Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Schöneluft Log, 1900.06.29

Ulrik Manfred Adler, acting Captain

40.90, 114.69,  Traveling East Southeast

I fear the American Captain’s rumors are true – there is trouble in China. I did not immediately comprehend the signs before my eyes, but my suspicion grew as we entered Shandong province. Every settlement of size we flew over had one burned building! From some, smoke still dribbled from the ruins. One or two might have been accidental, but the destruction was too widespread. Someone has deliberately burned these buildings, I am sure of it, but why? Why these houses and not others?

We reached the Grandmothers’ village at noon. It was miserably hot, 110 degrees Fahrenheit midday, and I could barely force myself to don my jacket. I confess I have been working in shirtsleeves since the Gobi, as there are no ladies on board. Actually, I suppose there must indeed be ladies among the boiler crew. On occasion we have been invited to their quarters to toast another fuzzy infant. However, since I cannot tell the ladies from the men I forget myself and forgo my jacket when the temperature is over 100.

So, suitably attired and bearing the gift of six crates of ginger beer from Jamaica, (Adolphus considers it his private stock, but it seems a suitable gift, and I know better than to part with Madame’s champagne) we descended to 100 feet and approached the village.

It is apparent that there has been no rain for some time. The brown wheat stubble still dominates the fields, which should be green with the corn crop by now. They grow no rice here, unlike the rest of this enormous nation, and subsist on porridge and steamed bread, growing wheat over winter and corn in the summer. The landscape is bleak, and dust roils about the fields in the hot July wind.

I delayed my descent, searching for a more substantial gift; a village cannot live on ginger beer. I found some bags of rice in the galley. Chef must have obtained them in Saigon, although we were there only a few hours in the middle of the night. I am impressed by his ingenuity, but take the bags. He has left his precious galley unguarded, sulking in the billiard room again, for I eat little while on duty, and he has despaired of me as worth cooking for.

At the village, Mrs. Huang, Mrs. Wang, and Mrs. Wei waited on the same hill where we first found them, perhaps under the same parasol. Hovering at 70 feet, I had the crew lower me down on the cargo platform. (Although I think nothing of using the ladder at this altitude, I cannot ask the same of these venerable ladies, nor can I carry six cases of ginger beer and two hundred pounds of rice.) The next sign of trouble was the pelting rocks that hit me ten feet from the ground. The barrage came from a group of children, who fled Mrs. Wei’s scolding as I landed.

I came off the platform, nervous but ready to play the diplomat as Mein Herr had done a month ago, but Mrs. Huang and Mrs. Wang took my arms and dragged me back onto the platform. Mrs. Wang followed with their suitcase and waved the parasol at the waiting crew above.

I protested, rather pointlessly gesturing to my best linen suit and the cases of ginger beer. Mrs. Wei seized upon the latter, prying the top case open and grabbing a bottle. She shook it with surprising vigor for such an elderly person and popped the cork in the direction of the mob of children, who had reconvened with more pebbles to throw. The dousing they got convinced them to belay their attack, and gave them a taste of the treat their rudeness had lost them. I shoved the bags of rice off the platform before we got too far off the ground. The rock-throwing children were painfully thin.
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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