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

Gerhardt von Hedwig“You want to abandon them?” Gerhardt demanded.

“We don’t know how to feed them! What use are we to them, now that they’re away from the fissure?” Annabelle replied.

A breakfast of boiled water and one ounce of Emmentaler each had ended in an argument, as such a poor repast likely will. Claire and Adolphus, whom the twins rightly suspected of staying awake and making decisions while the others slept, believed the children should leave the corndogs in the meadow and take their boat downstream. Gerhardt and Bettina were appalled by the idea. Mirabelle and Annabelle, who generally disagreed with Adolphus on principle, saw merit in pressing on to a more fruitful plain, although they were uneasy at leaving their strange charges to fend for themselves.

The corndog creatures had spread about the field at night, staying well away from the forest edge. The children still could not tell if they were eating or not, although the creatures did shuffle to the river on their little husks for a drink now and again. They seemed contented, as far as anyone could tell. At the end of a testy hour Gerhardt was muttering and Bettina was tearfully picking up and hugging each silk-eared creature. As the children floated away downstream they were only somewhat comforted by the complete lack of interest the little dog-creatures showed in their departure.

Gerhardt grumbled. “Someone’s going to find them and take them right back to the volcano.”

“Stop it,” Annabelle snapped. “We voted.”

“Doesn’t make it right. If Father were here-”

“Father’s not here.” Mirabelle sounded more weary than angry. “There’s no one here but us.”

They floated down the lazy river, poling to either bank whenever they saw something that might be food. They disturbed a flock of lemon-yellow hook-billed birds, which looked perfectly normal (if a bit garish) whilst feeding on the bank, but in flight revealed underbellies of lashing orange tentacles. The sight was so alarming that Gerhardt, who had armed his crossbow with river pebble, missed his shot completely.

They investigated the bank where the flock had been feeding and found a quantity of large green slugs. It is a testimony to their hunger that they actually discussed how they might prepare them, before sailing away still hungry. Without garlic butter, they concluded, it was impossible to eat a slug.

At least the violet clouds above kept the sun from beating down on them, but it was still hot, and very humid. The children grew more uncomfortable by the hour, hungry and dispirited. Adolphus demanded the twins dole out more cheese, and they refused.

“I can’t survive on an ounce of cheese a day!”

“Eat it all now and see how you do on zero ounces a day,” said Annabelle, her sister glowering behind her.

The dispute grew into a blazing argument. Claire alternated between supporting the twins’ long view and trying to make peace. Bettina turned away, lacking the vocabulary to weigh in on either side, and unable to make herself heard in all the shouting, anyway.

She turned her back on them and watched the bank slip by. The woods they had been passing through for ages gave way to green fields. Bettina realized with a thrill that the green stuff was in rows. She tried to break into the fracas to share this important news, but as her siblings had descended to base name-calling, she gave up and watched the land for further developments. She was rewarded.
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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1 Comment for this entry

  • Sharyn says:

    I’m glad the children reached a decision regarding the corndogs. Their arguing reminds me too much of my adorable children, but unlike Bettina all of them get involved in the argument. I look forward to the next installment of the children’s adventures.

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