Grim poured himself onto the man’s lap and weaved under a hand, which began to stroke him on the head. He closed his eyes.
“There are people who waste their whole lives protesting,” her pere said. He was not often stern with her, and she didn’t answer back immediately, as she would have with her mere.
He watched his own fingers move through Grim’s lustrous fur. “He’s a very fine fel,” he said, distantly, and Carmen wondered, not for the first time, whether he could communicate with animals like she could. She had never thought to ask him. It was a deeply personal question, somehow.
“So what do you expect me to do?” she said. “Just let everyone walk over me?”
“I don’t expect you to do anything,” he said, as if to Grim.
“What would you do?”
Her pere looked up at her then, the slightest suggestion of a smile at the corners of his mouth. He put the stem of his baccus between his teeth and lit it, squinting as the blue smoke rose past his eyes. He spoke around the pipe stem. “I would do something constructive. I would make toys.”
Carmen started to protest, but then went silent. For the seed of an idea had suddenly germinated in her mind.
“I don’t know if Leif would like it,” Slops said, glancing across at the bureau where Grim and a gillywig were perched. Grim’s back was arched and the gillywig’s hair stood on end. It hissed menacingly through its buck teeth.
“They’d get used to each other,” Carmen said.
Slops’s response was to grimace and scratch at the back of his head. It was never advisable to come right out and disagree with his cousin. In fact, it was downright dangerous.