******She cocked her head again and called out: "Any special requests from my listeners?"
"I already asked you to kindly be quiet."
"Oh, no you didn't! You told me to shut up - which, by the way, is very rude. No gentleman would ever speak to a lady that way."
******The Festerlonian gave Eldon a sly look. "How do I know you'll come back?"
Eldon drew himself up. "I give my word of honor, sir."
"An Erdanian's word of honor means little."
Eldon's temper rose, but he strove not to show it. "Not all Erdanians are like my brother."
******Before Eldon could properly process what this meant, a panel slid into place over the opening - and the wall looked an ordinary wall again.
A secret passageway.
******Dar put his hands on his hips and looked down into the dark hole. "If only we had a rope," he muttered. "A rope. A rope! Dash it all, why didn't I bring a rope? A good thief always has a rope!"
******"Well, maybe I would rather die!" This impetuous cry from Jude was accompanied by the clattering of a chair, as though the unwilling conspirator had jumped up. "You can't control me like this forever, Strike. You can't tell me what to do. I tell you I don't want to be responsible for the Prince's death, and I don't want to be a traitor, and -"
But he stopped abruptly. Eldon imagined a brandishing of the knife in Strike's hand had been enough to cool his brother's fervor.
******"Who's Dow?" asked Timandra.
"Oh, he's the leader of the Deadly Desperadoes. My uncle. And quite a formidable person, I assure you.
Timandra laughed. "I doubt he scares you much," she said, picking up her volume of Shakespeare again and flipping back to where she had left off. "After all, if death doesn't scare an outlaw like you, what will?"
******Raphael stared at the floor. He didn't want to disappoint the Admiral, but he wasn't even sure he could hold his head high a little longer. He almost wanted to say that, far from keeping everything under control, he was going to be the first to start a mutiny.
******Jude evidently was not very good with introductions. "Oh - uh, yes. Well. This is Captain Novarex - Raphael Novarex, that is - he's, um, from Perlacia - and these are the kids. I mean - that's my sister Timandra, and my brother Eldon, and their friend Ada Albers." He paused as though finished; then, suddenly reddening, added as an afterthought, "And Christina."
******"Admiral Kanty," declared Raphael, "could transform the most flawed human being there ever was into a perfect military angel. But this child, your majesty, is not just a flawed human. He verges on the supernatural."
******"Why, Justinian! How very good it is to see you!" Alphonse laid a hand on his friend's shoulder and looked into his face with glad earnestness. "It does seem you stay longer every time you go away. Why, the palace hasn't been the same without you! Was your trip enjoyable? Did you have any luck? Good gracious, what has happened to your hand?"