Steampunk Family

Eglantine Departs

February 25, 2012
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

The Queen kept the children with her all the long day of Eglantine’s sentencing. They stood behind her on the dais as she passed further judgement. Her rival’s banishment did not end the matter. To the children’s horror she ordered that any servant who used the kitchen fountain be beaten. Adolphus could not stay quiet for that, and objected that the elderly tomato had testified that no one living had carved the pictures, so no one living could be blamed for them. In response the  Queen ignored him while the Chief Guard silenced him with one strong hand around his neck.

Then the children accompanied her Majesty to her chambers, where they did not even peek behind the grass curtain to view the indoor waterfall Rhodri had enthused about. They were allowed to relax and take refreshment while Drysi napped and bathed and ordered new gowns made up for herself. Later they accompanied her to an interminable feast, at which the servants were grim and speechless and the company near hysterical with forced gaiety.

During the third course Bettina could not take her eyes from the darkening sky.

“She’s not letting us say goodbye,” Annabelle whispered. “That’s part of our punishment.”

“Being with her is our punishment,” Mirabelle agreed.

Bettina stood and clutched Claire’s sleeve.



Bettina rolled her eyes significantly. “Sick!”

Claire snatched her up and bobbed a quick curtsey to the queen. “Beg pardon Majesty, my sister is ill.”

Queen Drysi glared at her. “Sit down and behave yourselves.”

Bettina gagged and heaved. The queen blanched pink and waved a hand in rapid dismissal. Once out of her sight they ran to Lady Aubergine’s chambers. As they approached they found a company of soldiers lining the hall. Claire slowed to a more decorous pace, whispering, “She’s still here,” as they threaded through.

They entered to a blur of motion and color, Lady Aubergine hidden behind a blur of wings. She had thrown open her bird cage, and was coaxing the last of the finch-like creatures out. Claire set Bettina down and she ran into the lady’s arms.

Eglantine knelt, enveloping her charge. They were still in the purple twilight.

“Oh, Claire, I’m so sorry,” Eglantine said. “You should not have to bear the weight of her madness.”

“We’ll be fine,” Claire said.

“Of course!” Eglantine sniffed. “You just shouldn’t have to.”

She stood, picking Bettina up with her and embraced Claire. “I have become quite attached to you,” she said, “and Drysi knows it. That is why she settled for banishment, you see. If she had me killed, which was certainly her intent, then I should not have felt the pain of our parting. I am part mistletoe, on my father’s side, you see.”


“Yes. We develop strong emotional attachments, mistletoes, and I am quite, quite fond of you. Drysi sees love as a weakness, and values only strength. But then she longs for that which she pretends to despise.”

A guard stepped inside the door, looking almost apologetic.

Eglantine squeezed the girls again. “I am to retire to a small house by the acid sea,” she said. “It is the only estate remaining to my family, the only house she did not desire. It is four hours by carriage, south by southeast.” She released them, handing Bettina to Claire. Bettina buried her face in her sister’s collar, sobbing.

“I needn’t tell you to be brave or clever, for you always are. Do be careful, though. You must control yourselves.” She picked up a valise. “Because certain other people cannot.” With that she swept from the room, surrounded by guards.
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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