“And where’s the lady of the house?” he asked.
“Mummy says she doesn’t feel good,” said DeeDee. “She’s going to stay in bed today.”
Saba clucked his teeth in annoyance as Risty scooped scrambled eggs with diced peppers and onions onto his plate next to the sausages.
“I’m sure she has a good reason,” offered his mother.
“She’s been having a rough time lately.”
“I don’t like onions in my eggs,” said DeeDee.
“Yes you do,” said her father. “Look at me. I’m eating them. Eat some and then Risty will get you a crumpet.”
“Maybe she’s out of sorts because she’s expecting,” said Mrs. Colbshallow.
“And here I thought Kafira was the only Immaculate Conception,” he muttered. He took another bite and ignored his mother’s scandalized look.
The only other bit of breakfast conversation was when DeeDee demanded strawberry jam with her crumpet. When they were done, Saba helped his daughter fasten on her shoes and then her bonnet.
“Come along girl. Your tutor is awaiting.”
“Maybe you should go up and kiss your wife goodbye,” said his mother.
“I’m sure she’s very busy with the second coming and all,” he said, and guided DeeDee out the front door.
They walked across the street to the Dechantagne Staff estate, where the lizzie doorman let them enter. Mrs. Dechantagne was alone in the parlor.
“Hello Saba,” she said, getting to her feet.
“Please don’t get up, Mrs. D.”
“Oh please don’t call me that.” She sat the book that she had been reading down and stepped over to him. “You’ve known me all your life, we lived in the same house for years, and don’t forget you were my husband’s best man at my wedding.”
“I was just a witness, and I haven’t forgotten a single moment.”
“You’re so sweet,” she smiled. “What can I do for you today.”
“DeeDee’s going to start on with Iolana.”
“You’re early. They usually don’t start until 11:00.”
“Yes, well I was wondering if I could leave her early. Her mother’s not feeling well.”
“Of course. I’ll take her upstairs and she can play with Terra. That girl could use some human companionship.”
“If you’re sure it’s not an inconvenience…”
“None at all. But you have to do me a favor first.”
“What?” he asked.
“You must address me properly.”
“As you wish… Yuah.” He blushed furiously.
“See, that didn’t hurt,” she said as she took DeeDee’s hand.
“Be a good girl,” Saba told his daughter.
Back outside, he crossed over to his own yard, but didn’t go into the house. He climbed into the steam carriage that the lizzies had already rolled from the machine shed and fired up. Putting it in gear, he pulled out onto the street and headed for downtown.
He arrived at the five-story police station five minutes later than his usual time. He had parked the car and quickly made his way up the walk when he almost collided with Eamon Shrubb, who was on his way out. He was dressed not in his police uniform, but in a grey suit not too different from the one that Saba wore, with the exception that Eamon had a turquoise utahraptor feather stuck in the hatband of his bowler.
“What’s this then?” asked Saba, waving at the other man’s clothes. “Finally got canned?”
“Quite the reverse, actually,” said Eamon.
“What’s the reverse of canned? You can’t have just got hired. You already work here.”
Eamon reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a wallet, flipping it open to reveal a police inspector’s badge.
“Well, somebody has clearly cocked up,” said Saba.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“Not me. It’s Mayor Luebking. He’s got it in his mind that you’ve done some decent police work, and I can’t seem to disabuse him of the notion. The man’s going to run this town into the ground, I can tell you. Well, no help for that. Come upstairs with me and we’ll run through the open investigations.”
“Um, I’ll be back in a bit. I have to go show Dot my new badge.”
“Oh leave the poor girl alone. You’re going to knock her up again.”
“Too late,” said Eamon with a grin.
“Bloody Kafira. You’re like some kind of animal.” Saba shook his head. “All right. Go show her your badge, if that’s what you’re calling it these days. Be back in an hour. We really do have work to do.”
Taking the elevator up to his office, Saba pulled all the relevant files from the cabinet and began reading over them. There were quite a few unsolved cases, though that was not uncommon anywhere in the Brech Empire. The purpose of the police department was to keep order. Solving crimes was secondary. Besides, Birmisia Colony only had three police inspectors, himself included—four now that Eamon was on board. There were four unsolved murders, as well as the killing of a lizzie, which was considered a lesser crime. There were several dozen burglaries, a few robberies, an arson, and of course the bombing of the shipyard. Saba was so involved, that he hardly noticed when Eamon stepped into his office.
“That didn’t take long.”
“Dot’s sister was there—lucky for me. You know how she gets when she’s preggers.”
“So what have we got?”