Little One, I don't know what kind of mother I am.  Your sister so
far doesn't seem to have any complaints, except that occasionally things
happen, like your cousin Driscoll gets kidnapped, and I hie off with a
group of others to the rescue, which translates into not enough time spent
with her.

	Right now, I'm confused, and that's not the best way for a kid to
meet his (or her) mom.  We've been together about a week, and you have yet
to see me at my best.  It's just that it seems like God is throwing things
at me, to see if I've learned how to duck yet, and I haven't.  That is, of
course, if there is a God, other than Dworkin, who must not count, since
he's dead.

	I spent a restless night in the infirmary with Foster, thinking. 
Was interrupted by Bartholomew, who basically managed to be more arrogant
than you think someone with green hair would have a right to be.  A more
useless conflict I have never been in.  I wonder about revenge versus
turning the other cheek.  Whatever makes you feel better, I guess.  In
this case, I think turning the other cheek made me feel better.  I have
more important things to think about.  Like you.  And your father.  And
your sister.  And Driscoll and Eris, and my father, and Ariana.

	First there's you.  Setting up a nursery again won't be an
impossible task of course, it's just that eight years ago, I thought I
wouldn't be setting up another one for at least a hundred years.  Well, I
should have known better...  It's too bad your dad lost the Logrus.  Would
have made baby clothes much easier to acquire.

	Second is your father, who could be sent to certain death by my
father, or can pay the penalty of leaving House Vetch.  Which is worse? 
I'd rather not have him leave Vetch unless he wants to.  And I don't mean
"Well, it's the only way to marry you, Laughter," wants to, I mean "Gack! 
I've been *waiting and waiting* to find a way out of House Vetch."  OK, I
actually mean somewhere in-between that.  The happy medium, so to speak.

	Third, your sister.  She wants me to negotiate a marriage contract
with Julian's son, Shard.  I almost have no commentary for this.  Perhaps
a hiatus, away from Shard for a time, to let her puppy love wear itself
out?  It's not like such a contract would be successful.  Julian wouldn't
go for it; what could possibly be gained by having his son marry my foster
daughter?  Additionally, I'm sure that Julian has probably told Shard to
marry where he pleases (or else it's assumed that, anyway), in which case,
it's going to be more of a proving to Shard that Beauty is a grown up.  In
six or seven years, she's got a chance.  But speaking of this to him now
would be impossible.  Beauty is the only good reason I can think of to
take Mandor's offer to go to Chaos, as I doubt Shard would follow us

	Fourth, Driscoll.  I got him to say that he'd take me along to see
the girl.  I think there is much I could say to her about hating faeries
but forgiving Driscoll.  Well, there's much I could say, but would she
listen?  And Driscoll himself...seems to have come to some sort of peace. 
Getting kidnapped and beaten senseless seems to have been good for his
soul.  And, like, he doesn't get trapped in thinking about himself and
Laura anymore when he looks at me.  Which is just dandy.  After I kill
that nasty little faerie and destroy his nasty little Shadow, I think I'll
be OK, too.

	Fifth, Eris.  I'm so sorry I stole her intended.  Looking at
Beauty, seeing how she feels about Shard, and knowing how she would feel
if someone up and married Shard out from under her nose...or how *I*'d
feel if Foster showed up married.  There's no way to make it up to her,
really.  Though I don't know why she's not just as peeved at Foster.

	Sixth, my father.  Your grandfather is the next King of Chaos,
Little One.  But that doesn't really mean anything to us, because I'm a
Duchess of Amber and the Queen of Foil, and Sawall doesn't even enter my
name.  We're Barimens, through and through, even if I marry your father,
because I won't marry him whilst he's a Vetch.  The conversation Mandor
and I had today still irks me, but he's agreed that it doesn't matter what
your father is, as long as he can see you.  Score one for Mandor for
having the right answer.  I wonder about poor Emer, though, and what kind
of creature she'll have to marry because she is the legitimate daughter of
the Crown Prince.  And poor Jordan, too, I suppose.  At least Mandor and
Heather seem happy...after a fashion.

	There is a very fortunate buffer between me and my father and his
future throne, and that is the whole situation between Mandor and my
mother.  If I married into Vetch, I would be a subject of my father's, and
my status as his daughter would become important.  If I stay safely on
this side of Ygg, statuswise, there are dozens of relatives between me and
Random, who probably has me on his list of people *not* to call on in a

	Finally, there is Ariana to consider.  She, too, is with child,
which is less of a good thing for her, since she's already got four to
raise, but all things considered, it will be good for you to have a
playmate, and for me to have someone to go through this with.  Now, to lay
in a stock of that fizzy drink stuff...

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