Page 93

“Fine young man there – good bones, nice posture, just enough brains,” commented the werecat, as if contemplating a meal. “Would they mind, your parents?”

Rue was not too tired to play the game, and still in shock at this new prospect to furthering her education. “Quesnel is a bit of a rake.” And I’ve got him for a lover. Or something very like. I think.

“Best ones usually are.”

“Are you trying to be helpful, Tasherit?”

“Is it working, Prudence?”

“Rue, please. Call me Rue. And I assure you, I have plenty of relationship wisdom at my beck and call.”

“Then I shall endeavour to offer you other wisdom.”

It was on the tip of Rue’s tongue to shock her by asking what Tasherit thought of Rue just going to bed with Quesnel. For the experience, of course. She suspected the cat would be in favour of anything that stemmed from curiosity. But it was too soon and too early for such confidences.

“How do you feel about pigeons, Tasherit?”

Without blinking the werecat replied, “Can’t stand the nasty things.”

“In that case, I should like to welcome you – officially – on board The Spotted Custard. Now, here’s your first order. Go to bed.”

Oddly, for a cat, she obeyed.

Rue was left alone with her ship and the sunrise and a sense of profound peace that lasted exactly as long as it took Spoo to get into an enormous argument with Virgil about tiddlywink protocols.

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