Robins scolded in the growing shadows of the rose garden beneath the balcony, as a little girl held her breath and carefully tickled the red crown feathers offered by the newly fledged parrot. "Mamma!" she gasped, drawing back with dancing eyes. "She likes me." She clapped her hands with a bounce of her curls of tow. "See? She's still holding out her head feathers. Can I hold her now?"
"Of course," said Minuet. "Just hold out your finger as I showed you, Rose, and wait for Pebbles to step on."
Rose nodded and held out her finger, giving Minuet and Hebraun each a very solemn look before offering it to Pebbles, who carefully stepped on.
"Very good," said Minuet with a glance at the door. "Bethan's here, I see. It's time to let her get you ready for bed."
"Can I put Pebbles on her perch, Mamma?"
"As long as you're real easy, sweetheart."
Rose crept to the perch with all of the sober reserve of some great ceremony.
Pebbles looked quickly here and there at her feet, not knowing quite what was expected as they arrived.
"A bird is not posed to be dilatory in a castle," said Rose as Pebbles took an uncertain step onto the perch. "You have to set an essample."
Minuet looked up to share her amusement and found that the butler already had Hebraun's attention. "Now go straightaway with Bethan, Rose," she said. "We'll be along directly to tuck you in."
(Chapter 19, Good Sister, Bad Sister)
"So," she said. "She's undoubtedly got her baggy eyes from the sukere. And she stands a very good chance of being deeply involved with some evil design involving sukere with Razzorbauch and Demonica." She leant aside to see to Rose. "Oh sweetheart. You've got cherries all down your front."
"They still taste good that way, Mamma. See? Here's a really good one."
"I'll take care of her," said Bethan. "You've got things to discuss."
"Mamma? When Grandma Bethan gets me cleaned up, can she take me to show Real Grandma how I can sit on Mystique?"
"You just got your new unicorn, dear. I want to be there with you until you've had some real experience riding."
"I understand," said Rose as Bethan led her away. "Grandma? You'll have to learn to be patient. Mamma's just being a queen like you used to be."
(Chapter 20, Good Sister, Bad Sister)
They found Hebraun and Minuet already well into a breakfast of boiled eggs and hot rye bread. As Razzmorten seated her, Ugleeuh saw Bethan leading out a striking and immaculately polite little tow-headed girl. "That's their little shit," she thought, as an orderly rushed to the board with plates and another bowl of boiled eggs. "Too bad, little shit!"
(Chapter 23, Good Sister, Bad Sister)