I was just telling my wife how much I love the minor characters in Senta and the Steel Dragon. Mrs. Colbshallow is one of those. She starts in Brechalon as the cook for the Dechantagne Family. In the first draft of The Voyage of the Minotaur, she was just called “Cook”. By The Dark and Forbidding Land, Mrs. Colbshallow has come to be the lizzie wrangler of the household.
“I Tisson,” he said, then pointed to each of the others in turn. “This Sirrek, Kheesie, Cissy.”
“Wonderful!” shouted the human, clapping her hands together. “My yes, you are a fine fellow. Excellent. You will all come along with me.” She waved for them to follow and then started across the base towards the great wall. “My name is Mrs. Colbshallow, though I don’t imagine you’ll be able to pronounce it. You can say ‘Lady’, yes?”
“Lady.” Each of the four lizzies tried out the word.
They reached the edge of the base when they were suddenly waylaid by a soldier with one of the big weapons slung over his shoulder. The four lizzies instinctively shrunk back and tried to look small.
“Did you get a good selection, Mother?” the soldier asked Mrs. Colbshallow.
“Yes, yes. No need to worry about that. I’ve been hiring servants for nearly forty years now. I know how to spot a good one, be he man or beast.” She turned to the four lizardmen. “This is my son, Saba.”
“They don’t need to know my name, Mother.”
“Of course they do. You’ll be coming to dine at the Dechantagne house at least once a day.
“I’ve got my own house in the works you know,” replied the soldier. “And besides, I don’t think the Dechantagne house will ever be finished.”
“Oh hush. It’s practically done now. A bit of paint here and a bit of plaster there. My room will be ready by next week. In fact, we’re all moving in next week. We’re going to squeeze in downstairs until the upstairs is complete.”
“Well I just hope you don’t freeze to death, Mother.” The soldier walked away and Mrs. Colbshallow led Cissy and the others off the base and up the street toward the great gate.
“Did you understand that conversation, Tisson?” asked Mrs. Colbshallow. “How fluent in Brech are you and the others?”
“I talk lot words. I understand. Cissy talk. Sisson, he understand, no talk. Kheesie understand little, no talk.”
“Excellent. You will make a fine majordomo. You may explain to the others anything that they might not understand.”