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

“What are you going on about?” Rhodri demanded.
“Nothing,” Adolphus said. “It doesn’t matter, like you said. Let’s go look for Claire.” He tugged at Bettina’s hand. She resisted.

“Queen,” she said. “Queen Eglantine.”

Rhodri gasped. “What did she say?”

“Nothing. She’s a baby. She’s just stringing words together.” He jumped into the pool boots and all and scooped up the sopping Bettina by the waist. He stood her on the bench, giving her a stern look. Rhodri stood and shuffled through the muddy water towards them. Adolphus leaned against the pillar.

“What has that woman been telling you?” Rhodri asked.

“What woman?”

Rhodri loomed over Adolphus. The pepper was a foot taller than he, taller still since the young explorer was slumped against the carved pillar. Adolphus squirmed, torn between standing up to the loathsome spy and protecting his discovery.

“The Aubergine, of course. Has she been lying to you?”

“Of course not!” Adolphus flung a desperate look at the kitchen gardens and found no relief, but a glance at his sister gave him inspiration. “Goodness, Bettina, you’re all-over mud. Go find Claire.”

Bettina, standing on the bench behind Rhodri raised her stick and waggled her eyebrows at her brother, but he was looking at Rhodri again. After a moment’s indecision, she whacked the pepper on the back of the knees before scurrying off the bench to find her sister.

“Ouch! Why does she do that?”

“She doesn’t like you,” Adolphus said. “You’re always pushing yourself into our business, following us around and mooning over Claire. None of us like you.” He stood taller, forgetting the incriminating carvings behind him.

“You’re a rotten thug, von Hedwig, if that is your real name.” His tongue tumbled over the foreign sounds. “You don’t have a proper varietal name at all. You may be cloche caste, but what are you?”

“I don’t have to answer you, half-wit. Just shove off and leave us alone for once!”

“I won’t! I’m keeping you out of trouble!”

“You are trouble, you odious sneak!” Adolphus leaned towards him, fists raised. Instead of answering his challenge, Rhodri glanced behind him at the carved pillar.  He gaped. Adolphus took advantage of his enemy’s distraction, and shoved him hard in the chest. Rhodri staggered and fell backwards over the bench. Adolphus scrambled after him, landing on his chest.

“You keep your mouth shut,” Adolphus warned, “or I’ll shut it for you, got it?”

“Boys!” Claire ran towards them, abandoning Bettina in the cucumber patch. “Boys, stop!”

Rhodri shoved the younger boy off his chest and sat up.  Adolphus leapt to his feet, standing over him, fists raised.

“Adolphus!” Claire reached them at last, pushing her brother back from his fallen foe. “We are guests here!”

“We’re not! Guests can leave.”
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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