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Robin is shown to a room where a girl stands in a corner still working on the painting. Which is odd since usually you don't show a princess to a room that's still being painted. Robin doesn't consider the oddness of it, but she does walk up to the girl to ask when the painting will be done.
And runs into the wall.
Okay ... obviously the girl is part of the painting. How interesting. And then the servant that had accompanied her tells her something. The artist was none other than Madeleine, the mysterious, missing aunt. What's more, apparently Locksley castle also contains many such paintings. Robin has never seen them, but then, she's never actually seen the walls. They're covered in tapestries.
The room set up for the bath is painted as an underwater scene.
Robin had noted in the previous chapter that Doranna's dress was rather old fashioned, and now she herself is presented with an old fashioned dress. What's up with that. Combined with the fact that everyone uses old-fashioned speech, which had previously been a novelty only to Rosamond, it presents a rather interesting enigma.
And one more thing, before we move on. Robin is given a dress here, and she puts it on. A lot of people take issue with her because she refuses to wear dresses. But she doesn't refuse here - and she could have easily gone to her bag and pulled out one of her own outfits, I'm sure. Robin doesn't like dresses, that's a given fact, and she does complain when there's someone to complain to, but she will wear them - as long as she doesn't think that she's going to get into a swordfight, when dresses are impractical. Her main issue with them is the fact that she considers their main use to be dancing, and she can't dance.
She then goes to the library, where she finds Rosamond and Doranna, who warn her that one of servants let out a bag cat the other day. Robin is clearly skeptical, but at that moment, Robert appears, and he plays along ...
And is dressed even more ridiculously than Robin, complete with hose and a feather in his hat. Oh, my but the mental image!
The whole party gathered again, they begin a lore, so they don't get toast ...
I mean, a tour, so they don'g get lost.
It's interesting that the tour was originally just for Rosamond. She speaks as though she's been to this castle before. Her cousin lives here. She should know it, right?
The tour is proceeding nicely when the fabled bag cat leaps out of nowhere, and some servants appear to deal with the thing, forcing it back into a burlap sack. Interesting. So it wasn't as made-up as Robin had thought.
I keep meaning to work the bag cat back into the series, but it hasn't happened yet, despite having had some perfect opportunities. I just haven't had a situation where it felt right.
That nasty creature dealt with, they go to the music room where Rosamond had left her bungalow - banjo - behind the last time she'd visited. Doranna convinces her to play this instrument, and then the flute - on which Rosamond plays the song she'd composed about Doranna going missing. They don't seem to want to talk about it, but apparently it has something to do with Doranna turning down a suitor who was no true quince. Who knows what that means.
Rosamond's method of playing an instrument is interesting, as she always holds it a few moments before she begins to play. This is because it's her gift. She has never learned how to play any instrument, but has always magically known how to play any instrument she picks up. Quite frustrating for someone who enjoys learning.
Doranna begs Rosamond to play more, but she declines. When Robin glances at the grandfather clock, they've been listening for over an hour, and they hadn't even realized it! This is another facet of Rosamond's gifts, though I can't say which one at the moment.
Also, grandfather clock. One of the things my Grandma pointed out when she edited the book for me was the fact that the technology and other details aren't exactly consistent. This is on purpose. Bookania draws from many fairy tales, from many eras. It's predominately medieval, and they don't have forks, but if I want to throw in a grandfather clock, that's my prerogative. I have King Arthur learning archery at Robin Hood's camp for crying out loud. If that isn't mixing eras, I don't know what is.
The next room I deemed worth mentioning is the aviary, where we discover the nature of one of Doranna's gifts - the ability to literally sing like a bird. Robert asks if she's actually talking to them and she just laughs. The reason? I hadn't decided yet if she could actually understand them or not. In fact, I was honestly leaning towards not. At the time, my plan had been for her to become Snow White's mother (and thus die, wasn't looking forward to that, honest!) and Snow White was going to get the same gifts as her mother, but exaggerated even further.
Then I decided that I wanted different children for Doranna, and that another couple would make much better parents for Snow, so that plot twist was no longer necessary. And at the same time, I was working on the first attempt at "Woodcutter Quince" and I decided that it'd be fun if she could have some sort of communication with the world below, so she gained the ability to talk to the birds.
But at the time, I hadn't decided yet, so I left it ambiguous. I'm glad I did.
Doranna truly has a rather exotic aviary, complete with a flamingo, a penguin, and a chicken that lays golden eggs. I had to include the penguin, since it's my sister's favorite animal.
This is actually one of two scenes in the book that is illustrated, and the better done if I do say so myself.
Back in the Library
Nothing left to see that's important - besides Doranna's father, who is, for some reason, surprised to see Rosamond - they head back to the library, where a package has arrived for Doranna. Math books, much to Doranna's delight.
Well, Rosamond did say that the girl loved math, didn't she?
And now we introduce Doranna's fiance, Casperl, who's on the run from a persistent fencing instructor. In the first draft, he'd merely walked into the library. The whole sneaking business was my mom's fault, but it's funny. And it made for an adorable bit a dialogue between them. I regret that I haven't had very many Doranna/Casperl scenes. That shall have to be rectified. That dismantled line is one of my favorites, though.
Doranna introduces them, and Robin comments that she doesn't know any princes by that name - and as a princess herself, and the victim of many suitors, she probably does know the name of most. She didn't know about Doranna or Rosamond, but they're princesses, so I suppose that's different.
Doranna just laughs, which is her signature action (Robin's is rolling her eyes, by the way) and informs them that he used to be a woodchopper.
Interesting. The last interruption involves a woodchopper who was declared a prince.
I'm not sure what Robin thinks of this explanation, but she's apparently satisfied, for she immediately launches into the question of how to find a fairy.
Robin followed the old woman servant to the room that Doranna said she would stay in. On stepping into it, Robin had to gasp. For all the world, it looked as if she had stepped into a forest. As she looked around, she saw that it was actually a really good mural, and that it wasn’t finished. In fact, a girl with dark blond hair was still working on the wall…only she wasn’t moving.
Robin went up to her, and ran into a wall. The girl was part of the painting as well!
“And there thou art,” said Doranna. “Come, I wast about to give Rosamond a lore, for we have changed things a small bit since she wast last here, and it would be good for the two of you to come along, for it would not be good to have the two of you getting toast.”
Robin and Robert exchanged a confused look. What was wrong with them having toast? And how do you give a lore?
“Doranna!” he exclaimed, “What are you doing in here? I didn’t think you even knew you had a library!”
“I forget somewhere,” said Doranna, “But I got in a whole shipmen of math brooks today. I can wait not to try them.” Her expression became concerned. “What art thou doing in here, and why didst thou appear to be peeking in? Doth somehow be after thee?”
“Uh, no, dear Princess,” said the young man, “I am merely avoiding a very persistent fencing instructor.”
“Does piecing not suit thee?” asked Doranna.
“Uh,” said the young man, “no.”
“Then I wilt have him dismantled, ” said Doranna, with a toss of her head. “What does suit thee, dear Casperl?”
“I would like to just read,” said Casperl, his gaze sweeping the library. “There is so much knowledge here that I have never been able to access before. And even more, I would like you at my side, while you work on your new math books.”
“I wouldst like that too,” said Doranna.
“You mean you’re not displeased?” said Casperl. “Even though you had your heart set on me learning how to fence.”
“It wast a mere projection,” said Doranna, with her birdlike laugh. “I thought that it wast thy wish. Reading it is. Perhaps thou wouldst like also to visit my drawing broom where I have all my chalkboards set up.”
“I’d like that,” agreed Casperl.
1. What do you make of all the secrets that seem to be piling up and not making sense?
2. Have you ever left something ambiguous in your writing because you weren't sure which way you wanted to go with it?
3. Did you catch the penguin? (I ask this because I have a friend who grew up in England, and she thought it was a puffin.)