Beetle (later Alyce) seemed to have no one to talk to and no one to care for. As she talks to the cat, the reader understands her fear of others and her feeling of being a nothing. When she saved the cat's life, the two bonded to become like siblings or best friends. The cat followed her everywhere, even to the next village. The young girl's life began (for the reader, anyhow), in a dung pile, burrowing for the warmth of the decaying matter just to survive. Being the lowest of the low, even the least desirable children in the village had her to torment. Beetle related to the cat what she learned as she became the apprentice to the midwife. Later on as the inn's helper, the writer of history taught the cat to read so that Alyce could learn to read.