There was Baby.

Malcolm shook his head. There was Baby, wandering around in a patch of flowers – just like a girl – and yet occasionally stopping to kick and stomp on them – just like a boy. She was too funny. He paused at the edge of the wood to try to think of a funny name to call her.

But suddenly she stopped her stomping and her kicking and, as far as he could tell, began to cry. Malcolm frowned. Someone had been picking on her again. He would go find out who.

He would go find out who.

“Hallo, Baby, what’s this?” he called.

She looked up at him, startled and then angry. “Go away!”

'Go away!'

“Go on, Baby. What’s this about?”

She turned away from him and growled, sniffling, “Go away, you. I don’t want you.”

“You don’t want your own cousin?”

'You don't want your own cousin?'

“You’re not my cousin! You’re just a stupid boy!”

“I am so your cousin, you stupid girl. Now what are you crying over?”

“I’m not crying and I’m not your cousin, so there!”

'I'm not crying and I'm not your cousin.'

“You are so and you are so, so there! Now tell me, some stupid boy has been picking on you again, isn’t it so? I want you to tell me who, and I shall go beat him up for you.”

“No one has. Now go leave me alone!”

“No one has? Then what the devil are you crying over?” He was about to ask her whether someone took her dolly away, or something equally insulting, but he resisted. She did look rather unhappy about something.

'What the devil are you crying over?'

“I’m not crying,” she repeated stubbornly, wiping her eyes. “Now go away. I don’t want you.”

“You’re stuck with me, though, Baby. I am your cousin, and I shall not allow you to run away again. So you either come back to the castle with me, or tell me what’s the matter.”

'So you either come back to the castle with me, or tell me what's the matter.'

“Oh, you!” She stomped her foot. “You’re not my cousin anyway! Do you have pointed ears?”

“No, but I wish I did so the boys would pick on me and leave you alone. I suppose I can take it better than you can. Why did you come out here, anyway? So you could cry? I thought you were planning on running away again. I saw you running behind the stables when I came.”

“I am not crying, you stupid clodhead! And if I ever did run away, I guess it would be to get away from you, that’s what!”

'Are you still mad at me?'

“Are you still mad at me? I suppose you can give it as well as you can take it, my fine Baby. Who likes to make fun of my nose?”

“Everybody does,” she sniffed.

“You see?” he laughed. “Anyway, I know you’re but a girl, but even so, you’re not so stupid as to run away because of me. If I didn’t like you, I should simply ignore you. Is there any other girl I pick on as much as you?”

'Is there any other girl I pick on as much as you?'


“Well then! That’s because you’re my cousin, and none of the other girls are. I suppose you only need to worry if I start acting as if I liked you. Then you would know I didn’t. Now be a good girl and tell your cousin why you’re crying. I still believe someone has been picking on you.”

“I am not crying, you stupid beetleface boy!” she hissed.

'I am not crying you stupid beetleface boy!'

“Aren’t you then? Women! Your father’s right not to have anything to do with them. Why don’t you come back with me and watch me and Bertie-​​boy fight with swords?”

“I don’t want to watch you fight with your stupid swords.”

'Oh, I forgot.'

“Oh, I forgot, it’s because you don’t like seeing your sweetheart get beaten by yours truly,” he smirked.

“He is not my sweetheart!”

“Just as you are not crying!”

“I hate you!”

'Let me see...'

“Let me see… by the same logic as your not crying, in which every phrase means its opposite, that is the same as saying ‘I love you.’”

“Then I love you! I love you, I love you, and I am not crying, so there! And you’re smart and handsome and I wish you would live forever!” Baby snorted, and then she began to giggle in spite of herself. “And you have a beautiful nose!”

'And you have a beautiful nose!'

“Now that is more like it. Come on, Baby, let’s go sit over by the pond. I shall start to smell like a girl if I stand in these flowers much longer.”

“It’s better than your usual stink, Stinkhead!”



“Come on, Cheesehead,” he said, turning to walk up the hill to the little pond.

'Come on, Cheesehead.'

“Swampmouth!” she called, trotting after him.

“Wheyface!” He began to run.

“Mumblehead!” He could hear her running behind him.

“Sourpuss!” He couldn’t run too fast, or she wouldn’t be able to keep up in her skirts.



“Spiteface!” he howled when he reached the bank of the pond. He had saved the best for last.

“Oh!” she cried, too furious to think of another name.

Malcolm crashed in the grass and Iylaine came tumbling after. “It’s not fair!” he said, trying to squirm away from her as she pummeled him with her small but effective fists. “I’m not allowed to hit back because you’re a girl, and because I’m bigger than you!”

“If you’re so bigger than me, then stop me!”

“All right. ” He grabbed her by the wrists and stopped her by pinning her to the ground. “I can see your ears,” he said as her hair fell back.

“And I can see up your fat, enormous, ugly nose!”

Malcolm laughed and let her go. “You would make a good boy if you weren’t so stupid,” he said.

'You would make a good boy if you weren't so stupid.'

“So would you, if you weren’t so ugly.”

“You got me there. At least there’s a small chance that you’ll get more clever, but I’m not likely to get any less ugly.”

“Oh, you’re not really ugly, Malcolm,” said Baby, suddenly contrite. “I just say that.”

'Oh, you're not really ugly, Malcolm.'

“Do you think I don’t know that? And you’re not really stupid, either, but don’t tell anyone I told you that. That’s our secret, cousin.”

Baby only looked at him and sighed.

Baby only looked at him and sighed.