Steampunk Family

Axe and Fire

August 22, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

The twins led the way back to camp, where Gerhardt displayed his stone axe head. He had managed to chip away at a shiny black rock (which Claire called obsidian) until it had a sharp edge, cutting only four of his fingers in the process.

“And only one of them is at all deep,” he boasted. Bettina’s pinafore was missing its shoulder ruffles, as she had torn them off for use as bandages. Mirabelle made him unwrap his fingers and cleaned out his wounds with a few drops of the boiler chief’s special distilled engine cleaner. Gerhardt jumped up and down clutching his wrist as though twisting his hand off would feel better. He complained that cutting himself had not hurt anywhere near as bad, but they all agreed that they could not risk infection in so remote and wild a place.

Adolphus hurried to fashion a handle for the axe. Claire built the fire, wasting half an hour rubbing sticks together ‘to conserve matches’ before Bettina grew impatient and used one of her strike-anywheres. Claire spent the rest of the evening practicing her technique, finally constructing a bow using a flexible stick and one of her boot laces and achieving sparks at last. (The trick is to have loads of the right kindling – something soft like dry pine needles, dry moss, or the underside of certain tree barks.)

The twins enjoyed a lively discussion as to the fate of the turnip. It lay still in the pinafore, giving rise to speculation that it was only “alive” (or at least mobile) in its home field. Eventually they filled the cheese tin with water and brought it to a boil, hit the turnip with a rock and tipped it in. They cooked it a long time, just in case. It was sustaining, but not at all delicious.

The twins set out their net in the river, but when they woke it was empty. Adolphus returned to the turnip nests to hunt breakfast, which he enjoyed catching far more than he enjoyed eating. They argued in a desultory fashion over whether to stay in the field, which felt safe and had water and a food supply, or to continue downstream into unknown danger and possibly something better to eat. When Adolphus offered to go catch their lunch and dinner turnips, they packed up and got in the boat.

The river spun them through the valley, along the foot of the mountains. They saw more strange birds in all imaginable colors, but mostly variations of green. They heard rustling from the riverside that must have been larger animals.

“Mammals,” Adolphus said, “or possibly enormous turnips.”

They did not stop to investigate, for some mammals are quite dangerous, and enormous turnips are quite unappealing.

The smell of sulfer grew stronger throughout the day, and the swirling violet clouds became thicker with orange swirls. Claire had a bad feeling about this, and watched the riverbank for steam, which would indicate lava flowing into the water.

As she predicted, they were approaching the volcano. Gusts of smoke occasionally wafted across the river, forcing the children to shut their watering eyes tight against it, and bury their faces in their handkerchiefs or pinafore skirts.

What she had not expected was the loud yapping and howling of many small dogs in distress!

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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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