Steampunk Family

Have you Tea?

December 4, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

“Good Day! Good Day!” Bettina called.Bettina von Hedwig

Claire had given up berating her siblings and was wishing for a bucket so she could throw water over them. She was scanning the boat for something useful when she noticed Bettina waving madly and calling to the shore. She followed her sister’s line of sight.

“Oh my God!”

Since Claire’s language was impeccably polite, this actually achieved that which all her shouting could not. The arguing children stopped abusing each other to see what had caused Claire’s outburst. In the sudden quiet Bettina’s small voice rang out.

“Have you tea?”

They approached a wooden dock jutting into the river. On it stood a man. His skin was a purplish red and appeared pocked. He was hairless and naked to the waist, with rough-textured trousers covering his lower extremities. The children gaped. The man smiled and waved to Bettina. The children recovered their manners and waved back.

Adolphus grabbed the pole and maneuvered them towards the dock. Gerhardt, muttering warnings, armed his crossbow and shifted to leave easy access to his pocket of ammunition.

The man threw them a line. Claire and Adolphus pulled the boat alongside and improvised a cleat by driving the geology pick into the flesh of the mushroom. Mirabelle tied it off with a cleat hitch. Gerhardt uttered dire warning under his breath about rendering the pick useless as a weapon, but the others were too beguiled by the red man’s open smile, friendly wave, and fields of what might be food behind him.

The man bowed and started talking. From his tone they knew he was asking questions, but he wasn’t speaking German, English, or French.

“I beg your pardon?” Claire said when he stopped.

He began again, and the twins looked at each other in astonishment. Mirabelle shoved at her sister, encouraging her to stand. (Annabelle often acted as the spokesperson of the two.) Annabelle addressed the man. Mirabelle translated to her siblings.

“She’s telling him we’re lost and hungry. We came from far away and can’t get back. We will work on his farm in exchange for food.”

“This guy speaks that crazy moon language of yours?” Adolphus demanded.

“It’s like Welsh,” Mirabelle confirmed in an undertone. “Mostly. Bizarre accent though, nothing like Mr. Evans.”

Mr. Evans, the twins’ Welsh tutor had retired from the Coed-y-Moeth colliery in Cwmsyfiog. He came aboard to exchange language lessons for a trip around the world. “Spent all my life down mine,” he’d say, “I’d like to spend some time above the earth before I leave it.” He traveled with them eighteen months, but never made it all the way around the world. When the Schöneluft flew over Bora Bora he asked to be set down. For all they knew he was still there, richly tattooed and luxuriating in the tropic clime.

“He says to come and eat,” Annabelle reported. “We can work tomorrow.”

“Are you sure he said eat,” Gerhardt said, “not be eaten? You’re not so great with verb conjugation.”

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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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1 Comment for this entry

  • Sharyn says:

    What an interesting twist! What will happen to the children? Will they be eaten or just enjoy a good dinner? Looking forward to the next installment.

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