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

Antique World Map by Leonhard Euler

The children insisted on washing up after dinner. Bettina hummed as she sorted forks and knives, a lullaby her father sang to her. Ifan complimented her on her voice. This made the twins remember that Mr. Evans, their Welsh tutor, had always been singing. He had said the Welsh were great lovers of music, and all the great bards who had ever lived had been his countrymen. Of course, Mr. Evans had insisted that Mozart had a Welsh great-grandmother, but since he winked whenever he said it, the twins were disposed to believe him otherwise.

So they sang while they worked, sang ‘Ash Grove’ and ‘Greensleeves’, sang all the songs Mr. Evans taught them. Ifan and the hands clapped and praised them, and Gwen smiled for the first time since they’d come. She stood by the tall box she’d been moving all day. She had pushed it next to the hot water barrel at sunset, and covered it with several blankets. While the girls sang, she moved her hand slowly over the blankets, in time with the music.

Claire sang ‘Caro Mio Ben’, and Adolphus finished with his obscene Italian lullaby. Gerhardt offered his comic rendition of ‘Doktor Eisenbart’, but the others decided it would break the tranquil mood. After all, Adolphus’ lullaby sounded sweet, and was sure to soothe anyone who knew no Italian.

“Sing it tomorrow night,” Claire said. “Since we don’t have a boat anymore, I suppose we’ll stay as long as they let us.”

“We could go on foot,” he suggested.

“And get eaten by vines.” Annabelle yawned. Claire and Adolphus were helping the farmers lay out sleeping mats of woven reed.

“What do you think is in that box she keeps fussing with?” Gerhardt asked, but Annabelle had been in the field most of the day, and had no opinion on the matter.

“Hey you chaps-” Adolphus interrupted himself with a prodigious yawn. “I’ve been trying to find out what this place is called. Ifan keeps giving me the name for his farm, or p’raps it’s this valley, but when I push for something bigger it doesn’t make sense.”

“What does he call it?” Claire asked.

“Sounds like Uttee.”

“That means land,” Mirabelle said, “the land”.

“That’s what I thought,” Adolphus said. “I think we should name it, because we discovered it. We should pick a really good, impressive name. One that will look good on maps.”

“It’s already called Y Tir,” Annabelle said. “If that’s what the natives call it, then that’s what it’s called.”

Adolphus frowned. “That’s not how it worked for Amerigo Vespucci.”

“Go to bed, Adolphus,” Claire said.

He lay down on his mat, muttering. “Hedwiggia sounds silly. Adolphusland? Adolphia?”

Annabelle groaned. “Gerhardt, you’re closest. Sit on his head.”

“If you must,” Claire grumped, “then at least pick something logical. I suspect we’re somewhere in the Pacific.”

“Pacifica?”

“Smack in between Hawai’i and Africa.”

“Antafrica,” Mirabelle said.

“What?”

She yawned. “It’s like the opposite, like the Arctic and AntArctica. And Africa is very sunny and here is never sunny. Antafrica.”

“Hmmm…” Adolphus, though he dearly wanted to name it himself, had to admit that would look pretty good on a map. He rolled over to tell his sister so, but she was already asleep. He soon followed.

It rained in the night. Adolphus pulled his blanket over his head and slept through it, no doubt due to his exertions in the fields. Gerhardt awoke, spluttering. His first groggy thought was to raise an alarm, of the ‘hey you chaps are all getting wet’ variety, but he sat up and looked around him instead. His siblings stirred and huddled under their blankets, but Gwen and Ifan had thrown their blankets off. He thought about this until his hair became unpleasantly damp. Then he tucked Bettina, who was next to him, under her blanket, and ducked under his own. His covers did an admirable job of protecting him from the wet, but nevertheless his thoughts kept him awake for some time. This was a strange place they had come to, and there was something about it he needed to figure out.

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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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