Dora could not believe how hot it got in that little root cellar. It was supposed to be cool! Particularly in the wee hours of morning, as she reckoned it was. Everyone else was fast asleep, but Dora sat there, sweating in the sauna-like heat, wishing so badly that she could step outside for a breath of fresh air. She didn't dare, however, because she knew enemy patrols were just as vigilant during the night as during the day.
“Miss Spathe, I have to go to the outhouse,” she heard Jersa say, just waking up.
“Is it an emergency?”
“Uh-huh.” Jersa blinked a few times to get the sleep out of her eyes.
Instantaneously Threngal popped his eyes open. He had only been pretending to sleep. “I'll take you, Jersa. I want to go outside, anyway.”
Dora cringed. “Nay! Threngal, I will take her. It is too dangerous outside,” she ruled.
“But you have more of a shadow than I do, and so are more likely to be spotted than I am,” he answered, pouting.
“Threngal, I do not want you out there,” she commanded.
“Because, you'll no doubt stay outside the whole night and get us all caught.”
“Will not! That's just mean!”
Henneth grumbled something in his sleep, then he too began to blink open his eyes.
“Henneth, will you take me to the outhouse? The other two are taking too long to decide who should take me,” Jersa asked as she shook his shoulder, hastening his waking.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” she whispered again, amid Dora and Threngal's bickering.
“Go yourself,” he mumbled.
“Ugh! Henneth! Someone has to stay out there to make sure no one comes to kidnap me!” she said with a larger, disgusted shove against his shoulder.
“That's right,” Dora said, finally overhearing the conversation. “And it can't be Henneth. He's too precious to Riles' spy ring. If something happens to him, the whole country might be messed up!”
“He's more qualified than you are, though,” Threngal piped up. “He knows how to sneak around.”
“Not that it would matter with Jersa beside him,” Dora pointed out.
“Are you saying that I can't sneak?” Jersa took offense.
“Nay, that's not what she's saying, Jersa. She's just saying that you make a lot of noise when you do it,” Henneth told her with a yawn.
“Don't bad-mouth my sister! She makes hardly any noise!” snapped Threngal.
“Listen. I'm the boss here, and I say that I'm taking her,” Dora said, expecting the heated debate to instantly cease.
“Who made you boss?” both Threngal and Henneth chimed together.
“So much for that idea,” Dora thought. Then she spoke out loud. “You mean that I have no say?”
“That's not what we said, and you know it, Dora,” Henneth spat out.
“I still have to go to the bathroom,” Jersa reminded everyone.
“Aye, and I'm taking you,” Dora said, grabbing her hand.
“Nay, I'm her brother. I should do it!” Threngal insisted, clamoring in front of them.
“I'll take her and show you that a good spy can sneak around even with a little girl!” Henneth declared.
“She's not noisy!” Threngal interjected.
Dora rolled her eyes. “I'm sure you can, Henneth, but just in case you can't, you won't.”
“But that's implying you think I can't!”
“Maybe we should all suffer and no one goes,” Threngal suggested.
“I'll suffer the most!” Jersa cried.
“Nay, she really needs to go, and we do need someone to keep watch while she's out there,” Dora vetoed. “I vote that we take turns. I'll go this time, Threngal will go next time, and Henneth the third.”
“She's not exactly going every five minutes,” Threngal sulked.
“Well, what do you suggest, then?”
“Maybe I need to go to the outhouse, too!”
“You do not!”
“I do so!”
“Um,” Henneth silenced them, “has anyone other than me just realized that the topic of our conversation has somehow managed to out-sneak us all and left the cellar by herself already?”
Dora and Threngal whipped their heads toward the open cellar door.
“And we still haven't decided who's going with her!” Threngal stomped his foot.
“We don't have time to, now,” Dora fretted.
All the three people scurried out of the cellar into the cool night.
It fits the theme of the story:
“You ought never to "sass" old people- unless they "sass" you first.” Mark Twain