Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»
MME and P P von Hedwig

MME and P P von HedwigThe morning dawned clear and sparkling as a crystal champagne flute. Sunlight glittered on the snow; ice shone. Ulrik piloted the Schöneluflt parallel to the massive peaks the vonHedwigs had come so far to study. The Observation Deck held a full house – every vonHedwig aboard had staked out a window.

Mother found a vantage point behind one of the shorter children and looked meaningfully at Father, who shrugged. Two hours later he sidled up to her and whispered.

“I don’t know what’s caught their attention, but they are marvelously focused!”

It was true. Only Bettina, who was practically a baby, had given up searching the landscape. She was playing quietly, breathing on the window and drawing fireworks in the condensation. Occasionally she would whisper “Boom!” and giggle. Gerhardt, Mirabelle, Annabelle, Adolphus, and Claire were all fixed at the windows, absorbed by the view.

Mother whispered back, “I’m delighted, of course, but I simply can’t believe the cretaceous period has them so engrossed. Something else is afoot.”

Just then Gerhardt spoke up. “Look at that funny fold in the rocks! It almost looks like a face.”

Madame vonHedwig looked where her son was pointing, and saw a glimpse of exactly the sort of catastrophic geographic evidence she had come to the Himalayas to find, slipping off astern. She stood still, trembling all over with excitement.

“Oh, Gerhardt darling, such a clever boy!” she breathed.

“Ulrik,” Herr vonHedwig called, “better go back for another pass.”

Ulrik’s long fingers hovered over a shiny red lever. “Engines in reverse, mein Herr?”

“No, no, better not. The boiler chief takes great exception to that request – don’t want them in an uproar. Just come about in the valley and take another swipe at it.”

Ulrik complied, and steered the great airship in a graceful loop into the valley, and approached the wall again.

“Magnificent!” Mother said. “Ulrik, give me the precise bearing of this spot. I’m going to sketch it.”

“And I will photograph it,” Father said. “Hold her steady, Ulrik.”

Bettina wiped the remains of a particularly violent explosion off the windowpane and looked out, hoping to see the face in the mountain. Instead, she saw movement in the snow below.

“Bear-man!” she squealed.

The children looked; the adults were busy sketching, setting up photographic equipment, and holding her steady.

Claire was the last to look. She saw just a flash of movement as whatever it was disappeared. She saw too much to deny, but not enough to be certain. She was quiet, therefore, when her siblings burst into a cacophony of excited babble. This was too much for even the most patient parents. Father fumbled his lens and mother broke the tip of her pencil.

“Jupiter!” Father roared. “What is the meaning of this noise?”

The children fell silent at once, looking at each other in alarm.  Adolphus took a step forward, placed one hand on his waistcoat and the other behind his back, looking serious.

“Mother,” he said, acknowledging each with a nod, “Father, I believe I have discovered the Yeti.”

A flurry of small white objects sailed through the air, striking Adolphus in the face. He removed one from his ear and waved it in the direction of his attackers.

“That is to say we, we all, have discovered the Yeti.”

Bettina, spying the fallen marshmallows, crawled toward her brother to retrieve them. At the same time a small brass self-propelled sweeping apparatus rolled over to the fallen treats, a tiny puff of steam escaping its embossed chimney. Bettina growled, and reached into her pinafore pocket and pulled out a crayon. The sweeping machine advanced on the marshmallows, and Bettina fended it off with her crayon, poking it with one hand, stuffing marshmallows into her mouth with the other.  The sweeper expelled an angry puff of steam and circled behind her, sucking at her untied bootlaces. Above her, the discussion continued.

This story began with On Grandmothers.  The last episode is Meanwhile, Back in the Lab and the next is The Children’s Hypothesis.
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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