Of her own choice, she then loved Brangwen most, or most obviously. For these two made a little life together, they had a joint activity. It amused him, at evening, to teach her to count, or to say her letters. He remembered for her all the little nursery rhymes and childish songs that lay forgotten at the bottom of his brain.

At first she thought them rubbish. But he laughed, and she laughed. They became to her a huge joke. Old King Cole she thought was Brangwen. Mother Hubbard was Tilly, her mother was the old woman who lived in a shoe. It was a huge, it was a frantic delight to the child, this nonsense, after her years with her mother, after the poignant folk-tales she had had from her mother, which always troubled and mystified her soul.

She shared a sort of recklessness with her father, a complete, chosen carelessness that had the laugh of ridicule in it. He loved to make her voice go high and shouting and defiant with laughter. The baby was dark-skinned and dark-haired, like the mother, and had hazel eyes. Brangwen called him the blackbird.

“Hallo,” Brangwen would cry, starting as he heard the wail of the child announcing it wanted to be taken out of the cradle, “there’s the blackbird tuning up.”

“The blackbird’s singing,” Anna would shout with delight, “the blackbird’s singing.”

“When the pie was opened,” Brangwen shouted in his bawling bass voice, going over to the cradle, “the bird began to sing.”

“Wasn’t it a dainty dish to set before a king?” cried Anna, her eyes flashing with joy as she uttered the cryptic words, looking at Brangwen for confirmation. He sat down with the baby, saying loudly:

“Sing up, my lad, sing up.”

And the baby cried loudly, and Anna shouted lustily, dancing in wild bliss:

“Sing a song of sixpence
Pocketful of posies,
Ascha! Ascha! ——”

Then she stopped suddenly in silence and looked at Brangwen again, her eyes flashing, as she shouted loudly and delightedly:

“I’ve got it wrong, I’ve got it wrong.”

“Oh, my sirs,” said Tilly entering, “what a racket!”

Brangwen hushed the child and Anna flipped and danced on. She loved her wild bursts of rowdiness with her father. Tilly hated it, Mrs. Brangwen did not mind.

Anna did not care much for other children. She domineered them, she treated them as if they were extremely young and incapable, to her they were little people, they were not her equals. So she was mostly alone, flying round the farm, entertaining the farm-hands and Tilly and the servant-girl, whirring on and never ceasing.

She loved driving with Brangwen in the trap. Then, sitting high up and bowling along, her passion for eminence and dominance was satisfied. She was like a little savage in her arrogance. She thought her father important, she was installed beside him on high. And they spanked along, beside the high, flourishing hedge-tops, surveying the activity of the countryside. When people shouted a greeting to him from the road below, and Brangwen shouted jovially back, her little voice was soon heard shrilling along with his, followed by her chuckling laugh, when she looked up at her father with bright eyes, and they laughed at each other. And soon it was the custom for the passerby to sing out: “How are ter, Tom? Well, my lady!” or else, “Mornin’, Tom, mornin’, my Lass!” or else, “You’re off together then?” or else, “You’re lookin’ rarely, you two.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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