Steampunk Family


August 7, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

In which the children explore a new land.



The river picked up speed descending through the woodlands into a valley. Occasionally their mushroom cap boat was caught in an eddy and spun round and round, causing Mirabelle and Bettina to whoop with delight, and Annabelle to shut her eyes and cling to the gills.

Gerhardt was watching the banks intently, and made them pull to the side whenever there were many rocks on the bank.

“What are you looking for?” Mirabelle asked.

“Stone to make into an axe, like the cavemen used.”

“That’s a good idea,” Claire said, “but you don’t want that kind. You want flint, or chert, or obsidian. I’ll help. I’ve much more geology than you.”

They stopped six times before they found a rock to Claire’s satisfaction, and other rocks needed to shape it into an axe head. She wouldn’t let Gerhardt try making it on the boat though, for like watch repair, flint-knapping requires stillness.

Adolphus watched the bank for a different reason. He had brought a collection of thin, long sticks on board, and tickled the plants growing on the bank for a reaction. Over the course of the day four of his sticks were snatched away by annoyed vines, and the children memorized the foliage of their dangerous foe.

Late in the afternoon (judging solely from how hungry they felt) the river widened and became shallow and clear, only a foot or two deep over rock ridges. That’s when they finally saw their first birds since coming to this new place. A pair waded along the edge of the river, peering sharply into the water for fish to spear on their wicked sharp beaks. The children watched in awe, hoping they didn’t want to catch anything bigger, for the birds were nearly as big as Gerhardt! One of them had a fanciful orange crest on its head, and both gleamed with shiny teal and turquoise backs and hot pink bellies.

“This is a floodplain,” Claire announced in her I-know-geology voice. “It will be a good place to make camp and look for food.”

Using their poles rather unsuccessfully, then just getting out and walking, they pulled the mushroom boat to shore where a sandy-pebbly beach led to a broad grassy field. Adolphus volunteered to make a fire and Claire went with him to look for wood. The twins ventured off for food, and Gerhardt and Bettina stayed with the boat, he working on his stone axe and she poking at the shrubbery along the bank to make sure it didn’t poke back, and then pulling off leaves to make boats with, filling them with flower cargo, and floating them downstream.



This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode was An Unusual Breakfast and the next is What’s for Dinner?

Photo credit SriMesh.
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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