Senta left the dress shop and walked next door to the Pfennig Store. The establishment was filled with lizzies, and although they seldom seemed to move very fast, it was less than fifteen seconds from the time that the Drache Girl entered and the last of the reptilians left.
“Thank goodness you’ve come in,” said Mr. Parnorsham. “I need a break.”
“Can I buy you a Billingbow’s, Mr. P?”
Mr. Parnorsham thought for a moment, and then said, “I think you can.”
He pulled two bottles from where they were cooling and set them on the counter. He handed Senta a straw. Then he popped the cork from his own bottle and tipped it back, pouring the cool soda water down his throat.
“You must be making money hand over fist,” said the girl. “The lizzies sure love your store.”
“It has been very profitable, I won’t lie. Honestly though, I think I’m getting too old for this. And to tell the truth, Mrs. Parnorsham is feeling lonely at home by herself. I think a year or two more and I’ll have to retire.”
“What would we do without a Pfennig Store?”
“Oh, I’m sure someone will open up another establishment. I’m surprised they haven’t already. For that matter, I might sell the business or pass it on to someone. Mrs. P and I were never blessed with children, but I have quite an abundance of nephews back in Brechalon.
“It won’t be the same without you, Mr. P.”
“That is very kind of you to say,” said the man.
Just then the bell over the door rang. A lizzie walked in leading three human children. Senta sipped her Billingbow’s and watched as the group made its way to the toy counter.
“Tsaua Cissy!” called Mr. P. Then to Senta, he added, “the governor’s lizzie.”
“Yes, I recognize her.”
In the relatively quiet store, the children grew louder and louder until they were almost shouting at each other. The lizzie hissed, quieting them. Senta strolled over to where they stood by the toy counter.
“Can I be of assistance?” she asked in the lizzie tongue.
“It is nothing for you to worry about, Drache Girl.” The words “Drache Girl” were in Brech, but he rest was in “spit-n-gag.” “The children can’t decide which toy they want.”
“Hello kids,” said Senta, in Brech.
“Hello Senta,” said Iolana Staff and Augie Dechantagne at almost the same time.
“Where’s your dragon?” asked little Terra Dechantagne.
“He’s sleeping, but I’ll tell him you asked after him. So you can’t decide which toy to get?”
“I want another soldier,” said Terra, in her hoarse little voice, “but Mommy says I have to be a princess.”
“You should get a soldier. Then you can be a queen and order him around. Queens are better than princesses any day.”
“She’s getting her soldier mixed in with my regiment,” said Augie.
“Yes, I can see how that would be a problem,” said Senta. She turned to the oldest of the three. “And what is your problem?”
“I don’t think we should get a toy every time we come to the Pfennig Store. We have so many toys already that we can’t play with them all. There are little children in Enclep that can’t afford a single toy to play with.”
“I don’t suppose your mother knows you’re a socialist?”
“See?” said the lizzie. “Just kids.”
“Mr. Parnorsham,” called Senta, back toward the counter. “Can you get me a tin of those butter biscuits and perhaps put a bow on it? I have a sick friend.”