Content warning: Fishing and fish cleaning
I’m interested in the boundaries these siblings set for each other. Titty doesn’t want John and Susan to know that she’s practicing being a cormorant, but she’s absolutely fine with telling them that she’s diving for pearls. I think her shyness comes from the slight possibility that the former might work: she wants to completely exclude the possibility of catching fish with her hands, even though she’s grown-up enough to know that it’s almost certainly a silly idea.
There’s a similar dynamic later, with the dowsing in “Pigeon Post”, and I think it is one of the reasons I love Titty so much. I spent quite a bit of time practising flying when I was about her age, just in case I could – and I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. I think I still have the same tendency, and I’ve been working hard at letting people see me try stuff I might actually succeed at, too.