voice.  “He said that’s likely what caused the problem.  The Johnsons have a pregnant mare, and they’re going to foster the foal.”

My relief that the little horse would be well was genuine.  I was glad my off-handed comment had been helpful.  Cornelis always complained that I spoke before I thought, and that I drew unnecessary attention to myself.  Yet it ended well that time, and there was the added benefit that now at least the innkeeper accepted me.  Although I still doubted I would remain there for long.

“Your dinner is on the house tonight.  Whatever you want, and as much of it as you care to eat.  Your comment likely saved the foal’s life,” he said then looked suddenly shy.  “Just a humble way of saying thank you.”

The burst of bashfulness was rather endearing on a man of his stature.  Ignatius Belle did not fit my image of a proper innkeeper.  They should be rotund, pink-cheeked men with aprons.  My host however, was tall and well-made and he wore a suit and a Bowler hat.  He barely gave my trousers a glance.  Interesting.Victorian child cape

The bell affixed to the shop door chimed and a wide eyed moppet came cautiously inside.  She might have been seven years old or she may have been nine.  Disgraceful as it may sound, I knew nothing about children.

An unfortunately familiar odor reached my noise when she walked past me.  The bouquet was dreadful, but it gave the girl my full attention.  She hesitated in her walk, just one step, and then she moved toward the counter.  The shopkeeper frowned and her patron became even more disdainful — if that was possible.  However, their scorn was not due to the odor I detected.  They hadn’t noticed it, but I was sensitive to such things.

She had hair the color of a new penny.  There was a smudge of dirt on her little nose.  Her stylish cape was made of peacock blue wool, embroidered in cream silk thread, with a cream colored tassel on the hood.  Her eyes twinkled with intelligence.

And she reeked of death.

I smiled.

At that very moment I knew that little russet haired child was the reason why I’d come to the out of the way little town.  I didn’t know how it would come about, but I was certain — she would be the heart and soul of the next adventure!

What would Cornelis make of the girl?  He despised anyone who was weak, and children by definition were weak.  So the Dutchman detested children.

I smiled again — broadly.

“Your daddy spoils you too much Copper Hixon, letting you wear your Sunday best when you go out to play,” said the storekeeper from behind her counter.  “Flaunting his wealth on clothes for a child, when there’s others as have to put their noses to the grindstone to get along.”

A barely audible remark came from her customer.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the other woman mumbled.  “She’d best be glad her pa recovered from that influenza last spring, else she’d be in the orphanage, and no fine clothes there,” the customer added in a resentful whine.

child labor“Old Hixon should’ve taken another wife,” Billie Best declared.  “There are plenty of women here abouts who’d make him a good wife,” Billie Best replied with a mystified shake of her head.  “But he’d have none of them after that dance hall floozy died birthing this one,” the storekeeper said with an unconcerned wave toward Copper.

“I’d not have that evil child in my house,” said the other woman.  “Any child that kills the mother birthing it is the devil’s own, you mark my words.”

The girl’s eyes widened at the mention of the orphanage and she was clearly afraid.  Copper swallowed hard.  “I need… I mean Daddy sent me to buy food to make dinner,” she stammered.

I noticed that she didn’t specify what food nor did she have a shopping list.  But why would she?  The odor that clung to her was faint.  However, I had no doubt about its origin.  No one told the child what to buy for dinner, but she was hungry enough to think of shopping for it.

The woman behind the counter looked at the girl and her mouth turned down in contempt.  “Did your daddy send you with money to pay his bill?” Mrs. Best asked, emphasizing the payment.  “He’s months behind.  No?” she said when Copper shook her head and looked confused.  “Well, you go back and tell him that hard working folk have to be paid.  Not everybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  He’ll have to pay off the bill he’s run up before he gets another crumb from Best’s General Store!”

“Now was there really any need to speak so harshly to the child?” the innkeeper asked.

The child turned and fled the store.  The tassel on her cape caught on the door and was left behind as she ran.  I excused myself to my new landlord.  Quickly picking up the cream colored tassel, I followed to see which direction little Copper went.  Then I turned and ran back to the Belle Inn.Belle Inn

When I opened the inn’s door, the aroma of fried calamari slowed my stride.  It wafted to me from the kitchen.  It made my mouth water.  I reigned in my haste.  There was no need to run.  The child wasn’t going anywhere.  Not yet.

I popped into the kitchen, profusely complimented the cook, and asked if dinner could be sent up to my room.  Cornelis hated it when I ate in my room, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter.  I couldn’t resist the calamari!

My hatbox was on a high shelf.  I carefully took it down and opened it.  An object that appeared to be a ball covered by a satin scarf was inside.  My top hat would fit around it, as a form to keep the hat’s shape.  But in truth it was no such thing.  I removed the scarf and held up a human skull.

“Cornelis,” I exclaimed.  “Adventure is afoot!  This is no time to be lazy, Cornelis Drebble.  Wake up!” I said and placed the skull back in the hatbox.

My eyes closed against the bitter chill that blew through the room.  A moment later I looked into the eyes of the Dutchman.  Though he stood no taller than me, his presence was forceful.  He was a handsome man.  He had light hair with a mustache and pointed beard, much like a Musketeer.  However, the disgruntled expression on his face belied his gentle manners.  He gave a polite bow, yet managed to make the movement seem sarcastic.

“Why such haste?” he asked drolly, and smoothed back hair that perpetually looked mussed from a nap.

“Don’t be such a grump,” I said, and holding up the parcel of Stilton cheese I watched his nose twitch in anticipation.

To the Dutchman’s consternation, I held back the cheese.  I wouldn’t share that until I got what I wanted.  When I handed him the cream colored tassel from the girl’s cape he was hardly mollified.

“This bauble does not seem so portentous,” he complained.

As one eyebrow climbed toward his hairline, I knew he’d been won over, despite his sullen look and tone.

“Stop sulking and tell me about the girl,” I said, trying to be firm.  One had to be firm with Cornelis. If he saw the slightest weakness…

“Ah, so that’s it is it?  You think it’s her?  Bringing on a child would complicate things enormously,” he asked, finally showing interest.  “It seems awfully — how to describe it?  So unassuming,” he said with a little twist to one side of his mouth as he looked at the tassel.  “Do you really think she is the one?” he asked, his tone softening.

“You tell me,” I prodded.

Cornelis shimmered and blurred before my eyes, as his mind traveled.  Then with a sharp pop he disappeared.

 ***

To be continued…

Most of you voted for a completely new serial, so there you have the beginning.  See you next weekend for Episode-2 where we’ll have things / ingredients from Kathryn, aka KR Big Fish at https://anotherfoodieblogger.wordpress.com/

Wait — don’t leave yet. Each episode of this culinary mystery will feature a recipe.

I scoured the WordPress virtual countryside for recipes.  That led me to One Happy Table, Vegan Food for the Whole Family, and I chose the following recipe to round out Episode-1.  Click the link for this beautifully photographed step by step recipe.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Baked Oyster Mushroom Calamari

oyster-mushroom-calamari

 Photo and recipe credit: One Happy Table

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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