The queen’s mother’s house
We woke up because someone was knocking on the door. It took a while before we realized where we were: in the mother of the queen’s house! There was a girl outside, called Lyse, she was not much older than us! And she was bringing us water, not for drinking, but for washing. Well, we wetted our noses and our bottoms, and went out to discover breakfast.
Breakfast was impressive! Everyone was at the breakfast table, from Lord Vurian to us, all their children who were still living with them, even though they’re ever so old, but the youngest is younger than us, he’s called Radan and he’s pretty cute, almost like Rovan. There was so much to eat that when Lady Rava took us to the school I had the most wonderful belly-ache, like as if I were bursting!
Lady Rava first took us into her office, and gave us some paper and ink and pens to write or draw while she got through her morning’s work. First we peeked through the books on her shelves, but there wasn’t any book with interesting drawings in, and the letters were too small and crabby to read, even for Lesla.
We had settled down on the floor and I was having lots of fun with the ink when she closed her book and asked us about what happened in Veray. And Lady Rava wanted to see if we really could get through a seal like we told, so she sealed the room. But she was much stronger than the bad person in Veray, and besides, we quickly found that the light over darkness thing doesn’t work if it’s light on light, it only makes it stronger! Even the window, which was smaller than the door, was ungothroughable.
But we did want to get out, and prove to Lady Rava that we’re smart! So, next we thought of going through the chimney. It was a nice, wide chimney of very climbable bricks, only very dirty, of course. So we pulled off our skirts and shirts, and I stood on Lesla’s shoulders. It was quite difficult to get through her seal, but we managed it! And then we could climb through the chimney and get out through the fireplace one floor up.
Of course we weren’t wearing anything but a lot of soot, but we’d made it! And we were making a little dance about it when Lady Rava came into the room with our clothes. She took us to the washing place first, before we were allowed to put them on, though, and people were looking at us like we were weird, so we made dresses out of light, and mine was exactly like Lady Rava’s! Still a bit seeing-through, but we were all black underneath anyway.
Noon meal at school is great! There’s a hole in the wall, and if you go there, there’s a person, and you can ask them for food, and every time you ask for food, you get food! There were a lot of other people coming in when we were eating, and they were talking about us, but it was only talk, no stones were thrown.
After lunch, we were taken upstairs by a lady teacher, Senthi she is called, and she knows lots of languages. And she was going to teach us reading and writing, only Lesla can do that already, and I wasn’t really interested. And Lesla and I nearly got into a fight because she also insisted I do letters, and I didn’t want to, they look like nothing at all! If I paint a bird, you can see which bird it is! If I write “bird” nobody knows anything about that bird except that I write very badly!
But lady Senthi is a VERY good teacher! And very nice. And she asked Lesla to write a letter, and then asked me what bird that letter was, so I drew an angry swan around it! And now I know some letters, too. I only have to remember which bird the letters look like, and then I can remember them! I think Lesla will always be better with letters (and numbers, but we haven’t done numbers yet at school), but I don’t have to hate letters anymore, they’re all birds, after all.
It was already late when we were done, lady Senthi is amazingly patient!
After that, we want to meet Doctor Cora, because Rava isn’t the cuddling kind, and she is, and we wanted a cuddle. But when we got there, we saw she was busy doctoring, with her hands in somebody’s body, and she was using light, and the light she didn’t get where there’s always light, but people were giving her light. So we decided to give her light as well, but she needed a LOT!
Lesla got the idea that we’d go to the little temple, and get the light from there, because there’s more light in the temple than anywhere else. That worked, but it was hard to get the light out, so I sat down half-way between the hospital and the temple, and sort of push the light on. It worked, and after Doctor Cora was done, we went to her, and helped her wash, and then we had tea, and she cuddled us, and we talked a bit and she said, we could go and visit master Jeran and our cat, and Lady Rava wouldn’t mind, as long as we would be back in time for dinner.
Master Jeran was home, and he said, come up, and we told him about our first day at school, and asked him about the cat, and he told us, the cat was always catching mice, and bringing the mice to him, and he didn’t want the mice! Still, it’s nice of the cat to share its catch with master Jeran. So we tried to explain to the cat that she should only bring the tails, and eat the mice herself. And then we had to explain to master Jeran that he would have to accept the tails or he would hurt the cat’s feelings. It’s very complicated explaining things like that to grown-ups! Cats do have feelings, although our cat had been fighting again, this time it was Lesla’s turn to stroke its scratches closed.
And while she was doing that, master Jeran gave me paper and paint, and I made a painting of us coming out of the fireplace!
I think I did well! And so did master Jeran, and I asked him about coming to teach painting at school again, but he didn’t want to do that, and he told me that if he taught me painting, I would learn to paint like him. That sounds strange, why can’t I learn to paint, but paint like me? Besides, I already know how to paint something that is there, to not paint something that is there but make it look like it’s there, and how to paint something that doesn’t exist!
He was a bit like Lady Rava then! He wanted me to prove that I could paint something that didn’t exist, so I painted a bird with four legs, four wings and curly bill like a snail’s shell.
And then it was late! So I grabbed my paintings, and made master Jeran promise we could visit him again, and we ran home. At least, we tried, but I couldn’t find the way! Lesla did, though, and we were in time to help in the kitchen.
There were onions to be peeled, and all peels were kept for the pig. Onion-peeling is a weepy business! So I tried to make glass of light, like the glasses Lord Vurian is wearing, to see if they could keep the weepiness out, but they didn’t work. I forgot to make them go away, though, so I was still wearing them when we had dinner.
But first we were allowed to feed the pig! She is very big, lots of bacon coming in autumn! But also little piglets. It’s strange to think of autumn already when Midsummer is so very near… And we got mucky of course, in the sty, and because we wanted to cuddle the pig, so we had to wash AGAIN.
Then we could go in for dinner. There was so much food, I thought they had put everything they had on table in one go, so I tried to eat it all — surely nobody can have so much food that they could put this much on table and still have something left for tomorrow! But Lord Vurian explained that they really had that much food, and then he helped me with my glasses. I’m not sure how that happened, but then he asked what we would be eating at home, and if we’d always had had enough — and of course we had! Even if there weren’t enough fishes, you could always find rats, and rats can be good, if you kill and skin them underwater, so the fleas don’t jump. Stewed, rolled in mud and baked or as soup, rats are food.
But not as nice food as we’ve been getting now…
And then Lord Vurian and Lady Rava sent us off to bed, and I hadn’t even had a chance to show my paintings to them!