Steampunk Family

Anxious Hours

September 30, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Schöneluft Log, 1900.06.30

Ulrik Manfred Adler, acting Captain

40.48,116.10, traveling south, southeast at 49 knots

I convinced the boiler crew to clean the fireproofing vat by giving them the ginger beer. They gave two cases to the Grandmothers as an apology and kept the rest.

Mrs. Huang has tried to tell me more about the violence on the ground, but there are too many unknown words in the way. Men of the countryside are killing foreigners, that much I understand. I understand the pattern of the burned houses, too. Missions, primarily, but any house harboring westerners.  Not only are the houses burned, but the occupants are executed. Even the children.

It has taken many hours for me to understand this, or perhaps to believe it. But I think on the last fifty years China has endured – the opium trade, wars with Britain, war with Japan, every empire-building nation on earth slavering over this, the oldest empire. I know nothing of China’s internal politics, but the pressure from outside is obvious.

I confess I have never approved of missionaries. After all, the Chinese have perfectly good religions of their own. Believe as you wish, yes? But do not think God needs you to explain His vast wonders to anyone else! I have visited many nations under the employ of the von Hedwigs. I follow their lead and listen to learn. When you are talking, you learn nothing.

I expected to be greeted as a friend in the Grandmothers’ village, but received stones instead of bows. I listen to this, and to the burned houses. The drought is as widespread this year as the floods were last. The people are hungry. They are angry. They should be angry at foreign governments who would divide China among them like pie at a banquet. But the Kaiser is not here, nor Queen, nor Czar, nor President. So they take out their anger on the invaders they can see. Even the children.

I write this to fill the anxious hours to Pekin, but I am too restless to continue. I must prepare – for what? How bad can it be? Every western empire, as well as the Russians and Japanese have a presence in eastern China and the protection of the Imperial Army. Surely a mob of peasants will be rebuffed! Surely the Imperial City will remain an island of tranquility, unchanged by the tides of time and turmoil. Surely Philomena will be safe? Yet as we sail over empty fields and deserted villages I am uneasy.

I will survey the weapon stores, even the experiments in Mein Herr’s laboratory. The ball-lightening generator is dangerous and unpredictable, but what else is there? This is not a warship. I must be creative. I cannot plan for I have no idea what I may expect when we get to Pekin. Then I will brief the boiler chief and Chef. We are flying into danger.

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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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