Millie Moore excelled at everything she did. Her father Milligan would watch her work, staring in fascination at the first girl born into the long line of male Moore's. Unlike all the men before her, Millie was very clever, and quite original.
"Look, papa!" she shouted excitedly one sunny afternoon. Milligan looked up from his work (as he always did to see what she wanted him to see, as it was always much more interesting then milling grain) and looked at the object she held up in front of him.
It was much too close to his face to see what it was at first, but when he took a step back, he realized it was a tiny, fluffy ball of fur.
This ball of fur had a head, and when it poked it out, Milligan could see quite plainly that it was a kitten.
Milligan smiled. "He's very cute."
Millie beamed. "Can I keep him?"
Milligan shrugged. "I suppose. What will you name him?"
The little girl thought about it for a minute.
"Fluffy? Whiskers?" Milligan threw out suggestions.
Millie wrinkled her nose and shook her head. "Those are too cliche."
Milligan cocked his head and tried to remember if the word 'cliche' had been taught to him when he was in his first year of school.
"Well, then, what?" he asked, deciding that it hadn't. "What will his name be?"
Millie turned the kitten in her hands and looked him in the eye. "His eyes are yellow." she whispered, not really talking to her dad anymore. "And his fur is black...." she trailed off, lost in thought.
Milligan stared at his daughter, watching as her eyes changed, as though looking through her mind, analyzing each idea and deciding if it was worthy of the kitten.
"Saffron!" Millie burst out. Milligan jumped, surprised at the sudden word.
"Saffron?" he asked. He had heard it once, a few years ago, when a storyteller had over embellished on Trade Night. He vaguely recalled it as a shade of yellow.
Millie nodded emphatically, her blue eyes shining with delight. "It's a perfect name! Thanks, daddy!!"
Milligan shook his head and turned back to his grain.
On the other side of the kingdom, Caleb was painting. He was supposed to be strong and sensible, he knew, his mother Jane had told him so, but he was only in his first year of schooling and he wanted to play.
Caleb was clever, and sensible when he wanted to be, but what child wants to be sensible for very long at all? He was usually pretty freegoing and a little wild, and the staff in the castle was always mildly annoyed with him, but they tolerated him.
Caleb dipped his brush into the paint and extravagantly swished the bristles across the canvas. Bright green paint splashed onto white and formed a few blades of grass.
The young prince smiled and dipped the brush into the blue, and a sky formed on the picture. Tiny pink flowers sprang up on the grass, and birds flew through the sky.
When Queen Jane entered the room, Caleb had finished his masterpiece. It was quite extraordinary for a seven year old, full of color and life.
The queen stared, not at the painting, (she was used to such things from her small child) but at the mess.
Caleb had gone a little too extravagant on some of his flourishes with the paint, and blue, green, pink, yellow, red, lavender, mauve, scarlet, orange, cobalt, lime, and lemon were everywhere. Caleb's room looked like a battlefield, each color fighting for superiority. Flicks of color dotted the walls. The canvas was the only thing where the colors were organized enough to make sense.
Caleb noticed his mother's look. "Do you like my painting, Mother?" he asked quietly.
The queen closed her eyes and took a deep breath in. Wearily, she said, "It's very nice, dear. Make it easier on the maid and clean some of this up, please."
She opened her eyes. Caleb hadn't moved. The queen gritted her teeth. "NOW."
Caleb flew into action, using the sponge that always remained near the door. Queen Jane shook her head and left.