Rosedogs had existed in the wild, of course, for thousands of years; that’s why we call dog-roses ‘dog-roses’. But few people saw them; they were mostly nocturnal, as their large eyes and ears testified. The only glimpse you might catch was very early on a summer morning, when a dog-rose opened for the first time with a scrabbling of paws, and a new-hatched rosepuppy stuck its tousled head out of the petals, and shook itself, and scampered out of sight along the twisting stems.

This all changed about two hundred years ago. Two brilliant young scientists, a zoologist and a botanist, scandalised polite society by setting up home with the same lady; it was rumoured that all three of them were lovers, and moreover, that the lady was a witch.

Whatever the truth of the matter, all three of them certainly shared a single passion: the cultivation, or breeding, of rosedogs. They spent years persuading the mother rosedogs to lay their eggs in tea-rose buds instead of their native eglantine. After that, the second part was relatively easy: the creation of a strain of rosedogs whose hatching-time could be exactly predicted, to the minute.

Today, through their efforts, a young man with sufficient forethought can sweep a dozen red roses out from behind his back and present them to his sweetheart, and have a dozen red rosepuppies come wriggling out to kiss her.

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