“I do say so.” He gave her a kiss on the top of her head, and softened the affection by scrubbing up her hair and making her first pout, then giggle. “Have I ever not kept a promise?”
She frowned as if mentally reviewing two and a half years of promises and was about to speak.
He anticipated the objection. “Apart from the pony for your last birthday, and that wasn't a broken promise, just a deferred one. You really are too young yet for a pony. We'll get you one when you're old enough to fall off it without breaking.”
She drew a breath.
“And that doesn't mean you can start practising falling off things solely to speed up the process.”
“All right, daddy.”
“There's my girl.” He lifted her up into a hug. She acquiesced briefly then began to struggle to be put down. “Can I have a cookie?”
“I told you yesterday. We don't have any cookies.”
“And how do you ask for a biscuit?”
“Can I have a biscuit?”
“'Can' implies ability. What's the correct word for a request?”
“May I have a biscuit?”
“Yes, but what's the magic word?”
“Devious.” She clicked her fingers and before Harold could stop it, the imp dropped from one of his tunnels. “Biscuit.”
“Yes, little miss.” The imp dipped a paw into his loincloth and handed her a custard cream.
“Lucy! You shouldn't ask Devious for food. You shouldn't ask anyone but your mother or me. Or Frederick. Or Julie, if she was still here.” He frowned. “Or Jasfoup. Someone strong enough to say no to you, at any rate.”
“But what would be the point of that?” Lucy sprayed biscuit crumbs as she spoke. “You told me to say the magic word.”