Turning away from the street, Yuah Dechantagne made her way up the stone walkway to the family’s home. The huge, stately structure was the largest building in the colony, and had taken the better part of two years to construct. Featuring a large portico supported by four two story columns, a double gabled roof and more than a dozen stone chimneys, every side of the house was covered with large dual-paned windows. Walking through the gardens and past the large reflecting pool, the fountain, and the sundial surrounded by white roses, she paused to hyperventilate for a moment before tackling the six steps to the portico. Standing at attention outside of the front door was a lizardman, naked except for a yellow ribbon with a gold medallion around its neck. As she approached, the creature reached back and opened the door for her.
“Thank you, Tisson,” she said, sweeping in through the doorway.
Once inside, she walked through the foyer and into the parlor, just in time to see her sister-in-law, the colonial governor, slapping her hand across the protruding snout of another lizardman. The creature wore a similar medallion and ribbon as its counterpart outside, though it was a silver medallion on a green ribbon. The reptilian was also slightly shorter and had darker green skin. Even so, it towered over the woman in the olive green herringbone dress that faced it.
“One more time and I’ll cut off your tail and send you back to that mud hut you came from,” she snarled at the lizardman. “Do you understand?”
“Yess,” hissed the reptile.
“What was that all about?” asked Yuah.
Iolanthe rolled her aquamarine eyes. “How many times have I explained? They still don’t get it. When the flower petals fall off, the flowers are replaced.”
“I think they like the flowers better when they are wilted,” replied Yuah. “It must be a lizard affectation.”
“Well, I’m not going to put up with it. Say, where have you been all morning?”
“Oh yes. Very pretty.” If there was one thing Governor Iolanthe Dechantagne Calliere could appreciate, it was a new dress. “The baby was crying a little while ago. I had Cissy feed him.”
“Sirrik!” called Yuah. Another lizardman, mottled yellow with brown stripes, stepped into the parlor from the doorway which led to the library. “Go have Cissy bring down the baby.”
Sirrik walked through the parlor and into the foyer. The two women could hear the creak of the stairs as the heavy reptilian then made his way up. Yuah set her large loaf of bread on the coffee table and sat down on a divan, recently brought by ship from Mirsanna. Iolanthe carefully sat down across from her in a sweepback Prince Tybalt chair.
“I am surprised to find you still at home,” said Yuah.
“I will be going to the office later in the day.”
“Are you going to address the new arrivals? I saw that the ship was being unloaded.”
“I will leave that to your father. He actually enjoys that sort of thing, you know.”
“Yes, I know.”
The groaning of the staircase announced Sirrik’s return. Following closely on his scaly heels was a smaller lizardman, this one wearing a yellow skirt just above its tail. The ridiculous garment was only about eight inches long, hiding nothing because the reptiles had no external genitalia to hide. Nestled carefully within the smaller lizardman’s arms was a small bundle. The beast walked across the parlor and gently passed it to Yuah. She carefully pealed back the blanket revealing the tiny, pink, perfectly formed face of a baby boy. His tiny mouth was puckered and his eyes were closed. He twisted slightly in his sleep, as Yuah tickled his chin.
“Who’s mama’s big boy?” she said, in the voice people reserve for babies, pets, and anything else that can’t actually hear or respond.
“How long has he been asleep?” Yuah asked the lizardman in the yellow dress.
“Haff hour,” said the creature, rolling its yellow eyes toward the grandfather clock along the east wall.
“Half an hour?” confirmed Yuah.
“He’ll be asleep for some time yet,” said Iolanthe. “Why don’t you let her put him back in his crib?”
“No, I want to hold him for a while.” Yuah turned to the lizardman. “You may go now. Why don’t you check back at three?”
Both reptiles bowed and left the room, Sirrik back toward the library, and Cissy through the foyer. Yuah leaned back and gently bounced the baby boy in her arms while he slept. She marveled at his dark eyelashes and the tiny bit of dark brown hair just sticking out below the blanket.
At that moment a little girl, almost three, in a bright floral dress ran into the room. Her blond hair seemed thin around her chubby, round face, but was supplemented with a large red bow on the top of her head. Bouncing along on her chubby little legs, she was not quite in control of her body, and bumped right into the stuffed arm of Iolanthe’s chair. She was up again quickly, though she left the item she had been carrying, a doll with a dress exactly like hers, lying on the hardwood floor.
“Auntie Yuah,” said the toddler, running to the woman with the baby. “I want to give Augie a kiss.”
“All right, but carefully. He’s asleep and we don’t want to wake him.”
With the exaggerated movements that are so endearing in the very tiniest human beings, the little girl reached up on her tip-toes and puckered up her lips, stretching them out as far as they could go, and kissed the baby, held out by its mother, with a smacking sound. She then rolled back on her heels, almost losing her balance and falling back onto the coffee table.
“Very sweet,” said Yuah. “Now go see Mummy.”
“Don’t you dare jump on me,” said Iolanthe, as the child trundled around the table toward her. “Your dress is filthy. What have you been doing?”
“Making mud pies.”
“Making mud pies,” muttered the governor. “Sirrek!”
The mottled yellow and brown lizardman returned.
“Who is supposed to be watching Iolana?”
“Kheesie,” hissed Sirrek.
“Remind her that the child is supposed to stay clean. If she can’t do her job, I’m sure that there are others who can. And have her draw Iolana a bath.” Iolanthe turned to Yuah. “If there is one thing you can count on the lizards to get right, it’s bathing.”