Senta was waiting at the side of the road in front of her home when Graham arrived the next day at eleven. She was dressed in her latest acquisition—a sunny yellow dress with a low back that showed off her shoulder blades. Graham didn’t own a steam carriage, so she expected him to arrive on foot. He surprised her by instead showing up in the back of a rickshaw, reclining in comfort as a large lizzie pulled him along. There were two seats on the vehicle balanced above two spoked wheels and the lizzie pulled it with two long poles which stuck out the front.
“What’s this then?” she asked.
“Pretty ace, isn’t it? Mrs. Government had them brought over from Sumir. The lizzies can buy them and set up their own business pulling us softskins around.”
Senta picked up the picnic basket from beside her foot and stuffed it behind the rickshaw seat next to the similar basket that Graham had brought with him. Then she climbed up and sat down next to him.
“Do you think this lizzie can pull us both?”
“You hardly weigh anything at all. Besides, Canron here could pull four or five of these things tied together.”
He turned to the reptilian and gave directions in the lizzie language, which many humans, perhaps unkindly referred to as “spit-n-gag.” After a quick reply in the same tongue, Canron turned the vehicle around and took off toward the center of town.
Augustus P. Dechantagne Park sat far out on the peninsula beyond the dockyards. It had been designed by Governor Iolanthe Dechantagne-Staff and had been named for her youngest brother who had died in a battle with lizzies from the city-state of Suusthek. It featured a gazebo, a walking path, and a statue of the aforementioned Augustus P. Dechantagne. It also had a lovely copse of trees under which picnickers would gather during the summer. As it was early spring however, Senta and Graham both preferred a spot in the open under the warming rays of the sun, and it was here that they headed, though they had not conferred aloud on the subject. After unloading and dismissing the lizzie rickshaw, Graham spread a blanket out and they sat down to assemble roast beef sandwiches.
Roast beef in and of itself was something of a novelty, since it was only recently that cattle had arrived in Birmisia Colony. Pork had been available for some time and many people, Graham and Senta included, had grown used to dinosaur meat as well. This roast beef was tender and delicious, not surprising as it had come from Café Ada, which in addition to being the newest and most talked about eating establishment in Port Dechantagne, had a Mirsannan chef named Pierre Something.
As they ate their sandwiches, Graham looked around. They were not the only people in the park. Several children were playing an ad-hoc game of football. Five or six other couples and at least one family were seated on their own blankets enjoying their own noon day meals. A young couple, four of five years older than Graham and Senta, sat on a park bench and kissed when they thought no one else was looking.
“We could be doing that,” said Graham.
“Oh, so now you want a kiss. What happened to ‘she’s not my girlfriend’?”
“I haven’t said that in a long time—years maybe. Everybody knows you’re my girlfriend.”
“Everybody who?” wondered Senta.
“Well I don’t just give kisses away. I need a sign of devotion.”
“What kind of a sign?”
“Something that lets everyone know that I’m your girlfriend.”
“And what would that be?”
“You’ll figure something out.”
Leaning back on her hands, she turned her face up toward the warmth of the sun.