He sat beneath a willow on a large rock ten feet from the frigid water of Battle Creek. Hamonth was almost over and the chilly winds had, for now, stopped. It was still cold enough for a steady cloud of steam to make its way up from the cups of tea, Senta had poured from the pot she carried in her picnic basket.
“You know I do,” replied Senta. “You’ve heard it a hundred times.”
“I guess I wasn’t paying attention. What is it?”
“Zurfina says that if you are famous and powerful enough, you don’t need more than one name. It’s like kings and queens, and Magnus the Great.”
“My Da says everything deserves a name, and people deserve a last name.”
“He does not.”
“I bet he never said any such thing.”
“Did he say it or not?”
“You just said that he said it?”
“I knew it,” said Senta. “You just go around saying ‘My Da says this’ and ‘My Da says that’ and he never said any such thing.”
“I only say that he said things that he really would say, but he just might not have.”
“I always knew you were dodgy.”
Graham shrugged again and took a sip of his tea. Then his brow twisted in thought.
“I bet you do the same thing,” he said.
“You’re always going on about how ‘Zurfina says this’. I bet you make it up too.”
“She actually said that bit about not needing a last name?”
“Word for word.”
“Oh.” He sipped his tea again. “So do you figure you’re famous and powerful enough, then?”
“Are you famous and powerful enough that you don’t need a last name?”
“No, I guess not,” said Senta. “I don’t think I like it though. I never knew anyone else with it. It’s Bly.”
“Oh, right. It’s not that bad.”
“It’s better than Dokkins.”
“No. My Da says Dokkins is one of the finest names in Greater Brechalon.” Then he added. “And he does say that too.”
Senta stood up; balancing on the large rock, then bent down at the waist and sat her teacup where she had been sitting. She stretched her arms out to either side and balanced herself, as she stepped in her bare feet from one rock to another. She made a circuitous route back to the picnic basket and opened it up. She pulled out a warm potpie in a small ceramic bowl. She held the pie out in her left hand and a fork in her right and balanced her way across five more rocks to where the brown haired, freckled boy sat and handed both to him.
“You know you’ve got a hole in that dress?”
“Yes,” said Senta, sadly.
She looked down at the yellow dress. Though the upper portion was shapeless and tube-like, matching her still shapeless body, the bodice was brilliantly decorated with yellow brocade and beadwork. The skirt portion draped out appropriately, especially in the back, where with the aid of a bustle, it spread back almost three feet. Unfortunately all around the hem, it was worn from trailing along the ground, and a small hole had been burned into the material about five inches to the right of Senta’s right knee, when she had been warming herself by a wood stove.
She made her way back to the picnic basket and took out her own potpie, and then stepped back over to her rock. Holding her potpie in one hand and picking up her teacup in the other, she crossed her legs and sat down, allowing her dress to cover the rock, so that she seemed to either be hovering above the ground or to be standing but very short.
“This is pretty good,” said Graham, indicating the potpie. “What’s in it?”
“Pork and stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?” he demanded.
“Nothing weird. Potatoes and beets and carrots.”
They had been having a lot of picnic lunches lately, though the weather would soon be too cold. Graham had held to his promise to take her to lunch the other day, but one trip to Mrs. Finkler’s was about the limit of his budget. Senta liked making things for Graham, anyway. They spent almost all their free time together, especially when, like now, there were no ships in port. Something was beginning to be different though. Graham was just, well he was just Graham. The only time he seemed to notice that Senta was a girl, was when he was pointing out that she had a hole in her dress. She thought that he must notice Hero was a girl, with her dark eyes and her long, long, long dark hair. Senta ran a hand through her own hair. It had grown long, but it wasn’t wavy and it wasn’t thick. It was thin and pale looking. And she had a hole in her dress.