The Young Sorceress – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Senta watched as the last pallet of copper was placed inside her rented warehouse by a lizzie crew working steam jacks. The copper was made up of oval ingots about a quarter inch thick, dozens of which were packed together in crates and then the crates had been stacked together on wooden pallets. The copper barely filled one corner of the warehouse, but occupying the rest was an enormous pile of pillows. Not all of the pillows were new. In fact most weren’t. But it looked a comfy enough pile to take a run at and jump into.

A loud whomp on the pavement next to the Drache Girl signaled the arrival of Bessemer, the Steel Dragon. The lizzies in the area reacted immediately, though not all in the same way. Some scurried away, some placed their hands in front of their dewlaps in a respectful greeting, and a few dropped to their knees in genuflection.

“I hate when they do that,” said Bessemer.

“Kisses,” said Senta, and the steel dragon bent his neck toward her, air kissing first on one side of her face and then the other.

“Oh, good. My copper is here,” said the dragon.

“Your copper? What are you going to do with copper?”

“Make pots of course. You put the copper ingot in a steam press and turn it into a pot or a skillet or even a kettle.”

“What do you know about making pots?”

“I read. Some people could do a bit more of that.”

“I’ve been busy, but I’m planning on reading a bit today.”

“Do tell,” said the dragon. “Anyway, why did you call me down here?”

“You need a place to sleep. Well, here it is. I’ve brought all your pillows down and got you a few more besides.” She saw Bessemer’s dubious look. “It’s just till we find something else.”

“Did you bring Mr. Turtlekins?” Bessemer refused to sleep without his well-worn stuffed turtle.

“Yes, he’s in there somewhere.”

“Still, I don’t know. It’s awfully noisy down here so close to the docks.”

“It’s very quiet at night.”

“I don’t just sleep at night.”

“You could sleep through an explosion. I’ll tell you what though. I’ll come down and sleep here with you for a few nights, until you get settled in.”

“That’s nice. I miss crawling into bed with you when it gets cold at night.”

“Yes well, that’s why I had to get a new bed. Anyway, it’s a bit too crowded at home.”

“What do you mean crowded? You’re the only one there, aren’t you?”

“Never mind.”

“Well, I’ll try it out,” said the dragon, stepping inside the warehouse and sliding the large rolling door almost closed. He poked his head out the small remaining opening. “You’ll be back tonight?”

“Yes.”

Bessemer pulled his head in and shut the door. Senta turned around and was almost immediately confronted by Graham. He had a big grin on his face.

“I’ve got it.”

“Got what?” she wondered.

“Your token.”

“Token of what?”

“Token of my affection… you know, like you said.”

“I did? Oh, sure I did. Okay. What is it?”

Graham held out a small box. Senta took it and carefully opened it to find the interior lined with velvet. Right in the middle was a silver pendant in the shape of a dragon on a thin chain.

“It’s real silver… mostly,” boasted Graham. “It’s a real silver chain and the dragon is covered with silver, but it’s made out of… and this is the best part… a tyrannosaurus tooth! Do you get it? Dinosaur for me and dragon for you—it’s like the perfect symbol for us.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty ace all right.” Senta was quite sincere in her appreciation for her boyfriend having come up with an acceptable gift, especially considering his lack of romantic proclivity up to this point. “Help me put it on.”

Pulling the necklace from the box and promptly dropping the box on the ground, Graham draped the necklace around Senta’s neck as she turned around. He fumbled with the latch for a minute, but at last the silver form of the dragon pendant rested comfortably on her blue dress over her heart.

“Thanks,” she said, turning around.

“When do I get mine?”

“Am I supposed to buy you a necklace too?”

“No. When do I get my, you know…” his voice grew quiet. “My kiss.”

“How about right now?”

The boy turned around to see if they were unobserved, but as was so often the case anywhere the young sorceress went, quite a crowd of people were encircled about them, too afraid to get too close, but too curious not to stay and watch.

“Maybe tomorrow. You’re still cooking dinner for me at your house, aren’t you?”

“Am I? I mean of course I am. But you don’t want to wait all the way until then, do you?”

“I think it might be better.”

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind them.

Graham and Senta turned to look into the freckled face of a young woman. She had evidently just come off one of the ships in port. She wore a long traveling coat over a white blouse and brown dress. A brown bonnet held back bright red hair, a few strands of which escaped to hang down on the side of their face. In her right hand she grasped the handle of a small carpetbag.

“Do either of you know your way around town,” asked the girl.

“Sure,” replied Graham. “What are you looking for?”

“I don’t really know. I’m new here. I don’t have a place to stay yet and I’m not sure where I should go to find one.”

“I’ll help you. I’m Graham Dokkins.”

“I’m Nellie Swenson, girl reporter.”

“Are you supposed to be famous or something?” asked Senta.

“I’m pretty well known back in Brech. The Herald Sun is the most widely read news broadsheet, and I have a weekly column.”

“Who’s writing it now then?”

“Oh, I wrote enough extra columns to fill out a whole year, though I’m kind of sorry I’m not going to get to see the reaction to my story on orphanage abuses or the one detailing the stunt of my jumping from a dirigible. I’m here to see Birmisia Colony and I’m keeping a journal of my adventure. It should provide at least a year of new columns.”

“Come on, I’ll take you to the new arrivals bureau,” offered Graham.

“That would be lovely, but aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“Oh, that’s just Senta.” Then to Senta he said, “I’m going to help Nellie get situated. I’ll see you later.”

The boy offered the new arrival his arm, which she took, and the two of them started up Seventh and One Half Avenue. Senta’s eyes bored holes in their backs, and she absentmindedly punched her left palm with her right fist.

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