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

All eyes were on the queen, captivated by her ranting. All eyes except Gerhardt’s. He was kneeling on Adolphus’ discarded knife, and while the queen exploded in childish grief he grabbed it, and slipped a hand around his brother’s back to saw at his bonds. He nicked his brother’s wrist while trying to find the right spot without looking, but Adolphus didn’t flinch, just inched his hands into better position.

Claire bowed her head. “Your Majesty, you are right, we have been an awful bother to you. We shall go away at once and leave you in peace. It will be like we were never here.”

“Your Majesty,” said the flowery fellow, “these children are dangerous. They will roam through your country spreading their lies and causing unrest. The Magician guarantees that with his magic he can contain them. Make them serve you. Give him custody and all shall be well. ”

“No!” Bettina shouted, stamping her foot. Her hands were plunged in her pinafore pocket, clutching her two remaining firecrackers. They were useless since she lost her matches in the river, but they made her feel brave. “Not bad man. Home! Home and Mummy and Daddy.” She glared at the queen challenging tantrum to tantrum.

“You have no home,” the Queen crowed. Adolphus shook his head back and forth, trying to catch Bettina’s eye. “You have no mummy or daddy,” the Queen said. “You’re an orphan and you’ll do as I say.”

“No! No no no no no no!” Bettina’s face red with the exertion of defiance. “Want Mummy. You’re mean. Mean to Lady Eglantine. Mean to everyone and selfish. Stupid and selfish and ugly!”

The queen gasped. Already red, her face mottled purple.

“Your ugly head is full of tomato juice!”

The Count and oily Owain recovered first. “Majesty, these children are distressing you. Let us take them away so that you may be comfortable.”

“Yes,” Drysi said, “take them away. Begin your experiments immediately. You shall have whatever you need.” The queen gave orders to the chamberlain, who questioned Owain as to the Count’s needs.

Bettina opened her mouth to scream again, but felt pressure on her hand. She looked down. Adolphus pressed his waterproof match case into her hand. He wasn’t looking at her. No one was.

She extracted a match and struck it against the case. Then she lit a firecracker and rolled it between the queen and her chief guard. Then she stuck her fingers in her ears.

The Capsicum Chief looked around him for the source of the sizzling, a sound he had never heard before, and the equally unknown smell. Adolphus pulled the gag from his mouth and, in  a calm and conversational tone, told his siblings to duck. The assembled vegetables paid him no heed, for not only was the queen ranting again (asserting her great patience in the face of the children’s abuse of her), but Adolphus took the precaution of speaking in German.

The children ducked.

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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