"You're quite welcome, dear," said Mrs. Periwinkle. She fussed over bits of Jude in the way of a governness, straightening her shirt, adjusting the dress, acquiring a comb from somewhere and using it to comb through her hair. She moved like a sparrow, hopping from place to place, but it was slightly unnerving to see a bird the size of an ostrich doing it.
Robin surreptitously slipped into the room, crossed his arms, and leaned against the wall. He cleared his throat meaningfully.
Mrs. Periwinkle glanced at him, then nodded. "All right, you lot," she ordered the other birds. "See your Princess off in a proper fashion." At that, the smaller birds stopped their fluttering, and quickly lined up in three neat rows. At Mrs. Periwinkle's bidding, they bowed, each row in turn, small feathery bodies tilting forward, wings outstretched.
"Thank you, Mrs. Periwinkle." Jude felt Robin's fingers slip into hers. "But we really must be going."
The giant sparrow hopped closer to Jude, her glasses sliding forward on her beak. "It was very nice seeing you again, dear. Please do be careful." To the man, she said, sternly, "You look after her, Robin Goodfellow."
"I will," he said. "I promise." And with that, Jude was tugged out of the room with the birds and into the courtyard again. Outside, the mishmash crowd of pixies, dwarves, giants, and centaurs were still there, but standing in front of her now was a magnificent white horse, its coat and mane as bright as snow. It whinnied as she and Robin approached, and shook its neck--and there, Jude saw, was a sparkling ivory horn, perfectly cone-shaped, upon its forehead.
"We must move swiftly," explained Robin, stroking the unicorn's flank. There was no saddle, but Jude somehow knew that the unicorn was intelligent, and would not let you fall off if it could help it. Snorting softly, the animal lowered its head, looking the girl directly in the face. Its eyes were large, and dark, and soulful.
"I'll help you up," added Robin, cupping his hands so Jude could step up on them.