“What are you doing here?” asked the Iolanthe.
“Oh, I invited her to breakfast,” said Iolana.
“Are we going to see you every day now?” asked Augusts Dechantagne. “I don’t mind, but you didn’t show us any magic tricks yesterday and I really think you ought to.”
“I’ve already made your lizzies disappear.”
They looked around and sure enough, all of the household servants seemed to have found some other place to be.
“They weren’t done serving my eggs,” he complained.
“Allow me,” said Senta. “Uuthanum.”
Platters of food flew in through the doorway from the kitchen and circled the table. As they did so, serving spoons flew up to intercept them and dish out their contents onto the diners’ plates. When all had been served eggs, white sausages, fried potatoes, and bacon, the flying dinnerware returned to the kitchen.
“That was ace,” said the boy with approval.
“I don’t suppose it’s as impressive as turning your mother to stone…”
“I heard about that,” said Iolana. “It didn’t really happen, did it?”
“It wasn’t me and I wasn’t there to see it. You’ll have to ask your mother.”
Iolana looked at her mother, whose fork stopped just before reaching her mouth.
“Yes. Zurfina did turn your Auntie to stone. It was very upsetting, too.”
Senta ate from her own plate that had been filled along with the others.
“So, what have we all been up to this morning?
“I’ve been working on my bug collection,” said Augie. “Iolana’s just been reading.”
“She does that all the time,” said Terra.
“And you don’t like to read?”
“I will when I get bigger.”
“Speaking of reading,” said the sorceress. “I read some of your poetry, Iolana.”
“It’s not very good,” said the girl. “I’m sure there won’t be a second printing.”
“I thought it was some of the best poetry I’ve ever read.”
“Well, thank you,” Iolana said, brightening. Then she narrowed her eyes. “Just how much poetry have you read?”
“Yours may have been the first.”
Iolanthe took a sip of her tea and then stood up. A lizzie practically flew from the other room to pull out her chair. “I need to get to the office. Did you want to see me about something?”
“Not at all.”
The governor looked momentarily startled. “Well, then. Good day.”
Senta talked pleasantly with the children as they all finished their breakfast. She told them about Bangdorf and Brech City and listened as they recounted their activities and stories of their friends. When they had finished the food and were still sipping tea, Augie brought up a topic that had clearly been simmering in his brain for some time.
“What did it feel like to get shot?”
“Painful,” Senta replied. “All in all, I don’t recommend it, if it can be avoided.”
The boy stared into his cup.
“Why do you ask?”
“I’m sure I’ll have to take a military post. All the Dechantagne men do. I’m not too keen on getting shot, but I guess if you can stand it, I can.”
“If you’re in a colonial regiment, you’re more likely to get eaten by a dinosaur than shot,” said Senta.
“That doesn’t sound any better,” said the boy. “I don’t guess I’d mind getting eaten if I was already dead, but they figure poor Warren was probably still alive while he was getting eaten.”
“Stop it!” yelled Iolana. “Stop talking about it. It’s horrible.”
“I didn’t say it wasn’t horrible,” he replied.
“You know I was almost eaten by velociraptors when I was nine,” said Senta. “Your father saved me, Augie.”
“Really? I never heard that story.”
“Yes. I got off in the woods chasing after Bessemer. It was woods then. I guess it was about the corner of Bainbridge Clark Street and Fourth Avenue now. I wasn’t watching what I was doing and they surrounded me. One of them actually jumped up on me. Then your father showed up and shot them all, quick as a biscuit.”
“Was he nice?” asked Terra. “He doesn’t look nice in his picture and I can’t remember him.”
“He died before you were born,” said Iolana.
“That’s why I can’t remember him.”
“He was always very nice to me,” said Senta. “He was very handsome too. He was sort of like Mr. Baxter, only without the red hair.”
“So what are your plans for today, children?”
“Iolana has to teach us writing today,” said Terra. “Only DeeDee isn’t coming over because of her mother.”
“Chief Inspector Colbshallow’s daughter,” offered Iolana. “She, her mother, and her grandmother have gone visiting today.”
“Well, I’m sorry to tell you, Augie, Terra, but Iolana will have to cancel your class today. She has important business with me.”
“Yes!” cried Augie. “I’m going to go get Claude and Julius.”
“What am I going to do?” asked his sister.
“You’ll come too,” he said, after a moment’s thought. “You can be the princess and we’ll be your soldiers.”
“Take Esther with you,” said Iolana. “She’ll see that Terra stays safe, no matter what.”
“Esther?” wondered Senta.