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Light in the Lantern: With our kitchen witch, Mrs Baker

Mrs Baker – By Catherine E Mclean – https://blakeandwight.com/2017/01/11/1924/

Greetings! Welcome to to Steampunk’d Lancaster! My name is Mrs Albert Baker and… well yes, that’s right I am a witch, how very kind of you to notice! Perhaps it’s my magical aura… or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread that tipped you off?

Officially I’m actually The Last Witch Of Pendle but, sadly, there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats. But I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running my little underground soup kitchen for the street urchins.

This beautiful outfit helps me to disguise my true nature and was made for me by my wonderful friend Catherine E Mclean who also created my gorgeous bakery here in Steampunk’d Lancaster and makes all the outfits and accessories for my dear friend Darq -‘the doll with a blog’. (you can read all about the time she came to visit me here)

Strange times have struck here in the Scattered Isles of Ire – Lord Ashton’s Flesh Eating Liver Birds plague the skies above us and hoards of Mancunian Sugar-Zombies roam the cobbled streets spreading their curse like a plague…

So some of us have decided to re-kindle the old beacon in the city watchtower and keep its flame burning each night as a way of giving hope to those running for their lives and being hunted down by terrifying monsters, or evil scarecrow landlords…

Tonight is my shift and never fear, I am well armed to protect myself with a hot cauldron of soup, a fistful of hexes and of course my trusty rolling pin, which has seen off many an Annoying Wizard, Giant Crab or Night Potato, I can tell you!

Over the coming weeks, a marvellous host of writers, artists and creators will each be taking a turn to keep the light in this old lantern burning through the dark and share with you some of their wonderful books, stories, artwork and other fabulous creations.

If you’d like to lend a hand as well, do drop us a line at ladywiththewyvern@gmail.com and I will book you a shift on the rosta – we can always use more able hands to fight off these zombies and we love to see and share the works of writers, artists and every kind of creator to brighten these dark times!

Now then, since I’m here I thought I would share a little excerpt from some of my own adventures with you to try and take our minds off the danger that encroaches from every angle.

This is taken from The Dangerous Exploits of Smith and Skarry – which is the second book detailing how myself and my miscreant protégés failed to save the world. In this scene we are attempting to have breakfast before embarking on our ill-fated mission to discover the lost tribe of Siberian Soup-Seers who, we hoped, would be able to save both the daughter of The Pirate King, and the world, but of course things like saving the world and having breakfast are always more complicated with Max and Collin in tow…

Excerpt from The Dangerous Exploits Of Smith And Skarry…

“So, your chum with the hair…” Eightcups Max, Therezine-goggles firmly in place and lurid purple mop sticking crazily from beneath the brim of his esoterically customised bowler hat, violently assaulted the chair beside Skarry in an attempt to get into it and eventually let it fall to the flagstone floor with a clatter.

Skarry raised his eyebrows and glanced across the table at Mercurio, who had his head of tight golden curls buried in a book of dubious academic merit.

“Think he’ll lend me his cat?”

“His cat?”

“Mm. His cat.”

“I… sorry, his cat?”

“Mm. Scarrrlette told me he might lend me his  Cat O’ Nine Lives, that’s an incredibly fancy little toy, by the way,”

Skarry frowned, there was something about the way his sister’s name purred in Max’s throat that made his shoulder twitch. Just ever so slightly. 

Max  turned up his collar and leant, in a  conspiratorial fashion, too close for comfort or propriety “Look here,” he said seriously, “you really ought to stop worrying about her, she’s not about what you think she is, you know?” 

What?”

Weeeell…” Max spread his arms in a wide sweeping gesture, “…if all the spoons were one spoon, as they say…” his grin widened with the furrows in Skarry’s brow “..what a great spoon that would be

And if all the teacups were one cup what a great cup that would be

And if all the teapots were one pot, what a great pot that would be

And If all the tealeaves were one leaf, what a great leaf that would be

And if all the women were one woman what a great woman she would be

And if the great woman 

took the great leaf 

and brewed it in the great pot

and poured it into the great cup

and stirred it with the great spoon

what a helluva stir that would make eh?”  he carefully adjusted the brim of his bowler hat, “…Not that it’s any of my business, of course, but, I do have a sister, as it turns out – who knew eh? Well, Mother, presumably – I discovered her in Hull…” his eyes seemed to glaze over for a moment and Skarry cleared his throat loudly “… sorry, yes, she wanted to do unspeakable things to me as well…”

What?

“Hm? Oh yes, she was Hull bent on power too, and toys… but anyway I digress, so, your chum – Smith is it? Think he’ll lend me his toy for a bit?”

Skarry shifted his weight moodily and looked again at his friend. “I doubt it,” he said stiffly.

Max looked crest fallen, “Really? Damn. I want a message taking to Lichfield, to the arcade in fact,” the coat collar came up with a flick of those elegant fingers “need to ask them to update my cameo, you know?”

Skarry did know. The Burlington Arcade in Lichfield was notorious for many things, one of which was a very particular type of street artist who, for a very particular type of payment – illicit tiffin, Skarry supposed and shuddered inwardly at the memory of his own recent baptism of fire – would carefully create and maintain a pristine cameo print of their customer upon the wall of the arcade, inscribing below it whatever social and political achievements, thoughts, fancies, whims and witticisms their patron decreed. Skarry had spent many painful hours – Mercurio had repeatedly assured him it would be minutes – loitering uncomfortably at the entrance, trying not to stare at the scribes with their leather gauntlets and wild crimson attire, while his new acquaintance attended to his various pressing business arrangements in the peculiar little studios that heaped themselves higgledy piggledy above the tiny shops and tiled walkways of the arcade below. 

“Update your cameo? To say what?”

“Oh, well, you know, just that I’m back, after a dashed fine spot of jail breaking, on the run from the good folk, available for parties … that sort of thing…”

“Well, you could ask him” 

“Hm. Yes. Yes I could couldn’t I?” Max nodded thoughtfully. “Right, here I go then…come on Collin, best foot forward, you’ve got enough to choose from…” He attempted to scoop his octopus up from the table, where it was wrapping its long tentacles around a teapot and a plate of hot crumpets, but Collin seemed reluctant to relinquish his prize and after a spectacular battle in which pot, crumpets, jam and cream all went flying across the hall, Max went crashing to the floor, tangled in his ridiculously long coat with Collin plastered to his face.

“Oops. Are my tenfacles showing affain?” he chuckled through a mouth full of octopus. 

What?” Skarry gaped in astonishment at the pandemonium caused by one individual attempting to sit down to breakfast. 

Max choked and wrestled Collin from his face, his bowler hat clattered to the floor and for the first time Skarry got a really good look at The Heir To The Throne Of Ire… Max’s skin was white as porcelain, not surprising really when the fiend had spent the last few years living in the underwater prison city of Hull. His purple hair was dishevelled, a long and clumsily stitched scar traced an ugly line across his high forehead and in all respects he looked like a human wreck…

Max grinned and slammed the bowler back into place, adjusted the brim and scooped Collin up onto his shoulder. He laid a set of long, delicate fingers on Skarry’s arm “It’s quite alright,” he whispered “I understand, you’re only human.” Then he straightened up, turned his back and cried “You can look, Mr Skarry, but no touchy touchy!” before swaggering off to try his luck with Mercurio.

“What? I…what?!” Skarry floundered in a red fog of rage, embarrassment and indignation but Max was out of earshot and severa members of the crew were now smirking at him from across the table.

He began to ardently protest all the things he had not been doing or thinking or looking at when the doors to the hall burst open and in danced the captain of the chronic agro, followed by the hulking figure of Billy Blythe, the pirate king. 

“All hands to the decks me loves, and wrap up warm! The wind is up and we’re bound for  Siberia!” Captain Jack Diamond clapped his hands together and grinned at his crew who were all helping themselves to buttered crumpets around the long trellis table.

“You bloody well wanna change yer own outfit.” Bill growled. “You’re not bleedin well goin to the frozen wastes dressed like that.”

Jack looked himself up and down. “I’ll put a coat on,” he said defensively.

Jack Diamond – by Robin Eisenberg

Well, what do you think? Will Captain Jack survive the Siberian sub-temperatures if he puts on a coat? Will Eightcups Max manage to get his cameo updated before we set sail? Will Jonathon Skarry ever be able to string a sentence together?

These are all philosophical questions my dears, but more pressingly we must ask ourselves – are we going to survive this night?

Hold tight to your rolling pins, recite your recipes like a rosary of hope for in desperate times there is no better thing to have committed to memory than a recipe for a good soup!

If you would like to read more about our adventures you can find the first book here:

Stay safe my friends, whatever assails you, and remember when times are dark, kindle the light in your own lantern, and look for the lights in the lanterns of others!

4 responses

  1. Yay! An appearance by my little buddy Collin!
    Wonderful wordcraft Penny.
    Happy Trails!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 28, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    • Penny Blake

      Thanks Icky! Hopefully he won’t find eight pairs of heel that fit him – I fear another ice-skating-esq catastrophe! XD

      Liked by 1 person

      October 28, 2021 at 3:29 pm

  2. Loved seeing Mrs. Baker again at the cupboard! It’s harder keeping in touch because of the pandemic, so I’ll let Darq know about the Siberia adventure. We (Darq and I) wish you a Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 29, 2021 at 1:40 am

    • Penny Blake

      I thought I had lost the photos when my old laptop died but they were luckily preserved in the cloud! xxx

      Like

      October 29, 2021 at 7:20 am

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