The Price of Magic – Chapter 14 Excerpt

There was a knock.

“Come in,” said Lady Iolana.

The door opened and her father peered inside.  He paused for a second, seeing her still in bed, but then he closed the door behind him and stepped across the room to take a seat in the comfy chair by the fireplace.

“It’s unusual for you to be in bed at this hour,” he said.  “Not ill, are you?”

“No.  I’m just being indolent.”

“Well, you are entitled, I suppose.  It’s not everyday you turn fourteen.”

“No, it isn’t, but it seems like my birthday comes quicker every year.”

“Wait until you’re my age,” he said.  “They fly at you like freight trains.  We missed you at breakfast.”

“Esther brought me breakfast in bed.  But I’m about ready to get up and about now.”

“What are your plans today?”

Iolana pulled the book, heretofore unnoticed from her side, and placed a silver bookmark between its pages before setting it on the nightstand.

“We are having our little get-together tonight, and I have a date for tea with Dovie.  I thought I would visit some friends this morning.”

Mr. Staff stood up and walked over to the bedside.  He picked up the book as if he was reading the cover, though he didn’t really look at it.

“You’re a very busy young lady,” he said.  “I suppose you soon won’t have any time for me at all.”

“Don’t be silly, Father. We’re going hunting three days hence. We have to get that therizinosaurusthat you’ve been after.  Besides, we’ll see each other tonight.”

“Of course,” he said with a smile.  Setting the book back down, he turned and walked to the door.  He paused to look back over his shoulder.  “You have a present waiting for you downstairs.”

“I can’t wait,” she said with a smile.

As soon as Mr. Staff left, Esther entered.  She was wearing a cheerful blue sundress.

“Have you decided what you want to wear?” she asked.

“I don’t want to clash with you,” said Iolana.  “Perhaps my teal skirt, with a white blouse.  Do I have a teal tie?”

“Yes, but you don’t have a matching hat.”

“Find a bit of teal lace and put it around my white boater.  I’m sure Auntie Yuah has some if I don’t.”

Thirty minutes later, properly attired, Iolana and Esther descended the stairs.  As usual for that time of day, Kayden was manning the front door. He opened it and ushered them outside. Sitting right in front of the portico was a new Sawyer and Sons model 12b steam carriage with a large red bow attached to its shiny sky blue bonnet.

“Golly!” exclaimed Iolana.

“Do you like it?” asked her father’s voice from behind her.

“It’s beautiful! Thank you so much!”

“An important young lady like yourself needs to be able to get around reliably.”

“Is there room for it in the motor shed?” wondered Iolana.

“Yes,” replied her father. “I’ve sold the Model 5, and I’m going to sell the cabriolet as well.  Now that you have this, no one will drive it.”

“What about me?” asked a scratchy little voice from behind them.

“You’re a few years away from driving,” said Mr. Staff, stepping aside to reveal Terra in a white walking dress and a daisy-covered white hat.  “I promise though, that when you’re old enough to drive, I’ll buy you your own car as well.”

“You don’t mind if I come along with you, do you?” the ten-year-old asked her cousin.

“Of course not,” said Iolana, hurrying over to the driver’s side of the vehicle.

She quickly climbed aboard, while Terra took the front passenger’s seat and Esther climbed into the back.

“This is lovely,” said the lizzie.

“I know.”  Iolana gripped the steering wheel and peered through the windscreen.  “I wonder how fast she’ll go?”

“She won’t go at all with a cold boiler,” said Mr. Staff with a laugh.  “Let me light it for you.”

He stepped around to the rear of the car and applied a match to the tinder beneath the coal.  Then he stepped around to Iolana’s side.

“It has plenty of water in it and coal too, so just as soon as it’s hot, you can go.  Just keep to a manageable speed.”  With that advice, he took the bow off the bonnet and then walked back up the steps and into the house.

Iolana looked at the array of controls at her feet.  Rather than the three simple pedals in the cabriolet, there were five: forward and reverse accelerators, forward and reverse decelerators, and the clutch. Then there were the hand controls: the brake and the gearshift.  She ran her fingertips around the steering wheel, and smiled.

“I think I’ll name you Tsisia,” she said.

“Oh, that’s a good name,” said Terra.  “The lizzie word for of the sky.”

“Are you ready?” Iolana looked first at Esther and then Terra.  Both nodded.

With what seemed like a practiced hand, she pressed down on the brake lever.  Then she threw the gearshift forward while pressing her feet down on the clutch and the forward decelerator.  As she slowly let out the clutch, she transferred her right foot from the forward decelerator to the forward accelerator.  The blue steam carriage rolled forward.

“I don’t think you have enough steam,” said Terra.

“Don’t worry,” replied Iolana.  “It’s picking up.”

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