Steampunk Family

Farewell Antafrica

September 14, 2012
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

There was a feast that night, to celebrate the reunion of the von Hedwigs and the fall of the Lycopersine House, but mostly because there were still over a hundred people milling around Lady Aubergine’s cottage, and they must be fed. By the time the von Hedwig family returned from the beach preparations were well underway.

They had little to contribute, but Madame von Hedwig talked one of the farmers into giving her a bag of dinner-plate sized mushrooms, which she marinated with supplies from the Racer and roasted over an open fire. The Antafrican farmers observed the fire from a distance, which showed to Claire’s content that “They’re far more sensible than anyone at the palace.”

The roasted mushrooms were quite popular with those who tried them. Those who would not try them were generally of the opinion that since none of their ancestors had cooked food, there was no sense starting now. Lady Aubergine was most impressed.

“I know twenty-seven methods of preparing those particular mushrooms,” she said, “and yet have never achieved a flavor I like so well as this. And you prepare all your food like this?”

Madame began describing all the ways in which heat was employed in cuisine while the twins translated between bites.

“Are cheeses prepared with fire?” Lady Aubergine had been fascinated by the twins’ cheeses.

“No, I don’t believe so. They are fermented, like wine and beer. Or is cultured the word?”

This led to another lengthy and complicated discussion, during which Claire was called in to help translate and Bettina fell asleep in her mother’s lap. Madame reached down to stroke her curls and found another hand there before her. Lady Aubergine pulled her hand away at once.

“I beg your pardon” she said.

“I have not thanked you yet for all you’ve done for my children,” Madame replied. “And I can see that you are as fond of them as they are of you. We are in your debt.”
At that moment her husband and Captain Charette joined them.

“The Captain believes that rather than try through the tunnels, we should fly straight through the cloud cover towards the Australian shipping channels. Get picked up by a steamer and buy fuel to make it back to Nepal. We don’t have enough make it back as it is, especially with the extra weight. She thinks we can take all the children, and capture Montesanto, and still have enough lift to skim over the waves to help.”

“No.”

Herr von Hedwig looked at his wife, whose lips had not moved.

“I beg your pardon?”

“No,” repeated Lady Aubergine. “You will not have room for the prisoner Count. You have room for me.”

“You wish to come with us?”

“Yes. To eat succulent cheeses. To cook food and drink wine. And to take care of your children.”

“I am perfectly capable of-”” Madame broke off, looking into the eyes of Lady Aubergine, then to her children. The children, sensing something momentous, clustered around.
Madame looked to her husband and some unspoken communication passed between them. “I have found that one can never have too many people who love one’s children,” she said. “Shall we invite Lady Aubergine aboard, children?”

The children cheered and yes-very-muched and hugged Eglantine and Mother and Father and Captain Charette, for although they had only just met her they already liked her, mostly for how often she smiled, or in Adolphus’ case, because she owned the ship he wanted more than anything else in the world. All the noise and jostling woke Bettina. She cried and was grumpy until Adolphus scooped her up and sang his obscene Italian lullaby to her. Father had to pull on his mustache, which he did when he was trying to look stern, and Captain Charette laughed so hard she fell off her chair.

“Well,” Mother huffed, “That’s another crime on Montesanto’s account. We can’t take the children back to Venice with them talking like that.”

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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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