Friday, April 1, 2016

By: Lillabeth B.

As Lady Hermione Everlark and Madeline Hinny, daughter of the Crowned Tawny's cook, turned a corner, they saw a gleaming silver spiral staircase that lead up to the ceiling, and to a bronze trapdoor with a golden handle. "That leads up to the Observation Deck?" Lady Everlark asked Maddie.
"That's right," the servant girl responded in her trademark cockney accent. "It's right between your room and the command center. But Hermy," she continued, grabbing the Lady by the hand, "There's a strong wind up there. Be careful, okay?"
"Oh, Maddie," Hermione responded, grasping Maddie's other hand with hers, "I'm always careful." And with that, she released Ms. Hinny's hands, gathered her skirts in her palms, and hurried toward the staircase.
            As she ascended the staircase, she transferred the skirt she held in her right hand to her left, and grasped the iron handle with her now-free hand. She took a deep breath and continued up the staircase, one step at a time, watching Maddie become farther and farther away. At last she reached the trapdoor, and, bracing herself, she pushed it open and walked through.
            It felt as though she had been hit by a two-ton bull. The wind slapped her cheeks, pulled her hair, and pushed her against the frozen black steel railing. Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. It was a most curious sensation; it was as though the wind was just outside her reach, stinging her skin with the close proximity, but no matter how far she stretched her arm, she couldn't reach it. It was as if the wind had created a sort of bodysuit around her, though she knew this wasn't possible.
            "How curious," she said to herself.
"You should see it from here!" a voice yelled at her, and it was then that Hermy realized she wasn't alone.
            There was a man on the other side of the Observation Deck. He was strapped into a leather harness, which was in turn hooked onto the railing.
The man was tall, thin, and bony as a twig. His chin was dotted with stubble and the few wisps of white hair that poked out of his brown leather newsboy cap were tossed back and forth by the wind. A thin smile decorated his face, and his small eyes crinkled with pleasure. He wore tall black combat boots, black dress pants with several patches sewn onto them, and a faded, worn dark blue Air Navy uniform jacket with so many badges and awards sewn above his breast pocket that many overlapped.
            "The winds have accepted you, child," he said.
            "You are the captain of this grand, majestic vessel, I assume?" Lady Everlark asked formally, curtseying low, though her hand still wrapped around the railing, just to be safe.
            The captain waved it away. "Oh, cut the small talk. You're not built to be all fancy-schmancy, and you know it."
            This gave Hermione pause. He was right, of course, and she'd known this all her life, but even her father hadn't realized this. So how did the captain know?
            "Your mother was like you, a bird that longed to be free," he began, answering her unspoken question. "Your father met her flying on this ship. She was a wild, spirited beauty, our resident tinkerer and my apprentice. She stole his heart, and he stole hers. They were two lovebirds ready to fly off."
            "But they didn't," Hermy said with dread, sure she could guess what happened next. "Indeed. The Duke's a bit more of groundhog, really," the captain responded, chuckling a little. "He wanted her to settle down in his mansion, have kids, be ladylike and prim and, well, grounded." He shook his head. "It was never going to happen."
            "How did she get away?" Hermione asked. The captain looked out at the sky. "Now this, I don't know," he admitted. "One day she never came back. I heard she was gone by word of mouth. Quite embarrassing for your father, really, but at least he still had her beautiful daughter, Hermione Harriet." He gave Hermy a meaningful look, then turned back to the sky.
            The Lady looked around too, and saw that the Observation Deck was actually quite grand. It was round and about the size of her bedroom. The floor was light birch hardwood, dusted with flakes of ice, and every other post of the railing rose up to twice the captain's height, ending in a point. The black metal gleamed in the light of dawn.
            "The crown of the Crowned Tawny," the captain joked, and Hermy walked over to join him as easily as if she were on solid ground. She looked down and saw the green and brown patchwork quilt of earth whizzing by, and getting smaller and smaller by the second. "We're rising in altitude," he told her. "There's a right speedy wind blowing up there, and we want to catch it so as to get quickly to the palace.”
            From their perch, Hermione could see that the Observation Deck rested right on top of the Tawny's head, and its ears poked up right to the left and right of herself and the captain, perking up and curling as though it were alive. She reached out to feel the ear closest to her, the one on the right, and as she stroked it, the ear curled up and warmed. Hermy gasped.
"It's alive!" The captain raised an eyebrow. "You're the first to discover that since your mother!"
            Hermy suddenly remembered the painting in her room. "Speaking of my mother, did you put that portrait of my mother in my bedroom?" The captain's eyes widened a bit in surprise.
"How did you know it was your mother?"
The daughter stared at the horizon. "I'm not quite sure. I just felt it with a sense deeper than my bones.”
            A look of curiosity passed over Hermione's face. "I don't believe I ever caught your name," she said. The captain let out a cackle.
"My dear Miss Everlark, I don't believe I threw it!" And they both looked back out at the sky with smiles on their faces.
            Lady Everlark didn't believe anyone could persuade her to leave. The sky was a light blue, and the rising sun tinted the clouds pink. She could see the horizon, a bluish-white line in the distance, and she felt as though the entire world was spread about before her. With the sky reflected in her eyes and the wind in her hair, she could sense a change within her, from lady to bird. Oddly, it didn't worry or even surprise her. She wouldn't go back for the world.
            As she stared into the heavens, Hermy spied a large white bird, with bronze-colored wings and a long white tail. "What sort of bird is that?" she asked, pointing. "I didn't know birds flew at this altitude." The captain stared at the bird with wide eyes, and a look of intense worry crossed his face.
"They don't," he whispered. "Hermione... They don't!"
            The bird flew behind a cloud, but though it was gone from their sight, it was not gone from their minds. The captain was on a brainstorming rampage. "Birds die at this altitude! They can't breathe! It must be genetically or mechanically enhanced! Or maybe it's a mechanical bird disguised as a normal one! Or a human disguised as a bird! Or a bird-human hybrid! Or maybe…"
            But the captain was unable to finish, for as they both stared at the sky, the clouds parted before them like gates to a kingdom, and what they saw through these gates would shape the future of humanity itself. A field of white fluff spread out below them, and resting on it were small structures of white fluff, with triangular roofs and walls rising up to meet them, built of small white blocks. There was a little church with a steeple in the center of the little town, and a little ways off light gray clouds formed and a little ways off from that rose a wall of darker clouds; and beyond that, there was a great fortress of storm clouds, with spires twirling through the blue, reaching for the sun. Walking through houses, going about their daily business, were figures of white fluff, doing their jobs in their city in the sky.
            A city of clouds.

What will Hermione and her friends find in the city of clouds? Find out in the part four of The Unexpected Radical Adventures of Lady Hermione Everlark and Her Abnormally Small and Consistently Quirky Crew to be posted at on May 1, 2016.

Monday, March 14, 2016

By: Sydnie C.

Monica Kaufman Pearson is a television journalist, radio personality, and writer for the Southern Seasons Magazine. In 1975, she overcame racial barriers in the media industry when she became the first black woman to be an anchor on the six o’ clock news. I recently was afforded the opportunity to interview Ms. Pearson. We discussed her career, her inspirations, her advice for aspiring journalists and much more.

Lime Green Giraffe: Who or what inspired you to get involved in journalism?
Monica Kaufman Pearson: When I was in high school, I worked on my high school newspaper. I also worked for a newspaper called the Louisville Defender, which was a black newspaper. But, to be honest, I didn’t think about a job in communications because when I looked around at television and listened to radio, there were not many people that looked like me or sounded like me. My bachelor’s degree is in English and philosophy because I decided I was going to be a teacher.
At that time, Diane Sawyer, who used to be on ABC’s nightly news was a weather girl in Louisville, Kentucky, my home. At that point, women had not moved to the anchoring position yet. The best she could do was to be a weather girl. The times were a little different then what they are now.

LGG: Since you were the first African American female on the six o’ clock news, what are some examples of racist and sexist impediments that you had to face?
Pearson: The first was when you come into a newsroom and there were other people of color in the newsroom who felt that they should’ve had the opportunity for the job. There can be some jealousy, and there can be some meanness. Then you have to deal with an audience that is both black and white. There were black people who thought that I wasn’t black enough because I didn’t have a huge fro…that was a surprise. Then white people did not like me because they weren’t used to seeing a woman on the evening news. They weren’t used to seeing a woman of color on that show either. I wondered which was worse: the fact that I was woman or the fact that I was an African American. It was a combination of the two that was an affront to the many white people who watched. I remember one viewer saying that I was not “deferential” enough to men because I had reached over during a story and touched my white co-anchor. What I learned is that you can’t be all things to all people. You have to always be true to yourself, have a sense of value, have ethics that you live by.

LGG: What mistakes do you think you made when you were a novice in journalism?
Pearson: The first mistake I made and I’m glad I made it early in journalism, was never to say anything around a microphone you wouldn’t want your mother to hear. I was working in Louisville, Kentucky, and the weatherman, during a commercial break, made an obscene comment about Dolly Parton. Everyone in Louisville and southern Indiana heard me say the dirty word for feces on television during a commercial break. When we came back from the commercial break, I immediately apologized. After I got off the show, there were two calls. The first was my news director, who was laughing. The second call was my mother, who said, “Monica Rosie Lee Kaufman, why would you put something in your mouth you wouldn’t hold in your hand?” Then she slammed the phone down. That was the biggest and first mistake I ever made on the air. 

LGG: During my research, I read that you grew up in a family with a lot of strong women. How do you think your upbringing led you to develop the resilience you would need for this job?
Pearson: Faith. My mom says that if you really believe in your faith, and if you really believe in God, that if anything happens to you, just turn it over to Him. You do not allow the opinions of others to move you from your faith. My mother used to say to me all the time growing up, “It’s what you do, with what you have, that makes you what you are. That when we’re created, we were created with everything that we need to be successful.” Where we get hung up sometimes is we let other people’s opinions about us change what we know we should be doing.

LGG: How competitive is journalism?
Pearson: I think it’s very competitive now because you’re required to do what I did when I began. That’s being a one-man band. It means you shoot your story  yourself, you edit it yourself, write it, you produce it and you get it on the air. Today, you have to be a multi-platform journalist and that’s exciting because you not only do a piece for radio but you can do a piece for television or the newspaper, Snapchat, or Twitter. Multi-platform journalism is opening up more jobs. As a beginning reporter, you have to be able to do more than one thing.

LGG: What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Pearson: The first thing would be, research. Whenever you meet people, interview them. You always have to show people that you’re interested in them and that you’ve done your research. I hate when people aren’t prepared because it means that you really didn’t care about the person you’re interviewing. You should have a real love for people, curiosity, and be very good in your research.
In your questions, you should always try to ask things that no one has ever asked. If you’ve done your research, you’ll run up on something that you didn’t know before. There is no such thing as a dumb, stupid, silly, or embarrassing question. As long as it gets you information you didn’t have before, it’s a good question. Now, have your questions, but don’t be tied to them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

By: Lillabeth B.

Duke Everlark's room was twice the size of Lady Hermione's, with high ceilings and an elegant silver chandelier with diamonds embedded into its arms. The walls were barely visible, for before them were shelves and shelves of books, books of every size, shape, and color. Dark oak ladders attached to golden rods that ran around the room, allowing access to the highest shelves. In the far right corner of the room, a cushioned leather chair sat beside a tall lamp. In another corner, a large bed with a carved mahogany headboard and shining tan covers. The gleaming oak floor was clearly visible.
            In the center of the room, with his back to the door, was Duke Francis Everlark. He wore shiny leather shoes under pristine navy blue pants, and a white pinstripe shirt peaked up from behind a slim red velvet vest and stretched along his arms. His light red hair with streaks of white was neatly parted to the right.
            Her skirts gathered in her hands, Lady Everlark walked elegantly into the room, her chin held high, a delicate smile gleaming in her face.
            "Still awake this late?" Duke Everlark said as he turned to face her, revealing crystal blue eyes, a small nose, a light red and white beard, and a warm smile.
            Hermione lowered her head and curtseyed low. "Yes, your Grace. Speeding through the air, the view is amazing. What a sense of bliss and serenity."
            The Duke's smile disappeared and he turned his back once more. "Hermione, I've told you many times before that there's no need to curtsey or use 'your Grace' in my presence. I am your father after all."
            The Duke's daughter rose, her body more relaxed, but her expression was one of indignation. "I was only practicing, Father. I would like my etiquette to be impeccable when I stand before the king."
            "That is not why you curtseyed," he contradicted her, "but I won't waste my time on adolescent quarrels. I called you here on account of a different matter." Expressions of astonishment, anger, great annoyance, and defiance passed over Hermione's face in an infinitely surprisingly short period. Duke Everlark was not, unfortunately for him, looking, and so when he glanced over his shoulder he saw only an expression of intent curiosity plastered on his daughter's face.
             “This is not the first time Ive flown on this airship,” Duke Everlark explained, his back still to Hermione. “I did so many years before, and it was on that flight that you were born.”
“So my mother was on the ship!” Lady Everlarks brow furrowed intensely the gears of her mind beginning to turn.
Indeed,” her father responded, “Ill admit that there are some signs of her presence on board; but I must insist that you not look for them.”
Needless to say, Hermione was more than a little startled.
She rushed toward Duke Everlark. “How do you mean?”
Despite the fact that Lady Everlarks mouth was mere inches from his neck, he did not flinch. “Ive instructed the captain to make sure you dont go beyond the residential area of the Crowned Tawny, and do not stray into the engine room, the airmens or servants quarters, and especially not the Observation Deck.”
            “Not the Observation Deck!” Hermione took another step. “Father, you cant!” She was yelling now, obviously intensely angered. This show of ferocity did cause the Duke to move, turning to face her and backing away, a stubborn glint in his cold blue eyes, once warm and gentle.
“Hermione Harriet Francis Everlark, you will not raise your voice to me and you will respect my personal space!” With that the Lady hiked up her skirts and rushed forward. Duke Everlark made a gesture to his guards, who wore black pants and bright red coats emblazoned with a golden coat of arms.
“Indeed I will! You cant take away my liberty, Father. This has gone on long enough!” Hermione hurried toward her father with raised fist, and was preparing to strike him when his guards reached out, took both of her arms and pulled her back toward the mahogany double doors.
            Most would expect a lady to scream or faint, but Hermione only grunted and attempted to kick the guards, but to no avail, as her short legs could not reach far enough to make contact. But her voice would not be silenced “Father! Stop this madness! I just want to live my…" but she was cut off as the guards opened the doors with their free hands and thrust her out into the hallway.
            Lady Everlark fell on her knees and turned to just in time to see the doors close with a bang. "Whoa there, Hermy," a voice with a cockney accent, and Hermione saw Madeline Hinny, the cook's daughter and Hermy's new friend, running down the hall toward her, a silver tray of lemon cakes teetering dangerously in her hand.
            "Maddie! Just who, I need! Here," the Lady wheezed, short of breath, and her long, delicate fingers reached around to the back of her dress, where she began to undo the bow that held a white rope in place. The rope wound through the fabric of the dress, making it tight, but as she pulled on the bow, the rope loosened just enough to reveal another winding on another piece of fabric wrapped around her stomach. The fabric was obviously suppressing her breathing. "Undo my corset."
            Maddie looked shocked as she set the tray on the ground with a clatter. "Hermy... It's not ladylike."
"Do it!" Hermy commanded on her last breath, and the servant girl hurriedly knelt down and untied the bow, then laced her short, stubby fingers through the rope and pulled the two parts of the fabric away from each other. Lady Everlark reached back and pulled the rope clean out, and then removed the entire corset. She began taking deep breaths.
            "I really don't understand the use of those horrid things," Hermy said as she recovered. "Certainly not the thing for your everyday girl on the town."
"Well, you're no everyday maiden, if I may say so, Hermy," Maddie replied, as confused as her friend was relieved. "You could hear the racket all the way in the kitchens! Did your father just throw you out of his room? What in the name of the sun and the moon is happening?"
            "Well," Hermy began, "It started a long time ago. When I was very young I would be allowed to play in our backyard, which is about an acre in size; but that all changed on my seventh birthday, when my father forbid me to ever leave the house. I now only leave the house when Father goes on a trip and takes me with him, and even then, it's straight into the carriage, straight onto the boat or the train, and not a step outside until we arrive. And now, we're on an airship, the trip I've been waiting for my entire life, and what does he do? He forbids me to leave the residential area! He forbids me to go on the Observation Deck!" With each phrase she threw her hands in the air in frustration. "He stuffs me in a cage for the billionth time. This is not the first time I've lashed out at him before. Sometimes this life just gets unbearable."
            Maddie sat down on the floor next to Hermy. " had no friends?"
"Oh, I had friends, good friends, but I didn't see them often. I'm very good friends with the Cardinal of Southbay's eldest daughter, Rosianne, and the Prince of Netla's sister, Michelangela, and even King Rona's youngest, Helga, but I only see them about once every two years."
            "Well, I don't mean to be rude, but there is another reason I came here," Maddie said gingerly. "I thought you said, when you were yelling, that your father told the captain not to let you on the Observation Deck?" "            Yes," Hermy said, cocking her head in confusion, "Why?"
"Well," the young servent girl said carefully, "the captain said he wanted to talk to you. He said he wanted you to come meet him." She trailed off.
"Meet him where?" Hermy pushed on.
"Well," Maddie began, "He said for you to meet him on the Observation Deck."
            At this, Hermy cracked a most unladylike grin. "He's on my side! He wants me to be able to go outside, and he's willing to disobey Father to do it! Oh, this is brilliant!" And her smile was so contagious that Maddie couldn't have resisted even if she'd wanted to.
            "Here, I'll show you how to get there," she said, grabbing Hermy's hand and pulling her up.
            And off they walked together, two unlikely friends smiling together, leaving behind two objects that marked the life they had and the life they would soon leave behind; a corset and a tray of lemon cakes.

To find out what happens next for Hermy and Maddie, visit for part 3, A Conversation in the Air on April 1, 2016.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Artwork by Nia H. 
By: Edie W.
Almost everyone like Girl Scout cookies; from chocolaty Thin Mints to peanut butter Do-Si-Do’s, there’s something for everyone. Unfortunately, despite the deliciousness of Girl Scout Cookies, there is one fatal drawback: They’re only available from February to April. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on which way you think of it), many companies have cookies on the market that are similar to Girl Scout Cookies. This is fabulous if you’re someone that requires a constant cookie fix, as these “knock-off” cookies are available year round. However, how do these cookies really stack up to actual Girl Scout Cookies? 
Through research, I discovered that the Keebler Company is owned in part by the same company that makes Girl Scout Cookies. Maybe this is the reason that many of their cookies are similar to Girl Scout Cookies? I asked around, and found three of Keebler cookies that are similar to Girl Scout Cookies: Grasshoppers, Coconut Caramels, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies.
Grasshoppers are cookies that are similar to Thin Mints. They both feature a chocolaty cookie with a mint filling, and both are around the same size. However, I talked to many people, and a general consensus was reached that the two cookies are distinctly different, as Thin Mints taste more minty, while Grasshoppers taste chocolatier. Still, many people could not find a difference between the two.
There was an even bigger rift between opinions about the Coconut Caramels and Samoas. As with the Grasshoppers and Thin Mints, the cookies have many definite differences, and they don’t taste as similar as they look. According to a group of Girl Scout Leaders, while Coconut Caramels are good, they don’t stack up with Samoas, and are far more caramel based as opposed to coconut. However, if you are a fan of caramel, then the Coconut Caramels may be one to try!
Finally, there was apparently no competition between Keebler’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies and Tagalongs. While Tagalongs feature a shortbread cookie with peanut butter and chocolate, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are much more like a chocolate bar than a cookie. While both have the same general flavor, one is definitely more of a cookie than candy.
While each of these brands are definitely similar, I can definitely say that none of them are exactly the same as the Girl Scout Cookie counterpart. They do have many of the same aspects, but nearly every person that I asked about the subject has said that Girl Scout Cookies are superior. Still, it’s all up to the person trying the cookies, and there’s no doubt that while the “knock-off” Girl Scout Cookies aren’t exactly the same, they’re still very similar!
A Story Told in Many Parts
Part 1: Awake at Midnight

Written by: Lillabeth B.

The Lady Hermione Everlark brushed a rebellious lock of hair out of her eyes and watch the clouds pass by. The window was concave, and it faced away from her, so if she stood right in front of the glass it seemed as though she was floating in front of the airship, at one with the clouds. And if she took a step to the right she could see right wing of the ship, it’s hinges allowing it to move up and down, curving in the center, making it seem alive. The Crowned Tawny was a mechanical owl, modeled after a tawny owl. While in flight the Tawny flew with her belly facing the ground, the small bronze and iron feathers fluttering in the wind.
            Right now, Hermione was in her bedroom, situated behind the Tawny’s left eye. The walls were painted a dark olive green, and the deep red carpeting was course to the touch and decorated with portraits of unpleasant looking old women and ornate mirrors.
            She turned to look at the small painting on the marble table beside her. It showed a tall, willowy woman gazing out a towering window. In the painting, the window was on the opposite side of the room so only her back could be seen; her back, and dark dreadlocks tumbling down her back, with a wire or beads braided into them. A ratty scarf had been messily tied in a bow to be used as a headband, but the locks would not be contained, and shorter curls spilled forward. She wore a simple white dress, with embroidered flowers and lace at the collar and the ends of the short sleeves. The dress’ train trailed behind her, obscuring her feet but revealing her bare toes. The lady evoked a feeling of mystique and fantasy.
            Lady Everlark fell back into the mahogany couch situated behind her. The couch’s bright red plush cushioned her fall. She scooped up the painting and held it in front of her face, staring intently at the woman. The lady in the painting was her mother, Duchess Harriet Everlark, who had disappeared the day of Hermione’s first birthday.
            She brushed the back of her mother’s head in the painting with her thumb. Some of the paint had begun to wear away from this habit. The Duke of Brightbrook, Lady Everlark’s father, also known as Duke Francis Everlark, had refused to reveal any information whatsoever about Duchess Everlark for as long as Hermione could remember. Some of her earliest memories were of her questions to Duke Francis Everlark about her mother, and her father’s refusal to reveal any details.
            Even the painting wasn’t a gift from her father. The portrait had been on the table when Lady Everlark first arrived on the ship. Hermione hadn’t told her father about the portrait, and so whether or not he had placed it there remained a mystery to her.
            She was drawn from her daze by a knock on the door. Hermione shot up, pulled down her skirt, and hurried over to her bedside table, where she opened a drawer and delicately placed the painting inside before closing it and shouting in her most ladylike and dainty voice, “Enter!”
            The door swung open and hit the wall with a bang, and standing in the doorway looking sheepish was Madeline Hinny. As flustered as ever, Madeline wore a sepia dress with the long sleeves pushed up over her shoulders, and an apron that was probably white to begin with, but was now covered with so many stains, blotches, splatters, and smudges that the original color was all but lost. Around her waist was a lopsided belt with several pouches and pockets. Her stockings were folded down, and her worn leather shoes were falling apart at the seams. Her hands had spots of soot all over them, and her pug nose was almost completely black. And her   wild caramel colored hair was tossed messily into a bun.
            “My apologies for the noise, miss,” Ms. Hinny said quickly in her usual cockney accent, “as well as for my state.” She stumbled into the room, the silver lidded serving dish in her hand swaying dangerously, and as Lady Everlark walked forward she held out a hand to steady it, and another to steady Madeline. The serving maid grabbed Hermione’s wrist eagerly and took a deep breath.
            “My apologies once more, milady.” The Lady smiled widely. “My dear Ms. Hinny, if I had a pound for each of your apologies, I’d have riches to rival my father’s!” As the girl smiled and her face turned beet red, Hermione released Madeline Hinny’s hand and placed it beneath the tray, using both her hands hoisted the tray away from Ms. Hinny and placed it on the table where the painting had been. Madeline followed her to the table, and with a flourish, Hermione took the handle of the lid in hand removed it, and sat it beside the dish. “Your midnight refreshment, milady,” the girl told the Lady.
            And what a dish it was! A tall, white teapot sat in the center, with beautiful brass handle with copper designs set into it. Painted onto the china was a dreamy portrayal of a dashing young man in a blue coat and white boots and a beautiful woman in a purple frock, with their arms intertwined. The two teacups, the sugar jar, and the cream pitcher were all from the same pattern. On a marble slab were four sandwich cakes and five crumpets.
            Lady Everlark took a sandwich cake between her forefinger and thumb and studied it. The cream between the two cakes was a light yellow, and powdered sugar had been sprinkled over the top. “What kind of filling is in these sandwich cakes?” she asked.
“Lemon curd and vanilla bean buttercream, milady,” Ms. Hinny answered. The Lady closed her eyes and took a bite. The zesty lemon and the creamy vanilla intertwined to create a stunning masterpiece.
            “And the cook, your father, he made these?” Hermione turned to see that Madeline was quite tense, her hands folded in front of her, her shoulders scrunched toward her neck, her cheeks bright red. “Well, no, miss…I did.” Hermione placed the cake on the tray, and took Madeline’s shoulders, shaking them. “Ms. Hinny, these cakes are superb! I didn’t know you could cook like this!” Her pride shone through her smile, and she said,
“Please, milady, call me Maddie.”
“Then, Maddie, call me Hermy.” Hermy gave Maddie a final pat and took the cake in her hand again, biting into it once again.
            “Oh, milady - I mean Hermy - I’ve got a message for you.” As the royal turned back to Maddie, she watched the serving girl stiffen and become a stately royal messenger before her eyes. “His Highness, the Duke Francis Everlark of the kingdom of Brightbrook, commands that you report to his study at a half hour following the stroke of midnight, and asks that her Highness, the Lady Hermione Everlark of the kingdom of Brightbrook, not be a moment late.” The girl relaxed once more.
            Hermy laughed. “There’s no need to be so proper,” she commented as she groped in her side pocket for her pocket watch. Her expression changed to one of worry as she gazed at the shining face of the polished silver instrument. “Good heavens, it is five minutes to twelve-thirty! I ought to hurry.” Lady Everlark placed the watch back in its silken pocket, gathered her skirt, and headed towards the door at a fast pace.
            But as she reached the Oak door, she turned back to her room. “Maddie, how did you know I would be awake for a snack? Did Father tell you?” Maddie smiled and curtsied low.
“Well, Hermy, I knew because it was a habit of your mother’s-” She stopped herself too late. “I shouldn’t have told you that.” Hermy’s mind swirled with confusion. First the painting, then Maddie, how were there so many traces of her mother here when she’d found none in her own kingdom? But the Duke would be cross with her if she were late.
“I have to go; we’ll talk later!” Hermione gave a hurried curtsey and dashed from the room.
            The corridor was made purely of iron with no windows, no flooring. The Tawny was a large, luxury airship, but an airship all the same, and everything, outside of rooms for wealthy passengers, was streamlined and practical. The hallway was small to the point of causing claustrophobia but it was circular so as to be more aerodynamic and take up less space.
            Hermy knew so much about the ship because she had read all she could find on it for months on end before leaving. She had never been on an airship before, but her father often did, visiting other countries and kingdoms. He was the King of Southbay’s diplomat, and was responsible for keeping peace between the kingdoms and helping the King in his international affairs. Hermy often accompanied her father, sometimes to avoid the cost of a nanny and sometimes to become a conversation piece for her father. Now Duke Everlark had logged lots of miles in the air but if it was possible he would find some way to avoid flying, be it by train, by boat, or by carriage. Hermy almost never accompanied her father on a flight. Regardless, she’d been to many places and met many people.
            She’d met the King a few times as well. In fact, the Tawny was headed to Glassden, the capitol of Southbay, for the soul purpose of the Duke and Lady Everlark’s visit with the King. This wasn’t a diplomatic visit however, but a friendly one. King Rona and Duke Everlark were very close friends, and the King looked upon Hermione as a darling granddaughter; which was because she was indeed the King’s great-granddaughter.
            The halls of the Tawny twisted and turned quite a bit, but she arrived at the grand mahogany double doors to her father’s study two minutes early. Grand mirrors were situated on either side of the doors, so Hermy stopped a moment to catch her breath and touch up her appearance.
            Her long dark locks were in several long braids, which she’d wrapped around each other and twisted into a heavy bun early in the morning before she’d left for the flight. However, some curls had escaped their braid prison and were hanging around her ears. It was attractive, so Hermy let them be.
            She wore a simple dress tonight, the torso a dark green with a square neckline and a lace border. The lace fringed her short sleeves as well, and five green canvas buttons were sewn down the front. Hermy arranged the white layered fabric over her hoop skirt, and pulled two curtains of matching green fabric over it so that a small triangle was visible down the center. She retied her green sash in a bow around her waist, arranged herself in front of the door, took a deep breath, and knocked curtly four times.
            A call of, “Enter!” resounded through the hall, and the double doors opened. And so, drawing herself up, the Lady Hermione Harriet Francis Everlark stepped inside the room.

To find out what Duke Everlark had to say to Hermy, visit for part 2, Radical Adventures on March 1, 2016.