Steampunk Family

You Say Potato…

January 22, 2011
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

obsidian bladeGerhardt figured it out four days later. They had all been working outdoors for some days, except Bettina, who was too small to be of use in the field, and either Mirabelle or Annabelle who were needed inside to translate and help in the house. Claire and Adolphus were working the fields every day, ‘sunshine and fresh air’ Adolphus joked, for it was muggy and sulphurous and they never saw the sun or their own shadows. But Adolphus was a good-humored chap, and managed to make the farm hands laugh despite the language barrier. Adolphus was like that; everyone liked him. Even his younger brother, who was as quiet and intense as Adolphus was not.

The morning Gerhardt came to his realization he and Annabelle had been carrying  buckets of cold water from the river, and hot water from the spring. Gwen was preparing food, chopping and mixing, and fussing with the mysterious box. When Gwen made a trip to one of the farm’s outbuildings (which the children had taken some days to notice, as they all looked like shrubbery), Gerhardt seized his opportunity to examine the box.

Inside it was straw, as he knew. He carefully moved the top layer and looked underneath. Potatoes. Red fingering potatoes. Gerhardt picked one up, pondering why anyone would fuss so much over a box of potatoes, when several things happened at once. Gwen returned to the house, and the little potato moved in his hand.

Gwen shrieked, dropped the bundle of reeds she carried, and started yelling at him. He could not understand her words or her passion. He was so startled by both Gwen and the wriggling potato that his hand had closed around it. It squirmed vigorously, so he opened his fingers and looked at it. It had four buds, what he would normally have called eyes, that were sprouting strong red-skinned shoots. The potato waved these in the air as it wriggled. Gerhardt looked up at Gwen, his face alight with understanding, only to find her advancing on him with an obsidian blade.

Luckily for him, Gwen’s shouting brought Annabelle running, and his sister appeared at the door.

“Quick! Tell her I’m sorry and I didn’t mean any harm!”

“What have you done?”

“Just tell her!”

As Annabelle spoke to Gwen, Gerhardt fed her more words. He held the little potato out towards the farm wife, cupped in his hands.

“Say they’re beautiful and I congratulate her!”

His sister stopped. “Congratulate her on her beautiful potatoes?”

“Just do it!” Gerhardt tried to maintain a reassuring smile. Since he was terrified by the prospect of imminent death, it was more of a grimace. “But don’t call them potatoes! Tell her I didn’t hurt it. Ask her to put down the knife and take the baby.”

Annabelle broke off her translation again. “Did you say baby?”

Gerhardt would have screamed in frustration, had he not suspected that would get his throat cut. He laid the baby potato back in the straw and backed away from the box, hands in the air. Annabelle was talking to Gwen in soothing tones. The farmwife snarled at them, but dropped the knife in her apron pocket and ran to the box. Gerhardt slunk around the outside of the room and ran out the door.

Annabelle followed, grabbing Bettina on her way out. She tried to take her hand, but the littlest von Hedwig had a cherry bomb in one hand and a strike-anywhere match in the other. Annabelle waited until they were outside to praise her readiness to defend her brother, and convince her the crisis was over, for the moment.

Obsidian blade photo by Wolfgang Sauber
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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