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Chapter 2

In their room near the kitchen, Puss and Quentin lay in their truckle beds watching the shadows cross and re- cross on the ceiling.

"Do you think Antonio is really a demon?" asked Quentin, who was quite young and not completely sure yet what was real and what was not.

"I think he is," Puss said.

Puss had been thinking long and hard about what she wanted more than anything else in the world. The first thing that had occurred to her was blond hair, like her brother's. Silky and curly and long, and with a flaxen tint to it, not the brassy yellow that some girls affected. But was that really a thing to wish for above all else? Puss felt a little ashamed for having so meager a wish, and so, uncustomarily, she listened attentively as Quentin told her what he'd ask for if he went to ask a favor of the demon.

"My own horse, that's first," Quentin said decisively. "And my own sword. It's ridiculous of Father to say it's too expensive having a sword made for me because I'll outgrow it in a year or two. I mean, what's the sense of being rich if you can't buy things you will outgrow?"

"Very sensible," said Puss. "A sword, then. What else do you want?"

"I don't think I want a kingdom," Quentin said thoughtfully. "I'd have to stay around and take care of it. I don't think King Arthur was too happy despite being in charge of Camelot, do you?"

"I doubt it," Puss said.

"I'd like to go out on a lot of quests," Quentin said.

"Like Lancelot? He wasn't very happy, either."

"No, but that's because he was silly, falling in love with the queen when there were so many other ladies to choose from. Why choose any at all? I'd rather be like Gawaine, traveling around and having different girlfriends and getting into trouble, and winning treasures and then losing them again. That way he had the pleasure of getting stuff without having to take care of it later."

"Like getting all the toys he wanted without ever having to put them away?" Puss asked.

"Exactly," said Quentin.

"Very sound," Puss said. "What else would you want? "

"A magical animal for a pet," Quentin answered without hesitation. "A lion, I should think, who listens only to me and kills people I don't like."

"Well, that's a little much, isn't it?" Puss asked.

"I mean he would kill people I didn't like if I let him. But I wouldn't, of course. If they got too troublesome, I'd kill them myself, in a long duel in which I got grievous wounds. And Mother would bind them up for me."

"Mothers don't bind the wounds of heroes," Puss pointed out.

"They could if it's my adventure," Quentin said. "I could make a rule."

"It's a pity you're too young to make deals with demons."

"I don't know about that," Quentin said. He sat upright in bed and looked very serious. "I've half a mind to go visit him right now."

"Quentin! You wouldn't!" Puss said, thinking that if Quentin insisted, it would be her duty as his older sister to accompany him and perhaps make a wish of her own, just to keep him company. Quentin got out of bed and started to put on his clothes. His lower lip trembled as he contemplated his own daring, but his mind seemed to be made up.

Just then there was a flash of light in a corner of the room. Both children jumped back into bed. There was a great deal of smoke, and when it cleared a pretty, dark- haired young woman was standing there.

"How did you do that?" Quentin asked. "I don't remember you from the pilgrimage!"

"I came to sell my eggs to the pilgrims," the woman said. "I live on a nearby farm and just arrived here at the inn. My name is Ylith."

The children introduced themselves. They were especially eager to tell of what Antonio had said that evening, about granting the wishes of seven lucky people. Ylith recognized Azzie in the description.

"I want to go make a wish, too," Quentin said.

"You'll do no such thing," Ylith said firmly.

Quentin seemed more than a little relieved. But he asked, "Why can't I?"

"Because it isn't seemly for well-raised children to ask wishes of a demon from Hell."

"But other people are asking," Puss pointed out. "They're going to have all the fun."

"I think you will find that isn't really so," Ylith said. "Some of those people are going to find themselves involved in more than they bargained for."

"How can you know that?" Puss asked.

"I just know," Ylith said. "Now, children, how about trying to get to sleep? I'll tell you a story if you do."



Chapter 1 | A Farce To Be Reckoned With | Chapter 3







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