Chief Inspector Saba Colbshallow was dozing, only half awake, but happy in the knowledge that he had the day off. Suddenly a weight of two and a half stone dropped into his lap, curling him up into a ball. Now awake, Saba clutched at his attacker, which seemed all curly hair and giggles.
“You must be careful with your poor old father, DeeDee,” he gasped.
“Mummy says it’s time to get up,” returned what he still thought was the sweetest voice he had ever heard.
“Does Mummy know that I have the day off?” He lifted the girl and held her up over his face. Two large eyes, one brown and one hazel, looked back at him from beneath a pile of multihued curls. “If you weren’t so horribly cute, I would throw you out with the rubbish.”
A chorus of giggles was the only reply.
“Maybe I’ll just throw you out with the rubbish anyway!” Rolling to his feet, he tucked the now squealing child under his arm and headed for the window. “Right out to the dump with you!”
“Saba!” Saba stopped in his tracks and turned to find his wife standing in the bedroom doorway. “I’ve only just got her hair fixed!”
“Now you’ve gone and gotten me in trouble,” he told the little girl, setting her down beside him.
“Your breakfast is waiting, both of you.”
“Shouldn’t I dress first?” He waved down at his nightshirt.
“You’re fine. It’s only the four of us.”
“Come along, brick and mortar.”
“You know I don’t like you using that criminal slang with the child,” said his wife as he passed. Then she stuck out her cheek and ordered, “Kiss.”
Obediently kissing his wife, Saba followed his daughter out of the room and down the stairs to the dining room. His wife followed.
Loana Colbshallow was one of the most beautiful women in all of Birmisia Colony. Everyone agreed on that fact, even those who didn’t particularly care for her. The features that were most often spoken of, when people described her, the heterochromia of both eyes and hair, she had passed to her daughter. In addition, she possessed flawless skin and as near perfect features as could be imagined. Of course her most noticeable traits were seldom mentioned, even if they were always noticed. God had given Loana a slender waist and a bottom that seemed to hardly require a bustle. Her bosom was of such a proportion that it could astonish and yes, even frighten those who stood too close to her. This hadn’t been the case when she and Saba had met, but each year seemed to add onto her a few pounds, and they always seemed to end up in exactly the right places.
DeeDee was already at her seat when Saba reached the table. Directly across from her was the elder Mrs. Colbshallow, Saba’s mother.
“Just what are you doing to make my lovely daughter-in-law yell?” she asked.
“I remember when I was the apple of her eye,” he said dryly to DeeDee.
“Daddy was just playing with me, Nan.”
Saba directed his attention to the food. Scooping up large helpings of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and beans onto his and his daughter’s plates.
“Have some tomatoes,” said Mrs. Colbshallow.
“Do you want tomatoes?” he asked DeeDee.
“You see how it is, Yadira,” said Loana, taking the last place at the table. “The two of them gang up on me all the time. It’s always what they want and never what I want.”
Mrs. Colbshallow clicked her tongue disapprovingly.
“Cucumbers, DeeDee?” asked Saba, ignoring both of the women.
“I thought I raised him better than this,” said Mrs. Colbshallow.
“Well, I guess you didn’t,” said Saba, winking at DeeDee, who giggled.
Seeing his pouting wife in the corner of his eye, he relented and scooped several cucumber slices onto her plate too. “What do you have planned today that has me and my progeny up at such an ungodly hour.”
“It’s nearly 10:00,” said Loana in a shocked voice. “And you said you would take me to watch the rugby match.”
“And what about these two troublemakers?” he indicated his daughter and his mother.
“Well, they’re going too.”
“I won’t be joining you,” said Mrs. Colbshallow. “I’m joining the Dechantagnes for luncheon.”
“Good Kafira, Mother. You’d think you still lived over there.”
“They’ll be no blasphemy in this house.”
“My house,” said Saba without anger. “My house, my mother, my wife, my daughter, my blasphemy, my breakfast. You three keep forgetting that I’m the man here. Where’s the chutney?”
“I haven’t forgotten you’re the man, dear,” said Loana, getting up to bring the chutney to him, and then pausing to rub his shoulder. “But you did promise rugby today.”
“Yes, yes. Pass me some soldiers.” He winked again at DeeDee. “My potatoes need protecting.”
One of the lizzies placed a plate of toast in front of him.
“DeeDee, do you know the difference between toast and Mirsannans?”
“You can make soldiers out of toast,” she recited.
“That’s my girl.”