Sara stood a long time, thinking. She couldn’t help loving Avrillia, although she knew that Avrillia was not nearly so fond of her as the Plynck, or Schlorge, or even the Teacup. Yet she would have loved Avrillia, even if she had not been kind to her at all.
Now she attracted her attention again by timidly touching her dress.
“It—it seems a waste,” she murmured. I think probably she was thinking of the rose-petals rather than of the poems. All those lovely “rose-leaves”! And she had never seen even one blue one. But Avrillia was thinking of the poems.
“That’s the regular way to do about Poetry,” she said, with a pretty little air of authority. “First, you write it, and then you drop it over the Verge into Nothing. But it must be very good—otherwise, it isn’t worth while to spend your time on it.” But just then the thermometer went off.
Yes, the thermometer. Well, perhaps you do set the alarm-clock; but Avrillia was a poetess, and a fairy besides, and she set the alarm-thermometer. It sounded very pleasant to Sara, like soda-water running through a straw on a hot afternoon; but Avrillia seemed to find it rather nerve-racking.
“There it goes,” was all she said, however. Sara noticed that her voice and manner were extremely quiet and controlled; but she had a suspicion that it was because her eyes were so very wild. Oh, yes, they were beautiful, but wild—wilder even than the Plynck’s. The Teacup, however, had quite tame eyes; it must be confessed that, when Sara saw the effect of the thermometer upon Avrillia she wished for the Teacup, a little.
But Avrillia merely called Yassuh in her sweet, controlled voice, and, when he appeared, said to him quietly,
“Go tell your master it’s time for him to change his trousers and shave.”
When Yassuh was gone she turned to Sara again—rather as one entertains a visitor when one really wants to be doing something else—and said, politely, “I suppose you know he’s my step-husband. That makes it rather troublesome.”
Sara, remembering Pirlaps and his white trousers, looked so eager and so uncomprehending that Avrillia evidently felt called upon to explain further.
“It makes it necessary for him to sit on the step constantly, you see. And it’s of chocolate. That’s unfortunate, too, but it can’t be helped. It’s all right in winter, of course, but in summer it’s a great deal of trouble. When we were first married he used to wear black trousers in summer; but I soon put a stop to that. I have him trained now so that he always wears white ones, and I set the thermometer and remind him to change them every two hours. That’s my part of the bargain. He has forty-seven pairs. And, every time he changes them, he has to shave. That’s part of the agreement, too.”
“Why,” began Sara, “I thought he had—”
“To be sure he has,” said Avrillia, looking a little amused. “It grows so fast, you see.”