Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»
Bettina vs the sweeper

Bettina vs the sweeper

“So,” Father said, “your hypothesis is that the mythological yeti is an actual creature residing in this region. Your evidence is personal observation by Adolphus, Mirabelle, Annabelle, and Bettina.” He glanced down at his youngest, momentarily distracted by her battle with his sweeping machine.

“I saw it too, just now,” Gerhardt asserted.

“Very well,” Mother said, “what are the next steps you wish to take in your research?”

Adolphus and the twins put their heads together. Gerhardt tried to push his way into their huddle. Claire tried to look aloof, sketching the folded rock formation. Bettina finished eating marshmallows from the floor and turned around to extract her shoelaces from the sweeper.

Adolphus stepped forward. “We would like to mount a more focused aerial search, using your launch, with the possibility of ground re –…” He looked back at the twins, who hissed at him in unison. “Possibility of ground reconnaissance. You know, have a look round for tracks, and um, scat, I suppose.”

“That’s the idea!” said Gerhardt. “And while we have the launch, we can go sledding!”

He was momentarily suppressed by Annabelle and Mirabelle, but recovered quickly. “I mean to say, I concur.”

Now Father and Mother put their heads together.

“If you write a proposal describing your findings thus far and your requirements for further research, your Father and I shall consider it.” Mother said. “Should we approve your proposal-“

“And when your Mother has concluded her work and no longer needs the launch, and if we still have time before we must return for the Grandmothers, you may borrow the launch.”

There was cheering from most of the children, except for Claire, who was still aloof, and Bettina, who had removed her surviving boot, and was beating the sweeper with it.

“However,” added Mother, “either Father, Ulrik, Claire, or I will pilot the launch.”

“Oh no, Mother,” Adolphus protested, “I’m much better now! I’ve been practicing.”

“Don’t think I’m going to waste time on this fairy tale!” Claire said at the same time.

Clamor erupted on all sides, Adolphus pleading, the twins chastising Claire, and Gerhardt protesting that he wouldn’t get in any craft piloted by his brother, “not after the last time!”

“Enough!” roared Father at last. “You are all dismissed to work on your proposal, or whatever other project will take you out of this room, immediately!”

The children trooped out, to continue their argument in the passageway.

“Claire, you’ve got to help us!” Adolphus said. “If you won’t pilot for us, you’ll miss out on all the fun!”

“There won’t be any fun. It will be a freezing waste of time.”

“Why are you such a pill?” he demanded. The twins grabbed him and thrust him behind them.

“If you don’t want to pilot for us, Claire dear, will you at least help us write the proposal?” Mirabelle said in her kindest tones.

“It’s your idea, why don’t you write it?” Claire said.

“You’re the oldest,” Gerhardt answered.

“I’m not the oldest!”

“You’re the oldest on board,” said Mirabelle.

“It’s not my project.”

“Philomena would have done it!” Annabelle wheedled.

“I’m not Philomena!”

“That’s for sure,” said Adolphus.

“Don’t be mean,” Mirabelle said.  “Claire, dearest, you are much better a writer than any of us, and we won’t make you think it all up, we can tell you what we know, we just need you to organize it.”

“If you write the proposal, we’ll let you come along,” offered Gerhardt.

“If you don’t boss us!” his brother added.

“I don’t want to come!” Claire cried.  “I don’t care about your ridiculous, childish research ideas, I’m not bossy, and I am not Philomena!”

She stomped down the hall to her cabin and slammed the door, just as the door to the Observation Deck opened. Bettina came out, carrying her shoes. Behind her, they saw Father watching his sweeping machine spinning in circles, black smoke issuing from its badly dented chimney.  He looked weary. They quickly retreated to the children’s Lab to write.

This story began with On Grandmothers.  The previous episode is A Day of Discovery and the next is A Research Date.

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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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