“They didn’t think you were lying,” replied Iolanthe Staff. “No one would believe that of you. They just thought you were addle pated.”
The Governor sat opposite the Mayor at a table beneath the awning at Café Etta. Between them on either side were their spouses. Radley Staff seemed to have aged at least ten years since Zeah had seen him last. Zeah wouldn’t have expected to see him out on the town less than forty-eight hours after having returned to Port Dechantagne, especially given some of the stories that were going around about the events on his trip, but then again Zeah knew from experience that Mrs. Staff wasn’t an easy person to dissuade when she set her mind to something. Never one for idle chatter, Staff stuffed a slice of rare beef fillet into his mouth.
“I never doubted you for a moment, Dearest,” said Egeria.
Zeah’s wife was stunning as usual. Her burgundy evening gown, trimmed along the bodice with antique lace, was a more traditional style than the simple and daring black, shoulderless dress that the Governor wore, but Zeah didn’t think she could have looked more beautiful. Her brilliant red hair was pulled back and draped down in ringlets behind her head, and the short fringe across her forehead forced one to focus on her emerald eyes.
“I must admit that I had my moments of doubt,” said Iolanthe. “Not that it would be any reflection on you. Those were trying times.”
“As are these,” said Staff after swallowing. “How did the council meeting go yesterday?”
“The War Powers Act passed,” said Zeah. “I myself don’t see the necessity. There was nothing in the law that was not already in de facto effect. But now the tribal leaders will have something to complain about. Khowass and Tuusuu will be in my office first thing, raising a stink.”
“Sometimes things need to be spelled out,” said Iolanthe. “Now it is official that the police may search lizzie homes without a warrant. It’s necessary in time of war, to search out any possible saboteurs or other undesirables. Kafira knows the kinds of damage that just a few lizzies with guns can do.”
“I wonder that it’s necessary to remove the need for a warrant, or to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for natives,” said Egeria, before taking a sip of water.
“Don’t forget,” offered Staff. “We already have lizzies importing dangerous drugs and murdering each other right here in town.”
“Yes, I forgot about your lizzie,” said Zeah. “Are there any leads in the murder investigation?”
“Inspector Colbshallow is gathering information for the case, but it seems that it is very difficult to cull any information from the lizzies.” Iolanthe folded her arms. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. We need to know what’s going on in those alligator brains of theirs.”
“I’m more worried about the humans,” said Zeah, “like that boy that tried to shoot you—Yuan Weiss.”
“One lone sad individual,” said Iolanthe, “foolishly afraid that people would somehow be contaminated by working side by side with lizzies.”
“Are we sure that was the reason?” asked Staff. “What did he say when Mother Linton cast a speak-with-dead spell?”
“He didn’t because she didn’t,” said Zeah.
“What do you mean she didn’t? She didn’t cast the spell? She refused?”
“She said she couldn’t do it,” said Iolanthe. “Weiss had some kind of protective ward.”
“I didn’t believe her though,” stated Zeah. “And now we may never know why the boy did what he did. He was clearly troubled.”
“What about that other piece of legislation?” asked Egeria, changing the subject.
“What piece… oh, the dinosaur thing?”
“The Dokkins boy and some of his young friends gave an impassioned argument for a law to officially allow dinosaurs with riders on their back to make use of the streets,” Iolanthe explained to her husband.
“And did they succeed? I may want to get my own iguanodon.”
“Good heavens, why?” wondered Zeah. “The streets are crowded enough with the all the steam carriages coming over and now the rickshaw traffic.”
“You could be king of the road on a dinosaur,” replied Staff, looking sidelong at his wife. “You could look down on the other drivers.”
Iolanthe was thoughtful for a moment, and then dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand.
“Council decided that such a law was superfluous. Anyone may ride an animal on the street, so long as they follow the rules of the road.”
“That makes sense,” said Staff. “After all, they don’t have a law that says people may ride horses in Brech, but I’ve had to step over my fair share of horse…”
“Radley!” snapped Iolanthe. Egeria burst into a fit of musical laughter.
After dinner Zeah and his wife walked to the trolley station. The lamplighters had already been down the street and it was growing dark. It was dark enough in fact that one had to listen for the bell to know that the trolley was just up the street. At one point a genius in the transport department, who didn’t know dinosaurs nearly as well as Graham Dokkins, had come up with the idea of attaching lights to the horns of the three triceratops employed as trolley pullers. After Harriet, in a rampage of fear and anger, had completely destroyed her trolley car, the idea was suitably disposed of.
“Did you enjoy your beef steak, Dearest?” asked Egeria.