Return of the Teapot, part 1
Dubaille announced, with a blare of trumpets and accordions, that he had procured a new teapot to replace the old one. Unfortunately some incomprehensible confusion prevented the newly-procured teapot from actually reaching Dustweed. Nonetheless Dubaille expected praise and gratitude. Nonetheless, neither was available in any great quantity.
Thery's New Apartment
Thery and Yarwain now live on the fifth and final floor of a very tall and very flat house, the Ostwiller Alley House. Long ago, in ancient times, of roughly the previous decade, Deefe Ostwiller owned the house on one side, and Whispery Ostwiller owned the house on the other side, and between those two houses there was a modest-sized alleyway. Packs of Cani children rampaged along the alley, for it was on the way from a Cani section of the poorer part of the city to Maulgay Park. Some piles of whatnots in the alley made a good place for Cani to play king-of-the-heap, loudly, most mornings. So the Ostwillers conspired against them, and one month they built a new house in the alley, whose left walls are the outer walls of Deefe Ostwiller's house, and whose right walls are the outer walls of Whispery Ostwiller's house, and whose roof is one story short of those two houses because Deefe and Whispery wanted everyone to know which houses were the most important. And they rent rooms in the Ostwiller Alley House out to students.
It is a very odd apartment. It has five rooms, all in a row: there is a curtain between the study and the bedroom, a sort of thin wooden portcullis between the bedroom and the kitchen; a flimsy wooden door between the kitchen and the other study; a stout oak door between the other study and the privy. The privy faces the Cani section, and is well-ventilated, making that story about the Ostwillers more plausible. The front door is reached by climbing a ladder affixed to the front of the house; there is no room for stairs inside. Furniture must be levitated up.
Lunch -- they had invited me over for lunch -- was Thery's ving-bean soup (with chopped spinach in it for variety), and the little triangular cheese-and-anchovy pastries that Floooosh has been trying to get me to taste for months. (I expect I will be trying to get rid of the taste for months.)
In any case, Thery and Yarwain seem deliriously happy, in the very understated Rassimel way. "We're getting along tolerably well," Thery said when I asked, and Yarwain smiled at her. From this I should infer ... I don't know what, exactly. Perhaps Thery will abscond to the Ulstramme and eat Yarwain's fine figs for the rest of her life, and leave her benefactor in the lurch. They didn't say.
Strenata continues to accept my advances, but only in the vaguest of senses. The most recent advance was an afternoon performance of The Troublers of Tulterry -- the Herethroy playing Dorchander Moon was roped to Strenata in Spelunking class -- followed by dinner at the Yistreian restaurant Tamvaus. The play was a perfectly fine student performance for student dating, which is to say, tedious enough so that it seemed only natural for me to curl my neck lazily along Strenata's arm during the second act, and just as natural for her to fiddle with my tailtip during the third.
Dinner, of course, curtailed my opportunities for subtle seduction. I had forgotten about the Evil Stools of Yistreia -- Tamvaus does not let one sit upon ordinary chairs, but upon short brocaded stools. I can stretch my neck to reach my plate, when my belly is on the stool, but this would require me to eat without using my hands, like some fearsome yet diminutive monster. With only two of us, there was room on the table for me to sit, and I didn't have to levitate. This is good -- levitating is rather stuck-up and prissy, which is not a thing that Strenata appreciates. It is also bad, because it emphasizes our difference in size and how odd we look together.
I did warn Strenata about the fearsome arhoolie leaves, and the Yistreian use of mice. She immediately ordered the special appetizer of the day, kshiktav ylluul -- squaretailed mice en brochette stuffed with garlic and arhoolie. All my hopes of seducing her were destroyed when she ate a mouse whole, and then -- alas! -- quenched the pain with sporchey [a very thin custard, drunk as a beverage -bb] rather than wine.
She did finish the entire skewer of mice, despite never having eaten arhoolie leaves before. The waiter was astounded! She instantly renamed herself "Arhoola"! I performed the proper ritual, writing "Arhoola" on a bit of the program for The Troublers and tucking it in her hat. The waiter was even more astounded!
There is a Yistreian traditional cake, called yshmaukki, baked for name-change celebrations. Arhoola was brought a slice of it after the end of her meal, for free, by an astounded and amused waiter. It is a distinctly strange cake, not very sweet, made with chopped nuts and chopped cabbage and raisins and candied hard-boiled sparrows' eggs.
And we walked for a while -- well, she walked, I rode on her shoulder -- through the town at evening, and spoke of caves and leaves and sparrows' eggs and other safe things. And that was that.