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

What’s in a name?

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

Guy Fabdon? See the Gwydion fab Don myth

Guy Fabdon? See the Gwydion fab Don myth

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ancient meanings and word origins because I like the meaning of a name to fit the story (as in The Dead of Winter — unpublished, but maybe one day an anime series — yes, I’m dreaming).

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

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

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

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

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

I wondered if my insides might fall out, so jarred was I from the rough ride of the road locomotive.  The green countryside went by in a prolonged blur, so fast did the alchemist propel the road locomotive.  Cornelis’ knuckles were white as he tightly held the controls.  From time to time he cast a worried glance at Copper or at me.  That meant he felt he was doing something that put us in danger.

The unnatural speed at which we traveled had to be risky.  I could tell by his grim face and the faraway look in his eyes that he gave his full attention to every aspect of our journey.  He used his tricks to scan the path ahead for dips and holes that could prove deadly at the speed we traveled.  Meanwhile he cast his senses out in every direction to check for signs of any of our adversaries.

Girl with CherriesI reminded myself that there were three sets of foes, not just the group with the hydrofoil.  We seemed to have left the woman commander, her crew, and their tracking chimpanzee behind.  However, the other two groups might be anywhere.  I scanned the landscape anxiously, but everything ran together because we were moving so quickly.

When my eyes moved again to the alchemist’s face, I had another fear.  His complexion was gray.  Even the alchemist must have his limits, I told myself.  What would happen if he severely overtaxed his energy?  Cornelis had used a great deal of vitality, being in two places at once, to gather information about our adversaries.  I decided we had traveled far enough to safely take a break.  Else Cornelis might break.

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

Shamelessly, I leapt to the ground.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I wore a voluminous skirt, bustle, and corset!  Why women put up with wearing such things all day every day, was beyond me.  Yes, I did have a weakness for pretty things, including gowns.  However, who would wear such things (especially corsets) all the time, when practical, comfortable trousers were to be found?

A smile spread across my face when I saw Copper had climbed a nearby tree.  The sun shone warmly on the bright hair that resulted in her name.  Arms and legs wrapped haphazardly around branches, she ate cherries right there in the tree.  She was lucky to be too young to have to contend with the culturally required fashions of the day.  I wondered if as she grew into womanhood she would rebel against foolish social norms as I did.

Cornelis was unexpectedly at my elbow.  His sudden appearance startled me, as it often did.  That never failed to amuse the alchemist.  His bushy blonde eyebrows bobbed and a smile played on his lips.

“You were supposed to be resting,” I chided.  “You still don’t look well.  Where did you get to so quickly?” I asked the Dutchman.

“I was just doing a bit of reconnaissance; checking the area for signs of anyone we might not want to see,” he answered.  “Call it intuition if you will, but something tickles at the edge of my awareness.”

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

An emerald aura suddenly engulfed the alchemist.  Cornelis took the folded pen knife and its white mother of pearl handle reflected the green glow.  He drew back his arm and threw the knife.  It sailed end over end high into the trees with a whirring sound.  As it disappeared from view I heard a soft thud followed by the rustling sound of something falling.

The Dutchman and I ran toward the trees.  Copper was still playing in the tree she climbed and didn’t appear to notice what we were doing.

We stopped at the fallen body of a raven.  It reeked with the odor of carrion it had eaten.

“Is it dead?” I asked.

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

There was blood on the bird’s beak, but I didn’t think it was from its most recent meal.  It held a bit of fabric from a white crinoline.

The alchemist and I exchanged wondering looks.  “So,” I began in a speculative tone.  “This raven attacked the woman who led the group on the hydrofoil.  That should mean at least two of the three groups are actively working against each other,” I said and Cornelis nodded with raised eyebrows and a pursed mouth as he pondered the idea.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“Coincidentally, the raven protected Ignatius when it attacked the vessel following him,” I continued.

“Or perhaps not so coincidentally,” the Dutchman answered to my annoyance.  “The raven might well belong to Belle.”

Have I said Cornelis Drebbel could be insufferable?  If I took one step forward as far as his attitude about Ignatius Belle, then I took two steps backward.  My lips tightened as I paced, trying to control my temper.  Normally I’m not so irritable, but I was exhausted, and the events of the past days had been utterly distressing.

“And look at this,” Cornelis said quietly as he removed a tiny brass cylinder attached to the bird’s leg.

He extracted a small strip of rolled parchment from the cylinder and read it silently.  I asked what the message was.  Cornelis said it was some sort of code.

“It seems to mention us being at the abandoned church and the direction in which we left.  The way this is written, I can’t be certain if we were actually spotted there or if someone tracked us there.  Either way, they were not far behind us when we left the riverside.  However, given the speed at which we traveled, no one could have kept up with us,” the alchemist said and his expression became pinched.

Lovers Eye BroochIt wasn’t helpful, but once again I spoke before I thought.  “But the bird kept up with us,” I murmured, not intending to be in any way critical of Cornelis — his unique abilities had saved us.

One side of the alchemist’s mouth turned down in a wry expression.  “Yes, it just might have kept pace with us at that.  Perhaps,” he said deep in thought.  “But I took us on a backtracking, convoluted route.  Ravens fly ‘as the crow flies,’ that being directly from one spot to the next.  They have a broad wingspan so they’re fast, but they don’t have the magically enhanced speed that we used.  So it seems more likely that the raven was flying due north from the riverbank, and intersected our path here,” Cornelis suggested.  “It will resume its flight north while we will turn to the west.”

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

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

“I think we can relax for a while now.  This message won’t be delivered,” Cornelis said and the tiny parchment became a flame that burned and was instantly gone.

We walked back to the steam engine.  Copper was still where we’d left her.  “She’s truly a delightful girl,” he commented, following my gaze.  “And such a gorgeous head of hair,” he added with a sidelong glance at me.

Copper

Copper

I nodded my agreement and smiled, mildly surprised at his words.  Cornelis was more likely to compliment someone’s intellect than their appearance.  Copper looked at us, cherry goo decorating one corner of her mouth.  I chuckled and shook my head.

“The group with the hydrofoil seems to have taken Ignatius Belle’s bait.  I suppose he did a good job of leading them away from us,” the Dutchman added, looking rather surprised to hear himself speak those words.

He stepped up into the road locomotive and sat on its floor, feet dangling boyishly.

“Do you really think he might be working against us, Cornelis?  After all he’s done?” I asked of the tall handsome innkeeper.

My question was only half rhetorical.  Cornelis Drebbel could be churlish, obstinate, and infuriating.  However, I knew full well what a quick mind he possessed.  I would be foolish to completely dismiss his opinion, no matter how unjust I felt it was.

Steampunk Woman pants“Something has been bothering you ever since you shimmered off to the Hixon estate and wherever else you went prowling.  You looked as though you’d had an epiphany,” I said with a perplexed expression on my face.  “Why do you refuse to discuss it?”

“You actually do have a good mind,” he gave me unexpected praise.  “But you really must learn to use it more efficiently.”

Of course he would give a compliment with one hand and take it away with the other.  I sighed in exasperation.

I often thought that after I obtained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel, he felt an odd sense of responsibility for me.  Likewise I felt responsible for him.  I supposed things could be utterly miserable for Cornelis if the wrong person possessed his skull.  I had never used it to coerce him — well, not often anyway.  I had certainly never misused it or caused him discomfort.  I mused that each of us recognized our responsibility to the other.

A faint green glow surrounded Cornelis.  That meant he was ever so lightly touching power.  Perhaps he needed to replenish himself after scouting the area and bringing down the raven, I thought.

Cornelis hopped down from the locomotive.  I heard a tiny metallic ping.  Something seemed to have fallen from his pocket.  However, I knew that the alchemist didn’t tend to carry anything on his person.  He could just reach into that magical void and bring out most anything he needed.  He turned to pick up the small thing from the engine’s floor.  Then he tossed it to me.1864 Indian Head penny

“For luck,” he said as I caught the bright new Indian Head penny.

The sunlight glinted radiantly off the penny.  For a moment I was reminded of the coppery highlights in Ignatius Belle’s hair during that moment when the sun shined down on him in the abandoned church.  It transformed him from a handsome man to one who looked angelic.

When I looked up I saw that Cornelis was watching me intently.  I turned and walked away before he could make another comment about me being “smitten.”

***

The road locomotive roared up to an iron fence with a large ornate gate.  I felt we were in the middle of nowhere, so I wondered what sort of property lay beyond the gate.  If the iron work was any indication, it was an impressive estate.

Perhaps, I abruptly realized, it was not as remote as all that.  There was a light salt tang in the air.  We were near the Pacific coast.

Iron GateI gazed at the iron, artfully crafted into twists and swirls.  At the center top was the letter W.  As I looked from the massive gate to the alchemist the question must have been plain on my face.

“When I told your dashing innkeeper that I had old family friends in the area, it was no lie,” Cornelis explained.  “Although it wasn’t exactly true to say they were on the way to rescue us.”

During my acquaintance with Corenlis Drebbel I had met few people that he admitted knowing well.  I was quite surprised that he had a friend there, in a place that was so foreign to him.

“Don’t worry.  I sent word that we were coming.  We are expected,” Cornelis reassured Copper and me.

I looked down doubtfully at my travel stained long coat and trousers.  Copper had tiny bits of mud splattered on her face from a large puddle the steam engine crossed.  I took out a handkerchief and wiped her face.  The girl drew back, annoyed.  However, she relented when I reminded her that she was about to meet friends of Cornelis, and should look her best.

The alchemist reached into the large carpet bag Copper packed when we left her home.  It was black with a floral design done in shades of mauve and red.  He produced what looked like a fancy silver dinner bell.  However, I knew it was actually an alchemically amazing device — a harmonic tuner.  He gave it a single ring, and it produced the harmonic tones that inspired its name.  I was sure the Dutchman’s tricks combined with the properties of the tuner to let it be heard much farther away than was natural.Tiffany Arabesque bell

In the distance beyond the iron gate, a large deep gong sounded in answer.  A green aura flickered around Cornelis and the heavy gate swung open.  The green glow intensified when he started the road locomotive.  I felt the steam engine shift and lift slightly.

“Are we levitating?” I asked in surprise.

“Not completely,” the Dutchman replied.  “It wouldn’t do to ruin a fine lawn with tracks from this heavy machine, now would it?”

These people must be special friends indeed, if Cornelis is showing so much concern for the grounds, I thought.

Soon we reached an amazing structure built in the style of a Buddhist temple.  The noonday sun made it seem golden where it sat on the edge of a clear blue lake.  The beauty of the structure and the serenity of the setting left me speechless.

“What a funny house,” Copper said.  “But it’s pretty.  I wonder what it looks like inside.”

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

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

“You shall soon see,” Cornelis promised with a smile.  “It’s a replica of Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

“Kenny-coco-jeez?” Copper attempted the foreign name.

“That’s actually better than my first attempt at saying the name,” Cornelis chuckled.

An attractive Asian man of indeterminable age stepped out of the house to greet us.  His traditionally styled silk robes bore a brocade of a white lion.  He smiled broadly at Cornelis then bowed hastily before hurrying forward.  The two men shook hands and bowed to one another again.

“All my life I heard stories of you, Cornelis Drebbel,” the man gushed.  “It is such a great honor to meet you.  I think a small part of me doubted that my grandfather once possessed your skull.  No dishonor intended to my ancestors, of course.  To finally meet you!  It is an honor indeed.”

Cornelis waved his hand modestly, denying any honor was due him.

“I’ve looked in on your welfare many a time Alastair.  Unfortunately, up until now I have not been able to pay a proper visit,” the alchemist told the man.  “Ladies, I present to you the descendant of the revered Koxinga of the Seas, descendant of Po Tsai — one of my peers in life, and grandson of Sung Wong, this is the illustrious Alastair Wong,” Cornelis announced grandly, causing the other man to blush and protest humbly.Koxinga ship

I murmured what I hoped was something appropriate.  I confess that there was something regal about Mr. Wong’s bearing that brought out my awkward side.  I curtsied in response to his bow.  Copper tried to imitate the bow, causing him to smile and wink.

Cornelis continued the introductions.  “And now I present,” he said with a flourish that caused Copper to giggle.  “The inimitable Miss Copper Hixon, and the irreplaceable Miss Felicity Deringer, who makes my existence bearable,” the alchemist added to my astonishment.

Alastair Wong bowed over my hand and kissed it in a most courtly way.  “Miss Felicity Deringer, it is my great pleasure to meet you.”

***

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

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

Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Cheat’s Choc Cherry Trifle

Cheats Choc Cherry Trifle

Photo and recipe credit:  Please Pass the Recipe.com

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

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 13

I admit defeat…

Sassy segues sauntered away. Glib words have gotten up and gone.  So far I’ve drafted three beginnings for this post.  Then I saved them for another episode — they just won’t do for today. I’ve admitted to myself that I simply don’t know how to start.1865 Woman Doctor

That usually means I’m truly impressed with someone… and it is certainly true of the reader, blogger, physician, and and person who provided “three things” for Episode-13.  Yes, I said physician — so in the blogosphere she, understandably, uses the pseudonym Victo Dolore.  Since I find myself speechless, I’m taking the liberty of using a paragraph from her About page at Behind the White Coat… Beats a real human heart.

“I have been practicing for over ten years as a family practice physician. I started working on this blog as an outlet, a place for the honesty that I cannot indulge in elsewhere. Sometimes I have felt that I will explode with words…all of the words that I have had to leave unsaid…”

This time I’m giving you a couple of hints for something that will be revealed in the near future.  So I hope you’ll pay attention.

Thank you Victo, for the marvelous words (the three things), which have fueled the steam locomotive for another adventure.   All aboard!

13.  Crinoline, Lye Soap, Caterpillar

For a moment, I thought the hydrofoil would tip over when the very large chimpanzee bounded onto it.  Any doubts I’d had as to whether or not the commanding voice belonged to a woman dispersed.  The person who seemed to be in charge of the group stood abruptly as the big chimp ran toward the vessel.  When the chimpanzee’s landing threatened to overturn the craft, my mystery person made a series of sudden movements to regain balance.  A white crinoline was exposed.  It was certainly a woman.

Petticoat“Cornelis!” I hissed to get the alchemist’s attention.

Belatedly I realized he was doing something I shouldn’t try to interrupt.  His form shivered, wavered, and became translucent.  He was in two places at once.  I could see Cornelis, his posture, and if he faced me, his facial expressions.  However, I could not see what he beheld.  He gave me a vacant look, but he nodded to let me know he was paying attention.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize.  Do go ahead,” I told him, as I was sure he was checking on Ignatius Belle and our adversaries who followed the innkeeper on that hydrofoil.

While trying to gather my scattered patience I gazed absently into the heights of a tree that sheltered us.  Sunbeams filtered through the branches in a lazy way.  Copper followed my gaze.

“What’s that,” she asked, pointing at something amid the limbs.

It took me a moment to see what her keen eyes spotted.  “Ah.  Those are cocoons.  If the birds don’t eat them, one day they will be butterflies,” I said.

Copper

Copper

Copper told me she had learned about butterflies and cocoons from her last governess.  I remembered Hixon had let his daughter’s teacher go because he could no longer afford to pay her.  Copper had truly liked the woman.  That seemed sad to me; it was one more loss for the girl.

The alchemist wasn’t looking at us or paying attention to our conversation.  His mouth twitched to a half smile.  His unsteady image made me feel a bit queasy.  After a moment he turned and made eye contact with me.  The expression on his face suggested he’d just had an epiphany.  His countenance shifted from puzzled to doubtfully curious, to astonished.

“I have to check on something else,” he said, looking a bit stunned.

“Now?” I demanded.  “Take care not to sap all your strength,” I cautioned the Dutchman, aware that there was a limit to how long he could manage one of his tricks.

I knew the alchemist had to have some familiarity with a place before he could look in on it in that fashion.  He couldn’t read the minds of our antagonists, or psychically know where they were headed.  So did he see something on the hydrofoil that gave him new information?  Or had he deduced something that had escaped me?

1924 Little Dipper Champagne ad“Where are you going?” I wanted to know, but the Dutchman was intent on his mission and ignored me.

Cornelis winked out of my sight, but a second later I could see him, standing with his arms folded across his chest, looking up at something.  Something about his posture made me think he must be indoors.  He put a knuckle to his chin and tilted his head to one side, considering whatever he beheld.

“Cornelis, where are you?  What are you about?” I insisted, and he turned to face me with a devilish grin.

“Dutchman, if you aren’t completely honest with me, I swear I’ll wash your mouth out with lye soap!” I made the empty threat — I knew if I tried he’d just dissolve his human form and slip through my fingers, quite literally.

“Calm down, woman.  I’m not in the mood for a collie shangle with you just now,” he admonished, knowing full well that it annoyed me when he used slang that wasn’t even from his time.  “I’m at the Hixon estate,” he admitted.

“Surely not,” he murmured to himself with a slow shake of his head, and I knew he was not talking about my threat with the soap.  “I’ve just one more stop,” he spoke quickly before his translucent form wavered in a rough surge.Skull Victorian setting pink

Wherever Cornelis went next, he acted as though he searched for something.  First he leaned over a tabletop or perhaps a desk, riffling through papers.  Then he walked across the unseen room and opened invisible doors to look around in what I guessed was an armoire.

The alchemist put his fists on his hips and tapped a foot.  Suddenly he held up one finger and made an “ah-ha” noise.  He reached upward with both hands as if moving something on a wall, and then he placed the thing on the floor.  He turned back and put one hand on what must be a wall, and leaned his head against it.  I wondered if he was trying to hear a conversation in the next room.

After a moment he smiled broadly, turned his back to me and took some items out of the wall.  He also searched through those things and read some papers.  My patience wore thin and I called his name sharply.  I could tell he was in a mood and would not cooperate with me, especially if I was angry.  I closed my eyes and counted to ten.

A little electric shock stung the back of my neck.  My eyes popped open as I shouted my displeasure at the shock.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Don’t have a blooming fit,” he said in a smug tone and acted as if he had done absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

“Cornelis, modern slang does not suit you.  Now, did you find out who the woman on the hydrofoil is?” I asked.

“What?” he replied, looking as if my question was the last one he expected.  “Oh, that.  No.  I was suddenly curious about something, and had to look into it,” he commented with a wave of his hand to dismiss the subject.

I gave a sputtering sigh of frustration.  There was no talking to the man when he got into one of his moods.

“Anyone would think you’d become the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you ask such questions,” the Dutchman grumbled.

“That’s not so,” I countered.  “Why you’re more like the caterpillar, being all vague.”Vintage Alice Wonderland Caterpillar

Copper watched the exchange between us interestedly.  Cornelis stepped over to the girl.  His manner changed immediately and she smiled up at him.  Copper really did bring out the best in the Dutchman.

“She acts like she has caterpillars in her knickers,” he whispered to Copper, but it was easily loud enough for me to hear.

Cornelis winked and sat down on the ground next to Copper.  She asked what he had been doing, eyes still wide with amazement at his previously transparent form.

“I went to your house,” Cornelis said and the girl’s eyes took on a wistful but concerned expression.  “Don’t worry.  Everything is fine there,” he assured her.  “That nice portrait of your father in the entry hall?” he began causing Copper to nod that she knew the one he meant.  “Do you know when it was painted?  How old were you when it was done?”

I could not imagine what Cornelis had in mind with his behavior or those questions.  I began to wonder if after hundreds of years in his altered state, perhaps his mental faculties were breaking down.  Unless he was half deranged in the beginning — from some of the things he said, that was entirely possible.  However, it had always been my belief that the man was simply incredibly annoying.

“I wasn’t any age,” Copper answered, making me believe the child was a match for his odd way of thinking.Copper curious w-green

Good lord, was I going to have to deal with two evasive, obstinate personalities like the Dutchman? I wondered.  What would Copper be like as a teenager?

“Daddy said I wasn’t even a gleam in his eye when the portrait was painted,” she continued and Cornelis laughed heartily.

Somehow I had the feeling I was missing something.  I had a hunch the alchemist had figured out something he wasn’t ready to disclose.  That probably meant he had a shadow of a doubt about his deduction.

But what about Copper?  I got the feeling that Cornelis suspected the girl knew something that perhaps she was not entirely aware of herself.

My impatience got the better of me and I broke into their playful conversation.  “Cornelis, did you see Ignatius?  Is he safe?” I interrupted.

By the twist of the Dutchman’s mouth, I could tell that he still did not trust the tall innkeeper.Sm Steamboat

“I don’t think you need worry about Belle.  He turned his paddle steamer down a small tributary to the river.  There it quickly narrows and becomes marshy.  The last time I saw him he had anchored the steamer and taken to a small punt boat, poling it out of sight.  Those snaking creeks and streams could lead anywhere.  That ape might be able to follow him, but the men cannot.  And that’s if they even spot the right creek.  There are countless waterways in that area,” Cornelis described the escape of Ignatius Belle.

Abruptly my shoulders relaxed and I took a deep breath.  I hadn’t realized I had been so worried about Ignatius.

“Oh my,” Cornelis said drolly.  “Were you truly so concerned?  Anyone would think you were smitten by the man.  Well, I do admit his hair has quite fine coppery highlights when the sun hits it,” he admitted with a sardonic tone and a roll of his eyes.Angel Statue male moss

For the most part, whenever I had seen Ignatius he had worn his bowler hat, or he had been indoors.  Then I thought of an image of him that was so compelling I had kept it shut out, because I didn’t want to feel “that way” about anyone.  I remembered Ignatius standing in the abandoned church, bathed in sunlight.  His white shirt seemed to glow, and the reddish highlights in his hair sparkled enough for me to imagine a halo.

Cornelis looked at me expectantly.  I almost remarked again on the Dutchman’s jealousy of Ignatius, of which I had already accused him, but I contained myself.  If Cornelis was spoiling for another argument, I was not going to participate.  He pressed his lips together and shook his head in a resigned manner.

Instead I asked him about the valuable da Vinci papers Calvin Hixon had hidden in the owl-shaped lamp.  Cornelis looked rather disappointed that I left his bait on the hook by changing the subject.

“Did you find anything to confirm these people are trying to get the da Vinci drawings or even the letter from Alexander Graham Bell?” I tried to ask without seeming to interrogate.  I knew the alchemist could get mulish when asked too many questions.

Drebbel Incubator

Cornelis Drebbel Incubator

“Oh those,” he said.  “I wasn’t looking into that,” he commented offhandedly, exasperating me.  “Don’t look like you just ate a caterpillar.”

He smirked so, that I was sure I was missing something.  “Why do you keep mentioning caterpillars?” I demanded testily.

Cornelis pointed up at the branches of the tree.  I saw the cocoon Copper had spotted earlier.  Abruptly I noticed it was actually one among many.  There were scores of cocoons.  The creature inside started to free itself from one of the silken prisons.  I told the girl she was about to see a butterfly born.

A light came to the Dutchman’s eyes as he watched Copper’s fascination.  A green aura appeared around him.  I felt a slight stir of static electricity as he gathered a small amount of power.  Abruptly all the cocoons began to open at the same time.  A moment later we were surrounded by hundreds of colorful butterflies.  I felt a childlike delight akin to the joy Copper showed.  Cornelis smiled blissfully.

***

 Believe it or not I really did find a recipe with actual caterpillars as an ingredient…  Don’t worry – I wasn’t going to share it.  I couldn’t even make myself read it.  However, I did find a charming new (to me) cooking blog with a “caterpillars” recipe.  Pay a visit to Katie Loves Cooking.  https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/about/

Recipe:  Cooking with Kids – Cheesy Caterpillars & Snakes

Cheesy Caterpillars

Photo and recipe credit:  KatieLovesCooking.com

 

Great Big Hint!

And now, to reward you for reading to the very end… Be sure to meet the steam engine at this station again next time.  Episode-14 will reveal the name of the mysterious Woman in Trousers and maybe something about Ignatius Belle!

***

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 12

Hello everyone,

Copper pensive

I’m always excited when I’m able to get ahead of schedule on anything, particularly this “interactive, culinary, steampunk” serial.  However, I never thought I’d need to have a couple of episodes written in advance because of a bereavement.

For the time being, I’m simply unable to talk about it, but it’s just Crystal and me now.  So please limit your comments to the serial episode just this once… I’m an utter wreck.

Christy BirminghamIt might seem stupid of me to even bring it up, considering that.  However, I had to mention it as an apology.  I know I can’t do justice in this introduction for the wonderful Christy Birmingham.

Christy is one of the newer members of the family here, and I couldn’t think how best to showcase her talents as a poet, author, and blogger. I don’t think I can choose between her blogs Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire, so check out both of them. There you’ll find at least two of the sides of this woman of many talents.

Thanks to Christy for sending three inspiring things.  And now for the new episode of our “interactive” serial.

12.  One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, Candle Wax

“How did they find us?” Copper asked in a whisper when the hydrofoil came into our sight.

One lone dandelion grew in our hiding place.  Copper picked it and nervously plucked it apart.  I could tell she was silently playing the “loves me; loves me not” game.  However, I wondered what she was thinking.  Did she ponder whether or not someone loved her, her father perhaps?  I reminded myself that she was only a young girl.  Even an adult might feel abandoned in her circumstance.  Or perhaps she asked the flower if we would find her father, find him; find him not.Burrell Road Locomotive

“The road locomotive is heavy, so it left a lot of tracks, especially where it nearly fell over into the river.  Cornelis used a trick to cover our trail to some extent, but I doubt it would have been difficult for an experienced tracker to trace our path along the river,” I told her.

“Or they might simply have followed Ignatius Belle,” Cornelis said through lips that held a sardonic twist.  “However, that also leads to the question — how did Belle know where to find us?  Is the man an innkeeper, or an expert tracker?  Does a woodsman lie beneath his fine clothes?  And why does he seem to know so much about Calvin Hixon?  I suppose he’s an innkeeper, woodsman, and inventor!” the Dutchman said in a droll tone, but his face wore a pout.

“Why Cornelis Drebbel.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous,” I needled the alchemist.

Victorian courting“Jealous!  Don’t be absurd,” Cornelis objected.  “And I hope you realize it wouldn’t hurt you to use a little objectivity,” he added though my eyes widened.  “I’m surprised you don’t burst out with a free verse poem when you think of him.  You act as though you’re positively smitten with the dandy.”

“Smitten!  Now that’s just ridiculous,” I snapped.  “I have never been smitten in my life.  I’ll have you know that I—”

Shh!” Copper hissed at us both.  “They might hear,” she whispered, pointing at the hydrofoil which by then had nearly reached the spot where Ignatius Belle had stopped with his paddle steamer.

“Don’t worry dear heart.  They’re too far away to hear us, and the little trick I used to keep them from seeing us will also dampen our voices or any other sound we make,” Cornelis told Copper to sooth her fear.

“What other sounds?” she asked, just as Cornelis intended.

“Oh, any sound,” he said with wriggling eyebrows.  “The snap of a twig, or a hearty belch,” he assured her.

Of course, Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t resist demonstrating a “hearty belch,” to which Copper collapsed in a gale of giggles.  Abruptly she covered her mouth, still concerned that she might be heard.  I rolled my eyes heavenward at the Dutchman’s behavior.Flying man w umbrella

However, I secretly admitted that he really did have a good way with the girl.  As I recalled, during his human lifetime he had four children, or rather four who reached maturity.  I supposed he had plenty of practice entertaining and distracting them.

Suddenly I wondered if he missed his children, but surely he did.  I stubbornly stamped out the thought.  Every time I thought about Cornelis remembering his life as it was before the accident of alchemy that put him in his current state, it made me sad.  This was no time for me to indulge myself in emotions, particularly not in morose thoughts about which I could do nothing.

To my dread, the hydrofoil slowed as it drew near.  I still couldn’t tell who manned the craft, except for one erratically moving figure.  A chill went down my spine when I could see for certain that it was a very large chimpanzee.

Do not underestimate the size and strength of an adult chimpanzee.  I shuddered at the memory of the hoard of chimps bearing down on us at the Hixon estate.  The chaos of their mob, their shrill cries, their inhuman strength, it was something I’d rather forget.

Forlanini hydrofoil

The hydrofoil stopped.  The vessel lowered toward the water.

“What an amazing machine,” I whispered, awe overcoming my fears about the dangerous chimp.

Cornelis was eager to explain such things, but I was rarely patient enough for his invariably long winded explanations.

“The hydrofoil rises as the speed increases.  So the pressure around the foil changes until even the pressure on the top surface can become very low.  That lets the aerated water create a bubble and break down the lift on the top surface of the water.  At that point one might lose as much as two-thirds of the lift.  At that speed the vessel will drop back into the water,” he explained.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

He snapped his mouth closed when he noticed my level expression.  He pursed his lips in annoyance at my lack of scientific enthusiasm.  Ignoring him, I craned my neck to see the people on the craft.  I couldn’t tell how many passengers it might hold.

The people on the hydrofoil wore rain gear.  I guessed it protected them from the spray the vessel created.  A man leaned over the edge, looking at one of the foils that lifted the craft out of the water.  His movements made me think he was concerned about it.  He jumped to the riverbank and continued to look at the vessel from that angle.

The chimpanzee eagerly bounded to the shore.  It cavorted on the riverbank for a moment, and then it sniffed the air and turned directly toward the spot where the three of us hid.  The man shouted harshly at the ape.  It reluctantly returned to the shore.  The man finally shook his head and shrugged as he inspected the hydrofoil.  I wondered if they had suspected a problem, but found none.

The man turned his attention to the banks.  Ignatius had deliberately scraped his steam boat against the shore, leaving big marks.  “He was here,” I clearly heard him call to someone on the vessel.Ape Grandma ad

The tone of his voice led me to believe the person to whom he spoke was in charge.  A muffled reply came to his words.  I couldn’t make out any of it.  The man continued to examine the shore.

Meanwhile the chimpanzee had our scent again.  The ape looked fiercely intent as it resumed its tracing of our steps.  Fortunately Copper had run all around the site in her adventure of picking flowers and finding the whale’s tooth amulet.  That seemed to confuse the chimp, slowing his progress toward our hiding place.

“Do you have candle wax in your ears man?  Let’s go!” came an angry sounding command.

Cornelis and I looked at one another in open mouthed shock.  That was a woman’s voice!

The voice was vaguely familiar.  I knew it was one I had heard since coming to the quaint little town.  My mind raced through every woman I had met since I arrived.  It didn’t seem to belong to any of them.  I reminded myself that a woman wouldn’t have used such an imperious tone in ordinary company.

I played a mental image of each woman in my mind.  There were the two women at Best’s General Store, Billie Best and I never knew her customer’s name.  The two gossips had been unnecessarily hateful to Copper.  The memory irked me, but I didn’t think that voice belonged to either of them.

1900 Maid with trayThen there were Cookie and Bitsy from the Belle Inn.  I remembered Bitsy’s bubbling laugh and impish grin.  It was difficult to imagine that commanding tone coming from her.  But I supposed it could; the pitch might have been about right.  No.  That just didn’t seem possible.

Cookie was not only a talented cook, she had impeccable organizational skills.  She would be capable of directing such goings on, but she had spoken so briefly I wasn’t sure if I would recognize her voice.

My mind turned then to the dreadful people from Merciful Haven Orphanage.  The cowardly man, Claude Dinkley had a tenor voice.  Could I have mistaken I higher pitched male voice for that of a woman just then?  After all, I only heard it speak one phrase.

There was tall willowy Gertrude Hobbs, whose honking laugh combined with her long neck and weak chin made me think of a goose.  When they tried to take Copper away, she mostly echoed the proclamations of Ethel Farthing.  It was difficult to imagine Gertrude issuing imperious commands, but perhaps her subservience was an act.

Now, Ethel Farthing was another matter.  I could easily see her commanding men and chimpanzees.  Had it been her voice?  I felt like pulling out my hair in frustration.  I simply did not know.Villa Claire

While I pondered the voice and the women of the town, the chimp had crept frighteningly close to the place where we were concealed.  The trick Cornelis used could only work up to a point.  The chimpanzee was confused but determined.  It screeched loudly in aggravation.  The man looked toward us with an quizzical expression on his face.  He took a step toward the ape.

A sharp whistle blew loudly from farther along the river.  That would be Ignatius at the bend of the waterway, making sure these adversaries did not lose him.

The chimp whirled toward the whistle.  It ran with astonishing speed and hopped aboard the hydrofoil.  The man followed quickly.  In a moment the craft sped away.

***

Recipe:  Warm Dandelion Greens Salad with Pears & Raspberries

Dandelion greens salad

Photo and recipe credit:  Sara at Homemade Levity http://www.homemadelevity.com/

http://www.homemadelevity.com/warm-dandelion-greens-salad-with-pears-raspberries/

 

 

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.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 11

Location Revealed!

When my friend Olga at Just Olga offered “things” for an episode of this “interactive” serial, I knew they would be rich in detail. What I didn’t expect was for those things to reveal the location of the story… well, sort of.  It’s not an exact location, but a general one.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

You see, that’s how my Three Things serials work.  The “things” (or sometimes “ingredients”) you readers send inspire everything about the stories — even important things like the characters and the setting. Although we’ve already reached Episode-11, I was still waiting for the things to reveal the location. And when author Olga Núñez Miret sent her three things, one of them did just that.

Which of “Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, and Vine Leaves” do you think gave me the location? Read on and find out.

Olga has published such an impressive and varied collections of books — whether mysterious, suspenseful, or romantic.  She publishes in both English and Spanish, and some works are in audio books too.  I’m in awe of people who can write (or for that matter even read) so fast.  Today I’ll share three of Olga’s books with you, since there are three things. Click on the image for purchase information.

3 books OlgaNM

Our steam locomotive is right on schedule.  It just arrived at the station.  All aboard!

From last time…

Ignatius Belle seems a little too intent on getting Copper to visit his paddle steamer, anchored at the riverside near the abandoned church compound where our trio took refuge.  Or is it just that he believes the girl is the niece of the woman in trousers, and he wants to get closer to her?

However, Cornelis invented “old family friends” who are on the way to transport the trio to a fabricated holiday. So the handsome innkeeper will surely have to part company with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  Or will the “things” create more complications? Read on and find out.

***

11.  Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, Vine Leaves

There was a ragged hole in the roof of the old church.  Sunlight poured through the opening, engulfing Ignatius Belle.  He had taken off his coat and his white shirt caught the light so that it almost glowed.  The effect made him look tall, safe, and… angelic.

Angel Statue male mossI stared at him without realizing it.  Apparently I gawked for so long that it made him uncomfortable, because he chuckled and looked askance at me.  I stuttered, trying to explain without embarrassing myself by telling the man that he looked like an angel.

“It’s just that— Your shirt is dazzlingly bright in the sun’s light,” I stammered, then I reached up and wiped a drop of the shepherd’s pie from his collar, pretending that was the only thing on my mind.

“You’re right,” he agreed. “This is a fascinating ruin, but it is much too fine of a day to be indoors,” Ignatius said and surprised me by taking my hand.

He led me toward the front doors of the abandoned church.  “Oh wait.  What’s this?” I asked, stepping into an aisle where something was left behind on a pew.

At first I thought it was an old hymnal, but it was too large.  I carefully opened the book and turned thin, fragile pages.  Dates were recorded for births, deaths, and marriages.

Ruins St Dunstan

St Dunstan-in-the-East

“Look, it’s an old family Bible,” I commented in fascination.

I turned another page and my eyes were drawn to a name.  “Agustus Belle wed Antigone Stewart—”

“Please, let me see that,” Ignatius said, gently but eagerly taking the antiquated book from my hands.

He squinted and moved back to the place where the sun shone through the damaged roof.  “Those were my grandparents,” he marveled.  “They eloped.  No one was ever sure where they went to get married.  I wonder who this Bible belonged to,” he murmured, delicately turning the pages.

“It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone now.  The congregation, and apparently whatever village was nearby, they’ve all left long ago,” I began, as I looked up into serious brown eyes.  “I think whoever owned this book would want you to have it.  A tie to your grandparents,” I affirmed with a nod.

Ignatius took my hand again, smiled, and led me outside.  He held the old Bible under one arm, and pulled me close to him with the other.  I looked up, with sun-dazzled eyes as he lowered his head toward mine.

Copper

Copper

“Aunt Miiiina!” Copper cried my alias on a sustained note as she ran toward us.

I gave my head a sharp shake to bring myself out of the drowsy, mauve-colored moment.  Of all the bad timing.  But it was probably just as well, I thought.

“Look what I found!” Copper declared excitedly.

There was dirt under her fingernails as if she had been digging in the ground.  Tiny bits of rich soil littered the front of her dress.  The yellow petals of a black-eyed Susan stood out against hair the color of a new-penny.  She had tucked the blossom behind her ear.  I imagined her accidentally pulling up the flower by its roots, and spraying herself with dirt in the process.

Ignatius bowed playfully to Copper.  “Miss, that is a lovely flower, but it beauty pales next to your own,” he told the girl in a whimsical tone.

Copper tilted her head to one side and looked at the innkeeper as if she didn’t understand.  “He’s paying you a compliment,” I told her and tried not to laugh.  “Say thank you.”1860 Carved Whale Tooth

She made a quick movement that might have passed for a curtsey and mumbled her thanks.  Then Copper held her cupped hands toward me.  I hesitated, wondering if she dug up a mole and made a pet of it.

“Look!  Cornelis said it might be magic!” Copper said in a whisper that could have been heard at the riverbank.

In her hands was an ivory figurine inlayed with abalone shell, and not quite four inches long.  It depicted a man reclining on two humpback whales.  The style of the piece reminded me of Aztec artwork.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“I found it in the ground when I picked my flower.  Cornelis said it was an amulet,” Copper explained, testing the sound of what must have been an unfamiliar word.

“May I see it,” Ignatius asked.

Copper drew back slightly.  My warning look encouraged her to give the figure to Ignatius.  “It might well be magic of a sort,” he agreed in the tone sometimes used by adults encouraging children to believe in the supernatural.

The girl’s eyebrows went up expectantly and she moved a step closer to the handsome innkeeper.  “You realize we’re not far from the Pacific coast,” Ignatius said turning to me before continuing his examination of the ivory.

“This looks like the work of a coastal tribe to the north of here.  You see the little man?” he asked Copper who nodded interestedly.  “He is a shaman, and he is resting on the backs of his spirit animals — these two humpback whales, placed end-to-end.  Their eyes are made of abalone shell.  Oh, and look here,” he added in childlike excitement.  “You see where the shaman rests his head against the whale’s head?  That connects them and his mouth is the blowhole for the whale!  So this is meant to be the shaman traveling to the spirit world upon his whales,” Ignatius said to Copper’s amazement.Boulet Spirit Animal Totems

“So then,” I began.  “Is the ivory actually a carved whale’s tooth?” I asked and Ignatius affirmed with a smile.  “Copper, I’ll have to find a ribbon for you so you can wear this amulet around your neck.  After all, that’s how magic amulets are supposed to be worn,” I promised to her delight.

A shrill whistle interrupted our examination of the little carving.  At first I couldn’t tell from where the sound came, but I wasn’t looking up far enough.  The sun glinted off polished brass, high in a tree near the river.

“Cornelis Derbbel, of all things!” I declared when I spotted the alchemist in the upper branches of the tree.

The Dutchman whistled again and motioned for us to come to him.  By the time we reached the place, he had climbed down.  Or at least he pretended to have climbed for the innkeeper’s sake.  The alchemist probably descended via a less mundane means.  His face expressed a combination of excitement and worry that only Corenlis could achieve.

“You won’t believe this,” he told me.  “It would be wonderful if it wasn’t so horribly wrong.  But we have to hurry.  They’re only ten minutes or so away!” the Dutchman babbled.Drebbel stamp

“Cornelis, what are you talking about?” I demanded.

He calmed down minutely and held up his brass spyglass.  “I saw them headed this way on the river.  And they’re using a hydrofoil!” he added almost dancing in his enthusiasm.  “I can’t tell who it is though,” he added before I could ask.

I watched the attractive face of Ignatius blanch at the alchemist’s words.  “No.  It can’t be,” he groaned and paced a few steps as if torn.  “I should get you to safety.  But the hydrofoil can outrun my paddle steamer,” Ignatius fretted as he paced.

He seemed genuinely worried for our welfare.  I shot Cornelis a challenging look for his distrust of the dashing innkeeper.Burrell Road Locomotive

“We actually do have transportation,” I confessed.  “It’s just that we felt it had to be kept secret.  It’s one of Hixon— I mean my half-brother’s inventions, and I don’t think he was ready to show it to the world,” I told Ignatius a partial truth.

His eyes widened.  “Don’t tell me!  Do you mean to say that he finished the road locomotive?  That he actually got the steam engine working?” Ignatius cried.

I wondered how it was that the innkeeper knew so much about Calvin Hixon’s inventions.  “Well, mostly.  Cornelis put on the finishing touch, correcting a small problem with the design,” I said looking askance at the Dutchman who nodded with a wide grin.

“Then go!  Go quickly.  No, wait!” Ignatius faltered.  “The road locomotive makes a tremendous noise, does it not?” he asked and we all nodded emphatically.  “I’ll lead them away.  Hide and wait until they are well past.  I’ll make sure they see me.  If they think I have gotten the girl, they are sure to follow,” he said, and then inspiration lit his brown eyes.  “I can even make two bundles.  I’ll put hats on them or something so they can be you and Copper,” Ignatius said turning to me.Stripped Bustle Gown

“You can have my stripped gown,” I said catching his enthusiasm for the idea.  “It’s ruined anyway,” I justified my donation to the scheme.  When Ignatius looked like he would ask how it got ruined I added of my dive into the river to retrieve the skull of Cornelis Drebbel, “That’s a long story.  But there’s all manner of things in that large building,” I said pointing to the half ruined building where we hid the steam engine.  “I’m sure we can bundle up some things that will look like Copper and me, at least from a distance.”

“I’d love a look at the locomotive,” Ignatius said wistfully a moment later when we got to the building.

“Ah, but you realize there’s no time,” Cornelis reminded him with a sidelong look that made it clear to me that he still did not trust Ignatius Belle.

“I found this earlier,” Cornelis began in a sad tone.  “I meant to give it to Copper as the next thing to a playmate,” he told us as he presented a doll, about three feet tall, with hair the color of a new penny.  “But it’s better put to use to protect her,” the Dutchman sighed.Victorian Doll

“Oh what a shame,” I said.  Copper was a good deal taller than the doll, but from a distance it should be quite convincing. “She would love it,” I commented as I looked around for the girl.

I spotted her running back toward us, dragging my stripped frock behind her.  I reminded myself that it was already ruined.  She had also grabbed two ladies hats from that opened crate of accessories.  The hats didn’t match my gown or the doll’s dress, but that was of no importance.

Suddenly Ignatius pulled out a knife.  I gasped in shock and jumped back.  Cornelis had a green aura as he gathered his powers.  However, Ignatius didn’t see it because he was already running for the gaping hole in the wall of the abandoned storage building.  He shouted over his shoulder.  “I saw some vines growing just outside,” he called and he was gone.

Quickly he ran back inside, haloed in green vine leaves.  Ignatius used the vines to tie the bundles and they made passable human-like figures.

***

There was a cluster of bushes just far away enough from the riverbank.  Cornelis used one of his little tricks to make sure we wouldn’t be seen as we watched the paddle steamer pull away.  Just before it rounded a bend in the river, Ignatius gave a blast on the boat’s whistle.  He was making sure whomever piloted the hydrofoil didn’t lose him.

Forlanini hydrofoil

The HD-4

Ignatius claimed that he didn’t know who those people were.  He said the hydrofoil had changed hands a few times since all the chaos began.  I didn’t get to ask him about his involvement in the disappearance of Calvin Hixon, or any of the strange events surrounding it.  Neither could I ask him about his relationship with the man, Copper’s father.  But apparently there had been some level of interaction between the two men.  That might explain the girl’s distrust of the innkeeper.  However, there was no time for me to ask any questions.

Too soon a boat on feet-like skis that lifted it up out of the river neared our hiding place.  For the first time I wondered if Ignatius Belle was a hero or a traitor.  Perhaps he risked his life to lure villains away from Copper and myself.  Then again, he might be meeting them farther down the river, comrades in arms.

Cornelis Derbbel gave a soft surprised grunt.  He used one of his tricks to look farther than the human eye could see.  I raised the spyglass to see what startled the alchemist.  As the hydrofoil drew even with our vantage point, I saw a figure moving wildly on the vessel.  A very chimpanzee cavorted and gesticulated wildly.

***

Is Ignatius Belle now in jeopardy? The question remains as to whether the innkeeper is angel or aggressor.  And once again, who controls the chimpanzees?  Come back next time to learn where the “things” take our trio.

Next time our “things” are from delightful Christy Birmingham at Poetic Parfait. Stay tuned for her: one lone dandelion, free verse poem, and candle wax.

And now for this episode’s recipe.  My search of the WordPress countryside too, me to a lovely blog.  Though you are not likely in Cypress, you are sure to be intrigued – and it has a recipe page, Chef’s Choice Cypriot Recipes.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Stuffed Vine Leaves

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Photo and recipe credit: Cypriot Recipes at The Foreign Residents in the TRNC

 

https://tfrnorthcyprus.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/chefs-choice-cypriot-recipes-stuffed-vine-leaves-koupepiadolmades/

 

 

 

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 10

Color My World — Please!color teacups

Maybe you’ve heard me mention my thing about color. I seem to have a physical need for color.  I used to wear black occasionally — it’s a color. However, I’ve seen so very, very much of it in DC, that I avoid it now (except for basic slacks once in a while). If I wear all neutrals, light or dark… well, I just don’t feel very good, and wearing black makes me feel downright funerary.

Years ago, a male coworker asked me, “How many colors do you have in your wardrobe anyway?”

(At the time I’d barely started building said wardrobe, so the question really made me pause.)  Puzzled, I turned the question on him. “How many colors does your wife have in hers?”

“Oh four maybe,” he said with a shrug.

I had never given it thought before, but suddenly that seemed like a sad state to me.  Only four colors? My work-friend was obviously waiting for my answer. “I don’t know, but I plan to have all of them,” I said with a grin.

There are so many variations in colors that my ready-to-explode closet is still lacking a few.  One of those shades would be a true mauve.  So it captured my attention when Christine Robinson elaborated on the “things” she sent for today’s episode. She described mauve as the color of the Victorian Era.

2015 mauve fashionThat led the research geek in me down some marvelously interesting trails. Like they say, everything old is new — I saw that mauve is the fashion color for fall/winter 2015.  So I decided to decorate this episode with everything mauve.

(In case you wondered, mauve is a lovely color, but my favorite is green.)

As I said, Christine (or C.E. Robinson) at “Before Sundown – remember what made you smile” provided the things for today.  Do take a look at her blog. It’s filled with beautiful stories and books. Some are akin to fairy-tales, others are real life fairy-tales. There are plenty of colorful and energetic photos. It’s a feast for the mind and the eye.

I won’t hold you up any longer. The steam locomotive just pulled into the station. Check the images and text for informative links.

 All aboard!

***

From last time…

“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 away 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.

***

Sir William Henry Perkin 1838-1907

Sir William Henry Perkin 1838-1907

10.  Bicycle, Mauveine, Shepherd’s Pie

The silly standards of our society baffled me.  Something that was perfectly ordinary for a man was out of the question for a woman.  Whether I wore a cumbersome skirt with a ridiculous bustle, or my preferred trousers shouldn’t make a bit of difference to anyone.  Neither should anything about how I led my life.

mauve Dolly Baird of Bunbarton 1906

Mrs Howard Johnston – Dolly Baird of Bunbarton, (1906) by Boldini

Everything was always so caught up in propriety, and really had nothing to do with me.  Honestly, I thought.  People and their moralities.  The fact that people judged me for traveling with Cornelis Drebbel astounded me.  They always assumed impropriety when there was none.  That’s why I had taken to keeping the Dutchman’s presence a secret for the most part.  That was fine with the alchemist.  He wasn’t exactly a people person.

The alchemist and I were not a pair, not romantically involved.  My, I thought, a romance with Cornelis after the accident of alchemy that put him in that strange state.  That would be tricky to say the least.  I blushed when I caught myself pondering the whats and hows of it.

“It’s unseemly for a woman to go traipsing across the countryside with a man,” Ignatius said heatedly.

The argument seemed to have escalated while I considered the implications of a physical relationship with someone in the uniquely nonphysical condition of the Dutchman.

That last remark offended Cornelis Drebbel if his bulging eyes and the throbbing vein in his forehead were any indication.  I realized I had best step into the fray.

Mauve perfume bottle“Mina, if you’ll not allow me to take you and Copper back into town, then at least come downriver with me.  I have business to attend anyway, so I may as well take care of it straight away,” Ignatius said, using the alias I had provided.

I didn’t feel like a Mina.  Whatever had possessed me to come up with that name?

Ignatius took me by surprise and I blurted out what I was thinking.  Cornelis was right that sometimes I had no manners in that regard.  However, I’d never let him know I agreed.  “Business?  What sort of business?” I asked; all curiosity and no tact.

The tall innkeeper smiled disarmingly, as if I had been perfectly polite.  Maybe he saw my curiosity as acceptance.

“It’s just a small business transaction.  I sometimes buy items and resell them.  I’ve bought some aniline purple.  Are you familiar with it?  The synthetic organic chemical dye?” he asked.Mauve Rose

“Oh, do you mean mauveine?  I simply love the color,” I said with what I hoped was just enough enthusiasm to make up for anything he may have perceived as rudeness.

“Precisely.  The dye will fetch a good price.  The color is quite popular.  Perhaps a hundred years from now, people will think of mauve as the color of our era,” Ignatius said with just a touch of whimsy.

Cornelis rolled his eyes and muttered something about “Marvelous mauve.”

“Assuming you mean to hire a coach at the next town, I can take you there.  It won’t put me out of my way, as I had planned to go there to pick up the dye anyway.  Or I can take you back home.  Really, it’s the only reasonable course of action.  What will people think of you wandering the countryside with your… associate,” Ignatius said, echoing the words I used when I introduced Cornelis Drebbel.

“Why, the same sort of thing they’d say if she paraded down the river on a paddle boat with an innkeeper,” Cornelis said drolly.

mauve bodiceA fire sparked in Ignatius’ eyes at that comment and I feared the two would argue again.  The next time they quarreled, I was sure it would come to blows.

“Mina, you can’t mean to tell me that you would rather walk to the next town!” Ignatius exclaimed, but then he shook his head and grinned.  “Surely you are not afraid of the steamboat.  You don’t seem like a woman who would be intimidated by technology,” he said.  His voice and facial expression became softer.  “Oh Mina, I promise you it is perfectly safe,” he said encouragingly.

I glanced at Cornelis Drebbel.  An aura started to shimmer greenly around him.  It wouldn’t do to let the dashing innkeeper see that.  Quickly I moved so that Ignatius would have his back to the alchemist.  I was astonished that Cornelis would use one of his tricks in front of anyone.  However, that aura meant that he was up to something.

An instant later a pigeon fluttered down, alighting on a bush next to the Dutchman.  A closer look told me that it was not just a pigeon, but a messenger pigeon.  Cornelis hummed a happy sounding tune as he removed a note from the tiny container on the bird’s back.  The alchemist looked inordinately pleased with himself.Lady with pigeon

“Ah good,” Cornelis said jovially, so I knew he was fabricating something.  “They are on their way.”

“Who?” Ignatius quickly demanded.  “Who would be coming to this Godforsaken place?”

It was fortunate that the innkeeper spoke abruptly, because that prevented me asking the same question.  I would have spoiled whatever story Cornelis had in mind.

“If you must know,” Cornelis began acerbically.  “We were not, how did you put it?  Wandering the country side.  With that strange unrest at the Hixon estate, it was a good time for a holiday.  So, we were going to some old friends of my family.  Then, as Mina mentioned, our horses were stolen when we stopped here.”

“And how…” Ignatius started but paused, looking at the pigeon.  “Do you mean to say you used a pigeon post to communicate to these people?”

mauve Vic boots“Why of course.  I’d never go anywhere without some of my birds,” Cornelis said affably and stroked the pigeon’s head.

Cornelis even cooed to the pigeon.  I thought that was laying it on a bit thick.

The tall innkeeper’s eyes narrowed as he looked down at Cornelis and the bird.  I wondered what Ignatius was thinking.  The fact that he seemed to think the name Cornelis Drebbel was familiar gave me pause.  It was possible that he knew of the Dutchman’s acclaim as a long ago inventor, but it was unthinkable that Ignatius could deduce anything about his unique situation.

That paddle steamer proved his interest in technology and tinkering.  However, something Ignatius said when he first arrived nagged at me.  Ignatius Belle had mentioned Calvin Hixon’s inventions.  I told myself that shouldn’t bother me.  The entire town thought of Hixon as an eccentric.  The inventions were surely common knowledge.  Perhaps Ignatius simply admired the brilliance that Copper’s father evidently possessed.

Queen Marie Henriette of Austria

Queen Marie Henriette of Austria

The innkeeper looked charmingly perplexed as he studied Cornelis.  I couldn’t help smiling.  The Dutchman noticed my expression and rolled his eyes heavenward.  “Do try and control yourself,” he murmured using one of his tricks, so that only I could hear.

Ignatius Belle inclined his shoulders to speak to Copper.  She drew back and based on the look on his face, he was genuinely hurt by her negative reactions to him.  I felt a little sorry for him.  He had been very kind.

“Have you ever been on a paddle steamer?” he asked Copper, meaning the boat that unexpectedly brought him to us.  “We could do some fishing from it.  Maybe catch something for our dinner?” he asked her, though Copper’s brows knitted in a skeptical expression.

“I have my bicycle onboard,” the innkeeper continued undaunted.  “There’s enough room to ride it a little on deck.  I could teach you,” he offered.

I was taken aback by the way he suddenly seemed to want to entice the girl onto his boat.  However, Ignatius had been consistently generous.  He thought I was Copper’s aunt.  If he was interested in me, then it was only natural that he would want to win over my “niece.”

mauve Girl BicycleCopper looked intrigued about the prospect of learning to ride a bicycle.  Cornelis noticed the minute change in her expression and took half a step, inserting himself partly in front of the girl.

“Neither fish nor fishing will be necessary,” Cornelis said.  “Unfortunately we’ve little time for bicycle riding on boats.  We were just about to eat.  Won’t you join us?” the Dutchman boldly invited the innkeeper.  “I’m sure there’s more than enough.”

What was Cornelis thinking by inviting Ignatius for a meal?  Thanks to his alchemically affected sneezes we had not gone hungry, but did he really mean to offer leftover pancakes and short ribs?

Cornelis waved toward a shade tree.  Beneath the tree a blanket was spread and at its center was a large picnic basket.

“Umm!  What’s that smell?” Copper asked.

“That, my dear, would be shepherd’s pie,” the alchemist said with a genuine smile for the girl.  “Would you like to unpack the basket so that we can eat?  Perhaps our… our guest will help you.”Mauve teacup Wileman Co 1893

The suggestion was enough for Copper.  It seemed like the child was always hungry.  To my surprise, she grabbed Ignatius’ hand and half dragged him over to the tree.  Cornelis may have accidentally smoothed Copper’s unaccountable distrust of the innkeeper.  The same thought occurred to the Dutchman if the pursed twist of his lips was any indication.

“I didn’t think your tricks included the ability to make real food,” I whispered.  “I thought you only did things like that accidentally.  You know, like when you sneezed and pancakes appeared.”

“That’s quite true.  Conjuring edible food is not a skill I’ve mastered,” he said.  “Despite two centuries of attempts,” he added in a very droll tone.  “I have to—  Think of it as reaching in and take something.  I have to take something that already exists.”

Villa Claire

Vevey, Claire Villa 1910

“So you stole the pie?” I asked.  “Cornelis Drebbel, I’m shocked.  Did you steal some family’s dinner?”

“No, nothing of the kind,” Cornelis defended himself.  “It wasn’t a poor family.  They had a huge feast laid out.  And I didn’t simply take it,” he added with a pout.

“Oh?” I asked, eyebrows raised.

“No. I did not.  In return for the shepherd’s pie I left them a very fine laying goose, and the makings for all the frog’s legs they could possibly eat,” Cornelis said, lifting his chin.

***

 Has Copper finally taken a liking to Ignatius Belle — and is that good or bad?  Cornelis fabricated an excuse (in the form of “old family friends”) to separate our trio from the handsome but prim innkeeper, but where will they go next?  Will Ignatius stubbornly follow? Only the things can say.  So be sure to be at the train station again next time!

 And now for the Episode-10 culinary delight.  I’m pleased to share Christine’s personal recipe choice.  It’s dated 1912!

Recipe:  Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherds Pie

Take a pound of cold mutton, a pint of cold boiled potatoes, one-half an onion grated, one or two cooked carrots; cut the mutton and potatoes into small pieces and put them with the onion and carrot into a deep baking dish. Add a cupful of stock or water, salt, pepper and a tablespoonful of butter cut in bits.

Pare and boil four medium-sized potatoes, mash and add cup of cream, salt and pepper to taste, beat until light, then add enough flour to make a soft dough. Roll out and cover the dish with the dough, make a cross cut in the center to allow pie steam to escape, and bake in a moderate oven one hour.

A modern shepherd’s pie is made like the above with the addition of a few capers and a stalk or two of celery.

A note from Christine regarding the oven:  I question the one hour in moderate oven. Ovens are hotter today so I’d think maybe 45 minutes based on crust brownness.

 ***

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Stay Tuned!

Steam Train Schedule Update

Next Train-Clock

Many of you are used to seeing the new episodes of our “interactive” Steampunk serial on Saturdays (when I post them from the USA).  So I wanted to let you know that there will be a slight weather delay — the weather that I’m under.

I won’t be able to finish Episode-10 until tomorrow (Sunday for me).

Here’s a little preview.  See you tomorrow!

 

I glanced at Cornelis Drebbel.  An aura started to shimmer greenly around him.  It wouldn’t do to let the dashing innkeeper see that.  Quickly I moved so that Ignatius would have his back to the alchemist.  I was astonished that Cornelis would use one of his tricks in front of anyone.  However, that aura meant that he was up to something.

A Shout-out – Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers

I’d like to thank the Academy…

Copper Cover 3-25-2015

By the “Academy” I mean the group of wonderful people, writers, chefs, photographers, readers, and bloggers who come here to Teagan’s Books each week.

You see, when I introduced the previous episode, I got a little off track. Ever since, I have felt that I did not do justice to the amazing chef and blogger who provided that set of “three things” — Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen.”

I know Suzanne never thought of it that way, but I can’t deal with feeling like I didn’t do my best for someone who has been so very supportive of me and my writing.  Then I thought that it would be nice to do a shout out to everyone who has sent “things” so far!

So I’d like to thank the Academy!

Episode-1:  John W. Howell John W HowellJohn gave us the kickoff episode, the first set of three things, Stilton Cheese, Mare’s Milk, Calamari.  The Cheese and calamari helped put an image of a setting into my mind. Somehow that Stilton cheese keeps coming back around in later episodes. 

Episode-2:  Kathryn aka KR Big Fish

Kathryn KR BIgfish

Along with writing the second chapter of this serial, I had to come up with a name for it. Since the “things” had not had time to develop a story-line, I took the easy way out and titled it with the names of my trio of protagonists, Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers. I know it’s long, but I kind-of like it. For the second episode Kathryn gave us a delicious recipe and Soup Pot, Kitchen Sink, Mail-order Wine Club.

Episode-3:  Lord David Prosser

Lord David Prosser

 I can always count on the wonderful imagination of Lord David for fantastic “things.” The ones he sent for the third episode brought out the Steampunk element of this serial — Quail’s Egg, Wurlitzer Organ, Hydrofoil.

Episode-4:  Andrea Stephenson

Andrea Stephenson

When Andrea offered “things” for the fourth chapter, I knew I was in for a treat, because she writes so beautifully. With Artist’s Palette, Pease Pudding, Owl-Shaped Lamp, the lamp deepened the mystery.

Episode-5:  Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin

Incredibly generous in promoting other bloggers, Sally gave us things and a recipe for the fifth episode. Corset, Irish Soda Bread, Steam Engine led to a favorite inanimate “character,” the road locomotive!

Episode-6:  Mary J McCoy-Dressel

Mary J McCoy-Dressel

I knew “things” from my favorite Romance writer would lead to something interesting. With Soup Bone, Destiny, Ceramic Statue, Copper grew up a bit, and… well, I don’t want to give any spoilers about the statue.

Episode-7:  R.C. of New Mexico

I’m not showing a photo here, because RC is not a blogger, and I didn’t know if it would be okay…  But no one can rival the creative “things” that come to the mind of my friend RC, like Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes, Airtights. Plus they were so perfect for the setting of the story.

Episode-8:  Elini Herrera

Elini

Fascinating Elini took time from her Culinary Journey to provide “things” for the eighth episode — Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper.  Her recipe was a big hit too.

Episode-9:  Suzanne Debrango

Suzanne Debrango

As I mentioned, the multi-talented Suzanne provided the delicious recipe and things for the ninth chapter, Pâté, Profiteroles, Olives. As you might expect, those profiteroles had many a mouth watering — and so did her blog when everyone went to visit her gorgeous dishes!

Episode-10:  Christine Robinson

Christine Robinson

Christine has the most marvelous enthusiasm. It comes through in her writing and in her delightful blog. I couldn’t wait to use her “things.” She went out of her way to make sure her things were appropriate to the Victorian Era. So stay tuned for Bicycle, Mauveine, Shepherd’s Pie. They’ll make the next episode.

Episode-11: Olga Núñez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret

The schedule at the train station has the eleventh set of things in queue, thanks to Olga.  I don’t know how she does it… Olga has so many things on her plate, blogging, writing, translating, reviewing books… She’s phenomenal.  Stay tuned for  Old Family Bible, Carved Whale’s Tooth, Vine Leaves.

After that, there is no fuel for the steam locomotive!  So keep the train on track, and leave a comment with Three Things, which can be random things or food-related things — or both. (Just remember the story is set in the Victorian Era, so try to avoid things like television sets.)  Recipes are also welcome.

Thanks for dropping by for a mid-week post.  Hugs to everyone!  See you this weekend when the steam locomotive is at the station.