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Arri- April 8, 2003

April 8, 2003

Dear Keish,

It’s great to hear from you!

That prince is a little unusual isn’t he? I’ve never heard of royalty painting before—not that I know any royalty. Maybe the more important they are, the stranger they get? Actually, it sounds to me like the prince may have a crush on you or something. Or does he ask all the young ladies to pose for his paintings? I hope for your sake, the painting doesn’t mean anything, because princes are used to getting their own way, and it’s really hard to convince them otherwise.

Liop is glad that you found Aron, and he says not to worry, because he’s working on a new and improved growth spell. When he gets it finished, he’ll send it to you, so you can fix the first spell he cast to make it work properly.

You’re so lucky to be done with studies. I’m almost done and I can hardly wait to get rid of my last textbooks. Yesterday was my last dancing lesson, and I am so relieved I could dance for joy (but that might be a little ironic, don’t you think?) All that’s left is the graduation cotillion. I tried to tell Lady Dinette that I wouldn’t be able to come, seeing as Uncle Winthrop’s still missing and I can’t get any new dresses, but she said that I could borrow one of her daughter Treany’s evening gowns.

"I don’t think I’m tall enough," I suggested hopefully.

"Oh, that’s no problem," Treany piped in eagerly, "You can borrow the one with the yellow bows. You remember? I wore it to second year cotillion, and I think I was just your height."

Yeah, I remember.

So now I get to attend graduation cotillion looking like a twelve-year-old. I thanked Treany politely enough, I think, because I know she meant well, but if I had known that was going to happen I wouldn’t have said anything and made a dress myself by altering one of Aunt Rawnal’s old gowns. At least I would look my own age, if slightly out-dated. But that’s not the worst of it. We had to draw our partner’s name out of a hat, and whose did I draw? Mendel!—the same kid who says I dance like a bear. Oh well… Liop says I’ll survive it, just like I’ve survived every other cotillion, more or less.

There is one good thing that comes out of all this, though. The next classes I’m supposed to take are called "Feminine Politics." I don’t really understand what that means, but Imato tells me it turns good young ladies into snobs, so I really don’t want to take it. Anyway, when I went to Lord Audo’s office to sign myself up, he refused to let me sign without an adult to guarantee the tuition, and he said very specifically that servants don’t count. So I’m feeling very pleased about that. I did my duty by trying to sign up, and it’s not my fault I was turned down. But I have to admit that I sang the White Lion’s Victory Song all the way home. Do you know that one? The chorus is the best part. It goes:

"Knights of White Lion will always defeat!
And chains of oppression will call for retreat!
And children learn slavery no more!
They will break every lock on the door!"

It sounds best if you stomp your feet a few times after every line. Songs like that make me wish I could march around wearing a suit of armor and carrying a sword like Imato’s. I asked the steel worker’s son if he could get me some metal and teach me how to make chain mail, but he only gave me a really strange stare, and then his mother called him away. Oh, well…

Back to the singing: the only weird thing that happened is that after I finished singing the chorus for the third time (while I was on my way home from Lord Audo’s), I looked across the street and saw Mendel laughing at me. When he noticed I saw him, he stamped his feet a few times very mockingly. My first impulse was to throw a dirt clod at him, but that’s an awfully childish thing to do, so instead I turned around and walked away as fast as I could without looking back. I think my face was rather red, and I hope no one noticed.

By the way, I still don’t know what Liop has in Uncle Winthrop’s laboratory. He’s managed to put some kind of lock on the door that only he can open. I yelled and threatened quite a bit when I found out, but he just started to cry and said I didn’t understand. I feel really bad about yelling at him. He’s just a little kid, and sometimes I think he’s afraid that I’ll disappear the way Dad, Uncle W., and Imato did. Imato is only gone to train for knighthood, and he’ll come back when he gets a break, but I don’t think Liop really understands. He just knows that all of the adults are disappearing, and it scares him. I wish I knew what to say to comfort him, but I feel the same way too, sometimes. I wish that Imato could train for knighthood here at home. I would even be willing to take the Feminine Politics class, if they wanted, since Imato could sign the enrollment slip. Of course, I don’t think Imato would really make me take it, seeing as he has such a low opinion of the graduates.

By the way, thanks for the tip about the pennyroyal; it does make the rosehips smell stronger. I tried it several times a day for four days before I got the timing right. Cook gave me a lot of funny looks when I kept insisting we have tea with every meal, but I think I’ve got it figured out now, so catching the griffon is only a matter of time. It’s just as well that it’s taking so long, since I still don’t have a bridle either.

For your herb garden, I am enclosing some of the thyme seeds from Mother’s garden. When we came to live with Uncle Winthrop I gathered seeds from all of Mother’s favorite plants, and I planted them under my bedroom window, so that all spring and summer I can open my window and get a little whiff of what heaven must smell like. The big tan seeds are from Liop. He says that they’re red-veined flytrap seeds (they look a lot like radish seeds, if you ask me), and that he cast another growth spell—this one to make the seeds grow three feet tall. He says you should plant them around the perimeter of your garden to keep rabbits away.

By the way, what is your father plotting? Have you found out?

Sending love to you and your father,

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